The start of the weekend mail
Wasn’t that a heckuva soccer game? Yeah, Canada-Panama, a gem.
Anyway, more at the start of the week ‘cause they go at it again Tuesday but, for the weekend, some mail.
You folks rallied late but there’s lots of room for tomorrow so, if you want, do your thing.
Q: Hello... Since we are now into the fall basketball season, for the young uns, what would you suggest for the rookie refs, and coaches to stress? Would it be the Lebron three step, or actually having a pivot foot? Or perhaps the palm under the ball crossover?
I totally agree about The Fan. Perhaps they could get Prime Time back in the Ottawa market. Team 1200 concentrates way too much on the Senators.
Enjoy the weekend!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Considering where the league is now and the scourges that are upon it, why not teach the art of flopping? Probably has a bigger impact on the game than travelling or carrying the ball.
Too much Senators? My fine sir, we live among Leaves fans; if a third line winger strains a muscle it’s an hour a day on him, 45 minutes on his replacement and 90 minutes on why Burke’s a buffoon and he should never have hired Wilson as it turns out and why the hell can’t he find a goalie and, besides, Maple Leaf Sports doesn’t want to win anyway and at some point it’s all Peddie’s fault.
Ooh, sorry, got carried away there.
Q: With the pucks not dropping and the Jays already having dropped I find myself lacking for local sports entertainment. What kind of timeline do we have to look forward to from the Raptors (i.e. report date, first pre-season game, etc.)?
Alex H, Toronto
A: The time is almost upon us; can you feel the excitement?
Here you go:
Media day here is Oct. 1.
First practice of training camp in Halifax is Oct. 2.
First pre-season game is Oct. 8 in Toronto against Real Madrid.
Last pre-season game is in Memphis on Oct. 26.
First regular season game is here against Indianapolis and the legendary Mike Wells/David Benner combination is on Oct. 31 and I promise not to write a bunch of guys showed up for Halloween dressed as NBA players.
And if any of my friends do, they’re ex-friends.
Q: Hey Doug, belated congrats on your Olympic experience. A week or so ago I watched a rerun on the CBC about prep basketball and a coach called Ro. Is it for real, and, if so, is he still able to manipulate kids into playing for him?
Beverley G, Vancouver
A: Oh, sadly, it’s very real and represents just about everything that’s bad about the street agents who run teams/schools/scams on and for teenagers and their gullible parents.
And, equally sadly, there will be enough teens and parents who don’t ask the right questions and are bamboozled that this will continue in the future.
Q: Hi Doug. I don't recall you ever talking about special diets. I've recently met and have been romantically linked with a woman who is a vegan. I've been learning a lot about vegan diets and my health. It's been a good thing so far. I was curious about two things:
What are your thoughts about veganism. I ask because I'm running out of restaurants to try that will do both a vegan meal and a meal with lots of meat very well and perhaps fellow readers will have some suggestions.
Are there any vegans or vegetarian players in the NBA or on the Raptors?
Alexander C, Toronto
A: My thoughts? To each their own, I guess; it’s not something that’s intriguing to me, I fully understand the health benefits but, frankly, I enjoy a hunk of red meat every now and then. But I have friends who are religious vegetarians and we get along just fine J.
And I don’t know of any NBAers here who are but I would imagine in a group of more than 450 throughout the league there would be some. (I'm now told by someone who'd know that Raja Bell is a vegetarian, so there you go). And good for ‘em, hope they enjoy it.
Q: Regarding Tom Anselmi, I am reminded of the disclaimer quoted in all those mutual fund commercials: "Past performance should not be indicative of future returns."
Do you believe that Anselmi got the job based on being Peddie's groomed replacement or his results at TFC?
I know you don't follow soccer much, but those of us familiar with Toronto FC have noted that amidst all the change and ineptitude at the club, there has been one constant - Tom Anselmi. Yes, he has run a profitable club, but that is only because he has burned through the entire season ticket waiting list. And if the grumblings from the supporters and casual fans are any indication, TFC will be lucky to break 10,000 SSH next year.
Do you think that the MLSE board should have waited until they knew the results of the TFC SSH renewal push for this year, say January? It would appear that Anselmi has jumped ship just before the true effects of his leadership at TFC becomes evident.
Brad B, Ottawa
A: From what I know from the people I’ve spoken to, he was retained in the job he’s been doing for about nine months because he was doing a good job at it. And it is so much more than running a sports team from a senior management position, it’s not even funny. You’re talking about a nearly $2 billion outfit that includes teams, arenas, restaurants and condominiums; way more far-reaching that one team.
And, because of that, I don’t think the number of season ticket holders to the soccer team had – or should have had – anything to do with it.
Sure, TFC’s been awful, gone through coaches like I go through socks but maybe that was as much a function of the general managers as it was the corporate overseer. I don’t know for sure.
So, no, they needn’t have waited at all.
