Sunday, August 25, 2013

Toronto Sports Knows No Bottom

crazy old man toronto blue jays
On the verge of being swept by a glorified AAA team, and in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, the only question remaining about the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays is how low can they go.

At many points over the course of the season you could argue the Blue Jays had hit rock bottom. There were stunning late-inning collapses, massive blowouts, and plenty of games decided by hilariously bad defensive blunders. But it continued to get worse. And now after losing by a combined 20-9 over the first two games of a three-game set against the 43-85 Houston Astros, the last shred of dignity clinging to this pitiful team can be erased with a sweep.

But Toronto sports fans should know that won't be rock bottom either. Toronto sports knows no bottom. At no point should you ever think it can't get any worse. Decades of futility have shown it can, and will, get worse.

The Blue Jays have been largely irrelevant since winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-1993, and after creating a surge of legitimate optimism with major moves last winter, rewarded fans' patience with the third worst team in the American League.

It isn't much better elsewhere across the Toronto sports landscape.

The Toronto Raptors have been only slightly more successful than the Blue Jays since their inception in 1995. The Raptors at least made the playoffs a few times, even though they only won a lone playoff series. But even that limited success was fleeting, and anything Raptors fans were first proud of—Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Chris Bosh, Bryan Colangelo—ultimately betrayed them, either by bailing on Toronto or simply decimating the team, in the case of Colangelo's misguided moves.

But at least the Raptors and the Blue Jays can lay claim to some form of success, regardless of how pitiful. Toronto FC, however, has been historically terrible since entering the MLS. The team has churned through coaches and executives, none being able to guide the team to an above-.500 record. In fact, after raising their win total through their first three years in the league, TFC have been winning fewer and fewer games with each passing season. After setting a club record with 10 wins in 2009, TFC have won 9, 6, 5, and (currently) 4 games over the next four seasons. TFC's worthlessness is especially sad because TFC supporters are some of the most passionate in the entire league, and shame the rest of Toronto's fan bases—especially the morgue-like ACC denizens.

But what about the Grey Cup champion Argos, you cry out!? Sure, the Toronto Argos won the Grey Cup last year, but that is the most painful joke of all, because no one in Toronto actually cares about the CFL. Argos fans only show up when the team has a chance to win the Grey Cup (and in an 8-team league that isn't necessarily hard) and that's really only to troll other teams' fans who actually care. We're 16-time Grey Cup champions, baby!

All this leads to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team who spent nearly a decade outside the playoffs, only to blow a 4-1 third period lead in the seventh game against the Boston Bruins once they finally did earn a spot in the post-season.

A hopeless optimist would believe last year was just the start of respectability for the Leafs, the heart-breaking loss a formative experience needed for the Leafs to take the next step. But after watching the barren, waste-ridden landscape that is Toronto sports, I know better. There is no happiness to be found cheering for Toronto sports.

You don't even have to believe in advanced stats (which predict a terrible finish for Toronto), or be vehemently opposed to the moves Dave Nonis and the Leafs made this off-season to be pessimistic. You just need to have an understanding of what happens to Toronto sports fans. What always happens to Toronto sports fans. Misery.

Remember, there is no bottom. Not for the Blue Jays, not for the Raptors, amazingly not even for TFC. But most importantly, because fans actually care regardless of how poorly they do, not for the Maple Leafs.

Last year's gut punch against the Bruins wasn't bottom. Slipping back into a reborn JFJ-era of darkness might get close, but somehow, this being Toronto and all, things would probably find a way to get worse.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter into this Leafs season.

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