North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Posts Tagged ‘tenth anniversary

Ten Years of Posts: My Favourite Pieces

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I’ve been doing this a long time, but even though it’s been nearly ten years (or longer, depending if I count pre-North stuff), there isn’t really as much content as you’d think there’d be. Maybe because I spread stuff out so much. Or because I concentrated on other sites. Or because, frankly, I don’t have a lot to say.

Anyway, it makes picking my favourite posts pretty easy.

Over the years, I’ve had a couple of posts get big traffic. The first was a MVP column I wrote that somehow found it’s way into a Ball Don’t Lie link-post, which gave me literally thousands of pageviews. The second is a post I don’t even remember writing, where I picked apart some hack’s column for some reason. It’s not something I’d do now; it seems kind of petty and mean as I read it now. I’m not going to link to either here.

Instead, I’m going to focus on stuff I’m glad I wrote, posts that still hold up. I think all blogging is a transitory medium –  even the best stuff is meaningless the next day – so apologies for linking material that’s dated, stale and otherwise out-of-context. I still like these ten posts anyway.

A Final Memo From the Ugly Seats
November 2005

An early stab at reporting, from my pre J-School days, when I didn’t know how to put together a feature and my big inspirations were Hunter Thompson and Dr. Z. It’s a mess, but I can see something forming here: a little media criticism, some first-hand observations, and for some reason, a mention of violence in the city. It’s a mess, but it’s the only thing I wrote in the early years I’d still read. Even if it’s super derivative:

By the end of the Third Quarter the outcome of the game was sadly apparent – Montreal possessed the lead as Toronto fumbled or was intercepted seemingly every time they had the ball. Just down a few rows from me sat two lonely Montreal fans, cheering and screaming wildly whenever their team did something, from scoring to making a tackle to calling a timeout. The other people in my section would scream and throw food at them, but their spirits never dampened, they were the winners here and they knew it…

“Did…Did you not see the game? (Maniacal Laughter)” – Montreal fan, replying to slanderous insults

Is Sports Journalism Dead?
March 2009

Well, is it? Did Twitter, Bill Simmons and brand managers change the game? I could’ve written this post last week, you know. And I’m still not sure about the answer.

Five Hockey Pitches for 30 for 30
December 2009

I’d still watch any of these five films, you know: the 1987 World Juniors, the time the power went out during a Cup Final game, the 1993 playoffs, the closing of the Montreal Forum and the 1987 Canada Cup. And since then, they’ve released, what, one hockey movie?

Awarding the Sports Pulitzers
April 2010

Now talk-radio host Dan Levy mocked me on a podcast over this one! But at least people were reading me!

Just Asking A Question About Damien Cox Asking A Question
August 2010

What happens with a local columnist defends his baseless accusations by saying he’s “gotta ask the question?” Well, I’ll ask why he had to ask!

Radio Host Says Controversial Remark About Women’s Sports, Internet Outraged
March 2011

I don’t really remember the context here – I guess McCown said something stupid, as is his wont – but this was one of the first times I delved into the gender divide and it’s a topic I’ve written about a few other times. The particular story’s dated, but my attitude is the same:

It’s different than just watching the odd WNBA game and making cracks about how they can’t dunk. When you’re there all the time, one realizes there isn’t as much a difference between men’s and women’s sports. Talented athletes will excel at their sport regardless of gender. Yes, the WNBA only recently had it’s first dunk, but that’s doesn’t make it a lesser league, only a different one.

Words From the Worst Sports City in the World
September 2011

Conversely, when a popular website publishes a clickbaity piece by one of Canada’s most annoying writers, you’d better believe I’ll rip into it:

After all, it’s horrors beyond horrors that Toronto hasn’t won anything since 1993 (unless you count the Argos, which Marche doesn’t do until it suits his hypotheses). I wake up in the middle of the night with a jolt, sweat-drenched, angry beyond words about Tie Domi on a semi-regular basis. But it also isn’t that big of a deal: so what if the Leafs lose every year. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and life has gone on there ever since. The Jays lost tonight. C’est la vie.

Just Another Sunday at the Rogers Centre
August 2012

Even in a lost year, I found some things about the Jays season to remember, which is kind of what I try to here: even if Toronto sports can get negative really quick, there’s always lots of fun things to remember. Like Rajai Davis making a killer grab at the wall. Accentuate the positive, as NRBQ used to sing.

