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.