This mail will certainly help pass the time
Well, you folks have done the usual good job.
And while I’m off putting the Mighty Rockies through a workout, you read this, okay?
Q: Hello Doug. So with the dramatic finish of Tuesday's Jays game in mind (and good on you for seeing before many that Encarnacion was indeed safe) wondering if you could summon up from the deepest recesses, baseball's biggest blown calls. The game changers, or maybe even series-changers. The ones that will forever be debated. And depending which 'side' of the call you were on, either lamented or lauded. Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: How about I give you two off the top of my head and we’ll see what others can come up with:
(And, no, am not including Jim Joyce’s blown call at first that cost the Tiger kid the perfect game because it’s too recent and everyone remembers it; same with the blown call a second that cost the Jays a triple play in a World Series game).
Don Denkinger, 1985 World Series, Game 6
The guy totally blows a safe-out call at first in the bottom of the ninth in a 1-0 game. His blown call (he’s got the guy safe when he’s out) allows the Kansas City Royals to score two runs and steal the game; they go on to win Game 7 by 11-0 or something ridiculous like that over the St. Louis Cards.
The kicker? Denkinger moved from first in Game 6 to work home plate in Game 7 and he ends up tossing a couple of Cards for complaining over calls.
Larry Barnett, 1975 World Series, Game 3
Now, maybe it’s because I was a big Red Sox fan at the time but this one kills me.
Sox-Red Series, bottom of the 10th, Cesar Geronimo singles to lead it off. Ed Armbrister tries to bunt him over, he gets the ball down in front of the plate but clearly runs into Carlton Fisk trying to field the ball.
Easy call, right? Interferece, hitter’s out, runner back to first.
But, nooooo. Barnett doesn’t make the call, Fisk throws the ball into centrefield after the Armbrister collision and Joe Morgan drives in the winning run as Red win 6-5.
Hated Larry Barnett for a very long time for a horrible call in what might be one of the best World Series of all time.
Q: So Doug, now that the dust has settled on the draft, I wanted to ask about what "type" of player you personally would prefer to be drafted, in general terms, since of course we know in the end it's all about you. A few possibilities, feel free to cross-breed them into the perfect grunt's choice:
A funny guy always great with a quote?
A quiet guy who is always courteous and helpful?
A flashy, exciting player who will drive up fan interest?
A very solid player who improves the win count, but has limited language skills?
A guy with "personal issues" that makes for unexpected drama?
A feel-good underdog-type with a great back story? Create away, rank characteristics or however you want to do it.
After building your perfect draft pick, let's build the perfect team for you to cover. The team itself, in terms of how attractive they would be to write about, and perhaps individual players on said teams. The arena, for facilities, grunt seating, food, staff, wi-fi, etc. The city, for the scenery, pleasures, attractions, watering holes and so on that it offers. The fans, for the atmosphere, support, knowledge, etc. Anything else you care to add.
(So for example, you'd like to cover the Warriors in Chicago with the transplanted Conseco Fieldhouse full of converted ex-OKC fans)
Jonathan M, Tokyo
A: If I could find a well-spoken, learned young man with an interesting and continuing back-story (maybe he writes, or makes music, or something like that) who isn’t afraid to express an opinion in well thought-out sentences and who would speak to us every day while dominating the game, I’d be more than happy.
A monosyllabic teen who has done nothing in his life except play basketball and who has a disdain for the media would be other side of the coin.
Okay, you’ve pretty much taken the best of the second part of that question with Conseco and the Oklahoma City fans but I’d put it in Boston since Seattle’s not a possibility at the moment. And I don’t know what specific team it would be it’d be coached by a guy like Doc Rivers or Stan Van Gundy, it would have a roster of 30-somethings who’d been in the league a decade or more each, it would perennially challenge for a championship, would be owned by an individual and not a faceless corporation, the GM would return all phone calls and offer news at the drop of a hat. The wireless would work perfectly in the press-room and courtside, the media dining would be catered by Staples Centre people and Jim LaBumbard and his blokes would be the PR staff.
And I’d be one happy camper.
Q: Hi Doug. Since you travel quite a bit, and are known to be quite the fashionista, how about a list of the top five fashion no-no's that you've seen? Things like wearing skinny jeans when you're 75 pounds overweight?
Tim H, Windsor
A: Socks with sandals.
