Toronto Sports Media Roundup


Things that have caught my eye of late:

Damien Cox hit the nail right on the head in summing up Brian Burke’s tenure as Toronto Maple Leafs President and GM:

“After four years, this seems to be the essence of Burke’s time in Toronto; what he has said has hurt him more than what he has actually done.”

Wouldn’t you agree?

Yes, I know, making the playoffs would absolve him of everything he has said, but in the absence of that, it is his word that will haunt his performance. Has he come out from the beginning and said that this was a rebuild that would take time, people may be a lot more patient then they are. Truth is, Burke’s word set unrealistic expectations that his actions could never meet.

“But what has hurt Burke the most has been the things he’s said and promised, from vowing “truculence and belligerence” to vowing not to fire Wilson in mid-season, from calling James Reimer the “real deal” to, at least in the minds of many, guaranteeing the Leafs would be a playoff team by now.”

I don’t think anything hurt as much as his words at his press conference and those at his post season media scrums where he wrote off rebuilding or multi-year plans.

“Given what the man has gone through with his family, I’m amazed he’s able to get up in the morning and function, let alone run the hockey team in this hockey-intense market. He’s never asked any special consideration for that, and none has been given by most.”

I think that sums it best though. Take a look at where his life was pre Maple Leafs and where it is now and it’s hard to imagine how he shows up for work every day.

It’s why I keep saying it, this prolonged lockout, could be season canceling could be the best thing that happens to Burke and the Leafs.

Cox, in my mind had a good day as he followed up that blog post with a pretty damn good article on the Toronto Raptors:

“What’s interesting is that Colangelo, while dogged on social media, continues to largely escape blame for being the architect of this miserable situation, even with the team on pace to win even fewer games than last year’s 22.”

There are few places other than in social media, and the off column here and there where Colangelo is being taken to task. Heck, I asked on Twitter the other day what would happen to Burke if he opened the season 3-13.

“This isn’t a call for Colangelo’s neck. Not yet. This is a young team, and one struggling with a horrible early schedule.

But it is to question how much longer Colangelo can seemingly dance around any and all responsibility for the basketball catastrophe in this city.

Why does the buck never stop there?”

That’s a great question.

Do you remember Bob Elliott, the Hall of Fame writer? Well, it’s stories like these that got him there. Fantastic account of how the Blue Jays Marlins deal went down.

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mike in boston
mike in boston
November 30, 2012 8:02 am

the Elliott article is indeed a great read. Thanks for linking to it.

Ken Rosenthal of, he of the .600 batting average, breaks news of the deal shortly after 6 p.m.

does anyone know what Elliott means by this? I can guess, but it seems like a weirdly pointed comment.

November 30, 2012 9:33 am

I thought the article was a waste of time. It was typical crap from Cox helping out hi friend and business partner Burke.

More than anything, not making the playoffs in any of his 4 years (and counting) has hurt Burke. Sure, he’s said and did a lot of stupid things but as a Leaf fan I want results.
Burke hasn’t delivered in spite of being the highest paid GM and Prez in the

Not only have they not made the playoffs, the team has got worse each year under him. There is no sign of a turnaround and lets face it – he must be praying there’s no season
this year because there’s no way the team would make the playoffs (that will make it 5 years and counting).

November 30, 2012 10:15 am
Reply to  mike in boston

I think he means that Rosenthal has a very high batting average in breaking stories.

mike in boston
mike in boston
November 30, 2012 10:20 am
Reply to  Robert

yeah, that’s probably it. But the story is told just as well if he writes either:

– “the story breaks shortly after 6”
– “Rosenthal breaks the story”

adding the bit about the batting average just makes the reader think “is he mad that he didn’t break the story himself?” or “what source does Rosenthal have that Elliott lacks?”

in the end, i don’t care who breaks the story but as we’ve discussed here the local media has a very low batting average in breaking local stories. I guess the Gibbons hiring is an exception, and maybe that points to a new direction.

Another Steve
Another Steve
November 30, 2012 11:01 am

I think Cox should learn the difference between a colon and a semi-colon.

Itchy Butt
Itchy Butt
November 30, 2012 11:23 am
Reply to  Roger

Wow, I agree with you on that one. What a load of sugary shit.

He (and this site) are trying to tell me the Leafs are better now than they were before he took over?
LOL indeed!

November 30, 2012 12:15 pm
Reply to  mike in boston

I hear what you’re saying Mike, but I think it’s Elliot just trying to be funny, implying Rosenthal is incredible at breaking stories.

I think they’re friendly. Rosenthal tweeted a congrats to Elliot on breaking the Gibbons story.

November 30, 2012 12:28 pm
Reply to  Daniel

I think too much is being made of a good gestured baseball pun compliment. They clearly like each other and Elliott is giving credit where credit is due

mike in boston
mike in boston
November 30, 2012 1:06 pm
Reply to  Daniel

Case closed then. Daniel – what’s your view of the Gibbons hiring? I haven’t read your comments here about it.

November 30, 2012 5:35 pm
Reply to  mike in boston

Well Cox or Torre would have been really cool… but short of being able to snag a star manager like that, I love the Gibbons hire.

