By Fred Wallace
Back in June, the Tampa Bay Rays of the American League received permission from Major League Baseball to explore the possibility of playing early-season games at Tampa Bay, but then finishing the remainder of the MLB season, or playing selected series,...... in Montreal.........
Come on !
Now I understand that the Rays attendance figures at home are low, partially due to their bleak stadium, but I don't see this as a solution to anything, or anybody, anywhere.
The Rays have put together some terrific ball clubs, but for whatever reason, the Florida marketplace is indifferent to the club and it's home.
In Montreal there's been no Major League Baseball since 2004 when the Expos, almost mercifully, departed for Washington.
And Olympic Stadium is more than 40 years old....and truthfully never was any good, in fact the playing surface caused a lot of Major Leaguers to balk at playing in Montreal, or depart as rapidly as they could if they were with the Expos.
Once a year, Montreal hosts a pair of Toronto Blue Jays exhibition games and the fans come out in droves which fuels the annual " Baseball Can Thrive & Survive in Montreal " discussion.
I don't buy it,.... I never have.
A split location allows two markets to turn their back on a ball club during the season. Tampa Bay isn't supportive, and the Expos didn't leave Montreal due to perpetual sellouts at the gate.
A split location, or season, means the Rays, in this case, would conceivably play 2/3rds of their games on the road.
If you're a ball player, wealthy as you may be, do you want the upkeep on TWO homes ?
Then let's factor in schooling issues, culture changes, climate changes, stadium issues &, of course, the exchange rate on the dollar.
If this proposal comes to pass, the only winner that I see from this vantage point would be Revenue Canada.
So the Tampa Bay Rays can explore this possibility all they want; they can cause a stir in their Florida market, they can stir the emotional pot of anticipation in Montreal, but I just see this as a hair-brain scheme that even if it becomes reality, doesn't stand a chance to succeed.