As for the Rays, the Friedman/Maddon defections signal a return to losing baseball and irrelevance in Tampa. Yes, both of them opted out for significant increases in salary, but after last year's disappointing 77-85 fourth-place finish, they both realized they'd done all they could do in Tampa, and despite consistent 90-win seasons with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the Rays played to a half-empty (or worse) stadium night after night. That, more than anything, wore on Maddon and his players, the manager told confidants. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has been frustrated in his efforts to get out of Tropicana Field in St. Pete and move to a new stadium in Tampa, but there is growing belief that the economically depressed Tampa Bay area won't support the Rays no matter where they play. And according to sources, Sternberg has had discussions with wealthy Wall Street associates about moving the Rays to Montreal, which has been without a major-league franchise since the Expos were transferred to Washington in 2005. As one major-league official put it to me Friday: "Say what you will about Montreal, but the Expos drew well over two million fans four times there in their heyday, while the Rays did that only once, their first year.
Obviously, it won't happen soon and it could only happen with a new ballpark in Montreal, close to downtown preferably. A ballpark wouldn't happen unless baseball in Montreal was a sure thing. Course, as bad as it is, the Big O isn't much worse than Tropicana Field.
As a Canadian and a former Expos fan, I'd love a team back in Montreal. I'd love it more if the team wasn't sitting in the AL East with the Blue Jays. I'd prefer if they were in the National League so that wouldn't have split loyalties. With MLB wanting to keep equal numbers of teams in the AL and NL, they would have to find an NL team to move to the AL. Or we could go back to not having odd numbers of teams in each league, so that we wouldn't have to have interleague games going on all the time.
Personally, I don't think there is any chance baseball is back in Montreal as long as Selig is alive. Selig put so much energy into killing the Expos he won't want a new team there,.
The other problem with moving the Rays to Montreal is the value of the Canadian dollar. Right now 1 Canadian dollar is worth 89 cents American. As long as gas prices stay so low, the Canadian dollar won't be bouncing back anytime soon.
As a Canadian baseball fan, I'd love to see the Rays move to Montreal, but I see this more as an attempt to pressure the politicians and taxpayers of the Tampa Bay area to build the Rays a new park. But Montreal does deserve to have baseball again. And TSN could us some real sports to put on their 34 sports channels.