How I came to root for the Yankees
Jim Caple explains why I was rooting against the Marlins:
And, of course, we feel best for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Surely, no owner ever deserved to hold the championship trophy as this art dealer who loves his Marlins so dearly that he is a Yankees season-ticket holder. Expos fans can tell you how much he has invested in teams during his long and distinguished career as an owner. And he did no less for us, pouring his sweat and blood into this organization for the nearly 19 months since Major League Baseball awarded the Marlins to him for his role in bringing about baseball's renaissance in Montreal.
Loria purchased the Montreal Expos in December 1999, promising to raise the payroll and build a new downtown stadium. He prompty declined to renew the option on the land where the stadium was to be built, and failed to negotiate TV or radio deals to broadcast Expos games in 2001.
He then sold the team to a group consisting of the 29 other MLB teams and Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, in order to buy the Marlins. According to the article above, Loria wanted to sell the Expos because the team was targeted by Selig to be contracted. Loria wanted to stay in baseball, but could not afford the $158 million purchase price for the Marlins, so what happened? MLB conveniently loaned Loria $38 million so he could buy the team.
Loria and Selig are now being sued by Loria's minority partners in Montreal.
Montreal is a sports-crazy city; heck, most Quebeckers are nuts about their teams. Baseball can certainly thrive in Montreal.
The two conditions that must be fulfilled in order to make baseball work in Montreal are:
- A stable ownership group that is committed to putting a quality product on the field, and
- An outdoor stadium located downtown
An outdoor stadium will attract Expos fans who don't want to spend any of the beautiful three months of summer watching baseball indoors, and building it downtown will give those who attend games plenty to do after the game lets out. It's a model that worked for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, who moved from their shared home with the Expos in Olympic Stadium to their new outdoor digs at Molson Stadium in 1998. Since the move, games sell out regularly.
I hope baseball can be saved in Montreal, and so do these guys.
As an aside, in the article in the Cincinnati Enquirer that I linked to above, Loria brings Expos hope, there is an interesting note about a young Marlin:
SPRING PHENOM: The Florida Marlins think they have a young Clemens in Josh Beckett, the 19-year-old who was the second overall pick in last year's amateur draft.
Beckett pitched two perfect innings against Kansas City in a recent exhibition that left the Marlins thinking about the future.
“You don't want to go crazy with your praise, but my goodness gracious,” manager John Boles said. “If I was 19 years old, I'd be scared to death out there, but not him. I wish I could find something about his performance that I didn't like, but I honestly can't.”
Though Beckett likely will begin the season at Single-A, a late-season callup is possible.
Beckett was named the World Series MVP this year for Loria's Marlins.