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 Info

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The definitive history of the Montreal Expos by the
definitive Expos fan, the New York Times bestselling sportswriter
and Grantland columnist Jonah Keri.


     2014 is the 20th anniversary of the
strike that killed baseball in Montreal, and the 10th anniversary of the
team's move to Washington, DC. But the memories aren't dead--not by a
long shot. The Expos pinwheel cap is still sported by Montrealers,
former fans, and by many more in the US and Canada as a fashion item.
Every year there are rumours that Montreal--as North America's largest
market without a baseball team--could host Major League Baseball
again.
     There has never been a major
English-language book on the entire franchise history. There also hasn't
been a sportswriter as uniquely qualified to tell the whole story, and
to make it appeal to baseball fans across Canada AND south of the
border. Jonah Keri writes the chief baseball column for
Grantland, and routinely makes appearances in Canadian media such
as The Jeff Blair Show, Prime Time Sports and Off the
Record
. The author of the New York Times baseball bestseller
The Extra 2% (Ballantine/ESPN Books), Keri is one of the new
generation of high-profile sports writers equally facile with
sabermetrics and traditional baseball reporting. He has interviewed
everyone for this book and fans can expect to hear from just about every
player and personality from the Expos' unforgettable 35 years in
baseball.

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Reviews for 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:

3

Jun 17, 2018

This is our baseball book club read for July 2018. Jonah Keri details the history of the Expos and it is an informative yet at times painful read. I say painful because the owners did little to support the team, which lead to its best stars leaving as free agents or traded for minor league prospects. Other than the original owner Charles Bronfman, the owners did little to advocate for a new stadium either, which lead to the Expos inevitable flight from Montreal. Maybe that is why I detest the This is our baseball book club read for July 2018. Jonah Keri details the history of the Expos and it is an informative yet at times painful read. I say painful because the owners did little to support the team, which lead to its best stars leaving as free agents or traded for minor league prospects. Other than the original owner Charles Bronfman, the owners did little to advocate for a new stadium either, which lead to the Expos inevitable flight from Montreal. Maybe that is why I detest the Nationals today- because I know how horrible it must have been for the fans in Montreal like Keri to lose their team out from under them. I am getting ahead of myself. Keri details the key players and moments in Expos history along with some personal memories. While the personal interspersed with history did not work for me, I enjoyed remembering the Expos, especially the Hawk who I grew to love when he was a member of the Cubs, and Dennis Martinez "El Presidente", one of my favorite non Cub players growing up because of both his grit and nickname. While not necessarily the best written baseball book I have read, it was certainly colorful and entertaining so invite my fellow baseball fans to join in on the discussion next month.

3 stars ...more
0

Apr 01, 2014

I can't recommend this book anymore. Please support other sportswriters.
4

Feb 05, 2014

As a converted Nationals fan, I felt it was my duty to learn where my team comes from. And having spent a long weekend in Montreal, it quickly became one of my favorite places I have visited. Finally, being a devotee of Grantland and a fan of Keri's work for that site, I knew I had to read this book. And I am certainly glad I did. What a fun team. Such an interesting history. While it is certainly sad that they had to lose the team the way that they did, I do enjoy the team that DC got out of As a converted Nationals fan, I felt it was my duty to learn where my team comes from. And having spent a long weekend in Montreal, it quickly became one of my favorite places I have visited. Finally, being a devotee of Grantland and a fan of Keri's work for that site, I knew I had to read this book. And I am certainly glad I did. What a fun team. Such an interesting history. While it is certainly sad that they had to lose the team the way that they did, I do enjoy the team that DC got out of it. So I choose to honor the Expos' legacy through my Nats fandom and will wear my Expos hat proudly. ...more
5

