Toronto sports fans are the worst

Toronto sports fans are the worst. Throwing cans of beer, racial and homophobic insults are just the beginning of why Toronto sports fans are some of the worst behaved fans in North America.

During the seventh inning of the Toronto Blue Jays American League Wild Card game, Baltimore Orioles left fielder Hyun-son Kim made a routine catch on a warning track fly ball. Or at least it should have been a routine play, except for a Toronto fan throwing a beer can at the Orioles’ outfielder.

This was not the first incident of Toronto fans throwing cans of beer onto the field. In the prior season’s playoff series against Texas, Toronto fans littered the field with everything they could throw onto the field after the fan base disagreed with the umpires call on the field. In previous years’ home openers, fans have stolen rolls of toilet paper out of the bathroom and thrown them from the upper deck onto the field. Sit in the lower level outfield for a game and you will hear and chances are you will a few comments yelled at the opposing outfielders that are offensive.

But what can you expect; the Blue Jays have made going to the game more about getting drunk than baseball. By removing a restaurant and replacing it with a beer garden it’s more about drinking than enjoying the game. The Blue Jays should be taking more accountability for their fans bad behaviour. But the fans need to behave like responsible adults and not toddlers who throw toys when they get upset.

But Blue Jays fans are not the only bad sports fans in the Ontario capital. Earlier this summer Toronto FC fans brought a sign to Montreal that depicted a Montreal Impact fan performing oral sex on a Toronto FC fan. The team had to apologize for the sign, but it’s not the first instance of the fan base has behaved poorly. In 2008, approximately 2000 TFC fans travelled to Columbus for a game. But prior to the game, fights broke out between the two fan bases in the parking lot.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans, besides being delusional in their expectations of Stanley Cup parades, are known for running players out of town and again throwing stuff on the ice. With the Leafs finishing near the bottom of the NHL standings for the past few seasons, fans threw jerseys on the ice. The fans were charged with trespassing, forced to pay a fine and banned from the Air Canada Centre for a year.

Scarborough native and Hockey Hall of Famer, Larry Murphy was traded for virtually nothing after the fans constant harassment became too much for management to ignore.  In 151 games, Murphy produced 19 goals, 100 points and just a minus one rating. It wasn’t enough for the delusional fan base, and Murphy traded away to Detroit and won two cups with the Red Wings.

Want a more recent reference see Kessel, Phil; who was ripped by the fan base before being trading to Pittsburgh where he would go on to win the cup. Toronto fans complained that Kessel was fat, lazy and consumed too many hot dogs. Oh and let’s not forget, that Maple Leaf fans threw waffles on the ice and at the aforementioned Kessel.

The Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Rock are the two most successful teams in the city. But the city fails to support them. For years, the city’s sport fans made excuses as to why they would not go to an Argos game inside of the Skydome. First it was the sight lines, and then it was the fact that there was no tailgating. But when they moved outdoors to BMO field and introduced tailgating, attendance was expected to improve. Spoiler alert, attendance has not improved. With the exception of the home opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (and their fans who made the trip), the Argos have not exceeded 18,000 fans in any of their other seven home games.  The Argos current average attendance is 16,550 fans per game. The team ranks dead last in the league, averaging over 3,500 fewer than second last British Columbia.

The Toronto Rock won championships in 2012-13 and 2015. But attendance has been on the decline since their 2005 championship when attendance peaked at over 17,000. In 2015, attendance was hovering around 10000, an all-time low for the franchise.

Maybe the best behaved fan base within the city is for the Toronto Raptors. The fans travel well to opposing cities, and sell out home games. The fans don’t just sell out home games, they jam pack the plaza outside of the arena to watch the games. If there is one complaint, it is the bandwagon nature of the fan base. A few years ago when the Raptors found themselves near the bottom of the NBA standings, the arena was not coming close to selling out, and it was incredibly easy to find tickets on the secondary market for significantly less than face value.

Toronto Raptors Season Preview

The Toronto Raptors are coming off their best season in franchise history. The team won a franchise record 56 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals, before losing to the eventually champions Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated them in six games.

The Raptors have a few questions coming into the new season. Can the Raptors improve on last season and reach the NBA finals, or have they peaked with the Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry core.  The answer to both those questions will be determined by how success the Raptors are replacing key role players who left in the off-season when the NBA salary cap exploded.

