We see stories like this one, in today’s New York Times, all the time. And they always look about the same. One part nostalgia for Expos baseball, one part history lesson with the de rigueur shoutouts to the 1994 club and Jeff Loria, one part interview with local boosters and one part non-committal quote from Rob Manfred now, Bud Selig before him. Then there’s a passage like this:
Once considered a shaky baseball city, Montreal is enjoying a renaissance as arguably the best option on a list of potential locations that includes San Antonio; Charlotte, N.C.; and Las Vegas.
And the talk here has already advanced to the next stage: whether it would be the Tampa Bay Rays relocating to Montreal, or if the city would get a team when baseball ultimately expanded again. Both options are fraught with imposing obstacles, but optimism still prevails.
What you won’t see is any reference to an actual stadium financing plan or interviews with people who may actually buy a baseball team like the A’s or Rays and move them to Montreal. And short of that, stories like these do nothing more than pressure cities like Oakland and Tampa — or Charlotte, San Antonio or Las Vegas for that matter — into paying for a new ballpark by playing up a possible relocation spot for the local nine.
Ironically, this is exactly how Washington D.C. and, to some extent, St. Petersburg, Florida were used for years after the Senators left for Texas. The bogeyman cities that might take your team if local taxpayers don’t pony up for a new park. It’s the same dynamic that caused the Expos to disappear in the first place to become the Nationals. Now the same tactic is being used with Montreal. Maybe they’ll get a team, maybe they won’t, but the sole purpose of articles like these is to create the perception that they could. So that someone, somewhere might build a stadium to keep that from happening.
Read these stories for their enjoyable history lessons and for some harmless nostalgia. Be happy for those local boosters who have such pride in the Expos. But, unless they contain details of actual stadium financing plans, see them for what they are: propaganda. Passive propaganda to be sure — David Waldstein of the Times is merely telling a story about fans who love baseball and MLB isn’t planting it actively or anything — but propaganda all the same.