When Your Team Loses, Big Time

team loses

We all want our team to win. It can be heartbreaking when they lose. Wouldn’t it be great if the Blue Jays went 162-0 in 2018? Imagine if the Raptors won all 82 games they played? Okay, that’s not going to happen, but we all want our team to win as many games as possible. Your team will lose sometimes. But it’s just pathetic when your team loses badly, by many runs, points or goals.

That happened to my team yesterday. I love the Carolina Hurricanes. I have a personal connection with this team going back to the early days in my career, and I always want them to win. They went all the way in 2006, but winning has been a bit of a challenge for this team since then.

So the Hurricanes lose more often than they win over the last few years (though they do still have a winning record this season). I don’t like that, but I have accepted it. When they lose 4-2 or 2-1 or even 3-0 it’s rough. But they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday by a score of 8-1.  The Canes were down 2-0 with less than six minutes played in the game. And by the end of the first period the hole was even deeper, down 4-1.

And this wasn’t just any game. They played the Maple Leafs, in Toronto, on the 100th anniversary of this storied Canadian hockey franchise. As the disastrous third period unfolded (two goals scored six seconds apart, really?!), I tried to remind my Leaf-loving son that at least MY team won the Stanley Cup this century and not 50 years ago. He shrugged it off and laughed, as the Leafs scored yet again.

When your team loses that badly it’s just embarrassing. You try to find something positive in the game, and you come up empty. All I could think of was that at least the Hurricanes weren’t shut out. Isn’t an 8-1 loss so much better than an 8-0 loss?

I tried to explain this after the game to my Leaf-loving son who ran around the house in celebration, both of the massive win and 100th anniversary of his beloved team. He laughed at me again. He doesn’t know about the many long, sad years when Leaf fans saw their team lose again and again. But I wasn’t a fan of the Leafs. I was – and am – a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Okay, so my team lost, big time. But they will recover, and they will get ‘em next time. Go Canes Go!

My Team MUST Win

team must win

I want my team to win. I always want my team to win. Why is it MY team? Am I part owner? No. Do I work for my team? No. Did my spouse, father, brother, cousin, friend or next door neighbour ever play for my team? Definitely not. But as I watch my team play, I sit on the edge of my seat and have that feeling deep within that my team must win.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. The love a person has for a sports franchise. Usually (not always) it’s because a person is a homer, meaning the person is a fan of the local sports club. What is a fan? Well, the word originates from the term fanatic. I did a search using my good friend Google and chuckled when I read the definition of the word fanatic. It is a “person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause” or a “person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for something, especially an activity.”

For many people sports is a religion. For some people their passion for a sport crosses political boundaries. Their love of not only a particular game but of their team is true fanaticism.

Go to any live sporting event between two teams, and the fans for each team are quite clear. Some people wear a cap or jersey, while other people paint their bodies and dress head to toe in the team’s colours. Popular or legendary sports franchises like the New York Yankees, Toronto Maple Leafs, Manchester United, Dallas Cowboys or LA Lakers probably make more money off the sale of merchandise than they do from ticket sales.

I will admit that for the most part I am a homer. Carolina Hurricanes aside (yes they are clearly my team), I am a fan of the hometown team. I love my Blue Jays and Raptors. I have a Toronto FC shirt and you can bet I’m cheering on the Argonauts during this year’s playoff run. Okay, I even tolerate the Maple Leafs. Maybe it’s pride for my city or a warm feeling I have that I am part of a community when I cheer on the local sports franchise.

I cheer on my team whether it’s the best team in the league or one of the basement dwellers. I stick with my team through thick and thin. Each game, if my team is down by 7 runs or 23 points, in my head I say to myself, my team must win.

A true sports fan isn’t always straight in the head. As long as there are only two outs in the inning or a few seconds left in the period, the dream stays alive that my team can win.

And sometimes it happens. If you are a Blue Jays fan, you will remember Sunday, July 30th, 2017. The Jays were down 10-4 going into the bottom of the 9th. They quickly scored a few runs then Steve Pearce came to the plate with the bases loaded and his team down 10-7. And he hit a grand slam. The Jays beat the Angels 11-10, and that win became the biggest 9th inning comeback in the team’s history. For a fan like me, who watched it all unfold, the words running through my head, my team must win, came true.

My son, Matthew, was the inspiration for today’s post while he squealed with delight after his beloved Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins this past weekend in overtime. JVR scored the tying goal with one minute left in the third period. Then Marleau scored the winning goal for the Leafs in overtime. Matthew focused all his energy on ensuring his team would win. And they did.

A sports fan will never change. If you love your team, you love that team with all your heart. I think that’s great. Sports fans, please never change.

I love when the Carolina Hurricanes Visit Toronto

Hurricanes

Last night was a great night, and I mean a really great night. Why? It’s because not only did the Carolina Hurricanes play the Maple Leafs in Toronto, but they beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto. And my Hurricanes didn’t just win, they won handily, 6-3. This brings me great joy.

