Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

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by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media watchers. A little longer preamble than usual today.


I tossed and turned all week about what to write in this space, given the sad events that are at the centre of this week’s sports media news. I spoke to about a dozen people in the media to help me figure out how real journalists think about their professional ethical duties. What follows are my own considered thoughts, albeit greatly informed by the wisdom of others. I have tried to be as fair as possible to all parties and I apologize in advance if I have not been sufficiently measured in my words or tone.


Montador Dies, Mirtle Tweets


Ex-NHL player Steve Montador died at age 35. Within hours of the news breaking, James Mirtle of the Globe went on Twitter and wrote: “Steve Montador’s death believed to be a suicide. He suffered from concussions and depression. Difficult financial situation I’d heard.” Awful Announcing has the complete story.


Shortly after tweeting that, Mirtle deleted it and issued the following conditional apology:



The “if” in his apology turned out to be the case, as suicide has now been ruled out and it appears that he died of natural causes. I say “appears” because Rick Westhead reports that Montador had recently joined the concussion lawsuit against the NHL. It is unclear at this time if Montador’s brain will be examined for evidence of CTE, but even if it is Rick reminds us that “[a]utopsy reports in Canada tend to be covered by privacy laws, and wouldn’t be disclosed to the public unless it can be established that their release would serve the public interest.”


There have been many moving stories about the man that was Steve Montador this week. If you have the time and the emotional fortitude then Eric Francis’ piece in the Calgary Sun and Ken Campbell’s piece at the Hockey News are both must-reads.


Journalistic Ethics & Twitter


Let’s break down exactly what went wrong here. Mirtle decided to connect the dots between things he was told about Montador and his sudden death without verifying whether the dots were actually connected. That’s not a mistake; that’s human nature. The mistake is publishing those thoughts in their unverified form. Had he waited and sought out confirmation then he would have found out that his information was wrong.


One can imagine this being a risk worth taking in some cases … like a big trade or a firing or a franchise move. We’ve seen those kinds of mistakes happen plenty of times in local hockey coverage. You throw something out there and if it sticks then you get to bask in the glory of being first, and your paper or network gets to gloat to the competition. And if you miss? Oh well, “bad intel” and on to the next juicy rumour.


But this is so obviously different that it’s hard to know why Mirtle didn’t stop himself from tweeting this out. To include the phrase “I heard” along with anything related to a person’s tragic death is just wrong. James could have avoided all of this just by following the example of his 2011 self, who reported in his paper and on Twitter on the death of NHLer Rick Rypien, which was eventually confirmed as a suicide.


So the transgression seems to be a lack of due diligence in reporting. However, whether or not the intel he was given was right seems to me to be irrelevant in this case. Let’s engage in the following thought-experiment: what if his speculation turns out to be true and we eventually find out this was a suicide? Would that make tweeting out “I’d heard” hours after the man’s death any less terrible? Would that vindicate the original tweet?


I can’t see that it would. You just don’t know why a person commits suicide and, unless the family releases a note detailing the reasons, you’ll never know if financial problems had anything to do with his death. So no matter how much you want to share what you’d heard, you just can’t. Journalistic ethics tells you you can’t, and short of that, compassion for the family should be the failsafe.


No one with whom I spoke thought this was “no big deal” but there was some disagreement about how big of a deal this actually is. There were roughly two camps here: 1) Everybody makes mistakes and what matters is that you quickly correct them, and 2) this is a significant violation of journalistic ethics. Here there was more divergence of opinion, though most fell into the latter camp.


What has been striking is that almost no one in or covering that industry has voluntarily denounced Mirtle’s mistake. After waiting for a public comment from the paper, on Friday I finally asked Globe sports editor Shawna Richer for a comment to which she replied: “James has been away, but it seems clear to me that he understood the original tweet was a mistake and he did what he could by both apologizing and deleting the tweet.”


Other than that, we have heard nothing from the Globe’s senior media writer Simon Houpt. Nothing from the Globe’s media reporter James Bradshaw, nothing from the Star’s media reporter Raju Mudhar, and nothing from prominent and vocal working journalists Cox, Simmons, Arthur, etc. The impression with which the public is left is that real journalists don’t care enough about this issue to speak up. If the professionals don’t see fit to talk about this, who does that leave? 


The lone wolf barking into the resounding silence was the FAN’s Andrew Walker – making headlines on this site for several weeks in a row – who went on his radio show (Feb 16th, 6am hour) and on Twitter to express his dismay.



Early this week I reached out to James to see if he wanted to comment for this piece and yesterday he sent me this reply:


“I feel terrible about it. Honestly I’ve thought about what went wrong every day since then because I’ve never done something like that. I did do reporting that day and had some good information, but the tweet was carelessly phrased and misleading. I wish I’d paused and rethought what I was saying before I hit send. As others have since written, Montador had been struggling and his family and friends were concerned about him. The last thing I wanted to do was add to their pain that day. He certainly sounded like a good man.”


