Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

December 5th, 2015 | by mike (in boston)
Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition
business of sports



by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. I’m back from suspension. Lots of things since we last spoke, so let’s get right to it.


Jeff Blair – Best of the Year Candidate


As we move into the holiday season I though it would be nice to spread some cheer around and highlight what the big names in the market are up to. We sometimes hand out end of year awards around here and so it would be good to remind ourselves of what is on offer from the professionals.


When you think big there are few bigger than Sportsnet’s multi-platform superstar Jeff Blair. Jeff can be found weekdays 9-12 taking calls and interviewing the best Sportsnet insiders on the FAN. When he’s not hosting his own show Blair has been hand selected to fill in for Bob McCown, following the footsteps of other top fill-in hosts Faulds and Toth. Whenever Jays news breaks you can count on Jeff to deliver some blistering insights over at .ca. Finally, Jeff’s Twitter feed is a must-follow, especially late at night or when there is a UFC event on.


Here are some Blair highlights from the last week or so.


Jeff Blair schools Jays Fans


With so much good material from which to choose, it’s hard to capture the inimitable Blair in a nutshell.


“Here are some hard truths a week ahead of the winter meetings, for a skeptical fan-base doing quick mathematics on napkins to figure out how much extra revenue was generated by all those ticket sales in September — rounding up, no doubt — to see how much they’re being screwed by cheap ownership and that evil Mark Shapiro and which absolutely believes that David Price wants to sign here because, well, he seemed so happy and all that and WHY THE HELL CAN’T WE HAVE NICE THINGS, BLAIR, DAMMIT!”


That’s from last week, before Price signs in Boston. As you can see Jeff still has the writing chops that kept him handsomely employed at the Globe for so many years. Then, after the news broke that Price was a Red Sock, Jeff delivered some more deep truths to all the amateur accountants in the fan base.


“And as is usually the case with big companies, the mathematics aren’t always the way it is in your household. X tickets times Y price equals Z which automatically goes into payroll. Yeah, not in the real world, people – and, look! The bad, old, Rogers shill didn’t even mention the exchange rate! There is no salary cap in baseball, but – darn it – everybody has a budget.”


This insightful point doesn’t get mentioned enough. Jeff is right — all teams have a budget. It seems so simple and obviously true that it’s almost not worth mentioning, but Jeff knows that sometimes its the simple and obvious truths that need to be repeated. The Jays have a budget, and so do the Red Sox and so do the Arizona Diamondbacks and so do the Nationals. Playoff success doesn’t mean more payroll. I mean look at the Red Sox: they didn’t even make the playoffs and they are raising their payroll, dammit! I’m not sure why this is so hard for people to grasp.


Jeff also knows that he’ll be called out as a Rogers shill for raising this point, but courageously does so nonetheless. If you have Blair’s track record of objectivity then you can take the hits. Sadly the rest of the non-Rogers journalist corps forgot that the Jays have a budget. Here’s Cathal Kelly who clearly doesn’t get that the Jays have a budget. Also in the “doesn’t get it” camp is Scott Stinson. Scott and Cathal need to read more Blair.


Jeff Blair schools the media


When he’s not educating Jays fans on the finer points of economic theory Jeff is calling out the frauds in the media. Blair took aim at the CFL boosters at TSN.


“CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge’s State of the League address on Friday was so shallow that even the league’s media acolytes took him to task.”


Thank God Blair is calling out media bias along with his criticism of the CFL’s drug policies. It’s so important in this era for truly objective media to shine a light on those with conflicts of interest. Only a handful of other people at Sportsnet have done so. It’s thankless work, and Jeff deserves credit for his bravery.


In light of all the Price news, Blair also has some harsh words for those who all of sudden think they can talk about the Jays.



Thank goodness for that. There’s nothing worse than a sports media member who covers one sport exclusively all of a sudden acting as if he/she knows something about all sports. Tourists, go home.


Overall, you can clearly see what Blair is bringing to the table and why his work is featured so prominently on Sportsnet’s many platforms.


Over to you: Jeff Blair! Share your thoughts. Best of the best in 2015? 


Premature Ratings Thoughts


A source told me that ratings were out this thursday so I prepared a bunch of words on that subject. It turns out the ratings come out next thursday. It’s not quite Luongo to the Leafs, but my apologies to everyone for the error. That said, this does allow us to have a bit of an early discussion about what to expect when the Fall Book (not an actual book) is released.


Here’s what you need to know: ratings are based on what is playing during a given time slot. As such the ratings are “show-agnostic” and count the same when regular shows are pre-empted for live broadcasts (with many more listeners).


