The Montreal Expos don’t exist anymore. They’re a defunct brand that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2004. But they almost certainly have way more Twitter followers than you do.
Baseball fans scrolling through their Twitter feeds today might have noticed a ghostly presence popping intermittently onto their screens. That’s because the Expos, dead for the last dozen years, appear to have somehow acquired the tweeting habits of a bored teenage girl who can’t stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend.
At last check, the Expos tweeted 38 times on Friday, many of their posts infused with a nostalgic yearning for the good ol’ days of, you know, being a thing:
As that furry little fella suggests, Montreal baseball fans were excited to be hosting a pair of spring training games this weekend between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. This marks the third straight year the Jays have concluded their spring exhibition schedule at Olympic Stadium, site of all those fuzzy Expos memories of yore. It’s a fun occasion for the expected 100,000 fans descending on the area, and, more importantly, it’s a chance for the city to show Major League Baseball that it craves a team again.
When the Jays hosted the Cincinnati Reds in a similar format at Olympic Stadium last year, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was persistent in his attempt to convince MLB that his city was ready to house a franchise again. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred did nothing to dissuade Coderre’s enthusiasm, so Coderre flew to New York the following month to meet with MLB officials about the possibility of bringing an expansion team to Quebec.
“We want to show our credibility, but we know we have some homework to do,” Coderre said prior to Friday night’s Blue Jays-Red Sox game. “Don’t negotiate in public, don’t put pressure in anybody. We all know there’s a process and that for some of it, we have to do our homework, and we’re doing it. The first 20 minutes you talk to Rob Manfred he’s talking about the love of baseball, the love of that sport.”
With so many mobile New Englanders trekking north to see their team play this weekend, Coderre senses the perfect opportunity to showcase what he believes is a legit baseball town.
“To bring back that passion you have to be present at every step,” the mayor said. “So these events are key. Those were important because we want to show we’re for real. We wanted to show the fans were behind us and that the love of baseball was here.
“It’s not nostalgia, it’s DNA.”
Montrealers appear to back Coderre’s ambition, at least according to one poll. In a survey of 500 residents in the greater Montreal area, 31 percent of respondents said they are okay with MLB bringing baseball back to their city, while 23 percent said they really like the idea and 16 percent said they love it. Twelve percent of respondents said they oppose the idea.
Expos lovers pulled out all the stops at Friday’s game, including a pregame ceremony that featured Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez tossing the ceremonial first pitch. The pregame trip down memory lane continued with former Expos great Tim Raines tossing another pitch, while Vladimir Guerrero, Marquis Grissom, Ellis Valentine and Jose Vidro were also on the field.
“I wanted to at any point that I could make a statement and say that Montreal is a baseball place,” Martinez said. “When I was introduced to Montreal, this was the kind of atmosphere that I was introduced to. I remember the ’94 team having 47,000 to 50,000 every day. Then, they were robbed of their team. If you continue to just take the good players out, what interest is going to be there for the fans?
“I know what it’s all about and I know Montreal, and I know Montreal is a baseball city.”