Send the Expos South

I was watching the Marlins-Cubs game tonight when my memory was jogged about something I’d meant to blog a couple of weeks ago, and then completely forgotten to follow through on. So, I figured I’d better jot it down before it slips my mind again.

There’s been a lot of talk about what’s going to happen to the Montreal Expos, now that they’re searching for a new host city. One of the strongest efforts to land the team has been mounted by the D.C. area, which actually has two horses in this particular race — there are separate proposals for D.C. and Northern Virginia. I’m no expert on how these decisions get made, but people seem pretty optimistic that Major League Baseball might be ready to bring pro ball back to D.C.

Up until recently, I thought that was a great idea. I like baseball, and I’d certainly attend more games if doing so didn’t require a schlep up to Baltimore. It wouldn’t even bother me too much if the team sucked — like, say, the Expos do; I spent enough years going to Cincinnati Reds games to be well armored against caring too much whether the home team wins or loses.

But then I heard about an alternate proposal that’s been floated for the Expos, and frankly I think it’s head and shoulders better than bringing them to D.C. The idea is to move the Expos down to Monterrey, Mexico, making them the first MLB team to play ball in Latin America. The idea was dreamed up by a Monterrey businessman who played left field on that city’s Little League team in 1957, when it became the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series; now he dreams of bringing major league ball to his hometown.

This is an amazingly good idea. Even though we still think of baseball as our national game, the truth is that much of the vitality and talent in baseball today has come from Latin America. (Heck, just look at the Marlins’ starting lineup.) It only stands to reason that the untapped Latin American market, then, is a natural home for a homeless team, especially when compared to the idea of a team in D.C., a city which has demonstrated multiple times that it doesn’t have enough interest in baseball to support a local team and which would split its business with the Baltimore Orioles anyway. Plus, it’s a great symbolic way to help draw together America and Mexico, two countries whose destinies are intertwined.

In short, it’s a no-brainer — but then, the brass at Major League Baseball have repeatedly demonstrated that brains are not what you would call their strong suit, so we’ll see if they see the merit in the idea.