Leafs Nation Needs a Housecleaning

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Leaf Jersey on the Ice
I find that there are too many quitters in Leaf Nation. It’s not just those who sit in the platinum seats at the Air Canada Centre, the problem goes beyond that. Sure, Habs and Sens fans have patented the art of whining and complaining, but I don’t think any of them committed the ultimate act of treason: throwing a team jersey on the ice. True fans of any sports team stick with them through thick and thin, they don’t jump on and off bandwagons. Lacking patience is one thing, being entirely stupid is another. These people have to go and the sooner, the better.

First thing we need to do is get rid of the arrogance. Some people in Canada think they know hockey better than anyone simply because they have a Canadian passport. So my East Indian friend who became a Canadian citizen but doesn’t follow hockey knows just as much about the sport as me? That to me shows how lazy many in Leafs Nation really are. I’m not expecting everyone to be good at playing hockey, otherwise we would all be playing the sport wouldn’t we? But there is a certain level of knowledge that is required in order to be considered a hockey fan or a hockey expert. I think at least half of our fan base, if not more, is totally incompetent. They get their hockey knowledge from the media. They must think Steve Simmons, Damien Cox, and Bruce Arthur invented the game. Better keep the Kool-Aid away.

I have heard that if another NHL team comes to the Toronto area that it would cause Maple Leaf fans to “cross the aisle” and cheer for the other team. But actually, it would really be an addition by subtraction. Their abandonment would prove they are rogues, not true Leaf fans. By getting rid of the dead weight it would finally breathe new life into this fan base. There is also a faction that wants the Leafs to “tank” in order to get a high draft pick. Seriously? I suppose if it doesn’t involve drugs, it’s not considered cheating. These are the same people who don’t want to watch a bunch of “losers” on the ice every night. Besides, the Edmonton Oilers have Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov, all first-overall picks the last 4 years. And how is that team doing?

Then there’s everyone’s favourite hockey subject: fighting. I belong to a Maple Leaf fan group on Facebook. My posts about questioning the team’s toughness have garnered some negative responses. People just don’t want to face the fact that having an entire roster full of goal scorers isn’t going to cut it in the NHL.

So a housecleaning in Leafs Nation is definitely in order. It may be the only way to unify our disgruntled fan base. I’m ready start pushing people off the ledge. Who wants to go first?

Still the Greatest Post-Season Home Run… Ever!

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Joe Carter Celebration

It was 21 years ago this week that Joe Carter touched them all. His home run off Philadelphia’s Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series won the Toronto Blue Jays their 2nd straight title. No one else has done what Carter did on the evening of October 23rd. There has been countless arguments about where Carter’s home run ranks in the history of baseball. There are a number of factors to take into consideration: the number of outs in the inning, the number of strikes in the count, and was the team facing elimination, just to name a few. But Carter’s home run should be the one others look up to.

What make this home run significant is that it came with the Blue Jays trailing 6-5 with Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor (2 future Hall of Famers) on base. Carter went into the at-bat having faced Williams 4 previous times, all resulting in outs. There was only one out at the time but hitting behind him was Alfredo Griffin, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for the reigning American League batting champ John Olerud. Griffin was not exactly a threat at the plate and (another future Hall of Famer) Roberto Alomar’s turn to bat was after Griffin, so Carter’s at-bat was really the game. Had the Blue Jays lost, that would have set up a 7th and deciding game the next night. Pat Hengten was a 19-game winner for the Blue Jays but was known to struggle at home. His mound opponent was veteran left-hander Danny Jackson. The Blue Jays seemed to have trouble against southpaws during the season so the combination of the two did not go in their favour. If you take in those factors as many people believed, the Blue Jays’ hopes for back-to-back championships once again rested on Carter’s 9th inning at-bat in Game 6.

There has been only one other walk-off home run that ended a World Series, Bill Mazeroski in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There has also been only one other walk-off home run in the World Series that overcame a deficit, Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. All other game-ending World Series home runs were solo dingers and/or came with the game tied. That not only makes Carter’s home run rare but also makes it even more significant in the history of baseball.

With the recent expansion of the playoffs to 3 rounds plus the play-in wild card game, we have seen more game-ending and series-ending home runs than ever before. With Travis Ishikawa’s feat last Thursday for San Francisco, there are now 6 post-season series that have been decided by a walk-off homerun since 1995, when the playoffs first expanded to 3 rounds. But before then, there were only 3: Carter, Mazeroski, and New York Yankees’ Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS). Of those 9 home runs, only one came with the winning team trailing at the time. Again, no one has come close to Carter’s.

