And now the end of the weekend mail
Once more into the breach, and a couple of cool lists to parcel out during the week.
Q: Hi Doug. Maybe now would be a good time for a review of the Raptors? Who's signed, who's a free agent and the biggest gaps to be filled? Honestly with the NFL and baseball playoffs I've kind of lost track of who we've got and who we don't, but I always read the bloggy thing because it's fun.
P.S. Wojohowitz you spell it just the way it sounds :-)
Bob H, Mississauga
A: Okay, a little Remedial HOTH.
Under contract: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Jerryd Bayless, Leandro Barbosa, Ed Davis, Linas Kleiza, James Johnson, Solomon Alabi.
Free agents: Reggie Evans, Julian Wright, Alexis Ajinca.
Gone to Europe: Sonny Weems, Joey Dorsey.
Needs: Starting small forward, backup shooting guard, another big.
Q: If you look at teams as periods of time (around five years long) what teams do you miss?
For me, the early eighties Expos was one for the ages. They had the names, The Kid, the Glove, the Rock, Cro, the Spaceman. Decent enough too.
What are the group of players that you can't help smile remembering?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I really liked watching that 80s Showtime Lakers team. They played fast and well and had all the bases covered, it seems. Just a fun team for the better part of a decade.
There was Magic and Big Game James and Kareem and just a good group.
Baseball? Don’t really have one, to tell you the truth. I guess it’d come down to the Big Red Machine with Doggie Perez and those Oakland A’s teams of the early 70s who seemed to not particularly like each other but who won.
Q: Hi Doug...With all the Don Cherry controversies, do you think CBC would like to go back to Ward Cornell and Murray Westgate? What a great, great feeling, what a wonderful sense. Imagine if in 2011 the coverage started mid way through the second period. What a concept. Thank goodness for our pet, Juliette.
Baseball is losing a whole generation of fans by starting the games so late. I am not talking about the youth who would watch early games. I am talking about the leading edge of the boomers who like to be asleep by 21:30.
How about a theme song for the blog?
Pipeline by the Chantays?
Is that all there is? P. Lee?
Straighten up and fly right? Mr. Cole
Hope Dave and Billy settle soon!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Hey, doctor, you can count me in on that group of Grunts Of A Certain Vintage who find it hard to last out a World Series game to completion. And I don’t know what the answer is because they don’t have any way to make ‘em shorter, the 2-1 Game 2 took 3:04 and that’s disgusting.
And if they started hockey games midway through the second period there’d be no Don Cherry, right? Hmm. An idea with merit, some might say.
Theme song?????? I believe we may be on to something here, give me to the middle of the week and we may have to poll Irregulars on this.
But this would be the morning-line favourite, no? Old. Sitcom. Singalong-worthy? Kind of speaks to a lot of what we do, doesn’t it?
Q: Hi Doug. Your Jerry Orbach mention got me thinking; will there ever be another truly great “network” drama on TV? The freedom cable and independents have in creating drama’s is unparalleled (i.e. having flawed characters, speaking in a language and tone not deemed permissible for network productions, touching on subject matter that is edgy and makes many squirm). I can’t see another great network show gracing our screens as it seems writers/producers want to stay away from networks, despite the wider audience (primarily in the US I would think), and enjoy the freedom to create what they want and how they want it. Thoughts?
Heath M, Toronto
A: They’ve pushed the envelope so far on things like HBO and Showtime and the other speciality channels that I cannot possibly see the “networks” being able to match it. Now, I’m sure there are excellent dramas on NBC, CBS, ABC and the like – although every time I turn them on it seems to some other inane “reality” show clogging the airwaves – but for pure excellence, I think the days of network domination have been over for years.
In fact, if someone reminds me, let’s do a Top 5 Current Drama list this week sometime, shall we?
Q: Hi Doug! As I send this, the talks are going into Day 3, Stern has the flu but skyping to stay in touch, and what was "cancelled" might soon become "postponed". Simple question, then: Why cancel any games? Why not extend the season? Not through to interfering with the start of the 2012-13 Season (!), but other than shortening your holidays - and while it's ALL ABOUT YOU here, I'm thinking it's not the league's top priority to keep you happy - what prevents a full season being run with playoffs creeping into, say, July? Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: Sounds like a good idea but pesky little things like arena availability and TV commitments get in the way and, next summer, they might bump up against the London Olympics. There could be a two- or three-week window to jam some games in later than usual but that’d be about it.
