By Far, Stanley Cup Playoffs are Better Than NBA Playoffs

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There has been a lot of talk about how the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors have been dominating their opponents in this year’s NBA playoffs. So-called basketball fans and media have long cheered for the Cavaliers and the Warriors to battle it out for the NBA title.

The Toronto Raptors made things interesting last year when their Eastern Conference Final series with Cleveland was even after the first four games. That produced excitement for us fans here in “The Six” but it caused quite a shock to the rest of the United States. Dare I say more shocking than Donald Trump winning the US Presidential election. As great as it would have been to see the Raptors in the finals, there are those who got their wish and saw Golden State and Cleveland battle it out for the championship. And by the looks of it, it will happen again for the third straight year.

This year’s NBA playoffs has been predictable. Unless you live in Cleveland or in the Bay Area, there hasn’t been much excitement. Even Charles Barkley doesn’t seem interested in what’s happening in the NBA Eastern Conference Final.

https://www.clippituser.tv/c/rvvyng

Compare that the Stanley Cup Playoffs where it has been unpredictable and exciting. Most of the excitement is coming from teams like the Nashville Predators, an 8th-seeded team in the Western Conference who will be making their first ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. How can you not like what is happening with the Predators? They have taken Music City by storm and it’s not just because team captain Mike Fisher’s wife is a famous musician. The Predators are making the Ottawa Senators look like the Florida Panthers when it comes to fan base.

Standing in the way of bringing Lord Stanley to the Volunteer State are the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are the only team left in the playoffs with a true superstar player, or in this case two, in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Which buries the theory that you need one to be a championship contender. Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid, Carey Price, Steven Stamkos, they are all watching the playoffs from home. Add to that, top teams like Chicago, Montreal, Washington, and last year’s finalist San Jose were eliminated early.

There is also the fact that five of the seven Canadian teams made the playoffs this year, a year after there were none. The return of the Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs certainly helped even though they were not able to get by the Capitals in the first round. The Senators, perhaps, went further in the playoffs than anyone would have expected. Erik Karlsson is one of the best defenseman in the game and he is showing us why in the playoffs. Had Ottawa made it to the final, it would have been an interesting storyline with one-time Senator fan favourite Fisher facing his old team for the Cup. The Penguins and Predators have their own storyline in the finals. The two teams at one time were considered being sold to a Canadian tech billionaire. Jim Balsillie wanted another team in the Southern Ontario market but nearly ran his successful smartphone company into the ground in order to do it.

Sure, playoff hockey isn’t without its flaws. The Senators still are able to employ the neutral zone trap. But until there are rules in place to outlaw it, defensive hockey is still the way to go in the playoffs. Another is, you guessed it, the lack of fighting in hockey. There’s been some animosity in the playoffs but very few resulting in the drop of the gloves. The Gary-Bettman-doesn’t-want-a-Canadian-team-to-win-the-Stanley-Cup mantra is growing old but there are folks who still cling to it like those in the southern United States who many say still cling to the confederate flag. But despite all that, the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains compelling because of its unpredictability.

The NBA can have all the superstar power they want. I’ll take the blue-collar attitude that comes with playoff hockey. It is by far the best playoff action anywhere.

Also see:

The Raptors are Playing with House Money
Bettman is the Best Commissioner in Professional Sports
Everyone Loves an Outcast

 

Looking Out for the Next Number One

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This week, I attended the OHL Cup tournament in Toronto. The tournament features the top minor midget hockey teams in Ontario and parts of the United States. It also acts as a way to showcase players for managers and scouts of major junior teams. Since much of the players in this tournament will be in junior hockey next year, and since the Barrie Colts are picking first overall in this year’s OHL Priority Selection, I was curious to see who will be in the league come September.

The last time the Colts selected first overall was in 2011. They took a 14-year-old from Belle River, Ontario named Aaron Ekblad in the draft that year. The rest as they say is history. This year, many OHL scouts, coaches, general managers, and media I have talked to are speaking highly of Jack Hughes (pictured), a talented forward from Orlando, Florida who is playing with the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL (the Marlboros are one of the teams taking part in the OHL Cup). Despite his small size (he’s listed as 5’11” but many think he’s shorter than that), they feel he has the skill-set to be an impact player for the Colts. But Hughes is also being attracted by NCAA schools and the United States National Development Team. The Colts have been burned in the past for using their first selection to draft players (particularly those who are American-born) that intend or have made commitments to other programs. So whether the Colts will take him at number one at the April 8th draft remains to be seen.

