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With people talking about how sports might change after Covid, will they need to spend a fortune on a stadium; if everyone will be forced to watch the games with VR?

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La gaugauche et les bobos, présentement au pouvoir à Montréal, rêvent que Montréal soit une ville de foot.  Culturellement, le baseball est beaucoup trop nord-américain pour eux.  De plus ils voient l

Patrick Lagace is one of those inertia loving journalist in the Quebec media. Wish we would all rally around the huge opportunity this is for our city and our economy.  and that Quebec businessme

Why Major League Baseball Makes More Sense In Montreal Than Tampa Or Miami: https://www.forbes.com/sites/prishe/2019/06/21/why-major-league-baseball-makes-more-sense-in-montreal-than-tampa-or-mia

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2 hours ago, jesseps said:

With people talking about how sports might change after Covid, will they need to spend a fortune on a stadium; if everyone will be forced to watch the games with VR?

lol. Dans la même veine, il y aura peut-être des clubs à vendre à rabais :)

Ce n'est pas comme s'ils avaient pris beaucoup de valeur les 4 derniers mois

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TVA sports présentait le match du 28 juin 1994 Braves Vs Expos. Ouffff nostalgie....48 000 spectateurs, du jeu exitant...je l'ai enregistré et regardé de A à Z comme si c'était un match en live. J'ai hâte de retrouver notre équipe!!!

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Nashville avant Montréal?

La Cité de la musique a le vent dans les voiles

MARC DE FOY 

  Dimanche, 9 août 2020 01:00MISE À JOUR  Dimanche, 9 août 2020 01:00

C’est le statu quo dans le dossier de la garde partagée des Rays entre Tampa et Montréal. Le discours demeure le même.

Voici d’ailleurs un communiqué que m’a envoyé Daniel Granger, relationniste du groupe Bronfman : « Nous avons entrepris avec enthousiasme notre travail depuis le début de l’année, conjointement avec les Rays, pour développer notre projet de villes sœurs, avec un nouveau stade dans les deux régions et une saison de baseball partagée. 

« Malgré la pandémie qui a ralenti certains de nos travaux, nos équipes respectives progressent très bien dans l’analyse de tous les volets de ce projet passionnant ».

On sait que Bronfman maintient un contact régulier avec le propriétaire des Rays, Stuart Sternberg. 

Pour 2024

Cela dit, Montréal n’est pas la seule ville sur les rangs pour l’obtention d’une équipe du baseball majeur. Ça bouge beaucoup du côté de Nashville. Un projet est en place. 

Ses promoteurs souhaitent la venue d’un club et avoir un stade clé en main pour 2024. 

MM. Bronfman et Sternberg ont la même idée en tête pour la réalisation de leur projet, mais le bail liant les Rays à Saint Petersburg pose problème.

Le maire Rick Kriseman tient mordicus à ce que les Rays respectent intégralement l’entente pour la location du Tropicana Field jusqu’à son échéance prévue pour 2027.

Dave Dombrowski dans le coup

David Dombrowski, qui fut directeur général des Expos de 1989 à 1991, vient de joindre les rangs du groupe de Nashville. Il a raconté à un journaliste de l’endroit qu’il a sondé l’intérêt du bureau du commissaire pour la capitale du Tennessee avant d’accepter le poste de consultant qui lui était offert.

Il a vendu dernièrement la propriété qu’il possédait à Boston et déménagera dans la Cité de la musique à la fin du mois. C’est un signe qu’il croit vraiment aux chances de Nashville d’obtenir une concession de la MLB.

« Absolument ! me lance-t-il au bout du fil, et ce, même si nous n’avons aucune promesse de la part des autorités du baseball à ce moment-ci.

« Nashville est une ville formidable et en pleine croissance. J’aime les gens qui font partie du groupe. Ils ont un bon plan. La tâche ne sera pas facile, mais les chances que ça réussisse sont là. »

Bons hommes de baseball

La MLB est campée sur ses positions en ce qui a trait à une éventuelle expansion. Rien ne se sera fait tant que la situation des Rays et celle des Athletics d’Oakland ne seront pas réglées.

