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.

Comments (43)

  1. Any reason to take more trips to montreal is a win for everyone.

  2. With the big revenue increases due to live sports TV content maybe MLB is primed for expansion?

    I think the Rays being competitive in the small market is good for MLB. Gives the fans, not necessarily from Tampa and especially the more engaged ones, an underdog with an entirely different model to cheer for over the Yanks and Sox. The old David Vs Goliath thing lots of people cheer for David.

    If Rays were poor on the field however none of that plays

    • I don’t think they care about competitive on the field, though. It’s about raising franchise value.

      • I would agree. I doubt Stuart Steinberg cares that his team is ‘good for baseball’. He would likely rather they make more money.

      • Expansion comes into play on whether or not to move Rays to bigger market since all the owners will line their pockets better if an expansion team starts than TB moving.

        If expansion is on the horizon then let the best markets get a new team rather than moving from a smaller market since with more teams eventually smaller markets are needed anyway.

        MLB is really trying to expand the player market as it tries to expand the game across the globe so a drop off in caliber of play may not necessarily be in the cards if more teams are added. Expansion is what will really grow the game (and money to existing owners) especially if they start getting TV revenue from different markets

  3. Man. An AL East of New York, Boston, Baltimore, Toronto and Montreal would be REALLY fucking awesome. Imagine being in pennant races against the Expos? 18 games a year against them? Could be incredible.

  4. no doubt Bell Media must be looking for a partner now that they’ve lost the NHL… could be a lot of money floating around for a new stadium and almost assured built in broadcaster in TSN… plus it’s F’n Montreal! Likely nothing is going to happen until the post-Bud era, he’s been stubborn on moving his babies. Not unlike a certain NHL Commissioner (cough… Phoenix…cough) …

    • The NHL situation seems unfathomable given how poorly the southern states team are supported and the obvious bugger markets in Canada. It clearly isnt working in those markets. Is Betman really holding up the show on moving teams back to Canada based on pride etc? If so how does he get away with that when he has to answer to all the owners?

      • Between Bell ( need content badly with loss of NHL and almost no Rogers presence in Quebec) and Quebecor (currently the new french affiliate of the Rogers hockey deal and bankrollers of the new arena in Quebec City) La Belle Province may be seeing a return to the heyday of the French Canadian sporting scene.
        Bell needs to get on baseball asap.
        A good start would be TSN signing some kind of Canadian / Non-Jays MLB broadcast deal. Re-establish yourself as the “baseball network”.
        Unlikely perhaps, but a decent strategy IMHO.

  5. Imagine if Bell bought the Expos & we could have a content war until there’s nothing left of Canada.

    • Apocalypso’s

    • My productivity from April-September (October?!?!) would plummet if there were 324 nationally televised baseball games in Canada every year.

      Actually, it would plummet year round if there was another team I cared about enough to follow the offseason.

    • Could be great for the Jays and Expos if Bell and Rogers got into a pissing match making the teams better trying to win and get people to watch their team on their channel over the other’s.

      Not sure how Rogers gets exclusive rights to broadcast Jays games whether the rate is regulated or not? You would think regulation would have the rights be put up for auction for all content providers to bid on given how the telecom industry gets regulated so heavily in Canada

    • Who knows how it will pan out. Cox wrote a story today about Bell/Rogers MLSE relationship getting strained. Maybe in 5 or 10 years Rogers owns the Leafs and Jays, and Bell owns the Expos and a 2nd Southern Ontario NHL team.

      • They were forced to jointly buy the MLSE no? THink the telecom regulators forced this to not allow Rogers a monopoly on the franchises in Toronto

        • No they weren’t forced to buy together.

          The telecom regulators don’t care how many sports franchises a company owns. They care about things like radio and television stations.

          • Is it really any different? Both are content generators so unless there are different regulations on the rights and distribution of the content it is the same ballgame? IF Rogers is allowed to have exclusive rights to broadcast the Jays on their channel how is that different from Bell owning CTV and having hte exclusive rights to broadcast CTV news or other programs made by CTV on their channels?

