As part of my review of Jonah Keri’s fantastic book, Up, Up, and Away, the author agreed to an interview about baseball in Montreal and beyond. What follows is a lightly edited (for clarity) transcript of our in-depth discussion. Keep an eye out for my review next week, but more importantly I recommend you grab a copy of Keri’s book for yourself now. It is fantastic.
Chris D. Davies: Although your book may be an unconventional choice for a blog about Cleveland baseball, I see a link here between the Browns and Expos being moved away from cities that loved them. As a fan of the Expos, I was wondering how you kept your animosity about the team being moved in check while you were writing, because for some Browns fans it is still lingering even though Cleveland got its team back.
Jonah Keri: Good question, it was a weird thing because I was a fan first and then became a writer, I was in the early stages — I was writing for many years, but I was in the early stages of my baseball writing career when it happened, so I didn’t really have to write about that exactly. I felt sadness about having lost a team, but if I was writing some generic article about the Minnesota Twins pitching staff I didn’t think “Oh my gosh, why are we even talking about pitching? Can you believe these crooks did this?” I guess you just learn to separate the two.
I will say, in the Browns’ case, if I remember correctly, Art Modell was basically just determined to get the best deal that he could. The Expos were dying on the vine for a long time before that. It wasn’t a surprise before they left, I can remember 1999, 2000, 2001 — I had left Montreal, I had moved to the States, but I would always come back for the end of the season. I’d make a trip to see some family and go see the last game of the season, thinking ‘Okay, this is going to be it, they’re going to move. It’s 2000, done… It’s 2001, done.’ But it kept not happening, it was like a terminal patient at a certain point, it was very sad, but there was no viability. And really, you need to go way back — Modell was the Browns owner for a long time but the only Expos owner in good standing was Charles Bronfman, and he sold the team in 1991. Even when the team became good on the field in the early to mid ‘90s, they were not being run well. They were run by a consortium of local business who really didn’t give a crap. Each of them contributed $5 million in the beginning and said ‘That’s it, that’s all you get, don’t come bothering us,’ and of course budgets go up, economies change, and that wasn’t a viable strategy.
As they’re winning all these games, ‘93, ‘94, whatever, there’s just no financial support, so anything would have knocked them off their axis. Of course, you have the strike in 1994 and that completely busted them and ownership just didn’t care. They were like, ‘Alright, gave it the old college try,’ and they traded or lost their best players in a span of 72 hours in early ‘95. That was John Wetteland, Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, and Kenny Hill, and all four of those guys played in the playoffs in 1995, including Grissom catching the last out of the World Series for the Braves who were arch rivals of the Expos, who the Expos might have trampled, and there might not have been a Braves dynasty if the Expos weren’t broken up. That’s way, way before 2004. You’re talking about more than a decade before the final event where you have all these devastating occurrences that have to do with the negligence of ownership. You sort of become inured to it after a while. If the Expos had a good owner and something happened and they suddenly left, that would be weird. The Colts leaving Baltimore in the middle of the night, the moving vans heading to Indianapolis in the ‘80s, that was weird. This was not weird, this was not sudden. So you sort of...I had already reconciled it as a fan and a follower of baseball long before 2004.
CD: In the book, you talk about Jeffrey Loria with more grace than I expected, perhaps because of how Modell is still reviled in Cleveland. Was that surprising to you as a fan or did you expect not to write about Loria as the main villain, which cuts against his role in baseball today?
JK: The book was interesting from a point-of-view standpoint because I wanted to write it exclusively as a chronicle of events: this is what happened and that’s it. My editor, who was an Expos fan himself, said ‘You have to inject yourself into it, tell stories of going on roadtrips with your friends and seeing Larry Walker, Vladimir Guerrero, whatever it is.’ I wouldn’t say we clashed over it, but I’m not interesting, who cares about my stupid roadtrips and what I thought of the hot dogs. But he said it was important, so it’s in there, but when I’m not writing about my personal experiences I’m writing about what happened to the team, and that is strictly as a journalist. As a journalist, I’m taking emotion out and just saying what happened. If Jeffrey Loria is responsible, fine; if someone else is responsible, fine. I’m going to report the truth.
