And now the end of the weekend mail
Good job, folks.
And a couple of nifty lists to do during the week, when things look like they might slow down greatly.
Q: Dire straits Doug!? We can't have that.
I was wondering, looking back on your career as a grunt, were there any unexpected surprises, good or bad, that never really crossed your mind as possibilities when you were considering a career as a grunt? Was there anything that you were completely unprepared for or things that role models didn't mention because they felt you should 'experience' it rather than be told about it?
Dominique K, Ottawa
A: Best surprise I got? When former People’s Wire Service sports editor Ross Hopkins told me I’d be covering the 1992 Barcelona Olympics because never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be good enough, or work somewhere big enough, to get that kind of gig. Six Games later with maybe a seventh to come and I’m still excited that I made it that far.
Now, I’ve had some good friends prepare me for pretty much everything I do but I don’t think it was ever made clear to me how difficult some deadlines might be and how hard it is to write clear, concise, entertaining and informative copy in mere minutes. They can tell you it’s hard but until you have 19,000 people screaming and an entire story changing in seconds and you have to file now, you can’t understand it.
Oh, and, of course, no one ever saw this interweb thing coming, did they?
Q: OK, you sound desperate, so how's this? Have you ever actually been at, or been involved in, a real Bun Toss? If so, is it fun?
Tim H, Windsor
A: Last time I was at anything where buns were tossed, playfully, mind you, I was the groom.
Other than that, haven’t been in a lot of food fights. Think it’s one of those things that sounds better than it actually is.
Q: Hello Doug. When Brian C. says he wants to "acquire the right pieces, the correct pieces to keep adding", how do you interpret that? If he's not looking to do much with free agency this fall, and if he's not banking on draft picks next spring because they're the proverbial "crap shoot, must be trades, right? What's left?
How do you see this team progressing? Or do you you?
Thanks again for the blog!
David M, Ottawa
A: I can see him exploring some trade stuff and he did make specific mention of another draft pick after the 2011-12 season so he sees that as a piece, as well.
But I see the progression – for good or bad – coming simply from the maturation of a young group that wasn’t sure what it was doing at times last year. With DeRozan, Valanciunas (eventually), Davis, maybe Bayless if he develops, Amir Johnson they do think the natural growth of the group will lead it to improve. Plus, no one’s sure what kind of impact Dwane Casey may have.
I still say they need a stud at the three before they can make any major step, though. And that’s where Bryan’s going to have to hit a home run.
Q: A basketball related question! As you mentioned, the Bills have a large, loyal and passionate fan base and the pucks here in the GTA have a passionate following, both despite years of ineptitude. How about Basketball? Hats off to and an acknowledgement of the loyalty and passion of us irregulars, but my perception is that we are a little more "reserved" than the aforementioned fans. What NBA team has a fan base as blindly loyal, passionate and "intense" as the NFL Bills and the NHL Leafs?
Allan F, Burlington
A: Back in the day, I probably would have said Indiana but once the Pacers fell into disarray, people stayed away in droves.
I guess the two that come quickly to mind are Portland, where they are rabid in support of the Blazers, and Oklahoma City, where every game seems to be an event to the people.
And the fact anyone went to see the Knicks for about the past six years surprises me a bit, although the Garden is still apparently a drawing card.
Q: Doug. If we revisited Naismith's original 13 rules, which one would you like to see reimplimented?
How about Rule 5? If a player gets a second foul he(or she)sits until the next basket.
Rule 7? 3 consecutive fouls by a team, 2 points awarded?
Beatles vs. Stones? Which group ripped off black R and B artists the most?
Bob E, Kanata
A: These rules? Make for an interesting night, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, I like yours, that’s for sure, but part of me wouldn’t mind:
No. 12: The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
Q: So Doug, there seem to have only been a scant few ballers who lamented that the "little people" will be out of work as well, though they greatly outnumber the hardcourt heroes.
If you please or are willing, how about a list of top-something good, bad, strange or funny moments you've had with the folks who won't be cashing their comparatively small paychecks? Angry ushers, helpful barmaids, clumsy ticket-takers, smokes stolen with towel boys, any way you like, cheers.
Jonathan M, Tokyo
A: Well, there’s a very nice woman on the scorer’s table in Minnesota who brings us cookies at the start of every game, the nice woman in the press room in Phoenix always insists that the Suns will buy us dinner instead of paying the $10 or so and I’d say almost all of ‘em are nice and pleasant and quite helpful.
There was one time, in Charlotte, I believe, where a very nice woman was somewhat startled when Stumpy let loose a vulgarity because his chair got stuck or something like that. Kind of comical in a ‘you had to be there’ kind of way.
But there are also over-officious ushers and security people – hello, Dallas! – who think a uniform and a name badge allows them to hold us up from getting to our seats or doing our jobs because the big-shots in the front row might be trying to get to their seats. That type of person irks me to no end.