Suspenders and a belt.
Any kind of midriff-showing shirt on a grown man.
Anyone over the age of 15 wearing a replica basketball jersey and nothing underneath.
Q: What are the top 10 sports bars that have hit in your journeys?
David S, Toronto
A: Here’s the thing: How do you define a “sports bar?” A place with TVs and chicken wings? Place where fans go before, after or to watch games? Tough to nail it down, isn’t it?
Tell you what, though. With so many to choose from and it being difficult to pick one over the other, here’s 10 from the road you should try to get to. They all have TVs, fans go there and the food’s not bad.
The Fours in Boston.
Mike’s in some condo building right next to the Biscayne Bay Marriott in Miami; it’s on the ninth floor of a building, you have to ask directions at the hotel, they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
RiRa in Charlotte, great Irish place.
Frank and Izzy’s in Indy, a cousin of St. Elmo’s steakhouse.
Major Goolsby’s in Milwaukee; make sure you have a sausage.
Half Moon Grill in Phoenix; you can stumble home to the Courtyard on Camelback, I’m told.
The Kell’s in Portland. Not a true sports bar but a good joint.
Clyde’s in Washington, D.C.; next door to Verizon Centre, huge place, great food and kitchen open late.
Hoops in Auburn Hills; divey, just the way I like it.
The Field House, Philadelphia. Across the street from Reading Market, a zillion TVs and typically loud, passionate Philly sports fans.
Q: A baseball question for Mr. Smith, the baseball writer. Why is the catcher allowed to block the plate if he doesn't have the ball? Why is the runner allowed to hit the catcher as hard as he wants (with a running start)? In the "concussion era" does this make sense to anyone?
A basketball question for Mr. Smith, the basketball writer. What are the top five head-scratching (on draft night) Raptor draft picks? That is, when the Raptors picked someone long before that person was expected to be drafted. We all know Araujo over Iguodala was awful, but was Araujo projected to be picked that much later that on draft night everyone gasped at the Raptor pick? Also, it's been a while since you've given us a good Araujo story. Please regale us with one.
Alan G, Toronto
A: You block the plate, or set up to block the plate to brace yourself for a collision and if no play develops, you get out of the way. And I know it’s the “concussion era” and all but trying to knock the ball out of catcher’s glove is an accepted baseball practice, just as is sliding hard into second base to break up a double play and it’s just what you do.
Araujo? Not sure where he was projected but it sure as heck wasn’t in the top 10 so that is by far and away the most mystifying pick.
Now, to find four more? That’s a bit tough given that they’ve only and 14 or 15 first round picks ever and a lot of them were solid.
But I guess you’d put Michael Bradley, Alex Radojevic, maybe Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham on the list.
An Araujo story? Well, Sam used to joke the kid worked so hard that if you put him in a gym with a chicken, he would chase it around until he caught it. One night during a game, he missed an assignment or did something totally wrong, Sam looked over and I think he might have laughed when I said: “Hey, maybe you should play games against chickens.”
Q: Doug. You piqued my interest with a couple of passing comments this week in the blog. The first is that the new Canadian league should not have floated the idea of having NBA players come out and play because it is generally silly. I happen to live in Kingston and city council here just turned down locating a team to the 401 corridor (I choice that was intelligent for this particular municipality) but during that process it came out that the cap for each team is to be $150 000 for the whole 10 - 12 man roster. I can ascertain from this paltry number--in relative terms--that when they floated the idea to NBA players they didn't really mean to "sign" them, but rather to get some pizzazz names in local papers to drive out fans. The benefit for the players would be that they get to play the game full (non-NBA) speed with 10 people on the court.
Similarly, in a separate blog post you mentioned that there may not be a guy on the Raptors that gets them together to run.
How important is it for a team to get out and run together in the off-season? How important is it for a player of NBA talent to get out and play, no matter who his team-mates or opponents are (within reason), just so they are immersed in a game?
Side-question to the Canadian league: Have you spoken to anyone involved to see what kind of talent they are recruiting out of? Canadian universities and colleges? NCAA D1 kids who didn't go on to play anywhere else? I can't imagine they can afford too much in relocation and travel fees...just curious. Thanks Doug.
Mr. C, Kingston
A: I’m not sure it’s all that important right now that full teams get together, probably more a bonus more than anything.
