Getting a little wistful?
Getting a little wistful?
On this, the penultimate day of Groundhog Season Vol. 5.0, there is a different feeling around the lads than there’s been in the past.
This year, for the first time in years, I don’t think there’s any sense of sweeping roster change out there and that the focus, right now, is what’s going to happen on the management side.
The roster is pretty much set at the top – the five starters should all return – and there will be more tweaking than major change.
A couple of backups are needed, no question, and there will be some new faces but I honestly don’t think they need to dissolve a lot of what they already have.
DeMar DeRozan seems to agree.
“Since I been here it seems like it’s been a constant change somewhere. It hasn’t really been a steady flow of if we have the same core this year, or coaching staff, this, that, sometimes, that can be frustrating. After all the stuff we went through this year with the trade and everything I just think this is time we stick with this and go full head of steam with this. I think everything will pay off from the years of us not making it. People will really understand and see why.”
Makes sense, no?
There’s not likely to be a high draft pick to assimilate or wait on, the time to let a calm settle over the top of the roster has arrived; it’s not like we’re should see a total overhaul.
But the management side?
Well, who knows.
Until ownership comes out and tells us officially the fate of president and general manager Bryan Colangelo, that’s going to be the elephant in the room.
The longer they drag their feet, the more antsy some people will become; it would make entire sense for someone to come out Thursday or Friday or at the very latest the first of next week to tell fans what’s going on.
Ownership here is, of course, entirely invisible. They don’t talk, a lot of the top decision makers don’t show up. We see Larry Tanenbaum at games but the poobahs from Bell and Rogers are entirely invisible.
And that can’t go on.
They have had all kinds of time to evaluate the situation; nothing that has happened this week is going to change their minds, I don’t suppose, so the quicker they give fans a yay or nay on Bryan, the better it’ll be.
I think he should be back and will be back – we’ll have more on why Wednesday on the web and in Thursday’s paper, some player stuff is coming later this morning – but until someone says it officially, fans are left to wait.
It’s time to fish or cut bait for the big shots; hope they realize it.
This seems fitting, no?
Was I right to tell the young woman making my quad vente latte just after six this morning in my lobby Starbucks that, sure, it’s okay to wear yellow to her prom?
No clue why she asked me in the first place but, as I told her, why not? Why try to look like everyone else?
Yep, odd things happen on the road.
So, you know how I hate the international side of Terminal 3 at Pearson with, as a wise friend once said, the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns?
Well, maybe it’s only 500 Suns now.
Arrived there for my Delta flight here (codeshare with WestJet) to find – unreal!! – a Starbucks right down by my gate and I see that they’re building a burger joint right across the hall.
It’s still got some wasteland to it and the security area is in adequate and there’s a logjam right at the entrance but it’s better now.
Every airport should have a high-end coffee shop and a place to get a reasonable meal on every concourse, that’s the new rule, if you’d like to know.
Now, I have no words, nothing to say, nothing to add, about the lunacy that transpired in Boston yesterday afternoon.
We live in a world that can be scary at times, where some people who have no conscience, no compunction about cause death and destruction and anguish to cities and countries and a population that, in the back of mind, has to be continually worried.
The symbolism of a terrorist strike at the finish line of Boston Marathon cannot be lost on many.
To run a marathon, to even qualify for it, is a true testament to the spirit of the competitors, to their indomitable will, their ability to challenge themselves on a very personal level.
It is supposed to be a celebration, with family and friends and a joyous occasion that speaks volumes to the toughness of those who are able to get through it and finish.
It made the afternoon and evening even more sad.
We did not lose our collective innocence yesterday afternoon, that started going out the window on 9/11, but a bit more of it was ripped away from us thanks to the senseless slaughter of people who should have been celebrating the human spirit.
No words can adequately explain it.
Hobbs is coming back to save the day for TOD?
Hallelujah. Season saved.
(It’s a bit of code but Irregulars will get it)
You all got the change in the game time tonight, right? It’s at 8 p.m., instead of 7:30 because the NBA did the right and logical thing and cancelled the Indiana at Boston game.
TNT needed an early game for the double-header and, yep, they picked up Raptors-Hawks.
Well, it was the only on the game on the schedule, I guess that would have a lot to do with it.
Oh, and Turner’s headquarters are here so it won’t be hard to put together a crew to do the game.
But to answer a whole whack of you, the broadcast in Canada will be the usual TSN2 feed, you won’t get to see the TNT guys talk about the Raptors.
Oh yeah, that also means we’ll be here just before 8 p.m. for the IGBT and since we had to blow it off last time we were in Atlanta because of news, it’ll be our only one from here.
