The end of the weekend mail
Solid late rally, folks.
Got this up a bit later than I should have because it was done about halftime of the game but needed to leave Argo gamer up there at the top for a little while.
Have fun, be back at Casa Doug sometime this afternoon to see what’s up. Should be an easy day, too bad I don’t do mani-pedi things, it’d be fun.
Q: Hey Doug,
In your blog, when you say " I tried to reach Masai" or "I tried to speak to Dwayne", how does that work? Do you have them in your contacts list on your cell phone? Or do you have to go through the Raps PR department?
A: Oh, yeah, I have phone numbers for coaches, GMs, executives and some players but the secret is to use them judiciously. No sense bothering people with minutia or unimportant stuff, they tend to get annoyed at constant harassment for no really good reason.
And, trust me, if they don’t want to return a text or a call, they won’t, which is fine, too.
Q: Hi Doug.
On TV the day after, "Jays in 30/Raps in 30" (whatever) points to the fact that the ball is in actual play for very few minutes during a game. I once read it is less than 10 minutes in NFL. So what are WE doing during those many minutes that teams are not playing ball? The answer is that we are BEING at the game: eating hotdogs, conversation, looking at the crowd, thinking about the game tactics, watching time-outs. This "in between" time is the fabric of the game experience (unfortunately our sports 'entertainment' masters try to fill this time FOR US with lots of images, noise and contests) - we don't "care" about it, but without this in-between time how would the game feel?
What besides working as a journalist do you do with your "in between time" during a game?
A: Besides bothering friends in various forms of electronic conversations, you mean?
Actually, most of it is what you do, trying to consume what’s going on around me, more specific to things like interaction between coaches and players or players and players but it’s basically the same.
We all, I think, become part of the proceedings, all of our senses are inundated at every turn. And while you or others might be getting hot dogs or watching the entertainment or whatever, at least a small part of my mind has to be focused on what I might write about, developing ideas is my head, trying to determine trends and angles not only for that night but the following days as well. That’s sometimes the hardest part, trying to keep that necessary level of concentration.
Q: Dear Doug,
I take issue with your statement that our current Men's Senior Team is the best ever. Taking only one salient and most recent comparison, the 2000 team that finished fifth at the Olympics with victories over Russia and Spain was far superior. Had Todd McCulloch not been injured for the quarter-final against France, there was a serious possibility of winning medal.
It's success was based on three essential factors: 1) Nash; 2) Experience; 3) the relative competition.
We're all fired up at this the prospects for this team, and greatly let down that it didn't advance. There are four NBA Players now (only Nash and McCullough then), but they collectively average 25 ppg. This team relied on Rautins and Doornekamp at the wings, thereby giving up a great deal of athleticism, and while they providing some "glue", were woeful offensively and a step slow on the other end. In the final three games, they played 204 minutes, shot 26% from the field, and scored a total of 27 points.
Clearly the opposition could key on Thompson, Nicholson and Joseph, all playing international basketball at this level for the first time, Thompson is limited offensively, Nicholson emotionally, and Joseph was worn down by having to be "Nash-light".
Finally, the opposition is better than in 2012, even at this second (non-European) level than in 2000. We would like to think that with the infusion of Bennett, Wiggins and Olynyk we'll be contenders. But none has yet to play top level competition, and other than a short span by Olynyk, none has international experience. We'd best temper our enthusiasm. It's a tough world out there.
Frank B, Toronto
A: You’re absolutely right and I’ve tried to suggest this “could” be the best team ever when the relative boys grow into men. That 2000 team was loaded with grizzled international veterans – remember how good Mike Meeks and Peter Guarasci were? – and had played together for a while. This group might get to that level but I still say it might be the 2019 World Cup before they realize their full potential. Maybe 2016 Games, but I think that’s too early.
-Q: Hi Doug - this popped into my head this morning and I thought I'd see what you think.
Given TMac's recent comments about his regrets on leaving Toronto, can you think of any other players that might have similar regrets about their early actions later on in their careers when hindsight is 20-20 and they're older and wiser? I'm not just thinking about TO guys, or even guys who have made mistakes that they *should* regret (ahem Dwight Howard, who wasn't even all that young), but guys who you think matured enough to be able to look back and understand the bigger picture? I knew I could find a third cliche to put in here if I wrote long enough! ;)
BTW, meant to post about the 'good guy's, and I definitely agree that Jose should have been there too!
