Seen & Heard – Thursday, February 21, 2012

by Rob G

Welcome to round 3 of Seen and Heard. Today delivered more meat on the bone from my perspective, so here we go.

New Leafs GM Dave Nonis was interviewed by Brady/Lang this morning on Sportsnet the FAN 590 in the 8:20am block. While the interview didn’t deliver anything earth shattering, what I discovered is I don’t miss the bluster of Brian Burke. Nonis deftly handled all questions, giving up enough to make you think you learned something, without giving up much. My take is he’s a much better fit for the corporate culture of the Rogers/Bell (or is it Bell/Rogers) ownership. Furthermore, through his answers, my sense is his only focus is regarding the job of improving the team. With Burke, while I never questioned his goal of making the team better, I always had the feeling there was another agenda at play.

It’s early on in TSN’s broadcast of Richards in the Morning and TSN Drive with Dave Naylor, but one adjustment I’ve noticed since earlier in the week is seeing more of the hosts and less of the microphones. It’s only fair to give them time to work the kinks out, but it’s also fair to say that Sportsnet delivers (currently) Prime Time Sports on television better than TSN’s presentations of their radio shows. The camera angle is from a higher vantage point on Sportsnet. I’m sure TSN will work the kinks out.

Jeff Sammut is sitting in for Jeff Blair this week in the 9-Noon slot on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. As TSM has mentioned in other posts, Sammut is finding his way as a host, however, I found the discussion surrounding whether J.P. Arencibia would start on Opening Day irksome. Sammut couched the situation as to whether Arencibia would start or would it be Henry Blanco. If I tuned in late, I apologize, but at no point did I hear mention of the all but certain Opening Day starter R.A. Dickey’s catcher from last season, Josh Thole. While Blanco has caught Dickey in the past (2010), one would think that the catcher from Dickey’s Cy Young winning season would be part of the dialogue. My understanding of the Blue Jay’s signing of Blanco was that it would be organizational depth.

Bruce Arthur joined the discussion at 4:30 today on Naylor’s show. They dived into tennis player (or former tennis player for the time being) Rebecca Marino’s battle with depression and the side issue of her challenge with some of the “kind human beings” (my words) on social media. The discussion was excellent, and while I might be stating the obvious, Arthur is almost as good on radio as he is with the written word. He has an economy of words, while stating the point, both in print and on radio. If Sportsnet/McCown had a choice at the time, I think they made a mistake not choosing Arthur as one of the rotation of co-hosts for Prime Time Sports. The good news – it sounds like Arthur will be the regular co-host on Mondays at TSN Drive with Dave Naylor. The bad news – he won’t be the co-host any of the other days. I like the idea of rotating co-hosts, but Arthur should be a bigger part of the mix.

If the NHL has one thing over the NBA, it’s their trade deadline day. You can count on the NHL to have a number of important moves for analysis, but way too much time is devoted to the NBA’s deadline by all media outlets, when the evidence shows historically that few significant trades ever occur.

I found Bob McCown’s return (from illness) to Prime Time Sports today humorous during the 4–5 pm hour. As I expected, McCown played the “I’m not sure I should really be here” card, and suggested he’d need help from callers in the first hour to keep his voice intact, and yet twice he went off on lengthy soliloquies just before commercial at 4:20, as well as late into his second block. No harm – just found it funny that he was worried about his voice, yet off he went.

Harking back to the Rebecca Marino story, McCown, with co-host Elliotte Friedman, conducted a touching interview with her in the 6:20 block. Friedman interviewed New York Times writer Ben Rothenberg earlier in the week, so he had a thorough understanding of the story, and McCown showed his sensitive side in asking the right questions with the velvet touch. It was respectfully handled, while fleshing the story out.

Former NBA guard Gary Payton was on Off the Record with Michael Landsberg late this afternoon on TSN. He’s a regular on OTR, and I’m sure he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoy the banter with Landsberg. He isn’t afraid to answer Landsberg’s questions, and his delivery is unique.

For the fans of golf, (or flog, or swing & swear), that sound you hear is NBC screaming “why me” as both Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy were defeated today in their 1st matches of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel correctly tweeted “Lot of people commenting on potential lack of TV ratings. Uh, Nos. 1 and 2 have never reached final. Not exactly like NBC was banking on it.” That being said, when Tiger (and Rory to a lesser extent) are on the TV screen late Sunday afternoon, ratings are off the charts compared to when they’re not, so you have to know that while NBC might not have been banking on it, they remained hopeful that this year might be different. The “problem” is the depth of field in golf has never been deeper, so the true golf fan understands and appreciates the outcome whether #1 or #2 are in play or not.

I noted this evening what could be construed as a battle on Twitter between the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox and the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons. The details hold little interest for me, but it seemed bitchy from my chair. My take – it is impossible to choose sides!

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