Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: CP/nightmare fuel

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by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail

 

Good morning sports media watchers. A reminder about moderation: you don’t need a real email address to comment here, but very fake sounding email addresses trigger the spam filter more easily. I try to fish them out of the tank regularly, but sometimes they get lost.

 

Beeston’s Blues

 

The big story this week was the fiery return of the rumours that Paul Beeston would be replaced as Jays president by current Orioles GM Dan Duquette. Various US baseball insiders reported that a deal to bring Duquette to Toronto was nearly done. This story has had many lives already. The rumblings of his departure began during the season with this scoop by the excellent Shi Davidi. Beeston has been without a contract since the end of the season, although he is still representing the team at various MLB meetings.

 

The most curious aspect of the previous round of rumours was that Ted Rogers’ son Edward Rogers had been making calls around the league on behalf of the team. This thorough Toronto Life article describes the process through which Ed was removed from a position of control at Rogers industries. There has never been any announcement that Ed was or is part of the Jays management team. So it was a shock to read Bob Elliot referring to the Jays as “Edward’s team” in the Sun this week. Brendan Kennedy of the Star has a similar story but with some quotes from annoying ex-President of the Jays Paul Godfrey, who rallies around Beeston. If you have time for only one article, make it Scott Stinson’s in the National Post. Stinson has more of the story behind the story. (Oddly, Griff didn’t have a story on this. Hope he’s OK.)

 

The question on the minds of Jays observers is: what is going over there? This has been a curious off-season in several respects. After a frustrating season where the Jays did not spend any money improving a talented but aging core, AA hit the ground running making several major moves to shake up the construction of the roster. The natural interpretation was that white witch Guy Laurence’s payroll freeze had been defeated and that spring was finally coming to Narnia. As the winter meetings came and went with no further moves to shore up the obvious holes on the roster, this theory became less and less viable. With the news that Ed Rogers is once again in the kitchen one wonders whether there is some kind of internal power struggle going on at the top with the Jays.

 

Much of the media attention has turned to the treatment of Paul Beeston. Bob McCown has been Beeston’s friend for years and unloaded on PTS. Brunt was back as co-host (for the last time until April …) and as usual delivered on behalf of the audience. (He’s really the best thing about PTS. Rogers should just back up the money truck and pay whatever it takes to get him to commit for more than the 12 weeks (?) his current contract requires. Buy him a jet or a golden airline ticket. They did it for Marsden.) Here is part of a conversation the two had with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

 

Bob: “it’s a shameful way to treat an employee who has been with the organization since day one. They aren’t letting him go with any level of dignity at all.”

Rosenthal: “what we don’t know is if he’s ticked someone off in the organization and they don’t care about showing him respect.”

Bob: “I guarantee he’s ticked someone off.”

 

The fact that Rosenthal mentioned it and Bob seconded it makes me think there is fire somewhere behind this wisp of smoke. After the interview Bob and Stephen had this to say:

 

Brunt: “It was ineptly handled, and they are kind of painted into a corner now … and that’s why I think [the Duquette hiring] has got to happen.”

Bob: “i’d love to know who is making that decision. I assume it’s someone really near the top.”

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These comments support the thesis that someone is sick of Beeston, perhaps for personal as well as professional reasons, and wants to hire someone new. Before going all-in on the Edward Rogers conspiracy, let’s think this through. Beeston turns 70 this year. He has had plenty of time in this organization to enact his vision. The team has not made the playoffs during his tenure. Moving on from Beeston at this juncture makes a lot of sense along many dimensions.

 

The confusing part is the following: given how easy it would have been to thank him for his service and start a search for his replacement, why go this route? Why keep him on only to let him twist in the wind? Hard to say, but some explanations are:

 

 

1) Beeston won’t go quietly

2) someone wants to make Beeston suffer

3) this is all just organizational incompetence rather than malice

4) there is a power struggle going on behind the scenes

 

As odd as it sounds, if Ed Rogers wants a toy with which to play then I wouldn’t mind if he takes over quasi-ownership of the Jays. The Yankees thrived when they had an owner who refused to lose and was willing to spend in pursuit of that goal. I don’t know if Ed has that kind of power over the Jays’ budget, but if he does then that’s good news for Jays fans.