I don’t know about you, but that felt really good to read and provides a lot more closure than if he had said nothing. Thank you James for going on record here.


Mistakes & Forgiveness


If it doesn’t already, next year’s Ryerson journalism curriculum should devote a unit to the ethics of talking about death. We now have 3 recent Canadian sports cases:


1) Pat Burns
2) Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss
3) Steve Montador


If you need to remind yourself of the details of these other cases, here is PPP excoriating Cox for tweeting that Pat Burns was dead when he wasn’t. Here, again, is PPP shredding Blundell for his joke about death being worse than returning to Edmonton.


Blundell is who he is and no one will confuse him with a journalist, so I don’t want to spend much time on that case. The really interesting case study is the Burns one. As you might recall, both Cox and TSN’s Ray Ferraro went ahead with the wrong information without getting independent confirmation. We can debate whether Cliff Fletcher needs a 2nd source some other time. There are lots of differences between these two cases and I’m not trying to suggest they are the same.


There is one dimension along which I’d like to compare them though. According to this report by Bruce Dowbiggin, Cox was defiant at the prospect of admitting any wrongdoing while Ferraro had this to say: “I should have called [TSN colleague] Bob McKenzie to verify it […] He’s a friend of Pat’s. I was wrong. I can tell you it will never happen again. Never. I just wish I could tell Pat and his family how embarrassed and sorry I am about this.”


I just want to point out how meaningful these words are, and what a difference having something heartfelt, sincere, and unconditional on the record makes. Most of us don’t have a large public audience to witness our professional mistakes or a blog devoted to chronicling them for all eternity. We are often quick to criticize the media for failing to respect the humanity in the athletes they cover, and that maxim applies here too. Regardless of how you feel about Mirtle’s online persona or the analytics wars, the guilt any normal person would feel over this mistake must be a significant punishment unto itself.


The other aspect of the forgiveness angle that is worth discussing is what this will do for Mirtle’s relationship with the players he covers. Pro sports is a brotherhood and I imagine Montador has friends who are still playing in the NHL. I wonder how they will react to this. TSN has to worry about the growing list of their personalities – Siegel, Feschuk, and now Mirtle – who have become part of the story this season.


Final thought on this: since professional journalists have decided to get out of the criticism game, we basement dwellers have been thrust into battle like hapless Hobbits trying to wrangle an army of Orcs. But there are some semi-retired people still floating around the margins of the fray. Chris Zelkovich, ex of the Star’s sports media column, had this to say.


“The desire and pressure to get stories first has created a lot of potential pitfalls for journalists, and social media has made things even more dangerous. A lot of good journalists have fallen into this trap. The sad truth is that nobody remembers the guy who got the story first, but many will remember the guys who got it wrong.”


That’s well said, so I’ll make it the last word.


Quick Hits


Well-followed twitterer and podcaster Hope Smoke (Marco Perruzza) joined the ranks of the aggrieved and afflicted this week when TSN’s Jeff O’Neill called him a loser on Twitter. The since deleted tweet reads: “@Hope_Smoke Go on the panel and let me play golf. I beg you. I want to play golf. You’re such a loser I don’t think they will call you.” He then went on his radio show to repeat the attack saying “nobody cares who he is … get your own show … some guys are smart but these other creeps, get out of my life” before ending with a somewhat ill-placed “why is there so much hate and anger?”


These comments were met with oodles of chuckles from host Bryan Hayes and guest Darren Dreger. The “O’Dog” has rocketed to local prominence in his short time in the media and he needs to be bigger than this. This is not fighting fire with fire. In this loser’s opinion, he owes Marco an apology. I hope he gets it.


Kevin Durant (NBA all-star) recently spoke out against what he perceives to be a problematic lack of accountability within the media. He went further and said that he talks to the media because he has to, but that he doesn’t really respect a lot of what is written about him or his team. Ramona Shelburne, Senior Writer at ESPN, delivered some great insights on this matter on TSN Drive (Feb 16th Hour 3). The landscape of athlete-media relations is changing quickly. This will be an interesting story to watch going forward. TSN producers also deserves credit here for using their ESPN connections to really explore this story in depth.


Still with TSN, the cable channel posted its most watched month in 5 years this January. AA’s Andrew Buchholtz breaks down the numbers and what this means for the future of cable sports. Chris Zelkovich also has a report for Yahoo.


Still still with TSN, Rick Westhead has a really interesting look into new CTE methods that allow diagnosis in living brains. This has the potential to revolutionize how brain injuries are treated, both medically and legally, in sports.


Lastly, what is it about elite European soccer that makes it such fertile ground for shockingly overt racism? Chelsea supporters prevented a black man from boarding a train in Paris while chanting “we are racists.” It’s been almost 70 years since Jackie Robinson broke the modern era colour barrier in baseball. None of the 4 North American sports have this problem with their fan bases. Any theories? Help me understand how this keeps happening in soccer. I’m at a total loss.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Howard Bryant of ESPN has been added as a regular guest on TSN Drive and he is quickly turning in to must listen radio.


  • While I find PTS roundtables painful and avoid them as a matter of course, I do try to tune in when there is a newcomer. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston held his own, picked his spots, and made cogent arguments when called upon. He did well.


  • Elliotte Friedman still suffers from “smartest guy in the room syndrome” on the roundtables, in my opinion. He’s always the first to talk and doesn’t listen especially well. As has been the case for several years now, I’m rooting for him to have more of a role on the FAN in the future so I mean those remarks as constructive criticism.


  • Countdown to Blundell is in the home stretch and we are all waiting to see who will be part of his crew, and especially who will be brought in to play the female character. If you were a woman looking to vault into a career in sports media, would you take the risk of joining Blundell’s show?


  • My man Ben Ennis did a good job co-hosting with Walker on Family Day Monday. Give this man a regular gig. How about making him Wilner’s co-host on JaysTalk?




thanks for reading and commenting,

hug your family

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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February 21, 2015 7:58 am

Odog calls many people losers, including his friends. It’s kind of his shtick. I didn’t read else much into it.

February 21, 2015 8:01 am

i think no one is killing mirtle since he quickly apologized. Not to excuse the original tweet, but he does have a newborn (a couple weeks old) so maybe his brain is not 100%. We all do dumb things when operating on low sleep. Again, not excusing original tweet.

I think racism in euro sports (not limited to football) starts with xenophobia and then gets blended with tribalism for your team. You dont often find fans racially abusive their own players, after all.

On the same day as the paris incident, a famous italian coaxh was quoted about the increasing number of black players in Serie A and the national team.

February 21, 2015 8:16 am

i caught about 2 minutes of pts yesterday and caught Friedman dismissing bob as using a “Sports talk radio” argument…it seemed to not go over so well with bob, anybody know the context? I got home and turned the car off…personally hope Friedman takes over Pts full time.

February 21, 2015 8:22 am

Ken Reid’s comment on the round table last night that he hopes Leafs don’t get Connor McDavid in the draft was totally out of line and disgusting. Why dont the Leafs and their long suffering real fans deserve a first draft pick? It is not like they have ever had a first choice before unlike other non-performing teams who have had several. And isn’t the draft order supposed to help teams that are in dire straits? Typical anti-Leaf Toronto sports “personality” who it seems are happy to use Leafs as perennial punching bags whether they play good enough to scrape into the playoffs or “tank” and qualify for a high draft pick.Don’t know why they keep this guy on PTS.

February 21, 2015 8:38 am

Sadly, European Football is a poster for these types of racist incidents. England has done much better than the other leagues when it comes to controlling this issue, but in Italy/Spain this is a regular occurrence. In regards to Alex’s comment above, what Arrigo Sacchi said was silly, but doesn’t make him racist. George Weah once said that Sacchi was the biggest influence on his career. Italy has too many race issues to list, which is where most of this stems from.

In regards to fans, there is no stopping ‘ultras’ as they are called. They do what they want, and actually have more power within leagues/teams than we realize. It’s a completely different culture in the football/soccer world.

Rob in Aurora
Rob in Aurora
February 21, 2015 9:30 am

This is why Twitter is “bad” for society. I think Mirtle’s tweet speaks more about shortcomings in his character than as a journalist. Whenever I read his stuff, he seems to take delight in pointing out the failures of other people and he ‘piles on’ at every chance in his reporting – To me it often reads like the on-line bullying we want our kids to avoid – but it is a passive aggressive style of bullying, like a “Steve Simmons Light”. Only pointing out the negative, never anything positive. It’s toxic.

This is the first time I can remember him admitting he was wrong about something that he’s written. Now he has egg on his face and his bent towards “piling on” has now made him look bad as a person, not just as a journalist. Montador’s personal struggles, especially his finances, don’t need to be “reported” on. How does that “news” provide a service to the public? You can forgive a person for this, but there is no excuse for it. It was rumour mongering in the TMZ style of journalism. (Now I sound like i’m piling on. He’s apologized and we should move on, but I am still angry about this – and I don’t even know the Montador family, but I would be seething right now if I were them).

February 21, 2015 9:35 am

Really, Daz? Disgusting?

