Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Good morning sports media fans. Irregular posting will continue over the next month as we get into the holiday season when sports news dies down.


Quick reminder that I’m working on another media roundtable on the topic of ethics in journalism. In case you missed the last roundtable check it out here. If anyone here is friends with Cox, put in a good word for me. I’d like him to participate in one of these some day.


5 Questions with … James Mirtle


When The Athletic launched it seemed like a nice idea but it was hard to see how their small roster of recently Godfrey’ed writers was going to convince people to subscribe. The papers are losing the subscription battle, and they are armed with bigger names and greater resources. Why would someone spend their dollars on a start-up with so few writers?


In recent weeks, however, The Athletic have made several splashy moves. First, they hired ex-Post/ex-Star writer Sean Fitz-Gerald who is very well regarded as a story-teller by his peers. Then they announced that Globe & Mail hockey writer James Mirtle (115k followers) was taking over as Editor in Chief for the Toronto branch. This was a major surprise and definitely lent support to the theory that The Athletic has a decent amount of money behind it. You can read some quotes from the relevant parties in this promotional piece in the Ryerson J-school student paper.


Following the announcement of his hiring James penned a letter to the Toronto sports audience in which he explains the goals of The Athletic, what kind of content to expect from them, and why you should subscribe. I reached out to follow up on some of these items with Mr. Mirtle. Here is our conversation:


Q: Your job title is listed as Editor-in-Chief for The Athletic Toronto. Is that the same or different as being the editor of a sports department?


JM: The biggest difference is that I am going to write and I am going to write a lot. We’re just getting going … Tuesday was my first day. My plan is to be on the ground and at the rink every single day during hockey season, and to be producing content because I think that is important to our success. It’s also different in that we are a really small group. Sean Fitz-Gerald is doing a lot of the editing work right now with the writers, and writers will also work with him on story ideas. The job was appealing to me because I get a lot of say in how the whole organization works as opposed to just being a writer. It’s going to be a lot of work but I’m really excited about it.


Q: Are there kinds of stories you think The Athletic should not be covering?


JM: We want to stay Toronto-focused. That means not trying to do everything, especially in the beginning. I have been pitched all kinds of stories since I started but we want to stay local for now and be a destination for hardcore sports fans. I think those are the ones that will be willing to pay for what we are doing.


Q: How do you see The Athletic fitting in to the existing marketplace that is mostly shaped by the three papers, TSN, and Sportsnet?


JM: We want to be unique. If you look at what John Lott does, or Eric Koreen, or myself or Fitz-Gerald, there’s no one else in the market like us. So I think having unique voices covering the teams is what is going to set us apart. Also, you’re only going to see sports departments at the papers get smaller. I am really talking with our staff about trying to innovate. We’re going to try different story formats. I really like what Eric Koreen and Blake Murphy are doing in terms of having conversations about the Raptors that you would see at places like Grantland. We are not tied to any format, or deadlines. We can experiment. The other thing we want to do is bring in freelancers. We have already started to do that. I want to pick the best young people and shine a spotlight on them. I also want to get former players to write for us. We want to avoid game recaps and news-of-the-day stuff.


Q: In your letter to the readership you talked about being independent from teams and leagues and how this was going to allow you to write stories that others wouldn’t. Can you give some insight into the kinds of stories that you have in mind?


JM: I think my career at the Globe was an example of that. The Globe is independent and privately owned. I wrote some stories about the Leafs and management during my time there that others would not have published. If you go back and read some of the things I wrote about Dave Nonis or Randy Carlyle … a lot of it was, let’s say, brutally honest. I didn’t see other places saying the same things. I think what I was writing was more accurate. There’s a freedom in being able to write that kind of story and I want to see all our writers take advantage of that freedom and be critical when it is needed. Most of the teams are now owned by media organizations and that’s not the healthiest thing to have in a market. We are going to fight back against that.


Q: Do you have a sense of how things have worked in Chicago so far?


JM: A little. It’s still early days since they only launched in March. But they have done a really good job of differentiating themselves. And if you’re a sports fan in Chicago, you know who The Athletic is. The teams and the coaches and the players know who The Athletic is. The brand has an identity there and if you flash forward 12 months, that’s where we want to be in Toronto.


Q: What kind of feedback have you been getting from peers in the media about the move?


