Prime Time Sports Review for Wednesday, August 22, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Listener phone calls with Jeff Blair

  • Calls are generally about Ricky Romero, many callers think he should be sent down, or shut down
  • Some calls complain about Rogers not spending money, one caller suggests Rogers should sell the team and just stay as a rights holder
  • One caller complains about Anthony Gose, another caller claims that he knows the Jays have been clubbing at night
  • Jeff Blair believes you should shut Romero down or move to a 6 man rotation, but there’s no point in sending him down to the minors

5pm hour – Jeff Blair hosting, Dave Perkins co-hosting

First segment: Interview with Ken Rosenthal, baseball reporter for FOX Sports

  • Blair asks about the impact of Bartolo Colon being suspended for increased testosterone levels, Rosenthal says it will hurt the As because down the stretch they will need veteran pitching
  • Rosenthal expects the As to stay internal to replace Colon
  • Blair asks if the Nationals will actually shut Strasburg down, Rosenthal believes they will because they have been consistent about their views
  • Asked about Clemens, Rosenthal thinks there’s a lot of motivation on both sides for him to rejoin the Astros, for Clemens, it’s to delay his hall of fame eligibility, for the Astros’ it’s to sell tickets
  • Perkins asks what the Jays should do with Ricky Romero, Rosenthal believes he needs a break, either sending him down to the minors or having him miss a start
  • Blair suggests the jays may go to a 6 man rotation
  • Discussion about John Farrell and the Red Sox managing situation, Rosenthal thinks the Jays should sign Farrell to an extension now, also suggests that Jason Varitek may be an option for Red Sox manager

Second segment: Interview with Milos Raonic, Canadian ATP player

  • Blair asks Raonic what he thinks of the US open, Raonic says it’s “great”
  • Perkins asks about Raonic’s Olympic experience, Raonic says representing Canada makes him proud
  • Perkins asks if the Olympic tennis tournament was different than Wimbledon, Raonic says there wasn’t much difference outside of the crowd
  • Blair and Raonic talk about the rowdiness of the US Open crowd
  • Blair asks Raonic to expand on his comments that he “needed to create more chances” in his matches, Raonic says that he was waiting and reacting instead of “creating”
  • Perkins asks Raonic who are the big servers in Tennis, Raonic lists Isner, Karlovic, Federer and Tsonga
  • Blair asks Raonic to give an area of his game that he’s not happy about, Raonic says he needs to improve on handling the first ball on a return of serve
  • Blair and Perkins compliment Raonic for being the highest ranked Canadian tennis player ever, Raonic says he was taught by his parents not to compare himself to other Canadian players because of the lack of success Canada’s had in men’s singles

Third segment: Talk segment

  • Perkins gets mad at Blair for boring him by talking about Blair’s fantasy soccer team
  • Perkins reminisces on how times have changed and that fans care more about statistics and individual player accomplishments than they do about team success

6pm hour – Jeff Blair hosting, Dave Perkins co-hosting

First segment: Interview with Charley Casserly, analyst for the NFL Network, former NFL general managers

  • Blair asks about the NFL using replacement referees, Casserly says that he’s seen calls that aren’t normally called and that the officiating is inconsistent but will improve
  • Perkins asks if the NFL’s credibility is damaged because they make so much money yet lock out the officials and choose to go with inferior officiating, Casserly says that the NFL can’t simply give in to the officials’ demands, says that they shouldn’t have a pension plan
  • Blair asks what will happen to Michael Vick, Casserly says that the Eagles understand they have a talented but aging and injury prone quarterback, and know they need a back up in case
  • Perkins asks how Casserly looked at pre-season games as a general manager, Casserly says that he looked for how his starters played against the opponents’ starters
  • Post-Interview, Blair and Perkins discuss the NFL’s London game and the silliness of sending Jacksonville

Second Segment: Interview with Steve Bitker, sports broadcaster with KCBS 740AM in San Francisco

  • Perkins thinks it’s interesting that both Cabrera and Colon are former Yankees
  • Bitker thinks that despite the statistics, Colon isn’t a big loss to the As because he has a history of fading down the stretch
  • Bitker talks about the depth of young pitching in the As’ system
  • Blair says the As organization is really good at identifying young pitchers they want to acquire in trades, Bitker agrees

Third Segment: Talk segment

  • Georges Laraque cancels again, Blair half-jokingly expresses his annoyance
  • Blair is starting to wonder how real the CHLPA idea is, brings up the question of whether you have to negotiate with each team owner individually  because they are all individual owners, Perkins wonders who would be financing the CHLPA
  • Blair says that Georges Laraque is the last person he’d want to run any organization that was serious about getting something done
  • Perkins and Blair discuss the possiblity of Buffalo becoming Toronto’s AAA baseball affiliate, Blair thinks people in Buffalo would not stomach being the junior partner to Toronto, Perkins disagrees and says Buffalo understands that it’s a AAA baseball town
  • Perkins talks about how awful it was for him to watch Romero struggle last night, he believes the Jays have to sort Romero out soon rather than have him stew on it for 6 months
  • Perkins suggests shutting moving Romero to the bullpen, Blair doesn’t think it’s a good idea, Perkins doesn’t like Blair’s idea of a 6 man rotation


I wonder why Jeff Blair doesn’t get the sort of criticism that Mike Wilner does in the way he handles phone calls.  To my ear, Blair is even worse when it comes to callers he disagrees with because he cuts them off mid-sentence and starts yelling at them and explaining to them why they’re wrong even before they finish talking.  This caught up with him today because one caller’s point was actually not what Blair thought it was and after Blair’s explanation, the caller revealed he wasn’t talking about that at all.

