Of course it's a special day, it's Opening Day
So, the You Can’t Get There From Here Tour drones on (we’re OKC-Memphis-Indy today before Indy-Detroit-Toronto tomorrow and after Toronto-Detroit-ooops-Delta-Means-Atlanta-OKC on Saturday) and it’s really a day I’d like to be home.
It’s Opening Day.
I know, I know, I know, there were three delightful games in Cleveland but, really, the season for the TOD begins today.
There’s something about coming home that’s special, isn’t there? Regardless of the talent level and the realistic hopes for the season, that first day in front of the home fans is special, as I’m sure the 45,000 or so folks at the ballyard will attest to when the night’s over.
(Of course, I think all Opening Day game should be afternoon affairs and, Toronto at least, the roof should be open but that’s just me)
Not sure what it is, really, but of all the sports, isn’t baseball’s Opening Day more special than the rest?
There are others who will wax, and have waxed, more poetic about it and it’s greater meaning but let me blather on for a couple of hundred words on why.
For more than a month, fans have had little personal contact with “their” team, they’ve been in Florida and we’ve read the dispatches and seen some highlights but it’s not like they’ve been “here” and in person and seen every single day. There’s something about having the team in town that makes it even better, a baseball team is “ours” again once it arrives in the home park, among the home people; a team we can see every day and live with far more easily than we do from pretend games in distant tiny parks.
Guys like Lawrie and Arencibia and Bautista and Romero connect with a younger segment of the fan base than any team I can remember, actually. Maybe it’s their use of social media – they are tweeters and it does bring them closer to a new demographic of fan – or maybe it’s their enthusiasm but there’s just something about this group that makes it special.
They seem to truly like the city and appreciate the fans, they play an entertaining brand of baseball – you really can’t give up on a game they’re in – and that enthusiasm and belief they have transfers to the fans. It’s infectious.
And maybe that’s why the feeling I’m getting today, even from casual fans, is more optimistic than it’s been in years. People tend to truly like this team for its players and their personalities and that an interesting phenomenon. It will buy them some time when things inevitably go sideways a week or two; I believe fans will cheer for players to get out of inevitable slumps rather than rag on them for getting into them.
I have no idea how this team will do – there are still issues with the back end of the rotation that are truly concerning – but today, Opening Day, is full of promise and potential and hope.
And that’s a good day anyway you slice it.
Enjoy the game.
Oh yeah, on the basketball game.
Making do with what they had
The most effective offensive set these guys run has been high screen and roll with Jose and Bargnani, it opens up curls on the weak side for DeRozan, shots for Calderon if defenders go under, enviable matchups for Bargnani if the opponent switches.
Without one piece, they seldom run it but we saw a little variation last night that was interesting.
A couple of times in the second half, when Bargnani was in the back nursing a tight thigh-- calf, we don’t know if he’ll play tonight; I would be surprised if he did given his proclivity for treating this boo-boo with kid gloves – they ran high screen-roll with Calderon and DeRozan.
Sure, it takes away the weak side curl action – James Johnson or Alan Anderson or Gary Forbes don’t create the same things as DeRozan does – but it at least gets Jose some shots and, who knows, might add another facet to DeRozan’s game.
If he learns how to roll hard, or pop and get open jumpers, it’s something he can maybe work on over the course of the last nine games.
Sure, that 24-0 run was the biggie but it became apparent in the second quarter that the Thunder are simply, well, simply better and deeper.
They went to their backups – Harden, Fisher, Collison – and the Raptors were entirely over-matched. It’s apparent that Ben Uzoh may not be the answer, the Johnsons were utterly ineffective all night and Ed Davis had almost as many turnovers (3) as he did rebounds (4) in his 20 minutes. That’s simply not getting it done and if there was ever a danger that Bryan and his henchmen may fall in love with their guys off a few good games, nights like last night show a glaring need for an upgrade of talent at all kinds of positions.
The little gaffes are costly
Not sure how many of you noticed it but there was one play – and I’m pretty sure we talked about it in the IGBT – that perfectly explained Dwane’s lament about his guys not paying attention to detail.
There’s about 20 seconds left in the third quarter – it’s still a game at this point – and the Thunder have Durant isolated at the top, as they would, given how good he is. The HOTH are guarding against the drive, of course, but the very last thing you can do that moment is lose touch or sight of your guy until Durant’s at least in the paint and committed to going to the basket.
So, what happens?
Way before Durant decides what he’s going to do, a couple of Raptor defenders pay more attention to him than to the guys they are covering; Durant hits a wide open Cook in the far corner, Cook drains a three and I didn’t hear Dwane exactly but I’m sure he said:
@(#*! !(#*# ^&%*)#
Or words to that effect.
Okay, that’s probably enough, and probably too serious, but what the heck. Maybe tomorrow we’ll do some music and sitcoms or something.
Talk to you tonight from Indy, Delta Airlines willing.