Gone in the off-season are a trio of big men who played roles within the Raptors rotation. Off to Brooklyn is Luis Scola, who started the season as the starting forward, before being phased out of the rotation during the playoffs. James Johnson is now with Miami after finding himself in the doghouse of Head Coach Dwayne Casey during both of his stints with the Raptors. When Johnson found himself on the court, he proved capable of playing both forward positions. The big loss for the Raptors came in the departure of Bismack Biyombo to Orlando for four years and $72 million dollars. While Biyombo’s offense game was limited to scoring in the paint, his rebounding and shot blocking presence will be extremely difficult for the team to replace.

Team President Masai Ujiri had a relatively quiet off-season after resign DeRozan to a max contract extension. While other teams went on a spending spree as soon as free agency began, Ujiri choosing to wisely sit back and watch. The NBA saw massive contract after massive contract signed. Role players such as Biyombo, who Ujiri signed the season prior for $3 million dollars, saw his annual salary shot up to $18 million. Biyombo was not an outlier; he was the trend this off-season. NBA teams continued to offer ridiculous contracts as the salary cap skyrocketed over $20 million dollars.

Ujiri’s strategy was simple. Let the other teams make mistakes dishing out long-term contracts that could be albatrosses within two seasons when the salary cap stabilizes. Ujiri was patient and it paid off. When the Boston Celtics signed free agent Al Horford to a contract, they had to renounce the rights to restricted free agent Jared Sullinger. Ujiri jumped at the news. With the majority of NBA teams having already spent their newly found salary cap space, Ujiri found himself in an advantageous position. Sullinger signed for one year and a third of annual salary Biyombo received from Orlando.

While Sullinger represents a sizeable defensive downgrade from Biyombo, he does represent a sizeable offensive upgrade too. In his lone season with the Raptors, Biyombo averaged 5.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 22 minutes a game. In his four years with Boston, Sullinger averaged 24.9 minutes, 11.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, but just 0.6 blocks a game.

The addition of Sullinger is the only major change to the Raptors nine man rotation. Back are all-star starting guards Lowry and DeRozan. After missing the majority of the regular season with a knee injury, DeMarre Carroll is healthy. A year after receiving a four year $60 million dollar deal, Carroll’s contract looks like a bargain in the new cap world. Carroll provides the Raptors with a swing man capable of matching up defensively with the top wings in the East, while adding the occasional corner three. Jonas Valanciunas returns as the starting center. For the Raptors to improve, Valanciunas has to develop into a double-double machine.

The last spot in the starting lineup will come down to a camp battle between Sullinger and sixth man Patrick Patterson. While Patterson struggled shooting the ball last season, his name was continually found within the Raptors best plus-minus lineups.

Rounding out the nine man rotation are backup guards Cory Joseph, Norman Powell and Terrence Ross. Joseph proved to be a capable backup to Lowry, as he posted career highs in minutes and nearly every statistical category. Powell already holds the title, of being the Raptors best second round pick in franchise history after just one season. But that is more because of how terrible the Raptors draft history is. After barely seeing the court in the first half of the season, Powell found himself a starter down the stretch. Ross continues to be a great enigma to the Raptors fan base. The talented and freakish athleticism of Ross has shown highlights of potential, but through season, Ross has failed to put his game altogether.

The Raptors nine man rotation is good enough to win close to 50 games provided there is no major injury. But for the Raptors to match or exceed last season’s success, the Raptors need to find a contributor from one of the former first round picks, the team has stockpiled on the end of their bench.  With two first round picks in the past draft, the Raptors selected center Jakob Poltl from Utah and forward Pascal Siakam 27th overall. Poltl is expected to battle Lucas Nogueira for minutes behind Valanciunas. While Siakam is a developmental prospect who could find himself playing more in the D-League than the NBA this season. Delon Wright, the Raptors’ first round pick in 2015, and former Utah teammate of Poltl is expected to miss the first half of the season following shoulder surgery. While it is anyone’s guess, if the team ever receives any production from Bruno Cabocolo in a game that is not a blowout.

Even if one of the Raptors get unexpected production from one of their stockpiled first round picks, the team should be expected to meet the expectations last season. Barring any injuries to any star player within the Eastern Conference, the Raptors should finish second and again get eliminated by the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Toronto Raptors 2015-16 Season Preview

Most teams would be satisfied coming off a second straight division title and a franchise record 49 win, however that is not the case for the Toronto Raptors as they begin their 21st season.

Foul mouth General Manager Masai Ujiri made the decision to change one third of his roster in doing something he has been unable to do as a general manager, win a playoff series. When Ujiri left his post as General Manager of the Denver Nuggets, the franchise was in a very similar place as the Raptors find themselves today. The Nuggets had won their division, but were bounced by the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

The Nuggets lacked a true superstar, following Ujiri’s decision to trade Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. The Raptors find themselves in a similar situation, lacking the type of player who can put his entire team on their back and carry them to victory.

