Dwight Jaynes

Five things you didn't know unless you watched that Olshey interview

Five things you didn't know unless you watched that Olshey interview

My friend Broooke Olzendam sat down for an interview with Neil Olshey, the Trail Blazers' president of basketball operations and the video was shown on Facebook, But since it ran nearly a half hour, I have to believe a lot of people just didn't have the time to spend watching the entire interview. So with that in mind, as a public service, I'm here today to present five nuggets that I'm pretty sure you didn't know unless you watched that one-on-one interview:

  1. Zach Collins was the "No. 1 defender in summer league," according to Olshey. While he was on the court for Portland, the team gave up .227 points per possession -- which was, according to Olshey -- the best number of any player in the league. It's, as Neil put it, "an insane number."
  2. Olshey mentioned state income tax as being a factor in free agents not choosing Portland, something I've been talking about for years. Of course I've heard a lot of people dismissing that because, they say, "for people making that much money it doesn't matter." Actually, it matters a lot. Oregon's tax rate for people earning more than $125,000 per year, is 9.9 percent. Consider that you're pondering a $100 million contract offer from Portland and your agent mentions that before federal tax or any other expenses, the state of Oregon is going to get $10 million of your money. Yes, I know -- it's even higher in a few other states. But players might be willing to pay that much to play for the Lakers or Warriors.
  3. Olshey was very blunt about the reasons for not bringing back Ed Davis and it had very little to do with money. It's all about clearing more playing time for Collins. They didn't want to bring Davis back and then cut his role and playing time. Collins' ability to "spread the floor and pass out of the high post" is a big plus for a team that seems finally to be dealing with its shortage of long-distance shooters.
  4. On Sept. 24, Olshey will be inducted into the Le Moyne College Gold Wave Hall of Fame. But you probably already knew that. What you may not know is that Olshey -- who in 45 career lacrosse games for Le Moyne scored 48 points on 24 goals and 24 assists -- like most of his teammates, had never played the sport until he got to college. He was part of the very first lacrosse team at the school.
  5. The 1979 Le Moyne baseball team will also be inducted into the Hall on that date. On that team, according to Olshey, were two pitchers who threw no-hitters in the major leagues: Tom Browning and Jim Deshaies.

The Oakland A's have a ballpark problem and Portland might be able to solve it

The Oakland A's have a ballpark problem and Portland might be able to solve it

As the Portland Diamond Project studies potential sites for a new ballpark in this town, there's a big worry in the back of my mind:

How easy is it going to be to find a site in this town that doesn't end up mired in controversy and red tape?

In Oakland, where the A's have been searching for a potential location for a new ballpark (and a way to pay for it) for quite a while, a problem has popped up in regard to a possible prime location. The waterfront Howard Terminal site has been identified as a possible place for the ballpark but a mysterious group has emerged to attempt to block such a move:

However, with Howard Terminal still under consideration, a group that bills itself as Protect Oakland’s Shoreline Economy is stating its opposition to idea of a new ballpark at that location. It is unknown exactly who is behind the group, but this comes after the A’s saw a previous proposal–one to build at a site near Laney College–collapse late last year in the midst of neighborhood opposition.

And the reasons for the opposition, outlined in a mailer, sound eerily like some of the same ideas that could be brought forth in Portland:

The mailer ticks off a list of drawbacks to the proposed move, including “severe traffic impacts” to nearby warehouses and neighborhoods and the “hundreds of millions of dollars” in taxpayer-funded infrastructure that will be needed.

The flyer even argues that an A’s waterfront ballpark would force the homeless to move their street camps to make room for fan parking and describes the team’s plan for an overhead gondola to ferry fans over the nearby railroad tracks as “silly.”

In a place like Portland, a waterfront location would be attractive in so many ways and there are locations being studied that would be a big improvement to the site and its economy. But I worry that various groups in this city would attempt to block it, if for no other reason than it's kind of what happens in Portland. You are going to find somebody against everything -- no matter how beneficial it could be to the city.