And what are we thinking today?
Two. Four. Eight.
And then the real work begins, although I will say last week wasn’t bad week, all things considered.
Does it mean anything?
With their last two opponents locked into their playoff seeds and probably willing to give a handful of players a night off, there’s every chance at two HOTH victories to end the season.
And while I still contend there is a wee bit of fool’s gold to what’s gone on this past week, two wins will mean that the Raptors will be one game over .500 since the 4-19 start.
(My math’s right, right? They were 4-19 to start and could end 34-48 which makes them 30-29 since early December, correct?)
And is that a big enough sample size considering the various injuries and the significant trade and all the drama that’s gone on since that miserable start?
I’d suggest yes.
Now, you can rationalize this little run to finish the season any way you want and I can hear the “Chicago didn’t have anyone playing” chants now, although I don’t imagine they’d be followed by “Chicago didn’t have anyone playing when they beat Miami and New York, either.”
The thing is that the Raptors, despite still having some roster issues – backup point guard, not nearly enough size or toughness or experience – could finish the final 50 games of a wild regular season at .500 or awful close to it. Doesn’t matter who they’ve played in the final couple of weeks, they’ve played well.
That’s not bad; and I think it does bode well for the future.
No doubting that was a pretty solid combined outing for DeRozan and Gay, going 22-for-41 from the field and 6-for-10 from three-point range and maybe this whole notion that they can’t play alongside each other is folly.
Yes, we’ll need a greater sample size and, yes, there have been nights when it’s looked awkward but perhaps, according to Dwane, it’s taking time.
“You can’t throw two guys out there and say we’re going to run this, run that. The guys have to get a rhythm, a comfort level, knowing where they want the ball, how they want the ball.
“Everybody is learning. I’m learning what they can do, what they can’t do. They’re learning what they can do, what they can’t do.”
A little bit late, perhaps, but …
Keeping it tight
Indeed, that was an eight-man rotation in Game 80 of the regular season but, really, why not?
With Ross still bothered by his ankle and Valanciunas in street clothes, why wouldn’t Dwane ride his main guys pretty hard. Maybe – maybe – there could have been a few minutes somewhere for Fields so that DeRozan and Gay didn’t have to play 42 minutes each but it’s not like they need to get some rest to be ready to play on the weekend.
Of course. And pretty soon we’re going to be all “more” and I have no idea what we’ll do then. Suggestions welcome.
Oh yeah, that was some golf tournament, wasn’t it?
Guy makes a huge putt on the 72nd hole to take the lead, the other guy hits one stiff in the pouring rain to tie and a playoff birdie wins it?
Doesn’t get much better than that.
(But tell me you weren’t cheering for Cabrera for two reasons: One, he looks like some of us and, two, I tend to cheer against that thuggish caddy on Scott’s who thinks he’s as important as the player).
Anyway, how could it have been any better?
Second best sports comedy ever.
Okay, let’s figure this out.
Today is Jackie Robinson Day around major league, as fitting a tribute to the man as I can think of and we were sitting around on some stools the other night wondering:
Where does he fit in the pantheon of the greatest influences from the sports world ever?
Sure, we would say first here in North America and we would be absolutely right, what he did in breaking the colour barrier cannot in any way be diminished, it was the seminal moment in professional sports on this side of the earth.
I still say, globally, it’s at best a tie with Muhammad Ali for the greatest impact.
That in no way should be construed as a suggestion that what Robinson did wasn’t incredibly brave and hugely important; it was, it will be forever and the world is a better place for what he did.
But Ali was truly a worldwide phenomenon, wasn’t he?
I’m not sure this is even a discussion because to even think one was more important than the other kind of diminishes what the other did and that’s silly.
But if it can be debated, I’m calling a dead heat.
And I think I’m putting Pele third.
Hey, you folks know me and mock drafts, right? They’re more of a crapshoot than real drafts, silly to do but we all do them.
Anyway, I’ve got the 1,000,000 per cent, dead-bolt lock of ever today:
But, and here’s where you should start paying attention, there’s a Canadian connection you might want to follow, even if it’s only of marginal interest to you.
Kayla Alexander of Milton, Ont., who finished the leading scorer in Syracuse University history, is pretty much certain to go in the top 10 of the draft and that’s not too shabby at all.
And, like the other dominant collegian – Natalie Achonwa at Notre Dame – Alexander spent a year in Canada Basketball’s NEDA program – a sport-specific, high-level, basketball-only program they used to run out of Hamilton and those kind of hotboxes seem to work pretty well.
