Now I know this is a menswear/lifestyle blog, but tonight will be a post of a different kind. An emotional one for myself personally as I will recap my weekend watching the return of Major League Baseball in Montreal with the 2 Blue Jays-Mets spring training games.
I have always been a big sports fan (baseball included) and spent many a day in my early teens at the Stade Olympique catching Expos games with my younger brother. My 16 year old heart was shattered 10 years ago when my team left and there is still a hole that remains to this day. When it was announced that the games were coming here back in November, I did not know how to feel exactly. I despise both teams (Montreal-Toronto rivalry duh!) and did not want to go at first. It was only after my brother pointed out to me that Expos Nation would be encouraging fans to show up in Expos colours cheering like it was our old team back on the diamond to show to MLB that this is still a baseball market that I decided I wanted to attend. Then when it was later announced by the Montreal Baseball Project that the 1994 Expos “best team in baseball” who’s incredible season, on pace for 110 wins and a shot at a World Series, was cut short to the players’ strike, would be honoured it sealed the deal for me.
So all the months of anticipation led to the first game on Friday night (gotta love free tickets!) Although I have since gained a disdain for public transit since the last time I rode the Metro down to the Big O for a ball game, it felt just like old times. The closer we got to our seats the greater the anticipation rose and finally seeing that field again, all the memories rushed back….watching Vladdy hitting 3 home runs in a game in 2000, seeing him shoot for 40/40 in 2002, the home opener in 2001 when Tim Raines returned as an Expo, Wil Cordero’s walk off blast against the Phillies in 2003, blowing out the Phils in August of ’03 in the midst of Believer Fever, rallying from 5 runs down against the Blue Jays..I was 15 years old again! Prior to the game was another emotional moment as the late great Gary Carter was honoured in a pre-game ceremony with his wife and daughter present. The game itself I could have cared less for except for the “Let’s Go Expos!” chants that broke out, we left in the 7th inning to go grab some real food at a restaurant (did not feel like pigging out on the Big O grub).
Saturday morning we left the house bright and early at 10:30 to get some free parking around the stadium and to soak in the experience. The one thing I always hated about the Big O, is that it’s so far out of the way no matter where you park, what a hell of a walk to find the damn upper entrance! Once inside and settled in though, it was comforting to be back there in the upper reaches of the stadium with a great view of the field. At 12:40 the ceremonies got under way and all the 1994 team present were introduced, from Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, Moises Alou, Darrin Fletcher, Ken Hill, John Wettland, Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, Lou Frazier and more. The biggest ovation however, came for the manager, Felipe Alouuuuuu! As they were standing on the field, we were treated to a presentation of Montreal’s own Annakin Slayd’s tribute song to the ’94 team, 94 Fall. It was difficult to fight back the man-tears as it played and wondering what could have been, for that team would have been the saviours for baseball in my city. Once again the game itself was secondary to me although it was nice to watch a good old pitching duel of a game. It was all so surreal just watching baseball in the Big O again and the attendance, wow! over 46,000 on Friday and 50,229 on Saturday, the first time in my life I seen the upper bowl completely full for baseball. MLB I hope you’re taking note, give me my team back!
One day, they shall return and I will introduce my future kids, to the same experiences I had in my youth….