Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: Twitter


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


I’m playing catch-up on a bunch of different stories so if I don’t discuss something that ought to be talked about, please feel free to mention it in the comments section. Also, I am looking to talk to people who were at theScore prior to and during the Rogers purchase of the TV channel. If you’re one such person and would be open to speaking with me either on or off the record, please be in touch. On to the sports media stories making news this week.


Siegel Takes a Stand


Jonas Siegel is sick of it and he is not going to take it anymore. The “it” in question is rudeness from the Leafs’ Phil Kessel. Jonas took a stand this week on Macko&Cauz by publicly airing that Kessel had gruffly refused to speak with him following a tough loss in Buffalo. Kessel’s offending words were “get away from me.” Jonas went on TSN Radio to tell the world that he’s “not going to hide the way [Kessel] acts anymore.”


There are several noteworthy elements to this story. First, Jonas is one of the youngest guys on the Leafs beat. I don’t recall any veteran Leafs reporters taking stands like the one he is taking. One wonders how this will affect his ability to do his job going forward. Second, I don’t see any upside to Jonas’ airing of the grievances. What does he gain by putting Phil on notice that he won’t protect him anymore? What protection is Jonas actually offering? Finally, I wonder how long Jonas has been stewing on this story? How many previous incidents have there been? How many other players is he having personality issues with?


On the one hand I admire the decision to go out on a limb and take a stand on principle. Siegel has been on the beat for a while now and has a track record to stand on to back up his position. He’s not just throwing a fit because he doesn’t understand how the job works. On the other hand, this is a risky move. Given that TSN radio has a competitive edge over the FAN by having an every day beat reporter, I’m sure TSN took note of this kerfuffle. If Jonas stops being able to do his job because the players rally behind Phil and freeze him out, that will leave TSN no choice but to give the job to someone else. In a worst case scenario, this might just be the pretext they need to kill the beat reporter position altogether. [note – I chose not to ask Jonas for a comment for this story. My assumption was that he would not want to extend the shelf life of this controversy. If he would like to comment, I would of course welcome that.]


In all likelihood this will blow over in a few weeks. Scott Stinson of the Post tells us that nothing of value is lost when Kessel refuses to speak, which is probably right. But here is a question for you: was Jonas’ public denouncement of Phil Kessel principled or pouty? Does this affect his credibility — either positively or negatively — as a Leafs reporter?


The Bottom of the Barrel


The Kessel story spawned thousands of words, the most useless yet quotable of which came from Brian Burke. Always one for respectful and productive discourse, Burke thundered into town for an analytics conference and pronounced that Kessel shouldn’t have to talk to media “pukes.” Classy. Sean Fitz-Gerald of the Post does us all a public service by pointing out that Masai Ujiri was on the same panel and disagreed with Burke, saying instead that “I don’t want [a writer’s] story to mess with my thinking, or mess with what I want to do, because that’s the nature of human beings — we can’t run away from that.” A study in contrasts. Masai’s record in Toronto speaks for itself, as does Burke’s.


Burke went on to describe hockey analytics as “over-rated,” putting him in the same camp as Andrew Walker, and that hockey is an “eye-ball sport,” putting him in the same camp as noted media puke Steve Simmons. Thankfully he left town without threatening to beat anyone up.


The second way that the bottom of the barrel was scraped this week concerns a mediocre hockey team’s post-game celebrations. The only acceptable response to the Leafs stick salute story, in my opinion, is the following: this is too stupid for words and I refuse to lower myself by commenting on it any further.


Sadly, most of the Toronto media couldn’t help themselves and fired up the flamethrowers to deliver takes that could melt steel. Most of the opinions fell into two camps: 1) the old reliable lazy radio standby: look at how stupid fans are for caring about this — your calls next!!!!, and 2) this is another sign of MLSE’s disrespect for the fans — rise up Leafs Nation!!!!


This is classic loser-town fodder. If you have a good team, none of this matters. Michael Grange aptly states that “this edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs is as flawed off the ice as they are on the ice.” [note – I would love to link to Grange’s article but the ad that auto-plays crashed my browser. I recommend reading it, as well as the 169 comments that follow].


Welcome to Toronto Brendan Shanahan. RUN AWAY!




