Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sports Talk for a Sunday

With the TTC strike mercifully over, I feel it time to turn my attention to less politically charged topics. So, as is my wont, APL is turned over to sports talk tonight.

I know the country is in the middle of playoff fever. This Leafs fan though has turned his attention to greener pastures. Specifically, the exploits of Canada's Major League Soccer team (until MLS smartens up and expands to Montreal), Toronto FC. I've had the pleasure of attending TFC's two opening home matches against Real Salt Lake and Kansas City. The team is greatly improved and much more entertaining. The fans are as boisterous as they were last year. The Reds are the most fun team to watch in the city these days. Also, the only ones winning. Can I jump on the fire J.P. Ricciardi bandwagon?

There has been a lot of talk about how good an ownership group Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is. Here's how I see it. MLSE wants to make money. In sports, you make money by being successful. Therefore MLSE wants to be successful. I don't buy that MLSE doesn't want a Stanley Cup. Bullshit. The problem is they want a Stanley Cup and they think that they should pick the team that wins it. The problem with the Leafs is the interference that the boardroom runs in the selection of GM's, coaches and players. The problem is that the owners are fans of the Leafs. The other properties don't suffer this problem and have shown some success under their reign. The Raptors, while unimpressive for the last couple of months, have done a good job under Brian Colangelo bringing in talent. The team may not be championship caliber right now but they have a lot of pieces and are still pretty young. Toronto FC is in its second season and should be assessed accordingly. However, there is no proof that MLSE is at fault. Much like in basketball and hockey they have shown a willingness to spend to the cap in order to compete. The manager, Mo Johnston, has drafted and traded well and now that he has brought in a real coach, his moves are paying dividends. Ownership groups should be willing to do two things: spend money and hire people who know their sport to run their teams. With the exception of the interference with the Leafs noted above, MLSE has done that.

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