The Curious Case Of Mike Wilner

Well well well. Isn’t this just odd. For years I have heard that the Toronto Blue Jays were the only team in town that was difficult with respect to press issues. The word was that they put all kinds of pressure on their rights holders.

When JP left things seemed to change and as I’ve written, they changed for the better. The biggest change I noticed was that Mike Wilner seemed to become much less of a homer and way more balanced.

This has been evident to me on multiple occasions when he has taken to the air or his blog and criticized Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

The best example came earlier this week when Wilner wrote that he was likely finished talking to the manager as a result of the manner in which Cito treated him in front of his peers. Right I wrong I really respected Wilner for writing what he did.

Well, apparently someone within the Rogers empire didn’t share that opinion as Wilner has been sent to his room for the weekend. The national post has a good story(link to follow) with quotes from the baseball writers association who have already saught clairty on the situation.

This isn’t a good thing for Rogers to have done. As you know, our fav media member Howard Berger has gotten into tussels with Ron Wilson and Brian Burke or leaf ownership in the past for saying much more degrading things then Wilner wrote. Berger hasn’t been suspended- even though his words have brought legal action against his employers or threatened legal action.

Hell, Bill Watters is way more critical and way more personal in his attacks on MLSE, owners of the Leafs, yet his station 640 Toronto has the radio rights to the Leafs. While photos of Wilbur may have been removed I’m fairly certain he’s never been punished via suspension for his words.

I’m trying to get comments from the folks at the Fan but so far no dice. Jays prez Paul Beeston was said to be unaware of the situation so this one bears watching!

Jonah not Jonas TSM


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June 5, 2010 8:43 am

I diddn’t think that McCown was right about the way he portrayed Cito to be as a person but I think I’m begining to see him in a negative light now.

June 5, 2010 9:49 am

I’m not a huge fan of Wilner…comes across as an arrogant winer on occassion – but suspending him for the weekend is a dumb move by Rogers…the rest of the media should take the weekend off and not cover the rest of the jays/yanks series….How dumb is Rogers media?

June 5, 2010 9:56 am

Frankly I think Wilner should have been benched before this for the way he conducts himself on air. The guy is so full of himself and berates anyone who calls in because he believes they aren’t as smart as him. Guy has needed some humility for a while.

Imagine what would have happened on JaysTalk if someone called in to make a similar point about JP when he was running the team? You’d think Wilner would take to kindly to his hero being criticized by some average Joe.You’d think that a guy who dishes as much as he does would have a little thicker skin.

And I suspect there’s more to the story than just Wilner didn’t like that Cito wouldn’t tell him he’s always right so he wrote a bad blog about it”. We’ve only heard the one side, from a guy who doesn’t really care for the manager. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that the exchange wasn’t exactly like it was described or about some off air issues with coworkers at the fan.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 5, 2010 9:59 am

I have read a lot this morning getting as many viewpoints as possible to try and ascertain who is at fault here and how much. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that without the audio of the pre-game press scrum there is no reasonable way to draw a conclusion in this he said (Wilner) she said (Gaston, although not really since he never responded after the incident and his handlers did on his behalf by the suspension).

This is what I think went down. Wilner was asking legitimate questions to Gaston, but liekly used the kind of condescending know-it-all tone that he does with the Jays callers who have contrarian viewpoints to him. As a result, Gaston felt like he was a schoolboy being scolded by the teacher. I have no way of knowing this, but am reasonably confident that Wilner forgot his surroundings in the heat of the moment asking his legitimate questions and took the wrong tone, which set Gaston off.

Was Gaston right in how he handled it? No, as Wilner had every right and I give him a ton of credit, for reviewing Gaston’s thought processes, as he completely screwed up the relievers and IMO almost directly cost them the game. Did Gaston deserve to be spoken to in the tone that Wilner uses with his callers? No, and unfortunately for Wilner, even when he tries to turn off his condescension, he can’t really, because he has a whiny know-it-all voice and looks like the obnoxious kid you wanted to smack in elementary school for just being a pompous know-it-all jerk.

Was Griffin right in lodging a complaint protecting his fellow writer? Absolutely.

What should have happened was that firstly Wilner should not have written about it in the manner he did on his blog, which IMO was the final straw in his suspension, but he should have gone to his superiors and requested a sit-down with Gaston and some mediators to clear the air, as Wilner felt humiliated amongst his peers. Would Gaston have agreed to this? Now way, but he should have still done this. Even his blog, he could have written it out and not posted it, but presented it to his boss, who could have dealt with it in a more confidential manner.

Everything is out in the open now. Wilner had ambitions of being the Blue Jays play by play announcer once Howwarth retired, as I heard him on air when he was in Boston a few weeks ago state just that. It looks like that is never going to happen now.

Is Wilner finished at the FAN, owned by Rogers? As much as I can’t stand him personally, I do respect him asking the tough questions, so I hope not.

