What made the 85 Jays extra special was the relative dearth of mercenaries. Rick Leonard Saints 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. Natrell Jamerson Saints Jersey . The 55th-ranked Istomin saved 11 of 14 break points to win in just over two hours, setting up a second round meeting with Australian Marinko Matosevic. It was the Uzbeks third win in three matches against fifth-seeded Kohlschreiber, the 2007 and 2012 tournament winner. Natrell Jamerson Jersey . Trailing 4-1 in the final set, Sharapova steadied her erratic service game and took command again to beat the 56th-ranked American 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 on clay at the Magic Box tennis centre. The ninth-ranked Russian looked to be cruising before McHale broke late in the second set to tie the match and then took her commanding lead in the final set after breaking Sharapova. http://www.shoptheofficialsaints.com/Elite-Tom-Savage-Saints-Jersey/ . - Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte sees the commitment to the handoff and cant help but come away impressed.The Indiana Pacers squared their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Atlanta Hawks and will now go for the lead Monday night when they return home for Game 5. "Were back with the home-court advantage," Paul George said. "We cant get complacent with that. We got to be able to put this series away. This is a tough team and a team thats going to play til the end." George and David West knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to cap a big run in the final minutes Saturday, as the Pacers escaped with a 91-88 win in Atlanta. Georges shot with 2:11 remaining gave the Pacers the lead for good and Wests -- from the same spot on the high left side moments later -- ended an 11-2 run that gave Indiana a four-point lead with 1 1/2 minutes left. George later clanked two free throws off the rim with 7.5 seconds left and a chance to make it a two-possession game, but Atlantas Pero Antic missed a 3- pointer at the buzzer. "It (was) one of those games we have to do whatever it takes to win," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "I thought our offensive motor improved. Nineteen fast-break points might have been more than weve had in two months. Our guys got out and played with force and were pretty good when we do that." George had 24 points and 10 rebounds, West scored 18 points and George Hill added 15 for the Pacers, who sat struggling 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert in the fourth quarter for the third straight game. TreQuan Smith Jersey. Hibbert, who started despite speculation he would come off the bench, was 3- for-5 for six points and picked up his first two blocks of the series. He has 24 points and 17 rebounds in the four games. Paul Millsap scored 29 points for the Hawks, but just 11 came after halftime as the forward battled foul trouble. Kyle Korver added 15 points, including three free throws after he was fouled late on a 3-point try from the right corner. Those shots got Atlanta within a point with 1:24 remaining, but Hill responded with a driving one-hander at the other end after grabbing an offensive rebound and the teams traded blunders after that. After Millsap threw a pass away, Korver deflected a Lance Stephenson pass at the other end, leading to a jump ball that Stephenson tipped out of bounds. Millsap missed a one-handed shot in the lane after spinning off Luis Scola and DeMarre Carroll fouled George on an inbounds pass, sending him to the line for the foul shots he would miss. Antic missed on his attempt to tie, so its back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "I think were still a confident group," said Korver. "We let one slip away but we showed we can go and compete in the games (in Indianapolis). Thats what our mindset is now. We have to let this one go and get ready for Monday." Game 6 will be Thursday night in Atlanta. 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