The end of the weekend mail
As relaxing a Saturday as I’ve had in a long time, great day, loafed and daydreamed and did very little except work on eventually work on this.
Thanks for taking it a bit easy on me this week, since things start for real soon I don’t imagine that’ll continue to be the case.
Long flight back awfully early so I’ll get to what, if anything, is here later on.
Q: Hi Doug
Thanks for this blog. I have been reading it for a very long time. Keep it up with all the great information.
Probably someone has asked similar questions already, but here my questions:
What is your expectation for Raptors this upcoming season? What are the areas that have been improved? What are the areas that still need urgent attention? Which player do you expect to have a breakout season? Which player would be the X-factor?
A: Well, I think you probably know then that guessing really isn’t my bag, especially a week before we’ve even seen a practice but what the heck.
My expectation is that they will be in the grey area between about No. 6 and No. 12 in the East and it will depend on if and when they come together, if they stay relatively injury free and depend a lot on what the other teams do.
I think they need to defend better, I would imagine Jonas Valanciunas will be much better than he was last year so he might be considered a “breakout” player and I guess one big X Factor will be how Kyle Lowry plays.
But I also have no clue if any of that is right or not and I’m kind of anxious to see what happens for real.
Q: Now that your Argo gig is winding down, could you perhaps furnish a top-five list of things the CFL could do to better interface with the Toronto market?
How would you rate the overall health of the league, and could it survive without a team in TO?
James A., Victoria
A: In no particular order, I’d give you these:
Get a new smaller stadium that is their own home.
Stay as active in social causes like anti-bullying and connect with more people that way.
Get a new smaller stadium that is their own home.
Insist on a better schedule, this year’s is the worst imaginable.
Get a new smaller stadium that is their own home.
And I think the league has probably never been healthier, overall, and, yes, it could survive without a team in Toronto; it wouldn’t be perfect but the cities and fans that drive the league are not in Toronto, frankly. And the corporate sponsors and broadcast partners know that, too.
Q: Hello...Now that the Raptors are sans Quentin, it got me to thinking about famous prisons. Have you been to Alcatraz? It is a real San Francisco treat.
I understand the powers that be are thinking of making The Kingston Pen a tourist attraction.
Could you explain what Patrick Mcgoohan was up to in "The Prisoner"?
How about a little James Brown and "Prisoner of Love"?
Who would be on your team if you had to play against a team from say, San Quentin?
Geez, I can't wait for training camp to start!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Was at San Quentin – as a visitor – years and years ago, can’t call it a treat but it’s kind of cool and I don’t imagine people would travel to Kingston to see a jail but that’s just me.
There’s a “tough guy” question in here somewhere, take those guys and I’d play convicts, maybe.
And, yes, I can’t wait either.
Q: I was watching the tennis over the weekend and a couple of thoughts occurred to me. Why were both teams in red tops and white shorts? Surely we could have worked out a better solution than that. Let the home team have the red and we could have worn white with a big Canada in red. And why didn't
Pospisil wear a top with Canada on it? I realize that Pospisil and Raonic have different shoe/shirt sponsors, but come on, this was Canada playing the Davis Cup semi-final and he looked like he was playing some club tourney. It was still fun to watch.
A: Or why not let the visiting team wear red and the home team wear white. Just as logical.
But, really, the colours of the two countries are red and white, it’s not as if they were getting confused during the matches and I don’t know why Pospisil didn’t have a “Canada” shirt on but I’d rather him be comfortable than fashionable.
It was great to watch, yes.
Q: Hope you're enjoying the double blue as I type this. Just wanted your thoughts on the new Fox Sports "concept" in that they aren't shying away from acknowledging competitors.
I absolutely love the fact they are acknowledging whom the reporting source is for stories on their ticker (i.e. as first reported by ESPN, SI,...).
So novel to own those reports as opposed to ignoring them because they came from elsewhere. Love it!
That being said I hate everything else Fox but if it's the only source for an NFL game I'll watch.
A: I don’t mind that at all; this whole “first” thing irks me a lot of time and as I was told a thousand years ago by a grunt I respect:
90 per cent of the stories will be tied, you’ll win five per cent and lose five per cent and your reaction should be the same regardless.
That said, I haven’t watched a second of Fox’s sports show and I don’t think I probably ever will.
Q: Hi Doug,
The NBA has recently revised its media policy. Curious at to what you think of it?
A: I was actually a part of the process that developed them in my final year as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association so, yeah, I’m okay with them.
The changes are subtle and I can’t imagine a reader even noticing but we now have 30 minutes of locker room time before a game rather than 45 but every player has to do media at least once a game day (either at shootaround or pre-game) and they have to be available post-game within 30 minutes of the locker room opening rather than making us wait longer.
There are slight changes to the coaches availability but it’s not that big a deal.
The old way wasn’t really working and there was little enforcement of the existing rules; with a lot of input from our organization, a lot of talks with the league and individual teams, I think we came up with a far more workable policy that the league ensures us will be enforced or fines levied.
Q: Dear Mr. Wizard,
With division titles and wild card spots very much on the line, what's up with interleague play in late September?
