What a fascinating couple of weeks in Toronto it’s been, especially on the sports media side.
The Toronto teams haven’t been cooperating, or at least the other teams in their league haven’t been and it’s made for a rather depressing environment wouldn’t you say?
The Blue Jays, despite a spring of promise are flooded with injuries, with no relief (pardon the pun) in site are spiraling into irrelevancy. They played no role in free agency last year and everyone is debating how long before the for sale sign goes up at the deadline, despite protests to the contrary.
The Maple Leafs made traded Luke Schenn and have not made another move of significance. Once again, they were not players in free agency with any of the big names and so far the off season has been earily quiet. Brian Burke keeps saying he is content with his goalies, which has numerous Leaf fans feeling content with their budget for playoff tickets.
The Raptors went “off the board” in the draft, surprising many with their picks, the die hard excepted and then went very hard after Canada’s own Steve Nash. To quote Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, Colangelo swung and missed again.Yes today they traded a first round pick (draft schmaft) for Kyle Lowry, in a deal that many basketball experts are saying is a much better basketball deal than the Nash offer that was on the table. However, once agian in terms of free agency, the Raptors remain an after thought.
So, where does that leave us?
Twitter on Wednesday night was as depressing as I’ve ever seen the Toronto sports scene. The worst part was, the truth hurts.
The reality is, that despite what we think, our teams don’t really matter all that much do they?
Yes, this is the center of the hockey world.
Yes, our building is full.
Yes, we get more media coverage than any other team in the league, heck we get more media coverage than most teams in all the leagues.
What is any of that worth?
Yes, the leafs generate a ton of revenue for the league. Take the Leafs out of hockey and well the league would be in deep trouble. Yes Toronto could support at least 1 more team if not 2.
The current franchise is one that in the grand scheme of things is totally irrelevant.
I believe it was Zach Paraise who said, every little boy who grew up in Minnesota dreams of playing for the home team.
For whatever reason (lets call it high probability or expertise in losing) that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
No, Steve Nash isn’t from Toronto.
No, Steve Nash doesn’t owe the city of Toronto or the country of Canada ANYTHING.
To suggest otherwise is absurd.
It is pretty sad, for whatever reason when the Brinks truck backs up to his home, the one Canadian you would want and he isn’t interested.
I have no clue whether it would have been a good basketball move. None, zip, zero.
I do know that it would have been interms of relevancy.
People, on both sides of the border would have stopped to take notice.
A brilliant poster on twitter noted that the Raptors haven’t been on US tv since Vincer Carter was around.
With all three teams it’s depressing enough to lead you to drink.
You know how bad it’s gotten, you can’t even get mad at the scribes for being so negative anymore!
You listen to Jeff Blair on the radio today and I swear you want to start looking for gasoline to pour all over yourself.
ESPN doesn’t need to call Toronto loserville. The truth hurts.
Did you see Damien Cox’s blog today?:
“Last summer it was Brad Richards going to the New York Rangers.
Last winter it was Yu Darvish becoming the property of the Texas Rangers.
This week, at least it wasn’t a basketball version of the Rangers. Try the L.A. Lakers, who got Steve Nash to play for them when the Toronto Raptors really, really, really wanted him to come north to Toronto.
And once again, the sky-is-falling reaction in Toronto is typical. All Toronto teams stink, nobody good wants to play here, the executives running the teams in T.O. are full of hot air, Toronto teams in every sport are irrelevant, etc., etc.
There’s certainly a lot of bottled up frustration out there. Lots of cynicism, too, and when you’ve got teams with the records of the Raps, Jays and Leafs, not just this season but in a number of seasons, all of this is understandable.
But perspective is necessary.”
Come on now. Look at both Colangelo and Burke. If when they were hired you told them both that x number of years into their reign their teams wouldn’t be of interest, literally of NO interest to the top free agents, they would have at best called you an idiot!
Burke and Colangelo have both said this numerous times, sports is a results oriented business. You either win or you don’t.
No, I don’t think Cox is necessarily wrong, but perhaps being a writer and not a fan clouds judgement just a little.
“Look, it’s been a long time since Toronto has had a winner. A long, long time, and that bugs people.
But it really doesn’t change what has to be done with any of these teams, and it shouldn’t be used to torque the reality and make it seem worse than it is. Break down the rosters and the prospects, analyze the moves that have been made, critique the decisions made on coaches and personnel. But the all-encompassing sky-is-falling, everybody stinks approach is kind of pointless.”
See, here is where I think I differ from most fans.
I don’t think any of the three GM’s stink.
I don’t think the sky is falling.
I do think that the reality is, none of their teams play the least bit of importance in their respective leagues in the mind of the players.
I don’t know why that is.
I don’t have an answer for you.
The reality is, in my mind anyways, none of our teams to date have had a young stud to build upon.
Kessel is not that guy. I like Phil Kessel and am stunned at how much the guy does here with so little around him. It doesn’t appear he has the appeal or the where with all to promote the team or to get other players around the league to want to play here. He is not big enough to get the Leafs on either NBC or espn.
Bautista is an interesting thought. Again, I don’t know what his reputation amongst players is like around the league, I don’t know if he has tried to recruit. I do know that he is on highlight shows all the time in the USA, but the jays are never on US television. There is no young stud.
There Raptors clearly don’t have that guy. Nash maybe isn’t young, but he is a big name. He would have drawn interest in a franchise that has flown under the radio for YEARS.
Let me ask you all a question:
When teams suck, there are two things fans can do. One stop going to the games or two, blindly support the home team.
Which do you think is the right approach.
In those markets that don’t support teams unless they win, they are called fickle, fair weather fans.
In those markets that do support losing teams, they are called idiots and get blamed.
To me, fans that don’t support the team run the risk of losing the teams.
Makes more sense to me to support them than not.
So, I am more of a glass is half full type of guy.
To say that the sky is falling attitude is pointless is one way of looking at it.
I prefer the approach that says, at least fans here care.
I’ve lived in cities where they don’t, and that’s a hell of a lot less fun than what’s going on here.
I’d rather have fans disgruntled, pissed off and all depressed than have total apathy.
Ask those who cover the teams what they think they would be doing if the fans didn’t care. I can guarantee you this, we wouldn’t have 4 newspapers, 2 all sports radio stations and all the other outlets covering every waking moment of our teams if people didn’t care. So while it may appear pointless, it’s a sign that if some way, some how some one can get lucky in this town and build a winner they will really have something.
The problem is right now, it appears that won’t be happening any time soon.
We’ve all seen this before, it just keeps happening every year….
The rest of Damien’s story is here
photo from here