Prime Time Sports Review for Friday, August 17, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Listener calls with Bob McCown

  • Calls are mostly about baseball and the Blue Jays, concerns about the injuries, about spending, and about Farrell leaving the Jays
  • Bob again defends Rogers and believes they will spend when Alex Anthopolous asks for the money


5pm hour – Roundtable Discussion with Bob McCown (host of Prime Time Sports), John Shannon (Sportsnet hockey insider), Sid Seixeiro (co-host of Tim & Sid, FAN590), Neil Smith (former General Manager of the New York Rangers, occasional Sportsnet hockey analyst)

First Segment: Are the Jays treated better by the Toronto media than the Maple Leafs?

  • Bob and John think that the Leafs are treated no harsher than the Jays, Sid believes the Leafs get it worse because the Jays have had more recent success
  • Sid and Neil argue about whether Burke was treated too lightly last season, Sid says he felt bad for how bad Burke was treated, Neil thinks that Burke gets off a lot easier than if he was in Montreal or New York
  • John points out that the difference between the way the teams are treated is that the Jays are seen as having hope, while the Leafs are seen as having traded away a bright future for Phil Kessel

Second Segment: Is John Farrell in danger of leaving the Blue Jays for the Red Sox?

  • Sid thinks that Farrell hasn’t done anything special with the Jays that would warrant any team to want to poach him from the Jays
  • John thinks that the Red Sox may want him back because the players look back fondly on when he was pitching coach
  • Bob and Sid agree that it’s impossible to know right now whether or not Farrell is a good manager because he’s only been on the job for 2 years and this year is being marred by injury
  • Neil doesn’t think there’s precedent for the Red Sox to fire Bobby Valentine and hire a temporary manager until Farrell’s contract is done, John points out that this happened in hockey with Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Sid believes Toronto is a better team than Boston and Farrell would want to stay, John believes Farrell would be tempted by the lure of turning a historic franchise around

Third Segment: Who will replace Richard Peddie as CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment?

  • Bob believes you can’t hire from within, and that no candidates within MLSE can be the new face because they are all tainted by failure
  • John believes that MLSE will be re-structured so that Bryan Colangelo and Brian Burke would have the same power as the new CEO, Bob thinks this is a terrible idea
  • John agrees with Bob that ultimately, they may have to hire externally


6pm hour – Roundtable Discussion continues

First Segment: Discussion of the NHL CBA negotiations and a possible lockout

  • Neil Smith recalls his memories of the 1994 NHL lockout
  • Bob thinks the biggest problem is that there’s no fear by owners of locking out the players, fans have proven they will come back in the same or greater numbers
  • John and Sid believes that a deal will be done by January, with enough time to play the outdoor game in Michigan
  • Neil thinks the small market teams do fear losing a season, but Bob and John point out that the opposite is true: the small markets don’t lose money if they don’t play games
  • Bob believes the players are being short changed by the owners
  • Sid launches into a rant about how much he hates grandstanding and he’s sick of reporting on two sides that aren’t accomplishing anything

Second Segment: Should the NHLPA threaten to not play the outdoor game?

  • Bob believes that the NHLPA should have some way in how the NHL runs their business because they are partners and the player salaries are affected by revenues being dragged down by money-losing teams
  • John suggests the owners may be hiding revenue and that Donald Fehr has the experience to find out
  • Sid thinks Bob’s idea that the NHLPA should threaten not playing the outdoor game ever again is a great idea for the NHLPA to get leverage
  • Neil wonders if the players can refuse to play it, Bob and John say that all things are up for negotiation in a new CBA

Third Segment: Should a 6’1″ 300lb 12 year old be banned from playing Peewee football because of his weight?

  • Neil, John and Sid think he shouldn’t for the safety of other players, Bob isn’t so sure
  • Bob points out that the mother says that her son is self-conscious about his weight and that football made him feel better
  • Bob doesn’t think that he would be much of a danger because he’d be playing a fairly stationary position



Personally, I enjoyed this roundtable quite a bit.  All of the topics were topics Bob was interested in, and I think he had a lot of good thoughts.  However, as a roundtable, which should be a group discussion, I’m not sure it was a success.  I noticed that Sid didn’t talk a lot in a few segments, and it was Bob and John talking.  When Sid would talk, he would make exagerrated pronouncements, such as his rant about grandstanding.  Neil talked even less, and when he did, he sounded like he didn’t know anything about the topics.  John and Bob corrected him a lot, and I was surprised at how often he didn’t seem to know that things were possible.  He seemed utterly lost about current hockey events.

John Shannon trying to be hip and “with it” by doing the “BAM HASHTAG BAM” stuff with Sid is hard to listen to.  I think Bob realizes he’s stumbled into a pretty good idea for the NHLPA (refusing to play the Winter Classic ever again) and I suspect he’s going to bring it up more and more often in the future.

I thought Bob had a great point about Alex Anthopolous being young and new at being a GM and that might be a reason he’s being more cautious than Brian Burke.

At the beginning of the second segment, Bob seems concerned that him not supporting the owners is against his free enterprise beliefs.  He shouldn’t be concerned because part of free enterprise is that workers should be paid what they’re able to get on the free market.  The owners are against having a free market and want to cap player salaries and restrict when players can shop their services.  As has been pointed out a lot in the media (including, by Bob), the owners don’t want to compete against each other because it drives up salaries.   In a free market, a player is worth whatever a team is willing to sign him to, and the player would be able to shop his services and not be restricted to the team that signs him.  The owners want a player to be tied to a team for 10 years and for contract length and worth to be capped.  Bob seems to assume that supporting free enterprise means he should be on the owners side, but the owners are against having a free market.   So, in fact, Bob not supporting them is completely in line with his stated beliefs.

I enjoyed the discussion in the final segment and I wish that they had more time for it.  I was impressed that Bob took the unpopular side, and was arguing that the kid should be allowed to play.  When Bob paraphrased the mother, I knew why he took that position.  Bob believes children’s sports should be for fun, not competitive, or treated as professional sports.  He’s stated that over and over again when it comes to hockey, and I think here, he’s thinking about the self-esteem of the kid.  The contrast was especially stark when John Shannon said that the only reason the coach wanted the kid to play was so he could win, and I don’t think that’s the reason that was on Bob’s mind.  I also like that, barring a last second joke by Sid, they managed to avoid any fat jokes in the entire segment, when it could have been RIFE with them.  I’m glad Damien Cox wasn’t on this roundtable because I suspect he would have led the charge on the fat jokes.

All in all, I liked the topics, and I found the discussion really interesting, but I found Neil Smith’s contributions sadly lacking, and I wish Sid would talk more and joke less.

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