What this means is that the FAN should see huge ratings wins over TSN based on the fact that the division-winning Jays played a lot of playoff games during the early and late afternoons in October. If you’re living in Toronto during a Jays playoff game and not near a TV, chances are you’re listening to the radio. So in addition to syphoning off TSN’s small audience, the FAN was likely bringing in people who don’t normally listen, some of whom wear PPMs.


This is going to lead to a ratings rout in all time slots. The book is a 3 month average, and the Jays dominated for most of September and October. As such, whatever return to normal there was in November will not be apparent in the overall numbers. TSM and I are on Numeris’ blocked list so hopefully David Shoalts (23k followers) comes through for all of us with some details of how the overall numbers break down.


So what do you do if you’re Jeff MacDonald over at TSN as you wait for the grim details?


Here’s my advice: don’t do anything reactionary based on this ratings book, but make sure you have a long term plan for how you want to be positioned when Bob retires. Basically, that is the only seismic event on the horizon, and you want to be ready to benefit from whatever ripples in listener habits that causes.


Here’s why that will be hard: there’s a new boss over at Bell and she has been cleaning house. There is likely immense pressure on TSN radio to show some signs of life in the ratings. Firings are the easy way to buy yourself some time and to make it seem like you’ve got a plan.


Over to you: assuming another drubbing in the ratings, what should TSN1050 do in the short and long term?


Quick Hits


ESPN is losing lots of subscribers. We now know the number is around 7 million in the last 2 years. Carriage fees for sports cable channels are way higher than for other channels, and part of that revenue is what allows companies like ESPN to bid for sports rights. What happens if cord cutting continues and networks no longer have as much to spend on sports properties? Will leagues accept less or, like the NHL did with Rogers, will they offer exclusive access to one network as a way to force increases? The Rogers/NHL partnership might turn out to be the canary in the coal mine. More on this next week.


Grey Cup ratings are up from last year. This reverses a 2 year downward trend in the CFL as a TV property. It will be interesting to see how the Argos’ move to BMO affects viewership and overall league interest. Here’s a brief suggestion for the Argos as they move to BMO: find a way to make tailgating part of the experience. And not the sanitized corporate version of it we sometimes see at Toronto events. I’m talking NFL style mobile home partying. You need an identity that marks you as different from the rest of the sports culture in the city. Invest in the blue-collar market.


Sportsnet’s ratings for regional Leafs games are slightly down. According to the same article, Sportsnet beat TSN in web clicks. That is shocking. The hits keep on coming for TSN. Basically all of TSN’s “heritage brand” advantage is gone on web + TV, and none of it ever translated over to radio. Some serious high level strategic failure involved here, and it’s not just about the NHL rights deal. More on this in future weeks.


Vice (news, sports, culture) recently signed a $100 million dollar partnership with Rogers. More recently, they edited out references to Rogers from a story about sexual harassment in the workplace in order to protect that relationship. Not a great look for Vice, whose edgy reputation depends in part on its claims to write stories no one else will.


In non-sports media news, the CBC stopped allowing comments on stories involving Indigenous peoples. Essentially the CBC is saying: these stories end up eliciting more racism than we are willing to tolerate. It’s an interesting move since it is admitting to a Heckler’s Veto justification for limiting audience interaction.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • I didn’t listen to much sports radio while I was off — I’m currently addicted to WGR Bills losing talk — but I did catch Damien Cox’s return to PTS with Bob. Cox may not be the PTS host we deserve but he’s the PTS co-host we need. He had some great reflections on how much more natural radio conversation is than TV segments. Welcome back Damien. We missed you. I mean that.


  • Greg Brady went back to the well and attacked media who took the Price departure as “open season” to criticize Rogers. He implied these people (whoever they are) were bitter that Rogers wouldn’t hire them. (Dec 2 1pm hour) I’m not sure why Greg takes these things so personally. I’m also not sure that using “Rogers wouldn’t hire you” is the best metric for quality, since Rogers booted Brady off the morning show in favour of Blundell.


  • Questions I’ll be trying to answer this weekend: Does Randall “the Handle” pay to make appearances on Blundell’s show? (see here) I always assumed he paid to do his long running Sunday morning betting show. I can’t recall him appearing on other shows though. Given how many NFL experts there are out there it seems odd to be giving this guy air time. Would make sense if it’s an ad in disguise, though that’s not a direction that benefits the audience.


  • Checking in with Al Strachan. Wonder what this is all about, eh?



  • Edmonton Eskimos fans: congratulations on your big win. How attached are you to the name? Seems kind of silly in 2015 to have a team named after an Indigenous population, especially when the term itself is regarded as somewhat of a slur.


