The start of the weekend mail
Well, sure seems like this new system works as well as the old one.
Overflowing now that we got it all figured out (there are some new issues that have arisen for me and we don’t get last names or cities so the signatures are a bit different) but seems to be working okay.
So okay, in fact, that I got over-run with the amount so – yes – here’s this and there’ll be more tonight once I get some things worked out in moving questions from firstname.lastname@example.org to here.
Read this, watch the game and we’ll get the rest of ‘em done sometime later this afternoon or this evening, if that’s okay with you?
Q: Hopefully this a timely question, but not basketball related.
Which 5 current sports personalities (either players or commentators) would you invite to a Super Bowl party at Casa Doug? And bonus question, assuming you have a personal chef and one snack/appetizer/dish per quarter, what are you serving?
A: Oh, that’s a good one.
For purely interesting and wide-ranging personalities who are still playing their games, how would it be to sit around and watch a game with Roger Federer, Steve Nash, Usain Bolt, David Beckham and Derek Jeter be? I think that might be fascinating.
And if I had time, and the ability, I’d probably start the day with a nice antipasto plate with some great cheeses, salamis and jamons; the second quarter might some spicy queso dip and salsa with fresh tortillas; there’d be a big pot of chili – no beans – at halftime. Then we’d move into the main event, some good hot chicken wings (not too saucy) for the third quarter and a never-ending supply of nachos to wind up the day.
Oh, and there’d be a bottomless cooler sitting right in the middle of the room.
Helluva day, no?
Q: Hi Doug
You've probably had your fill of questions about the specifics of the trade (if Jose better than Gay etc), but my question has to do with the process involved in the trade. As I understand it, the way things should work is that Team Owners higher a General Manager, give him a budget, and let him do his job. They of course, evaluate his job on an ongoing basis, but owners are supposed to stay out of the actual business of running a team. If the media reports are to be believed, BC had to "sell" the acquisition of Gay to the team owners, and had to get their permission to make the trade, despite the fact it doesn't put them over the luxury cap. I'm wondering if this report was correct, and also if you can fill us in on why this would be the case if the story is correct. Thanks in advance.
A: I don’t think “sell” is nearly close to the right word and not one I would have ever used.
But in any business, if there is a major acquisition to be made – and while it didn’t put them into a tax situation this year, it does add about $37 million to future payrolls – I think it’s only logical that a manager needs to present it to his employers.
But I would suggest and have been told, it was more an “advisory” than a “request.”
Q: Hey Doug,
Saw the Miami Heat at the White House and it got me thinking - if the Raptors won would they have to go to the white house too? Can’t recall if the Jays went there when then won the championship way back when.
Keep up the good work!
A: I would imagine they would be invited to the White House, it’d still be a good photo op for a president given the number of Americans on the team. And my memory is that, yes, the elder Bush did have the Blue Jays over after they won.
Too bad they don’t have the same tradition at the House of Commons, two visits to two seats of government would be cool.
Q: Hi Doug.
What happened to all that stuff about players needed to work through practices and training camp to learn plays and to play together? Seems that Rudy Gay, without even going to shootaround was pretty effective working with the team. You could say that a strong individual performer will do well regardless of what system the team is playing but the high number of assists and the tight defense would indicate that there was some integrated teamwork happening. So are the standard plays and defensive systems fairly common across all teams so that a player can adapt fairly easily? Or was this simply a one game aberration that should not be an indication of anything?
A: For one night, yeah, they’re very common. There are only about four offensive plays in basketball – side screen-roll, high screen roll, pindowns and floppy action (wings setting screens for each other along the baseline) so for a night or two, you can fake it.
The learning process is counters off those plays, terminology and defensive principles like how a team plays zone, where it likes to send guards on penetration and how it defends pick and roll action.
That’s where it takes time to learn.
But you can get away with things with new guys for a short period of time.
Q: Hi Doug.
Do you think BC will try to re-sign Jose at a lower price if the opportunity presents itself.
Thanks as always,
A: I would doubt it. I thought if Jose had lasted the year – and I’m still not certain that he shouldn’t have – they would have made that effort, having dealt him for a second time, I don’t think it happens now.
Q: With Jose now traded out of his favorite city and away from his favorite team do you think it is very probable that he will go back to play for Spain next year? He doesn't seem like the type to stay for the extra couple of million he might make in the NBA.
A: No, I don’t think it’s very probable at all. There will be several NBA teams interested in signing him; chief among them, I’d presume, the Detroit Pistons.
But that will be a decision Jose would have to make and we’ve never discussed it.
Q: Hello Doug, Wondering which has taken more flak this week, the blog's "new look" or the trade? What have the percentages for each looked like, those in favour versus those opposed? Do you think some of the flak might just be plain old "change" fatigue? A certain amount of change is expected and healthy, but these days, it comes at us so fast, well, it gets a bit tiring and aggravating, don't you think? (and maybe more so for those of us of a certain vintage) But thanks as always for the great blog!
