The end of the weekend mail, with some dang good music
All done and with lots of good lists left over, including all-star TV casts and sports logos. It’s gonna be a good week.
And a good day.
Q: Hi Doug: How about a couple more lists: For the four major pro sports in North America, what would you say are the (insert number here) best things about each one; and the (insert number here) worst things about each.
And, if you need even more, how about a list of your favourite lists? ;>)
Tim H, Windsor
A: Wow, this’ll make a fella think.
The fluidity: There really are aspects of dance and ballet.
The drama: You make a shot, I make a shot, someone else makes a shot and the outcome can change two or three times in mere seconds.
The wow factor: Every game, you see something.
Too many timeouts
Too much one-on-one isolation.
The extraneous crap that takes away from the game.
A triple to the corner in right with a close play at third. Maybe best play in sports.
The timelessness of it, it unfolds at its own unique pace.
Defence. Great defence on ground balls.
The over-reliance on stats and advance metrics.
The DH-no DH difference between the two leagues.
That some teams are dead in the water by the first of July.
A long breakout pass that his a player in stride.
Good Olympic hockey on big ice with no fights.
Scripted fights. Worst blight on any professional sport at any level.
Points for losing: There needs to be a winner and a loser. Period. With no reward for losing a shootout.
The utter dominance it has over every facet of the media.
The once-a-week nature of it, like that there is a day, or day and night, when there are games.
A 20-yard out thrown on a line.
Bad weather games. Who doesn’t like watching it played in a raging blizzard?
The militaristic philosophy that seems to pervade it.
The constant over-analysis.
Super Bowl hype.
What have the Irregulars got?
Q: With Opening Night been and gone and no live basketball to be seen, I have been reduced to reliving the golden days by watching classic basketball games (Jordan's 54 vs the Knicks in the Eastern Final in 93' the other night for example), and my question would is: If you had to set your Monday to Friday classic games TV line up what games would you most want to see again? Can be any game: NBA, Intl, College, ABA...
Ollie H, Toronto
A: Wow, specific games?
Hmm. Tough one, especially of the top of the old head.
But I think I’d like to see the Russia-Yugoslavia gold-medal game from the 1998 world championships, the USA-Spain gold-medal game from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, any of the legendary Lakers-Celtics championship games from the ‘80s, the Dominique Wilkens-Larry Bird showdown from Game 7 of their 1988 playoff series and the Boston-Phoenix triple overtime game from the 1976 NBA final.
That’d be a nice week of evenings, wouldn’t it?
Q: Hey Doug, quick question. Did you get a chance to catch the interview with Vince, T-Mac, and Oak on Off The Record Yesterday? It was interesting and the theme was "What if?" They had a quote from Kobe Bryant saying that if the Raps team from 2001-02 stayed together they would have won multiple championships. T-mac then mentions that if he were on the team during the Philly series then the Raps would have made the finals. Thoughts on this?
Sean H, Pickering
A: Yeah, I saw it, was a nice trip down memory lane. The Kobe quote’s about as old as the highlights and I’ve always contended, Tracy or not, they would have beaten an underwhelming Milwaukee team in the conference final. And, sure, he would have helped against the Sixers but I don’t know if his presence would have guaranteed victory because you don’t know what it would have taken away from Vince, who was pretty damn good.
Q: Hi Doug...No more basketball questions from me until they settle. List time again...
Since you referenced Rear Window …favourite five Hitchcock movies?
The Lady Vanishes in there? Despite the hokey special effects to start the movie, it is a great flick.
After Stones and Beatles, who is number three sixties band?
Remember the clock thingy on Saturday!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I have to admit I haven’t seen The Lady Vanishes, but I probably will now and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything by Hitchcock.
But go to the deep recesses of my mind, and knowing that Rear Window is far and above No. 1 on the list, the next four would be, in no particular order:
Dial M For Murder
Strangers On A Train
North By Northwest
Now, I know this isn’t a band, per se, but the most influential music of the ‘60s outside of the Beatles and Stones?
Has to be this guy, right?
Suppose The Band doesn’t count because it spanned ‘60s and ‘70s, right?
If it does …
Q: Doug, a while back in the negotiations David Stern said how his owners want a system where every team has a chance. But even if you don't believe in the referee conspiracy theories, everyone knows the NBA more than any other pro sport has always done everything possible to have its glamor teams succeed. A Finals with 2 solid but unglamorous teams like the Spurs and Pistons a few years ago was a ratings disaster, and the league always does what it can to get teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Jordan's Bulls and now the Heat into the Finals. So what do we make of this idea of everyone having a chance? Is Stern really sincere about this absolute 180 degree about face?
Steve K, Barrie
A: Ratings disaster? Maybe for that two week period but they still have a billion dollars in TV deals so disaster is a matter of perception.
But, sure, as a whole the league would love to have every team in contention, as long as the Lakers and Celtics ultimately played for the championship. Truth be told: Having a dozen teams in legitimate contention is truly better for everyone.
Q: Hi Doug. I, like many, was hopeful of saving the full 82 games last week. Now I'm thinking if it doesn't get done this weekend, I had better sharpen up on my knowledge of NCAA bball and the NBL (Go Rainmen!).
Even if the Union gets a deal done this weekend, what percentage do they need to ratify the deal? It sounds like there are quite a few players who might vote no.
Derm W, Bedford
A: Simple majority; and I promise you that if they were to get 51-49 in favour of players and a secret ballot among union members it would pass overwhelmingly.
