Expos expanding the evil empire
By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist

It didn't use to be this way. It used to be they were Les Plucky, Les Charming, Les Expos. It used to be they were everyone's sweet, lovable underdogs.

Those days are gone.

These are the days when rumors swirl that even the cuddly Youppi! is on the trading block.

These are the days when Omar Minaya, like Saruman building a dark army for the battle of Rohan, is taking the team in a sinister new direction.

It started slowly at first. Most people didn't notice.

Youppi
The revelation that the Expos had gone bad even floored Youppi!, Montreal's mascot.
First, there was Orlando Hernandez.

Then Nick Johnson, Randy Choate, and Juan Rivera.

On Monday, he claimed infielder Andy Fox in the Rule 5 Draft.

What's the big deal, you say? These are all reasonable moves for a guy on a budget, you say?

I say: Bollocks! I say wake up and smell the coffee, chief. I say ask yourself one question: What do all these players have in common, besides the facts that none of them speaks fluent French and all of them go to bed every night praying for deliverance from Olympic Stadium.

That's right, smartie. They're all ex-Yankees.

You see it now, right?

You might as well call him Anakin Minaya from now on, because he's gone over to the dark side, boys and girls. He's been trolling for some of that thick, black Evil Empire juju, the kind that passes for blood when it courses through pinstriped veins.

This is just coincidence, it doesn't mean anything, you say? And besides, the Evil Empire stuff is a tired horse no one but Caple and the folks of Red Sox Nation ride anymore, you say? Come on, what real evidence do you have that Minaya and the Expos are going bad, you say?

And I say, Oh, my poor, na´ve friend, would that it were only the Yankee-factor at work here. Oh, my poor, na´ve friend, would that it stopped there, with some bargain-basement grab at the forces of darkness thrown out with Georgie Porgie's trash. But oh, my poor, na´ve friend, it does not. It goes so much deeper and reaches so much farther than that.

How deep, you say? How far, you say?

I say two words to you, my poor, na´ve friend. I say "Carl" and I say "Everett."

And are you shaken by these words? Do you hear in them the storm gathering on the horizon? Do you feel the earth opening up beneath your feet, ready to swallow you whole? Do you see now that Robert Frost's "some say the earth will end in fire" was not speculation but prophecy?

Omar Minaya and Frank Robinson
Why are Omar Minaya, left, and Frank Robinson smiling when there's seemlingly nothing about their situation to smile about? Hmm.
Of course you do. You see these things and you are afraid. You see a team you once loved, a team with something like young David Naughton's appealing smile and winning personality, morphing like the American Werewolf in London into something you must hate, something whose full-mooned April arrival you dread.

And you ask yourself, what's next? Where will it end?

Are Zimmer and Stottlemyre about to be named bench coaches under Frank Robinson?

Will Reggie attempt a comeback?

Can we be sure that Billy Martin is dead, and not just on-ice in some Montreal-area hospital awaiting scientific advancements and the contract-term overtures of a certain Expo GM that might bring him back to life?

Will it continue to stretch beyond Yankeeness? Is Everett just the start of the bad-citizen brigade?

Is there a back-room, three-way deal in the works among Montreal, Boston, and Texas, that sends Vlad Guerrero to Arlington, and A-Rod to Boston, and brings Manny Ramirez and his suitcase full of sulk north of the border?

Where's Mo Vaughn? Is it true he's just had a new passport photo taken?

Who's got Mondesi? Is he swinging wildly at pitches in the Olympic Stadium dirt even as we speak?

You're hysterical. You're talking crazy. Shake yourself out of it.

But you can't. You've seen the headlines: "Everett Inks Two-Year Deal." You know anything is possible. You smell the Expos rotting right beneath your nose.

And so you worry and wonder ...

Is Omar rolling up to John Rocker's place right now, contract in hand, talking about a place where his mouth can run free, about a team that'll let Rocker be Rocker?

Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco was a Yankee and a battery mate. A perfect fit!
Did he just get off a conference call with Bill Singer and Matt Millen, pitching some sort of two-headed PR post where no holds will be barred?

Stop it. This is ridiculous.

Yeah, yeah, sure it is. About as ridiculous as Marty McSorley trading in a stick for a bat.

Is this why LT wrote the book, to generate some buzz before his really big announcement. "I've always loved Montreal," he says. "And you know I can hit."

When Dennis Rodman was talking comeback last week, is this what he was talking about? A little Canadian cross-over?

You're not so much scared as contemptuous now; you're getting sarcastic.

Why not make a run for Sheffield? He's the doubleheader: a Yankee and a malcontent, you say.

How about the remaining Blazers? I hear 'Sheed throws a nasty (and I mean really nasty) cut fastball, you say.

But you know, even as you shout this smack to the heavens, that you're just whistling in the new Expo dark. You know this is serious, that it's only a matter of time before Omar and his forces come calling like a Canadian avalanche, looking to bury all that is good, plucky, charming, sweet, and lovable in their path.

Because you know this: David Wells is still available.

I hear you crying now. I see you shivering. I want to comfort you, tell you this is all a bad dream. But it isn't a dream, bub, and it isn't "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars." I can't guarantee you that the forces of good will triumph over the forces of evil.

I can only tell you what I know. Well, that, and what Bob Dylan said about life in the new Expo reality:

"I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways,
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."

Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.





MONTREAL MISCHIEF

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