As a little boy, it was a dream of mine to sit in the rafters at the ACC or Rogers Centre and hear myself cry out in pure bliss and joy. A dream to look on and celebrate as the Raptors raise the Jim O'Brien Championship trophy high over their heads, or the Maple Leafs skate around the rink ecstatically as they celebrate winning the Stanley Cup. A dream to roam the streets of downtown Toronto with hundreds of thousands other Torontonians, as one of our teams basks in the glory of their championship parade. However, that's all it has ever been for 17 long years: a dream.
Would it be absurd to say that my city is under some sort of curse right now? It is justifiable in my opinion to say that we certainly are. We are a city that bathes in hope and the thought that "Next year is our year," but that is just a way to cope with what we already know is inevitable: we will end up losing. The results have been the same since the last time we won back in '93 when the Blue Jays captured their second straight World Series title. Ever since, we have been as miserable as the unfortunate city of Cleveland, Ohio, which hasn't won any major sports championship since 1964. 1964! OK, maybe we aren't that pathetic, but still, something has to give.
Let's take a quick look back at the performance of Toronto's sports franchises over the last 20 years. The Toronto Maple Leafs are perhaps the best example of all our failures, as they truly epitomize losing. Even as a small 7-year-old boy full of optimism, I was let down by the Leafs. Stanley Cup-less since 1967, the Leafs are currently mired in the two greatest droughts of their long and storied history, a seven year playoff drought, and a 44-year Stanley Cup drought (both are currently the longest in the entire NHL). On to the Raptors, who are a regular laughingstock of the National Basketball Association. The Raptors have made the playoffs only five times in their seventeen seasons. Even worse, out of those five playoff appearances, they have won exactly once. Next, consider the Toronto Blue Jays, our last great champion team. The Blue Jays apparently decided that it was appropriate to take a break after winning the last of their two World Series titles, a 19-year break in fact. Yes, it has been 19 depressing years for the Jays, who have not returned back to the postseason in that span. Finally, there is our newest and most confounding sports franchise, the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. Currently FC ranks last out of nineteen teams in the MLS, and has suffered through separate nine and twelve game losing streaks. Purely disgraceful.
So how is it that a city that is so economically upright can be so pathetic in terms of sports franchises? One would expect Toronto's teams to be booming, just as our rich and stunning city often seems to be. There are possible explanations for our losing ways, but at the end of the day they are all difficult to comprehend. We could place blame on the multiple front offices that run our franchises into the ground, or we could throw stones at the numerous American athletes who abandon us because they don't enjoy it here. The fact that we fans can throw blame around so freely and so endlessly is a definite sign of how horrific the situation has become. We are in a never-ending downward spiral, one that makes us question our faith and what we believe in.
We may be a cursed city, but we surely are not defeated. In the midst of all this losing, there is still constant optimism and endless amounts of hope. Good things could be on the horizon, what with the Raptors in fluxing a great deal of youth and young talent, and the Blue Jays doing just the same. The sad thing though, is that good things always seem to be on the horizon. When will Torontonians be able to wake up and call themselves winners? When will our dreams of winning become actuality? Maybe tomorrow, maybe never. For now, all our cursed city has is hope.