Editor's Note: jrwendelman reacts to another stupid Rosie DiManno article. If she isn't offending over a billion people in China she's driving almost that many Leafs fans batty with her ignorance. We'll have game recaps and FTBs up later but all of the cheering at last night's regrettable ceremony worsened my cold.
Rosie is standing out front of Torstar waving her arms and demanding, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm a dumbass too!"
In an article published in today's Toronto Star, she has opined that last night's Wendel Clark ceremonies are regrettable because they are symptomatic of a franchise that - you guessed it - hasn't "won anything substantial in 41 years." She suggests that the Leafs are so bereft of on-ice success that they have stooped to "fetishizing" former players in order to satisfy the overwhelming desire to hang banners - any banners - in the rafters of the Air Canada Centre.
Is it too much to ask that someone who is accorded the privilege of writing about hockey in a major metropolitan newspaper occasionally switch on the tube and watch a game? Obviously, Rosie didn't do that last night - or surf the web or read a newspaper, for that matter - or she would know that there was this fellow named Patrick Roy who was also honoured in a little place called Montreal last night. As much as it pains me to mention it, there have been a few Stanley Cups collected in that city since 1967 - those would qualify as winning something "substantial", wouldn't they - and somehow, the Habs still felt the need to drape a banner in the rafters of their barn to celebrate the career of their old 'tender.
It is idiotic to suggest that the impulse to honour individual players derives from a dearth of team success. The Yankees have retired player numbers. The Celtics. The Cowboys, Redskins, Steelers and Packers too. These franchises have racked up a few championships among them.
Apparently, Rosie didn't even read her own article, actually. She goes on to point out that the Leafs have honoured 11 pre-expansion players, and that 4 have been so honoured since 1967. By my math, that's 11 players honoured between 1926 (I'll forget about the St. Pats and Arenas) and '67 - about 1 every four years before expansion, and a little less than one every ten years since then. In case Ms. DiManno hasn't picked up a Leaf media guide recently, the club did win a dozen Cups in the pre-expansion years; it would seem, therefore, that the team has (if anything) restrained itself from honouring more modern players, rather than firing a painted sheet into the rafters for every twenty-goal single season phenom that happened to stop by for a cup of coffee, which is the impression Ms. DiManno means to convey in her poorly thought out article.
What a piece of crap, and what an insult to Wendel Clark to throw that piece of shite article into the paper in the wake of a ceremony that Clark richly deserved. It's obvious that Rosie just doesn't get it - the bond that sometimes develops between the fans and an athlete they love to watch play the game. Clark had the misfortune to come to town in an era when he had no chance to win the Cup. In the prime of his career, when the team did improve and take its shot, Kerry F&$%ing Fraser pulled the rug out from under its feet. Big deal. Win or lose, the fans loved watching Wendel play the way he did. Lots of folks, myself included, came to view Wendel as having paid the ultimate price for Leaf success - not only did he sacrifice his body with his style of play, but he got traded away for Sundin before the '95 season in a deal that would pave the way towards the club's successes (and yes, there was some) in the years just prior to the lockout. Everybody knew that Wendel had been sent away for a while to try to help the team, but we all hoped he would come home one day.
It's a shame that some talentless hack needs, for some inexplicable reason, to characterize everything that is good about ceremonies like this - the passion and dedication of the player, the honest affection between today's jaded sports fan and the much maligned modern professional athlete - and twist it into something wrong or embarrassing. Shame on you, Rosie, and shame on your editor for letting that chocolate mess slip by and into print.
I posted my own little tribute to Wendel Clark at Heroes in Rehab: the blog.