Prime Time Sports Review for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Listener Phone Calls with Bob McCown

  • Calls are about Muhammad Ali and if any other athlete compares to him in terms of stature and cultural impact
  • One call asks Bob about how he prepares for interviews, Bob says that he goes into interviews cold

5pm hour – Bob McCown hosting, Damien Cox (Prime Time Sports co-host, Hockey and tennis reporter for the Toronto Star) co-hosting

First Segment: Discussion of how GMs should be judged, and when they should be fired

  • Cox rips Bob for thinking that Brian Burke should be fired after 3.5 seasons as GM of the Leafs, but not Alex Anthopoulos after 3 seasons with the Blue Jays
  • Bob says that if Brian Burke doesn’t make the playoffs this year, he should be fired
  • Cox asks Bob if he would fire him if there were massive injuries to the team, Bob says he wouldn’t, Cox accuses him of changing his position
  • Bob and Cox discuss the failure of the MLSE teams
  • Cox says he doesn’t know what .500 in the NHL is anymore

Second Segment: Interview with Gregg Zaun (Sportsnet baseball analyst)

  • Bob asks Zaun about how he feels about Alex Anthopoulos’ statement that the Jays offense and relief pitching are championship material, Zaun doesn’t think the offense is all-star level because it struggles against ace pitching
  • Zaun isn’t convinced Sergio Santos is a closer on a championship ball club
  • Zaun praises Carlos Villanueva
  • Discussion about the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg, Zaun thinks that pitchers need to be worked up to innings before they get to the majors

Third Segment: Interview with Bill “The Spaceman” Lee (former MLB pitcher)

  • Lee suggests shutting Stephen Strasburg down for a bit and then reactivating him for the playoffs
  • Lee gives Bob his theories as to why more pitchers are injuring themselves lately, believes that its because pitchers are throwing more breaking balls
  • Bob believes it’s because pitchers paced themselves more in the past because of the 4 man rotation and smaller bullpens


6pm hour – Bob McCown hosting, Damien Cox (Prime Time Sports co-host, Hockey and tennis reporter for the Toronto Star) co-hosting

First Segment: Interview with Doug Maclean (Sportsnet hockey analyst)

  • Discussion about the CBA negotiations, Maclean believes the owners need more revenue sharing
  • Maclean doesn’t think the players are united enough to challenge the owners
  • Maclean says that the real issue is that there’s 6 bad franchises and the owners want to keep them alive at the expense of the players
  • Discussion ensues about the failing franchises and if you can fix them, Bob thinks you have to move 2 of them to Quebec City and Toronto
  • Maclean says that NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman told him 13 franchises are losing money even with revenue sharing included
  • Cox asks if Donald Fehr bringing out the star players at his press conference matters to the owners, Maclean says it doesn’t, shares a story of an NHL owner during last lockout who thought he was casting a vote for his NBA franchise
  • Bob notes that this is proof that owners are idiots

Second Segment: Interview with Sam Mitchell (former Toronto Raptors head coach, current scout for the New Jersey Nets)

  • Bob asks Sam if the Lakers are the team to beat now, Sam believes it depends if the players can adapt to their roles
  • Mitchell agrees with Bob that having a few dominating teams is good for the league, Cox isn’t so sure
  • Post-Interview, Cox tells Bob he doesn’t see how the Raptors can ever make the playoffs in the current environment of the NBA

Third Segment: Interview with Alex Anthopoulos (GM of the Toronto Blue Jays)

  • Bob asks Anthopoulos about his statement that the Jays have championship calibre relief pitching and hitting, Anthopoulos says he regrets using the word “championship” and should have used “good”
  • Cox asks about Zaun’s suggestion of putting Casey Janssen in the starting rotation, Anthopoulos doesn’t think his arm can handle the load of starting
  • Post-Interview, Cox says that if Brian Burke had said what Alex said and tried to backtrack, the media would be all over him, but Anthopoulos keeps getting a pass, Cox and Bob insult each other


Damien Cox is like the radio version of an internet troll whenever he disagrees with Bob.  Also, I think he often takes positions just because they aren’t the ones that most media people believe, because he can present it as if he’s the brave rebel who speaks truth to power.

