Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

April 11th, 2015 | by mike (in boston)
Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition
business of sports

photo credit: Sportsnet


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. We’re heading in to a busy next few weeks in sports with the start of baseball, hockey and basketball playoffs, the Master’s, and the NFL draft. A lot of eyes and ears will be on sports over the next while and hopefully we’ll see some standout work from the media covering all of these events. Here’s a look back on the week that was in sports media. As always, if I missed something, drop a note in the comments to put it on the agenda for discussion. Also, if you’re a reader but not a commenter, consider being part of the discussion this week. Fresh voices keep things interesting.


5 Questions with … Stephen Brunt (Sportsnet)


As I wrote last week, I though the conversation between Brunt, McCown, and regular PTS guest Bob Ryan did a fantastic job of getting into the nuances of the Ortiz/Shaughnessy story. I was, however, left with many questions so I reached out to the one and only Stephen Brunt. He very kindly agreed to answer my questions. Here is our conversation.


Why did you give up your hall of fame ballot?


SB: I’ve talked about this and written about it at length, so will keep it brief here. It goes back to covering Mark McGwire’s first press conference at spring training the year after he broke Maris’s home run record. I happened to be there because the Cardinals shared a facility with the Expos. One of the reporters in the crowd asked a question about the andro story from the year before – and remember that the reporter who wrote that story was widely attacked by the baseball press. The hostility towards the guy who asked the question that day was obvious, and when McGwire dismissed the question as irrelevant, no one seemed to disagree.


I wrote a column asking what the difference as between Ben Johnson and McGwire, one a pariah, the other a hero. In the Olympic drug testing regimen, andro was a banned substance. And remember that the Bash Brothers emerged in Oakland the year after Seoul. The reaction to that column from readers was almost universally negative – they’re two different things, two different drugs, why are you trying to pull McGwire down, etc, etc. Made it clear to me that the absolute moral line regarding doping in sport was in fact completely arbitrary. Never mind the fact that ballplayers had been using amphetamines – which are clearly performance enhancing, and which were also banned under Olympic testing – for decades.


The moral panic that erupted around drugs in baseball (and not in any other sport….) came about because of the Congressional hearings, which were a politically-motivated sham. But it caused a whole bunch of baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes to suddenly find religion. “What should I tell my children?” they wrote. Well, what did you tell them when you and everyone else in the sport right up to the commissioner happily turned a blind eye and let the home runs fly?


So the short version….I chose not to participate in a straw poll focusing on who may or may not have used substances that were technically banned but not tested for in a sport in which everyone was complicit in their use. That was a personal decision. I simply gave up my ballot. I do think that it’s becoming increasingly clear what a farce the Hall of Fame voting has become. How can you have a Hall of Fame without Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in it? How can you assess players based on whether their numbers don’t quite look right, or on whether they had back acne or whether they seemed convincingly contrite, a la Andy Pettite?


Did you face any criticism from the BBWA or its members?


SB: Some grumbling, but nothing direct.


Bud Selig is regarded by some, myself included, to have dragged his feet and held baseball back on a number of issues (drug testing, pace of play, instant replay, umpire training, minor league wages). But, like Gary Bettman, he has done a great job making money for his owners in spite of these issues. Will we see a change of culture under Rob Manfred?


SB: Commissioners work for the owners. That’s always the bottom line. And if they deviate from the owners’ wishes, rightly or wrongly, they get get fired. As it turns out, once the baseball owners stopped obsessing about getting a salary cap, the sport began to thrive as a business, and Bud gets some of the credit for that – especially in areas like new media and the World Baseball Classic. Like Bettman, he was an expert at strong arming owners behind the scenes so that he knew the outcome of every vote before it happened. Manfred, presumably, has a slightly different set of allies, but I would think he’ll operate in the same way. My guess is that he will try to put his stamp on the game with further pace of play initiatives and with international expansion – which is good news for Montreal if they can get a stadium built.


The Players’ Tribune has been criticized for being in its essence a promotional vehicle for the players. On the other hand, it is also being praised for being a venue where athletes can tell their own stories in their own words without needing a journalist’s blessing. In your opinion, can the site be journalistically credible if there are no “neutral” voices?


SB: My main reaction to the Players Tribune so far is that the content is fascinating. The Bautista piece was extraordinarily thoughtful, and Ortiz’s story gave you a real insight into how players think. Of course it’s from their point of view, and it’s going to be self serving. When you ask people questions about themselves, they tend to be self-serving. Welcome to human nature. And I’m sure it will be buffed and polished and edited. But just take it for what it is – which is the way consumers should take everything they read or hear or see.


The notion that reporters – especially newspaper reporters – are the holy gatekeepers of the truth is just not…well…true. There’s no such thing as pure journalistic objectivity. Everyone brings their biases to the table when they write, and with columnists, that’s part of the attraction. They’re supposed to have a strong point of view. Personally, at this stage, I’m more interested in what David Ortiz has to say than what Dan Shaughnessey has to say on the subject of PED’s. Someone else might feel differently – as Bob Ryan clearly does. But the fact is, old media folks (and I include myself in that group) can’t just sit back and say this is the way it’s supposed to be because this is the way it has always been. They’ve used the same logic to dismiss bloggers. It’s a pick and choose world now. Everyone with a computer – or a phone – has access to the means of production. The rules have changed.


As a reader, the Ortiz/Shaughnessy dialogue prompted by the Players’s Tribune was great — I was able to get some insight into how Ortiz views the world, and I was able to get a journalistically sound response. Do you see a significant change in sports journalism if players, rather than writers, are the ones setting the topics for discussion? 


