The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams

The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams?I think we're about to hit a new bottom... at least a new bottom for Toronto sports teams. With the Euro Cup and Olympic distractions behind us, and summer winding down, I've decided to do a quick State of the Union analysis of Toronto professional sports teams.

Toronto Blue Jays
I'm sad to say I haven't followed this team much the past few weeks. Oh... I see we're dead last in the AL East, 15 games behind the Yankees. And our wild card hopes have evaporated... and half the team is on the DL. Wasn't that new wild card supposed to belong to us? Nah, we'll finish last instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs haven't made the playoffs since before the last labour stoppage, and now it looks like we're heading into another. We diehards don't even get to enjoy watching our team miss the playoffs again. That might be the only thing worse than the longest non-playoff streak in the league. Sad and pitiful.

Toronto Raptors
We sucked last year, and we'll suck again this season. Every analyst and pundit has assured me of that. And really, even if a miracle of miracles occurred and we slipped into 8th place in the conference, Miami would chew us up and spit us out in 4.

Toronto Argos
Firstly, I fully acknowledge that almost none of you care about the CFL. I just checked the standings and we're 3-3. That almost sounds decent until you see in an 8-team league only one team has a worse record. That shit's cray!

Toronto FC
Lastly, we check in on our professional MLS soccer team. I remember getting off to a horrible start, but I've lost touch with them recently. I wonder how they're doing.... Oh... dead last in the Eastern Conference. That sounds about right.

So there you have it, a quick review of how it currently looks for Toronto sports teams. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we've found a brand new low.


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Comments (35)

Monica

New bottom = nowhere but up! At least you were distracted enough not to witness the decline.

August 16, 2012 / 10:45

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Monica

Nowhere but up, or in the case of my Leafs, nowhere at all.

The Leafs are a team I actually enjoy watching, even when they suck. And to hear they likely won't play until December at the earliest is just a shitload of salt on very deep wounds.

August 16, 2012 / 10:48

The_Voice

I think the main issue is a city who's people will continue to shell out money to see losing teams, and continue to watch them on television.

TFC games are decently busy to attend. Leafs games are packed and people just keep watching them lose on TV. Jays games are still watched decently on tv, even if not extremely well attended. Raptors games are watched and attended.

So if people are watching, and paying money for tickets to attend and buying concessions, why in the world does the team need to do any better?

August 16, 2012 / 11:17

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@The_Voice

I hear this line often... blaming the fans for the team's lack of success.

Let's look at the Leafs, a team I watch on TV often, and root for always. The Leafs got the biggest name GM available and paid him lots of money and gave him free reign. There's also a salary cap, and Brian Burke is allowed to spend it.

So the Leafs sucking has everything to do with mismanagement and Brian Burke's failure and nothing to do with the fact we fill the ACC regardless.

August 16, 2012 / 12:26

CQ

What about this entry is New?

August 16, 2012 / 12:50

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@CQ

It's not so much new as it is current.

August 16, 2012 / 12:52

Lorne

Do we have the more last place teams than any other city?

Because then at least we're #1 in something.

:|

August 16, 2012 / 13:31

Douglas

I've already said some peace about Toronto not being a good sports fan city, essentially only really interested in and supporting a team that wears blue and white and skates. Apart from that skates-wearing team, the other teams play to many empty seats that are not paid for. There is a big distinction there. Corporate Toronto is not into the Leafs. Just look at all those filled high priced corporate seats during TV broadcasts. Thousands, but even if the average southern Ontario resident could afford those tickets, they're not available.

