The end of the weekend mail
Enjoy this and then go enjoy what looks like a gorgeous day; maybe there’s a patio in your future as I hope there is in mine.
Q: Thanks for all the genuine writing good sir. Which international teams might be fun to watch this Olympics?
Naoise O, Montreal
A: I’m sure you’re talking outside of the two heavy favourites – the United States and Spain – right? Well, I would say Argentina would bear watching, they’ve got a group that’s been together forever and I enjoy watching Russia, too. But with only 12 teams in the tournament, there are going to be an awful lot of good games.
Q: Hi Doug. Quick question about Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays. I read an article about them recently. The article examined Maddon's reliance on using a shift defence to cut down on the number of runs the Rays give up. Here's the link.
As an avid baseball fan and coach, what are your thoughts on using the shift defence in baseball? Thank You.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: It’s funny, I was going to mention this in the usual morning stuff very soon because it’s become something of an epidemic in the game, hasn’t it? Remember when it was an oddity, you might see it for one player once or twice a game, now it seems every inning the third baseman is in short right field or the second baseman is at shortstop.
Guess it’s good for the game but it has to come from the advanced statistical information available to managers these days. They know where the pitcher are going to throw the ball and where the numbers say the hitter is going to hit it.
Because I’m a big fan of baseball defence, anything that allows for more, and better, plays is all right, I guess.
Heard Tim McCarver tell a story Saturday about this: When Ted Williams first faced a shift and an extra infielder on the right side, it was suggested to him that he work on hitting the ball the other way.
“No,” he said. “I’ll just hit it through them.”
Love Ted Williams. -
Q: DS, why are Lakers-Thunder playing back-to-back games during the playoffs on Friday and Saturday? Are any other teams doing that? First I've seen it. Thanks.
Simone S, Toronto
A: So are the Spurs-Clippers. We knew coming out of the lockout that back-to-backs in the second round were possible, mainly because of our old friends TV and arena availability. And, actually, if the two Western first round series that went seven games had ended sooner, with might not being having this scheduling quirks. But, and this is good, it is a one-series aberration; we’re back to normal the rest of the way.
Q: I was at a friend’s house this week and his daughter was doing a school project, and using the internet to do her research. We started to reminisce (as old ones do) about when we were in school and we used encyclopedias (they’re right along typewriters now) and micro-fiche machines which I have to admit I despised, sitting there for hours I remember at the Central library branch in London on Queens avenue then looking for one article.
Now my question is this, your of a certain vintage where many of your articles were on micro-fiche, do you have a record or keep a file of all the articles you write or even this blog, and if so have you converted your micro-fiche records into computer files or has mother-star?
And how many articles do you imagine or know you have written in your career?
Doug B, Toronto
A: Yeah, I remember encyclopedias (World Book, Brittania) and they are truly relics.
As for my stuff at The Star from the past 15 years or so, our crack staff is “digitizing” them in some form or another so they live in the ether. Other places I’ve worked? I honestly don’t know but many papers and media companies are working to find ways to preserve electronically what used to be only on paper.
How many articles? Wow. You know me and math so I’m not even going to try but let’s guess that I’ve done, at least on average, one thing a day for The Star and I’ve been there since June, 1997 so …
That’s a lot.
Q: Wallace would be a great pick up (and perhaps he sees New Jersey using him as trade bait for a guy in Orlando.) Not much on the free market but about Captain Kirk as back up pg and some minutes as a two,) instead of overpaying guys who have had half a good season?
And just a NBA rule questions, can the Raps over pay someone in their first year and then manageable for the rest? Take Hinrich, if nothing else is out there, if they decided to pay 12,4,2 (yeah millions) and keep cap space for future years, anything stopping them? I believe the NHL doesn't allow it, but I recall Portland (Utah) did it for Milsap.
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Kirk Hinrich? Meh, as the kids say. Would be appreciably better than Jerryd Bayless, who may play for a one-year qualifying offer at the least. I don’t think so.
And, no, the CBA and cap rules don’t allow for heavily front-loaded contracts.
Q: Ciao Doug. You know I'm always reading your worldwide very appreciated blog. Just a not basketball question from Italy. Ryder Hesjedal, the Canadian cyclist (biker is better?), today became again the "Maglia rosa" of the Giro d'Italia. He could win the Giro. In Italy we love the bike's sports. Is Ryder a sort of national hero or is he near to be unknown in your country?
Paolo P, Roma
A: I watched a bit of the Giro this morning – it was getting national television coverage in Canada – and was glad to see him doing so well. But, unlike in Europe, he’s virtually anonymous to the majority of sports fans here. There are small pockets of cycling fans but it’s certainly not a mainstream sport.
Q: Hey Doug! Cool reference via @Peter L. to Agatha Christie and The Cheshire Cheese pub! Which got me to wondering, have you ever while in London taken in the play "The Mousetrap"? Anytime on your upcoming Olympics assignment to visit St. Martin's Theatre - or any other London landmarks? (You know how we love your Grunt Goes Global dispatches!) Or is it all work this time? Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: I’ve never seen a play in the west end of London and I don’t know that I will this time around, either. With the Olympics, there’s never a real “day” off, you might get a couple of hours here or there but that’s about it. Once I land – the Tuesday morning before the Friday opening – I’ll have a couple of nights to get acclimated to everything and to see some old friends for social time but other than that, going to be a fair amount of work. Oh, there will be some fun, there always is, but no clear nights to take in a show.
Q: Hey Doug. Since you find footy interesting, I am sure some of us irregs would love to read your thoughts on the upcoming Euro 2012 competition in Poland/Ukraine.
I also have a basketball related question for you: I am sure you heard about the Heat cancelling practice after the meltdown game from the other night.
Thoughts? Happy long weekend, and birthday..