While we’ve seen the likes of Ekblad and Connor McDavid at the NHL level, many have not seen the two develop in the junior ranks. I was fortunate enough to cover these two players as they spent a good portion of their teenage years in the OHL. I also had the pleasure of watching Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, and Bobby Ryan play in the league. It is fascinating to see them play at a high level well before they became household names.

Despite what you hear in the media, hockey players (and other athletes) do not grow on trees. Finding a great hockey player is more than about whether he can score goals. There are a number of factors involved. How well does he skate? How is his hockey IQ? Does he make too many mistakes with the puck? What about the program he is currently in? Is it constantly developing good hockey players? Does he make other players on the team better? What’s he like away from the rink? What about his upbringing? His family?

This kind of thinking also applies to other sports especially when it comes to family. Lonzo Ball is projected to go number one in the upcoming NBA draft. But most of the talk isn’t about the UCLA standout, it is about his father, former US collegiate basketball player LaVar Ball. The elder Ball seems to have taken control of his son’s budding basketball career, bragging about his abilities and putting an enormous value and unnecessary pressure on him. Add to that, LeVar Ball is willing to pick fights with anyone who criticizes him like Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. These things would scare many NBA teams into not drafting Lonzo Ball, not because of his talent, but the unpredictability of his father. Fortunately, there are few people like LeVar Ball in this world.

It is interesting to find out who the next Sidney Crosby, LeBron James, or Mike Trout will be. They can be found in places like the OHL Cup, the local ball diamond, or high school gymnasium. Go see them play at your local arena before you have to fork out $200 to do the same at the Air Canada Centre.

UPDATE April 8:

The Barrie Colts selected forward Ryan Suzuki of the London Junior Knights as their first pick of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. His older brother Nick plays for the Owen Sound Attack.


Hughes, by the way, was taken by the Mississauga Steelheads 8th overall.

Also see:

Draft, Schmaft
Getting the First Overall Pick: Big Deal? Or Big Deal?
Lessons From the World Juniors

Canadians Expected to Compete in Every Sport

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A couple of observations from this past weekend. Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Adam Hadwin won the Valspar Championship, his first victory on the PGA TOUR. Meanwhile, Team Canada were winless at the World Baseball Classic. Two sporting moments, two different outcomes, but both had the same expectation: to win it all.

Maybe it is too much to say that the Canadian WBC team was expected to win it all or even advance to the next round. Even if you had every Canadian Major League Baseball player on the team, there are holes in a few positions, namely in middle infield, where they are lacking significantly. In the case with Hadwin, he has been close to winning before, most recently at the CareerBuilder Challenge where he shot a round of 59. It was simply a matter of time before he would eventually be in the winner’s circle. Next stop for him is the Masters in Augusta.

It used to be if a Canadian was in an event such as the Masters, or Wimbledon, or the Indianapolis 500, the notion is: “we are just glad to be here.” Not anymore. With the exception of perhaps soccer, Canadians are expected to compete, if not win, on a regular basis in every sport, not just hockey. That is a different mindset than say 10 years ago or even longer where we would settle for a participation medal. With better athletes and better training, Canadians are expected to take home the hardware when they take on the rest of the world.

The difference I believe is attitude. At one time, winning a championship was seen as too difficult of a task. Now it is looked at as a challenge everyone wants to face. To me, that is a good sign that Canadians have goals, some albeit lofty, that they expect to meet. The days of just hoping and praying are over. Today’s Canadian athletes are able to control their own fate more often.

Now, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to actually winning championships. Canada’s baseball team needs a middle infield to go with the strong pitching and power hitting. Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard will have to overcome their physical setbacks before they can compete in major tennis tournaments. Canada’s basketball team is one Center away before they become a serious threat to the dominating US team.

But one thing is for sure, athletes need to continue to aim high. That separates the participants from the contenders and it will bode well for Canada in producing not just great athletes, but champions.

