The start of the weekend mail, Aug. 13 edition
All right, folks, here’s the deal.
I’ve got about four questions leftover to get us through Sunday morning after I stopped looking late Friday afternoon ‘cause a stool was beckoning (Hello, Mick and Angelo’s).
Now, depending on what happens with the Mighty Rockies today and what kind of celebrations or commiserating unfolds that might be enough but, really, I could use some more. You know how.
Q: Greetings, just read the piece that deals with Brian McIntyre. Among other thoughts, I found myself wondering if there are marked differences in how the media is dealt with between the assorted professional leagues? Obviously the content would be sport specific but are there subtleties in how the NBA may see the value of the media involvement that the pucks, as an example, don't necessarily share?
Thanks, as always, for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: There aren’t a lot of big differences, actually, but you have to realize I’m somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to some of the other sports and the day-to-day stuff. Basketball players, for instance, do their post-game stuff in front of their lockers, baseball players are brought to one spot.
But as for how the sports deal with us? It’s basically the same, I think. I’m not sure we’re the favourites of some who works for a team – we can be a demanding lot when it comes to requests for one-on-one time and there certainly are a lot of us in Toronto – but for the most part we’re treated well and the guys at the teams in our city are good.
I do think the age has long gone where teams feel that newspapers are remotely important in getting their names out to the public. With team websites and in some instances team television networks, the era has long gone where newspapers were seen as something that could “help” a team get publicity. I think that’s made us, in some cases and certainly not with the Raptors, as much a nuisance as anything.
The leagues are rather consistent: They have media policies that dictate when players and coaches have to be available to writers and broadcasters – it differs sport-to-sport by dint of tradition and pre-game rituals – and they are fair enough.
Q: Favourite Raptors coach and why?
Cary G, Jasper
A: Isn’t that like asking which is your favourite kid?
Anyway, for the combination of quotability, access, social interaction, coaching ability, success, longevity, it’s a dead heat between Butch and Sam.
What you want in a coach is all those traits I just mentioned and both of them had ‘em in spades.
Now, that’s not to take away from Jay, Brendan, Darrell, KO and Lenny but those two stood out.
Truth is, I got along with all of ‘em pretty well – I found Lenny a tad condescending and had issues with his work ethic – and that’s made the job a bit easier.
Q: Would you have written the ESPN story regarding alleged stealing of signs by the Blue Jays based on the information of four anonymous sources without speaking to any members of the Blue Jays organization or any ex Blue Jays for their side? If not, what would you have done differently?
Steven C, Toronto
A: Actually, the original report did speak to a member of the Jays organization – GM Alex Anthopoulos – but, no, I don’t think I would have gone with what I knew would be an inflammatory story based solely on four anonymous players without having reached some former member of the Toronto organization. It’s not like there aren’t any around to find and it’s not like it was a story that had to get out right then because others were chasing it, too. There was plenty of time to do a little bit more work.
Q: Hi Doug! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought sign stealing was, if not a glorious part of the game, at least a recognized part of it. Isn't that what is referred to as "the game within the game", and if you allow your signs to be stolen, well that's just too bad. Really, what is all the fuss about? Thanks. (And how can an "investigative" story use only anonymous sources and finish by saying the "evidence" may be "circumstantial"?)
Lorie P, London
A: Much ado, as the guy said, about nothing.
But stealing signs by artificial means – cameras, guys in stands, etc. – is rather verboten. The other means to stealing signs and tipping teammates off – by runners, base coaches, bench coaches, what have you – is a time-honoured baseball tradition.
Q: You asked, so here I go!
How about another list question? You may have to ask others about this topic - I don't know how familiar you are with it.
Top five desserts (generic or specific - you choose).
Thanks again for keeping us entertained even though there is precious little basketball going on!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Can I go with:
And fresh fruit (on healthy days)
(Sense a trend?)
Seriously, though, I’d probably go with a nice chocolate mousse cake, some fresh raspberries lightly sprinkled with sugar, a strong cup of coffee and a biscotti of any description, a nice variety of fruit isn’t too bad, either, and I’ve come to appreciate a red velvet cupcake every now and then.
But, and this is the honest truth, I’m not a big dessert guy. A nice espresso does just fine.
Q: Doug, with the continued growth of Twitter and other social media sites, I was curious as to whether NBA players (or athletes in any other sport for that matter) were subject to any rules and regulations beyond the standard expectation that players don't use Twitter and the like during games. I am, admittedly, a Twitter addict, and follow a handful of NBA players and was curious as to whether their respective NBA teams or the league as a whole are concerned with players and the type of language they use from time to time, or topics they discuss, online.
Will M, Ottawa
A: You’re right on the league-imposed ban on all social media during games, which runs from 45 minutes to tip off until the locker room is open to the media and includes halftime.