            The TV channels themselves and the content that go onto them are two different entities.

  6. You’d probably see something in Vancouver before it’d end up back in Montreal

    • Seattle has territorial TV rights for Vancouver area. Would block any move by an MLB team there. Would be similar to A’s trying to move to San Jose and the Giants having issue with it.

      • Do they? Pretty sure all of Canada is considered territorial TV rights of the Jays.

        • They do, part of a new TV deal they just signed. Also would block teams in Portland, OR.

        • Ya, Im pretty sureRogers bought the rights to MLB Canada tc rights a few years back, I believe… So thats not true…

          So I would guess whether a team is in Montreal or Vancouver a deal would have to be reached with Rogers…

          Even though, the media seems to often right its Seattle or New York that would have that battle…

          How could the Yankees and Mariners have tv rights in these areas? They dont have a network in these spots. Its way too complicated for it to be setup that way…

      • All a TV company could do is block the right to broadcast, they couldn’t block the actual enfranchisement – that’d be a league thing. And I don’t see how an American broadcasting company could tell Rogers what to do with its west coast content.

  7. Would just love to be a part of a Expos franchise from the beginning…

    Dream job.

  8. I also doubt Rogers would be all that keen on having the Expos come back or any franchise for that matter strictly for business reasons. Part of me would love to see another Canadian team but as a Jays fan whose team depends on Rogers largesse I would also be against it if it alters the Jays financial position.

    • Competition could be good for us fans since the business would be more motivated to put out a winning product

  9. Expos bu les fans

  10. I never thought that it was possible to be this on board with something Scott Boras said. I also never would have thought that it was possible but- there is just so much persistent talk about baseball returning to Montreal – and not just by the fans but by key mlb people – I am starting to think that it might actually happen sometime. Youppi could be dealt again.

  11. Why does it matter where you start another ‘Drunk Fans’ franchise? You wouldn’t do it in Montreal just because it’s in Canada would you? This just wreaks of Maple beaver-sauce.
    …I know that’s out of context in many ways but had to say it.

  12. As a Winnipegger, all I can say is, anything is possible.

  13. We’re gonna have some serious stadium envy when the Expos are enjoying their brand new open air stadium while we suffer through 20 more years with the Rogers Centre.

    • would they get a new stadium though?

      Montrealers have been gauged so hard and often by the state/construction companies that I very much doubt a new stadium would get financed by tax payers.

      The ownership would have to go at it alone, and very rarely if ever do full private funders get a stadium off the ground.

  14. I would guess that before the Rays move to another state or province, they would try to find a fix in that area of florida.

    Its hard to pin point exactly why fans don’t go to rays games because there are so many factors.

    the stadium is awful, the location is horrific, and the traffic to and from the trop makes it an easy decision to stay home and watch it.

    I think they should probably explore moving the team to a real baseball stadium, in or around downtown tampa or orlando. That would go a long way in getting fans to games, but as of right now the Rays are 14th in tv ratings out of mlb teams, so people care and people are watching, the live experience just isn’t worth it

    • This isn’t a Rays only thing here. The Marlins got not the greatest attendance in a brand new downtown stadium last year and Miami is a big city. Other Florida sports teams get poor attendance too. For whatever reason Florida in general doesnt seem to be a great market for professional sports teams, certainly in terms of attendance. Dare I say Panthers and Lightning. I was in TB during playoffs during their run back whenever and they were giving away tickets to games

  15. Florida is full of kids at Disney, big fat people and old gits retired to the sun. Don’t need to be a genius to work out why games are poorly attended. Relocating to somewhere without its fair share of theme parks and funeral parlours would be a step in the right direction.

  16. [...] Andrew Stoeten at DJF gives us some context around agent Scott Boras’ comments about the possibility of Major League Baseball returning to Montreal. [...]

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