One of the only baseball blogs (to my knowledge) in the blogosphere that focuses on the Montreal Expos. Okay, mostly baseball in general, however with Montreal Expos references to be found within!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Michael Barrett on "The Expos: Five years later" panel

When I heard former Expo and current minor league free agent was going to be in town, I knew I had to be there.

He was in town for the Concordia University Sports Journalism Workshop. This year's theme was Montreal: Major League City?

I was planning on checking out all the events, but only ended up staying for the panel Michael Barrett was involved in, titled "The Expos: Five Years Later." The panel also included Dave Van Horne (voice of the Expos from 1969-2001 and the Florida Marlins 2002-present), Elliot Price (Team 990, Montreal sports radio station), and Serge Touchette ( and journalist).

I learned numerous things I did not know previously, as I really only became a fan late in their run.

The slow demise started well before the 1994 strike, although that surely was a huge factor.

Charles Bronfman put the Expos up for sale at the start of spring training in 1990. That sale could have surely gone much better.

Tim Raines was traded at the end of the 1990 season.

Of course after the strike, the firesale ocurred sending Larry Walker, John Wetteland, Ken Hill, and Marquis Grissom packing.

Vladimir Guerrero came in in 1996, and was the regular RF starting in 1996. That essentially could have saved the franchise if he had been marketed as LeBron James was. Michael Barrett noted that about how he should have been like LeBron was. Or Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for that matter (I added them). Michael also stated how the strike was hard to predict. Before that, they should have locked up players to long term deals, similar to Matt Ryan (of the Atlanta Falcons), and built the team around the future star player. Instead Youppi was marketed. Michael told a story about how he almost killed Youppi, pitching a ball right into the throat of the person inside Youppi! He stated he has it on tape and should put it on youtube, would be nice, but we'll have to see!

For a while, the team was marketed all over Canada, and throughout the Northeast US. Media coverage slowly fizzled away, ending with no tv deals, only radio, and advertisers staying away.

Jeffrey Loria and David Samson did not help matters. Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard rejected public funding for a new downtown ballpark. Regardless, Loria and Samson were businessmen, as such, they probably did not exhaust all options in order to get the ballpark deal done. Loria being an art dealer firstly.

I was just watching Top Gear (series 13 episode 7), and they were talking about the cars bad drivers drove. They concluded bad drivers do not care about driving and should have their licences removed. For example, you would not want to eat food cooked by someone who does not care about food. Why should an art dealer be dealing with baseball? Of course, many people like baseball, but that does not make them qualified to own or run a team.

Another issue relating to the ballpark was how Olympic Stadium was indoors. People didn't want to spend the summer days inside! I believe they referred to the fact that if Montreal had a 30 000 seat downtown outside ballpark, the team would be thriving. No doubt! Michael Barrett referred to the rebuilding of the Cleveland Indians with the additions of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez and the opening of Progressive Field, aka Jacobs Field in 1994.

Michael Barrett also brought up revenue sharing, referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers before and after revenue sharing.

With revenue sharing, and a salary cap, the Expos could probably still be around (I added the salary cap). Of course, also with the new downtown ballpark that would have been steps away from where the Montreal Canadiens play. Now condos, or some sort of living space is there.

Bottom line, Montreal can support a team if done correctly. Once Selig is out, no doubt there would be a possibility. Especially if we could have a ballpark on the water, a la San Francisco.

Check out a couple videos taken by yours truly below. Click on them to get to the Youtube page for further information.

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