What happened to summer? I can't believe we're halfway through September and fall is in the air!
A: Those are two solid clichés, don’t think you need a third.
I don’t know, actually, of too many situations of regret first-hand outside of people I’ve had direct contact with.
And there is one other than people should know about here: Damon Stoudemire now realizes that his desire to be traded was a regretful move, he’s told me that often.
But I don’t know about too many others, to tell you the truth.
Summer? We had a summer? Wasn’t only hot for about week in July when I was in Vegas and Winnipeg?
Q: Greetings Mr Smith
After having read a number of different pieces dealing with T-Mac's retirement I find myself quite impressed actually with his apparent grip of what the real world is about. I am left curious, however, whether it is the result of his professional career that has formed these perspectives in him or whether he had a more wordly view than one might expect from the get-go?
While I was certainly a fan back in his days with Toronto, and I was of the opinion then that he was exceptional as a player, I don't recollect how he was perceived as a citizen of the larger world. In retrospect, as one who had first hand contact with him during those times, are you surprised in any way by the manner in which T-Mac comports himself these days?
As always, thanks for what you do,
Doug from B-ford
A: I think it’s totally because of the way his career turned out. If he’d had more post-season success in either Orlando or Houston, he wouldn’t be giving Toronto a second thought. That’s his regret and it only comes from what’s transpired.
What are the most pressing things for Jonas to do to improve his offensive - post moves /footwork to complement that running hook, a 17 foot and beyond jump shot? If you were his coach, which of the two would you have him emphasize first? Where will he fit in the offense - will he be a third option, second? Do you think that they will play inside out much? Pick and roll with him? Pick and pop if he develops a jump shot from 17 feet or more?
And defensively? Aside from getting bigger and more able to be physical with other bigs, what does he need to work on?
A: If I was his coach, I don’t think there’d be a “first” that I’d have him work, his entire game needs improvement. But if they are going to have him do some dribble hand-off stuff at the elbow as they showed at times last year, being able to make an elbow jump shot will be hugely important. He has to work on his off-hand jump hook and footwork and if probably needs a better 10-foot baseline jumper. But yes, Dwane told us at the summer league that they hope to work a lot more inside-out than they did in his rookie season. Option? He’ll be one of them, I don’t go for this first, second, third stuff on a team where they need everyone to be playing well.
Defensively? He has to learn how to play and not foul.
Q: Good day ,
Nothing about b'ball. Always appreciate your various links. Here is one that might stretch you -- and your readers a bit - but then what is the off season for ? The old boys book club decided to do poetry one night - and knowing your appreciation of the amber liquid and stools, and since you are likely at heart a sensitive guy, here is one by Al Purdy that you must experience.
Purdy, as you may know was from Ameliasburg and has been honoured with being the only non-politician with a statue on Queens park. The actor in the video is Gord Downie from Tragically Hip - the voice is Purdy's.
A: Very cool.
Q: Happy triscodecaphobia! Just a few questions...
Just wondering about all the family and friends who enjoyed people's cottages all summer, does anyone else have problems getting help for dock removal?
As far as watching events live on tv, I watch snippets of games live, pvr the rest, and stay incommunicado the next morning and speed through them in the a.m. (Especially foul shots)
You mentioned "special" in your blog. Where does the term "Blue Plate Special" come from? (sorry about the grammar) How about "Saturday Night Special"? Is this in any way associated with Elwy Yost? What would you use as theme music to describe or introduce this year's Raptors? Something Hanna Barbarish..."They'll have a Gay old time?"
All the best!
A: You can stay incommunicado? Nice.
I haven’t had a blue plate special in a long time but if a diner’s got one, I want it. Strikes me as a solid meal option.
Theme music? Send In The Clowns is a bit much, isn’t it? Would Life Is A Cabaret work or is that too far the other way?
Q: Hi Doug;
As always, thanks for the great writing and insights.
I've been thinking about your observation in last weeks blog about there being less fan enthusiasm than usual surrounding the Raptors as the upcoming season gets closer. I wonder if it might (at least in part) be a consequence of the new CEO upon his arrival, being so critical of what the old regime had done. And then further to that, Masai has been pretty low key about the team as well. In the long term his "wait and see" approach might be prudent, but between the two of them, they appear to be taking what's been a pretty solid fan base for granted.