The ironic thing is that McCown took Gaston to task likely far worse than Wilner on PTS, but he was not doing it directly to Gaston, plus he is McCown, golfing buddy with Beeston, so is untouchable. His ratings also don’t hurt him. If McCown was given some time off, he would leave and sue them for defamation of character for tens of millions and win!

June 5, 2010 12:48 pm

If Gaston’s so thin skinned it’s good for him that he didn’t get the mangerial jobs in Chicago or LA

June 5, 2010 12:52 pm

I don’t think the issue here is: ‘Wilner is an ass on Jaystalk therefore this was bound to happen’. This isn’t about whether you like or dislike the guy as a host.

I think the issue is that a Rogers owned radio station covers a Rogers owned sports team. The question is: are they trying to censor or punish a member of their media division for being too hard on their sports team?

If Mike worked for AM 640, and not Rogers, would he be suspended? As TSM pointed out, I think we have seen worse from guys like Bill Watters on the Leafs (although we don’t know exactly what happened with Wilner).

Depending on the details, I think this raises questions about the integrity of The Fan in its ability to cover a Rogers product. After this, could you blame a Fan employee for thinking twice before conveying a strongly negative opinion about a Rogers property?

It’s only sports media (not news), but the issue of integrity is still important. Since Rogers owns The Fan, Sportsnet, The Blue Jays, and the NFL in Toronto series, Rogers needs to tread very carefully unless it wants its media outlets to be seen as mouthpieces instead of legitimate sports media.

Mike S
Mike S
June 5, 2010 3:13 pm

It looks like Jeff Blair is on Cito’s side in all of this and not Wilner’s……… is what he posted on Twitter earlier today:

“Today’s lesson: If you really want an answer, ask the manager one on one. Don’t show him up in a group. Basic reporting: it’s not about u”

June 5, 2010 3:33 pm

I really hope this isnt how Rogers is going to conduct themselves rom now on. I’ve never called in to Wilners show but enjoy his commentary and that he asks real questions and doesnt give BS answers to non-BS comments

J. B. Rainsberger
June 5, 2010 4:02 pm

Mike Wilner has little patience for people who contradict themselves or make assertions that they can’t sensibly defend. That includes Cito Gaston. Based on my conversations with Mike, Cito’s unwillingness to engage a fair question put Mike over the edge. One might argue that Mike should have taken the high road, and I agree that he could have, but I find it hard to justify suspending him. It sounds like naked retribution, and nothing more. Silly. Whatever Mike might “deserve”, publicly punishing him because he publicly challenged or “shamed” Gaston means that Rogers couldn’t take the high road that they think Mike could have taken.

Silliness all around.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 5, 2010 5:58 pm

Mike S, RE: Blair I also saw his tweet and asked him the following followed by his reply:

@GloBlair Were you there? Love to hear a first-hand report on it. Sounds like you were. Can you confirm?

GloBlair @RaptorsDevotee Said all I’m saying.

As you can see, Blair was obviously present (makes sense since he covers them) and it seems I called it correctly in my post above. Bruce Arthurs obviously feels differently that Wilner was asking legitimate journalistic questions and it was totally mishandled by Cito/Jays/Rogers/Fan 590.

This is a very interesting diversion of viewpoints here, and while I can see both sides of it, it does seem that Wilner was treated too heavyhandily and some mediation should have happened without the suspension.

How the Fan did not back up Wilner here is beyond me, and if I was Wilner, I would be so royally pissed off that I would be looking for other employment ASAP. I can only imagine how much pressure Rogers put on the FAN and their new station manager for the suspension, but this speaks volumes about how much power and influence Rogers has. The freedom of the press issues have certainly been abused, and in the future there will only be a bunch of Yes men/women covering the Jays with their current attitude.

Doug F
Doug F
June 5, 2010 6:01 pm

Is the Fan590 now a “shill” radio station for Rogers owned teams? Should there not be editorial freedom even though the shared ownership? Remember when McCowan used to host Jays talk….compared to Wilner he was exponentially worse. How about Berger and any of the Leaf GM/Coaches over the past 10 years…he’s been much harsher. Cito has always had a bit of an ego. Rogers is crossing a delicate line here….cant wait to hear Wilner’s next pregame!

June 5, 2010 6:02 pm

William Houston blames this on the new Fan program director:

Roy Green
June 5, 2010 6:03 pm

I agree Wilner shouldn’t have been benched for his comments. Shame on FAN 590. At the same time, I wholeheartedly agree with Lt67, Mike and others that Wilner, who used to be interesting to listen to, has become a condescending, arrogant, know-it-all who shits all over anyone who doesn’t agree with his ‘superior’ knowledge of the game. He should have been benched long ago for his treatment of fans.

June 5, 2010 6:56 pm

This is not a new story. Cito has been shielded from the media for a long time. The difficult issue here is that Cito never should have returned this year, and now an entire organisation is vainly trying to protect a legacy.

