Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Jon on Saturday, May 29, 2004

Why Les Expos Ain't All-Stars

Contrary to what Bud Selig tried to have you believe, baseball's All-Star game is more than a meaningless exhibition. Voting for the All-Star game has become an important part of the baseball season -- one that reinforces fan interest in the game. Fans, after all, have the opportunity to vote -- while attending games or online -- for the players they feel most deserve to be All-Stars.

Fan ballotting allows each and every fan a chance to impact the game. Recently, Major League Baseball even added an extra vote for a 26th roster spot on each team, determined solely by fan voting after rosters have been announced. Fans now have an even greater impact on who is lauded as the best in the business at each position. Indians fans can fill the roster with their Cleveland players. Red Sox fans can vote their favorite catcher or outfielder into the game and into All-Star history, no matter how undeserving he may be. Nevertheless, it is the fans who make these men All-Stars.

Just as elections in our country necessitate that each citizen has an equal say in who becomes our leaders, in the All-Star voting process, each fan needs access and ability to voice his or her opinions. Of course, it would be silly to assume that all baseball fans are native speakers of the English language. This season, three languages are spoken in cities with Major League ballparks. Most of the teams play in the States where English is spoken. Then there's that pesky little homeless team, which sometimes plays in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and sometimes plays in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Puerto Ricans speak Spanish and native Expos fans speak French.

English, Spanish, and French -- three languages that facilitate fans' love of baseball. Naturally, when voting online, one may choose to vote in any of three languages. The problem is that the three languages offered are not English, Spanish, and French. Instead of French, voters have the option of electing All-Stars in Japanese. Japanese?! Yes, Japanese.

There are no teams in Japan. This season, a paltry two games were played in Japan. Although the number diminishes with every season, the number of games played in the French-speaking provence of Quebec far exceeds two. In Montreal, not only are both the Canadian and American national anthems performed prior to each game, but every in-game player announcement is given in both English and French. The French language has been intergrated into the baseball experience.

It's obvious that Major League Baseball doesn't care about its native Expos fans. The team has been dismantled, its farm system diminished, and its funds reduced. Thanks to Major League Baseball, the team's owner and neglegent parent, Les Expos are not allowed a level playing field on which to participate. The league's attitude is clear in it's neglect of the French-Canadian fans and the French language.

Imagine all Red Sox fans being forced to vote in only Spanish, all Puerto Rican fans being forced to vote in English, or all Astros fans being forced to vote in Japanese. Major League Baseball wouldn't willingly neglect these valued and diverse fans. So why would they willingly marginalize an entire team's fanbase?

Join me in writing to Major League Baseball (fanfeedback@mlb.com), posing this question. And if you receive a response, let me know. Because no matter how few "home games" are played in Montreal, and how diminished in number they currently stand, Expos fans are still fans of their hometown ballclub and deserve the opportunity to participate in the game like the fans in the rest of the Major League cities.

Shouldn't French-Canadian fans should be allowed and encouraged to select their own Monsieur Cabrera or Monsieur Vidro to the Major League Baseball game All-Star game? Mais oui!

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