Thursday, 3 September 2009

State of...Mediocrity

It’s been a rough few years for Toronto fans. Okay, it’s been a rough decade for Toronto fans. Alright, FINE…it’s been a rough couple of decades for Toronto fans. The Blue Jays haven’t done much since their back-to-back World Series wins, the beloved Maple Leafs haven’t done anything in my entire existence (although 1993 was exciting), and the Raptors haven’t pieced together a real run at a championship since they started playing.

It’s time to face the music Toronto sports fans. We aren’t good. We aren’t even bad. It’s worse than that. We are pillars of mediocrity; not good enough on any year to possibly WIN anything, but not bad enough on any given year to get any BETTER. It’s a viscous cycle we’re in. Look at the Penguins: They were really good for a few years, then they STUNK and got some great draft picks (Fleury, Malkin, Crosby) and now they’re Champs. They understood that they had to be awful in order to rise up again.

We don’t understand that philosophy. We’d rather kid ourselves with the perception that we can ‘challenge for playoffs’, and once in the playoffs anything can happen. Like an old coach of mine used to say “If you have a lane, you can WIN”. Well, let’s be honest…most Toronto teams don’t even have a lane to participate. Sure the Jays were 15 games above .500 for a while there…but then reality hit home and this team realized that they weren’t good enough to compete with the Yanks and Sox. Sure we can compete with the Orioles but where is that getting us?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have done a good job revamping their mediocre team from last year. They’ve brought in a bunch of ‘tough as nails’ competitors who are going to make everyone forget about winning the game – we WON the fight at least!!! And that will work for a while because it’ll be exciting hockey. But when push comes to shove is this team good enough to make the playoffs? Maybe. Would it surprise anyone if they just missed out? Nope. I’d be shocked if we finished dead last and had a great draft pick next year. We’ll be good enough to finish middle of the pack...Mediocre.

And here’s the best part about the Maple Leafs. Fans will attend no matter what. So where is the incentive to the team to do anything different than previous years? Sure they “want” to win…but only if it helps the bottom line. You think the Teachers Pension Plan cares one lick about whether their team wins or not? As long as their investment is sound and the return is coming in then they don’t care. That’s sad to me. Where are the passionate owners who will do anything to win? I saw what that passion can do firsthand last year with an Arena Football Team. We need an owner to come and say F* It! This team needs to WIN. And if we need to suck for three or four years to do it…so be it! I know that’s a hard sell for your season ticket holders…but we’ve already established that Toronto fans will come no matter what. So suck for a while and then WIN! I want to see Lord Stanley paraded in downtown Toronto!

But I digress (as I’ve been known to do). To prove my point about Toronto teams I took a look at our “major sports” teams over the past 15 years. Here is what I found:

The overall record the Toronto teams (Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors) over the past 4,431 games is a combined 2,074 WINS and 2,276 LOSSES (and 81 Ties). Over that span we’ve only made a total of 12 playoff appearances. In 42 seasons we’ve only made the playoffs 12 times!!!!! That’s a lot of time being (less than) mediocre. The last time a Toronto team did anything (my apologies to the Rock – who kick ass every year) was 1993. That is pitiful!

Now, all this being said…I’ve still drunk the Kool-Aid and think that “this could be the year” for the Leafs. And the Jays have a great rotation and should be “able to compete” in 2010. The Raptors have also made some good key acquisitions and their European style of play might really “do something special this year”. What can I say; I’m just as bad as the rest of the sports fans in Toronto.



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