Personally I don’t really care about Cito one way or another. It isn’t news to me that Cito is a poor tactician, I appreciate that he was the Manager in 92-93 but it’s generally acknowledged that Cito succeeded during those years by staying out of the way.

What really concerns me here is the censure of the press.

I appreciate Blair’s pov, but censuring a reporter because the manager doesn’t like the line of questioning, the tone, or the guy himself does not equate to an eye for an eye. This whole episode could have been completely avoided if the manager was willing to clearly express himself and explain to me, Joe fan, through mouthpiece Wilner why you did what you did. Have the stones to tell me why. I might agree with you, I might not, doesn’t matter.

Makes me sit back and reconsider my support for this organisation. For me, this is a watershed moment

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 5, 2010 7:10 pm

Daniel knocks it out of the park like the Rays on a Scott Downs curveball.

After this, could you blame a Fan employee for thinking twice before conveying a strongly negative opinion about a Rogers property?

this is a horrible move by the FAN. it completely undermines the credibility of its reporters and hosts. Wilner is an ass but the question was legitimate and should have been pressed by the others present — questioning the manager is exactly the point of a post game/pre game press conference . if i’m Blair or one of the rest of them i’m sitting at home knowing that i’m a coward for not immediately asking Cito to answer the question.

June 5, 2010 7:56 pm

Wilner should feel lucky, most people who heckle the team and is thrown out of the Rogers Centre had to pay a ticket and service fees before hand lol. By the why doesn’t this fit perfectly to “Who’s paying the people covering the sport” audio show that was done here a month or so back. Yesterday was strange, they went to repeat broadcasting right after a short half hour post game, after a big baseball and hockey game.

Here’s a question that hasn’t been brought up, is “Jays Talk” part of the “Jays broadcast” or part of the fan. It does get confusing because Rogers owns both. But if it’s part of the Jays broadcast then is it uncommon for the team to have more control over that than beat reporters or talk show hosts. The examples that were given (Waters, McCown, Berger) none of these guys are actually on the payroll of the team. If Wilner is part of the broadcast crew that might be viewed a bit different as he’s “representing the team”

When has Mike Hogan ever been very critical of what the Argos are doing, When has Smith ever been VERY critical of any part of Raptors or basketball in the city (never that I hear) It’s almost understandable that they would put their team on a positive light during their broadcasts, it’s their jobs and almost expected (the major problem I have with them is they shouldn’t be general sports hosts as that’s then a conflict of interest, that’s another story) What you get from Raps/Leafs/Gol TV (all MLSE channel promoting the individual team) are surely less harsh than you get in the print or radio stations.

This situation for me is gray area, if it’s a beat writer not able to get access because of what they wrote or a question they ask, I think there’s no question that’s wrong. But if a team doesn’t want a guy doing their post game because they think he’s making the team look bad, I think that’s more of a debate. Just like if you are working colour commentary for a poor team and you keep saying “This team is horrible, no point of coming to the game or tuning in. Awful top to bottom” Not sure how long you’ll last (even if it’s true) as it’s not a great way to attract viewers to your product. I am leaning in supporting Wilner (as much of a jerk he is) because I don’t think he went overboard with his comment. But if the team thinks he did, it’s not that unusual to think they want a change (As much as I disagree with that sort of direction. This looks bad on everybody)

June 5, 2010 8:42 pm

seems that maybe Cito gave Wilner a taste of his own BS except it was only in front of the press corp and not 100,000 fans listening on the radio. Kinda tired of this Bob MCowan wannabe. I can’t believe that anyone actually likes to listen to that rubish

June 6, 2010 1:28 pm

Wilner is arrogant, without doubt; dismisses any opinion he doesn’t share. Similarly Cito and the Jays(Rogers) are being thin skinned and arrogant not to allow a reporter to have a different opinon on deploying the Blue Jays. A pedestrian sport like baseball is built on stategy and differences of opinion therein. Let these differences be expressed or die from indifference. Having said that, Mike’s getting a bit of his own bad medicine methinks.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 7, 2010 10:14 am

Wilner is going to be on the FAN at 10:27 a.m. with Zack Cooper to talk about the Jays taking 2/3 from the Yankees over the weekend.

Obviously, it will be interesting to see if Zack asks Wilner for his opinions on what happened and if so, if Wilner will respond.

The irony here is that Wilner was given the weekend off to cover a series and he is being interviewed by the FAN for his opinions on what took place.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 7, 2010 10:38 am

Nothing of note. Obviously Wilner and the FAN are ready to move on and integrate him back. Still have a bad taste about the whole thing. I have to say, from now on, with the exception of McCown, I will be very skeptical when FAN personalities voice their opinions, as I will always wonder if they have been sanitized beforehand and they do not really have freedom of speech.

June 7, 2010 6:41 pm

RD – echoing you comments about sanitized Rogers media comments.

You mentioned earlier that you would contact PD Kollins for an explanation.


Fat Shillner sucks
Fat Shillner sucks
June 20, 2015 8:26 pm

Fat Shillner still sucks and is still fat.

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