JM: I wasn’t really looking forward to the day I announced I was leaving the Globe to do this instead. I wasn’t sure how people would react and was expecting some to say I was nuts. But the response has been so much more positive than I thought it would be. As you know from my tenure covering the Leafs, I haven’t always got along with everybody else in the media. I didn’t know if this announcement would lead to some taking shots at me. But it seems like everyone at the papers understands that we need to find a different way. Working at places where there are constant cuts is not a great environment. Also, there are so few young people being hired these days. Part of what was appealing to me about this opportunity — and I spent a long time doing my due diligence — is that the people behind this are young and have been successful at other start-ups, and really wanted me to come help try something new to see if we can turn this industry around.


Q: Last question. Baseball went through its growing pains surrounding advanced stats, and we are now at a stage where things like WAR and OPS+ are uncontroversial. In your opinion, are we over the hump in the battle between CORSI and character in Canadian hockey media coverage?


JM: It’s still a generational divide. I have been impressed by how advanced stats have worked their way into broadcasts and team stats packages at the arena. It’s entered the lexicon for coaches and players which means the media has to talk about it too. It’s less controversial than it was even two years ago. The truth is that what we call analytics in hockey aren’t really advanced stats right now … it’s just taking existing things like shots on goal and making them more accurate. I think a lot of people have realized that. I don’t get the same blow-back now that I did back in 2013. I get a lot more positive reinforcement when I go to things like PuckTalks … people will come up and say thanks for introducing me to this stuff. That’s always nice to hear.


Review: user experience at The Athletic


Let’s start with the good:


  • The content is very very good. While Lott, Alter, and Koreen may not be everyone’s favourite cup of tea, each is extremely responsible as a writer and none of them rely on hot takes or hyperbole. I have not read anything that I thought was overly generic. This is good.


  • John Lott was at the Winter Meetings so it seems they have some travel budget built in to the business plan. That is good from a credibility and access standpoint. I doubt they’ll send writers to road games, but that’s understandable. As long as they have their people at the big events — home or away — then they will maintain the right presence.


  • The layout of the articles and the balance between text and images on both the iOS app and the website is good. The content is easy to absorb since there are no intrusive ads or unnecessary boxes promoting videos or partner content. I find the web interface easier to absorb at a glance since I can see a snapshot of the day’s stories before deciding which to click on. The iOS app doesn’t offer a mosaic view so you have to scroll past each story to get a sense of all the content there is.


  • When it comes to subscriptions, they are basically the only outlet vying for your dollars. The Star has no premium content at all. The Globe has virtually no premium content of interest to sports fans. The Sun has a high limit on the number of articles you can read for free, and their website and app are not worth paying for. Neither TSN nor Sportsnet offer a premium service, though that may change when Sportsnet’s Magazine shuts its doors this month.


  • The $4-7 (depending on whether you catch a sale and if you sign up for the year) a month is a great price point for the amount of content you’re getting. On Monday they had 9 original pieces. That’s great value for one day. Most days the new content is around 5-6 items. That’s just right for me. I would think twice about paying $10 a month, but the current price is a no-brainer.


The future looks exciting:


  • Mirtle mentioned in his letter that “[w]e need support so that when more layoffs and buyouts come at the papers, we can hire the best of those who are let go” This is a bold statement. He’s basically saying “take your buyout and come work for us!” which is kind of aggressive in a good way.


  • He also says they are looking to add “several columnists unique to Toronto.” This is also very exciting. Right now that’s the one thing they are missing: a good generalist who can speak intelligently and entertainingly on bigger picture stories. No one has really taken that mantle in the marketplace since Brunt put it down. As I wrote in a past column, I would favour them finding someone with some name recognition to do a weekly column. To my mind there is no one better suited for that currently than Dave Perkins.


  • Finally, Mirtle says: “We would like, for example, to have former NHL, NBA and MLB players, coaches and executives contribute.” The Players Tribune has been a fantastic addition to the marketplace and a local version of this would be amazing. I would love to read a long reflection by Mats about whether the media in Toronto is tough, or to hear from Brian Colangelo about what he would have done differently. The papers occasionally do this sort of thing but they are constrained in ways that The Athletic wouldn’t be.


On to the bad:


I intend this as constructive criticism, even if it won’t be received that way. The iOS app needs a ton of work. Here are just a few things that I found within the first 20 minutes of using it.


  • The app is designed  for iPhone so on an iPad you can’t make use of extra screen space or pixels. The content just zooms to fill the screen. Have a look at Star Touch to see tablet layout done right.


  • The app only works in portrait mode, which is a pain on an iPad.


