Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike (in boston) [hatemailaccount -at- gmail dot\com]


Jeff Blair leaves the Globe


Jeff Blair tweeted out that he will no longer be at the Globe after March. I assume this is part of the recent spate of layoffs in print, but I have not seen that confirmed anywhere. So Blair joins Grange and Brunt in the obscure wonderland that is Sportsnet. I don’t mean that as an insult. It’s just a fact that when journalists go to Sportsnet then we lose them as journalists. And that is sad. Nobody ever links to something Grange or Brunt writes on this blog or any of the others I frequent. So, if they are still doing great journalistic work, it’s not making a mark. I suspect the same will be true of Blair going forward.

I am somewhat conflicted about this departure. On the one hand, I enjoyed Blair a great deal when he covered baseball. On the other, I never read anything he wrote once he was promoted to being a generalist. The same thing happened with Grange – he went from basketball to being a generalist, which if we are being honest, means covering hockey in this country.  I found Brunt credible, but that’s because I never saw him as a one-sport guy. The same is true for Arthur; I enjoy reading him on most subjects.

I’m curious how others feel about this transition: do you find guys credible when they make the leap from one sport to all sports?

What does the Globe do now? If I’m the sports editor over there then I seriously look at what the Globe can do well. It’s not game recaps, it’s not box scores, it’s not detailed statistical analysis. The one thing the Globe can do is provide journalistic credibility. This is where they have an edge on both blogs, and on the other papers. So, they need to find ways to capitalize on that asset. Look for good young people and give them the resources of the Globe. It seems like they have done this with Mirtle. That should be the blue-print going forward.


Jack Morris leaves Sportsnet


This was rumoured but now it is official. This means that Sportsnet have lost Ashby, Hayhurst and Morris in the space of 2 years. That’s not good news. We discussed this last time: is it time to blow up the Jays broadcasts and start over? Tom and Jerry defined the Jays on radio for a generation. Perhaps it’s time to close that book entirely.


Is “Thug” the new “N-word”?


I’m sure everyone has seen Sherman’s meltdown and the ensuing response. He came out and (rather eloquently) made the point that there is a racial undertone to the use of the word thug. Aaron Hernandez (ex-Patriot on trial for murder) was called a thug. He’s not black. I’m sure there are some people who are using “thug” in a racist fashion, but I don’t think everyone is. Let’s face it – both the NFL and NBA profit from taking poor kids out of rough life situations, sticking them in college for a year, and then running them out on the field. The supposition that this will scrub the thug out of them is silly. Sometimes thug is an apt description of our sports heroes.




Garza and Tanaka were both signed this week, further reducing the pitching talent pool available in free agency. AA still has a chance to keep pace with the other teams in the division by signing a top 3 pitcher, but that window is closing. As things stand he has for 2 years tragically overvalued his bullpen as a trade asset. He has stockpiled talent there but none of it has led to significant improvements in areas of need. That’s a major misstep in my view.

The current strategy for winning in 2014 seems to be a hybrid of 1) addition by subtraction (JP, Josh Johnson), 2) hope that people who sucked in 2013 return to career averages or better (Izturis, Melky) and 3) hope that people will take the next step (Rasmus, Lawrie, Morrow) and have complete good seasons. That’s a lot to hope for, and I am currently tapped out.


until next time …

thanks for reading and commenting

mike (in boston)


  • comment-avatar
    Raptors Devotee 7 years ago

    Mike (In Boston), another insightful posting, and I could not agree with you more on what happens when certain writers covering a beat are turned into generalists, and nobody wins from that.

    Grange who you pointed out, and since I follow the NBA and especially the Raptors quite closely, I can comment on. I used to love Grange covering the Raptors when he had his column “From Deep” and here is the link to his “Ask Hump” series, this is the first one, which was brilliant while it lasted, and could only be done if you are following the team full-time and have the complete trust of the players.

    In real estate we look at the “highest and best use” and if I had to use that for Grange, it would be going on the basketball beat full-time again, as he is very insightful on the game, has a dry sense of humour that works, and let’s face it, Grange is best suited for print, we all know that.

    I am sure that with the state of print journalism from a financial viability standpoint there is no way that he could have stayed in that role, where Doug Smith, who I never read, and is the biggest apologist around, has the readership to maintain his role.

    You can also say the same for Blair, who also is not made for his own show, and it much better suited in print.

    As you said, generalists like Arthur and Brunt who have wide opinions that transcend all sports well, work far better in their current roles.

    I get the G&M every Saturday, and their sports section is a joke, along with their online work. I follow blogs for the most part now, as traditional media is a small portion of what I read and follow.

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    Richard 7 years ago

    Great work again. Just wondering what happened to Hayhurst and why he left Sportsnet?

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    Drumanchor 7 years ago

    Another excellent post.

    I agree with your comments on writers going from one sport to all sports. I know they are doing their best, but I, as the reader, can’t get around the fact that they’re being forced to write something completely out of their comfort zone. I also used to look forward to Brunt’s writings in The Globe, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I read him on Sportsnet.

    As for the “thug” analysis. Athletes – especially African American athletes – have been embracing the gansta/thug persona for quite some time now. They wear the tats and the attitude as a badge of honour. So the fact that now that their behaviour is seriously being questioned by many people and athletes now view that as an insult and compare thug to the N word – I don’t get it.

    Face it, inner city gangs do some very nasty things. Why someone wants to emulate that look and act like someone who is on death row is beyond me.

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    Couldn’t agree more with the first two points especially.

    Still enjoy listening to Blair on baseball.

    Agree it could be time to a full scale change in the Jays booth. On the one hand the fan base is getting younger, Jerry is not. On the other, do young people listen to a lot of radio? If not, can they make the games a destination if the team is a contender?

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    I occasionally read Brunt in the Globe. Haven’t read a thing since he moved to Sportsnet. I saw him once on their soccer coverage (don’t remember the specific game) and it was painful to listen to him have no clue.

    I find it hard to believe general sports columnists like Arthur et al. know what they are talking about. I doubt before last weekend, they could even pick Richard Sherman out of the Seahawks lineup. Now, they have to write a couple articles about him. There are only so many sports one person can truly follow at the same time and write deeply about when requested.

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    Odds are, the Jays will probably be better in 2014 purely based on how 2014 is unlikely to be as freakishly unlucky as 2013. Jonah Keri named them a possible ‘positive regression candidate’ here for that reason-

    I would say they seriously need another starter though. Maybe two. It’s possible they could get by with what they have if young guys really step up, but I’m not sure I’d want to really bank on that. Signing one of Jiminez or Santana would probably be a good start. Those guys are inconsistent but can have good years. And they’ll be on discount because they cost a draft pick (but not for the Jays as their pick’s protected).

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    “It’s just a fact that when journalists go to Sportsnet then we lose them as journalists.” Too true, that.

    Don’t like Blair. Occasionally, he’d write a decent piece about baseball, but more often than not, I disagree with almost every position he takes. And it sounds like he’s a bit a of a creep too. I don’t listen to him at all any more, but when I did, he’d talk about strip clubs in Montreal and that sort of thing. Weird.

    I think general sports columnists usually work well. Brunt was good, Aurthur and Perkins too. Typically, they won’t write about something they don’t know. (Well, except for Rosie…)

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    (Another) Andrew 7 years ago

    I occasionally read Brunt in the Globe. Haven’t read a thing since he moved to Sportsnet. I saw him once on their soccer coverage (don’t remember the specific game) and it was painful to listen to him have no clue.

    I find it hard to believe general sports columnists like Arthur et al. know what they are talking about

    I agree. I think to be able to talk about a sport in a convincing way you have to be raised following and perhaps also playing it. It’s obvious listening to Brunt that he didn’t grow up with soccer. Today the sports scene is more fragmented than when Brunt, McCown, and the rest of them were young. In addition to the “Big 4” you’ve got soccer, tennis, golf, and several others. It would be difficult to be an expert in all of them. Blair has no more knowledge about sports other than baseball than a random guy I might strike up a conversation with at a pub. But he and the others have been put in a situation where they have to express strong opinions on every sport otherwise they’ll be seen as wishy washy and/or boring.

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    I was never a big fan of Blair…I thought some of his opinions on baseball were just plain foolish, and he always came across as arrogant, an arrogance that has clearly carried over to his radio work. And I think we’d all agree he has a terrible voice for radio.
    That being said, it’s sad to see traditional newspaper sports section being decimated like this. Clearly those days are long over.
    Brunt was always my favorite sports writer, but since leaving the Globe, he’s somewhat disappeared…playing sidekick to Bob on PTS (when he’s on) and writing in Sportsnet magazine (which no one reads). I’m sure Rogers is paying him big bucks, but it’s still kinda sad to see.

