(Cardboard Appreciation is now under a new name, "C.A.", which, obviously, is the abbreviation for Cardboard Appreciation. The "Cardboard Appreciation Hall" in the tabs is now "C.A. Hall," as well. I'm hoping this will eliminate the skewing of my Blogger stats. Yes, I know I'm obsessing. It's what I do best. Anyway, everything else about Cardboard Appreciation is the same. Time for some C.A.! This is the 128th in a series):
I miss the Montreal Expos.
I don't necessarily miss the team. During their existence, they were ranked smack in the middle of my annual rankings of my most and least favorite baseball teams.
I don't necessarily miss the stadium. Domed stadiums do not produce actual baseball. I don't know what you should call it, but it's not baseball.
I don't miss broadcast announcers and pseudo sports anchors pronouncing words in fake French accents and throwing in the pathetic amount of French they know every time they voice over highlights of Expos games (our TV idiot still has the Canadiens for that).
What I miss is a relatively close, relatively convenient place to watch, in person, a major league baseball game.
I don't have that anymore. The closest place I can go now for a major league game is Toronto, and that's out of the question at the moment because of the whole "I wouldn't be able to get back into the country" thing. (I guess the same would be true if Montreal still had a team).
The next-closest places are journeys. New York features two teams I don't like and to drive all that way and then have to deal with the aggravation of getting around in that city (N.Y. requires special arrangements and I hate making special arrangements) is totally not worth it.
Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are more convenient, yet quite far away, requiring specific planning.
Montreal required no planning. All I had to do was brace for the wild driving on Autoroute 20 and hope my college knowledge of French would kick in enough to get around. I didn't even worry about getting lost, because I've been lost in Montreal at least a half dozen times and have figured out how to get on track in a matter of minutes.
Except for one game when I was dealing with some personal issues, I found the time I spent at Olympic Stadium relaxing. The games weren't wildly attended, but the crowds weren't sparse either. Sure, I felt like I was watching baseball on a different planet, but I never felt stressed while watching the game, and I can't say the same thing about some of the other places I've attended games (I don't like spending time during a game wondering if my car will still be there when the game's over).
Doing simple things like ordering food or finding your way around the stadium was an adventure because of the whole French thing. Yet people there were always willing to help out. I prefer that kind of adventure as opposed to the congestion/attitude adventure of New York.
But if I want to watch another major league game, I'll have to deal with the in-your-face of N.Y., or the driving in Boston, or the distance to Philly or Baltimore, or the unfamiliarity of Pittsburgh. It will take hours of planning, and a few days off, and a whole bunch of extra cash.
Montreal took none of that. I could do it all in a day, with a minimum amount of money, and grab a couple of souvenirs with French words on it while I was at it.
I have some other momentos, but I'm not sure where they are.
The point is, I've been to Montreal for business and for pleasure. As a reporter and a fan. To watch baseball and to be your average American tourist.
But without baseball in Montreal, without Olympic Stadium housing a major league team, without a passport, I don't know when I'll get back. Or when I'll see a major league game in person again.
I miss the Expos.
They made it so easy.