The end of the weekend mail
Q: I was at a Pizza Pizza today having my slice of cardboard er pizza when I saw a "complimentary" Toronto Sun laying there so i perused it as the sports section is good, but as I was leafing through it to get to the sports I noticed Steve Simmons did a piece on Rob Ford's picnic yada, yada, yada.
This surprised me as too me a reporter shouldn't blur the political world with being a sports reporter as those are tricky waters to wade into and to me it also attacks one integrity.
I am not passing judgement on him as he does what he does my question is this has Mother Star ever asked you to step outside of the sports section and if so I know they are your bosses but could you decline?/would you decline depending on the subject matter?
I would be appreciated to hear a journalists thoughts on this and again it is in no way a condemnation of Simmons as he is free to do what he pleases.
Doug B, Toronto
A: No, I don’t recall in 17 years being asked to do anything like that – although I have written for Comment or Insight sections on sports. And I guess I could decline but I’d rather just offer an explanation on why I’d feel uncomfortable, if I would, and would hope that it would be accepted.
Q: Hi Doug! How are you? (Do you still want us to, you know, act interested and all that jazz or are you finally back to 'regular programming'?) :)
So, first things first. Why, oh why, has no one occupying a corner office in the Rogers-Bell media empire world headquarters offered some airtime to you and Dave Perkins? I'd listen to you guys talk about anything! I'm still chuckling over the anecdote from today's Round Table about a 1974 football bet and the folly of doing business with guys whose middle names are "The"! And if the dudes who decide, decide they don't want you, well...are you two available for birthdays and bar mitzvahs?
Anyway, my thought this week. I'm really enjoying The Star's tribute to Yonge Street. As a kid who grew up a couple of dozen feet from the intersection of Yonge and Finch I was on Yonge Street every day. For years my 'universe' was Yonge Street bounded by Shepherd to the south and Steeles to the north. Between those streets were the schools I attended, the family doctor, the family dentist, our vet, the hardware store, our church, the library, bakery and later, the Algonquin Tavern (!) - everything we needed was always, it seemed, located on Yonge. The Star's feature has brought back so many memories.
The photos and reader's comments have been splendid: in particular, the anecdotes about the 1972 Pedestrian Mall. I recall being part of a group of teenagers who headed downtown from Willowdale with guitars on our backs, embroidery on our jeans, flowers in our hair, ready for whatever adventure we could find every night it was on.
Now, my question: I know you weren't born and raised in Toronto, but you've spent a chunk of time there lately. Do you have any special memories of Yonge Street? Perhaps recent sports related stuff, or maybe it was a trip long ago to the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade? Or maybe it's something else entirely! Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: I certainly don’t have the depth of special memories like you and as I search the dark recesses of my mind all I can come up with is being a bit overwhelmed by it – and loving Sam The Record Man – during the odd foray we’d make either to watch the old Marlies on Saturday afternoons at the Garden or to take in a Leaves game about once a year.
But other than that, my “youthful” Toronto experiences usually ended at the Ex to watch baseball or football.
Q: Hi Doug. It's always tradition and old movies/songs/tv shows with you. I appreciate that you are more than willing to admit this, but come on it's not like creativity came to an abrupt halt in the 80s. Are there any sport movies you liked that were made in the last 10 to 15 years? Friday Night Lights? Million Dollar Baby? Moneyball? Cinderella Man?
Drew F, Oshawa
A: Oh, sure, there’ve been some really good ones of late and Million Dollar Baby, Seabiscuit and Cinderella Man would be up there, for sure.
I’m not totally immersed in the 70s and 80s but I think you’d probably even admit a lot of things now are done more formulaic and to attract an audience with a shorter attention span.
Q: Hi Doug. Glad you like your trip. Here is a question about evolution punctuated with the best Brit band ever. Version 1 of The Kids are Allright by The Who: - Youthful, athletic, full of energy.
Version 2: - A touch slower, more skilled and a wider variety of elements.
