Ask Gary: Do you believe in the Warriors?

by Gary Shelton on March 19, 2016 · 1 comment

in general

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

The Golden State Warriors of the NBA are currently 61-6; an astonishing .910 winning percentage. In your years of covering U.S. sports, has there ever been another American professional sports team to achieve this level of dominance? Also, for a team to achieve this level of dominance, would you agree with me that the current NBA has to be suffering from acute talent dilution-too many teams; not enough professional level players to go around.

Howard Powders

The funny thing is that the first team you think of is the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, and they faced the same allegations, that their opponents simply couldn't stand up to them.

Off the top of my head, I'd throw two NFL teams out (no, not the '72 Dolphins, who faced a terrible schedule). I'd say the 2007 Patriots (they lost in the Super Bowl, but they went 17-1) and the 1985 Bears. The Bears lost only to Miami that year, and most of us agree Chicago would have won the rematch. That team took no prisoners.

A baseball team has never really run roughshod over the league for a whole season. The nature of the game (different pitchers for different days) doesn't allow it. Even the '27 Yankees had a winning percent of only .714.

Those Yankee teams, the old Celtic teams, the old Montreal teams were obviously great teams filled with Hall of Famers.

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Maybe that's why a lot of people don't seem convinced with the Warriors. Stephen Curry is terrific, but I don't think folks are lining up to throw "the greatest ever" title at anyone the way they did at Jordan. The greatest shooter? Sure. But not the greatest player.

Of course, if they go on and win the title, most of America will reconsider.

You've been so many places and have the opportunity to meet and interview people we only get to read about. Have you ever had an assignment that had you awe-struck before you even got there? Has there been a "one that got away?" Do you have a wish list for an interview that may have been set aside in hopes of coming to fruition, that may not necessarily be as a sports columnist, but also as a writer?
Veronica Richardson
When I was a boy, still wet behind the ears, I can remember attending my first major league ballgame. I think I've told you about peering out the window of that Ford Fairlane as the stadium came into sight. We sat behind Hank Aaron in right field, and I was gob-smacked.
A year or so later, I was back in Atlanta and in front of Hank's locker while he talked to the media. I didn't say a word. I'm not sure I could have said a word. He was larger than life.
But you get fairly used to big names. Michael Jordan. Mickey Mantle (after his playing days). Bear Bryant. Shaq. Wayne Gretzky. Tony Gwynn. Dan Marino. Phil Esposito. Michael Phelps. Lee Roy Selmon. Doug Williams. Joe Montana came off the field one day and asked if I had a beer.
I've been lucky with non-athletes, too. I interviewed Newman the year he was nominated for an Academy Award, and I interviewed Burt Reynolds the year he was. I found both of them delightful. Burt had me laughing, and crying, when he told tales of former FSU analyst Vic Prinzi. Robert Conrad, old Jim West, called me once over my mention of him in a column.
At Super Bowls, I was in interview sessions with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Billy Joel. I was among the writers when Michael Jackson told us he loved us. I was at a party when Bruce Willis took the stage and kind of sang. I spoke -- briefly -- to Spike Lee in the Yankees' locker room.
I was fairly close to Al Joyner once. You remember Al, the triple jumper who was married to Flo-Jo. He gave me two of the best interviews of my life. He also quoted me on the back of his book. I was flattered until I noticed the name of the book was "Running for Dummies." And I'm no runner, which must make me the dummy.
When I was in Miami, I interviewed every member of the 1972 Olympic basketball team, the one that got swindled. I interviewed Tonya Harding. I interviewed Joe DiMaggio.
My dream interview? I never interviewed Muhammad Ali. If he was cogent, I'd love that. If O.J. were honest, I'd love that. If Babe Ruth were living, I'd love to know if he pointed.
Why did MLB evolve from a four-man starting pitching rotation to a five-man rotation?

Scott Myers

Scott, it was seen as a way to keep arms healthy. Obviously, starting about 32 games a year is preferable to 40, right? In a day with more breaking balls, with bigger hitters, more pitchers were considered essential.
It was the Dodgers who started the five-man rotation in modern times, but evidently, there were teams experimenting with it in the 1920s. Still, for a long time, four starting pitchers were the norm, and those guys pitched. There weren't nearly the relievers.
Over the years, there are those who have talked about returning to the four-man rotation, but it's doubtful it will happen. Pitchers are too valuable. Risk their arms, and you're risking your job.
Actually, much of conversation lately has been about six-man rotations. That seems too many to some to struggle to come up with five starters
Your thoughts on the Cuba National vs Rays' game? Is it much ado about nada, or is this ground breaking for both countries, MLB, for the Rays? Are you going to Cuba to cover it? Will you be coming back?Rick Martin
Ha. No, I'm not going to Cuba. But I'd love it. I worked in Miami for a lot of years, and I ran into so many people from Cuba who raved about the natural beauty of the island.
I think it will be interesting to see. I've seen the Cuban baseball team in the Olympics, and it's talented. Not as much as it was before all the defections, but it's a good team.
My concern with an exhibition game is it's for the sake of baseball or the sake of moving products? Are we watching to see a shortstop go into the hole, or to see new Coke ads and new Michelob spots? Rum and cigars? Vacation packages?
If you just look at what's on the field, though, it's going to be interesting. Maybe the Rays can bring back a couple of relievers and a shortstop.
What is your prediction for the Rays' number of wins this season?  Also, assuming they don't go in the tank before August, what is your prediction for attendance​--percent increase, decrease, or flat?
Barry McDowell
Barry, the Rays have been firmly at the bottom of the American League in attendance for a long time. I don't see that changing. There really aren't a lot of players -- maybe Archer, maybe Kiermaier -- who will excite the public enough to leave the free game on their TVs, drive to the stadium, park, buy tickets and hot dogs and watch.
As far as number? I had said 85. I might lower that by a couple of games with the injury to Brad Boxberger.

