The start of the weekend mail
Well, we did it again.
You folks rallied late, I was preoccupied on Friday so got nothing really accomplished (the Wing Fest was freaking outstanding and we’ll have a lot more of it on Monday) so there’s this now, a Mighty Navy Tigers practice at 9 a.m. and we’ll be back tomorrow with a boatload more.
On this, the anniversary of his death, we need some Bob, don’t we?
Do you ever get remarks from the Raps front office staff about articles you write. I cannot believe that Brian or one of his minions does not read every word about the team that you put out. For instance, they must realize that your blog gets read by a lot of fans, and in return gets a fair number of comments.
It, along with your normal articles, and other writers articles would give them a fairly good idea of how their fans, especially outside of Toronto, are feeling about the team. I just wondered if some of your articles or blogs have either drawn favourable or unfavourable remarks from the folks in the team’s headshed.
I realize most players are not going to worry about what they
may read in articles about themselves, but I wondered if you know how much of the news reports are seen by management.
A: Every morning, one of the hard-working staffers deep in the bowels of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment cubicle-land compiles a package of that day’s media ramblings; it includes anything written here or anywhere about the team and it is distributed to a Henchman list that’s as long as your arm. And to Bryan, too.
How closely any of them reads it is unknown but I know more than a few of them look at it quite closely to check that day’s temperature.
I don’t think the comments section here is included in the package that goes out but every now and then, either I will send a particularly bad or good one off to someone but usually it’s with the tagline: “These are my people.”
Q: Hi. So Bennett won't be available for Canada this year. Perhaps he could warble "I wanna be around."
Why can't the refs wear shorts in the NBA? Why can't PGA members wear shorts in the ridiculous temperatures they sometimes play. (The caddies can) What about sports scribes, are mandatory pants clauses in their employment contracts?
Should pitchers be forced to wear batting helmets, or the equivalent? Anybody remember Gil Mcdougalld's line drive to the right eye of Herb Score? (I don't)
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Some of those refs are basically Men Of My Certain Vintage, I don’t think we want to see them in shorts, do we?
And if golfers wore shorts, wouldn’t that take away one place they could sell sponsorships?
It used to be accepted, and commonplace, that some baseball writers would wear shorts; the look became at some level too casual and the writer’s association has instituted guidelines but other than that, the only thing scribblers are asked to is be presentable, and most of us are.
The terrifying accident involving Happ was ugly and scary and dangerous; it was also an anomaly and I don’t know if some kind of faux helmet is doable. But since they did it with base coaches, I’m pretty sure they’ll think of it, perhaps grandfather it in some way.
Q: Hi Doug
Several questions for you:
When players talk to the refs after what they perceive to be an incorrect call, what do they usually say and do the refs find it irritating? Do calls ever get reviewed as a result?
Do you think any of the Raps players read your blog, and if so, do they ever comment on it to you?
During the offseason, especially now with the rumors swirling around the Raps mgmt, do you think the Raps players follow all the blogs and online articles like we the fans do? How do you think they feel about the hiring of T.L?
A: Most of the players are respectful, they’ll say whine in strong terms but not over the top with things like, “Hey, man, that was/wasn’t a foul” or “you missed that one” or “he hit me, how could you not see it’ and while they don’t get calls reviewed on the spot as a result what sometimes happens is a ref will go look at tape at, say, halftime, and then discuss it with players or coaches. I have heard refs admit, ‘yeah, I blew that one’ after taking a second look.
I’m not sure too many players read regularly but I am sure their people do and they have an idea what’s been written; don’t get too many comments although Rasho used to bust on me good naturedly every now and then.
Same with the Leiweke hiring, they would have heard about it through channels and their first reaction would have been what does it mean for Bryan and Dwane but Tim’s gig is so far above the players – he’s running a billion dollar company with four sports teams, a couple of arenas, condos, restaurants and TV stations – that his impact on their day-to-day lives will be minimal, and I think they’re just fine with that.
