Sunday Hot Topic: Why Do Jays Media Hate Fans?

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Jonah was supposed to write this weekend but was bitten by a mosquito. Here’s a semi-open thread on a topic that we’ve been kicking around the the Seen & Heard office this week.



I’m old enough to remember the days before Wilner and the current “attitude” era is not the way things have always been. Scott Ferguson had the good fortune to be a lead voice at a time when the team was building its march to back-to-back Word Series wins but that alone doesn’t explain why his tenure at the helm of JaysTalk felt much friendlier. My impression is that, even with the Jays’ recent success, few media have dialled down their disdain.


Further, I have lived in a few baseball cities now — Boston being one of them — and find the tone of the baseball media in Toronto distinctive. When the Red Sox won their 1st Word Series in 86 years there was a noticeable détente in fan-media relations. Perhaps a championship in Toronto would bring the same, but I am not convinced.


Pay attention to the number of people who write or post simply to say “boy , check out these morons!” or “sigh, I guess I’ll explain this to you one more time …” Then make a list of the people who don’t. Add to the first category people who don’t seem capable of having seeing more than one side to a debate. Add to the second people who lay out all the evidence and invite others to help interpret the data. Column A outnumbers column B by my math.


I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here: there are several media who rarely frame their opinions with the preface “dumb people think X, whereas I on the other hand think Y”. However that general sentiment is pervasive.



I don’t make a living arguing with people about sports on twitter. I imagine that this can be a draining aspect of the job of the modern day journalist. If you get paid to do that 40+ weeks a year, it’s going to take its toll on you, and you might occasionally snap off 140 haughty characters.


However for contrast have a look at the feeds of folks like Richard Griffin or Shi Davidi or Ben Nicholson-Smith. These examples prove that it is possible to write and talk about the team without excessive superciliosity. No one ever accused Griff of being a fence-sitter. But for the most part he manages to avoid scorn directed at the fanbase while delivering his opinions. On the other hand, when it comes to scornful tweets about Jays media, Griffin sometimes lets loose:



There are plenty of rumours about Barry’s relationship with the players and the rest of the media but I won’t repeat them here. His post post-game career has moved in exciting new directions — ex-Jay Brandon Morrow is on his podcast this week — and he will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of the fanbase, and at least some of the players.



While some Jays media would welcome a hug from a Jay, others will do anything to avoid one. Exhibit A:



The folks over at reddit were quite unhappy with Arash for leaving Biagini hanging. Personally, I can’t find fault with someone — especially someone who works for Rogers — for taking himself seriously as a journalist and wanting to maintain professional demeanour and distance from a subject while on live TV. Further, can you imagine if the roles were reversed and a sideline reporter tried to hug a player on the field? Players would, I hope, complain.


Lastly, in my opinion, Arash is miscast in this role. Hazel is the best and should be doing all home games and all east coast away games.  The broadcast is always better with her on it, and we don’t have to watch her try the local fried food as some networks do with their female hosts.


If Sportsnet insists on having Arash on the Jays broadcasts, flip him with Jamie Campbell. Arash and Zaun might make for compelling TV. I have a half written piece on misuse of talent in sports media that I’ll post later this summer.


With the playoffs basically out of reach for 2017 most of the media attention will now turn to trades and developing a strategy for g/etting back to the post-season as quickly as possible. Lott has a good piece on different approaches the team could take. I am staunchly in the reload/retool camp. If you’re going to have a top 10 payroll then you don’t need to gut your team in order to improve significantly. If you’re willing to take on or eat salary this makes you a better trade partner than other teams. Stripping things down to the bolts is easy. Combining declining veterans who can still contribute with established and promising youth is much harder.


It will be interesting to see if Shapiro is up to the task. If he can get this team back to the playoffs in the next 2 years people will forget all about AA. Speaking of forgetting, I am going to miss José when he goes. He has been the most interesting Blue Jay in my adult life. Flashback read: here’s Brendan Kennedy of The Star on the Bautista Sportsnet boycott over Devon Travis’ unpaid suit.


It will also be interesting to watch the media debate each other over the current state of the Jays and whether this outcome was ineluctable given the poor off-season they had. I find “prediction-talk” to be some of the lowest form of conversation, but others revel in it.



If you’re scoring at home, here’s how I have it:




Other people spent the day focusing on other important matters:



If Sunday was the last meaningful baseball game (™️Bob McCown) until April the media deserve a round of applause for the hard work they put in on twitter. If you care about professional journalism, support your local papers and websites!


Over to you: here are specific questions to get things started:


1) Do you agree that Jays media collectively have a somewhat hostile relationship with the fanbase?


2) Is it noticeably more hostile as compared to Leafs and Raps media? Argos? TFC? Marlies?


3) Who does the best job interacting with the Jays fanbase without imperiousness?


p.s. – I have more followers than TSN1050 PD Jeff MacDonald and I have almost caught up with 590’s Dave Cadeau. Help me reach this important personal milestone. I’ll donate $20 to charity when I pass him. That’s a deal you can’t refuse: follow me.


p.p.s. – I am going to write about the end of Sportnet magazine in the next few months. I have spoken to many people at this point but if you have thoughts and we have not connected, please reach out. With the ludicrous video-only trend picking up speed, a sports journalism magazine would stand alone in the marketplace.



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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