on March 25, 2014
I'm a fan of Jonah Keri's writing at Grantland. His previous book, "The Extra 2%" was also fantastic. I'm always a little suspect, though, of books written by unabashed fans of the subject they are writing about. However, this was a great piece of writing, a very fair and accurate account of the success and ultimate failure of the Expos franchise, with minimal cheer-leading. When I received my copy this morning, and immediately saw a picture of my favorite player of all-time milking a cow, I knew it was going to be great. And it was. I finished in about 13 hours, and now I'm sad it's over. You don't have to be an Expos fan to appreciate this book, any baseball fan will surely enjoy the story. It's truly unlike any other in sports history.
on April 16, 2014
I have been looking forward to this book since I first found out about it. It didn't disappoint! While any baseball fan would enjoy this book, it really is a must read for any Expos fan. I grew up with the Expos and the book brought back many memories. There are also a plethora of stories I didn't know anything about such as the Expos pursuit of Reggie Jackson before he signed with the Yankees. While some thought since the author was a fan growing up it would take on the slant of homerism, the book does not read that way. In fact, reading Jonah Keri's accounts of going to Expos games add to the book. There are some fun stories about The Maple Ridge Boys that really are a treat.
If anything, the book left me thirsting for more on the Expos. Several books are cited as sources in Up, Up & Away and I have purchased one, and will be getting others.
I denvoured this book - it doesn't seem like a 400 page book because it reads so fast. Once I read the last page and put it down, I was struck with a feeling of sadness, almost as if I lost the team to MLB/Washington all over again. Granted, I grew up an Expos fan so I have a close association with this book, but it honestly is one of the top 5 baseball books I have ever read. I have been trying to read Jonah Keri's other work in my free time and plan on checking out "The Extra 2%" at some point in the future.However, next up for those perhaps unfamiliar with Canadian Danny Gallagher's writing is "Ecstasy to Agony: The Story of the 1994 Montreal Expos."
In closing, if you love baseball and great writing - read this book!
on March 13, 2016
The Montreal Expos provided many interesting stories during their 36 years of existence, both on and off the field. Sportswriter Jonah Keri, who was also a fan of the team, covers their history in this fun-to-read account of the franchise.
Starting with the scramble to obtain players and a suitable stadium for the inaugural 1969 season, Keri captures the adventures and misadventures of the franchise with humor, knowledge and the viewpoint that a devoted fan provides, which was surprisingly objective as well.
The objectivity comes mainly from describing the many business decisions that resulted in star players leaving. One example is when after the team compiled the best record in the 1994 season in which the World Series was not played due to a player’s strike, the ownership group ordered general manager Kevin Malone to dump four of the team’s highest paid players in one week. Keri’s account of that fire sale did not read like a disgruntled fan – while criticizing the move, he did note that it did achieve the short term goals, but that it was just that – “a short-sighted glimpse of the situation.”
His accounts of the eventual ownership by Major League Baseball and his criticism of an ownership group that would not contribute the required money to keep the operations going that resulted in one man (Jeffrey Loria) obtaining 93% of the team was also surprisingly objective for someone who was a fan of the team. Other business matters such as losing broadcasting rights to the southern Ontario market and only online broadcasting in the early 2000’s were covered in the same manner.
This doesn’t mean that Keri only wrote about the front office. His accounts of the 36 seasons of Expos baseball on the field was just as good, especially when writing about the stars and beloved players who wore the red, white and blue of the team. His prose about the sad story of Ellis Valentine, the heartbreak of “Blue Monday” when Rick Monday homered to propel the Dodgers to victory over the Expos in the 1981 National League Championship Series and the excitement of the surprise run in 1994. Those passages are great reading for any baseball fan, whether or not he or she was an Expos fan.
One question that many ask is when was the point where the Expos started to show signs that they were in trouble. Keri’s account offers several times both on and off the field, but the most interesting one was when he described the apex of success for the team on the field as the 1982 All-Star game which Montreal hosted. It was at that time when the Expos were having their longest stretch of sustained success and had five players represent them at that All-Star game. While questionable at first to me, he makes a good point why he felt that way. That is an example of what Keri does throughout the book – makes points of why he believed something happened and uses solid evidence to support that claim.
This is a very entertaining and informative book that any reader who is interested in the history of this colorful team, whether a fan or not, will enjoy.
on March 27, 2014
A great book on the history of one of the most under-appreciated and unique teams in all of sports. Keri, despite obvious Montreal ties, presents a very objective view of Nos Amours, not blaming any single source for the team's ultimate departure for Washington, DC in 2004. It presents the stories in a way any person, baseball fan or not, can understand, and presents stories that can seemingly transcend that world as well.
on April 4, 2014
There might be about five people on the planet who could tell *this* story - of the Montreal Expos, their popularity, their quirkiness, and their eventual demise. Jonah Keri is one of those five people, and, fresh off another page turner ("The Extra 2%"), he delivers.
