Sports


Anger, despair, disappointment and sadness are the general feelings of a Toronto sports fan. However, there’s one more feeling Toronto sports fans are also accustomed to over the last 17 years. Hope. Why hope? What else are we supposed to feel? It’s all we have to hold on to. It’s either hope or apathy and it’s not in my nature to feel apathy. The day I feel apathy is the day I give up watching sports.

There have been many articles written about how bad of a sports town Toronto has become. ESPN has a yearly sports city ranking and Toronto has been near the bottom annually. ESPN, being the giant conglomerate that they are, uses vast resources to come up with a ranking system, in which they use attendance, ticket prices, player salary, and success. Being that I am a much smaller conglomerate with far fewer resources, I’ll use just one piece of data. Winning.

I don’t care how much ticket prices are, or that beer at the arena costs $10 or that a slice of pizza is $6.50. This is Toronto, and being a Torontonian for almost all my life, I’m used to corporations gauging money out of my wallet at every possible turn. It’s part of being a Torontonian, we pay more than anyone else for everything and we bitch about it. Good times.

All that matters are wins and loses. Where are they in the standings? Are they going to make the playoffs? Do they have a shot at a title? The ranking of a city in terms of its sports teams always comes down to one thing. Winning. So where does Toronto rank in terms of success? I decided to look at the numbers and made a spreadsheet. Thanks to Sports And The City’s older brother for teaching me the art of the spreadsheet. He is a master.

The data simple, enough so that most NFL players could understand them. I collected data from 1994 to 2010. I started at 1994, because 1993 was the last year a Toronto sports team won a title. Every city with at least a team in one of the 4 major sports organizations: NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA is included. The data includes the total number of seasons played over the time period (17 seasons per franchise from 1994 to 2010), playoff appearances, finals appearances and championships. Click on the chart below to take a look.

As the chart above indicates. San Antonio has by far the best success rate of any city. They win a championship roughly every 4 years. However, the data is skewed due to the fact that the city of San Antonio has only one franchise, the Spurs. A city with one or two franchises that wins a title will have higher success rate due to a fewer number of seasons compared with cities that have three to five franchises.

To get a better indication of success I  broke the data down further into two charts. The first chart includes only cities with three or more professional franchises, and the second only cities with two or fewer franchises.

The data above gives a better indication of the futility we have had to go through here in the city of Toronto. Of the 20 cities with three or more franchises, only Oakland has had less playoff appearances in the last 17 years than Toronto. It gets worse. Minnesota and Toronto are the only two cities that have not had a franchise reach a finals in the last 17 years. The final knife through the heart is that Boston and New York have been the most successful cities over the last 17 years. I just threw up in my mouth.

Looking at the data, you can deduce that the most successful sports towns have a team in the playoffs roughly every two years. It’s no surprise that cities around a 50% playoff appearance rate (PAR) also reach the finals more with a finals appearance rate (FAR) of around 25%. There are of course outliers, Chicago & Tampa Bay both have a FAR over 20% while having a PAR in the low 30’s.

However, if there is one franchise that other teams should model them after, it should be the San Antonio Spurs. In the last 17 years, the Spurs have reached the playoffs 16 times, winning a championship 4 times. Luck has had some part to play in their success, getting the #1 pick and drafting Tim Duncan the only year you miss the playoffs. Having said that, the type of sustained success the Spurs have experienced over the last two decades is due to an exceptionally run organization, from the owner down. The Spurs are the perfect sports franchise model.

I wonder what it feels like to have your franchises reach the playoffs once every two years or the finals once every four years like in Boston, Los Angeles or New York? I wonder, if I experienced that level of success here in Toronto, would I also turn into an absolute arrogant douchebage like the Massholes or New Yorkers? I doubt I would, but I all I want is the opportunity.

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A lot has been said, written and tweeted about the horrific sex scandal involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The scandal has taken over the media since the allegations were revealed a few days ago. What’s shocking to me is that this scandal was revealed months ago. As far back as April, Mark Madden authored an article for the Beaver County Times alleging that Sandusky’s sex crimes had been swept under the rug by Penn State in the late 1990s in exchange for his quiet resignation.

Madden had connected the dots seven months ago and only now has it caught the attention of the mainstream media? How could it go under the radar for seven whole months? There’s an easy explanation. Sandusky points it out in his column.

“Did Penn State’s considerable influence help get Sandusky off the hook?

Don’t kid yourself. That could happen. Don’t underestimate the power of Paterno and Penn State in central Pennsylvania when it comes to politicians, the police and the media.”

The power of Joe Paterno. JoePa is a football god. Isn’t that the problem right there. A football coach that yields that kind of influence is just sad and scary. That is the culture of college sports in the United States. Something I’ve never been able to understand as a Canadian. A culture that was once galvanizing is now flawed and broken.

When the news of the allegations first broke, it was reported that Paterno was not a target and was legally cleared. Legally, JoePa had done the right thing by alerting his bosses when he first learned of the sex acts by Sandusky. Paterno may have been cleared on a legal basis, but he is just as guilty as Sandusky. Do you expect me to sit here and believe that the most powerful man in the university did not know what was going on? Isn’t it unsettling that Sandusky retired in 1999, in his coaching prime, one year after the first allegation of his deviant acts surfaced in 1998? Am I supposed to believe that Paterno, a powerful man with powerful connections, didn’t call in favors to help clean up this mess in order to protect his own legacy and livelihood?

