The start of the weekend mail, as usual
Well, well, well.
All kinds of goodies here, all kinds of goodies coming tomorrow and I’ll give you one more kick at the can because the 10 C weather and driving drizzle are making golf an impossibility.
A stool, a quadruple-header playoff day and some mail.
Q: Hello Doug! Well, several times I've posed the "what if" sort of questions, and frequently I've asked stuff about you, the craft, the process. And once (I'm SURE there's been one occasion) I had a query about basketball. But today? Well now it's my turn. Or, should I say "our" turn. I've got a question about "The Irregulars" as you've dubbed as and any general observations you might have gleaned - from years of putting up with our antics - will usually wind us up, tickle our fancy or even cause us distress. Are there any commonalities between us all? And I wonder if when at 6AM you sit with your quad venti latte and your laptop do you ever play a game and try to anticipate what little nugget we might grab, run with, dissect and turn into a day-long discussion? And the wackiest turn of comments ever? Yes, it's all about US today, Doug!!! Cheers.
Lorie P, London
A: No disrespect, my friend, but if I could figure Irregulars out on a consistent basis I’d be off somewhere make jillions of dollars solving the world economic crisis, the Middle East situation, and what there’d be if there was no weather.
Seriously, I’m not sure what drives you all so a lot of time I just decide to throw different stuff out there and see what kind of reaction I might get. A day when I think one thing might spur some comments, it’s something else so I just soldier on and see what happens.
I will say this, though: It has become apparent to me that a lot of you are of the same, or close to the same, vintage as I am so it’s cool to be old and crusty and nostalgic rather than forward-thinking and cutting edge.
Hope you don’t mind.
Q: Hey Doug, I came across this link and thought "if this isn't the ultimate list for Doug to check out -- I don't know what is. Top 10 weirdest beers:
Not only is there a chocolate beer, there's also Bacon Beer! Enjoy the diversion. :)
Chris C, Toronto
A: Ding! Ding! Ding!
I love my Irregulars.
(Most of the time)
Q: Hey Doug. First time reader today just because I was desperate to read something about last nights games ( had to work!) and missed them. Just wanted to say I loved your piece and will be back. My girl friend phoned me at work , screaming in my ear that this is the most exciting thing she has ever seen .....thanks honey , I'll catch the highlights and when I get home and trying to watch them she's still screaming about how great it was and I'm trying to listen to Jay what's his name ( cracks me up that guy ). She said hockey was always her favorite sport but now it's gotta be baseball. Aren't chicks great? And baseball too, what a combo. I'm blessed.
John C, Vancouver
A: As I said I love my Irregulars. And their priorities.
(Most of the time)
Q: Do you think the reduced training camp will have much impact on Dwane Casey's ability to put his stamp on the Raptors? Does he have to keep things simple to ensure everyone gets it?
With a very short free agency period, does that make it harder to sign top talent? Does this essentially eliminate the creative deals? If so, who do you think suffers? The players or the teams?
Also, do you know of any Raptors getting involved in any organized games or work-outs? What are the chances everyone shows up in shape?
Terry M, Antigonish
A: Oh, yeah, a shortened training camp will unquestionably hurt a team with a new coach unfamiliar with his roster who is trying to put in a new system. But I don’t think it’ll be a crippling blow, just may lead to something of a slowish start while everyone gets used to each other. It also means the players – and coaches – will have to work harder for however long they’re in camp and in however many pretend games they have.
I don’t think it’ll make it any harder than usual to sign free agents, actually. If they get a week that’s enough for teams and players to figure out what’s a good fit and what isn’t.
No, no organized workouts for the players as a group, mainly because a few of them have been playing for their countries, a few of them are free agents and a couple are rehabbing injuries but they all know they’ll have to show up ready to hit the ground running so there will be individual conditioning work going on.
Q: What would happen to the 2012 NBA draft if there was no 2011-12 season?
Graham F, Toronto
I have no idea, no one does but I’m glad you asked.
Q: Hi Doug. Always enjoy reading your blog. In the category of "it will likely never happen, but interesting to play with potential rule changes", wouldn't it be a positive to eliminate the foul out rule. I think we would see more balanced officiating, rather than the star player treatment that is overwhelming in the NBA. Also, games would be decided with the best players playing against the best players, rather than a referee's calls impacting who a coach can put on the floor.
Martin J, Toronto
A: I think everyone would like to see every called made absolutely correctly in every sport; ain’t gonna happen in my, or any, lifetime.
I know Jeff Van Gundy’s a big proponent of the “no foul out” idea and I could get onside as long as there was some penalty for the team that has a guy commit a seventh or any subsequent foul. Maybe two shots, regardless, and the ball back, which would force teams to sit guys with six fouls in most defensive instances. But unless there’s a rather harsh penalty, I’m okay with the way it is now.
One other thing I’d like to see is, of course, to reduce the number of timeouts, or at least limit each team to one in the final two minutes of a fourth quarter and overtime and I’d kind of like to see a game where there was no defensive goaltending or offensive basket interference. Not sure how that’d work and it’s a bit of a change for me but as a trial at the NBA level, I’d like to see it.
Q: Hey Doug. There was a piece by your pal in the other Toronto paper about the Raptors and the lockout. This article articulated something I have been thinking as well, what would happen to the interests of Toronto fans in the Raptors if they missed a season or even half a season.
This has been a pretty weak team over the last several years and I wonder if that coupled with a prolonged lockout would really hurt/kill basketball in TO.
