For as critical as the national media has been of Tampa Bay's support of the Rays, it has been surprisingly unsympathetic to Montreal's cause. First the National Post, and now The Sporting News:
It sounds so easy: Move a low-revenue major league franchise, such as the Tampa Bay Rays, to Montreal. Olympic Stadium can be a temporary home, the city's population is large, and the fans loved the Expos before MLB gutted the franchise and sent it to Washington, D.C.Sure, this post doesn't provide much news, but its a tiny re-direction in the national debate MLB wants to facilitate: Where should the Rays play?
So why will the clamor will fall on deaf ears? MLB doesn't want to move a team or expand, as commissioner Bud Selig told TSN.ca, and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg doesn't want to go anywhere.
"It is a great baseball city with very passionate people," Sternberg wrote of Montreal in an email to The Wall Street Journal. "I cannot envision the Rays out of the Tampa Bay market, and we have no intention of attempting to move this team."
Bottom line: Those who want the tri-color caps and bilingual public address announcements back are out of luck.
UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi remains in MLB's corner, clicking "publish" last night on a column he probably sketched out weeks ago. "Fans prove baseball passion is alive and well in Montreal," the column contended, suggesting the league is giving real consideration to the prospect of returning:
Still, here’s what I believe: Because of a recent feasibility study — assuming a new downtown ballpark — and a growing (if understated) response from Montreal’s business community, MLB is giving Montreal’s effort the respect it deserves. The presence of McHale and Garagiola demonstrated that.Morosi makes some good points, but the biggest disservice to readers is pushing the "Rays to Montreal" agenda without really addressing the giant 400,000-pound gorilla in the room: the $500M-$1B cost to actually make it happen.
“I think this is going to be a very significant story after this weekend,” McHale told me, when I asked about the size of the crowd. “The continued enthusiasm for Major League Baseball here is remarkable. I think all of us in the commissioner’s office need to take notice of it.”