Marilyn Monroe in the weekend mail? What a place this is!
And another day bites the dust.
I’ll have some time this morning at my Niagara local (hi, Starbucks on the Lane!) and maybe that’s when I do the NBL mock draft.
Q: Hi Doug. Nice to think back about growing up in Toronto and those Summers In The City - not just the CNE, but taking the ferry across to The Island, concerts at Ontario Place, picnics at Edwards Gardens and just wandering Yonge Street on a sunny day, window shopping and people watching. And, curiously, I happen to be reading a book right now ("Toronto Noir" and I highly recommend it) of short stories where each story is set in a different area of Toronto.
It always gives me a strange thrill to read a book, see a movie or hear a song that pays reference to specific places I know (and isn't it fun picking out Toronto landmarks in those American-made movies where T.O. stands in for New York City or Chicago???)
So, growing in Niagara Falls, I wonder if you feel the same thing when you see The Falls featured in movies or books, etc.? Can you name a favorite cultural reference or two where your hometown played a starring, or even, supporting role? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Sure, I do. In fact, one of the Grandpas was working at the Canadian Niagara power plant and was involved in either driving or being on one of the boats that shuttled this beauty in the river during filming.
Don’t for a second think that movie doesn’t hold a special place in my heart.
But other than that, there aren’t of a lot of memorable flicks with the mighty cataracts as part of them.
Q: Hi Doug. I'll be watching the progress of NBL Canada with interest. I've noticed that the two Ontario franchises, London and Oshawa, are located in communities with a rabid Junior A hockey following. Do you think this a coincidence?
With a franchise fee of $100k and a salary cap of $150k, do you think that another Junior A hockey market would dip its toe with NBL Canada? Would owners of the Guelph Storm or Kitchener Rangers look to fill their local arenas with at least another eighteen home dates? And if they do, will they take a page from the MLSE playbook and tie in hockey season ticket packages with basketball?
Here in Brampton, I would imagine that the Powerade Centre is largely vacant when the Batallion is not playing. Likewise with the Hershey Centre and their main tenant Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. I would definitely support a team in this neck of the woods but given the GTA's tepid support for all things not consider major league, I don't see a franchise in my neck of the woods happening.
What are your thoughts on seeing the reincarnation of the Toronto Tornados?
Roel O, Brampton
A: I think what you’ll find is that a lot of junior teams, unlike pro ones, play in arenas that they don’t own so it’s not like they’d benefit financially from a second tenant. Cities might, but I don’t think individual franchises would in a lot of cities because the arenas aren’t “theirs” per se.
Now, I also think it would be foolish for this league to look at Toronto, or even the closest suburbs like Mississauga or Brampton; I cannot see how a minor league basketball franchise could survive. I think Oshawa and London, and perhaps even Hamilton some time in the future, are far enough away that they work.
Q: Hi Doug: I don't know if you know the answer to these, but I suspect you have some pretty good resources that you can refer to.
Basketball, football, hockey and soccer (and probably others) have a "coach," who is dressed in 'street clothes.'
Baseball is (as far a I know, the only sport with a "manager" who wears the team's uniform, complete with a number!
Do you know the reason for this peculiarity?
Thanks for all you do for both the Irregulars and the not-so-irregular reader!!
Tim H, Windsor
A: I do know the reason for that peculiarity, actually. No idea why, but I do.
Back in the day – and I’m talking turn of the century (not this one) a lot of baseball “managers” were former players sticking around the game and they stayed in uniform forever and in case they, you know, wanted to come back. There have been a couple of exceptions to the rule, the most famous being Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, who was also the owner.
The major league baseball rule book only says that “coaches” need to be in uniform, aimed at the on-field first and third base coaches but the tradition has stuck with managers.
And, thankfully, we’ve been spared the sight of other pro coaches in uniform of their teams, and I’m thinking specifically of a guy like Stan Van Gundy right now.
Of course, we weren’t spared the sight of Tommy Lasorda jiggling out to the mound in a form-fitting baseball uniform, which was quite retina-burning at times.
Q: No comments about the incident between Georgetown and the Chinese team in Beiging? I'm surprised considering there are so little basketball news.
Like all news coming out of China, detail tend to be censored and sketchy. Do you know or have heard any detail on how the incident started? Any punishments handed out to those involved?
J C, Mississauga
A: Comments? On a brawl between an American college team and a Chinese club team in China. Um, guess it was bad. And maybe worse than the handful of fights that break out with regularity, it seems. Remember the one between the Canadian and Italian national teams? I remember being at one between, I believe, Brazil and Canada in Montreal a few years back. Things like that happen and while I don’t know the exact cause I would presume atrocious officiating, the escalating of physical play in the game and some minor pushing and showing got out of hand.
Punishment? Nah, don’t imagine there’ll be any.
Q: Speaking of alternatives for hardcore fans, and for grunts with time to kill, has the Star given any thought to a "full-length" NBA Live video game challenge between DeMar DeRozan and Tristan Thompson/Cory Joseph (Raps vs. Cavs or Spurs) with both players donating money to the Star Christmas Fund, and complete with a IVGTB from you. Spurs by 12, anyone?
Jim S, Thornhill
A: The only thing I know about video games is that I miss Pong so I’m thinking an NBA Live video thingy with me talking about it would be, um, useless.
