Rumblings Of A Sports Fan- Thank You Bernie!


Earlier this week we typed about Jay and Dan’s deals not getting renewed out west.   Jay is heading back to TSN we’re told.

But the pair, assuming they come back as a package, may not be an easy fit at either TSN or Sportsnet. On the television side, the young viewers who made Onrait and O’Toole so popular no longer consume their highlights solely from television. They get them on their phones from YouTube and other providers. That is why Fox moved away from highlights on the Onrait and O’Toole show and then cancelled it.

Interesting tidbit from David Shoalts at the Globe and Mail who, seeing the death spiral at his media outlet is moonlighting as a comedian!

The NBA trade deadline came and went this week.  Honestly, is there a better media outlet than Yahoo! and The Vertical when it comes to double dribbling?  I watched the ESPN pre-game show for the Raptors Celtics game last night; yawn.. Almost as boring as the entire production that was the NBA All-Star weekend.  Back to Yahoo! What a novel idea, the online media outlet held a short (two hours) Facebook Live show leading up to the trade deadline.  What a great idea.  Not 16 hours of zzzzzzzzzz.  A much more consumable 2 hours.  No, there still wasn’t a ton to talk about and yes we saw a lot of peeps on their iphones typing but it was at least entertaining.

Here’s hoping Puckdaddy or the Athletic fellas can do the same thing.  With respect to Kypreos and McKenzie, the deadline drama is old and tired.  I’d much rather see a more condensed  show where things can be analyzed.

I’m taking the family to the Ducks Leafs game next Friday night. Any of my readers going to be there?

The Fan morning show hits the reset this Monday morning.  Looking forward to taking a taste.  Elliott Price was on the PTS roundtable yesterday along with Dave The Blanket Perkins and Shi Davidi.  I heard the first hour and like what I heard.  Price will fit in perfectly with the generally older listener at the Fan these days.

Brad Fey sat in with McCown this week.  He was a pleasant break from usual steady rotation of co-hosts that fill in when Damien is off planet visiting.  McCown moaning about how much time Cox gets in vacation is quite hilarious, even if just in jest- you know a little bit of truth in sarcasm.

For those of you who like to play PTS BINGO with the lifers here at TSM, I have a new “Bobism” for our cards.. “I used to go to the entire spring training”, as usual a mantra that we’re giving you an extra “free space” on your cards.

I took in the play Rent last night here in Seattle.  I’ll admit it.  I knew nothing going in.  At the break, I still knew nothing.  I was fortunate enough to have dessert with a cast member after the show and learned a ton.  If you too were growing up in the 80’s or 90’s it’s worth seeing if you have not already.  I’ll admit though, the opportunity to throw no fewer than 100 questions at the 20 year old something star of the show was as fascinating an hour as I’ve had in, well a LONG time. Life behind the scenes of a traveling musical is pretty damn cool.  I’ll say this.  It was refreshing to see such passion for the work this guy had.  It was also refreshing to see the number of people lined up at the stage door after the show looking for an autograph or photo. Two best parts of that?  First, the look on the talent’s face at the photo request was as stellar as smile on the star struck fan.  Equally as great, the accessibility to the talent after the show.

If you read only one other thing today make it this.  We’ve all been handed the much needed reminder we need the next time we think life’s handed us a bag of coal. In this world filled with hate it’s incredible to see such love and compassion from time to time.

A few months back I ran this post, asking for questions for Bob Elliott.  I have yet to run the interview in that Bob had just done a few other bits and we were months away from baseball season.  With the Jays in spring mode as we get closer to opening day we will run that story.  So if you still have questions for Bob post away.

I don’t do this all this often but let me delve for a moment into my professional life.  I’ll admit that I spend quite a bit of time on Linkedin.  I use it a lot for work and have found it to be a huge help to my career.  For those who don’t know Linkedin is a social media network for business networking; a Facebook for work if you will.  As other social media networks do, each time you login you receive a list of other members whom you may want to connect with.  I’ve seen some funny ones over the years and I’ve met some amazing people through Linkedin.

