These are hard times to be both a sports fan and mantain one's moral convictions. My favourite football club is owned by these people; my favourite baseball team by this guy, and, worst of all, my hockey team is co-owned by the people who gave us this.
I've come to accept that I won't often agree with how the owners of my clubs handle their business. But I at least hope to understand and respect the way they are running my teams. There's better news for me on that front. Man City has been transformed from mid-table (or worse) comedy merchants to a swaggering, title-winning dynamo. While I don't agree with everything the Tigers do, for instance their draft strategy that consists solely of a Little Caesar's box flap with the words "DRAFT THAT BIG FUCKER WHO THROWS 90 MPH" scribbled on it, they are consistently among the very best teams in baseball.
And then there's the Leafs. A team that followed up one of the most crushing collapses of all time with an offseason that was, at times, more frustrating and dispiriting. After the Meltdown in Beantown, all that was lost one season, one season where nothing much was expected. During this offseason,on the other hand, I realized that, after eight years out of the playoffs, the next several seasons will now probably be wasted because the people running our team are wedded to an outdated view of how hockey games are won and who they players are who help you win them. The NHL is entering its Moneyball era, and the Leafs, long-suffering losers with a big checkbook, are perfectly poised to play the Boston Red Sox, but instead they've opted for the Joe Morgan role. Other teams have the chessboard out, and we're playing Whack-A-Mole. How the hell, I wondered, was I supposed to cheer for this team? How are you planning on doing it?
At one point in early July, I woke up in the middle of the night seething about the Tyler Bozak contract and unable to get back to sleep. It was then that I knew that I'd crossed the line from "diehard fan" to "unhinged lunatic" and that it was time to back off the team for a while. I gave serious thought to giving up on the team this season, if only to spare myself from the ongoing toxic miasma of overweening negativity and glib stupidity that makes up 95% of what is written and said about the team these days.
Now that the season is approaching, I've decided to still follow them, but at much more of a distance. I still like watching hockey, and there are players I still want to watch, like Kessel, Kadri (maybe), Lupul, Gardiner, Reimer, etc. I want to see how Rielly and the other prospects come along. And even though I hate the overall strategy behind the summer moves, I like all the players the Leafs brought in, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they do. But I'm going to try my hardest to let go and not care so much about the Leafs insistence on shooting themselves in the crotch at almost ever turn, or what whoever might have said about it. I'm going to try to watch (some) of the games and ignore more and more of everything else. Basically, the Leafs are harder to kick than cigarettes laced with heroin. But if I can't quit, I can at least cut down. Right?