Les gens de Nashville savent que la seule acquisition d’un club coûterait un milliard de dollars au bas mot. Des investisseurs potentiels locaux et de l’extérieur ont été approchés. Le conseil de direction a pris l’engagement de ne pas demander de fonds publics pour la construction d’un stade et le développement du secteur qui serait retenu. 

C’est bien beau, mais ça reste à voir.

On retrouve au sein du comité deux autres figures connues du baseball. Ce sont l’ancien gérant Tony La Russa, trois fois vainqueur de la Série mondiale avec les Athletics (1989) et les Cardinals de Saint Louis (2006 et 2011), et l’ex-lanceur David Stewart qui possède lui aussi trois bagues de championnat (1981 avec les Dodgers, 1989 avec les Athletics et 1993 avec les Blue Jays).

Hommage à la Ligue des Noirs

Stewart est l’un des cinq Afro-Américains seulement à avoir occupé le rôle de directeur général dans les majeures avec les Diamonds de l’Arizona, de 2014 à 2016. Militant pour l’avancement des Noirs, il souhaite la présence d’Afro-Américains et de personnes des minorités visibles parmi les investisseurs.

Le surnom de l’équipe est déjà trouvé. Elle se prénommerait les Stars en hommage à une formation qui a évolué dans la Ligue des Noirs à compter de la fin des années 1930 jusqu’au début des années 1950.

Le directeur administratif du groupe, John Loar, possède 30 ans d’expérience dans les domaines de l’immobilier, du sport et du divertissement. Il a représenté des gens d’affaires dans l’acquisition de deux concessions du baseball majeur. Il a été aussi impliqué dans l’acquisition et la vente des Seahawks de Seattle, de la NFL.

Le groupe a son site web (mlbmusiccity.com). On peut y lire que les promoteurs projettent la construction d’un stade de 
42 000 sièges, le chiffre 42 étant un hommage à Jackie Robinson.

Le stade serait situé dans un parc public de 6,5 acres, inauguré en 2012, qui comprend déjà un amphithéâtre, des sentiers de marche et des glissades d’eau. Le stade des Titans du Tennessee, de la NFL, est tout près.

Amazon arrive !

Dombrowski a été impressionné par ce qu’il a vu et appris de Nashville lors d’une visite en décembre dernier.

« Avant la pandémie de COVID-19, 81 nouveaux travailleurs débarquaient en ville quotidiennement, raconte-t-il avec enthousiasme. C’était la ville américaine qui revendiquait l’augmentation la plus rapide de la population. La société Amazon est en train de construire un centre d’opérations dans le centre-ville. La ville a toujours été un haut lieu de la médecine et de l’éducation. » L’arrivée d’Amazon engendrera la création de 5000 emplois et rapportera 10 milliards en nouvelles taxes à l’État, au comté et à la ville, au cours des 10 prochaines années.

« Sur le plan sportif, Nashville a déjà des équipes dans la NFL, dans la LNH (Predators) et, depuis cette année, dans la MLS (Nashville SC), » souligne Dombrowski.

La ville compte une équipe de baseball de calibre AAA, affiliée aux Rangers du Texas, dans la Ligue de la côte du Pacifique.

L’optimisme est de mise.

« Tout est à l’état de projet, mais le potentiel est là », termine Dombrowski.

DOMBROWSKI S’Y CONNAÎT EN ÉQUIPE D’EXPANSION  

Dave Dombrowski avait 31 ans au milieu de la saison 1988, lorsqu’il a succédé à Bill Stoneman au poste de directeur général des Expos. 

En septembre 1991, il quittait Montréal pour devenir le premier DG des Marlins de la Floride, qui firent leurs débuts dans la Ligue nationale deux ans plus tard. Il s’y connaît donc dans la construction d’une équipe de l’expansion.

« Le contexte était toutefois un peu différent à mon arrivée à Miami, dit-il.

« Tout est à faire à Nashville. On part de zéro. On n’a pas de propriétaire ni de stade. 

« À Miami, je fus le premier homme de baseball embauché par l’organisation. On avait déjà l’équipe, un propriétaire en Wayne Huizenga et le Pro Player Stadium que l’on partageait avec les Dolphins de la NFL. »

Du pire au meilleur... au pire !