SB: I think that by and large, we don’t really hear from players anymore. Access is extremely restricted and they tend to stick to the script when they’re in a “scrum”. It’s very hard to have a normal conversation with an athlete in those circumstances – which is one of the reasons I love spring training, where there is far more informal contact. I’m not sure how far The Players’ Tribune model will go, but it is a place where they might feel more comfortable weighing in on subjects beyond the sound clip reaction to whatever happened in the game that night. And again, it will be self-serving, and you’ll have to judge for yourself what you believe. But you’re more likely to hear what a player actually thinks (the Bautista piece on players tribune being a good example – and he’s certainly intelligent enough to have written that himself) than you are when a bunch of people are sticking microphones in his face after a game.


Which of the 6 young Jays (Castro/Osuna/Norris/Sanchez/Pompey/Travis) do you see having the best season?


SB: I think that Pompey and Travis will be fine – not spectacular, but they shouldn’t have to be spectacular in this line up. If they play above average defence and have good at bats, that will be enough. Castro has ridiculous stuff, and he’ll be the closer sooner rather than later. But the two guys who I am most excited by long term are Norris and Osuna. They don’t just have great stuff – they understand the art of pitching in a way that most 20 or 21 year olds certainly don’t. That said, I would expect that some or all of the young players will hit bumps in the road this year, and may get sent down for a spell. That’s the rule rather than the exception in baseball.




Thanks to Stephen for taking the time to talk to me. I am fascinated by his point that there is no such thing as pure journalistic objectivity. It’s a bold and controversial and probably unpopular opinion. Of course he’s right that no human being is totally free of bias. But his argument that people want strong opinions and that this naturally pulls in a columnist’s bias is not something I had considered before. We tend to get very queasy with the idea that journalists have agendas — FOX News being a good cautionary tale — but maybe Stephen is right that we should make our peace with it and just focus on the work itself.


I guess my first reaction is that reporter bias makes it hard for the reader to separate out the truth in a story. I have to distill the facts from the agenda the piece is pushing. Take the Feschuk Kessel “uncoachable” story from training camp. The biggest obstacle for me was whether this piece was motivated by some beef Feschuk had with Kessel. The fact that the piece relied on anonymous sources substantiated that concern. All of this feels like too much work for me as a reader. But maybe there is no actual alternative, and any pretense of pure objectivity on a story like that one would be fictional or deceptive.


I’ll have to do some more thinking about this. Over to you: have we set impossibly high standards on journalistic objectivity? How are you enjoying the pick and choose world of sports journalism?


Blundell Stumbles out of the Gate


TorontoMike first reported that Blundell’s first month ratings with males 24-54 remained flat (4.4) when compared to Brady & Walker’s final month. One way to look at this is to say “at least he didn’t lose anyone” but that’s not really accurate, since the news of B&W’s demise was announced in January. Unsurprisingly, their February numbers (4.4) were down compared to their January score (4.9). So the better comparison is to January, and here we see Blundell’s numbers below B&W. To make matters worse, March is a busy month where historically radio numbers are on the rise. For example, March 2014 B&W were above an 8, which was an improvement on their February numbers. Add to that the fact that Blundell debuted on one of the busiest sports days on the Canadian calendar, Trade Deadline Day, and the picture does not look good for Dean and his backers. David Shoalts has more detailed numbers in his piece, and though they differ from TorontoMike’s, they paint a similar picture.


All of that said, let me make my usual disclaimer: I don’t believe Numeris’ sample sizes generate statistically reliable data for radio. The most straightforward analysis of these numbers is this: no one with a PPM in the male 25-54 demo changed his AM listening habits from February to March. For all we know, droves of people switched over to Dean, just not anyone with a PPM. For all we know, tons of women without PPMs tuned in to be shocked by what Dean thinks about them. Further, given that people with PPMs are likely already established radio listeners, there is good reason to think these numbers couldn’t possibly tell us very much about switchers. (For the record, if there had been a big numbers spike I would have dismissed that too. For all we know, that spike could reflect a change in the listening habits of a handful of people, and thus would not indicate that Blundell Mania was spreading like wildfire through the streets of Toronto.)


Let’s game out where we go from here. According to all my sources, Rogers was expecting a big Blundell bump based on listener curiosity. That’s a reasonable thing for them to have assumed. Dean has a high profile in this town. I reckon they were also banking on being able to sell at higher rates based on that bump. This changes all of that, and will make life harder for some people at the FAN.


What this doesn’t change is the way forward for this incarnation of Blundell & Co. The spike that didn’t happen would have been short-lived anyway. They still need to find a way to be a credible sports show that mixes in traditional guy talk. There’s dozens such shows all over the U.S. and many of them find an audience. The problem here is that Richards has claimed a big chunk of that market. One option for Dean is to focus on local politics. The Rob Ford saga kindled more of an interest in what goes on at city hall, and there may be 1010 or 640 listeners who could be wooed over to 590 with some bike lane and pot hole talk. That would be a way of increasing your audience, though it wouldn’t be the tasty young demo that advertisers crave.


Overall, I’m not in a position to judge how close this result is to a “worst case scenario” for Rogers. Talk radio is a capricious animal and chemistry is hard to concoct. TSM and I will be reaching out to our sources to find out how this news is being absorbed over at Rogers HQ. So, in the meantime, I’ll turn that question over to you: is there room for growth for Blundell & Co without blowing up the show? What segments do you like/don’t like? Who is your favourite member of & Co?


Quick Hits


David Shoalts continues his controversial role as a media critic for the Globe (15% owned by BCE) by reporting that the first round of the playoffs will proceed without Ron MacLean performing any hosting duties. Here’s Shoalt’s take on the decision: “With Rogers broadcasting eight first-round series, Stroumboulopoulos will be carrying a heavy load. While the expected decision to not bring in MacLean to host some playoffs series seems curious, it may be designed to lessen the pressure on Stroumboulopoulos. During his first season as the main host, Stroumboulopoulos showed himself to be a polished broadcaster. But it was evident he is not as well-versed in hockey minutiae as MacLean, who eats and sleeps the sport. And this, combined with MacLean’s formidable skill and popularity as a host, might spark unkind comparisons in the minds of viewers if the pair were to appear on alternating broadcasts.” If this is the logic over at Rogers, I don’t get it. Choice is good for the consumer. If some people really like Ron, why withhold that from them?