Q: Hi Doug - It's been a busy summer, so I apologize if you answered this in one of your blogs entries that I missed. The Raptors couldn't find that home-run 3 anywhere and look to be starting the year with Landry Fields (who I really do like, but is more suited to backup than starter, as I see him). With that in mind, do you know if there's been any consideration of going after Mickael Pietrus - a starter on a winning team who can still play at a high level on both ends of the court? I know he's no Iguodala or Granger, but he's a step up, I think and is just looking for a deal that is more than the minimum.
The Raptors still have all of their exceptions, don't they - the bi-annual or the 3-million mid-level or the full mid-level?
Thanks and I'm sorry if I'm asking you to repeat yourself.
Jarrod H, Markham
A: I do know there has been some internal discussion of Pietrus, who remains arguably the best player without a contract.
But the fact is, these guys don’t have the money to pay him, a lot of their exceptions were eaten up by the likes of Aaron Gray, Alan Anderson and John Lucas, all of whom fill roles.
Now, I do think they should call Pietrus’s agent and see if he’d be willing to work on a minimum-value deal and I presume that call will be made, it’s only prudent business to do so. However, I doubt a team like Toronto for a minimum value deal would be attractive to Pietrus, who will probably wind up with the same kind of deal on a better team, even if the Raps could offer him a chance at more playing time than some legitimate title contender whose roster is now basically filled.
Q: To help with the mailbag, I am submitting two questions.
First, it looks like the Rockets have cleaned out their roster this year to start re-building. They recently announced that they will install a 58 foot scoreboard (the biggest in any arena) to enhance the in-game entertainment and attract fans to the arena. Do you think the scoreboard entertainment has anything to do with attracting people to the arena or is it strictly the success/failure of the team. I think the scoreboard is irrelevant.
The second question is about the TOD, some sports commentators have suggested that Romero should be moved to the bullpen. That way he would be put out there every couple of days for a couple of innings. This might help get his confidence back. This would be the opposite approach to extra rest. Which would you do if you were the manager?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: If people are buying tickets to NBA games solely so they can see a big scoreboard, I’d submit they’d be better off donating the equivalent amount of money to the charity of their choice. That said, I do think an impressive video board does enhance the arena experience and I’m quite looking forward to the one at the Toyota Center because I think that’s one of the finest arenas in the league. Now, would it bring people back a second time? I’d doubt it but it would be part of the allure.
Romero in the bullpen? Don’t see it, can’t see why. It’d take so long for him to develop the routine of having to pitch every other day that it wouldn’t be worth the effort since he is, in my opinion, a starter going through an awful stretch.
If I was the manager? Right now, I’d trot him out there on regular rest and hope he gets back to the form he had earlier this season and early in his career.
Q: So since now is the time when the Raptors are working out without Casey, who is not prohibited? Who are all the little gnomes on the staff who can talk to players? What are their names? And what does each of them do with the players?
Do any of them talk to Casey during this period? Is he in conference calls for hours each day or on the beach?
And players probably have their own personal trainers and staff for the offseason?
Ku H, Toronto
A: It’s not that coaches are prohibited, per se, it’s that they can’t have any “practices” under their guidance until Oct. 1. I’m sure assistant coaches and Dwane will be in the gym putting guys through individual workouts as they did in various locales over the course of the summer.
So there is conversation and some supervision, just nothing “official” since players aren’t required to be here until Oct. 1.
And, yes, some have trainers who put them through paces over the course of the summer.
Q: Hi Doug. I know you haven't seen much of them, but what do you think Ross & Acy's upsides are? How close is Ross to being 'NBA ready' and maybe even overtaking DeRozan? Can Acy be a rotation player some day? Thanks!
Tim H, Guelph
A: I wish I knew. I do know that the coaches are quite high on both, Ross for his basketball know-how at a young age and Acy because of his work ethic. But, I remind you and everyone, they are raw rookies and I don’t see them challenging for substantial minutes for most of this season.
Q: It was always a pleasure to watch Barbosa play for the HOTH - can you see a scenario where he can come back to Toronto, and is there any interest from the Tall Foreheads in the Raptors front office?
Sam D, Barrie
A: I can’t see a scenario and I’m told there’s no interest at all. Time to move on for both sides.
And if Leandro has to settle for a veteran minimum deal, which all indications are he will, I wonder if the Lakers will be in play to reunite him with that Nash fellow. Leandro didn’t really have a huge post-season impact with the Pacers last year and I imagine that’s hurt him in the search for employment this summer.
Q: Saw the amazing story of Alex Zanardi winning a Paralympic medal and made me think, has there ever been any other athlete to suffer a career ending injury in one sport then dominate at the elite level in another? Do you know of any comparable athletes?
Alex H, Toronto
A: That was truly an inspiring story, wasn’t it?
And, no, I cannot think of anything comparable at that level; I’m sure there were able-bodied athletes who suffered some accident or somesuch and went on to have Paralympic success but I can’t imagine anything with the scope of Zanardi.
What I couldn’t believe about that story is that it’s been more than a decade since his accident.