Say Chris Archer goes 15-7 this year and every year and has great stats. Say Joe Blow goes 15-7 this year & every year for the Rays, too, great stats. The only difference is what Chris does in the community, on social media, etc - Old Joe Blow doesn't do any of that, pitches and goes home. How much more valuable is Chris to the Rays, if at all? And if more valuable, does Chris earn more if both of them hit the open market, or if they both re-sign with the Rays? 

Cecil DeBald

Obviously, it doesn't matter who Joe Blow pitches for. He isn't as valuable as a guy who works to be a valuable piece of the community.

Oh, he can justify all he wants by saying he's doing his job, and there is some truth in that. All he owes, really, is performance.

But we want more from our sports heroes, don't we? We want them to make a difference in our lives. We want them to be likable guys. We want to feel their passion for life. It's why we loved Warrick Dunn, and Mike Alstott, and Derrick Brooks, and Lee Roy Selmon.

Here's a better question: What if Archer is 13-13 (he's a career .500 pitcher). How many more does Joe Blow have to win (assuming similar stats) before you like him better even if he isn't the force in the community.

That's the thing. We want it both ways. We want a coach to be Tony Dungy but with four Super Bowl wins. We want a player who reads to kids but also is one of the best players in the league.

You know what? I want it, too.

Well, FIFA admits bribes and wants the money! What's your take on the whole situation? And ultimately, where do you think the money should end up?

 Cecil DeBald

My take is simple. Sooner or later, soccer is going to run into a huge bribing scandal from players on the field. A smattering of it has happened already. And when that happens, what do the hypocrites who run FIFA say? After all, they're the ones who invented the cash grab?

How about taking the money and throwing into youth soccer programs across the globe? My kids have all played, and there is always a field that needs maintenance or some kid who doesn't have a ball.

Meanwhile, bury the FIFA officials up to their eyes and pour honey on their heads. The ants will take care of them.

What do you see as ramifications of the NFL admitting that a link exists between NFL football injuries and CTE? 

 Cecil DeBald

I don't think there will be a lot of ramifications to that simple admission. Most of us could see their spin anyway. We knew the NFL knew of the link; the players have long said that their anger was because the league knew things it didn't share in the way of safety.

I do think the league faces massive damages over its role in concussions. I've said this before, but I did a story of the great old Bucs, and many of them are starting to have memory lapses, etc. Batman Wood and Mike Alstott and Scot Brantley. And, still, the readers weren't bothered. According to them, the players made their money and, therefore, took their chances.

That's a cold way of looking at it to me. I compare it an airline pilot. Yes, he has a chance of crashing, but you can still make the planes as safe as possible. And you can certainly let him know what you know about the landing gear.

Where do you see sports journalism in 10 years?   Do you think that the current state of sports journalism is better or worse than 10 years ago and why?
Jim Willson
Jim, I wish I could say it will be better, but I don't see it. I'm not a grumpy old guy stomping his foot and saying things were better in my time. It's just that the internet has changed the game.
Newspapers are operating with fewer reporters. They work their people harder with blogs and video. Space in the daily newspaper is shrinking. And print journalism is no longer where the young stars of the profession go; they go to TV.
When the Bucs were great, I used to get in a room with a star player once ever couple of weeks. Sapp. Brooks. Rice. We'd spend about 45 minutes, and some great stories came out of that. These days, no one gets that kind of access.
In some places, newspapers already don't publish seven days a week. They hit the big Sunday paper, of course, but they may miss Tuesday or Wednesday. I hate it, because I nursed on newspaper ink. But I think you're headed toward more inane coverage out of reporters who are never around the team. I've told you: one prominent website has a Bucs' reporter who actually lives in Europe. Can you believe that?
Who ends up having the best comeback: Kaepernick, RGIII or Manziel?
I'd guess Kaepernick, but that's cheating. Kaepernick has had the most success to date, so he's easier to bet on. Put it this way: Of the three, Kaepernick is the only one who won't have to start as a backup on his next team.
Jim Willson
After that, I'll surprise you. I'd guess Manziel, simply because of the offense he played in college. Manuel's problem, of course, is that he can't stay away from the party, and no one knows if it would bother him to fail. But in college, the kid had something. He had star-making ability, and he showed up in the big games. If he ever gets his liver right, he could be worth a flier.
Griffin had the best year of the three, and he fooled me the most. I thought he was going to be something. I'm a little surprised that Chip Kelly hasn't grabbed him, and maybe he will yet. But the offense's structure really seems to bother Griffin.
Odds that Tampa Bay is awarded a Super Bowl this time around?   I see Atlanta and L.A. getting 2 of the games.
Jim Willson
I think the odds are good. The Rayjay will be spruced up with all the improvements, and the weather is good, and the city has a reputation for shining during the Super Bowl. I can't figure out why it isn't in heavier rotation than it is.
Remember, though, that Super Bowls generally go to cities where the league is beholding to ownership. How does Minnesota's new stadium figure in?
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Howard Powders March 19, 2016 at 7:37 am

As a kid I used to follow the Montreal Canadians (1950’s-1960’s). They dominated the NHL as the GS Warriors are dominating the current NBA and whenever my NY Rangers played them, it was must see TV and the few times the Rangers beat them (practically impossible in the old Montreal Forum), I was smiling for at least a week.


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