Ottawa Champions sign former Cy Young winner to one-game contract

Ottawa Champions sign former Cy Young winner to one-game contract

James Bridges

August 22, 2016

Update: 2:13pm: I forgot to include that proceeds from the September 5th Champions game will go to a charity of Éric Gagné’s choice. Buy up those tickets for a good cause!

Well, it has been far, far too long since any posts have graced this website. Chalk that up to a bunch of changes in my personal and professional life; a new and improved housing situation coinciding with a hectic new job will do that sometimes!

That said, I’m planning on updating the site with content more regularly, and am always on the lookout for new writers to join the site and contribute content about their favourite local teams–and maybe even some guest posts from our sporting rivals!

Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?

In what has to be the most surprising sports news of the day, the Ottawa Champions announced today former MLB pitcher and Montréal-native Éric Gagné signed a one-day contract to be the Champions starting pitcher when they play the Québec Capitales on Labour Day, Friday September 5th.

Gagné, now 40, was born in Montréal and, in his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers became known as one of the most dominant closing pitchers to ever play the game. He is a 3x MLB All-Star, and he won the 2003 NL Cy Young Award for his outstanding performance that season. After running into some injury trouble,  Gagné won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 as a relief pitcher who was effective in low-leverage situations.

Since that World Series win, Gagné has attempted a couple of returns to Major League Baeseball, with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 and again with the LA Dodgers in 2010. He’s also played a season of Can-Am league ball with the Quebec Capitales in 2009, become the Head Coach of France’ National Baseball Team.

Perhaps most significantly, in 2007 Gagné was named and shamed in the 2007 Mitchell Report about steroid and HGH use in professional baseball–something Gagné has spoken about more candidly in recent years.

There will be some who dismiss the Champions’ signing as nothing more than a publicity stunt, because a) Gagné has admitted to doping during the best years of his career, and b) Gagné has only committed to playing for Ottawa for one game, and it’s the last game of the season before the playoffs.

Both of these facts may be true, but I would argue that for a relatively new team that is trying to rebuild Ottawa’s neglected baseball fanbase, the signing of a famous (or infamous) former big leaguer that can speak both French and English has serious appeal to baseball fans on both sides of the border.

Let’s not forget, we’re the city that welcomed José Canseco here with open arms for a Home Run Derby, so let’s have a bit of fun with this, shall we?

To Gagné’s credit, he has been made available for phone interviews in the two weeks leading up to  the September 5th game, and it sounds like he’s been training hard to deliver Champions fans a real show when he’s called to the mound on Labour Day.

To read more about Gagné’s upcoming sting with the Ottawa Champions, check out the team’s release from earlier today here.

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