Who in your opinion was able to successfully transition like this - i.e. I can't say which version I prefer -- they are just different. My pick is Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Dave B, Toronto
A: In basketball?
Well, I’d have to give you Grant Hill, for all that he’s gone through with the injuries in his career. And how about Magic Johnson, who kind of re-invented himself as a power forward when he came back? Does he fit that criteria?
Q: Hi Doug. Would this not be a good time of year to do a retrospective/evaluation of General Managers, notably Brian? At the end of the season there is too much activity to report to make it convenient, but now there is space to do it. GMs are a little peculiar in that their activity runs on a long time scale and consists of relatively large lumps (there are only so many signings or other transactions). In particular I'd like to hear your take on how Bryan survived the team collapse from 2007-2008 (points 100.2 - 97.3) to 2008-2009 (points 99.0 - 101.9). That has to be a historic level of collapse.
Jim R, Toronto
A: Well, I’m not going to do 30 general managers because I don’t have the expertise nor the knowledge of the inner workings of their situations and, frankly, it would appear you’re more interested in relative ancient history than anything current.
Which, frankly, is silly.
I’ve said countless times, that Bryan (and that’s actually how you spell) had a slightly better than average summer this year.
The team is better at point guard, deeper and more accomplished at the two-three, and better at the five with the arrival of Valanciunas.
No, he didn’t a homer in the pursuit of a stud three, there were none available, as it turns out.
But, and I defy any logical person to dispute this, the team today is better than the team that was on the court at the end of the season.
Now, 2007-08 and 2008-09? Yeah, team went downhill, no question. How’d he “survive?” Well, track record, contract, a play. How’s that for three? Could the fall from post-season to out have been avoided? Maybe but they took a shot at getting better and it didn’t work out. Of course that’s, what, five, six years ago? Big whoop. Ancient history.
Points collapse? Isn’t that less than two baskets either way????? Bold use of “collapse.”
Look, Bryan when he first arrived re-made the roster and had two playoff years and I would bet my bottom dollar you were quite pleased with his performance than and if I’m wrong, prove it to me.
Then he staked his team, rightly or wrongly, on a seven-time all-star in Chris Bosh and it didn’t work out and if you knew it wasn’t, you should be an NBA GM.
And, since Bosh left, Bryan has done exactly what he said he would do: Rebuild a team without a true stud and put pieces together that showed improvement year after year. If you or anyone expected more, that’s on you. He’s done what he said he’d do, quite emphatically and quite often. If that’s not satisfactory, well, I don’t know what to say, it shouldn’t have come any surprise.
Now, we’ll see where they go from here; I’d much prefer to think about the next season than one five years ago.
Q: Hi Doug. In the past when you've been asked about some financial issue about MLSE, you had stated that as a private corporation, they didn't have to share their financial info, so they didn't. I imagine with Bell/Rogers taking over, some of this stuff (like how much profit the Raps make/don't make) will become available to the general public - which will no doubt be cause for multiple blog posts by people/along with high intensity comment fodder. Will you be able to access more or less information in general, do you think, from the Raps now (about all sorts of things, not just financials)?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: I don’t think the ownership change will mean anything at all different for me. Rogers and Bell also guard their financials like they are state secrets so there won’t be more information coming in that regard but the people I talk to about basketball are the same and our relationships won’t be altered.
Q: Glad to hear the links in NF are no worse for the wear after your trip with Super Son. In reading Thursday's blog it got me thinking to loot entail leaders this year. Doubt there is an Oak or Garbo or AD among them. I figure Jose, despite the situation, because of tenure and experience, but I also think Lowry, just seems to have something about him. Really interesting because they'll be competing for the same job. Who do think and why?
Scott M, Ilderton
A: That is going to be an interesting process to watch unfold and I’m going to be quite intrigued to see how, or if, Lowry can put his stamp on this team in some way. He seems to have a strength of personality – and has been in the league long enough in different roles to understand how things work – that they don’t currently have. But that’s what training camp and the pre-season are for, it’s too early to tell who emerges in what role.