Truth is, Jeffrey Loria got in there, he had long wanted to own a team and he finally got one, and he tried. In the beginning he absolutely tried. He made stupid moves, he acquired Graeme Lloyd on a multi-year contract, he traded a bunch of good stuff for Hideki Irabu: these were stupid moves. But it was an effort, spending real money like we had not seen Expos ownership do in a long time. But it was not going to work, number one because those on-field moves were bad, but more importantly because the local market was just decimated. This is a story I tell in the book, he goes to the local English radio station — keep in mind there aren’t many of those here because it’s 70-30 French-to-English speakers in Montreal — goes to the local radio station and says ‘Let’s make a deal, let’s figure out what you’re going to pay us for our games and we’ll do a nice radio deal. We’ll boost interest in the team, we’ll get it done.’ Local radio says ‘No problem, you pay us $1,000 per game and we’ll put your games on the radio.’ I don’t care how much bad stuff was going on with Art Modell or Bernie Kosar’s legacy, whatever it was... I’ll go as deep as you want on the Browns, bottom line is, that never happened! The Browns never had to go hat in hand to local radio or TV stations and say ‘Please, please, please put us on the air’ just to hear ‘Just give us money.’ That’s crazy.
So, Loria was really in a bad spot. That is indicative of the fact that the previous owners had salted the earth, that it was just a disaster. If you don’t water a plant, it is going to die. This was almost a decade post-Bronfman, pre-Loria of these large companies — Canadian Pacific is a large railroad company, Bell is a huge company — multi-billion dollar companies that just did not care. So why would local business care, why would the local radio station care, and why would the fans care? That was frustrating to me because fans got vilified because they didn’t go to the games. Well, if you go to your favorite restaurant and there’s cockroach in your soup you’re going to be reluctant. If there’s a cockroach in your soup the next 50 times, you’re going to be more reluctant. If the owners in the restaurant advertise there’s cockroaches in the soup to make it clear this place sucks — which is what they did with Olympic Stadium and the product, to some extent — you’re just going to go away. What they maybe were trying to do is build a new stadium and revive interest, but... people are just going to go away. People are not stupid in Montreal, just like people are not stupid in Cleveland or Milwaukee or whatever. They’ll have other things to do with their money. Baseball won’t always rule, football won’t always rule, you can find other stuff. That’s really what it amounted to.
In my mind, Loria, yeah he was an opportunist, but what really happened in Montreal that got people bitter toward him is, number one, they were looking for a scapegoat and he was a convenient one even though the team had been going downhill for a while; number two, he’s American, there’s a little bit of provincialism here, no question about it, we prefer Canadians and Quebecois even better if you can find that; and number three was what happened with the other owners. Loria comes in, he buys a 24% stake in the team, but he’s the managing partner, and the managing partner has the right to come in and make what’s called a cash call. He can come in and say “I’m putting in $5 million, are you guys matching?” They say no, and so he takes over 37% or 49% or 94%. He kept cash-calling them and they kept not answering the cash call because they were stupid and short-sighted and didn’t realize that’s what you have to do to protect your investment. All of a sudden, Loria owns the lion’s share of the team. The other owners are the ones crapping all over Loria to the media, so Loria develops this terrible reputation in the media because the media is beholden to the locals, they believe them more than they believe this carpetbagging American. So, you’ve got owners, who are totally negligent and have no interest, whispering in the ear of the media to make this guy look bad. You’ve got local businesses, local radio stations, local everything having no interest in playing ball with this guy. And, yeah, he comes out looking bad because these things happen under his watch. But I submit to you, they’re not necessarily his fault.