Sarah Spain is a sports anchor for a radio station in Chicago and has written a very compelling piece for ESPN responding to a string of recent sexist comments by male sports media. She chronicles the kind of casually misogynistic talk that makes its way to air or to sports Twitter and nicely explains its impact on women who care about sports. “For female listeners, it’s not about being uptight or not getting the joke, it’s about not wanting to have to put up with sexism in order to get a daily sports fix.” As this relates to Toronto sports, even if you don’t buy the egalitarian basis of her argument, you’d think that someone would recognize that having zero female radio co-hosts and zero female sports columnists (apologies to Rosie, who is not full-time in sports) might be cutting you off from a potentially valuable segment of the market. 


With the Jays home opener a few days away, Brendan Kennedy (whose quality work has been appearing in this space more and more often) reminds us of the fact that the only statue outside of the stadium is of Ted Rogers. No Alomar, no Carter, no Stieb. Just Ted.


BCE president Kevin Crull made news for trying to meddle with the news wing of the company. He would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for journalists doing their jobs. His apology was not enough to save his job, as he has been let go from BCE. Good move by Bell, but the damage has already been done.


The Ryerson Review of Journalism has a nice profile on TSN’s Rick Westhead.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • TSN Drive could well have had the best week since the show started but I’d never know. Their iTunes feed has been dead since April 3rd. Good job guys, good effort.


  • Tim & Sid recorded an old-school hour long podcast. I was pretty excited to hear them go back to the solid sports take format in which they once thrived. After 15 minutes of them talking about themselves, I had to turn it off. Mugging for the camera may work on TV, but it makes for terrible radio.


  • Episode 5 of TSN’s Scott MacArthur’s Blue Jays Report podcast is simply awesome: Griff on the Expos, a hard-hitting interview with ex-Jay hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, and a 1-on-1 with AA.


  • Every time I read something by Shi Davidi I am reminded how good he is, and how much I would love listening to him host JaysTalk. He’s smart, level-headed, rational, measured, and fair. He also seems like a nice person.


  • Barry Davis is doing good work for Sportsnet’s Jays coverage. His interview with Devon Travis’ dad was excellent.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  1. Toronto Mike says:

    Shoalts and I published the same numbers for Blundell, I just went with the traditional 25-54 demo and he went with 18-49.

    I also beat him by 12 hours. 🙂

    Nice interview with Brunt. I’ve got to get him on Toronto Mike’d.

  2. Sam says:

    Great roundtable last night, with the possible exception of Grange’s meanderings (which aren’t as bad as before). Reminds me of why I tune in, or more correctly the level the show ought to be at on a more regular basis.

    For longer time listeners, I smiled when I heard Bob’s thoughts on Mike Weir. Don’t want to ruin it for you if you listen to it later, so I’ll leave it at that.

    From MIB’s article:

    “Good job, good effort” on TSN podcasts… exactly.

    Agree Blue Jays report is great. Look forward to professional, high quality, no bullshit analysis of the Jays.

  3. matt says:

    I am not enjoying the new morning show at all. It’s unintelligent sports talk. The attempts at humour are failed and quite frankly is boring. I think Dean and Co aren’t giving anyone whay they want. He’s not shocking or edgy enough to keep his personal fan base and the show isn’t giving the sports junkies enough. It’s clear his knowledge of sports and ability to break them down in any capacity is minimal. Of all the people in Toronto Sports media, Dean likely is the weakest of any in terms of sports knowledge and to me, that matters.

  4. Dogpounder says:


    “or more correctly the level the show ought to be at on a more regular basis.”

    @MIB I think Beirness has been great when cohosting Drive. Should happen more often.

    Link to BlueJaysReport is dead. For me anyways.

    Thanks for doing this.

  5. Toronto Mike says:

    I see now Shoalts has Dean’s M25-54 number at 5.4. In fact, it’s 4.4 and Shoalts made a typo. I’ve let him know.

  6. Pete says:

    When categorizing Blundell’s show, I wouldn’t say it’s been disastrous, but moreso unnecessary. It’s evident when listening to his show that it doesn’t hold a candle to the Brady & Walker show, who were settling into their own at the time slot. Rogers is chasing a different demographic, but in complete Rogers fashion, completely overlooked (purposely shunned?) their long-time listenership.

    I’ve suggested before that Blundell’s sports knowledge is passable, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts (what listeners turning into a *gasp* sports show really want), he has a steep learning curve. In Toronto, you shouldn’t openly on air confidently state, “Nazem Kadri…drafted 9th overall by the Leafs…”; “…the Jays’ off-season signing of Marco Estrada…” And I agree with the comment from Shoalts’ article that guys like Friedman and Francis think he is a joke. The interviews Blundell conducts with them pales in comparison to the ones Brady & Walker did.

    My prediction: The “& Co.” portion of the show title will give Blundell enough rope over the next 12 to 18 months to go through a couple of co-hosts to see if the show can strike its right cord. My guess is George Rusic (who’s schtick in the morning is embarrassing) is gone by the time NHL pre-season rolls around. Send him back with Sammut where he doesn’t have to act like a try hard.

  7. Daniel says:

    The Ted Rogers statue thing is so insulting to the fan base. The guy didn’t even like baseball. Move it to the Rogers campus and put one up of the Carter home run.

    Rogers is so tone deaf it’s amazing.

  8. Robert says:


    Try this link to BlueJays report:

    I really enjoy it but it loses something when it’s not posted for 3 or 4 days after it’s recorded.

  9. Aaron says:

    I agree with all your points this week – especially your low-hanging fruit.

    1) TSN Radio – someone is really dropping the ball with their lack of iTunes updates. With T&S off the air and me not being a huge fan of either B&W or Dean Blundell, I have a need for more podcasts and while I subscribe to TSN Radio podcasts it’s rare that I’m going to download a podcast that’s a week old. I’m a potential listener who isn’t being given the opportunity to try.