  • There’s no way on the app to see a roster of writers and then pick from an index of their recent stories. You can do this by clicking on an author’s name on the web version but not on the app. Author names aren’t clickable.


  • There’s no content organization other than Leafs, Raptors, Jays. So if you want to see a list of all their podcasts, you have to scroll and scroll and scroll. Also, TFC is lumped in with Leafs currently.



  • Speaking of scrolling, for some reason the web version only allows you to scroll back a week and then ends. Where are the archived stories?


  • Back to the app, podcasts don’t run in background. If you navigate back to the main menu it stops playing. That’s a guarantee I won’t listen on the app.


  • Tweets embedded in stories show up on website but not on the app. What’s the point of mentioning a tweet if the user can’t read it?



Lastly, The Athletic proudly announces: “We’re excited to introduce Article Comments. Community is at the center [sic] of our mission here at The Athletic and this is just the start of our commitment to bringing the best fans in the world together. Comments are for subscribers only and can only be accessed in our mobile apps so expect a level of discourse higher than you see in most sports forums.”


Here are some issues:



  • You need to connect to a Facebook account to comment. Firstly, some of us don’t have Facebook accounts. Why can’t I just make an account with The Athletic? You already have my real name, email, and credit card info. Second, for a company that is billing itself as “independent”, you can’t get any more “dependent” than having to link through Facebook.



  • Further, you can’t comment at all on the web version. You can’t even see the comments people have left. This is a completely artificial limitation that doesn’t exactly fit with the concept of “community”. I’m not sure how they think this is going to raise the discourse. (I suppose no discourse is a kind of elevation compared to some comments sections.) Maiming the web version of their content might save some dollars in development costs, but is penny-wise and pound foolish since many people will be reading at their computers at work.


Verdict: “world-class” technology? Not at this stage. That being said, there are lots of terrible sports apps out there already so the bar is not very high. Still, many of these issues in the iOS app are obvious. If you’re taking money from people then you want to cancel any impression that current subscribers are being used as beta testers for future paying customers. If that is the case then it is important to be up-front about it.


Final Thoughts: As a consumer of sports media this is a good development for me. As a fan of the sports media industry, this is great news. Having another employer in the marketplace is a very welcome development. There’s a real opportunity here to break the mould and I can’t wait to see how they will grow this in Toronto. My advice is to grow your writer roster slowly. If a site has too many writers I have a hard time identifying with it. Also, this makes it harder to maintain a core identity and that will be important for The Athletic. You want customers to feel a connection with the brand.


I’ll be watching how quickly they iron out the issues with the app. A small company can be nimble so let’s hope they make this a priority. Beyond that there are some reasons for concern, as Raju Mudhar reports that “the com­pany might look at ad­ver­tis­ing and spon­sor­ship, but doesn’t want to do that in the early days.” As long as they are ad-free I will keep paying with enthusiasm, if only to support the existence of an independent mainstream voice in Toronto.


Overall, this is a positive week for an industry that has seen nothing but bad news for months on end. The Athletic have done a great job of getting everyone’s attention. Let’s hope they capitalize on that in 2017.


Quick Hits


I partnered with the fine folks at PPP to run a poll on whether HNIC is better this year after the moderate changes they made at the end of Year 2 (of 12). They put our poll up on Thursday. Here is how the results looked yesterday morning.



Pretty encouraging results if you’re Scott Moore (who is now one of the senior execs at Rogers with the longest tenure) but also a testament to how bad their initial decisions were. If you have not done so already, go vote. The comments over there are pretty interesting as well. People really didn’t like Healy. We will be writing a lot more about HNIC in the new year.



Good guy James “C-balls” Cybulski has landed on his feet yet again, this time with a Rogers-owned news-talk station in Vancouver. James is a master class on how not to burn your bridges. He went from TSN radio Toronto to Sportsnet West, back to TSN radio, and now to Rogers radio. Congratulations James and best wishes in the new job.