I went into more detail of the Jays calls because I wanted to show just how much anger there seems to be about the Blue Jays.  I think that some fans went into this season ready to pounce on Alex Anthopoulous and Rogers if the Jays had another bad season, and they’re frustrated because the injuries have clouded the issue, but their anger hasn’t gone away.  A lot of the calls are fans who need to blame SOMEBODY and get mad at SOMEBODY, whether it’s Rogers, or Anthony Gose, or that the Jays are being lazy and partying all the time, they just need SOMEBODY to be angry at.

Blair’s statement that it’s understandable that the Jays go clubbing because they’re “practicing heterosexuals” is odd, since bi and gay people party too (in fact, the stereotype is we party MORE.)  Blair was pretty definitive that he didn’t have any problem with injured players (and pitchers who aren’t starting the next day) clubbing

He talked about it twice, and I still don’t understand why Blair thinks that Buffalo would have an issue being Toronto’s farm team.  I understand they would be angry that the Bills are playing 2 games in Toronto a year, but whether Toronto is the affiliate or not, Buffalo’s going to be SOMEBODY’S farm team.  I agree with Perkins: They know what they are, and I think some of them might actually like having the major league affiliate within a 1.5 hour drive.

The Raonic interview was a perfect example of why Bob hates interviewing athletes.  Perkins and Blair tried so hard to get something interesting out of Raonic, and he managed to say nothing while using a lot of sentences.  He said “great” about 3 times while describing the US open, and all he said about the Olympics was that he was proud to represent Canada.  Blair asking him to explain what he meant by “needing to create more” was the worst part because Raonic responded to the question by using the word “create” 5 times and basically concluded by saying he needed to create more.  He didn’t explain what he was creating, which was what Blair was driving for.

I find the athletes that make the best interviews are journeyman players that have had to learn the intricacies of the game to keep their jobs.  Unsurprisingly, they’re also the ones who are most likely to become analysts or coaches.  The superstars and prodigies (like Raonic) are generally unable to explain their talent or how they play the game, because they haven’t had to think about it as much.

I wonder if Raonic saying that he doesn’t compare himself to other Canadian tennis players, and doesn’t care about his ranking in Canadian tennis history, will cause an issue or not.  I mean, it’s completely understandable, because he’s right, we haven’t had much of a history.  At the same time, Canadians sometimes get touchy about these things.

As a younger person, I always roll my eyes whenever I listen to Bob or Perkins or Shannon complain about new media and how kids these days just aren’t as polite as the older generation, and how Twitter and email have ruined everything.  I did find Perkins yelling at Blair that he doesn’t care about his fantasy sports team to be amusing though.

Charley Casserly was a huge shill for the NFL.  He reminded me of Doug Maclean and John Shannon back when they still felt they had to defend the NHL up, down, back, forth and sideways.  Shannon’s still a bit like that, but he’s nowhere as bad as he was before.  Perkins had an interesting point about the reputation of the NFL, and Casserly’s response was basically “you can’t expect the NFL to negotiate with those ungrateful referees!”

Rosenthal’s interview was fairly interesting, and I thought he had a lot of good analysis.  I don’t know if there’s any substance to his suggestion about Varitek or not, but it’s a creative idea.  Bitker didn’t offer up very much.  I think the mistake was that Blair and Perkins didn’t do what Bob did last week, which was asking Bitker about how the issue was playing in the Bay Area.  Once Bitker said that he didn’t think Colon’s talents would be missed, there really wasn’t much else to go in terms of baseball analysis.

I think Blair is really annoyed at Laraque.  He took a couple of shots at him, and he even “joked” at the end that Laraque should be banned from the show.  It also sounds like Blair’s never really liked Laraque.  I thought it was a bit of a mean shot when Blair said that Laraque isn’t fit to lead any organization that actually wants to get something done.  I wonder if it’ll get back to Georges and if it’ll affect the interview when (OR IF) it’ll ever actually happen.  I completely understand why a guest not answering his phone twice in two days when he’s scheduled to be on would annoy a radio host, though.

Outside of the Rosenthal interview, I thought this was a pretty lackluster show.  It could have been worse, but I always enjoy listening to Perkins talk during the talk segments, even if he’s trashing us young’uns.

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August 23, 2012 5:32 am

Thanks Ami, now I don’t need to listen!