Just Another Friday Night in the City
November 2012

I hung out outside the 2012 Grey Cup so you didn’t have to. I also linked to a video of a horse in a car.

It’s Been A While and It Might Be A While
May 2013

The only Leafs postseason appearance while this blog’s been operating. I picked Boston to win in si;  if only I knew how this series would end. A notable aside:

Some people who have died since the last Leafs postseason game: Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Gerald Ford, Jack Layton, Jay Reatard, Evel Knievel, Norman Mailer, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Trish Keenan


Written by M.

May 11, 2015 at 11:29 am

Notes on a tenth year

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I don’t remember when I started this blog. The first post dates back to June of 2005, but I’m reasonably certain it existed in some form before then: I remember writing about the 2004 NHL finals and I have foul papers of NFL posts in notebooks dating back to 2003. So, in one way or another, I’ve been doing this a long time.


A lot’s changed in that time frame. The Internet’s a different place: ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined a site like Grantland, where there’s daily interesting takes on sports and pop culture. After all, one of the reasons I started writing was my general dissatisfaction with writing coming out of Toronto. I was sick of writers like Steve Simmons, Damien Cox and Al Strachan, people who reflected a viewpoint I didn’t share.


At the same time, I don’t really remember what the Internet was like back then. I suppose Bill Simmons was writing for ESPN, but I barely knew who he was. Both Deadspin and Truehoop were a little ways off and while I was one of thousands of people who started a blog back then, I genuinely don’t really remember reading anyone else’s: I just started writing online because I was already writing offline, in chapbooks, spiral notebooks and on an ancient IBM laptop that ran Windows 95 and barely at that.


Which has always been my raison d’etre, really. I’ve never worried about traffic and over the years, it comes and goes. I’ve always consciously written stuff I’d like to read and if nobody else does, I don’t care. Maybe not the best attitude, but it’s how I’ve always felt.


Over the years, being a borderline interesting sports blogger has given me some interesting paths. There was a blog founded by a bunch of teenagers who asked me to write a mailbag column, there was my spell writing a MVP column for Hardwood Paroxysm and, most memorably, I was a featured columnist for The Good Point for about five years.


That last one was easily the most rewarding experience I’ve had in these ten years and not jut because it was my only paying gig. Austin, Andrew and Rob, if you’re reading this, thanks for everything. You’ve been a big influence and I learned a lot from you all.


I’ve actually given thought to pitching an oral history of The Good Point to, er, someone, since it was an interesting, wild and talented place for a number of years. Just a casual look at the list of contributors is like a who’s-who of young sports writers: Andrew Bucholtz, one of Yahoo Canada’s/Awful Announcing best writers and as ambitious as anyone I’ve ever met; radio personality Chris Pope; Leigh Ellis, co-host of NBA-TV’s The Starters; John Matisz, Sun Media’s go-to hockey writer. There have been others, too.


I think if you track my writing over the years there, you can see my evolution as a sports blogger, going from a self-made sports guy to someone who’s really more interested in the margins and what happens off the field. When I started, I was interested in writing about events; by the time I stopped, I was more interested in talking to female writers about why female sports are ignored or how people are making sports culture more open and accessible. It’s to Austin Kent and Rob Boudreau’s absolute credit they never spiked my columns because they weren’t jock-ish enough.


Indeed, I think I’ve changed too. Back in 2005 or so, I intentionally set out to re-create myself as something approximating a sports guy. Like most people, I have my demons and this was something of an attempt to combat them: maybe by remaking myself in a certain image, I’d be able to drop them. It hasn’t worked that way, but that’s a learning lesson, too.


And now, a good ten years on, I’ve realized I’m not really that guy and maybe I never was. You can probably read it if you look deep enough into my articles and how they’ve evolved over the years. I’ve dropped the Hunter Thompson inspired prose, started reading authors like Imogen Binnie, bell hooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kate Bornstein, people who’ve challenged how I see the world and myself.


Which is a way to say I’m not going away – if anything I’ve been more prolific than I’ve ever been lately – but I’m not the same person anymore, either. There’s a lot more to life than sports.

Written by M.

May 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm