Prime Time Sports Review for Monday, May 20, 2013

By Ami Angelwings

4pm hour – Bob McCown hosting

First segment: Interview with James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani, Indycar drivers

  • Hinchcliffe talks about his last race and the dramatic finish and other dramatic finishes in car racing
  • Bob asks if being in the pole position makes a big difference, Tagliani says he doesn’t really but it’s cool and exciting
  • Hinchcliffe talks about the small differences in the cars between qualifying and race day
  • Bob asks if there’s a danger that if you get the pole in qualifying, you’d be hesistant about changing your car for the race, Tagliani says that wouldn’t happen because the conditions in the actual race are so different and you have to change your car

Second segment: Interview with Doug Smith, Toronto Star Basketball Reporter

  • Bob and Smith talk about the reports that Bryan Colangelo is going to be removed as General Manager of the Raptors and moved to another position in MLSE
  • Smith talks about potential GM replacements, Bob wonders if Phil Jackson would return to coaching, Smith says he won’t because he doesn’t want the grind and the travel
  • Smith suggests Russ Granik, former NBA deputy commissioner as a blue sky candidate for Raptors president, Bob loves the idea
  • Bob asks what happens to Casey is Colangelo is no longer GM, Smith thinks the new person keeps him so that he can be fired if things go south in the future

5pm hour – Roundtable discussion with Bob McCown, Stephen Brunt, Michael Grange and Arash Madani

First segment: Bryan Colangelo being removed from being general manager of the Toronto Raptors and being given another role

  • Grange thinks Colangelo might be moved to a basketball-related role but not have actual decision making power, Brunt thinks Colangelo could be moved to something non-basketball related
  • Bob thinks this shows that MLSE is still a mess and that they are making the wrong decision
  • Bob doesn’t like the potential GM candidates that have been rumoured for the Raptors, thinks the Raptors need to make a “splash” and get a big name like Phil Jackson
  • Bob suggests Russ Granik to be Raptors president

Second segment: David Beckham’s retirement

  • Bob talks about how Beckham’s fame has little to do with his athletic ability and a lot to do with his looks, marrying Posh and other things that make him an icon
  • Madani compares him to Anna Kournikova, but with more success
  • Brunt talks about his impact on the game as an icon and his unmatched global fame
  • Grange wonders if maybe Beckham would be interested in running Toronto FC and being an ambassador for them

Third segment: The decline of horse racing and auto racing

  • Bob wonders about the future of horse racing given how much it’s gone from one of the big spectator sports to being almost a niche sport
  • Brunt thinks horse racing in North America will be gone in 20 years because the industry won’t have the tools to support itself as tracks close and therefore there’s less people breeding animals, etc
  • Grange thinks it’ll be at least 50 years before it vanishes, and it might remain in some small form, Bob thinks it won’t go that easily because it has a lot of rich and powerful backers
  • Bob asks if auto racing is on a similar decline, Brunt says NASCAR is still very strong, but open wheel racing never recovered from the CART/IRL split

6pm hour – Roundtable continues

First segment: NHL playoffs

  • Roundtable discusses the Penguins/Senators series
  • Grange laments that injuries may curtail Sidney Crosby’s career and wants him to win a Stanley Cup, Bob accuses Grange of cheering as a reporter, Grange says he cheers for greatness, Brunt says it’s okay to cheer for greatness
  • Bob doesn’t think winning championships changes whether you’re a great player or not, Madani argues that
  • Grange posits that if Crosby can play 400 straight games without being hurt, he’d be the best hockey player ever, Bob is shocked and disagrees
  • Brunt says everybody wants to see the best players and teams succeed and nobody wants to see the New Jersey Devils win
  • Bob pulls the conversation back to the playoffs and wonders what’s wrong with Rick Nash and that people expected on a better team, he’d be great, Madani points out the Blue Jackets have been better without him
  • Grange says that the problem is Nash is a winger and that he doesn’t have a good centre to play with
  • The roundtable talks about the Detroit Red Wings and how they’re continuing to play well

Second segment: The Toronto Blue Jays

  • Brunt says that the pitching and hitting is coming around, but the Jays continue to make stupid errors on the field and they need to stop that
  • Grange says that the Jays must be competitive in August to salvage this season, even if they don’t end up making the playoffs
  • Everybody questions bringing Gose up now when he’s batting so poorly in AAA, Brunt and Madani wonder if this is to set up a trade of Rasmus
  • Bob rips J.P. Arencibia and his high strike out rate, says that at least Rasmus’ on base percentage is decent
  • Madani defends Arencibia and says it’s unfair of Bob to compare him to Buster Posey because Arencibia is paid so much less