  • TSM (and the readership) did a great job with Elliotte but let’s be honest: Elliotte did a great job taking the questions seriously. In particular, it was great to read that he cares about getting better at the craft of radio because he should be in the PTS co-host rotation (during the NHL off-season, I guess) to hone his skills for when Bob retires. Elliotte could very well become the best generalist in the market.


  • Andi Petrillo (66k followers) has been holding down the fort while Bryan Hayes takes paternity leave (congratulations Bryan). Any reports on how well she is doing? It’s pretty clear TSN1050 is considering her for a bigger role on the station …


  • … this would be a good thing because, as far as I can tell, Candace Devai has the distinction of being the only woman with a regular on-air gig on toronto sports radio right now (unless you include Halina Balka of course). Congratulations Candace!




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  1. Rob J says:

    Did you write that CFL TV ratings were up? I thought they declined 15 percent this year.

  2. mike (in boston) says:

    Meant Grey Cup not CFL. Thanks for the correction. Fixed now.

  3. Rob J says:

    No problem, keep up the great work! The Hamilton Spectator reported this week that TSN radio 1050 suffered a 0.9 rating, tied for last in the city. Don’t see how that experiment will work over time.

  4. DJ says:

    Andi Petrillo did great on Leafs Lunch this week. They didn’t miss a beat. Which could open up to allow Hayes to move to a different time slot.

  5. WestdaleRocks says:

    So, Greg Brady is miffed that people are taking shots at Rogers? Too bad. Never mind not re-signing Price, let;s talk about hiring what has basically been a big chunk of the Cleveland Indians front office. The same Cleveland Indians that have won two titles in the 100 years they’ve been in existence, and the same Indians who, despite playing in baseball’s weakest division by far in the past 21 years, could only make the playoffs twice. In many seasons since 1994 when baseball went to three divisions in each league, the AL Central was, by far, the worst division. When you have two teams a year that lose nearly a hundred games, feasting on those bottom feeders 18 times a year each would greatly enhance your chances of making the post season. And yet—two playoff appearances to show for the Shapiro years. Weak. Here is my prediction: This season may actually turn out to be OK–there’s no ace, but there’s decent strength among starters. However, after this year, goodbye Jose and goodbye Edwin…so we’ll go from winning 15-2 to trying to win 3-2….and we all know what the Jays were like in one run games. Starting next year, the team will be all about cobbling out low run, low scoring games. As mentioned, starters are OK so they may have a decent team in what may be again, a strong division. We’ll see. I just don’t want to hear that Shapiro and his yes man sidekick Atkins are gutting the scouting staff, a la Ricciardi. If that happens, get ready for another drought of 22 years. So Brady can criticize fans and media all he likes, but the fact is, Edward Rogers laid a real egg on this hire. He had a guy who had drafted very astutely, had stockpiled a ton of assets, and went for it when the time was right.

  6. WestdaleRocks says:

    Oops. Correction. I meant to say the Indians made the playoffs twice in the Shapiro years. They won six between 1995 and 2001.

  7. Claire A Fye says:

    Blair is an interesting case. He’s a good writer, but he should not be on sports radio. He can’t uhmm, agh,talk, which should be a prerequisite. It makes it very hard to listen to him. And as for his “track record of objectivity”, who are you kidding? He’s not alone in this. Between Rogers and Bell there’s very little objectivity. You can pretty much determine what someone will say by who signs their paycheque. As for Brady, I wish he would go back to Detroit.

  8. AP says:

    Disturbing news on Vice.

  9. Steve Jones says:

    Good bait job Mike. I’m actually not sure how facetious you’re being on Blair. For him to be calling out anyone for being a cheerleader is hilarious. His love in with all things Blue Jays is as overt as it gets. If he didn’t like the Orridge presser he could have said so, but I guess it’s incumbent to take shots at the completion when you can. How small market is that.

    Then of course you’ve got his “tourists” comment. Like some superior baseball intellect he is now deeming other opinions to be useless and irrelevant. He doesn’t talk about sports he doesn’t have deep knowledge of? Ever? His apparent self elevation to baseball master and king of all opinions is pretty bizarre. Maybe when he first got on the radio and couldn’t string two sentences together he should have listened to the experts and left. His “tourist” broadcast capabilities were of the Motel 6 variety. And frankly he hasn’t got much better over time.

    Ratings. Yep TSN will suck. Richards can’t draw flies. Mid mornings with Cauz or Cauz and Wheeler are unlistenable. Leafs Lunch is very good. Petrillo was surprisingly good this week. Wheeler was, yes, awful. Naylor is just boring. How do you fix it? Well I’d start by changing everyone. But that’s not likely to happen is it. Or you shut it down, which is becoming a strong possibility.