 

The problem that has plagued the team for years and years is that its primary value to Rogers is as television content. Rogers makes buckets of money before any tickets are sold. TV ratings have remained solid through all the losing. So there has been no financial incentive to really invest in getting to 90 wins and the playoffs. If the arrival of Ed means someone’s ego is in play this has the potential to make the on-field performance more of a priority. Of course it also has the potential to make a bad situation even worse.

 

I don’t know what to think but once again the Jays are making news for all the wrong reasons.

 

Butch Burns his Bridges

 

As TSM reported, ex-Raptors coach Butch Carter lashed out against current Raptors play-by-play man for Sportsnet Eric Smith. His words are harsh, completely out of the blue, and aimed at someone who works for a company on whose stations Butch regularly appears.

 

As background, Sportsnet made the decision this year to swap Smith to play-by-play from colour and put Paul Jones in the colour role. TSN and SN split the Raps games on radio, and TSN has decided to keep Jones in the play-by-play role using a rotation of people for colour. Confused? Me too. The problem is that Smith is Rogers property while Jones is a freelancer. Doug Smith of the Star has some details on the changes.

 

In the interest of full disclosure I have not listened to a Raps game on radio on either station this year so I have no opinion on Smith or Jones in their current or previous roles. My general impression is that both men sound fine, though everyone looks 2nd best when compared to the amazing Devlin.

 

Butch Carter is an enigmatic character. To say that he marches to the beat of his own drum would be to put it mildly. In 2000 he accused his college coach Bobby Knight of being a racist. He is mainly known around these parts for being a member of Bob McCown’s inner circle, routinely appearing on PTS to discuss basketball as well as everything else under the sun. Butch has a great set of pipes and can sound credible simply on that basis. But as many have noted, his general sports knowledge is weak and he seems very invested in convincing everyone that despite not coaching again since being fired by the Raptors, he is a well-respected basketball insider.

 

The facts surrounding his firing are in dispute but in his book Richard Peddie claims that the firing was in response to an attempted power grab by Butch following his successful 1999-2000 season with the Raps. Dave Feschuk wrote a story about it in 2013. It’s a good read. Here’s the money quote from Carter: “(Peddie) blackballed me. They knew I was such a good coach that if I went somewhere else I was going to win. If there’s one thing I can do, I can coach.” Carter has apparently enlarged his portfolio of skills since making that claim. As per this Tweet, Butch now has a track record in marketing:

 

https://twitter.com/TOButchCarter/status/555574754800070656

 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make some wild conjectures. I’m guessing that Carter believed himself to be in the running for a full-time job with the Raptors or with Sportsnet as a basketball analyst. This would not be an unreasonable thing for him to believe, given his status as Friend of Bob. Others have leveraged that status into high profile jobs at Sportsnet. Bob has publicly lobbied for Carter on his show in the past.

 

The faultless victim in all of this is all around good guy Eric Smith. Smith is a real FAN590 success story. He has worked his way up from part-time work to a very prominent role. He has survived some bad experiments at the FAN and at Sportsnet (Jays Xpress?). I presume that he has earned the confidence of his bosses through being a hard worker and a team player, as well as being a basketball expert in this city at a time when many were just learning about the game. Eric did nothing to deserve this and, regardless of what you think of his work, no one should be publicly attacked without provocation by a putative co-worker.

 

Last conjecture: McCown must feel personally betrayed by this incident. It can’t be easy going to bat for a difficult guy like Butch only to have him throw gas all over the place. Who knows, perhaps Carter and McCown parted ways over these issues long ago and we are now just hearing about it. Regardless, I get the sense that Bob is a relatively generous guy who enjoys being able to help out people he considers to be friends. This has to hurt.