One of the most puzzling things about the last 2 years with the Jays was the conjunction of trading high value prospects for major leaguers then refusing to take on salary. Many rightly asked, what is the point of giving up future talent if you’re not actually committed to winning now? The most plausible explanation of this incoherence is that the new Rogers CEO imposed a payroll freeze across the company and this trapped the Jays in no man’s land.


Well, the great news for Jays fans is that the freeze has thawed. But this puts us right back in the position we were after the Dickey trade. There are clear weaknesses on this roster. Money can solve those weaknesses. So Rogers needs to decide if they are in or out. The Martin signing suggests that they are in, but the proof will be in the pudding. This is not a time for half-measures. Martin will make the pitching staff better but the team still lacks a proper ace. Additionally, there are holes in the outfield and 2B that cannot all be filled internally if the team hopes to get to 90 wins.


John Lott has some good stuff on the Martin signing. Also worth reading is the last Drunk Jays Fan Andrew Stoeten. He was let go from theScore along with all their other features writers earlier this year. Good luck to Andrew in his eponymous new venture.


Quick Hits


Rick Westhead delivers some more exclusives to TSN. Here is one on the UNC academic scandal featuring quotes from a former CFL player who says he was pressured to take sham courses. Here is another one featuring some incendiary quotes from a former OHL team owner on the ongoing wage dispute between the CHL and its players


Chris Zelkovich of Yahoo!Sports reports on the CFL’s ratings decline: “This marks the second straight ratings decrease for the East semifinal and the audience for last year’s Grey Cup experienced a 17 per cent drop from the previous year.”


Raju Mudhar of the Star reports that Bell is cutting jobs due to the high cost of sports programming, among other things. What does this mean, if anything, for TSN Radio? On the one hand, they recently opted not to pay for NHL programming, so they can’t really use that as an excuse for cutting back on the radio side. On the other, they have been getting thumped in the ratings for 3+ years now, so the radio side is an obvious target for budget reductions. My sources at TSN report that there have been no signs of cutbacks there and that Bell remains committed to the radio station.


ESPN suspended Keith Law as a result of his Twitter debate on evolution with noted Republican supporter Curt Schilling, thus edging out the NFL for the organization that gets the majority of its suspensions wrong. On this topic, other than the famous Wilner incident, have there been high profile suspensions at either TSN or Sportsnet? I can’t really think of any.


Low Hanging Fruit


Tie Domi gave one of the worst interviews I have ever heard to Dave Naylor. He was on to promote an appearance at a Microsoft store and was upset at having to talk about the Leafs. At one point Domi claimed that Microsoft is the reason computers exist on the planet. Listen to the train wreck here.


PTS has no succession plan for Bob McCown but they have clearly found the heir apparent to John Shannon. Ken Reid has been making his mark on the FAN’s signature radio show the last few weeks.  In one notable case he interrupted a guest to make a reference to a 20 year old SNL joke.


The good news is that Brunt will be back … sometime in the spring. I reckon this means it will be a steady diet of Friends of Bob in the interim.





thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (in boston)


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November 22, 2014 10:54 am

The Martin signing is intriguing from the perspective that he will contribute this year and next year where the Jays have a window of opportunity to win now. But also in 2017, in his 3rd year with the Jays, he will be the biggest contract they will have and contribute in helping more young pitchers join the team in a rebuilding scenario. So you have a guy at a key position being able to possibly contribute to a playoff berth now and also a guy that you can build a very young team around as his contract comes to an end.

November 22, 2014 10:57 am


Great recap as always. Thank you for doing this.

Rick Westhead has, as predicted, been an ace hire for TSN. The guy’s a top-notch investigative reporter who, unlike so many working in the sports networks, doesn’t allow his love or background in a particular sport prevent him from digging for the full story. Does he always get every detail exactly correct the first time? No, but that’s the price of doing truly investigative work. He’ll actually root out the story … while other “reporters” will either ride along or pick it apart. Westhead’s the real deal.

November 22, 2014 11:19 am

While not good, a toned-down Ken Reid is still better than Cox.

Good thing Friedman was there yesterday, as a Reid / shannon combo on the roundtable.

