Sports fans in Toronto need a hug right now. And I’m not talking about one of those church hugs. I’m talking about a long three minute bear hug where it’s acceptable to cry on the other person’s shoulder.
That is where fans are at. Or at least that’s where I’m at.
News came down about two hours ago that Marcus Stroman tore his ACL fielding bunts at Spring Training and is out for the season.
One of the Blue Jays biggest glimmers of hope is gone. I still can’t find the words to express how sick I feel from hearing that. I just want to scream “NOOOOOOO” until my lungs run out of oxygen.
Blue Jay fans are devastated. Some have even said the season is already over, including myself. Are we overreacting? Probably.
This is how jaded we are. We know teams in this city have a hard time winning when the roster is healthy, put a dent in the roster and there is virtually no hope. We don’t even stop to think things through logically anymore. We can’t. We’ve been through too much nonsense.
Stroman would have likely started around thirty-five games. So now the Blue Jays need to find a way to fill those thirty-five starts, and they will. Those games are still winnable. There are some young pitchers who can step up and help fill the void.
That last paragraph is optimism at its finest. It was hard to write.
Outsiders might not fully understand the situation in Toronto. Everyone looks forward to the baseball season in this city, not because we’re all a bunch of raging baseball fans, but because we’ve just gone through eight months of torture with the Toronto Maple Leafs – and for the better half of the last fifteen years, the Toronto Raptors.
By April, we are fed up and are looking for anything to hold on to. That’s where the Blue Jays come in.
They are an escape. They are new hope. They are the first signs of optimism in eight months. They are a sign that our Canadian winter is over. They are a three hour weekend afternoon spent at the ballpark getting a sun burn.
So when an injury to one of our best players happens a month before the season starts, it’s deflating. I’d say the air is coming out of the balloon, but we hadn’t even put the air in the balloon yet.
Is this city cursed? Maybe. Just maybe.
Let’s talk about hockey. Every year, the Leafs promise to be better. And for the first two months, they are. Everyone gets excited and believes they are going to be part of something different.
This is a new Era for the Leafs!
It’s just so painful to be a Leafs fan. Watching games isn’t fun anymore. Our favourite television broadcasters have been sent to the radio, Sundays, or out-of-town games.
There isn’t even a familiar voice on TV to hold us while we’re watching a train wreck. We sorely miss Joe Bowen. He was one of those broadcasters that could make a horrid team, watchable.
Alright, so Leaf fans jump ship and watch the Toronto Raptors. Just over a year ago, many people didn’t think the Raptors were good enough. Tanking for Andrew Wiggins had to be our only option.
And then they traded Rudy Gay, the sun came out, We The North happened, winning happened, playoffs happened, happiness happened. The Raptors had more fans than they knew what to do with.
Expectations heading into this year weren’t extreme. I think fans would be happy if they won one playoff series. I know I would.
So now we’re a top team in the league. A team that has won thirteen more games than they’ve lost. A team that sits third in the Eastern Conference. Fans don’t know how to deal with this success. It’s unprecedented. We don’t know how to be winners.
We go through a losing streak and all of a sudden the sky is falling. The first three months must’ve been an anomaly. We The North…but only when we’re winning. I don’t get it.
This city has been the definition of “patient” for many years. All of a sudden we have a little bit of success and now everyone can’t wait anymore.
We need to be the best right now. No more growing. Let’s seize the moment. We can’t play like this if we want to win. We can’t play down to our opponent. We need to play Jonas Valanciunas more in the fourth quarter.
This team was successful last year because there was no pressure. If you haven’t noticed, any time a team in this city is pressured to succeed, they don’t. Pump the breaks, and just let it happen.
Teams will have their poor stretches during the season. I think people forget that because, historically, our poor stretches normally last the entire season.
Now, if the Raptors lay an egg in the playoffs – when it really matters – then you can complain all you want. But we’re not there yet. And I have no doubt this team will be able to flip the switch once the playoff atmosphere hits downtown Toronto.
Then there’s Toronto FC. They’ve been through more coaches than years they’ve been in Major League Soccer. They haven’t been able to defend, score, or win on the road since their inception. Moving on…
I care about the Toronto Argonauts. Few others do. The Canadian Football product in this city is seen as inferior to the NFL, which I don’t understand. I find the CFL far more entertaining than the NFL. I think I read somewhere that there is only 18 minutes of gameplay in a 60 minute NFL game. Boring, much?
So then we bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto once a year to prove to the NFL that we can support an NFL franchise…and no one shows up. Ticket prices were too high, no one likes the Bills, yada yada yada.
We don’t need an NFL team. We wouldn’t know what to do with it. Everyone is already loyal to their own American team and that won’t change.
Should I talk about Toronto’s lacrosse team? The team that has won 6 championships since entering the league in 1999? Should I even bother talking about them? No one knows they exist and it’s a shame.
Lacrosse is Canada’s national sport, by the way. But no one cares.
Oh yeah, our football team has been successful too in recent years, but again, no one cares.
The teams that disappoint us the most are the one’s we support the most. It makes no sense, but that’s Toronto.
I’m always hoping that the Leafs will turn it around. I’m always hoping that the Raptors can have sustained success. I’m always hoping Major League Baseball opens up more playoff spots to increase the Blue Jays chances of making it to October.
I don’t know how much hope I, or this city, have left.
Something needs to change because we’ve gotten to the point where one season of disappointment ends and a new one begins.
The Blue Jays slogan this year is “Come Together.” Right now, the fanbase is feeling pretty torn apart.
Sadly, we’re used to this in the City of Toronto.