If you can get past the self-indulgent writing style, this article on the peculiarity of MLS fans emulating English soccer traditions is a worthwhile topic to mull ahead of tonight’s match. Also, if you have no rooting interest as of yet, the linked video of the Seattle Sounders cheerleader should motivate you to pull for TFC. FIGHT AND WIN.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • NEW (added on Monday): Dean Blundell spent some of the 6am hour blasting the Jays for their off-season moves. He also spent a lot of time referring to Ross Atkins as Ross “Ass-kins”. Finally, he called Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi‘s credibility into question. The audio has been purged from the podcast version of the show. After playing a clip from Shi saying the Jays have been disciplined in their “walkaway point” this off-season Dean laid into him. Here’s the quote:


“You know what that says? You know what Shi Davidi is doing? And I love Shi Davidi … I think Shi Davidi may be one of the greatest-most standup accurate reporters … and he’s not inaccurate. But what Shi Davidi is doing something called spinning. He’s doing it for an organization and a company and he’s doing it for Ross and he’s doing it for Mark. He’s developed their trust. But that is a lovely way in my opinion to be able to say this: the Jays have lost yet again when it comes to signing guys and getting them to come here. Other than losers like Steve Pierce. So if you want to look at it like they’ve been disciplined in their plans, fine. They lost Dexter Fowler because they cheap-assed the whole thing. That’s what happened. “


  • So just to recap: Blundell calls his colleagues shills for Rogers and Jeff Blair has most of his colleagues blocked on Twitter. Nice culture you have over there Dave Cadeau.


  • Sometimes I wonder if there is a God. Sometimes I wonder if God has a sense of humour. The best evidence for an affirmative answer to both is that on Thursday I randomly picked one hour of Overdrive from my iTunes feed and deleted the rest. The winning episode was December 5th, Hour 1, featuring O’Dog and his trusty co-host Bryan Hayes, with Craig Button filling in for the missing Noodle.


  • Now, I have complained about Button before: he is yet to have a thought that he deemed unworthy of sharing with the audience. This episode was no exception. The boys started the show with 10 solid minutes of MLB free agency talk. This was a bold move since at least two of them know very little on the subject. This is Overdrive’s fatal flaw and has been from Day 1. Whatever the topic is, if they can relate it back to hockey then they will. If they can’t, well then the organizational philosophy of “mailing it in” takes over.


  • Sometimes, however, this leads to hilarious results. Here, courtesy of Overdrive, is your moment of Zen:



  • Dear TSN1050 … this is how your station sounds to the rest of the world:




  • P.S. … the Fall ratings book should be out soon and the FAN had a bunch of Jays playoff games during a range of slots. I’m guessing it will be another healthy round of xmas bonuses for all their hosts.



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: CityNews/Youtube
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December 10, 2016 10:17 am

The Athletic is a worthy experiment. Sportsnet The Magazine has certainly had its issues and is now online-only.
To be successful, the Athletic will have to break stories, tell great stories and then provide better analysis than people get elsewhere. Tall orders, especially when people have to pay to support the business model.

Having Fitzy spend most of his time editing stories seems like a waste. He's a storyteller. Give him time with a canvas and watch what that man comes up with.

And how will The Athletic handle it when a staffer wants to start working with other media outlets like TSN or Sportsnet? Bruce Arthur works for the Toronto Star and TSN. So does Steve Simmons. And Jeff Blair worked for the Globe and Mail and Sportsnet before joining SN exclusively. I don't think the "double-dipping" has helped newspapers in any way. It just takes time away from writers' story work.

I think podcasting could really help them get subscribers. I listen to more podcasts than live Toronto sports radio at this point. Having intelligent voices discuss my favorite teams at length is something I'm not regularly getting on the radio.

The good news for the Athletic is that the competition is weak. As stated, sports departments at Toronto newspapers are shells of what they once were. Sports radio in Toronto no longer consistently has even one must-listen show. And TV sports doesn't offer much depth. So there is room in the market (and some plugs by Bobby Mac never hurt). I hope that in 10 years The Athletic is still a thing.





December 10, 2016 2:16 pm

Read reading the interesting piece from the Ryerson paper. As soon as I saw the name Holly MacKenzie tied to NBA coverage, I stopped reading the article and have no interest in paying a subscription.

She is the worst case of sports reporting. A fan not just of the game (a good thing), but way too many current players. A groupie of sorts. It’s not even an attack on females. Follow her on Twitter and you’ll see.

If The Athletic is using her, then it means they’re using anybody willing to write for cheap. To produce “content”, which is how they figure they need to stay in business.

I was hoping for mature writing using analytics. Better than reading a sports forum because you could trust the writers to have done their research.

Until that model takes off, it’s best to get your fresh “news” from sports forums and hope the OP of the thread is being honest.

December 10, 2016 2:43 pm

^ calling Holly Mackenzie a groupie is absolutely an attack on females.

Some of the best basketball writers around, ie. Zach Lowe absolutely have their favourite players who they are constantly pumping up the tires for on twitter or in articles.