 

Quick Hits

 

NFL broadcast partner NBC took time during a playoff game to make Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels read prepared statements in defense of Roger Goodell. If you have not seen the footage, watch it. I saw it live and could not believe it. NBC’s response to the deluge of criticism was to imply that others are unpatriotic. The NFL is destroying the credibility of everyone and everything in its wake.

 

John Lott has an excellent piece of journalism on the state of the turf plans for the Dome. Long story short: things are stalled but could be jumpstarted at any time. The prospect of real grass has been one of the most exciting ideas I can remember in Toronto stadium plans. If this doesn’t happen by 2018 it will be really sad.

 

Boston has two all-sports radio stations, a heritage brand (WEEI) and a recent entry to the market (CBS/SportsHub). The latter has overtaken the former in the ratings, as you can read about here. I recommend the new TSN PD take a look at what they did right. Also, it would be nice to live in a city where the ratings were published by a major newspaper rather than needing to be cobbled together by bloggers.

 

Still with Boston sports media, they are currently engaging in all kinds of shenanigans with the Indy media in advance of the game tomorrow. Funny stuff.

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Most of the people I write about are adults and can handle criticism. However, I recently discovered I have been blocked on Twitter by a couple of sports people. This is odd because I do most of my complaining here and almost none of it on Twitter. In one case in particular I can’t for the life of me figure out why he would have blocked me. Who has blocked you and what for?

 

  • A reader asked for a review of Tim without Sid but with Bennett in his place. Didn’t have time to listen, but would be happy to hear what others thought.

 

  • Does anyone care what TFC does anymore? It’s been sad to watch the media machine try to generate interesting story lines for this organization.

 

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thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 33
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    WouldStaley936 years ago

    @mikeinbostom good read as always. It seems very abrupt by @TOButchCarter but maybe it’s connected to a possible broadcasting offer being taken away? I wonder if TSN had always had Morris Peterson in mind to join the TV and radio broadcasts or if Butch was considered.

    In terms of being blocked the only legit clown that I’ve found in this market is Jeff Blair. The guy cannot take criticism. Why did he even get a profile he was a average writer at best for the Globe & Mail and he knows nothing about sports. His delivery on radio is horrid. I guess since he’s a FOB he will be protected for life. To this day Blair has me on block due to me stating a opinion he didn’t share.

    Macko & Cauz filling in for Dave Naylor on TSN Drive on TSN 1050 next Mon-Wed. Should be good option for sports radio fans.

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    @ mikeinboston Agreed with the poster above. Great read, as always. Kudos!

    In terms of being blocked on Twitter, I know of only two who have blocked me … and it’s ironic given that I have, at various times, praised each. One is Damien Cox; the other is James Mirtle. As you may recall, I wrote here of a very pleasant meeting I had with Cox in a southern U.S. airport. If he’s blocked me, I can’t imagine how many others he’s blocked, because the guy takes a lot of heat from a lot of folks. As for Mirtle, I’ve enjoyed some very nice, respectful, back-and-forth discussions with him over the past year or so, but apparently I wrote something that offended him. Oh well …

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    Do Jays fans really give a shit about all this president drama going on? I bet that a majority have zero idea what a baseball president actually does — I know I don’t nor do I really care. For as long as the Jays keep sucking, the president is just one position along with the manager, et. al who will be blamed for the decades of poor performance.

    I discovered during the week that Cathal Kelly had blocked me on Twitter, which was amusing as I had never actually followed the guy but definitely let him know how terrible he is whenever his tweets came across my timeline. I have no idea when it happened as the app I use still lets me see his tweets and timeline.

    >Does anyone care what TFC does anymore? It’s been sad to watch the media machine try to generate interesting story lines for this organization.

    TFC fans definitely care. And what is this non-existent media machine you speak of? AFAIK, Kurt Larson at the Sun is the only newspaper beat reporter for the team. The above mentioned Kelly weighed in with his terrible article — no idea how was given the soccer beat.

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    Mullah_Kintyre6 years ago

    Since there are already other retractable roof MLB stadiums with grass, I didn’t realize changing over Rogers Centre would be as complicated as that article makes it sound. And I assumed they would just be leaving the roof opened most of the time during the season except for when there was a threat of rain.

