Toronto Sports Media Mish Mash


Pardon the delay in posting, perhaps better late than never.

With the added time comes some added thoughts.. So, here we go.

While I didn’t really care all that much about NHL players going (or not going) to the Olympics when announced, I do find that my interest in the games is, at the moment anyway, a lot closer to zero than a ten.

If it wasn’t for The pregame on HNIC, SNL and the Superbowl networks all previewing their coverage I would not have known it was time for the games. I asked my son (you will see a theme here) if he knew when the games are starting he said, no, I don’t think they are this Now that

Now that I know, I will watch the opening of the games, I’ll admit that’s always cool. I am intrigued by an NHL free games so I may tune in if the games are on live. After that??????

If you haven’t seen I Tonya yet, the Academy Award-nominated film, you are missing out! It’s the best movie I have seen all year by a country mile. Irrespective of how truthful it all is (experts say- NOT), it’s really entertaining. With that, I will probably watch some figure skating too.

So, look for tweets and perhaps the odd column as I compare USA vs. Canadian coverage.

Mike in Boston asked readers to chime in on the changes in media over the years. Well here is one I was not aware of. My son and his peers check Instagram every morning for their sports news. No, not Youtube. Not Facebook. Definitely not ESPN (mobile or TV) and no, not Twitter. They go right to Instagram. That is a change. If you get your news on Instagram, who do you follow?

Philly nation has a major beef with Chris Collinsworth it would appear, post-Superbowl. Now the rest of the sporting world knows how Maple Leafs fans feel when they get repeatedly tortured with Jim Hughson every week.

Michael Landsberg continues to fly solo-ish. Do they need a co-host for real? If so, who do you want?

Kudos to Jim Tatti, who seems to have limitless lives and never age.

James Christie was one of the first members of the media who reached out to me when I started this site. He could not have been nicer or more helpful in the early days, encouraging me to keep writing as others in the mainstay fell off. Although I never met James, I always appreciated his unsolicited encouragement and friendship. RIP James.

The NBA is on the verge of their trade deadline day. Not much Raptors talk. That must be a good sign right?

Even ESPN has taken notice of the team, ESPN, the network unavailable in Canada… WOW>

It appears the Athletic Detroit has parted ways with the Jeremy Birmingham, after he was outed on The Detroit Sports Rag. It took a while but he’s gone from the website and he’s removed the paid outlet from his @brim Twitter handle too.

Gregg Zaun was on the Andrew Krystal show last week. I will say that again, the Andrew Krystal show. Krystal has reincarnated himself on Sirius Canada- who knew? The duo talked about Roy Halladay and the conundrum facing the Blue Jays between filling the stands and retooling. Zaun stated that the Jays should deal Josh Donaldson to reboot the retool btw. As for anything surrounding his departure from Rogers? Not asked, not discussed. It sounded like this could be a regular thing for Zaun, or at least as long as Krystal has a show it will be. So maybe they will get around to it. I wonder if McCown makes an appearance.

I am told that there are shows on XM where the host had to sell their own airtime. I wonder if that’s the case with Krystal. If Krystal got a gig there, why not Mike Richards?

It doesn’t appear Rogers had replaced Zaun yet. Will they? Who do you want?

The coverage around MLB has been quite amazing of late. The dead winter has caused all kinds of talk from the agent side to the pro-players side which should make for an interesting spring training.

“RSNs are going to start putting dynamics in their contracts,” Boras said. “You may see lawsuits where the RSNs are saying you in good faith promised us competitive performances. You’re not delivering that. You’re tanking. The audience knows you’re not trying win.”

No one defends his clients like Scott Boras. Those lawsuits will have as much merit as the owner going after a player saying, you in good faith promised a competitive performance.”

“Boras attributes baseball’s attendance drop to an increase in non-competitive teams, predicts fans from perennial losers will increasingly stay away from ballparks until ticket prices are cut and says regional sports networks will negotiate lower rights fees with teams going into rebuild cycles.”

While there is some merit there, attendance drops could also be because I don’t know the season lasts forever. The only thing longer than the season is some of the games. If the league is serious about cutting down times of the game, restrict the length and frequency of tv timeouts (good luck with that). I live for the day when the players and owners agree on a season that is 20 games shorter. The owners agree not to jack up ticket prices to cover the loss and the players agree to take a hit in pay.