December 10, 2016 2:57 pm

Two thoughts.

The cover photo from the infamous FHITP incident is perfect. The absolute main reason why I cannot get into soccer. (Oh, sorry. Footie.) Would love to have the beer concessions in and around BMO Field. Drunken mob mentality is just wrong on so many levels and I'm unable to separate them from MLS.

@AP: Nice try but Mike is right. It is an attack on females. Think about it – hey aren't allowed to express themselves like a male can. In, virtually, every aspect of life. 


December 10, 2016 3:33 pm

I listened to that 1050 segment live. It was cringe-worthy. A Craig Button appearance usually means I'm switching to 590 unless Bob and Damien are spending 10 minutes taking shots at each other and talking about nothing like they frequently do. That stuff may okay for the first minute of a segment…not for a whole segment. Talk about mailing it in. 

The problem with The Athletic is the following. I really like the idea of The Athletic. I'm a big fan of some of those writers, especially Lott and Koreen, and want them to succeed. Those two were my favourite Jays and Raptors newspaper writers respectively before they got "Godfrey'd" a while ago. For an independent group to come in and do what The Athletic is doing given this current media climate takes guts and I'm happy with the new content I'm getting from it. But…given the saturation of sports content online nowadays I can't justify paying for it. Between,, the Sun, and the Star (the once-great Globe sports section is no longer worth even looking at), I have more than enough content. And that's just for local content – I'm also a daily reader of The Ringer, ESPN, Vice Sports, and a host of blogs. Why should I pay for content that I can pretty much get for free anywhere else? The Athletic will *really* have to separate itself in order to gain subscribers. 

A good (albeit slightly different) model to go by is They produce Canadian conservative commentary I can't get anywhere else. Nowhere on TV, nowhere in print. They have a unique product that keeps growing and improving, and if I don't subscribe I'm shut out of Canadian conservative commentary TV shows. That's why I subscribe. It's wholly unique. The Athletic also needs to show the masses how unique and superior their product is and that'll be the ticket to subscribers. I've already been mulling subscribing to The Athletic, and I can definitely be persuaded in the future. 

James Mirtle
December 10, 2016 7:25 pm

Thanks for the great piece. Most of the changes you suggest are things we have in the pipeline — some of them come down to unique factors in Toronto that they hadn't run into in Chicago (i.e. the popularity of TFC). We're planning to have a full masthead and index as well as many other features both on the desktop site and mobile/app. 

We are very much still in beta and the paywall is not active for most content. So we are not asking for payment for an unfinished product. Despite that, we've had hundreds of subscribers signing up per day this week, which is very encouraging. 

If anyone has more questions about what we're doing or suggestions for the site, feel free to email or tweet at me. 

James Mirtle
December 10, 2016 8:00 pm
Reply to  AP

Our writers are being paid as well as they would at any other outlet. In many cases, better. 

We want to have a variety of perspectives, including from female writers. Holly has written one piece for us and provides a different style of basketball coverage to compliment what Eric Koreen and Blake Murphy do. 

Analytical storytelling will be a huge component of what we do, on every sport. 

December 11, 2016 5:05 pm

And there was the moment that Noodles mentioned 'Desmond Tutu of the Chicago Blackhawks…' meaning Jordan Tootoo.

Pants Go Brown
Pants Go Brown
December 11, 2016 5:38 pm

Interesting listening to the various Fan talking heads and their collective takes on what the Jays have done — more like not done — this off season.

All seem on board with the inactivity and general nothingness.  Not shocking but nevertheless disappointing that none seem to have the courage to speak out and say that more needs to be done.


Allie (in Oakville)
Allie (in Oakville)
December 11, 2016 10:43 pm

The Atheltic should do OK as long as they hire good writers and not just writers who are available. If they are going to try to be Grantland then they need to have standards. Also, LOL at Button. What a buffoon.

December 12, 2016 8:20 am

Mirtle brings instant credibility. Some of the other writers are pretty meh. I'll be checking it out over the next week.

December 12, 2016 8:57 am

That Blundell note is just too rich.  Eventually, most people who work with and for Dean find out what he's all about.   The stories I've heard from CFNY people are legendary.  He's a sociopath.  Sounds like a guy (unlike McCown's schtick) truly trying to get fired. Probably many reasons for that: being bored talking sports would be an obvious one, but the complaining about his colleagues and Rogers being cheap are really rich coming from a company that absolutely hired him in a fish-out-of-water position when no one else would have.

