Saturday, June 12, 2010

Leafs Aren't Toronto's Only Embarrassment

The catalyst for starting this blog over four years ago was an asinine article by Theresa Tedesco in the National Post. I was fed up with what passed for sports journalism in Toronto and took to to vent.

For years there was easy content to be had in questioning the work of what Cox Bloc so aptly came to call the mittenstringers.

A few years ago, I stopped writing about these half-wit media articles. As I noted with the Cox Bloc boys over at Zambonic Youth: 1,000 blogging monkeys at 1,000 laptops in 1,000 basements couldn't staunch the flow of crap and nonsense that passes for sports journalism in this town.

But I simply can't resist the latest entry from the Toronto Star's Municipal Affairs columnist Royson James.

This is seriously craptacular work. I don't know that I could come up with such a steaming pile but I can certainly question it. So let us begin....
Toronto deserves more from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The hockey club owes us.
Agreed on the first part, not so sure that I'm following on the second...maybe in as much as the Toronto Star owes the citizenry some informed insight and quality writing.
The once-proud franchise in the centre of the hockey universe has long been the butt of jokes. Now, it is the answer to trivia questions on sports futility.
Wait, so it was ok for the Leafs to be the butt of jokes, but it's not ok for the same team to co-hold the record for the longest Stanley Cup playoff drought along with Los Angeles and St. Louis? That's an interesting line in the sand...
Meanwhile, in remarkable endeavours radiating beyond this hockey graveyard, Torontonians are thriving, reaching for the stars.
Did anyone else read that with Casey Kasem's voice in their head? Ok, guess it was just me...
K’Naan waves the city’s flag across the globe as his catchy anthem for Africa’s World Cup dominates the airwaves. And the industry’s top rapper, Drake, hails from the T-Dot.
Fuck I hate that waving flags song, my daughter butchers it daily. She sings it like it's a camp song for the hearing impaired.

Is this what we hold up as a success today? A tone-deaf song that sends shivers down the spines of parents everywhere?

As for the rest of James' thoughts, isn't it really just a re-hash of the well known "Rick Moranis Principle." A predictable cycle that's marked by the Leafs hitting bottom just as a Toronto born entertainer hits their peak?

When the Leafs went without a cup from 1951 to '61, I'm pretty sure the Toronto Telegram filled their pages with notes on Christopher Plummer's success and the decline of the Leafs.

But back to Mr. James...
It’s almost TIFF time, when the world’s film pilgrims trek to our screening houses, as if this were Cannes or something.

Two guys, the late David Pecaut and Tony Gagliano, had a dream to stage an annual festival of the arts and creativity that attracts the world’s best. Luminato has delivered as promised.

Canada’s banking prowess has been on display during the global economic collapse, earning praise and envy from world leaders. Toronto is its nexus.

Even our oft-criticized Mayor David Miller has been stellar on the world stage. He’s the elected chairman of C-40 global cities, 40 large cities from Addis Ababa through London, New York, Sydney and Warsaw that are committed to fighting climate change.

And since last Thursday, the Toronto City Summit Alliance has been staging an ambitious effort, Toronto Homecoming, to lure back the city’s great scientists and bright minds and world-class talent to work in the Toronto of their birth or affection.
Great. Someone should commission Dolores Claman to write a big bouncy anthem about all of this Toronto wonderfulness.
There is just one major boil on the city’s attractive buttocks. The Leafs.
Ouch. My favourite team reduced to an open sore.

But seriously, those NBA Raptors sure have certainly stepped up. I've lost track of how many NBA Titles they've amassed. What's that? Oh, ok - I've lost track of how long their consecutive playoff appearance streak is. Wait. Um, oh yeah, I forgot how much Hedo Turkoglu has down to promote the city of Toronto.

And those Jays! 17 years without a playoff appearance. They're doing the city proud! Just look at them, one second place finish in nearly a dozen years playing to crowds of 11,000.

No boil there. No siree.

Just the hockey.
The beloved hockey team, playing in the media capital of a hockey-crazed nation, is a blot on Toronto’s image.
A blot? Well, it could be if you really think a municipality's image is based on the performance of its local sports teams.