Q: Hello Doug, Perhaps in the near future you could do a Q and A with Rowan Barrett about the process the SMNT plan on using to get from 30 from 12 while still leaving room for competition and having people working for a substitute spot in the case of injury, attitude or having it one week and not having it another.
Any idea of who got Magloire out on the floor last week?
As always, thanks.
(It is a little bit humbling when the teenagers start outdriving their dads both on the road and the links).
Kevin M, Maple
A: I presume sometime between now and next August when they actually have to field a team for a qualification tournament, we’ll talk at length with Jay and Canada Basketball officials about the selection process. But that’s a long way down the road and there’s absolutely nothing anyone is going to say or do until the end of next spring at the earliest.
Who got Jamaal out? Jamaal. He wanted the work, is hoping to land another NBA gig and was part of what was a pretty good coming together of coaches and people.
Q: Could this be one of the better training camps we've seen in a long time in regards to competition... One would think the only guaranteed starter would be barge..with legit battles at every other position this could be one heck of a camp. Now I would think the starters would be Lowry, demar, fields, Andrea and amir...but it could also very well be Jose,Ross,kleiza,Andrea and Jonas...no?
Ryan M, S. Thomas
A: Oh, I think this might be the most competitive camp ever. Sure, the first couple way back were competitive for jobs but they were always going to go to guys at the end of their careers and most with dubious talent; there should be legitimate competition between good young players who may turn out to be key pieces on a growing and improving franchise. I’m kind of excited to see who does what when camp and the pre-season begins.
Q: Hi Doug. I have a burning question that I can't seem to get an answer to. The Raptors roster looks pretty much set for the 2012/13 season. Perhaps a tweak here or there as the season progresses. What happens to the left over trade exception that we acquired when Bosh left town. I think $8 or $10 million was still available to us. Does the trade exception expire at the start of the season? Why haven't the Raptors used the full amount?
Gary D, Stouffville
A: It’s because you’re a year too late. The trade exception, bits of which were used to make a handful of different transactions, expired nine days after the lockout ended.
Q: Hey Doug. Just wondering if you were aware of this bball documentary coming up about the Lithuanian team separating from Russia. I had no idea.. I nearly teared up watching the trailer!
Keep up the good work.
Phil K, Singapore
A: I was totally aware and cannot wait to see it. It will be fascinating and a story I’ve known about since 1992 when I covered those Barcelona Olympics and one of the great regrets of my life is that I’ve lost track of the tie-dyed T-shirt I bought outside the arena in Badalona right after the bronze medal game.
Q: Doug, of last year's team, who would have the most impact with a breakout season this year? DeRozan becoming a star? Davis becoming an impact big on both ends of the floor? Or is it most important that Andrea sustain last year's breakout over an entire campaign?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I’m probably going with Kyle Lowry and what he can do in whatever role he has with Bargnani being the same guy as he was in the first 20 games last year for 70 games this year. That’s because each of them will open up stuff for others.
Q: Hey Doug, on Shaq getting his number retired thing, do you think any of the former Raptors have lived up to that expectation? Mo Pete? Alvin Williams? Vince Carter (that would be a shocker, wouldn’t it, but had he left Toronto differently, his name would surely be in the mix, no?). Thx Doug and take care!
Jean-Serge B, Dawson City
A: Even if I wasn’t a hard-ass when it came to things like retired numbers, statues and Hall of Fame inductions, I cannot see a Raptor worthy of that honour yet. And not sure I ever will unless the team’s fortunes turn dramatically on the back on one of one special person.
Q: Just out of curiosity do you get paid to be on Prime Time Sports or is it volunteered time by you to get your name out there? I would imagine when you are being interviewed over the phone its out of the goodness of your heart but when you are there for 2 hours one would think that you should get paid.
Ryan M, St. Thomas
A: Oh, the round tables are a paid gig; not an extravagant amount but they do compensate us for our time, which is worth something.