Brian Gerstein
August 23, 2012 8:41 am

Ami, thanks again for the write-up. I rarely listen/watch PTS outside of Brunt being there, but having seen on Twitter that Milos was coming up I tuned in. To give you a little background, he grew up down the street from me, and I know his family, in fact after he beat Berdych last week I rang their bell, and we celebrated with some Grappa, while watching the 3rd set together, which was tape delayed.

When Milos was talking about his Canadian ranking, as the top ranked Canadian player ever, he never said he didn’t care about it, in fact he did say he was proud of it. He went on to say as you alluded to, how his parents rightfully used the measuring stick of the top players in the game for him to strive for. How could this possibly be interpreted by some Canadians as touchy? What should he do, say Yay, I am the top Canadian ever now ranked at #16 in the world, think I will just hang around this seeding spot, as by doing so, I will continue to be the Top Canadian, no pressure to improve. Think about how ridiculous that is.

Yes, as far as interviews go, he is quite dry and does not reveal a lot. You are right that he has such natural ability that it does come natural to him, although he is a tremendously hard worker and trains as much as he can while using an excellent coaching/physio/psychological team, so gets the most out of himself, but does have difficulty articulating the nuances of the game. We can leave that to “tennis junkie” Damian Cox to critique for us, as Blair stated on the show. That was actually my best laugh of the day. Cox may be a tennis junkie, as a superfan, but anybody knowledgeable in tennis would tell you what a wannabe tennis expert he is. Personally, I am not a tennis expert, far from it, but since Milos has first been on the radar screen and risen through the rankings, I go out of my way to follow his matches.

Bottom line for Milos as far as interviews go, if you ask him a direct question with no escape route, you will get an answer, but don’t expect him to come back with real tangible insights on his game. In other words, as much as I follow him, even I admit that there are far better athletes to interview if PTS goes in that direction. For PTS to book him, they do it because he is a name now, and accept his interviewing deficiencies.

August 23, 2012 11:51 am
Reply to  Brian Gerstein

Im just annoyed that 590 has turned his name inro “thornhill’s milos raonic.”

Another Steve
Another Steve
August 23, 2012 3:45 pm

Thanks for the recap. I didn’t get a chance to hear the interview, but I know that Milos can be as dry an interview as Federer or Nadal. Very polite, but dry.

However, I still think he does show some bits of personality. Last week he became known for an answer he gave in Cincinnati regarding wishing that he could play doubles with Anna Ivanovic. When pressed he said something to the effect of “you figure it out,” while smiling.

It’s fair to criticize the choice of interviewing athletes on the air, but I also think that it’s the job of the radio host(s) to make it interesting. That is, to prepare for the interview. Blair has admitted that he doesn’t like tennis, and Perkins, with the question about who the hardest servers are, let us know that he doesn’t really follow the game.

My question: why ask Raonic to appear at all if they are going to be so pathetic in their preparation for the interview? I know that Tim and Sid don’t talk tennis so much, but I am certain that they would both plan for this interview ahead of time and/or figure out a way to make it entertaining.

(It’s just my guess, but I think that the Raonic interview does more for 590 than it does for him. Lots of places want to interview him.)

Again, yes, athletes can be dull – especially the ones who are not trying to make a name for themselves through being controversial. But I think that it’s the role of the host(s) to figure out how to make a show interesting.

mike in boston
mike in boston
August 23, 2012 3:55 pm

nice recap Ami. these are really welcome, and i’ll bet you a dollar your hero Bobcat checks in here to see what is going on at PTS while he is off.

I wonder why Jeff Blair doesn’t get the sort of criticism that Mike Wilner does in the way he handles phone calls. To my ear, Blair is even worse when it comes to callers he disagrees with because he cuts them off mid-sentence and starts yelling at them and explaining to them why they’re wrong even before they finish talking.

i’d be curious to know if others agree with you about this. my only experience with Blair and callers is back when he was originally brought in as a summer time replacement for Bob (2 years ago?). He was a trainwreck at the time — unable to say much more than “i don’t like X,Y,Z!”, interrupting callers after a few seconds, and just generally being a stumbling grump. When he got his own show people here complained about how many calls he took, but I don’t remember him being panned for his style or ability. I have not listened to his show nor his recent PTS call-in segments.

Has Blair improved as a call-in host?

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
August 23, 2012 6:44 pm

Perkins and Blair tried so hard to get something interesting out of Raonic, and he managed to say nothing while using a lot of sentences. He said “great” about 3 times while describing the US open

Blair was asking Raonic about the vibe playing there with a rowdy crowd etc. But in fairness to Raonic what can he say about playing the US Open given that he’s only ever played one match there? He missed it in 2011, his breakout year, due to injury. So his only experience there would’ve been when he just turned professional, probably playing in some outer court with 6 people watching. I got the impression Blair thought Raonic was used to playing there.

August 23, 2012 8:13 pm
Reply to  mike in boston

i’ll bet you a dollar your hero Bobcat checks in here to see what is going on at PTS while he is off.

Maybe he’s the one who downvotes every single comment. xD

August 23, 2012 11:12 pm

Im glad i went with my gut and fast forward the tennis guy’s interview on the podcast. And yes Ami, we DO party more!!

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