Q: Hi Doug. Hopefully it is not too late for this comment/question. What is getting clearer is the divide amongst owners and specifically the revenue sharing model amongst them. You would think they (the owners) would have had this worked out long ago? I was on the side of the owners, but as this goes on, I am on the side of the players and the small market owners.
It seems that the larger market owners are in control as they are the ones with the most revenue and are the ones that could end this mess (while they small market owners can keep this going on).
Doug, in your opinion, which of the groups can make a deal happen by way of their concessions?
E T, Niagara Falls
A: I think it’s actually the opposite, that the “small” market teams want to be sure the big boys can’t simply out-spend them, even with a cap-and-tax system in place. There’s the crux of the issues between the 30 owners, I believe.
Now, I think both sides have to give a little to find the inevitable compromise. The smaller market teams have to realize that spending wisely with good management can work; the big guys have to find a way to share revenue so it becomes less a league of haves and have-nots.
That’s going to be difficult but for the good of the game, that’s what has to happen.
Q: Good Morning. I would like to start by saying I hope Mr. Stern makes a speedy and complete recovery from the flu. So you can guess my question is related to his apparent absence the last couple days. Do you feel it had any effect and once recovered do you see him moving the stalled negotiations forward?
John P, Minneapolis
A: No, I don’t think it had anything to do with. First off, Adam Silver has been leading the negotiations on the owners side for the duration and, besides, nothing happens without David knowing about it somehow. I think where his biggest challenge lies is getting his owners on the same page and that’s no easy task. But one I think he’ll eventually be up to.
Q: I understand that smarter management beats an unlimited payroll, but smarter management is more illusive than the Loch Ness monster. Is it the lack of smarter management, or is it the captains of industry that get in the way that is the problem that most teams face.
As always, thanks.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: As always, I’m not sure you can say it’s one or the other but a combination of both, always.
I think bad management is the biggest problem with a lot of teams that historically struggle. Good GMs, and good front offices, can make up for any meddling or financial constraints put on them by the “captains of industry” who ultimately sign the cheques. And, conversely, you can’t spend your way out of a dopey GM who continually makes bad decisions.
So the basic problem, in total generalities, comes from mismanagement rather poor ownership.
That said, even a bad manager can make a few good decisions and quickly turn around a team’s fortunes.
Q: Hey Smitty. Every year during the World Series, it reminds me of my grade 5 teacher at Diamond Jubilee, Mr. Duggan taking us out of class to watch the "68 World Series between the Tigers and Cards. They actually had day games during the week in the Series. Boy I miss those. The best part was us sneaking downstairs (where he had a TV and chairs set up) after classes had started so no one would know. Still can’t get over how amazing that was. My most enduring memory was watching the intensity and fierceness of Bob Gibson. Been a baseball fanatic ever since.
Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Ben N, Niagara-on-the-Lake
A: Nice school! Over at Drummond Road, I don’t remember Mr. Zavitz being quite as accommodating. Maybe Principal Kormos forbade it.
Anyway, I think we did these last week but I’ll run through five that come quickly to mind and hope they are close to the same.
Kirk Gibson’s 1988 homer. No. 1 and it’s so far to No. 2 it’s not even funny.
I remember I was working in the bowling-lane like newsroom of the Ottawa Sun that Saturday night and Boxing Bob Elliott was covering it for the chain. We were right on a rather firm deadline (I think the paper was still being printed in Hull at that time) and Bob got us good copy quickly like the pro he is.
The Jack Morris Game 7 performance against Atlanta. Still, if I had one game I had to win, I’d probably give him the ball over almost all others.
Game 6 of the 1975 Red Sox-Reds. Best baseball game I ever saw, I could argue.
Game 6 of the Red Sox-Mets. Mookie. Buckner. Arrrrgggghhhhh.
Funny you should mention Gibson. I’m going with Game 7 of 1967, maybe the first year I truly became a baseball fan, he and Lonborg. Great game. Gibby threw a three-hitter and hit a home run. Never forget it.
And, it’s also funny you mention ’68. I seem to recall – and this is quite fuzzy but I think correct – getting home one day, or listening on the radio when Bill Freehan hit a grand slam? Or is my mind fooling me?
Q: Hello Doug. As always thanks for the work, the time and the effort - I know you get paid for it all, but it does seem as though this corner has got something special about it. Cool. Anyways, question, and hopefully your eyes don't glaze over when you realise this is a lockout or whatever they're calling question (as mine often do - so this may have been answered before). When speaking of the revenue split, do we know if the sides have even agreed on what is considered league revenues? As always, thanks.