Q: Hey Doug. I've been avoiding the greater bulk of lockout negotiations like the plague. I really genuinely love basketball; even as a 20 year old who has never played a game of organized basketball, I still wake up some mornings having dreamed of playing with Lebron, Nash et al. I think the media has clearly spun this as a fight between owners and players, leaving us to pick a side in the matter.
It's hard not to draw some comparisons to this whole 'Occupy' movement - the proletariat 99% versus the elite 1%. Except the players are not the 99%; they sit firmly alongside the owners in that 1% while the real 99% are folks like you and me. I don't believe that all basketball fans would prescribe to the 'Occupy' mindset - one need only compare the courtside guests at the Staples Center versus say, the Palace at Auburn Hill to see that not all fanbases are created equally.
But won't these 'small market' teams - the Detroits, the Milwaukees, the Charlottes, the New Orleans, etc. - who seek to change the collective bargaining agreement to better their chance at not competing at a basketball level, but on a financial level, see the greatest backlash by fans who seem a heckuvalot closer to being average, '99%' Joes than Jack Nicholsons?
Does the league think that playing this fight out as long as possible is going to have a great affect on a place such as New Orleans where it's ever-shrinking fanbase lives ludicrously close to the poverty line?
In short, what the hell are the NBA and NBAPA thinking by playing this fight out at a time when more and more people are starting to take a legitimate look at the wealth distribution in the world? Seems like a perfect storm.
Would love to hear your take, O' Financial Wiz Doug. Cheers!
Andrew P, Toronto
A: The fallout is going to be immense, I’m sure there are fans across North America so ticked off by this ridiculous fight over unimaginable amounts of money that they’ll never come back. And, truth be told, I might not blame them.
What are they thinking? I wish there was an easy answer to that question. They seem more intent on protecting wealth and making points than they are about trying to appease the people who actually pay the freight – the fans.
Q: Hi Doug. When you sit down at your computer in the morning, coffee and slippers and all that, where do you get your basketball news from?
Jeremy W, Telkwa
A: It really depends. There are several web places I look – Ken Berger at CBS is a must-read for lockout stuff; My Man Sheridan’s site can be a good clearing house; there’s always ESPN and Sports Illustrated and during the season I always check out that papers of the teams that are coming in, or have just, played the HOTH.
Q: Hi Doug. Thank you for keeping this daily blog updated! Always a part of my daily routine!
Some basketball and baseball related question.
I don’t know much about baseball, but in baseball playoffs, would a rain delay benefit a team with stronger pitching starters? Would they shorten the rotation since they get an extra day of rest and put their ace out there sooner? Or do they keep things business as usual?
Baseball lends itself to statistics very nicely and after watching ‘Moneyball’ it made me think about basketball. What are some of the common statistics that teams look at (if any) to try and determine the success of their team? Are there any statistics that teams look at as part of a players evaluation?
Why does basketball lack such a strong farm team system (if you can call it that). It just seems like it’s the D league and Europe. Nothing like the other major professional sports.
Christopher M, Toronto
A: While there some advanced metrics – mostly plus-minus for groups of players – a lot of teams will look chiefly at field goal percentage against, the percentage of three-pointers surrendered, long two-point field goals given up (teams always want opponents to take long two-pointers), layups allowed and points in transition.
Baseball? The more rest you get for any pitcher, the better; and if you’ve got a good, deep staff you’ll always be better off if they get an extra day of not throwing.
The minor league thing? There are so few jobs that come up each season, makes no economic sense to run several teams.
Q: Good Morning. As the talks heat up (once again) do you think there is any pressure being applied by the television networks? And is the holy grail of 82 games really based more on contractual agreements to television networks (greed) then on providing an entertaining product to the fans?
Or is the thought of actually refunding fans their money starting to motivate the owners ?
John P, Minneapolis
A: No, they were going to get their TV money regardless of whether it was an 82-game season or not; in fact, I’d imagine the networks would have wanted some certainty before now and to not have their plans altered by an extension of the regular season, if in fact that’s what happens.
And I agree that owners probably didn’t/don’t want to give money back with interest but they had to.
Q: Hey Doug. I just had a question about the "NBA TV Canada" and the stuff that they are showing during the lockout. Obviously, they have not had a lot of games to show recently, but they are filling the airtime with their "greatest games". My question is, do the players involved get royalties? If someone shows an old re-run of a television show, the actors get royalties, so I figured it should work the same way for the athletes. I noticed that they are not showing any greatest games from recent years, and I was wondering if it was because they had to pay the current players royalties for these games and they did not want to do this to make the lockout as hard as possible for the current players to stomach.
Darren L, Toronto
A: Not in the traditional sense of “royalties” where they’d get ‘X’ amount of pennies each time any game they were in was being shown.
And I think the decision not to show anything involving current players stems from the league-wide edict that the deny the existence of the very players they’ll have to market as the stars of the game the second the lockout is lifted. Makes no sense to me, either.
Q: Morning Doug, despite the sad collapse on Friday, and the uncertainty as to what the next CBA would bring, and when, do you think the Bryan and the other GM's have discussed possible trades?
