Personally, I like that the Nationals are honoring Andre Dawson tonight. The Expos are the Nats’ direct ancestor, and there’s no one else left around to honor the old warriors of Montreal.
But not everyone feels this way. Nats’ fan/blogger Chris Needham thinks that, with all due respect to the Expos’ legacy, the Nats need to embrace Washington baseball, not Montreal baseball:
Should the Nats honor their direct lineage? Or should they honor
their figurative fathers? Is Steve Rogers the greatest pitcher in
Washington Nationals history? Yes. At least if you’re a literalist.
There are no Montreal Expos anymore. Kaput. Neither are there
Seattle Pilots. Or St. Louis Browns. Or Boston Bees. Or Cleveland
Infants. Or any of about a bazillion-and-one former baseball teams.
Off to the dustbin of history they should go. Lets read about ’em in
books. The Nationals aren’t the Expos. The Orioles aren’t the Browns.
The Brewers aren’t the Pilots. Even if they’re all related.
Chris’ point is not to hate on the Expos, but to note that — as far as the fans are concerned — the local is what really matters. The Senators that became the Twins and the Rangers mean more to Washington baseball fans than they do to those in Minnesota and Dallas. By the same token, how are Nats’ fans supposed to react to a celebration of an Expos team that doesn’t mean all that much to them from a baseball perspective?
I’ll note that on some level this is a false dichotomy — with 81 home games a year and virtually unlimited ballpark space for plaques and flags and stuff, the Nats can easily honor both the Expos and the old Senators — but Chris’ overall point is a good one.
Baseball historians and Expos geeks will be happy to see Andre Dawson at Nats Park tonight. The common Washington baseball fan, however, will feel a greater connection to the Nats if they make a point to honor and promote the legacies of Frank Howard and Walter Johnson than those of Les Expos.
Because at the end of the day, all politics is local.