Maybe some marketing whiz can put something together. Me? I’ll stick with what I pretend to know.
Q: On Around the Horn a bit ago I heard one of the panelists talk about receiving "gifts" and the other panelists derided him for it, he shot back "come on we all do it"...so that got me thinking, in light of your Butch Carter story and getting tickets and going to watch a ball game...what is your policy on receiving job related "gifts" as I am sure there must be a professional code of ethics in regards to this.
Thanks and cheers...
Doug B, Toronto
A: My policy, and one that’s pretty consistent throughout the industry, is that you take each situation on its own, judge whether or not you fear your integrity can be compromised and make a decision. I trust myself, and my boss trusts me, to make a rational decision each time out.
The strictest organizations forbid employs to “take” anything of value, ours is a bit more lenient because if I can be “bought” for a ticket or some such, or a T-shirt or some other trinket, I’m not good at my job anyway and won’t have it too long.
Q: Could you please expand on what is that Drew League, where both LeBron and Kobe played in the past days/weeks? There is not too much info on the web regarding this. Thx.
J D, Mississauga
A: I guess in a nutshell, it’s a relatively informal summer league that affords NBAers, or college kids, or anyone else for that matter, a chance to stay in a wee bit of shape while getting some so-so competition. It’s like a neighbourhood run that’s better than most.
But league’s like the Drew League or the Goodman League in Washington or the league that runs out of Rucker Park in Harlem have been around forever, you’re just hearing more of them this year because some NBA guys are making cameo appearances.
Q: Hi Doug. I am hoping the NBL does well when it starts it. Two questions for you about it. Will this league help at all for players hoping to get to the NBA? I'm thinking it is more likely to help with creating depth at the national team level.
Secondly, will the Raptors provide any type of support (openly or behind the scenes) with this league? It seems to fit the mandate they have created for themselves in helping develop Canadian basketball.
Kevin M, Maple
A: I don’t think anyone sees this now as a path to the NBA, not with the D League and Europe far more viable. If it does provide a better level of competition for Canadian kids and deepen the national team talent pool, that would be about perfect, as well as giving basketball fans in smaller cities a home team to cheer for and support.
Now, I can’t give you any specifics because it’s so early in the venture but I can be near certain that the Raptors would be glad to help out in any way they can, they do it with the national team program to advance the game, I cannot think why they wouldn’t do it – within reason – with the league.
Q: So, for you, when it really comes down to it, is it basketball or baseball?
K J, Toronto
A: Oh, it’s still basketball. I like the pace, I know the game a bit better, I much prefer losing nights to work in the winter rather than the summer. That said, having covered a dozen or so ball games so far this year has been a lot of fun. And I don’t think I’ve embarrassed myself too much by having to write a sport I haven’t written about in a couple of years.
Q: Hi Mr. Smith, always enjoy your blog, A quick question about where our Raptors are headed. To make a comparison to the Jays, it seems the GM has plans in place to build a team that can compete in a near future, along with strong players in our farm program that can possibly sustain Jay's ability to compete for long time to come. As much as I am a hard-core Raptors fan, it's hard to be optimistic for the near future. So, after all that, my specific question is whether 1) is he (BC) eyeing any players in the upcoming 2012 draft (apparently loaded with good players?) or free-agency 2) who are the building blocks? 3) with great Canadian players coming up, wouldn't it be a good idea to allow a home-grown kid to blossom in our own city? 3) has he got any plans? :(_Thanks for your work!
Soohun C, Toronto
A: Quick point: Do not ever make a comparison between the Jays and the Raptors, it’s apples and oranges. Baseball has a zillion-round draft and a chance to store players in the minors for years and basketball has a salary cap and strict financial rules teams must operate under. To mention them in the same breath doesn’t make sense.
Now, to the specifics:
No one has given a specific though to the 2012 draft, no.
Yes, he would have “targets” in free agency but he hasn’t seen fit to share them with me because no one has a clue what the financial rules will be.
The building blocks would be DeRozan, Davis, Montiejunas, Valanciunas, to some extent Johnson and Johnson and Calderon, Bayless and Bargnani. Many of whom, of course, would be traded in a second for the right deal.
If Bryan could get one of the next wave of good Canadian kids when they might be ready to play in the NBA in a couple of seasons, he probably would but nationality would never be the tipping point, nor do I think it should be.
Q: Over the last 5/10 years I have sensed a concerted effort by the NBA to be a 12 month a year enterprise. Now with the lockout they have regressed to being an October to May league. And of course in the case of the lottery teams a much shorter event then that. So when the new CBA is signed do you seem them trying to get back to the level or has the damage been done. In other words I see you covering Jay's games in July/August for years to come :-)
To make this question complete I would also need to throw in a question about the grill (hope it's busy) and music but both escape me at the moment.
John P, Minneapolis
A: Once this thing gets settled I’m sure we’ll be back to the same old schedule. That’ll be regular season late October to April, playoffs until mid-June, draft, free agency, summer league, downtime in August and getting back at it with informal camps in September before the real thing starts again.
So, I guess I could be free to do some ball in August but I think next year I’ll be spending three weeks or so in London doing Olympic things.