In any event, this week the name Bernie Nichols appeared on my suggested list.  Despite not actually knowing Nichols (a golden rule for Linkedin, at least for me) I clicked on the name and low and behold two days later I received a notice that my request to connect had been connected.

I’ll leave you with the email I sent Bernie, which I just received a very gracious response; have a happy weekend!

“Thank you for accepting my Linkedin request.

I was surprised to see your name pop up on my suggested contact list so I decided to give it a shot.
I have to tell you a story, I hope you find it as funny as I do:
I’ll admit, I grew up pretty damn fortunate.  My family had life long seats at Maple Leaf gardens and I literally was at the arena every Saturday night the leafs were in town.  Like most Toronto kids I was a hockey nut. My mom used to get me dressed up in my Sunday best every Saturday night to go the game to watch the leafs.
I grew up in Toronto and when I was 12 (I think) my uncle gave me the greatest present I ever received.  It was an autographed 1984 ( I think) NHL All-star jersey (orange and black) jersey with your name and number complete with a wooden plaque commemorating the authenticity of the jersey.
Despite the fact that you didn’t play for the blue and white, I am pretty sure I wore that jersey all the time, and even probably slept in it too!
That jersey and the impact it had on me stayed with me through law school in the late 1990’s as I decided in my late(r) 20’s that one day I too would have kids and would want them to have the same love for sports memorabilia that I got from that one jersey.
So, I started collecting jerseys (and a few other items) and getting them signed as time went on.  I got a Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, Messier, Yzerman, Pronger, Kariya, and many more in addition to Joe Montana footballs, Dan Marino jerseys etc.
Fast forward to today, my son is 14 and my daughter is 12 and when we travel we always try to attend a sporting event in whatever city we are visiting.  We are Torontonians who live in Seattle so we’ve been fortunate enough to hit cities when our Toronto teams are there.  My kids, like I did before them, wear their jerseys with the same Sharpie pen in hand waiting for the “guys” to sign for them.
As intended, my collection is now my kids.  The jersey’s are theirs. They sit in their rooms and they are free to do with them as they wish.  I take great pride in sometimes hearing them go through them with their Seattle friends telling them who each one is, how incredible a player that athlete was and the impact the signing had on their dad’s life.
In any event, each time I hear them telling the stories, I think back to that first jersey.  No, not my first leaf jersey but my first signed jersey. Your jersey.  Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t but 30 years ago you signed a jersey unknowingly that had an impact at least 2 generations down and I suspect more than that will follow.
You might be curious if I have that original jersey.  Unfortunately when I was in college I packed my car the night before going back from break and in the car was my duffle bags with, the jersey. I was awoken at 4am by my dad that the police were at our front door.  Thieves had broken the window of my car and stolen everything that was in the car, the jersey too.
While I don’t still have the physical jersey, it lives on in my mind often.
It did once again when I saw your name pop up on my Linkedin screen.
All the best,



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February 25, 2017 1:59 pm

The Raptors suffered from taking too long to get good and that meant never drawing sufficient TV numbers to force TV and radio networks to truly invest in the product. That’s how we wound up with low-cost talent like Leo Rautins, Jack Armstrong, Paul Jones and Eric Smith as the Raptors pundits on radio and TV. None of these guys is really credible. They ALL said in early January that the Raptors didn’t need to make a major move at the deadline but all were on board when they did. Sounds a lot like carrying water for the team.
This team or its management team is rarely criticized in this market. How about how much better this team would be if Ujiri had stepped up and brought in Obaka in the offseason? Perhaps that way this team would have surpassed Cleveland and had home court until the final. And if there wasn’t enough money to do that, then why not? Or what about allowing Lowry to play in all-star game with what could be a broken wrist? Or how they could allow this team to fall so far out of first before making moves?
Eric Koreen is about the only guy who regularly offers objectivity but he’s behind a paywall now and rarely gets on radio/TV. Doug Smith? We all like Doug but he’s often a team apologist, too. Michael Grange is not nearly as critical since he left the Globe. Looks comfy on TV.
I think the first radio station to offer credible (no team-paid people) basketball guys will corner the market. It doesn’t exist. And the Raptors are arguably Toronto’s best sports team (at least for now). I think Raptors fans are rabid fans and remain very much underserved in this market.

