Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Big league baseball's return a distant dream

On the eve of a news conference to kick off former Expo Warren Cromartie's organized campaign promoting the return of professional baseball to Montreal, the obstacles facing Cromartie and his supporters are being underscored by developments at the major league level - specifically, lucrative new contracts for Matt Cain and Joey Votto.
The first question that comes to mind is "Who's Matt Cain?" Well, Cain is a 27 year old righthanded pitcher who's never won more than 14 games in a season, and will be paid 127.5 million dollars by the San Francisco Giants over the next six seasons. Votto you might have heard of. Two seasons removed from winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award, the Toronto born-and-raised slugger has signed a contract extension with Cincinnati reportedly worth 225 million over the next decade.
The Expos total payroll in their final season in Montreal was 43 million dollars. If they couldn't compete economically then, how could they compete now? The fact is they couldn't - not without a deep-pocketed local owner willing to absorb huge personal losses for the sake of a small core of die-hard baseball fans. That's the reality facing Cromartie, and to his credit, he recognizes the reality and is talking in terms of baby steps, suggesting a minor league franchise as the first phase in the rebirth of pro baseball in Montreal.
If passion alone was the only requirement to bring back major league baseball, it would be a done deal on the basis of Cromartie's enthusiasm alone, but it's also going to take money and trust, and more of each than can be amassed overnight.

1 comment:

  1. The reality is not that quite simplistic. Montreal lost their franchise because its owners refused to invest any further money to get fans in the seats.
    I know, we can blame Lorria for selling the franchise down to Florida but there was a few years before that where there were no fans coming to the games. That last season for the Expos was their swan song so the numbers were not going to be at their highest. Also that was almost eight years ago (2004)when salaries on the whole were a little lower than what they are now.
    There is no doubt that a major cash flow would be needed to restart a franchise in Montreal but the REAL question is would fans be wanting to come out and support their franchise and spend the money needed to keep the Expos in the black. If Montrealers would feel as exuberant and joyful as a Winnipeg Jet fan then it would look a whole lot brighter. But if Montrealers are going to snub their team because they aren't happy with them, then sorry Warren, don't even bother.