2014, Books, Non-Fiction

Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos (2014) by Jonah Keri

This is an entertaining and page-turning overview of the existence of the Montreal Expos. It’s clearly written from the perspective of a fan, which is both a good and a bad thing. But it’s also relatively measured in its assessment of why the franchise failed. There’s just one rather big problem hanging over all of it…

So let’s deal with that problem. Jonah Keri is a terrible human being. He has admitted to some of the things he did to his wife in court and these things are pretty fucking awful. Before I learned about this stuff, he was one of my favourite baseball writers. Perhaps my favourite baseball writer. Now I know that he’s awful and the only reason I read this book is because I purchased it before he was accused of domestic violence. (Again, he plead guilty recently.) This is a problem for this book, of course. But it’s a bigger problem because he cannot help but put himself – and, very briefly, his wife – into the book. If he didn’t do that, I could at least cover my eyes and plug my eyes and sing to myself and pretend it wasn’t written by an asshole, but I cannot do that when he mentions himself over and over again.

If you can somehow get over the horrible stuff he did to his wife, this is a pretty great book, if you keep your expectations measured. The author is enthusiastic, clearly, but he has also take great pains to create the atmosphere of what the Expos’ experience was like for fans before he ever attended a game. He is pretty thorough with his coverage of the players and some of the coaches and managers (and ownership) and he is mostly good-natured about it. He is clearly on the player’s side, which is something that would be a good thing to say about the man if he didn’t beat his wife.

He’s also pretty damn measured about why the Expos failed. Given that he grew up as a fan, I was a little concerned he might not be so sophisticated in his understanding of why the team left town. The reason I thought that: my Expos fan friends can get pretty unhinged about why the Expos left. They basically don’t watch baseball any more and they blame the league more than they blame, say, Montrealers, for the team leaving. The author is much more nuanced, and it’s appreciated.

I really enjoyed this book. I learned things as I blazed through it and it made me want to have been there. (I never did manage to get to a game when I lived in Quebec, which is one of my great sports regrets.) But I can’t give it the rating I want to give it for the simple fact that the author has admitted in court to doing some terrible things to another person, and not just any other person. I don’t have time for men like that. Safe to say, this is the last thing I’ll read that he wrote. And I hope that when his rehabilitation tour comes, we all ignore it.

5/10 for domestic violence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.