May 06, 2014

***LEGAL TYPE STUFF: I won this book through Goodreads First Reads***

That being said, I was already very interested in getting a copy of this. I've been reading Jonah Keri's work since I first started following Grantland early on. He's also happy enough to engage in conversations on Twitter (with me at least, including such topics as: Stan Musial being under-rated and what Shortstop would be a better pick for my fantasy baseball team). Needless to say, I really enjoy his writing, and I enjoy him ***LEGAL TYPE STUFF: I won this book through Goodreads First Reads***

That being said, I was already very interested in getting a copy of this. I've been reading Jonah Keri's work since I first started following Grantland early on. He's also happy enough to engage in conversations on Twitter (with me at least, including such topics as: Stan Musial being under-rated and what Shortstop would be a better pick for my fantasy baseball team). Needless to say, I really enjoy his writing, and I enjoy him being a successful CANADIAN sportswriter who is a Baseball junkie, much like I was as a kid and became again in my mid-late 20s.

The Expos were always my younger brother's team; I was a Cardinals fan from the age of 2, coinciding with the World Series in '82, and lasting until the strike of '94 which crushed me, and my brother even more. The Expos were unstoppable that year, and living only 2 hrs drive from Montreal didn't hurt that I saw more games at The Big O than Skydome (even though I was only 2 hrs from Toronto as well).

This is a very well researched book, but not just full of the stats and numbers that can turn people off sports books sometimes. This is a book full of warmth, heart, and deep personal connection. Keri, a native Montrealer, and 5 years my senior, grew up loving the home team, and became strongly involved with them and their fates, like many in La Belle Province.

Starting from the unlikely naming as an expansion city for the National League alongside San Diego in the late 60s, at Jarry Park, through to the last sputtering before being moved to DC and becoming the Nationals in 2005. I learned things about the team I hadn't known, I learned about players I hadn't heard of, or just barely recalled from baseball cards. I felt caught up in the moments Keri described with great ability, making us feel the joy, the heartbreak, the roar of the crowd.

Three years in the making, Keri interviewed dozens of people tied to the team, from Owner Charles Bronfman (of Seagram's fortune) to the great Felipe Alou, the best manager the team ever had, to the number of great players over the years (Dawson, Raines, Walker, Rogers, Martinez) to the sportswriters (Michael Farber) and those in the front office (Dave Dombrowski). But he doesn't rely too heavily on quotes or snippets, he gets to the meat of the story. He also isn't afraid to point fingers at problems, be they people or stadium issues; but still maintains a balanced and positive outlook on most of it all.

All I know is that once I cracked the spine this AM, I didn't put it down at all. I laughed, I cried, and I raged at the stupidities that befell this team. Hell, I used to hate when the Cards would lose to the 'Spos, as my brother would brag non-stop; yet here I am gushing about the book. I suppose, like many Canadians who were never really drawn to the Jays, or hockey all that much, the Expos were always a blast. I'm just glad someone got the chance to write this much deserved book on a team that never got the chance it should have.

Highly recommended for any sports fan, sports historians, or fans of a good story. ...more
5

Jun 19, 2014

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 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.

http://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/201... ...more
4

Jul 23, 2013

Wow. One thing I was thinking while I was getting through the entire history of the Expos was that although Jonah Keri painted the picture of how the earlier years (70's specifically), it was hard for me to identify with some of the players that I didn't know in MY youth. While we moved into the 80's and the rise of Hawk, Rock, and The Kid, I was really getting into the team, and was so excited to read through their playoff run. Jonah really made me want to go back and watch video of this team, Wow. One thing I was thinking while I was getting through the entire history of the Expos was that although Jonah Keri painted the picture of how the earlier years (70's specifically), it was hard for me to identify with some of the players that I didn't know in MY youth. While we moved into the 80's and the rise of Hawk, Rock, and The Kid, I was really getting into the team, and was so excited to read through their playoff run. Jonah really made me want to go back and watch video of this team, and I even found while reading, going back and looking on Fangraphs to look up players (if you're reading this Jonah Keri, Tim Raines should be in the HOF, just look at his WAR right?)

