Joey Votto is from Toronto, but feels Canadian when he is in Canada, even in Montréal.
Russell Martin was born near Toronto but grew up in Montréal. Martin truly felt at home at Stade Olympique.
Martin got huge standing ovations when going to bat, and even got a chance to get a standing O at the O when he was taken out of Friday night's game. For Saturday's game, Russell Martin, Sr. came out to take his son out of the game. Another standing O and joyous tears.
Over 96,000 people went to Olympic Stadium on Montréal's east side over last weekend to see Martin's Toronto Blue Jays take on Votto's Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati won Friday's game 2-0 while the Jays found their offense Saturday with a 9-1 romp.
Both veterans hit in the #2 spot in their respective batting order.
Martin walked Saturday afternoon and scored on a Jose Bautista RBI double.
Martin just signed a 5-year deal with the Blue Jays, so he'll be in Canada for some time to come.
Dalton Pompey might not remember too much about the Montréal Expos, but growing up in Mississauga, Pompey does know the Blue Jays. Pompey gets the Opening Day start for the Blue Jays and his first chance to play in Montréal.
During Friday night's game, Rogers interviewed Pompey's father and brother Tristan. Dalton played for the Blue Jays against the Canadian junior team with Tristan in spring training. Tristan said he had been inspired by Votto, his brother, and other Canadian players.
Russell Martin Sr. is a well-established saxophone player. The senior Martin played the sax for both anthems Friday night, bringing tears to his son's eyes. Rogers Sportsnet had a really nice interview on Saturday with father and son after the father took his son out of the game.
The 2-game series at Olympic Stadium in Montréal drew 96,545: 46,314 attendance on Friday and 50,231 on Saturday.
Compare those numbers to the 2014 series with the New York Mets. Overall attendance 96,350 (+195 in 2015); Friday attendance: 46,121 (+193 in 2015); Saturday attendance: 50,229 (+2 in 2015).
As incredible as the turnout was in 2014, more people saw the Blue Jays in Montréal's Olympic Stadium in 2015 than 2014.
Brandon Phillips hadn't played at Olympic Stadium until this weekend, but he got a chance to imagine what could have been. Phillips was drafted by the Expos, but was traded in the one-sided deal that sent Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon.
Cleveland played 3 games in Montréal in 2002 (June 21-23) but Phillips did not play. The 2nd baseman only played 11 games for Cleveland in 2002.
Toronto Blue Jays backup infielder Maicer Izturis played 32 games for the 2004 Expos. There aren't that many left in MLB that played with the Montréal uniform. Izturis and Colon are on the list, though Colon is 42 years old. Scott Downs and Bruce Chen were in spring training with Cleveland; Chen will start out at Triple A while Downs wants a major league offer. Brendan Harris hasn't officially retired yet.
We saw several Youppi! impersonators throughout Olympic Stadium. The youngster (above) can tell that Youppi! is wearing a Canadiens sweater but an adult will have to explain that l'orange used to represent les Expos.
MLB Network cut significant chunks from the lead-in from intermissions in the Friday night telecast. The previous game went over by a few minutes; a MLB Network show filled a few more minutes, and the broadcast started at 12:39. The game ended at 2:46 am, a full 44 minutes short of the timeslot alloted.
The game itself was quick, but we certainly could have had more pageantry, more interviews. Showing the game on a tape-delayed basis was bad enough but taking a lot of the fun from the telecast disrespected those that came out to support baseball in Montréal.
We had little to no issue with Saturday's telecast since the game was live. The channel was a bit aggressive in interrupting features for quick peaks, but the overall telecast was fine.
The folks at Rogers Sportsnet did really well. Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler had fun with the Montréal experience.
Year 2 was treated with less fanfare than Year 1, but it was still a huge deal to draw large crowds to win an exhibition game at regular season prices.
photos credit: Rogers Sportsnet; CP Photo