Also see:

Do You Need International Success to be a Great Canadian Athlete?
Lessons From the World Juniors
Olympics are All About the Games

 

There is Something to be Said About Loyalty

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there-is-something-to-be-said-about-loyaltyThe late Tony Gwynn played 20 seasons with one team, the San Diego Padres. Despite a Hall of Fame career that included 8 batting titles, 5 gold glove awards, and 15 all-star appearances, Gwynn appeared in only 2 World Series, both times he was on the losing team. The Padres franchise had just a handful of winning seasons with Gwynn on the team. But the thought of leaving for another team never entered his mind. Gwynn is perhaps an example of loyalty.

There are other two names that come to mind, Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes and Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns. Both players have established themselves of being elite players on teams that would be best described as mediocre. Both deserve to be in their respective Hall of Fames once their careers are over. But neither have asked to be traded to a contending team nor have they gone on the market and signed with another team. They decided to stay where they are.

You could be excused if you were someone like Kevin Durant or LeBron James who left their respective teams to join ones who are already championship calibre or a so-called “Super Team” where the line up is made up of superstar quality athletes. But to those who stuck it out with one team or one organization throughout their entire career, you should be saluted. To them, it is more about being associated with one team than it is about winning championships. I find that people appreciate a player’s loyalty even if they had every reason to leave.

Loyalty is perhaps the most unappreciated quality in the world. No one seems to care if you dedicate yourself to one team or organization. In fact, loyalty is often seen by some as being associated with losers. But if you are one who works hard and shows up everyday, you maybe on a losing team but you are hardly a loser. Sometimes being a big fish in a small pond is better than being one of million in an ocean.

So let’s give kudos to those who are staying with the only place they knew for their entire lives. One maybe a lonely number, but for some, it is the only number they know.

Also see:

Stability Key to a Successful Team?
Backers Abandon Cam, Broncos Win One for Peyton
Is it Always Good to Go Out on Top?

Some Traditions are Worth Keeping

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I was asked why the first baseball game of the season is played in the afternoon. My reply was it is tradition. Yes, it was on a work day yet baseball fans find the time to get out to the ballpark and watch the game. Many marketing geniuses would suggest holding the first game of the season in the evening would make more sense because more people are off work and children are off school at that time. But we see many stadiums filled to capacity with thousands of people supposedly calling in sick. As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The latest attempt by Major League Baseball to appease those who don’t follow baseball is to replace the intentional base-on-balls rule. In effort to pick up the pace of the game, instead of lobbing four pitches away from the plate, managers will signal to the home plate umpire of their intentions to give first base to the batter without throwing a pitch. Another idea being bandied about is to start the half of each inning with a runner on first base if the game goes past the regulation 9 innings as a way to generate more runs to decide a winner thus ending the game a lot sooner. Those ideas may sound good on paper but whether it will work in reality remains to be seen. Already, a number of managers and players are against them even before it is put into practice. Are they being fickle? No. They know full well that it is not going to work. They, like a lot of baseball fans, understand that going through the motions of something even remotely uninteresting is part of the game. The only people who have a problem with the pace of the game are those who don’t watch it. You can extend that argument to those who don’t like the violent nature of hockey and football, and the lack of scoring in soccer.

Too many times, those in charge of sports leagues ruin what is already a great game to watch. They feel kicking a good number of diehard fans to the curb in favour of attracting a few casual ones is worth it. Hockey fans experienced this in 1992 with the Fox puck, a puck that glows on your TV screen. Fox carried NHL games in the US and felt putting a spotlight on the puck will make it easier for people to see it while watching the game on TV. But the gimmick became more of a distraction than an enhancement, and a couple of years later, Fox put the glowing puck, figuratively, on ice.

That is not to say there is room for improvement when it comes to the game. But sometimes it is best to leave things alone. Why do some changes make sense while others are not accepted? I can sum it up with one word, politics. Those who believe in legislating change, or forcing the issue on others, are doomed to fail while those who let nature take its course, meaning no political interference, are more likely to succeed. This is why leagues with rules that see hockey players get kicked out of the game and/or face supplementary discipline for getting involved in a fight are seeing their product diminish. It is kind of ironic that the people who were perhaps the most vocal against the Fox puck cling to the belief that there will be no more fighting in hockey. All I can say is: pity.

Times are a changing and technology is offering new ways to do things that are more convenient. But some (like me) are what people like to call “old-school”. We continue to perform tasks today that were first created dozens of years ago. We like to hold up and flip through pages of a newspaper, or prefer to speak to a person in-person when buying a big-ticket item. Recently, vinyl records have seen a resurgence by people in their late teens and early 20s (a.k.a.: millennials). They are discovering what a lot of us already know and enjoy.

