The Jays have been positioned by some as "Canada's Team", if only by process of elimination. But watching this weekend's CFL tilt (well, 45 seconds of it) from a packed and loud Olympic Stadium got us thinking: Could the Blue Jays play one series per year Montreal? Could they bring back MLB baseball to La Belle Province? Could they make an event that would resonate, and expand the fan base beyond Toronto?
As the Expos exit from the market slips further back into memory, and the bitterness over the team's demise dissolves into something that is less angry and more wistful, it strikes us that there sits a passionate base of baseball fans in the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City corridor who would (in our mind) show up for one three-game weekend series per year at the Big O. Maybe it sounds unlikely for all sorts of pragmatic reasons. But before you dismiss the notion out of hand, with the memories of empty seats in the cavernous and antiquated dome dominating your thought process, give us a second here to articulate what we'd envision.
We've heard the gnashing of teeth over the small crowds early on in the season, and it would seem to us that moving one weekend's worth of games to Montreal would create an event around an April series that might otherwise go mostly unnoticed outside the core set of baseball nerds. You'll create lots of anticipation beforehand: A full week of stories around the preparations; bumping an early season series from the dregs of the nightly sportscast into the top because of the novelty. You get to pull in players who had their time as both an Expo and Blue Jay (Al Oliver! Darren Fletcher! Err...David Segui?!), and take a sentimental journey back through the history of both franchises.
Moreover, it gives all Canadian baseball fans the opportunity to celebrate the lore and history of Nos amours. (Youppi!) And let's face it: There really wasn't any sort of rivalry between the Expos and Jays per se. Sure, there were some Pearson Cup games played and a few interleague series (Jeff Juden!), but for the most part, Jays fans would find themselves cheering for the Expos over in that other league without a hint of hesitation.
Most of all, it would bring baseball back to a city that deserves at least a few games to show that they were never as bad as some made them out to be, and that they can fill the park and make some noise. Even in those years where there seemed to be scant interest in the sport, the fans who showed up at the Big O were loud and proud, and we'd love to have that moment again.
And besides: Are you going to tell us that a weekend of baseball, smoked meat and general tomfoolery in Montreal doesn't sound incredibly awesome?