Now, I don’t love Jeffrey Loria, I think he very much is an opportunist, and not in the best way. What happened to the Marlins is pretty shady, him shaking down the local government for a new stadium and all that stuff — but that’s the state of play in sports. If you’re an owner, you’re going to be nasty, you’re going to extort people, you’re going to threaten to leave, you’re going to build a stadium with public funds, you’re going to do these terrible things. I don’t think Jeffrey Loria is worse than, name your 20 favorite owners — they’re all pretty lousy. That’s just the nature of the beast. You don’t get to be a billionaire by being a nice guy for the most part.
CD: I think you touched on this a little bit, but with Let’s Go Tribe being written by fans and read by fans, one thing in the book that struck me is that you inserted yourself as a fan. I was curious how you maintained a balance between objectivity and subjectivity while putting yourself in the story?
JK: It was just a matter of treating it as two different roles. If I was I writing about Jeffrey Loria’s role as an owner, I wasn’t going to say ‘Hey! I hated that guy!’ because that doesn’t advance the discussion. I was going to use the first person only if it was relevant to first-person things.
Let’s talk about Vlad Guerrero, there’s a story in there about Vlad — and of course I am writing it very enthusiastically anyway, third-person chronicle or first-person I am an enthusiastic guy, I’m an enthusiastic writer, so I am writing enthusiastically — but here’s a chance to really augment that by telling the reader how i felt about Vladimir Guerrero. In ‘96, he was this monster prospect playing in AA Harrisburg, I’m with my friends and I’m in university at this point, we’re having a discussion about ‘Hey can we go see this guy? Holy crap, he’s a force of nature.’ This is more or less pre-internet, so we’re just reading about this guy who is hitting .370 and allegedly hitting balls in the dirt and doing these crazy things, and it was just a discussion of this legend, this bigger than life character, should we go see him? We finally do go see him in Pittsburgh and we’re at this game and bases are loaded, the Expos closer is on the mound getting roughed up but they’re up by two. Jason Kendall hits a single to left, it scores a run, then Vlad Guerrero gets the ball and he’s young and cocky and has a great arm. We’re like, he’s going to throw this guy out, it’s going to be a walk-off tag at the plate and that will be it. We’re standing, we’re in Pittsburgh on a road trip, this is great. And he winds up and air-mails the catcher by ten feet. That run scores, the next runs scores, and the Expos lose. That’s a great story, you know? I could say “Hey, there was a game that occurred on July 22nd and according to reporters he threw the ball over the catcher’s head”—no, dude, I was there! I saw it, it was incredible because we were so excited this was going to happen. A game-winning throw out, that doesn’t happen very often. Then he air-mails the catcher, there’s so much hubris involved in that throw that it was almost as awesome as if he threw the guy out. He missed the catcher by a mile!
I just think you pick your spots as a writer. It’s unusual for me, I don’t usually do that. I certainly don’t do that if I’m just writing an offseason report about the Blue Jays or whatever. In this case, because it’s the Expos and because I was such a big Expos fan, it does make sense. My editor made the right call, it was just up to me to separate the two.
If you’re talking about the Tribe and you’re talking about Francisco Lindor, Lindor is such a great player and such an infectious player, he smiles while hitting a homerun. That’s awesome, he’s one of my favorite players. I think that what can you do with Lindor is you can write about his wRC+ or whatever, but you can say he was smiling while he hit a home run! Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive and I think that the rise of Let’s Go Tribe and websites that use the first person and internet writing, in general, that uses the first person, if done well, is a great tool because we are all fans to some extent. I’d like to think that those of us in the media who’ve been covering sports or whatever it is we cover for a long time, we still have an interest as fans too. So I think there’s an opportunity to connect with fans on a visceral level. If your analysis is true, you say “Lindor really booted that ball and that sucks but hey he’s really cool,” that’s legit, you can do that. You just have to figure out the right balance of both. In my case the balance wasn’t necessarily... well I guess it was pointing out the warts of Vladimir Guerrero, but it was more pointing out my experience with Vladimir Guerrero as a 22-year-old is very different than how I feel about it as an analyst with Jeffrey Loria as a 39-year-old.