David M., Ottawa
A: Yeah, change is sometimes necessary and not always welcome but they knew that going in. I think the new site looks tremendous, actually. But I’ve also passed on all concerns about the type in the usual blog (it is too small) and once they get through working out some other kinks that are considered more important, they’ll get around to fixing my space, they tell me.
And, sure, I think we always find that when change is made, it’s the people who don’t like it who are more vocal than those who accept it.
Q: I probably wouldn't be able to pick any of the current Maple Leafs out of a lineup - and I do watch a game now and then. However, if you gave me a photo of the 1967 Stanley Cup winning squad, I'd have no problem identifying every single one of them. And many players from other teams at the time. And I'm not a huge hockey fan, but as sensible as it has been to cover the players from head to toe in protective gear it sure prevents the
fans from getting to 'know' the players in some way. The same with football, I guess. But then there's basketball. Not only do we get to speculate on additional bandages, (and aspirin strapped to ankles...see: Johnson, Amir) wraps, supports etc, new body art and wacky new hairdo's (see: Johnson, Amir) but after years of watching certain players, we can feel we 'know' them a bit. Their body language - even their facial expressions can become familiar to us. I don't really know if there is a question. I do know that an 8-year veteran of the Toronto Maple Leafs could leave and I'd probably not feel the same way as I am now that an 8-year veteran of the Raptors has been traded. But, maybe it's just that I've come to prefer basketball to hockey and, as you say, it's really just a case of 'apples and oranges'. Or do you think there might there be something to my theory about players and fans and familiarity and layers of protective gear? Thank you.
And thank you for all the extra writing, reporting, blogging this unusual week. (Hey...and with all the basketball stuff happening in Atlanta on Wednesday, did you happen to stick your head out the window and notice that tornado? Yikes, indeed!)
A: I do think diehard fans of basketball – and baseball – get to “know” the players a lot better because you can see them and see how they react far better than the other two sports. But I also imagine the diehards in those games can tell players apart by the way they move rather than by the way they look.
Yeah, this was a bit of a week for sure; and I avoided all things tornado in Atlanta by scheduling fresh air walks by looking out the window to see if it was pouring rain and lashing wind and going for lunch at a little deli I know close to my hotel during a break in the storm.
Q: Hello... What Marvin Gaye song would Coach Casey like best... For the refs... Can I get a witness?
For a certain player...Stubborn Kinda fella?
For BC...What's Goin On?
Hopefully for Jose...Reunited and it feels so good?
A: Now that’s a playlist! Time for iTunes update. Thanks.
Q: Hi Doug,
I'm just wondering what the biggest story that you have ever broken to the public, and if you could give us the details on how that came about.
Also what is the biggest "Story" you've ever covered? Obviously the "Olympics" as an event are huge but I'm looking more for a specific story.
Jeff M, Saint John
A: You know, I don’t like to keep score, a great beat writer who I respect once told me that in a competitive market, 90 per cent of the stories are tied, you win five per cent and you lose five per cent. No sense getting worked up about any of them. And, frankly, with the immediacy of the world these days, with tweets and other social media, I’m not sure it matters who had what “first” as long as the stories you eventually write have some context to them, you’re fine.
But I will say two stories I’m proud I got because I work my beat quite hard were Vince’s original decision to request a trade and the departure of Isiah Thomas to go work in TV.
Yes, they were a long time ago.
Q: Hey Doug! Just gettin' all packed and ready for the big three games in Toronto and the talking head tells me Jose is gone. Well! My shaving kit went out the window and my flight and game tickets almost went after it.
Jose, the player I most respect, the classiest guy and professional in the history of the team, was shuttled away with tears in his eyes to a team where he'll never gain the respect he's gained in Toronto... just doesn't have the time, though he'll make the effort.
Anyway... I suppose I have to ask a question:
Fitness... team sports ... fittest athletes. Basketball would be way down on my list. They like to be buff and do their Karl Malone imitations. I suppose they have to be able to push people around. But fit? 35 minutes a night. Max. How about Roger
Federa playing 4 hour matches and coming out of it without a hair out of place? But that's not team sports. Hmmm... let's start at the bottom with David Wells and Valenzuela and the boys of summer. Where do we go from there and what would you put at the top? (Oh yeah... Ed what's his name.. the curler.. one of my heroes.) Footies? American football? Hockey? Basketball? And, just for a kicker, single fittest athlete in the world?
Oh yeah, and we're gonna take your advice re Jack Astor's and that Harbour place. Lots of afternoon free, lots of HOT hot wings and good draft dark stuff. Feel free to join us.
Oh... someday.. when nothing better offers itself, run down your acronyms? There's a couple I struggle with.
Art G, Pasadena, NL
A: Overall team sports? For size and strength and fitness and the ability to take the physical grind of their games?
