Four years later, his Expos teammates still talk about it. With the brazenness of a Joe Jarzynka punt return, Vladimir Guerrero went down and got a pitch that had short-hopped in front of the plate, and launched it over the left field scoreboard for a home run. Of course it was during batting practice, but nevertheless it stunned all who witnessed it.
Just like with Ichiro in Seattle, the Expo players and their several hundred fans have come expect the unbelievable, when it comes to their star outfielder, Vladimir Guerrero.
Myself, I travel to Quebec every year, and always make sure to catch a baseball game at le stade Olympique. It is something else to be watching a game, and hear two disinterested fans in front of you arguing Canadian politics in French for five innings. I remember leaning in and shouting to them "`a mort les anglais!" ("Death to the English Canadians!"), and momentarily seeing the most stunned of faces, before being given a lively series of high-fives and unintelligible accented shouting in my direction.
Anyway, I have seen les Expos square off against several National League teams in Montreal. One thing is for sure, that whether it is against the likes of the Dodgers or the Pirates, it is always in front of sparse Expo crowd, reminiscent of a Husky Spring football game.
My spirits rose earlier this year when I heard that the Expos would be making their first-ever trip to Seattle, from June 10th -12th. I strongly recommend to everyone to take the time and go check Guerrero out. It would be like hearing that Napoleon Kaufman was coming to town. As obscure as Montreal remains in the major league baseball scene, it is amazing to me that Guerrero is still so relatively unknown. I have seen Vladimir play several times, and have witnessed many amazing feats over the years. I have seen cannon-type throws from the outfield, with strength and precision that would make Brock Huard gulp. I have seen him run the base paths and take third with the aggressiveness and physicality of Cory Dillon. I have seen him turn on a pitch and mash it into the deepest regions of an upper deck, in the same manner Steve Emtman would toss around offensive linemen and devour quarterbacks.
Guerrero has been to Seattle once before, when Safeco Field played host to the 2001 All-Star Game. We all saw Guerrero smack a deadly line drive right into the midsection of Tommy Lasorda, only to see the former Dodger manager topple backwards and flop to the ground like an old sack of flour.
Vladimir Guerrero is coming to Seattle! To art lovers, this would be the equivalent of a Monet coming to the Seattle Art Museum. To connoisseurs of beer, this would be the same as hearing that Henry Weinheard had been resurrected from the dead and was going on a book tour. I know that my personal friends are sick and tired of hearing me talk about Guerrero every time I return from Canada. I know that they are sick of me pleading aloud of how the Mariners need to strike a deal and bring him the Pacific Northwest.
As soon as he is able to take the open market, Guerrero will invariably leave the Expos, and will be able to shop his services to the highest bidder. Which means, if you would like to see the future Yankee Hall-of-Famer, don't miss the chance to see him on this rarest of trips to Safeco Field.
Derek Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
An Opportunity not to be missed
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