Third segment: Prime Time Bullets

  • First bullet is about Jose Canseco returning to (minor league) professional baseball, Grange says he’d be a better mayor than Rob Ford
  • Second bullet is about Pedro Martinez alleging that the Red Sox did rum shots during the 2004 season


It’s interesting that Bob suddenly wants a “big name” like Phil Jackson, when just a few weeks ago, he was critical of the idea of hiring Phil Jackson just for his name and questioned whether Jackson could be a general manager.  Now, he’s all about wanting big names to “make a splash” and not wanting people who have had success as a GM. Also, it seemed like Bob took Doug Smith’s idea of going after Russ Granik and didn’t mention it was Smith’s idea on the roundtable.

Brunt was pretty quiet during the basketball segment and it was mostly Grange talking.  I like Grange, in general, and I think he often has interesting thoughts, but his tendency to stutter, stop mid-sentence and rephrase, and just drag out his statements makes it a bit annoying to listen to when he dominates a conversation as he did today.  Bob sounded pretty annoyed that Grange derailed the playoff conversation to talk about Sidney Crosby being the best player ever in the NHL.

Bob is suddenly really down on Arencibia when he was turning around his opinion last year and seemed fairly high on him in the offseason when D’Arnaud was traded.  Bob even defended Colby Rasmus in a way when talking about how often Arencibia strikes out.  When a player ranks below Rasmus in Bob’s eye, that’s bad.  I’m also impressed that Bob seems to be caring about OBP quite a lot lately, and not average.  He used to talk about average all the time, but this season I’ve noticed that he’s been referring to people’s on base rather than average when talking about and stressing that certain players don’t get on base enough.

I mostly enjoyed this holiday roundtable, and it’s just nice to have a roundtable without either Cox or Shannon (much less both), so it was easier on my ears.

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May 21, 2013 8:14 am

I would like to see Shannon’s role reduced to the likes of a Gord Kirke. He’s got great insight into business of sport matters especially with respect to broadcasting and large scale events, and he tells the odd good story.

But too often he sits silent in interviews with non-hockey people and appears to be Bob’s sidekick, rather than his co-host, who chimes in with dated (and sexist) Henny Youngman style marriage jokes.

Even his hockey knowledge is banal and superficial. His disdain for players that lack intangibles (leadership, grit) is completely dated and often without merit. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and frankly is just not as busy Brunt or Cox (hence all the appearances filling in), but McCown already provides the old crank content.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
May 21, 2013 9:45 am

The 5pm hour of Naylor/Beirness/Simmons was much better than PTS, with Beirness talking intelligently about Masai Ujiri’s draft picks. Why is Arash Madani on PTS? To make Brunt look better? I didn’t think that was humanly possible, but he did it. The only good thing about the PTS-5pm hour was Bob hammering MLSE for keeping Colangelo in a non-basketball role when all he knows is basketball (if that).

Cathal Kelly has a good column today on why keeping Colangelo is a mistake:

If MLSE has so much money to waste, maybe they can buy the Rob Ford video and play it on a loop in Maple Leaf Square.

May 21, 2013 1:23 pm

To me, horse racing has always seemed like a long-outdated sport from the 1800s on the verge of dying, yet it persists. Can someone explain the attitude of entitlement the horse people seem to have, that it is imperative that horse racing and horse racing alone must be perpetually supported by government-directed gambling revenue? Why is letting it eventually live or die on its own, like most other antiquated or unsuccessful businesses, so unthinkable?

While there have been debatable occasional government hand outs for infrastructure like new stadiums, other pro sports or teams have certainly come and gone in the GTA, like arena football, roller hockey, indoor and outdoor soccer (before TFC) just to name a few of many. Why was it okay to let them die a natural death, but apparently not horse racing which is somehow alone is deserving this never ending artificial life support from gambling?

While I like motorsports (but have never cared for or understood the high popularity of Nascar in North America over other forms) and don’t think it’s on the verge of dying, its popularity does seem to have been sliding downhill since the turn of the millennium and may similarly become thought of as a sport from the 1900s.

And I also didn’t agree with the questionable one-time government hand-out for helping revive the Toronto Indy a couple of years ago, particularly when nearby Mosport is now owned by a billionaire (Carlo Fidani), and there’s foreign investors who have been wanting to build a $400 million motorsports complex near Fort Erie but been held up by government bureaucratic red tape for six years now.

May 21, 2013 1:44 pm

On today’s conference call, Bryan Colangelo said he wants to be around as the Raptors put the finishing touches on what he has built. Finishing touches?.

