All I can say about Annakin Slayd’s new song about the Expos, Remember, is wow. Just wow.
I’ve often written that my love for sports stems from how the games we play and the teams we love transcend our everyday lives and bring us together. Anyone who knows anything about Canada knows Montreal is the ultimate hotbed for political and social debate and that Quebec is the centre of the great Canadian question of what defines our nation.
But our love for sports as a people is one of the few things that are bigger than all of that. The best example being any professional sports event – our love for the team we’re cheering for unites and crosses all boundaries.
That’s what the Canadiens are about, that’s what the Alouettes are about, that’s what the Impact is about. And that’s definitely what the Montreal Expos were about.
Being major league
There are four major sports leagues in North America, and a few other loops that compliment the “Big Four.” We all know the NHL, MLB, the NBA and of course, the giant of all giants, the NFL. In Canada we have the CFL, both countries on either side of the 49th parallel share Major League Soccer and the lower futbal leagues that support it. There are even pro indoor and outdoor lacrosse leagues.
But the granddaddy of them all is Major League Baseball, and even more specifically, MLB’s National League – the league the Expos used to be a part of.
In this city, the Habs are, always have been, and always will be the big boys. Then there’re the Alouettes, the Impact, the Junior, and whichever other team you can think of. Even when the Expos were at their peak from the late 70s to the early 90s, the Canadiens still reigned supreme.
But in all reality, the NHL isn’t quite as “major league” as baseball, and never will be.
Football is definitely overtaking the hearts and minds of Americans and will one day probably replace baseball as their national pastime, but MLB, its teams, and its stories will always have a special aura that no other sport can possess.
Take me out the ballgame
When you love baseball, there’s no other place you want to be than at the park – smelling the smells, hearing the pop of ball in mitt or the crack of bat on ball. There’s nothing like it.
And it’s that combination of sights, smells and sounds that makes being at the ballpark more special than being at any other athletic venue. And that even applies to the dump that was and is Olympic Stadium.
I can still smell the hotdogs grilling on the concourse as I entered the Big O from the Pie IX metro station, and that’s not because of the annual Alouettes playoff game that’s still played there. No, it was a distinct baseball smell and the only other placed I’ve recognized it was at Shea Stadium a couple of years ago. Indeed, there’s a whole array of senses that can only be aroused by being at a baseball game.
What makes baseball truly unique is that it’s the only sport in which every year, every fan of every team honestly and truly believes in his or her heart that this year is the year we’re gonna win it all! Yes, that includes Pittsburgh Pirates fans even though their team hasn’t had a .500 season this century. Yes, that includes Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers fans who have never even sniffed a World Series appearance, let alone a championship. And yes, that included Expos fans up until the day the lights went out.
That’s why I call it “The Game of Eternal Optimism” and that’s why it still hurts so bad that Nos Amours have left us.
MLB, you broke my heart
I first heard about Annakin Slayd’s song a few days ago, but it took me until this morning to work up the heart to watch the video and listen to the words. This city is always about The Rocket, The Flower and St. Patrick; Le Gros Bill, Boom-Boom and once in a while The Rifle. But for me, it was always about The Rock, The Hawk & The Kid.
So thanks, Annakin Slayd, for bringing a smile to a bunch of baseball lovers’ faces with Remember. For me, the saddest part of the Expos saga is that when I have kids, I’ll never be able to take my son or daughter to see the ‘Spos. Sadly, they’ll never smell the smells, hear the sounds of the game, and perhaps worst of all, get to eat ice cream out of a mini Expos batting helmet.
The chorus from “Remember”: “This one’s for The Kid & The Cat, and the Hawk. And this one’s for Grip, Larry Walk & The Rock. And this one’s for El Presidente, Mo & O-Cab and this one’s for Spaceman, Cro & Vlad. And most of all this one’s for us, the fans who stuck with the team when the times were tough.”
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.