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    Lee (Oakville) 7 years ago

    I think what we are witnessing is the inevitable extinction of the daily newspaper. Strange to say, but the last place I get my information is from newspapers. Twitter and online news resources provide me a running stream of information, various and differing blogs give me diverse points-of-view, and TV gives me access to every game I want to watch. Long form journalism gives me the depth I’m looking for, all of which I can’t get from general columnists like Arthur, Brunt and Kelly.

    The level of specialization and expertise available in the “new” media is not possible in newspapers, and readers and advertisers have spoken by walking away from this medium in droves. As well, the continued arrogance and lack of knowledge among those writing in newspapers (Cox, Blair, Arthur, etc) makes it seem like they are still living in the ’70s when people only had 3 TV channels and 3 newspapers to inform them. Those times are long gone, and given the breadth of specialization and choice now available, good riddance.

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    mike (in boston) 7 years ago

    RapsDevotee — I agree with you 100% about Grange. As someone who is/was not a basketball fan, I relied on his column to get me up to speed. He did a great job of being both expert and accessible. I would love it if the Globe found someone else to do that job. Mirtle seems to be proof that it can be done well. Robert McLeod had that job on the baseball side, but was incredibly dull to read. So, I do believe that it is a matter of finding the right person.

    You say that Smith has managed to maintain an audience. I wonder if that’s actually true. The Raps are so far behind everyone else in terms of audience, I actually wonder how long the Star will continue to devote resources to a full-time basketball guy.

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    mike (in boston) 7 years ago

    RICHARD Hayhurst has not given a reason, but his work on TBS during the playoffs was well received, so I suspect he has better options with higher profile networks that are closer to home.

    DanI find it hard to believe general sports columnists like Arthur et al. know what they are talking about. I doubt before last weekend, they could even pick Richard Sherman out of the Seahawks lineup.

    I’m sure you’re right about that, but the talented ones can become knowledgeable quickly and can speak intelligently and ask interesting questions nonetheless. The untalented ones quickly reveal their lack of expertise and lack the general sharpness to make up for it.

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    Blair can be grating, no doubt. But I’ve always believed, especially with his Globe writings, that he was among Toronto’s more independent sports writers/columnists … and I applaud that. Rarely if ever did I get the impression he wrote and said things just to keep friends in the Jays’ locker room or front office.

    People wonder what’s happened to Brunt? It’s no secret. Much of his time is now spent supporting the latest Rogers initiative. That is, in large part, what he is paid to do.

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    MIB and Dan,

    While most would believe that a Canadian sports columnist couldn’t pick even a star NFL cornerback out of a lineup (although I get the impression that Arthur follows it quite closely), the case for Richard Sherman is a little different. Even though he may not get as much general media exposure given his position (on defence) or his location of Seattle, Sherman has written a semi regular column this year for SI’s

    Aside from the content of the articles (I’ll admit that I haven’t read much – my eyes start to glaze over at too much football), it’s actually created quite a bit of a stir, having an active player writing a regular column for a high-exposure organization like SI.

    Even the casual columnist \ NFL follower would\should know at least that part of the story.

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    Steve in Waterloo 7 years ago

    I am disappointed to hear about Blair’s departure from The Globe. I had just decided on the week-end to complain to the Editor about the reduction in content of the Sports section.

    I hate to admit the extinction of the print edition of the paper seems to be near. I am a daily subscriber to the print edition, but with each departure I am leaning towards not renewing.

    Too bad…

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    Antonio 7 years ago

    I really can’t stand Arthur or Brunt (oddly two favorites here at TSM).

    Its not their writing styles or sports knowledge that I have a problem with – its their constant p.c way of always apologizing for idiots (or thugs, take your pick) like Sherman. Both fell over each other explaining what Sherman did and say last Sunday was “no big deal.” A hilarious example of this was when Brunt and Bob interviewed the dean of football writers and sportscasters Peter King. Brunt started off by saying to King that it “no big deal” and “this kind of thing happens every week etc.” King’s reaction was awesome. He essentially said that in 30 yrs of covering football, he had never seen anything like it – that Sherman’s display of sportsmanship was unprecedented, his anger during the interview was scary and so on. It was fun hearing Brunt shot down like that – and of course the wimpy Brunt had absolutely no response to King. It was great radio.

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    Antonio – I just listened to that segment (i’m way behind on podcasts) and I didn’t hear it that way, but I wasn’t listening all that carefully. Regardless, I encourage others to track that interview down … it was indeed great radio.