I've also written about Torontonians not giving a rats' ass about the CFL (vs. the rest of the country where the game is played) and the fact that seeing a game at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium is a really enjoyable football experience. The CFL is Canada's national football league. Get away from Toronto and the fan support is great, making attending a game fun. I was recently in Winnipeg, where, even though it was bucketing rain so badly that the game start was delayed and it kept raining hard until the second quarter, they still had over 20,000 loud, cheering fans show up. The Argos could not hope to achieve that kind of attendance and support. Toronto will never get a NFL team. American money is not interested in Toronto for football; there are many markets to go to first. People will complain about how much it costs for a game here (hint: it will cost more than seeing a Bills game at tired old Ralph Wilson Stadium and more than an Argos game), and then simply stop going when the novelty wears off if the team is not a contender really quickly.

Mike, your look at the standings of our national football league showed something amazing that is happening in the league - incredible levels of parity. It must be driving Las Vegas bookmakers crazy. Winnipeg may be 1-5, but in the CFL, any team is capable of winning just about any game. That's part of what makes it fun to be a fan and watch - better yet - attend games. (Hey, Blind Dave, do you want to chip in here!?)

Note that I am not getting dragged into a CFL vs. NFL argument here. Both games are good, for different reasons. No, there is nowhere near as much money in the Canadian game. Financially, Canada cannot afford American football. CFL.ca's Matthew Cauz put it well in a column last year: http://www.cfl.ca/article/cauz-no-matter-the-type-all-football-is-great

I don't follow TFC much, but do other Toronto professional sports teams, apart from the one initially mentioned. Nothing will change with them until their cashflow dries up somewhat from fans voting with their bank accounts to express their disgust.

August 16, 2012 / 15:18

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Douglas

Occassionally, I actually write about the CFL. That's more exposure than most blogs give the CFL. I even write about how I prefer the CFL to the NFL. I quit the NFL long ago, shortly after Wade Phillips sat Doug Flutie in favour of Rob Frickin' Johnson.

So I like the CFL, although I haven't watched a minute so far this season, and rarely watch any NFL until the playoffs.

And I can convert an NFL fan into a CFL fan in a mere 4 minutes: http://www.torontomike.com/2009/10/how_to_convert_an_nfl_fan_into.html

August 16, 2012 / 15:27

Douglas

@Mike
Yes, you are in the minority, for both following the CFL in Toronto, and even more for occasionally writing/blogging about it from Toronto. Thanks, from a long-time CFL fan.

I remember your (linked) blog and that well-done video. I also happen to like the CFL's current slogan of "No lead is safe."

August 16, 2012 / 16:05

Argie

The passion for these teams is quickly eroding. I've been a Leaf fan my entire life but I have recently felt if I never saw another Leaf game live, I wouldn't care. I will go to the occasional game (via a free-bee from a friend) but lik emost people, why would i spend my hard earned money on crap?


Sadly, Leaf and Raptor games are filled with guys who say are they "working". You know the type - they have the company issued Blackberry which they nervously stare at because they can't think of anything else to say to the dude they're on a date with (err, I mean the client they're entertaining.......whatever). They've also ditched the tie to fit in with the other corporate clones who are also on dates.

August 16, 2012 / 16:05

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Argie

I'm at a point where I won't pay to see a Leafs game. The price is too damn high, and the product is too damn weak.

I happily enjoy Leafs games when I score a free ticket, but that's it.

August 16, 2012 / 16:09

4x4 Time

Pro sports teams need a single omner who is focussed on winning. Corporations are focused on making money(nothing wrong with that) and if winning comes along, all the better.

August 16, 2012 / 16:16

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@4x4 Time

Why wouldn't MLSE (owner of Leafs and Raptors) and the new consortium that's bought the teams (BellGlobeMediaWhatever and Rogers) want to win? Playoff games mean more cash, right? Happy fans buy more merchandise, right?

I'm sure the Jays made much more money in the early 90s than they do now. In the early 90s, SkyDome was full every night and there were many home playoff games. And everyone wanted to wear licensed gear to show their solidarity and pride in the home team.

Winning = higher revenue, and even big companies want that... especially when there's a salary cap as there is in the NHL.

August 16, 2012 / 16:22

headsup

Go Rock go!!