Would be interested in your thoughts.
Mike T, Port Credit
A: Yeah, I saw Stumpy’s piece and while he makes a good point, the general malaise of a lockout during a time when nothing is really going on isn’t unusual.
Long term? Sure, they’d lose some fans if they missed a year, any league would (right, hockey everywhere but here?). But kill it? No way. Not sure how many people will believe this but there are diehard fans who’d welcome the game back and no way ownership would go through missing a season only to lose a team. So some short-term pain certainly; no long-term troubles.
Q: Doug. I'm really not happy about the rumors coming out about the owners backing off a hard cap and going with a 4:1 luxury tax. I've generally taken a whenever-they're-back-they're back attitude to these negotiations, but I'd rather lose a whole season than see this change to the system. While the Raptors haven't really gone into the tax, as a season ticket holder I've always believed MLSE would do that if it made sense. With a 4:1? A lot harder to imagine. Meanwhile, Dallas, New York, and the Lakers would likely spend well into the tax. This new system would just increase the disparity between the richest and poorest teams. I'd rather the old system or a hard cap. This is a worst-case scenario.
Am I missing something? I know you're not into rumors usually, and you've talked about what you think will happen - but what would the ideal settlement be for the Raptors, and at the other end, what would be their worst case settlement in your opinion?
John B, Oakville
A: I think you might be missing something, actually.
The proposal – and who knows how legit it was or whether it’ll actually happen – was for a graduated tax of “up to” $4 for every $1 over the limit. There would also be $1 for $1 levels, $2-$1 thresholds and a $3-$1 plateau.
And, yes, I’m sure some teams would still spend crazily and I’m also sure that if there was a need to go to, say, a $1 for $1 tax that if Bryan made a strong enough case to the board, they’d pay. Just like the would have in any of the past three or four years.
Q: Question and reply to the "Toronto being the worst sports city in North America"...._Based on our emotional return on investment for our beloved teams in and throughout this great city and surrounding Golden Horseshoe, I would say that from and entertainment point of view we get the most bang for our buck. Considering we have so many pro sports to chose from, we rank at the top. So that being said, if you rank it based on wins for your money spent to support those pro teams, then yes we do suck. The point of the article is that its all about winning and losing, as long as we continue to lose consistently then the status won't change. Although the entertainment we get from following will always be one of the best.
Question though for you Doug, What does your Magic 8 ball or Super Dog predict for the future winning in Toronto? I guess we will have to go on watching to see what happens.
Keep up the great work.
Tom B, Uxbridge
A: If I had to guess, and knowing that guessing is silly, I’d say of the three major teams the Jays are probably closer to winning than the HOTH or the pucks. But it’s all so dependent on luck, the development of young players and the willingness to spend money and gamble that it’s almost a waste of time to even guess.
And I’m not going on any timeline, either; we’ve seen too many teams lately go from worst to first someone could catch lightning in a bottle far earlier than expected.
Q: Hey Doug. I just read Kelly's piece on the John Lackey text-incident. Do you have a take on this from a reporter who has spent some time in the baseball clubhouse but not enough to be considered a regular? Obviously contacting someone about a personal issue should be a faux pas no matter what, but do you understand all of the unwritten baseball-grunt rules when you get in there? Are there similar such rules when interacting with the basketball players?
Ken M, Toronto
Actually, I know of the unwritten rule that says that day’s starting pitcher is off-limits to the media from having covered a wee bit of baseball back in the day.
And what I always tell young reporters, either kids I’m talking to at schools or young grunts just getting started is this: Ask. Ask senior guys who’ve been around, ask a member of the team’s media relations staff so you don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable position. All it would take is a little “hey, does Roy have a minute before the game?” to be told, no, starter’s don’t do media in the hours before they pitch. But there are kids who go charging in willy-nilly like they own the joint or know all the answers and every once in a while it blows up in their faces. They don’t know, they can’t know, and all it takes is a simple conversation with someone who does to avoid any kind of trouble awkwardness. It’s what I did way back in the day because, simply, I knew what I didn’t know.
That said, I don’t quite get this cone of silence but it’s the way it is and it’s not about to change.
Luckily, too, there are no oddities like that in basketball, we can get to anyone we need to either after a morning shootaround or in the 45-minute media window before a game. Now, there are some guys who don’t like to do both on a game day – LeBron will speak pre-game but not at shootaround; Bosh is the opposite – but you can get pretty much whoever you need the day of a game.
Q: With some predicting (hoping?) that a deal may get done this weekend, a few places are reporting that teams will be able to get rid of a bad contract. Some questions:
Kings among others have kept their costs down, even the Raps are not in too bad a situation (after this year Jose is an expiring contract.) Do you think it is fair to the teams that didn't mess up with dumb contracts/trades?
Do you think the Raps will decide to dump a contract? (And for a league crying that it is losing money, it seems odd that they are very willing to pay someone for nothing, if this is added to the new agreement, no?)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I haven’t seen a whole lot of predictions that things might get done this weekend; on the contrary, actually. But regardless …
There were actually a lot of teams that “kept costs down” compared to the luxury tax so I think any new deal isn’t that big a deal in that regard, actually.
Now, I wrote Friday what I thought the Raptors ought to do is there’s some kind of amnesty clause in a new deal but since I haven’t heard about one from any real credible source and since negotiations are still going on, let’s take a wait-and-see attitude now, shall we?