The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Esprit de corps

A year after talks of contraction, and in the midst of heated debate about where they will play their home games next season and beyond (Montreal ? Montreal / San Juan ? Portland ? Washington DC ?), the Expos - a mixed bag of genuine superstars, promising young players and experienced veterans, owned by Major League Baseball and run on a shoestring budget - continue to amaze with their exploits on the field. Last night, they overcame an 8-run deficit to beat the Phillies 14-10, and in doing so closed the gap in the Wild Card race. They're now just two games behind the Phillies and the Marlins, and this kind of comeback win can only boost their confidence for the last month of the season.

Obviously, the players themselves have to be given credit for what they are achieving on the field, but there are two other key figures in the Montreal organisation whose contribution can't be ignored - GM Omar Minaya, who has put together a good ballclub on a very tight budget, and manager Frank Robinson, who seems to know how to make all those different parts gel on the field and produce good results.

The one thing that p*sses me off is that the good citizens of Montreal don't actually turn out to watch this team play (except on nights like Monday, when 30,501 people turned up to watch them beat the Phillies...No the Phillies aren't THAT big of a box-office draw - what brought people to the ballpark were $5 tickets and $1 hot-dogs!!). I understand - I know that the fans feel they've been used and abused by the Montreal management, who have continued to trade all the club's best players year after year. I just get a little frustrated, because there is nothing I would like more than to have a major league baseball team on my doorstep that I could watch for six months a year. When you're stuck in the Baseball Desert, 4,000 miles away from the nearest franchise, any team - Expos, Brewers, Tigers, Devil Rays - looks like an oasis...