MTLcrowd2

You’d think that surely there must come a point when there is only so much sentimentality that one can stomach, but this afternoon’s matchup between the Jays and the Mets here was yet another tremendous feel-good exercise — especially with the 1994 Expos in the house, and 50,000 fans, bringing the stunning two-day total for le retour du baseball majeur à Montréal to over 96,000 — completing a storybook finish to the first step towards making a reality the big dream of bringing baseball back to this city.

I wrote yesterday that “without the conviction and the passion of the fans there, they don’t have any hope of a team returning,” and over the weekend these folks showed that they are certainly no trifling band of diehards. The city came out again Saturday, full-throated and fully regaled, eager to once again support the team loaned to them for the weekend. Of course, like last night there were vast numbers of Blue Jays fans, too — though. with a road trip as an excuse to overindulge, many were likely worse for the wear … not that I’d know anything about that — but even though it was their team on the field, this wasn’t about them at all.

It was about the appetite for baseball in this city — even in this crumbling facility. And that appetite — aided, perhaps just a little, by MLB’s current problem markets, and thoughts of overflowing toilets in the Oakland Coliseum, and the sparse crowds we’ll see next week in Tampa Bay — shone through unmistakably.

Making it extra special was the fact that it wasn’t necessarily a given that this worn out old dome — what last night I called a “sprawling weirdo mid-70s womb disguised as public art” — would turn into such a revivalist carnival.

I can’t say what, exactly, I expected would come out of this little adventure. I don’t really think I thought much about it, to tell you the honest truth — even if, like everyone, the spectre of the grim demise of the Expos lurked in the back of my mind — but when I did, it certainly wasn’t this. Not at the ecstatic levels to which it hit.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that these were about as perfect a two games as any loaned team could have possibly provided a screeching throng of fans desperate to show their feelings for the sport.

OK, so maybe the first parts of both games were slightly interminable, and maybe Brandon Morrow was spottier on the hill today than his sparkling line – 5.2IP, 0R, 2H, 2BB, 8K — suggests. But from Munenori Kawasaki’s winning run, to Melky Cabrera continuing a torrid spring with a two-run home run, finally giving the fans something in-game to get out of their seats for, to Aaron Sanchez coming of age before our very eyes with two perfect innings to end it, you simply couldn’t have written it better.

For most of the fans here in Monreal, Sanchez probably could have been anyone. For us, though, what a performance. What poise! Striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth with 50,000 fans screaming at him in unison, mixing up pitches and displaying an ability to command that we have so far only been able to dream on.

And Cabrera looking like the player we hoped we were getting last year (and then some)? The bullpen looking spectacular-as-usual? Morrow looking better than we’ve seen — or heard about — all spring, doing about all that he could to erase the questions that have been hanging over him since the start of camp? And Encarnacion being right back into the lineup after being hit on the hand yesterday? And Jose Reyes patrolling the turf at shortstop so soon after his latest hamstring scare?

It was pretty damn perfect for us, too.

Not entirely perfect all around, of course — I’d be remiss if I glossed over the fact that a man was gravely injured in a fall from the bleachers following last night’s game, or that getting into the facility, and to it on the Metro, proved a logistical nightmare (almost like the location of the stadium here is a major issue) — but in the grand sense, there was far more that was wonderful and good than there was unfortunate and bad, at least in my experience. And while it’s a shame to see big league baseball once again packing up now to leave this city, its future here indeterminate, this time it actually feels right. This time it feels honest-to-goodness hopeful. And that’s all that anybody could have asked of this weekend.

Vive les Expos!

Comments (84)

  1. Yay! Let the stuff that count begin.

  2. Great stuff Stoeten. Poetic even. Let’s play ball.

  3. Man, saw the guy fall from where I was sitting in the bleachers. Terrible moment from such a great weekend for baseball in this city

  4. Damn, I wish I had been there!

  5. Nicely put! That was enjoyable to read.

    Another big plus I come away with from this weekend is just the simple fact that it got people in TORONTO excited about baseball again. Nothing like seeing your team on tv in front of 50K people actually supporting them to get the juices flowing.

  6. Everywhere you went in the city people were buzzing about it.

    Booze tonight anyone?

  7. It was one helluva weekend, the vibe has been phenomenal.

    Well written and enjoyable articles this weekend Stoeten.

    Next stop Tampa Bay…

  8. The end of that game actually felt like something was on the line. Almost like clinching a playoff spot or something. I miss the Expos!

  9. I can’t think of a scenario aside from a World Series where the Rays could ever draw 90,000 (understanding the Trop is less capacity) let alone an exhibition game … Amazing that this happened and I hope MLB and Montreal find away to undo the wrongs of the past!

