The media’s raging boner for Toronto sports teams

By in Sports & Health

Besides all hailing from the centre of the Canadian sporting universe, the Toronto Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Argonauts and Raptors also have one painfully obvious characteristic in common: they are seven shades of useless.

In the media hotbed of Canada that is Toronto, a comedy of errors prevails amongst the professional sports teams so often portrayed in the sports media. But yet, the media moguls in Ontario provide a microscopic focus on the losing Toronto teams, at the cost of other stories about sports, athletes or anything else news-worthy.

Between the four Toronto pro sports teams, it has been a combined 76 years since any have managed to win a World Series, Grey Cup, Stanley Cup or NBA Championship title. The Blue Jays have just finished another playoff-less season with a 75-87 record and the Argos won’t make the CFL post-season either and sit at a CFL worst 3-11. Moreover, it is unlikely the Raptors or Leafs will have anything close to a playoff berth in the NBA and NHL in 2009-10.

I was reminded of my indifference towards Toronto teams and why I refrain from such debauchery with the recent firing of Blue Jays’ general manager, J.P. Riccairdi. Riccairdi’s firing, which comes toward the end of another sub-par season, is likely the biggest piece of news the Toronto club has produced all year.

Not once during Riccairdi’s eight-year tenure did the general manager manage to land the Jays a post-season spot. And since back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, the Jays have had a winning-record drought rivalling the Great Depression.

It was then revealed the Bluebirds have replaced Riccairdi with the unknown Alexander Anthopoulos, one of the youngest ever to be tossed into the GM position. Placing Anthopoulos in the driver’s seat of the club at age 32 seems like yet another poor move on behalf of Jays management. On top of this debacle, manager Cito Gaston is in denial of the flurry of hate that is mounting in the Jays clubhouse towards his old-fashioned coaching strategies. All aside, the season-ending Jays’ huff and puff has more drama than an episode of The Hills.

Besides the Argos, who won a Grey Cup in 2004 (the most recent championship win among Toronto pro sports organizations), these T.O. teams are always in a state of rebuilding. The Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays have been painfully refurnishing their clubs for upwards of a decade.

Whether management or athletes, the Toronto pro sports organizations are well-versed in cleaning house: blindly trading away good prospects and draft picks for seasoned veterans, prematurely bringing up young athletes from affiliate teams and switching up general managers like children trading hockey cards during lunch break. The trend is all too familiar and still manages to be needlessly regurgitated on TV, radio and Internet blogs.

Since the Raptors’ induction into the NBA in 1995, Canada’s basketball poster child has gained playoff berths on a measley five occasions and only advanced past the first round of the post-season once.

From Damon Stoudamire, to Vince Carter to Chris Bosh, the Raps have always depended on one high-status player to give the illusion of being competitive. And when the season goes downhill for the Raptors — and it always does — the media angle typically degrades to something along the lines of “Will Chris Bosh decide to endure another gruelling season in Toronto?”

At least with the NHL and CFL, there is a variety of Canadian teams you can cheer on instead of relying on the sole Canadian team as in the Jays’ and Raptors’ case. Yet Ontario media shoves the Toronto Maple Leafs, more than other teams, down people’s throats without restraint during the NHL season.

There’s an abundance of hockey history in Toronto in the form of Habs rivalries and a handful of Stanley Cups but it’s been nearly half a century since the Leafs made a successful playoff run. Even then, during the Leafs’ glory days of 13 Lord Stanley victories, the NHL had a significantly lower number of teams, giving Toronto better odds at multiple victories.

Forgive me, Toronto sports fans, for I understand the woes of being a fan following a losing team. I was merely two years old the last time the Riders won the Grey Cup before they hoisted it again in 2007 — the Riders are all Saskatchewan has for anything remotely pro, so it was a vexing 18 years. But that is not my point.

Stepping from a fan’s perspective to critical analysis, what piques me is the over-exposure of such teams in the media when there is nothing to cheer about. No championship in Toronto? Not news-worthy. Player traded? Not news. GM fired? Not news.

The persistent nature of Toronto media reporting on such miniscule developments should be treated as pro-sports propaganda and is akin to gathering political insight from Fox News in the U.S.

For now, Toronto sports teams, I wish for you to be swept under the carpet and not to be heard from until you accomplish something notable. I don’t care if the Air Canada Centre goes up in flames; I just don’t want to hear about it.