Huizenga était un autodidacte. À 25 ans, il emprunta 5000 $ à son père pour mettre sur pied une entreprise de services sanitaires. À son décès en 2018, sa fortune nette était évaluée à 2,8 milliards.

Fondateur de Blockbustervideo, entre autres choses, il fut aussi le premier propriétaire des Panthers de la Floride avant de devenir propriétaire plus tard des Dolphins.

Jugeant que la progression des Marlins n’allait pas assez vite à son goût après quatre ans, il prit le pari d’investir dans le marché des joueurs autonomes pour la saison 1997.

C’est ainsi que Dombrowski s’acquit les services de Moise Alou, Cliff Floyd, Bobby Bonilla et Alex Fernandez. La masse salariale de l’équipe augmenta de 25 à 52 millions, une augmentation de 108 %.

Les Marlins remportèrent la Série mondiale contre les Indians de Cleveland, mais une désagréable surprise attendait Dombrowski après la saison. Huizenga lui donna l’ordre d’échanger la plupart de ses gros salariés.

Après avoir terminé au deuxième rang de la division Est de la Ligue nationale avec une fiche de 92-70, les Marlins chutèrent en cinquième et dernière place en 1998 avec un dossier de 54-108.

Deux bagues des Séries mondiales

En 31 saisons comme directeur général dans les majeures (Montréal, Floride, Detroit et Boston), Dombrowski a vu ses équipes participer aux séries neuf fois, remporter sept championnats de division dans la Ligue américaine et mériter deux titres de la Série mondiale. Son plus récent remontant à 2018 avec les Red Sox. 

En septembre dernier, soit 10 mois seulement après la conquête de la Série mondiale par les Red Sox, il était remercié de ses services.

En janvier, son ancien gérant Alex Cora quittait son poste lorsqu’il fut jugé coupable d’être le cerveau des vols de signaux commis par les Astros de Houston lors de la Série mondiale 2017 contre les Dodgers de Los Angeles. Il est sous le coup d’une suspension d’un an.

Des accusations furent portées contre les Red Sox cette même année-là, ainsi qu’en 2018. Dombrowski a été toutefois blanchi par une enquête de la MLB, en février dernier.

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2020/08/09/nashville-avant-montreal

 

 

 

 

 

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Justin Timberlake veut amener le baseball à Nashville
 

AGENCE QMI

Mercredi, 9 septembre 2020 14:47MISE À JOUR  Mercredi, 9 septembre 2020 14:47

Souhaitant acquérir une concession du baseball majeur pour l’amener à Nashville, le groupe Music City Baseball LLC peut désormais compter sur un investisseur plutôt connu : le chanteur Justin Timberlake. 

Natif de Memphis, celui-ci est un grand amateur de sports. Il est d’ailleurs devenu actionnaire minoritaire des Grizzlies, dans la NBA, en 2012. Récipiendaire de 10 trophées Grammy, Timberlake se joint donc à un groupe d’investisseurs comprenant l’ancien directeur général des Expos de Montréal David Dombrowski; ce dernier avait confirmé son arrivée au sein de Music City Baseball.

«Je suis excité à l’idée d’être impliqué dans le mouvement visant à offrir les ligues majeures de baseball au merveilleux État du Tennessee, a commenté l’artiste par le biais d’un communiqué. Je crois en la vision de notre groupe qui veut relier la musique au baseball d’une façon unique pour divertir les gens. Je suis heureux d’aider à susciter de l’intérêt dans la communauté au moment où nous partageons l’objectif de donner le baseball majeur à Nashville.»

«J’ai contacté l’équipe de gestion de Justin et on a travaillé avec lui pendant six mois, a ajouté la tête dirigeante de Music City Baseball, John Loar, au quotidien The Tennessean. Je pense qu’il est un passionné de sports et il est interpellé par le côté divertissement que nous voulons proposer en bâtissant un secteur de classe mondiale qui inclura un stade de baseball. La combinaison du sport et de la musique est intéressante à ses yeux.»

Enthousiasme malgré les obstacles

Dombrowski s’est dit également heureux de miser sur un allié de renom dans le projet.