Some often mistake tradition for laziness. But we don’t change just for the sake of it. Sometimes the best way of doing things is what we have already been doing for years. And that is why some traditions are worth keeping.

Also see:

Political Correctness has No Place in Sport
What Happens When the Passion is Gone?
Outsiders Strike Again

2016 Saw the Return of Toronto as a Sports Town

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Getty Images

Getty Images

In 2016, Toronto showed the world why it is a sports town. For the record, I never thought for a moment that Toronto lost its place in the sports world. But over the last number of years it became dull, predictable, and snobbish. Nothing could have lit a fire under a Toronto sports fan. Then came the recent playoff runs of the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Toronto FC. The Blue Jays went 22 years without a post-season berth before making back-to-back playoff appearances the last two years. People would point out that Blue Jays games rarely sold out or that there are those still burned by the player’s strike in 1994. These folks must have bad knees because they like to use crutches. The fact there are at least 20,000 coming to every game means those who are there are not only Blue Jays fans but also true baseball fans.

A year before Josh Donaldson’s dash home, Jose Bautista brought fans to their feet:

If you watched the NBA playoffs, you would have witnessed Jurassic Park, an area outside the Air Canada Centre where Raptors fans gather and watch their team play whether the team was at home or on the road. Thousands of people braved the elements to watch their team play. LeBron James noticed it moments after he and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Raptors in the NBA Eastern Conference Final. So did actor and comedian Jamie Foxx when he made an appearance on ESPN after the game. People do pay attention.

Then you have fans of Toronto FC who are in a league of their own. 20 years ago, no one would even think about watching an outdoor sporting event by the lake in the middle of December. But there it was, BMO Field, filled to capacity for the MLS Cup Final. A number of spectators probably wore the same attire at that game as they did to one on a hot, sticky summer day. The loud noise may have caused residents living in Liberty Village across the railway tracks to lose some sleep that night. Passionate? Dedicated? Vocal? Did Donald Trump become President of the United States?

USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

Part of the resurgence is due to rapper Drake. Yes, we’ve had other Toronto-born celebrities showing off their hometown pride (i.e. Mike Myers, Will Arnett) but no one has made an impact quite like Mr. Graham. He is also the reason Hogtown is now known as The Six.

The CFL’s Argonauts missed the boat (no pun intended) when they failed to make the playoffs in the year where BMO Field hosted the 104th Grey Cup. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 seasons. But the foundation is now in place after the Brendan Shanahan regime took over in 2014. It will only be a matter of time before they join the likes of the Blue Jays, Raptors, and TFC.

Toronto is often ridiculed (and sometimes rightfully so) for being a fairweather sports town. They sit on their hands, offer a polite applause, wondering why can’t they let us win? Not anymore. Things have changed. There are new people living in the city have they have brought their own approach to watching sports. Some we are not used to seeing: large gatherings outside stadiums to watch games on big screen TVs, wearing the team colours with pride, and screaming so loud it would blow out ear drums. This is not your father’s Toronto sports fans. I can only imagine what 2017 will be for Toronto sports fans.

Also see:

People Don’t Watch Sports, Fans Do
Habs Fans Becoming Snobs
Leafs Nation Needs a Housecleaning

 

Women Should Stay Away from Trash Talking

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Kate Upton went on Twitter to express her displeasure after news that Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello won the 2016 Cy Young Award over her fiancée, Detroit Tigers hurler Justin Verlander. This despite the fact that Verlander had more first place votes than Porcello. It was later revealed that Verlander’s name was not on two of the 30 ballots that were cast. Upton took to Twitter to call out the two writers that didn’t put down his name. That prompted a reporter for the New York Times who covers the Yankees to throw shade towards her. Verlander had to come his fiancée’s defense. Personally, I believe Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton should have won the Cy Young. But that’s an argument for another day.

The week before, Kaela Carpenter, the wife of Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, took some shots at Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. During the game, the Bills were lining up to attempt a field goal when Sherman jumped ahead of the snap and made a dash towards the ball. Sherman made a diving attempt at the ball before Carpenter kicked it. But at the same time, he made contact with the kicker which by rule is considered a penalty. A penalty was called for the offside but none was called for the hit. Carpenter appeared to be injured but was able to continue playing. Afterwards, Kaela Carpenter went on Twitter to suggest Sherman be castrated for his hit on her husband. Not one to that looks the other way, Sherman went to call her statement racist (even though it wasn’t). One can understand when your husband gets decked by an apparent cheap shot (which it was) but Carpenter’s wife had no idea what she was getting herself into or who she was up against.