  10. I really like Navarro behind the plate.

    A damn sight better than the clown he replaced.

    • Pity the poor Rangers. They have no idea what they’re in for.

    • Hes soooo fucking fat though. How can a pro athlete be so fucking fat. Does he not take his conditioning seriously? I guess baseball is the only sport where players can be fat and get away with it.

      • I like my catchers fat.

        • Hah, I guess they are batter at blocking balls because of their gut.

          • Didn’t I read that he was keeping a bit extra in this year, rationale being that over the course of the season, he drops weight (apparently, catching is hard, who knew?), and he didn’t want to drop down so much that he’d be struggling energy-wise come Sept.

            • I also read this and I call bullshit. I have no idea how someone, on a professional baseball team no less, not know how to keep up weight during the season. It’s called ” eat a sandwich”. Seriously, they have trainers and nutritionists. If someone needs to intake a few more calories a day to keep up their weight just eat a little more.

              • I gather it doesn’t hurt his performance or even if it does he’s still better than Kratz and Thole. I have known lots of guys who lose weight during a season. It’s not BS. Hell that 81 game travel schedule is worth 20 lbs nevermind the 3 hour workouts day after day with 1 day off every 2nd-3rd week.

              • Yeah, if you buy that being fat and out of shape is better than being cut and physically fit to start a season, then you’ll believe anything.

                • It’s an established scientific fact that some athletes carry given amounts of fat and do complete their task. Offensive linemen and some long distance swimmers come to mind. These people do not fall into the classic definition of “in shape” that we’re all used to. But there is no doubt that they can and do run laps and block their opponents for a full football season (in the case of the linemen) and (in the case of the swimmers) swim for 12 and 24 hours at a time.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_Cox

      • Dumb.

    • So a skinny fucker is better catching 100 mile an hour fastballs? What are you fucking like?

  11. Had a good laugh reading the espn predictions. While I am really pissed with AA/Beeston and rogers for doing jack shit to improve the rotation and/or 2b who the fuck knows in baseball? The lineup and bullpen have talent. Best case stroman and sanchez come up midseason to give the rotation a lift if morrow and mcgowan are on the dl by then (very likely).

  12. That was great fun. And the positives mentioned at the end of the post (Morrow, Sanchez, Edwin, Reyes, etc) are bloody wonderful. It’s as positive as a set of indicators can get. Of course, the holes that were there are still there…

  13. Well struck as usual, Stoeten.

  14. Two great games. Atmosphere was amazing. There’s something about this team. I love the way the batters were making the opposing pitchers work. Could be Seitzers influence?
    Anyhow…if the starters remain healthy and have slightly above average years…Jays will make playoffs. Their lineup is strong. Lots of weapons there. Lawrie and Reyes did fuck all is weekend. Get them going and look out. Rasmus was quiet too.
    Great weekend overall

    • I wouldn’t say Lawrie did fuck all. Both him and Rasmus played good D.

      • Simply meant with the bat…as I was in offense mode. Their D was great. Like I said…gotta a feeling about this team. They will be scrappy,seem better fundamentally and have crazy power. I love Lawrie and Cletus and Reyes…excited to see them all clicking. Crazy lineup

        • Adam Lind is the new goat boy. I bet Cap’n RedBull has a billy goat by the end of April.

  15. 6 years $23 million extension for Yan Gomes!

    • Just saw that. Good for him. Never thought he would be an everyday player when i saw him with the jays.

      • Still may not be one. 4 WAR in half a season is amazing, but it’s a ridiculously small sample size. I hope he does well though. It would mean that the Jays can develop players. It’s just a matter of retaining them.

    • Not much money, but 6 years is a long commitment for a mostly unheralded player coming off one BABIP aided solid season.

    • That makes me smile. Good on Gomes and the Tribe.

    • This makes me really happy for Gomes. Didn’t get his shot here, but went elsewhere and made good on it. Good for him.

    • 6 Years? WTF happened to the five year policy?

      I guess that was what we always thought it was… an excuse to not spend money on high price talent.

  16. I don’t want to take anything away from the great fans who came out to support Expos baseball in MTL, but this weekend was also a testament to the widespread fan base of the Jays. Whether they travel from Ontario or come from eastern provinces the Jays have really developed a huge contingent that will follow them anywhere. I love that. There was a time when I’d watch a game at Fenway when I lived in Boston and I’d be the only jays cap there. Things changed big time in the past few years and this weekend while undeniably a victory for baseball in MTL is also a huge win for the Jays. They’ve been cultivating this for a long time and I was very impressed with the sheer volume of Jays caps mixed in with the great Blue expos caps this weekend.

