The end of the weekend mail, as usual
A good weekend, people.
A very good weekend.
Q: Hello Doug, baseball question.
The better pitching duo: Halladay and Lee or R. Johnson and Schilling? If not one of these, who would you say is the best starting duo?
RA M, Charlottetown
A: I guess since you’re doing Halladay-Lee vs. Johnson-Schilling you’re not talking about the same era.
So, if that’s the case I’ll see you Koufax-Drysdale and end the conversation. And I’m sure other Irregulars will do things like Spahn and Sain (and pray for rain) and so many others I can’t think of them.
But, if it’s just the two you mentioned, I want Halladay and Lee; but I really want Koufax and Drysdale.
Q: Hey Doug, In all your years on the beat, has anyone ever offered you any type of inducement (cash, favours, what have you) to write (or not write) something? And if so, with as much detail as you feel you can use, can you tell us what happened?
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: Never happened, actually. Not in all my years have I been offered a legitimate inducement either way. Sure, guys have joked “you’re not going to write that, are you?” and then I do.
Q: Greetings oh scribe. A thought came to me the other day and I'm curious about the plausibility of this idea rather than the probability. Given that the players are already participating in non-sanctioned basketball games, the inability of NBA teams to have direct contact with the players, and that contractual restrictions "preventing someone from making a living" could be challenged in a court of law I ask this: could a current NBA player play football in the NFL? After all, Lebron was an all-state wide receiver once upon a time. I can think of a few teams that could use slot-back with a fearsome leap or quick safety in a cover-2 defense.
Mike D, Oshawa
A: Since their contracts at not technically in place, there’s no reason – except common sense and the concern about career-ending injury – to preclude them from doing that.
Q: Let's make this tough on you, top 5 coolest (outside of the game) Raptors, and the bottom 5 Raps. Coaches included in the discussion.
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I need to put it this way: The players are generally 20 to 30 years younger than I am, we have diametrically different backgrounds and views on the world and the level of “things in common” is non-existent. So I’m not sure of, and certainly not interested in, what they do outside the game. That said, I know Julian Wright’s a budding music producer and that’s cool; Oak was an accomplished chef and that’s cool and Acie Earl dabbled in music and that’s kind of neat. But we never really discussed it much.
I will say this: The most interesting people associated with the team – for life’s accomplishments and what they did – were all coaches and front office types.
That’d be Wayne Embry, who ran teams and businesses; Alex English, who does poetry and acting; John McClendon, who was a legend and Hall of Famer for his basketball background; Sam Mitchell, who’d entertain you on any number of topics if you had the time; and Isiah Thomas, whose background was terribly interesting.
As for the bottom five: I presume their were dozens and dozens of kids who did nothing but play basketball and video games, to pick out five does a disservice to the other 50 or so.
Q: Doug how about your list of your top 5 people named Elvis!?
Mike K, London
A: Man, this got to be a tough one.
I’m going to give you Costello, Presley, Stojko and Grbac and I’m sure anyone you ask would probably rattle those off just as quickly as I did.
But, since I didn’t know an Elvis growing up, which would have been a rather obtuse but legitimate fifth, and because I can’t remember ever watching Elvis Andrus play baseball, I’m going with a kid I read about in a New Yorker or Vanity Fair piece on his troubled dad.
And since I remember doing an Elvis Costello thing here not too long ago ..
Q: Hi Doug: Since you are officially a seamhead, what's your opinion on MLB's MVP award - can/should it go to a pitcher?
Tim H, Windsor
Now, I can certainly see the argument that the Cy Young Award is the de facto pitcher’s MVP award, I have to say that if a pitcher is deserving of the MVP, too, he should get it and if he was the runaway best, I’d have no problem casting that vote and no problem accepting on as the winner.
(Full disclosure: I’ve never had a major league baseball ballot of any kind, was an BBWAA member a year or two in the early 90s but not long enough to vote).
But here’s the other thing that neither of them addressed: Since there’s no first-year Cy Young Award, can the kid Nova from the Yankees be a pitcher who wins Rookie of the Year? I’d say yes.
Q: Hello Doug! Can we do a bit of haute cuisine? Since your Something Of A Seamhead, why don't we talk that staple of ballparks everywhere, the Hot Dog. While I prefer my chocolate unfettered with nuts 'n gooey stuff, I love my Hot Dogs Excessively Topped. Chili, sauerkraut, onions, jalapenos, coleslaw, mayo, relish, salsa, bacon (duh!!!) and any type of cheese that's handy. The dog's the base and you just let your imagination go wild with the toppings is how I roll. So, how about you? Like hotdogs? Like 'em plain, jazzed up or impossibly teeteringly loaded? And are you picky about your buns? Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: I have to preface this by saying I’m far more a hot Italian sausage guy than a hot dog guy but …
If you were to sprinkle some aged cheddar and some Dijon mustard on the top and maybe run a thin strip of chili along the top, I’d be quite fine with that, actually. Enough toppings without losing the main course.
Buns? Not toasted but something substantial that won’t fall apart under the weigh of it all. Oh, and NO WHOLE WHEAT. I believe my body would rebel.
Q: Hi Doug. I found it pretty frustrating to watch Canada play in the FIBA America's tournament. Too many one-dimensional players on the floor at once led to a stagnant offense for much of the tournament.
