My Pilgrimage to Montreal

Almost every cultural group has historic sites that attract followers on a daily basis. The cult of Nationalsism is no different. The Nationals current form as a Washington team is relatively new, and has a very brief history.

But while the Washington team is new, the Washington franchise has a rich history that dates back to the 1960s. From 1969-2004, this franchise was known as the Montreal Expos. It is important we don’t forget where we came from, and what made the franchise the way it is now.

This past week, I took a trip to Montreal with a similar mindset to the many pilgrims to Mecca. After all, a trip to Montreal is one of the Five Pillars of Nationalsism, which are all noted below:

1. Kalima. The declaration of faith, professing that there is only one GM (Mike Rizzo) and that Davey Johnson is Rizzo’s manager.

2. Salat. All followers must pray five times a day while facing Nationals Park.

3. Zakat. The alms-giving, where all fans must give to Nationals charities.

4. Sawm. Fasting, which is especially hard cause Ben’s Chili Bowl is really tasty.

5. Hajj. The pilgrimage to Montreal.

I detail my experience below.

First home of the Expos, current home of multiple inmates.

The first stop on my trip was to the former location of Jarry Park Stadium, as seen above. Jarry Park was the first stadium in which this franchise played in, as the Expos were here from 1969-1976. Notably it was the home stadium for the bulk of franchise great Rusty Staub’s career in Montreal. He clearly left his mark there, in that there is a lot of rust everywhere. Since baseball left this location, the spot has been turned to Uniprix Stadium, a tennis venue. So it’s nice to know that this old relic of Montreal baseball history still sees a lot of loves.

After Jarry Park, I took a trip to the most notable baseball location in Montreal. Olympic Stadium.

Montreal is clearly excited for the eventual return of baseball, as the stadium is always erect.

Ah, Olympic Stadium. You look so beautiful. In the dad trying to convince his unattractive daughter that she’s still beautiful kind of way. Now I have seen many photos like the one above, but I was happy to get close and experience the true beauty of this historic site.

Look at all those cracks in the tower looming over the stadium. Why would they ever leave?

I made my way inside, despite everything I know about structural engineering telling me to run away fast. And here are some of the sites I saw.

No, these old Olympic Stadium seats aren’t meant for the handicapped. They are simply handicapped seats, in that they are struggling to function as seats.

Back in 2003, they traded the i, u, and m for an e plus cash, in an effort to combat their financial woes.

This original Olympic Stadium was never used, since the only baseball player it could fit comfortably was Dustin Pedroia.

Some blue plastic, some orange plastic, some green plastic, and some metal pipes. The four things the Expos were best known for. Right ahead of sadness.

The interior hallways are still as crowded and happening as they were during Expos games.

It was always nice for the players to come and take a nice dip in the Olympic pools after an exhausting game. Except with Felipe Alou was in the pool, cause he peed everywhere.

Seeing these things really made me feel like I was back in time. Since not one thing has been updated for modernity’s sake since the stadium was built. But what really took me back to the exciting past of this franchise, was seeing the interior of the stadium that I knew and loved.

I see they’ve updated the playing surface to a more comfortable material than the artificial turf.

I was told many things about the stadium during my time inside, including that it would take more money to destroy it than it does to keep it running. Kind of like an aging relative who claims they’ll remove you from the will if you even think about pulling the plug.

It was a thrill to be inside this place of history. But to be honest this was not my first time inside Olympic Stadium. I had gone before to see an Expos game 10 years ago, on August 4, 2002. Sadly, it was a 5-4 loss to the Astros, thanks in part to a 2 RBI double from Astros pitcher Kirk Saarloos and a poor pitching performance from Javy Vazquez. Or as every AL team that had Javy Vazquez would call it, a normal pitching performance from Javy Vazquez.

Overall it was a trip well worth it, and one I would recommend to any Nationals fan. While the team doesn’t acknowledge their Expos past as much as I might wish, I’d like us in Natstown to set aside part of our fandom for the team of our franchise’s past. Sure, associating yourself with crippling failure year after year isn’t something many teams look to do, but we’re the Nationals. And prior to this year, that was a familiar sight for us in Washington.

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