If a Major League Baseball team ever returns to Montreal, a pair of exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets scheduled for next spring at Olympic Stadium will be considered a key moment.
No major league games of any kind have been played in Quebec since the Montreal Expos moved and became the Washington Nationals after the 2004 season. No question, there's a hard-core group of fans who would support a new team in Montreal, which was an expansion city in 1969, a full eight seasons before the Blue Jays came into being. The bigger questions involve building a new and permanent ballpark.
Even if a new team isn't coming to Montreal any time soon, the Blue Jays see games in Montreal as a way to gain more fans throughout Canada, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. These exhibition games have been in the works since 2011, a brainchild of Jays president Paul Beeston. He's also like to set something up in Vancouver on the West Coast. Of course, having a second major league team in Canada wouldn't hurt the Jays, who are hosting an announcement regarding the spring exhibitions on Tuesday.
But the bigger hook for Montreal would be getting a team again:
In July in Toronto, a large contingent of Expos fans staged a rally during a Blue Jays game for the second straight year meant to demonstrate the support for baseball in Montreal, and exhibition contests in their own city would serve their cause even more.
Also standing to benefit is the Montreal Baseball Project, fronted by Warren Cromartie, which is conducting a feasibility study on bringing a team back to the city permanently. A strong showing is sure to get noticed among the game’s power-brokers.
The Expos were one of the coolest franchises in the 1980s and '90s. Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Gary Carter in one generation, along with with Larry Walker, Delino DeShields and Pedro Martinez in the next. Those were some great teams. No World Series (thank you, 1994 strike) but great times. Great caps. Youppi!
Imagine how happy it would make Carter to see the Expos and Mets playing each other at the Big O again. And if it leads to more baseball in Montreal, all the better.