Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Your Ombudsman is Getting a Little Nervous

When the sun rises over Toronto tomorrow morning we will be but two short weeks away from the first game of the Bills in Toronto series. Given what little time we have left I've got to be honest with you, I'm getting a little worried about how we're going to pull this thing off. For some inexplicable reason we have yet to see a meaningful groundswell of support for the games. The ground may be a tad puffy (most likely from all the rain we've had) but even the most optimistic spin doctor at Rogers would be hard pressed to honestly label it swollen. As of now there are plenty of seats still available indicating at least some hesitancy by the local populous to circle the wagons around the Bills. This is all rather ludicrous. What else have we got to grasp on to people? The Blue Jays? Are you f-ing kidding me? The 2008 Jays play with the intensity of a mixed doubles tennis team after a three martini lunch. Today's game, a 3-2 loss, was a perfect illustration of how little the team cares and how increasingly difficult they are to rally around. They had 13 baserunners and scored just twice. Two times they managed to get runners to third with none out only to leave them there. It was quite simply, disgraceful, yet completely in character for this bunch. There are teams that suck because they can't hit, or they can't play defense, or they can't pitch. The Jays don't even have one of those convenient excuses to hide behind. While they can't hit very well they, at least theoretically, have enough firepower to scrape together the three runs a game it would take for them to win much more often than they actually do. What they do have is an unprecedented ability to leave runners in scoring position after getting them there with less than two outs. Not even FEMA can strand people like the 2008 Jays can. I'm not sure there are stats on this but if there are I'm positive they would reveal that this year's Jays squad is the 1927 Yankees of not winning games that are being handed to them.

I was at last night's game and came away with nothing but indifference towards the "home" team. My instinctive nature to cheer for the team has been overwhelmed by just how unlikeable this collection of mediocre, underachieving sloths are. I'm not sure this has ever happened to me. Over the years I have supported some truly awful sides but I can never recall actually writing off the team. This Jays team has achieved what their late-1990s Jays predecessors, the playoff-less Leafs of the last few years and the 3-13 2001 Bills failed to do. That is, to make me not care. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but apparently it is. Right now I would trade Alex Rios for a couple arms. I'm not using the colloquialism for pitchers when I say that. I would literally trade him for some random body parts as I believe him to be that useless.

Well that was a wordy aside, though I do feel better having gotten that out so thank you for sticking with me. Back to my original train of thought, the Jays are clearly not worth your attention or your entertainment dollars. What does that leave you with this summer? The outdoors? Monsoon season has made sure to ruin that. The theatre? A big thumbs down to that. Save yourself the money, go buy the greatest hits of some mediocre act form the past thirty years and string together the song titles with some half-baked segues. You'll have your very own Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys or whatever equivalent crap Mirvish is pushing these days. Friends and Family? That's what Christmas break is for. Travel? Fuel surcharge this, Robert Milton! Nightlife? Don't forget your bluetooth earpiece and gold chains, you big douche. Golf? The average round in the GTA now takes seven and a half hours. Maybe you have that kind of time, the rest of us have jobs. Taxidermy? There's very little money in that anymore. Ultimate Frisbee? Now you're just trying to make me angry!

There are clearly no alternatives. Its quite evident that all we have going for us is the arrival of the Buffalo Bills in our crummy little town. We must embrace them if for no other reason than to make our city look a little less bush league than it actually is. We have to buy about 120,000 seats this year to sell out both games we've been honoured with, a target that we are still well short of. Buffalo, a town with less than a third of our population and a median household income less than half that of Toronto, has sold around 525,000 Bills tickets for this year. Adjusting for higher ticket prices here and the fact that that sports fans in Buffalo have twice the heart of their Torontonian counterparts still leaves us about half a million tickets short of what should be expected of us (taking into account population size, income levels, ticket price and our fairweather nature). This has been an embarrassing display so far.

If we're to put some lipstick on this pig of an effort we must turn things around in a hurry. So pony up Toronto! Buy a ticket, grab a Marshawn jersey and we'll see you on the 14th (or even the kickoff party the night before at Dundas Square - Jim Kelly will be there). Don't worry if you don't know anything about the team or how to act at a football game. That's what I'm here for. I'll fill you in as we get closer to gameday.

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