Q: Hi Doug
Any chance Phil replacing Bryan,bringing brian shaw and coaching home games only and brian shaw taking over away games until next season(2014-15) when he takes over full control of the coaching?
A: Less than zero.
Q: Hi Doug,
In the two series in the Western Conference, I think both lower-seeded teams have a significant chance at an upset, with OKC's loss of Westbrook and the emergence of Steph Curry.
It seems to me that a 1 vs 2 or a 1 vs 3 or a combination of the sort tends to be the match-up for the Conference Finals. Do you remember any 5 vs 6 conference finals of significance?
Personally, I think it would be good for the game to have an underdog team make it to the Finals.
I'm not a pucks fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I find
the unpredictability of the playoffs fascinating and I wish that would translate to the NBA a little bit more.
In your entry today, you brought up the Curious Case of Ricky Romero. Do you remember any HOTH who thrived for a couple of years and "lost it", à la Romero? As a big TOD fan, I hope as much as anybody that he regains his swagger from a couple of years ago!
Hope the Wings were delicious!
Alex H, Toronto
A: Without going back year-by-year because there’s a lot to do here, I’ll give you a couple of low seeds that did okay:
The Houston Rockets, in the “Never underestimate the heart of a champion” title season,, were a sixth seed, I believe and won four straight series in which they didn’t have homecourt advantage.
And the Knicks, in one of the lockout years, got the NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed but that was a bit of an aberration because of the shortened season.
A player losing it? Honestly can’t remember one here but I guess you could say Landry Fields – for physical reasons contributing greatly – lost some of his shooting skill before he got here.
Q: H e l l o , M r . S m i t h . H a p p y S u m m e r . Lots of time to think about inane miscellaneous stuff and drum up nifty lists, so how about some head-scratchers.
In hockey, why do announcers go through all that mental torture of calculating how many minutes and seconds it’s been since the period started. If there’s 0:15 left on the clock, why not just say “with 15 seconds to go” instead of going to the troubling of explaining to us that it’s at the 19:45 mark. And if the 19:45 thing is that important, why don’t they just run the clocks forward instead of backward so the fool thing reads “19:45” when there are 15 seconds left and the poor announcer doesn’t have a headache?
There’s no set standard for soccer pitches so why not scale them down to something a little less daunting than a polo field or small municipality in Europe? Wouldn’t a smaller field promote a far more entertaining game for all involved, including the fans? I mean, even the TV kingpins must see built-in moneymaking opportunities there, with more play stoppages, right?
And what’s with the “love, 15, 30, 45” in tennis. “Advantages” I kind of get but why not your basic “gotta win by two?”
T h a n k y o u f o r y o u r c e r e b r a l i n s i g h t s , a n d f o r a fine blog.
David M, Ottawa
A: I was once at a news conference with the world’s press at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for the Dream Team.
A gentleman of the global fifth estate asked Karl Malone a question that went something like this: “Why are some baskets worth one point, some are worth two and some are worth three?”
Malone, droll, said: “That’s just the way it is, my man.”
That’s about all I’ve got for you.
But I will mention that since soccer is the world’s most popular sport, I think they’re quite okay with pitch size.
Q: Are all Raptor games someday going to be on those non-basic cable channels that most of us can't really afford?
I'd like to know sooner rather than later, if that's going to be the case, cause my love of the Raptors is waning, and it isn't the players on the court ...
Pre-cautionary note: The Toronto Argos used to sell out every home game, then some genius decided to have TV blackouts when the stadium was not sold-out, and what happened? They lost a generation of future fans, and have difficulty getting any sell-outs now.
Bo K, Mississauga
A: We won’t see any broadcast schedule for months but I can tell you with 100 per cent certainty that it will greatly mirror all the others with networks – and offshoots of networks – splitting the games. And with Sportsnet now owning The Score, who knows what that’ll mean.
And while the Argos point is valid, it was also valid in an era long, long, long gone.