If the other candidates with experience were guys like Jim Tracy or Jim Riggleman, I’ll take Gibbons over them all day.

I thought Gibbons was great at handling the bullpen, and was willing to use platoons.

What’d you think?

November 30, 2012 8:20 pm
Reply to  Another Steve

Sir! I know the answer, I know the answer!
A colon is the body part you use when having a dump! A semi-colon is the
body part you use when you just need to Phart.
Did I pass? Did I pass?
Lighten up!

November 30, 2012 9:25 pm
Reply to  Daniel

I will give you a name that I think would have been a much better managerial choice than Gibbons. He is an experienced manager with success in two high profile markets dispite their ownership issues at the time (Boston and Texas). He is well connected and respected throughout the industry, and is very media savvy. He loves the City of Toronto and would have loved to have managed the Blue Jays.
Kevin Kennedy!

Another Steve
Another Steve
December 1, 2012 12:15 am
Reply to  bobthetrapper

There’s room for a lot of people in these comments – for those who enjoy grammar and those who don’t.

You can lighten up as well and let me write about the stuff that interests me.

Skip it if it bores you, just as I will skip your beloved fart jokes.

mike in boston
mike in boston
December 1, 2012 8:56 am
Reply to  Daniel

i would have liked to hear Alex answer the question: if he’s so great then why did no one else give him a shot as a manager in the last 4 years? Not really a fair way of putting it, but a fair question to ask.

i guess my concern is that there’s not a lot of evidence that Gibbons has distinguished himself as a manager, outside of AA’s rosy proclamations. Despite all the talk about how accomplished he is, i think this is basically a “gut” decision by AA to go with a guy he is comfortable with.

lastly, i understand why numbers people like Gibbons, but i haven’t read any studies showing that managers who platoon or avoid IBBs win more games. But … the importance of managers is probably overrated anyway.

I’m looking forward to Gibbons 2.0, but I wish there was someone with a track record of taking teams to the playoffs instead. Given the clubhouse issues last year, it would be nice to have a manager who commands respect due to his record.

Brian Gerstein
December 1, 2012 12:25 pm

I do want to address some of what Cox wrote about Colangelo, as some parts I agree with, some I don’t.

Firstly, on Colangelo’s actual performance on the court, i.e. regular season wins/losses and playoff appearances wins/losses, his record has been abysmal, and he NEVER should have been signed to a second contract, albeit one shorter in length, which was MLSE’s way of saying, “We know you don’t deserve to still work here, but you look so smooth and well dressed and speak so well representing our corporate interests, that as long as we are making money, you can stick around, but Bryan, please, can you start to turn this franchise around on the court this time, or we will have no choice next time but to let you go.”

You may recall there were some deep divisions within MLSE at that time on re-upping Bryan or not. Colangelo’s status was an issue for the Raptors throughout their 22-win season, and became a bigger issue as the off-season arrived. It has been widely reported that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s board was divided on whether to bring back the two-time NBA executive of the year. Larry Tannenbaum, a potential buyer of Teachers’ stake in the team and a minority owner of MLSE as it stands, has long been believed to be a Colangelo backer. Glen Silvestri, one of Teachers’ representatives on the board, is said to have been against Colangelo’s re-signing. However, with Teachers trying to get out of the business of owning professional sports teams, Silvestri has likely softened his stance — or been overruled.”

Unfortunately, this was the exception to the rule, and Colangelo knows how to play the boardroom better than anyone, and that, in a nutshell, is how he got, and I say got, not earned, his second contract. You really could not have screwed up much worse than Colangelo did in his first tenure here. From not hiring his own coach and keeping Mitchell when they never saw eye to eye, to hiring a lapdog like Triano who never would have seen an NBA head coaching job elsewhere, to completely missing the mark on Bosh, who he tried to build around continually, failing each time, and then losing him for next to nothing, to signing free agents and overpaying that made no sense for the team, and I am talking to you, Jason Kapono, Jermaine O’Neal, Hedo, and a long list of other quick-fix pieces that never rarely worked out, and Colangelo had to move them shortly after.

The good news is that Colangelo has eaten his humble pie, and is actually doing a decent job of rebuilding the team. One thing I will not blame him for is drafting Bargnani #1 in a weak draft year, but while not a bust, it is time to move him, and has been for a while now. His Jonas pick, which Cox has understated in terms of his potential, was a brilliant one, and he will be an All-Star, it is just a question of when.

I am not in the fire Colangelo camp based on how he has operated under his new contract. Casey has a lot to learn, but does seem to be able to be a good NBA coach, although he does need to get the defence playing at the level they were last year, and his late game rotations plus lack of set plays in crunch time is worrisome to some degree. Still, I do have confidence in him, as his players respect him and play hard for him, except Bargnani of course.

I expected a brutal start to the season, and this is not exactly a surprise. Some close losses, brutal calls against us, and key injuries combined with a ridiculous schedule to start the season, but you are who you are, and our record speaks for itself.