Chef Mike
February 21, 2015 10:59 am

Daz my man, relax my brother, its only talk about a team out of it for 47 years, go and hug your wife and kids, he’s a talking head on a radio show. Better yet, take your kids skating, you’ll feel 1000% better…

Is Mirtle a dick?? I dunno, but its clear that often the race to be first has replaced the race to right, and this one is 100% on him, his fault and his job to fix it…

Jeff O’Neil, who cares? Seriously who cares, just turn it off. ODog? Really? Is he trying to be a cool 12 year old boy again?

Blundell in the morning…Again, who cares?? He’ll be just another voice on a long list of failed voices to come and go on 590, it’ll be Krystal 2.0, maybe lasting 3 months. The Fans money demo, not their biggest demo is not his, can’t see it working long term.

February 21, 2015 11:16 am

Reid’s attitude about shortening MLB games was odd too, bascually saying if you dont like it, dont go.

As much as his bad comedy stops me from listening to the show, his actual opinions might even be mkre nonsensical.

WestDale Rocks
WestDale Rocks
February 21, 2015 11:24 am

Chris Zelkovich is right. Whenever I see or hear Damian Cox, the first thing I will ALWAYS think of is Pat Burns. Same with whenever I see Roger Millions on a Calgary game, he will ALWAYS be the guy who uttered a very bad term and caused a producer to lose his job while he kept his for some reason. (Dear Roger: Never swear around a mic). Mirtle will now, to me, always be the guy who used speculation and rumour to report on a man’s death. To me, the reason nobody jumped on it is, who wants to be known as the guy who started a Twitter cat fight over something that is still freshly painful?

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
February 21, 2015 11:36 am

@ MIB re-trace your steps of this morning.Did you take your medication?
Ennis as a co-host of Jays Talk ???
Did you mis-spoke? or did you pause and rethought before you pressed “save” ?

February 21, 2015 11:40 am
Reply to  Steph

yes, Steph. So, what happened was, EF was talking about the red wings success, and how the successful franchises have the patience so keep their kids in the minors despite how the pro team is doing, pressure from fans, media and agents. McCown questioned what have the red wings won in the last 5 years. EF went on to say, look at a team like the Islanders who have with the exception of Tavares, kept all their kids in the minors. EF said that the team was really bad, under a lot of pressure from agents claiming that their clients could help the big team but the Isles stayed the course and let the kids mature in the minors. McCown then said to EF, well, are you saying the leafs would definitely (paraphrasing) be better if the Luke Schenn’s of the world were allowed to mature in the minors. EF said, “that’s a sports radio argument”, obviously, there are no guarantees…

February 21, 2015 11:42 am
Reply to  Daz66778

I don’t think you took Reid’s comment in the right context. He was saying he hopes the Leafs don’t get him because the market will kill the kid; again, I am paraphrasing but in essence that is what he was saying.

February 21, 2015 11:49 am

So if “the market will kill the kid” that would be true for any future kid draft choice, right? I get his point but to me it is still a back handed slap at this market/organization. Get fed up with Toronto negatively and somehow it is all the fans fault.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
February 21, 2015 12:01 pm

First to report. What a ridiculous concept. You’re first to the people who are listening to or reading you at that moment. 10 minutes later people are reading it from some other source. Except of course when you jump the gun and report something before you have the facts. I’m not going to hate on people for making that mistake. I don’t think its been done maliciously. It’s the false premise that it matters to be first. It’s the inside the lines game for media types. I heard about the recent Leaf trade a couple of hours post facto when I turned on the radio. Not sure if someone “broke” the news but I also don’t really care. It’s a pity reporters feel the need to get out in front of a story to the extent that they post erroneous info that isn’t even news per se. In the end whether it’s a reporters ego or management pressure to get out first you just have to hope it’s as false trade story not a significant life event.

ODog. Sometimes entertaining. Like him on the TSN game night panel. At times the biggest idiot on radio. It could go either way for him I think. He seems to me to be pushing father into idiot territory lately on the Leafs Lunch show. Interruptions. Rude behaviour. I don’t know if it’s him becoming comfortable to the point he feels he can just say anything but it’s getting close to the line. Hope he pulls it back a bit because I think he knows his stuff and he can be entertaining. Also, we know you played the game. No need to mention it every time you make a point.

PTS. Was Bob being purposely arguementitive at the opening of the 5PM hour yesterday about the draft. It’s all luck. Detroit hasn’t won many cups recently so it proves their status as one of the best teams at drafting is overrated. He went on and on. I thought it was as embarrassing a display as I’ve heard from the man. Friedman sounded truly incredulous. I find myself listening selectivley more and more.

February 21, 2015 12:02 pm

Leave it to Zelkovich to really concisely nail the commentary on Mirtle. Miss his Star column, love him on Yahoo Sports. The ‘first to report’ thing is just a pissing match among Sports reporters. You’d think after the Cox/Ferraro false reporting on Burns’ passing that reporters would think twice or thrice before reporting on someone’s death.

