Are The Maple Leafs Doomed? Are we Bugging Bob?


“It seems clear Burke has to make something happen, and soon, if a seventh season out of the playoffs is to be avoided.

Something to make a dramatic difference, and that’s no easy assignment. Something with the impact of the coaching change that shocked the St. Louis Blues from a state of lethargy into the hardest team to play against in the Western Conference.

Wilson, he of the childish, me-me Christmas Day bragging about his contract extension — what respected pro sports team allows its coach to announce a contract agreement via Twitter? — looks locked in for the rest of the season, tying Burke’s hands on one potential option.”

That from Damien Cox.

Take your pick, Groundhog Day, Deja Vu all over again, but if you think this movie is getting a little bit tired, here we go again. The good ship Maple Leaf is once again in familiar territory, on the outside looking in and we fans know what’s coming. Whether warranted or not, but the media smells blood and the team isn’t doing much to throw them off the trail.

One scribe went so far as to suggest that the Buds be sellers at the upcoming deadline. This was via Twitter, but what I would have paid to see that question asked to Burke’s face if it were asked live.

I’ll say this, if the Leafs finish out of the hunt this year, it will be an extremely painful off-season for the blue and white. With the play of late being what it is, Cox’s column is only just the beginning.

So, did you happen to catch Bob Mccown’s rant the other day on the Toronto Blue Jays?

It was the afternoon of the very day that Jeff Blair interviewed Blue Jays president Paul Beeston. This has been the off-season of our discontent, we Blue Jays fans and well, McCown at least gives the appearance of being a big Jays/baseball fan. Bob’s comments echoed the sentiments of many fans who write on this website and others. Lot’s of talk on the Jays part (or others), and not so much in the way of results, in the off-season anyways.

I had no issue with anything McCown said. In fact I agreed with most of it. The problem I had is that he happens to work in the same building as those who both Beeston and AA report to. McCown said in essence that something has happened or happening that is keeping the Jays from spending money. In my mind that’s not a question for the President or GM. What are they supposed to say? In fact, Beeston, only hours earlier told Blair that Rogers is every bit the owner that Labbats ever was. Alex and Paul are paid large sums to speak glowingly about ownership if they want to keep their jobs or ever work in their industry again (much more of an issue for Alex than Paul).

If McCown is going to wonder aloud what’s going on, then bring in the bosses. I don’t know what floor the buck stops on at Roger’s HQ, but it can’t be all that far from McCown’s studio can it?

A caller asked McCown why he doesn’t ask the GM the very questions he asked aloud and McCown got pretty defensive. Asking the caller and audience in general to call any Toronto GM if McCown goes to light on them when they appear on his show. The best part was when Mccown lamented, “You need me more than I need you; I don’t call you at work!”

Well, no, no he doesn’t called any of us at work. We, as you may know don’t get paid to answer calls on the radio at work. He actually makes a lot of money to be on the radio, which at times requires that he does take calls. Not to be petty, but while I am perhaps one of the biggest PTS fans out there, especially when McCown hosts, he actually needs the listeners much more than the audience needs him. Yes, it would suck if he went off the air. However, we would survive. We survived once before sans Bob and well, we would have to again. Maybe he’s made enough cash to never work again, but if the audience left him what would he do…. Again, a petty response but whatever….

Who knows, maybe he had a bad day.

So, how do you feel the Raptors season is going so far? They got off to a good start, impressing all. Now, after dropping eight in a row they appear to have settled into reality. I loved the article in the Globe recognizing their strong TV numbers. I will say this again, the advent of HD tv and the rock bottom prices on flat panel tv’s is the biggest issue professional sports teams and leagues have to deal with right now. I don’t care the venue or the sport (the NFL being perhaps an exception with so few home games). The problem is simple; no matter how cheap the cheap seats are, their are a limited number of truly great seats in any venue and those seats cost a small fortune compared with the price of a flat panel tv. So, when given the choice between nose bleeders or a living room, the choice is easy. People can stay home and watch for free. The TV’s are too good, you get replays, commentary and more. The food and drink at home should be reasonably priced and let’s not talk about the parking. I know, if you start winning they will come. I think that used to be an easy generalization. I think there are markets that have proven that when the alternative to spending a fortune to go to a game is watching it for free, people will stay at home. It’s no surprise that the Raptors do really well on TV. Why should be the any different. Courtside and truly exceptional seats are expensive. I’d rather be on my couch watching then in the cheap seats too.

Happy Monday.


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January 23, 2012 5:25 am

Its probably cheaper to buy the package for baseball or hockey for an entire year than goto one game with decent seats, parking, food and having to deal with drunk and/or obnoxious fans.

Ive been to nfl games in baltimore, dc and dallas and the experience was mostly negative. As an out of market fans, sunday ticket and red zone are wonderful.

