January 25, 2010

Toronto's Lost Decade

I'm well aware that Toronto has moved seamlessly into its next decade of sporting futility. But, one last time, we look back ...

We start with the Toronto Maple Leafs:

The playoffs have remained elusive for the Toronto Maple Leafs post lockout. Only the esteemed Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings (thanks commenter Geoff) share the same sad story. Yet the Leafs were still Toronto's best team over the past 10 years. Hard to believe, I know, considering the club played the second half of the decade without NHL-calibre goaltending. It makes me appreciate how impressive the early teams of the decade under Pat Quinn were and, at the same time, long for the next Mats Sundin.

Next, the Toronto Blue Jays:

For those of you unfamiliar with Bill James' Pythagorean Theorem as it relates to baseball, here are you, from Baseball Prospectus:

The Pythagorean theorem, as James called it, was a formula designed to relate how many runs a team scored and allowed to its won-lost record. The most common way to express it is

Winning Pct = WPct = RS^2 / RS^2 + RA^2

where RS = runs scored, RA = runs allowed, and ^ means "raised to the power of", in this case, 2. It was the "raised to the power of 2" parts that reminded James of geometry's Pythagorean theorem (a^2 = b^2 + c^2), hence the bestowment of an unwieldy name.

Have a look at the Blue Jays spreadsheet once again. Eight of the 10 Blue Jays teams had a better Pythagorean record than actual record. I know, it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but, well ... fuck. When your team hasn't made the playoffs in 17 years, this is what you hang your hat on.

The 2005 Blue Jays were much better than an 80-win ball club. The 2008 Blue Jays, according to James' theory, should have won 93 games. Alas, even 93 wins wouldn't have been enough to qualify for the post-season. I'm not sure when, why, or how, but the Blue Jays have clearly angered the baseball Gods. And I'm not sure when they'll stop paying their price.

We have suffered enough. When I think of J.P. Ricciardi's tenure at the helm of the Blue Jays, I'll think of his Pythagorean record. It's easier that way. (Miss you, J.P.)

Finally, the Toronto Raptors:

It was all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows at the turn of the decade. An expansion team was growing up. Until Vince Carter turned out to be a rat. As you can see in the spreadsheet, it all fell apart rather gloriously once Carter's pouting began. The Rob Babcock years, culminated with the Carter trade, were the Raptors' darkest hours.

Carter's departure paved the road for Chris Bosh. I like to think that if Bosh does indeed stick around, and Andrea Bargnani continues to mature, the Raptors can put together a winning decade. Of course, Bosh's future remains the $130 million dollar question. If he leaves, this decade may be a long one.

Oh yeah, Toronto FC:

A full season of Dwayne De Rosario and Julian De Guzman should result in a playoff berth for TFC. But this is Toronto and, according to the spreadsheet, the club will likely miss the playoffs by two bloody points.

The Toronto Argos; how could I forget?

If you were expecting a spreadsheet, you have lost your damn mind. The Boatmen won a Grey Cup. I think it was 2004. I'm sure you remember exactly where you were when it happened.

That's it, that's all. Onward and, for the love of God, upward. Here's the to the next 10 years being a little more, shall we say, prosperous.

Image courtesy This Isn't Happiness


Escaped Lab Rat said...

Good, albeit damn depressing, research. I wonder: who's closest to winning in the next decade? Feels like if that's to be the case, the key players have yet to establish themselves.

William said...

What a cool post. Those spreadsheets were awesome. Wish I could do that as I am a spreadsheet wiz. My problem seems to be not understanding blogger as well as you. So kudos on coolness.

Johnny G said...

Man I miss the Playoffs....

Steve G. said...

I definitely agree with William - I love the use of the spreadsheets! Interesting stuff, even if it wasn't the greatest decade for Toronto. But hey, it could be worse - At least you're not Winnipeg.

PPP said...

Julian De Guzman :) His brother is a twat.

Also, how come when I make the "Year 8 of JP's 5 Year Plan' I get yelled at.