It’s been a busy week and I did not have a chance to write a post on Sports Wednesday. I had intended to write about my annual World Series fever, but that will have to wait until next Wednesday. So instead there is a special Sports Friday post as I revel in the Hurricanes win over the Leafs.

As I wrote about back in June, I have been a Hurricanes fan since 2001. During the 2001-2002 season the team made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final only to lose to the Detroit Red Wings in 5 games. It just wasn’t their time yet. But I learned what a first-class organization the Hurricanes were and became a fan for life.

The following season I was laughed at. People made fun of me. They heckled me as I kept my promise to be a big fan, even when the Hurricanes finished in the basement. They fought their way back, and my excitement culminated in June 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.

But I have to say that one of the highs for me goes back to the Hurricanes’ amazing 2002 playoff run during the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I proudly cheered on my Canes, when I watched the game at home with friends or in very public spaces. One of my friends who was – and still is – a Maple Leafs super fan – made fun of me and dared me to keep cheering on the “enemy” in the middle of Toronto. Who won that series? The Hurricanes.

My teams has had its ups and downs since the famous 2005-2006 season, but I have always been loyal. I tried so hard to convince my son Matthew to follow in my footsteps and be a Hurricanes fan, but he refuses. This Toronto boy has joined Leaf Nation, with all the disappointment that goes with it.

So, when the Hurricanes come to town it’s always a ruckus and wild night in our house. I loudly cheer on my team and Matthew tries his best to make me be quiet. That was impossible last night, as my team went up by a score of 2-0 less than three minutes into the first period. It just got better from there, ending in the big win, 6-3 over the Leafs. Great game.

Even the Leafs coach, Mike Babcock agreed, when he stated about the Canes at his post-game press conference, “They deserved to win. We didn’t deserve to win.” You got it, Mike. I love when the Hurricanes win, especially in Toronto.

Why I am a Fan of the Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes

 

It’s time for sports Wednesday! My son told me that Wednesday is the only day of the week he reads my blog because all he cares about is sports. Today I am going to share my story about why I love the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Carolina Hurricanes.

How could someone from Toronto, with no connection to Raleigh-Durham or any part of North Carolina, be a fan of the hockey team that plays there?  It’s simple – they’re good people.

My personal connection to the Canes goes back to the fall of 2001, when I worked as a producer in my first job at the Team 1050 sports radio station. I was young, inexperienced and had few connections in the industry. I did not produce my own show as I was more of a floater, producing the evening and weekend shows and filling in for producers during the day. I didn’t have a black book full of phone numbers of players, coaches and management in sports. I want to thank my colleagues at that radio station once again for giving me names and phone numbers so that I could build my own black book.

By late in the fall I started to produce a regular Saturday hockey talk radio show and found it challenging to book players, coaches and management from Canadian hockey clubs. Every journalist wanted to interview them. But I had to fill my show. So, I looked south of the border and decided to contact hockey personalities in American markets where hockey was not so popular.

That’s when I found the Carolina Hurricanes.  This team was having a good but not great season and somehow, I felt they were going somewhere. And nobody noticed them or gave them really any attention. I contacted the team’s public relations department and asked if the captain, Ron Francis, could be on my show. They were thrilled to help me out and Ron was booked.

That Saturday Ron Francis was the featured interview on the show. He was knowledgeable, polite, friendly and really everything a great guest should be on a radio show. I had a chance to speak with him after the interview, and he actually thanked me for booking him! He told me that they don’t get too many interview requests in Carolina and that he and other players would be happy to come on my show again.

For the rest of the NHL season I regularly booked various people connected with the Carolina Hurricanes on my hockey show and other shows, and I saw for myself that this was a first-class organization. When they won their division and made the playoffs I was excited to keep the relationship going and to continue to feature them on my shows.

Because of my loyalty to the Canes all season the public relations staff thanked me by giving me great access to interviews during the team’s incredible playoff run.  I remember that I got one of the first interviews with their General Manager, Jim Rutherford, when they won the first round of the playoffs. Even though it was 15 years ago I clearly remember our conversation after his on-air interview. He told me that he appreciated my support for the Canes all season and that I would get some of the first interviews with him, the head coach Paul Maurice and the various players each time they advanced to the next round.

At that moment I knew I had become a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes and I told Jim as much. I told him they were going to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and that I would be there to support them all the way. They didn’t win the Stanley Cup that year, but they did make it to the Finals! Jim Rutherford, Paul Maurice, Ron Francis and so many of the team’s players were guests on my shows during that incredible playoff run. I told them all that because of them I had become a fan for life of the Carolina Hurricanes.

I can’t even begin to explain the excitement I felt a few years later, in 2006, when my Canes actually WON the Stanley Cup. I wasn’t working in sports media anymore, but it didn’t stop me from cheering my team on and wearing my Carolina Hurricanes baseball cap proudly.

 

I will always be a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes and the players, coaches and management associated with the team during the 2001-02 season. Thank you to all of them for making my time as a hockey producer so memorable.