«Pour nous, c’est immense. Il est quelqu’un connu mondialement, ce qui est gros pour la région et l’État, a déclaré l’ex-DG sur Zoom. Il soutient le baseball et les autres enjeux sur lesquels nous travaillons. La présence d’une personne comme ça en dit long sur son intérêt à voir le tout fonctionner et nous donne l’élan nécessaire pour discuter avec d’autres individus de ce statut. C’est extrêmement important pour nous.»

Cependant, comme à Montréal où le groupe de Stephen Bronfman tente d’attirer les majeures, rien n’est gagné dans la capitale du country. Lors d’une entrevue au «Tennessean» en juillet, le propriétaire des Sounds de Nashville (club-école AAA des Rangers du Texas), Frank Ward, a mentionné que le plan de Music City Baseball manque d’informations cruciales, dont l’identité du propriétaire majoritaire et le financement. Il y aurait aussi à ses yeux des dossiers à régler concernant les droits territoriaux et la construction du stade dont les coûts élevés pourraient inciter le groupe à demander de l’aide publique.

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2020/09/09/justin-timberlake-veut-amener-le-baseball-a-nashville

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Il ne faudrait pas que les Expos de Montréal deviennent les Nordiques de Québec qui ont vu les villes de Las Vegas et de Seattle passer devant eux. 

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Merci au «justicier» inconnu qui m'a upvoté pour remettre les pendules à l'heure. Visiblement il a compris que l'emploi d'un verbe conjugué au conditionnel signifie que ce n'est pas une affirmation coulée dans le béton. Ceci dit, ce qui différencie les Expos des Nordiques c'est que la MLB souhaite vraiment qu'ils reviennent alors que Bettman ne veut absolument rien savoir de Québec et d'un éventuel retour des Nordiques. 

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      Valcke said the Hall kept the pieces and that it could be reassembled, but that the task would be daunting and that it would be difficult to recapture the piece's original majesty. "We kept every single splinter of it," he said. -- Stephen Ellsesser
    • By Philippe
      Un article intéressant sur portfolio.com que j'ai trouvé sur skyscraperpage.com. Selon cet article et selon les revenus personnels disponible (API), Montréal serait, avec Riverside, les deux seuls villes capables de faire vivre une nouvelle équipe de Baseball... Et Montréal se classerait 3ème en Amérique du Nord pour attirer une franchise de la NFL ...
       
      Extrait de l'article
       
      Just two markets currently outside of MLB have income bases sufficiently large to join its ranks: Riverside-San Bernardino, California, and Montreal. And the latter is tainted because it lost a baseball franchise, the Expos, to Washington five years ago (the Expos were renamed the Nationals).
       
      La charte pour tous les sports
      http://www.portfolio.com/resources/SportsChart.pdf
       
      L'article:
      http://www.portfolio.com/industry-news/sports/2009/12/04/how-cities-rank-for-potential-sports-expansion/index1.html
    • By pedepy
      this is kinda old, but it's well written and pretty interesting from an 'historical' point of view, of sorts ...
       
      it's a 1999 washington post tourism piece, set in the context of a d.c. man visiting montreal, and going to a ball game "to see the team washington will probably inherit". it nicely highlights the city's unique attractions, all the while quite accurately summing up the general mood that surrounded baseball in montreal at the time.
       
      oh, and for extra sentimentality, read with
      in the background ...  
      -----------------------------------
       
      Montreal, Expos'd
      Visiting the City Whose Team Might Call D.C. Home
       

      By Mike Tidwell
      The Washington Post
      Sunday, July 11, 1999
       
       
      Hundreds of crazed fans in this crowd of 5,000 foreigners begin standing and savagely slamming the backs of their chairs up and down, up and down to register their intense approval of what's going on on the playing field. The act creates sharp explosions of sound not unlike small-arms fire. The only people not banging chairs, it seems, are the sticky-fingered children eating deep-fried dough or forking strange mounds of fried potatoes laced with cheese and gravy.
      Suddenly, down on the field halfway through this "match," something bad happens for the home team. The French-speaking fans begin yelling at the mostly Spanish-speaking players: "Pourri! Pourri!" Rotten! Rotten! People whistle and blow long, booming plastic horns.
       