Then there’s April Reimer, wife of former Maple Leaf goaltender James Reimer. She was caught in the middle of Twitter tirade over her husband’s performance in net after the Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. And she DIDN’T initiate anything. Some Leaf fans wanted to express their displeasure and, since James did not have a Twitter account but his wife did, she took the brunt of the criticism. It makes you wonder how blind people can use a smartphone. But as I have so eloquently explained, it can be done.

If there is one suggestion I would make to the wives, girlfriends, mothers of professional athletes, stay away from trash talking on social media especially if it is towards a male athlete. Women believe they can get a free pass when they get into a verbal war with reporters, fans, teammates, etc.. This puts men in a position where they don’t know how to respond. The thinking is: if he keeps quiet, then she has a point. The other side is: if he speaks up, he will be called a sexist or misogynistic (or racist if it involves two people of different ethnic backgrounds). Then you have those who see the posts and they react to them, often negatively. The result usually ends up having people being drawn into an arena that they can not get out alive. There is also the psychological effect of getting into a war of words especially if it is with someone you don’t know. It is one thing if you have Sherman going up against someone like Floyd Mayweather. But Sherman vs. Mrs. Carpenter becomes an awkward situation.

The Internet is already full of psychos who are more than willing to fire shots at people in the name of free speech. Don’t add to this by putting someone in the crosshairs because your future husband didn’t win an award. He made have deserved it, but don’t take away his accomplishments because you wanted to point out the omission by a couple of journalists. It isn’t worth risking your reputation, credibility, and most importantly your career.

Also see:

Where are the Free Speech Advocates Now?
Everyone’s a Critic
Getting Dirty About Talking Sports

 

Which Drought is the Next to Fall?

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Which Drought is the Next to Fall

Watching the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to not only win the NBA Finals but also dethrone the defending champs was pretty amazing. It is also great for the embattled city of Cleveland. Not since 1964 (3 years before the first Super Bowl) when the Browns won the NFL Championship have they experienced seeing a major sports team win a championship.

Lately we have seen long droughts in sports end with a splash. The Golden State Warriors, this year’s runner-up in the NBA, won the Championship last year, their first in 40 years. The Kansas City Royals won the World Series, the first title in that city since 1985. And it is not just professional sports teams that saw the well no longer dry. American Pharaoh won the Belmont Stakes in 2015 to complete horse racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978. Droughts in sports are starting to fall fast.

So who’s the next team or city that will end their championship drought? The Chicago Cubs are perhaps the best bet to kick that damn Billy Goat curse to the curb. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. They came hard out of the gate to start the 2016 season. As of this post, the Cubs are 47-21, 1st place in the NL Central, an 11-game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs have a great pitching staff, a talented line up, and one of the best managers in the game.

The city of Toronto has come close the last year. The Blue Jays were two wins shy of reaching the World Series in 2015. Their last playoff appearance was in 1993, the year Joe Carter single-handedly captured the Blue Jays’ second consecutive World Series championship with his 9th inning home run. The Raptors fell two victories short of appearing the in NBA final for the first time in franchise history. Both teams are poised to make another run.

And then there are the Maple Leafs. 1967 was the last time the Original Six franchise last hoisted the Stanley Cup as champions in the National Hockey League. The team finished this past season dead last in the 30-team league. But they did secure the first overall pick and will likely take highly touted prospect Auston Matthews. The Leafs have a competent coach in Mike Babcock, and a management team with a winning pedigree. They are one, maybe two, players away from bringing Lord Stanley home.

As much as two or three championships in a row is great, nothing is more sweeter than winning the first one in a long, long, time. Hopefully, the Cubs will win the World Series this year. That team deserves it.

Also see:

Winners Blaze Their Own Trail
Tournament Win Destroys Myths
Nobody’s Perfect

The Raptors are Playing with House Money

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AP Photo

AP Photo

The Toronto Raptors are four wins away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. But many don’t see them getting that far or, perhaps more accurately, don’t want to see them get that far.

