NEW YORK- Okay, I can check something else off my Bucket List, having just watched a Major League Baseball game from the press box at Yankee Stadium with the added bonus of their opposition being the Toronto Blue Jays and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. New York won the game 4-2 before more than 42,000 fans on a picture perfect day.
This was the first time I had seen a MLB game since the Expos left town 15 years ago. Thanks to my good friend Morden “Cookie” Lazarus, I connected with former Expos right fielder Ken Singleton to get his take on the return of pro ball to Montreal.
Can Singleton really be 72 years of age? He spent three seasons in a Montreal uniform, arriving with Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen in the then controversial trade that sent Rusty Staub to the Mets. Singleton ended up completing his MLB career with 10 strong years in Baltimore.
For the past three decades Singleton has made a living as a broadcaster. This included stints as the colour commentator for Dave Van Horne on the Expos television and radio networks for 12 years. These days he is winding down his career, doing a limited amount of Yankees TV broadcasts. He will decide on whether to continue at the end of this season.
While Singletom remains optimistic that the Expos will indeed return, he is not buying the latest proposal by Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to begin splitting seasons in Florida and Montreal in four years time.
“The major hurdle is the Major League Baseball Players Association,” Singleton said. “I do not see the players going for this. If a player is married with kids that means he has to move three times – for spring training, to Tampa and then to Montreal. This whole thing is all about putting pressure on the city of Tampa to build a stadium; it is sort of like a power play. Four years is a long time. It is like the Rays are telling the city they have time to get their act together.
“If I am Montreal,” adds Singleton, “then I want a team full-time.”
Singleton also believes that Montreal needs a stadium with a retractable roof. “I played three seasons at Jarry Park and for the early scheduled games there, it was brutally cold,” he said. “It also made it tough for us to get off to a good start. There were a lot of early season postponements and with all the makeup games at the end that makes it tough on the pitching staff.”
A downtown stadium is imperative, Singleton maintains. “Olympic Stadium is not in a good location,” he said.
As for possibly getting an expansion team or the Rays moving to Montreal, Singleton notes that Montreal has an advantage that Olympic Stadium could be used for the team until a new stadium is built.
Singleton is among those who still believes the Rays could relocate to our city. “The Yankees have spring training in Tampa and I own a home there so I know about the fan base very well,” Singleton says. “Their stadium is in a poor location and it does not look like they will get a new one. They have a lease until 2027 and the way I see it Major League Baseball could just buy that out and facilitate the move to Montreal. Figure that if the Rays move to Montreal, the Expos would be in the same division as the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Blue Jays which would be very good for attendance and rivalries.”
BLOG BANTER: Please see my blog on The Suburban website for more about Yankees game as well as the Alouettes and Just For Laughs.