Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston [hatemailaccount -a.t.- gmail -dot-com]

I’ve been out sick all week so I don’t have much on my mind this morning. If you have read or listened to anything good (or bad), post in the comments.

Big Week for Sports & Social Issues


I write a lot about the crossover between sports and the rest of society, be that the world of education, business, ethics, health, law, or politics. Bell is a corporate machine, but their Let’s Talk initiative makes them significantly less soulless. The need to de-stigmatize mental health is pressing and it is not going to happen without movements like this. I largely find Twitter to be waste of time but it was great to watch people share their stories. Mental illness is just that: an illness. As a society we could be doing so much more to support people suffering from that illness. Nice work Bell.


The other big story was You Can Play teaming up with Grantland to publish a view from inside Sochi on how LGBT(etc) issues were being treated. This is controversial because of Russia’s anti-gay laws and policies, but also because Grantland has recently been an object of legitimate ire from the LGBT(etc) community. You can read more about that controversy here. YCP will hopefully be able to keep the world’s attention on Russia’s 19th century policies with respect to human equality.


Here’s a question: between the IOC and FIFA, who wastes more opportunities to do good in the world with the platform they have? Of course neither organization exists to foster greater equality, but both organizations pay lip service to having their host cities meet minimal standards of human rights. My hope is that the Sochi experience will make these organizations strengthen those commitments. But I’m not holding my breath.




Time is winding down on this off-season. The annual State of the Franchise is a yearly marker of the transition towards spring training and the quest for the playoffs. Last year’s event provided unprecedented optimism which was quickly followed by a disastrous season on the field. Among Jays followers, some view last year as unlucky, while others view it as indicative of strategic failure by AA.


Objective analysis of this year’s event was hard to find, but both Griffin and Lott were up to the task. The mantra last year was that this was a team that was built to compete for several years. The evidence from this off-season undermines that commitment. The Jays have clear needs and there are expensive free agents at those positions. There is still time to improve the team, but the window is closing.


It will be interesting to see what happens if this team struggles out of the gate, since both AA and Gibbons bear a similar “protegé” status to their boss. Here’s a thought experiment: if MLSE bought the Jays tomorrow and Tim Leiweke were in charge of running things, what would change? I bet we’d be talking about grass in the Dome sooner than 2018. We would probably be having more of a conversation about changes at the GM and manager spots.


NFL ready to cash in on Thursdays


As I wrote about a while back I just don’t understand Gary Bettman’s strategy of going all-in with Rogers for national NHL rights. The NFL spreads its content out over several networks, and is about to spread its reach a little further with the Thursday night package it has developed over the last 5 years. Exclusivity is bad for the consumer. We all know that. But there’s also a concern that exclusivity is bad for the growth of the game. Now, that concern seems a little silly in hockey-mad Canada, but it’s worth remembering that the NFL overtook MLB as the “national pastime” over the course of 25 years or so. Killing HNIC might be a move the NHL comes to regret.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • I got around to listening to Bob McCown’s routable with the MLSE GMs + Leiweke. It was definitely better than the last time Bob tried this, but still pretty stiff for my tastes. It’s just not easy for people to speak freely when their boss is sitting right there, and Leiweke more or less dominated the discussion. One interesting consequence is that Bob was clearly trying very hard to get the others out of their shells. Bob usually makes most interviews about himself, so this brought out a different side. You could hear the years of experience in interviewing coming out in his line of questioning.


  • Naylor is at the Superbowl and in “radio row”, which means endless interviews with both major and minor celebrities pitching new shows/movies/products. Not my cup of tea …


until next time …

thanks for reading and keeping the discussion going

mike in boston




About the Author