The tone of the story quickly changed as the 80's teams was disassembled and as a fan of a very budget team myself, the Oakland A's, I can really sympathize with the story, and Jonah did a really good job at tapping into that emotion.

Jonah Keri is an amazing storyteller, and it was great to read about the history of the Expos, along with HIS history of following them through his youth to adulthood. ...more
4

Apr 15, 2014

As a Red Sox fan, the joys of 2004 are, in many ways, inextricable from the plight of the Expos. We could say that solely from the acquisition of Pedro Martinez alone, but so much of how that team was built is based around the Montreal Expos, and Jonah Keri, who is quickly becoming a master of writing about these little teams that could, does an admirable job of mixing history with personal experience in his team-ography of the Expos from start to finish.

For statheads, there's a lot of fun looks As a Red Sox fan, the joys of 2004 are, in many ways, inextricable from the plight of the Expos. We could say that solely from the acquisition of Pedro Martinez alone, but so much of how that team was built is based around the Montreal Expos, and Jonah Keri, who is quickly becoming a master of writing about these little teams that could, does an admirable job of mixing history with personal experience in his team-ography of the Expos from start to finish.

For statheads, there's a lot of fun looks at some players (including a Hall of Fame case for Tim Raines I hadn't considered). For baseball historians, the fairly wacky ups and downs, the mismanagement and strange cultural quirks, all of these things make for a fun narrative. For those who are just fans of the game, there's plenty here to love as well.

Overall, a fun and fast read, and definitely good for fans of baseball in general. ...more
4

May 06, 2017

What a great book for those of us who grew up loving the one-of-a-kind Expos. Keri infused the book with so many great stories (some known, many new to me), as well as weaving his personal experiences as a young fan throughout.
If you grew up with the team in any of its era, this book will bring a smile to your face at times, and make you sad at others.
A joy to read.
4

Mar 26, 2014

Keri has three stories to tell in this volume, and only two of them are interesting. The first is the story of the characters and rogues who made up the roster of the Montreal Expos in their glory days. The archetypal story is the one about Tim Raines sliding headfirst into second because he had a vial of cocaine in his hip pocket that he didn't want to break. There should have been a lot more stories like this, and most of the stories that there are get shoved into sidebars, but there were a Keri has three stories to tell in this volume, and only two of them are interesting. The first is the story of the characters and rogues who made up the roster of the Montreal Expos in their glory days. The archetypal story is the one about Tim Raines sliding headfirst into second because he had a vial of cocaine in his hip pocket that he didn't want to break. There should have been a lot more stories like this, and most of the stories that there are get shoved into sidebars, but there were a lot of characters who played for the Expos, and Keri retells those stories well.

The second piece is about the business of baseball, and given the near-complete lack of success that the Expos experienced on the field, that actually takes up a bit more space than you'd think. Keri makes the case for the Expos being a progenitor of the "Moneyball" trend, putting together competitive rosters of younger, cheaper players, but Keri explains that the Expos simply didn't have the acumen to keep doing this year after year, and given the problems with the team's location and finances and stadium, it led to the demise of baseball in Quebec (or la belle province, as Keri reminds us.

The third element is Keri's own experience as a fan. I am a baseball fan myself. I have a great story about the 1999 AL division series, which was played (if you want to call it that) in a tremendous downpour in Arlington. But I don't think there's that much of a market for my stories, and I don't think there was an urgent need for Keri to write himself in as a participant in the Expos' story when he didn't do anything but cheer on some bad teams.

This is not a bad book by any means, and even fans who weren't ever Montreal fans will find something to like. But the focus should have been on the players and their stories, rather than on the author's. ...more
5

May 13, 2014

Brilliant. Jonah Keri beautifully weaves two distinct perspectives to tell the story of the Expos.

First and foremost is the experience of following the team on the field: players coming and going, managers hired and fired, pennant races building and then (sadly) fading away. It was really interesting to read the stories of all the great players that came before my time, whose names I knew but whose stories I did not. It was even interesting to see how the teams I do remember cheering for Brilliant. Jonah Keri beautifully weaves two distinct perspectives to tell the story of the Expos.