    Peter King is very very good and I hope PTS manages to get him on more often as a guest. I’d much rather they pay to have him rather than Bob Ryan.

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    BingoBangoBongo 7 years ago

    Antonio, you saw it as King shooting Brunt down. I saw it as a difference of opinion. I absolutely believe they were both being honest and forthright and not politically correct at all. That’s why the format works…you have your favourites, I have mine.
    As for the “inevitable” extinction of the daily newspaper, I couldn’t disagree more. It’s true the format is changing (the paper part) but the successful papers will figure out how to monetize their internet content and survive. It’s important to all of us that that happens. God help us if the future is “blogs from know-it-all know-nothings”. Like Mike (in Boston). No offence Mike, but you don’t talk to any of the principals involved in stories. Like many, you get your perspectives from those you read or listen to. You’re a good writer, but you’re not informed like they are.
    This thread’s comments began with a critique of general sports columnists. They are, in fact, the best and the brightest writers in any sports department. Grange was a very good basketball beat guy but I’ve never been impressed by any of his other stuff.Ditto for Blair. As for Brunt,Arthur, Simmons and even Rosie DiManno, they make me think. That’s their job. I find that even when I don’t agree with them (and that happens a lot) I may learn something or gain a new perspective.

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    “Rarely if ever did I get the impression he wrote and said things just to keep friends in the Jays’ locker room or front office”

    Within the last year or two didn’t Blair admit that he intentionally went light on criticizing JP Ricciardi because he was a good source of information and didn’t want to lose access to that information?

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    @Mike S: I certainly stand to be corrected. I have not heard that specific comment, but I have no doubt you did. That’s rather disappointing to me, too, because I’ve always found Blair to be quite independent, especially during the rah-rah of the past year. He was, from the get-go early last spring, one of the few Rogers voices who did not proclaim a championship was on the way.

    Oh well …

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    there is some dispute over what exactly Blair said, but there is general agreement that he claimed to refrain from writing certain things in order to maintain favour with Riccardi, so that Riccardi would keep feeding Blair information.

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    Steve 7 years ago

    Antonio said “and of course the wimpy Brunt had absolutely no response to King. It was great radio.”

    This is a complete and utter misrepresentation of what happened. No, no, sorry…I’ll be generous and assume Antonio turned off his radio before Brunt’s rebuttal, which wasn’t, for those who haven’t heard the interview, anywhere close to silence.

    For those who’d like to hear for themselves, check out the January 22nd 5pm podcast.

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    Michael Grange still posts great articles at Here is an example of an article that was posted today that is well written.

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    iTunes tells me that Don Cherry was on for the entire 6pm hour of PTS yesterday. Yikes! Is this the result of the Rogers acquisition of the NHL?

    This isn’t going to help with the complaint that PTS has become a nesting ground for old men.

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    AA: Michael Grange has always been a top-notch writer and columnist, particularly on basketball. I usually enjoy reading his pieces.

    However – and I know some others vehemently disagree with this – I just can’t stand listening to him. His voice and delivery have actually worsened over his time on radio. In this way alone, he is not unlike John Shannon (although Grange still has a huge credibility edge, due to his excellent reporting, reasonable perspective and good writing).

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    Blue Jays house reporters are really earning their paycheques this morning. I think these state of the franchise things are a great way to control the message but I’m not sure what other purpose they really serve.

    John Lott provides his usual sober and objective take:

    also, regional NHL rights fees seem to be skyrocketing. We’re seeing the same rising tide in cable sports that we have seen in baseball. Good for the owners, I’m not sure how the financials make sense. I suspect the viewer will be paying more going forward.

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    MIB: Thanks for linking to the Lott story. You are absolutely correct: Lott delivers an absolutely fair piece – thankfully far removed from the many puff pieces and commentaries churned out overnight.

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    We’ve all heard the saying, “you have a face for radio”. Well, Blair has a voice for print. I’m sure he is a top notch journalist. That’s where he should ply his trade. Tried listening to him for too long. Finally, abandoned 590 about a year ago. My morning commute, is now spent listening to favourite Podcasts. There is no way, someone with a voice like Blairs, should be carrying a talk show. Thing is. It’s not just the tone of his voice. I would count the number of times that he would repeat a thought and I would literally yell at the radio, imploring him to move along. There is a reason Saul Corman sells suits and doesn’t have a job in radio… Standards have certainly declined. Sorry for the negative post, but I squirm everytime I read that there are listeners that can tolerate Blairs orating skills.