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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November 29, 2014 11:15 am

Hayhurst still does blogs for i think bleacher report as well as his own site.

He was doing hits on 1050 duribg the season.

If you read his blog, he is going back to college for some kind of business degree.

He is also writing an intwresting series of columns about how his wife wants kids and he doesnt.

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
November 29, 2014 11:44 am

I exclusively use theScore app for sports updates and news. Does anyone use a different one?

I used to have The Score* app – it is pretty good – but since I’m almost always home (week nights and weekends) when North American sports that interest me are on I stopped using it. For live updates of European soccer and editorials (usually British biased) on soccer, F1, rugby and tennis I use the Eurosport app. (Eurosport is a continent wide sports television network based in France). I also use the ATP/WTA app for game by game updates from the world of tennis.

* I was just thinking the other day how I miss The Score TV channel. I’m referring here to The Score as it was almost a decade ago.

November 29, 2014 12:29 pm

MIB, I am curious to know the reason for your deep dislike for Mike Richards and his show. You are of course entitled to your opinion, but you never seem to miss a chance to slag Richards when the opportunity presents itself.

Personally, I prefer his show over Brady and Walker because I don’t mind the shtick and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Someone you can have a beer and a laugh with. He gets good guests and mixes in some humour. Personally I think Brady and Walker seem to talk down to the audience at times. A bit too arrogant sounding. That also goes for some of their tweets.

Again, maybe the parody songs aren’t for you, but to me Mike Richards it is the better choice. I am interested to know why he isn’t for you.

November 29, 2014 1:52 pm

Couple of items:

The link to Darryl Talley made me think of this… holy fuck, KAMALA! is a double amputee!

Someone having a good laugh at Wilner’s expense (h/t MIB). Can’t confirm the validity of the claim though:

Darren K Johnston
Darren K Johnston
November 29, 2014 1:57 pm

MIB, just curious, did you get your “quick hits” idea from Richard Deitsh of S.I?
Like Alex said, Hayhurst occasionally pens for Bleacher as well as his own Blog.
I, like most others I know can’t stand Strombo, on Facebook there is a petition called “Bring back Ron Maclean on Saturday Nights”, I signed.
Bob’s FOB’s has made PTS unwatchable for me. Has anyone found out if there is a reason that Brunt isn’t back until the Spring?
Why would anyone take Arthur’s NFL picks over ANYONE else’s?

November 29, 2014 2:01 pm

@ mike (in boston)

Good point about Bruce Arthur. It just seems he’s trying a little too hard sometimes to be something he’s clearly not – and that is an insider.

November 29, 2014 3:41 pm

Now granted I’m not typically glued to the TV during hockey intermissions no matter the network (though TSN gets a little more of my attention) as I’ve grown tired of the repetitive talking heads spewing the flavour “analysis” of the day, the only criticism of Strombo I have right now is that he needs to slow down his speaking. Way too fast.

I like Strombo in his various incarnations over the years. I think he needs a little time to settle in and for the public to ease out of the well worn grove of MacLean.

WestDale Rocks
WestDale Rocks
November 29, 2014 7:04 pm

Re: PTS. Friedman is the only class act other than Brunt that they have. Ken Read is unlistenable on that show, as is Shannon.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
November 30, 2014 2:35 am

Strombo sucks plain and simple. he needs to be replaced

November 30, 2014 7:29 am

Quick thoughts: Hayhurst also contribute to Sports on Earth. I think he may also be working on a new book. Plus, they aren’t talking a lot of baseball on 1050 in December.
Regarding PTS sans Brunt..Reid is knowledgeable in a lot of sports, but tries to be too funny or Bill Simmons-y with the lame pop culture references. I’d like to hear a straight version before I fully judge.Freidman is measured, but I like him a lot more. Shannon is terrible, and how he has both a radio and tv gig is beyond me. He parrots popular opinion, and is a buffoon when it comes to any type of x’s and o’s analysis.
Strombo is just ok..but its a mountainous task to do what Hodge and MacLean did before him. It may take some time, but yes, lose the sticks and fake rink.

November 30, 2014 8:56 am

Don’t listen to Mike Richards or PTS or Rogers intermissions, so I can’t contribute on any of those topics, but I’m definitely better off and sounds like I’m missing absolutely nothing.

Will anyone here be watching the Grey Cup? Haven’t seen a second of CFL in years, and have absolutely zero interest in the game. It just isn’t exciting.

