The end of the (busy) weekend mail
All right folks, after a rather busy Saturday, here’s the Sunday stuff.
A few left over; promise I’ll get to most of ‘em during the week but you’ve done well here.
Oh, and take the Lions tonight. Trus me.
Q: Hello Doug, The other day you offered a top five list of rock singers. The 'category' seemed to indicate male, so, to balance the theme properly, how about your top five females? And an aside: Do you see any chance that Linas Kleiza plays this season? Thank you!
David M, Ottawa
A: I’ve got the women on the list for tomorrow – was not an intended slight at all last week – so all I can ask is that you wait a day.
I had been told about a week ago that Linas was thinking about joining a team in Lithuania for the duration of the lockout, his rehab was supposed to be wrapped up about now for a return to on-court work so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he wasn’t in camp the day it opened. What he’ll look like when he gets there is anyone’s guess at the moment.
But, yes, I expect him to play.
Q: Hey Doug: As a sports reporter, you've had the opportunity to travel the world. In light of that, two questions:
What place in the world have you not seen, that you really would like to see?
Thanks again for all you do for us - you will probably be on the Forbes list nest year for all the overtime pay you get ;)
Tim H, Windsor
A: I have had so many opportunities that I’m so thankful for that it’s crazy. Life, in that regard, has been exceptional.
I don’t know how this would ever happen but I think I’d like to cover something in Israel, or Russia, two places that intrigue me that I’ve never had the chance to see. Not sure why, but that’s what’s in my mind as I type; it could change tomorrow because that’s how I am.
The three things I’ve had a chance to see that are indelibly etched in the mind?
The Great Wall of China, thanks to the Beijing Olympics.
Sagrada Familia, the great unfinished Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona, thanks to the 1992 Games.
And, you had to know this was coming, but even with all the majesty of the things we saw in Rome and Venice, I can’t wait for the 2012 Olympics so I can get back to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the 1860s pub in London where Dickens hung out that I saw last March. Yeah, I know …
Q: Hey Doug: How about a basketball-related question? If you were the Commissioner of the NBL (instead of a Windsorite - yaah!!), and had to expand the league into two new cities next season, where would you go?
BTW, the new name for the Blog is OK (although, as I type this, the top of the pager says "Send Doug Smith your Raptors questions" - I feel like I'm not following the rules!), but I think it should be "Doug Smith's AEHEMI Blog" (All-Encompassing, Highly Entertaining, Most Informative)!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Was having a chat with some folks about that very NBL issue the other night when I was out in Oshawa (a full report’s coming as part of a big takeout on the league) and my point was I think they need some more Ontario penetration at the moment.
Now, I don’t profess to know the arena situations in either city but I don’t imagine that’d be a huge problem so my two choices – and these honestly were on the table before I saw this question – would be Kitchener-Waterloo and Windsor.
More rivals for Oshawa and London, two very good, under-served basketball markets with strong local sports histories.
Q: Hi Doug. After reading the story about the 51 year old fellow that was signed as an emergency back up for the Minnesota Wild the other day, I got to thinking:
If you could be a professional athlete and participate, for one day/evening, in one sporting event, what would you chose to do and why?
Going back in time, if you could be any athlete from the present or past for one sporting event, whom would you chose and, from that person's sporting career, what would you choose to experience and why?
For question 1, I'd choose to be the starting pitcher in game 7 of the World Series or the staring goaltender in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs simply because you can, to a certain degree, affect the outcome of the game.
For question 2, I'd have chosen to be Jesse Owens competing in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin just to see how people's views/tolerance of others may have changed following Owens brilliant performance during those games.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: This may sound a bit odd coming from a rather slovenly 50-something grunt but I’d love to be a favourite in an Olympic 100 metre final. The adrenaline, the crowd, the anticipation, it’d be very, very, very cool.
Any athlete? Yikes. That’s virtually impossible, isn’t it? So much to choose from.
How about Ali in his first fight back after his banishment. World-changing, to some degree, about to strike a blow – literally – for an emerging group of people.
Q: Hi Doug. T.O. (heart) Reggie. Do you think Colangelo will re-sign him?
K J, Toronto
I would think – on a team that could use a big – that if they could get Reggie at an agreeable price (he was over $5 million last season, I think there has to be at least a little cut involved) on a two-year deal, they’d probably do it. He would seem to have the attributes Dwane Casey would like and I had to think of him as a space-saver but if you know Valanciunas is coming next year and like what you see in him, I’m not entirely sure anything longer than two years to sign someone like Reggie makes much sense.
So, I think they’ll try to re-sign him, I know Reggie likes it here for a variety of reasons. It will depend a lot on what, if any, other offers are out there.
Q: Hi Doug. What are the details around starting up the season? We had heard about teams being allowed to waive one player, and a whole bunch of other one time events. What should we expect to see over the next few weeks from a player movement perspective. And how might it affect who play for the Raptors on opening day?
