Between yesterday’s flurry of rumours and my sudden and severe Winter Meetings fatigue I wasn’t able to get around to posting about this, but I absolutely will today, because it’s not often that the biggest name in the baseball business world throws his weight behind bringing the game back to the city of Montreal. But that is, I think, a fair characterization of über-agent Scott Boras, and indeed what he did yesterday.
Maybe don’t go jumping for joy just yet though, Montreal– unless it’s simply for the unrelated fact that you’re Montreal, and therefore awesome, with or without baseball– because it’s not exactly like he was Mussolini at the balcony (too soon?) demanding that baseball be brought back post haste.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that someone of his stature in the game would suggest that it’s viable. I just think that if you look at the full extent of what he said that his passion about it wasn’t quite as strong as it appears in the following clip…
In the context of the soundbyte it’s pretty wondrous-sounding. Boras has self-serving reasons for making it that way, of course– think a player agent might want to switch out the low-payroll Rays for a team in a bigger market, presumably with corporate backing and revenue streams (and a national TV network sitting there aching for premium live sports content) that would far exceed what the Rays can do?– but an open door sure is better than a closed one.
Still, we can see what prompted the follow-up about Montreal– which is all that we’re witnessing above– in Boras’s full quote, by way of Phil Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
Referring to the problems with the Tampa Bay Rays, he said:
You have a product that is so successful and the market is not responding to it, what is the reason? The reason is not the performance of the franchise or the players. The reason has to be there’s a dynamic operating here that is not consistent with what other markets do in baseball.
Clearly if you win and you’re successful, your fan base rewards. So my suggestion of New Jersey or Montreal or somewhere … The idea is for the betterment of the game. I think we have to look at markets that aren’t rewarding playing the game at a high level.
Again, it’s great that he’s including Montreal in there. Really, though, he’s just suggesting it as one of a number of potential new markets. Still, not to speak for the fans there– though if a team did return, I could probably be convinced to do a Drunk Expos Fans things and get right into it [rubs thumb and fingers together in universal money gesture]– but compared to a few years ago, I think that’s real progress.
Shit, looking at it that way, maybe he didn’t need to be any more emphatic to make what he said important. And while I don’t think he has a whole lot of pull when it comes to franchise relocation, and that the many, many obstacles when it comes to bringing a team back need to be kept in mind here– and not just the stadium, but what will surely be the league’s reluctance to give up on the Tampa market– Boras is certainly not the worst ally to have. And the more this gets traction, the better– not just for folks there, but for baseball fans in Canada as a whole, I think.
Update: The Montreal Board of Trade has released the results of a feasibility study that makes the case that the sport is, indeed, viable once again in the city. Go have a look!
Clip via Sportsnet.