      I am, of course, taking in a major league baseball game in Montreal. I'm watching the pinstriped Expos on their home turf, a nine-inning experience that's perhaps the best multicultural adventure available to Washingtonians within easy flying distance of Reagan National Airport. It's a spectacle, a combination of God's two greatest inventions: baseball and international travel. As a junkie for both, I'm borderline apoplectic, immersed in fastballs and home runs, foreign billboards and surnames I can't pronounce.
       
      But a worrisome question nags as I sip my Molson: Do we really want these guys? Unless you're tone deaf to sports news, you probably know there's rampant speculation that the financially troubled Expos may move to the D.C. area.
       
      So I've come here as more than a sports tourist. I'm on a scouting mission, crossing the border for a sneak preview. I've already told my 2-year-old son, an emerging fan back in Takoma Park, that this is his team. He wears a tiny Expos hat when we play Whiffle ball in the back yard.
       
      But seeing this team firsthand reveals the naked truth: They're awful. Just now, an Expos batter strikes out on four pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies, triggering grumbles from the sparse crowd at Olympic Stadium. The team mascot--an orange and hairy something called "Youppi" (French for "hooray")--leads the fans in more chair-slamming fun, trying to keep a rally alive.
       
      The next batter runs the count full, teasing the fans, before popping out to the pitcher. More grumbles. The Expos have the lowest team payroll in baseball and some of the youngest players--and they are off to one of their worst starts in the team's 30-year history. Two nights ago, the players committed six errors in a single game.
       
      Again: Do we really want these guys?
       
      The answer, of course: Oui! Si! Yes! Please! Pretty please! Pretty please with whipped cream and a new, stylishly retro downtown stadium within easy walking distance of the Metro on top!
       
      Expos second baseman Wilton Guerrero steps to the plate as Youppi waves his hirsute arms wildly and the fans begin yelling things in French I can't understand. Guerrero, like the rest of the team, is in a terrible slump, and he falls behind in the count just as I come to a realization: Whatever happens in this game, I'll leave without regrets. If the Expos decamp for Washington, this will be the last summer to see French Canadian big-league baseball, a phenomenon worth catching before it goes, if for no other reason than it provides something found nowhere else in North America: minor league baseball with major league players.
       
      For anyone fashionably tired of big pro salaries, high ticket prices, arrogant players and the hassle of big crowds, the Expos offer the best of all worlds. I took a cheap Air Canada flight here, spent two days touring one of the world's great cities, and now I'm getting the farm league treatment: a tiny crowd, players barely old enough to shave, a crazy marriage proposal in the stands brokered by the mascot, and a wooden outfield scoreboard with numbers updated manually by teenagers. All this for the ridiculously low ticket price of less than $5 U.S. and a seat so close to the action that I can almost smell the pine tar.
       
      Guerrero bounces to second for an out, ending the inning. I do the only sensible thing. I order another Molson.
       
      My innkeeper in downtown Montreal, Madeline, says in accented English, "So what if the Expos leave town? There are many things fantastique and unique in Montreal besides just the Expos."
       
      She's right, of course, and during my two-day stay I'm determined see some "things fantastique" before hitting the ballpark.
       
      I begin by renting a mountain bike and pedaling straight to the top of Mont Royal, the dramatic, forested mountain (okay, a big hill) in the dead center of town that gives the city its name. A winding gravel road takes me through stands of Canadian maples to a beautiful summit park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It's odd to stand at the grassy pinnacle and be eyeball to eyeball with the tops of skyscrapers just 10 blocks away.
       
      On the way down, pausing for great views of the lovely St. Lawrence River, I pass a pair of oddly segregated cemeteries--one for French speakers, one for English speakers--a site that mutely summarizes the long-festering cultural divisions within Quebec.
       
      I pedal to the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, a 40-square-block delight of colonial structures and alleyways filled with horse-drawn caleches and itinerant artists. A warm spring sun has unloosed crowds of diners on the city's Euro-gamut of outdoor cafes, bistros and restaurants. The legendary French Canadian reputation for highly developed leisure skills is on full display this Sunday afternoon amid a sea of white tablecloths and red wines so good that even the vin de maison is a pretty sure bet. I eat grilled salmon served rare with escargots on a bed of scallions and garlic, and nearly swoon.
       
