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What made the 85 Jays extra special was the relative dearth of mercenaries. McCall Zerboni Jersey . The eventual 1992/1993 championship squads will always have a place in our memories and civic pride, but the teams were filled with free agent assassins. Those 1980s powder blue warriors claim a place a little deeper, a little less diminished by time, because we were emotionally invested in each players trajectory. A Toronto team hasnt been built that way in a long time.(*Authors Note: Before I cue the obvious comparison, let me state plainly for the record: I am a fan of the Toronto Basketball Club but I HATE THE NAME "RAPTORS". I will suppress my urge to call them by their eventual, rightful name — the Toronto Towers — just to avoid confusion. But understand, every time I type "Raptors", I die a little.)Even in the face of this linguistic predicament, these Raptors have won me over. They are thriving in a delightfully familiar manner, with a buoyant, tough-minded, youthful sense of potential. Like a devoted dog, thought lost for days, scratching at our doorstep impossibly, exhausted, muddied...could it be? Could these upstart Raptors be the generational descendants of the 1985 Jays?Lets ask the pertinent questions, get out the red pen, and assign the grades.Where in the teams history does the season fall?85 BLUE JAYS: A ripe scenario coupled a weary, winner-less town with a franchise still relatively fresh in its ninth season. Mired in expansion doldrums for its first half decade, in 1982, the Blue Jays began an ascent from seventh to sixth place (of a seven-team division). In 1983, it moved into 4th place, winning 89 games, a feat replicated in 1984. 1985 was something new. The club won 99 games (a .615 winning percentage) — more victories than the future World Series teams — and it would stand until today as the greatest record in team history. No Blue Jays, Raptors or Maple Leafs team has had a better winning percentage since the 1934/35 Leafs (30 wins in a 48-game season).14 RAPTORS: This particular comparison would have lined up better for the Wince (not a typo) Carter-era team, had it made good on its promise in 2001, during the teams sixth season. Now 19 years old, the Raptors arent so green. Still, Torontos weariness from being mired in a decades-long losing streak across all major team sports, engulfs the city as it did back then. Further compelling the argument for similarity, is the Raptors current 45-32 record (a .584 winning percentage), which is the best in franchise history.COMPARISON GRADE: C+How skilled and well-loved are the players, and how do they compare with the talent in the league?85 BLUE JAYS: No surprise the best regular season team in Blue Jays history was arguably the most talented. Stacked with classic Jays in their primes, which included starters Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key, emerging closer Tom Henke, the best young outfield in baseball in Lloyd Moseby, George Bell and Jesse Barfield, and eventually-iconic infielders Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt, each one was either raised through the system or had their first taste of big league success in Toronto. The city got to watch the talent grow. To that end, not a single player made a million dollars in 1985. All Star Jimmy Key made $131,000. Tom Henke would get votes for MVP...on a $60,000 stipend. The league competition was also first-rate — peep the opposing lineups — as the American League was on the upswing, with Kansas City poised to claim the ALs third consecutive title (the AL would win 8 of 11 going forward).14 RAPTORS: The competition is, uh, less fierce. Beyond the general talent deficit in todays NBA (a column Ill be publishing soon), the Raptors Eastern Conference is particularly woeful. Despite Miamis recent prosperity, the East has won only 5 of the past 15 titles, and will be sending at least one sub-.500 team to the big dance this year (and possibly two). In the West, Memphis could finish 50-32 and still miss the postseason.Putting aside the lesser competition, a different story emerges. Like those early Jays, the Raptors have players worth rallying around. Homegrown DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Jonas "Wasaga" Valanciunas are legit NBA starters capturing the imaginations of wide-eyed fans. Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson play the game hard and are easy to root for, as is the surprisingly deep bench. The teams burgeoning continuity is the key ingredient as it was with the Jays: fans getting to root as their local talent grows and matures and succeeds (Gallay derisively glares towards south Florida). Even with the team headed towards their greatest season yet, not a single Raptor is even making a modest ten million dollars a year. (A tumbleweed blows across the screen.)COMPARISON GRADE: C+How were the Leafs, arbiters of the citys sports fortunes, doing at the same time?85 BLUE JAYS: As the 1985 baseball season was kicking off, the NHL season was winding down. Mercifully. The Leafs would finish 20-52-8, the worst season in franchise history (before or since). No surprise. They hadnt posted a winning record in six years. Russ Courtnall, Al Iafrate, Gary Leeman and Steve Thomas were rookies which gave the team hope, and they would make the playoffs the following year. (In 1986, the Maple Leafs qualified by winning a shameful 25 of 80 games because 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs. Not making the playoffs was the NHL equivalent of being picked last in gym.)14 RAPTORS: Similarly, the past several years have not been kind. After a team record seven consecutive seasons outside the playoff ranks, the blue and white made the postseason last year — defying the advanced metrics — but look to be on the outside once again in 2014. There is hope for the future despite a tumultuous