Speaking to race though not about soccer, my fave interview of the week was Blair with the first African-American NHL player Val James promoting his new book. (albeit only 11 games, 7 with Sabres, 4 with Leafs) Aside from his insights into racism in sports, a number of fascinating stories. Imagine the Twitter verse exploding to this: An EHL fan throws a beer on a couple of players, one of whom is Blake Hall (6 years in the CFL as a DE, defenseman Gilmore Tuttle in SlapShot). The two of them go after the fan into the stands and chase him into the parking lot – they run around the parking lot, sparks flying, and can’t find him, then come back to the game. ‘There are many other stories I could never tell you’, Val says.

People can rip Blair, but he is one of the best in this market at getting better depth from interviewees. (Feb 17, 10AM hr) hour)

Befuddling the TSN and HNIC ratings. Somersaults must have been going on at both networks, likely more of them at TSN given the atomic blow they thought (and I thought, and most thought) they suffered when losing the NHL rights deal.

Bobby Digital
Bobby Digital
February 21, 2015 12:08 pm

For a guy that played in the NHL as long as he did, it is baffling to see how thin skinned the O-Dog is. He is an entertaining story teller, but he turns into a petulant child about any perceived slight. At first I thought it was an act, but this latest incident with Hop Smokes is just another example of how he needs to grow up and act like a professional. Dude, you are a public figure, people are going to criticize you. Learn how to deal with it.

February 21, 2015 12:21 pm

“Reid’s attitude about shortening MLB games was odd too, bascually saying if you dont like it, dont go.”

Sounds like the same attitude most viewers have for Rogers’ hockey broadcasts. Don’t like; don’t watch.

February 21, 2015 12:28 pm

Leafs Lunch is my favourite Sports Radio show as it is all Leafs ( okay, most of the time). But last couple of months it seems to have derailed a bit into too much talk about partying, drinking, morning zoo-ish type stuff. Needs to slide back on-point a bit. Or maybe their focus groups are telling them that is where they want them to go? Off-putting to me.

February 21, 2015 1:04 pm

More bob’isms. Some already posted, some new.

There’s no there there
Why in the name of the baby Jesus
Sam and Ted
The Toronto Rap-a-tors
Managing general
I get that
Thing one
Thing two
Pallacial estate
ink-stained wretches
Tikanis. Greek for How are you
Is not even a rounding error
A mistake of biblical proportions
You can’t be half pregnant
Cite the case
It puts my feet to sleep
Shut up
We must off
A hundred percent
Well whup di doo
Sisters of the poor
Sword of Damacles
corner of walk and don’t walk

February 21, 2015 1:57 pm


Agree w S Jones on 5pm hour yesterday. Just awful.

February 21, 2015 2:44 pm

Another great write up of Steve Montador, by the Sabres PR head, that was linked in the comments of the THN article:


[…] Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition Toronto Sports Media Blog has some good reflections on a few media incidents this past week, including a fuck up by James Mirtle and what lessons can be learned from it. […]

February 21, 2015 4:56 pm

Twitter must be one of the worst inventions in modern history. Nothing more than a platform for idiots and hateful people.

February 21, 2015 5:17 pm

Good call on Ben Ennis re Jays Talk. I listen sometimes to the Jays This Week podcast they do. Ennis is good with Wilner because he calls him on being needlessly argumentative, but also knows his stuff well enough to back it up.

February 21, 2015 5:19 pm

I haven’t heard the most recent round table but I’m glad to see Blair on their more often lately. I think he’s the best PTS cohost other than Brunt.

February 21, 2015 5:52 pm

I like the idea of Wilner having Ennis as a co-host and hopefully replacement. Wilner’s a Jays fan and that’s great but I just really grow tired of his praising every last player on this team over the past 15 years and how each player that is traded, the player’s “not part of the piece going forward”. Wilner does realize this team has not won in 22 yeras right? I think Ennis is a bit Mike Toth like (from his TSN days) but I love that he calls Wilner out on his idiocy comments.

Not that Chris
Not that Chris
February 21, 2015 6:00 pm

I agree, Daniel. Blair, to me anyway, is one of the better informed journalists in the city on most sports matters. I also like that when McCown starts spewing obvious bullshit, he’s more than willing to tell him he has no clue. Him and Brunt are generally the only ones willing to do so.

February 21, 2015 7:10 pm

Had to turn off Ben Ennis when he was convering for Tim and Sid this week. He asked Michael Grange whether the Raptors should trade whoever to “go for it” and when Grange told him that was a bad idea, he proceeded to try and ask again at least twice more. Listen to the person you’re talking to instead of waiting for your turn to make the same point again.

Ken Reid needs to stay off radio. He’s not a commentator, host, interviewer or “personality”. He’s a replacement level guy on a highlights show that should stick with that until he gets Mike Toth’d off the air for some inevitable stupid comment.

