To bring this back to the Raptors, making the walk from the building I will always call Skydome toward the ACC, it got me thinking of what an opportunity has been lost for the Raptors. One of the Leafs was in attendance at the Jays game and he was introduced to the crowd to a loud boo. Take that in contrast to the loud cheer from the smaller crowd at the Raptors game for Ricky Romero. The point is that Leafs are in rough shape and Toronto sports fans are desperate for a winner. MLSE has not provided that in hockey, basketball and soccer. The Jays owned by soon to be part owner of MLSE Rogers, have provided a buzz of excitement and optimism surrounding the team they own.
This would have really been a chance for the Raptors to make up some ground on the giant that owns the city that is the Maple Leafs. Instead it would appear that the Jays have taken that ball and are starting to run with it. While the Raptors are optimistic for their future as well, the Jays have much more to be optimistic about. The Raptors have Jonas and whatever comes out of the draft to add to the mix next year. The Jays have a minor league system full of exciting prospects that people are high on. Obviously baseball is different and you get a chance to have more opportunities to develop players. If Jonas was a baseball player it is likely you wouldn't see him for not just this year but a view more years.
That really is off the topic somewhat, but the real point I am making is the Leafs franchise has never been in a more weak a fragile state since perhaps the days of Harold Ballard owning them. There was no basketball team back then, trying to compete for attention, but there is now. The Raptors may not get their act together in time if they do at all as it seems clear that Toronto is on verge of going back to the days of the early 90's when the Jays were the biggest thing in town. If you are not old enough to remember those days it was quite amazing. The Jays would fill Skydome on a nightly basis and have crowds pushing 50,000 every night. They are still a long way from that now but they are creating a buzz and the Raptors have absolutely no buzz at all right now.
In terms of the game last night if I was ever to be inclined to feel sorry for Jose Calderon it might be now. I mean to get cut open for a second time in a game that ultimately means little to your season already being eliminated from the post season. This in the face of your supposed star Andrea Bargnani out for a 3rd time with the same calf injury. I would bet we might see Jose back this year but I would also bet we have seen the last of Bargnani. I will say this for Calderon he does do his best to play through things and try and compete. He was at the Blue Jays game the night before and threw out the first pitch. Trying to get the rub of that Jays Magic to come over to the Raptors. It obviously didn't work.
The game itself aside from more injures to Calderon and Kleiza pretty much went as you might expect. A desperate Philly team that had been embarrassed at the hands of the Raptors a week earlier was not going to have it happen a second time. The Raptors did a good job trying to hang around for a half but the Sixers came out guns a blazing in the final quarter against an undermanned Raptors squad.
The focus seems to be towards the coming off-season now and Dwane Casey gets his first chance to guide his players through an off-season something he was not afforded with the NBA Lockout this past summer. Given the excellent job Casey has done you wonder how much it could have had an impact. Ed Davis as an example finally seems to be turning a corner. He himself based on the Lockout and injury has yet to have a full NBA off-season and training camp to improve. This year if he stays healthy for the last 7 games and throughout the summer, he should finally have that chance. I had a chance to talk with Demar DeRozan and he is looking forward to a more normal off-season and plans on spending more time in Toronto during it. You can hear all of that in an interview we did, that should be up later today or tomorrow.
I have one more game that I will be covering this season (In Person) the last one vs the New Jersey Nets on the 26th. For many Raptor fans that game can not get here soon enough. In a season that has been shorter it has seemed so much longer. It sure doesn't seem like the Raptors are better than they were last year. However they in fact have made a minor improvement in winning % and major improvement on D.
Still losing year after year can be rough. Just ask a Leaf fan if you happen not to be one. They know all about it.