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Chris Colabello

Chris Colabello

Dear reader(s). I find that I need your help.

This may not seem like the most devastating of problems to ever face mankind but it does give me considerable ongoing angst and that’s not a good idea for an ancient writer.

Let me tell you what the genesis of this problem is.

As some of you may know, I am what’s known as a Toronto hater. It’s not that I don’t like the city itself – I have always had a marvelous time when visiting, have a son and four grandchildren living there and love them very much. I wouldn’t live in the city but then again I wouldn’t live anywhere other than British Columbia no matter what the inducement.

No, what pisses me off is the Toronto centricity of this country which seems to hold that all leadership in all walks of life emanate from Hogtown.

It started when I was a little boy listening to Saturday night hockey and only able to get the Toronto Maple Leaf games because it was considered by the CBC that all people in Western Canada were Leaf fans.

Well it just so happened that I was a devout Habs fan and resented being told what I should think.

This resentment grew as time went on and wasn’t even assuaged when the CBC finally acknowledged, after they won five Stanley Cups in a row, that there was such a thing as the Montreal Canadiens.

As time went on and I got into politics, my dislike of the Toronto attitude only increased exponentially.

There are some little things which will give you an idea of what’s getting up my nose. For example, I subscribed for a while to Walrus Magazine and began to have stomach cramps every time I read the damn thing. It was so Toronto oriented that many of its advertisements begged me to go to a Toronto restaurant as soon as I could for dinner or, failing that, go to a concert that was being held in downtown Toronto.

I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box but it occurred to me that these ads were placed by people who knew that the bulk of the readership was able to go to dinner or a concert in Toronto without difficulty and that this likely explained why the paper looked like it was published by the Toronto Chamber of Commerce.

I canceled my subscription.

My dislike of Hogtown meant that I consistently cheer against any teams they have even ones in sports I couldn’t care less about such as basketball. I loathe the Toronto Maple Leafs with a passion undiminished by any pity for their utter ineptitude over the years.

Here then is my problem. I have always been, for as long as I can remember, a devout baseball fan. There was a period of time after the strike in 1981 where my enthusiasm diminished but I think that had more to do with the fact that there were so many teams, and players who moved about so much, that I couldn’t keep track of what was going on. I also got very busy with writing, speaking, campaigning and that sort of thing and I just slipped away without really realizing it.

Now that I have more time, I have gone back to the game and spend a lot of time reading baseball and catching up.

I managed to survive Brooklyn going to Los Angeles and as I have explained in other blogs, have actually found myself cheering for the hated Giants simply because the Dodgers no longer are the Boys of Summer, in Roger Kahn’s wonderful phrase.

Along the way I became a devoted National League fan, much enhanced when the American League adopted the ridiculous designated hitter rule.

I really am getting to the point, a little more patience please!

Because TSN bombards us with American league games I see a lot of the Toronto Blue Jays. I had no difficulty maintaining my distaste for the team until recent times. It was easy because announcers, three of ’em, were such tiresome homers. Moreover, they never bloody shut up!

This may be my version of the Stockholm syndrome for I find myself starting to actually like the Blue Jays just a little bit from time to time. As a matter fact, this year, as they have been struggling they obviously have a pretty good team in the making, I’ve actually come very close to being a fan.

Now we come to the nugget of the matter. What the hell do I do now? Is it possible for me to be a Blue Jay fan and still passionately hate every other team from Toronto very much including the Leafs?

Is this the sign of a serious problem with more to come? Is it early onset of senility? Maybe senility is already here. Is there a cure for this? Are there perhaps support groups, a 12 step program perhaps? Will I, even at 83, grow out of it?

I beg of you, dear readers. Don’t leave me in the position of sacrificing sacred principles for what may be momentary and hopefully temporary insanity over a team I’m supposed to despise, that plays in a pantywaist league that won’t make the pitcher hit, from a city I despise!

I’ll try anything.

Help! I beg of you help! lest these buggers make the play-offs or even worse, get into the World Series and play against an NL team that plays real baseball.

3 Responses to “Can I root for the Blue Jays?”

  1. admin says:

    Rafe, I generally rooted for the Seattle Mariners. They are, unfortunately, also an AL team, and they aren’t the same since Ichiro left town.
    I also rooted for the Colorado Rockies when Jeff Francis was playing for them. He’s now playing for the Blue Jays’ AAA team in Buffalo, although he was called up by the Blue Jays for eight relief appearances in April and early May.
    Now that I no longer live in the area, the last two MLB games I have been to were NL ones, in LA and Phoenix. I’ve got tickets for a Cardinals game (an NL team with the best record in MLB) on July 3. One thing, though; I was annoyed by all the phony patriotism I was subjected to in Phoenix, and I hope that the game in St. Louis isn’t more of the same.
    Now, here’s a unique story. I went to three ball games when I was in Cuba in January, two in Bayamo, and one in Havana. The ballpark in Havana was the one that the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League played in, although it’s been expanded since. Well, at the first game in Bayamo, I nearly got arrested. A policeman assigned to keep an eye on tourists didn’t like it that I was taking pictures of the players, and had a chat with one of them. He probably thought I was a scout for the Mariners or something. After annoying me for a while, he made me sign a statement that I was in Cuba on a tourist visa, not a journalist visa, and I was not to do journalism in Cuba.
    I went back to the same ballpark two days later, and saw an excellent ball game. Here’s the story: http://courtesyrunner.com/item/184-alazanes-de-granma-6-vegueros-de-pinar-del-rio-3
    The pitcher for the visiting team who gave up the bottom-of-the-ninth home run was Vladimir Gutierrez. Gutierrez is a hot prospect; he was rookie of the year in Cuba the previous season. Anyway, two weeks later, after I was safely home from Cuba, Gutierrez was in the news; he and another player defected during a tournament in Puerto Rico. Serves them right. Gutierrez is eligible to sign as a free agent, and make some big bucks, on July 2.

  2. luigi says:

    Well Rafe, I would think there are things much scarier than a nightmare containing the image of Eddie Shack punching John Ferguson’s lights out.
    Try Lulu Clark the Yoga Queen, for instance. A nightmare of the ultimate degree.
    Now the Blue Jays, well you could do worse. All they have to do from seasons to season is keep the medical cupboards full of heartburn remedies over their pitching. It’ll drive a fan nuts. Otherwise they usually field an entertaining team, and never ever have a shortage of great bats (another clark reference?)
    Here’s the thing. While you (mildly) dislike Toronto, you CAN become a full-fledged fan of the Blue Jays with full knowledge that it appears it won’t be long at all before Montreal, the home of Le Grand Orange, Rusty Staub, will once again have a team in the majors and, it will be in your favoured National League!

  3. Doug says:

    Rafe

    Being 18 years younger than yourself I knew the Dodgers as the LA Dodgers.I grew up listening to Vin Scully on KFI … the signal bounce.I was kinda a Dodgers fan but more a Koufax and Drysdale fan.

    Today I am a frustrated Mariners fan.Sorry I don’t get the Blue Jays thing.Obviously the Toronto Sports Networks [Sportsnet and TSN] create a fan base.The masses of Canadians wearing Blue Jays gear in Seattle annoys me.

    I also once subscribed to The Walrus.I also cancelled my subscription.Basically a bunch of rubbish!

    Doug

    Go Ms!One day …

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