The history of the late, often-great Montreal Expos as written by a super-fan (more like fanatic) who later became a sportswriter. Wonderful tales from all the main/colourful characters which re-kindled memories of watching games at Jarry Parc as a child, and the Big O as an adult. Great read, as the franchise (now in Washington) tries for the World Series berth that always eluded the Expos.
Growing up a Blue Jays fan, I regret not having paid more attention to the Montréal Expos when they existed. Jonah Keri did pay attention and wrote a book called Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montréal Expos. It’s a good summary of some of the team’s history and the stories around the teams that were good and the ownership troubles and the Big Owe and all of that. I quite enjoyed it.
I didn’t realize that the Blue Jays and their assertion of all of southern Ontario as their TV market was so detrimental to the Expos’ finances. Growing up I assumed there was a Québec law that said Expos games had to be in French and that was why we so rarely saw them play on TV. I remember the strike season and how even without watching the games we knew they were great and that it was a crime to not have a World Series. But I didn’t know the background fire-sale that decimated the team for the next season. And I totally didn’t know about the late ’70s early ’80s coke-fuelled party teams.
It’s a good book, written journalistically, with maybe a few too many personal stories of Keri’s games he was a spectator at, but whatevs. I have a better idea of the history of the Canadian MLB team I never knew I’d enjoy rooting for.
Author Jonah Keri provides an excellent history of the Montreal Expos - Canada's first MLB team. From Rusty Staub and Gary Carter to Tim Raines and Pedro Martinez, the book goes through each era in great detail. But the real insight I found by reading Up, Up and Away was how the Expos, which in the early 80s outdrew the New York Yankees, basically operated on fumes by the time it folded in 2004. One reason was the Blue Jays - who in the late 80s got exclusive broadcast rights to games in southern Ontario, which shut the Expos out of the most lucrative market and no longer made them "Canada's team," causing sponsors to bail. This in addition to a terrible stadium located far away from the downtown core, along with dismal attendance figures all spelled doom for the franchise. It's interesting that as some sportswriters advocate for baseball's return to Montreal, they conveniently forget that this team had an average attendance of 9,000 in the later years; bush league teams do better than that. Heck, even if they won the World Series in 1994, the ownership said they would have just broke even. And that's with the second lowest payroll in baseball at that time! Clearly, the people of Montreal didn't support their team; if they did, the Expos would still be around. However, I agree with the reviewer below: Keri writes a bit too much like a fanboy, which lowers my rating for this book.
A really fantastic read. A die-hard Expos fan and a talented sports reporter, Keri is the perfect author to write about the somber history of the Expos franchise.
A must-read for any Canadian baseball fan, although Keri's status as an Expos super-fan sometimes gets in the way.
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