Pythagorean numbers are just a way to lament the randomness of sports.

Also, in 2004 when the Boatmen won the Grey Cup I was at my buddy's place celebrating in front of our BC brethren and telling them what kind of beer I wanted to commemorate the victory.

Respect the oldest and most successful professional team in Toronto.

Michael said...

You forgot the argos...hahahaha

Geoff said...

Kings have also missed the playoffs every season post-lockout, although hopefully that changes this year.

Even with the goofy OTL point, I think the Leafs still finished well above 0.500 for the decade.

Anyway, no love for the most successful team of the decade... the Toronto Rock. And I think I'm only partially kidding.

eyebleaf said...

@ Escaped: It can't possibly be the Leafs, unless they go on a tear in the latter half of the decade (let's hope so). It looks like the early years of the decade will be tough on the Jays, too. If Bosh stays, it's the Raps, I think. If not, it will be a fight to the finish.

@ William: It's all Google Docs. The sheet is dropped in the post via html code, like dropping a YouTube video into a post. Very simple.

@ JohnnyG: The "I miss the God damn playoffs" label is the most used one on the site.

@ Steve G: It would always be worse, absolutely. And I'm grateful I don't live in Winnipeg. (Sorry Ack.)

@ PPP: Thanks mate, I got the brothers confused. As a JP apologist, I am allowed to make fun of him. You are not. When it comes to the Jays, I love Pythagorean numbers. Are you actually a CFL fan? I tried to respect the Argos. I didn't work out.

@ Michael: I didn't.

@ Geoff: Thanks, it turns out the Coyotes haven't made the dance either. I need to fact-check, Jesus. Yeah, no love for the Rock over here. I'm sorry. If I don't pay attention to the Argos, I can't pay attention to the Rock.

Mattt said...

Toronto also has a pro field lacrosse team apparently. Where's the spreadsheet for that team who's name I don't know...?

Anonymous said...

What about the Argos? Did you forget about them? Didn't they have a great decade? (aside from the last 8 years) :)

Chris said...

I blame the Leafs' problems on the damn salary cap.

And I blame the Jays' problems on J.P. not being Billy Beane, even though he seemed to think he was.

Lee(tch) said...

The Argos won a Grey Cup?? For real? In 2004? Damn. Seriously, I don't remember where I was or that it even happened.

Great read and some funny shit. You make me laugh dude. Cheers!

Oh and, the Raptors will suck for another decade because now we have a guy named Hedo who's gonna eat up half that decade with his not-tradeable contract.

Junior said...

Eye, quality stuff but if you're going to be publishing a collection of numbers like this in one place, you really should set up some sort of gateway page where in order to gain access, people need to certify that they haven't engaged in any suicidal ideation over the last 12 months. It's all about the liability, man.

Keep on keeping on.

eyebleaf said...

@ Mattt: I think you illustrated your own point there.

@ Anonymous: The Argos were the only team to bring home a title during the "lost decade." I think that makes it even worse.

@ Chris: When there was no salary cap, the Leafs spent, baby!!1 And they were a solid team. In the cap world, it's been a mess. Interesting point. As for J.P., fugheddabout Billy Beane. The Jays' problems stem from playing in baseball's toughest division, being spent into the ground by the teams in that toughest division, and baseball's unbalanced schedule. The perfect storm, so to speak.

@ Lee(tch): I think it was the Damon Allen led 2004 Argos that won the title. But I'm not sure, and don't care enough to check. As for Hedo, he's only here for the first half of the decade. But I think he'll turn it around.

@ Junior: Right you are, my man. In retrospect, I could have at least told people to make a drink, or crack a beer, before they read the post. Cheers, mate.

bkblades said...

PPP is too modest with the Argos. They are the oldest professional franchise in North America, son. Respect the blue.

And eye, thanks for a handy chart of Toronto's lost decade. I'll print it out and look at it whenever I get too high when either team wins. I'm afraid it'll get dusty soon, however.