Does anyone actually care about Bruce Arthur anymore? General sports columnists are generally terrible, but Arthur takes it to a new level. He went from a Twitter must-follow to an unfollow and mute very quickly.

Speaking of instant unfollow, Steve Lepore, hockey blogger/Awful Announcing writer, was called out on Twitter yesterday morning for being a massive predator/creep and from the sounds of it, something he has done to a lot of women online. If you search his name on Twitter you can see some of the convo about him. Here is a little sample:

Not that Chris
Not that Chris
November 30, 2014 9:39 am

— 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.


This became a story when the season ended because John Gibbons went on either PTS or the Jeff Blair show and said (paraphrasing here) the Jays clubhouse wasn’t exactly a harmonious group, and it would need some changes for next season. I have no idea why some of the other MSM jays reporters you mention aren’t writing or talking about it, but when the manager of the team publicly says something like that – it’s a story.

November 30, 2014 10:24 am

I don’t really care too much about what goes on in the clubhouse, Howarth going after Dickey was disgraceful. I would be fine with Jerry losing his job.

November 30, 2014 11:59 am

Thanks for the link, Mike! Gibbons made a curious comment at season’s end about the team needing some “fresh faces”, and it mostly stemmed from there. The genesis of the recent reports of clubhouse turmoil came via Jerry Howarth in some comments about R.A. Dickey, and then Jeff Blair more or less echoed that sentiment.

Then last week, Mike Wilner told Ben Ennis that the Blue Jays clubhouse was “terrible” this past season and that people had told him this was the worst clubhouse they’ve been around.

I think the reason why we’re hearing about all this now is most of the supposed “bad apples” are now gone – Gose, Lind, Rasmus, Lawrie. Blowing the whistle on a bad clubhouse would be awkward if the main culprits were still on the team (although there are definitely still some strong personalities there with Reyes, Bautista and others).

As for why the other beat reporters don’t also have stories on this, perhaps there really isn’t much meat to this story after all? At the time, it seemed like a pretty innocuous comment from Gibbons. But once Howarth came on Blair’s show, it all snowballed from there.

The only other real report of unrest between the players and coaches/management was Bautista/Janssen and others being upset about the team not doing anything at the trade deadline.

mickey b
mickey b
November 30, 2014 2:52 pm

I have never heard of anyone yet who thinks strombo is doing anything positive at all with his work on hnic. personally I like him as a broadcaster but must admit his work on hnic is comical at best. kind of sad really. best thing I can say about him is that he makes some of the terrible talent around him look a bunch of scotty bowman’s compared to him. any hockey broadcast that has strombo chatting with Damien cox can not be taken seriously at all. i’m all for changes and would be fine with someone other than ron maclean but this was not the answer. maybe when I stop laughing at the whole production and start to take it seriously, i’ll end up pretty embarrassed by this whole debacle.

November 30, 2014 5:57 pm

Agree with baz that if Reid just played it straight he’d likely be fine.

November 30, 2014 7:05 pm

I really have seen no evidence that Sportsnet baseball guys like Blair, Davidi, Ben Nicholson Smith or any of The Fan guys are given any kind of agenda or talking points by Rogers to discuss in regard to the Jays. I get the sense all the hosts are hyper aware that they’ll be scrutinized for that, and as such are usually very even handed. Sid Seixeiro is absurdly (and usually misguidedly) negative about the team, for example. The only obvious homers are associated with the pbp crew. But that’s the case with most teams.

The Leafs and Raptors are owned by Rogers (and Bell) as well. There’s no narrative that there might be a media bias there. What’s the difference? That’s a case of the media and team being owned (or part owned) by the same entity too. I think it’s good we look out for that stuff with the Jays, but there’s no real evidence it occurs, and I don’t really get why it’s brought up so much on here. Just listen to Brady, Blair or Tim and Sid any given day and the argument dies.

November 30, 2014 7:07 pm

I think Sportsnet made a huge mistake letting Hayhurst go. He tweeted that it was a budget thing, he thought they spent so much on hockey analysts they had to cut back on baseball. I think it’s a real shame because Kevin Barker is terrible. I’d take Hayhurst over Joe Siddal too. Would love to see Sportsnet bring him back.

November 30, 2014 7:09 pm

Haha I heard Friedman bust McCown’s balls on talking about pitcher wins too. EVERY time McCown says something like ‘he’s just a .500 pitcher’ Brunt or Friedman follows it up with ‘yeah, but nobody looks at pitcher wins anymore’. Yet McCown keeps at it. I wish McCown would take like, an afternoon, and brush up on things.