First and foremost is the experience of following the team on the field: players coming and going, managers hired and fired, pennant races building and then (sadly) fading away. It was really interesting to read the stories of all the great players that came before my time, whose names I knew but whose stories I did not. It was even interesting to see how the teams I do remember cheering for developed since in the years before the web, it wasn't so easy to keep tabs on roster moves.

Neatly spliced in between the on-field drama is obviously the off-the-field story. Here, Keri takes off his fan hat and puts on his journalist hat to deliver an even-handed description of the factors that ultimately lead to the Expos downfall. I really wish that every bonehead American (and sadly, Toronto-based) commentator who believed that Montreal just didn't care about baseball would read this history. Outside of a few hardcore baseball markets like St. Louis, no fan base would have survived the circumstances that Expos fans went through. It's frankly amazing how many times they were able to play meaningful baseball late into the season despite always dumping their best players to save money.

What I enjoyed most of all was Keri's ability to capture the atmosphere at the Big O when there was even a moderately good crowd. It never ceased to amaze me how much noise just 30,000 people could make. I still cringe when I see the "Make some noise!" graphic on the scoreboard at Safeco Field because any build-up of energy will inevitably die out the second that the graphic disappears. In Montreal, if you were *at* the game, you were *into* the game, not unlike a Seahawks game at the CLink. Here is one such description:

"Empty, the Big O was a dark, cold, forbidding place. It was massive, and far from the bosom of bustling downtown Montreal. It was, in the absence of a good and interesting team, a lousy place to see a baseball game. Management knew all of this. And with the club improving on the field, the front office got to work on the fan experience. For the many fans who traveled to Olympic Stadium by Metro, the entire walk-up experience became electric. Exiting at the Pie-IX stop, you could walk shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of fans from the subway car, through a tunnel, and up a ramp leading directly to the stadium entrance. The second you passed through the turnstiles, you found yourself in the middle of a big party, loud and raucous (but not too raucous) and inviting. Straight ahead was a beer garden, flanked by an Oompah band with the volume at 11. In a city that had French as its main language and English as number two, the whole setup surprisingly felt like Oktoberfest, right down to the music. You could count the number of people who knew *all* the words to "The Happy Wanderer" on one hand as you wandered to your seat after a beer or five, but every living soul in the ballpark knew the chorus. And whether it was pre-gaming in the concourse or a celebrating a big Expos rally with the help of Fern Lapierre's booming organ, that chorus echoes through the building's cavernous expanse.

VALDERI
VALDERA
VALDERIIII
VALDER-A-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA"

I'm not sure this book will hold much interest for someone who never really followed the Expos - I can't see myself being terribly interested in a history of say, the Milwaukee Brewers, for instance - but if you did, it's a gem. ...more
5

Mar 03, 2018

I love Jonah’s writing and I miss baseball. I can’t imagine losing my team. I crushed this book. I loved it.
4

Mar 19, 2018

That tragic '94 season is almost more powerful since it never finished. In every fan's mind, his team would have won the World Series that year, only for greed to take it away.

I thought the book had good balance between the baseball being played and the business behind the scenes. =
5

Nov 23, 2018

Great book on the history of the Expos!

Great book on the (sort of) rise and fall of the Montreal Expos! If you like sports history and/or the business side of sports, you’ll enjoy this book. It does a good job of explaining why the Expos moved. The author is a top-notch sports writer and a life-long Expos fan.
5

Jan 03, 2018

Answered all the questions I had and also confirmed my opinion of what kind of happened to this team: an organization that was struggling to stay afloat for decades before an out of town owner swooped in and threw them a life preserver.

But it wasn't a life preserver.

It was an engine block (Graeme Lloyd for $3 million for 9 years!)

