The start of the weekend mail
What’s that one about best laid plans?
Sorry, folks, had hoped to have all the mail done by this morning but got to a Mighty Red Tigers coaches meeting last and night and lo and behold we were joined by Stella and her friend Sambuca and whaddya know.
So, here’s what I had done, will get to the rest of them this morning or after the game and there’ll be some light reading later tonight.
Q: Hey Doug: You can answer this just from your (very good) memory, or you can get the RMs (Research Monkeys) on it.
In the history of the Raptors, in what game did they get the worst beating? And in what game did they give the worst beating?
Thanks again for all of your hard work!
Tim H, Windsor
A: So many beatings, so many choices.
But if you're looking for the all-timers, here you go:
Raptors 96, Heat 54 on March 19, 2008.
Knicks 125, Raptors 79 on April 15, 1996.
I remember the Heat game, they played a marginal D League team as they prepared for the coming summer; the Knicks game was a road one in the first year and I wasn't at it so I've wiped it from whatever corner of my cluttered mind it might have been in.
Q: Hi Doug. Recently I started following @CanBallReport on Twitter. I knew the Canadian presence in NCAA hoops was growing, but the daily reports of Canadian ballers accomplishments is astounding. I wouldn't have guessed there were that many playing - and contributing.
Can you think of any comparable era in Canadian hoops history? There's even a chance (I know - way too early) that Canadians could go Number 1 in the next two NBA drafts. Andrew Wiggins in 2014 and Anthony Bennett this year. Chad Ford says Bennett is "a stud" and would likely be the consensus #1 if he wasn't a bit short for a Power Forward. Even so, Ford says he'll go in the top five and could still move up to the top spot. The future looks bright!
Joe S, Kingston
A: There is no question this is the greatest crop of teenage Canadians ever and, yes, it is entirely possible that the next two No. 1 picks could be Canadian. A true accomplishment and I think attributable to the overall growth of the game at the grassroots level thanks to the presence of the NBA and the Raptors, the decision of many young families to eschew the exorbitant cost of hockey compared to basketball and the work that all the groups -- Canada Basketball, Ontario Basketball and the club teams -- do to assure our best young players are getting better coaching and a chance to compete regularly against the best, often.
Q: Hi Doug, wondering if you have any inside knowledge of the NBA trying to speed up the last few minutes of games. It's absolutely brutal sometimes. What separates basketball from most other sports is the constant fluidity and speed. Seeing timeouts and replays and free throws just sucks the life out of the most exciting part of the game.
Last nights Raps-Bulls game was exhibit A. After the last couple minutes of regulation took forever I timed the OT and it was over 25 minutes!
Granted, there isn't much that can be done about fouling but any chance the NBA limits replays and timeouts especially?
Chris D, Toronto
A: Speed up? Sorry. With new situations for which video replay is allowed in the final two minutes of a game and overtime, they're actually going the other way. They have, however, cut down the length of timeouts in the final two minutes. That, however, is small consolation.
Q: Good on you, Doug, for weight loss and it being noticed by US Customs! It brings to mind a question about travel and weight: How DO NBA players control their weight considering all the travel, different eating establishments, irregular hours. How successful are they with weight control? What lessons for good or ill can they teach the rest of us?
Charles N, Toronto
A: They mostly control weight and body fat percentages by being constantly monitored, they are weighed at least monthly and after each game are given protein drinks of some sort. The meals the teams provide are healthy and well-balanced, of course.
And I guess the biggest lesson people can take away from this is that despite a rather odd lifestyle, it is possible to have a healthy diet and control weight.
Q: Ok, I’ve bit my tongue long enough. Now, I don't know if the refs are against us, or they just totally miss calls because they don't see the fouls but it's become frustrating. thanks for letting me vent.
My question: does the NBA ever consider having officiating crew grouped as crew, similar to how MLB does it with baseball? My guess, if the same crew works together a whole season, the calls will be more consistent as they will know how to work with each other and understand their missed calls and mistakes.
Frederick L, Mississauga
A: I honestly don't know if they've ever considered that system and I'm not entirely sure it would be workable with the schedule and travel concerns. But I also don't think it's unfamiliarity with each other that causes each missed call.
