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Looking back at previous league takeovers

Apr 21, 2011, 2:00 PM EST

Montreal Expos

This business with the Dodgers isn’t the first time Major League Baseball as taken over a team.  You all remember the Rangers’ thing last year. That wasn’t total control, of course, but it was something. More significant, however, were when the Expos in 2002 and the 1936 Boston Bees.

The Boston Bees? Yep. Or as they were known before and after that, the Braves.  Today The Common Man details that sordid little bit of baseball history over at The Platoon Advantage.  Go learn something, whydontcha?

And if you are too painfully young to remember 2002, go over to FanGraphs to read Jonah Keri’s take on the damn nigh tragic takeover of the Montreal Expos.

I have this feeling the Dodgers thing won’t be as painful as all of that. They’re worth a lot of money, have a great ballpark and there are no doubt lots of people who would love to step in and take over once the instant messiness with Frank McCourt is straightened out.

But until that happens, let us learn from history a bit.

  1. brockw82 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    As a longtime Expos fan, that’s perhaps the saddest picture I’ve seen in awhile…..the league totally screwed Montreal over and drove the fans away.

    • stinkfist5 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      It’s Canada, who cares?

    • jamie54 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:39 PM

      the league totally screwed Montreal over and drove the fans away.

      Make a statement like that and I say prove it. They had a competitive team year after year near the end and still no fans showed up so how is that MLB’s fault? Where’s the proof? Don’t go throwing statements out as fact without legitimate proof.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Let’s see:

    Raising ticket and merchandising pricing to increase revenue? Check

    Remains largely profitable during a recession? Check

    While reacting late, willing to wage a war on drugs? Check

    Willing to play hardball with unruly unions? Check

    Unafraid to take out unworthy heads of organizations? Check

    ………Hmmmmmm, I got it! MLB for president, 2012!!………..

  3. brockw82 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    How about you are an idiot — look at their attendance before 1994, the fact that the team had to pay in American dollars (I am an American btw) with the fluctuating exchange rate, and the fact that they took the team over and scuttled any plans they had for a downtown stadium instead of the concrete monster that is Olympic Stadium.

    • cur68 - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      Don’t forget brockw82, the stadium was arguably unsafe for fans. Pieces of it fell were known to fall off. Lots of people stayed away because of stuff like that.

      And FTR; j54 ain’t an idiot, just wants proof of statement. Which is, I think, reasonable,

    • bloodysock - Apr 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      The Expos only drew more than 2 million fans in four seasons (1979-1980 and 1982-1983).

      Season totals from 1984-2004:

      1984: 1,606,531
      1985: 1,502,494
      1986: 1,128,981
      1987: 1,850,324
      1988: 1,478,659
      1989: 1,783,533
      1990: 1,373,087
      1991: 934,742
      1992: 1,669,127
      1993: 1,641,437
      1994: 1,276,250
      1995: 1,309,618
      1996: 1,616,709
      1997: 1,497,609
      1998: 914,909
      1999: 772,737
      2000: 926,272
      2001: 642,743
      2002: 812,537
      2003: 1,025,639
      2004: 748,550

      • gatherspeed - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        That is 20k a game during the good years of 1992-1993. Some teams in MLB baseball would love to have that today.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        The Nationals have only avg more than 30k/gm once, their first year. Since that first year they’ve been under that mark and so far are under 20k/gm. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the Montreal situation but it seems to this outsider that the two biggest problems were the stadium and MLB’s lack of commitment to baseball in Montreal.

      • dprat - Apr 22, 2011 at 12:01 AM

        In 1982 and 1983, the Expos were fourth each year in MLB attendance. Better than the Yankees both years. Far, far better than the Red Sox both years. And about a million – yup, a million – more, each year, than the Cubs. Better than the Giants, the Braves, the Tigers, the Pirates,the Reds, the Mets, etc. etc. And better even than the World Series and pennant winners in each of those years (Cardinals and Brewers in ’82; Orioles and Phillies in ’83). And the fans showed up to support Expos teams that were third in their division both years, slightly above .500.

        So obviously there was a market for baseball in Montreal. How that market was killed, who deserved the blame for it, how blame should be apportioned between MLB, the Expos ownership, and the Montreal city fathers, etc… all of that can be argued. But there is no doubt that Montreal definitely was, and with a bit of vision very well might have remained, a great home to MLB.

    • jamie54 - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      See attendance numbers below, dummy, then check yourself. Cry all you want about having to pay in $$, go to Toronto then, I think they still have a team.

  4. gatherspeed - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    MLB and Bud screwed the Expos. Letting Loria take over the Marlins and buying the Expos for 180 million, then moving them and selling them for 400(?) million says it all. Who got the 220 million profit? There is a story there.

    If Loria wanted out he should have found a buyer on his own. I own a business that lost money in 2007-2009, but there was nobody to buy me out. I could have closed, or sold, but instead I worked like a dog, came up with new concepts and I’m breaking even and looking good in 2011. Montreal was a strong baseball town until the mid 90s fire sale and the Loria years.

    They should have done the same with the Expos. But there was no effort. The only effort was suffocating baseball in Montreal to line the pockets of MLB with wads of cash.

  5. heyblueyoustink - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    And somewhere……someone is crying in their Vance Law replica jersey

  6. mikedi33 - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Read the article on the Expos. How did Oscar Minaya end up with the Mutts based on that track record. It seems he single handedly left both fr chisel screwed up for years

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