Posted tagged ‘montreal’

Final Thoughts: Don’t bet against the Washington Nationals (née Montreal Expos)

November 3, 2019

Lesson learned: Don’t bet against those Nats.

Allow me to present this cautionary tale…

Milwaukee will win the Wildcard, I thought.
That didn’t happen.

There’s no way Washington will defeat Los Angeles. Heck, the Dodgers are my pick to win the whole thing.
Wrong. Very wrong.

Okay, I’ll buy into the hype. They’ll defeat St. Louis, but it’ll be a battle.
The Cards got anillated.

World Series, baby! It’s been fun, but Houston is a better team. Besides, the Nats haven’t played in a week. That’s usually a disadvantage.
Washington goes up 2-0, defeating Cole and Verlander on the road.

Is this really happening?

Oh, look. Houston just won three straight. They’re heading back to H-Town, one win away from their second championship in three years. Everything makes sense again.
Nope. Nope. Nope.

The Nats’ victory is stark reminder that everything resets in the playoffs. Each round is a clean slate and whatever happened previously goes out the window. Sometimes, the narrative follows though; sometimes, it doesn’t.

I’m thrilled Washington won. They are – technically – the Montreal Expos after all.

It was interesting how Expo fans viewed the World Series. I saw a fair amount of salty feelings. Some Montreal-based organizations divorced themselves from the Nationals by stating the Expos were “paused” in 2004. Respectfully, it’s a little absurd to deny the historical lineage.

Nevertheless, the District of Columbia will fly the banner, Houston got what they deserved and Bryce Harper saw his former teammates reach the promised land without him – his choice, of course.

Congrats to the Nationals, especially to the former Blue Jays on their championship roster/coaching staff:

  • Daniel Hudson
  • Yan Gomes
  • Henry Blanco
  • Javy Guerra
  • Dave Martinez

Aplogies to anyone I missed. Long live Baby Shark!

ER

2019 World Series Guess

October 22, 2019

Got the pennant winners right! Can’t believe Washington steam-rolled St. Louis. I love a dramatic tale and the Nats’ run has been thrilling.

Seven months ago, they said goodbye to Bryce Harper. Now, they’re basking in the glory of a National League pennant and making their first World Series appearance.

Having said that…

Houston over Washington

In my head, the Astros are a better team. They’ve also had less of a break between rounds than the Nationals. Sometimes, that affects the result.

Let’s find out.

ER

That’s right, my fellow Xennials. It’s been 25 years since the 1994 Players’ Strike

August 27, 2019

We’re in the midst of a very grim anniversary.

25 years ago, a work stoppage hit Major League Baseball and it literally fucked up everything.

The players and owners were at war, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Fans were nothing more the collateral damage.

It was an ugly time.

If you lived in Toronto and loved sports, the fall of 1994 was brutal.

Along with the baseball strike, the NHL was going through a lockout. The Raptors existed, but were a year away from their expansion season. The Argos struggled for attention – much like today, unfortunately – but managed to make the playoffs, despite a 7-11 record. They lost the East Semi-Final to the Baltimore Colts CFLers/soon-to-be Stallions.

Other attempts were made to fill the void.

The Fan 1430 – now known as Sportsnet 590 – would air minor league contests and classic World Series games. They even hooked up with a software company that could generate “live” matches involving teams from different eras and seasons. I can remember the ’61 Yankees battling the ’92 Jays; the ’81 Expos taking on the ’85 Jays. Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth were actually doing play-by-play of these games.

Things were worse in Montreal.

The ’94 Expos were the biggest casualty of the strike. They would’ve/could’ve won it all. Instead, it was the beginning of the end.

A lot changed because of the strike. None of it was positive. To an 11-year-old scrawny kid, it was jarring.

Suddenly, nobody liked baseball. Suddenly, baseball was boring. Suddenly, people started to care about the salaries of athletes and were outraged by them. Suddenly, nobody wanted to watch the Blue Jays or purchase tickets. Suddenly, the stadium was half-full. Suddenly, Skydome wasn’t impressive anymore.

It all came crashing down.

In a short and alarming amount of time, the Jays lost all their popularity.

It was a perfect storm: The ugly strike that cancels the World Series, followed by a last place finish in 1995. All the joy and glory was gone and no matter what the Jays did on or off the field, they couldn’t bring it back.

It wasn’t easy being a Jays/baseball fan in the mid-90s. It was a lonely experience. The sport and the team were scoffed at. Say what you want about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa; what they did in 1998 was a much-needed boost.

The silver lining from this dark chapter: There hasn’t been a work stoppage since. However, I’m concerned that two-plus decades of relative labour peace are now threatened.

During a recent segment on Prime Time Sports, Jeff Blair and Richard Dietsch argued there wouldn’t be another strike like ’94 because neither side would want to negatively affect the lucrative television revenue.

I’m not so convinced.

The players are pissed and I don’t blame them. Needing at least six seasons of service time before they can achieve their true market value is a heavy requirement. Adding to the challenge are front offices evaluating a player’s worth based on what they’re projected to do, rather than their resume.