In that first segment, Cox trolled Bob hard, and I counted a number of internet troll tactics he used.  First, he straw-manned Bob’s argument.  Bob didn’t say “the Maple Leafs have to make the playoffs regardless of catastrophic injuries”, he said that they have to make the playoffs to justify Burke keeping his job.  It’s generally understood that statements like this include “within reason” at the end of it.  If you say “the company must turn a profit this year or CEO XYZ should be fired”, it’s generally understood that if Godzilla showed up and blew up their warehouses, that wouldn’t be held against the CEO.  But Cox creates a straw-man of Bob’s argument, and then troll tactic #2: accuses Bob of being inconsistent, and creates a false choice where Bob has to admit that Cox is right, or agree with the straw-man Cox just made up.

Troll tactic #3 is when Cox followed that up by concern trolling Bob, and saying that it’s too bad Bob changed his mind because Bob actually took a firm stand on something, and Cox found that brave of Bob.

Troll tactic #4 is when Bob gets angry and tries to counter Cox, Cox reacts with “THAT’S THE BEST YOU CAN DO?”, which is a kind of goal post move, because this started out as a discussion/debate, and now Cox has decided it’s an insult contest and Bob is losing.

Whether he means to or not, Cox makes a pretty effective troll, because he stops Bob from being able to actually clearly state his point of view, while avoiding an actual discussion or debate on the initial statement.

Bob resorting to straw-manning Cox at the end is just the natural continuation of how badly Cox has poisoned the dialogue during the show.  Like any frustrated victim of a troll, Bob sees the troll not debating and uses his own tactics back at him.  And, like any good troll, Cox immediately acts confused and wonders why Bob is straw-manning him.

Sorry, I love analyzing these things, and I hate people who disrupt conversations and get away with it because the people involved don’t see what’s happening until it’s too late.

This show wasn’t particularly memorable to me, but I did enjoy the Doug Maclean segment.  I dislike how Maclean likes to play the heel, and has to act megalomaniacal whenever he’s on Prime Time Sports.  This leads to him and Bob trading insults that I suspect aren’t as joking as they sound, given the history between those two.

Despite that, Maclean knows his stuff and I thought his insights into the CBA were bang on, and I liked that he’s willing to put the blame on ownership for the NHL financial situation.  It feels like in the last year, Maclean has made peace with the fact that he’s never going to get a job with the NHL again, and this has allowed him to finally take off the gloves when speaking about the NHL, Gary Bettman and the owners.  It’s really refreshing, and has turned him from somebody I hate hearing on the radio, to somebody I’m okay with because of his knowledge.

I know Bob’s statement about not doing any prep work for interviews made a lot of people shake their heads at him, but I’m not necessarily among them.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong, per se, with Bob going into an interview cold.  Some people are better with prep work and notes, and other people are better thinking on their feet, and prefer an organic discussion/interview.

However, this type of strategy only works if 1) you have a good memory of the points you want to hit 2) you know the material on the topic even if you don’t have the specifics planned out  3) you care about what you’re talking about.

The question is, are all three of the above true for Bob for all of his interviews?  I think, often, especially lately, they aren’t.  That has translated into some interviews being of drastically lesser quality than others, because it hinges on how interested Bob is, how much he knows about the sport being talked about, and how good his memory is.  To that last point, I’ve noticed his memory has gotten noticeably worse in the last few years. 🙁

Other than the Maclean interview, I didn’t feel that the rest of the show was particularly interesting.  I like both Gregg Zaun and Bill Lee as personalities but neither interview really captivated me, or gave me any new information about the subject.  Sam Mitchell’s interview was pretty generic.  It’s a truism that the success of a superstar team hinges on the ability of those superstars to co-exist.  The Anthopoulos interview was really short because Bob and Alex spent the first half teasing each other.

Bob never introduced what Sam Mitchell did.  He just introduced him as “Sam Mitchell”.

All in all, I found this show hard to keep interest in.  To be fair, it could just be because Cox’s trolling put me off.  I don’t like listening to somebody being arbitrarily mean and dishonest, and it was making me want to give Bob a hug.

Math nerd note:

I actually have an answer for Bob and Damien’s question about “new .500”  The equation is the average number of OT games played by any given team in a season multiplied by 1.5 plus the average number of regulation games played.  So, with last season (I didn’t bother to calculate it for all of the seasons since this format started,) the average number of OT games is exactly 20.  20 times 1.5 is 30, plus 62 is 92.

The way I calculated is that you take the average number of OT games, and you take half of those and count them as wins (2 points), and half as losses (1 point), and add up the points.  That’s equivalent to multiplying the number by 1.5  Then you take the remaining number of games, and you halve them and count half as wins (2 points) and half as losses (0 points.)  Since this is the same as not doing that at all, I skipped that step.

Yes, I’m a math nerd.  >_>

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