    Vice. Rogers has a partnership with them? How edgy. I get a kick out of Shane Smith constantly calling out the “mainstream media” for every little thing. Now he’s partners with corporate Canada? Well he is rich and he does have a vehicle to make all the dumb hypocritical comments he wants to. And yes, once the money arrives every self professed radical decides those Gucci shoes are really kinda cool after all.

    Brady. I missed that comment because I can’t take the volume of words the man speaks per minute. Obviously his ego tells him he’s at the top of the food chain and those who can’t ascend to his heights are just whining fools. Or maybe after being booted from the morning show he feels the need to let the guys upstairs know he’s taking the corporate battle to the masses. He’s a team player and all hail Rogers, every decision they make is beyond comment. Or, lastly, maybe, Brady was short if his self mandated 1000 words per minute and needed to fill. Just sayin’.

  10. Drumanchor says:

    Interesting column and comments, as always.

    As for Blair, I like him. I’m clearly in the minority who actually thinks he is very good on radio. One doesn’t have to necessarily be smooth and polished to be entertaining and enlightening in that medium. He’s fine.

    Brady is clearly a bit of a lightening rod but, like Blair, I enjoy him, too. I enjoy his sense of humour and he and Walker know their sports. As for his trashing of the competition, well, he really needs to grow up here. Spouting off as he does is not the best way to make friends and influence people. Like the music business, it helps to be nice to people on the way up because on the way down, you just may need them. He should be more mature at this stage in his career.

    Andi Petrillo did a very good job filling in for Hayes. It’s no secret that I like Hayes and see a long career in broadcasting for him. Just hope that TSN 1050 isn’t mothballed because of what appears to be a nonexistent audience.

    CFL? I could care less about the league, but saying that the Edmonton Eskimos should change their name ( To what? The Green Yellows?) is something that really shouldn’t be explored. I suspect the movement has been started by people who see some traction with the Washington Redskins name issue and want to jump on the same type of bandwagon. But is it needed?

    I’m reasonably happy in a PC world but, for the life of me, I do not see the term Eskimo as “somewhat of a slur”.

  11. William D says:

    I think it would be a very intriguing move if Rogers were to sell a 40% stake in the Jays to someone like Larry T. This way the responsibility of the payroll is shared. For as long as this team has been under Rogers ownership there has been disputes about payroll. J.P Richardi was disgusted with the payroll and indirectly said so in press conferences. I get it the team has a budget, but lets face it, when you own make the decision to own a fan crazy professional sports team like the jays in a big city like Toronto and only once in 15 years of the ownership have you been to the playoff, and in most of your ownership have run a tight budget in the toughest division, The fans will eventually get tired of it and there will be revolt at some point. Sports is a recession proof business, if Rogers decides to pay a premium for players that give the jays the best chance to win everything, the success would be infectious, it would elevate numbers to it’s wireless division, TV and Radio not to mention merchandise. The ROI here is obvious, so when Rogers uses it’s puppets(Jeff Blair, Mike Wilner) to push the Budget talk, this falls on deaf ears. If Rogers doesn’t understand what it means to own a fan crazy team in a large city it’s time to put the for sale sign on this team, As I stated earlier I’m sure Larry T would find a team of suitors to put together a bid, other than the telco’s he seems to be another sports crazy chunk of change.

  12. Hugh310 says:

    I was very pleased with Damien Cox’s week as PTS co-host. Please bring him back as soon as possible. And send Ken Reid and his whiny pouty voice back to Pictou ASAP.

    One of the things that bugs me about Blair is his meandering preambles before he gets around to even introducing his guest and then more lengthy soliloquys before most questions to the guests. They must wonder why they are doing this interview if the interviewer won’t stop pontificating. Jeff, one or two sentences for each question and then let the expert talk !

    Eskimos is not a slur. Just like the Fighting Irish is not a slur. The very FEW who want the EEs to change their name are simply jumping on the Redskins name-change bandwagon.

    Okay. Thank God for Jon Morosi. Thank God for Arash Madani. Thank God for John Shannon. They tried there darndest to talk some sense into the scripted dog&pony rant show that McCown and Reid foisted on the listeners when Atkins was hired. McCown was just ‘acting’ as his old curmudgeonly persona and Reid was his usual whiny pouty self. I give props to Madani for the strength it must have taken to refrain from punching Reid in the nose. Reid’s constant need to be the show’s official representative of ‘what the fans want’ and ‘how the fans feel’ is both overbearing and inaccurate. Sorry Ken, you ain’t this fan’s representative.

    Let’s look at a few of the ‘ideas’ these two blowhards gave us.

