It wasn’t the 1994 season brought back to life to find its rightful conclusion, but it was a step in the right direction for a possible MLB team to call the city of Montreal home once again.
On Friday night, the Toronto Blue Jays faced off against a fitting opponent for the occasion, former Montreal Expos‘ NL East rival, the New York Mets. Not to mention the honoring and remembering of the late-great former catcher Gary Carter beforehand, one who owns legendary status from the folklore of each club.
When you mixed in the salute to three former greats: franchise win-leader Steve Rogers, Tim “Rock” Raines (who still sits fifth all time in Stolen Bases), along with nine-year veteran of the Expos, Warren Cromartie, who now heads the movement of bringing baseball back to Montreal, and you had the makings of a monumental event.
Side note: Do the Baseball Writers’ Association of America realize they are portrayed as a comedy-act to the masses? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Now, what is it going to take to actually witness an Expos’ reincarnation?
Well, for starters, a new stadium needs to be built, a downtown-core construction to allow business to truly flourish. However, Friday night’s game showcased that Olympic Stadium could very well serve as home field for a short two-year stint while new digs are accomplished. The city also requires a steady ownership group to step up (suits with deep pockets if you will) and embrace the local culture, as a Jeffrey Loria debacle part-two is forever unwelcome.
Lurking in the background is the conundrum of either MLB expansion taking place or an already existing franchise packing its bags. With baseball booming at optimum levels, expanding to Montreal is an option that can be explored.
No fanbase wants their beloved organization to skip town (the very basis of what this two-game series in Montreal represents), but the reality remains that the short list includes the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, both of whom are in need of a new stadium identity.
A few backdrop stories were on full display in this one as well, as Jose Bautista‘s “man on a mission” Spring Training continued, Brett Lawrie‘s gold-glove caliber defense at the hot corner was out in full force and the ghost of former Jays’ super-prospect, now the future behind the Mets’ dish, Travis d’Arnaud, providing New Yorkers a glimpse of what to expect this season.
However, with opening day madness soon to strike, the return of Montreal baseball will inevitably play the background in the minds of the mainstream, but the historic representation of this series is too rich for the Montreal movement not to gain momentum.
Both the first and last games ever played by the Expos’ franchise were on Shea Stadium soil in 1969 and 2004, respectively. It will only be a matter of time before a future reunion. Followed by a Canada Day matchup between the Blue Jays and Expos, say 2018?
Must-see TV moment: the Expos of 1994 will receive their well-deserved recognition in front of another 45,000 people in day two of this event, Saturday afternoon.
To the citizens of Montreal: Toronto has your back, baseball can and will succeed once again.