CD: Kind of in the same vein, you objectively pointed out how Felipe Alou was passed over multiple times before getting hired, and without outright saying he was the best man for the job you allude to that. Even though Alex Cora just won the World Series, it seems like MLB is still struggling to get minorities in these roles in baseball. Is that something you see? Is it better than when the Expos were passing over Alou in the ‘80s?
JK: Well, it is. I think the Cora thing is a prime example. Before the Blue Jays hired Charlie Montoyo... it was reported all over Toronto media — a side note is that I write and am on TV for a company called Sportsnet, which is Toronto-based ESPN, basically — and one of my colleauges reported that a big goal of the Jays, when it didn’t seem like Gibbons was going to last, was that the next manager needed to be bilingual. I just wrote about this, too, as part of a larger column that this is just as obvious a skill you should have as a manager as understanding the opener role or being able to figure out platoons or lead a clubhouse or whatever. This is all part of it. We’re seeing a little bit with the hiring of Cora and Montoyo, of course... so, yeah, I think it has gotten better.
Felipe was really fighting a huge headwind: he was the first Dominican manager. He was with the organization for decades, going back to the ‘70s, he was a coach and coached in winter ball and they passed him over. I just can’t help but think if his name was John Smith from Iowa he would have been hired. It’s hard to get around that. It’s hard to get people to say things like that on the record, obviously, but off the record of course people did. It wasn’t even this big bombshell, like ‘We’re super racist in our hiring policies,’ of course they were. That was the nature of not just baseball, but society, and you have to be brow-beaten into these things sometimes. Whatever it is, the color of your skin, your ethnicity, if you fall on the LGBT spectrum — all that stuff. It just takes time for the old boys club to be broken up or pressured enough to make different moves.
Just today, I was flipping through headlines and the Indiana Pacers just hired a female assistant general manager, that’s the first time it’s happened in the NBA. Is it because women have always been inferior at evaluating talent? No, it’s just there were institutional blocks for female players, so there were institutional blocks for coaches, and if there were blocks for coaches there were blocks for front office people, and if there were blocks for front office people there were blocks for general managers; it’s just the nature of the beast. People of whatever ruling class try to keep that ruling class intact for as long as possible. Baseball was no exception, so that’s what happened. Felipe eventually got his and Alex Cora, who’s a great guy and a terrific manager, he got his.
CD: You mentioned the Jays, and their front office is run by former Cleveland guys — Mark Shapiro and the people he brought from him. Reading your book and the section on Expos University, with names like Dave Dombrowski and Dan Duquette, Alex Anthopoulos, I couldn’t help draw a parallel between the Indians since John Hart. Is the Tribe feeding other teams a natural successor to what the Expos were doing?
JK: With the Expos it was more fleeting. I called it “Expos University” because it was four years and you were gone. Bottom line is Hart, Shapiro, Ross Atkins, and guys like that for the most part were there longer than that, were afforded more opportunities. I look at that more as the natural product of success.
We’re starting to see that more with the Astros, Cora was a bench coach for the Astros before he won the World Series with the Red Sox; the Orioles just hired Mike Elias, who was assistant general manager of the Astros. Does it now mean the Astros are this woebegone team? No, it means they’re so good, so smart that people are going to hire decision makers responsible for this worst-to-first team.
I think there was something to be said for the success of the Expos — Dombrowski was a impressive young general manager, Duquette and these people were very smart — but I think it was also that there were greener pastures available. It wasn’t that they were junior executives with the Expos — they weren’t assistants to the assistant GM and then given the big job in Chicago or whatever — it was that they just wanted to get the hell out of there. Moving in a lateral way, GM to GM, was going to be better for their career because of the uncertainty of the franchise. In the case of Cleveland, Ross Atkins was not the GM of the ballclub but now he is in Toronto, he works under Shapiro but he’s still the GM. It’s the same as a whole bunch of other franchises, I mentioned Houston but there are others as well. You figure out who is doing well then you want to hire those people.