    BM : “Sign TL to a one year deal as GM in a transitory move”. Really ? If Shapiro had done this very thing, McCown would have been ranting and raving about ‘what’s the point of a one-year deal, if he’s your guy give him a four year deal, and if you don’t want the guy, fire him’. I am surprised he was not challenged on this by the others.

    KR : “Why are we hiring from Cleveland’s organization, why not hire from the ‘better’ organizations like the Yankees or the Red Sox?” Ummm, Kenny, we tried that already – John Farrell as our new manager. How did that work out for us?

    Last point. It was good to see Madani mention that AA had limited experience and resume when he was hired in 2009. Made McCown and Reid shut up for a few seconds at least.

  13. Tighthead says:

    The CFL and Major Junior hockey are coddled and promoted by the media. With the CFL it’s hilarious. Hockey writers can criticize the league, the games and Bettman with impunity. If a columnist suggests the entertainment value of the games is down, or that having one guy own 2/8 teams is Mickey Mouse, CFL fans lose it.

    With junior hockey, any attempt to divert from the “playing for the love of the game” and “hard working kids” narrative seems to be suppressed. Cherry uses his platform to take shots at NCAA hockey. Look at the critical coverage of NCAA football and the exploitation of those athletes. Very little corresponding coverage up here with junior hockey.

  14. Mclean_Deluxe says:

    @WestdaleRocks Do the people, like you, who want to criticize Shapiro’s track record with Indian even understand that it is a resume that is arguably better than AA’s? 3 Ninety+ win seasons (one team was inherited) in 10 seasons as the actual GM with 2 executive of year awards and ultra-stingy ownership. Compare to AA with 1 Ninety win season and a much larger payroll. Also, it can be argued that only achieved this success(on his second attempt to go all in) by gutting the system and hurting teams chances for long term success knowing he was leaving.

  15. DJ says:

    @Tighthead If you can’t find people critical of Junior Hockey in Canada you aren’t looking very hard. There is plenty of criticism.

    In the last few months alone – talk of CHL union (which never goes away), the Flint team walking out on their owner, Hamilton with horrendous attendance numbers, and more and more and more.

  16. Mitch says:

    I wish Jeff Blair had stuck to being a writer. He’s not only unsustainable, but doesn’t translate at all on tv. great writer who also knows who signs his paychecks. Nothing really wrong with that, but he is coming off so smug with baseball its hard to listen too. At least on paper his smugness might be downplayed.
    Jeff Macdonald at TSN shouldn’t worry too much about 1050’s line up…mainly because Macdonald will be working on his resume real soon.
    Greg Brady REALLY knows who signs his paychecks. the more one has to defend their shill-ness, the more they are. Its a shame, because he’s good in general.
    And I apologize, but the budget issue will NEVER carry weight when you are talking about one of the richest companies in the world. never.

  17. Tighthead says:

    @DJ I didn’t know about the Hamilton story, but that seems like a local business issue. I thought the insurrection in Flint was treated as a curiosity, mostly chuckled at. Most of the coverage on the union was negative and skeptical.

    There are certainly some criticisms of the major junior structure, but they tend to come from the fringe. The fact is many franchises are controlled and/or owned by old hockey types and I find the mainstream media lets it go unchallenged. I do know that Tony Gallagher in Vancouver has gone on record several times questioning if the players get a square deal. I am sure there are others, but I find those voices tend to get ignored.

    On the Union issue, I think Laraque was out to lunch and the skepticism well warranted. It was easier to slam Laraque than to question the big picture. As always, your mileage may vary.

  18. MattK says:

    Blair is pretty, pretty, pretty good. Does he still take calls? That is his biggest weakness, rather have him have a intelligent guest on instead.

  19. Anthony says:

    Mike, great read, one of your best IMO.

    Probably against the popular vote, but I too enjoy Blair. Will call it like it is, which will irk the irrational and emotional, be it fan bases or ‘drive by journalists’, but he even will do it then on Prime Time and McCown says something stupid about baseball (pitcher wins). He’s improved significantly on the broadcast side and really is the only guy that I care about talking about baseball in this city. He’s positive when he needs to be, he’s negative when he needs to be, he’s very balanced and well thought out, and obviously very well connected within the baseball world. Can’t listen to him talk about other sports, but thankfully he doesn’t do it often.

    ‘I was very pleased with Damien Cox’s week as PTS co-host. Please bring him back as soon as possible. And send Ken Reid and his whiny pouty voice back to Pictou ASAP.’

    +1. Im not a Cox fan but at least he can form an opinion and justify it with thoughtful dialog and facts, Reid’s justification is the great ‘just because’ argument.

