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March 25, 2014 at 9:00 am ET
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Up, Up, and Away – A Book Review

What do you really know about the Expos? Sure you grew up in Montreal, and yes, you went to the Big O to watch Vlad swing at everything; but in the end, how much of the Expos storied past were you actually aware of?

In a book with a title so long you need a nap after eyeballing it, Jonah Keri delivers a must-read. “Up, Up, & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball & The Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos” – say that five times fast while jumping on one leg whilst sipping a tumbler of Seagram’s Seven Crown – is more than an oral history of Canada’s first team, it’s a heartfelt remembrance for a great franchise gone too soon.

Starting from the beginning – always the best place to start – Keri gives us a look inside the celebrated franchise as it grew from being Canada’s team to the team that care forgot. Everyone knows about the World Series win that never was, but there’s more to Montreal baseball than the star-crossed 1994 season. Interviews with former players and management, and the author’s own experiences cheering for baseball’s underdogs are some of the book’s highlights, on top of a comprehensive understanding of exactly how crappy the Olympic Stadium actually is. Seriously, the Drapeau administration should’ve paid for Andre Dawson’s knees.

Keri doesn’t shy away from anything. The Wolf of Wall Street-level cocaine use that plagued the team for years is detailed, along with the mismanagement of certain players and others being dealt before they could flourish. But hey, for every feel-good Pedro Martinez strikeout, there was a not-so-feel good Pedro Martinez plunking, You can’t win ‘em all, which also applies to the history of the Expos because in the end, they didn’t win very many.

It’s hard not to get nostalgic for a team that couldda, wouldda, shouldda won it all 20 years ago. When the Expos left Montreal for Washington, DC after the 2004 season, a Stanley Cup-sized hole was left in the Canadian baseball landscape. Keri’s book gives the fans of nos amours the 383 pages they deserve, honoring everyone from Curtis Pride to Gary Carter.

“Up, Up, & Away” is the perfect companion for every baseball fan, no matter which side of the Saint Lawrence you grew up on.

 

Keri is also the author of “The Extra 2%” a fascinating read about the team that is the thorn in the side of the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a writer for Grantland.com and a contributor to ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.  His sister was my counselor at sleepaway camp in 1995 when I was 13; thus proving your theory that all Montreal Jews know each other.

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