I don’t see this as a negative for Cleveland like it was for Montreal, if anything it is a positive. Before John Hart it wasn’t necessarily the case that you were dogging your second-year second baseman to sign a seven-year contract and to buy out his arbitration years until free agency, it wasn’t necessarily the case you were doing these innovative things. But Cleveland did it. Forget now, we’re talking 2001, ‘02, ‘03, whatever, even before that in the ‘90s. The Belle, Baerga, Thome era, it’s really impressive all the talent that came through there and other teams want to replicate that. They want a Manny, they want a Thome, they want a Baerga, of course they do.
CD: With more teams using copycat strategies, taking executives here and there, another thing that seems to be noted more frequently is owners running teams like a business rather than as entertainment. It’s not as drastic as what the conglomerate of businesses in Montreal were doing, but it does seem a little bit similar. Do you see that being an issue in the future, maybe when the CBA runs out? Do you think there could be labor strife as the players push back?
JK: Owners have always run their teams like a business. Don’t forget free agency didn’t happen until the ‘70s. Owners had the ability to completely control the movement of labor. That didn’t exist in any other industry. As a worker you could always choose to go somewhere else — maybe your family always lived in one place or this or that, but you weren’t literally beholden to your employer. You had to [stay with one employer] in sports, and that was crazy. It was a protected class that had to do with the antitrust exemption and the special protections the owners had built up for themselves that made no sense. They were not replicating any form of American enterprise except sports... you had to be only working for this place and not that place? It’s preposterous. That was the most egregious example.
Yeah, the revenue stream has shifted more toward owners than players, that’s certainly true, but Bryce Harper is certainly going to go somewhere — or he won’t! He could choose to stay in DC if he wants, or he could go play in Japan. He can do anything he damn wants to. That’s great, and if Bryce Harper makes $90 trillion, good for him. He earned it, he’s talented, he’s young — good for him. We didn’t have that [prior to free agency], so anything we do has to be looked at through the prism of that. If we go back 50 years, there’s no freedom at all. By the comparison standpoint, it’s much much better. Sure, it’s definitely switched. There was a number that I always would cite: 58% of the revenue was going to players back in 2002 and 42% to owners; by 2012, a decade later, it had flipped, 58-42% to the owners. Was this collusion? Not necessarily. Was it anything illegal. Not necessarily. What had happened was the revenue streams picked up in the sport.
Now you could have these local TV deals that were gigantic. The Texas Rangers signed that landmark deal, I think it might have been the first local RSN deal for more than a billion dollars... but having these independent entities paying all this money just created a windfall of money. From the owners standpoint they’d have to take the third baseman making $5 million and say ‘Okay, you’re going to make $12 million now.’ You don’t do that, they didn’t have to do that, there was no pressure on them to do that. So revenue streams naturally shifted over to the owners. I think the players haven’t really caught up. If Bryce Harper does sign for $425 million people might say, ‘Why? He’s some guy with a beard who swings a bat, this is stupid.’ In reality, he’s completely entitled to his share of the revenue and baseball players are underpaid.
How much do you think mike Trout is worth to the value of the Angels? If the Angels went on the market now, if they were being sold, Mike Trout would be hugely responsible for the equity of that team. A lot of that equity of the team has to do with external stuff, TV deals and the health of the sport in general, but it’s certainly the case that there are individual players who can be so transcendent that they can raise the value of the franchise. I think it’s even more the case in the NBA, by the way, because you have smaller rosters and superstars. The day LeBron went to the Lakers — the Lakers are obviously a gigantic powerhouse of a franchise — but what do you think he added to the value that day? $400 million? $500 million? What’s he making? $35 million? It’s unbelievable how much owners profit from all this stuff. But, I think that fans look at players’ salaries and think, ‘I played baseball as a kid, I could swing a bat. And I know what Bryce Harper makes but I don’t know what the Lerner family’s real estate fortune is worth in Washington, DC, so I’m gonna boo Bryce Harper when he leaves town or I’m gonna boo Bryce Harper if i’m a fan of another team and I don’t appreciate him or just because.’ It’s crazy, man.
