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Let's hug it out, Toronto

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  May 3, 2013 10:04 AM

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New Yorkers and Torontonians need some love.

Itís hard to say in which city youíll find Boston wedged deeper into the sports psyches of the general public. In New York, Knicks fans are fraught with angst over the very real possibility that their basketball team could become the first in NBA history to blow a 3-0 playoff series lead to the Celtics, only nine years after the Red Sox dismissed the Yankees in a similarly embarrassing fashion in the ALCS. North of the border, Torontoís baseball team has started the season as an overhyped, rebuilt, disaster. The Blue Jays are dwindling in last place in the AL East, already 10 Ĺ games behind the 20-8 Red Sox (on a 116-win pace, by the way), while the teamís broadcasters sling accusations that Clay Buchholzís success this season must come down to Crisco.

If thatís the case, get R.A. Dickey a jar, stat. The Jays pitching staff, which possesses the 28th-best ERA in baseball, could use a Costco membership for all the lard theyíll need to turn things around.

But while New York could be in some serious need of comfort by Sunday, following a potential Game 7, Toronto is just a bit needier right now and in need of comfort and protection from the meanies from Boston. Itís been a tough week, after all; the Sox demoralized the Jays by taking two of three from John Gibbonsí crew in front of about 14 fans each night at the former SkyDome, and also had to witness the Maple Leafs, in their first NHL playoffs since 2004, get overwhelmed in Game 1 against the Bruins, 4-1 winners Wednesday night.

The young pup Leafs may have proven that they simply arenít ready for prime time. Phil Kessel was reportedly in the Toronto lineup Wednesday, though nobody would have known it. James Reimer, fooled by black seats and blue butts, looked every bit the goalie making his first playoff spot that the Bruins couldnít manage to prove a year ago against the Capitalsí Braden Holtby. And the next puck the Maple Leafs manage to get out of their own zone will probably result in a parade down University Avenue.

The Red Sox do not return to Toronto until August, and who knows what might happen by then. Josh Beckett may even have a win over there in Los Angeles. But the Bruins-Leafs series shifts to Hogtown come next week, when the Bruins can attempt to wrap things up in four should they win Saturday night in Boston and Monday night on the road. Thatís not to get ahead of ourselves at any stretch of the imagination, of course, but merely a reflection of the way that woe-is-me Toronto fans are probably visualizing things playing out.

Itís OK, Toronto. Youíre a fine city and all, but we canít help that John Farrell would rather hone his baseball craft here than there. Itís not exactly our fault that Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton should be yours. We gave you two years of Roger Clemens while you re-paid the favor with two-plus maddening months of Tomas Kaberle. Weíre cool, right?

The Maple Leafs havenít won a Stanley Cup since 1967, the Blue Jays havenít seen the World Series trophy since Joe Carter went deep, and the Toronto RaptorsÖwait, they still exist? Then again, the Argonauts are Grey Cup champions, so thereís that. The feeling must be kind of like when the Cannons won their title, I suppose. Kinda neat-o.

Itís been a tough run for Toronto, and Boston isnít making it any easier of late. For that, weíre sorry.

Then again, itís not like weíre just floating by either. Andrew Ference is now suspended for Game 2, and Buchholz has to now prove to the rest of the baseball world that heís not cheating, thanks to the accusations of a borderline pitcher/author and a once-again Hall of Fame denial. Youíll still want to root for Boston Friday night though. If the Celtics can pull this off, New York is really going to need a hug.

So, sorry that weíre in your heads. Again.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.


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