But I will also throw this cautionary tale out there: Alexander is a tremendous, tremendous player according to everyone I’ve spoken to with far more knowledge of the women’s game than I have but she’s yet to play a significant game with Canada’s senior women’s team and fans of that team cannot expect her to step in and be a key contributor right away.
Much like the men’s side, the international game at the absolute top levels is populated by experienced grownups and while Alexander could very well be a national team mainstay for years, it’s going to take some time. But for today? It’s a time for her and her family to be extraordinarily proud and another step in a journey.
PET 2.0 (a stretch, I know) doesn’t show up for his victory speech wearing his jacket like a cape?
Where’s the kid’s sense of style?
Told you there’d be more.
See you in the morning.
Q: Hi Doug.
Last week in the mailbox you took me to task for the question about Rudy Gay. I asked about leadership and the thought process on an extension for him. Your response was something about too early to consider it.
On one hand, fair enough. On the other hand, I would open Brian and his henchmen have our #22 already penciled in for a specific value and role moving forward. It is likely far too early for them to share any information with fans, but I would think a pro-active front office always has their options in order.
If I was running the Raptors I would have a pay slot and designated role for Rudy Gay. I would also have then eight to ten guys that I would compare Rudy to for either trade or contract purposes.
Your rebuttal please.
A: Well, you’d be like every professional sports general manager on earth, then. They have an idea of what the value is of their players, they have contingency plans if things don’t work out and that’s just basic, common sense.
But they can’t be nearly as rigid as I think you might be suggesting, there are about a million contingencies to think about; injuries, a falloff or an improvement in play or other roster additions through trades or signings.
But as for an extension or anything longer than two years out, it’s folly to think seriously about anything, it’s pie in the sky stuff at the moment, like all long-term planning is.
Q: Hey Doug,
On the scale of 1 - 10, where 1 is Joey Graham (frustrating inconsistent bench player) and 10 is Tracy McGrady (All-Star and scoring champ), where do you think Terrence Ross will end up? I know that it is impossible to tell and that he's most likely going to end up somewhere in the middle. But you've been around him for almost a year now so if you had to put a number to it, what would it be?
A: As you mentioned, this a total guess based on a very limited body of evidence but I’d probably say in the 6-7 range. A bit above average and that’s not too bad.
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog and have been reading it daily for many years. I have a question about the history of coaches that have coached the Raptors since its inception. It seems as though none of them except for Lenny Wilkins had any prior head coaching experience.
Certainly not since Lenny. Kevin O'Neil, Sam Mitchell, Jay Triano, and now Dwayne Casey. All of these coaches were rookie head coaches having to coach young players and young teams. I can’t imagine it being very easy for a rookie coach to learn how to become a good one, while coaching young players that are still
learning the NBA game and how to be successful.
Wouldn't it make more sense to find an experienced coach for a change? One that can teach our young roster the game? I'm sure its costly, but certainly not impossible as the 76ers and the Wolves are both young teams that got Doug Collins and Rick Adelman and the teams they coached played well (Not getting anything back for Iguodala and Vucevic is obviously not Doug Collins fault) but I hope you understand my question.
No disrespect to any of the coaches in the history of the Raptors, but I wonder if an experienced head coach that's been to the playoffs and had success is what we need to actually get there. Seems like our players and coaches are consistently the poor man's version of someone else.
With the exception of Scott Brooks and Vinny Del Negro who both lucked out with all world talent at the top of their rosters, it seems like the combination of young coaches and young teams rarely "get there". What are you thoughts?
Ajit, Grand Cayman
A: I understand entirely and you have a valid point.
But I will counter it with this: Sometimes, it’s a chicken and egg thing; when you have a job opening for a head coach there might not be anyone who fits your criteria either (a) interested in the job or (b) worth pursuing if it’s simply a matter of recycling old coaches.
For instance, I don’t know how many people threw out the idea of hiring a “name” coach when they hired Dwane, as if it was a simple as calling, say, a Jeff Van Gundy and giving him the job. First, in that specific case he had no interest in coaching; other times it’s a matter of budget, what a GM thinks is best for his team and whether the job is even remotely attractive to someone with a wealth of experience. Some of that is the responsibility of the GM to deal with – like money and the willingness to give long-term deals – without question.
So, yes, in a perfect world they would have gone from proven winner to proven winner; we don’t live in anything remotely close to a perfect world.
But, yes, I do think a coach with limited head coaching experience can often teach well enough and grow fast enough that it works.
Q: Hello Doug!
