The end of the weekend mail
And while you’re reading this, I’m off to Buffalo in the guise of a football scribbler to cover the Bills. Lucky readers, eh?
Q: Ciao Doug. 2 very different questions from Italy.
Raptors players can officially train with the coaching staff starting Oct. 2. During the next 2 weeks what kind of training sessions are they allowed? Are they using the Raptors gyms? Can the coaching staff work with them during these not official sessions?
Last week I was in Naples. Sorry for you and all the Canadians but I could taste the best Italian pizza in an historical and typical environment. The final bill for my family (my wife and 2 hungry teenagers) was 28 euros, beers, cokes and Napoletan espresso coffees included.
When do you come again to Italy to have a perfect wine & food full immersion?
Paolo P, Roma
A: Oh, yeah, coaches can work with them as they have most of the summer but it can’t be “official” or mandatory since the players don’t have to be back until Oct. 1 by contract. But almost all of them are in well in advance of that. And, yes, they use the practice facility at the Air Canada Centre, it’s got all the stuff they need.
And I’m entirely jealous of the meal; not sure when I’ll get back but if Super Family could do a week in Italy and a week in, say, Spain next summer as a great vacation, that sounds pretty good to me.
Q: Hello. What are the "duties" of the rookie dinos? Does JV get treated any differently than say TR? Do they get a chance to whack the pebble?
Speaking of rock. How about a little Mitch Ryder? The rooks might have to be mindful of a devil in a blue dress.
Bob E, Kanata
A: All rookies are created equal and I’d imagine – it varies from year to year – that they’ll be in charge of bringing donuts to practice most days and I’m not sure, but there’ve been years when they’ve had to carry silly young girls backpacks on the road. Dora The Explorer was big one year.
Other than that, they do what rooks do, fetch socks from the trainers, gather balls at end of practice and the grunt work kids should do.
And, sure, why not?
Q: Doug. You mentioned about missing Downchild - who i have heard many times - assume you meant at the Port Credit blues thingy? A band who was there on Friday was the Stacey Mitchart band from Nashville, outstanding entertainers with a killer horn section.
If they are back, don't miss them. This could be the theme song for men our age - you might like from 4.15 on.
Awaiting some miracles on the court this year - and your peerless coverage - now time to take advantage of the sun and go play some Monday noon golf. Even if it means working on lesson plans into the evening (part time instructor)
Bill W, Dresden
A: A solid tip, thanks. And yeah, it was the Port Credit blues thingy, wish I could have gone. Won’t miss it next year, that’s for sure.
Q: Hi Doug! What do you make of the Texas Tech story now that one of the top players has publicly stated he doesn't want his own back after a medical leave (unheard of?!?)!
John S, Toronto
A: I don’t know if it’s unprecedented or not but nothing that happens in the NCAA – far too often a cesspool of maniacal coaches, rampant cheating and various manners of abuse -- surprlses me. Actually find it kind of refreshing that a kid would speak up.
Q: Hi Doug. Same here, too much crap/reality shows on TV these days to grab my attention. I did come across an interesting one last winter; it’s called The Walking Dead, on at a perfect time, Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC. Season 3 starts on October 14. It’s basically a drama about human survivors following a zombie apocalypse. Always has a great zombie killing scene in every show. I recommend you watch Episode 1 of Season 1, followed by Ep. 2 and you will be hooked. It goes much deeper than any Zombie movie ever could.
Now for a Bball question. Do you honestly think the Raptors have a chance to beat out Philly and Washington for the last playoff spot?
Daniel A, Don Mills
A: Sorry, I am so uninterested in anything vampire or zombie that it’s not even funny. Appreciate the tip, though.
And I have no idea what’s going to transpire; if I did, I’d be off making a whole lot more money doing something else. But, sure, why couldn’t they contend for that 7-11 space in the conference if everything goes along normally, which it’s unlikely to do. Not sure where your Washington stuff comes into it but to each their own.
Q: RAPS. fan. IF RAPS don’t make the postseason (hate to ask or even think) will BC on hot seat? Thanks. For the record- they WILL.
Alex K, Toronto
A: I have a feeling I’m going to be saying this a kazillion times and I should put it in a file so I don’t have to type it.
General managers in every sport are, to use one of the worst clichés of all time, on the hot seat continuously. So, since we have no real clue what “on the hot seat” actually means because it means nothing, the answer is “yes.”
