Raptors Ninth? C'mon ESPN, Where's the Red and White Love?

Gerald FlemmingCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2009

The trolling experts have weighed in over at ESPN.com. 

They've all consulted their tea leaves, grabbed their balls (crystal, that is), and had a one on one confessional with their psychics (aka bookies), and after all of that we have the list of Eastern Conference predictions.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers 2) Boston Celtics 3) Orlando Magic 4) Atlanta Hawks 5) Miami Heat 6) Chicago Bulls 7) Philadelphia 76'ers 8) Washington Wizards  9) Toronto (WTF?) Raptors 10) Detroit Pistons 11) Charlotte Bobcats 12) Indiana Pacers 13) New York Knicks 14) Milwaukee Bucks 15) New Jersey Nets

There it is. The steaming pile of p-p-predictions from the cornerstone of sports journalism.

There are screams from all over the blogosphere about these, from all different sources and all different teams. 

The Magic fans feel dissed because they feel they got better this year, (and they did) and there's still no love for them. 

Washington fans think that they will be better this year.  Everybody thinks their team is a little bit better than it's showing here...except of course for the faithful in Cleveland who are planning the parade as we speak.

I am here to rant as a Raptors fan. And to point out a few of the concerns I have with the math that they seemed to be doing with their broken crayons over at ESPN.

9th...Ninth...NINTH?!!!!!  Are you freaking kidding me?!  (shot of oxygen from tank). That's better. 

Ninth? Really. A team that got markedly better at every single position, including the depth positions. 

Ninth. In a year where our franchise player is entering his contract year. 

Ninth. You say were only going to win six more games then last year regardless of the fact that last year we had no bench, our ONE point guard was injured for three quarters of the season, and our star player was embroiled in a controversy which took his head completely out of the game.  Ninth...really?!!!

According to the tiny pole (intentional sp.) of ESPN experts, the Raptors will only win 39 games. 

So apparently two time Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo worked his butt off this summer for naught. Apparently grabbing two starters from other teams to come off our bench, including a point guard who put up career numbers last year after only starting for part of the season...apparently that might be worth an extra game. 

Add in the fact that they might have gotten one of the big steals of the draft in Derozan, who could be ranked as high as fourth in this draft class. That might only be worth an extra half a game. 

And it's Chris Bosh's contract year where he's added about seven pounds of solid muscle, and is working harder than he ever has in the offseason.  Let's give you a game for that. After all he was the go to big man over Howard on the Olympic team receiving kudo's from coach K, Kobe, Lebron, and Wade as being essential to the cause. 

But hey, that's just an Olympic Gold Medal, it's not real basketball. It's more like an EA sports video game. So let's toss, oh, maybe two games on the pile for that.

Bellineli who was used and abused by Nelly over in GS, a team known for destroying more rookies than drugs and fast woman combined. We got Bellinelli for Devean George, a player they're probably going to have to build wheelchair accessible ramps in the dressing room for.

Well hell ESPN, let's throw another half a game on the pile!

Isn't this fun! I'll have another Xanax please!

Let's talk about the front court, where we added depth that the Raptors just didn't have before. 

Nesterovic, Evans, Johnson...all three of these guys are quality bench guys with Johnson being the x-factor. He could end up being a real steal considering that we got him by trading a player who had become completely redundant after Marco got here. 

So we get toughness and rebounding with Evans and we get experience and IQ from Rasho. Hell, you know what, ESPN all popped happy pills with this one so they gave us another half a game for that.

And the last one here that I'm going to mention is the signing of Turkoglu. That was an ugly process which left a bad taste in the mouths of most of the West Coast. How could any non-alien choose Toronto over a vastly superior AMERICAN city. 

I mean do they even have flush toilets up there? I hear they have one TV station that plays bad sitcoms and news all day. It's like Russia, that way. Oh my God, THEY'RE COMMUNISTS!

Well...that Hedo, I mean sure he was one of the main pieces of the team that almost won it all last year.  Sure he has an IQ off the charts and can play the rarest of all NBA positions, point forward. 

Sure he has an excellent three point shot that for some reason gets even more accurate when the game is on the line. But there has to be something wrong with him if he is going to choose that god-forsaken place, so we'll begrudgingly give them one more game for that.

There, six more wins. I guess they're right. It'll be another season filled with hope that gets dashed before the year even begins, regardless of the fact they've never been very accurate at predicting where the Raptors will finish.

Exqueese me? What did you say? In the 15 year history of the team, they've rarely been accurate with the Raps. They've been close. Last year was one of the first years they actually thought the team would do better than it did. 

And I think this list is just...what did you call that when you were a kid? Oh yeah, a makeup. That's it.

You see, deep down they know the Raps are going to hit the playoffs (unless they all contract swine flu and we have to put the coaches out to play), but there is just too many ways that they consciously and unconsciously undermine their own opinions before they even set pen to paper. 

Let me state this before I finish...every single one of them over at ESPN knows exponentially more about basketball than I do. 

And if that's the case, how can I write this article, and cling to these opinions so vehemently? Because I see something that they refuse to see—a bias that's based on an ethnocentric point of view. 

It skews what they know, and doesn't allow them to render anything approaching a reasonable and objective opinion. 

Could I be accused of the same thing? Could my opinions be skewed and biased?  Absolutely, but I'm a fan. THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE! Hello? McFly?! 

So I guess I'll write another article at the end of the season, where I either say...

"Hah, I told you so you liquid-lunch-swilling, basket-weaving-minor in college wannabes!"

Or I will respectfully apologize and climb back under my rock.

Either way, I can't wait for this season to begin. It just got a whole lot more interesting.