    2) Love T&S – their online podcast was horrific.

    3) For a network that doesn’t cover the Jays, TSN does a pretty decent job of covering it with Scott Mac and crew. The Blue Jays report is a great podcast.

    4) Shi Davidi is awesome

    5) Barry Davis is doing great as sideline for the Jays. Now if we could only replace Buck/Tab who are so insufferable and nauseating to listen to for 3 hours.

  10. Don River says:

    There’s really no such thing as journalistic objectivity. All you can hope for is some level of fairness for new reports, and informed opinion for columnists. Though the lines have become blurred now that the sports media is as much (or more) about entertainment as journalism.

    As for a statue, it would be most fitting to have one of Paul Godfrey outside the Dome that represents how he scammed the city and province into creating a debt-ridden monument to himself.

    And that was six questions with Brunt.

  11. Darrell says:

    Every team in pro sports has pluses and minuses and no single team has every issue solved and no problems whatsoever. Just find with the Sportsnet and FAN 590 crew is that you are never allowed to say that the Blue Jays have any criticism warranted. If you do express you have some concerns anywhere about the team, you are treated like you are dealing with a 5 year old as the person blocks you on Twitter. Are the Blue Jays a good team? Yes! Are they are great team and a lock for the World Series? HECK NO! There are some issues on this team, but everything on this roster is not cookies + cream, no matter what the Rogers Sportsnet crew tell you.

    I agree about the Ted Rogers statue being ridiculous being outside the stadium. To put Rogers outside before Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar? INSULTING!

    I try not to listen to Dean Blundell in the morning although when I hear him referring to the male guests as “brother” – I keep thinking he is Hulk Hogan.

  12. Phil says:

    Have to admit. I like Blundell and Co. The show is growing on me. That said, I occasionally listened to Blundell when he was on the Edge, so this wasn’t really a hard transition for me – I was excited for it.

  13. FMW says:

    Fan590 went from the strongest top to bottom lineup for my personal taste. To really dropping off all together. I don’t listen to the new morning show at all, which then brings me away from the habit of putting on the radio for Blair (who I like). T&S was “can’t miss” radio for me, but Brady and Walker just seem so generic in comparison.

    Talk radio in general has always been a weird “white men only” club. There not just no women at local radio for the two sports radio stations. But there’s nobody of colour, period. Kinda strange. CBS overnight (where the Fan simulcast) has Amy Lawrence, which I think is the best of the CBS overnight bunch. Way better than the guy with a throat full of nails.

    Ted Rogers statue is a great example of the tone-deafness of the Blue Jays. What service does it do, is it an attraction? No. Does it show respect and promote the teams history? Nope. It’s only there to serve to the ego of the Rogers camp. If he wont something, anything with the Jays. I might understand it. But had nothing to do with a winning culture or time period.

    The first week of Jays talk has been pre-empted more times than not (having to leave NY for Bal/ early games than going straight to PTS) It would have been cool for TSNradio to counter them with a strong Jays post game show. They do it for the Leafs when they don’t have the rights. WGR did it for the Bills for years when they didn’t have the rights. I’d love to have a counter program to Wilner Jaystalk. Shi would be a better host, heck I enjoy Blair day after post game call-ins WAY more than Wilner freak show.

  14. yaz says:

    The huge B&W ratings from last year were likely an anomaly as noted. Blundell didn’t get the bump but with his long history he has the potential for more upside. Rogers will likely give him a 2 year window before making any changes. Fan makes no effort to promote the ‘Co’ part of Blundell’s show ( and why would they, the Producer from B&W now an on-air ‘personality’ along with Rusic? ) so there will be less harm when they inevitably replace one or both of them.

    Mike Richards playing some dirty pool – Dreger on about 7:55 then continues, sans commercials or breaks until 8:03 eliminating the chance for someone to flip over and see who Blundell has on. I like it. I always wonder why the morning shows stick to such a timed regimen. Advertisers like it, so what. Why wouldn’t they break from the tedium of endlessly reciting the fing scores 3 times an hour for 3 hours? And traffic and weather. F off already. Keep listeners on their toes with unscheduled breaks.

  15. yaz says:

    @aaron I agree re TSN Podcasts. Naylor has nothing up for the week and Richards has just given up on Podcasts entirely – , nothing since March. I use the link on their website but doing it every day is a data killer, but maybe that is what Bell wants.

  16. Daniel S says:

    I have been a loyal listener to Fan since DAY 1. I have stuck with them through good and bad. This week I could take no more…I turned off the Fan morning show..Blundell and Co is UNLISTENABLE!!!!! The childish humour, annoying sound effects & idiotic comments about everything from the “fixed NHL draft” to his inane comments on the Jays. Rusic is an ass kissing moron who only makes the show worse. On Friday…I changed the station to 640 to escape.
    I knew nothing about Blundell before the Fan and was oen to something different. If they keep him on the radio I see no chance for succces.

  17. JC Seguin says:

    Very surprised that there has been no mention of TSN’s horrible coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament. With the “Rogers-Bell Canadian cable Sports Monopoly”, not allowing TBS, ESPN, FOX 1 and NBC SPORTS in Canada it was sad coverage for Canadians especially on Saturday when there was no CBS option…Gaurdeep and MOPETE brought a “community cable” type feel….The “international” feed with distant cameras, old graphics, and only some sideline reporting was embarrising for Canadian viewers.

  18. Nan Young Lee says:

    Maybe Blundell’s numbers will go up now that the Jays broadcasts have started. The following link has some numbers about how the start of baseball season helped sports radio stations in the US last year:

  19. Neil says:

    Journalistic integrity is out the window and this is caused by the massive dollars that purchases rights. When the broadcasters closes a trillion dollar rights deal the broadcaster becomes slave to content creator. As viewers we then become subject to a large degree of sensorship. Sensorship is a gesture of defence for the product in which they purchased and the league it was purchased from. Rights holders often fail to report on the negativity of their product, Sports media should be taken with a grain of salt. What Kevin Crull now former Bell media president did to cause his demise is certainly not foreign. Media companies sensor news all the time The diffetence with Kevin Crull is that he got caught.