Scott M, Ilderton
A: Probably not beyond very cursory discussion because no one still knows what kind of economic issues will be at play but I’m sure there’s been casual conversation (“hey, what are your thoughts on so-and-so, do you like him, want him, can I get him?”) with a handful of general managers.
Q: Hey Doug, not sure if you are an avid fan of Bill Simmons or not (seen the odd reference to him on here before) but today I listed to his podcast with the CEO of Ticketmaster and they were discussing the future of the fan experience. The CEO made several interesting points, but one that stuck with me was his singling out the fan experience in Orlando above the rest. Is it the much better and is there anything the suite in TO can glean from Orlando here? Another interesting point made by the CEO was the fact that they need to make the best seats more available for the young fan to get them for life. They discussed basically changing the way we go to games and the evolution of the fan experience. Do you have any thoughts about the fan experience and what you would see changed?
Landon G, Whitby
A: I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because I think the “fan experience” should be, you know, the game. But I also know that’s not going to happen so my suggestion that they tone down the extraneous garbage probably goes unheeded.
I would guess that the thing people want is to be engaged, somehow, and because it seems some people have attention spans of a gnat, that means having interactive things, constant distractions and bells and whistles that fill every conceivable minute of the night.
And Orlando has a nice new arena but I don’t recall the “fan experience” being anything out of the ordinary; of course, I don’t ever spend any time wandering the concourses during, before or after a game.
Q: By now you have heard that the NBA talks have broken down (again). Billy Hunter said he has been getting calls from agents telling him not to go below 52.5 percent of BRI. So I guess it is not just Kevin Garnett that is causing the talks to breakdown.
Do the agents receive their pay during the lockout> Assuming they receive a percentage of the players contract, do the players still have to pay the agents even if the players miss a portion of that contract?
David B, Cornwall
A: Some are on what could best be described as ‘retainers’ and work for the players year-round. But I don’t imagine too many of them have deals where they don’t get paid during a lockout.
Q: Hello Doug!
Well, we're being teased (once) again with the possibility of NBA action soon and while I'm pretty pumped about that, I've got to tell you how much I've enjoyed your Lockout Blogs (though some around here apparently think of them as more Loco-Blogs...) and while I imagine you're already kinda busy, I'm wondering if you'd consider doing a Music, TV, Fashion (hey, a girl can dream can't she?) and Whatever Topics Pop Into Your Head Blog? Those Raptors are interesting and all, but we've had such fun with soooo many different topics, that there've been times I forget why we all came here in the first place! And that's not a bad thing, is it? Cheers. And thank you, as always!
Lorie P, London
A: On the drive down to Niagara from Hazelville this morning, got to thinking: World Series? Over.
Hoops? On hiatus.
Football: Once a week.
Hmm. What to do, what to do. And the music-TV-fashion thingy may just happen in some small way.
Q: Hi Doug. Love the blog...read it daily.
I am fascinated by the job of pro sports referee, given that the game they are officiating bears little resemblance to their amateur counterparts.
Two questions. What would be your job description for the ideal basketball referee, and who, in your opinion, are the best and worst working today. (If there were games to work of course)
Link P, Winnipeg
A: The perfect ref would be impervious to criticism, in shape, forceful but willing to have conversations, maybe a former player and take the time to explain all his contentious calls to beat grunts.
I believe the generally held opinion, which I share, are that Joe Crawford, Dan Crawford and Bill Spooner are among the best refs working now that Steve Javie has retired.
Q: Dear Doug. Please write some pucks. Never mind the NBA. What are your thoughts on Tim Connolly? Or the Monster? Do you have a nickname for Reimer? What's the deal with Phaneuf's hair?
We need to know.
Darren M, Sudbury
A: Pucks? Yikes! (As we are wont to say).
Just wonder if I’m ready for some ridicule.
Connolly? Figured they knew about his injury history when they signed him so if they get 60 games out of a soft-handed centre that’s not too bad, I guess. Can’t have enough soft-handed centres, I say.
The Monster? Cool nickname, that’s for sure, but doesn’t he simply give up too many goals? Maybe not all through fault of his own but it seems to be four a game or so is a tad too many.
I don’t have a Reimer nickname but I can’t get my head around Optimus or whatever it is and I have no comment on anyone’s hair, given I’m follicly challenged myself.
Q: Here's a pet peeve I was randomly thinking about. I remember Bargnani doing it, I think others do it as well.
Shooter catches the ball behind the three point line, defender comes flying out at him, shooter bounces the ball once, and launches a jump shot from 2 feet inside the three point line. Why doesn't he slide over instead of ahead and shoot a three? The difference in payoff is huge, to make the 2-pointer effective you have to hit about 50% of them. Do they really?
Jim R, Toronto
A: Indeed, long two-point field goal attempts are the worst shot in the game and players often should drive the ball or step back and take a three. Trouble is, sometimes they simply get caught up in the play or the moment or the speed of the game and don’t think. Happens all too often with all kinds of players, coaches tell them and shake their heads and then the guys go and do it again.
No real reason and not something coaches want but it happens in the heat of the game.