Getting back to Cox, when he states that Jonas Valanciunas looks to be a solid bet to be a good to very good player, he is completely missing the mark on him. Jonas has a ceiling way higher than a “very good player”, and has already demonstrated that both on and off the court. This pick alone for me has bought Colangelo a lot of street cred with me. Lowry it turns out was a better acquisition for this team than even Nash, that is, as long as he can stay healthy, which only time will tell.

To summarize, I can appreciate what Cox is trying to do now, but really, this team is going to get better as the season progresses, and now is not the time to call for Colangelo to go. I was completely against him signing DeRozan now, and so far, DeMar’s play has made me eat some humble crow, which I readily admit to, although time will tell if he can keep it up on a consistent level, given his past track record did not warrant the new contract at this time, especially when we could have matched any unrestricted free agent offers in the off-season, albeit, at a potentially higher price, given his play so far this year.

I do have to say that Cox at least is bringing up Colangelo’s status as our GM, which is something that Doug Smith, who as the beat writer for the Raptors, never has a bad thing to say about any Raptor player/coach/management that could get him in hot water with them, would NEVER do, and the reason why he is the biggest joke out of all the MSM’ers that cover the team. I do find for the most part, the other MSM’s I follow, too numerous to mention, are pretty balanced with their approach to the team and call out when required. It is the main blogs I follow who come out with the sharp knives when appropriate though, and that is an element you just won’t see in any MSM media.

I do give the Raptors credit though, as they have been pretty good in giving media accreditation to the bloggers, and accept the way they operate in our new media universe.

Sorry for the ramble, I am just a rabid fan who desperately wants to see this team achieve some moderate level of success, and since I love playing and watching basketball so much, can’t help but be fully engaged with this team, even with all the frustrations along the way.

December 1, 2012 2:55 pm
Reply to  mike in boston


Well, I think using platoons has some pretty clear benefits. If a guy hits .300 against RH and .160 against LH, and you pair him with someone who hits .300 against LH and .160 against RH – your getting far better production out of the position, then if you just stuck with one of them day in and day out. Gibbons turned Reed Johnson and Frank Cattalonotto (two OK players) basically into one LF with excellent production.

But yeah – other than a willingness to be creative, and being good at managing the pen (which Gibbons was), I don’t think managers make much of a difference in baseball.

I had to laugh when a few have said this move negates the moves the Jays made this offseason. Bautista, Morrow, Johnson, Reyes, Buehrle and EE will make this team win or lose. Not John Gibbons.

The manager has influence of course, but the players are what matter.

mike in boston
mike in boston
December 2, 2012 2:38 pm

i guess this is the weekend post, so i’ll link here. it;s an excellent behind the scenes on the political fallout of the Marlins salary dump.

mike in boston
mike in boston
December 2, 2012 2:46 pm
Reply to  Brian Gerstein

hey Brian – thanks for the write-up. Always appreciate your perspective as a hardcore follower of the team. Speaking of, what are your thoughts on the blogger who quit the team?

December 2, 2012 3:36 pm
Reply to  mike in boston

Thanks for the link Mike interesting read

Brian Gerstein
December 3, 2012 8:10 am
Reply to  mike in boston

Mike, thank you for the positive feedback. Sometimes it feels like I am talking to dead air when I post about the Raptors, so do appreciate your comments on what I write. Below is my facebook post, and Scott Carefoot’s response, as we are FB friends. If you are referring to Scott, he finally had enough covering the team and all of their frustrations it builds, so it is hard to blame him for taking a different path.

Scott is now the Digital Product Manager for “The Hockey News” and “Style at Home”, so he still is involved in sports, although not the Raptors.

Brian Gerstein: BOL to Scott in his future endeavours, who I have followed since Day 1 when he started his Raptor Blog. Scott was a true pioneer blogger, giving us fans an outlet to vent when there was no other way to do it, while enjoying Scott’s witty insights into the team, where he pulled no punches when it was deserved, but also praised when warranted as well. Fortunately, via Twitter I will still be able to get some Carefoot content, so all is not lost.

Scott Carefoot Brian: You’ve been a great supporter of mine over the years, and I appreciate that. The whole reason I started RaptorBlog a decade ago was that I hoped there were fans like you out there who might enjoy my viewpoint.

mike in boston
mike in boston
December 3, 2012 9:20 am
Reply to  Brian Gerstein

yeah, things are pretty quiet around here right now, but i try to read all the comments and respond to as many as i can. i’d be sad if there was no place to bitch about the lazy toronto sports media, so i do what i can to keep conversations going. i continue coming here because i just can’t get over how hard it is to lose one’s job if you work in sports media in toronto.

The insane amount of turnover on the Raps roster combined with the losing makes it hard for me to keep up. I read Scott’s blog several years ago during the Vince era but not since then. I was just surprised that him quitting made news. I see now that there is a “human interest” angle to it.

Brian Gerstein
December 3, 2012 10:41 am
Reply to  mike in boston

Yes, very much so. I follow his wife’s blog related to their autistic son, and can relate to the financial hardships they face, as both my daughters have friends with autistic siblings, and are going through the same issues for being on a waiting list for assistance that comes far too late, and thus as parents, you feel you have no choice but to intervene in the crucial early years, so that your child has a chance.

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