I have a solution, by the way, for Oakland's stadium problem and it's a little unconventional. That city just doesn't seem able to come up with financing or an ownership group willing to finance, a new ballpark. I'm afraid the only way to get something done down there is for the town to lose its team. But stay with me here, it would lose its team but gain one, too. For years, franchises have used the threat of moving to another city to push municipalities into financing a new stadium.

Why not take that one natural step further?

The A's ought to sell to a group in Portland but stay in Oakland as a lame duck franchise until a ballpark is built here. Major League Baseball should then promise Oakland an expansion franchise as soon as a new ballpark is constructed in that area. Oakland would still have baseball, Portland would, too -- and MLB would have solved its "Oakland problem" as well as be on its way to a successful expansion plan.

For a city that is soon to lose the Warriors and Raiders, this could likely provide the impetus to build a new ballpark. I mean, you can't suddenly be stripped of all your big-league franchises.

Boom! It would be a win-win-win for Oakland, Portland and Major League Baseball..

New A's season-ticket program perfect for team with thousands of empty seats

New A's season-ticket program perfect for team with thousands of empty seats

Talk about a drastic change in selling tickets to your team -- the Oakland A's have come up with something very interesting for next season.

Instead of season tickets, the A's are selling memberships:

In a release, the Athletics said that A’s Access provides all members with general admission access to every 2019 regular season home game, a reserved seat plan, and benefits exclusive to members, such as concessions discounts.

People are talking about the option of being able to sit in differing areas throughout the season as a key feature of this plan but the real advantage is that members will receive tickets to EVERY game at a very low price. The option to upgrade to better seats for specific games is also available.

The A’s have already gotten experimental with flexible attendance options for fans this season, with the introduction of the Treehouse, behind the left field bleachers. The 10,000-square foot area — with a redwood patio deck, bar and lounge seating and two full-service bars — doesn’t have assigned seats, and was introduced with a $120 annual payment, good for tickets for the entire season. Now, a fan can buy a $29.99 monthly subscription, which gets them into any game, so if the A’s play 15 home games in a month, and a fan goes to all of them, admission works out to about $2 per game.

I would make several points about this "membership" plan:

  • The Oakland A's are the perfect team to try this approach -- they have thousands of empty seats to fill and not many regular buyers. They can afford to virtually give away seats they probably wouldn't be selling, anyway.
  • This sort of plan probably wouldn't work very well in hockey or basketball. Those sports play in indoor arenas with a limited seating capacity, making ticket flexibility much more difficult. Those sports also feature a schedule where marquee teams may visit just once per season and the ticket demand for those games would make it very difficult for "membes."
  • What does Oakland have to lose? The A's rank 28th in the major leagues in home attendance at 17,772 per game.
  • This reminds me of what a lot of minor-league teams do --- price tickets very low and hope to make their money on food and alcohol. But in this case, Oakland has also discounted concessions a great deal.
  • As a fan, this would be a plan almost impossible to resist. Even if you used your "membershp" for less than half the games, the cost is low enough to justify the purchase.
  • If the team doesn't sell thousands of these plans, it would be a problem. When you are practically giving away tickets it would be very embarrassing if  nobody wanted them.

 

Just wondering why it's so hard for the NFL to get out of its own way

Just wondering why it's so hard for the NFL to get out of its own way

Just so you know, the National Anthem thing isn't the only rule the National Football League can't seem to figure out.

NFL officials were in Philadelphia recently and met with Eagles players to try to answer their questions about the league's new rule regarding the use of the helmet in contact situations. But it seems the officials couldn't even come to agreement themselves on the parameters of the new rule, which seems to mirror the college "targeting" rule:

During the meeting, Eagles players were shown video of plays that would now be considered illegal and then showed officials a video of safety Malcom Jenkins’ hit that knocked Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks out of the Super Bowl with a concussion. The play did not result in a flag in February and the officials were split on whether it would now draw a flag, which is why Nigel Bradham still felt unclear when the meeting ended.

Just days before the exhibition season opens, it's not a good thing that the people calling the penalties still cannot fully convey to the players the exact nature of a rule that is designed to increase safety for the players.

Why is it that the most prosperous and popular league in the country can't seem to get out of its own way? I don't know, maybe it's leadership?

 

Chip Kelly in La-La Land -- how do you think that's going to turn out?

Chip Kelly in La-La Land -- how do you think that's going to turn out?

I don't know about you, but I missed Chip Kelly in the Pac-12. And I found it fun to watch the video of his appearance at Pac-12 media day.

The years in the NFL aged him a little, but I'm a fine one to talk about aging. Kelly is still a fascinating personality and if I could write a book on anybody in football right now, it would be him. He is a one-of-a-kind personality who has a droll sense of humor and a gift of gab. When he wants to be, there is nobody with more charm. But when he wants to be irascible, he does that as well as anybody, too.

During his media session he mentioned that when he came into the league there weren't many spread offenses and his team was the only one with shiny helmets. Now... everybody is running the spread and everybody has shiny helmets.

He talked about all sorts of things, including running "a forward-thinking operation" at UCLA, how he'll play anybody, when his teams were great at Oregon they were great defensively and the thing about Los Angeles is that he knows he's never going to be the prettiest person in the room. He even invoked "Coach Wooden."

I happen to think that Kelly, with the NFL head-coaching experience and the opportunity to sit out last season and survey what's going on in college football, is going to be one dangerous coach to look at from the opposite sideline. I think he will still be an innovator and when he gets his personnel the way he likes it, he's going to take that program to another level. And I also believe it's going to be a lot of fun to watch him in LA, whatever happens.

But I'm curious -- what do you think?

 

As deadline passes,Trail Blazers don't use that trade exception -- surprised?

As deadline passes,Trail Blazers don't use that trade exception -- surprised?

The deadline for the Portland Trail Blazers to use that $12.9 million Traded Player Exception it received in the Allen Crabbe trade with Brooklyn expired at the end of the business day today. The Trail Blazers did not use it.

If you were surprised it wasn't used, you haven't been paying much attention.

Deals involving the TPE don't happen often and are difficult to pull off. The TPE would have allowed Portland to take that nearly $13 million exception and ship it to some team for a player earning that much (or less) money.

Problem is, these days not a lot of teams are looking to give away a quality player and get nothing in return. And many teams seem to be willing to pay luxury tax bills at least for this coming season. The Trail Blazers had one year from the Crabbe trade to use the TPE and were actively seeking a way to use it, according to league sources,

There was no comment from the Trail Blazers, whose policy has long been not to comment on things that don't happen -- just the things that DO happen.

But it didn't happen. And that should come as no great surprise.

 

A great bit of reading even if you were not a member of "Generation Murph"

A great bit of reading even if you were not a member of "Generation Murph"

I don't often use this space to send readers elsewhere to read someone else's work. But there's good reason today -- a piece so well-written and close to  home that I can't resist. It's the best long-form sports story I've read in a long while, perhaps because it's about one of my favorite people..

In the latest ESPN The Magazine, Wright Thompson perfectly captures Dale Murphy and what he meant to a generation of baseball fans that Thompson calls "Generation Murph."

I've known Dale Murphy since he was a young catcher playing for the great Mike Clopton at Wilson High School in southwest Portland. I have many of my own Murph stories, some of them rooted in the fact that my son, Will, grew up like so many other baseball kids -- living and dying with the Atlanta Braves on the Superstation, WTBS. Will was luckier than most, though, because he got to sit in with me during a few interviews with Murph. At one time he had several Murphy autographs and every Murphy baseball card ever produced.

Once, during Murphy's heyday with the Braves, Clopton, his son Kevin, Will and I took a weekend trip to Atlanta to catch the Braves in person. For the kids, it was a trip of a lifetime. Except two of the three games we were scheduled to see were rained out. Murph knew how disappointed the kids were after the Sunday game was washed out and so he invited us all to his home Sunday night. I could tell almost immediately that there were other things planned for the Murphy family on that evening, but Nancy, his wife, was patient enough to allow us to take the tour of the house, chat for a little while and even have the kids pose with Dale for pictures with his two MVP trophies.

The impact Murphy had on my son? Well, when he recently got an award for valor from the Department of the Interior, I think the most excited Will got was when Murph -- all these years later -- tweeted a congratulations to him.