So I'm a Cubs fan, but have always considered myself a Canadaphile and a baseball guy (who doesn't study the Sabermetrics TOO much), but I didn't think I'd enjoy this story as much as I did. Like, I hated Gary Carter (the Met, not the Expo), but now I see how I should change my mind. And Andre Dawson - I only really think of him as a Cub patrolling Wrigley. He was the man in Montreal.
And this is only part of the story...again, Keri's work - which you can find on ESPN's Grantland site - speaks for itself. It's the kind of book, dripping with anecdotes, that you don't want to end.
on May 19, 2014
Jonah Keri's fans view of the Montreal Expos history is simply put a magnificent book.
Where Jacques Doucet 2 volumes "Il était une fois les Expos" is still a major and highly interesting overview of the franchise, Keri's is more able to reach out to your heart and bring back forgotten emotions.
Moreover, like Doucet, he is right on target when he explains that the penny pinching Jean Coutu, Bell, Jacques Menard and all those avaricious shareholders are really the main reason why that wonderful and colorful franchise left. They did everthing they could to destroy the fan base, and the concession. What else is there to say when the shareholders require of GM Kevin Malone to liquidate 4 all stars within 24 hours? What was the hurry? That was the best way of letting go proven star MLB players for nothing in return.
When Claude Brochu left before becoming the official main villain of the whole enterprise, they found in Jeffrey Loria the perfect scapegoat. Better for the unscrupulous Montreal media to blame a New Yorker for the whole mess than people they would still bargain with in the future in Montréal...
Thank you Mr Keri for a well done job, thank you to Mr Charles Bronfman for getting us an MLB franchise, and thank you to all those admirable players like Rusty Staub, Gary Carter, Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero and so on that made our summer so fun and memorable.
I never will forget my Montreal Expos.
on April 6, 2014
If you wanted to know how the Expos started, how they got through their years in Montreal and how they were moved then this is the book for you. Also learn great stories about Vlad Guerrero, Rusty Staub, Joe CArter and so many more
on April 14, 2014
I grew up a Mets fan, but my second-favorite team at that time was improbably their division rivals, the Montreal Expos, and my favorite player was Andre "The Hawk" Dawson. Keri does a terrific job recounting the Dawson era as well as the rest of the star-crossed Expos' history. Great stuff!
on April 11, 2014
I learned so much new information about a situation I thought I was well-versed in. Keri did an incredible job interviewing players and personnel involved in the situation showing the rise and fall of baseball in Montreal. Hopefully the market gets another chance at baseball and that they revisit the story Keri covered here so the market does not repeat the same mistakes.
on April 24, 2014
This book is loaded with great quotes from players, managers, general managers, owners and broadcasters. There are some wonderful behind-the-scenes stories that Keri learned by interviewing hundreds of principal figures.
I think my favorite story is this though (about a player, despite my being a Yankee fan, that I deeply admire) on pages 379-380:
After winning the World Series in 2004, a microphone was thrust in Pedro Martinez's face. They asked him how he felt about winning a title in Boston after an 86 year drought. He said, "I would like to share this with the people of Montreal that are not going to have a team anymore. But my heart...and my ring is with them too."
Jonah Keri got his start with Baseball Prospectus as a part-time writer in 2002. He wrote a book on the success of the Tampa Bay Rays: "The Extra 2%" (which is excellent); that led to this book. Keri is from Montreal and in 2004 he experienced the worst thing that can happen to a sports fan - the team moved. 10 years later, Random House has published his book on the history of the Expos franchise (while weaving in a number of personal anecdotes). I expect that this will be his favorite book that he will ever write.
At one point, Keri lists the worst moments in Expos history: Blue Monday (Rick Monday's homerun to knock the Expos out of the '81 playoffs), the trade of Gary Carter after the 1984 season and the absolute nadir, August 12, 1994. The baseball strike was probably the crippling blow to the Expos franchise, but a few other things also did them in:
(1) a number of major Canadian businesses moved out of Montreal after the 1980 and 1995 failed votes to separate Quebec from Canada -- this took away a number of financial backers, advertisers and ticket buyers
(2) the Toronto Blue Jays took over radio and broadcast rights in Ontario and much of Canada, reducing the Expos from being the Canadian team to just a regional team
(3) the mass sell-off of players in 94 (Wetteland, Grissom, Hill and allowing Walker to leave as a free agent)
(4) the trade of Pedro Martinez after 1997
(5) Olympic Stadium was not a good baseball venue for the non-hardcore fans and it was somewhat inaccessible and in a barren area
(6) Jeff Loria - it was interesting that Keri did not savage Loria. He laid some blame on MLB, the Montreal media and businesses in Montreal as well. Loria did nothing to engender the people of Montreal to him and he made a number of questionable financial deals and short-sighted business moves
I am an ardent Tim Raines supporter and did not need the book to inform me how deserving of a HOF plague he is. However, I think that Raines needs as much press as possible, so I appreciate Keri's efforts here. Some of Keri's personal stories are ok, while others are a little over the top (I don't think we need a 1/2 page devoted to a story of how he attended a game at Shea stadium and cheered when David Segui hit a home run). That's my only gripe, and it's a minor one.