Prime Time Sports Review for Monday, October 8, 2012

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Listener phone balls with Elliotte Friedman

  • Friedman spends the first 12 minutes talking about his assertion 2 roundtables ago that you needed former playing experience to be a general manager, cites research he did
  • Calls are about whether callers preferred to watch football or baseball last Sunday

5pm hour – Roundtable discussion with Elliotte Friedman, John Shannon and Stephen Brunt

First segment: Discussion of the Toronto Raptors and how they failed to capture the Toronto market when they had their chance

  • Friedman believes if the Raptors had managed to keep McGrady and let him be the star instead of Carter, they would have been able to keep both and be a contender for a decade
  • Shannon recounts when the Raptors almost reached the tipping point after the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
  • Shannon considers Toronto a non-traditional basketball market much like the sunbelt markets for hockey, Brunt disagrees, cites Toronto’s basketball history

Second segment: Discussion of the Kansas City fans cheering Matt Cassel leaving the game with a concussion

  • Friedman believes it’s disgusting and that the line has to be drawn at cheering somebody getting concussed
  • Shannon thinks it’s fine and makes two arguments: 1) the fans can cheer for whatever they want 2) the fans were actually cheering for Brady Quinn coming into the game and didn’t know Cassel had been hurt
  • Brunt thinks that it’s an indication of society getting more uncaring, that in the past people would be quiet and in shock if somebody was injured on the field, Friedman disagrees, says that it’s always happened

Third segment: Do you need to have been a player to be a general manager? (Part 21342)

  • Friedman apologizes to Shannon for misquoting him from 2 roundtables ago that Shannon thought he could be a GM
  • Friedman states that that roundtable discussion was whether you needed any sort of playing experience: college, junior, or pro to be a good general manager
  • Friedman cites statistics which show many GMs whose teams have made the finals played some level, but less so in baseball and football
  • Brunt thinks that it can be another feather in your cap, but you don’t need that experience, and that what you need is to be immersed in the sport, cites Anthopolous’ scouting background
  • Friedman asks Brunt if he could be a GM, Brunt says no, because he hasn’t dedicated his life to getting the knowledge, Friedman asks what if he had, Brunt says that he would need the desire to

6pm hour – Roundtable discussion with Elliotte Friedman, John Shannon, Stephen Brunt and Mike Wilner

First segment: Discussion of the MLB playoffs

  • Wilner doesn’t like the one game playoff because he thinks too much stuff can happen in one game for it to be fair, but likes that winning the division has become important again
  • Wilner doesn’t want the Orioles in the World Series because it would mean more calls telling him he’s wrong
  • Wilner’s dream match up is the Tigers vs the Reds

Second segment: Discussion of who the Jays should sign in the off season

  • Wilner doesn’t want Josh Hamilton due to his drug issues
  • Brunt thinks the Jays should go after Lincecum, Wilner agrees but says that can’t be your only big pitcher acquisition because the Jays would have 2 risky pitchers in Lincecum and Romero
  • Wilner thinks John Farrell is staying in Toronto

Third segment: Prime Time Bullets

  • First bullet is about how horrible the Buffalo Bills are, everybody agrees they are much worse than anticipated
  • Second bullet is about junior and European hockey on TV during the lockout, Shannon doesn’t like the European hockey, Friedman doesn’t like junior hockey


Friedman seems to have changed the original terms of the argument he’s decided to rehash on this show.  The original discussion was based on what Gregg Zaun implied, that you needed Major League playing experience to be a good general manager, and that you needed to understand a Major League clubhouse.  Somehow, Friedman has turned this into that you need to have played the game at any level to be a good GM.  The original discussion was to be a GM period, also, not be a GM that’s made the finals.

Also, his stats don’t mean anything without context or investigation about why they are.  What’s the percentage of former player (of any level) GMs in a sport vs not?  The greater accounting of former players involved in championships may very well just have to do with greater numbers of them in general.  Also, is there any bias in hiring GMs?  What’s the overall win/loss record by ratio of former players?  How many games does a former player have to have played, and at what level?  What if you’re a bench player, vs if you’re a player who got a long career?  If being a former player matters, then playing more should matter more than playing just 1 game right?  Do the stats bear that out?  And again, what’s the overall percentage of non-players vs players overall?  Are former players over-represented in the finals given the ratio?  Plus, how much do other factors have to do with whether a team makes the finals or not?  Without this information, the research Friedman did is unconvincing.