2-4-8. Has a nice ring, doesn't it? Reminds me of that old school yard cheer: "Two! Four! Six! Eight! Who do we appreciate?..." And you'd just fill in the name of the hero of the moment...and thinking of people who should be appreciated (in addition to you, of course) by Raptor supporters, here's a question for you. Earlier this week you offered up the most egregious blunders by Raps' management and, of course, Irregulars were able to suggest even more for consideration. (Bet that surprised you!)
But, in fairness, it's not all been a tale of Disasterous Decisions. Or has it?
Can you identify a couple of management decisions that - if not exactly mensa-like in their astuteness - advanced the franchise, short or long term, in its evolution. Thank you. (And soon it'll be: One! Two! Four! And Then No More! DRINK!!!)
Lorie P, London
A: I was actually going to do this one morning this week and probably will anyway.
So here are three quick ones and while I am going to scoop myself, we’ll get into them in more detail maybe Tuesday morning if I remember.
Engineering the draft of Vince Carter. Trading for Charles Oakley.
Finding Garbo and Anthony Parker on the relative cheap.
More later, as they say.
Q: Top of the season to you, couple of random thoughts this week.
Regarding Kobe's injury, first and foremost please understand that in no way do I feel anything but bad for Kobe. Harkening back to a mailbag question from much earlier in this season in which I posited that maybe it was time to consider moving Kobe. I am not in any way gloating, but in the stark reality of the business world as it pertains to professional atheletes they are but "assets" or "liabilities" to their employers. In the unfortunate event that Kobe"s career has come to an end, as all careers must, then in this situation the Laker's organization has a taller mountain to climb in their attempt to replace Kobe(like there will EVER be another Kobe). Among all the tasks and decisions entrusted to the management of a team of any sort is to know when to "hold 'em or to fold 'em". Hopefully Kobe does not go out in this manner, from a humanisitic point of view he deserves far better.
Secondly, in consideration of Mike Weir's anniversary of his Masters win. Rivetted to the TV I was for that final round all those years ago, and most certainly I took great pride in his success for his country, beyond the fact that it was a great victory on it's own merits. Subsequent to his Master's win I began to think that expectations for his ongoing performances on the golf course were blown way beyond any reasonable degree. I truly hope that he has been able to enjoy his win and at no point afterward ever felt that somehow he was letting his country down by not being able to scale the mountain again.
As always thanks for what you do,
Doug T, Brantford
PS: visiting Hazelville tonight, the Harp for dinner followed by the Abbey Road Pub to catch a friend's band, it will just like old times!
A: I can tell you this about Mike, without doubt. He knew how much support he had and has here and desperately wanted to do well for his fans across Canada and it bothered him a bit that he never won a Canadian Open. But to be the first Canadian to win the Master’s was an incredible accomplishment and an historic moment that made him prouder than you can imagine.
And Abbey Road is like a home game for me, been there a few times and always enjoyed myself. Hope you did, too.
Q: Hi Doug Smith
Just wondering about John Lucas. When he is on the floor, there seems to be added energy, not just from John but from some of the other guys as well. I know that a second unit guy's job is to bring a shot of energy into the game so I guess that explains some of what I see.
He seems to have good chemistry with his teammates; they seem drawn to him more than...well, you know...that guy who starts.
I don't know enough about the game to critique Lucas' play and
development so could shed some light on John Lucas and how he might fit in the Raptor plan? Assuming there is one. A plan, that is.
Doug, you sure took some heat for your Thatcher comments. Yikes. This town is in a very testy mood these days as Mr. Kelly pointed out.
Ditch Dickinson, The Beach
A: John’s biggest problem – and his biggest blessing – is that he’s more of a scoring guard than a point guard, he’ll often miss open guys because he’s trying to get his shot. I think his future here is, frankly, cloudy. There’s a team option at about $1.5 million for him next year and I’m not sure they’ll exercise it right now. He would come back to the role that he has, a third point guard and as a scorer off the bench in dire circumstances.
Q: We are losing games this season by an average of 2.3 points. If we had just one more three-pointer made per game, we'd be between Brooklyn & Chicago, in 5th place! Which NCAA player or NBA free agent could fill the void? And which current player could they push out of the rotation?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: It’s certainly not that simple that pure arithmetic would suggest a five-team leap in the standings, I’m sure you understand that.
And I pretty much guarantee you that there is no college player ready to come in and consistently knock down NBA three-pointers on a regular basis, it’s a longer shot, the defenders are better and it’s not an easy transition at all. So, quite aside from a pipedream of a kid taken with a draft pick they don’t have, you can put that one out of mind. Please.
NBA free agents?
