My good friend need not worry – things are fine. No worries.
I had the great honour of attending the Women’s Blues Revue on The Danforth on Saturday. It was fabulous to say the very least. There’s nothing like having great food (Greek food on the Danforth is about as close to heaven in the culinary arts as it gets in Toronto) and great music and great company, and the WBR had it in spades. Avril Benoit, host of CBC Radio’s Here and Now (a CBC Toronto radio show, if you’re in out-of-towner reading this) was the emcee now that Shelagh Rogers, a fellow Queen’s alum, is out in Vancouver hosting Sounds Like Canada. Check out CBC’s Saturday Night Blues in a few weeks and you’ll get to hear the concert – it was truly great. It’s been a terrific year for the Blues!
AWARD: A Queen’s professor, Prof. Arthur McDonald, will be awarded the 2003 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering tomorrow. This is a big deal, primarily because Dr. McDonald was extensively involved in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, which searches for subatomic particles to determine the “weight” of the universe. It’s an award worth $1 million in research grant money. Not too bad, eh?
MAPLE LEAFS IN TROUBLE: Okay, I’m a very patient fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I, like millions more, have lived through the Ballard Era, the Cliff Fletcher Era, The Mike Murphy Era and now the MLSE-Pat Quinn Era. But this is getting ridiculous.
I’m fed up with the Leafs, not so much because the team is bad (which it isn’t) but because there is so much talent available and so little passion. I don’t blame Pat Quinn outright for the team’s lousy fortunes (it’s far too easy to blame a coach when the players have seemingly given up). I also don’t attribute the team’s problems to an old squad, although the Leafs are getting really, really old (I’ve resented signing guys like Joe Nieuwendyk for no purpose other than being a proven Stanley Cup winner but that means nothing on a team with Owen Nolan, Alex Mogilny, et al). I just feel like the passion is absent from the Leafs, as they are bereft of any ambition or desire to win the Cup once, just once, for their fans.
All this points to a general malaise in Toronto sports. I live in a city with an awful sports culture. But it’s not ownership or players that are the biggest problems with Toronto sports. It’s the fans. We blindly support the Leafs without question and reward the team’s successes and failures equally. Nine times out of ten, if a team can earn the most profit with the least amount of investment and the revenue keeps rolling in, why bother putting a winning product on the ice? And the Toronto Raptors? Arragh! Even with the most popular player in the NBA can’t keep this team from being a wash-out.
The Blue Jays? They are the prototypical example of how Toronto fans think. We’ll support a sports team, for sure, if they are doing the following:
A) They’re fresh, new and “hip”
B) They reflect well on Toronto’s status in the world
C) They’re winning
D) They make money
If any of the four are missing, minus the inpenetrable Maple Leafs, the fans will gradually stay away. Since the Jays won two World Series championships a decade ago, the team is only *now* starting to grasp the new economic realities of the game and develop a winning squad with high-strung youngsters and a few core veterans, a la the Oakland Athletics. But I’ll bet the fans won’t return to the 48,000+ attendence of yore ever again, much less hit 35,000 by 2005 when Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi says they will be contenders for the AL East division title.
Toronto is still very much a town of the all mighty dollar – we like money, we like business and we’re almost completely impervious to unabashed joy in our sports milieu. It’s troubling and hopefully once the city has matured to the point where we’re not always caring what the bosses in New York City think, we can take pride in our teams without resorting to fairweather tactics.
Okay, I’m done the rant.