February 25, 2017 2:10 pm

Since Damien Cox has become Bobs co-host. I rarely listen. Overdrive is my mainstay. However, when discussing a sport that does not interest me, I’ll switch over to 590. Brad Fey was a pleasant surprise this week. Measured, eloquent and knowledgable. No political BS.
I would probably hang out a little longer at 590, if Fey replaced Cox.

February 25, 2017 2:48 pm

As a “new” voice to the Toronto market, Elliott Price deserves a fair shake. I wish him well and certainly hope the new FAN 590 morning show achieves a level of credibility that has been lacking for some time.

Gotta say, the “transition guys” the past few weeks did alright.

Paul G.
Paul G.
February 25, 2017 2:59 pm

Agree with the positive comments on Fey. His demeanour and input mesh nicely with the others. Along with Perkins (not Shannon)in the first hour and the Friday roundtable, it has been a better week than most this year for PTS.

February 25, 2017 3:15 pm

I as well as may other looking forward to the new morning show starting Monday. PTS was a bit of a breath of fresh air this week hopefully it will continue. Not sure if this will force any type of changes at 1050?

February 25, 2017 3:15 pm

I as well as may other looking forward to the new morning show starting Monday. PTS was a bit of a breath of fresh air this week hopefully it will continue. Not sure if this will force any type of changes at 1050?

February 25, 2017 6:53 pm

It took me 6 months to differentiate between Brady and Walker when they first moved to 1-4. when I finally was able to they got split. I’m not overly excited for Brady/Price but anything has got to be better than an unmotivated Blundell. Please no updates every 20 minutes

Brian Gerstein (Raptors Devotee)
February 25, 2017 7:25 pm

Brian, it is quite surprising that the same broadcast people covering the Raptors have been there pretty much since the franchise was rewarded. Chuck Swirsky left on his own to go back to his native city in Chicago, leaving the tv side to go do radio, a huge step down, but done for personal reasons from my recall. Rautins has been on mute for me, I can’t remember the last time I heard his voice for more than 10 seconds, he is that unbearable. Armstrong has been critical when needed, I disagree with you there, he has often chastised Ross on his work ethic and lack of commitment to the game. He does not hold back when required, both Jones and Smith do critique as well but more mildly. Leo never has a bad thing to say about the team, and that is why I can not take him, he is so beyond objective. Doug Smith sky is always blue no matter what. Grange I rarely see, no comment there. I barely pay attention to MSM media and use Raptors Republic mainly and Raptors HQ for the real scoop, and I do subscribe to the Athletic so get to read Koreen, who calls it like it is.

Extremely excited to hear Price on the morning show. Never been a Brady fan, but will listen when I can for Price, who will be able to control Brady when he goes awry.

February 25, 2017 7:35 pm

BG — I disagree on Armstrong. So he criticized Ross. What about when Lowry pouts? Or tries too many shots without using the clock? Or when DeRozan refuses to drive the lane? Jack picks his spots. Jack’s not the biggest problem but he’s not part of the solution either.

February 25, 2017 11:36 pm

BG – agree on Rautins he may as well be wearing pom-poms. On Fridays broadcast in the second quarter, Devlin mentioned how unorganized the Raps looked, Rautins blamed it on the ASG break and the time off. Thankfully Matt was professional enough to point out the Celtics also had the amount of time off, and it wasn’t effecting them.

February 26, 2017 3:43 am

Great posts on the Raptors broadcast crews .

February 27, 2017 8:00 am

Man am I frustrated. I was looking forward to the Starting line up. I mean I loved Ricco & Bastl as a pair, but I knew it was just for 2 weeks. I saw Price and Brady as a huge upgrade on Blundell. i’m not big on Brady but I don’t hate him and I have been a long time Price fan from his days in MTL.