In total generalities because there are exceptions in everyone, I’d probably go with basketball, hockey, soccer and football. But that’s just me and, like I said, there are always exceptions.
(Oh, and I think you were talking about Ed Werenich the curler).
As for individuals, tough for me to look past world-class triathletes, actually.
Now, enjoy your trip, say hi if you can; if you see a fellow on a stool with a computer going, it’s probably me.
Q: Greetings, what a week it has been. Firstly, and feel free to pass along to the tallest foreheads, another point of emphasis regarding the unique experience that following you and the Irregulars in the various formats brings me, as a reader (follower?). Back to last weekend's mail and the link to the "Sports Kid Of The Year", my family already thinks I am a little left of center at the best of times but finding me with tears streaming down while reading "the newspaper" got even their attention. By all means a heart warming story, perhaps the production was a little too polished but none the less, but exceptionally poignant for those of us who have been blessed with a special needs child of some form. Our littlest guy was born with Down Syndrome and as parents we naturally worry about what opportunities, challenges and experiences lie in store for him. We have been exceptionally fortunate that Joseph is not badly affected (as compared to a lot of others) and particularly fortunate that all of his siblings (5 of them!) enjoy him and are great big brothers/sisters to him but, man oh man, was I taken by that clip. As I regularly sign off with "thanks for what you do" I am thinking "thanks to all for making this such a wonderful place".
Secondly, methinks Bryan may have something up his sleeve. Although my suspicion is that the decision has been made to become a playoff team, a couple of rounds or so anyway, perhaps because of some sense that patience has waned among those who hold vested interest in the marketability of the team. Perhaps this is really what the next step needs to be. After this next level is attained then the focus becomes staying at and moving towards the pinnacle from there. Realistically the team doesn't have to be that much better to make it to the playoffs in the division in which it competes. As discussed the point guard position and an experienced big man would be obvious enhancements, but maybe even one of these upgraded would put the HOTH into the playoffs. After some time to digest the events of the week, what might we find the next step to be?
Thanks to all.....place
Doug T, Brantford
A: That was a damn good video and while I don’t know Judy, the Irregular who sent it, she has my eternal thanks and appreciation.
Now, for Bryan?
I think he’s doing what he’s said he’d do all along and that is to try to find some way to upgrade his talent in pursuit of growth of the team so they can, this year, challenge for the playoffs and hopefully get there consistently in the future. I don’t know that it’s a rush job with any immediate pressure to do something rather than a step in the direction he wants to take the team.
It came, in my opinion, at substantial cost and will now force him to strengthen areas that might have been weakened by the move but he’s got weeks until the trade deadline hits.
A: Doug: That was the worse missed call I have ever seen. The refs MUST of all gotten together and decided at the beginning of the year and thrown a dart on the board. The calls are completely unbelievable against the Raptors. I mean when they give Jordan respect to Curry and uncle Drew, then its all over for us. I am really one game away from ditching the NBA all together, as I believe that there IS a conspiracy going on here.
It's the only logical explanation, as it’s not the same refs.
Warrant Officer Lowry, A.J.
A: I’m sorry but it’s farcical to think that at the beginning of the year the referees got together and decided to screw the Raptors on last-second calls three or four times. Surely you don’t believe that?
Yes, the officiating has been bad so many times this year, it’s not even funny. To think there’s some conspiracy in place makes no sense. I would venture to guess that if you spoke to fans in half a dozen other cities, they’d feel precisely the same as the Raptors do and that’d be a crazy conspiracy.
Q: Hey Doug,
Quite the time for your email system to go down. Hopefully the hysteria of the last day or so does implode the system further. I am really trying hard to rise above it all and keep a cool head about what is obviously an NBA conspiracy to keep the Raptors down until 2014 (not a bad idea actually, although I did love Casey's end of game rant - he is a beauty) and the fact that they traded away arguably the greatest point guard in the NBA, umm, I mean, Toronto. In all seriousness, two questions:
Is the NBA's willingness to acknowledge errors at the ends of games by refs a new thing, or are we as Toronto fans just more aware? I point to the fact that two games between Denver v. Indiana and Dallas v. Portland (or as I might contend, are they putting this out there as further proof to the elaborate ruse being perpetrated against the Raptors?).
What do you believe will be Calderon's market value come the summer? Considering how long Toronto has attempted to trade him, will there be any notion, from either side, of him returning next year?
As always Doug, thanks, and good luck in the coming weeks. I have feeling it is going to be even more interesting.
A: The ref thing isn’t new – two to one team in a season is, as far as I know – but it has happened before. In fact, the league sent out one of those advisories this Wednesday about a blown call at the end of the Denver game, I believe it was.
Calderon? I believe he will be pursued by several teams in need of a point guard. Detroit will want to keep him, I’m told; Dallas had huge interest at the trade deadline and I don’t think that will go away at the end of the season and I can think of a handful of teams (Miami among them) who could use him. It’ll come down to price and role, I’m sure.