Assuming their PD inherited Dean from the previous one who left a few weeks (months?) after this disaster started, why would he want to move forward with Blundell?  It sounds like it was a move no one thought would work and no one thought would improve their culture or reputation, and it's ended up being true.  I wonder what happens next but Dean won't leave quietly, and this in an obvious indication of that.

Everyone knows Davidi and others who write for Sportsnet are vulnerable to being blasted for being shills.  Imagine working for NFL Network when all the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson domestic abuse stuff was going on and wondering how far you should go with it before you irk the bosses.  It's so easy for Dean to put a guy who won't argue back (unlike Wilner) on blast.  Sad state of affairs with that morning show.

Just a note on the Holly McKenzie thing.  It's an unfair label, "groupie", but if you don't like her work, just say so and make it about her.  Calling out one female isn't calling out all females.  If you think Kate Beirness does a good job and Evaka Osmak doesn't, calling out Osmak for being bad is hardly "sexist".  And Mike In Boston lists the textbook examples of people who are way too buddy-buddy with players, Cabbie, Barry Davis, Tim, Sid, to take seriously in terms of being objective.  But everyone has their crosses to bear.  Bob had Paul Beeston.  Blair has John Gibbons.  Dave Naylor has the CFL.  


Matty Zero
December 12, 2016 9:42 am

I like Shi Davidi's coverage of the Jays more than any other reporter, but I think Dean Blundell (!) has hit the nail on the head, here. Dean actually summed up how most fans feel at this stage. Granted, there is some more to do, but as of now they have replaced EE with a platoon of Smoak/Pierce at first base, and that is barely a AAA-level worthy combo. Truly awful. Morales as a DH is just ok, not great. A useful piece, but good luck moving him from 1st to 3rd or driving him in from 2nd on a single. Guy is a pylon, and those lack of runs add up fast in baseball.

The Jays should be up to the luxury tax limit on a yearly basis, they should be able to resign EE plus add additional significant pieces. They have one of the richest owners in all of MLB, yet everyone, media included, has bought into the 'we can't afford it' budget narrative. It's BS.

I realize that Shapiro and the puppet were brought in to tear it down, and rebuild the farm..but they were JUST in the ALCS 2 years in a row, which is kinda the whole point! This is why the Indians never did anything until they left.


December 12, 2016 9:59 am

Davidi has a way of spending 5 minutes to say something that could be said in 20 seconds. The stuttering doesn't help but his main hurdle seems to be his inability to rationalize some of the rather dubious decisions Jays' management are making. He is the absolute king of apologists when it comes to the Jays and is one not to bite the hand that feeds him.

Mike V
Mike V
December 12, 2016 10:11 am
Reply to  Matty Zero

Cleveland Indians: AL Central Winners 1999, 2001, 2007. AL Wild Card 2013.

Right… never did anything. And the whole AL Pennant team came together in just 10 months since they left.


If Blundell truly wants to orchestrate his own exit like this by appealing to the LCD of sports fan then good riddance. It won't gloss over the fact that he's been a horrible sports host and underperformed the expectations.

December 12, 2016 10:43 am
Reply to  Matty Zero

I hate Blundell. I do not/will not listen but I agree that Jays management seems to have misplayed its hand as much as Encarnacion's agent did. That the Rogers media either chooses soft sell the Jays or is told to, doesn't really matter. It's happening. There is still some distance to go before spring training but it doesn't look good and the team certainly has missed a chance to boost sales of season ticket packages as Christmas gifts. If the Leafs had missed out on its most prolific point producer, fans would not be nearly as forgiving, especially if Montreal had traded for the best goalie on the market.

December 12, 2016 12:50 pm

I've been hugely disappointed in the Jays offseason so far, but I've never thought of Davidi as a shill. I actually think he reports pretty emotionlessly and in a way where he doesn't show a lot of personal opinion.  I'm not sure he had a huge difference in tone in 2015 when the Jays were adding Tulo and Price.  I think he's a good reporter.

I think Blundell is pandering here.  Combined with what TSM said about him possibly getting fired, it makes you wonder if he's trying to take some shots on the way out the door.  Reminds me of Don Landry just before he got fired (although his was far more overt – he took a shot at Fan management for suspending Wilner for arguing with Cito Gaston).

