The official announcement will be made Tuesday at the Bell Centre and will feature Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos and Roberto Alomar. The games will be played April 3 and 4 which coincides with Montreal Baseball Project’s upcoming gala.
BlueJays.com shows the game times as 7:07 p.m. on Friday night and 1:07 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
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The Reds don’t have an immediate Montreal connection, but do have who is likely the top Canadian in Major League Baseball although he has battled injuries over the last year in Joey Votto. They also have invited former Reds to attend. Tony Perez, who played for the Expos after being a member of the Big Red Machine has already confirmed his presence.
It had been rumoured that it was between the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates who have had Montreal native Russell Martin, but Martin is a free-agent and Toronto likely imagines that Votto will draw Blue Jays fans to make the trip to Montreal. Martin is also a free-agent and his team is up in the air.
Last year, the two games between the Blue Jays and New York Mets drew 96,000 people. This year, the city is being mentioned in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, although Warren Cromartie has said they have not had any talks with the Rays owner Stuart Sternberg.
I, for one, am cautious of the allure the games will have the second time around. The challenge is there for Montreal baseball fans to meet expectations that last year set for them. However, with ticket prices that made some fans stay away last year, you have to wonder whether they can repeat the attendance numbers.
Also, while a lot of Mets fans from Northern New York and Vermont made the trip to Olympic Stadium last year, you have to think that less fans from Cincinnati will make the trip north. That is likely a factor in choosing Votto’s team as more Toronto area fans may make the trip to see the Canadian.
For me, it is a no brainer. I’ll take the chance to see any baseball game I can, especially when it doesn’t require a six hour drive like Toronto or New York.
While the games are Spring Training games, the fact they are at the end of Spring allow fans to see close to the regular season lineups. Last year, fans also got their first look at Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez who didn’t make Toronto’s Opening Day roster but were major contributors to the Jays.