2017 The Failures

on December 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

As we approach the end of the 2017 calendar year, I thought it might be fun and/or sad to go over some of the highlights as well as the disappointments that occurred over the year. It isn’t based on a specific sport or solely based on the local GTA scene, instead I went on a scientific mission, analyzed all the relevant data and come up with the top three stories that made me either jump out of my seat in sheer ecstacy or had me cursing at the TV in utter frustration and bewilderment.

Someone always said leave the best for last, so we shall leave the highlights for the next article. On this post we will concentrate on the stories that left that sinking feeling at the bottom of your stomach like those 5 day old pizza slices you knew at the time you shouldn’t have eaten but did anyways. There was a ton of disappointments as there always is like Roger Goodell, LaVar Ball and you have to include the Cleveland Browns and their quest for immortality as an 0-16 team. Tough call on that last one as although we are used to failure from the Browns, I am still kind of surprised that they would be “that good” at failure. Stay tuned this weekend to see if the Browns can be “perfect” losers. For now though, I’ll start with the three things that got my knickers in a knot this year. The bias of the NBA Refs and officials, followed by the arrogance of the Italian Soccer Federation and then the clueless management of the Toronto Blue Jays.

No Respect

From a fan and follower since day 1 in 1995, the Toronto Raptors have not been given any break. Their entry in the league with the ridiculous draft regulations prevented the team from getting any traction to begin with. As the years progressed, we knew that Toronto would not get any of the key dates for games or even a favourable nod or two from the referees. For the longest time it was widely believed that good players and good teams get the calls and for the longest time, the Raptors were not a good team. But after multiple 50 win seasons, after 5 playoff rounds in the last couple of years and after multiple All-Star nods for DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, this was the year where they have been good enough. They have proven themselves repeatedly and yet… the referees and officials are still blind to it all.

There are too many instances to mention but the one that sticks out from a player perspective was when Lance Stephenson from the Indiana Pacers twice mugged DeRozan and the referees looked away in fear of calling anything. The other instant comes from the league when the Raptors were completely ignored for any of the primetime Christmas Day games. Instead they chose the Los Angeles Lakers (.344 winning percentage), the New York Knicks (.515) and the Philadelphia 76ers (.455) ahead of the Raptors. I mean, if you really want to get picky, only 2 out of the ten teams that played (Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets) have a better winning percentage. The Raptors keep getting disrespected by the league and the refs and it’s about time the NBA gets called out on it.

The Arrogance

Most people saw it coming a mile away and yet as that final whistle blew, I was still stunned in silence as Italy would not be competing in the 2018 World Cup. The silence didn’t last long however as I unleashed a cacophony of insults and swear words at the TV. Thankfully my children weren’t at home. As upset as I was, I have nothing on Anthony Totera…

Italy bowed out of the final qualifying stage because either the coach or federation decided that getting players to play a certain system was more important than finding a system that fit your best players. Despite a string of poor performances that led to the home-and-home matchup with Sweden, those stubborn dolts still felt in their infinite wisdom to continue with a system that was failing. Now they and every Azzurri fan (including this one) has to bear the shame of that arrogance for a long time to come.

Pick a Direction

The Toronto Blue Jays were on an incredible run (for Toronto fans anyway) having made the playoffs two years in a row. The 2017 season yielded the same expectation but as each one of the 162 games ended, the reality of how poor of a team this was sank in. As disappointing as it was, and trust me it was disappointing, the Blue Jays were extremely lucky that the city had Toronto FC, the Toronto Argonauts and the Toronto Wolfpack to keep them distracted during the summer. If those winning, championship teams were not around, Jays management would have felt the ire of the Jays fans even more.

Now Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins aren’t entirely to blame as they are not the ones that got injured or played poorly on the field. But how they handled last offseason, and so far this offseason, has been also hugely disappointing. Going into last year they needed to get younger and faster. So they brought back an aging Jose Bautista and swapped veteran Edwin Encarnacion for veteran Kendricks Morales. In essence, not younger and not faster. They did save some money which I am sure made Rogers very, very happy. The fans… not so much.

This year has been quiet on the trade and signing front and Atkins says they are looking to rebound and not rebuild. Yet, there are still teams interested in Josh Donaldson and a trade is potential as well as they still didn’t get an outfielder and oh yes, they still need to get younger and faster. The 2017 campaign is one that fans and management would like to forget, but with no sense of direction, it seems we might be destined to repeat it over and over again. Let’s hope we have more distractions in the summer of 2018 because it looks like we’ll need them.

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