Oh, I see by the next paragraph that Mr. James certain does...
Now, wherever sports fans talk about losers, civic futility, championship droughts and sporting misery of global proportions, Toronto’s name is on the short list — up there with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, the Chicago Cubs and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Can Royson James not even get the list right? If you're going to dump on my team, at least do your homework.

The list of crap municipalities and crap teams goes like this...San Diego hasn't won a pro-sports title since 1963; Cleveland since '64 and Buffalo since '65. Seattle last won with the Sonics in '79, and they lost that team in a heart wrenching manner.

Nobody talks about the Sacremento Kings, it's the Clippers who are mocked.

Does James not have access to wiki?

And, wait, didn't Chicago winning the Stanley Cup set this whole thing off? James says as much in his next paragraph...
The Chicago Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup this week, after 49 years of failure. Leafs fans are now hockey’s longest suffering, winless since 1967. For a country weaned on hockey this is unbearable.
Despite the logical disconnect in all of this, it should be noted that Leaf fans do indeed find this unbearable, but I have the feeling the majority of the country is quite fine with this.

Actually, I think "thrilled" is the word the rest of Canada prefers to use when referring to the Leafs lack of success.

Or "happy beyond belief."

But maybe Royson James doesn't need to know about that...
A generation of Torontonians — several, really — know nothing of Leaf glory, except from banners hanging from the roof of Maple Leaf Gardens and, now, the Air Canada Centre. What could it have been like to win three in a row in the 1940s, and again in the 1960s?
Hey, what if the media made a better effort to tell Torontonians and Leaf fans about 1967? Maybe that would help those lost generations?

You know, work "1967" in to a few more columns so people would be more aware of past glories. All of the media should be required to do it as some sort of civic duty.

But back to James' column:
The Blue Jays were fabulous. We told our children to cherish the back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 because it might never happen again. They scoffed. The folly of youth. Now they are young adults wondering if they’ll ever see a hockey parade up Bay St.
Wait, the Jays get another pass here? And Jays fans are wondering about a Leafs parade? Do editors get the weekend off at the Star?
Actually, the city’s descent into the hockey abyss is even more damaging and debilitating than fans realize — the annual ritual of futility numbing the senses to the depth of the loss.
For Leaf fans, there is no numbness, only greater expectation.

This city will explode like a post-season molotov cocktail hitting a Montreal cop car when the Leafs get their next playoff win. (and then Leaf fans will be mocked for celebrating early, for magnifying the commonplace into the celebratory. It's a can't lose proposition for the media machine).
Consider, since the likes of Frank Mahovolich and Red Kelly and Ted Kennedy, hockey’s best players have not worn the blue and white. Canada’s Team — the grand and glorious Maple Leafs — has failed to sign a single one of the game’s greatest players during all those championship-empty years.

Wayne Gretzky may consider this his NHL home city, but Leaf team owners managed to scuttle any chance The Great One would skate for the home side. Bobby Orr, Mark Messier, Pavel Bure, Teemu Selanne, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and the most spectacular talents shone elsewhere. Leaf fans settled for Darryl Sittler, Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour.
Ok, there's this thing called the draft. NHL teams procure the rights to players for a set period of time and then...wait, Teemu Selanne and Pavel Bure? Seriously?!? You're going for a list of the greatest players that have been in the NHL since 1967 and you're going to put those two on the list ahead of Hasek, Roy, Trottier, Leetch (who played for Toronto), Clarke, Sakic, Bourque, Robinson. Really? Canuck please.
The New York Yankees routinely sign baseball’s biggest names and brightest stars. They pursue the best. They are the Yankees. That’s what they do.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has no such pretentions. Their preoccupation, it seems, is to bring smiles to the faces of the teachers’ pension fund.
Yeah, screw the NHL's salary cap!

The Leafs should be above the rules of the game and just buy the best players at every position. The Yankess do it, why can't Toronto? Different league, different sport, different CBA, different rules, but it certainly worked for the Leafs and Rangers back before the lock-out.

