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Montreal Bids Adieu

The Expos' final homestand in Canada filled les habitants with little but ennui

As 36 years of big league baseball in Montreal wound down last week, the first game of the Expos' last homestand drew a mere 3,839 fans. Of course Montrealers long since had made their peace with the demise of Nos Amours, who have been the unloved ward of Major League Baseball for three years, and like a vain woman's 39th birthday, the Expos' final season in Montreal had practically become an annual event. Except for the hardy 300 Encore Baseball Montreal holdouts who marched to Olympic Stadium last Saturday, the city had passed through Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of dying, embracing the final one, acceptance, a year ago. But with an announcement expected this week that this desiccated franchise will at last be moving to two-time baseball loser Washington, D.C., there was no anger in the city, nothing more visceral, really, than a Gallic shrug. The lineup has become so anonymous that Kübler-Ross could have been the Expos' battery for all Montrealers knew or cared.

Indeed, the only person around the Expos with any institutional memory was Tim Raines, the former star who managed their Florida State League team this season and was summoned north for the final two weeks. "When I first got here in 1979, it was hard to find any place that supported its team better," Raines said. "I think it'll hit home next spring when baseball isn't here. People are pissed off at the organization and [MLB], and they haven't come the past few years. But for those original fans, the chance to take their kids or grandkids to a game really will be missed."

After years of Fan Depreciation Nights, destiny's doormats scheduled a Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday for the home finale against Florida. Then, nothing. As the fans filed out the Big O's main gate during the final homestand, on their left they passed the Expos boutique. A red sign in the window read vente, sale. --Michael Farber