A: Oh, there is no question that the team has gone to solid lengths to create little or no buzz and I think that’s been in part by design and quite a factor in the lowering of any expectations at the moment.
And I bet it continues, i don’t think Masai is much of a “newsmaker” and I know Dwane likes to remain pretty low key. Tha won’t change even if they have success out of the gate.
I don't recall seeing you comment on the Junior Men's team... I bring this up because at my son's Air Cadet meeting last night they welcomed back a cadet who was on the team that finished third in the tournament. These are young kids playing against other young kids so I know it we don't want to read too much into it with regards to the senior team's future.
However, I did want to mention that round of applause that the cadets gave the young gentleman would likely have choked you up. It was very obvious that they were fiercely proud one of their own had been able to represent Canada and help his country to a respectable finish.
So, just in case you had doubts, there is hope for the future and the kids do take pride in their country.
A: I tried to keep up with the juniors and the cadets and the team that went to the FISU Games – both boys and girls – but probably could have done a better and more thorough job.
But I’m heartened to hear that friends and colleagues are aware of what they are accomplishing and are supportive of it. We’re not only growing a generation of very good players, we’re growing a generation of fans who’ll hopefully pay closer attention.
Hi. A while back, you wrote about an impromptu picnic of wives and kids at an Argo practice, which prompted these questions: From what you've observed, what teams (any sports) do the best at looking after the wives, kids, girlfriends, mothers (most can remember one specific HOTH mother), etc.? Do certain leagues have certain rules regarding families? A number of athletes also appear to have an entourage around them, how do teams deal with that?
A: I can only give you anecdotal stuff, as I’m sure you’re aware, because I’m not around enough teams often enough to provide more than that.
But it’s not “league” mandated as much as it is team rules that need to be followed. Some limit family access to team areas like the locker room but every team I’ve been around has some kind of family lounge or meeting area where friends and family, with passes, can relax before, during and after the game. The Raptors room is in the back of the ACC, the Blue Jays had a room in the bowels of the dome and the Argos have a cordoned off area where family and friends gather.
As for “looking after” such things as housing, babysitting services, whatever, every team has someone on staff in the sports administration end of things to help if it’s needed.
Entourages? They don’t seem as prominent now as they once were but they are like extended families, they are given passes and access but not total. No one, for instance, flies on the team charter or rides a team bus, teams want to keep those things for players and coaches only.
Q: So here's my first ever non-basketball question.
I was just reading about the Voyager 1 spacecraft that's entering into interstellar space. It's got a collection of sounds, images and music that are supposed to represent humans for any alien beings that might find it.
If you were in charge of what goes into one of those today, what would you put in it?
Can't wait for the season to get started!!!
A: From today? Right now?
Have to be a tablet and a smart phone, right? That’s the way humans communicate, isn’t it?
And I guess you’ve had to find some kind of popular rap or hiphop music if you’re being totally serious and here’s the one question I have:
If you want to represent humankind as it exists now, how do you quantify the religion-based troubles that plague our world?
Q: Hello Doug,
Family commitments kept me from watching today's exciting doubles match, but I'm wondering if you've been following Canada's Davis Cup efforts?
Milos' exciting 5-game win over Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday was a thriller! Did you catch any of it?
Also...since we're all (well, I am!) missing the IGBT, and just to help you gear up for the coming Raptors' season, think you might find a comfortable stool to watch the finals of the exciting EuroBasket 2013 and invite us to join you on the interweb for some live-blogging fun, frivolity and shenanigans? And a bit of basketball talk, too? Hopefully we'd be watching
a current Raptor (Jonas Valanciunas and his Lithuanian teammates) and a former Raptor (the much beloved and dearly missed Jose Calderon and his Spanish amigos) in The Championship Game.
Lorie P, London
A: The Roanic match on Friday was white noise while I wrote, I was glued to the TV watching the fourth and fifth sets of the doubles on Saturday. Going to miss this morning’s stuff, I think, because it’s a stupid early flight.
Now, as for IGBT and the Euros? I don’t know that we can see the game on live TV, which is, as you know, a must. But I guess I need to start thinking about something to do because the pre-season is right around the corner and it’s time to start getting back into game shape. At my age, and my shape, that doesn’t happen overnight.