- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

MONTREAL.
Seven years ago yesterday, Montreal Expos pitcher Greg Harris introduced ambidexterity to major league baseball. In the ninth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds, Harris pitched to two batters right-handed and two batters left-handed.
The Expos lost 9-7, but it was a glorious day in Expos baseball history. When this team is finally dead and buried, it may be the only legacy the franchise leaves to its fans.
They never made it to the World Series, and some of their moments in the sun in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter have been overshadowed by the years that the franchise has served as farm team for other major league clubs.
John Wetteland. Larry Walker. Pedro Martinez. Ken Hill. Mark Langston. Moises Alou. Marquis Grissom. Delino DeShields. Ugueth Urbina. These are some of the players the Expos raised from minor league youngsters to pass on to richer major league clubs.
The Expos are a ghost in this city. For the first game of this three-game final series against the Reds last night, the crowd was so sparse it was like a game at Camden Yards. There is no sign that the Expos exist anywhere in the city. There are billboards of Elvis Presley's latest CD but none for the Expos. There may be some people who think they left four years ago, when former owner Claude Brochu was setting deadlines about a stadium deal or threatening to sell the team to out-of-town buyers.
Those minority owners who stepped in to save the franchise probably wish they had let Brochu just sell the team to Bill Collins then and be done with it. That would have been preferable to the brief and ugly reign of New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria, the white knight brought in to save the franchise who showed the art of the con during his three years in Montreal.
Now those investors are suing Loria, who cashed in the Expos to buy the Florida Marlins, and commissioner Cadillac Bud Selig, charging them with racketeering, as if Tony Soprano had owned the Expos.
If the Expos aren't through in Montreal, as some press reports have prematurely speculated, the organization is sure treating this like the last hurrah. They're importing a host of Expos old-timers for this final weekend Al Oliver, Tim Foli, Ron Hunt, Bill Atkinson and former manager Buck Rodgers among them for an old-timers game tonight. Tomorrow they hope to get 35,000 people based on the fear or resignation that it will be the last game the Expos will play in Montreal.
Then again, they could be back here next year, and the death watch could continue. The uncertainty is taking its toll on everyone. "It's very hard not knowing what our future will be," catcher Michael Barrett said. "It's been going on for so long, and this year it was even worse with all the talk of contraction.
"I did a baseball clinic here recently, and most of the kids wanted to know what was going on with the team," Barrett said. "Would we be here next year and maybe longer than that? I didn't have an answer for them. No one seems to have a clue what will happen."
There were reports yesterday about a group in Atlanta that wants to buy the Expos and move them to San Juan. Talk about not having a clue.
There is only one place to move the Expos, despite the ridiculous trial balloons being raised in the national media, and that is Washington, for so many reasons, and here is another:
If, for some bizarre reason, Major League Baseball moves the Expos some place besides Washington, that would close off two markets for leverage by baseball the one the Expos move to, which could no longer be used as a threat, and Washington because there finally would be proof that baseball never intended to move a team there. We finally would have our answer, and no one would be foolish enough again to mount another campaign.
Move the team to Washington, though, and those other locations whether real or concocted through the media, such as Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, San Juan or Hooterville remain very much alive to use and abuse for relocation threats.
Now is the time, though, to take the carcass that is the Montreal Expos and remove it from this city. No one will notice, and besides, they will always have the memory of Greg Harris, the two-handed pitcher.


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