The closest the Raptors have to a superstar player is All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry clearly feeling the disappointment and pressure of losing in the first round for a second consecutive season completely remade his body in the offseason. Lowry entered training camp lighter and leaner, hoping to improve his explosion when driving to the basket and push the Raptors offense. Defensively Lowry will be hoping the weight loss will improve his footspeed defensive to keep up with some of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors other All-Star DeMar DeRozan is feeling a different type of pressure this season. The face of the franchise holds a player option at the end of the season, that he will almost certainly exercise as the NBA salary cap skyrockets thanks to the two massive television deals the league signed last season. DeRozan will be looking to play his best basketball in hopes of landing a maximum contract. A contract that reports have Ujiri, unlikely to give to DeRozan. DeRozan for his excellent athleticism is in fact a limited basketball player and Ujiri recognizes this fact. DeRozan can drive to the right with the best in the league. However, his skills outside of that are limited. When forced to go left, the Raptors offense often stalls and results in a bad pass or midrange jumper by DeRozan, who is only a 27 per cent three point shooter. Defensively, DeRozan struggles at time to stay in front of the elite swingmen throughout the Eastern Conference.

The first big shakeup during the eventful off-season for Ujiri was signing free agent DeMarre Carroll to a four year contract worth almost $15 million a season. However in order to sign Carroll, Ujiri was forced to renounce the rights of gritty forward Amir Johnson, who would go on to sign with division rival Boston Celtics. During his six seasons in Toronto, Johnson emerged as one of the most developed players in franchise history for his tough-nosed defensive, hustle and emotional player. The signing of Carroll will likely result in the former Atlanta Hawks forward becoming the next fan favourite for the Raptors. Carroll will never be on any highlight reels for his flashy play, but he Missouri graduate is a tenacious defender who is not afraid of hitting the floor to grab a loose ball. As the NBA continues to move to a small ball philosophy, Carroll is expect to see minutes at both forward positions.

Later in the summer, Ujiri extended the contract of starting center Jonas Valanciunas for another four seasons. The deal considered to be under market value for a player the caliber of Valanciunas who likely could have claimed a bigger salary had he elected to test the market as a free agent. The contract will prove to be a bargain in the next few seasons, as the NBA salary cap increases more than $30 million dollars and surpasses the $90 million dollar mark. Ujiri, like many within the NBA, expect the fourth year player from Lithuania to continue his upwards trajectory and emerge as one of the Eastern Conference’s top centers. Will the departure of Johnson, Valanciunas will be required to play more minutes in the fourth quarter, which Head Coach Dwayne Casey has been reluctant to do during the first third seasons of his career. This season, Casey may not have a choice as the front court rotation has been completely turned over.

The last member of the starting lineup has yet to be determined, but is likely to be Patrick Patterson, who enters his third season with the club. Patterson will be expected to play more minutes as a stretch four with the departure of Johnson. The bench was completely remade in the offseason, as Ujiri opted to let Tyler Hansbrough, Chuck Hayes and Landry Fields to leave town as free agents. Ujiri bought low in his attempt to replace the trio’s valuable bench minutes. It is expected that the first man off the bench will be 35 year-old Argentina international Luis Scola who signed a one year deal. Scola provides a reliable veteran who posted strong advance metrics in rebounding last season with the Indiana Pacers. Advanced rebounding metrics also appeared to be used when the Raptors made the decision to sign former lottery pick Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo is extremely limited offensively, but does offer a shot blocking presences on the defensive end. The third new member of the bench is former first overall pick, Anthony Bennett. The Raptors took a chance on the Brampton native Bennett after miserable stints in both Cleveland and Minnesota. Bennett is the definition of low risk, high reward as the Canadian possesses talent, but has never found a role in the NBA.

The signing of Bennett is not the only Canadian to be added to the Raptors roster. Pickering native Cory Joseph signed a four year contract worth $30 million dollars after the San Antonio Spurs rescinded his restricted free agent offer in order to sign LaMarcus Aldridge. Joseph will be the first guard off the bench in Casey’s remade bench rotation. Ujiri is paying top dollar betting that Joseph will continue to improve as he has done so during his first four seasons with the Spurs. The move is risky but the contract could prove to be an absolutely steal as the cap rises. If the Raptors hope to win in the first round they need Joseph to emerge as a replacement to either last season’s Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers or Greivis Vazquez who was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks at the draft.

