A good way to start your weekend: With some mail!
Kind of got sidetracked from regular mail-answering time last night, first by the Yao Ming thing that took me longer to write than I had expected and then by a Mighty Rockies coaches meeting that droned on during some major league deck time because we had to discuss the relative merits of every kid on the roster in between sips of black Sambuca. Except for the discussing the relative merits of every kid on the roster par.
So, this is smaller than I had hoped but it means tomorrow’s will be longer.
And if you really want to make my day – and give me something to do after a quick trip down the highway to the peninsula – send your queries here and make tomorrow’s even better.
Q: Hey Rock...
What do you think would be great to bring back?
How about Briggs Stadium?
Liquor stores where you had to write out your order?
Taverns with separate entrances and areas for men and ladies?
Beer glasses (20 cents per) with a line to designate how much to put in it?
The Liberal Party?
Chickenman? aka Benton Harbor
Bob E, Kanata
A: Holy smokes, now you’ve gone and done it. I cut my teeth in a legendary dive called the Bon Villa that had men’s and ladies and escort sides and never the twain should meet. Pickled eggs and sausage, slices of coldish pizza and a tray for $3. That was living.
And I bet I could still remember the LCBO code for a mickey of Bacardi if I put my mind to it.
Now, here’s five:
Home delivery of milk.
Sanitation workers who came to the side of the house to pick up the cans.
Traffic circles for the sheer joy of watching people bump into each other.
Q: Dear Doug, can you please elaborate on your disgust of the NBA's summer leagues? Perhaps your readers are missing some key information here, but aren't the summer leagues designed to give young players the opportunity to play for an NBA team? Don't you agree that it is a privilege and dream for these young players to be able to play for an NBA team in a summer league? Most will not have an opportunity to play in a regular season game for an NBA team and thus this may be a valuable learning experience. Your negativity puzzles me.
R S, Toronto
A: Not disgust as much as total disinterest and the reasons are varied:
It doesn’t tell you who can play, only who can’t; it’s filled with players who are out to get their names remembered and European jobs for next year; the officiating is horrendous (I once saw Rafael Araujo get 10 personal fouls in a game) because the refs are just as interested in impressing their bosses than they are doing a good job.
I don’t see it as a privilege at all, I see it as a job interview and I don’t want to watch it.
Not saying it doesn’t serve some purpose, I am saying it hold no interest for me whatsoever.
Q: Doug. Here's a question about the Raptors broadcasts.
I think that the tandem of Matt Devlin as play-by-play and Jack Armstrong as the colour commentator is outstanding. Great chemistry between the two of them.
But occasionally, Jack will go upstairs and Leo Rautins becomes the colour guy.
What determines these match-ups? Why not have Matt and Jack as the permanent TV duo?
Gary D, Stouffville
A: It’s determined by which network is broadcasting the game; each wants its own “voice” or colour guy to make it distinct from the other one.
Q: Who represents the Raptors at the owner's meetings? I understand MLSE is a group of tall foreheads so I wonder who's the point man.
A bonus question, has Casey hired any assistants yet? If not, isn't he taking a chance that they may be hired by other teams?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: The point man is Larry Tanenbaum, he’s the team’s representative at the board of governors and Bryan helps out in a pinch.
As for the assistants, none have been officially hired – makes no sense to get ‘em signed up when there’s nothing they can do – but they’re not going anywhere. I’m pretty sure Dwane would have said, ‘hey, you’re coming to work with me as soon as we get this lockout thing settled’ and that’d e enough to make sure no one went anywhere.
Q: Hi Doug Seems like every year we get some variation of the following: A team in Finland announces they have signed Ron Artest, only for Artest's agent to release a statement a day or two later stating that this isn't true.
What would make the president of a Finnish basketball team think that he'd signed Ron Artest without, you know, actually having signed Ron Artest? Is he lying? Has he been dealing with people fraudulently claiming to represent Artest? Or is he reading too much into conversations he's had with Ron Artest's actual representatives who are just doing their due diligence?