Also, enjoyed reading about Rusty Staub. He's a legend among the older generation down in my part of Louisiana.
3

May 15, 2017

Solid, chronological walk-through of the Expos wild history, from starting as a way to capitalize on the World's Fair (Expo 67, get it?) to their eventual implosion. Through it all, however, they had a lot of great players and teams, but never quite got their timing right. Seriously, consider that they had amazing teams derailed by two different work stoppages (1981 and 1994). C'est juste de la malchance.
4

Dec 31, 2017

I somehow ended up being a Montreal Expos fan growing up in North Carolina - I think my cousin John had a major influence in this. This book brought me back to the Expos I grew up with - Raines, Wallach, El Presidente, Pascual Perez... and helped me understand the story and impact of guys like Steve Rogers, Warren Cromartie, Gary Carter, and Rusty Staub. Terrific book with a good mix of anecdote, humor, insight and emotion.
3

Feb 04, 2018

I'm a born and raised Montrealers and some of my happiest childhood memories are the ones of my dad taking me to the Big-O to see the Expos. I cried when they left but it's nothing compared to the heartbreak it caused my dad, who loved them as soon as arrived in Montreal from Portugal back in the 60's. Not the easiest read if you're not familiar with stats and baseball shorthand, like myself but an essential read if you are and always will be an Expos fan, to understand the how's and why's of I'm a born and raised Montrealers and some of my happiest childhood memories are the ones of my dad taking me to the Big-O to see the Expos. I cried when they left but it's nothing compared to the heartbreak it caused my dad, who loved them as soon as arrived in Montreal from Portugal back in the 60's. Not the easiest read if you're not familiar with stats and baseball shorthand, like myself but an essential read if you are and always will be an Expos fan, to understand the how's and why's of the beginning, the regrettable end and the till hoped for future of our beloved boys of summer. ...more
4

Mar 20, 2017

A delightful memory book for fans of the Expos or just plain baseball fans, a category into which I fall. As I became immersed in baseball in 1969, the Expos had just joined MLB, so there was always a soft spot in my heart for them. They were undeniably more entertaining than their brethren in San Diego. I remember enjoying their infrequent successes and feeling, at the end of their all too brief life, that they (meaning the fans, players, and team execs) had gotten rogered. Keri, of course, A delightful memory book for fans of the Expos or just plain baseball fans, a category into which I fall. As I became immersed in baseball in 1969, the Expos had just joined MLB, so there was always a soft spot in my heart for them. They were undeniably more entertaining than their brethren in San Diego. I remember enjoying their infrequent successes and feeling, at the end of their all too brief life, that they (meaning the fans, players, and team execs) had gotten rogered. Keri, of course, agrees. His personal recollections of Nos Amours are delightful but he's also done his homework for the years before he was a fan. All that keeps this book from 5 stars for me is the lack of stats. With a history this brief, he couldn't include team rosters from each year with baseball card level statistics? C'est domage, monsieur! ...more
5

Jul 27, 2018

I thought I knew a lot about this team, but author Jonah Keri showed me how wrong I was! This book was fun yet frustrating for this fan. I loved the way the author weaves interviews with players with pen-and-ink sketches, photos and anecdotes about the Montreal Expos, along with his own impressions of the team he loved as a child and continues to love to this day. Solid writing is the piece de resistance in this sports book.

Anyone who enjoys sports history should pick up this book and read it. I thought I knew a lot about this team, but author Jonah Keri showed me how wrong I was! This book was fun yet frustrating for this fan. I loved the way the author weaves interviews with players with pen-and-ink sketches, photos and anecdotes about the Montreal Expos, along with his own impressions of the team he loved as a child and continues to love to this day. Solid writing is the piece de resistance in this sports book.

Anyone who enjoys sports history should pick up this book and read it. The history of the Montreal Expos is a piece of the baseball puzzle that every baseball fan should know about. I am happy to have found this book and to add it to my baseball library. And I'm a Red Sox fan! ...more
5

Sep 29, 2017

I thought it was a great book. I'm not Canadian or an Expos fan, just a guy who grew up in the 80's and 90's a baseball fan who had some familiarity with the Expos' almost-but-not-quite success during that era.

