Montreal's Baseball Weekend a Great Success

For the third straight season, the Toronto Blue Jays made their way to Montreal to play two exhibition games. This year, those games came against their division rivals, the Boston Red Sox, on April 1 and April 2. The series didn’t go well for the Blue Jays in the win category, as they lost the first game in extras 4-2, and then dropped Saturday’s game 7-4. The Jays did field a starting lineup for both games, but none of its members played any of the two games in their entirety, and barely any of the Blue Jays regular pitchers took the mound in Montreal. This made for a difference from the last two years, in which Montreal got to see pitchers like Aaron Sanchez and Mark Buehrle pitch. The reason for this was the fact that Toronto had to head back down to Tampa for their first regular game of the season against the Rays. It was admitted that some players were not thrilled with the travel plans, but they were still happy to be in Montreal. The truth is that Montreal’s baseball weekend was a success, and proved the city is ready for another franchise.

Even though the Jays didn’t win in Montreal, the Olympic Stadium was still packed with baseball fans wearing Blue jays, Red Sox, and, of course, Expos gear. The Friday game drew 52,682 fans, while the the Saturday game saw lured an even greater number, at 53,420 fans, for a total attendance of 106,102. It was a great way for Montreal and its baseball fans to showcase to the world that they are out there and want to watch baseball.

The thing about these exhibition games is that, even if the Jays come here to promote their team and gain fans from Quebec, the people of Montreal still get to show the whole baseball world that they want a team badly. That is always the underlying message.

The games were full of great moments, from Kevin Pillar’s home run in his first at bat Friday to the standing ovations David Ortiz was given several times both days, after which he happily acknowledged the crowd. The fans got to see the likes of Jose Bautista, MVP Josh Donaldson, and Montreal’s own Russell Martin. The Montreal fans were also treated to seeing their favorite Expos from the past; Jose Vidro, Vladimir Guerrero, Tim Raines (who should be in the hall of fame), and Hall of Famer and former Expo and Red Sox player Pedro Martinez all came out to very loud ovations.

On Saturday, Montreal Mayor Dennis Corderre lead the way by honoring the 40th anniversary of the Olympic Stadium, which is somewhat ironic and depressing in some ways. There was also a somber memorial for the late great Expos Manager/Executive who passed away in 2015. Former Expos pitcher and great Steve Rogers was there to honor Fanning, as was former Expos Owner Charles Bronfman and his son Stephen, who has been rumored to be one of the men trying hard to bring a Major League baseball team back to Montreal. All of these men were given loud ovations as well.

The fact is Montreal’s baseball weekend was a great success for the third time in a row. People piled into the stadium early and got the party started. There were games and mascots everywhere; there was a band playing near the entrance; many famous Montreal steamy hot dogs were sold. All in all, it was a great event.

This is also a good sign for the future of baseball in the city. The goal is to have some regular season games played in Montreal, and there is hope that it could happen as early as next season. For now, at least, the baseball world will not be able to ignore the fact the Olympic stadium was virtually sold out once again for two exhibition games, even though tickets sold for the price of tickets for some regular season games around the league.

There still is a lot of work to do, but Montreal and Major League Baseball both seem to be stepping in the right direction. All Montreal and its people can do is now wait, and keep showing the world that it can be and is a baseball city.

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