kawasaki-winningrun

We don’t usually do post-game posts around here, but we don’t usually do games as special as the one that just concluded in Montreal, either. Not entirely sure why I’m doing it – or sitting in the press box, frankly (and on a number of levels on that one) — except to prove that I haven’t succumbed to alcohol poisoning just yet, and also because it was a hell of an experience this evening, watching baseball in this sprawling weirdo mid-70s womb disguised as public art that, despite the description, feels an awful lot like the Rogers Centre, even while being thirteen years its senior.

The press box was a strange place for me to take this one in, and not because of the constant poor stifling of groans — because I am, of course, first and foremost, a pseudo-professional — and not even because you couldn’t hear the Public Address system. It was because you really only got a narrow feeling of what was going on out there in the crowd — one that didn’t tell the whole story.

Sitting here earlier in the game I sketched out a version of this post, and at the time I wrote that “the fans got very up for the Bautista knock (also: some dumb Rolaids promotion), which, combined with the many… certainly not half-hearted, but not-always-entirely-realized attempts at Let’s Go Expos chants, suggested that maybe this was more a traveling crowd of Jays fans or people with closer ties to Toronto than here,” but walking around the concourse, I can tell you now that was way off.

Maybe it was just the strangeness of cheering for a non-entity that stifled some of that particular type of exuberance. Perhaps it was the stark reality of the economic difficulties of bringing a team back here — something the fans I spoke to were not just fully aware of, but seemed jaded by… which is obviously not difficult to understand — that dampened some of the straight-up nostalgia factor. Or it could simply have been the sound where I was sitting. But it was something, and it was strange.

And it was great.

As I traversed the concourse in the later innings of the game it was evident that this wasn’t simply an Ontario crowd. People spoke French, and they wore Expos gear, and they rose in unison to cheer their hearts out for the Blue Jays as Ricardo Nanita pushed Munenoi Kawasaki across the plate with a walk-off single.

Weird, huh?

I’m not saying anyone was necessarily converted, but there was definitely no polite taking-in-of-the-action or sitting back and letting the “real Jays fans” from Ontario lead the cheers. There was no mistaking the statement: We like this. We want this.

Maybe it didn’t start out like such a rush of a finish was coming — the crowd was fidgety in the early going, it felt, looking for the right psychic angle with which to approach this event, and waiting restlessly for something to happen — but by the end they got there. The Mets led 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, and just as I slipped quietly into a seat on the 500 level of the stadium, underneath throngs of fans, filling the upper bowl to the very top most of the way around, Edwin Encarnacion crushed a double to right field that sent my new section in a frenzy.

And maybe it was that frenzy, in and of itself, that was the lure — the atmosphere, the stadium with its strange shapes, long dead zones, intermittent clouds of marijuana smoke, and rowdy young men in unpatrolled washrooms sharing stalls, snorting cocaine, and rushing back to the thrilling game unfolding within the mania.

I’m hardly saying that the whole stadium was coked to the gills — I’m only even just guessing about those guys I encountered — but in here, if you’re interested in painting with such broad strokes about dangerous charms, it was definitely the Montreal to Toronto’s Rogers Centre, if you know what I mean. And there definitely were many Expos chants. And plenty of Toronto fans. But the way it mixed and rose to a fever pitch with the spectacle of baseball — even just preseason baseball — as the backdrop was a hell of a thing to watch. And, in those times in the stands when I slipped my media lanyard inside my sweatshirt and sipped on a beer, to take part in.

In crass terms it was a clear marketing win for the Jays, if nothing else, and a tremendous feel-good moment for the fans of Montreal. If we allow in ourselves the kind of indulgence that this whole weekend is begging for, we could say that it was something even more, but why? It didn’t need to be more. It was — surprisingly, astonishingly — not unlike Canada-USA at the Rogers Centre back in 2009, and just as clear who the home team was. Maybe I’m making too much of that aspect — maybe I’m reading it entirely wrong — but, whatever it was, shit it was fun.

Comments (157)

  1. Someone may have died in our section…

  2. The same comparison came to my mind – the Canada USA game.

  3. There was a definite Montreal vibe to the whole thing.

    I loved that the crowd was so engaged and having so much fun. Then when Mooney got on base everyone stood up and almost willed the Jays to victory.