      The next day is game day. I visit the Old Fort on St. Helen's Island, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, before heading to Olympic Stadium. After the War of 1812, the British prepared for a possible American invasion of Montreal by building this moated fortress with eight-foot-long cannons and two-meter-thick stone walls. As something of an invader myself, I grow slightly self-conscious inside those walls. Maybe I'm paranoid, but the eyes of those period-dress sentries make me think they're onto me, pegging me as the expeditionary fingertip of Washington's long arm reaching up to snatch the Expos. I make a discreet but hasty exit.
       
      I arrive three hours before the game, leaving plenty of time to tour the flag-festooned Olympic Park. I buy a ticket for the highly touted gondola ride rising from the spine of Olympic Stadium. Photos of the 1976 Games ornament the waiting area: Nadia Comaneci, Kornelia Ender, Sugar Ray Leonard.
       
      But I soon learn something unexpected about myself: Facing backward in a gondola rapidly moving upward at a 45-degree angle makes me afraid. At the top, pale and sweating, I take in a dramatic aerial view of the famous Olympic Village, the Montreal Botanical Garden and the city's 1967 international Expo site.
       
      Back on terra firma, there's time for one more stop: Moe's Deli and Bar, where Expos fans gather. It's a friendly place with exposed-brick walls, barbecued ribs and desserts kept in an old phone booth by the bar. It's happy hour--two-for-one Labatt beers--till well past game time, perhaps to anesthetize the fans for the poor play sure to follow.
       
      I sit at the bar next to Daniel, a baseball-hatted Expos loyalist, who has a message for D.C. fans. "Don't accept our Expos," he tells me. "You've lost two teams of your own before, so you know what it feels like. Please don't do this to us."
       
      I grimace and finish my second Labatt and push back my stool while Daniel, like all Montrealers I meet, remains a friendly sport to the end.
       
      "When you reach the stadium," he says, "buy the cheapest ticket in the house. It's only $7 Canadian [$4.80 U.S.]. Then, after the first pitch, sit wherever you want."
       
      "A $7 seat, please," I tell the stadium ticket seller moments later, handing over my money. I walk through the turnstile, past the popcorn and pennant venders, toward Section 139, right field. Virtually alone in my area, I take in batting practice amid thoroughly modern trappings: artificial turf, a space-age stadium roof, a gargantuan replay screen in center field. But already it doesn't quite feel like major league baseball.
       
      First, of course, there's the ticket price, about a quarter of what you'd pay at Camden Yards. Then there's the action on the field. An Expos coach is pitching batting practice using a wobbly shopping cart full of baseballs, and he's throwing to the beat of French rock music blasting over the P.A. Thirty feet below me, two teenage boys are standing on a crude scaffold, diligently updating a sprawling pre-World War II-type wooden scoreboard that gives results from around the league. This old-fashioned work, utterly exposed to those of us in the cheap seats, involves taking scores from a press-box official, then reaching into several wooden troughs for wooden slabs hand-painted with numbers and sliding them into the appropriate slot. One of them wears a felt Gatsby hat.
       
      I exit the stands for a quick pregame bite. "One order of poutine," I tell the uniformed attendant at a concession stand. Poutine, a uniquely Quebecois concoction combining french fries, cheddar cheese and beef-stock gravy, is so popular that it's served at McDonald's restaurants throughout the province. I watch the cook in back combine the fries and cheese in a tall paper cup, then slop on a ladleful of thick gravy from a stainless-steel vat. He pauses and then, momentarily indecisive, adds a second, heaping ladleful.
       
      I'm back at my seat in time for the national anthem, spearing dripping mouthfuls of poutine with a fork. For extreme junk food, it's not so bad, though halfway through the serving my stomach begins making odd noises that compete with the junior high school band playing "O Canada" with tubas and French horns on the field.
       
      The Expos take the field next, and the crowd, sprinkled more or less evenly across the stadium, begins banging empty seats up and down in preparation for the opening pitch. Twenty-five-year-old Expos pitcher Mike Thurman is on the mound, and as he warms up you can almost sense the whole place cringe. With an 0-2 record and an ERA of 8.05, he's the worst pitcher on the second-worst pitching staff in the National League. Just two nights ago, Expos pitchers gave up 17 runs in a game.
       