Q: Hey Doug, long time fan and reader. How about a brief "Where are they now?" update on these "fossils" : Milt Palacio, Jerome Moiso, Big Country?
Thanks, Keep up the good work.
Richard L, Berlin
A: The last I heard about Milt he was missing layups in Russia; sorry, but I've got nothing on the other two. I usually just catch up with people I hear about or run into, Moiso and Reeves do not fall into that category.
Q: Hey Doug. Currently watching the Raps & 76ers game and the Philly arena is half empty. Considering the Raptors have won one playoff series in their history, does it surprise you that the Raps have always been average (sometimes above) in attendance? I truly do think that the Raps have a very big (and loud) underground support and if they ever manage to have a long playoff run - the fandom in the city will be intense.
Dave R, Markham
A: I've been around this group for a very long time and the fan support had been constant and consistent. Sure, the people can be over the top sometimes but at the end of the day, they've been great. I remember one time, when Rick Carlisle was coaching in Detroit I believe, him telling me unsolicited that Toronto fans were the best in the league. He might have been over-stating things but not by much.
Q: Doug, I need assistance from you or one of the Irregulars with a music question: there's a really low-pitched six-note sequence that's played regularly over the speaker system at Argos games. I always thought it was just an Argos thing, but I recently heard the same sequence of notes as part of a rock song. I'm not sure whether the Argos music is based on the song or vice versa, but I'd love to find the name of the song and group so I can add it to my playlist.
Mike D, London
A: Irregulars? Can you help a fellow out? I don't get to a lot of Argos games, nor do I pay much attention to music at sports events. Someone out there must know, right?
Q: I asked this question in the comments and decided to send it to you here. Are Matt, Leo and Jack employees of the Raptors, employees of TV Networks or independent contractors? I hear most play by play people making comments about the Referees and wrong calls or non-calls. Can they be chastised or fined by the League?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: They are de facto independent contractors who are paid by the team, as are about 99 per cent of local broadcasters throughout all sports, as I understand. And while the league has input into some aspects of the broadcasts -- there are standard technical issues and timing issues and the like -- fining or otherwise chastising broadcasters or fining them is so over the top, it would never happen.
Q: Like to get your thoughts on the no call on what looked to me to be a pretty clear offensive foul on Luol Deng when he pushed off on Landry Fields and then made the winning jump shot...kind of reminds me when Jordan pushed off on Bryon Russell and then made the winning jump shot a number of years ago...in your opinion was it a foul....when a potential foul results in a game changing play, shouldn't the refs be making the call?
Bob G, Crystal Beach
A: Sure it was a push-off and a blown call and, yes, in a perfect world no official would ever miss a call. But we do not inhabit a perfect world.
Q: I confess that part of me is happy to see Nash and the Lakers struggle. Some of the sports writers - yourself included - made it clear that Nash's decision was for family reasons (the magic-coat everyone puts on when they don't want their motives questioned).
So to not appear uncool - we have to keep this happiness over others failures (normally an accepted trait in sports fans) ... to ourselves.
Question; for the longer term good of the Raptors would a trade for Gay have made sense even if asking price was "only" Calderon and any one of Ross, Valenciunas, Davis. I don't - because of Gay's contract and slightly cost-controlled upside of each if the three young guys.
Raff A, Cobourg
A: It was not in any way a "magic coat" because it was a truthful and legitimate reason for a decision; the fact some people still can't accept it is of no concern to me.
Gay? Will say it again: The price would have been too steep to include either of, or both, rookies. Yes, he would be an upgrade but at a cost that would have made the near future only "different" rather than better when you consider the two years and $37 million or so left on his deal.
Q: Hi Doug. Re doping: are the restrictions looser in North American sports (and in particular in the NBA) than in cycling? I'm always amazed at how player are able to play 3 games a week with so much intensity (that is, for most of them). What about the controls? Are players requested to carry a biological passport for instance?
Matthieu B, Bern, Switzerland
A: The NBA's testing policy includes mandatory training camp and random in-season testing; it is not a perfect system but I don't know that such an animal exists anywhere. The idea of a biological "passport" would, I imagine, be seen as a bit Draconian here but I can see its merits for athletes playing in various different "leagues" and completions in the course of one season.