Everyone in Southern Ontario and even in the rest of Canada, is excited about the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays currently sit at the top of the American League East standings, having won the last 11 games in a row. Most of this is due to a recent trade for a shortstop named Troy Tulowitzki and the acquisition of a free agent pitcher named David Price.
Dougie has been a loyal Jays fan for years. For me, not so much. It’s not really the Jays fault though. I’d like to be excited about this team and I probably would be, if it weren’t for another Toronto team that used to break my heart every year, the Toronto Maple Leafs. I used to be a hockey nut, waiting outside Maple Leaf Gardens to meet the players before playoff games or practices and I was even lucky enough to go to the games once in a while. But year after year it was the same old, same old. When they made the playoffs they would get to the quarter finals and lose. I remember in 1978 they actually beat the New York Islanders to make the semi-finals but then lost to the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens. For the past 10 or 15 years, they have barely made the playoffs.
The last time I watched a Leafs game was on May 8, 2000. It was a game six semi-final versus the New Jersey Devils and since I was in New Jersey on business, a few work colleagues and I scooped up a handful of tickets. We were so pumped for the game because if the Leafs won, it would force a game seven back in Toronto.
The Leafs ended up setting an NHL record that night, but it sure wasn’t a record any team would ever want. They had the lowest shots on goal in a playoff game ever, six shots in total. Not only did they break my heart, once again, but I saw it live and not even on home turf where all of us long-suffering Leafs fans could commiserate together. The only saving grace for me that evening was that, at the last minute, I’d decided to wear a Leafs t-shirt instead of a jersey to the game, so I was able to put a light jacket over top of it as I hung my head low while walking out of the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey. I decided at that moment that I was done with the Leafs and being a Taurus, when I make up my mind that I am done with something, be it a sports team, a band, a type of food or even a man, I am done for good.
I used to enjoy baseball as well and have attended a few Jays games. When the Jays won the World Series in Toronto in 1993, I was at a downtown Toronto pub with a friend. Those of us who were vertically challenged were standing on top of the bar to see the television screens displaying the game and when Joe Carter hit that winning home run, the place exploded and I fell to the ground on my ass, cheering and laughing the whole time.
Who knows how well the Jays will actually do this season, there are still a few weeks to go, and if they actually make the playoffs I may even be tempted to watch the games. But in the back of my mind I know I will expect the worst and for that, I blame the Toronto Maple Leafs.