John D, Cairo
A: There’s been no indication from anything I’ve read or from people I’ve spoken to that there’s any dispute over where the money comes from, just how much each side will get. And it comes from myriad sources – ticket revenue, national TV deals, concessions, parking, some arena signage and merchandise sales.
Q: Hi Doug: In your humble opinion - and it would seem that you do have opinions on things :) - do you think modern-day baseball managers place too much emphasis on 'stats'? It seems that, whenever I watch a game, when a 'situation' comes, the manager is making a move, just because this guy is 4 for 5 against this pitcher. Sometimes I wish they would just use their heads!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Oh, you’re just trying to get me in trouble with the stats geeks, aren’t you?
Okay, I’ll play along.
Yes, they do. I know there a place for advanced metrics and past-performance percentages in all sports but I honestly believe too many managers, and coaches in other sports, don’t spend enough time managing or coaching in the moment. There are “feelings” or matters of momentum, or more recent history – like “this guy hasn’t had a big hit in a month, my guy’s got his ‘A’ stuff, I’m leaving him” – that are too often ignored.
Now, let me here from the others, as I know I will.
Q: My ignorance of non-basketball sports leaves me wondering about the role of David Stern. To my way of thinking, the commissioner should be the one person not taking sides. He should represent the owners and the players and trying to bring the two sides together. But Stern constantly refers to "my owners" and he speaks for them. Is that how it is with other commissioners in other sports, too? And if so, why?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: I think a perfect world you’re absolutely right, the commissioner should have the interest of the game and the fans as his priority, not the owners. And while that may have once been the case in sports such as baseball (those commissioner seemed to have the greater good as their main focus as opposed to generating more wealth for owners) it isn’t in the basketball.
I guess you could argue that by enriching everyone beyond their wildest dreams, Stern has served both sides over the years; and I actually have heard him refer to “our players” hundreds of times.
But as a facilitator of a resolution to this squabble – which he should be, I suppose – he does only speak for one side. And that’s not going to change even if it should because I don’t see anyone in this protecting the game.
It does seem to be that way in other sports now, too. In the NFL dispute, I saw Roger Goodell as a functionary of the owners and there is no denying on which side Gary Bettman came down when he blew up an NHL season. Bud Selig? Of all of them, he might be the one who most serves the game rather than a master.
Q: The Raptor's ongoing search for an addition to the front office raises two questions for you, Doug, one list, one deep thinker: A list of your top 5 (or 3...) front office teams in the NBA, past and present? And, if you could assemble your dream team of GM, assistant GM, Head Scout and Head Coach, who would it include? Should the Head Coach be considered as part of that group or not?
Allan F, Burlington
A: If you’re talking about the present front offices and you take into account shrewd drafting, smart trades and being well-positioned, I think you have to look at Oklahoma City, San Antonio and, man, getting a third is hard ‘cause the winning teams simply out-spent others. Let’s go with Chicago, non-taxpaying team with some interesting pieces.
All time? The gold standard has to be the various Auerbach Boston teams, right? Re-tooled every now and then, never missed a beat, it seems. You might want to toss in the Lakers of the 80s, too, they seemed to always pick up the right piece or two of complementary player.
Now, as for a Dream Team?
Not sure what titles you’d put on them because I think the good teams always have a consensus situation, don’t they? But if you made Red Auerbach my GM, Jerry West my assistant GM, R.C. Buford my head scout and, oh, why not Chuck Daly as my coach, I’d sit back and call the ringmakers, keeps them busy.
And I don’t think head coaches should necessarily be in that mix, the good ones adapt to the personnel they have.
Q: Doug, I'm sorry, but this isn't a Raptor's question - you seem to be the only journalist in Toronto that even gave mention to yesterday's Toronto Marathon. What is it going to take for the Toronto Media to recognize the importance of this event on the sports calendar? I've run the Chicago Marathon and after some 30 years of following and participating in Marathons, road racing and track and field - seeing what happens to New York City, Chicago, Detroit and yes, Ottawa, our Nation's Capital on Marathon Week-end, Toronto will never become recognized as a "World Class City" until it comes on board - it will always be "Hog Town" to me!
Morley D, Oshawa
A: Oh I don’t know about that. I was hanging out with the one and only Dangerous Dan Ralph of The People’s Wire Service and Jim Christie of the Globe so there were other ink-stained wretches there and there seemed to a billion or so CBC folks around. It got covered.