    Although TFC were announcing sell outs for most games in 2014 after all the “Bloody Big Deal” hype a year ago, the number of empty seats increased as the season progressed. I don’t understand MLSE spending $90 million of their own cash to increase the stadium capacity to 30,000 when there will almost certainly now be less interest. I could see them eventually making everyone sit on the newly-expanded side of the stadium that faces the TV cameras while leaving the other side empty for most games.

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    Steve Jones6 years ago

    Great read Mike. The sidebar links always provide additional interesting reading.

    Rogers as usual botches everything. Just by the nature of the situation it has to be one of two people. The CEO or Ed. Given the fact that it has been so poorly managed I’ll go with Ed. He certainly needs something to do and if the Jays are his new toy then look out. Hope he doesn’t Daniel Snyder or Jerry Jones the team. Sure does suck how poor ownership is across the board in the city.

    On the Butch front it appears old habits die hard. If it was because he didn’t get a gig he thought he deserved then it was a bad move. If it wasn’t then it’s ridiculously bad. I also agree this could be the death knell for him on PT. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing. Unless the talk was hoops he was train wreck bad. The man can’t ask a simple interview question without a 2 minute preamble.

    And what is this TFC you speak of?

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    I turn the channel whenever Bennett’s segment come on, also tired of the global embassitor John Shannon. Where can we find the latest radio rankings for T.O anyways?

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    Thank again for a great read. Have to totally agree with you on the way Rogers is treating Beeston. For what ever unknown reason no one deserves to be treated the way he has,change might be well needed but very unbecoming of Rogers.Also good on McCown and Brunt for speaking up and telling it the way it is.

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    Jonathan Giggs6 years ago

    You shouldn’t write what you don’t know. “Going out on a limb” and “wild conjectures” is irresponsible. You speculate on how both Butch Carter and Bob McCown think, I assume without asking either.

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    With Butch he can only blame himself for not getting another Head Coach job. When you try and replace your GM why would another GM ever want to hire you again. I don’t know if it was ego or what why he didn’t become a assistant again or coach overseas. I remember last season when the Raptors weren’t good he was going after Casey really hard on Tim and Sid, and maybe crossed the line of being informative to something else. He may be a great coach but not a good politician.

    I don’t care what happens to Beeston, he has being getting big money to cover for Rogers whenever they are being cheap. I’m tired of the excuses of why they don’t have grass and them not having a top 5 payroll when they are “going for it”.

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    Steve in Waterloo6 years ago

    Nice article Mike.
    Ed Rogers taking a personal role may NOT be the best thing. Once can only look at the track record of Rogers, and combine that with memories of Harold Ballard…scary!

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    Didn’t even know Raptors were even on radio until I read this. Butch Carter may have a good Darth Vader radio voice but he is so monotone its like he’s asleep. Carter also drones on so slowly. He does tell it like it is though, like a Don Cherry but needs to work on his delivery which I’m sure he won’t.

    One of the big reasons Burke was fired was that he wouldn’t sign any long term deals, I think Beeston is out for the same reason ( he won’t ink anything more than a 5 year deal ). Ed Rogers wanted Nadir to buy all of MLSE, not split it with Bell and Nadir said it wasn’t ‘on point’. I think Ed wants to swing a big dick and Jays will be it. We’ll see.

    Bobcat was great last week on calling out Rogers to apologize for treatment of Beeston. Another day there was also a great round table discussion about the Leafs where much of twenty minutes was Bobcat decrying the Bell/Rogers partnership in MLSE and how it is a disaster and will never work. ‘One of you sell to the other or both of you sell to someone else.’ I strongly agree with that sentiment.

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    Organizational incompetence. Top tier Rogers surrounded by snakes. You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.

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    (Another) Andrew6 years ago

    NFL broadcast partner NBC took time during a playoff game to make Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels read prepared statements in defense of Roger Goodell.

