Prime Time Sports Review for Friday, September 28, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Bob McCown hosting

First segment: Interview with Sid Seixeiro

  • Bob and Seixeiro talk about parking

Second segment: Interview with Glen Healy

  • Healy talks about his experience as a player during lockouts, and how much better communication is now in the NHLPA
  • Bob suggests the NHLPA starting a players only league, Healy thinks it can’t work, an argument ensues

5pm hour – Roundtable discussion with Bob McCown, John Shannon, Elliotte Friedman and Tim Micallef

First, second and third segments: Debate about the Blue Jays and whether or not a non-former-player can make a good general manager

  • Bob, Shannon and Micallef think that playing experience isn’t necessary to being a general manager, Friedman thinks it is
  • Friedman uses himself as an example, says that he couldn’t keep up with Leo Rautins on basketball commentary and Rautins saw the game differently than he did
  • Shannon tells Friedman that Friedman is just a broadcaster and isn’t an actual hockey guy and just because he can’t doesn’t mean no non-player ever could
  • Bob thinks you just need to surround yourself with smart people
  • Micallef believes that the role of a GM nowadays is about PR and getting players to come to a city rather than scouting talent
  • Friedman claims that Billy Beane is an example of former playing experience informing managerial decisions

6pm hour – Roundtable continues

First segment: Should Paul Henderson be in the hall of fame?

  • Bob thinks he should, points out that others are in for single achievements such as Herb Brooks
  • Shannon thinks he shouldn’t and that WHA stats don’t count

Second segment: Discussion of Darryl Katz threatening to take the Oilers to Seattle to get the arena deal he wants

  • Everybody agrees that it was a terrible move and Katz made a mistake, Shannon tries to blame Katz’ subordinates
  • Bob and Shannon argue about private vs public funding of arenas, Bob thinks that owners should build their own arenas, Shannon thinks they are too expensive and unprofitable for owners to do it

Third segment: Prime Time Bullets

  • First bullet is about the final day of the MLB regular season last year, and how exciting the games were
  • Second bullet is about the AEG sale and Philip Anschutz trying to build an arena to get an NFL team
  • Third bullet is Bob plugging the Fadoo productions Blue Jays 1992 World Series documentary


This was a very unimpressive capper to an unimpressive week of Prime Time Sports.  I thought the roundtable was pretty hard to listen to, and was a lot of people arguing with each other while missing obvious counter arguments.  The 4pm hour was fairly uninteresting, and the Seixeiro interview especially was just a complete waste of time.  All they did was talk about parking their cars.  Healy’s arguments against a players only league boiled down to “it won’t happen because it’s just too different than how I’m used to seeing things.”  I think Bob actually has a decent idea, and it’s lack of imagination and lack of will which is why it’d never happen.

In the last two months, my opinion of Elliotte Friedman has dipped quite a bit.  I’m starting to feel that his lack of confidence in his intelligence and abilities permeates almost everything he says and does.  He’s admitted he overthinks a lot and worries about saying the wrong thing, and a lot of his need to elaborate while talking comes from that.  But on this roundtable it really came out, as his entire argument seems to be “I don’t feel smart enough to be a GM, therefore no non-player could ever be!”  He kept bringing up how overwhelmed he feels, as if this must be how Alex Anthopolous feels.

I found myself actually cheering for Shannon when he pointed out the obvious: Friedman isn’t ALL PEOPLE, and that he’s just a broadcaster.

I wish the other obvious counter arguments could have been made too though.  For one, that Alex Anthopolous didn’t burst out of Zeus’ forehead, he was a scout before, and then an assistant general manager.  He’s had a lot of experience in baseball, and so he would have a greater understanding of the intricacies of baseball business than just a commentator or a fan.

Also, when Friedman brought up Leo Rautins, I’m shocked nobody said “and how’d he do when he became a coach?” because it was just sitting there waiting to be pointed out.

Friedman created a complete false choice in his argument by implying that there are only ex-players and Joe Schmoes who watch the game for fun.  What about scouts?  What about people who have been with organizations for decades in various capacities evaluating talent?  There are many ways to be experienced and informed about the game besides playing it.  Also, what exactly is a “former player”?

