Enough is Enough

I will be the first to admit that I strongly believe that Major League Baseball should put a team in the Washington DC area, either through expansion or relocation.  And no, the Baltimore Orioles don't count, unless you want to include Baltimore in the DC market, in which case, the Baltimore/Washington market is the largest in the country - by far - without 2 baseball teams, further proving the need for a team to be in DC.

Even so, I have been reluctant to point the finger in Montreal's direction as the team that should be relocated.  Yes, they would be the most convenient because they are in the National League East and would not interfere with Baltimore's American League draw.  But Tampa and Miami have had trouble filling their field level seats as well, and I felt that if Montreal ever got a team as competitive as the division winner they had in 1994, they would draw decent enough crowds to support a major league franchise long term.

I was wrong.

The Expos fielded a competitive team last year and opened this season by sweeping the Braves in Atlanta and were leading the NL East when they came home for their home opener last week.  The opening night game drew 36,879, which is a pretty good crowd for baseball, regardless of the stadium.  The next night however, still leading the NL East, they drew 6,380.  That's just pathetic.  With the marquee players on that team, as competitive as the team is and has been, there is simply no excuse for that poor of a draw, especially since there are no other games in town as hockey season has been over in Montreal for several weeks.

There just don't appear to be any legitimate arguments for keeping a team in Montreal any more.  They have stars, they are fielding a competitive team, perhaps even a division winning team, they play good baseball, the players are fan friendly... with the exception of giving away a new car to every fan who walks through the turnstiles, the Expos have done everything possible last year and this to bring fans to the ballpark and still only six thousand, roughly the same number that attend a weekend game in the Class A Carolina League, show up for their games.  In the 90s, Washington hosted spring training exhibition games between a number of different teams and averaged more than what the Expos are drawing; they will surely draw much more for the real thing.

So to the powers that be in baseball: don't wait until next year.  Decide which DC group should get them, start building a permanent stadium so it can be completed by the 2005 season, and move the Expos during this year' All-Star break to RFK stadium.  At least then they'll get a half season introduction into what it's like to be in the majors.