Ami Angelwings
February 21, 2015 10:54 pm


Also “truism”, specifically that he never uses it correctly, he uses it to mean “fact”, which leads to hilarious sentences like “it’s a truism that the Leafs haven’t won a cup in 47 years.”

Ami Angelwings
February 21, 2015 10:55 pm

Bob was arguing just for the sake of having a debate I think. His argument that the Detroit Red Wings’ success is just luck is the opposite of positions he’s held in the recent past. Sometimes some stuff he says he actually believes, sometimes it’s just him playing devil’s advocate to have a radio show. Brunt said as much in the intro of Bob’s book.

Ami Angelwings
February 21, 2015 10:58 pm

Ken Reid’s 30 going on 70 act with baseball and how it must never change is grating, especially since his voice hurts my ears when he gets excited. I really wish they’d stop having him on the show. He has very few topics of knowledge, but that doesn’t stop him from talking about them, and he’s really annoying in the way he talks and presents his arguments.

February 22, 2015 9:02 am

I generally like Blair, too. But last night, at the beginning of the roundtable, he was being an arsehole with his “everything’s fixed” take – like Cox at his contrary worse. Made for terrible radio. Could have been an interesting discussion on the draft instead it was inane conspiracy theory blather.

Reid’s angle (and to some extent, Bob’s) on the new game-shortening baseball rules was predictably weak. He said he liked the slow pace of and insinuated that those that don’t are something less than true baseball fans. If he was a traditionalist he’d want games to be shorter as baseball games are much longer today than they were in the past:

I don’t expect any thoughtfulness or depth from Reid, of course. I like smart, thoughtful sports radio. I can’t stand fan phone in segments, vapid athlete interviews, voice-of-the-fan type hosts, misogyny, hashtags and horns and fake outrage. PTS has, in the past, has generally been smart sports radio. The way the Fan is skewing these days, though, my sports radio days may be numbered. If the Fan make more money with a dumbed down format, more power to them. To bad for me though. I’ll have to find some more smart sport podcasts to turn to.

February 22, 2015 10:38 am

Absolutely some excellent comments on another great column.

Friedman – A bit too smarmy for me sometimes, too.

O’Neil – For a guy with some good opinions, he sure can be hard to take sometimes. Even Bryan Hayes laughs AT him. For someone who consistently laments over todays selfish “me first” athletes, he too often comes across as a very immature, petulant adult child himself. Playing that type of character on the radio or TV is a delicate dance. What starts as interesting and entertaining can very quickly become tiresome for your listeners (i.e. Time & Sid). You don’t want to lose your audience by being too repetitive and predictable and he very well may be in danger of doing that if he doesn’t adapt. I hope that he does eventually rein this act in because I think he does have talent.

Blundell – Krystal 2.0 Brilliant line.

February 22, 2015 4:28 pm

I like Blair when he is doing informative interviews, like the guy he had on from U of Guelph on grass. More of them less calls.

February 22, 2015 4:30 pm

Complete topic switch from the regular stuff here, but what happened to George Rusic? He used to be on the FAN with Jeff Sammut and now Sammut is more or less on his own. What happened to Rusic?

February 22, 2015 5:58 pm

Darrell, Maybe he got fired? Good riddance.

February 22, 2015 6:01 pm

I am not saying I was a fan of his, but just curious what happened to him?

John in Bolton
John in Bolton
February 22, 2015 7:51 pm

Glad I’m not the only one who finds Friedman annoying and condescending.
His know-it-all attitude combined with that Snagglepuss delivery (“Exit, stage left!”) make me turn the dial every time.

Steve Clark
February 22, 2015 11:06 pm

In terms of breaking news- breaking trades first is good within the industry. I’m not sure anyone else cares as much. Breaking news on a cause of death? Not so cool. Why go there? I found James Mirtles’ apology with MiB a lot more sincere than what he put out on Twitter.

As for O-Dog? Very insightful and likeable on air, but hope he does not fall into the Greg Zaun category of buying into his own hype a bit too much and coming across to the audience in the wrong way. I really like Zaun as an analyst and personality, but you tell that he is really starting to buy into this larger than life personna with the suits etc. Same could happen to O’Neil. Is he going to be the likeable Aaron Ward/Kelly Hrudey type, or be the outspoken antagonist. If I were him, I’d go for the latter, but but with a slightly toned down on-air personality.

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
February 23, 2015 10:38 am

Maybe its just me, but I don’t use/read twitter for its journalistic integrity.
I don’t equate what I read on “the twitter” with the integrity of the newspaper industry.

Twitter is a quick hit, a quick read, a quick opinion – that’s what I like about it.

BTW, Reid really must go back to and stay with Evanka…

February 23, 2015 11:52 am

Good news, everyone.