Is it just me or is this article a deadly combination of badly researched, horribly written, and just plain awful. It's like the Howard the Duck of sports columns....and yet there's more:
The Chicago Black Hawks’ roster is replete with Ontario lads who would no doubt revel in playing for their province’s capital city. Leafs fans must demand they come home.
Screw the CBA and binding contracts! Bring back the C-Form! If you're born in Ontario you play for the Leafs. Leaf fans must demand that your place of birth dictates where you play...and all those Canadians that have found success in Hollywood or any foreign market, you need to get your asses back home - Hiccups, Little Mosque on the Prairie and The Bridge need you.
All around us Toronto is competing and succeeding against the world’s best. Only hockey embarrasses. Forty-three years of losing. Enough is enough. Bring home the cup!
Only hockey embarrasses.

Not the Raptors, not the Jays, not the Argos, not Mel Lastman's run-in with WHO, not Corey Haim, the $1B G20 summit or the $2M fake lake at the MTCC.

Not the MFP scandal, Adam Giambrone's great couch adventures, the mountains of dead animals at Toronto's Humane Society, or Dr. Anthony Galea's work with the NFL.

Not Nazim Gillani, not the polluted beaches where Torontonians can't swim, and certainly not Toronto Police fighting a visting soccer club from Chile.

Only the Leafs (and James' latest article). Speaking of which...
Maybe one of the tens of mayoral candidates can unveil a platform to deliver a Stanley Cup parade in Toronto during the next term of city council. Forget transit. Ending our image as losers is an election winner. Guaranteed.
Should any Mayoral candidates want to take this up as a platform, I'm sure they can get some great advice from their municipal colleagues in Vancouver. It certainly has done the Canucks franchise wonders, their drought is only a non-embarrassing 39 years.


  1. Thanks Royson, for the breaking news that the Jays won the World Series in 1991...

    Our mainstream media are truly crap.

    And why do the media yammerheads continually complain about the Argos not getting enough coverage, when the same scribes never remember that the Argos have won a significant number of Grey Cups in the last 30 years?

  2. Seriously, how did that garbage get published? How did some editor not read it and think he was being punked?
    Hope for the print media...I have none.

  3. I have such fond memories of the Jays' title run in 1991.

  4. The Maple Leafs record is a mayoral issue? how stupid. This is just crazy talk.

  5. Ugh, that article could teach a class in awful.

  6. Varry Galk9:44 am

    Minor quibble: Chile started it.

  7. Leafer198411:15 am

    Such a proud Torontonian, but he can't remember when the Jays won the World Series, atta boy.

  8. That guy is truly out to lunch. If you're gonna rag on the Leafs, ya might as well come up with some terrible shit and make it seem worse than it is. He can't even do that right. What a knob

  9. Iafreighties2:55 pm

    Actually torontos boil is all that other stuff he talked about..
    maybe the greats like gretzky, lemieux etc didnt want to play here..not to mention they were DRAFTED by other teams..err thats how hockey works..
    These journalists should start looking in the mirror. They go to too many cocktail parties and congratulate each other on how world class they think the are.
    This is why i dont buy newspapers.

  10. Pat Verbeek2:56 pm

    Great piece, but who the hell is Corey Haim?

  11. Sergei Puckizin3:01 pm

    First of all, the WS wins by the Jays were '92 and '93. It amuses me that he would regale his children with anecdotes of losing the ALCS, rather than focus on perhaps the greatest WS championship ever. Hope this dripped with enough sarcasm.

    "committed to fighting climate change". What a noble cause. Its about as relevant and real as announcing that I'm committed to fighting zombies everywhere!

  12. Anonymous3:44 pm

    What's perhaps more depressing, is that Howard Berger is an even bigger chowderhead than this guy, and this guy's visibly in the wrong business.

  13. Wait, remind me again why the "City Columnist" is writing about sports?

    Mr. James' column is a ridiculous but instructive exhibit for those who would venture out of their realm of expertise when sitting down at the keyboard. Mr. James - and his readership - would've been better served had he chosen to simply bash his clenched fists against the keys in a wild rage instead.

    Thanks for rising to the bait, despite having previously forsworn the practice. Unlike the subject matter, it was an entertaining and thoughtful read.

  14. My first reaction after reading that James article was: "I'll never get those minutes of my life back."

    Well done, MF. Well done.