Even in these most difficult of times, you’ve come up with some solid questions and I’ve tried to answer them as best I can and if this gives you something to do to kill a little time, well, that’s a good thing.
Keep ‘em coming at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like because I think I’m going to keep having some time on my hands and reading what you think is a good way to pass some time.
Speaking of hands, GO WASH YOURS NOW! And stay in the dang house unless it’s 1,000,000 per cent necessary you run out for a few minutes and if you have to, stay clear of people, please.
Q: Hello Doug,
I wanted to say how much i enjoy your insights and good humour. I hope you are well and surviving this social distancing experiment. I was watching the replay of the Orlando game last night and I had a flashback to when DJ Augustin was obtained by the Raptors. His tenure here (actually his attitude) has bothered me every time I see him play us. I was thrilled at the time. But he was horrible.
At the time it appeared to me that he was lackadaisical, not committed and played with no heart or energy. It looked like he felt like he was to good to be here and certainly too good to come off the bench. If he was trying to play himself off the team it worked.
What was your assessment? Do you know if there was anything going on in his life at the time? I know this is a long time ago but I still can’t get over what a bust he was – until he went elsewhere.
A: I honestly had forgotten that DJ Augustin ever played here until you brought it up. Such was his impact.
Now that I think of it, he was on a team with Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez and, frankly, he wasn’t that good. I’m sure he didn’t feel that way but I don’t recall him being disruptive or anything like that. Not sure he was a “bust’ he was a guy they took a look at who couldn’t help and who was eventually waived.
Further to your point about a nice, long break not being the worst thing for sports – Is it a feasible option for leagues that traditionally start in late summer (e.g. NBA, NHL, Premier League), to switch their starting dates to January? This would enable them to finish this season and any playoffs with a re-start date as late as September / October. Moving forward there would be a mid-season break over Christmas (perhaps with all-star games held during the holidays to feed the machine) and a slightly longer break between seasons in the summer. More importantly, by all but the most alarmist of estimates, the leagues would be able to start planning for this new reality now, eliminating uncertainly and placing them in a leadership position in terms of what society needs to do to get through this thing – all without losing a single game
A: I believe a later start date to a 2020-21 season is one of the myriad possibilities being explored. A late summer finish, a couple of months off to rest, a November training camp and a Christmas start and a July or August finish has been kicked around a little bit. But we’re not at that point yet, even if that does sound a bit intriguing to me. The complication, of course, is every significant international event and I imagine that’d be a consideration, too.
How will NBA teams end this season in August and go into training camp in September?
A: No. See above for that kind of timing question but, I’ll say it again, there are so many factors at play there’s nothing that isn’t being talked about at some level.
Q: Hi Doug,
It does feel like a wasteland: no NBA, no MLB, ie, no Raptors, no Jays.
I’m wondering when Danny Green will get his ring? We all have the Lakers game marked on our calendars and now, it’s not going to happen any time soon.
Thanks for hanging in there!
A fan in Vancouver.
A: This was supposed to be a wonderful weekend, Celtics here Friday, Denver here today and the Lakers on Tuesday for the Green ceremony and LeBron. Crushed that it didn’t happen.
If – and no one knows with any certainty today what’s going to happen – they don’t get that Laker game re-scheduled, they’ll do it next year when they come. No one wants something as impersonal as simply shipping it off in the mail or doing it in L.A. so it’s a waiting game.
Q: Hi Doug,
Thanks for keeping the content flowing. I had tickets to the upcoming Raptors-Grizzlies game which will go wanting, but made me wonder about the trajectories of these two originally Canadian teams. How did the Raptors manage to stay in Toronto (and stick with it through the rough early years) while the Grizzlies ended up leaving Vancouver and landing in Memphis?
A: The short answer is Toronto had ownership with deeper pockets and a greater commitment to the city. It helped tremendously that in Toronto the basketball team, hockey team and arena eventually came under one corporate umbrella, too.
Q: Hey Doug
I hope that you’re weathering the COVID-19 storm well. Just trying to do my part in keeping your mind active during this bizarre hiatus in professional sports (and so much else) by offering a question that might be of interest.