plunge in the final months. But hey, lets not nitpick too much, in both eras the Leafs werent in the playoffs, hadnt had much success in the preceding years, and no sober fan in the Big Smoke had any illusions that the Cup was changing downtown addresses soon.COMPARISON GRADE: BHow confident are fans in the coaching staff and front office?85 BLUE JAYS: Bobby Cox — a Hall of Famer as of July 27, 2014 — was the manager. He took a mediocre team in 1982 and turned it into the best team in the league. He had done it before in Atlanta. He would do it again in Atlanta. He would win Manager of the Year in 1985, and though his departure upset fans, he was offered a ton of money and the GM job he coveted. The 44-year old Cox and GM Pat Gillick — who would ultimately put together the talent for back to back World Series wins — were as savvy a tandem as the city had seen. Most importantly, they had our confidence.14 RAPTORS: 56-year old coach Dwane Casey grew up in Kentucky, just an eight hour drive from where Bobby Cox—okay, Im gonna stop. Direct comparisons wont work here. Casey did not arrive in Toronto with Coxs pedigree, though he also had one prior championship ring, as an assistant on the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. Hes made strides each season and the team is proudly a shadow of his no-nonsense, tough-minded attitude. The city likes him, the players trust him. He has a legitimate shot to duplicate Coxs feat and take home Coach of the Year (though my vote would narrowly go to Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix, because I do not understand how the Suns are doing what they are doing). Two more words to add to this section: Rudy Gay. General Manager Masai "Gillick" Ujiri, 2013s NBA Executive of the Year in Denver, has been masterful in his first season at the helm, as demonstrated by the Sacramento overhaul. History will unfurl each mans ultimate place, but the city is rallying around both, and both are succeeding. Most importantly, they have our confidence.COMPARISON GRADE: A-What was going on in Toronto during the season in question?85 BLUE JAYS: In the spring and summer of 1985, Torontonians were preparing for a mayoral election, still several months away. A longtime incumbent, who refused to celebrate the Gay Pride Parade, would be put to the test by a variety of challengers. Ultimately, reigning Mayor Art Eggleton would win out.14 RAPTORS: In the spring and summer of 2014, Torontonians are preparing for a mayoral election, still several months away. A longtime incumbent, who refuses to celebrate the Gay Pride Parade, is to be put to the test by a variety of challengers, assuming a second term wont conflict with his Jimmy Kimmel-related moonlighting. Same old, same old.COMPARISON GRADE: B+All right, pens down.Depending on how you weigh each category, the comparison works out to a solid "B". Not too bad, really. Going in, I didnt think the teams would match up this well.Of course, these grades are neither objective, nor properly weighted, nor were they subject to any advanced algorithmic, Nate Silver-style analyses, but moreover is the baseline, root-level difficulty. This sort of phenomenon doesnt come down to math. It is a familial connection between team and fans. It is emotional.With so many entertainment sources vying for our attentions, a city-wide swoon grows ever less likely. And unlike baseball, where only four teams in 1985 made the playoffs, basketball allows for 16 entrants, with more making the playoffs than getting left behind. Just making the playoffs or winning the division is not in the same stratum as the accomplishments of those 85 Jays, who were playing for a spot in the World Series. These Raptors — seriously we gotta change the name — are greyer in years, and owe us more success if they hope to be revered like Bell and Whitt and Gillick.To capture the ardent fans, the otherwise supportive moniker-loathers, and the bandwagoners alike, a deep playoff run will be necessary. Then maybe, Terrence Ross will grab the torch from George Bell. Maybe this team, despite already having a winning record, is more a version of the rarely-considered 1982 Jays, the ones who first showed promise.Maybe they are just something new.GALLAYS POLL #6How do you think the 2013/2014 Raptors stack up to the 1985 Blue Jays?(A) Theyve won me over, same as the Jays did.(B) I like where they are headed, but that 1985 team was special, yo.(C) Way too soon for a comparison, if ever.(D) Im not from Toronto. Could not care less. I have the Fireplace Channel on right now. Christen Press USA Jersey . The veteran fighter will be squaring off with Henderson in a five-round lightweight bout as part of another network televised card at the United Center on Saturday night. Alex Morgan Jersey . Future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray is in his prime and back for a third season in double blue. The 34-year old was magnificent in 2013, throwing for just under 2,900 yards despite missing eight games, tossing an impressive 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions, completing 66 per cent of his passes in the process. http://www.officialsocceruswntshop.com/sam-mewis-usa-jersey/ . The Philadelphia Eagles acquired running back Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints for a fifth-round draft pick on Tuesday.TAMPA, Fla. -- Malcolm Glazer, a self-made billionaire who shunned the spotlight while leading the takeover of English soccers Manchester United and transforming the NFLs Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Super Bowl champions, died Wednesday. He was 85. The reclusive Palm Beach businessman had been in failing health since April 2006 when a pair of strokes left him with impaired speech and limited mobility in his right arm and leg. He was not involved in day to day operations of either of his sports franchises and was rarely spotted at