Just some random thoughts on the Montreal series.
- Olympic Stadium might be old and ugly and really not a great place for baseball, but if you put 45,000+ fans in there, you can have a pretty nice atmosphere. They do need a better, and hopefully, baseball only park, somewhere much closer to downtown, but the Big O worked for these two games. The seats weren't comfortable and they didn't point towards the diamond, so you had to turn your body in your seat. And it echoed so bad that it was tough to understand anything said over the PA.
- Concession lines were long, but I did get a very nice smoked meat sandwich.
- The did have a cool bit of showing pictures and video of players using the playing field as the canvas, but, where I was sitting, I didn't get a good view of it.
- The tribute to Orlando Cabrera and Vlad Guerrero was very well done, other than the sound in the stadium echoed and it was hard to hear what was said on the field, but then, you didn't need words to explain how great Guerrero was. And, if you did, the video montage, showing him hitting and making amazing throws from the outfield. As time goes on you do tend to forget what a great arm he had.
- Having Russell Martin's dad play the national anthems was a very good move. It did surprise me that most people in the stands didn't take off their caps for the anthems.
- The whole weekend was a love in for Martin. Standing ovations over and over. He seemed to be over swinging, trying to create a moment for the fans, but he didn't need to, everyone loved him no matter what he did. I thought the that umpire could have helped out a little by giving him a bit smaller strike zone at the plate. 50,000 wanting to see him get a hit and he gets strikes call on borderline pitches.
- I was good of Gibby to have Martin's dad go out and take him out of the game, in the second game.
- It was sure nice to see some offense, finally, in the second game. After the team did nothing with the bats in the first game, and with them starting off slow in the second game, I started to wonder if we were going have anything to cheer about.
- As much as I think it is a mistake to put Roberto Osuna and, to a lesser extent, Miguel Castro on the team, it was fun watching them pitch. They each threw a scoreless inning Saturday, Castro getting two strikeouts and Osuna one. Colt Hynes pitched a very good inning as well. I'm trying to not get too excited about his great spring (he only allowed 3 hits in 12 innings), since he is 29 and hasn't had any major league success yet, but he's not throwing like a guy who only has 17 innings in the majors.
- Josh Donaldson had a good couple of games, making a spectacular diving stop and a great throw on a ground ball down the third base line and hitting a monster home run, straight to center field (over the 123 metre sign) to give us our first run scored in Canada in 2015.
- Scariest moment (other than realizing that they only sold Budweiser at the park), was Devon Travis taking a pitch off the fingers, but thankfully, he stayed in the game. My biggest hope was to get out of the two games without an injury and I think we succeeded.
- There were baseball events around the games. We went bowling on Thursday at the Ellis Valentine Past Pros 'extravaganza', raising money for the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal. We had a great time bowling with Richard Giffin and his daughter Kelly. I managed to beat Richard but Kelly finished 1 point ahead of me. I thought I did a pretty good job for my first time 10 pin bowling.
- We also had a very good time with Minor Leaguer, Jared Book and friends at Pitch Talks after the game Saturday. Jonah Keri and Matthew Ross talked about their hopes for a return of baseball to Montreal, suggesting it would happen in the next '5 to 8 years'. I'm not as optimistic, but I'm hopeful. Then Keri, Griffin, Bob Elliot, Dave Kaufman told stories about the old Expos days. It was great fun. Afterwards Griffin showed us his Richard Griffin Graney Award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. After we met Elliot, John Starzynski (who had the coolest baseball tie), Susan Ross and Dave Morneau from the Canadian Baseball Hall and Keri.
All in, we've had a great time in Montreal and now have a few days to relax and enjoy the city before heading home Wednesday