"This town ain't big, this town ain't small, it's a little of both they say.
Our ball club may be minor league, but at least it's triple A"
It's nearly April, the time of year when beleaguered Leafs fans take a ninety degree turn and devote their full attention to that other Toronto franchise, the once mighty Blue Jays. After the Jays shake off the cobwebs down in Dunedin, in front of geriatric snowbirds, the legions of the faithful will dutifully flock to Toronto's temple of sport, the Stadium Formerly known as the Skydome.
Torontonians of all races, ethnicity and socio-economic status will no doubt have a glimmer of hope in their collective eyes, as once again the Jays take to the turf for yet another chance at the coveted AL East, and dare I say, October baseball. Toronto was once the Rome of the baseball world, and the back to back World Series titles proved Canada was no AAA training ground for the proper American teams. We had real pride in our team and 50,000 devoted worshippers to fill the temple. The city now has Blue Jays way, and a good story to tell ourselves on those cold winter nights when the Leaf's season becomes to difficult to stomach. We once had the best team in baseball. Twice.
Now, I've been to various ballparks and sports arenas in the US and Canada, and I've seen a level of worship bestowed upon athletes that borders on North Korean-style cult of personality, and one thing that is a common element of these places of worship are the statues. Bronzed and frozen in time, many arenas and stadiums worth the price of admission have a False Idol out front, praising a hero of yesterday who brought the team and the city glory, honour and most importantly, championship rings.
If you were an alien from an advanced interstellar civilization, here on Earth to study our worship of athletes, and you put your flying saucer down at say, the Steamwhistle brewery lawn and went for a walk, you'd have zero clue that one man clinched the second and crowning World Series title with a swing of his Lousiville Slugger on a 2 and 2 count in the bottom of the ninth in game 6 versus the Phillies. That man sent an entire city into an orgiastic frenzy not known since. No, for some reason that this writer cannot wrap his grey matter around, there is no statue of Joe Carter next to the Rogers Centre.
Other sports cities immortalize their heroes in their prime, at the height of their powers with a statue in a prominent public area. Not here in Hog-town. We've got two story pictures of mediocre hockey players and some post modern versions of what I assume to be baseball bats(?) out front of the ACC, but no where can Joe Carter and his fabulous flat top be seen in pagan idol form. He achieved a feat only accomplished one other time in recorded history, the rarest of gems, a walk-off home-run to win the World Fucking Series. And yet no statue. Yes, #29 hangs in its rightful place of honour on the inside, but what about the outside? Why is there no Joe Carter statue outside the Dome? We've a few creepy, vaguely gargoyle-esque faces coming out of the north side, but no Joltin' Joe icon to pay homage to anywhere. I cannot fathom the reason. And don't tell me there's no room, some prime real estate exists right outside of gates 5 and 6, where kids walk past and old men could look up and relive that sense of pride and pure ecstasy that only clinching a championship can bring.
Today's generation of Beliebers are running the very real risk of not knowing their cities sports history and that is simply a failure on everyone's part. It's bad enough I once had to explain to a 19 yr old punk who Kelly Gruber was. If we are to relive our past sports glory in this city, how about we build a goddamn statue of Joe "Touch 'em All" Carter right out front of the Dome so we can at least remember and nod to ourselves and say, yes, once we were champions.