The history of the Montreal Expos provides a unique subject matter in that there are very few baseball clubs for which you can write a beginning-to-end story. As the first Canadian entrant into major U.S. professional sports, the Expos entered the National League as an expansion franchise I thought it was a great book. I'm not Canadian or an Expos fan, just a guy who grew up in the 80's and 90's a baseball fan who had some familiarity with the Expos' almost-but-not-quite success during that era.

The history of the Montreal Expos provides a unique subject matter in that there are very few baseball clubs for which you can write a beginning-to-end story. As the first Canadian entrant into major U.S. professional sports, the Expos entered the National League as an expansion franchise in 1969 and played 36 seasons in Montreal before departing for Washington, D.C. in 2005 and taking upon themselves the dreadful moniker of "Nationals". Montreal remains the only MLB team to lose their team in the last 45 years.

Jonah Keri takes you from their humble beginnings playing in Jarry Park (a supposed short-term solution which wound up hosting the team for nearly a decade), through their prosperous years in the 1980s and 1990s, and on through their ultimate demise in the early part of the century. Throughout the book, he provides various reasons for the Expos' failure which prove that although fielding a talented ballclub is an important element, it doesn't necessarily guarantee success. A successful franchise needs political support, investment from the business community, and a thriving fan base. When the Expos didn't have any of the three, it was time to go. A little luck also helps, and the Expos certainly didn't have much of that, as proved by the 1994 team which most certainly would have won the World Series, if only it had been played. . .

Keri is not an impartial party to this tale - he grew up an Expos fan and in many cases inserts his first-person accounts of the proceedings. I felt like his fan's perspective made the book come alive. Written by anyone else, it may have just been a dull retelling of news accounts.

The book is more interesting than you would expect for a team that never won anything. If nothing else, you'll learn what the story is behind that mysterious "lb" logo. I had been wondering about that for years. ...more
4

Sep 07, 2019

I watched the Montreal Expos on TV as a kid. I even went to the 'Big Owe" to see a Montreal Expos game. The book is about the history of the Montreal Expos from the beginnings when they played their first came at Jerry Park to the end when the franchise got moved to Washington, BC. There were some moments of triumphs when the Expos won the NL East Championship and defeats when Rick Monday of the LA Dodgers hit the home run to end their hopes of going to the World Series.

There was a lot of I watched the Montreal Expos on TV as a kid. I even went to the 'Big Owe" to see a Montreal Expos game. The book is about the history of the Montreal Expos from the beginnings when they played their first came at Jerry Park to the end when the franchise got moved to Washington, BC. There were some moments of triumphs when the Expos won the NL East Championship and defeats when Rick Monday of the LA Dodgers hit the home run to end their hopes of going to the World Series.

There was a lot of mismanagement which caused the Expos demise. The book gets into players personal demons like Tim Raines with his cocaine use and how he was on track to breaking the MLB record for stealing stolen bases before the strike ended that. The book even talks about The Kid and how he became a fan favorite, Vladi Guererro on his no hitter.

The book is very sad because of the demise of the Expos. I will says this but Montreal is not a baseball city.

...more
2

Oct 26, 2016

"Up, Up and Away" is the latest entry in a series of books which I’ve been reading based on the shared former employer of their authors. For a few years, I’d check the website Grantland every day on my lunch break and basically click on anything non-Football related under the (usually correct) assumption that whatever the article was about I’d either learn something, or be kept entertained for its duration. Around this same time, I discovered Twitter which further allowed me to follow authors "Up, Up and Away" is the latest entry in a series of books which I’ve been reading based on the shared former employer of their authors. For a few years, I’d check the website Grantland every day on my lunch break and basically click on anything non-Football related under the (usually correct) assumption that whatever the article was about I’d either learn something, or be kept entertained for its duration. Around this same time, I discovered Twitter which further allowed me to follow authors and reporters that I enjoyed and not only become aware the instant they wrote a new article, but also their humor and interests outside of their writing. With Grantland having closed up shop, several of the writers have relocated to The Ringer, while still others are easy enough to track in their new writing gigs through Twitter. Several of my favorite authors from the website have since (or previously) published full novels, which I’ve tracked down. That’s a long way of explaining why I read a book about the Montreal Expos, a baseball franchise that I never cared about or had any interest in.