A: Oh, I’ll be into Euro 2012 soon enough; and I’ll be piggybacking on the expertise of the inimitable C. Kelly, who will be on the ground reporting from over there.
And, frankly, as a reporter I’d have miffed about the Heat blowing everything off because I would have liked to have heard what Wade and Spoelstra said about their dust-up the day after but, with two days off between games, it was probably a wise decision from a basketball standpoint to get away from the game, and each other, if they could.
Q: Doug. During the broadcast of the Heat/Pacers game, they mentioned that the Pacers' bench was inconstantly outplaying the Heat's bench. When James and Bosh first went to Miami, I wondered if this was going to be a problem for them. They have so much money tied up in three players, are they ever going to be able to build a deep bench? Or are they going to have to hope they draft a Tony Parker with a late pick? Or are they going to have to bring in vets who might not have much left and are willing play for less for the chance for one last run at a title?
Mike T, Winnipeg
A: They were always going to have to find a group of veterans and kids who’d play on basically minimum-value contracts who still had some game left. And they rolled the dice on Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Mike Miller, none of whom have set the world on fire.
Where do they go from here? Well, they’ll have to find more magic in guys who will play on the cheap.
Q: Hello Doug! So, the sun's shining on Casa Doug Deck, the sounds of Sinatra's "Summer Breeze" is drifting (from the new wireless speakers!!!) and you and the ever-present Stella are maintaining your cool by the waving palm fronds that are keeping whatever sweat you two muster (while reclining on that swell new deep-seating outdoor wicker furniture)at bay. Yup. It's Birth Week at Casa Doug. So, as you contemplate, well, nothing (it IS part of the joys of one's Birth Week to contemplate nothing frequently. If not constantly.) The taste-bud tantalizing aroma of what is surely The Highlight of your week, and that is Doug's Dinner. So, what will generate that yummy scent this year; is it to be the same as last year? And if so, what is your traditional Birthday Dinner? Cheers! And Have A Very Happy One! Or Two. :)
Lorie P, London
A: Sorry, but there are no traditions, actually. Far more a “spur of the moment” thing; a nice hunk of red meat barbecued last night, kind of have a craving for a nice fresh pasta and a white sauce today, we’ll see how the day unfolds because there might be deck/patio time in my future.
So the tradition is there’s no tradition and we see where the day takes us.
Q: Hey Doug. I know there's a Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary's, Ontario (and it's worth the drive for anyone who's interested and loves baseball in our country). My question to you is, is there a Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, and where is it? And if there's not one yet, are there plans in the works for one?
Thank you sir, keep up the great work!
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: There is a movement afoot to open one in Almonte, Ont., home of James Naismith but they are not complete yet so most of the artifacts are in storage and the induction ceremonies for this year are still to be finalized.
Q: Hi Doug. Do you think there is a link between basketball and levels of education? Sometimes it's said that players naturally have "basketball smarts" but surely an intelligent enough person should be able to remember what they need to do on defence and offence and make few if any mistakes, especially considering they're getting paid millions to do it? Do NBA players perhaps pick up bad habits from high school and college that they can't shake?
Second question is Roy Hibbert has such a strong height advantage over the heat, what exactly is stopping him from exploding for 40 points on this team? I live in the UK so i'm never able to stay awake to actually watch the full games so I only watch highlights! Thanks.
Chaz E, London
A: Levels of education? No. Sure, in theory everyone should remember exactly where everyone should be on the court but, in truth, once bodies start flying around and the ball’s moving quickly, sometimes instinct – in many cases the wrong instinct – takes over. You hope your players – no matter their level of common sense of intelligence – are focused enough to remember everything but that’s a bit Pollyanna-ish, in reality. Plus, sometimes what you want the to do is not possible because of what the other team is doing and there needs to be some adapting on the fly going on; that’s where Basketball IQ comes into play, knowing how to make chances in the flurry of a game.
What’s stopping Hibbert? Well, despite his size advantage, the way the Heat defend him – second guys coming hard, second guys coming on the dribble, no second guys coming – and the fact that sometimes other guys have better shots and need to take them.
Q: If the Spurs and the Clips were to swap coaches, how much of a difference would it make?
Carl R, Brooklyn
A: In one game, not much; in one series, a fair amount; over the course of a season, exponentially better. It comes to rotations, play-calling, defensive adjustments and things that some coaches are simply better at than others.
Q: "Brandon Jennings @BRAND0NJENNINGS_W/ the homie @DeMar_DeRozan in China.... Good times!!! Talking about the future... #Compton"
They're contracts expire 2014 and it looks like they want to team up. Would you like it to be in Toronto?
CG R, Abbotsford
A: Yeah, I saw that, too, here’s what DeMar’s up to over there.
2014? I don’t know what I’d like to happen Tuesday let alone two seasons down the road, sorry.
Q: Hey Doug. I have been thinking about this in the last little while. When you look back at B Co legacy here so far, do you think he came all the way around to a change in his concept of building a team?
When one thinks of the time of Babcock here one remembers Rafa and the Carter trade, but I honestly think his idea was right, i.e. be patient, build through the draft and clear cap space to sign the right free agents. Now, we know that he was not allowed to finish what he started and B Co came along with great expectations.
He came with a splash, made deals, dealt away draft picks, won the division once, qualified for the playoffs twice and... became patient, decided to build through the draft and wait to clear cap space so he can sign free agents. Do you think Babcock was given a fair chance, do you think that what B Co is doing now is the right way to build a team as opposed to the way he was doing it in Phoenix and his early years in TO?
Nasko S, Sofia, Bulgaria
A: I think Rob was given a fair chance and didn’t do a good job at at it; and even in his best times, he never had the success that his successor did and I don’t know that he ever would have.