December 12, 2016 12:57 pm

What irks me about overdrive is how little effort or care they actually put in to learning about other sports (with regards to the puck heads they have) . Jamie "annoying" maclennan routinely will say he doesn't know much about said sport and say it with pride as if hockey is the end all of everything. And both completely check out when a non hockey guest is on the show leaving Hayes to essentially run it by himself. I'd rather see them make it the Bryan Hayes show and have these two guys in studio for an hour when they have hockey talk with ray or bobby mac. And then find other up and coming guests to actually have intelligent sports convo for the other two hours.

I get why they did it- the chemistry and bro talk is amusing at times. But I feel that's because of Odog and Hayes. Mclennan brings nothing to the show, even hockey analysis. He always seems confused by the actions of sports figures and can't understand why things occur.

Both mclennan and buffon are dial turners for me. And if shannon is on the fan than it's listening to Christmas music on the drive home.


December 12, 2016 1:54 pm
Reply to  Drumanchor

The irony here is fucking delicious.

You call out one guy for attacking and generalizing women, then you do the exact same thing by saying because one TFC/soccer fan acted like a d-bag, then every fan must also be one.

Bravo, sir!

December 12, 2016 3:21 pm
Reply to  James Mirtle

Females have yet to prove themselves capable of being objective, intellectual sports writers. YOU WILL FAIL IF YOU EMPLOY THEM! Male sports can only objectively covered by MALE writers. 

December 12, 2016 3:27 pm
Reply to  Daniel


You're right, he's a good reporter. Silly to think otherwise. 

Landry was right for standing up against the whole Cito/Wilner thing (Bob McCown said worse and was never reprimand), but Landry saw a dead man walking regardless of what he said, his schtick had gone stale by that point. 

December 12, 2016 3:48 pm
Reply to  Anthony

Yeah I agree.  That Wilner suspension was pretty shameful.  Probably the only real instance I think you could point to and say 'that's Rogers muzzling their journalists for criticizing the Jays.'

December 12, 2016 4:32 pm
Reply to  Daniel


Indeed. Im going to guess the complaint is more venting because Davidi didn't give the answer the poster wanted to hear vs. the right answer to the question posed. 

Just because the Jays have the ability to spend, doesn't mean they should foolishly. Look at last year with Price/Haap. 

December 12, 2016 4:38 pm

Interesting read.   

Start off with a well meaning interview.   Then we move into a tech conversation and then the real attention of the host of this site.   To Slander those who they cant flap.    The comments made by Blundell are a contradiction of what we are told.  I like that and i think its refreshing.   

In no way did he refer to Shi as a Shill.   In fact quite the opposite.   He complimented Shi's opinion and character and offered a difference of opinion.  

For MIB to insinuate anything else is clearly an uninformed opinion by someone who seemingly continually has an axe to grind.   We see it all to often here.   In fact after I posted several thoughts that were contrary to the hosts opinions i was blocked and Jonah deleted or changed a number of statements he made from his original postings.   Maybe Mike/jonah think they can operate above legal understanding of fact vs opinion?   Or maybe they just hate Rogers or those that do a job they dont.   

The clear attempts to "poison the well" speak more to the inability of this site to create intellectual conversations about the state of sports media as opposed to driving malicious agendas.   And what's hosted in these comments section very often goes past constructive opinion.  

In my profession I would advise those (whom this site has attacked on more than one occasion) to follow up legally and for good reason.   When personal opinion cross the threshold of truth and subjective opinion as it negatively affects those ability to make a living there is very little room for error.  Of which there still seems to be a significant amount here.   

The site for a while used to be full of useful information about the industry and sports in general.   Now you seemingly spend more time trying to start a fight in the 3rd person.   Wheeler, Wilner, Bob, Blundell, Overdrive, Landsberg, or Blair blocking people.   


I'd say the culture here is far more or a joke that what you seem to think you know is going on with any other outlet.   


Very much the actions of bottom feeders.


Take your pick.  Farm a sliver from a break or a tweet.  Take it out of context then pretend you are a bastion of objectivity.   


This site panders for clicks.  I hve no doubt that my post will be deleted edited or replaced like many others.  However i certainly hope that if a pillar of authenticity  is part of your mandate you represent the thoughts of the moral majority here as well as opposed to the same 7 cranky cretins that defecate on whatever you tell them to.


Too Loose La Trek
Too Loose La Trek
December 12, 2016 6:18 pm

@Darren  That is one of the best posts ever put up on this site. I would say 9 cranky cretins including MIB and Jonah.

Scott M.
Scott M.
December 12, 2016 8:27 pm

I agree 100% with what Dean Darren wrote

December 12, 2016 8:28 pm

Better make that 11.