    Didn’t see a lot of people with their noses in their phones like you do at the dome either. I hope Montreal gets taken seriously for a team. Put it downtown or on Ile NotreDame where they have the F1 race. That city will support it.

  4. Stoeten,

    I moved to montreal 4 years ago and never thought I’d ever get to see the Blue Jays play here. I owned a Toronto Star pass for a few years in Toronto and the one thing I missed when I moved here was baseball. Tonight was a fucking trip. From the hilarious unintentionally retro security uniforms to the smallest “jumbotron” I’ve ever seen, it was like I was wearing these 90s goggles during the whole game… and what a game that was. No one seemed to care it was a preseason baseball.

    Maybe it was just the fact of seeing a baseball game in Montreal… maybe it was more than that… but shit, what a night!

  5. Was EE hurt?

    • Dont have a keyboard on my computer, so this part comes from my phobe. Didnt get to watch the gane ob TV (thanks agaib Sportsnet)…but goddamn that gif gets me hard

    • I know I’ve been saying it a lot on here but Brett gets a gold glove and an allstar nod this year. (my prediction)

      I’m really excited to see what a healthy and maybe a litte tiny bit more mature Brett Lawrie is capable of.

      • Someone’s got him taking Yoga to mellow out. Whatever it is, it’s working. I want to believe he’ll get a gold glove too, but I don’t think guys like Lawrie on a team in Canada will ever get a fair shake.

    • Can’t wait to watch that all season.

    • Who was saying his D was overrated recently? Wasn’t it KLaw? Seems full of shyte to me.

    • FULLY DIMED

      That said, he could have been the next Mark Messier but he plays baseball because he loves it.

  6. Awesome recap.

  7. Anyone got a link to hgihlights or a recap or somethin?

    inb4 “googlr it”…no keyboard snd i dont want to watch it on my pos phone!!!

  8. Sounds like a good time had by all, and Jays took this one serious, with the full unis and putting in pinch hitters in the 9th.

    Also good to see Rock Raines come back to Montreal to visit his former team, though I wouldn’t consider him and Ron Washington “young men” anymore.

    I also would figure there would be some hidden area in that cavernous crap hole that Raines and Ron could get pumped up for the game rather than resorting to a common shit hole washroom, but to each their own.

  9. Fired up a couple games of MVP 2004 after that one. Fun to watch. Wish I had my shit together to go.

  10. While the game and atmosphere was good, the entire production of getting people in was a complete shitshow. Easily 5000 people were waiting to pick up their tickets (which were not able to be printed at home) off the Peel Line subway exit. We didn’t get in until the middle of the 4th after showing up a half hour early. Beer and food lines were long and some of the concessions calculated your total using an iPhone calculator. The spirit and pride were there, but the execution was hapless imho.

    • Yeah it seems obvious something was off, as the game started with the seats looking much emptier than it finished with. Nothing wrong with using the Iphone/IPad POS system for something as temporary as this IMHO thou, that’s just modern tech at work.

  11. Pseudo-professionalism is a good place to be. Am I the only one that’s come to associate professionalism with corporate dishonesty?

    Last time I was at the O was in the Expos final season. “Fans” were calling for the Expos starter to kill himself. Rough. But the cheap sit-anywhere seats and beer were just swell. And the strippers.

  12. Sweet post Andrew.
    Sat at my desk this morning, wondering why I didn’t make the trip.
    I guess I just didn’t expect it to be this.

    • Sounds like a GREAT time! Love following DJF – . Go Jays/Canadian baseball in general!

    • @Karen
      I was going to go, but I tried a few times to get tickets in advance (Jan) and they were all blocked off for (non existant) groups. I just said the hell with it.

  13. Stoeten,curious about how you were received by the MSM in the press box.Knowing the history with various reporters and their attitudes with bloggers in general.
    Were you ignored,scorned or welcomed?

    • Knowing what a vindictive/stuckup/fuckingterrified some of these guys might be, I imagine some didn’t care, some were just fine, others (read: Simmons) hostile.

    • +Billions RADAR.

