T-minus one week and counting
A week. One lousy week. Just about everyone’s in town, all the plans are set, the workouts are going on, why don’t they do the honourable thing and call this week the first week of training camp and let us get on with our jobs.
Oh, right, there’s that little thing known as the Collective Bargaining Agreement that stipulates the number of days they can work and this week isn’t included in it.
So, they meet in secret and in private, it’s not really a workout but it is and the whole league seems to turn a blind eye to what’s going on.
Believe me, every team is doing pretty much the same thing this week, it’s just that there cannot be any repercussions against the players who can’t quite get to their cities on time.
You know what camp’s gonna be?
With the D League Idaho Stampede having an open trying out in Toronto on Oct. 5-6 (read more about it here), there’s every chance the staff led by coach Brian Gates and, perhaps, a player or two, will be around Ottawa from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 to take in the big team’s camp.
Of course, no player who gets invited to camp has a snowball’s chance to make the team but if the Raptors are going to add three or four guys as fodder and live bodies, they could do a lot worse than bringing in some D Leaguers for experience.
No word yet on exactly how many or who the Raptors will add to the camp roster; guess that’ll give me something to do this week when I actually have to go back to 1 Yonge and maybe earn my keep for a change.
A question from the mail and a newsy answer:
Q: Love your blog. My husband and I read it almost every day. When is fan appreciation day?
Thanks, can't wait for the season to start!
Alexandra G, Toronto
A: ‘Almost’ every day? What happened to 'first thing every stinking morning!' (I keed, I keed).
Not sure what you mean by Fan Appreciation Day but if you’re talking about the open practice here in Toronto that used to be held on the last Saturday or Sunday before the regular season began, I’m afraid you’re in for disappointment.
It’s not that they don’t appreciate you (after all, you spend money, buy tickets, support the team, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah) but they’re dumping that particular event this season.
Truth be told, attendance had fallen off, it had become pretty much the same old, same old and maybe it had run its course.
What they’re doing, I’m told, is something dedicated to kids and reading (as admirable an event as I can imagine) one day at a pre-season shootaround.
Got a nice long letter from David Petroziello, who is the general manager of the Vancouver Titans of the International Basketball League.
Perhaps you recall a letter here not long about the Titans, a minor league team that expects to begin play in April at, I learn, the Langley Event Centre.
David makes a long and logical argument that this, despite the somewhat checkered history of minor league basketball (the woods are littered with the carcasses of teams that never played a game), will be well-run, connected to the community and something basketball fans should embrace.
While I remain skeptical of the whole notion of the financial and esthetic success of minor league hoops, his points are well thought out and well made and there’s every reason to think this might be a success.
There’s apparently solid local ownership with strong ties to the game on the lower mainland and the plans are not grandiose (which is good because that’s what causes a lot of teams to ultimately fail).
I admit I’ve never seen an IBL game in my life so I can’t vouch for the quality of basketball but maybe this team makes it.
And maybe you should give ‘em a look when they start up.
A letter that touches on some news:
Q: I just read that Darius Miles was suspended for 10 games. Does this automatically free Portland from his contract?
Alex D, Toronto
A: Actually, quite the contrary.
This is sort of a mixed metaphor of a question but you do hit a good point with the contract.
Miles, who hasn’t played since the 2005-06 season, was due $18 million over the final two years of his contract in Portland but the Blazers got cap relief for the amount because he had apparently retired because of a career-ending knee injury.
But if comes back in Boston, and it looks like it’s going to happen, and plays in 10 games, there’s no more cap relief for the Blazers, who’ll have to suck up the $9 million a year hit.
And because Portland had positioned itself to be a major player in free agency of the next two summers because of that cap relief they got, having to suck up Miles’s number is going to hurt.
Okay, here’s a quandary.
My friends, The Leaves Writers, get to have training camp at home (and if we’re not going to Europe I’d just as rather stick around the area) and it lasts all of two days before the first pre-season game.
Us, The Hoops Grunts, get to traipse to Ottawa for almost a week of two-a-day workouts before heading home to start the utterly meaningless exhibition season.
Which is better? Fewer practices, more pretend games? More practices and a longer wait to see teams in action.
Tough one, isn’t it?
What do you think?
Last one from a mailbag that’s pretty depleted:
Q: Here’s a question that’s blog related. How on earth do you find the enthusiasm to continually do an amazing job with keeping up with your blogs (it must be hard but much respect to you!). And typically how long does it take you to finish one!? Thanks!
Mario A, Toronto
A: Trust me, my friend, the enthusiasm level varies. Depends, usually, on the quality of questions and comments and how happy or angry they make me. Generally? I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky soul.
As for how long? Well, I’m sure there are regular readers who think it gets done in minutes, with very little thought or preparation. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The funny thing is that it’s pretty much an ‘every-waking-hour’ kind of thing. See something in an afternoon, scribble or e-mail a note to self to include it the next day, spend some of every night answering questions, posting comments or putting items together.
Get up gawdawful early every morning, careful not to disturb Super Dog lest the pesky think wake up and need a walk and, hopefully, get it all done by 8:30 a.m. or earlier now, maybe by 8 a.m. once the season starts, so all you slackers who are supposed to be working – and you know who you are! – can get your day off to a rousing, entertaining start.