Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

amazing photo credit: Canadian Press


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media fans. Let me add my voice to the chorus welcoming TSM back from hiatus. This site is his playground and I’m really glad to be a part of it. Also, a quick note about moderation: as you may know, you can post using a fake email address but this increases the chances your post will get caught in the spam filter. If your comment on one of my columns hasn’t appeared for a few hours, shoot me an email and I’ll go fish it out of the tank.


Lastly, the discussion here is driven by my listening and reading habits. That means that certain shows and writers get little to no attention. In the new year I am going to commit to trying to broaden the discussion by writing more about these neglected alternatives. So if you’re dying for more Bryan Hayes and Jeff Blair talk in this space, it’s on the way.


Ok, let’s go …




The Lawrie trade broke late last night so I have not had time to process it or do a media round-up. What I do want to discuss is the narrative that has built since the end of the season around the Jays’ toxic clubhouse. BJH has a good summary of the suspects and the charges.


The narrative is essentially this: there was a core group of malcontents on this team in 2014 and they poisoned the clubhouse to the detriment of the team’s on-field performance.


Now, I am not arguing that this is false. What is notable is who is reporting this story. Here is the list: Blair, Wilner, Davidi, Howarth. In other words, all Rogers guys. This might be explicable in terms of sources. These guys all have similar sources in the organization, so obviously they are going to have similar takes. But the most compelling piece of evidence is the absence of confirmation from the non-Rogers baseball heavyweights. As far as I can tell none of Griffin, MacArthur, or Lott have written about extensive clubhouse problems.


So what does this mean? Probably not all that much. It’s clear that there were a lot guys who marched to the beat of their own drums on the 2014 Jays. What is debatable is whether this had a malignant effect on the team. In my opinion, this is loser-talk. It’s an easy story to write when you have a losing team. The fact that only Rogers guys are writing this story suggests that someone in the organization has a vested interest in selling that angle, and is using the media wing of the company to achieve that purpose.


There will be a ton of new faces on the Jays in 2015. The team looks like it is ready to spend in ways they chose not to last year. So if the team performs well there will be a lot of stories written about how they changed the culture of the locker room. I am going to wait and see who else takes shots at the departed Jays before deciding that the toxic culture is to blame for the lack of performance in 2014. Lack of spending and moves that didn’t pan out also explain a lot of the Jays’ futility last year.


Debating Mike Richards


Despite all the negative things I have written about Mike Richards’ show in the past, he very kindly sent me a copy of his book, 100 Things Everyone Else is Wrong About.


The introduction states “Mike Richards is the host of the highest rated show on TSN 1050, the marquee morning-drive program Mike Richards in the Morning, which has become one of the fastest growing morning shows in Toronto.”  Calling his show the highest rated one on TSN1050 is sort of like describing someone as the smartest commenter on youtube, but let’s leave that to one side.


In this new feature, I will evaluate the  claims he makes in the book to see if in fact there are 100 things about which he is right and everyone else is wrong. For the purposes of this discussion I will assume that all the claims Mike makes are sincere. [note – the book is categorized by Penguin as Sports / Humour, but clearly they have never listened to his show.]


In his opening chapter debunking the claim that everyone enjoys a vegan, Mike challenges the thesis that vegans enjoy health benefits including longer life. Mike cites anecdotal evidence from trips to Italian villages where people live long lives eating “nothing but what the earth has given them, including smoked meats, cheeses, lamb …”


There are a few problems with this argument. First, as far as I can tell there are no lamb trees or smoked meat shrubs in these Italian villages, so Mike’s claim that these people eat only what comes from the earth seems dubious. I’ll charitably assume he was using “earth” in a non-literal sense. Second, a widely cited study conducted between 2002 and 2007 reported a 12% reduction in mortality risks among vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians.


Now, whether or not this undermines Mike’s general argument that no one likes vegans admittedly requires further debate. TSN radio host Gareth Wheeler is a vegan, and I’m willing to bet some people like him. He’s quite pleasant on Twitter and I especially like his updates on his social outings with his girlfriend.


In conclusion, if Mike is going to claim this as one of the 100 things he is right about, further analysis of the longevity studies will need to be completed.


Current score = Mike in Boston 1, Mike Richards 99


Quick Hits


  • Bell was busted this week for astroturfing their new app by having their employees post glowing reviews. I cannot believe companies still get caught doing this in 2014. I exclusively use theScore app for sports updates and news. Does anyone use a different one?


  • The Canadian Press released a story this week on the declining number of Canadians who are planning to watch the Grey Cup. The sample they used was not random so it’s possible their focus group is not in the CFL’s main demo, but the overall trend is not good. TSN CFL enthusiast Dave Naylor writes a good piece on the challenges facing the league in the post-Cohon era. Naylor clearly doesn’t think the game is in crisis, but the problems he cites seem calamitous to me. The game not being sold out is pretty damning.


  • For those of you who want to know more about the man behind the condescension, TorontoMike had Wilner on his popular podcast.


  • Is there a worse way to find out you’ve been fired than reading about it on Twitter? I suppose the only way to top that would be finding out on Twitter while you are on the air.


  • Hockey writer James Mirtle unshackles himself from the editorial and grammatical constraints of the Globe and blogs about Twitter and the subtleties of blocking vs. muting.  His general point is a good one: a small group of idiots can derail a good conversation.


  • Tim Graham of TSN Drive and the Buffalo News has a horribly sad human interest story on ex-Bill Darryl Talley.


  • Awful Announcing has a nice list of the worst sports media stories from the past year in the US. At some point we should have that discussion about the year that was in Canada.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Friedman made fun of Bob for his antiquated understanding of baseball stats. I’m guessing this means more Ken Reid and Joh Shannon in the weeks to come.


  • A commenter last week suggested that Don Kollins/Rogers likely dictates who appears on PTS. This might explain the stream of TV “personalities” who clutter up the cohost chair. However, the FOB (Friends of Bob) phenomenon has a long and illustrious history too. What do people think? Who should we blame for what happens to PTS when Brunt is not around?


  • Does anyone actually care about Bruce Arthur’s NFL picks? It seems oddly beneath him to continue publishing those now that he is the Star’s lead columnist (except on Saturdays).


  • Checking in on Strombo on HNIC: how do people feel about his performance lately? To be honest, I can’t take him seriously when they make him stand there with a hockey stick. It’s almost like they are setting him up for failure.


  • What happened to Dirk Hayhurst? He has basically disappeared from Toronto airwaves.




As always, thanks for reading and for keeping the discussion going.

until next time,

mike (in boston)


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