November 30, 2014 7:13 pm

Completely agree with everyone on Ken Reid. Prime Time works when McCown (who is entertaining, but older and not necessarily well informed on stats etc) is paired with someone who’s more current in terms of analysis and what’s going on. Brunt, Freidman, even Blair or Grange. But when Shannon is on, it just sounds like two old coots on the radio talking about boring nonsense. Same with Reid except it’s a young old coot.

November 30, 2014 8:36 pm

dirk wrote an amusin column recently on meeting Avril Lavegne when he was on the Jays.

rob in auroa
rob in auroa
November 30, 2014 8:47 pm

1) I use Yahoo Sports Mobile app

2) Strombo and his Jeggings are laughable – all of HNIC is terrible now, I just watch the games. They are trying way too hard with the wrong people. TSN must be laughing at this

3) This blog seems to favour anything Sportsnet Fan 590, but Macko and Cauz (9-noon) and Leafs lunch (Noon to 2) on TSN 1050 are better than anything on the FAN in any time slot, it’s not even close. I listen to Richards because I hate him less than I hate Brady and whatever. I should really listen to John Oakley again in the AM

TSN Radio is effectively ignored by the Jays. AA stiffs them constantly and they get few if any on air interviews. They cover them because the have to, but there is nothing in it for them and the Jays really don’t let them have much

December 1, 2014 12:53 am

Maybe it’s changed, but it seemed like AA would do 1050 (cybulski or Naylor) before doing PTS, but that might be because 590 wanted him at top of the hour, esp at 6:00, since it is the national hour.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
December 1, 2014 12:59 am

I just post this here. Is nice to see TSM is posting more but it will spread out the comments again. Maybe he should post within Seen and Heard.

Is Greg Brady really going after Aaron Rogers?

“Greg Brady @bradyfan590 · 4 hours ago
Dumb to think “playoff pressure” on Brady re: legacy. Won 4 p-off games since Rodgers won SB. Rodgers outdueled something called “Joe Webb”.”

We know Brady likes Tom Brady, Novak Djokovic, and the Tigers and takes sly (or not so sly) digs at Peyton Manning, Rafael Nadal, or the Jays (how the Donaldson trade must irk him, no matter what he says on the radio tomorrow). But he’s intelligent enough to know he’s being unfair will sometimes grudgingly adjust his opinions. Every sport fan has his irrational dislikes. I can’t stand Brady/Belichick, although I’m not sure why.

That Plaxico Burress Superbowl winning catch was the last time I actually jumped off my couch watching a sporting event and it was done out of schadenfreude (I missed Crosbie’s Golden goal as I was too nervous to watch the overtime. When I heard the upstairs neighbours jumping up and down my breathing became normal and I turned the TV back on).

I’ll just point out that Tom Brady and “something called Joe Webb” have the same amount of Super Bowl rings post Spygate. When will those New England cheaters actually win a ring honestly? Ridiculously unfair? Sure.

Mike Richards had a nice interview with Martin Short which I just listened to after finishing Short’s brilliant autobiography,”I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend” Easily the best read of the year for me.

Funny funny, stories about Second City, SNL, etc.. An example: Visiting Sammy Davis Jr house after a Sinatra concert and Sammy telling Short, “Lay a little of the dance on me…you know man, the Grimley thing.”

And then a deeply moving account of his wife battle with cancer.
-Steve Martin crying in public when Short tells him at a function that the National Enquirer is going to publish an article of the illness.
-After the final 911 call his wife telling him, “Marty, let me go.”
Short ends the book with a beautifully life affirming chapter (without being maudlin) as he deal with the loss with his children.

What a great book, with plenty of laughs too, such as this joke of his Irving Cohen character: “…I remember when Cole Porter got into that horrible, horrible horse accident. I don’t want to say Cole was a sexual deviant, but it’s the first time anybody fell from the bottom of a horse.”

I wonder why 590 hasn’t inteviewed him as Richards did (or did I miss it?) Jeff Sammut was at Second City I think, he could probably do a nice interview. The hosts don’t always talk about sports and sometimes discuss music awards or videos, movies, etc…Brady did a great interview a couple years ago with the author of a book about the worst MTV videos.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
December 1, 2014 2:41 am

@ Daniel Kevin Barker is Terrible.The only reason he is there is he is married to Hazel Mae.You get one and you get the package deal.