The minute these allegations broke, Paterno had a chance to do the right thing and resign immediately. In stead in a statement released a few days later, he announced he would retire at season’s end. Personally, I found his statement troubling.

“…I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this  as easy for them as I possibly can.

This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

Done more? What does he mean by done more? Done more, as in gone to the authorities immediately rather than his bosses? Done more as in stopped letting Sandusky have access to all Penn State facilities as early as last week? Done more as in not help slide it all under the rug to protect his legacy? What do you mean by done more JoePa?

This is a man who just doesn’t get it. A man who doesn’t get the gravity of the situation. A man who doesn’t get that these allegations are bigger than football, than Penn State, than the NCAA, than him. Yet in his statement he is still barking orders to the Penn State board of trustees.

Thankfully the board of trustees finally did the right thing and fired Paterno late last night. The firing of JoePa led to a riot at Beaver Canyon. For the life of me, I can’t understand why. I get these are just kids, of which most are probably under the influence of alcohol and do not understand the seriousness of the situation. They rioted in support of this football god. I wonder if they would still be supporting this god if it was their brother, their friend or someone they knew that had been violated?

JoePa is a football legend with a legacy many would dream of. No Pa, you don’t deserve your legacy anymore.

A tribute to one of the greatest wide receivers and characters the NFL has ever seen. Hate him or love him, he was entertaining to watch. Even though he was an enigma, he is a first ballot hall of famer.

Catch the highlight video and the “Straight Cash Homey” interview after the jump.

Last Saturday at about 8 at night a couple of friends and I decided to hop in a car and make the drive to Cooperstown, NY to watch Roberto Alomar get inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. The first player ever go into the hall in a Blue Jays cap. So around 2 am we hoped into the car and made the 6 hour drive. I’m so glad that we did.

Many Canadians made the drive to Cooperstown, which was expected. What I personally didn’t expect was the large number of Puerto Rican baseball fans. The Puerto Rico flags were out in full force in support of Alomar. I knew that Alomar was revered in his home town of Salinas, Puerto Rico, however I never expected it to be on this level. Many were from the US, but a few had made the trip from Salinas. I’m glad that they did make the trip, because they truly made the atmosphere something special. Something I’m glad I was a part of.

While Roberto’s speech wasn’t the greatest, due to English being his second language, it was heart-felt. He started his speech in Spanish, which was a beautiful touch. I just wish I understood Spanish. Judging from the reaction of the Puerto Rican fans, they definitely approved of what he said. What I personally loved about his speech was the fact that he thanked every organization he ever played for, leaving Toronto for last. As he spoke of his time in Toronto, I felt like I was 11 again, watching my favorite player. Roberto Alomar was the reason I fell in love with this great game of baseball. It’s only fitting that I was there to watch him get inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

On a side note. If you ever plan on making the trip down to Cooperstown. You MUST go to the Cooperstown Diner and have the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. It is quite possibly one of the greatest things I’ve ever eaten.

I came across this story about Manchester City footballer Mario Balotelli today and it put a huge smile on my face. Balotelli exemplifies what it is to be a role model. Truly an inspiring story. Link  to the story is below, it will make you smile.

Mario Balotelli thinks bullying is out of order

Great shot found on blogTO

Today is the Toronto Blue Jays home opener. The 35th in their history and the game is sold out. Say what you will about the Rogers Center, but when you fit 52,383 people in there for baseball, it’s an amazing atmosphere. Me and the boys are taking in our 10th consecutive home opener. It’s become a tradition for us. I’m very excited for tonight. I’ll see you at the ball park.

I love hats. All sorts of hats. Baseball caps, fedoras, toques. In fact, it’s rare to find me without a hat on. Baseball caps are my favorite. In fact, I collect them. Currently I have 12 different baseball caps. My goal is to have every hat of every baseball team. That includes the hats from the past and the present. Here is a list of my 10 favorite baseball caps of all time. Hope you enjoy the list.

10. Boston Red Sox New Era Alternate cap – Love the simplicity of the socks on this cap. Again, love the cap, despise the team.

9.  Oakland Athletics New Era Authentic cap – Always loved this hat. It’s a classic, love the colours as well as the font.

8. Chicago White Sox New Era Authentic cap – Love the font on this cap. Has a classic feel.

7. Detroit Tigers New Era Authentic cap – Love the font on this cap. Another timeless classic.

6. New York Yankees New Era Authentic cap – Love the cap, absolutely despise the team. It’s a timeless cap.

5. Baltimore Orioles New Era Cooperstown cap – Love the logo on this hat. Much better than the plain bird of today.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates New Era Cooperstown cap – Love the colours and the way that “P” looks. Classic hat.

3. Milwaukee Brewers New Era Cooperstown cap – This cap is absolute genius. A baseball glove that also has the “M” and “b” for the city and team name. Also love the colours.

2. Montreal Expos New Era Cooperstown cap – A beautiful cap with a great logo.

1. Toronto Blue Jays New Era Cooperstown cap – Call me a homer, but in my opinion this is the greatest hat ever made.

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