December 12, 2016 8:51 pm

FWIW I like Shannon on PTS with Bob when they banter back and forth especially on Monday and Friday because they cut into the call in segment – I am not a big fan of listening to 'Jarvis in the Beaches' going on about anything he thinks is worth a phone call – Last week Bob had my favourite host/guest Dave Perkins – I find Perkins wonderful and they should just let him go and tell stories – I didn't listen to PTS today as there was no Bob and I believe it was Arash Madani – Nothing against the guy just not interested when Bob is off – I am starting to find Damien Cox rathery annoying as co-host what with his breathless voice and coy demeanor – Really I'll take Shannon over Cox anyday –

December 13, 2016 2:01 am
Reply to  darren

Darren: I’ve treid emailing you several times but the email address you have listed isn’t legit.  In an earlier comment you’ve said that we have met “a few times”.  I’d love to discuss this, please email at torontosportsmedia at gmail dot com so we cn discuss..

December 13, 2016 8:31 am


I remember that. You're going to break the hearts of all those who think it was a big Rogers conspiracy 😉

Either way it was handled incredibly poorly, If you don't like how Wilner questions people than discipline him away from the radio, don't give fuel to the fire. 

And to those saying Blair is a 'shill' for defending Rogers, he wasn't employed with the Radio at the time. 


A year ago your comments about 'culture' may have merit, the comments where filled with people who did absolutely nothing but personally attack (uncomfortably so) those on both TSN and the FAN. While there is still a small amount of that, its nothing close to what it use to be. Outside of a few outliers in the comments section its actually a fairly intelligent dialog right now. 

Original Mitch
Original Mitch
December 13, 2016 6:23 pm
Reply to  Anthony

Howarth was suspended by Rogers for criticizing a player wasn't he? Oh no wait, he "lost his voice" and missed a series. Righhhhhttttttt.

If you sincerely believe that Rogers employees don't have a mandate to protect the Blue Jays, then you completely misunderstand the nature of their relationship. 

What I like at this point, is we have come to accept it and that's fine. Rogers cheerleads the Jays, Belll cheerleads the CFL. Its just the way it goes and we accept it. 



December 14, 2016 12:48 pm

I went to the PPP site to vote and post a comment re HNIC. I had to wait 24 hours before posting a comment after registering.

Then they stopped allowing comments, so here are my comments.

Stoomboulopoulos had to go. MacLean tries to cram too much into too little time, he has to slow down.

To give more time for everybody they should put Coaches Corner into the pre game show.

If MacLean cannot slow down them maybe David Amber should be the host.

They have to get rid of the player interviews in between periods.

The announcers get off track too often instead of just calling the game.

Hughson's voice is annoying and Simpson does not bring anything constructive. They have to get better announcers. 

December 14, 2016 1:21 pm
Reply to  Anthony

Original Mitch

Howarth, if he was suspended, probably was suspended for suggesting that a Dominican Republic player grew up playing 'street ball', not exactly kosure, however if you do have proof of a suspension Im sure we'd love to see it. Otherwise its just jumping to conclusions, but we've bee through this 1423 times, not sure the point of bringing it up 1424? 

In the past two years ive offered so many examples of times Rogers employees trashed rogers, and you've even agree with them, so again, Im not sure why we are going down this road again..for the n'th time. Its a boring conversation that has zero to do with the topic provided by TSM. 

December 14, 2016 2:17 pm
Reply to  Mike V

How dare you bring facts to the narrative 😉 People don't like facts, the like rants!!! 🙂

Matty Zero
December 15, 2016 5:40 pm
Reply to  Mike V

Shapiro was not the GM in 99, but whatever. That is still only 2 playoff appearances and the three hour cameo in 2013. It is not a shining record in baseball's most mediocre division. During Shapiro's tenure:

Kansas City 1 Division win, 1 Wild Card. 2 World Series Appearances, 1 World Series Win

Chicago 2 Division wins 1 World Series win

Detroit  4 Division wins 1 World series appearance

Minnesota 6 Division wins 0 World Series Appearances or Wins

Cleveland 1 Division win, 0 World Series Appearances or Wins

Those are 'facts'. Enjoy the Kool-Aid.

December 16, 2016 8:18 am
Reply to  Mike V

'Those are 'facts'. Enjoy the Kool-Aid'

Why can't people just disagree and not turn it into Trump like trolling? 

December 16, 2016 9:37 pm

“Suspended Jerry” on Twitter has been doxxed.

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