Joseph is not the only play Casey and Ujiri are utilizing in attempt to replace high volume shooter Williams. Fourth year swing man will move to the bench following more than a year of starting. Two seasons ago, Ross looked like a player who could emerge as a defensive stopper. However, Ross regressed in his third season and was no longer used by Casey to cover players such as Jeff Teague who routinely blew past Lowry. Offensively, Ross’s game can be frustrating, as he often settles for threes instead of driving to the basket for an easy two or a trip to the line. If Ross regains his form from the second season, where he connected on nearly forty per cent of his three pointers, he could be in the running for sixth man.

Other minor storylines to follow this season, includes the future of Head Coach Dwayne Casey whose job could be in jeopardy if he fails to make it out of the first round. Casey’s relationship with forward James Johnson has been contentious at times. Johnson in his second stint with the Raptors, was traded in his first stint after the two could not get along. Entering the final year of his contract it would not be surprising to see Johnson exit town before that contract expires. New this season to the Greater Toronto Area is the new NBA D-League team playing out of Mississauga and operating as the Raptors affiliate. The horrifically named Raptors905, could have potentially three former first round picks in their lineup as Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira and this past draft first and second round picks, Delon Wright and Norman Powell.

Predictions: Raptors go 47-35 winning their third straight division title, but are again eliminated in the first round. Valanciunas emerges as a potential All-Star center. Carroll becomes the new fan favourite reminding people of past Raptor the Junk Yard Dog Jerome Williams. Former fan favourite Amir Johnson receives one of the biggest standing ovations from the fans inside the Air Canada Center when he returns to the hanger for the first time with the Celtics. DeRozan opts out at the end of the season, will Ujiri letting him leave and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a homecoming star and potential Kobe Bryant replacement.

Toronto Raptors 20th Anniversary 15 Man Roster

Toronto Raptors 20th Anniversary 15 Man Roster

In honour of the Toronto Raptors starting their 20th season, I will compile a list of their all-time players. Why 15 men, because that is the size of an NBA roster, 12 players dress, 3 are reverses who don’t dress.

Quick note on criteria for players who made the 15 man roster. Number one is impact while on the Raptors. So sorry Marcus Camby your two year run with the Raptors does not make the list and his next 15 years in the NBA play no role on the roster. Tenure, skill and production matter and only count for when the player was a member of the Raptors. How the player exited Toronto plays no role on this list.

But first lets start with the head coach.

Dwayne Casey:

An incredibly easy selection over other candidates Butch Carter, Lenny Wilkins and Sam Mitchell. Casey garners the decision over Mitchell because he is far more regarded within NBA circles. Casey receives tons of credit for the defensive scheme Dallas used to win their first title in 2011. While Sam Mitchell has struggled to find consistent assistant coaching jobs since leaving the Raptors.

Too soon to be eligible for the list:

Entering their 3rd years it is too soon to see what impact Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross will be. After two season returns have been promising. Valanciunas has been a starter since he arrived. In 150 games Valanciunas has averaged 10.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Ross won the NBA Dunk contest as a rookie. In 162 games with the Raptors, Ross has proven to be a good defender whose offensive game is still developing. A 51 point game vs. the Clippers being a career highlight.

Honourable Mention: Sorry you just missed the cut.

Marcus Camby:

Drafted 2nd overall after the expansion Raptors won the lottery but under rules, had to draft second and selected the UMass Center. In his two season, Camby averaged 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. Camby would eventually be traded to the the Knicks for Charles Oakley. In 2013 Camby would again be traded by the Knicks to the Raptors as part of the Andrea Bargnani trade.

Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose

Marshall and Rose were acquired in the same trade from the Chicago Bulls. Both Marshall and Rose played over 32 minutes a game for the Raptors and averaged double digits. In 131 games Marshall averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. In 177 games Rose averaged 16.2 points.

Jerome Williams

The Junk Yard Dog, is easily the least skilled player on the list. However his style of play and constant effort won the hearts of Toronto fans making him a fan favourite. The shaved bald head, headband and knee high socks are a look ingrained in Raptors history.

Starting Lineup:

Center: Antonio Davis

A difficult decison, as the Raptors have struggled to find a long term answer at Center. Davis gets the decision over Bargnani for his superior defense. Davis played in 310 games for the Raptors making one all-star team and average 12.9 points and 9.2 rebounds a game.

Power Forward: Chris Bosh

The fourth overall pick from the heralded 2003 NBA Draft was the easy selection at PF. Named to 5 all-star teams, Bosh was the backbone of the first Raptors team to win the Atlantic Division. Unfortunately, the Bosh teams never made it out of the first round before he bolted for Miami as a free agent. Bosh averaged 20.2 points and 9.4 rebounds a game for the Raptors in 509 games and is the teams all time leading scorer and rebounder.

Small Forward: DeMar DeRozan

Some many say DeRozan is a two-guard others many say he is a small forward. But in reality there is no way to define what role DeRozan and Ross hold within Dwayne Casey’s offence as the two are interchangeable. The one time all-star is the Raptors 3rd all time leading scorer, averaging 16.8 points a game in 391 games and counting.

Shooting Guard: Vince Carter

Vince Carter was one of the NBA’s must see players in his tenure with the Raptors. Highlight reel dunks and winning a dunk contest were among the accolades Carter garnered. Carter was named to 6 All-star games and averaged over 23 points a games in 403 games. Unfortunately, Vince Carter’s end in Toronto came with the superstar forcing a trade to the Nets after accusations of quitting on the team.

Point Guard: Damon Stoudamire

Were you expecting Jose Calderon or Alvin Williams or Kyle Lowry? All those players are on the team, but the decision to start Stoudamire comes down to the fact the Raptors ran him into the ground for 3 season. Stoudamire averaged 41 minutes a game! Yes, the game was still only 48 minutes in length back in the first three seasons of the Raptors. Stoudamire won rookie of the year honours after being selected 7th overall out of Arizona and would 19.6 points, 8.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds a game on some terrible Raptors teams, that Stoudemire was forced to carry.

Bench

Kyle Lowry

Lowry was acquired in the offseason prior to the 2012 season. However it was not until the Rudy Gay trade that Lowry emerged as one of the NBA’s best point guards. Lowry would lead the Raptors to a heartbreaking game 7 lost. In 155 games Lowry averages 33 minutes a game, 15.2 points, 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds and is the franchise leader in triple doubles.

Jose Calderon

The Spanish point guard played 525 games for the Raptors, second most in team history. Calderon was known for flashing finger threes after he made a triple. But Calderon will never been know as even an average defender but offensively Calderon was a great playmaker. Calderon is the team’s all time leader in assists with more than twice as many as the next player. Calderon averaged 10 points and 7.2 assists a game.

Alvin Williams

The long time point guard maybe one of the least gifted athletes on this list but his consistent hard work and determination paid off. Williams will be remembered for hitting the game winning shot that sent the Raptors to the second round of the playoffs for the only time in franchise history. Williams played in 417 games for the Raptors

Morris Peterson

The Raptors all-time leader in games played is also the teams 5th highest score. Peterson averaged 12 points a game and played good defence. A good rotation player for the Raptors.

Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani maybe one of the least liked players in Raptors history. Bargnani was bashed for his perceived soft play and poor defence. But the Italian first overall draft pick could score. Bargnani averaged over 15 points a game, but was eventually run out of town by the fans.

Amir Johnson

In one of the greatest trades in Raptors history, the Raptors acquired Johnson and Sonny Weems for Carlos Delfino and Ruko Ukic (essentially 3 second round picks for Johnson). Amir came on when Bosh was hurt his final season in Toronto. Johnson will be remember as the last high school player drafted and has given the Raptors one of the franchise’s best defensive players. Johnson has played in 381 games for the Raptors.

Tracy McGrady

Although, McGrady wouldn’t become a dynamic scorer until he left the Raptors for the Magic, McGrady still had an impact in franchise history. In 191 games, McGrady averaged 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in just under 25 minutes a game. The idea that the Raptors could have teamed cousins McGrady and Carter together during their primes will be one of the great what ifs in franchise history.

Doug Christie

The Raptors all-time leader in steals was one of the NBA’s well regarded defenders while with the Raptors. Christie played 314 games averaging under 35 minutes a game with a stat line of 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Charles Oakley

Oakley was traded to the Raptors for Marcus Camby. The veteran Oakley instantly brought a mean and nasty attitude to the Raptors. Oakley is often noted for improving the Raptors defence when they first made the playoffs. In 208 games Oakley averaged nearly 8 points and rebounds a game.

Anthony Parker

Parker was a former first round pick who flamed out of the NBA in his first stint. Parker found a second life in Israel winning league MVP, before signing with the Raptors. Parker was a solid defensive player and a good shooter from 3. In 235 games, Parker averaged almost 12 points a game.