20 years ago to the day, Michel Laplante, the ace of the rotation of the Capitals, was removed from the mound in the beginning of the eighth inning in the middle of a smooth, seamless performance. The public is stunned to Quebec soon understood why. The Atlanta Braves came to redeem his contract, enabling him to make peace with his sport.
“It was really a beautiful evening !” responded Laplante on Tuesday, when asked to reflect on the events of 17 June 2000.
It must be said that at the time, the one that is today the great manitou of the Capitals tried to get one last opportunity to knock on the door of major league baseball, 30 years. Previous stays in the organization of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but especially in those of the Montreal Expos, had turned to vinegar.
Yet, the Braves have continued to believe in the potential of the great gunner, putting the cards on the table with him from the start.
“They told me : “You are given three starts at Richmond in the AAA before you go to the top [sic]”. I’d never heard that in my life. I came closer as ever to the major, ” recalls Laplante.
Unfortunately for Laplante, the reminder as desired never came. For some time he was a shoulder injury that deprived him of his gifts of its bite as usual.
“My first start was still okay and after that, it was going better and better. In my fourth start, I had a match without a point or sure before giving a grand slam in the fifth inning. They asked what was wrong and I confessed that I had sore shoulder. I underwent a big operation and I switched to something else “, he says.
For the right-handed, the short stay in Richmond allowed him to make peace with the sport that he has always loved, but which had tarnished its most beautiful dreams in the previous years.
“For me, after an experience really not kidding with the Expos, that has enabled me to reconcile myself with the baseball. At the Expos, people were destabilized, and the organization was looking for. I had been amazed to see at what point the players spoke against the organization. With the Braves, I understood why they had won so many championships division.
“Bobby Cox was working with a system of values rather than rules, and that is reflected on the entire organization. It has influenced me later when I became a manager, ” says Laplante.
A few months after the operation, which put an end to this ultimate attempt to break through, Laplante has received an offer from the Braves to offer him compensation for the injury.
He sent them a letter to decline the offer.
“The director of player development, I was reminded, and wanted to compensate me. I said to him : you did not hurt, you have me healed. Many players leave baseball affiliate, very bitter. With me, the Braves have been clear about what I could do and treated me well. Until the end of my days, I will be able to tell me that there is really a good world in baseball. “
When the border flows the Frontier…
The slim hopes of seeing the Capitals of Quebec and the Eagles of Trois-Rivières evolve in the League Frontier this summer is almost switched off when Canada and the United States announced on Tuesday that the border between the two countries would remain closed until 21 July.
The Capitals were supposed to give the kick-off of their first season in the circuit, after the merger with the League of the Can-Am.
A virtual meeting will be held this morning between the 14 teams in the circuit redesigned, which should logically sound the death knell for this summer and force the two canadian teams to turn to their plan B, which is to bring together the four clubs composed of canadian players, installed at Quebec and Three Rivers, to offer an alternative to the lovers of the ball.
“Fight too big “
“One must give up “, has decided Laplante. We will have to tack quickly and look on the side of canadian players. We should have a better idea of what we can do here on Thursday (tomorrow), ” said the president of the Capitals.
Even if some movements are considered to be essential are allowed between the two countries, the quarantine of 14 days that the players should be imposed on each return to the country would make things impassable.
“This is not to mention that we should play in different States, all of which have different regulations. The fight is too big, ” added Laplante.
Despite the bad news about the border, which was rather predictable, Laplante continues to believe that the future of the medium and long term in the League Frontier is not in doubt.
He said he is also confident in the idea of being able to deliver a quality product this summer, despite the difficult context.
“We tested the waters and the interest of canadian players seems to be greater than originally thought. It is now necessary to get some government permissions, but our demands are very reasonable “, he said, recalling that the stage Canac would not be filled to more than about 30 % of its capacity.