LOVERRO: Flirting with MLB will only bring Montreal heartbreak

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A familiar notice recently circulated through the Montreal media: “Still plenty of tickets available in Montreal for the Blue Jays’ visit to play the New York Mets March 28-29.”

It’s a familiar tune, though one that hasn’t been heard in more than 10 years —when the Expos left Montreal and moved to Washington, D.C.

Plenty of tickets available for a baseball game.

A movement is underway in Montreal to bring major league baseball back to the city, and these two exhibition games, to be played in the baseball graveyard known as Olympic Stadium, are part of that effort — to send a message to MLB that it should bring the game back.

Baeball fans fill Olympic Stadium to watch the MontrealExpos play their final home game against the Florida Marlins in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2004. The Expos will move to Washington, D.C. for next season. (AP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson)

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Baeball fans fill Olympic Stadium to watch the MontrealExpos play their final ... more >

According to the Canadian Baseball Network, they have sold 68,000 total tickets for both games, and they expect to be sold out. But “there are good seats still available.”

Funny, former Expo Warren Cromartie, who is helping lead the effort to bring baseball back to Montreal told the Boston Globe in October they had already sold 50,000 tickets.

Look, I come not to bury Montreal. It’s a city I fell in love with when I would go up there every September for about five years to write about the death of the Expos.

But don’t do this. Don’t spend people’s time and money with committees and feasibility studies and meaningless exhibitions games as a declaration of the city’s commitment to baseball, because it will last for years, probably decades. You’ll waste perhaps millions of dollars begging baseball to return, and you’ll wind up disappointed time after time, as if the Expos were leaving all over again.

Don’t be patsy for Major League Baseball.

You don’t need baseball. You have one of the greatest cities in the world, with so much to offer its residents.

Don’t set yourself up to be used and abused.

Washington has walked in your shoes before — feasibility studies conducted, investor groups formed, rallies held, exhibition games played — for 33 years, while baseball built stadiums on the back of the city in San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and Pittsburgh.

Only when a baseball team became so economically unviable that it was no longer tolerable — that team, by the way, being the Montreal Expos — did the game return for the first time since the Senators left Washington after the 1971 season.

That’s 33 years. Montreal, that means your children will likely have children who will be going to exhibition games in the city — if there is any place to play baseball by then (Olympic Stadium is falling apart) — trying to prove to baseball that the city is worthy of a major league team.

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