It’s looking more and more likely that there will be a NHL season (good grief). A 48 game season means that the Leafs skip the traditional great start for the first 2 months then nosedive to the Lottery draft come late December. Maybe there’s the off chance that will mean their usual April winning streak may actually mean something.
If the season does get on the way then that means Toronto fans will once again begin to display traits that define what it’s like to be a sports fan for Toronto’s teams. There are three key traits in particular that I feel all Toronto sports fans exhibit:
Nostalgic Bias: Exhibit A: The recent acquisitions from the Blue Jays has led to 84% more conversations about the Blue Jays amongst sports fans in bars than there typically are during the holiday season. And why not, Toronto is begging to have one team step up and be relevant come playoff time. This triggered Sportsnet to air all the games from the ’92, ’93 World Series.
When I refer to nostalgic bias, I mean that when we remember the great players and teams, our memory of them can be a little exaggerated. For example, many people remember Kelly Gruber for clutch hits but during the ’92 season he did not hit well (.229 BA), including a major hitless streak during the playoffs.
A more recent example would be the Toronto Raptors brief success in the ’06/’07 season. A late season injury to Jorge Garbajosa is a common point fans make as to why the division champs couldn’t make it out of the first round. Garbo was a fantastic work horse for the team that finished 47-35 but in the first round they met the Nets who simply outplayed them. My point isn’t analyzing these examples but it’s that we tend to be bias towards remembering our favourite teams and players of the past. Pretty obvious right?
Hopelessly Optimistic: A 47-35 Raptors?! Oh how far we have fallen. Remember when Colangelo predicted 2 seasons afterwards that the Raptors would win 50 games and we all agreed? That didn’t end well. Toronto fans are notorious for believing their teams will fair better than what all the expert analysts predict. And we should be, we’re passionate but I’ve found that we are guilty of being too optimistic and that leads us to my final key trait…
Glutton for Disappointment: Leaf fans know this too well. I have a cousin that’s lived nearly a decade and he doesn’t know what it’s like to cheer for the Leafs in May. It’s a foreign concept to him. Yet every year we return and pray for a playoff berth. Not even to win, just to get into the playoffs! It’s like a drug. We need our fix to get optimistic about our teams then when they fail, we accept it so well that’s almost expected or perhaps it’s because we’re just so used to it, we’re numb to the side effects of a failed season. The next home opener, we’re back, tickets in hand.
Granted, these traits are shown in just about all sports fans, but seeing as how it’s been 6 years since we had a relevant sports team (sorry Argos & Marlies fans), we have evolved into a mutated version of a fan that knows nothing but heartbreak and loss across our 3 major teams.
I think Cleveland/Columbus and Toronto fans should form a support group…