I wonder if Perkins’ health issues might be part of the reason for so much Reid.

November 22, 2014 12:51 pm

Thanks MIB.
Not really sports related but I enjoyed Hayes’ 10 minutes with Terry Crews – I think it was Thursday afternoon? (even though he was promoting a conference)
His frugal ways on Everybody Hates Chris were hilarious!

Westhead has been awesome!

November 22, 2014 1:14 pm

I think it’s too early for people to assume that the Jays are going to be big spenders this off-season. Yes, the Martin contract is big (and very risky imo), but with Lind and Melky gone that opens up roughly 15 mil, which on average almost covers Martin’s annual salary. It will be interesting to look at the actual net spend when all is said and done and see by how much the payroll has increased. Bob and Skippy are thinking that Lester might be next. I’ll believe that when I see it.

Brunt is gone until the spring? I know there will be his annual trip to the Dominican or wherever, but that’s a huge chunk of time off (presuming he’s still under contract).

November 22, 2014 2:55 pm

Not being much of a Leafs fan, I am not sure how to take all this stick stuff. On the one side, it was pretty insincere gesture to start. I doubt any father put his arm around his son or daughter after and said “See that, the players are making sure we know the big part we had in this win”.
I always get a kick out of the whole fan thing, more specifically at baseball. When there are two strikes, we make a whole bunch of noise to encourage the pitcher, yet when there is a huge at bat we stand up and make a whole bunch of noise. It terms of doing it for fun..awesome. But really, it is not like it influences the players. Does the opposing teams batter stop and think to himself “oh, this noise is not for me, I cannot concentrate” or vice versa.
But, I still see the point, if the Leaf players really want to put this on the fans, it is a slippery slope. I remember when I was a kid, baseball tickets were hard to come by, recently if i waited until the first inning, I could get them half price without much effort. Who knows, maybe five years from now we look and see leaf games half empty and point to this (realistically, I doubt it, but you never know)
Secondly in my now somewhat abe-simpson-like post, if anyone follows baseball and does not follow Andrew Stoeten, give him a read. I have said here before, by far the best baseball writer in this city. Drunk Jays fans is done, but his (mostly) intelligent posters have followed him over to the new site, and it is great.
Lastly, quick shout out to TSM this morning, calling out Ben Ennis on twitter. Does nto listen to a caller, loses his lid (because all the cool radio kids do that now to their callers) and looks silly. Ennis is usually not to bad for a saturday morning listen, but he was out of his element today and TSM caught him.

Claire A Fye
Claire A Fye
November 22, 2014 8:42 pm

Paul Romanuk: “Mike, the puck seems to be round, but not fully like say, a basketball. Explain
Mike Johnson: ” Hunh?
Am I the only one annoyed by Romanuk’s stupid questions? He should know we’re not idiots. The guy is clearly “B’ team.

Wayne Thiessen
Wayne Thiessen
November 23, 2014 8:56 am

Regarding PTS will McCowan retire after his contract? Ken Reid is terrible on the show. He sucks up to Bob more than most and has no credibility in the sports world. Certainly not an insider! There should be more Freidman!

November 23, 2014 9:10 am

Lol Wilner … of course he’s waiting for Martin at the airport. Probably carried his luggage to the car too.

Have Rogers said anything about who will be partnering with Jerry in the booth this year? It’s been slim pickings since Ashby left.

Not sure what people see in Stoeten’s writing. It’s a mess of run-on sentences and silly pissing matches. No wonder he hasn;t been picked up while the others have. Bluebirdbanter has much smarter commenters.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
November 23, 2014 11:56 am

Maybe because Ken Reid’s main job is hosting “Connected” or whatever it’s called now, he doesn’t have time to prepare for PTS. 590 is more at fault for putting him in this tough situation after his late night tv gig. Or maybe I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt because I liked his “Hockey Card Stories”.

I believe the Fall radio ratings come out in a couple of weeks so we’ll see what difference missing Cox and Brunt has on PTS. Also, if Mike Richards was right that he was close to Brady/Walker he may move ahead overall with males, although not in the key 24-49 demographic. His twitter followers has increased. He seemed to be stuck at 3000 followers for a long time so I was surprised to see the number up to 8200.