August 16, 2012 / 16:38

Cheryl

Okay. Well, this sucks, a hockey lockout. No hockey is depressing. Who cares about the Jays. I hate baseball. Who cares about the Raptors. I like basketball, but my favourite team is the Phoenix Suns.

August 16, 2012 / 16:55

4x4 Time

@Mike...Agree, I was just suggesting it is easier for a team to be more focused day in day out on winning when it is a single owner who has his cash on the line. No management red tape, quick although not always right decisions. Think Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, Melynuk,Bruce McNall lol....

August 16, 2012 / 17:50

dsscpu

What about the Toronto Rock?

August 16, 2012 / 18:26

Jay

Are you really going to rag on the Jays when they're all on the DL?

Teams get snake bit. The fact that they stayed in the race until August is great with most regulars hurt or underperforming.

If you can't see the promise in that than I feel sorry for you.

August 16, 2012 / 18:34

dale

@ Jay

Agree. The Jays are the ONLY team with any promise with a very young team & a great minor league system. AA has done a great job & TOO many injuries have finished this season.

AA should become GM of the Laffs

August 16, 2012 / 18:42

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@4x4 Time

Yes, I'd like my teams to be owned by that crazy rich Texan on The Simpsons.

August 16, 2012 / 18:50

elvis

I really don't get this idea that Leafs fans are the ones to blame for a shitty product.

If that's the case, why has it been almost two decades since the Jays won ANYTHING?

No one goes. They still don't win. Don't blame the fans, blame bad management.

August 16, 2012 / 19:08

4x4 Time

Do you think Burke still has a job after almost 4 years without corporate protection and providing a poor, at best product? Sure they still sell out, sell tonnes of merch, and will do so anyway regardless of who owns the Leafs. But would a single passionate owner change things in TO? Give fans more hope? COMMIT to a re-build, hire the right people? Corporate ownership here in the city has not done this, why should things change? Just sayin...

August 16, 2012 / 20:30

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@4x4 Time

Without a doubt, corporate ownership expected more from Burke. Hell, we all did. I believed until last season.

If the Leafs don't make the playoffs this season, Burke is done. No doubt. This is his last chance.

What a disappointment...

August 16, 2012 / 20:34

Blind Dave

@Douglas

Wow! Pity I missed this one from the beginning. It's been a hectic day.

I've been a huge CFL fan since I was a kid, but even back then there was far more support out west than in the east. There just always seemed to be that cloud over Toronto, Ottawa (the OTHER Rough_Riders),and Montreal. Now I grew up just north of Toronto and lived in the city itself for at least 15 years. So lets say I had roots in south-central Ontario for 35 years. I'm a transplanted westerner, but I don't turn my nose up at my roots. I just happen to be here because of a delightful redhead, but I digress...

The one big difference between then and now was then you could find someone - kid or adult - to discuss the CFL. People other than the core fans knew what was going on. Fans could also identify with more players back then. There were names to the teams and the teams had a personality. These days teams try to have one (if they're lucky) "marketable" player and that's that.

It blew my mind to see the current standings. Five teams at 3-3, two at 4-2, and one at 1-5. I don't think I've ever seen it that close before. But regardless of the sport, I'm not big on parity. I just want to be entertained and forget about life for a couple of hours.

I guess the other thing I can say here is that guys in the CFL play for the love of the game. When an entire team's payroll is less than the salary of a mediocre hockey player, that really says something about the love and dedication of those who play. Now I'm not saying that overpriced athletes don't love their game either. Many of those guys eat their sport for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening snack, but at least they reap the financial rewards within the small window allotted to them.

As far as the Leafs go, I'm not convinced about single ownership being better than corporate ownership. Remember Harold? Some of the other big-name solo owners mentioned in this thread are as nutty as old Pal Hal, so success is no guarantee either way.

I also don't buy into the "type of fan" argument. Whether you are blue collar or white collar or rich or poor makes no difference. There are many folks from all walks of life who bleed blue and white as much as Mike does. The issue is the affordability and availability of the good seats. I haven't been to a Leaf game since the early 90s, as I need to sit fairly close to see what's going on.

