Ward: Six sports books for the fan’s couch

From Bruce Ward at the Ottawa Citizen on December 5, 2014, with mention of SABR member Bill Young:

Here’s a look at some of the year’s notable sports books …

Ecstasy to Agony: The 1994 Montreal Expos

Danny Gallagher and Bill Young (Scoop Press)

The perfect metaphor for the Montreal Expos came on Sept.13, 1991 when support beams snapped at Olympic Stadium, sending a huge 55-ton concrete slab crashing down near ticket booths on an outside walkway. At that moment the much-loathed stadium seemed like a coyote in a trap, chewing off its leg to escape. Luckily, the Expos were on the road that afternoon, and there were no injuries — except to team pride.

Gallagher and Young, both inveterate Expos fans, lovingly resurrect the 1994 Expos team that was destined for the playoffs before the players’ strike in August killed the season and the World Series. 

The franchise never recovered. The best players went in a fire sale the next year and, after a decade-long decline, the team moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004.

The 1994 team, led by Moises Alou, Ken Hill and John Wetteland, had speed, defence and some power and top pitching. The Expos won 93 games in 1993 but couldn’t catch the Phillies. Guided by the great manager Felipe Alou, the team was 20-and-a-half games in front of the Phillies and pulling away from the Braves at the time of the 1994 strike. That’s how good they were.

Gallagher, a Torontonian, and Young, who lives in Hudson, Que., reach back to 1989 when original owner Charles Bronfman decided to sell the team, a move which, in hindsight, presaged the team’s fate.

The cast of villains is also present, from team owners’ pawn Bud Selig to Jeffrey Loria.

For fans, there are regrets on every page — the dreadful experiment of playing home games in Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004, to name one — but plenty of sublime memories as well, such as broadcaster Dave Van Horne’s call after the final out in Dennis Martinez’ perfect game in 1991: “El Presidente … El Perfecto.”

Plenty of smart baseball people say that the strike killed baseball in Montreal forever. But thousands of fans, including me, never really cheered for another team after the Expos left Montreal.

After the glory and heartbreak the Expos gave us, what would be the point?

Read the full article here: http://ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/books/six-sports-books-for-the-fans-couch

Originally published: February 24, 2015. Last Updated: February 24, 2015.