According to the Globe: “Toronto Pan Am Games mascot has cost taxpayers $383,045 so far.”

Steve Walker
Steve Walker
November 23, 2014 12:32 pm

To touch on a few comments here;

Good for Siegel. Kessel is not merely mute, he is clearly hostile towards fans. His childish, immature behaviour is less about being introverted, and more about thinking he is above the peons who report the game and buy the tickets. Let’s just call him entitled. Ask a few people around MLSE. You’ll get some answers.

The Tie Domi interview. Wow, I thought it was me. He was clearly agitated and couldn’t string five words together. That comment about Microsoft being responsible for pc’s on the planet was hilarious. He had a couple of other beauties. I wonder what the MS PR staff thought.

Ken Reid. Why? How? Can they not afford a sidekick? Did they spend all the money on the nhl contract. If I wanted bad standup and wisecracks I’d go to a bad comedy club. In short he’s awful and the reason I listen less.

And to address a reader post, thank you for bringing up Romanuk. I was shocked when Rogers hired him. When they gave him the leaf gig I was appalled. So now on Saturday night I get to listen to a homer on what is ostensibly HNIC which used to be, you know, a national unbiased hockey broadcast. Just another example of how rogers is ruining hockey one piece at a time. And yes I’m looking at you Strombo.

Thanks for the vent.

November 23, 2014 1:09 pm

I applaud Jonas Seigel for his decision to make public his dealings with Phil Kessel. It helps confirm what many already feel about Kessel. He is a tremendously talented player but appears to be not very bright, rather self-centred and willing to do the least amount of work possible to get a job done – including dealing with the press. Sure, Seigel is young but he has been doing this job for a number of years now and I believe he is quite good at it. I would hope that it does not affect his job performance in the future.

As for the stick raising “incident”. I can see why MIB would think that the whole thing is too stupid for words. My opinion is that it’s a silly tradition, much like fist pumping at the bench after a goal, playoff beards and Movember moustaches. However, I will offer this. It WAS a calculated f— you to the fans by the team. The fact that they appeared to offer such lame excuses for doing it made it even worse. How they could not foresee that there would be a huge media backlash afterwords, just shows how dysfunctionally stupid these players are.

November 23, 2014 1:26 pm

Not preparing for PTS is what Bob says he does (or doesnt do). He says he shows up at 4:00 and doesnt even know who the guests will be.

November 23, 2014 2:09 pm

Santos, have you been living under a rock for the past year? Joe Siddal has been the analyst for the radio broadcasts.

November 23, 2014 2:34 pm

I have to admit that I was interested and excited in seeing what Paul Romanuk had left to give when Rogers brought him back. I always remembered him from great World Junior moments. After watching him so far, I have realized that either I forgot the bad parts of the Juniors, or he has taken a terrible turn.

Nothing more disappointing that turning on Rogers Night In Canada and having Romanuk call a Leafs game with Mike Johnson. I guess we know why TSN let these guys walk. I’d rather Bob Cole. Sure he has lost his luster, but at least he can bring some excitement and not annoy us with inane questions.

November 24, 2014 8:58 am

Most of us have probably never watched a second of the Pan-Am Games, but they sure seem determined to make us notice them next summer by interfering with other things in Toronto and Hamilton. It will be interesting to see how much the schedules of the pro teams using the same venues will be impacted, although we know it will be negligible in the case of the Blue Jays since the “Pan Am Ceremonies Venue”(?)

will only be used for opening and closing ceremonies, but the “CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium” will be in use from July 11 to 26th. “Exhibition Stadium” — with construction already forcing TFC to start their season with seven road games — will apparently only be used for two days of rugby, but will its usual BMO name be prohibited for the duration of the games because it is part of “CIBC Pan Am Park”? The Toronto IndyCar race had to move away from its usual July date to June 12-14th. They had wanted the previous weekend, but IndyCar was contractually obligated to race in Texas. That Friday June 12th date conflicts with the likely start of World Cup qualifying for Canada (earlier than ever with their dismal world ranking of 122), presumably now to be starting on the road in some small Caribbean or Central American country and hoping to remove enough of the barriers, fences, etc., in time for the return leg if it is at BMO Field on Tuesday June 16th and not moved to another venue in Canada, although a few other stadiums are at that time being used for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Mike S
Mike S
November 24, 2014 4:40 pm