    ‘Okay. Thank God for Jon Morosi. Thank God for Arash Madani. Thank God for John Shannon. They tried there darndest to talk some sense into the scripted dog&pony rant show that McCown and Reid foisted on the listeners when Atkins was hired. McCown was just ‘acting’ as his old curmudgeonly persona and Reid was his usual whiny pouty self. I give props to Madani for the strength it must have taken to refrain from punching Reid in the nose. Reid’s constant need to be the show’s official representative of ‘what the fans want’ and ‘how the fans feel’ is both overbearing and inaccurate. Sorry Ken, you ain’t this fan’s representative.’

    That was one of the worst hours of Prime Time Sports in some time on Thursday. Madani knocked down 2 hours of thier ranting in about 4 minutes.

    ‘On the Union issue, I think Laraque was out to lunch and the skepticism well warranted. It was easier to slam Laraque than to question the big picture. As always, your mileage may vary.’

    My kid played in junior, he enjoyed his time and had his school payed for. The reason the union failed was because it wasn’t started by the players, it was started by a guy who was trying to screw hockey canada. If there is one, it will need to be an organic push from the players themselves, not a selfish moron who never even asked us if we wanted a union.

  20. Darrell says:

    OK – Andi Petrillo did great on TSN Leafs’ Lunch. Would love to see her get more air time.

    Jeff Blair is NOT a smooth talker on the radio. He hosts, “The Ah Jeff Blair Show”. HELLO!?!?! It’s your own freakon’ name. How can you forget your name?

    Greg Brady is horrible! I am sorry but he and Walker are not enjoyable at all.

    The thing I cannot stand is that if you want to follow any Rogers Sportsnet personality (at least on the FAN) you have to butt kiss them and wipe their noses or they block you on Twitter. You are never allowed to say that any of them lack knowledge or that you have criticism about their work. Nauseating!

  21. Trevor says:

    The Rogers guys always amuse me. Whether or not they’re “shills” is, or should be the least of their worries.

    Rogers is perceived to be rich by a) being cheap, and b) ripping customers off. They’re a Canadian telco, so it’s in their DNA.

    What they either haven’t figured out, or (likelier) have and don’t care, is to run a sports team like that is stupid. They’re probably making tons of money from the Jays/Skydome/Sportsnet, so God bless them, but sports, as I understood it, was supposed to be the vehicle for Rogers to improve its public image. Instead, it’s worsening.

    So, re: David Price, the deal he signed with Boston was stupid. It makes no sense from a baseball perspective. Good for him, he earned it. But, all Rogers needed to do was to act like they gave a damn about re-signing him, and this storm wouldn’t have happened.

    And so, to the shills, anyone media member who defended the moves by saying they had been to the playoffs eight (I think) times since 1993 should be fired immediately, considering the vast majority were with John Hart in the ’90’s, and in the weakest division in baseball.

    Oh well. I’ll cheer the improved ratings for the CFL next year when the Jays go in the toilet. If anyone actually thinks the Jays offence will be like it was this year next year should be the former Mayor of Toronto with his drug habits.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I hate wanting a team to succeed in spite of its owners.

  22. DJ says:


    No there isn’t a ton of mainstream media criticizing junior hockey, but they also aren’t the people covering junior hockey. If you follow those circles you will see there are people on both sides of the fence.

  23. Kipling Birchmont says:

    I think the agent David Price is brilliant. 217 million in the bank for 7 years.


    Price walks after 3 years (93 million in his jeans)


    By the baseball year 2019 more than 1 stupid owner will pay 50 million a year on a short? 3 year deal for a starting pitcher
    So 217 Million for sure Or maybe 243 million..
    Nice gig.

  24. MattK says:

    No harm in his agent getting the player option, though I doubt he will exercise it he’ll be 33 and past his peak, hes a power pitcher who will be losing power. Now if he had a deal that was weighted more to the front end plus a player option that would be some good hustling by the agent.

  25. Jp says:

    Bob did mention on air sometime last week about Damien Cox seemingly out of the ‘dog house’ … Never knew that maybe Bob had some issues with him.. I recall two years ago that DC used to interrupt bob like nobody’s business even during interviews and he sometimes sounded quite irritated. New Cox does sound calmer and less argumentative so that must have been the issue… Anybody noticed that or knows more about it?

  26. Tighthead says:

    With Lorne Rubenstein being prominent this week for the Tiger interview, does anyone know if he and Bob ever mended fences? They had an on air falling out about 7 years ago. At the time I thought Lorne was unduly sensitive. I know he did the rounds on radio this week.

  27. alex says:

    Given how he was discussed when bob grange and deitsch talked about the story, i doubt it.

  28. Matty Zero says:

    A few thoughts, first on Blair and the Fan in general. Blair should always have a co-host, and stop with the listener calls. He doesn’t hymn and haw as much when paired with say, Brunt.