Arash Madani co-hosting pts this week

Mike S
Mike S
February 23, 2015 12:06 pm

Another interesting column from mike in boston…………am I the only one who reads the “Low Hanging Fruit” first every week?

I agree that Chris Johnston was solid on last Monday’s PTS roundtable………..he is by no means charismatic………..but he makes some good points and only talks when he has something intelligent to say, which is refreshing (it’s too bad most of the hosts on 590 think his last name is “Johnson” and not “Johnston”)………..and even Blair behaved on that roundtable, at least until the end when he said that Marshawn Lynch would probably be in jail if he wasn’t playing football

I enjoy it when they have a PTS roundtable on holiday Mondays……….Monday is a good day to talk about what happened over the weekend…………PTS used to have a one hour roundtable on Mondays in the 6 PM hour………..I was disappointed when they got rid of it a few years ago

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
February 23, 2015 12:34 pm

I guess with Madani co-hosting they can really fire up the Jays 590 radio network. I’m probably overstating to some degree but was there a baseball off season? Even the Leafs don’t get much talk in the off season. But it seems every show has at least one jays segment on the Fan over the off season. Over the last week or so,city the highly anticipated pitchers and catcher reporting its ramping up considerably. Rogers sure does love the cross promo.

February 23, 2015 3:21 pm

I think blair’s show is now 1 hour leafs, 1 hour jays and 1 hour misc.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
February 23, 2015 3:26 pm

what about if they team up Reid with Blundell in the mournings? Reid at least knows sports and they might play off each other well. might be a train wreck but who knows might just work.
As for TSN1050 if I were them id move to the FM dial and see how that works.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
February 23, 2015 3:27 pm

I bet they start to destroy 590 on FM

Ami Angelwings
February 23, 2015 3:43 pm

@Mike (in Boston) I’ve only been gone for like a year xD

It’s sad when it’s good news that anybody but Ken Reid is co-hosting PTS. Does anybody know why this year (starting from fall, after the summer break, I mean) it’s been 8 weeks straight of Brunt then 16 weeks without him? Is this something that’s happening just because they want him to do other stuff? Or is this some new scheduling thing where it’s not alternating but just big chunks of the same co-host? I miss him and Bob together. 🙁

I think sticking Ken Reid in the morning with Blundell would be wonderful. They’d probably be great with the demographic that enjoys the type of stuff they do, and I could just avoid that show altogether. >_> However, since Reid does the night TV stuff with Evanka, I don’t think that’d work for him. He’d have very little time to go home and sleep before having to wake up a few hours later and get ready for radio.

Out of curiousity, given what’s available as far as we know (i.e. people who already show up on PTS, or are employed by the fan, not new people from elsewhere, or from TSN), who are your top choices for 2nd co-host on PTS?

For me, I think

1) Michael Grange, who I used to think of as the poor man’s Bruce Arthur (I dunno, their opinions often seemed similar, and how they handled Bob is similar, but Grange stutters more than Bruce and takes longer to get to his points), but I’ve enjoyed him with Bob on the 4pm hour, and I think they have better chemistry than other choices.

2) Dave Perkins (assuming he’s available for more than the occasional guest co-host) He would replace Jim Kelley as the grumpy old dude co-host, and despite some of the “gaffes” he’s made (as TSM is wont to remember) in the past, I still like listening to him. His stories are fun, and even if he’s stuck in the past with some of his ideas, like Kelley, I enjoy listening to him when he goes on an old man rant.

I don’t know who my 3rd choice would be. Probably Arash Madani barring anything else. I’m not a fan of Elliotte Friedman (as I’ve mentioned in the past), or Shannon, or Reid.

Is there a reason why none of the younger people ever get a fill-in/guest co-host spot with Bob btw? (Ennis, Rusic, Sammut, etc) Is it cuz they haven’t earned their stripes yet, or does Bob just not like them? (like how Wilner never shows up on his show for some reason)

I really miss Mary Ormsby’s appearances on the roundtable too.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
February 23, 2015 10:29 pm

Keith Olbermann on Gregg Zaun’s “education”:

Mike S
Mike S
February 23, 2015 11:49 pm

If Blundell’s show starts next week (has anyone heard any promos for it?) and the last Tim & Sid radio show isn’t until March 27 I guess maybe that means Brady & Walker will be off the air for pretty much the entire month of March

February 24, 2015 12:50 pm


I haven’t heard any mentions of, Perkins health since his heart attack. Considering he hasn’t even had a phone-in to PTS (that I’m aware of anyway) since it, I don’t believe he could be even considered a permanent co-host at this time.

@Mike S

February 24, 2015 2:05 pm

Yeah, I’m surprised that the Gregg Zaun segment didn’t get more attention (thought Mike in B might mention it…) Zaun not only advocating for hazing (which by his description sounded much worse than anything done by Ritchie Incognito) but also implicating Hall of Famer Cal Ripken as the main culprit, with some awful sounding shit. Of course our crack team of Toronto sports journalists didn’t seem to think it was necessary to follow up on any of it, let alone try to get Ripken’s side of things. Good job, good effort!