  17. Seeing Sanchez pitch those 2 perfect innings? I have to say, it moved

  18. No way bball returns to Montreal, sadly. It’s been a short 9 years since the Expos left and the sad specter of the “Big O Good God it’s a Stadium” brought back not the thoughts of a once, yes once, decent team but that of Andre Dawson’s knees crumbling in front of 4000 loyal Expo fans. No way MLB is going down this road again any time soon.

    Seeing 2 amazing days of ball in Montreal is nothing more than that. A novelty is a novelty. Sorry. Why don’t we have an MLB in Puerto Rico? Given Montreal’s recent terrible, heartbreaking history and the ongoing nonsense that is Quebec politics there’s no fucking way. MLB would be retarded to even consider it, which they aren’t. Don’t get your hopes up.

    Go Brooklyn Rays!

  19. Stotes, Your posts are ever better when you’re a couple of beers in – not a knock – just an assumption. Lord knows I would be if I was in Montreal this weekend!

    Thanks for showing some optimism as we head to opening day!

  20. I don’t comment too often, but thanks Stoeten for some great write ups on the Montreal games for those who couldn’t make it. Great work!

  21. I was gonna go, but then everyone in tmy homeown started leaving inexplicably.

    Without knowing exactly what the trouble is, would anyone here recommend that I start cracking peoples heads open, and feasting on the goo inside?

  22. atta go stoets, summed er up real nice

  23. So last year my roommate ordered MLB tv and we were able to get Jays games on his Apple TV. Now that I’m living on my own and I’m thinking of ordering it for myself, how do I know if Jays games won’t be blacked out this season?

  24. 2 more sleeps! Stoked.

  25. Nice piece. I lived in Montreal in ’03 and ’04. I went to the game in August ’03 where they beat the Phillies to take a half-game lead in the WC standings, and it was amazing. I also knew the English radio announcer and heard his final words on the last game of ’04 (though I didn’t make it to the park).

    It would be a great thing to see baseball established again in that city.

  26. So how long before the Pearson Cup is back!

  27. What happened then? In Montreal, they say
    that Stoeten’s heart grew three sizes that day.

    • Blame it on the poutine, foie gras, and cocaine.

      • The idea of Stoeten’s return from the brink of absolute cynicism due to cardiomegaly (medical condition wherein the heart is enlarged) caused by excessive partying is amazing!

  28. What’s the deal with this top secret media barred session that McGowan is throwing today? The Jays say it’s because the stadium staff is taking the day off but that kinda makes no sense.

    • i dont want to be paranoid but that doesnt sound good. Although, even for negative news, not sure why the media would be blocked.

      maybe he’s just thanking the organization and staff for all of the support over the years? That or he’s injured again and retiring instead of having another surgery.

      • I’ll just chalk it up to good ol’ fashioned keep the first opponent in the dark usual ST shenanigans.

        • but mcgowan isnt scheduled to pitch against tampa, so not sure what they gain out of this.

          just hope its nothing negative

  29. There’s a lot of flotsam in the water today. Enough to make you wonder if Jeffress is really worth it…

    • it was crazy that the jays didnt even want EE in the trade.

      • Yeah, I also can’t believe how many times the Jays almost lost him: A’s, Rays… Crazy.

        • Short memories. A lot of people were happy to see him gone. And the attached-as-a-salary-dump aspect of the Rolen deal was, if not acknowledged, certainly a sentiment shared by the pundits.

          • I know I didn’t want him. Most people here didn’t either. Hell the whole league watched as AA waived him down to the minors. We called him E5 remember?
            Sometimes it IS the player’s fault and to his credit, Edwin stuck with it and fixed his game.

  30. Unleash the Kratz-en!!!

    Janssen on the DL, Kratz up from Buffalo. THE FOUR-MAN BENCH!!

  31. Im sorry I’m a noob here, but Stoeten just for writing on this blog your entitled to press passes to all the games?? If so thats sweet, and I;m about to start a blog for the New York Rangers just so I can actually get in the Garden without paying 300$ a ticket.

  32. We want the Montreal A’s!!!! That would become a great rivalry

  33. http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/TorontoSeriesPreview/Sheet1?:showVizHome=no&:embed=y&:display_count=no#1

    kinda fun thing they put up over at DRaysBay. comparing our position players to TB’s. More pleasant to look at then the pitching matchups….

  34. SWEET FUCKIN JESUS REYES IS INJURED ALREADY

    This does not bode well for the season….

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