When it comes to the teams who struggle at the box office (take any market, not just Toronto), the noose hanging above their heads may not get them to play any better, but at least the incentive is there to try! But when you have super-rich teams and pathetic sheep for fans, any effort or incentive that flops can easily be brushed away as indifference because it's so much harder to see, and therefore so much harder to justify by the team in question.

Are we unique? No. St. Louis and Vancouver may not be original six, but they joined the league soon after '67, and they've never won a championship. Look at the Chicago Cubs. Talk about snakebit!

This is getting too long. Time to end here. Great thread!

August 16, 2012 / 23:56

Wayner

On the corporate owner vs. single owner (Cuban, Jones etc.) debate, I don't believe ownership by either entity is better than the other. While the Cuban's and Jones's of the world appear passionate and engaged and the corporation faceless...they are both governed by a similar bottom-line...profitability.

If, at the end of the day, their “investments” remain profitable both entities will carry on as is perhaps making a few "tweaks" here and there to satisfy fans and shareholders (I’ve come to realize that shareholders tend to have unusual amount of leverage in today’s world). However, both will move into high gear if their investments are in jeopardy. At this time their investments (e.g. leafs) are secure.

I also note that during labour disputes all owners, whether corporate or individual, regardless of the league involved seem to be on the same page.

August 17, 2012 / 08:01

Gary

Does it bother anyone that this Bell/Rogers partnership owns the Leafs, Raptors and FC? What else are these supposed competitors going to collaborate on???

August 17, 2012 / 08:19


Blind Dave

@Gary

Well, between my cellphone bill, internet bill, and cable bill, it's definitely raising a few flags.

I'm a little concerned that true competition and pricing is falling by the wayside.

August 17, 2012 / 14:39

Cheryl

Well, I want my hockey. Lock baseball out instead. They haven't been locked out in ages, so do it. Let's have a baseball lockout. As for Rogers and Bell, I hate both of them. If you're fed up with either of them, get Primus. You won't be disappointed you did. They have cellphones as well, but I don't have one. At Primus, the tech support people are very good, but the service is so reliable that I hardly ever need to call tech support.

August 17, 2012 / 16:16

Doug

You forgot about the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League. They won the league championship in 2011 and made the playoffs in 2012 after finishing first in their division. Best kept secret in Toronto and great entertaining sport at a fraction of the price of Leafs tickets

August 17, 2012 / 17:34

JP

The Jays are at least on the right track. They've been rebuilding since AA took over in 2010, so I think he's been more concerned with the farm/young core rather than MLB wins to this point. I think they should enter a 'win now' phase in 2013 though.

Plus, they were actually right there until the injuries became insane a couple weeks ago. They should be in the Wild Card picture next year, barring another injury fest.

Leafs/Raps? Yeah, I've got nothing. Excited to see Valancunis (sp?).. Not much else.

August 18, 2012 / 02:26

Cheryl

Well, you probably won't get much Leafs if at all with the stupid lockout. No Raptors for me. I'm a Phoenix Suns fan all the way. Go Suns.

August 18, 2012 / 08:45

Jonathan

I hope there is a nhl lockout this year . I'm a huge rock fan and season ticket holder.
in 2005 when we had the last NHL lockout the Rock outdrew the craptors that year.

The Rock's future looks bright with Nick rose in net who won the WLA goalie of the year and mvp this summer.

As for rogers owning the loafs and craptors and tfc, they suck at owning other sports teams the (jays) so i exspect they will suck mightly this fall and winter.

the brightside of the lockout will be the leafs will be tied for first all year long!!.. so leafs fans tank a picture!! rotfl!!

August 23, 2012 / 16:54

Alex

atleast the Toronto Rock are good! Even though probably only less than 10% of the city follow them

May 4, 2013 / 15:30

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