    Leafs Lunch has taken over from HockeyCentral as the best noon hour show, and probably has been #1 for awhile. The boys at TSN have this one right. The problem with HC, is that when there is no Kypreos or MacLean, it is unlistenable. Rich Sutter makes Blair look like an eloquent wordsmith. Shannon is awful, but we knew this. Any of the other plug-ins are just as bad.

    Now, about John Shannon. Why is he on EVERY show on both radio and TV? He was a television PRODUCER. You would think with the metric ton of criticism that Rogers has taken with their presentation of the NHL package, that they would use an expert in that field behind the camera, not in front of it.

    Finally, my opinion on the Jays is that they brought Shapiro in to slash everything and rebuild the team on a lower budget. This is what Rogers does in every other sector.

  29. Robert says:

    @Matty Zero – So you believe Shapiro left an organization where for years he had to deal with trying to build a team on a low budget, and his home to move to a different country so he could tear down a winning team and impose a lower payroll with the chance of success that implies. Really, who with any ambition would do that?

  30. yaz says:

    I’m suffering from Price overload after that week of radio. Can’t rip Shapiro too much because he wasn’t their first choice and Atkins wasn’t Shapiro’s first choice. Not everybody wants to come to this ‘foreign land’ of ours.

    Every business has a budget. Every business also constantly adjusts their budgets. I understand Rogers is a publicly traded company and has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, the problem is there isn’t anyone within Rogers who cares enough to make a legitimate business case that the shareholders would benefit by the Jays increasing their payroll.

    With Tulo, Donaldson and Price – we fans had nothing to complain about with ownership for once in 20 years. We fans were in sync with the team and with AA for every heartbeat of that incredible run. When Price went to Boston and when Rogers hired the MLB version of Colangelo that sync was lost and we’re not sure if it will ever come back. Forget about focusing on Price – the Jays passed on Zimmerman, Samardsija, Cueto. If you are a Jays fans and aren’t troubled by that then I’m not sure how you can comment on the Jays.

    In every sport all we talk about are ‘windows’ and the Jays have a giant window staring them right in the fing face and they are choosing to not take it. Don’t talk about ‘long and short term needs’. The short term need is to win. The long term needs are to what? Lose but don’t lose a lot? They have to go for it and rebuild. Does it matter in 5 years if the Jays win 50 games during a rebuild, or 80 games playing average? The Rogers brand beats louder with an ace pitcher on the mound. Rogers is choosing average over winning and don’t tell me that doesn’t affect the stock price and their precious shareholders.

    I choked when I saw LT’s name mentioned. If there’s one guaranteed way to lose, Larry is it.

  31. Rob J says:

    @yaz (or is this Ken Reid)
    Least impressive thing about Jays’ fans is they want to silence those who don’t hold their immaculate opinions. Thanks for the reminder.
    I’ve enjoyed Reid’s ascension as the voice of the fans. When I read most fans’ opinions I do so with his voice.
    I agree with Arash: no city worships their GM’s and other execs like Toronto’s fans and media. AA is gone, never to return. Accept, breathe, and move on.

  32. Williiam D says:

    “Rogers is choosing average over winning and don’t tell me that doesn’t affect the stock price and their precious shareholders.”


    I could tell you for a fact the jays performance has nothing to do with the stock price. The blue jays account for a mere 1% on the overall balance sheet. The core of the business is their wireless and cable assets. When investors decide to invest in the business I could tell you right now investors are not looking at the jays roster. Ultimately the strength of the wireless and cable assets is what drives the stock performance. Jays vs wireless+cable is apples to oranges millions vs billions.

  33. Claire A Fye says:

    @William D That’s true, but I think the Blue Jays have a major impact on both cable and wireless performance. Remember the Blue Jays are more than a baseball team to Rogers; they’re also a production that benefits both platforms as well as TV and radio. My belief is they have looked at the bottom line and come to the conclusion that, because they can’t guarantee success if they re-sign Price ( or go after a comparably priced pitcher), they won’t do it. This whole thing isn’t about breaking down a winning team. It’s about doing the prudent thing. That’s what companies do. Take a look at what Rogers and Bell are doing with the Leafs. They’re allowing Shanahan to rebuild pretty much from ground zero. It’s certainly not the cheap thing to do but it does appear to be necessary to be able to compete in today’s NHL. The key word is compete. They clearly believe they can compete with the current Blue Jay roster. It’s a big gamble but if they’re right, they win big time.

  34. Too Much says:

    @MIB, you were joking when you called Faulds and Toth “top fill in hosts”, right?