To be clear, I love baseball. Along with basketball, it’s my favorite sport. While definitely a Cubs fan, with the exception of the Cardinals and Yankees I don’t really dislike any franchises and have a pretty solid knowledge of all the teams and their best players throughout history. This includes trips to both Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame and Museum and Kansas City for the Negro Leagues Museum, and trips to ballparks in cities from Florida to Arizona and most everywhere in between. So, why did I not appreciate this book more, when it’s about a sport I love, by a talented and knowledgeable author that I have read and enjoyed before this? I have several theories, and a few personal reasons that detracted from the overall enjoyment.

My biggest theory regarding why the book didn’t work was its scope. Telling the history of a franchise, from creation to relocation in 400 pages means some things will get glossed over and every instance the author chooses to focus on becomes paramount. Here, Keri did tons of interviews with former players and personnel but in most all instances the resulting inclusion is just a line or two of supplementary material that left few moments a reader would be sure to remember long after reading the book. Where a long conversation with Felipe Alou was referenced in the acknowledgment section, I can’t help but think the reader would have benefitted (and preferred) more of that conversation framed together at once than several one sentence comments sprinkled throughout the book. Likewise, Keri’s inclusion of stories of several game recaps from games he personally attended with friends serves the purpose of bringing a fan element to the book, but could have (should have) been replaced with expanded information on player and personnel trades/departures and additional financial information to support or refute his position on the importance of the team in the community.

Perhaps narrowing the scope of the book to just the playoff team or just the exodus of the Expos would have been more enthralling for the reader. While there is a lot of information covered here, the relatively small amount of time spent on each era ends up making this a resource somewhat comparable to Wikipedia (which is a great resource, but not what I’m looking for when purchasing a new book).

Another possibility for why this book didn’t work as well as it could have was the inherent dichotomy between the subject matter and the author’s attitude. Keri obviously loved the Expos and the new afterward on the book was tacked on to show all the other Montreal citizens who felt the same way. A book just highlighting something worthy of that admiration would have made sense, but here a complete history of the team leaves Keri unable to excuse the awful facilities, the rampant drug use, the multiple losing seasons, and final exile of the franchise. The warts and all approach is historically accurate, however a non-Expo fan is not likely to come away from the book with a new appreciation for the former franchise. The closest I came to changing perspectives on the team for the better was in reading Pedro Martinez’s comments following his World Series victory. Again, more focus on the individuals and their recollections of the legacy of the team might have improved the read as opposed to an overly brief complete history that we are left with.

Finally, as much as I enjoy Jonah Keri’s writing, as a disciple of the Bill Simmons school of writing he is likely to alienate some of his readers with his own personal beliefs coming through in his writing. With a column online, or his twitter account, you kind of know what you’re getting, but for the random reader picking up his book it can be a bit objectionable. At times I was reminded of the individual at work who begins telling you their political views in hushed tones with the expectation that you must surely agree with them. I’m used to ignoring Keri’s views on legalization of drugs, PED’s and discounting lucky hits from MVP candidates online, but while reading his book more of the same prejudices came out. It’s clear he sides with the players on labor issues, hates Bud Selig, and believes small ball strategies are inherently wrong. In an article putting forth those views he can defend them and put forth an argument the reader can accept or reject. Here though, the views were usually included with either no supplementary information, or just enough to give the worst facts against his target with no balance or attempt at objectivity for the other side. Just one more hazard of writing about a very broad topic in a short amount of space.