  20. Andrew says:

    The roundtable cast on Friday was as good as it gets, when I saw the line-up I made up to tune my radio to 590 at 5 p.m. Sadly, as @sam said this should be the norm, not the exception. Would of liked for some talk of the Raptors – a team that is playoff bound but has been inconsistent of late. And with Grange and Friendman – two guys who know hoops – on the panel you would of thought the conversation would go land on that team at somepoint. I’m glad we’re no longer talking about hockey, but can we not transition over to the Raptors (and heck, I’ll take more Jays too).

  21. Alex says:

    With opening day and last week of reg season, it was going to be heavy on baseball and nhl.

    Surprised we got another segment on the players tribune. Jeter must love all this free pub.

    I will be curious if there is a third person w bob and brunt on monday at the dome.

  22. Jake says:

    Blundell is irrelevant on a sports station in 2015. Maybe 30 years ago this would have worked. He will take his golden parachute and fade away eventually. It’s just a question of when.

    Stephen Brunt!!!! As his answers show, the guy is a man among boys in this town when it comes to sports analysis. Great stuff.

  23. Trevor says:

    For the first time in over a decade I have stopped listening to The Fan in the morning….I even suffered through The Brady and Lang period without changing the dial. I thought Brafy and Walker were excellent, both with a tremendous sports knowledge and great chemistry. Blundell and Co is terrible. It fails to be interesting, informative or funny. The interviews with guests are at a superficial level and the attempts to be funny with them are just silly nonsense. George seems to be a fish out of water in the morning. Is he required to say Dean’s name in every sentence? The producer is the best guy in the show…

    I gave it a chance and I am done. I tried 1050 again, and it was more if the same. I now listen to MLB network radio….The Leadoff spot is by no means the best show on the channel but it beats the local content by a longshot!

  24. Peter says:

    I barely listen to Blundell and Company. A long time listener to the Fan 590 morning shows, rightly or wrongly, I have let Blundell’s reputation precede him and don’t want to be a party to an inevitable disaster. The very few times I have mustered the ‘open mindedness’ to listen, I get turned off by the creepy, perverted ‘heheheh’ laughter that, at the very least, comes across like they are trying too hard, which validates my instinct and causes a quick channel switch.

  25. Brad McLean says:

    Only problem with The Blue Jays Report is the fools at TSN Radio screwing it up. They hijacked it for Saturday content even though recorded on Wednesday or Thursday and hasn’t been getting posted until Monday so it ends up being 5 days behind. Not to mention the random stingers layed over top of the talking. Production at TSN is atrocious.

  26. Brad McLean says:

    Arden Zwelling and Ben Nicholson Smith have starte a Blue Jays podcast for sportsnet( and off course it is produced perfectly and posted promptly) and the first few episodes have been very good. It is called “At The Letters”

  27. Claire A Fye says:

    Stephen Brunt is a smart guy, very thoughtful when discussing pretty much anything. So it shouldn’t be surprising that his observations would get you to see things in a way you hadn’t before. I find it surprising that you wouldn’t have seen before that “pure journalistic objectivity” doesn’t exist. The example you used, Fox News, has an institutional bias and it is manifested by the people they hire. With rare exceptions ( Juan Williams, Alan Colmes), Fox hires people with the same views. That doesn’t normally happen. So what you end up with is, for lack of a better term, the individual bias of a columnist. I think that’s why you’ll hear people say ” I hate Damien Cox and/or Steve Simmons.” It just means you disagree with them. People like Brunt because they agree with him. Although it’s interesting to note that of late more people are tending to dislike Brunt and I think it’s because they disagree with his recent opinions on the Blue Jays or whatever.
    As for Numeris Mike, I know this is one of your pet peeves. It may have some merit but it is the best system available. The old ballot method just tended to reflect what people THOUGHT they were listening to. Numeris’ problem is sample size. The process is pretty elaborate and that means less people are likely to volunteer to be monitored. If they could simplify the system, they might get better, more accurate results. Might…

  28. Claire A Fye says:

    Should add, MSNBC follows the Fox News model of hiring people with the same political views. The late Sun News did the same here but I can’t think of any others

  29. Dan says:

    Excellent stuff as always.

    As far as journalistic integrity, I rarely read/trust anything that comes from MSM in Canada anymore. With two massive companies owning nearly all sporting teams/venues and all the media outlets, I find it very hard to believe everyone is being independent like they should be.

    There’s no need to apologize to Rosie. She is one of the greatest trolls/hacks in Toronto along with Steve Simmons and Damien Cox. The Star needs to stop letting her write about sports and stick with whatever her regular beat so she can bore those readers.

    I’ve never been able to listen to any TSN Radio shows due to their horrible mismanagement of their iTunes feed. I want whole shows, posted by the hour, not cut up interviews and segments. The only constant thing I download from is TSN FC, but for some reason, they randomly killed the existing feed the other week and posted a brand new one.

    Has there been any word of what Tim & Sid will be doing now? I’ll know they’ll never return to their great days at The Score, but anything has to be better than what they produced on The Fan over the past three years.

    @JC Seguin: I’m not sure what you were watching, but the TSN international feed for March Madness was produced by ESPN, a little company who knows what they are doing. I didn’t watch the studio show, so I don’t know anything about the talking heads but there was nothing horrible about the game itself.

  30. Darrell says:

    Anyone would be better than Wilner, hosting Jays Talk. I’d love to see, if they are insistent on a Sportsnet personality, to see someone like Barry Davis do it.

  31. cash says:

    Blondell – Andrew Krystal redux
    Brady/Walker – boring
    PTS – I’ve noticed some improvement recently.