We don’t boo dentists who find a more lucrative practice. We don’t boo anyone else, we just have this instinctive thing — we [laughs], some people do — where they get agitated over athletes making a lot of money for some reason or another. I think it’s better than it’s been, we’re a more educated fanbase, but there’s still some of that. They’re playing a kid’s game and it makes no sense why teachers make less money. I’d love for teachers to make $425 million, too, but unfortunately teachers don’t generate that much revenue…. This is the nature of society, if you have the ability to create value you get rewarded for it. You do not hear people begrudging Tom Cruise for making $25 million for each Mission Impossible. Go ahead, those are fun movies. So it shouldn’t be the case for Harper or Trout or any of these guys to get vilified for what they do. They’re entitled to every penny and, I think you alluded to it, they’re entitled to more pennies. If Harper gets $425 maybe he should have gotten $525.
CD: I did see that Stephen Bronfman made public his proposal about Montreal baseball returning and how it could be viable. The afterword to the book expressed some hope for the Expos returning, it was equivocal, but what are your feelings now as it maybe chugs toward reality?
JK: I’m doing a podcast with Bronfman tomorrow (Note: Listen now!), but this is a little engineered. All that happened was the group of potential owners that wants to bring baseball to Montreal commissioned a study, a carefully picked study of people who are enthusiastic about baseball. I know this because I was on a focus group when I was 20 years old and I basically took over the thing like I was a foreman on a jury and said, ‘You’re all stupid, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re gonna build a downtown stadium, we’re gonna do this and do this.’ I was 20 and then they put out a study that said they’d put a stadium here and do these things and I was like, ‘I said all those things! Where’s my money?’ But lunatics like me get polled and say of course we want a team, we want a stadium, and we want this and that. They wave it around as it is news, same as in Portland or Charlotte. If anything happens, even though it’s obviously rigged to look good, they’ll say ‘Look, look, Charlotte is such a good market for baseball.’ So it’s winky-winky with Stephen Bronfman, who is the son of Charles Bronfman, the original owner. Obviously we know what’s going on here, but at the same time you need to play this game, you need to “prove yourself” to the league in question to get a team and that’s alright.
Going back to whether it could happen, to give a little background, my editor I mentioned before, was an American who went to McGill, a big school in Montreal. He became an Expos fan in the late 90s when Vlad was here. He and I first worked together on a book called The Extra 2%, which was about the Tampa Bay Rays. He was working for Random House, he called me in and we figured out an idea and it went really well, it was a bestseller. We got along great, his name is Paul Taunton, and Paul says while we’re doing the Rays book, ‘You should do a book about the Expos.’ Haha, not even my mom is going to read that, there’s no chance in hell. But he’d keep going with this, he’d keep going and I’d come back to him with ‘Listen, nobody cares about this godforsaken team. By the end there were 4,000 people in the stands. The team now has not existed for many years, nobody cares! Why do you want me to waste your time and collect your money to write a book?’ I kept saying no and finally it became yes... unfortunately some of it was precipitated by Gary Carter passing away, which was in early 2012. When Carter passed away, Warren Cromartie, a former teammate, came to town and he sees there’s nothing, no indication the Expos ever existed. It’s hard to find Expos caps in boutiques. If you go to Olympic Stadium there are really no markers. The only statue is of Jackie Robinson, not Gary Carter or Andre Dawson. If you walk around town there’s no discussion, there isn’t anything. So Cromartie starts making a little bit of noise, some reunions start happening, and then slowly MLB takes notice. Then the Jays host exhibition games with 50,000 people in the stands of this godforsaken stadium... the first one, March 2014, was three days after the publication of my book. So that works out really well [laughs], but I could not have predicted that.
