If you asked me what’s the secret of being a Toronto sports fan, my answer would be simple: expect disappointment, embrace it.
There’s no greater example of this than the Toronto Maple Leafs, who leave us disappointed on an annual basis. In fact, there are multiple generations of Leafs fans who only know the sting of defeat.
I fall into this category and it’s why I begin each season with the cautious words, “There’s always next season.” After all, there’s no need to set yourself up for disappointment when your favourite hockey team will do it for you.
It’s not entirely bad being a Toronto sports fan. We get our occasional surprise playoff runs, such as the Leafs’ spectacular collapse to the Boston Bruins in 2013 or the Toronto Raptors’ strong but ultimately ineffectual push against the vastly more experienced Brooklyn Nets this year (#WeTheDisappointed).
However, it’s always just a taste of success – just enough to ensure that we come back next season for more punishment. In this sense, we’re like the junkie who finds momentary reprieve in a quick hit, but who can never actually escape the closing walls of his sad, dark existence.
Disappointment always has a way of finding us. It may sound simple, but it’s true.
To kick the habit, a clean break is absolutely essential and here the advice offered in Trainspotting helps. Allow yourself one last rush, then lock the doors.
That’s why today’s Toronto Blue Jays game is hopefully the last one I watch all season. I just can’t take the roller coaster of emotions, the acceptance of inconsistency and the embrace of mediocrity any longer. In other words, I want to salvage the remainder of my summer and enjoy it.
(Speaking of mediocrity, why do the Jays hang onto Anthony Gose? There’s been more “hits” in this article than he’s managed all season.)
Last night was the final straw. The Jays couldn’t muster any offence against a struggling Sonny Gray, ultimately losing to the Oakland Athletics 4-1, and now they find themselves tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the surprisingly weak American League East. This wouldn’t necessarily be bad news if it wasn’t for the fact that the two teams are travelling in opposite directions: Toronto on the skid, Baltimore on the rise.
I anticipate another loss for the Jays today coupled by another win for the Orioles, which should finally/hopefully rob us of our illusion of grandeur this season.
Are the Jays a good team? Yes.
Are they a great team? No.
In any recovery, the first step is admitting you have a problem. After this, the real hard work begins.
Can I really kick the habit? Can I actually separate myself from the team I love?
Here the best answer is once again the simplest answer: no. This is like asking if the Jays can hang onto first place for the rest of the season.
You’ll be able to find me on the same street corner tomorrow.