But when it’s going to be felt is if this drags into September because that’s usually the time six or eight or 10 guys are back in the winter homes and going through “informal” workouts at the team facilities. It’s like a pre-training camp and is usually a good time to indoctrinate rookies, catch up with old teammates, maybe bond and hang out a little and get a leg up on the season. That’s not going to happen if the teams can’t open their gyms to their players and I’m not sure I see a guy on the Raptors who’d say, “hey, let’s all meet in this city for this length of time all work out together at this gym.”
As for the Canadian league? I’m not entirely sure who they’re going to target but the Canadian content – two players per team was the last I heard – will likely be old CIS grads and maybe a couple of kids who’ve been lost in the NCAA.
Q: Hey Doug, Hope you are well, glad you enjoyed the baseball. With Deron Williams off to Turkey (should some of the season go) do you think that will turn into a trend?
From the sounds of it, BC Lietuvos Rytas is a pretty small club (1700 seat venue, except for "important" games which are at the 11000 seat venue) do you think any Raptors would consider playing for them if the NBA starts to lose games? (I put it at .02% but that might be high). If JV, ED, and DDR are meant to be our foundation, it wouldn't hurt if they could meet early. This isn't the same as playing at rec centres in Mississauga, but it would be a run and better than just pylons and drills - or?
If you were Dermar's agent (or wise family member) what would you advice him to do if things look grim by end of August?
Brook N, Toronto
A: I don’t presume any Raptor currently under contract will go anywhere and play if the start of the season is delayed. That’s in Lithuania, or Spain, or Greece, or Italy or anywhere.
Now, if I’m DeMar’s agent, I tell him to sit and wait, work out, don’t go on any stupid shopping sprees and if some group of players wants to do some barnstorming tour of exhibition games, I try to get him in.
Q: Hey Doug. In your vast travels of the World, is there one memorable occasion were you got lost?
Bob W, Winnipeg
A: Athens, 1998. World basketball championships. Decided I’d take a bit of a morning to check out the Plaka. Got so turned around and confused I had no idea how to get back to where I was to meet up with a friend. Did, somehow, and found an English-speaking cabbie and got back to my hotel. Had visions of wandering those tiny streets for the rest of my life.
Q: Doug, with Yao leaving the game, and thank you for your acknowledgement of what he meant to the game and the NBA, is there anybody else whom we should appreciate as a player while we still can, either as a player or for their contribution to the game? My list includes Grant Hill, Steve Nash, and Shane Battier. They will not have the impact Yao did, but we should be reminded of what some players bring to the sport, either on the court or off.
As always, thanks.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Well, you stole the three I would have mentioned right off the top, that’s for sure.
But how about Ray Allen? The guy has had a stellar career that’s been multi-faceted (anyone remember the year he was in the dunk contest?) and he’s handled himself with professionalism and class all these years he’s been in the league. A pro’s pro.
I’d probably put Derek Fisher on the list to round out a top five.
Q: Not going to spoil the Treme finale except to say, I surprised the finale happened so soon. What was it, 6-8 shows? Have to say that overall it was as disappointing a season as the first was a delight. Love the music, love the locals and get I get hungry every episode, but I gotta ask, who gets killed next year. First Goodman, then Earle! Hope it's one we applaud on the way out! Hope you get to see the finale! If you'd like to try something a couple of things with the BBQ, some Big Rock Light with Lime from Calgary and Bananas Foster, though not necessarily together.
Cheers and Bon Appetit!
Scott M, Ilderton
A: I use this solely so I can say I, too, was disappointed a bit in the Treme season, athough I’ve yet to see the final episode (think that might be a good Sunday night On Demand thing to do). Not sure I liked the introduction of the Dallas dudes trying to rip off the locals too much but the music is still outstanding and a lot of the storylines compelling.
Q: Hello Doug. During the lockout, what do you think will happen to a player who gets injured doing none basketball activities (biking, water sports and etc), something similar to the case with Monte Ellis?
And second, what will happen to players who were on their last year contract. Is it going to resume next year, or they will became free agents?
Alex V, Toronto
A: Not sure anything would “happen” to them other than everyone knowing they’re idiots for putting careers at risk when there’s no guarantee of any income for a while.