Alex H, Toronto
I think starting Dec. 9 – if that’s the day – you’re going to see some bizarre things, and it’ll be a hoot. Teams will be adding free agents during training camp, the interwebs will be filled with stories of player movement and team interest – some of them might actually even be true! – and the Raptors have five roster spots to fill so I imagine they’ll be all over the news.
Gonna be a blast. Except if you have to separate truth from fiction while covering practices.
But how it effects the Raptors on opening day? I imagine marginally. The 10 guys, mostly young, they have under contract are guys they like and want to watch grow.
Q: I'm sure you have 1000 of these questions so let me be 1001. Who will the Raptors amnesty now that the deal is likely done?
Matt M, Calgary
A: I don’t think they will – or should – amnesty anyone. They don’t need to in order to get under any salary level; they have enough money to spend to fill out the roster and each of the guys they’ve got can fill roles and none are – in my opinion – overpaid or with arduous, improvement-killing contracts.
Q: Well, Doug! We've survived The Nuclear Winter - and I don't know about you, but it was a lot milder than I thought it might be. So, seriously. Sort of. "Hitting the ground running" is one of those oft-used catch phrases, we're hearing now. And, that sounds about right for coaches, players and Chickens who've got to very quickly get in game shape. But how about you? What have you done to keep the finely-tuned high-octane Grunt Machine operating at peak levels during the lockout. We know you've been writing and blogging and putting up with Your Irregulars daily. But what about those more...ummm...unique skills that are specific to BeatGruntdom: are YOU ready???
Lorie P, London
A: Me? I’ve learned that I can handle a summer of baseball, a fall of football, getting up at 5 a.m. to finish stuff on a variety of sports by 7 a.m. and to keep this finely-tuned machine in operating order I’ve, well, just lived a relatively normal life.
All set to go.
Q: Doug. As you've pointed out in the past, this lockout has affected the small folks; the small arena owners, part-time workers making minimum wage, etc. How can what remains of the fan base tangibly express their displeasure (legally of course) and let the players and executives know that they are not amused nor will they forget (though I'm sure a lot soon will)?
Pat A, Mississauga
PS: I'm sure you're looking forward to yet another year of the IGBT! (That's In Game Blog Thingee for those that don't know Doug-isms)
A: Aside from staying away, or not buying merchandise or something like that, there really isn’t a tangible way to express displeasure.
And I’m sure there will be people who will.
Q: I don't want to hear another thing about the CBA. Don't want to hear the name Stern or Fisher mentioned unless you're referring to Derek's on court performance. Just tickled pink to know we'll be watching the games soon. Here's my question. In your opinion do we have any reason to be optimistic about the Raps on court record? Will we have a better team than we did last yr?
Is Reggie gone for sure?
Tommy W, Toronto
A: Optimistic? Doubt it. But in a relative sense, yes, I imagine they’ll have a better team than last year. The young kids are a year older with a year more experience on what it takes to win the NBA, they have a new coach with a new message and by simple maturation should be better than a 21-61 team.
But, as an old guy once said, you never know until you know and I have no desire to give you reason to be optimistic or not, really. Ain’t my job. If you like it, you’ll watch, I’m not telling you either way.
Q: Hi Doug. Well, many of us have told you - without mincing words or being particularly delicate about how we say it - how utterly disgusted we are with the lockout. And it'll be up to us to decide to what extent - and if at all -how we choose to support the HOTH when play resumes. So, pretty easy for us, eh? But, what about you? ('Cause as we've been told repeatedly: here, it is all about....!)
So, you've said you miss the game, but will there be any lingering resentment when you start covering the league again? Will you have to choose your words carefully and mind what you say to whom? (Will there be "political" divisions within the locker room do you think?) Or do you expect it will be business as usual, right away? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Nah, I presume it’ll be business as usual from the day we get in the gym to start writing about them. Sure, there will be the predictable early-camp stories about what guys did during the lockout and what the team/league might do to placate fans, are more attention paid to the reception everyone gets at early-season games but there won’t be any change in any of the relationships we have with players or management, I don’t think.
Q: Not a question but a comment about American Samoan soccer team. We visited Pago Pago on our way across the Pacific and anchored quite close to the home ground of AS Football Association. It is all quite new as the area of flat land close to the harbour was devastated by a tsunami a few years ago. The field is about the standard of a typical high school here with a couple of small buildings for changing and offices.
Not a surprise that AS soccer is dismal as everything there is about American football. Read a stat somewhere that your probably of playing in the NFL if you are Samoa is 50x that if you are not Samoan. There are pictures and team colours all over the place of various guys who play for Pittsburgh, Oakland, etc. Family and friendship linkages would be close since the population of the island is something like 70,000.
Similarly, in Tonga, the best athletes would be rugby players (they are quite good at it as evidenced by the last World Cup) and would look first towards soccer. in both countries, the people don't tend to be built for soccer - the young men tend to all look like linebackers (or out-of shape linebackers) wearing skirts (traditional dress (sorry!) that is quite common on the streets), which brings to mind the old joke about what do you call someone who is 6'3", 230 lbs and wearing a skirt? "Sir"
Bruce C, Mississauga
A: Even without a question in here, this needed to be shared.