May 21, 2013 1:48 pm
mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
May 21, 2013 1:49 pm

Mullah, i have some inside knowledge of the industry and i can clarify a few things:

1. Horse racing is considered part of the agriculture industry in Ontario, and it employs literally thousands of people. Racing keeps those people employed. In this economy, that is a good thing.

2. The amount of money that goes to the track owners is small (5%). Most of the money goes back to the province, and a small amount stays in the local community.

3. Slots without racing make less money than slots paired with racing. It’s a smart business decision to keep the current arrangement.

I agree with you that anyone who argues horse racing is somehow part of the fabric of Canadian culture is reaching. But i think that a smart profit sharing arrangement can benefit everyone involved.

The Liberals saw a cheap political point that was based on rhetoric and not on facts. Shame on them for acting so recklessly when people’s jobs are at stake. The narrative they invented about how money should go to schools not rich track owners has no basis in reality. Hope that helps.

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
May 21, 2013 4:03 pm

While I like motorsports…and don’t think it’s on the verge of dying, its popularity does seem to have been sliding downhill since the turn of the millennium and may similarly become thought of as a sport from the 1900s.

I’ve been thinking that for a few years now. Every motorsport has been ruined, not just due to infighting, but because of technological advancement and the politics involved in its regulation. Motorsport and the rise of the automobile went hand in hand. That car fascination is fading in most Western societies and technological advances are mostly a thing of the past in motorsport. A lot of regulatory efforts in F1, NASCAR, and Indycars in recent decades have revolved around finding ways to slow the cars down. Talk about going against the spirit of motorsport. When Indycar named their new spec the joke was that the fans would have more advanced cars sitting out in the parking lot than those on the track. Last week in Spain you had drivers being pretty much told by their teams to slow down with one driver, Lewis Hamilton, saying “I can’t go any slower”. There followed a lot of mockery and disgust and now changes are being rushed in mid-season to the tires even though all the teams have designed their cars around these particular tires. So much for rules and regulations! I believe NASCAR has similar issues but decided some time ago to be all about contrived entertainment rather than sport.

Also the panel talked about how smoking on planes was normal not so long ago but is unacceptable today. North American society is more safety conscious (perhaps to the point of obsession) and then there’s the litigiousness of the US in particular. In the case of Indycars on ovals, with the always present danger of a car taking off after two open-wheelers connect, I think they are one disaster involving crowd fatalities away from disappearing altogether. (Of course, in Indycars, with the exception of the Indy 500, there are so few people watching these days that a car landing in the stands would probably only the kill the driver).

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
May 21, 2013 4:16 pm

Bob sounded pretty annoyed that Grange derailed the playoff conversation to talk about Sidney Crosby being the best player ever in the NHL

I know he thinks Crosby’s personality is boring and maybe his ego was bruised when his “scoop” about Crosby possibly retiring didn’t pan out but, really, what does Bob have against the guy?

Ami Angelwings
May 21, 2013 4:37 pm

Bob seems to think Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky is the best player in the history of the NHL and doesn’t seem to like people suggesting other players. I’ve noticed that he’s also sounded annoyed and tried to get off the subject when Mario Lemieux’s name has been brought up by Brunt in the past, and on today’s show. Both times he sounded like he disagreed and then said he doesn’t want to get into a debate.

May 21, 2013 10:45 pm

Gretzky and Orr revolutionized the game, that is what sets them apart.

Crosby, like Lemieux, is probably a better all-around player then Gretzky, but the sample sizes are skewed, primarily due to health – Lemieux’s career was too short, Sid has missed too much time. Each are probably the most dominant player of his time.

I can see why Grange would call Crosby one of the best ever. But I’m sure that one of the reasons Bob was dumbfounded was that no one has ever brought it up.

May 21, 2013 11:05 pm

The 24 Hours of Le Mans retains some of those elements of developing new technology, and large car manufacturers competing against each other (Audi vs Toyota, and likely Porsche next year). Just about everything else has had to become spec car racing or something very close to it, losing much of its appeal.

Blue Jays Devotee
Blue Jays Devotee
May 22, 2013 7:19 am

Kyle, you have got to be kidding me? Mario Lemieux’s career was too short? He only played 915 games, had 690 goals, 1033 assists, 1,723 points, not to mention winning two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. While his back issues and cancer scare took lots of seasons/games away, Lemieux certainly had more than enough of a career in his prime to compare him to Gretzky, since their careers overlapped enough.

May 22, 2013 11:31 am

If anyone out there doesn’t think Orr was the greatest, go to YouTube and type in Bobby Orr.

After a few minutes you’ll know he WAS the greatest – no question.

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