Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston @mikeinboston [hatemailaccount /a/t gmail / com]

When I started this column my hope was that people would contribute what they were reading and listening to as well. If you heard or saw something of note (good or bad) please post about it in the comments.


photo credit: Jason Collins & the Shepards


Moving Forward


This was a big week for sports and social issues. But it was also one of those weeks where you worry that the gap between reality and The Onion is shrinking. The surreal moment this week came when a D.C. lobbyist argued that Congress should pass a law banning homosexuals from the NFL. Here is his quote: “”If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”

Now, this strikes most sensible people as a horribly confused conception of what the criminal law is for, and, for that matter, what professional sports are about. But people like this lobbyist are emboldened by bills like the one Arizona voters passed, allowing people to cite religious conviction as a ground for refusing to do business with gays or lesbians, or anyone else whose lifestyle a person’s religion condemns.

This bill was eventually vetoed before becoming law by the Governor of Arizona, after pressure from everyone from Apple to the NFL. The governor cited the vague language of the law as a reason for vetoing it, but did not say that she opposes the basic idea that you can discriminate against other citizens in a business context based on your religious disapproval. That idea is alive and well and waiting to be revived in some future bill.

If you don’t live in the U.S. you probably don’t know just how contentious the basic concept of equality continues to be in many parts of this country. While the rest of the world sees the the Civil Rights movement as a proud moment in human history, many Americans are still bitter that those uppity Blacks caused such a fuss rather than doing the polite thing by using the democratic process. Not all Americans think this, probably not even most, but definitely a non-trivial segment of the voting population. And these same people are now saying things like they don’t understand why those gays keep shoving their orientation in our faces, or worse: “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?” (this is again from our lobbyist friend in D.C.)

This is why the bill in Arizona and the lobbyist in D.C. are important events. They shine a light on some of the blatant hatred that lives in the shadow of slogans like “small government” or “religious freedom” or “American values.” People who vote for these slogans need to know who else is voting for these slogans, and what they are thinking. Cyd Zeigler was on TSN Drive (2/24, hour 2) are noted that these bills give people on the left and on the right a common enemy. Regardless of what you think about tax cuts, you can agree that the law should not be used to stop people from being able to pursue work in their chosen profession or shop at their local stores just because other people don’t like their sexual orientation.

Last thought on Jason Collins and Michael Sam: now that the first openly gay man has played a game in one of the big 4 North American sports, hopefully we can put the “distraction” canard to bed. Sam’s teammates knew he was gay and somehow the locker room survived. Collins played a game and somehow the press conference didn’t deteriorate into a melee. Fear mongering is the last refuge for those who don’t want to accept homosexuals as equal citizens. Their current strategy is to scare NFL teams away from drafting Michael Sam. I hope it doesn’t work and that he can just be a football player, judged on his merits.


Olympic Wrap-Up


The Rouge Point blog has an excellent column on CBC’s coverage of the Games. Since I’m in the U.S. I could not watch CBC but caught some of it via the wonderful world of shady streaming. With Rogers taking over HNIC from the CBC there is an open question whether CBC Sports will survive.

Like many Canadians, I grew up with CBC being the place for amateur sports, both during the Olympics and in the lead-up to the Games. CBC would often have track and field competitions on Saturday afternoons, and we would be introduced to athletes who would eventually compete for medals. I think this is a good thing, and I wonder if this type of coverage is at risk. If anyone has any inside knowledge about how the loss of HNIC will affect the viability of CBC Sports I would love to read it.

Rogers has already stated that they want HNIC to spend less time on the business issues of the NHL and more time on the stars of the game.


As many flaws as HNIC has under CBC’s leadership, you can’t criticize them for shying away from issues in the game. If CBC Sports disappears from the Canadian media landscape that will be sad, especially as sports departments in newspapers are shrinking or being bought up by Bell and Rogers. I think the public broadcaster should have a voice in sports, and I hope the CBC’s recent success in covering the Games will remind Canadians of the value the CBC provides.


Jays Talk


Lots of interesting things coming out of Jays land. The main discussion point last week was the fact that AA/Beeston have decided to stand pat and go into the season with largely the same cast that won 74 games in 2013.

The improvement will supposedly come from a catcher who has never been a starter in 10 major league seasons, a 2B who has played 35 games in the majors, and rookie or near rookie starting pitchers who are coming off major injuries. Optimism abounds in some camps, unfortunately none of it is justified  by anything stronger than hope. Odds are this team wins around 85 games if all goes well. If you think they are likely to win 90 I’d love to hear the argument for that conclusion.


  • Zaun was on PTS and said that he and AA had kissed an made up. Anybody know what that is about? He said a bunch of other things, none worth spending time on at this point


  • There are rumblings that a new partner for Jerry Howarth will be announced soon. As a Jays fan I am disappointed that we are looking for a new partner for the 3rd time in the last 4 years but the previous choices have been good, so maybe the next one will be as well. It seem likely that Wilner will be back for another season of call-in shows after the games. I grew out of watching Jerry Springer, so I am not someone who listens to his show, but some people like that sort of thing.


  • Rob Neyer is looking for ways to reduce strikeouts and walks so that there will be more balls in play. If you’re a baseball fan, this is a great read and an interesting debate: should baseball be trying to generate more scoring? Hockey fans have been debating this for years. Count me in the camp of people who think that too much of the game is decided by the pitchers, catchers, and umps. I would love to see the game evolve so that things like hitting the cut-off man, turning double-plays, and positional defense played a more central role.


Breakfast Radio


I don’t get the appeal of radio morning shows. I have always felt that the morning shows were some of the weakest programming. This is not necessarily and indictment of the hosts. They have a tough job because the morning show is broken up by things like traffic and news. Also, few good guests are available that early. Lastly, they mostly have to talk about the games that ended the night before, since people tuning in may or may not have caught the end of the game. I am not someone who has a 9-5 job and I don’t have kids so I am not usually in the car in the morning. As such, I am not the target audience for morning radio. I often turn it on when I am making breakfast but that’s about it.

All of that said, I don’t think Mike Richards is a good host, and I don’t think his show is good at all. Yet, as TSM reports, Richards will be around for the next 3 years. His numbers are not embarrassing and he has been improving every book (as far as I can recall) so clearly this is a safe move by TSN. Lots of people complain about Brady (fewer people complain about his co-hosts) so it’s not like the competition is blowing Richards away.

I guess stability is a good thing for TSN at this time, but as a fan of sports radio I am disappointed that such a weak show will continue for the next 3 years. Overall, we listeners have it really good right now. While I am not a regular listener to either, Macko & Cauz and Tim & Sid are both decent shows. While I am not a hockey puck, NHL fans have good options with the two lunchtime shows. The evening programming on both stations is adequate, given that both stations mostly have live games and post games. For me the two weak spots are Jeff Blair and Mike Richards but it does look like either show is ripe for change any time soon.

What do other people think: which show is most in need of a change?


I am catching up on podcasts from this week, so I may have more to say in the comments.

Until next time, thanks for reading and commenting.

mike (in boston)

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