I prefer going to hockey live (for everything the camera misses) and baseball has its merits (leisurely pace, enjoyable summer nights) but mostly on a minor league level. (former hershey ahl and wilimington blue rocks season tix holder)

January 23, 2012 5:32 am

Agreed..wrong move by Burke to give Wilson that extension and for him to put it out on twitter the way he did this gives Burke one less fire the coach… having said that I belive if anyone can make a move or two and turn it around Burke has shown in the past can do it…just hope it is not to late…Koodos to McCowan for saying it the way it is..with Roger being his boss..Iam sure he also second guesses him self on why he did’ent ask a certain question or two after the interview is over..still the best at his on radio..

January 23, 2012 5:38 am

Its true about the improvement experience. However, I wonder what percent of people occupying the truly good seats at sports games (1) pay for the tickets themselves (corporate, gift) or (2) for whom the prices aren’t even pocket change. Let’s assume the tickets are season tickets.

Perhaps the biggest reason that the seasons tickets are bought is not the current product of 7 years of losses but the fact that those folks don’t want to lose their spot in the unlikely scenario the Leafs actually get good again!

For me, one game every few years is enough. I’ll tell you what though, the commercials at high volume at games are really annoying… so is the lack of replays (eg. Jays).

January 23, 2012 5:39 am

PS. The “Make It Seven” thing Cox wrote is hilarious. I’d give Bob a dollar to ask Burke if he’s looking forward to making it seven this year.

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
January 23, 2012 7:27 am

Bob sure has thin skin when it comes to any caller ever calling his interviewing skills as it relates to tough questions into question. Personally having heard Bob interview Burke a few times over the years, I feel Burke controls the interviews. Bob speaks many times of his initial interview with Burke where they didn’t get along. That is all well and good that he was tough on Burke then, but to me speaks more of how Burke has pretty much attained F.O.B. status, which means no more tough questions to his face.

January 23, 2012 8:40 am

I love Bob, and PTS!
Having said that, I’m getting a little tired of the “did he sign the contract yet” skit. IT IS GETTING REALLY OLD, fast!
Bob, you make ALOT OF MONEY. Take a little criticism once in awhile. It’s good for all of us. Your little “pout” the other day was pathetic. My eight year old daughter would put you to shame!
I EXPECT BOB to ASK the tough questions! The problem is that HIS EMPLOYERS OWN ALL THE SPORTS IN TORONTO!!

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 23, 2012 8:49 am

Bob, whether he likes or not, has a perception problem when it comes to Burke, and to a lesser extent with Beeston. I first started hearing the criticism that Bob is soft on in-studio guests in the last 3 years or so, and some of his recent work with these two suggests that the criticism has some merit.

part of what Bob might be reacting to is the fact that some people want him to slam people to their face. this is impossible: people won’t come in-studio to be attacked. but, there is a difference between not attacking guests and being soft on them. in the case of Burke, i highly encourage Bob to listen back to the interview and note how Burke ran the show and controlled the message. Frankly, it was really impressive, but we the audience rely on Bob to be better.

on AA/Beeston/Jays: Bob has done a decent job with AA, but he basically has a no comment policy. Nadir Mohammed appeared on Bob’s show and referred to the Jays’ payroll as a rounding error for Rogers. As far as I can tell, no one has been made accountable for that statement. If that really were the case, then given the available talent in free agency, the Jays would have improved their club this off-season. The message from the Jays front office has been inconsistent, and they need to be called out on that.

January 23, 2012 8:50 am

Clever ad in the subway by Mobilicity suggesting that all our ridiculous voice/data fees are going to subsidize the big three’s purchase of teams / stadiums.

January 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Yeah – with regard to Jays and spending – Bruce Arthur nailed it with his article a week or so ago.

The blame on AA (and Beeston to a lesser extent) is misguided. If you think the Jays should be spending more, blame Rogers. Contact them. The media should get Nadir or Pelley on and ask them.

What’s the point of grilling AA about it? He’s given a budget and is trying to work within that. I don’t understand why he’s expected to justify the budget when he doesn’t set it. Grill him on player moves (which, for the most part over the last two years, he’s done a very good job).

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 23, 2012 2:05 pm

Daniel — the thing that can be frustrating about AA is that his twin policies of, 1) being “in” on everyone and 2) not commenting on players, make it very easy for him to pretend that the Jays are more active than they might actually be. Take the closer situation: were they actually in on Papelbon or Nathan? Who knows? All we know is that they ended up trading away a high upside prospect for an unproven closer. Is this because they value Santos above the other guys? Again, who knows? It could be that, or it could be that he was blocked from seriously bidding on the best free agents at a position of need.

The problem is that as the GM he should have some kind of relationship with the people who follow the team, and right now it’s basically impossible to glean anything worthwhile from what he says. That said, i think we agree that his active moves (as opposed to his moves-not-made) have all been highly defensible. He’s brought in a lot of high upside players and acquired a lot of draft picks while giving up comparatively little. It’s just tough to see where this is going, because this team is not decisively more than two or three wins better than the team that finished .500 last year, and they need to be 9 wins better to have a chance at the post-season.

January 23, 2012 2:36 pm

I definitely get what you’re saying, Mike.

His not commenting policy IS annoying as a fan who is curious as to what the team is up to.

