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When Everything Sucks, Tampa Is An Answer

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 09: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors reacts after their win against the Boston Celtics during double overtime in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 09, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There was a point this summer, as the Toronto Blue Jays were desperately trying to find someplace to declare squatter’s rights, that the folks who operate the Toronto Raptors breathed a sigh of relief and said, “We’ll be in a bubble, and then we’ll be back home in our safer, happier country operating as we always have.” And then God doubled over in laughter, as God has been wont to do this year.

The Raptors are now, at least temporarily, the Tampa Raptors, or for those of you who think syllables are an unnecessary burden upon the modern sophisticate, the TampRaps. Without freedom of movement across the new iron curtain, the Raptors faced the inescapable fact that they will have to do their work in a less safe place because all their other coworkers are working in a less safe place. It is the COVID conundrum that has been driving American behavior since March: how to make a bad situation incrementally worse.

The Raptors’ situation is a simple one: play in a hot box or don’t play at all. And since Option B has been taken off the table by the driving need to do business in direct contravention of the COVIDian calendar, there is no Option C. And given how the virus is spiking nationally, whatever choice the Raptors made would be worse than staying home.

But “better” has never been an option. It’s all degrees of worse, and with that as the guiding principle, Tampa is the same as Newark is the same as Kansas City is the same as San Diego is the same as Louisville. Well, maybe not Louisville, but everywhere else.

In a more macro sense, though, Canadians must find the notion that America is a preferable place to work, play, or live profoundly ridiculous. Their political idiot class isn’t as criminally idiotic, their sense of medical propriety isn’t as cavalier, and their sense of athletic proportion isn’t as distorted. Well, except for the Maple Leafs. If they got shipped to Tampa or Newark or Kansas City or San Diego or Louisville for a year, there would be war. A brief one, perhaps, but war nonetheless. Hell, there would be a war if they moved to Hamilton for a year.

The NHL doesn’t have to contemplate that level of violent upheaval, though, because it is almost surely going to organize an all-Canadian division for the upcoming seasonette. The NBA has done very well in Toronto, but the vote is always going to be 29-1, and in times like this the Raptors are the Blue Jays only with a few more options.

To say this sucks isn’t helpful or even illuminating. Everything sucks this year. Thanksgiving sucks. Your job sucks. Shopping sucks. Dining sucks. Your relatives suck. Michigan football sucks. You suck. Those are the conditions that prevail, and the place the Toronto Raptors call home is well down on everyone’s rampant suckery list.

It’s just one additional mini-insult to our already crippled intelligence that the NBA’s daily standings will read “Toronto” even though there won’t be any games this year played within 200 miles of the place. It is one more galling example of Florida governor Ron DeSantis benefiting from (and taking credit for) the state’s shameless willingness to strip down to its shorts for any and all comers with money. It’s just one more hellscape of the undeserving getting the benefit of any shred of a doubt, and one more example that these days we are all Tampa, and Newark, and Kansas City, etc., and we are all equally guided by the irresistible siren call of suck. After all, what else can be done? Move the other 29 teams to Canada?

Hey, wait a minute. We may have stumbled on to something here.