The end of the weekend mail
Tough TV night tonight, you’ve got your Emmys and your Treme debut and I’m guessing Treme gets relegated to On Demand status.
Anyway, enjoy this, see you tomorrow.
Q: Thanks for your comments on Escobar actions, Doug. It is a challenge in men's sport to overcome homophobia. Interesting that Navratilova and other women lead the way quite a few years ago and that this issue does not appear in women's sport. That tells us that what is really at stake here is HOW MEN THINK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN. Homophobia is more than an incidental mistake in this context: it is at the heart of a macho view of manhood, ensuring that men who would be more open, inclusive and (dare I say?) gentle are kept in place: play on a team and step outside that idea of "manhood" and you're called homophobic names. To break up this long-standing system in men's sport requires team ownership, management and players (and the media) to support gay men athletes and work actively to build a different culture of what is and is not OK. It would have meant a lot for a teammate to say no publicly to Escobar in that dugout. What will it take to build this new locker room-dugout culture?
Charles N, Toronto
A: Man, I wish I knew.
I think it’s going to be a combination of things but mostly it will take time, pure and simple.
There have been some baby steps taken – very small but steps nonetheless – but there is a long road ahead.
Continued education process for players and coaches (if I ran a team it would be mandatory every year, at the same time they get media training) would be a good start; I think as part of the mandatory public appearances players have to do a certain number of days each season I’d have them meet or work with advocacy groups.
Know what else would help? I think a gay athlete coming out during his career would be hugely beneficial; I understand the trepidation but that would be another big step.
Q: Hey Doug: You may not know the answer to this; if that is the case, just throw away the question.
Was listening to the sports talk radio station in Detroit, and they were interviewing Brady Hoke. It at times seemed like he was prepared with answers. Now, it may be it was because everyone asks him the same questions, but it might have been because he knew what the questions would be in advance. That way, he could not be caught off guard.
I don't know if your work on TV has involved interviewing anyone, but if it has, does the interviewee know the questions in advance?
Tim H, Windsor
A: I don’t conduct any TV interviews myself and in my normal course of interviewing I don’t tell my subjects what we’ll be talking about; I’d rather have a conversation flow and see where it takes us.
But I do know TV interviewers who will give a subject a head’s up, like “I’ll want to talk about this or that” so that no one’s caught totally off guard. Not saying it happens all the time, and rarely does it occur in things like post-game scrums, but it does happen.
Q: Topic for stools. Fred Couples in the GHoF with 15 PGA wins including 1 major. Would you say Yea or Nay?
I suspect the halls in general have eased the qualifications, it's marketing, publicists, uninformed voters, lack of transparency.
I want the members to be Great, not good, their careers to resonate as the best of a generation.
Fred? He has had a good career to date but not great!
John C, Mississauga
A: Nay, nay, a thousand times nay.
Now, I have nothing against Fred Couples as a golfer or a guy but when I watched him play, I never thought he’d be a Hall of Famer. Good? Yes. Great? I don’t think so.
But I have a longstanding reputation as a hard-ass when it comes to Halls of Fame, I think they’ve generally become too lenient when it comes to who gets in. Guess it goes to golf, too.
Q: Was having this discussion earlier in the week with a buddy over a brewski and was interested in your take on it.
To me the sport out of the 4 major one's here in North America that to me a coach/manager has the most impact on IN GAME is baseball as no matter the skill level of a team the manager ultimately controls the game from naming starting pitcher, handling of pitching staff throughout the game, setting of defense, hit and running, pitchouts etc the list is endless, next would be would be hockey as line changes, ice time, etc are all a factor.
Then basketball as in game coach can only do so much but can make a key move here or there such as going small etc that could turn a game.
And last to me is NFL as once game commences offensive and defensive co-ordinators more or less run the show. That’s why to me JF of the Jays just can't be rubber stamped moving forward, as baseball managers do and have shown they alone can turn a team’s fortunes.
Doug B, Toronto
A: Basically, I agree wholeheartedly, especially if you’re going to separate football co-ordinators from head coaches, although I think head coaches there can get changes made if they see something they definitely like.