The Domi interview was probably the low point of 2014 so far for Naylor’s show

And the PTS show a couple of weeks ago when Ken Reid kept bringing up David Hasselhoff’s name over and over again was probably the low point of 2014 so far for PTS

November 24, 2014 7:58 pm

All the memorials to Pat Quinn today brought a lot of good radio today. Both Naylor’s show with Arthur and Bob with Friedman did some thoughtful work.

charlie brown
charlie brown
November 25, 2014 4:48 am

I think Prime Time has been on a great stretch lately. Guest wise and content wise.

mickey b
mickey b
November 25, 2014 8:21 am

Just wanted to say I really enjoy this website and forum. Great info and comments. A couple of things came to mind when reading some of these comments. I have no idea what the ratings are like today but whenever I’m with any of my beer league teams or other groups of guys, all I ever hear is Leafs Lunch and Mike Richards being quoted. Doesn’t matter what group I’m with, the guys (ranging between probably 30-45) are all quoting these shows exclusively. “O Dog” and “Noodles” seem to be all the rage with the guys- especially O-dog.

Other thing is HNIC just feels ridiculous these days. I know the budget is way higher but wow does it ever feel cheapened. Seems like a bunch of B or C rate guys mixed in with the odd A level guy and looks and feels like a mess. Can’t take George seriously at all and maybe that’s where it all starts. Too bad, ‘cuz I always liked George as a music broadcaster and feel bad that he looks like a fish out of water hosting hockey.

November 25, 2014 8:15 pm

A few things come to mind.
1)Jonas Siegel has lost his mind if he think sanybody cares what he thinks.
2) how can anybody say that it’s been slim pickings since ashby left, when joe siddall was incredible this year.
3) romanuk is fine for week night games, but Saturday night should have cole or hughson. Maybe this will take some getting used to both for listeners as well as romanuk.
4) this blog is a great read
5) the jays had better not be done.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
November 26, 2014 12:14 am

I think Jonas Siegel is a good reporter, and his articles are better written than Elliotte Friedman’s pieces. Here he humanizes a lesser known Leaf:

True his critique of Phil Kessel was missing the observation that Kessel’s shyness and ackwardness in social situations might have been partially responsible for the way he sometimes treats the press, and that Shanahan and Co. should help him deal with this problem. I remember reading Kareem Addul Jabbar’s autobiography in which he wrote he had the same problem with shyness and the press early in his career. But otherwise Siegel’s reporting on the Leafs is quite good.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
November 26, 2014 12:22 am

Of all the things written about Pat Quinn, this article by Howard Berger might be the best:

November 26, 2014 10:00 am

@ Steph

With all due respect, I would say that you have lost your mind if you really believe that Siddall was “incredible”.

He comes from the new school of colour commentators in that he talks more than the play-by-play man. It’s as if he is afraid of dead air. As MIB correctly states, he often either repeats what Jerry has said or he makes an obvious analysis that seems to be stated just to fill in the time between pitches.

He is pretty good for someone with no experience before last season….but not that good.

Mike S
Mike S
November 26, 2014 12:05 pm

Hogan had Berger on as a guest on 1050 on Monday night to talk about Pat Quinn……… was an interesting discussion, not sure if it is available on podcast………….it was the first time I have heard Berger on radio in several years

Jonathan Giggs
Jonathan Giggs
November 26, 2014 2:09 pm
November 27, 2014 8:29 am

Ken Reid is the worst cohost ever. He ruins every interview. I can’t believe that Don Kollins forces Bob to have Reid on PTS. I would have thought Bob had more power over his own show. Just awful radio.

Mike S
Mike S
November 28, 2014 4:05 pm

Apparently today’s PTS roundtable does not feature either John Shannon or Ken Reid………… are the scheduled participants:

Bob McCown
Elliotte Friedman
Mike Zeiberger
Shi Davidi

November 28, 2014 5:02 pm

It was great hearing Howard Berger on with Hogie. The 2 of them must almost go back to day 1 of sports radio in Toronto. Needless to say, he should be on more.

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