Giants holding their breath
News and notes around the majors including a Giant scare for S.F., and the Expos' near refusal to play a game.
Well, during Tuesday's game with the Giants, word got to Frank Robinson that they would not be the home team in either of the games the next day. As word spread through the Expos dugout they were furious, compounded by the fact Barry Bonds hit two home runs that night, and they lost in 10 innings. The next morning player representative Brian Schneider and his assistant Brad Wilkerson called a team meeting that lasted nearly half an hour. During the sometimes heated and passionate discussion, the very real possibility was broached of forfeiting the game as an act of protest. Wilkerson likened it to the last straw, and the quarter seasons in Puerto Rico, and the lame-duck status in Montreal and consequent puny crowds in a horrible facility were only part of the feeling of degradation. The players are tired of being pushed around, neglected and taken advantage of by Major League Baseball.
The frustration really started to build a year ago, when Montreal was in legitimate wild-card contention in mid-August and no moves were made, and then in September the roster was frozen because MLB didn't want to commit any financial resources to the team. That not only hindered their competitiveness, it prevented top prospects from getting valuable big league experience, and accruing tenured days in the majors. As Jason Stark chronicles in his latest column, they've also seen every deadline for a decision on permanent relocation shifted into oblivion with double-talk and stalling. The team honestly felt a forfeit was their best option of empowerment and underscoring their seemingly ignored predicament. In the end, the players couldn't bring themselves to affect the other teams in wild card and West division contention by handing a win to the Giants. Apparently the Expos' principles are higher than those who are making the decisions they're currently forced to accept. The Expos ended up winning, but the Giants end up with an extra home game, and less travel than their division rivals. The Expos were so shorthanded for pitching, they literally didn't know who would pitch the second game as the first was ending. As I stood in the dugout, no coach could honestly answer. Former Cub Francis Beltran found a quarter and kidded T.J. Tucker that he was flipping it to see who'd pitch. Although it had nothing to do with Beltran's coin, Tucker did draw the assignment, his first start of the season. He was roughed up, as Bonds homered again in the rout. Just wondering, if Peter Angelos is so threatened by a team moving 40 to 60 miles away in Washington D.C. or northern Virginia, how have the Giants survived with Oakland, the Yankees with the Mets, and the Cubs with the White Sox all these decades?
Gary Miller is a reporter and play-by-play announcer for ESPN's major league baseball coverage.
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