And you’re bang on with the baseball being first because there is time to think about matchups, make strategic decisions isn’t available in other sports.
Not sure where I’d put hockey in all of this, probably in your method third ahead of football.
Q: Alright Doug, it's media day, or the first workouts or whenever you first gain access to the players. Who's on first as the player you want to talk to and why? What's on second? Cheers.
Jonathan M, Toronto
A: Not entirely sure, haven’t given it a lot of thought and tend to go with the flow once the group sessions begin. But I’m sure it’d be a new guy to find out more about them as people as much as anything. We haven't really learned anything about Terrence Ross, he might be first.
And we’ll figure it out soon, there’s an informal session Monday morning and it’s a week and a day until camp starts.
Q: Doug. I always love your blog._I see that the Raptors on Friday signed Jerel McNeal and Chris Wright to contracts, but that there's been virtually no reporting of this event. What's the story? Don't they already have too many players under contract? And if so, does this mean that they are in the process of completing a multi-player trade?
Stephen B, Kingston
A: Actually, I wrote a bit about Wright about three weeks ago and we had a small item on McNeal and Wright on Friday on the website.
It means nothing. It means they brought two extra guys in on non-guaranteed contracts as, basically, training camp fodder. Happens pretty much every year with every team; nothing to get too excited about.
Q: Hi Doug, now that you are covering so many topics has there been any thought to having someone do a Raptors and basketball only blog again?
Douglas P, Toronto
A: Nope. I’m what you’ve got, for better or worse.
But I would imagine once, you know, they actually have basketball that there will be days when it’s almost all Raptors and NBA here. Funnily enough, since early July, there’s been a dearth of basketball news.
Sorry if that wasn’t enough for you in the off-season.
Q: Hello Doug. To quote your friend Liz: "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis." It was an unusually personal Christmas Message from Queen Elizabeth that year as she told us what we all knew already: that the previous year had been a really, really bloody awful one for her family. After a flurry of collapsing Royal marriages, questionable behaviour by young royals, an ornery British public refusing to let the Government pay a $40 million pound repair bill after a fire at Buckingham Palace, the monarchy had come under increased scrutiny and public criticism.
Now you might say that for the Blue Jays, 2012 was a similar sort of year. Maybe not exactly 'horribilis' but certainly 'infortunatus'. Injuries, injuries, and more injuries, subpar performances and now a pervasive sense that fans are wanting it to just end. And the sooner the better. So, when on a beautiful late September afternoon, in Yankee Stadium (and such a fitting place for it to happen) Omar Vizquel tied - and then surpassed - Babe Ruth's all-time hit record, it seemed more than splendid. Thank you, Omar. It won't wash away the horribilis. But it was wonderful to witness.
So, Doug, other than Vizquel's achievements, who, or what, did you see that you liked about the Jays' 2012 season? Something(s) that can be used as a foundation, to build on for next season? And, you know, if The Queen had been a Blue Jays' fan, 1992 wouldn't have been so utterly horribilis for her - the Jays' World Series win made 1992 an annus mirabilis in my opinion. Thank you. And (almost time to) Go Raptors!!!
Lorie P, London
A: I’d guess there’d be two, maybe three, and I like them mostly because they validate opinions I’ve had for a wee bit.
First would be Brandon Morrow. Every knew the guy has electric stuff, I liked the way he seemed to become more of a “pitcher” this year.
Second would probably be Casey Janssen. I thought he could close, just seems to be something about his makeup that I like and, sure, there were some white-knuckle saves but there were saves.
Those are the two things that validate my thoughts, the other would be the consistently outstanding offensive production of Edwin Encarnacion. Dude’s had a great, great year despite not having the protection of Jose Bautista in the lineup for a huge chunk of it.
Other than that, I agree wholeheartedly with Perk: The run the bases like drunks, the miss cutoff men like the Mighty Red Tigers and there are jaw-slackening strategic decisions from the manager.
We touched on this briefly on the radio Friday and I’m sure I’ll get to in the regular morning musings before the basketball season gets going but this, to me, was the worst season in franchise history.