I’ve been interested for some time in the fairness aspect of away teams, many of whom play at sea level, coming into Denver (elevation of 1 mile) and having to compete against the Nuggets who are fully acclimated to living at that elevation. Not being sure of the science on this, I found what appeared to be a very credible article that listed the away team’s disadvantages as:
- 10% drop in your body’s ability to transport oxygen
- 20% drop in time to exhaustion
- more prone to dehydration
- less able to get a good nights sleep
- increase in lactate production, which can increase muscle cramping.
The head to head match-ups in all games played since the 09/10 season (6W/4L at home; 2W/9L on the road) seems to support the science.
So here’s my question. With one of the best medical teams in the NBA, are you able to share any of the Raptors strategies for preparing the Raps to play at altitude?
A: For the one time the Raptors get to Denver each season, there really aren’t any medical strategies they can put in place. I know coaches have always tried to limit the length of time any player is on the court – stuff like cutting straight playing time from, say, 10 or 12 minutes to 6 or 8 – to deal with the impact. It would be interesting to see, however, how they might deal with it if they had to play a playoff series there when they’d be the city for five or six days.
But on a one-off, once-a-year visit, not much they can do.
Q Hi Doug:
I wondered if, after the 14 day isolation is over, will the players be allowed to go on vacation, or do they have to stay in Toronto and attend practice every day. What will their
time be comprised of. For those with lingering injuries, it will be a perfect time for treatment and recovery.
Thanks for all you do to keep us informed.
A: Like everything in the world today, it seems, everything is unsettled. When their isolation is over, team facilities will likely still be closed, who knows what the USA border situation will be and no one can tell what they will be allowed to. That’s still a few days away and with the way things seem to change daily, it’s impossible to answer.
Q: Doug, I have no reason to doubt that you will be able to find interesting things to share with us, you always have. Looking on the bright side, you don’t have time pressures (except for your book) so you go off the beaten track a bit more than normal. On to a couple of questions.
Are many (any?) of the Raptors staying here during the pandemic? I would guess most would go home. Might be hard for someone like Pascal to even get home. Once their 14 day quarantine is over can they use the practice facility on an individual basis. If the season and playoffs are to be completed at some point it would be nice to have everyone fit and raring to go.
The out of left field question – I may be wrong about this, but I seem to remember that Masai had become a Canadian citizen. Considering his work with Trudeau in Africa it would not be a ridiculous thought (or would it) for the PM to get him to run in the next election, which is likely in the next two years. He could keep his current gig as well. Not sure if you are old enough to remember when Red Kelly was a PM while playing for the Leafs and winning a few Cups. Being a player would be more demanding of time than being the president of the bball operations. I could imagine Trudeau making the minister in charge of development assistance. Masai could work to get Canada to contribute more foreign aid.
Did I say that being isolated gives me more time to think.
A: I’ve never heard Masai even jokingly talk about a political career and I think he probably feels – as I do – that you can do more to affect change by being outside the system rather than inside it.
Q: Hi Doug,
Thanks for keeping the mailbag going, it adds a sense of normalcy to these very not-normal times. This coming Sunday was the game I had planned on going to with my family. As I broke the news to my kids a few weeks ago that the game could be cancelled, their primary reaction was disappointment, not about missing the game, rather that they wouldn’t have a chance to get candy… So on Sunday we will be sitting on the couch watching the rebroadcast of Game 3 Toronto vs Orlando, and yes, there will be candy.
I think you may have addressed this in the past (in a different context) but what snacks or treats are on your must-have list for staying in for 14 days? Have you developed any new skills around the house (cooking, cleaning, knitting, etc.) during this lull in all things sports?
Thanks for all you do to keep us informed!
A: Oh, man, the snack/eating situation is ever evolving. The old staples are on hand like potato chips of varying styles – I’m partial to sour cream and onion and barbecue – with the odd cookie feast – chocolate chip and double stuff Oreos and Fudgeos – but the problem with having so much idle time is there’s so much idle time to eat. I can see the day coming when I structure my late afternoon so that I can get in the kitchen and cook a lot because that takes away time when I eat.
New skills? I am pretty close to finishing off the final manuscript of TEB so that’s taken tons of my time; once that’s cleared away maybe there’ll be to time for new things.
Q: Hi Doug,
Thanks as always for the great company, especially now. I’ve found one of the ways to keep my sanity these days is to go through my rather large movie collection. Last night I re-watched (for the zillionth time) my favourite baseball movie, “Bang the Drum Slowly”. It got me thinking about my favourites from other sports. Here’s my list, and I’m curious to know what would be on yours.