As a fan I guess I see it this way – it would be more pleasing if he were more communicative, but if his silence helps him make moves (as he claims) then I guess I’m fine with it. There was a story out there that the Red Sox were annoyed after the Santos trade, because they had no idea he was available. You wonder if the cone of silence helps with things like that.

And you’re definitely right – as of right now it definitely doesn’t LOOK like the team is about 9 games better than last year, getting them into the postseason race in 2012. I think possible they could be on the periphery, but not likely. (though I would say bets are off when some of these high upside young guys like Syndergard, Darnaud, Gose, etc start coming up. But most of these guys have a 2013 ETA at the earliest).

Is his inactivity, and not being able to land a starting pitcher or middle of the order bat yet clever patience on his part? Or a failure? I guess we’ll see… (I have a feeling most fans would say failure, as they’re getting impatient).

Really my only issue is grilling him on budget related stuff. I’m pretty sure if Rogers offered him a $120 mil payroll this year, he’d happily take it. As it happens, it looks like they’ve said he can be somewhere in the 80s.

January 23, 2012 3:40 pm

Mike in Boston – great points!

I think if that interview happens with the current record over the past few games there are different questions.If you really piss off Burke are you going to get anyone from the Leafs on?

Having said that Bob’s response is well – silly, we don’t do our job in a forum where we invite people to watch and participate either. I cannot help but think it was contrived as he had mentioned after the Burke interview something about the job being better without an audience.

I do think both GM’s are challenging interviews but from very different perspectives. While I did not see the Burke interview in the same light as you, going from memory, thought it was fine. However AA’s reluctance/inability to answer questions directly was extremely frustrating. Given a choice I would have either Beeston or Farrell (different discussions I know) before Anthopolous. I would only look to AA to discuss very specific situations in small segments.

Getting the bosses in studio presumes that they are willing to come on to discuss the situation. That they haven’t may be telling… There is also a fine line where you make a career decision in slagging your bosses. There are days I think McCown may be there but on balance, I think he does the radio thing because he wants to not because he needs to.

January 23, 2012 4:54 pm

Here’s a little prospect porn for Jays fans bummed out by this offseason:

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
January 23, 2012 5:00 pm

BOB needs to be replaced,the problem is with who?There is not a broadcaster in this country that can fill that spot,he knows it he has become mediocre to the point of boring,listen at your peril…

Ami Angelwings
January 23, 2012 11:43 pm


January 24, 2012 8:56 pm

I am largely a fan of AA. Some things to consider/remember:

– People who are impatient with the team are dumping on a GM who has only been on the job for TWO years. He is still in the early to mid stages of undoing the steaming pile of dog doo left behind by JP Ricciardi.

Baseball is by far the toughest sport to re-build an organization, largely because of the talent pipeline in 4+ levels of minor leagues that has to be filled to support the MLB team. Four to five years is a reasonable timeline to see a re-build bear fruit at the upper levels. He has managed to rebuild…and I do mean rebuild…the farm system in that short time. This is evidenced by a major publication (I believe it is Baseball America, but I could easily be mistaken…sorry.) having rated the Jays farm in the top five of MLB, after that same group ranked the Jays in the bottom five shortly before JPR was let go. This paid off (hopefully) in the Santos trade as the Jays gave up a pitching prospect generally regarded as only the 6th or 7th best for a young, inexpensive, though unproven (even if some Jays players rave about the guy), MLB closer.

– The points of annoyance, well identified by M(IB), are intertwined. AA is reported to be “in” on everybody largely BECAUSE of his policy to not comment to the media. In the vacuum of no comment, rumour monger journalists and bloggers simply insert his name into every possible player transaction.

– The cone of silence, while very aggravating to the impatient fan base (who look at the 18+ years since the WS years, instead of the two that AA has been in charge) has served AA well. Think about it…I personally cannot recall any of AA’s actual transactions being rumoured about before they actually happened (i.e. especially big moves like the miracle that was dumping Wells’ contract, the Lawrie/Marcum trade, and the Rasmus trade). Conversely, I don’t recall any rumoured AA moves, actually coming to fruition (Darvish, Fielder (on occasion), etc.). This must give AA an edge in his dealings with other GM’s.

– Will this team be markedly better than last year?…not likely, at the MLB level. However, between building the farm, and turning the bullpen into possibly the best in baseball over the last couple of weeks and months, I would not be surprised to see AA swing another mid-season trade, using mainly the bullpen and prospect depth, to obtain a #2 or #3 starter and/or filling a positional need with a young, high ceiling MLB player like Rasmus. This should add another building block so that this team will be better position to become a serious contender starting in 2013 – 15, and beyond.

Roy Green
January 25, 2012 4:06 pm

McCown ALWAYS gets defensive when the rest of we mere mortals question his opinions. He’s the ultimate big-headed, know-it-all sports jock. Having said that (his favourite line), I still listen, ’cause he’s the best of a very, very bad lot and besides, it’s the only place I get to hear Brunt on a regular basis.
When it comes to confrontation, BMCc is always very vocal and critical until, that is, the person he’s been attacking from a distance actually appears on the show.

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