Q: Doug. I checked out the Basketball Canada SMNT facebook page the other day. There definitely seems to be lots of young talent coming up to 2016 and beyond. It got me thinking: If Canada hopes to win a medal they'll have to be as good /better than Argentina and Russia were in 2012 (because they were the Bronze and 4th place teams). Is this a reasonable goal by 2016? Is 2020 in play?
Shawn T, Fernie, BC
A: Reasonable? Probably not but here’s the thing: I think it’s entirely reasonable that Canada could make it to the quarter-finals of the 2016 Olympic tournament and then all bets are off until we see matchups, etc.
One thing I will add, too, is this: It’s not fair to suggest what countries they’d have to beat going on this year’s tournament. Teams, and rosters, change so much it’s not worth the effort. Argentina, for instance, will be absolutely no resemblance to the 2012 team in 2016.
Q: Watching the Red Sox/Rays ball game I realized that those of us who watch the Jays on TV should be grateful for the Jays commentators. The Boston talking heads sound just like the Celtics commentators - Homers. Always whining about bad calls. At least the Jays seem to give a fairly unbiased spiel, although they are a little rough around the edges, but getting better.
To Bball - when a total newbie like Jonas Val.... hits Toronto, do the Raps appoint someone to help them find their way for the first little while, or is it up to them to find their own guide. I am sure you have answered this question before, but I old age has cramped my memory and lots of stuff has been lost. My grandchildren are grateful for that. Thanks
Gerry T, Halifax
A: There are people on staff, administrative assistants in basketball operations and the front office who are around for whatever help is needed. They’ll arrange for car leases, apartments or condos and just generally help with getting rookies acclimated and even veterans back into the swing of things. And the player’s agents will also help so there’s no shortage of assistance available to anyone who needs or wants it. Wish I had as many people able and willing to get my life sorted out sometimes.
Q: I have a few questions. First how good is this Andrew Wiggins guy? I have read that he has a lot of potential and I know he has athletic pedigree but what is his ceiling? My second question has to do with Quincy Acy, he was voted as the most athletic rookie by his draft class and has been dubbed a poor man's Reggie Evans who can score so what will be his roll off the bench and is he a guy who can have a bigger role on the team as the season progresses?
Pedro S, Lisbon
A: I haven’t seen Andrew Wiggins play enough, nor am I comfortable ever, to talk about “ceilings.” I do know he is hugely talented, quick and strong and a very highly regarded teenager who has yet to even take part in an NCAA practice. But everyone tells me he’s very good.
Acy’s role? Be a rookie and learn how it is to play against bigger, stronger men. Yes, he seems to be quite energetic and willing to work hard and is now going to be facing grownups on a regular basis. I would be quite surprised if, as a rookie, he cracks the regular frontcourt rotation. Today I’d have him sixth after Valanciunas, Bargnani, Davis, Johnson and Aaron Gray.
Q: Hi Doug. I know you mentioned you drive Super Son to Cawthra. Just wanted to share that I spent the last 4 years driving my younger sister to Cawthra High School every morning. Let me just say I feel your early morning pains. Now she is off at Trent University enjoying the Peterborough scenery, and I'm enjoying sleeping in for an extra hour each morning.
In your recent blogs I see you've been hacking around on a few golf courses. Maybe you can post your top 5 golf courses in the GTA that are worth the green fee?
Kyryl K, Mississauga
A: I’m not sure I can do that and do it justice because there are all kinds of great and nice courses I haven’t had the privilege or opportunity to play and I actually spend a fair bit of my time playing in the peninsula. And, truth be told, a lot of my outings are charity tournaments where you don’t pay “green fees” per se as much as you pay $100 or $150 and there are meals and golf and the money goes to a good cause.
But I’m going to give you a hidden gem and if you ever get the chance to play it, you have to: Bridgewater Country Club in Fort Erie. Best-kept secret I know of.
Now, I have had the opportunity over the years to play some great, great courses. If you remind me midweek next week, it’ll be a good little morning item.
And thanks on the Cawthra stuff but we’re in a car pool with a couple of other families so I only have the 7 a.m. drop off on Tuesdays and Super Wife does most of the pickup so I really shouldn’t complain. I will complain, but I really shouldn’t.