Brian Burke played AHL hockey for one season.  He also went to law school and was a scout and assistant general manager before becoming a general manager.  Does that one season mean he’s that different than Alex Anthopolous who also was a scout and assistant general manager?  If Alex had played college baseball, even just sitting on the bench, would that suddenly give him credibility?

And ultimately, Friedman just goes back to “I couldn’t do it, could you?”  Brunt even said the difference is that he never prepared himself to do it.  The thing is, there are many ways to get the experience and knowledge necessary to succeed at a job.  Being a good restaurant owner doesn’t necessitate you having been a chef, but you should have experience in the business.  It’s similar as a sports general manager.  You don’t NEED to have played in order to gain experience in the business, and there are MANY aspects of the job that have nothing to do with whether you once knew how to swing a bat or throw a ball.

He keeps using the comparison of himself next to Leo Rautins watching basketball.  Does he think watching baseball with Alex Anthopolous would be much different?  Does he think Anthopolous can’t see the game at a higher level than him?  Does he honestly believe his observations of baseball would be equal to Alex’s just because Alex has never played in college or above (for any amount of time)?  It seems really condescending of people who’ve worked hard and dedicated themselves to the industry, learning the game, learning the analysis of the game and learning the business aspect of the game to just dismiss them out of hand like this.  Alex Anthopolous worked his way up.  He’s been in the baseball business for over a decade.  I really think it’s unfair to him that all his work as a scout and assistant GM, and etc, are just wiped out because he didn’t play a year of minor league or college ball.

It’s also ironic given that Friedman said on this roundtable that he isn’t sensitive to criticism, that he spent 12 minutes at the beginning of the show and 7 minutes in the 5pm hour rehashing this topic just because he wanted to say “take that!” to his online critics.  That’s 20 minutes he took up because he couldn’t let this go.

I thought Wilner and Brunt had really good chemistry in the 6pm hour, and they were able to disagree with each other while not making it antagonistic, and also building on each other’s points and disagreements.  I remember when Brunt was co-host with Wilner last winter when Bob was on holidays and they had a pretty good chemistry back then too.  I’d like to see more of those two together, I think.

I’m really glad the roundtable barely talked about the hockey lockout and John Farrell.  I know the Raptors discussion was just discussing the past, but it was still a welcome change from the two topics that have dominated Prime Time Sports for the last month. 🙂  I do disagree with Shannon that Toronto is a “non traditional market” for basketball.  Perhaps, in terms of how the US views us, but I think there is a very strong culture of basketball in this city, and it’s not something we just discovered when the Raptors arrived.

It didn’t surprise me that John Shannon defended the cheering of Cassel given how he’s the PTS personality who thinks the fear of concussions in football are overblown.  I wish Friedman wouldn’t spend 5 minutes talking about how he’s not a prude and not over-sensitive, and etc before talking about how that was over the line.  It’s not really important whether he is or not, since we only have his word for it anyway.  It just ended up dragging out the discussion when he could have just said that it’s wrong and the fans were inconsiderate for cheering (which I agree with him, they were).

I don’t know if I agree with Brunt that this is an overall decline of society.  Like Friedman, I believe stuff like this has happened before, even if I can’t note an exact circumstance.  I’m pretty sure fans forgetting that players are human beings isn’t just a 21st century thing.

The Bills discussion made me think, if the Bills were better, would they show up more on Prime Time Sports given their relationship with Rogers?  I just wonder, because without hockey, I’ve realized just how few topics PTS with Bob seem to address, and if maybe the Bills would be talked about more if they weren’t losing so badly.

In general, I thought this roundtable was pretty good (Friedman’s need to rehash old roundtables, notwithstanding) and I really loved the interplay between Brunt and Wilner.

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