No More Extra Innings

The Montreal Expos play their final home game of the season tonight vs. the Florida Marlins, and probably, the final home game in the franchise's 35 year history, as MLB is poised to announce their imminent relocation to Washington, DC. I find the Canadian sports medias hand-wringing and mock sentiment for the days of Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, et al somewhat bemusing, given that their games have been relegated to the back pages of the sports section and upper register of the cable TV dial for quite a few seasons now.

I'm somewhat sad to see the Expos go - my father, who played briefly in the New York Giants organization, was a big Expos fan, despite his incessant francophobia and my Mom's allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays. He taught me a lot about the game, and that's one of the few things about him that's stuck with me since he died 14 years ago. The Expos began their slow descent to oblivion shortly after that, when the Bronfmans sold the team a year later.

That's pretty much where any of my sentiment about the Expos ends - MLB has made the right choice in choosing Washington. The handful of remaining diehard Expos fans may disagree, and as a fan of a team that faced relocation (the Seattle Mariners) on a number of occasions I can sympathize. However, what kept baseball in Seattle was a perfect storm of a winning team, a new ballpark, and a superheated local economy in between.

As for the other contenders for the Expos, I had my doubts about all of them. America's suburbs belong to people who renounce the sense of community a baseball team can bring, which is why I'm happy Northern Viriginia is on the outside looking in. San Juan was a logistical nightmare for the 'home' games the Expos played there, making little sense to make the rest of baseball travel there repeatedly: there's a reason why the Pacific Coast League isn't in Edmonton and Honalulu anymore. If baseball still can't agree about what to do about Pete Rose, how could they consider putting the Expos in Las Vegas? As for Portland, who's bright idea was it to collectively hold their breaths 'til they turn blue, shun the AAA Beavers and expect the Expos to drop into their laps?

Meanwhile, back in Montreal, Olympic Stadium is left with a few trade shows and the occasional Alouettes playoff game. I sense an implosion...