But other than that, all the league does is warn – through its educational program and media training sessions – of the dangers that go with inappropriate use of Twitter, Facebook, what-have-you. The players are free to do as they see fit, although most realize there are repercussions to everything they do or say on social media sites. Or they should.
Q: Doug, is the lockout just players vs. owners?
I feel that there is a real owner vs. owner thing going on. I cannot imagine one of the big four to six teams (Lakers, NY) wanting the season to be a wash; they simply make too much money.
So, are the smaller market teams leading this to get force revenue sharing (say part of the Lakers' 2 billion dollar deal?)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I think there’s very much a component of owner vs. owner in this and that’s where David Stern has to walk a very delicate. A lot of these newish owners – Prokhorov in Jersey, Jordan in Charlotte, the guy in Detroit who’s name escapes me, Leonsis in Washington – bought at a very significant price and could very well be pushing for a drastically new economic system so they can get a good return on their investment. Other owners who’ve been around and, perhaps, bought low, may be more amenable to a settlement so they can get on with making money. How David handles factions in his own group could very well determine what he eventually does with the players.
Not sure it’s exactly “small market vs. big market” as it is “new guys vs. more established guys” but it’s a big part of the process.
Q: Interesting to hear the news about the formation of a semi-pro basketball league in Canada. Wish there was a franchise located in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Made me wonder why the NBA has not set up a minor league system, similar to MLB and the NHL.
Surely there are enough players state side, there are enough medium sized city's scattered around the country, and there certainly is a large following of basketball in many pockets around the country.
One would think that there is money to be made for the owners, and that in theory, a minor developmental league would be a place to hone the talents of those that are not quiet ready. There would likely be more media attention (aka Lawrie's recent call up to the Jays).
I must be missing something - help me out Doug.
Steve C, Waterloo
A: For decades, there was no need for an NBA-sponsored minor league – I’m not sure there is one now, actually – because the colleges did the job and there was such little turnover it was no cost-effective. I still think that holds true.
But we are seeing the emergence of the D League as legitimate business opportunity – and training ground – for NBA franchises.
Don’t forget, too, that even though there hasn’t been any direct involvement with the NBA, there have been “minor leagues” operating in a variety of small cities for years. Because they are so regional, though, you never hear of them.
Q: Doug, do you think the current economic situation impacts ongoing negotiations between the players and owners? And would you comment on the fact that many NBA players seem willing to go to other leagues to play for less money then they would make in the NBA, while holding out for more money here?
As always, thanks.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: No, I don’t think it’s a part of the talks, actually, because they are looking at least half a decade into the future. Yes, times are tough for most people now in their everyday lives but the league, its teams and most players are looking further into the future.
As for players going to Europe to play fewer games with most practices and for less money under circumstances where they aren’t nearly as pampered I am firmly in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp. Talk is cheap and if 25 go, I’ll be surprised. And of those 25 if half a dozen are “stars” I’ll be even more surprised.
Q: In regards to the NBA lockout, how much sway do the game's elite players (i.e. Kobe, Wade, James, Rose, Durant, Howard etc) have with the union? Say January comes and the lockout is still going on and guys mentioned above decide they don't want to lose a season, do they have enough pull to get the union to make a deal?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: One of the more interesting dynamics in this whole thing, if it drags on and on, will be the relationship between star players (who presumably have more wealth to fall back on) and journeymen who may actually need to get paid. In the past, the stars have played a role in getting things settled – sometimes at the expense of the rookies and the lower-paid players – and they will hold some sway this time, too.
But in some ways, the most important players in this whole thing are the agents, who are a powerful group and can use that power to exert influence, one way or the other, on the union leadership.
Q: Greetings Doug. I know you've answered the question "which grunts/ink-stained wretches/fellow wordsmiths do you follow?" a half dozen times or more but I cannot find any of the answers you've given using a simple search as far too many results are crowding the screen. Could you be so kind as to post the list again or use this request as an example to convince Mother Star to assign a techie to create an faq so that we can stop pestering you with needless repeat questions?
Mike D, Oshawa
A: Yeah, I’ve got to get on to that FAQ thing, don’t I? It’s not too much a bother for me but I bet regular readers get tired in a hurry.
Anyway, if you’re talking general columnists, I’ll give you a geographically representative group of George Vescey in the New York Times, Mike Wilbon at ESPN Chicago and Bill Platchske in the pages of the L.A. Times.
If you’re talking strictly NBA basketball, you can’t go wrong with Marc Stein at ESPN.com, or Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo.com, Ken Berger at CBSsports.com or my man Sheridan out of New York. Of course, there are great guys in each city but I can’t give you a top 30.