It does no good to play the “What if” game, but let’s play it anyway. What if the Montreal Expos had relocated to Las Vegas?
It could have happened. Mayor Oscar Goodman brought out his showgirls and made a pitch for the franchise, and Major League Baseball officials seemed to be warming to the idea.
In a January 2004 story in ESPN The Magazine, under the headline “Las Vegas Expos not such a long shot,” Buster Olney wrote: “Las Vegas is among five cities being seriously considered as a possible relocation site.”
Eight months later, MLB announced it was moving the team to Washington, D.C. The Expos were renamed the Washington Nationals, and the Nationals were so bad they ended up with the No. 1 draft pick in back-to-back years.
Last year, the Nationals picked San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg. In June, they selected slugger Bryce Harper, from Las Vegas High School and the College of Southern Nevada. Harper barely beat a late-night deadline and agreed to a $9.9 million, five-year contract Monday.
“Within 364 days, the Nationals have signed two young players who, according to almost every independent judge of talent in the sport, have the potential to become as great as the very best power pitchers and sluggers who ever lived,” wrote columnist Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post.
What if Goodman had not balked on a stadium plan and closed the deal for the Expos? Maybe one day soon Harper could be hitting cleanup for his hometown team, with Strasburg the ace of the staff.
But cheer up, sports fans. Las Vegas still has Triple-A baseball, minor league hockey and the United Football League.
■ BASH BROTHERS — This is a true story. The Jonas Brothers have a traveling softball team, and the pale, pint-sized group of singers led that team to a 3-0 victory over a collection of ESPN personalities in a recent seven-inning game at New Britain, Conn.
Kevin Jonas pitched a complete game, further proof that it is the year of the pitcher.
For some reason, the highlights were not on “SportsCenter.”
Here’s a guess on what the ESPN lineup might have looked like: Lou Holtz batting leadoff, followed by John Clayton, Mike Greenberg, Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Skip Bayless, Hannah Storm, Suzy Kolber, Tony Kornheiser and Woody Paige.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal softball team would bash the Jonas Brothers’ traveling circus. Yes, that’s an official challenge.
■ STAND BY YOUR MANNING — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Reggie Wayne enjoy a special relationship. They communicate better than the average husband and wife.
Wayne is entering his 10th season with the Colts, and he has six consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving. He explained his success to Yahoo! Sports:
“After 10 years, you tend to know somebody pretty good. It’s scary that sometimes I know what he’s thinking before he says anything,” Wayne said. “After so much time and doing it over and over again, I guess we’re married, I don’t know.”
COMPILED BY MATT YOUMANS
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL