Over the past few months I have been in awe by the sports fans in this city and how they support their teams. I knew this city had passionate fans. I remember how crowded Maple Leaf Gardens was despite how woeful the teams were. The sell-out crowds at the Skydome back in the early 90s. I remember the flying seat cushions at BMO field when Danny Dichio scored the first ever Toronto FC goal. There were times though that the passion of these fans were mis-guided. That of course is my own opinion but I felt ashamed the way they treated some of those athletes. Larry Murphy was treated like a mule because he could not achieve the same success he had in Pittsburgh. Hello? Maybe it was because he didn’t have someone like Mario Lemieux on the power play. Getting a little closer to present day we have the Dion Phaneuf saga and the one that embarrassed me the most was how it treated Vince Carter. The fans have since come around and it was nice to see their acceptance of him, but that hatred went on for far too long.
Passion has never been an issue for the fans in this city and as the city has grown, it has been nice to see the fans mature with it. They are not just being loud; they are being loud with purpose. The energy they create is felt by the players and by those watching from home. Now I could go on and sing the praises of those fans at Rogers Centre or the ACC or BMO field, but that’s too easy. There are too many other cities that also have good crowd attendance that support their teams and give them a true home court, home ice, home field advantage. But no one, no one out there in any sport in North America has fans that travels as well as the fans from Toronto do. Toronto fans are so damn good, that they make opposing venues feel like home turf. This past week was another prime example of how Toronto supporters do that little extra for their team.
— Joy Malbon (@JoyCTV) September 30, 2015
The Blue Jays entered a critical set of games this week as they visited Baltimore before heading to unfriendly Tampa Bay and then the Bronx Zoo. Now let me set the stage for you. Baltimore was 3 games behind the Jays in the AL East and still hanging on to the last playoff spot. So this is currently a playoff team facing another playoff team in the last days of August. Someone please then explain to me how the Orioles only manage 15,000 fans to a game of this magnitude? In the three game series they had just a little more than what the Blue Jays would get for one game. The worst part about Baltimore’s attendance is that it would have been a lot worse if all those Blue Jay fans didn’t show up. Not only did they show up, but they were loud too, especially for the former and now newest Blue Jay, Dioneer Navarro. Those who attended remember gave him a standing ovation… and get this… it came during batting practice well before the game! Navarro commented afterwards how much he loved that warm reception and how welcome and comfortable he already feels. It was fantastic to see him get two hits on his debut and even ran from first to home on a Devon Travis hit.
The Blue Jay fans weren’t the first in this city to travel well. The Toronto Maple Leafs always had fans (Western Canada is an example) where ex-Torontonians show up in droves still wearing their Leaf jerseys. Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been much for them cheer about. TFC have busloads of fans going to games and a number of them were even detained and unjustifiably arrested during one trip simply because security had no idea of what to do with such a large gathering of opposing fans. Basketball though is where this passion has peaked. As much as I have had a bone to pick with Raptor fans in the past, they are simply spectacular in how they support their team on the road and at home. They have gone into many places, including Quicken Loans Arena where the NBA Champions Cleveland Cavaliers play and have been twice as load as the home fans were. Finally, above and beyond that passion is their maturity. They could have easily booed them off the court when they lost in six games in the Eastern Conference Final or they could have politely clapped for a wonderful season that had just come to an end. Instead, they shouted from the tops of their lungs to make sure that the players realize just how much they appreciate all the hard work they put into this winning season. Good on you Toronto… good on you.
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