Do you expect to ever see baseball played by one set of rules in your lifetime? And if so, do you drop the designated hitter from the AL or add it to the NL?
Finally, do you think any kid under the age of 10 will ever see a playoff series game again without violating curfew? And if not, is "America's pastime" doomed?
Thanks for the great blog!
David M, Ottawa
A: Remember when interleague play was special? Now with at least one interleague game every night because of the uneven number of teams in each league, it’s ordinary and basically meaningless. Was shocked to see Yankees-Giants in late September on the highlights last night.
They won’t ever go to one set of rules, I’m afraid, but since I’m an old guy, I hope they’d go to no DH but that won’t happen, of that I’m certain because it might cost jobs.
Kids under 10? How about adults over 50? I can barely stay up but the people keep telling me TV numbers are good, I just wonder if they still will be as the generation watching now gets older.
Q: Dear Doug,
I've read your blog religiously,every day and for years. And you've never, ever answered any of my Bargnani questions. It may have been the way I phrased them.
And why now would you want one more; the man is gone. But I can't resist.
I always though of his problems as more of the head type than the heart type. Would you agree?
And independent of that: What role do team psychologist play for the Raptors or other teams, and do you think that they much matter at the level of an NBA athlete?
A: Trust me, it wasn’t personal.
I wouldn’t agree. I think the last two years of his time here he was hurt too often and that was the single biggest problem. There was nothing wrong with his head the first 20 or games of Dwane’s tenure as head coach, there was nothing wrong with his head when he couldn’t make a shot because his arm was screwed.
No, he was not a demonstrably emotional player, his issues were health though, not psychological.
Team psychologists are resources to be used by players and coaches who think they can help and by the logic, they do matter to those who take advantage of them.
But not all do, it’s a personal choice so I guess to those people, their existence doesn’t matter. I haven’t asked Masai yet if he’ll keep Dana Sinclair on a consultant, figure we’ll find that out at training camp.
Q: So when are we gonna have the first 'Doug Smith Irregulars Raptors Bash'? What I'm thinking is . we reserve a pub for the night, Mother Star foots the bill for some grub and a couple drinks (five grand or so, nice little write-off . and yes, I know what a write-off is - lol), everybody signs a waiver as they come in (so . you know, no law suits for . whatever) and everybody has a blast and gets to say hello to each other in poison!
Maybe you get a Raptor or two to drop by, the P.R. is right off the charts (for TStar *and* the Raps) and . a legendary evening/tradition is born! You KNOW it'd be fun! C'mon Doug, let's make it happen. Whatcha think?
PS: I've organized this kind of thing for company xmas parties; it's not difficult and I'd be glad to get it rolling if you'd like. (It really could be good.)
A: I think it would probably be a whole lot of fun and quite an interesting dynamic; I also think if I brought up the idea of The Star funding it, I’d be laughed out of the office.
The TOD is currently hosting Tournament 12, a showcase at the Dome where they are bringing in 200 of the best baseball players across the country to be seen by pro and college scouts. Would something like that be helpful in the Canadian basketball world if the Raptors were to sponsor it?
A: Sure wouldn’t hurt if they were to get involved in something like that and I imagine if Tim Leiweke is serious about improving the team’s reputation throughout the country it’d be something he’d investigate. Not sure how it work logistically with the various provincial associations but those details could be worked out be people smarter than I.
Let's define a "thug" as a NBA player who pushes the boundaries of rules with physical play, mostly near the hoop. With the acquisition of Tyler Hansbrough, the Raptors might have one such player. Perhaps a player such as Bill Laimbeer might qualify from the past.
Can you provide to readers your top five current NBA "thugs" and a top five list of "thugs" from all time?
A: Not sure “thug” is the right word but I get your drift and here’s five I wouldn’t mind having on my team from the league currently.
Reggie Evans, Zach Randolph, Metta World Peace, Kevin Garnett and Kurt Thomas.
I think the toughest player in the history of the league might have been Maurice Lucas so he’s first. Then you add Oak and Anthony Mason, Karl Malone and you know who else I might put on that list? Isiah Thomas.
Q: Hey Doug,
You talked about preventing end of season tanking, this week, here's an idea for you. What if after the season ends, before the draft lottery, they flipped a coin to determine if the lottery would be held as normal or if the odds would be reversed. I say reversing the odds meaning that non playoff team with the best winning record would get the best odds of the number 1 draft pick. So on average one year it would be as normal and next
it would be reversed. But since the teams wouldn't know which year it will be, it will remove the incentive to Tank.
I know the argument that this would get the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. However, you have to remember that these are all non playoff teams so there are all already poor. Also, in basketball - and society - are we all tired of seeing people rewarded for bad behavior? Shouldn't we want teams that put in the fullest of efforts get the reward that they deserve?
A: I think that’s too off the wall and defeats any purpose of having the draft help teams get better that it’s not really worth pursuing.
I don’t know that there’s an answer to the current dilemma but here are two proposals: Give all non-playoff teams the same chance at winning the lottery or hold some kind of one-and-out tournament among non-playoff teams to determine who has the best odds at getting the No. 1 pick.