    Not a Jeff Blair fan and the examples cited haven’t changed my mind. To me he’s just another curmudgeonly guy. Maybe it’s his delivery. But I don’t mind him as a Bob replacement host – better than I like him on his own show.

    Leafs Lunch is the best thing on radio these days if you’re looking for entertainment value. Too bad about the name because they talk about a lot more than the Leafs.

    The Bell Media president (not Bell as alluded to in the article) has made the deep cuts for the year. TSN Radio has some breathing room. We should all remember that Bell Media is a small piece of the BCE empire – it only accounts for 12% of revenue.

    Do we really know how much money TSN Radio loses or makes? Ratings are important for national advertisers and major local brands, affecting how much those advertisers will pay for an ad. But that doesn’t mean that TSNR is losing money. How much of its revenue comes from ratings based data vs local market advertisers? It’s called selling the environment, rather than the numbers. Regardless, does anyone really know what Bell Media’s strategy is with TSNR? Unless we know that it’s kind of pointless playing Program Director.

  35. Curt says:

    Nice love letter to Blair. “Objective” is definitely not a word I would use to describe the man, but whatever. His holier than thou, I know infinitely more about baseball than anyone attitude is tiresome. Good writer, granted, but as it’s been mentioned ad nauseam, the man can’t speak – which would seem to be a prerequisite for hosting radio programs. Best of the year candidate? Hmmm…

  36. Bobby G says:

    “Jeff also knows that he’ll be called out as a Rogers shill for raising this point, but courageously does so nonetheless.”

    Seriously? Courageous? Was he calling for the overthrow of the Chinese government while broadcasting from the centre of Tiananmen Square?

    And no one has ever taken anything Brady says seriously, why start now? He gets on his high pony every once and a while, throws a tantrum, then an adult pats him on the head and gives him a lollipop.
    I think it’s pretty fair to say that anyone could criticize Rogers complete under mishandling of the entire offseason without having an alterior motive. Rogers’ actions, or lack thereof, speak for themselves. And I’m no fan of Bell either.

  37. Matty Zero says:

    @Robert I do believe that is why Rogers brought Shapiro in. Then that pesky team went and almost won it all!

    I hope I am wrong, but I’ve followed Shapiro’s career (big analytics fan), and this is what he does. albeit out of necessity.

    Now, I DO hope he can find the Jays a Kluber and a Carrasco…

  38. Steve in Waterloo says:

    I like Blair.
    I’ve “watched” his show on tv – he is too distracted which I swear leads to all the ummm’s and slow time. He’s got his laptop open, he’s searching and then leans over to his phone – all while there is a live mike.

    One distraction at a time Geoff – otherwise enjoy the show(and column).

  39. yaz says:

    Blair tempering his anti-Price contract talk this morning with ‘ a fan, I would have liked to see Price sign here.’ – almost in a hushed, lamenting tone.

  40. Omar says:

    In terms of the Shapiro reign, I’m willing to suck it up and give the man a chance. However, if you had read any of the Cleveland Indians media articles (especially around the time Shapiro was hired by the Jays) and the comments that accompany them, it is clear that he was/is despised by the Indians fan base.

    Did anyone else feel bad for Atkins at his introductory presser? Seemed like his answer to every baseball question was “I will follow Lacava’s lead on that”. He had literally nothing to offer. Maybe he was nervous, but he seemed out of his depth. Time will tell….

  41. Anthony says:

    ‘Time will tell….’

    And that’s the thing. Everyone had the pitchforks out for AA and Gibbons in early 2015, fans wanted blood, look at what they did. Everyone wants blood again, without seeing how things play out. What is it they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…..

    If the current Jays management drops the ball then there will be plenty of time to bitch and complain, why the need to predict the future (after so many where wrong 12 months ago) is beyond me, but have at it.

  42. Anthony says:


    I honestly don’t care what anyone says and don’t over react to the need to feel nice and PR. Its just that, PR. End of the day if the team goes 10-2 its all forgotten and everything is perfect. If that’s the case, then its a bit silly (to me) to spend weeks and month pining over what is and what isn’t said when at the end of the day the teams record will tell all.

    I think the media (generally speaking anyways) tends to build things like this into more then they are because, simply they have too, they have 24 hours a day of news to fill. The everyday fan whose complaining now is the same one who was complaining about AA in June and was eventually chanting ‘Thank You Alex’ in October. The ‘The team needs better PR’ is, in my mind silly due to the fact that past history has shown one thing, that winning is the best PR. If they win, no one complains about the management and the last month and a half are a waste of time. Personally, Id rather not waste my time and just let it play out on the field.

    We could want it to be handled better, sure, but I honestly think that means way more to the Media than it does to the Fans, as the past has shown, all the fans care about is winning, everything else is just background noise.

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