Brian Burke’s highest hockey achievement was playing in the AHL for one year.  Then he went and got a law degree, became an NHL agent, then got hired as Director of Hockey Operations for the Canucks.  I suspect his knowledge of business, law and his experience in NHL management informs his decisions way more than his one year playing in the AHL.

What about Bryan Colangelo?  He’s had no experience playing.  I KNOW that I’m not picking Toronto’s favourite people here, but I doubt anybody would suggest that Leo Rautins would make a better general manager than Colangelo, but by Friedman’s logic, he should right?

And when Friedman was talking about Moneyball, he made the mistake some people do of acting as if Billy Beane wrote Moneyball.  Moneyball is Michael Lewis’ narrative of Beane and the Oakland As.  Simply because Lewis believed Beane’s experience as a player helped give him an example of a player overlooked by the system doesn’t mean that Beane turned the entire organization around simply because of that experience.  Also, the narrative was also saying that Beane WASN’T thinking like an ex-player or a “baseball guy” but instead like a business person.

I was just amazed that Friedman was able to take up three whole segments with an incredibly flawed argument using examples that are easily disproved.  It was frustrating to see the other three try to chase his tail, when his argument boiled down to “I still think I couldn’t do it, therefore nobody can.”

I also was unimpressed by Friedman’s poke at Tim when he said “that’s what we were waiting for?” (or something to that effect) when Tim finally had space to speak a point he’d been trying to get out.

I was pleasently surprised that the Paul Henderson discussion actually broke some new ground.  The “but Herb Brooks is in” argument was actually a pretty astute point, I thought.  It also meant that Shannon couldn’t bring up Brooks’ college accomplishments while dismissing Henderson’s WHA ones without having it called out.

I wish Micallef and Seixeiro would talk more when they’re on the roundtable.  Both of them seem to fade into the background during heated debates, and neither of them seem to want to speak over the older guys like Bob and Shannon.  I thought Micallef could have probably brought a lot more to the discussion but seemed to be patiently waiting for his turn to speak which rarely came. 🙁

I’m really hoping that some interesting sports stories pop up next week, because this week’s shows were pretty boring, and the roundtable was a lot of ado about really very little.

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September 30, 2012 4:36 pm

I tried to write about Friedman one other time during his first week of hosting for Bob, but it didn’t get posted, so I’m going to try again. I know him, very well. Have worked with him many times and have good insight into him.

Let’s go back to when he said in the summer that sometimes he overthinks things. I thought he made a huge mistake by putting that out there, because people like Ami would misunderstand it and use it against him. (And Ami, I really like your work. I’m a regular reader. I actually called him and told him it was a mistake, but he felt he struggled when he started in the summer and was searching for reasons why.)

Elliotte is a very confident guy in what he can do. Think about it: how many people in media today can host TV and radio, put together excellent TV features, write the leading blog in his industry and be able to talk about so many different sports? There’s a very short list.

This is a business of blowhards. How many people on this blog complain about radio hosts not knowing what they are talking about? Friedman is secure in himself that he’s unafraid to admit it. That whole thing with Shannon saying you’re not a “hockey guy?” Fine. Friedman would say he isn’t, but as a guy who’s produced a lot of hockey, I can tell you he knows the sport better than just about any non-hockey-playing media member. Read his blog. It’s proof enough. Of those four guys on that panel, he’d probably be the best GM.

Think about it: Friedman is probably the ugliest sports television personality in the country. He’s told this story before, but he had an interview with a major TV executive in the mid-90s and the guy told him he’d never be on TV because he wasn’t good-looking enough.

But, he’s out there (and continually moving up) because he’s driven to be successful despite that. I have been in meetings where his looks have been brought up. The “look” people will say, “You can’t put that guy out there.” The content people fire back with, “Find me a guy who can do as many things as he does well.” It’s tough to find those people and that’s a credit to what he’s done. How many better-looking people has he outlasted or surpassed? You can’t do that if you’re not confident.

Ami, I think Elliotte’s biggest problem — and I’ve told him this — is that he’s too deferential when it’s not his show. That happens at HNIC. He recognizes that Ron and Don are the stars, and I think he’s careful not to step on their shoes. Same with PTS. It’s Bob’s show — and Bob is great to him — so he’s careful.

But, other segments (Inside Hockey, Hotstove) or stations (Score) where he was handed something, he grabs control and thrives. I think, if he was handed a show on radio and told “It’s yours” he’d impress people.

