Tuesday, September 28, 2004

LOCKOUT HITS WEEK 2; EXPOS OVERSHADOW THE NHL

LIFE GOES ON FOR SPORTS FANS

The full impact of the NHL lockout has yet to hit most of the sports fans out there. You would think from watching the CBC that this "no hockey" situation is a full-blown national crisis, but it's not. Not yet. Wait a few more weeks and it will be a full-blown crisis, but the fans have other things on their minds right now.

The main reason fans aren't breaking out the crying towels yet has a lot to do with the fact that it's not even hockey season yet! Traditionally, that starts the day after the baseball regular season has ended, and as we know baseball is still going. Plus, people still have the World Cup in the back of their minds and have seen the sideshow that is the OSHL. There are also lots of other sports to follow- we have the CFL, the NFL is going, NASCAR's going, the Ryder Cup just took place- there's lots of stuff out there. Tune into the FAN 590 in Toronto and it's like a normal sports day. It still feels like the offseason. Fans aren't feeling the full impact of the lockout yet. Wait until next week, though, when the baseball season ends, and people are going to begin to go crazy. I predict we'll be in a full-blown crisis mode after the Grey Cup ends- the only pro team anyone will be able to follow will be the stinking NBA Raptors.

This week we have the return of junior hockey with the return of the CHL. The AHL is coming back soon, too- people in Toronto are getting insanely excited over the fortunes of the St. John's Baby Leafs(!). So yes, there's hockey, and it's half-decent, so you don't have to pack up and move to Moscow. But it's definitely not the same.

CBC TO SHOW "MOVIE NIGHT IN CANADA"

The CBC is under fire now because they are planning to show movies on Saturday night during the big lockout. They claim they can probably get more viewers by putting these on instead of showing classic games and the like. The way I look at it is: the CBC can do whatever it wants. If movies will make them more money, let them run movies. It doesn't matter. I'm not going to be watching anyway. I'm going to be watching college football or boxing matches on the other channel. If I really get desperate for hockey I'll just take out one of my old tapes of an old Hockey Night in Canada telecast and watch that on Saturday night. I don't need the CBC to show classic games.

This "Movie Night in Canada" business is going to absolutely drive the diehard fans nuts. They are definitely not looking forward to spending their Saturday nights watching movies on CBC. Heck, they didn't like it when there were no Saturday night hockey games on during the PLAYOFFS! They're going to be INCONSOLABLE come November and December.

It's fair to say that sports fans in Canada are completely miserable because, as bad as it is right now, they know the worst is yet to come. And it's not just the lockout that is to blame for this feeling. Something even bigger is happening this week that is going to shove hockey right out of the headlines.

LES EXPOS

Yes, folks, this is finally the week that we have been dreading, one we all hoped would never arrive- the week we finally bid adieu to the Montreal Expos. Their final game in Montreal is tomorrow night.
And here is a link to their web site. Yes, each year we keep wondering if the Expos are really going. But they would always manage to find an owner like Jeffrey Loria to keep the team going, and then when Major League Baseball tried to contract the team a bunch of people in Minnesota took baseball to court to fight it. And Peter Angelos has been fighting attempts to move clubs to Washington D.C. for years. So every time, something would happen to keep this dead-on-its-feet Expos franchise going. Now the team has finally run out of backers and run out of court dates.

The big press conference is set for Thursday, apparently. It's definitely the end this time. They're expected to move to Washington D.C. to play in RFK Stadium next season. The only questions remaining have to do with who gets to own the team and where will they build the stadium- D.C., or Virginia. Doesn't matter. That team will be somewhere within commuting distance of the White House. And people are apparently in a mood to settle all the remaining lawsuits and put an end to the Expos problem once and for all.

Really, that's what a lot of people are caring about today. I tuned into Mike Hogan's show on the FAN and there were people calling in, and they were in tears. Really, they were in tears on the phone over the Expos- and this is Toronto.

Now here's my question: why hasn't Peter Mansbridge done a prime-time special on saving the Expos? That ball club may have broken the hearts of their fans over the years with their fire sales, but they still had FANS. This team could have been saved, the politicians could have built the Expos a bleeping new stadium. It's bewildering to see people care about these greedy NHLers and hold big town hall meetings over these bums, yet they stand and watch as the Expos, "Canada's Team", go ahead and pack their bags for Washington, D.C. It's mindboggling.
I hope Youppi the mascot likes it down in Washington- or maybe he'll quit and join the Florida Marlins like all these other Expos (ie. Jeffrey Loria, Dave Van Horne etc.)

UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that Major League Baseball has informed Washington D.C. that it has the Expos. The announcement of the move, which had been expected for Thursday, is now set for tomorrow afternoon. The diehard Expos fans are going to react BADLY to this news. Expect chaos at tomorrow's final game at the Big O- people running onto the field and ripping down signs and stuff.

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