And I would imagine in the unlikely situation that a whole season is lost – and we are really getting ahead of ourselves here – that if a contract expires in June, 2012, it will still expire.
Q: Doug. I agree with your assessment (of Deron Williams). I also think it could be a red herring. Players trying to use it to force the issue with owners.
But if it is true will this not put pressure on the players' association?
I can only see three types of players going; Weems-type, that will stay for a year or two and are not on contract in the NBA, the superstar type, and perhaps the European stars in the NBA who have a following already and are a second level of the superstar area.
Given the money in Europe, I cannot see much more than the superstars in the NBA getting the release clause. If the guys making 10 plus million go and make a couple in Europe, what message does that give the guys being told to "stand" and live on their savings?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I think it truly shows it’s a “take care of yourself” world they live in. So much for union solidarity. Not sure it’ll have any lasting impact on relationships or the players’ association but it does send a signal that some guys are simply out to get theirs.
Q: Hya Doug. Was just looking over at the different NBA team websites, when I came across what I thought was an interesting ploy by the Warriors (now coached by our ex-Rap Mark Jackson) to attract season-ticket purchases. Maybe you've seen it - the Articles of Agreement ... I found it interesting to see from a marketing standpoint. Any thoughts from your end? Have you seen something like this? Think our Heroes would ever do something like this? Thanks for reading
Avinash F, Woodbridge
A: I went and looked at your suggestion and to paraphrase it: It promises four things – Warriors make the playoffs, have an all-star go at least 25-16 at home, and they’ll pay interest on deposits if games are lost.
The “penalties” range from giving fans memorabilia, autograph sessions, and the financial return if the lockout drags on.
Not a bad idea, actually; and one I think these guys should try to mimic in some way. Maybe not go as far as to “promise” something but finding some way to offer solid, tangible benefits if they fail to improve or impress might not be a bad idea at all. I doubt the HOTH will do it but they probably should.
Q: Hi Doug. I just finished the book recounting the history of ESPN. It was a really interesting read and if you haven't already, I recommend you pick it up. My question: why can't we get ESPN in Canada? I have access to many specialty channels showing children's beauty pageants, cake making and the like. Why can't I get the single most interesting channel to sports fans to come along in 30 years? I realize that TSN is partly owned by ESPN and how that's a challenge politically, but here's the rub: I'm not a hockey fan and TSN doesn't cut it. The crown jewel of ESPN is SportsCenter and as far as I can tell, it has never been aired in Canada. Getting ESPN on air in Canada is a monumental challenge given that cable providers are also content providers in Canada but how do you see it happening?
BTW - #1 problem with US players on the Raptors and Jays teams who experience "cultural issues" would be that they can't see themselves on SportsCenter.
Hugh H, Toronto
A: You can’t get ESPN – and likely never will – because the CRTC has this odd mentality that we have to protect Canadian business interests instead of making them compete, get better and give the people what they want.
Twisted? Yeah, a bit. Means conglomerates like TSN or Sportsnet don’t have to worry a bit about outside competition.
So, no, I don’t see it ever happening.
Q: I'm not a fan of the dunk contest, but I admit, I thoroughly enjoyed NBA TV's recently replay of the '76 ABA dunk contest (Dr. J, the Iceman, Artis, etc..)
Now, the NBA seems to have incorporated the best of ABA marketing already, but they really should bring in the red, white, and blue ball for regular season games. Beyond looking cool, you really get a feel for the spin on the ball coming out of these guys' hands...
My question for you, relating to the ABA and knowing your love of lists: Best/worst athlete hair ever? You can restrict to NBA/ABA if you'd like, but then you'd be doing a disservice to the Jagr/Agassi Worst Mullet debate...
Thanks for all you do!
Jay M, London
A: Hands down, the worst hair I’ve ever seen on athlete is the abomination that is Chris Andersen when he gets dolled up to play for Denver.
But Dennis Rodman’s multi-coloured ‘do would be a close second and I think Ron Artest showed up one time with a mohawk that didn’t quite work.
Best? Not sure there is a “best” but I used to like Oak’s little twisty things and Ben Wallace with the ‘fro always caught my attention.
Anything that was mullet or mullet-like would be on the banned list on my team, thankfully it’s not endemic to basketball.
And there was a soccer dude, Valderrama I think his name was, who had a shock of yellow-blonde hair that was quite something.