Basketball – He got Game
Hockey – Slap Shot
Baseball – Bang the Drum Slowly (the list of great baseball movies is long)
Football – Semi-Tough
Soccer – Bend it like Beckham
Golf – Tin Cup
Auto Racing – Viva Las Vegas
Horse Racing – A Day at the Races
A: At this moment, and it’s ever changing, I’ll go with:
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Hockey: Slap Shot
Baseball: Bull Durham
Boxing: Raging Bull
Football: Bryan’s Song
Really don’t have opinions on soccer, horse or auto racing.
Q: Hi Doug,
With this season almost certainly done and next season in question, does the Clippers’ draft pick giveaway to get Kawhi for just 2 guaranteed years start to look even worse? Do they have any realistic routes to dig themselves out / extend the terms?
A: I don’t share your pessimism about next season, that’s for sure.
But, sure, if time/seasons are lost, the window on championship contention starts to close for the Clippers and they will not get those picks back. And, no, nothing else has changed to allow them to recoup what they traded away.
Q: Martina luis ortiz
Hi Doug.i enjoy your column.do u no if Martina is still employed by the leafs?
A: That’s the young singer? As I understand, she was off furthering her career and I don’t know how long she might be away from the pucks.
Q: Hi Doug
This isn’t really a mailbag question but if you’re looking for a great restaurant in your neighborhood, the fish and chips from Snug Harbour can’t be beat.
Stay well and appreciate that you’re continuing to post any writing these days – it’s a bright spot in a suddenly very dark world.
All the best,
A: Been there more than a few times – we’re a bit north of the QEW so it’s not entirely handy – but I do know it’s outstanding and absolutely on the list.
So, too, was Papa Guiseppe’s but I see they’ve closed entirely and that sucks.
Q: How about the “ Basics of the Game for Dummies?” Those who hopped on the bandwagon recently and had never watched before. Would that be too boring for veterans?
A: Certainly a possibility we get to that. What kinds of things would you suggest I explore?
Q: Hi Doug,
I have long thought that you are more of a throwback, in the best sense of the word, to the great sports writers of the past, who made you feel like you were in the arena or at the ballpark with the game story, the big moments and the personalities, instead of the mind numbing columns on the “business of sport”.
It would be great to hear your story on the writers that influenced you.
Also, what about a story on your list of the greatest moments in sports that you have covered.
A Definitely something I’ll do, likely one day this week. Thanks for the suggestion. I will say this: If you can’t write about moments or people or the feeling in the gym/park/arena, you’re going to be in trouble because Xs and Os and what “happened” in the game is too well dissected and known when it comes time to write.
Q: Hi Doug,
I enjoy your column very much. The other day you asked for ideas and it got me thinking. Back in the late 70s when I was a young lad and first started watching basketball, I subscribed to Basketball Digest. Do you remember that magazine? They had a feature called “My Most Memorable Game.” NBA players would recount their most memorable game from any point in their career, some went back to high school. I always found these quite interesting. Sometimes they were witness to someone else’s greatness, sometimes it was their own and sometimes it was just an incredible set of circumstances that made the game memorable. Perhaps this is something you could do to help fill the time and space.
A: That’s a great idea but it’s been extremely hard to get time on the phone with athletes or officials to do interviews and that’s an idea that’ll work better when access is better for more of them.
Q: Just read the newsletter and you’ve probably thought of this. I know you started the year with some lists to mark the 25 years. But there are probably tons of other lists of 25s now that you have the time. Stuff like – your 25 craziest interviews. The 25 best photos of Raptors in action. The 25 best Starting 5’s. The 25 6th men. I could go on, but you get my point I’m sure.
I look forward to continuing to read!
A: I tried to get Top Threes of the current season last week but, yeah, expanding that makes terrific sense.
Q: Hi Doug.
Boy, I’m missing sports already. I really didn’t realize how much I use it as a diversion from real life!
Could you maybe look at the track of Toronto basketballers who seem like megastars but turn out to be less than. You know the two most notable ones.
I’m wondering if there’s a sense that the first big payday is enough? Or maybe there’s a lack of good direction from the team(s). It just seems strange and worthy of probing to me.
Or, you could just work on the book! I’m cool with that. You’ve served your time well!
A: Solid idea and maybe it’ll work. The book is coming along and I am close to giving them a ton of it so maybe there’ll be even more time to figure out how to fill my time.