      But the first pitch from Thurman is a strike on the outside corner, and cheers go up just as the strange migration begins. True to Daniel's prediction, everyone in the stands not already seated behind home plate makes a beeline for amazingly choice (and empty) lower-level seats just 20 rows from the field (above a narrow VIP section) in an arc from dugout to dugout. I grab the rest of my poutine and join the exodus. By the end of the first inning, we fans are huddled cozily around home plate.
       
      In the third inning, the Expos stage a mini rally. Third baseman Mike Mordecai lines a clean single to left, and the juices start flowing in the stands. I get caught up in the excitement--this is my team, too--so I stand and begin slamming the back of my chair and cheer madly like those around me. The noise coming from these fans is, no exaggeration, as much as I've heard from crowds four times as big in other parks. Despite the high-decibel support, the rally sputters when Thurman strikes out trying to lay down a bunt.
       
      Next to me, a serious fan named Jean Yves Leduc is studiously scoring the game. He says he's attended at least 40 Expos home games every year for the past two decades. He puts down his scoring pencil and reminisces about highlights, including the 22-inning game against Los Angeles in 1987 and the time he shook hands with third baseman Tim Wallach in the parking lot before a game. "I could feel all the calluses on Wallach's hand from taking extra batting practice every day," Yves says. "I'll never forget those calluses. He was so dedicated to this team and to the game."
       
      And what will Yves do if the Expos leave town?
       
      "I had a talk with my girlfriend," he says, "and I decided that, with all my new free time, I would just go ahead and get married and have a life."
       
      It's the top of the fourth when Thurman makes a mistake pitch and Phillies right-fielder Bobby Abreu lifts a second two-run homer into left field. Four-zip, Philadelphia.
       
      "One more Phillies run," mutters the old farmer next to me after removing his teeth, whistling and putting them back in, "and I'm going home to watch hockey."
       
      Halfway through the fifth inning, Yves gets into an animated conversation with a hot dog vendor. It's all in French, and they both laugh a great deal, and I ask Yves what's so funny. "The crowd's so small tonight that the stadium is telling all the vendors--when they go back for more hot dogs--to go home. They're getting paid for only half a game. But this vendor's decided to avoid the order by not going back to resupply. That way, he can at least get his base pay for the rest of the game."
       
      Sure enough, the vendor walks away with a smile, barking to the crowd, "No hot dogs here! No hot dogs! Pas de chiens chauds!"
       
      Unexpectedly, the Expos make a heroic comeback with three runs in the seventh, while a young relief pitcher called up from Double-A somehow keeps the Phillies scoreless. By the bottom of the ninth, the drama escalates. The Expos are down 4-3 with two outs and a man on second. First baseman Ryan McGuire, who has power, steps to the plate.
       
      We may be few, but we fans do our best. Youppi claps his hairy orange hands and directs our cheers to the field. Chairs are banging. The vendor has stopped not selling hot dogs and is rooting like everyone else. The scoreboard guys are smoking nervously, peeping through a hole in the outfield scoreboard. The guy with the false teeth, true to his word, has stayed to the end.
       
      On a 2-1 pitch, McGuire lifts a towering blast to left field. We jump for joy and cheer louder and louder. But the Phillies's left fielder refuses to give up on the ball. He drifts back, back, back and, incredibly, makes the catch standing against the outfield fence. Five thousand people collapse in their seats in anguish and disbelief.
       
      It was a good game, and the young Expos have no reason to drop their chins. But there is something very sad about the way these previously boisterous fans shuffle slowly out of the stadium. An unusually large number stop and linger at souvenir stands by the exit gates. Souvenir. A French word meaning "to remember." For many of these fans, this may very well be the last time they see their Expos. They buy hats, T-shirts, pennants. To remember.
       
      I take the Montreal Metro back to downtown thinking two things. First, I sincerely hope Montreal figures out a way to keep its team, and prosper, even if it means we in D.C. don't get one. Second, if the Expos do come to us, I can't wait for the day when I can take the Washington Metro to a baseball game with my son. I'll really show him how to make a stadium chair hum.
       
      -----------------------------------
       
       
      :rolleyes:



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