There were some very hardcore fans in attendance for today’s Toronto Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre. Except that they weren’t cheering for either the home Blue Jays or even the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
They were Montreal Expos fans. And there were a lot of them.
Fans of the former Expos club showed up in Toronto last year to support bringing to the franchise back to Montreal. About 200 of them according to the Canadian Free Press. But today that number swelled to about 1,000 according to event organizers.
Even though this is technically a blog about the Toronto Blue Jays hopefully I will get a free pass from our mostly Canadian readership
I’ve always felt that owners and team come and go but great franchises never truly die. This couldn’t be any closer to the truth when it comes to the Montreal Expos.
Many fans are still bitter about the way the team was moved to D.C. to become the Washington Nationals after the 2004 Major League Baseball season. Both the Expos and Minnesota Twins were targets for contraction by MLB in 2001. However the Twins were saved by an injunction requiring to team to play in the Metrodome. With the league unable to maintain a 162-game schedule without an even number of teams, in some sort of backwards arrangement that I still don’t understand and can’t bother to properly research, they allowed Jeffrey Loria to sell the Expos to MLB (aka Bud Selig) and acquire the Florida Marlins from John W. Henry who bought the Boston Red Sox. Talk about your old boys club!
The goal of the trip is to bring awareness to the potential viability of a franchise in Montreal and is organized by the website Expos Nation. It’s great to see that this movement appears to be gaining movement in one of North America’s most incredible cities.
Even the event organizer Matthew Ross admits it would be “very difficult and tough” to ever bring a team back to Montreal.
But he adds “that doesn’t mean we can’t stir the pot a bit”.
It’s nice to see that he’s realistic but what I mostly respect is the attempt to preserve a franchise history that very easily could be forgotten. Visit any Canadian city and I promise you won’t have to go too far before you find someone wearing a throwback Expos fitted cap.
Even Prime Minister Harper showed his support for the cause in 140 characters or less:
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) July 20, 2013
So will I ever live to see a team back in Montreal? My honest opinion is probably not. But things change and who knows what future demographics could bring to the table. I just love to see fans who refuse to let a franchise die despite the cruelest intentions of baseball’s billionaire club.