NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: The Definitive History of the Montreal Expos
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve agreed to terms with Random House Canada to write my next book: The Definitive History of the Montreal Expos. The book is tentatively slated for release in the spring of 2014 — the 10-year anniversary of the Expos’ move to Washington, D.C., and the 20-year anniversary of the strike that wiped out the team’s last, and maybe best shot at a World Series.
This isn’t simply the story of a Canadian baseball club that shipped out of town seven years ago. This is a tale of auspicious beginnings, as a city worked to land a professional sports franchise on the strength of a world’s fair (remember those?). It’s a story of linguistic strife, as the rift between French and English Quebec fostered tragic consequences, mellowed, then led to a sovereignty movement and corporate headquarters exodus that helped fuel the team’s eventual downfall. It’s about the cultural ingredients that made Montreal a wonderful and unique market for baseball, but also made it a foreign entity that the league never fully appreciated. This is a business story, one that examines the links between public and private sectors, promises made and broken, and what happens when self-interested individuals get to decide the fate of a franchise, and its carcass.
And yes, it’s a story about how baseball can shape a life. I’ve written at length about the team of my childhood, how growing up with baseball affected my worldview, determined my career path, even led me to meet my future wife. We haven’t yet decided how autobiographical this book will be — I tend to think Gary Carter is far more interesting than I am. But there will be pieces of me in there, in one form or another.
As with The Extra 2%, interviews will form the backbone of the book. Charles Bronfman and Pierre Bourque, Tim Raines and Dave Van Horne. Bill Stoneman and Dan Duquette, Pedro Martinez and Rodger Brulotte. Rusty Staub and Andre Dawson, Felipe Alou and Vladimir Guerrero. I’m anxious to talk to all the principals who made the Expos the Expos for 35 years. As a journalist, I’m consumed by a desire to learn more about the life and death of the franchise. As a die-hard Expos fan, I just think it will be really cool to break bread with Casey Candaele.
The Definitive History of the Montreal Expos isn’t the book’s official title (we’ll come up with one in time), but it does embody the spirit of the project. You will learn about the history of a franchise and a city, and how the people behind the curtain decide what will become of your favorite team.
One quick story for you (my apologies to those of you who’ve already heard this story): Four years ago, I got an email from a gentleman named Paul Taunton. The gist of the email went something like this: “You don’t know me, but I used to post on the old Expos forum at BaseballBoards.com back in the late 90s. I liked what you had to say about baseball. Now I’m an editor at Random House. We should do a book together.” After making sure this wasn’t some weird joke, I thanked Paul, and suggested we stay in touch. A year later, he (and ESPN Books honcho Steve Wulf) approached me with the idea of doing a book about the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s how The Extra 2% was born: one dude on the Internet digging what another dude on the Internet had to say a decade earlier about the Montreal Freaking Expos. Seriously.
As fun and gratifying as it was to work on The Extra 2%, Paul and I held a dream project in the back of our minds: a book that would tell the real story of the Montreal Expos, from beginning to end, with all the heartbreak and glory (there was some glory, really!), the way we wanted it to be told.
Well, we got it. As with The Extra 2%, Paul will be my editor, Rob Neyer will provide additional guidance and counsel, and all of you will be my support system when I’ve been up for 21 hours, staring at a deadline, still writing as the sun rises.
This is a career highlight, and a dream come true.
I can’t wait to get started.