Target: Sell-Out – 2014 was a party, it’s for real in 2015

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Last month, evenko.ca and the Toronto Blue Jays announced the return of two Grapefruit League games at Olympic Stadium to be held on April 3 and 4, 2015.  This time the Blue Jays will host Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds.  It will also be a homecoming for Russell Martin who just signed a long-term contract with the Jays.

Those of us who attended last year’s games were taken on a nostalgic tour of some wonderful moments in Expos history.  Friday’s game honored Gary Carter.  There were many teary-eyed spectators among the 46,000+ in attendance.  On Saturday, it was time to celebrate the 1994 Expos, who had the best record in baseball until the strike ended the season and sent us on a downward spiral until we lost Nos Amours.  Even though it was a cold dreary Saturday in March, I had not heard thunderous ovations that loud in the Stadium since the 1979 season.

In the press conference announcing the 2015 games, Paul Beeston spoke of receiving calls asking if it was true that there were 50,000 fans at the game.  No one could believe it.  “Just look on YouTube”, Beeston quipped.  Tweets joked that Walla Walla, WA could get 97,000 fans for two games.  We know better.  We know that baseball is part of this city’s fabric and that 2014 was no fluke.  Cynics have said that we had a team and lost it, so why is this anything more than a trip down memory lane?  Again, we know better: we were abandoned by a carpet bagger.

2015 is going to be for real and as Warren Cromartie likes to say, “The world will be watching.” Anything less than last year’s total attendance will light up the Twitterverse with all sorts of nonsense.  Let’s avoid that.  Sales for the two games appear to be going well.  That’s not good enough. Next April, it will be time to show Major League Baseball that Montreal means business.  If you have not already purchased your tickets, I urge you to make the effort.  Click on the banner at the top of this post and for a mere $22 you will get a great seat.  Rest assured that you will have a great time.  Ask those who were at the games last year.

What will happen after the games in April?  I have no clue.  We all know that things are moving fast in Tampa and there is much happening in the background here in Montreal.  I can tell you that if the games sell out, Major League Baseball will be on notice.  If a city decides that it no longer wants their baseball team, we will be ready.  If MLB is looking to expand, we will be ready.

Copyright © 2014 BaseballPoutine.com. All Rights Reserved.

Read also: Lots of Tampa / Montreal baseball news ahead in 2015

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Memories of Steve Rogers

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My first memories of Steve Rogers were during the 1976 baseball season.  While everyone else was watching the Montreal Olympics, I was watching the woeful Expos.  The 1976 team, although they finished 55-107, had many of our future stars such as Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie, Ellis Valentine, and Larry Parrish.  This core group grew up together and over the years became the nucleus of some of the most exciting teams in Expos’ history.

Steve Rogers was easily my favorite.  When I played little league baseball, I would mimic his mannerisms and his quirky pre-pitch ritual.  Before releasing a pitch, I would heave a deep sigh, just like he did.  Unlike the Expos, our Pee Wee team was very successful that summer.  We ended up winning the Montreal North League Championship and I pitched the winning game.  It was a complete game, no one knew how to count pitches in those days and my coach never bothered asking me if I had a sore arm.

In the Fall of 1976, we had a banquet and celebrated our championship.  There was a special guest: none other than Steve Rogers.  Steve was very cordial with us as a group and even spent a good amount of time one on one with me.  We talked about everything baseball and I remember him saying that he had a good feeling about the team.  He told me that Gary Carter and Andre Dawson would become special players.  He had left me a lasting memory of someone who took the time to talk to baseball fans – a class act.

Fast forward to 1981, I was a hard-core baseball fan.  I knew every player on every team in both leagues.  I read Baseball Digest from cover to cover the minute that it arrived at my house.  I followed the team religiously, there was nothing more important than the Expos in the Summer of 1981.  The strike upset me but my anger quickly subsided when the Expos won the second half of the season.

Steve Rogers was nicknamed Cy.  This moniker could not have been more a propos as demonstrated during the 1981 playoffs against our arch-rival Phillies.  Cy out-duelled Steve Carlton and we were on to the NLCS against the powerhouse Dodgers.  The winners would advance to the World Series.

I will spare you many of the details of what happened in that deciding game against the Dodgers.  Many of us skipped our college classes to watch that fateful game at the Brasserie T.P., located across the street from the campus.  We were in shock when Jim Fanning brought in Rogers to face Rick Monday.  Fanning ignored the lefty-lefty matchup and chose not to go with Bill Lee.  I don’t blame Cy for this; it’s all on Fanning.

After the 1981 season, Rogers dominated for a few more years and should have had a better fate record-wise.  He lacked the run support and could have easily been a 20-game winner at least three times.  It was great to see him in Montreal last March as he participated in the ceremony honoring Gary Carter.  What an emotional night!  Steve Rogers is an all-time Expos great and a true gentleman.  I hope to someday hope to see his number 45 retired.

Copyright © 2014 BaseballPoutine.com. All Rights Reserved.

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