So I didn’t care for this book. Keri’s still a talented columnist and seems like a good guy online. I’m sure I’ll also check out his other book about the Tampa Bay Rays as soon as I track down a copy of it.
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3

Nov 25, 2019

I received a used copy of this as a present awhile back, so I didn't need to wrestle with the morality of supporting Jonah Keri by purchasing this...

I decided to read it in honor of the Washington Nationals winning the world series, finally doing what the Expos never could during their history. The book is a love letter to the history of the Expos and what they meant to Montreal, and is also filtered through Keri's experience as a fan, which becomes increasingly clear as it moves closer to his I received a used copy of this as a present awhile back, so I didn't need to wrestle with the morality of supporting Jonah Keri by purchasing this...

I decided to read it in honor of the Washington Nationals winning the world series, finally doing what the Expos never could during their history. The book is a love letter to the history of the Expos and what they meant to Montreal, and is also filtered through Keri's experience as a fan, which becomes increasingly clear as it moves closer to his high-school years.

It's well-written and engaging, with plenty of fantastic access to former players, coaches, and officials, but the story has no natural high points or climaxes- the Expos make the playoffs once in 30 years, their best team ever is wiped out by the strike, and they eventually move away amid years of sinking fan interest. Keri does his best to craft peaks and valleys out of this narrative, but unless you are a huge baseball fan you might find yourself losing interest. ...more
5

Jul 22, 2017

As a writer myself, I often find it difficult to cover a topic for which I have a strong emotional attachment. Jonah Keri doesn't hide his lifelong love for the Montreal Expos -- in fact, it's what gives this book such an enjoyable (and heartbreaking, at times) tone. But his most impressive accomplishment here is to weave together his own charming stories from his personal fandom with a well-researched history of the rise and fall of his favorite baseball team. He interviews numerous players, As a writer myself, I often find it difficult to cover a topic for which I have a strong emotional attachment. Jonah Keri doesn't hide his lifelong love for the Montreal Expos -- in fact, it's what gives this book such an enjoyable (and heartbreaking, at times) tone. But his most impressive accomplishment here is to weave together his own charming stories from his personal fandom with a well-researched history of the rise and fall of his favorite baseball team. He interviews numerous players, executives, and even other fans who were involved with the Expos and brings to life the franchise's glory days and also the many frustrations felt by everyone on the inside and out throughout the team's existence. Keri is more than fair in his treatment of the "villains" (Selig, Loria, Brochu) who are usually blamed for the Expos leaving town, offering objective explanations for their decisions. It's a quick read but still an in-depth look at the Expos' entire history by an author who might be their #1 fan. ...more
5

Jul 30, 2018

I saw an interview with Jonah Keri which got me super excited to read this book!

Growing up in Montreal, being a Habs fan, and remembering my youth as an Expos fan, I really wanted a better understanding of why the Expos left MLB. I also just wanted to know the history of the team. It's something I didn't fully know, and this book really didn't disappoint! Perfect for summer too :)

The book goes in chronological order:
- Joining the league as an expansion team and getting Rusty Staub, their first I saw an interview with Jonah Keri which got me super excited to read this book!

Growing up in Montreal, being a Habs fan, and remembering my youth as an Expos fan, I really wanted a better understanding of why the Expos left MLB. I also just wanted to know the history of the team. It's something I didn't fully know, and this book really didn't disappoint! Perfect for summer too :)

The book goes in chronological order:
- Joining the league as an expansion team and getting Rusty Staub, their first star.
- How they started focusing on a great farm system and getting stars that rocked through the 80's (Carter, Dawson, Raines, Wallach, Rogers, etc.)
- The woes of the stadium and team owners (funding issues)
- The awesome team of 90s.
- Why and how they folded.

Anyway. It's just a really good history of the team and it's really easy to read. The author is pretty awesome and I like his writing style. It got me super excited to get the Expos back! However, it did get me frustrated hearing about the owners and managers trading every single good player to save money and didn't support the team at all... Worth the read!
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