  32. Nan Young Lee says:

    “Adam Proteau @Proteautype · 20h
    Don Cherry trying to pronounce Max Pacioretty’s name is going to be the basis for a new species’ language in the next Star Wars movies.”

  33. Daniel says:

    Probably unfair to judge Blundell based on ratings for his first month.

    But i DO think The Fan messed with probably the best lineup they ever had. Tim & Sid really brought something to their day. Feels like they have less of an edge on TSN Radio now for sure. Really surprised they didn’t just stick with that lineup for years longer.

    I’m not sure what I think of Blundell yet. If you’re going to give Dean Blundell a show, then I think you might as well make it more of a guy talk show and less of a sports talk show. Blundell can definitely do that, and I doubt anyone really cares what Blundell’s sports takes are.

  34. Karl says:

    In case anyone was wondering what Brunt’s bias is when it comes to player-management relations:

    “Everyone…has access to the means of production.” S. Brunt


  35. GreyCountyMike says:

    Good on Stephen Brunt for honestly describing the modern-day journalist. He’s definitely a man who can look himself in the mirror.

  36. mike (in boston) says:

    Claire A Fye – interesting comment on the relationship between columnist credibility and one’s own opinions. I would like to think that the distinction “credible/not credible” is separate from the distinction “agree with him/disagree with him” but maybe that’s not true. I can certainly think of guys who I don’t think are credible but it’s also true I tend not to agree with them on very much.

    But take Simmons for example: I don’t agree with most of what he says but I have never really questioned his credibility. By contrast, most PPP writers find Simmons completely biased. This is due to their ongoing fight about hockey analytics. I don’t have a horse in that race, so I find it easy to regard Simmons as credible irrespective of his anti-analytics takes. So maybe it does just come down to individual preference. I find that a little sad.

    One question I have about Brunt’s “pick and choose” analysis of modern journalism is whether this was always the case, and some of us are just too young to remember. I’ll see if I can get someone to talk about whether journalistic standards have shifted over the last 30 years.

  37. Pete says:

    So the Fan’s new NHL Insider at 7:15 is no longer sponsored by Sisley Honda, who seemed to have been sponsoring the time slot for at least over a year. It’s now Audi.

    Is it a mere coincidence that the change occurred just after the initial Blundell & Co. ratings came out? Or are we seeing (hearing) the fallout of the downed ratings.

    (Makes me wonder if there’s been a fallout from their [Rogers’] NHL deal as well.)

  38. Claire A Fye says:

    @Mike (in Boston)- I think you are different from most of the posters here and most of the casual fans in that you actually study these issues. I think the casual fan is a lot less discerning. By definition, fans have opinions and I think they tend to judge so called experts by whether they agree with them or not. At lest that’s been my experience. We all have access now to so much more information and opinion than in the past and I think that’s a big part of this. The Simmons vs the analytics geeks is a good example. Simmons is a “hack” because he disagrees. To me it’s that simple…but I could be wrong.

  39. Curt says:

    I like Brunt as a PTS co-host even though I don’t always agree with what he says (e.g., his constant Jays boosterism). As a writer however he is now, as Hunter Thompson put it, a hired geek. Any semblance of objectivity went out the window when he went to Rogers and became a “torch bearer”. Maybe that lack of objectivity is the norm today, but I don’t take him nearly as seriously as I used to.

  40. Greg says:

    I don’t see Brunt as a torch bearer but to the extent others do, it is a direct result of companies such as Rogers trying to emulate ESPN without having all the right ingredients (i.e. Rogers owns sports teams and not just the media channels that report on them).

    ESPN has shown itself to be a model of how to structure a media empire that mixes TV, online programming and sports journalism. It was first on the market, is the giant of the industry, owns no teams and is owned by a company whose CEO touts innovation and technology above all else. Along with the difficulties of the traditional newspaper business, this has allowed ESPN to build an impressive roster of reporters, journalists and columnists.

    Sportsnet and TSN can try and model their business after ESPN (e.g. get talent by hiring Brunt, Blair, Grange, Cox, etc) but the other factors that make ESPN so successful are simply not there in Canada.

  41. Sam says:

    Hayes was unlistenable at the 12:00 start of Leafs Lunch. I had to turn it off. He just kept saying a variety of “Shanahan has total control / Nonis was a dead man walking as soon as Shanahan was hired”.
    Alright we get it buddy, how about some, you know, discussion about it. Not just barking the same thing over and over.

  42. Poker Guy says:

    I didn’t tune in until after 2pm. After the presser, Wheeler was there with Naylor. Was Hayes having a love fest Shanahan moment?

  43. Sam says:

    Poker guy
    I would say he was just being really repetitive, and these guys have been banging on the same talking points for a long time. I d just had enough

  44. dogpounder says:

    Are the Raptors still a franchise in Toronto?

  45. Drumanchor says:

    @ Sam,

    I couldn’t agree more. I have always thought that Hayes is a very talented sports radio personality. However, the fact that he constantly repeats his talking points over and over gets tiring rather quickly. Let’s not forget, though, that he is still pretty young, yet handles himself and the co-hosts quite well. I’m assuming with age and experience, he will improve.

  46. yaz says:

    @Dan I was having similar iTunes problems – Mike Richards down since Mar. 31, Naylor down since Apr 3. Bryan Hayes show is inconsistent at posting as is Leafs Lunch though I find Leafs Lunch better than most. Fan 590 top to bottom is pretty good at posting to iTunes within half hour of an hour’s segment end.

    Discovered the problem yesterday: ‘TSN Drive With Dave Naylor’ no longer posts to iTunes, you have to subscribe to a different listing: ‘TSN Drive’. ‘Mike Richards in The Morning’ no longer posts, you have to search for ‘Mike Richards’ a different listing.