Despite beating two pretty strong teams, including the Dwayne Wade led Miami Heat, not a lot of people are giving the Raptors a shot in hell of winning the NBA Eastern Conference Final over the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, some believe anything less than a Cavs sweep would be disappointing for basketball fans not just in Cleveland but around the world. Everywhere except Toronto and perhaps Canada.

But I think for them to think that way is OK. Since no one even expected the Raptors to advance past the Heat to get to the conference final, expectations of this team should be lower than the Canadian dollar. There should be no pressure what so ever on the part of the Raptors to do well from here on out. Simply put, the Raptors are now playing with house money.

The play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the playoffs has been spectacular. They have shown they can come back from adversity and lead the team to victory. The contribution of the supporting cast has also been outstanding with DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, and Bismack Biyombo putting up points and eating up minutes on the floor. This is a team supposedly everyone who likes an underdog can get behind. But we’ve seen in the past those allegiances get kicked aside because these same people like to be associated with a winner. No respect but again that’s cool because it’s not our money that is on the line.

To borrow a theory from Leafs Hate-ion, Cleveland is a town known for teams who choke like dogs. Despite having an abundant of talent, and managers and coaches who are well-respected in the league, Cleveland teams come up short each and every time. Browns, Indians, and now Cavaliers can’t get it done when it matters. So if you look at it that way, all the pressure is on LeBron James and company to win it all. They have a lot to lose, the Raptors don’t.

So Raptors fans, if the team does not beat the Cavs in the series it is not the end of the world. Like anything in life we chalk this up to a learning experience and move on. The Raptors have shown the world what a great basketball team they are and the publicity, no matter how negative or disrespectful it may seem, has hardly cost them a cent. They will walk away from the table with their heads up high.

Also see:

Life Lessons You Can Learn From Playing Poker
Everyone Loves an Outcast
Is This the Year for the Blue Jays?

 

Toronto Against the World

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The Us Against the World Mentality

The experience of the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Toronto FC in the playoffs has lifted the citizens of Toronto to their feet. One only hopes the Maple Leafs will be able to do the same.

There seems to be an us against the world kind of mentality. The thinking being no one wants to see us (us being Toronto) win, we’re the underdogs, it will be an easy series for the team that faces any team from Toronto. The Blue Jays and Raptors have used that as motivation in their playoff run.

To use the us against the world theory, it takes more than being hated. You have to be disrespected, have no fans outside your circle, and have every excuse as to why you are not good enough hurled at you. In short, you are an outlier. Welcome to Toronto.

For a team that has to deal with adversity the way the Blue Jays and Raptors have makes them true underdogs. Especially for the Raptors where despite being having no “star” players have made it past the halfway point of the NBA post-season. There was no talk about Kyle Lowry or Demar DeRosan, it was about how Paul George or Dwayne Wade were going to carry their respective teams into the next round. No one gave the Raptors a shot at winning it all. Yet, they are still in it. Hopes of a Toronto team’s demise will have to wait at least another 4 games and it could take longer than that.

The Blue Jays playoff run was even more incredible. The Texas Rangers had a 2-0 lead in the ALDS and had everything going their way yet the Blue Jays battled back to win the series and move on to the ALCS. No one gave them a hope of going as far as they did. Only Jose Bautista and company did.

To say the entire world is against us is an understatement. Not even Canadians like Toronto. They have shown they will cheer for the opponent (American, Russian, et al) and do it without hesitation. I know of a Habs fan that hates Toronto so much that he rooted for the Rangers in the ALDS. He also claims to be in the anti-Trump camp so take it for what it is. There is also a hit piece in the Montreal Gazette that says Bautista instigated the fight with Rougned Odor in Arlington. He believes Bautista got what he deserved because of the bat flip. But what the author ignored was the fact that the Rangers decided to plunk Bautista in his last at-bat in the final head-to-head game between the Blue Jays and Rangers. I suppose being gutless in this case is OK.

I, for one, have been alive long enough to experience this for over 3 decades. It is getting tiring to continue to hear all this nonsense but it goes with the territory. I have stated a number of times that hockey fans hate the Toronto Maple Leafs more than they do their own team. You can now extend that to the Blue Jays and Raptors. They are going to hate us no matter what. So let’s give them a reason.

Also see:

Bad Blood is Good for Sports
Rooting Against Someone is Gutless… and the Bat Flip Heard Around the World
Only Losers Look for Someone to Blame