They don’t have enough cap space other than a mid-level exception to offer anyone and I’m not willing three months before the fact to suggest who might be a possible addition.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Hope all's well.
Okay, folks, same dilemma as last week.
I got a bunch of these done with all great intentions to finish up on Saturday until I discovered I needed a break from thinking and working.
So have at these, there’ll be more – and some good ones – later on tonight because I have about a zillion loads of laundry to get at, some tape to transcribe for a couple of stories and other things that were on my mind.
See some of you around 3:30 this afternoon, right?
Q: Hello...It seems Tiger plunked one in a patron's cup at Augusta. The revealing fact is that beer is only $ 3.00 a cup at The Masters.
Any chance a Toronto sporting event would sell the stuff for $ 3.00? When was the last time you had a cheap beer at a sporting event?
How about all leagues have a game to honour # 42 once a year?
Will the Dinos have a new point guard next year? Will AB be at their training camp? Just threw those last two queries in there for fun...and consternation
Bob E, Kanata
A: Cheap beer at a sporting event? What’s that old saying?
A story: A buddy of mine goes to a Raptors game and he figures it’s time for a beer. He orders, hands guy a $20 and gets back a couple of coins. He says to the guy: “I think you made a mistake, I gave you a $20.”
Dude looks at him with the “yeah, right” glare and moves on to the next customer.
Some kind of Robinson honour would be excellent sports-wide, it’s going to be interesting this afternoon to see Jerry Stackhouse representing Brooklyn and wearing No. 42, won’t it?
Yeah, consternation, indeed. Don’t really need/want it at the moment, there’s months for it to percolate.
Q: Doug, as the season winds down a grab-bag of questions come to mind.
First, a couple of playoffs related questions: Do you think the Lakers can grab the last spot in the West in light of Kobe Bryant's injury? Also, with Toronto the only team in their division missing the playoffs, I was wondering if every team in a division has ever made the NBA playoffs with the current format in place?
As for the Raptors, do you think Sebastian Telfair comes back next season? Finally, if I want to catch one last game at the ACC, would you recommend the Boston or Brooklyn game?
Thanks for your coverage throughout the season.
Bill G, North York
A: In light of Friday, I’d say there’s a slim – very slim – chance the Lakers hold on.
And under the current format, no division has ever sent every team to the post-season.
I doubt Telfair will be back, at least that’s the sense I’m getting right now; there are other fish to fry roster-wise but if he does return, I think it’s as a last-resort.
Yikes. Hate to try to tell a person how to spend their money but I’d guess today’s game will be better but you’d have a better chance at getting some token gift on Wednesday.
If it was Super Son, I’d tell him to go this afternoon.
Q: Always enjoy the read Doug. Here's the question: can you play 'arm-chair GM' for a moment? It's the end of another season without a sniff at the playoffs and you need to decide if the team's going in the right direction or not. Do you A. re-build (or re-tool) again or B. stay the course around the current core?
Related 'arm-chair owner' question. Has Colangelo done enough in your/their estimation to keep his job for another year or is time to break with him and give someone else a shot. If the owners do that, what would be the top 3 issues for the new GM to address? Thanks for the great stuff.
A: I don’t mind the core, actually, and if you talk about moving out four or five rotation players, you get into a vicious circle of always wondering if you’ve got the mix right. I think this mix – the five starters – needs to grow together.
But you’re always re-tooling, every team in the league is looking to make moves to get better, it’s no different for good teams or bad. New York did it this year with Kidd, Prigioni and Felton, Miami with a couple of additions to the end of the rotation and Oklahoma City did it with Martin over Harden.
And, yes, I think Bryan has done enough to put the team on a track that he should get the final year of his contract picked up.
Q: I think you missed one, perhaps intentionally and that is Jose & Ed. I believe this one will be one of the last huge blunders by Colangelo. Calderon was the heart and soul of the franchise and the one PG who could get the most out of a healthy Bargs. Ed was only just beginning to blossom and given the right circumstances will become a good one!
Toronto should be looking at the character of a team as well as asset value. Sometimes you are better off taking care of the quality assets you possess.
PS: I used to wish we didn't have a franchise here in the west because I was a Raptor fan who didn't want to live with "black-outs". Now, bring on a western franchise......the sooner the better. Until Colangelo goes this franchise is doomed. My guess is that if he stays Casey goes. Casey is making mistakes but he has the right philosophy and needs better coaches around him.
Thanks for all your great work. You are my constant link to the Raptors.
A: I agree entirely that character and fit have to be taken into consideration when compiling a roster; it’s not the end all and be all but it is important.