Q: You answered half of my question last weekend, so let me resubmit the other half. How big is the Raptors coaching/training staff? Can you name 10 or so people other than Casey, and tell us what they do? Thanks for keeping us informed!
Ku H, Toronto
A: Well, they have five assistant coaches – Johnny Davis, Micah Nori, Scott Roth, Tom Sterner and Eric Hughes – and they do what assistants do, offer input on strategy, work on skill development, chart things during games like deflections and what stuff is working best each night. It’s a collective effort so it’s impossible to clearly delineate who does what.
They have a director of sports science in Alex McKechnie, who sets up training programs; an athletic trainer in Scott McCullough who deals with medical issues and a handful of assistants for Scott and Alex in Rory Mullen, John Lee and Ray Chow who work on the training side.
That 10? Hope so ‘cause that’s all I’ve got.
Q: Hi Doug, well basketball news are at a low right now, so allow me to ask a few outside of basketball questions? Which do you prefer, a martini or a beer? Poker or Curling? A day at the beach, or a night of wild camping? New York or Los Angeles (the cities, not any sports teams)? Coffee or tea? Obama or Romney? Thx for responding to these off topic questions, Doug, and have a good one!
Jean-Serge B, Dawson City
A: Well, since you asked …
Beer, nature’s semi-perfect food.
Poker, with many stories and good friends.
Camping, primarily by default as the lesser of two evils.
New York, LA’s waaaaay too spread out and, um, fake.
Coffee, the stronger the better.
Obama, am a bit left-leaning in many ways; the other guy scares me.
Q: Hi Doug. A TOD manager question for you. I'm hearing all sorts of talk about the future of John Farrell and the soon to be vacant job with the Bosox. I'm not privy to Farrell's thought process or what Alex has up his sleeve, but the story seems to be more the makings of a couple of columnist/Radio hosts minds beating a dead horse. Would you suspect there is some creative license used here, or are there reliable sources for the story.
While I'm at it …
What's your take on releasing the compensation packages for professional athletes and teams - Does the great unwashed have the right to know what a player makes?
I'm thinking about the Jays bidding for Yu Darvish and the collection of folks who seem to want to know what the TOD offered for the right to talk to Darvish.
Sam D, Barrie
A: I think there’s something to it, maybe not as much as we’re led to believe but it’s become almost all too pervasive. But, it could just be people extrapolating in a way: Farrell’s a former Red Sox coach, knows the organization and is an okay manager and Boston’s going to need one, it would seem. So it could be a combination of the two.
The salary thing?
Tough one, actually. I’m not sure it’s a “right” to know but since that’s the way some players are (often unfairly) measured, I guess there’s a point to make that says the people who buy the tickets should get a chance to see where their money goes. My problem with that stuff being out there is that it sometimes unfairly maligns a player in the whole “he’s not worth his salary” discussions we hear all the time. The fact is, no athlete is really “worth” the kind of ridiculous pay they get and no one should be blamed when a player tries to maximize his earnings. After all, isn’t that what all employees try to do?
Q: It will be interesting to see what's on the Sports newscasts this year. In Canada they are all pucks all the time to the point that I don't even bother to watch them. With the pucks lock out this year do you think the sports stations will actually give some quality time to other sports or will they still be dominated by what's not happening in pucks?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: It will be interesting, won’t it? Not only for the newscasts but also for the hours of sports radio that are dominated by the pucks. I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll hear breathless daily updates on what the players are doing, either here not working or playing in Europe. There will still be pucks, of that I am certain.
But you’d hope – and think – that other sports would benefit at least a little bit from the abundance of air time that will be available.
Q: Hey Doug. Question regarding the new ownership of MLSE: Recently in past seasons, Raps games were carried by all of our Canadian sports networks who are all owned by different parent companies, Bell, Rogers etc. You would need to subscribe to all the networks and their secondary channels TSN 2, Sportsnet 2 etc. to catch every live Raptor game. Being that Bell and Rogers now co-own the team(s) will I get more games, if I am with either Bell or Rogers? And, will they allow other networks such as CBC to carry the odd game do you think? Thanks always for a great read. Looking forward to this HOTH season.
Scott S, Chatham
A: I know what you’re saying and it’s got to be a pain but as far as I know – at least for this season – there isn’t going to be any change from previous years.