Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SPORTS: It's Been Disappointing

Movies and nothing but movies lately. Sorry. Here's a few opinions on the latest sporting events to sadden this house.

Let's start with the Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic. The loss to Italy was dispiriting in so many ways, not the least of which is how it revealed Ernie Whitt is just not managerial material. When John Gibbons got canned last year, the guy I felt worst for, was Whitt. Not only bypassed to bring about Clarence Gaston's return, but ditched in a way that placed blame squarely on him for the failings of the teflon GM, JP Ricciardi. Gibbons' beheading seemed merciful, Whitt's mean.

Turns out, Whitt can't manage a wit. His stolid station-to-station managerial style went out with Earl Weaver. It was particularly not conducive to the international game. I now wonder if Stubby Clapp had more to do with past Canadian successes under Whitt than Ernie did himself. And that's too bad. Ernie's a good guy, very personable. Hate to rail on him. And I WILL point out, that the general clamour over his sitting Scott Richmond for the start he never got (Will Richmond EVER throw a pitch in Canadian anger, ever?) is idiotic and short-sighted. Having to win over Venezuela two nights later was EVERY BIT as important to Team Canada as beating the Italians was supposed to be. Maybe more. The long-range goal was reaching San Diego, not dunking the Italians and coming up short two days later.

Switching from that disappointment to the last week of disappointing news out of Montreal, where Bob Gainey couldn't acquire any help for the Canadiens at the trade deadline (Bill Guerin wasn't worth a FOURTH-round pick?) nor find a way to wait out the malaise apparently caused by Guy Carbonneau. He fingered Carbonneau for the team's dispirited play since the deadline (and obviously for the post November swoon) and said so publicly. That's harsh. But probably true. The team won it's first night under Gainey, so it's possible that Kovalev and gang will be shamed into playing hard for the next three months. But it's all down to what kind of performance Gainey can extract from kid goalies Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Being a Habs' fan means having faith in Gainey.

Lastly, Sunday's loss by the Toronto Raptors to the Utah Jazz was the white flag moment. Actually, technically, I gave up Friday night during the loss to Dwyane Wade ... and whatever team he plays for. Yes, I know Toronto's record meant they were the underdog in both games. Yes, they could have and should have won both games. But NBA games are 48 minutes long and the Raptors' season-long ability to only play about 40 decent minutes on any given night was why they lost.

I was wrong.

My early-season happiness was built on a base of bad assumptions. I see individual talent and parts that other teams would covet. I saw production from players that, in turns out, are either too old, too stupid or not as talented as I thought they were. I was simply being an idiotic homer.

The Raptors are not the sum of their parts, even when the parts are fairly healthy. Sam Mitchell wasn't my idea of a good coach, and Jay Triano is closer to that ideal. But both men have been stymied by a season-long failure by GM Bryan Colangelo to fix the warts. Not that he didn't try. But he's shot blanks all season long, from acquiring Jermaine O'Neal, to signing Will Solomon and the other overweight guy who's name I can't remember, to trading Solomon for Patrick O'Bryant, taking money off NEXT year's cap, to acquiring Shawn Marion (AND TWO MORE YEARS of Marcus Banks) for O'Neal AND tossing in a first-round draft pick AND Jamario Moon to do it. Marion's a bust, arriving with all the components one could hope for, outside of a game beyond five feet from the basket. And I'm actually annoyed about the talk of wanting Pops Mensah-Bonsu all year long. They could have had him at ANY time, almost. Putting him Raptor togs after acquiring Jake Voskhul and O'Bryant sort of makes the Pops issue seem ... after the fact crowing. Wonder if they'd have said anything had San Antonio not signed him before releasing him in favour of Drew Gooden?

Here's the real problem I have with the Raptors. Chris Bosh. The dependence on Bosh at the end of games. So predictable, it might as well be printed on tickets. "The last five Raptor possessions of the game will all involve Bosh holding the ball near the left elbow until time has almost run out. He will put up a wild shot, either blocked or be fouled, unnoticed by officials. Once in a while, the ball will go in. In the event of this not happening, please redeem your ticket for a future Raptor game."


I don't want Bosh traded, but I want options to Bosh in the end-game. If he won't give up the ball, then trade him. Bargnani. Even Parker. Calderon before his reversion to his first-year shooting woes. JOEY BLOODY GRAHAM! I want the other team not to triple team Bosh while his teammates stand out near the borders of the court and cross their fingers.

Oh, and by the way, when Triano takes out Calederon for 'defensive' purposes and LEAVES JASON KAPONO ON THE FLOOR, somebody should smack him in the privates and remind him he can change MORE THAN ONE PLAYER. Having Kapono on the floor at ANY TIME is tantamount to surrender. To show up another player by making HIM look like the defensive turnstile while Kapono remains on the floor is insulting to a degree that is hard to imagine. If Colangelo cann0t move Kapono this summer, it totally writes off all credit he got for trading Rafael Araujo for Kris Humphries. Totally.

Now, I've got to get back to work. See you at the movies.

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