February 24, 2015 4:37 pm

Olbermann did a commentary about the Zaun storyyesterday. And Hayhurst wroteabout it today.

February 24, 2015 5:07 pm

I watched the Olbermann link that Nan Lee posted (which is why I commented). But again, nothing from the Toronto scene. I wonder if Hayhurst (who I believe is back in the States) would have mentioned it if KO hadn’t.

Chef Mike
Chef Mike
February 24, 2015 8:01 pm

While I personally don’t give a hairy crack of a rats ass about Blundel or the FAN generally, I’ve not heard a single promo on 680 or seen a print promo anywhere, and there’s not a word of him in their website. That seem odd to anyone??

I barely remember the Krystal trainwreck, or how his market intro was handled, but I vaguely remember some press! I’ve not been looking, but shouldn’t there be some coverage of their big splash somewhere??

Makes me wonder just how confident they really are…but maybe that’s just me…

February 24, 2015 8:25 pm

@Chef Mike

Sportsnet 590 did tweet out a short promo today.

Chef Mike
Chef Mike
February 24, 2015 8:51 pm

@PBI…thanks for that…duct tape over mouth, very original bit…still no incentive for me to get out of bed for it…

I make the OVER/UNDER for this getting flushed July 1st, Ill take the under…

February 24, 2015 9:28 pm

@Chef Mike

Yeah, it’s pretty lame, feels like something out of the 1990s.

I assumed there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of press because he’s already familiar and has been incredibly successful in the market but I agree with you, still doesn’t feel like enough considering the radical change a new morning show is.

February 25, 2015 12:57 am

@Curt…the reason Olbermann caught wind of Zaun Cherry’s comments is because of Andrew Stoeten’s (formerly of Drunk Jays Fan fame) original transcription/commentary about the advocacy for hazing by Zaun, on PTS. Here’s the original snowball, before it rolled down the mountain:

It was then picked up by Yahoo Sports, Deadspin, and others, before getting to Olbermann:–kept-him-in-line-071143606.html

The irony/hypocrisy? Ripken wrote a book about bullying:

Stoeten is my go-to for anything Jays related…excellent site, and he now does the occasional column for the National Post.

February 25, 2015 1:06 am

aaaaand (one last link, I swear) Stoeten did a follow-up after Olbermann’s video:

February 25, 2015 12:56 pm

Thanks, Pudge. Perhaps I should have said that Toronto’s mainstream media dropped the ball. Personally – and I think the coverage of it outside our borders proves this – this is or should have been a bigger story. I can understand Rogers wanting to sweep it under the rug, but I wonder why someone at the Globe, Star, TSN or the Sun didn’t mention it (unless I missed something).

February 27, 2015 5:24 am

You’re welcome, Curt. I’m with you. This really should have received more press in Canada (unless I, too, have missed something.

February 27, 2015 6:20 am

This is a must see. Zaun gets torn to shreds. For years now with the exception of Dirk Hayhurst, the credibility of the jays broadcasting starts and stops with Jerry Howarth.

March 1, 2015 5:53 pm

Dean Blundell = Andrew Krystal 2.0

They had better keep the ODOG on a short leash won’t be surprised if he gets his ass fired for saying or tweeting something he shouldn’t have said. Unlike the drone Ennis who has zero personality ODOG has balls and offers good experienced insight on the Leafs/NHL he’s good but needs to be careful not to cross the line.

When will MLSE ever find an upgrade over that know it all boot licking homer Wilner arrogant talk show host when communicating with the callers.

Bill Watters was the best co host Bob ever had bring him back to PTS way better than the current cast of rotating no talents. Watters had good chemistry with Bobcat and has a wealth of knowledge and insight on the Leafs and the NHL bring Watters back Sportsnet!!

The Good:
The ultra annoying Greg Brady is finally off the FAN’s morning show yahoo!!

The Bad:
The atrociously awful Mike Richards is still on TSN’s morning show.

The Ugly:
Toronto is the 4th largest market in North America and recently named the best place in the world to live. Tons of NFL fans in Toronto who desperately want their own NFL team. Yet Toronto still does not have an NFL team and a new NFL stadium. L.A. is on the verge of getting their NFL team back then it should be Toronto not London TORONTO next whether by relocation of an existing NFL team or an expansion team! An NFL team for Toronto will only bolster the FAN590’s & TSN1050’s audiences and MLSE’s bank account. Toronto’s NFL team will be a CASH COW and a license to print money so Edward Rogers & Larry Tanenbaum lets get back in the hunt and secure an NFL team for this great world class city of Toronto!!

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