Q: I was listening to some radio talk regarding the Jays Ricky Romero, and it struck me how similar it was sounding to the Raptors Bargnani woes. I see two, big ticket, talented guys, who have shown flashes of exceptional play, but are, for various reasons struggling. Two players who make big dollars and were, up till recently, valuable assets. I get a sense that you have two teams trying to salvage something, both for the value of the player to the team, but also, to see some return on investment. Do you see any other parallels between the two situations? I was struck by the different ways baseball uses the minors vs. how basketball uses the D League, in terms of player development and rehab.
Also, I was wondering about a few players, namely Kleiza and Peirtrus. Given that they knew they wouldn't see any floor time for a majority of the season, how do they stay motivated, and what role do they have team wise, that we don't get to see? Are/were they just practise bodies? Can/did they stay positive, and be a positive voice in the locker?
A: Not sure I see too many parallels but you do raise an interesting point in many ways. Bargnani’s issues last year were more injury-driven than Romero’s ever were but I think both suffered from some level of a crisis of confidence.
You’re right about them trying to be “salvaged” either as productive members of the organization or as assets but I think the Jays believe they will eventually get Romero back; the Raptors probably think a separation is the best for all concerned.
The roles of guys like Kleiza and Pietrus and to some degree Gray and Telfair and Lucas was simply to be good teammates. To be supportive, point out things during games that coaches might not see, to work hard in practice to help everyone improve and to not be disruptive in any way. And all I saw all last season was precisely that; sure, they were disappointed they rarely played, if they did at all, but they did what teammates do.
Q: Hi Doug -
Since it seems you're hurting for questions: why is it that a defender can't run through (i.e., run over) an offensive player setting a pick? It wouldn't seem to be about player safety, since players are applauded for setting "hard screens" and in doing so, the defensive player can get banged up while running into the player setting the screen. So I can't figure out the logic behind that one and was wondering if you knew why that rule was in the books.
And another random question: what basketball great from a bygone era do you think isn't getting his due in hindsight? Who has history wrongfully forgotten?
As always, thanks for your efforts with the blog and column.
A: The logic is it’s not football, you don’t want huge men “running through” each other. It’s not the game. Not sure what else there is to say.
Basketball great? I’m sure there’s a huge list that covers all kinds of different eras but he’s one that’s timely.
Since we’re watching Stephen Curry, and to a lesser degree Klay Thompson, turn into magical three-point shooters, I’ll give you a guy who was one of the best shooters ever who I don’t think gets his true due:
(Google him if you must).
Q: Hey Doug,
I really enjoy when they do those Mic'd up segments or whatever they're called so you can hear what the coach is saying in the huddle. But of course, they never show when the coach is drawing up a play, it's usually just a motivational style pep talk. So, my question is, how much of what the coach says during a typical timeout is usually pep talk vs. actual Xs and Os?
Thanks for all you do,
A: Not showing “strategic” discussions is part of the agreement that allows cameras and microphones in the huddle, and it makes sense. Any of that is edited out in the truck.
I’d guess the norm would be about a 70-30 split in favour of Xs and Os, either a specific play call coming out of the timeout or a “hey, if they do this, we do this” reminder for the run of play.
Q: You ask, we deliver. Just read your comments about Ricky Romero - how can an athlete who rose to the top of his game in the best league in the world, and suddenly just lose it? So have you ever seen this in the hoops? I can't think of anyone off the top of my head, and maybe the sport is too multi-dimensional that you can't lose "it". Not like you suddenly can't throw a pitch over the plate, or turn into Steve Sax and can't throw to 1st to save your life. But has there been anyone in your lifetime who was a top player who all of a sudden just lost their ability to make a bucket?
A: How do they lose it?
Maybe they struggle in a game or an outing and start trying to tinker and “figure” things out with subtle changes that make things worse and all of sudden it gets in the head and the mind gets messed up and it goes further downhill from there.
As for basketball, no one comes to mind.