There is no question they miss the character of both the players they dealt away, it remains to be seen how the fit is with the current group, I’m not sure they’ve had long enough yet.
And, yes, bring on another western team, I miss the road trip a lot.
Was trying to figure out if you could have an NBA team (all-time) made up of guys who changed their names as adults. We have Kareem, Mehta, and World B, which is actually a pretty good start for a team. Can you add any, I have one more in the back of my head but it isn't coming forward?
A: I don’t suppose you count (H)Akeem Olajuwon or Nene (Hilario), do you?
But how about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf? He was a far better player than Chris Jackson, wasn’t he? Except for the whole “not standing for the anthems” thing.
All together now:
Three. Six. Twelve.
Oh yeah, sorry I’m late, stuff going on. We’ll be better
Mr. Tough Guy
So I wander up to DeMar DeRozan in the locker room after the game and say:
“Didn’t know you were a goon.”
He laughed, of course, but his little set-to with Rip Hamilton that finished with Hamilton getting thrown out for what looked like a forearm to DeRozan’s face was something we hadn’t seen before and something quite welcome.
DeRozan had been in Hamilton’s chest most of the night, letting him know there’d be no space to operate and, as Dwane put it after the game, “getting them frustrated instead of us getting frustrated.”
If there is one troubling trait that this group has displayed over the past, oh I dunno, eight years, it’s that it can be pushed around a little bit. It’s not that they won’t stand up for themselves, it’s just that they don’t react as forcefully, or force the issue physically, nearly enough.
And it’s not that DeRozan did anything dirty or untoward, he was just playing hard and aggressive and they need a little bit more of that from time to time, if for no other reason that to send a signal to the rest of the league that they’ll be the ones hitting instead of being hit.
Sure, Game 78 is too late and it’s something that has to be present from the start of the season but they saw it could be done, and should be done.
Yep, you’re gonna love Quincy Acy if his game keeps developing, no doubt about it.
His teammates already do.
In that conversation with DeMar, it was pointed out that Acy was there quick as a flash to act perhaps not as an intermediary but as someone who was there to help.
Don’t think the players didn’t notice – “We know he’s always got our back,” was how DeRozan put it – and don’t think it elevates Acy to a significant spot in the roster pecking order.
Now, his game needs some work; if he’s going to be a three-four in small lineups, he’s going to have to develop some kind of shooting range to go with his rebounding and defensive abilities.
I do think he’ll end up being a good fourth “big” on a good team but it’s only going to happen if he can contribute more on the offensive end of the court.
Does it matter?
I was talking to someone after the game and it was suggested these wins – the two last week, back-to-back over Chicago – don’t mean anything.
In the context of the whole season? Probably not. There’s a feeling that we’re living a repeat of the 9-2 finish or whatever it was in Jay’s interim year where too many people looked over too many flaws by getting caught up in the strongish finish.
There’s an inherent danger in that, you think you’re better than you are and flaws can be overlooked and I’d hope that everybody connected with the franchise realizes that. It’s important.
But in the smaller context it doesn’t matter who plays for you or them, it’s always, always, always better to win that to lose and if some of these guys get a good feeling in their heads after a couple of late-season victories, good on them.
Okay, when you go down the list of the guys who make you howl Of A Certain Vintage, you had Rodney Dangerfield at the top – of that there can be no dispute – but the most under-rated?
I’ve got Jonathan Winters, don’t you?
Man, what a night.
I go to sit on a stool and wait for The First Lady Of The Beat and Not Grace to get done their scribbling and look up just in time to see Jose Reyes crumple to the ground in Kansas City.
Not as gruesome an injury as we’ve seen but since he’s the best player on the team it’s got the possibility of being a crippling blow.
And then I’m watching over my shoulder when Kobe Bryant blows out his Achilles and now you have wonder if his career is over, to say nothing of his season.
Now, I will never, ever doubt Bryant’s resolve so to suggest he’ll never be back is folly but that was one horrible stretch of time for sports fans.
Regardless of how you feel about athletes – whether you think you like them as men or women and whether or not you cheer for the teams they play for – no one ever wants to see anyone writhing in pain with their futures – short and long term – in doubt.
That was a terrible night for fans of sports.
Yeah, need some. Probably be sitting around all afternoon with little to do and since I have to stay up to fetch Super Son at work late the evening will be free, too.
So help a fella out, would you?
Talk to you soon.
You want to talk about people with what seems an overwhelming sense of self-importance and a stickler nature that doesn’t take common sense into consideration?
Read this by Perk about the dude at the Masters who tried to screw up the best part of the tournament to date, the 14-year-old amateur tot from China.