So I tuned in this morning and listened for over a hour. Wow was I disappointed. What a heaping pile of hot garbage. 1 hour of sports talk radio in Toronto, 1 hour and hardly anything about the Leafs. The Leafs the number 1 story in Toronto even in August with nothing happening. But it’s not August it’s February and they just played a huge game vs. their biggest rival the Habs. The most meaningful game the rivalry has had in a long long time. So what is so important that it has bumped the biggest team in the city? The freaking Oscars. I get that the Oscars are a big deal to a lot of people but come on this is still sports radio. They just kept coming back to it. la la land this and la la land that. screw la la land, this is Leaf land. I’m not even a Leaf fan but come on.

Oh and spring training got more time too. it’s a meaningless game FFS. And the worst part was i was hoping the long frequent updates were finally going to be scraped. Nope instead there are so many updates with hack Hugh Buril that i don’t even know when it’s not a update. and he drags them on by forcing Oscar puns.

ARGH! so annoying. I actually switched to TSN 1050. Do you know how bad a show has to be for me to switch to Naylor and Landsberg? Thankfully Landsberg was off and Cauz was filling in. Guess what they were talking about the Leafs game right away.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
February 27, 2017 8:42 am

Jay and Dan if they return should take over the mourning show at 1050, move the boys back to leafs lunch and go after Andrew Walker for the 4pm hour

February 27, 2017 8:58 am

I totally disagree with Brian on Armstrong and Jones. I’m not sure who you’re using for comparables. Is it Kenny,Shaq and Charles? The Raptors are effectivley using local quality coverage from 2 networks that gets carried across Canada, so you have to compare the Raptors to other local broadcasts and not TNT or ESPN and their national broadcast teams. Roger and bell cant compete with ESPN amd TNT. Watch the Bulls’, Knicks’ or Pacers’ local coverage and see what you think about TSN (yes, Rogers coverage is horrible)…

I only watch pregame coverage on TSN because Sportsnet’s coverage is in fact horrible. TSN has Rod Black hosting (he is a capable broadcaster and does it quite well), with Jack, Leo and Sam Mitchell on their panel. I think they do a very good job and they don’t pull any punches. I find that anything on Sportsnet is poorly done and never worth watching, so I do agree with brian on how poor their coverage is (How does Eric Smith still have a job?). Harsh? Yes,but its true. TSN hockey coverage and Jays coverage is far superior to Sportsnet’s too. It’s not even close. This is all just my opinion, so please don’t get all a
Uppity and try and convince me otherwise. (…It won’t work)

February 27, 2017 10:02 am

Caught the opening of the new ‘Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup ‘ with Greg Brady and Elliott Price. 3 1/2 much missed hours of my sports listening is BACK. Call it Brady 6.0. Brady 1.0 is whatever the hell he did in Detroit. 2.0 Brady & Watters on 640. 3.0 Brady and Lang 4.0 Brady and Walker mornings 5.0 Bitter Brady and Walker 1-4. 6.0 Brady Price and Burrill.

Brady achieves the right balance of sports talk, humour and current events. He is able to speak capably about social issues as well. Been a tough couple of years for him. Welcome back. Best of luck to unemployed Blundell who can now ‘be who he is.’

February 27, 2017 10:39 am

The sports highlight show is already dead, ESPN/TSN/Sportsnet just refuse to admit it. I’m in my 20’s – NOBODY I know my age watches sports highlight shows unless they happen to be on after a game and they keep watching. Point is, it’s not appointment viewing for anyone. Instead of sitting there waiting through segments and commercials to get the few highlights I want, I can look up any highlights I want online the next morning and get them instantly. What’s more, any key “must-see” highlights always end appearing in my twitter or instagram feeds. I’m not missing anything by not watching sports highlight shows, nor is anyone who has a semblance of an idea of how to access them online and in social media.

Breaking the bank for Jay&Dan or anyone else for a highlights show is an idea straight out of 1999. If sports TV execs wants highlight shows to survive, they’re going to have to mix in a combination of opinion, commentary, in-depth reporting, and panels along with highlights making up only 25% of the show at most. The future is to come up with a new and exciting format, not to parachute two popular personalities into an old and dying format.

