A warm, fitting welcome and it's OPENING DAY!
Eight games. Sixteen halves. Thirty-two quarters.
But who’s counting?
Well done, folks.
The ovations were nice and heartfelt and very much appreciated, as it turns out.
I got the feeling last week in Detroit that Jose was a bit nervous about coming back and the reception he’d receive. He’d seen Bosh and seen Vince and saw the treatment Andrea got just a month or so ago and I think it was on his mind.
But the video was classy and the fans in the arena were excellent; it was a pretty darn good night for a guy who deserved it.
Oh, and here’s what almost made him choke up during a timeout, you can find it somewhere in the video portion of this.
And here’s how he almost spent halftime.
Big to big needs work
We’ve all seen that Jonas Valanciunas is starting to develop a pretty good offensive game, right?
Sure, he needs some work on his left hand – who, except us southpaws doesn’t? – but he’s got that sweeping hook, a little jump hook and the face-up jump shot is coming along nicely.
Better hands in traffic.
We saw it at least once last night, and I can recall it handful of other times recently; he needs to be better on big-to-big passing in the paint. Amir, or whichever undersized four happens to be on the court with him, will try a little drop off pass along the baseline or in the paint and it’s fumbled out of bounds instead of being caught and dunked.
Sure, it’s a quibble but that’s what we do. I imagine he’ll figure it out, the game will slow down a bit and he’ll be able to make those catches and his game will expand even more.
Credit where it’s due
There has been some ragging on Rudy Gay for his penchant to settle for three pointers so it should be pointed out that he was 4-for-4 last night and is 8-for-11 in his last three games.
Terribly small sample size, I give you that, but he’s been more selective in taking them and that’s a small step at least.
The more? Always the more.
Happy opening day.
You had to know some John Fogerty was coming, right?
But this is a bonus.
So why is it that we like Opening Day so much; and we like baseball’s opener far, far, far more than we like the first home game of every other major North American sport.
Is it the sign that summer is coming? (Although the brief flurries Monday put that out of mind)
Is it that all teams and their fans are optimistic that this will be a season to remember?
Me? I think it’s got as much to do with the simple fact that these guys – all around the majors – are “home” finally than anything else.
Fans haven’t had to sit through endless tedious exhibition games at the home stadium as the locals prepare; sure, there were far, far, far too many meaningless games in the Grapefruit League season but for all intents and purposes, they happened in a vacuum and few paid close attention. Maybe you caught an inning here or there, perhaps you checked a boxscore closely on the day someone specific was pitching but for the most part they were out of sight and out of mind.
Today they’re back for the first time, the ballyard looks spiffy and nice (except for whole thing about roof being closed, making it a mausoleum here), and the excitement truly is palpable just to see what the squad looks like in real life.
Saw referee Bill Spooner in Detroit last Friday for the first time in a long time and when we were catching up before the game, he mentioned that former ref Greg Willard was having a terrible time fighting pancreatic cancer that hit him last year.
I got to know Greg just a little bit over the years in various Marriott concierge lounges and he was a very nice man and a fine referee.
That’s what made it hard last night when I got news that he’d passed away; six months younger than I am and a terrible, terrible loss.
When I’m in charge of the world – and that moment cannot come soon enough – here’s Rule No. 12,929.517:
All Opening Day games will be in the afternoon.
It’ll be 94 wins, by the way.
More than enough for a post-season spot and that’s going to make October an awful lot of fun.
I think pitching depth will be huge – that starting staff is going to eat a lot of innings – and there is no doubt they have the potential to score an awful lot of runs.
So much fun that the drudgery of training camp and the pre-season will be easier to take.
But there’s a lot new guys on the team, right?
Wonder if they need to know who’s on first?
Abbott and Costello finally figured it out, I think.
Now, that’s comedy!
The First Lady Of The Beat is in Chicago chronicling the young Wiggins lad at the McDonald’s all-America game and there are a couple of other connections to Toronto and the Raptors that we didn’t know about until yesterday.
In the whole theme of good genes and the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, the daughters of both Antonio Davis and Dee Brown are playing in the girls game that’s part of the festivities.
Between them and the two Curry offspring, I’d say this franchise might lead the NBA in progeny of former players who have bright futures ahead of them.