Look, I’ve talked to more than my share of golfers over the years and the constant complaint is about slow play and it can be nauseating to watch at times. Club changes, six or seven tests of wind speed and direction, plum-bobbing three-footers dead up hill and tracking long putts from ever conceivable angle. It’s a terrible blight on the game.
Common sense, folks. Common sense and an equitable applications of the rules would be a good idea, no?
Good evening, all.
I like to think the league that I cover is the leader, probably worldwide, in a lot of societal aspects.
It’s got a great track record for minority hirings in positions of authority, its charitable endeavours and global initiatives get to the heart of some significant issues, it is truly an inclusive organization that should be proud of what it does and should be held up as a beacon to the other North American professional leagues.
Now, I understand a lot of its worldwide efforts come because of basketball’s popularity around the world, it dwarfs hockey and football and baseball so it’s logical that the NBA would reach out to Asia and Africa and Europe a bit more.
But there was a story that caught my eye yesterday that shows the pucks are doing the same kind of thing and should be lauded.
The NHL and its players association have struck an agreement with the You Can Play Project, the advocacy group that fights homophobia in sports.
The news is here and it should be welcomed by all; it formalizes what’s already been in practice and that’s a good step.
The NBA is already aligned with Athlete Ally and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, those groups provide educational sessions as part of the league’s rookie orientation program last year and this and it’s another huge step in the right direction.
Professional sports is a powerful vehicle in our society, they reach people across all economic and social strata and we’re not talking just about players, coaches and team officials who can and will benefit from formalized programs to fight discrimination simply because of sexual preference.
Fans – the most important group because their lives are far more normal and likely to include contact with gay and lesbian groups. They need to know that the people they look up to, the athletes they admire, are more than willing to be open and accepting of others, regardless of their lifestyles.
Sports has come a long way in this regard – the Neanderthals are being weeded out and enlightened by educational programs and peer pressure – and the NHL’s move yesterday and the NBA’s continued educational programs are moving the needle in the right direction quickly.
It may not be quickly enough – this is an awareness process that is going to take time – but each step is important in creating a more open and accepting society.
Good on them.
I’m sure someone out there will like this, not sure you all will, but for some reason I can’t quite pick out from the deep, dark recesses of my mind, this came into my head yesterday.
Yeah, it’s The Cure.
Vote early, vote often?
Nah, probably can’t get away with that since everything’s done electronically and pretty well tracked but it’s almost time to cast the post-season ballots for the NBA awards.
For some reason known only to the administrators at the league office I have votes in all seven categories – MPV, rookie, coach, defensive player, most improved, sixth man and the three all-NBA teams – and if I had to vote yesterday, here’s how I would have done it, as the Nothin’ But Net main suggests.
But I will tell you this, in all but MVP and rookie, there were probably five or six potential winners in each category; I’ve been involved in this in some way for about the last 10 or 12 years and I can’t think of a year where so many players or coaches could legitimately win so many awards.
I think I got them right but who knows.
Please. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org and while there was some yesterday, there’s always room for more.
And I have to congratulate you; it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve been inundated with Andrea Bargnani questions. Well done.
Okay, if you’ve been here often enough you’ll know that I think Vin Scully is the gold standard for every broadcaster in the world.
A wonderfully under-stated manner, the ability to weave stories in and out of games without distracting from the action at hand; a calm, soothing presence in a business populated by far, far, far too many screamers who think they’re a larger part of the event than they actually are.
And this is long and I apologize for that but if you’ve got 10 minutes listen to Scully do a one-man play-by-play of a Dodger-Padres brawl and tell me who else in the world could have pulled it off with such class and understated perfection.
Others would be yelling and chatting over each other in multi-broadcaster booths; Scully would have none of that.
It’s a classic.
Well, they’re banged up as this little item from yesterday’s practice mentions but I did see Valanciunas headed to a signing session well after practice was done and he was neck brace-free and his usual jovial self so that was a good sign.
And since he’s become much more a force on the court, you have to hope he plays the last four games so the folks can see him three more times at home.
He’s become something to watch, as Dwane pointed out.
“He shrinks the floor, we’re playing inside-out a little bit more and the defence has to compact a little bit and that opens up Rudy and DeMar on the perimeter a little bit more, and Kyle.
“He’s doing a good job of finding people once the defence does collapse so it’s an umbrella effect but it all starts with JV having the confidence and the respect of the defence.
“To this point, his growth in the last month and half has been tremendous.”
I’d say it was a pretty inspired draft pick, wouldn’t you?
Go back at look at who was behind him two seasons ago and ask, right now and I know it’s early, that you’d rather have on the team you cheer for.
