Thursday, March 27, 2014
The tireless efforts of a dedicated band of volunteers come together this weekend when major league baseball returns to Montreal, however fleetingly.
The 1994 Expos will be honoured at a gala dinner celebrating a team whose most ardent supporters are convinced were headed to the World Series before the season was infamously derailed by a labor dispute. Major League Baseball is throwing the die-hards a bone in the form of a two game exhibition series at the Big O between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets, which so far has generated ticket sales in excess of 80,000 - equivalent to the combined turnout for a 10 game homestand in the Expos' dying days.
While this weekend's events represent the most ambitious and conspicuous chapter in a grassroots campaign to bring baseball back to Montreal, even the wildest dreamers are doing their best to stay rooted in reality. There are no current MLB expansion or relocation scenarios, and even if there were, Montreal hasn't found the elusive angel investor to cough up the billion or so dollars required to finance a team and a new stadium (and a billion might be a conservative estimate).
Anyone who expects this weekend to pave the way for baseball's rebirth in Montreal is setting themselves up for disappointment. Take it at face value and enjoy it for what it is, and the weekend will at the very worst be bittersweet, which in the context of franchise history would be entirely in keeping with the Expos fan experience.