Mike L, Halifax
A: Not so much lying as hoping and trying to make some splash back home. What could very well happen is what a team president tells a player he’ll do for him (salary, housing, perks, insurance on existing contracts, etc.) doesn’t quite translate into reality and once agents see contracts and actual details, he goes, “whoa, baby, this ain’t happening’ and the deal falls apart.
Makes for a fun day of reading until then, though.
Q: Why is it that it is rare for 2nd round draft picks and non draftees to make it in the NBA as stars or significant players while in the NHL there are many cases of way down in the draft players doing well in the NHL and even being stars? Is it because there are extensive minor leagues for Hockey but not for Basketball? Wouldn't it be better for basketball to have significant minor leagues?
Richard G, Milton
A: No, it’s because the pucks draft kids who are in their mid-teens and they have no clue if, say, a fourth round pick will pan out and there are also more jobs available in hockey than there are in basketball, which increases the chance of a late-round pick eventually getting to the big league.
I wouldn’t say it’s “because” of the minor league system at all, although it does give those teenage wingers a chance to grow into their games, just like college or Europe does for basketball players.
Q: Hi Doug. I read your spot about Jonas Valanciunas' stats so I checked them out on the FIBA website's stats section and this kids is near the top of all the categorizes while only playing about 25 minutes a game. He is always the best player on the floor when playing against people his age, and isn't that how most draft picks are gauged? My question is where would you rank the competitiveness of this tournament to say march madness or the NIT? If this Lithuanian Team were entered in either of those tournaments how do you think they would do... and is there a chance Jonas Valanciunas look like the best player in the country?
Rob N, London
A: Without having seen enough of it to really make an assessment (and that won’t stop me from making an assessment), the people I’ve talked to put it a mid-major college level, maybe a touch lower for the non-competitive teams. Not as good as March Madness, maybe closer to a par with the NIT but still pretty good.
And everyone I’ve talked to who’s been there tells me Valanciunas is the best player in the tournament.
Q: Previously put in the comments section of your blog. It seems that Andrea Bargnani, has become everyone's favorite Piñata. My question is about his work ethic. We all have heard about Dirk being one of the hardest working players in the NBA and it may have helped him become the player he is. We are also familiar with the Hedo Turkoglu do the minimum philosophy. Where does Andrea fit in. Does he work very hard to improve his game or is he closer to the Hedo work practices? He leaves the impression he is closer to Hedo and this may explain some of the angst.
Just looking for what you have heard.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Yeah, he’s closer to Turk than he is to some “I have to be in the gym 20 hours a day” guy, no question about it. He puts his work in, don’t get me wrong, but the extra stuff doesn’t seem to interest him, as it doesn’t seem to interest a lot of his teammates. It’s not like every player on the team or in the league goes back to the gym at night to work. Look at it this way: Does everyone at your job put in unpaid overtime every day? Doesn’t happen where I work, that’s for sure.
Would Andrea be better if he worked harder? Probably. But sometimes it’s just not in a guy’s DNA and you do what you can to maximize the benefits you get from a regular work day.
Q: I believe Julian Wright is the Raptors player representative but with him now a free agent, who is the players team rep?
Sam B, Toronto
A: It’s still nominally Julian and I’m sure he’s keeping as many people up to date on the process as he did when he had a contract here. But when it comes time to vote on whatever contract proposal they end up voting on, it’s all the players rather than just the reps so it’s no big deal. And until it’s time to vote, players get their information from various other sources – the union itself and agents mostly – that solely from a player rep.
Q: Hey Doug. Always enjoy your insight and wisdom in your blogs. A non-Raps question for ya.
When you blog about baseball or even your recent article about the Jays win over the Red Soxs, are you stepping on any toes? Are you free to write about other matters as long as you submit your piece covering basketball?
And what do you think of the Jays this year and in 2012 when they are trying to contend?
Ken N, Unionville
A: Nah, I’m not stepping on toes, at all. I’m helping out in a staffing crunch by taking a few games off the hands of regular baseball writers who work hard enough as it is. Just a collaborative effort to keep the department running and I’m just happy to volunteer to help out when they need it.
I think, so far, the Jays have been a bit of a disappointment because they don’t pitch the ball nearly as well as was expected and if that doesn’t get corrected, 2012 will be more of the same.