(not a photograph of Montreal, Quebec superfan Steve De Montbrun)

On the occasion of the Washington Nationals making their first postseason appearance, the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan takes issue with a local radio host who claims, “I don’t know one Montrealer who is genuinely excited to see (the Nats) make a playoff run.”  As it happens, Cowan knows exactly one. Former Expos season ticket holder Steve De Montbrun’s devotion to the relocated franchise might rival that of any of fan on the continent (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

De Montbrun went to Washington for the first Nats  game in 2005, which was on a Friday, but it was sold out and he couldn’t get tickets. So he stuck around for the weekend and went to games on the Saturday and Sunday. He has continued to make trips to Washington each year to cheer on the Nationals.

The question many Montreal baseball fans might be asking is: why?

“They were our team … I hated the way they left and the circumstances that were beyond our control with greedy owners, etc.,” de Montbrun said. “But I love baseball and I still like to watch the game. I look at it as though they’re called the Washington Expos instead of the Nationals. That’s the way I consider them.”

And de Montbrun was celebrating when the Nationals clinched the NL East title on Monday.

“Definitely,” he said. “It was awesome.”

De Montbrun understands how other Montreal baseball fans might hate the Nationals and he still remembers the emotions he felt while attending the Expos’ final home game at Olympic Stadium.

“I was in tears … seriously, I was in tears,” de Montbrun said. “They were streaming down my face. … I was very disappointed. But there’s nothing you could do. I was saying goodbye to my favourite sport.

“But this happens in baseball, hockey, football, soccer everything … there’s nothing you can do,” he added. “You either follow the team or fall off the wagon. I decided to stay on the wagon.”