  47. Kamlesh says:

    Reading this Dave Shoalts piece I’ve concluded that he might be one of the few sportswriters who actually try to write well and not just fast. The rhythm of the words within the sentence, and sentences within paragraphs, the quotes smoothly stitched into the column, and the actual research and thought done, for his articles is usually way above the standards of others, especially most of those on the SN/TSN websites.

    Can’t ESPN find anyone better to work with Dan Shulman than Kruk and Shilling. They’ve been pretty mediocre so far. Luckily the BBC’s latest masterpiece, “Wolf Hall”, has been a welcome respite on Sunday nights.

  48. mbt says:

    Thanks very interestin blog!

  49. Nan Young Lee says:

    Stephen Brunt would be the ideal member of the media to interview the author or write about a just released book, “The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch”. Just in time for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.

    Harvard’s Steven Pinker seems very impressed with the book:

    Steven Pinker ‏@sapinker Apr 13
    “The Professor in the Cage”–a brilliant new book on ritual violence by Jonathan Gottschall.

  50. Sam says:

    Agree on Hayes he can be good he needs to pause more and think. Obviously mccown is the master at this.

  51. Neil says:

    Can anyone tell me why ESPN allow it’s journalist to appear on a competitors program. In saying this I’m referring to Darren Rovell always a guest on PTS. I think this is strange given ESPN’s 20% stake in tsn. Unless Rovell was somewhere else when he agreed to be a weekly guest on PTS and is obligated to fulfill the contract. Other than that I think ESPN journalist should strictly be used on TSN Radio/TV shows.

  52. Dan says:

    ESPN doesn’t care about Canadian networks and the “competition” up here. Their very small stake in TSN doesn’t mean anything when it comes to their journalists appearing on programming.

    ESPN people appear on The Dan Patrick Show all the time, a show that is actually real competition, yet they don’t seem to care about that either.

  53. Neil says:


    Totally disagree. Bell Media have an issue with this as they have an 80% stake in tsn. I would think that partnering with Espn would provide some form of exclusivity and leverage on the competitor, as ESPN has all sorts of great journalist which ultimately would equate to more lucrative sponsorships for segments with espn guests. In terms of caring, espn is a global brand and absolutely does care about competitors it has in markets where they have interest regardless of the size of the interest. Espn will only invest where they see profitability. Espn at one point wanted to rebrand TSN to Espn canada befor that was shot down.

  54. Curt says:

    One thing TSN has to do is change their ****ing Sports Centre music. Even ESPN, who provided TSN with the ultra-annoying da da da, da da da thing, don’t use it anymore and haven’t for years. Change it up, man!

  55. Kamlesh says:

    NEVER change the ****ing Sports Centre music. I don’t care if ESPN stopped using it. They make mistakes sometimes, like employing Dick Vitale.

  56. (Another) Andrew says:

    On Tuesday Bob sounded like his ego was bruised over Brendan Shanahan’s cancelled appearance with that whole (paraphrasing) “I’ll be here after you’re gone” routine. Sheesh.

  57. Darrell says:

    The FAN 590 is the biggest bunch of pricks I ever spoke to in my life. According to Andrew Walker, you are not allowed to bash his show or anything associated with the FAN.

    Tried giving the FAN the benefit of the doubt after all these idiot moves lately but other than Tim + Sid, what else was good on the station Monday to Friday?

    TSN Radio needs improvement perhaps but they are not living in a marshmallow world where they cannot accept criticism.

  58. Sam in Scarb says:

    This by no way bashing but Brady & Walker are extremely boring in the afternoon.I do not listen anymore and I tell anyone else i know not to listen.Listen only if you make note of the advertisers and make sure you never buy anything off of them.
    That in by no way is bashing just a lifestyle choice.

  59. Alex says:

    As discussed here before, ESPN policy usedto be that ESPN talent could not appear on a station ifthere was an espn radio affiliate in the same market. That was why, years ago, Rovell and Dan Shulman, most notably, disappeared from PTS rotation.

    Theymade a big deal about Rovell returning a few weeks ago.

  60. Neil says:

    TSN should rebrand to Espn Canada and rebrand the radio stations i.e Espn Toronto 1050

  61. yaz says:

    One wonders if ESPN had anything to do with TSN’s failure to win the NHL Canadian rights.

  62. Neil says:


    it is very possible that Gary’s strained relationship with TSN’s cousins south of the border may have had something to do with the change in nhl rights holders hear in Canada, Though I also think that Rogers has the upper hand in terms of subscribers in the wireless, cable tv and internet space Not to mention the fan is the most listen to sports radio station in the nation. Put it all together and Gary probably felt better about Rogers ability to push the products through all it’s properties. Although Rogers has lost a lot of ground in the telecommunications space to Bell and Telus Rogers was at one point way ahead of it’s competitors as far as TV, Internet, and Cell phone goes, as they were the first entrant in these segments.

  63. Don River says:

    “They make mistakes sometimes, like employing Dick Vitale.”

    He’s as big of a hack as Mike Wilner and Norm Rumak, but at least those guys don’t get high profile gigs. Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas were pure gold during the NCAA Tournament, but it turned into amateur hour when Vitale replaced Bilas.

  64. Andrew says:

    I’ve listened to Sarah Spain’s show a couple of times and it’s pretty good. It’s had a couple of different time slots on the weekend and that makes listening a little more hit and miss for me. While her article is bang on regarding the casual use of language, she doesn’t necessarily do herself any good when her self written Twitter bio uses the word “amazon.” As a descriptive term, not where she likes to shop. And to finish this up on an appropriately sexist way, if you like amazons, Sarah is the girl for you.

  65. Neil says:


    Radio stations particularly sports radio stations are simply platforms used for brand extention. Fan 590 is all about promoting Rogers and it’s properties. They sensor criticism because it’s not an act of promotion. Mike Wilner is a classic example of media sensoring free speech, If you have anything bad to say about the Jays he will either A. Not let you on the air or B. Hang up on you if you get past the screener and have anything negative to say.

