Toronto Sports fans, I have good news. It seems we bounced off the bottom in August and things are looking up.
At that time, the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argos were all in pretty dire straits. You'll have to click back for details. I called it a "brand new low", but as I type this today I'm pleased to report the Argos are Grey Cup champs, the Blue Jays are entering the pre-season as World Series favourites and both the Leafs and Raptors are on four game winning streaks. Heck, the Leafs might even make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
And let me tell you as someone who is watching both the Leafs and Raptors these days, they're both entertaining and full of hope, something that's been sorely lacking the past few years. The Toronto professional sports scene is suddenly respectable again.
Go Jays Go! And go Leafs, Raptors and Argos, too! I'm not sure about TFC, but the other teams are headed in the right direction.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I was lucky enough to be invited by Elvis to join him in the supporter's section of BMO Field for the TFC Match yesterday. We lost 3-0, but I still had fun.
Of course, it would have been more fun if I had witnessed a goal for the home team. Funnily enough, I wrote the same thing after the last Toronto sporting event I attended, a 0-0 shootout loss for the Leafs vs. Flyers.
Let's see... the Leafs played 65 minutes without scoring, TFC just played 90+ minutes... that's a lot of shitty action I've been enjoying in this fine city!
Earlier today, tweets were flying around linking to this video of a fight that broke out in the Rogers Centre stands last night during the TFC match.
Yes, one of the guys taking a licking looks like me, but I'd like my friends and loved ones to know it's not me.
Thank you for your concern, regardless.
So this just happened...
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has sold its 79.53 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to Rogers Communications and BCE for more than $1.2 billion. BCE is fancy talk for Bell. That's right, Bell and Rogers now each own 37.5% of MLSE, which owns, among other things, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, TFC and the Toronto Marlies.
A couple of thoughts immediately spring to mind... These partnerships between Rogers and Bell make me very nervous. We need them to hate each other, right? It can't be good for the competitive landscape, for those of us who need Internet access and mobile talk and data plans and cable tv, when these telecom behemoths keep jumping into bed together.
And what will become of Pension Plan Puppets, the go-to Leafs blog in these parts? I hope they keep the name for tradition, the way we secular folks still call this Santa holiday Christmas.
But what matters most, of course, is will this help my Leafs win the cup? Since we've already given Brian Burke autonomy and let him spend the cap, I'm thinking it won't make a difference. At least it won't hurt...
What do you guys think of the sale of MLSE?
I was at BMO Field last night to watch Toronto FC defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0. My presence snapped a nine-game losing streak by TFC.
Commenter Elvis took me to the game. The rest of you need to step up your game!
If you read this blog, you know where I was last night. I was at BMO field watching Toronto FC defeat the Montreal Impact 2-0. In my game, Montreal lost last night.
22 people bought tickets in my section, so I want to thank Jonathan from MLSE for giving me this opportunity. I just wish I had scarfs for everybody. Still, it was a great match and a lot of fun to see everybody at the game. At halftime, we even got to go field-level.
I'm just glad I completely missed the other game. You know the game I'm talking about. I would have hated watching that game, and thanks to TFC, I didn't catch a second of it.
Here are some pics from last night. I'm hoping to do this again some time. That was a lot of fun for $40.
On Wednesday night, Toronto FC begins its campaign to repeat as Canadian Champions against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field. Soccer can be a confusing sport for those used to North America style seasons as teams compete in multiple tournaments and championships concurrently. TFC became the Canadian Champions last year in dramatic style with a victory over Montreal last year in La Belle Province 6-1 to edge out Vancouver on goal differential. In what was a legendary win for TFC and their supporters, it was a match that created a heated rivarly between Vancouver and Montreal supporters with the claim that the Impact threw the game by resting players in advance of their USL match later that week. TFC flamed out in the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League.
To understand the significance of tomorrow's match, here is a Toronto FC primer Elvis wrote about a year ago. Enjoy!
Football clubs exist to win trophies – lots and lots of trophies. Football is unique in the sense that there are multiple tournaments and competitions happening concurrently.
Let’s look at Toronto FC and try and make sense of the different trophies they can win.
Toronto FC plays 30 matches in league play, competing for the Supporters' Shield, which would be the same as the NHL’s President’s Trophy. While this is generally seen as the kiss of death in the NHL come playoff time, the Supporters’ Shield, awarded to the best team in the league, is very prestigious. To be the best in the league over the course of 30 games is viewed to be, at least, on par with winning the playoffs. To contrast, in England, to win the Premiership (their President’s Trophy) is more coveted than winning the FA Cup (their Stanley Cup). You’d ideally want to win both but if given the choice, most Supporters and Clubs would choose the Premiership. The MLS, being North American, isn’t quite at that point (yet) so winning the playoffs is still the biggest trophy to win. The MLS Cup (the Stanley Cup, the FA Cup) is a one match championship to crown the winner of the playoffs at a neutral site.