Anyway, I recognize he’s not for everyone. And Ami, I don’t have a problem with you disliking him. But, I wanted to correct the impression that he’s not confident, because you’ve written about that a couple of times and it’s incorrect. He can admit what he admitted Friday because he doesn’t see it as weakness, no matter what anyone else thinks. He sees it as strength, because he’s unafraid to say he’s not perfect.

I was not an Elliotte fan when I first worked with him, but became one quickly. Someday, I think he’ll go back to radio full-time. And, when it becomes his primary focus, my bet is you are all impressed.

September 30, 2012 5:45 pm
Reply to  hockeyproducer

Thanks for sharing :). I wasn’t saying he has no confidence. He’s a media personality and he was arguing with Bob so obviously he has confidence.

I probably used poor word choice with ‘confidence’. What I mean is that he is very careful and may overthink because he’s concerned about making a mistake. I mean I do that too, but I also publicly speak as part of my job, however inwardly I am also fairly concerned with how I come off or my abilities. Confidence and insecurity or self awareness, if you will, aren’t antithetical. But I do think he overthink things and in this case he was projecting his own feelings of “omg I am in over my head” onto everybody else.

It’s nothing against him personally. I don’t dislike him, I don’t dislike him as a person, I don’t know who he is inside, I only know what he presents on the radio and what he says, and I’m addressing how I think he comes off on the radio and his arguments.

I hope that clarifies things :). I understand he’s your friend and I appreciate you elaborating on him behind the scenes for my benefit, and if helps me understand him more. It’s also partially my fault for using poor word choice. But, I just want to clarify this is not personal. I don’t know Friedman, and I have no feelings towards him really, I’m just going by what I hear and observe from him on PTS and the arguments he makes 🙂

September 30, 2012 6:09 pm
Reply to  Ami_Angelwings

Should clarify:
1) We’re not friends…more acquaintances. But I do respect his work.
2) Never thought it was personal. You don’t come across that way.

My point was that Elliotte’s honesty about his weaknesses sometimes makes people think he’s not confident, which is why I think he shouldn’t admit it. Now, you hear what he said Friday and think he’s weak. He isn’t. He’s just unafraid to say what others won’t: that as much as he’d love to be a GM, it’s not a good idea. All the other guys on that panel thought they could be GMs. Now, do you think any of them could actually do it?

But, it is his mistake for putting that thought into your head. And, you are not the only person here who thinks that. He shouldn’t have done it.

mike in boston
mike in boston
September 30, 2012 8:54 pm

most people on this site have high hopes for Friedman. He has disappointed so far in the role of radio host. Too slow, too deferential, too willing to let the (sad-sack) co-hosts drive the agenda … it’s not one thing, but it’s lots of little things.

I’m still hopeful he can eventually turn himself in to a good PTS host. He obviously is talented and must be a hard worker or he would’t be in the position in which he now is. What I’d like to see is him adopt a more audience focused approach: what do the smart people listening want me to say/ask/debate?

He has a tendency to just float along, and it’s not working, at least for me. Maybe more show prep would help.

In other news, TSN1050 just had FOX RADIO programming on this evening. For a company that is part owned by ESPN, that’s weird.

September 30, 2012 9:06 pm
Reply to  mike in boston

I’ve seen that happen in states every so often. And back in the 2000s, Fox Sports Radio was just a brand name and most stations were not O&O the way a lot of ESPN Radio stations are in major markets.

I don’t remember if it was brought up during the week, but I was interested to see Brian Cooper back on PTS as a sports business analyst. I guess 1050 didn’t need him anymore with Rovell at ESPN. Anecdotally, from looking at the line-ups, it seems like he is on 1050 every day, either in the morning or with Cybulski.

October 1, 2012 11:06 am

Every time I hear
Sid or Tim on PTS or that tool Jeff Blair, I keep thinking the only logical
choice as heir apparent for Bob’s job is Greg Brady. Unlike S&T or the said
tool Blair, Brady has both knowledge and personality.

Itchy Butt
Itchy Butt
October 1, 2012 11:30 am
Reply to  Roger

Hopefully by then I will have a new car with a good stereo so I can listen to music. Or someone chewing tinfoil.

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