December 1, 2014 6:47 am

Just wanted to post a quick followup to the Steve Lepore thing I posted on Saturday, he has now been fired from Awful Announcing:

December 1, 2014 9:30 am

Strombo has always spoken too quickly. As a fast talker, I can relate but when it comes to hosting HNIC, you can’t do that. It only adds to annoyance level – which right now I sway off the charts.

It serves Rogers right for gambling on a no-talent hack.

December 1, 2014 11:03 am


I haven’t minded Strombo’s fast talking on his other shows or radio bits. I’m not sure why it’s bothering me on HNIC.

Lee (Oakvile)
Lee (Oakvile)
December 1, 2014 4:14 pm

Another great post, MIB.

I have the new HNIC a chance to win me over but I have found it to be unwatchable. George S. looks uncomfortable and unqualified for his role, and the fact that he is surrounded by sub-par colleagues only accentuates his deficiencies. I wonder if the response would be so negative if he was surrounded by McKenzie, Dreger, etc rather than the sad crew he has to deal with. I think Rogers over-invested In the studio and went cheap where it really counts, the on-air personalities.

Mike S
Mike S
December 1, 2014 4:15 pm

Dirk Hayhurst was on 1050 today to talk about the Jays trade…………he was on the Bryan Hayes Show towards the end of Hour 1…………… is a link to the podcast

Darren K Johnston
Darren K Johnston
December 1, 2014 4:19 pm

@ Lee, I wonder the same thing as far as if Strombo had McKenzie, Dreger, LeBrun and Ward would it be better, I think yes.

December 1, 2014 7:02 pm

I don’t hate Strombo but the man has a gift for making rich people feel hip by standing next to him at parties. To be fair he always seems to be a really nice guy to everyone.

It’s amazing the levels he has risen too considering nothing he has ever done would be considered a main stream success audience wise.

– Cool guy on Much Music, talented interviewer to be fair in my opinion.

– Did a really great piece on Tommy Douglas being the Greatest Canadian on CBC which got him a CBC gig.

– His CBC talk show would have been yanked off the air after 6 months on Bell with his audience numbers but since it’s on the CBC it had a long run of doing a .1/.2 rating.

– Host of the One reality show one ABC which no one watched and was pulled off the air before a winner was even decided.

– Gets a CNN show which again no one watched and wasn’t renewed.

Yet after all this failure he gets the top spot on HNIC. Talk about failing upwards. What Rogers should of quickly realized is Queen St George just doesn’t translate to the main street hockey crowd.

Darren K Johnston
Darren K Johnston
December 1, 2014 7:12 pm

@Sinnacle, very nicely said.

Claire A Fye
Claire A Fye
December 1, 2014 9:49 pm

Strombo is a good guy, one of those few broadcasters who’s the same on the air and off. He’s also very good as an interviewer, which I would guess was one of the main reasons Rogers chose him to host HNIC. I also think he would appeal to a younger audience. I don’t think it’s working though. George looks like a fish out of water. The guy they should have gone with is there, and he might get the job next. Elliotte Friedman. He’s well connected, a good journalist and clearly is better associated with hockey than Strombo. You have to think they will move out Grapes and MacLean soon too. Everything they try to do (and rarely succeed at) is cutting edge. Grapes is 1950. Just doesn’t fit.

Lee (Oakvile)
Lee (Oakvile)
December 2, 2014 8:41 am

I’m still to be convinced that Elliotte Friedman is well-suited as a host on either TV or radio. I’m my mind, he is one of the best commentators/analysts/journalists in the business but doesn’t have the on-air personna of, say, the Duthies or Williams that truly personify great sports hosts.

Fan Man
Fan Man
December 2, 2014 7:06 pm

Yoou are even more clueless than you seem if you think anyone other than Bob decides who is on PTS. Bob does what he wants, not what Don or anyone else tells him to do. Get some facts.

Darren K Johnston
Darren K Johnston
December 2, 2014 7:13 pm

Het “Fan Man” (gotta love guys who don’t have the balls to put their real name down)
Who are you talking about?
I think that was a suggested thought rather than a stated fact.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
December 3, 2014 11:47 pm

A little while ago when Derrick Rose said he was tired many in the media ripped him. I remember Andrew Walker doing it and Michael Grange even saying Rose signed up for this and he should just suck it up even if it costs his his health later in life. Now when we hear Josh Donaldson wanted to take a time off last season these no criticism. Why because one is black? Or because one plays for a team owned by Rogers? Maybe Donaldson works harder than Rose. All that fucking walking from the on deck circle to home plate and standing at third base can take a toll on you.

December 4, 2014 4:09 pm

How soon before Rogers copies this.

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