Moving forward, what is the plan for the future? I like Carl English's game most of the time, but he was forcing everything and hurt the team. English is a good example of why the team struggles.
Does Canada move out some of the veterans and build around the young players? They will struggle, but there is the opportunity for them to grow together. Of course, NBA players on Team Canada didn't have a huge impact on the tournament.
Kevin M, Maple
A: Of course they should turn it over to the kids like Joseph and Thompson and Kabongo and Wiggins and Birch and Wiltjer and whatever the next wave is, while keeping some “young” experience like Olynyk and Rautins and Kendall and guys of that vintage. They need to look legitimately at developing that talent with an eye to the 2014 worlds, 2016 Olympics and 2018 worlds but it’s easier said than done because they need those guys to want to play and that’s far from a certainty.
That said, the guys who have been around a few years should be commended for their service to the program and their country but, if they can get the kids, that’s the way to go.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks, as always, for the work you put into your blog. Two questions for you this time:
Whenever the real games begin, and you have to refer to Ron Artest, what are you going to call him in your articles? The player formerly know as Ron Artest? By his now approved moniker of Metta World Peace? Metta?
Assuming the 2011/12 season is wiped out because of the lockout, how are they going to run the 2012 draft? (I keed, I keed).
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: The history books are full of NBA players who’ve changed their named (Chris Jackson-Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf; Lloyd Free-World B. Free, Lew Alcindor-Kareem Abdul Jabbar) so it’s Metta World Peace all the way. The only thing is, and I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere, is this: Is his last name Peace or World Peace? I’m figuring it’s Peace so that’s what he’ll be called on second reference.
Q: Hi Doug. Great Kevin Willis anecdote in your blog this week. The "Big Fella" was one of my all time favorite Raptors as, from my vantage point, during his time here he was a consummate professional.
My question is about the strength of the players union and perhaps your general thoughts as to how difficult a task it must be for D-Fish and Billy Hunter to keep this group in line?
My experience has been, similar to Wall Street saying we don't have a debt crisis and then over the course of a weekend Lehman Brothers collapses and all hell breaks out, when a bunch of NBA players stand together so early in the process and say we are all united together.....well there probably are some cracks in the foundation.
Mike D, Cambridge
A: I’m not sure it’s so much the players that Fisher and Hunter have to worry about as it is the agents who have their own agendas – they don’t get paid if there are no new contracts – to push along and who are as much a hindrance to the problem as a help, in my opinion.
The players? They do seem to listen to the union leadership and are quite able to reach their own decisions but when there’s another voice in their ears, it’s counter-productive.
But I tell you, I wouldn’t want that job for all the money in the world because if players start missing paydays, the clamour from the less-well-off to get a deal done will be huge.
Q: Dear Doug, kudos for doing this daily while there's so little to report.
Not a question, but a correction, if I may. Shrempf didn't play Euroball, having gone directly to U Wash and then to the Sonics. Perhaps Kirilenko for the tenth spot.
Frank B, Toronto
A: Oops. Sure, I’ll trade you Kirilenko for Schremp, no problem at all. But I forgot Pau.
Q: Hi Doug, baseball question for you. Last week Brady and Lang on the Fan590 morning show were having a discussion about how baseball is not popular with the younger generation because they perceive the game as boring, too long, and too slow in our fast paced modern world. I was wondering if you agree with this and what you think can be done to perhaps make the game more appealing for a younger generation of fans. Perhaps installing a pitch clock? Thank You.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: Jim and Clubber? Never listen to ‘em so I’ll take your word for it.
Anyway, while it’s true that a baseball game unfolds at its own sedate pace, it’s part of the beauty of the game. And just because some teens and 20-somethings have attention span of gnats, I don’t advocate any change at all. And, trust me, if the team here starts to win and contend, the slowness of the game won’t matter to kids who want to go to the ballpark.
Q: Hey Doug, seeing how well you did crossing over to cover baseball, and since it appears we're going to be spared another Raptors rebuilding year, what are the chances of you covering some pucks this year? Some live blogging from a Leaf's game would be uber cool.
Darren M, Sudbury
A: If there’s basketball – and there will be – I’ll be there but there may be some special bonus pucks stuff for a day or two. We’ll let you know.
Q: I know it's been a year already since the crazyness of last year's Wade, Bosh, James, uniting in Miami, but with a new season of basketball upon us (maybe), the disappointment of another lost Toronto sports star still lingers, along with some of the questions surrounding everyones 'decision'. I'm no guru when it comes to cap management, but it seemed to me that Miami anticipated these stars coming available, and put themselves in a great position getting rid of salary at the end of the 2009-10 season to be able to take on the likes of the new 'big three'.
I know Toronto is a much 'different' (as Bosh would say) sell to players than a Miami, but why wouldn't/didn't our supposed GM saviour Colangilo make a similar attempt to clean house and make room for a group of superstars?
EJ S, Toronto
A: It was actually two players and one of their own and the Heat spent years clearing cap room on the off-chance each would take less than the maximum value contact to play together. Other teams cleared space – Chicago, New York, New Jersey come quickly to mind – and got nothing, or at least not multiple big names, out of it.
I suppose if Bryan had the big ticket salaries to shed – he didn’t – and the willingness to give up on seasons, he might have spent a couple of years tearing down on the off-chance he could have attracted some big-ticket players. Of course, about 25 other GMs could have done that, too.