February 27, 2017 11:08 am

Why is Arash Madani acting all high and mighty regarding the Popp/Trestman situation? They were talking about it as early as Monday last week on TSN Radio.

February 27, 2017 11:13 am
Reply to  Robinaurora

I agree that TSN’s Raptors coverage is better than SportsNet. But’s that’s like saying I’d rather experience and earthquake vs a tornado. Both are disasters.
Leo Rautins should be bought out and sent home. Jones?? You defend Paul Jones as a broadcaster? He’s clearly a decent human being but that doesn’t make him good at his job. He constantly makes “jokes” that are essentially “inside” jokes that he often has to explain and refers to his “pops” way too often. He’s not an NBA pxp guy in any other market. He’s cheap. He’s nice. That’s good enough apparently.
Rod Black? Well, he’s a channel changer for me. Black AND Rautins? Like an icepick in my ear. Beyond camping out in the tanning salon, Rod Black says nothing. He could talk for days and still say nothing. He’s a tanned robot. It’s not an accident that he’s been relegated to CFL and Raptors broadcasts. It’s the Siberia of TSN sports coverage.
Eric Smith? He came right out of Humber College. After some late night work on the FAN with Stormin’ Norman, he landed as a producer on the Big Show with Gord Stellick back in the late 1990s. Nelson Millman later tried him in afternoons on the Fan with Barb Digiulio with limited success. He gained prominence when the TEAM started poaching FAN talent (Barry Davis, Stephen Brunt, for instance). Smith started doing some Raptors work after Elliotte Friedman left the FAN for The Score and Smith just stayed there. So he’s not an NBA guy. Again, nice guy but that’s not enough. I’m afraid Butch Carter was right.
Armstrong is palatable in small doses but his act is more schtick than substance.
The only guy I really like is Sam Mitchell. He sees things that people who have not played or coached CAN’T see and then presents that information in an entertaining way. I don’t think he will be here long because he’s only going to get better. ESPN or TNT will come calling.
But why doesn’t someone put Eric Koreen on air? He deserves a shot and can’t be worse than what we see regularly. I really enjoy watching the Raptors and I hope that one day it gets to the level of TSN’s hockey coverage (not SportsNet’s).

February 27, 2017 11:41 am

Loving the Raptors coverage commentary…I’ve stated on here that I am not a big Jack Armstrong fan before, however, I agree with those that say he is not an apologist when compared to the other “yes” people covering the team. He’s not overly negative but he does sometimes say non-team propaganda approved things. His downfall is too much shtick and I feel he holds back on actually explaining the game. I think he thinks we Canadians still know nothing about basketball and relies too heavily to hockey-esque platitudes like “you have to work hard!” Broadcasts have devolved into the Jack show of late.

Rautins – I don’t mind him as much as some others do but he is the king of if the shot goes in then it was an awesome decision by that player but when the same player misses the same shot a few minutes later then it was a bad play. He does follow the team approved message a little too much.

Devlin – used to be awesome…now tries falls into Jack’s nonsense too often. I get it Jack doesn’t like 3’s…i think Jack is even tired of talking about it! They talk more and more about Jack each broadcast. He tries to bring that same sort of ribbing chemistry with Leo with mixed results. I’d prefer he stick to telling me who the foul was on and stop yammering about ice cream.

Doug Smith – I think he also sees the newspaper downward spiral and is trying to get himself on radio. His blog is less and less about the Raptors goings on and is more about talking points, hot takes and things other than the Raps. He is the prototype of team apologists…regularly ridiculing readers for wanting changes made, trades etc. I get that he gets hammered with those comments but it is quite funny to think back how he defended Bargnani, Collangelo etc and then joined the chorus when they got jettisoned saying a change had to be made. When the Raps made trades the past two weeks I didn’t even think to check his blog for info or analysis and instead went to Raptors Republic and Raptors HQ. That would have been unheard of for me a few years ago.

There is not one radio talker who’s basketball opinion I value.

The stuff on the Athletic is generally excellent and, as mentioned, Raptors Republic and HQ are daily must reads for me.