It’s scary because the Jays are (hopefully) building towards something successful and sustainable. A strike would seriously hinder that.

The current CBA has a couple more years before it’s up for renewal. Things could get intense, especially with the precense of social media. There will be a lot of spin and cryptic messaging from both sides.

It’s said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’m praying the players and owners consider what happened in 1994 as they strategize.

Neither side can afford a work stoppage. The carnage would be devastating. Much worse than what happened 25 years ago.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – The Best and Worst from ’79

November 29, 2018

Posted by xtHabs789

Based on record alone, 1979 was a hideous season for the Blue Jays.

The team managed to win just 53 games, finishing dead last in the AL East; 50.5 games behind division-winner Baltimore. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the ’79 Jays hold the club record for lowest winning percentage (.327) over a 162-game schedule.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos were a stark contrast. They finished the ’79 season with a sparkling record of 95-65, narrowly missing the NL East title by two games.

The vast distance between the two Canadian teams was well-illustrated in this report for the CBC program, NEWSMAGAZINE.

It highlights the nuances of baseball; even touches on the volatile political situation in Quebec at the time. Regardless, reporter Mark Philips conveys the excitement at Olympic Stadium and the subdued atmosphere at Exhibition Stadium.

All the Expo clips are positive; players are flashing big grins. There’s even a small part dedicated to the legendary Bill “Spaceman” Lee.

Different appearance with the Blue Jay clips. They’re mostly negative with beleaguered faces, nicely captured by then-Manager Roy Hartsfield trying to find something nice to say about his team. A valiant effort was also made by then-President Peter Bavasi with his message of “selling entertainment; not a win-loss record.”

If anything, this feature reminds us of a time when the Expos were “Canada’s Team,” while the Jays were simply a punchline.

The metaphoric tide was not even close to turning.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – Whitt and Cheek on Community TV

August 10, 2018

Posted by Home Town Cable Network.

I’ve always had a fascination with community/public-access broadcasting. For starters, it’s obviously different than traditional commercial media. This particular format was also one of my first forays into the world of media – Ottawa’s CKCU, early-to-mid 2000s.

It’s hard to explain, but there’s something about the unpolished, raw presentation that seems authentic to me. This is prevalent with the following interviews of former Blue Jay catcher and coach Ernie Whitt and the late Tom Cheek.

Based on the setting, the footage was recorded at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, likely before the 1985 Pearson Cup.

The clips are part of the Home Town Cable Network which, according to its website and Facebook page, serves Northern New York State; with their office located in Champlain, New York.

One of the interviewers – Dick Letourneau – is no Bob Costas and calling Whitt’s team the “Maple Leafs” at the beginning of his interview was far from a smooth start. But he does ask some interesting questions.

For his part, Whitt answers the questions truthfully; though he seemed a little taken aback by Letourneau’s style of interviewing.

Tom Cheek – as he always was – told a great story, threw in a joke and always brought an incredible amount of professionalism. I wonder how many people knew he was a fill-in for Expo games before he came to Toronto.

Despite their rough look, the interviews are unique. They might not shine, but they’re fun to watch.

x

As an aside, Home Town Cable Network’s website has dozens of baseball clips. The majority of which involved the Expos.

ER

I can’t believe they swept the Washington Nationals: An open letter to anyone who gives a damn

June 18, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

The Blue Jays hosted the Washington Nationals this past weekend. My buddy and I attended Friday’s opening match and I was very excited. Last time I saw the Nats in a live setting, they were known as the Montreal Expos. Additionally, it was my first opportunity to see Bryce Harper and Juan Soto in the flesh.

However, I was also very pessimistic about the series.

We know what the Jays are and we know what the Nats are. We also knew the Jays would face two starters with ERAs under 3.00 and one under 4.00.

It looked to be another dreadful series in a season that has been on a steep decline for several weeks. My hope was that they wouldn’t get swept at the very least. Avoiding Washington’s brooms would be akin to winning.

But in the end, the Jays turned out to be the sweepers instead of the sweepees. They won all three games against Washington, leaving me flabbergasted.

Please accept this notice as my apology for allowing my negativity to get the best of me. Once again, baseball has reminded me that what appears on paper doesn’t always translate on the field.

Of course, sweeping the Nats doesn’t change anything. However, it does give us something to smile about.

ER

Finally! I found a Pearson Cup game!

March 23, 2018

I’ve always had a fascination with the Pearson Cup; the mid-season exhibition match between the Blue Jays and Montreal Expos that took place from 1978 to 1986 and revived for the teams’ regular season series in 2003 and 2004.

Before interleague play and not including whatever took place during spring training, this was the only time the Jays and Expos would go toe-to-toe.

Being born in the early 80s, I never had a chance to experience the Pearson Cup’s original concept. I’m actually surprised there’s never been much chatter about the games. Odd since it seemed like a great opportunity for fans of both teams to embrace the rivalry.

I was overjoyed recently when I discovered one of the Pearson Cup games on YouTube. It’s the French language broadcast of the 1982 match from Exhibition Stadium.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, I highly recommend watching it before a certain league office realizes there wasn’t any expressed written consent. 😝

[Posted by Mart Lat]

ER


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