There has been momentum as well. Forget about me because I’m biased, but now there are people like Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, reputable people, asking the commissioner, Rob Manfred, about baseball in Montreal. And over and over he says ‘They’re absolutely a leading candidate, whether it’s expansion or relocation. It’s a huge metro market, they have a long history of having baseball there, absolutely Montreal is a strong candidate.’ Look, it’s one thing if I say these things in my stupid Seth Rogen voice and crazy enthusiasm, it’s another thing if Rob Manfred is saying them. That matters. If you’ve got people like Stephen Bronfman lining up with money and interest, that matters. If you’ve got economic viability studies that show maybe it could work this time around in a way that maybe it didn’t before — for sundry reasons that are pointless to get into in this conversation — all that stuff matters.
So I have become more optimistic. I thought there was no chance at all in 2011, that was when the Rays book came out and when my editor was really pushing me. I just held out for such a long time, but things have definitely changed. These external factors have come into play, and I moved back to Montreal a year ago so that’s fun. Maybe I’ll end up here when the team comes back. I don’t think it’s imminent, there has to be relocation or expansion, but now the waiting game isn’t so much to see if it’s a viable market, I think it’s more for the mechanism to happen.
Whether it’s Tampa Bay or Oakland or somebody relocating, which is probably not happening, or, what I would prefer, because I don’t like it when fan bases lose their team, expansion. We’ve gone longer in this round since the last expansion than at any time since the league began its expansion era in 1961. I would much rather have 16 teams per league. You could do entirely away with interleague or cut it way back and schedule it so that in September teams in their own division are playing each other. So when stakes are the highest and things matter, Cleveland is playing the White Sox or Royals or whoever is in the mix. That’s what I’m looking for, for the sport to expand by two. I think Manfred is aware of this, others are aware of this, and it would make a lot sense. Portland, Charlotte, Vegas, Mexico City: all these places have value as candidates, but there is something about Montreal. It’s a metro area of about 3.5 million people, there’s money here, younger entrepreneurs here, different people than when the team existed before. Bell is a media giant, like ATT and ESPN had a baby, they’re a wireless carrier and huge media entity. They could just own the team the same way Rogers owns the Blue Jays and that would make perfect sense. There’s a lot here. I say this not as a person who is just blinded, but I truly believe that there is more momentum here than there has been in the past and it could be viable.
CD: Well that’s all the questions I had prepared, is there anything else about the book or Expos baseball that you’d like to share?
JK: First of all, I appreciate you taking an interest and doing the review. That’s really awesome, flattering and stuff. I saw I beat out my friend Rob Neyer and I feel sad about that! Rob is the nicest guy in the world and Power Ball is a cool book. I completely recommend that people go pick it up, it’s really, really good. Do make that a book review book in the future.
My book, the hardcover, came out almost five years ago, in March 2014. For people to be talking about — much less on a Cleveland baseball blog, where there wouldn’t be any natural tie-in other than maybe Terry Francona and Brad Mills — is cool, is great. It’s really flattering and nice and I’m delighted you thought of me and the book.
The only thing I’ll say about the book is, not everyone likes to read books where you open up the cover and read 400 pages. It’s long, it’s difficult, whatever. So if you don’t want to read it that way, there are these four- or five-page sidebars all over the book. The one about Vladimir Guerrero is so fun. I can say this objectively about my own book because it’s so fun, it’s just other people telling stories about Vladimir Guerrero and how awesome he was and intimidating he was. If you don’t want to read [straight through], I’d like it if people did, but if you don’t, go find these inserts and sidebars that I aped from Bill James… and get into the book that way.