Yes, IGBT thing tonight, Not Grace is scribbling the gory game details but we’ll be around just before 7 p.m. for all the fun and frivolity as this season continues to wind down to the time when the real work begins.
It’s been a couple of days now that I’ve been trying to figure out just what it is about The Masters that makes it so special because it is one of those annual sports events like Wimbledon or the U.S. Open that you just have to pay attention to, even if you’re just a casual fan.
It’s not the depth of the field because there are too many non-contenders; there are probably half a dozen or more events in the summer that have better fields.
It’s certainly not the sappy and syrupy announcers because that’s the one thing that might drive me away from the coverage. I get it that the azaleas are pretty and that there’s tradition to uphold but if I hear Jim Nance wax poetic much more about Augusta I might barf. Really, it’s too too too over the top.
And it’s not like it’s an Open Championship test of golf, the course is, basically, rough free and not all that challenging in many respects.
And it is absolutely not the history of the club with its exclusionary history and questionable treatment of minorities and women. That is Augusta’s shame and I get it entirely that private clubs can invite as members anyone they want and don’t have to defend their practice to anyone because, well, because they’re private.
So what it is it?
Just that it’s a right of spring? A sign of better days ahead with sun and green grass and flowers and all that annual season renewal crap?
Is it that you never know who might shoot 30 on the back nine on Sunday or who might shoot 40 and because each of those chances exists the tournament is always in doubt until late that afternoon?
Is it Tiger? Or the unknown guy who hangs around until Sunday morning against all odds before fading back into oblivion? Is it the old dudes taking the ceremonial first tee shot that evokes memories of past greats?
I don’t know but there is something magical about it in a lot of ways and it’s one of those events you just pay attention to. Isn’t it?
But I’m going to tell you one thing about the Masters that will never, ever leave my mind.
Mike Weir’s win, a decade ago.
Now, full disclosure, Mike’s a friend of mine, our families are friends, we’ve known each other for decades so there’s that to take into consideration.
I will say, though, that when it comes to great Canadian sports moments of the last half century or so, that has to rank right up there in the top three doesn’t it?
Even people who paid no attention to the sport were caught up in it; it was a great, galvanizing moment for Canadian sports and one of the greatest individual accomplishments by one of our own of all time.
That it’s 10 years ago stuns me because I can remember sitting on the couch riveted to the final few holes and getting a bit terse with Super Son, just a tot at the time, because he was standing in front of the TV mimicking the pressure packed putt on 18 on the Sunday and I couldn’t see.
Ten years ago?
Man, time flies.
And if you can see this, you should.
Caught a bit of it last night and it looks outstanding.
So Super Wife and Super Sister-In-Law-To-Be go motoring down the highway to Hamilton last night while I’m sitting in the Cawthra auditorium getting the low-down on a Super Son journey to Philly next week.
Yeah, I’d rather have been listening to these guys, too. But you do what you gotta do, I guess.
And, yes, it is a bit hard to believe that Great Big Sea is on its 20th anniversary tour.
I am officially old.
Sure, it’s a bit rainy and there’s a storm warning here and whoever is screwing with the weather had better stop it or I’m going to be miffed but it’s really, really that time of yearn now:
Yep, I’m talking to a friend the other day and we come to the conclusion that the less you wear socks the cooler the person you are.
And we all want to be cool, right?
Besides, who doesn’t like a little ankle?
Wish I had something but it was a dead quiet day yesterday and after we got the little Valanciunas update, all that was left to do was sit out the inevitable flight delay – thanks, United! – and try to figure out how the last week of the regular season will go for them and can they avoid the ignominy of another 50-loss season.
It’s not that big a deal but there is something about looking a record and seeing 48 or 49 losses that doesn’t make it as bad as the big, fat 5-0.
I don’t know that they can win three of their last four because there are some pretty solid opponents in Chicago, Brooklyn, Atlanta and Boston. Of course, we have no clue who’ll actually end up playing for each team because playoff matchups are getting set and there could actually be a Chicago-Atlanta tank-fest to see who can fall to sixth and avoid Miami until the conference finals, perhaps.
But we also don’t know who’ll end up playing for Toronto, either, since the little story said that Valanciunas will be re-evaluated today and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts the report is that he’s going to see how he feels tomorrow before anyone will know if he’ll play.
That, my ticket-buying friends, is about the best you can hope for and would be a bit better, I’d guess, than hearing that he’s definitely out.
Okay, tiny amount of mail yesterday, need more hellos and stuff so it’s at email@example.com please and thank you.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).