games in recent years, instead remaining at his mansion in South Florida while entrusting leadership of the Bucs to three of six children, sons Bryan, Joel and Ed. While some disgruntled fans blame ownership for a stretch of futility that has seen the Bucs miss the playoffs the past six seasons, the elder Glazer generally will be remembered for making the commitment necessary to keep the team from moving to another city in the 1990s. Glazer raised his profile in 2005 with a $1.47 billion purchase of Manchester United that was bitterly opposed by fans of one of the worlds richest soccer clubs. Before that, his unobtrusive management style helped transform the Bucs from a laughingstock into a model franchise that won the franchises only NFL title 12 years ago. "The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with the family tonight," Manchester United said in a statement. Born Aug. 25, 1928, in Rochester, New York, the son of a watch-parts salesman, Glazer began working for the family business when he was 8 and took over the operation as a teenager when his father died in 1943. As president and CEO of First Allied Corp., the holding company for the family business interests, he invested in mobile-home parks, restaurants, food service equipment, marine protein, television stations, real estate, natural gas and oil production and other ventures. Forbes ranked him this year, along with his family, as tied for No. 354 on the worlds richest people list with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion. He purchased the Bucs for a then-NFL record $192 million in 1995, taking over one of the worst-run and least successful franchises in professional sports. And while Glazer once said he probably overpaid by $50 million, the value of the team has more than quadrupled. "Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization. His dedication to the community was evident in all he did, including his leadership in bringing Super Bowls to Tampa Bay," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Malcolms commitment to the Bucs, the NFL and the people of the Tampa Bay region are the hallmarks of his legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Linda, their six children and the entire Glazer family." In an era when many owners of professional teams attract nearly as much attention as the athletes, Glazer was content to allow three of his sons handle daily operation of the Bucs and rarely granted interviews or visited the teams offices and training facility. But he was a fixture at games before his health became an issue, and he spent generously to acquire players and provide coaches and front office personnnel with the resources to do their jobs. Abby Dahlkemper Jersey. To fans accustomed to the frugal ways of original Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse, Glazer was a saviour. "With our major investment here, we didnt come in here to have a loser," Glazer said after acquiring the Bucs. In one of its boldest moves as NFL owners, the Glazer family fired Tony Dungy as coach after the 2001 season and paid a hefty price -- four draft picks and $8 million cash -- to the Raiders for the opportunity to sign Jon Gruden to a contract. The move paid off right away. Gruden led the Bucs to their first NFL title the following season, and Glazer joined in the celebration in the locker room. "He came from heaven and he brought us to heaven," Glazer said. "We were waiting for the right man and the right man came -- Jon Gruden." The Glazers didnt get a warm reception in the United Kingdom, where Man U fans protested and burned Glazers likeness in effigy because they feared the American was acquiring the storied British soccer franchise purely for financial gain. At the time, Mark Longden of the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, said his group was "calling on all supporters to wear black. If they can get hold of black flags, they should wave them because it represents what is happening to the club." The club, though, has had success on the pitch, winning the League Cup in 2006, 2009 and 2010, the English Premier League from 2007-09, 2011 and 2013 and European Cup and Club World Cup titles in 2008. Within a year of the leveraged buyout, Glazer had two strokes and his children ran the 20-time English champions, with all of them sitting on the board of directors and owning the remaining 90 per cent of the club that was not listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012. Although Uniteds debt has dropped from a high of high of $1.1 billion in 2008-09 to $590 million, anger toward the Glazers has remained among sections of the fan base. The familys divisiveness in Manchester has been exacerbated by its reluctance to engage with any supporters or speak publicly about the club. Despite its worst league finish in 24 years this season, United has been generating record revenue, each quarter, with income set to exceed $700 million in the 2013-14 financial year. Before he bought the Buccaneers, Glazer made failed bids to land an NFL expansion franchise for Baltimore and purchase the New England Patriots, San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also tried to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Rupert Murdoch before turning his attention to Manchester United. "I will remember Malcolm Glazer as someone whose influence made a lasting impact on both ends of the Atlantic in the worlds two greatest sports leagues, the National Football League and the Barclays Premier League, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said. "But his greatest legacy may be in the state of Florida, where I am now fortunate to own the Jacksonville Jaguars. Malcolm brought to our state the Bucs, Super Bowls and of course a world championship in 2002. In essence, he helped turn a good football state into a great football state. He will be missed but always admired." ' ' '