      Specically, Cox (if he was there) and Griff.

      • @ Karl
        Knowing who has admitted reading the blog, I’m just curious.
        Griff has been ripped by Stoeten and Parkes and then agreed to be interviewed by them in a podcast.He uses the picture that Stoeten uses for the mailbag,as his twitter pic.
        Stoeten went to a presser and observed then Griff goaded him on twitter for not participating.

        • I knew about the Twitter pic of Griff’s. Nice to see he’s cool with it. But Cox’ silence speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned.

  14. Top drawer post dude. Top drawer.

  15. Great post.

  16. Great post. I’m sure the stories today will be of bringing baseball back to Montreal, and that Montreal is a viable market, but I have to wonder how many of the people there were willing to buy expos tickets before. Nostalgia is just Nostalgia, and it probably doesn’t sell a lot of tickets.

    • I think I heard they were looking at a 35 thousand seat ballpark. I think that is actually the way to go and if you sell out- great. Owners just hate leaving money on the table even if it is best long term.

    • Exactly. When the warm and fuzzy mini-series is over, and if the nearly-impossible return of baseball to Montreal might be a viable idea, how many of those “fans” will be in line for season’s tickets? Nostalgia and a 2 game set does not mean too much, regardless of how many tickets they sell for the 2 games. Will the fans show up game after game?

      • Yep. The club was jerked around, no doubt, but the fact remains that they were consistently near the bottom of the NL in attendance despite being one of the better teams in baseball for over a decade.

        As much as a “jewel” the city of Montreal is, when the Jays were good the fans showed up in droves — not so much for the Expos.

        • Toronto has the benefit of a downtown stadium that’s really easy to get to from multiple transit routes. Montreal’s stadium is way the hell out on the Metro and not really near anything.

  17. The first game I ever saw live was at the O. I’ve always felt sentimental about that place, ugly as it was.

  18. Good post, really good. You always seem to capture elements that a lot of baseball writers just don’t see or (maybe) know how to express. Won’t be surprised if you’re snagged one day by … well, I won’t even say it.

    However Saturday’s game goes, to this point, it sure looks like this end of pre-season trip to Montreal is working out just fine. I know if I was still living in Montreal and I had a chance to see this year’s Blue Jays team in person — especially doing what they did last night (and how is that Munenori Kawasaki so often seems to be in the middle of big Blue Jays moments the last good while? I bet he earned a few brand new fans last night) — while reminiscing about the Expos, I’d be that much more engaged following the Blue Jays upcoming season.

    But even bigger I think, is the effect on the team itself. It’s one thing to know people call you ‘Canada’s Team’ but to move into Montreal for a few days and play in a crowded stadium as The Home Team, feeling whatever love is out there … it’s gotta leave an imprint. It only seems natural (now) that through the start of the season and beyond, they’ll really KNOW there IS a *nation* of baseball fans following them and cheering for them to do well. Glad they did this.

    Hope it’s the start of a lot of good things that we’ll see throughout the year.

  19. Nice written capsule there, Andrew. Certainly felt rather odd in that cavernous place, like a time that stood still until the BJs and Mets yanked it to the present a decade later. So much has changed since then, but some things never change.

    Perhaps Expos and BJs will get to play each other some time in the future. Well that is only a dream, but certainly not a bad idea to entertain for some time reminiscing about the good past in the early 90s and what could have been.

  20. Playing at the Big O reminded me of the put grass in Rogers Centre stuff. Besides the grass the other thing they could do is turn the friggin’ seats towards home plate! You go to any other park and the seats down the outfield lines point towards home plate so you don’t have a crink in your neck for the next week. The seats down the OF line at RC point towards the outfield lol.

    • That, like the grass, if it is even possible, won’t happen until football is fully removed from the dome since the outfield seating is oriented for the football field configuration.

  21. Fantastic article Stoeten, I really enjoyed it. You’re like the Hunter S. Thompson of baseball writers. A perfect mix I reckon.

  22. I actually missed part of the Gary Carter tribute, which we should’ve expected given the circumstances. But I saw the Steve Rogers comments which were great (the guy’s a natural) and was very impressed with what I saw. Also Cromartie isn’t employed he could easily be a great colour man for any broadcast.

  23. What are the odds that Kawasaki replaces Izturis halfway through the season?

    • I wish the chances of replacing him for the season opener were higher. I guess track record goes a long way but christ, eat that salary if you need to and send that dink to the minors if thats what it takes to field the most productive team possible. Love Kawasaki’s ABs and his defence doesn’t seem to be lacking in comparison

      • I forgot when I posted that. He’s got 2 seasons left to go including this one. I thought he’d been around for WaaaaaaaY longer. But you’re right. They should just eat the salary.

    • Kawasaki should be platooning with izuris from the start.

      Kawasaki is a wash with goins defensively, bit we he’ll post a .320obp/.600ops, while goins is gonna struggle to post a .500ops

  24. #grassinthestands #grassonthefield

  25. I saw an analysis… made over at bluebird…that showed most players who have that kind of terrible season return to at least replacement level and sometimes their career norm…being a switch hitter off the.bench goes a long way…if you can hit

  26. “except to prove that I haven’t succumbed to alcohol poisoning just yet”

    POINT PROVEN SIR.

    How are you feeling this fine afternoon?

  27. Here’s hoping for a big season from Morrow.

    Love watching him pitch when he’s on.

  28. Have the Jays been hiding this model of Morrow?

  29. I assume that the game threat is really quiet because of Montreal hangovers for all? I’d expect the left coasters to not quite be drunk yet though…unless you were already getting into the bloody marys at Naam…

  30. Bautista out with “stomach virus” sounds a lot like Montreal got the better of Jose last night.

    • It’s like that moment in Family Guy:
      I’m not drunk, all right. I just have a speech impediment … and a stomach virus … and an inner ear infection …

    • He hooked up with Stoeten,went to SuperSex and made it rain.

    • If you were Jose Bautista in Montreal for the first time you would be grateful to escape with your life.

  31. Lind looks like he knows what he’s doing lately

    • A monster season from him would go a long way. Or if he just continues to murder RHP Im okay with that.

      • I feel like it’s impossible to expect much more from him at this point. Wish they’d been able to solidify the RHB half of that platoon but maybe Sierra will be a revelation

        • They had a little blurb on him last night that talked about Lind waiting longer on LHP
          now. He may surprise a few people. Although I’m the last guy in the world who should be saying that. The SOB has teased us for so long…..

  32. I swear to god, Buck is saying “umbire” instead of “umpire”

    • Ha, I caught that as well.

      He pauses at the strangest times in the middle of his sentences too.

      You’re one of a kind, Buck.

  33. Any streaming links for a Canuck abroad?

  34. CABRERA HR coming up…

  35. Nice relay by the Mets. Was that Murphy who threw that?

  36. I’m listening at work, Wilner and the new guy are blaming Moises..

  37. I’d like to bottle this Brandon Morrow and decant it every five days…

  38. Morrow looks great.

  39. Where did this Dice-K come from?

  40. Crowd is awesome, love the borderline playoff atmosphere. Seems like a great tune up for the reg season

  41. The police received a call at 10:10 p.m. Friday night. The unidentified 40-year-old man, situated in the stands in right field of Olympic Stadium, slipped and went over a fence, falling approximately 20 feet. The incident was accidental.

    The man suffered a concussion and other fractures, but his injuries are not considered life-threatening.

    Alcohol could be a factor. Otherwise the case is closed, and no criminality was involved.

    • sounds a lot better than the 10-15 metre fall reported earlier. would’ve been a downer for the whole event if a tragedy like that happened, seems like the guy is going to be ok!

  42. Fuck yeah Brandon Morrow

  43. That Ump can’t see the lower inside corner on right handed hitters. He’s missed a few of those.

  44. This start is so relieving for Morrow. His slider looks filthy and he’s done a good job at battling early when things weren’t coming easy.

  45. They should sit Morrow, he’s done enough, bring in the pen

  46. Is this really Dice-K?

  47. Why is it so dark in Montreal? I’m in BC and it’s like noon, it’s only a few hours ahead out east. Or does the top close? Am I that retarded?

  48. That splitter is filthy

  49. Excellent game, excellent run up to opening day. Jays pitchers are awesome.

  50. Who the fuck is Derrick Chung? Why are the playing A ball players in Montreal?

    • I think caught some of it. I think Sanchez has been pitching to him for a while in the minors and they’re both going back to AA after today.

  51. Ditto DIAZ

  52. There’s that MELKY HR I called earlier… MVP Candidate!

  53. I hope I don’t start taking Melky’s season for granted. The guy’s gonna be amzing.

  54. Who closes out the 9th? Santos healthy? Janssen again?

    • SANCHEZ, nice, 3 up 3 down, leave them something to remember you by!

    • I’m glad we didn’t trade away too much BP depth this offseason, health looks like a question mark to begin the year. Has Jansen pitched back to back outings yet this spring? I thought I read that was one of his goals preseason

  55. Excellent pitching and a clutch homer.

    More against the Rays, please.

  56. Melky. I likeee. If they manage to stay healthy this is going to be a fun year of ball.

  57. What a spring for Melky. Hit over .400 playing a bunch and smack a HR in your final AB. Fuck I can’t wait for the season to start.

  58. Sanchez even has that tight Halladay curve….yikes!

  59. THAT CURVE

  60. HOLY FUCK STRIKES OUT THE SIDE!!!!!!! DIRTY!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. The legend of Sanchez grows

  62. What a game. Felt like the real thing.

    Baseball!

  63. What an awesome game. Can’t wait for Monday. If anyone else is going to be there holler at me

  64. Well that is the best I have seen from Morrow in a long time. Almost ready to make a believer of me again. As for Sanchez I think I would have him next in line over any of the others in the minors right now. Here’s hoping he goes down and dominates AA and is back up soon. Maybe he’s this year’s Wacha for the 2nd half of the year.

    • Sometimes people forget how filthy his stuff is. When on his game he’s up there with any starter in the league.

  65. Really loved how gibby ran this camp.

    No messing around. He gave all the regulars and borderline guys all the playing time, and gave nothing to anyone else.

    Unlike last spring’s lazy day on day off strategy.

    And then he does smart things at the end here like giving the two top kids stroman and sanchez key roles in front of legit mlb crowd and atmosphere. That is beautiful – especially when you see sanchez rise to the occasion like that.

    Not to mention giving nanita the closest thing to a meaningful mlb at bat he’ll ever have.

    Good stuff all around.

    Good juju everywhere this spring.

    • Uh, he gave playing time to Diaz and Chung?

      • He did, sure, but you got to see the starters game after game. Almost a surprising amount, I’d say.

        Not that I really believe in the OP’s “good juju” either, though… I guess I’d say that the team seems as well prepared as is possible after ST…

      • Chung got 6ab.

        Diaz got ab, but that was for good reason. The same reason getz and tolleson got ab – because we don’t have an mlb second baseman, and all of those guys are in the mix for playing time this year.

        * = missed time to health

        Starters:

        Lf cabrera 74ab
        2b goins 65
        Dh EE 64
        3b lawrie 62
        1b lind 60
        Ss reyes 57*
        Rf bautista 56*
        Cf rasmus 53*
        C navarro 52

        Bench catcher battle: Thole 27, kratz 25
        Bench OF battle: Sierra 50, pillar 33, gose 32
        Bench IF battle: izturis 40, getz 31, diaz 24, tolleson 23, kawasaki 22, goedert 19
        Bench PH battle: johnson 25

        Then just a handful of late inning replacement at bats for everyone else.

  66. What a great way to finish the spring. This team has me feeling good about the season, I can’t wait for the season to start.

    • No matter how bleak the offseason was, this is the best time if year. Spring and hope is in the air!! N

  67. Did you see that someone handed Sanchez the ball as he walked off the field and he put it in his pocket? Love this game!

  68. Omgz, morrow was tits today!!!

  69. I like this new, tumor-free version of Melky over last year’s crummy, tumor-ridden one.

    Seriously though if he’s healthy that’ll be a boost.

  70. A full year of Morrow would be sweeeeet! Can’t wait for Monday.

  71. Really, I’m the first?

    PLAYOFFS!

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