I’m sure there will be a situation where it is Game 7 of the World Series with the home team trailing by 3, the bases are loaded in the bottom of the 9th, the batter has a two-strike count on him, he has not hit a home run the entire year, and he is going up against a pitcher with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball who has not blown a save in over 80 appearances all season. A home run at that moment would obliterate Carter’s into dust. It would no longer be in the same league.

But until then…

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Here’s an interesting note. Dana Demuth was the home-plate umpire for Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. He had a great view of Carter’s home run, but Demuth also had to see Carter, and Henderson and Molitor ahead of him, touch home plate to make it official. Imagine you are in his position standing at home plate patiently waiting for the runner to round the bases and you are surrounded by dozens of players, coaches, and managers plus thousands of screaming fans all who are in a more celebratory mood, also waiting for the runner’s arrival?

93 Blue Jays World Series

Political Correctness has No Place in Sport

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The talk about having the Washington Redskins be forced to change their team name has me thinking: who is really leading this charge? It is not football fans like you and me. And it is certainly no one who follow sports. This is the result of a fringe group who are “offended” by the name Redskins. It is funny because the name Redskins was originally a tribute to native Americans. Somehow, it is now considered offensive even though many first-nations people, at least the ones I have spoken to, don’t feel the same way.

Political correctness has no place in society but especially in sports. You can’t live in a free society if you are not willing to take on some responsibility. But rather than empower people to do that, there are a select few who feel that it is much better to cut people off at the knees. One example is no can earn a penny more than the next person. Sound familiar? If you follow the NHL, you should. It’s called a salary cap. Perhaps the simplest definition of socialism we have.

This is not the first time for such a movement. Remember when cigarettes were proudly displayed around venues, race cars, and sometimes on uniforms? You no longer see them now. And I can tell you the auto racing industry has not been the same because the ability to generate revenue has been limited. “Doctors” were concerned that the visibility of these ads would get children to take up cigarette smoking. But instead of letting parents tell their children the dangers of smoking, governments around the world decided to ban cigarette advertising and sponsorships everywhere. And how’s that working? Health “experts” would say it has a positive impact but the reality is that it has not stopped kids from smoking. Go around every high school and you will see groups of kids puffing away. And there is not a cigarette ad in sight to influence them. The only ones who are really benefitting from this kind of legislation are the lawyers who sucker “victims” into suing tobacco companies for distributing a legal product.

We keep hearing so many stories like these in the sports pages of newspapers and magazines. Why? Because us fans could care less about the social impact of cigarette smoking or the Redskins name. That makes people who champion social justice mad as hell (like Ray Lewis) and they have a fit and demand that changes be made. No one should take their whining and crying seriously. But there are people who continue to be oblivious of the fact that they are being played as fools. They blindly believe what they read or hear as fact and we are starting to see it creep into the sports world.

As I said before, these people could care less about sports yet they have the ability to set the bar as high as they want to. There will be some who say they are looking out for our best interests. Really? What their actions tell me is that they don’t think we can control our own lives. Nowadays people would prefer to ban the stuff outright because they would rather blame the product, not the consequences of their own actions. It’s the easy way out. I could recommend that everyone call their local medical officer of health before they prepare dinner tonight. You know, just to find out from the “experts” how much fat and calories they are about to eat in that roast beef. I’m sure the “doctors” are more than willing to set aside their dinner plans to tell us what we should eat. Bon appétit.

Leafs Nation Manifesto

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Leafs Nation Manifesto-page-001

We proudly wear the jersey.

We like our hockey the way it is meant to be played.

Tough.

Physical.

Aggressive.

We love big goals and bigger saves.

Slick moves and hard hits.

Wingers who fly and grinders that deliver.

Goaltending is God.

Don Cherry is the Godfather.

Fight!

If you are from Toronto, you either love or hate the Leafs.

There is no such thing as a Red Wings fan (or fan of any other NHL team) from Toronto.

Like the boys on the ice, we don’t let anyone push us around.

Don’t let them tell you who you are.

Crash!

Carry the flag.

Stand together with our brothers and sisters.

Protect the house.

Infiltrate enemy territory.

Celebrate success.

Battle through adversity.

Stay until the final buzzer.

Never give up!