So, we’re at two trophies – the MLS Cup and the Supporter’s Shield.
TFC also competes in the Trillium Cup – a (made-up) competition between the Columbus Crew and TFC during the regular season. No additional matches are played – the Trillium Cup is awarded to the winner of the regular season series (3 matches) of the two clubs.
Phew, that’s three trophies up for grabs now.
That brings us to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, otherwise known as the Voyageur’s Cup. The Voyageur’s Cup was created in 2002 by the Voyageurs, a Canadian Supporter Club which was founded in 1996. Recognising a need for a national championship in Canada, the Voyageur’s Cup was awarded to the best Canadian team in the USL, the only professional soccer league in Canada until the MLS arrived in Toronto three years ago. The winners of the Cup were the Montreal Impact, through no additional tournament or games were played but was based on the fact that they finished ahead of the Toronto Lynx, Vancouver Whitecaps, Calgary Storm/Mustangs and the Edmonton Aviators in the USL. The Impact won every Voyageur’s Cup to 2007 – that’s an impressive 6-0.
In 2007, the CSA decided, with the addition of a high profile professional club in Canada, it was time for a tournament. The USL’s Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact and the MLS’ Toronto FC compete in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship during the months of May and June. These games happen outside of each of their respective leagues and thus, have usually occurred on Wednesday evenings. The winner of the inaugural Nutrilite Canadian Championship was the Montreal Impact with 7 points out of a possible 12. TFC ended up with 5 points and Vancouver had 4. This was considered to be a huge upset as MLS is regarded to be a skill level above the USL. This format will remain in place for 2009 and 2010 and then re-negotiated – they may or may not expand the teams involved.
Ok, now that’s four. Supporter’s Shield, MLS Cup, Trillium Cup & Voyageur’s Cup. With me still?
Depending on where Toronto FC finishes in the table during the regular season, they could qualify for the Superliga competition. Superliga puts the best clubs in Mexico against the best clubs from MLS. To qualify, Toronto FC must finish in top four of the table. This is different than the qualification rules for their US counterparts as MLS has changed the rules for qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League wherein teams cannot compete for both the Superliga and Champions League trophies. So, much like the UEFA Cup ranks below the UEFA Champions League in prestige, the same applies here for the Superliga and Champions League.
Wait a minute, what’s the CONCACAF Champions League? This is a 24 club, super Championship made up of clubs from North and Central America and the Caribbean. From North America, four clubs qualify from Mexico, four clubs from MLS and 1 club from Canada.
How does the Canadian club qualify differently from the US clubs? The winner of the Voyageur’s Cup is automatically entered into the CONCACAF Champions League.
We’re up to six trophies - Supporter’s Shield, MLS Cup, Trillium Cup, Voyageur’s Cup, Superliga and Champions League.
Finally, if Toronto FC wins the CONCACAF Champions League, they are entered into the FIFA Club World Cup which takes place in Japan.
Seven trophies over a 12 month span for Toronto FC – at times you might need a map to figure out what match means what but the beauty of it is that there is no one way to measure success of your football club. What a beautiful game.
So I mentioned I've got a little section at BMO Field for this Wednesday night's match against Montreal. I honestly had no idea what to expect when Jonathan scored me the block of 15 seats in the new North end grandstand.
It turns out there are still 8 seats remaining. The first three of those will even get a cool TFC scarf. Now is the time for you to cough up $40 and join me for TFC on Wednesday night.
Click here to buy tickets Special Offer Code: Mike
C'mon guys and gals, let's do this.
My friend Jonathan, who works for TFC, has set-up a special section for me and my friends, because he knew I really wanted to come check out a game. You all know how hard it is to get tickets to TFC matches, so this is pretty cool.
The ticket for Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact on Wednesday night at 8pm is 40 bucks and the seats are in the new North End grandstand which are great seats with awesome sightlines. Space is limited. first come, first served.
Click here to buy tickets Special Offer Code: Mike
I’ve also got ten 2010 Official Season Scarves, for the first ten who buy a ticket. And I've arranged for us to get on the field during halftime, which is pretty cool. And we are saving all Ticketmaster fees (approx $22 for a pair) by using this online process.
Also, so many of you are just names who comment or email me, or Twitter handles. It might be neat to meet in the real-world so long as you promise not to murder me.
Getting tickets to TFC matches is next to impossible, and it's the best live sporting experience in the city. I owe Jonathan for this one...
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