  66. Darrell says:

    I accept that there are some good things and some bad things about sports; just as there is in life. I just find it so ridiculous lately listening to the FAN because every last host never criticizes the team.

    I don’t care what team or league you follow – your favorite team? You can find some good and some bad with the team.

    A team that has not made the playoffs in 22 years and 48 years (Leafs), there are certainly criticism that can be had.

    Thanks Neil.

  67. (Another) Andrew says:

    Looks like a Rogers Dream Team panel for the Wings/Lightning game tonight: Damien Cox, John Shannon, and Doug MacLean.

  68. Neil says:

    1. Noone in toronto the biggest city in canada cares if the leafs are not in the playoff, people in toronto are not hockey fans they are leaf fans. This takes away a massive audience. it will be a long time befor the leafs are in the playoffs. Rogers has to hope that the league riggs the draft in their favor.
    2. Subscriber loss. Rogers and other cable\satellite providers are heneraging subscribers, those same subscribers are cutting cost and therefore will neither add extra money to their wireless service for gamecentre live.
    3. Rogers is the most hated service provider of any kind of service in canada

    NHL package may end up being a bigger bust than Shomi.

  69. Neil says:

    Above are three reasons why the NHL package will fail.

  70. mickey b says:

    Had to laugh at another Andrew’s comment there. Those guys are going to break down game action and critique play and players? That’s hilarious. Why does rogers continue to embarass themselves with their production and personalities. I guess we know the exact reason that George hasn’t learned anything at all about hockey this year, having talk to those “experts”. I thought he’d get better but wow he’s clueless and continues to look like a fish out of water. Wow rogers is being stubborn on this one and not cutting their losses on George as host. Seeing as they’re still letting him host, the nails been hit exactly on the head as to why they’re minimizing maclean.

  71. Sperk says:

    The Dream Team comment is hilarious! I agree that I am bewildered why Rogers insists on putting on not one, not two but three such unlikeable personalities all at the same time. It’s like they are begging us to turn the channel at intermission. I guess Kyprios had the night off as he could have made it a dream foursome!

  72. Doug Murray says:

    Wow, does Bob have a hate on for Shanahan! What did Shanahan do, stiff him for an interview? Petulant little boy.

  73. Neil says:

    Wow Keith Pelley leaving Rogers Media!!!! MIB I suspect you’ll have something on this in the next seen and heard. Toronto Blue jays from a Management/executive perspecive could possibly undergo a historic front office change this Summer. Pelly is out to become the CEO of the European Tour, Beeston will retire after the season, Alex may be turfed if the jays don’t make the playoff and John Gibbons will be turfed with Alex if they don’t win. When was the last time a sports team had changes to this magnitude if all these titles don’t belong to one person. CEO, President, GM and coach. One week it’s the Bell Media president a week later it’s Rogers President.

  74. mike (in boston) says:

    hi folks – I’m off this weekend for scheduled maintenance. See you all next week.

  75. (Another) Andrew says:

    I guess Kyprios had the night off as he could have made it a dream foursome!

    Kyprios was on CBC’s coverage of the Senators-Canadiens game at the same time the Dream Team was on Sportsnet. I wasn’t paying close attention but I think they were about 20 seconds into their coverage when Stroumboulopoulos was about to talk – I think he was going to ask Kyprios a question – when Kyprios just jumped in and spoke over Strombo. Old habits die hard.

    Wow, does Bob have a hate on for Shanahan! What did Shanahan do, stiff him for an interview? Petulant little boy

    Did Bob have another go at him last night? See my comment earlier in the thread (April 15 2.42pm).

  76. Don River says:

    Bob not only had another go at Shanahan, he also said anyone would have to be crazy to take a hockey management job with MLSE.

    Bob obviously still gets ratings, but he has been slowly turning into Abe Simpson, repeating old stories ad nauseam, and yelling at clouds. I wonder if Rogers would ever become fed up and pull the plug.

  77. Alex says:

    If bob is abe simpson, ken reid is poochie.

  78. Not that Chris says:

    “Bob not only had another go at Shanahan, he also said anyone would have to be crazy to take a hockey management job with MLSE.”

    I believe, while he may have said MLSE, he was specifically talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs. I tend to agree with that statement. The past few decades is a graveyard filled with hockey management executives who have come here, and failed. I don’t know if all of the blame can be put on those executives, either. Some have been bad, some good, but the one thing they all have in common is; ownership has never been patient enough to allow someone to stick it out long-term so that there could be consistency within the organization. It’s why there’s no “Maple Leaf” way of doing things. Every 4-5 years someone is shown the door, and the new ‘Savior’ is hired, and the plan changes again.

    So, I do agree with Bob there. Nobody has a chance to succeed here, because ownership has no sense of conviction when it comes to the people they hire to run hockey operations. They either get angry when they aren’t getting their playoff dates (FREE MONEY) quickly enough, or they cower to the media when they start calling for a head to roll. It’s funny how in this market it’s always labelled “the fans don’t have the patience to sit through a rebuild”. Most of us have been sitting through mediocre hockey our entire lives. Every fan I know is willing to sit through 5 more of them if there’s actually light at the end of the tunnel for once.

    As for, Shanahan, it’s great he says he has the stomach for a rebuild (whether he’s the right guy to do it can be debated), but I’m pretty positive Rogers and Bell don’t have the stomachs to sit through it. They want good ratings on their tv/radio stations for Leaf games, and they want them yesterday.

  79. Mike S says:

    When I listened to the Monday April 13 podcast of PTS I found it amusing (but was not really surprised) that they didn’t talk at all about the Leafs

    Shanahan had just done a press conference to talk about the terrible season and the firing of several front office people………….but it was the Jays home opener and I guess that meant nothing was going to get in the way of the three hour Blue Jays infomercial

  80. alex says:

    Given that they were down on the field for the whole 3 hours, not sure logistically how have a guest on the phone would have worked.

    Of course, you could just had bob and brunt and blair do one quick segment about the leafs just to say they did it.

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