    When watching I was stunned (perhaps I shouldn’t have been) by just how shamelessly over the top Collinsworth was in his praise for Goodell. Unlike Michaels, Collinsworth didn’t sound embarrassed at all.

    TFC fans definitely care. And what is this non-existent media machine you speak of?

    Not sure but the one day I listened to Tim & Sid this week it was the lead off item. Maybe it was elsewhere too.

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    Great post, Mike.

    – You’re bang on re Brunt. Without Brunt as co-host, I find myself just scanning the PTS podcast for interesting guests. If none, I’ll often just skip the show entirely now. With Brunt back on, I really found myself wanting to listen to the whole two hours. He just brings something different that compliments McCown so well, and he’s an anomaly in sports radio in that he’s intelligent, informed and non reactionary. I don’t know how important Rogers feels Brunt is to the magazine and Connected, but it does surprise me that nobody there evidently thinks his most impactful role is on PTS full time. I totally agree with you. Back up the truck and get him there full time. Get him an ISDN or something.

    – I noticed McCown calling Rogers treatment of Beeston ‘shameful’ too. I think we should give McCown credit for this, as many of us are quick to condemn when someone on The Fan pumps Rogers tires. Shannon, to his credit, gave it to Rogers for the Beeston issue on the roundtable as well.

    – Re TFC – I don’t quite get the stadium expansion. I always thought the limited seating was probably something of an asset for the team. Created a scarcity of tickets, great environment, buzz. Maybe they’ll do fine with a 30K stadium, but while TFC fans are tremendously passionate and loyal, it’s not like there seems to be a massive, overwhelming base. I dunno! Hopefully it works out, and the fans are happy. I don’t watch the CFL, but the original plan to have the stadium work for MLS, CFL, Grey Cups and Winter Classics seemed pretty cool to me.

    – Grass: Totally agree. Getting grass in the dome will be huge. Andrew Stoeten wrote a while ago that he heard that the Jays are also going to have to install a new roof fairly soon. All these improvements sound great, but does it get to a point with all these improvements and repairs that they decide to just build a new stadium instead? You never hear anything about it, so it seems a long shot.

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    I agree totally about Brunt. PTS is a completely different show (good) when he is on. Without him, it is, in my opinion, unlistenable – especially when Skippy is the co-host. While Brunt does have a tendency to shill for Rogers and by extension the Blue Jays, I thought his and Bob’s condemnation of the treatment of Beeston was right on and refreshing. Over recent years, I haven’t been a big fan of Beeston, but the man is a Jays legend and should be treated with at least some respect. This is just the latest example of Rogers being Rogers.

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    Butch carter (even before his non-required critique of Eric smith) makes my ears bleed when he’s on He’s adequate on basketball but an absolute dumpster fire on any other topic. Why McCown or the FAN in general keeps him as a semi regular Is astounding. What’s worse is his consistent cringe worthy refrain of ‘al’right’ after every sentence. Listen to any of his appearances on any FAN show and you hear the carnage. Hey fan590 Programmers you might want to screen out co hosts that have painfully bad grammar, let alone knowledge of one only sport. If butch’s latest bonehead assault of Eric smiths keeps him off PTS or any FAN show for good that would be wonderful.

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    Dogpounder6 years ago

    “Football Friday” from 4-5 on 1050 is awesome. I was really impressed with Bierness’ football knowledge and her ability to talk the game with the boys with confidence. Refreshing. Naylor’s show keeps getting better. Too bad the 1050 signal turns to shite anywhere west of Milton after about 5:30pm.

    Is the TFC something like the UFC? I’m confused.

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    Toronto Fighting Championship would probably get great ratings, especially between media members. 🙂

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    Plenty of people care about TFC, you know the fans of the team. The media largely ignores the team so I don’t understand when you say the media machine is generating stories. When TFC is brought up by the media its usually so it can be mocked or the sport in general is mocked.

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    I guess it is a little unsettling to have a well-liked guy like Beeston getting pushed out the door, but the fact is they haven’t won anything in 20+years. If the Jays don’t win this year, then AA is next.