Thompson captures the spirit of the entire Murphy family in his work and also speaks to a topic that's been important to me for years -- Murphy's possibility of getting into the baseball Hall of Fame:

There's no precedent at work, or one to be set, by his candidacy. He's an outlier. He finished his career in the steroid era, the exact kind of player who would have benefited greatly from some anti-aging elixir. His decline happened as the Bash Brothers were born. He remembers sitting in the Braves' clubhouse with Glenn Hubbard and talking about players juicing. Hubbard turned to him and said, "You know how many home runs you could hit if you got on steroids?"

If baseball wants to wash itself clean from steroids, the best way to do it isn't to keep Bonds out of the Hall but to let Murphy in. Induct cheaters but also celebrate Dale Murphy for his 398 home runs and for the dozens he did not hit. He finished just two short of 400, and only four eligible players not linked to steroids have 400 or more homers and are not in the Hall. None was ever MVP. Murphy's recognition is a vote about the culture we want. That's the point Chad Murphy made five years ago in an open letter to Hall of Fame voters. He titled it: "Making the HOF Case for Dale Murphy, or, The Guy Who Changed My Diapers."

In Dale's last year of regular eligibility, his kids all got involved in big and small ways. They tweeted and gave interviews. Chad's letter went viral, and his argument helped drive Murphy's vote percentage higher than it had been in 13 years. Taylor Murphy started an online petition. He printed the names and gave them to Dale, to say: All these people love you. His children's table-pounding felt like the greatest validation of Dale's choices about focusing on his family instead of his fame. In the end, getting in didn't matter nearly as much as seeing how much his children wanted him to get in.

"What the kids did, it was the most emotionally moving time for me as a father," he says. "All those years of saying our family comes first ..."

"... it was about the Hall of Fame," Nancy says, "but it was more about how much they loved him."

All I can say is, whether or not you are a baseball fan -- or better yet, a member of "Generation Murph" -- you need to take the time to read this story about a Hall of Fame person, if not Hall of Fame baseball player.

Baseball isn't dying -- in spite of itself

Baseball isn't dying -- in spite of itself

It's gone on for decades now -- the idea that baseball is slowly dying and will soon be buried.

I blame the sport itself for not doing a very good job of bragging about itself. And there is plenty to brag about.

In Forbes, Maury Brown did his yearly survey of local television ratings of major-league teams and found what he seems to find every year:

When looking at cable alone, 24 RSNs that host MLB teams rank No. 1 in their market in prime time.  Major League Baseball ranks No. 1 in cable prime time in every U.S. MLB market except Miami.

And yes, you could make the claim that the game at the big-league level has become more regional. Ratings on major networks have remained flat or a little down recently -- mostly because the game has made itself so accessible via Internet, cable and satellite television that the national games just aren't that important these days. And of course, that could mean a drop in the enormous haul the clubs make off national TV contracts. But with the money they're raking in today on regional networks, so what?

And when talking about the overall popularity of the game itself, all you hear about is how slow the game is, the pace problems, etc. I think that's much more of a problem for TV viewers than those in the ballpark. And I believe more people watch professional baseball in person than any other sport. By far. Yes, because of lousy weather and the fact that several MLB teams have suddenly fallen victim to the NBA disease of tanking, MLB attendance has dropped some this season.

But when talking about the popularity of the game, nobody ever seems to mention baseball's thriving minor leagues. A lot of money is being made by owners of teams at all levels of the minors and -- in case you didn't know -- it's the only pro sport that's been capable of selling a minor league to the public. The NBA has needed a minor league for years but has been reluctant because it hasn't yet figured a way to make any real money from it. Football developmental leagues have continually failed.

Baseball's minor leagues are still spinning turnstiles. You wonder why people aren't watching MLB network games as often? They're probably at places like Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro watching teams like the Hops. Teams in the short-season Class A Northwest League, where the Hops play, averaged 3,594 fans per game in 2017.  Pacific Coast League teams -- and there were 16 of them -- averaged 6,548 per game.

All over the country -- from big cities to tiny hamlets -- fans are standing in line to buy tickets to watch baseball.

And spare me the talk about young people not being interested in baseball. Go to a game and see for yourself. Count the Little Leaguers in Hillsboro or venture out to left field during a Mariners game and check out the college kids chatting up the opposite sex. The fact is, baseball is one of the few games that young people can afford to attend.

Make  no mistake, baseball is alive and well. And I can't wait until the MLB product comes to town.

Kawhi wanted to go to LA and got Toronto -- call it Spurs' Revenge

Kawhi wanted to go to LA and got Toronto -- call it Spurs' Revenge

I have a few thoughts on that crazy all-star-for-all-star trade that essentially sent DeMar DeRozan from Toronto to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. I find some aspects of the deal fascinating.

First of all, don’t cross Gregg Popovich or the San Antonio Spurs. Not only did the Spurs land DeRozan, a very good player,  Jakob Poeltl and a first-round pick for Leonard, they absolutely managed to send Leonard to the polar opposite of where he wanted to go.

You want to go to LA, young man? Here’s Toronto, enjoy yourself. Toronto is a beautiful city but between the frigid weather and the taxes -- good luck. And leave your bathing suit at home. You can't get much further from the beaches of southern California than Toronto. The Spurs' revenge cut deep.

I heard a lot of people around the league talking about trading for Leonard – with just one season left on his contract – including a lot of Trail Blazer fans. Sorry, but that’s a terrible gamble.

Just because Paul George – apparently a victim of basketball’s version of Stockholm syndrome -- decided to stay in Oklahoma City, doesn’t mean any other one-year rental would make the same decision. George's decision to stay in Oklahoma was bewildering and I have to believe that someday he’ll be sorry.

And to think other players will follow suit and stay put just because George did is silly. You can talk about rolling the dice and gambling on the big move all you want, that's a very big longshot to go all-in on. And if the gamble doesn't pay off, the penalty is way too high.

The risk/reward on this one just doesn't pencil out for the Raptors. If you think it's time to trade DeRozan, that's fine -- but a one-year rental may not be the best idea.

 

 

Wade Baldwin may have an uphill battle for playing time this season with Trail Blazers

Wade Baldwin may have an uphill battle for playing time this season with Trail Blazers

OK, so now that we know Wade Baldwin is going to be on the roster of the Portland Trail Blazers this season, where does he fit?

Will he play? Will he be in the rotation? What will his role be?

For right now, I’m not sure those questions can be answered. Training camp and the exhibition season will certainly go a long way toward solving those issues.

But at this point, I’d say Baldwin might be in a tough spot.

The Trail Blazer backcourt is going to be as crowded as Interstate-5 North at rush hour, with some veteran players in line ahead of Baldwin.

If you’re thinking about him as the prime candidate to back up Damian Lillard at the point, you might be disappointed. Don’t forget that the Trail Blazers signed free agent Seth Curry and he’s come into his own as an NBA player. He's no longer just somebody's little brother.

While Curry has never been known as a distributor, he can certainly shoot the ball – perhaps Baldwin’s weakest area.

For his career, Curry has shot 47.3 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from three-point range. And yes, we’re talking about SETH Curry, not his brother STEPH.

Now I’m pretty sure Baldwin would have an edge over Curry at the defensive end of the court and may be a better playmaker. He's also the team's biggest and most physical point guard and is capable of playing at a very fast pace.  And one more thing in his favor -- he is a player Portland got for nothing who is quickly rebuilding his value as a one-time first-round pick. At some point, he could be a valuable trade piece.

That said, in today’s NBA, the game is becoming all about firepower –- and mostly long-range firepower. Curry can provide that to a team that needs an injection of accurate three-point shooting.

It’s also reasonable to expect rookie Anfernee Simons to get some playing time at one of the guard spots. Yes, he’s young but he’s a special player who needs to play if he’s not optioned to a G-League team.

Add in the projected off-guards on this squad – Nik Stauskas and Gary Trent Jr. – and you can see that Coach Terry Stotts has some decisions to make.

He has a crowd of interesting players at off-guard and could make a little more room for them on the court by using CJ McCollum as a backup point guard frequently.

Baldwin is going to be in the same position he’s been in for most of his career:

How much he plays will be up to him. And he’s probably going to have to play pretty well to earn a regular spot in the rotation.