Q: Hi Doug. Sort of technical question from Lithuanian fans. Are Raptors games usually sold out? We might be in Boston and then in Washington at the same time when Raptors are there, but right now we aren't sure if we are going. Is it necessary to take care of the tickets, let's say, a month in advance, or can we get them right before the game? Hope you can answer this, thank you.
Asta P, Vilnius
A: Road games? It’s hard to say, a lot of them are and I’d suggest in your two specific cases that you’d need to get tickets in Boston as soon as they go on sale or else be prepared to pay scalpers but you’d be able to walk up to the box office in Washington and buy a ticket in any price range in the arena.
Q: Top of the day to you, been contemplating a couple of things this week, started from your piece dealing with the pre-camp arrivals of the HOTH(and obviously all other teams). Basic thought out of this revolves around the trigger that brings the different parties back to the "Game". Team officials obviously live the experience virtually the entire year, players to a lesser degree, those that support the production of the games, travel etc can mark a day on the calendar that they have to be back at it. But as a fan, what and where do we find the trigger that reunites our interest?
Personally, I have trouble with couch potatoing in the summer time to watch anything on the TV, baseball I can handle as background noise while doing something else but with the onset of early evening darkness the mind starts to go back to the fall sports. In some respects I guess I could be fairly accused of being a fair-weather fan but I don't really have any personal connection with sports anymore. Would be interested in hearing what others find is the hook to get back into their favourite team/ sport.
As always, thanks for what you do
Doug T, Brantford
PS: will have occasion to be visiting Mr & Mrs Sauga this coming weekend and kind of torn between BP at Square One or one of my old haunts, The Harp in Port Credit. Draft recommendation for BP
A: People? What have you got?
I’d bet a lot of them feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm and optimism gets them back into the swing of things at the start of any specific season.
For me, it’s new stories, a revitalization of professional enthusiasm and, simply, the rhythm of life that does it. If it’s September, I’m just anxious to do my job.
Oh, and I’d do The Harp, draught selection is kind of limited at the other place.
Q: Doug. Hearing about the Lance Armstrong doping story, got me thinking about the athletes who get tag with the doping rep. I know that in the past there were rumours and whispers about some athletes doping even without them testing positive; Flo Jo, Marion Jones, Armstrong, Barry Bonds, etc.. However not all athletes are hit with these rumours.
Couple of questions: Did you hear any rumours at the Olympics about Usain Bolt doping? If no, why not? He is incredible fast and much better than his competition, he almost seems to win with ease. Very similar to how Armstrong dominated his competition. Now I’m not saying that I think Bolt took drugs, I don’t think he did (I certainly hope he didn’t); but why is it that one athlete who is the best in their sport (Armstrong) is dogged with doping rumours, when another athlete who is the best in their sport (Bolt) isn’t?
Thanks as always for the quality work.
Jay M, Winnipeg
A: No, I didn’t, don’t know that anyone and I’d likely dismiss it as pure rumour-mongering if I did. As for some others, things like positive tests, the testimony or words of others and the fact they’re caught does it.
Q: Okay, sports movies. I know you're not a pucks guys but for comedies, how about Slapshot? For dramas, how about We are Marshall or Remember the Titans, or Hoop Dreams? Also, I'm not sure if you've heard about the film 9.79 that'll be playing at TIFF but it's supposed to be about the Ben Johnson saga and how the evidence indicates he wasn't the only one using PEDs in that race.
Jeff F, Toronto
A: I’m not big on Slapshot, actually; really liked We Are Marshall and am looking forward to the 9.79 documentary.
Q: Hi Doug: I've asked you before about what hotel chains you stay at on the road... How often do you go to pick up a rental car and the company pulls the ol' "I'm sorry sir, but we gave away your reservation." Shades of Jerry Seinfeld.
Thomas T, Antigonish
A: I rarely rent cars, actually. Don’t like the process of returning or standing in line to get them; would rather take cabs, which we can get out of almost every arena in the league now.