    My Jeff O’Neill quote of the week:

    (On Brian Hayes’ sweater) “You’re supposed to throw things in the Green recycling Bin not crawl in and come out dressed’

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    TFC’s new slogan for 2015:

    OK, OK, we’re not a big bloody deal.

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    Don River6 years ago

    It was cringe-worthy hearing Bob on last Monday’s PTS (Jan 12) asking practically every guest how Dez Bryant’s now infamous catch/not-a-catch was any different than a running back reaching the ball past the goal line and then having the ball slapped away. And shockingly enough, neither Bob nor any guest were able to figure out that those are two entirely different scenarios. And no surprise that John Shannon was more clueless than anyone.

    Then on Tuesday, Bob didn’t even bring up the topic with Don Banks. Presumably, someone explained it all to Bob so he wouldn’t embarrass himself.

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    dogpounder6 years ago

    ^Exactly.

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    Hearing bob snicker when banks corrected Reid that the Seattle qb was Russell Wilson not Westbrook was rich.

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    This was my favourite moment in Toronto sports radio last week………it happened on Friday afternoon on 590 at the end of the 2 PM hour:

    Tim Micallef: “We’ve been talking about which running back you would rather have, Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith”

    Football “expert” John Shannon: “If you could tell me that Barry Sanders was healthy I would choose him. But he was always injured. He missed too many games. So I would choose Emmitt Smith”

    Tim Micallef: “I don’t know about that. I’ll look it up during the break”

    I don’t know if Tim ever looked it up but I did……….Barry Sanders played 10 NFL season and only missed 7 out of 160 games

  • comment-avatar

    MIB

    I think Donavan Bennett does a good job for Tim or Sid When they are not around. It just makes me wonder, why the Fan has not culturally disversified in terms of the personalities on the airwaves. Boy is media a white boys club or what. In the old HNIC Kevin Weeks a solid studio analyst was let go for a far inferior analyst PJ Stock, Sherm Hamilton former Player on the Canadian mens national team I feel is far more credible in terms of knowing the game than Eric Smith, why hasn’t he been given any courtside gigs?

    Interesting to say the least.

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    Donovan Bennett puts thought and research into what he says which can’t be said for many radio personalities.

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    DJ ruins Tim and Sid, when he is on I cant listen, i dont know why Tim and Sid have been so loyal to him all these years .. he is like tims personally lacky i believe

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    Nei: I’d argue Sherman Hamilton brings more to the table than Jack Armstrong. Sherman, when given the chance, breaks down the game well. I know everyone seems to like JAck as he’s entertaining with his yelling of MGD and Baccardi but when it comes to actual analysis, which is his job, he typically contributions are usually that the winning team is playing well and the losing team needs to try harder. I am positive he’s a smart basketball guy seeing as he’s a former NCAA coach…I’d argue he’s still in the “let’s talk down the stupid Canadians about basketball” mode that characterized early Raptors broadcasts.

    I like DJ Bennett too and, as was pointed out by Matt, you can tell he does his homework. I think his problem is that he’s in T&S shadow and needs to branch out on his own instead of playing along with their shenanigans.

    Great interview by Mike Hogan with the current Penn St. hockey coach about their controversial decision to celebrate the reinstatment of Paterno’s wins:
    http://www.tsn.ca/radio/toronto-1050/gadowski-students-chose-to-wore-decals-1.186437

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    What a racist comment, Tim would have your balls for that. If you can’t listen, don’t.

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    It would be nice to see Donovan Bennett in a larger on-air role on the Fan as he does put in the research time needed for informed opinions. If he became a co-host with Brady in the 1-4 slot, that could be a win/win as Brady is better with a co-host.

  • comment-avatar
    gaetan prevost6 years ago

    @pudge

    Brady doesn’t need a co-host, he needs a minion. If he does it will be Maclean/Swirsky 2.0

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    Apparently the Dan Duquette deal is done. He will come to the Blue Jay’s for a player to be named later, ( probably last year’s first round pick Jeff Hoffman.) Hoffman can’t be traded for a year, that is why he will be named later.