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Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos Hardcover – March 25, 2014
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“A special book that gives an underappreciated time and place in baseball its due.”
“In Up, Up & Away, Jonah Keri has produced a book that is one part history, one part local legend, one part eulogy, and one part letter to a lost love. The Montreal Expos deserved a book, and they deserved this book.”
—Bruce Arthur, national sports columnist, National Post
“Long gone but it seems like only yesterday. A certain charm attaches to bygone ballparks and ball clubs: Ebbets Field, the St. Louis Browns, the Seattle Pilots—supply your own favorite ghost. But for me, the franchise with the most romance about it is the Montreal Expos. Jonah Keri pays tribute, tells tales, spills beans, and wakes the echoes in this glorious grand chelem of a book.”
—John Thorn, Official Historian, Major League Baseball
About the Author
JONAH KERI is a writer for Grantland.com and a contributor to ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First and the co-author of Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong. He has previously contributed to ESPN.com, SI.com, Baseball Prospectus, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and wrote the flagship stock market column for Investor's Business Daily.
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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.
The reason for only four stars----I felt like the author buzzed through some really big stuff. Issues with the stadium, contraction, the failed new stadium all got attention, but could have used more, I think. Especially as the Expos attendance fell dramatically and single A teams were outdrawing a major league club.
Regardless, I loved the book. It was fun
I found the book especially interesting because I organized a bus tour to Montreal for Little Leaguers in 1975 and 1980 so we got to experience both the ambiance of Jarry Parc and the sterility of Olympic Stadium.
The author amply covers both the good and bad years effectively along with the difficulties involving ownership and lack of revenue sharing and big television contracts that team have now which enable them to survive which the Expos did not have the advantage of. The Expos never lacked for stars and super stars with names such as Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, Andre Dawson, Vladiimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, and others which the author sprinkles with anecdotes.
The author laments the loss of the Expos in Montreal which have now become the Washington Nationals.but holds out a slim hope that Montreal may once again become a major league team. Milwaukee lost the Braves following the 1965 season and regained a team in 1970 when the Seattle Pilots transferred to Milwaukee in 1970 so perhaps some day Montreal may some day become big league once more. The Montreal Expos had a brief run at the major league level and this book does a good job in covering their history.