Mainstream media is no longer the place for Raptors fans to go I am afraid. Not sure if this is a indication of the health of the industry or a reflection of years and years of hockey first hires in the media. I get it – hockey is king. However, similarly how a hockey fan wouldn’t really care to hear what Leo Rautins thinks about the Leafs fourth line, I get no value from O-Dog’s thoughts on the recent Raptors trades. I get the sense that most (if not all) of the TV talking heads, radio people, news paper columnists would only watch the NBA in their free time if there is no hockey on. That’s fine, that is what the market dictates, but I am not going to seek out their opinions on NBA goings on.

mike (in boston)
February 27, 2017 12:12 pm

let me 2nd the comment that it’s awesome to read about Raptors media coverage. I don’t write about it for the most part because I don’t consume enough of it to have an informed opinion. If you’re passionate about it, keep commenting here and that will build momentum for us to cover it more.

February 27, 2017 2:46 pm

Elliott Price was TERRIBLE on PTS. An old WHITE man that didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but confidently talked about things nonetheless. JUST WHAT SPORTS RADIO NEEDS, EH? ANOTHER OLD WHITE MAN THAT IS CONFIDENT ABOUT THINGS HE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT!

February 27, 2017 4:51 pm

I think people are far too critical of Doug. He was and still is a beat reporter reporting the news and not really a columnist paid to provide an opinion. There has always been a columnist taking on the Raptors at the Star. At one point it was Feschuk, then Cathal Kelley, etc. They were always critical – paid to do that. Doug just doesn’t over react to both the good and the bad. While many believe he was soft on Bargs, there is enough of his writing out there that says otherwise. My fav quote of his on Bargs: “he’s just got to grow some, um, testicles, suck it up and go harder”. As for Doug on radio, he used to cohost with Bob from time to time many years ago. He actually does way less radio now.

February 28, 2017 10:03 am

In response to my comments from yesterday: I think Jack did a very good job broadcasting last night’s game. He broke down key plays down the stretch and highlighted a key switch the Knicks made on the Raps’ winning shot where a good defender was replaced by a poor defender.

It’s like he’s reading this blog 🙂 (Kidding)

Don’t worry, I’ll spare you all from a review of the broadcasters each and every game….but I thought, considering I criticized him yesterday, it was appropriate to point out that he hit on what I expect from an analyst last night.

March 1, 2017 6:23 am

Anyone else wonder why a guy like Lou Lamoriello who objects to any individuality expressed by his players is doing a cheesy car dealership ad that plays on the Fan? Wouldn’t a few Spockian eyebrows at MLSE have been raised when Lou’s ad first played? Is MLSE not paying Lou enough Benjamins that he has to seek out a free lease on a car from ‘McAlpine Lincoln in Aurorer?’ Wouldn’t Lou get a National ad if he wanted one? Was Shanahan offered a couple of Pizza Pop or Cash for Gold commercials that he turned down knowing it tarnished the Leafs brand?

‘It’s all about the logo on the front.’ Hopefully Lou turns this cash cow into a TV ad but only after he maintains a beard at equal 1/8″ length with a carefully groomed lower lip goatee. Some barbed wire tattoos around his left bicep would be a nice touch too. Google ‘Lou Lamoriello McAlpine Lincoln’ and you get 534 results so don’t think that MLSE hasn’t cleansed this embarrassment a bit. Randomly type 15 nonsensical characters and a Google search generates only 500 results, everything else is 17,000,000. And no mention of Lou on the dealer’s website. Maybe Lou will be in a commercial with Matthew McConaughey cruising chicks in a new Continental or maybe he’s doing Uber Black on the side.

Here’s hoping Auston Matthews shows up in camp next fall looking like a Civil War veteran. He’s the only one with the power to change the code.

Rick in Barrie
Rick in Barrie
March 1, 2017 10:11 am

Jay & Dan are returning to TSN next fall. Getting the info second hand but some type of noon-hour show?

March 1, 2017 10:14 am

Rick in Barrie – They did a segment on tradcenter to kill time and it’s a midnight highlight show starting in the fall for Jay and Dan. Don’t know what this means for Kate and Natasha who are currently hosting in that slot.

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