Q: Greetings, regarding the apparent apathy of the fan base to lack of basketball games. I wonder if the uncertain economic times are playing a role here? Perhaps there are a number of fans/households that are primarily focused on needs a little closer to home at this point and, in fact, the lack of games may simply be here at a convenient time for most. Although I would expect to see more angst as the weather continues it's downward trend toward winter and people more acutely feel the need for some form of escapism.
Secondarily, I would have to think that 'social media' and the advent of being 'connected' all the time takes away from the desire to settle down for 3/4/5 hrs with your favourite team. While I don't see myself as being particularly tech savvy (or that interested actually) I have found myself over the last few seasons to be quite content to follow the HOTH through your interactive blog rather than simply watching the game. My expectation is that in general the novelty of social media will wear down over time and there will be a degree 'of regression to the mean' which should be an excellent point in time for professional sports, movie theaters, et al to re-establish their relevance. Curious to hear your view.
Thanks, as always for what you do
Doug T, Brantford
A: Let me address the social media aspect of this first. We sure did start something, didn’t we? Look at the pucks now, they’re all over it. I think what it does is give people some sense of “togetherness” not unlike what you might get a game without the burden of buying a ticket or driving to Toronto. Not the same, of course, there are no Chickens or June Taylor Dancers, drunks two rows in front of you and sensory overload of the “in-game experience.” But there is a sense of belonging to some kind of collective and that’s pretty cool. However, I do think you can over-do it and, eventually, I think it probably best fits for either just games without the lead-up to them daily or special events in order to keep it somewhat unique.
That said, I kind of miss it.
Now, for the fans? I agree the angst level will increase as the weeks and months drone on. There’s an escapism to watching your favourite team and the absence of it will grow as time passes. Now? It would be the start of the season, people tend to slowly get into it; the missing-it part will grow, I’m sure.
Q: Doug, any list of the hardest positions to play in sports must include front-row forwards in rugby: all you need to be is really big, willing to ruck and tackle for eighty minutes, and able to run miles more than any football player ever will. It's a thankless grind that most athletes could never handle.
Ernie A, Vernon, BC
A: Which is precisely why I never played the game.
Q: Doug. Of late, a grammatical malady has been making the rounds of both print and broadcast sports-folk. It is, "The Unanswered Virus." As in, "so and so scored x unanswered goals/baskets/points/runs." Then, with their next breath or paragraph, they'll say the other team scored. It is MADDENING!
What the sufferers of this malady MEANT to say, was that the so and so's actually scored x straight whatevers. To say something was unanswered and then immediately describe how the other team DID answer makes me wonder if editors/producers are asleep at the switch. I know YOU are not plagued with this malady. But could you put a word in with any media types you find without "unanswered" in their pocket dictionaries?
Thanks from a weary follower of the written word.
Gary M, Brampton
A: I’m sure at least one or two people in our industry will ready this and the message is delivered.
Now, I have to go answer 10 unanswered questions.
Q: Hey Doug. You wrote that the over-riding emotion from fans that we haven't been able to watch the Raps so far is kind of ho-hum.
First, I'd like to say that I very much miss our Dinos, and know many people who do also (even though the product hasn't always been stellar). Sad to know that we're a minority.
But, do you think it's a good thing that there is a direct correlation between games won and fan attendance? This seems to pressure MLSE to put a better product on the floor (or at least get some exciting players) that maybe they don't feel with the Leafs. While I think loyal support is important, it can also run the risk of being exploited.
Jeremy S, Toronto
A: Sure, it’s a good thing, ownership and management needs to feel pressure to try and succeed and the way for fans to put pressure on them is by using their wallets and ticket-buying powers to send messages. Don’t think it’s any surprise that most of the smallest single-game crowds in franchise history have come in the last two or three years.
And if fans feel “exploited” by the team putting an inferior product on the floor, there’s a way to get that point across: Stay away.
Q: Hi Doug. Couple of quick questions for you.
After the Ed Stefanski introductions, Bryan did mention, in one interview, that part of the rationale behind the Stefanski hiring, was to have a good succession plan in place. Reading between the lines, would Bryan be hinting that he may not want to continue in his role as GM for much longer or is he committed to seeing the Raptor rebuild through to its conclusion?
Would you happen to have any news on Anthony Parker? Does he want to continue to play whenever the lockout ends?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I thin you’re reading a bit much into it, actually. At some point, Bryan is sure to move on or up or somewhere but that day is not in the near future; the addition of Ed Stefanski adds a layer of experience to the front office that it’s never had but that’s about it. There are no plans whatsoever at the moment for Bryan to do anything more than he already is.
AP? Sure, I’m told he’d love to keep playing and he strikes me as the kind of character guy that will play in the league for as long as he likes because he’s a good teammate, still a good player and the kind of “glue” guy good teams need.
Q: Hey Doug. About a week ago, a bunch of 20 year old CIS basketball players finished 6th at the Pan Ams. Their actual record was 1 win and 3 losses, I think. Not great, but all the other teams were made up of pros (the U.S. team was all NBA D-Leaguers). The one team they managed to beat (Argentina) was made up of 11 pros from the Argentinian domestic league and 1 guy from Temple University. I think there's a great story there. Did anyone cover that game?
Do you know anyone over at Basketball Canada who can put it in perspective?
Anything you could say about this would be great, thanks.
Shawn T, Vancouver
A: I think there were only three, maybe four, Canadian reporters at the Pan-Ams and I’m not sure any of them would have covered the fifth-sixth place game in the men’s basketball tournament.
It was a nice chance for some Canadian university kids to get a good trip and some good life experience out of the end of the summer but I don’t think there were any significant expectations on them going in.
Great story? Nah, not in my opinion; good for the kids, good that Canada Basketball in a busy summer decided to send men’s and women’s teams but other than that? I wouldn’t read too much into it.