How do you make a digital camera better? Give it ridiculous resolution, of course! And WiFi.

How do you make a digital camera better? Give it ridiculous resolution, of course! And WiFi. Of course it’s likely that most of the 16.7MP photos those cameras will take will be airbrushed to death — not too many outside the professional photography set will be able to afford those — so WHY?!?

RIP Montreal Expos (1968-2004)

With the official announcement apparently to come later today, the Montreal Expos will disappear from the Major League Baseball’s ranks on Sunday, October 3rd 2004 after the team’s final game against the Mets in New York. Tonight will be the last home game in Expos history.

Now, let’s get one thing clear. Sure, it’s sad, especially for a fan like myself; I’ve been to a dozen games this year even though I’ve really only been in Montreal for a month or so, and the few times I went to see baseball games while in the US was to see the Expos play the Mets or Yankees. That being said, it was completely unavoidable. Baseball in Montreal after 1994 was a bit of a non-starter. There’s something about having had the door slammed in your face on the one year you were doing better than everyone else that just stays with you, and you just can’t run a baseball franchise that only gets 4 to 5 thousand fans a game, even counting American tourists there to back THEIR home team. The demise was inevitable and it was long in coming; as I recall, the question of the team moving has been a hotly debated issue for at least the past 3 seasons.

Still, MLB Commissioner and douchebag extraordinaire Bud Selig seems to have pulled out all the stops to fuck Montreal over. For one thing, no decision was taken until this week, even though people have been talking about it for years. What does that mean in concrete terms? That means that the Expos can’t have a proper farewell game — you know, with a big pre-game exhibition where they can bring out players from their glory days, like Rusty Staub, Steve Rogers, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, etc. You can’t organize something like that in a day, which is exactly the sort of situation which Mr. Selig’s “impeccable as usual” timing put the Expos in. Remember, this is the same cretin who figured that a tie would be a perfectly good end to an All-Star game. Fucking typical.

Perhaps one guy who should be brought on to the field in Wednesday’s swan song match is the owner of the team who will be playing the Expos that night. His name’s Jeff Loria. He’s well known around these parts. You see, he bought the Expos in the mid-90s, touting himself as a saviour at the time. Montrealers should have paid closer attention to the fact that Mr. Loria had season tickets to see… the Yankees. Loria’s short reign consisted of one attempt after another to drive the Expos into the ground, and he’s belatedly succeeded.

How does one go about sending a baseball franchise down the crapper? Well, Jeff’ll show you the way! First, get rid of the good players as soon as they’re starting to develop. Of course you can’t have a winning team without good players, so your next step will be to blame your manager for that. That manager was Felipe Alou, Montreal’s best-loved Expos manager since the legendary Dick Williams. Loria fired him and brought his buddy Jeff Torborg, who has to be the most reviled manager in team history. And since that’s obviously not enough yet, you go ahead and cancel all the fan promotions that had proven so popular just the past year.

Given those mighty efforts, it’s a wonder that the Expos survived a further three years after Jeff Loria’s reign of terror. So, it’s rather unlikely that he’ll be brought out onto the field Wednesday night; my guess is that if he were the fans would probably “stone” him with baseballs. Loria knows better than to show up here anyway — he knows he’s pretty much made himself persona non grata in the place where the national motto is “Je me souviens” (“I remember”). There definitely is a special place in hell for people like him; in it one can find all of those “corporate raiders” of the 80s who would buy companies only to shut them down and liquidate their assets.

Notwithstanding this however (I’m not bitter…), it’s true that the strike of 94 was probably the point at which baseball in Montreal embarked on its downward spiral. What would have happened if there had been no strike? Well, no one can tell. Still, it was the year when we did best in all of baseball, only to be denied — a cruel blow by any measure. And it did lead to all sorts of suspicious questions; for example, was the strike manufactured to avoid the embarassment of having the USA beaten at its own national pastime for three straight years? Montreal baseball didn’t survive that one. Even when the players came back there was an overwhelming sense that fate was just against the Expos, and attendance gradually faded to some pathetic numbers. The official attendance “average”, which seems highly suspect, is 9139 fans per game. In my estimation that HAS to include all sold tickets rather than actual people in seats. I was at a game where the attendance, reported as being over 19,000, was by my reckoning 12k tops.

It wasn’t always that way. I’ve been going to Expos games at the Olympic Stadium since, well, the first season they played at “the Big O”. I remember sitting way up there in the top deck during double-headers attended by capacity crowds, which were upwards of 50,000 at the time — there literally wasn’t a seat left unoccupied. This was before the days of the completed mast and giant video screen, so there were a lot more seats available then. It’s been a good few years since the upper deck was last opened at all, at least for a baseball game.

Of course those were very different times. For example, you’d know the names of all the players on the team year after year; you can’t say that of any team nowadays. Rosters change faster than a day trader’s portfolio. They don’t even have double-headers now, unless it’s to make up for a missed game. The game just ain’t what it used to be.

The late 70s and early 80s — those were the good days.

It was fun while it lasted, but a team can only goes so long when it’s lost almost its whole fan base. There were a few diehards (and my mom was among those, I must say) but that’s just not enough for a team that was left pretty much without direction. One must also admit that 2004 was a pretty shitty year for the Expos. To say that the playing this year was uninspired is a frankly generous assessment. Some players did fairly well (Batista, Wilkerson) but overall this season was one of its worst — at 65-93 so far, it’s likely to be in the club’s bottom 5. Not the best way to go, I’m sure you would agree.

In the end, though, one must recognize reality. There will be no more Expos. And Major League Baseball has lost about 3000 fans.

As a post scriptum: Washington DC, the city that brought you Marion Barry, has with its usual flair and decorum decided to announce the Expos move this afternoon, shortly before the Expos’ last home game. You can always count on Washington to show that you can’t spell “class” without “ass”.