An Ex-Rays player sporting a Montreal shirt? Hmm. Let's ask him why.

An Ex-Rays player sporting a Montreal shirt? Hmm. Let's ask him why.
Angels pitcher Cesar Ramos says he wears a Montreal Expos shirt simply because he likes the look of it. (Joe Scarnici / Getty Images)

Cesar Ramos walked into the Angels clubhouse the other day wearing a Montreal Expos T-shirt. So we had to ask why.

Ramos, who pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, said he bought the T-shirt at Urban Outfitters last summer.

"They always have random sports T-shirts," Ramos said.

Two of his Rays coaches — Tom Foley and Dave Martinez — had played for Montreal, so they asked Ramos to pick up Expos T-shirts for them too. Ramos said he had no particular affinity for the Expos but he liked the look of the shirt and said he would not want to go out wearing the gear of his current team.


"The Expos are extinct," he said.

Funny he should mention that.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, a tireless advocate for returning a major league team to his city, met last week with Commissioner Rob Manfred. Coderre proposed that MLB play a handful of regular-season games in Montreal next season — seems only fair, since MLB moved 22 Expos home games from Montreal to Puerto Rico in 2003 and again in 2004 — and the Rays would appear a logical choice.

The Rays' long-running search for a new stadium has spurred talk that the team might be interested in moving to Montreal, despite a lease at the domed Tropicana Field that extends through 2027.  Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has said he would not move the team but would not rule out selling it to someone who might.

Ramos pitched for the Rays for four years, and it would be interesting if he were wearing the Expos T-shirt in subtle support of moving the team. However, Ramos said, it's just a cool T-shirt.

Ramos said he believes the Rays could succeed in time, as a generation of kids raised on the Rays replaces a generation of parents who grew up rooting for other teams. He said a waterfront ballpark — either in Tampa or St. Petersburg — could spur a lively neighborhood similar to the one around AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Still, the Rays are baseball's best retort to the maxim that winning cures all. In the six seasons from 2008-13, the Rays had a winning record each season, with four playoff appearances and one trip to the World Series, yet they never sold even 2-million tickets in any of those years.

"They always made the best of it," Ramos said. "I think they've tried everything."