2/3/12

A Tough Season For Everyone

I was doing my daily routine and did a preview of the Raptors and Wizards game tonight which is posted and you can read that here on the blog. Someone tweeted me after it was posted and said it has to be tough to promote your work day after day in such an awful season for the Raptors. I paraphrased that a little but that was the basic idea. The short answer to that would be a simple yes. But it inspired me to do more than just respond to his tweet. This season for a variety of reasons is without question the most challenging to have had to deal with. I thought it would be a good idea to share some thoughts on this.

First before you even talk about the Raptors at all we had the NBA Lockout that in effect crippled this blog for the entire summer. I made the decision that I was not going to knock myself out producing content that was nothing but filler. I would know that and you as a reader would too. I didn't want to insult readers by doing that. So that left the blog pretty much inactive minus the odd post now and then giving thoughts on the labour situation and the Raptors as a result of it. It was a scary and depressing time. I truly love and enjoy what I am doing. I haven't been doing it for over four years to get rich by any means. If the DNB was a means to a get rich plan for me it would be a massive failure. But I have always found a way to survive and do what I love. The lockout even took that away. Eventually the Lockout would end with less than ideal results in terms of the CBA that was agreed too. That angered me to a large degree. But at least basketball was back and I could get back to what I have loved to do for the last 4 years plus of my life.

Just shortly before the official end to the lockout the Raptors had a press conference to announce the addition of Ed Stefanski to the organization. I remember that presser well, not for the fact that Ed had been added to the staff which I do like. He has always had a nice track record of working with online media in his time with Philadelphia. So I saw that as a positive for DNB personally. Hopefully we might even be able to swing getting him in the blog at some point in the future. I at least see it as possible based on his history. But what sticks out is how Bryan Colangelo laid out his expectations of this season when a CBA was in place. It was a crushing blow to any small optimism I might have had towards this season. He said everything I didn't want to hear, short of saying that this season was going to suck but next year was going to be great. It made you angry to a degree when you sat though a long lockout only to hear that basically the Raptors plan was to wait till next year.

The next significant event was the official end of the lockout and the release of this incredibly awful 66 game schedule from hell. Ironically likely so bad in part to give the season some sense of credibility. Something that was called into question with the 50 game sked after the last lockout. It has made every aspect of what we do in the Dino Nation Blog harder. One of the things we are known for is the great guests that we have been able to attract for The Starting 5. Given the unexpected nature of the season and when it would start as it turned out on Christmas Day, I decided to not even attempt to book guests till 2012. I did this because with just under a month to prepare for a season combined with the Christmas Holidays I felt it would be unfair to ask for people's time under those circumstances. But even now with how this schedule works it remains a significant challenge to get our guests. Through no fault of their own or mine. It is just with such a condensed schedule it is hard to find the time to make interviews come together. A lot of work goes into booking guests and making it all work which you never see even under normal circumstances. But I am grateful to all the wonderful people we have as guests and their willingness to take time to talk with me and ultimately with you. Especially in a season like this where the demands on their time is far greater. So if any of our guests happen to read this know how much you are truly appreciated.

There is also the fact of getting access to games. Given how the schedule plays out for me personally that becomes a challenge to figure out how and when to attempt to cover games. Last year we were fortunate to come to a pretty easy schedule with covering all Raptor home dates on Fridays. This season that doesn't make as much sense with the Raptors having hardly been at home in January and soon starting a 7 game homestand in February.

All of this and we haven't even really talked about the actual product the NBA is producing this season. In covering the Raptors it makes it more of a challenge to watch other games around the league and have a prospective of how other teams are doing with your own eyes. But in what I have been able to see there has been ugly basketball that extends beyond the Raptors. I can never recall a season with so many out and out lack of competitive games. Teams shooting in the 30%-40% range. Just awful stuff from a lot of teams. True it has not all been terrible. You have the new look Clippers make lots of pretty highlights. My pick to win the NBA Title the OKC Thunder have looked really good for the most part. It hasn't all been bad. Although with all the injures you wonder how that is going to impact things as we move forward. Already some big names have been sidelined, a few guys gone for the season altogether. You have to point to this schedule as a contributing factor.

That brings us to the Raptors who have been plagued by the injury bug as well. The significant injury being the one to Andrea Bargnani that re-occurred after a 6 game layoff the first time. His miraculous turnaround has been the lone positive that almost any Raptor fan has to concede, even the most jaded. The difference between this team with Bargnani and without is perhaps even more significant than Raptor teams of the past without Chris Bosh or Vince Carter. I mentioned earlier that Bryan Colangelo press conference. What he did try and sell to people was the fact of this young core the Raptors were building in order to be good in the future. That Core minus Bargnani has been off to a truly awful start. We have tried this season to provide you some answers as to why this might be. But excuses or reasons don't change the fact that you are not at least a bit worried about the future based on what we have seen so far. I have always attempted to be as honest as possible in this blog. For some people, that has labelled me with the tag of being negative. I choose to see it has being realistic and honest. If anyone can say there have not been some games this season where you were not totally disgusted with what you have seen, than that makes you one of the most loyal fans there is or you are lying.

That gets back to the original question that was asked to start this blog. Is it difficult to do this day after day. Yes it is difficult and in this season more than any other. But you have to keep that in prospective. Even on the worst day of doing what I do, there is far worse things in this world to do. I at the end of the day get to cover a sport and talk about something I truly love everyday. No matter what challenges that happen it never takes away that fact. The chance that I get to talk with all the various people I do. There are many blessings in what I do. You may read this blog or follow me on Twitter and get the idea that I am angry a lot of time. It really isn't the case. At my worst moment I am still doing something I am passionate about and care about. I have always attempted to do my job but never lose sight of what I feel as just a fan. Some days I do a better job of that than others. But each day I do my best to walk that line.

The Raptors struggles are depressing for everyone. Make no mistake about it. We all care from the folks in the organization, to the people that cover the team, to the fans who support this team. It is just that all of those different groups deal with that in many different ways. In terms of what I try and do here in the Dino Nation Blog, is cover what is going on bad or good. But also, in times when things are not as good, try to make things entertaining as well and even sometimes just attempt to make folks laugh and smile when they are in bad need of one.

Surprisingly even with the Raptors struggles this blog remains popular with people and the numbers of you have not dropped off from the start of the season, they have actually increased. That speaks to two things. One, I hope that means I am doing a good job providing you a product that you enjoy. Two, it speaks to the incredible loyalty that is shown to the Raptors as a whole and to the Dino Nation Blog through our loyal readers. In a season such as this that means so much. It is a challenge and it does have days where you are utterly frustrated and feel like you are living in the movie Groundhog Day. But that will always be out weighed by some simple facts. I love what I am doing no matter what. I love all of the wonderful people this blog has brought into my life. Many that I know and likely hundreds and thousands that I don't.

At the end of the day as bad as things may seem this is just a game. We love it and care about it passionately, but ultimately it does not determine our worth as people. Not as fans or even the players. Demar DeRozan is doing a campaign getting kids to read. If he scores two points or thirty-two he is making a difference for those children. If the Raptors win 60 games in a season or 6 it will not change that fact. Nor will it change that fact that I truly love what I am doing and all that I have done. If you have seen this post as complaining about things than you have missed the point. I am just trying to give you a window into the challenges this season has had not just for me but everyone. I can only do it from my own experiences but everyone is working under less the ideal circumstances. It is not an excuse just a fact.

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