The best guy covering the dead winter in my opinion has been Ken Rosenthal:

“but the union informed the players that an organized action of that sort would constitute an unlawful strike in violation of the CBA, and the players dropped the idea, sources said.”

While others were chicken littling the threat of a boycott, Ken had that gem.

Here is where Ken earns the $$, in my opinion:

“As I’ve written previously, the players have only themselves to blame for signing off on a collective bargaining agreement that enabled the owners to clamp down on free agency—not so much on players such as Yu Darvish and Eric Hosmer, who will get deals close to or at market value, but on those like Logan Morrison and Jon Jay of the middle class, who are getting squeezed by the seeming preference of clubs for minimum-salaried rookies over established 30-somethings, skill and experience be damned.

The arguments of the clubs for greater efficiency are not wrong—the foolishness of awarding expensive contracts to declining players is well-documented. But the clubs, too, bear a responsibility for labor relations. Even if they are correct in every single free-agent valuation—highly doubtful—players perceive their overall approach to the market as overkill. And if total payrolls decline from a year ago, as Craig Edwards suggested in a recent article for Fangraphs, the players’ fears will prove well-founded.”

Compare that if you will with the local writer for the same outlet who wrote this:

“It’s also about greed. By shying away from paying established stars for a projected production decline in their late 30s, owners are simultaneously relying more on young players – indentured servants under team control for their first six big-league seasons.

Those players come cheap. Many are paid well below their market value because they have no leverage.

It may make business sense for owners to reject those rich, long-term deals to which veterans have long felt entitled. But the owners are having their cake and eating it too, at the expense of young players who, by their own analysts’ estimates, are more valuable than those guys in their late 30s.

That may not equate to collusion. But it does add up to inequity.”

I find the whole thing funny. For years some in the media, and many in the stands have BBQ’d teams for dolling out big money for has beens. Paying for past performance if you will. For years many called upon teams to rely more on analytics when doing their shopping. Now, suddenly the teams are doing that and there is an uproar.

I love the collusion claims the most(not from the media).

It’s okay to say that we live in an era of copycat sports. Teams copy each other on the field/ice/court- especially the winners all the time. Now they are doing it on the contract side and it’s collusion. LOL.

We’ve seen the shift in age in hockey already. Sports is a young persons game. The life span of a pro athlete has gone from short to incredibly short. This trend will continue.

That brings us to the local team. The Blue Jays.

I have admitted repeatedly I am not a stats guru when it comes to baseball. Those who are I am in awe of, especially if you don’t do it professionally. Either way you are, take a read of these two articles:

One, written by Damien Cox, who I think we will see more of in the Toronto Star.

“As it stands, however, it’s very hard to look at all Shapiro and Atkins have done since they arrived and see a single move that has made the Jays better now or for the immediate future. Maybe eventually it will be right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson or shortstop Logan Warmoth, both drafted last year. We’ll see. But they’re far away.”


The counterpoint by Andrew Stoeten:

“If there is one genre of Blue Jays article that will, without fail, get my blood boiling, it’s the one where a tourist columnists feigns ignorance of — or is actually ignorant about — how the club is trying to build and improve and grow, but doesn’t let that supposed ignorance stop them from smugly asserting that they have the answers, or, worse, sarcastically intimating that the problems are clear, the answers are obvious, and the people in charge are clearly and obviously derelict.”

I am not sure there has been a more hated personality in sports, certainly Canadian sports than Gary Bettman. With that in mind, we give The Star’s Kevin McGran an award for this awesome piece on Bettman. The story, so good almost makes him, dare I say likable.

Finally, as you may have heard Seattle could be vying for NHL team. If they do land a team, I wonder who would be in line for media jobs. Geoff Baker is local. I wonder if anyone in the Toronto market would try to head northwest in search of greener pastures. I’ll take nominations, who would you hire if you run either the outlets or the teams?

Beat reporters?
Radio play by play?
Tv studio?
Tv Play by play?

The talent pool here in Seattle right now is very shallow.

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February 6, 2018 1:29 pm

Thanks Jonah.
I am a baseball fan and found especially interesting the discussion points you raised re the free agency issues of this off-season; it certainly has been an atypical few months. The underlying suggestion of true “collusion” by some is laughable. But I certainly agree that there is a new market efficiency which is being exploited right before our eyes, and at the expense of the ‘mid range’ player as you pointed out.
I wonder whether or not Tony Clark survives at the end of all this; he is the front-face of a labour union that must be showing its cracks by now and clearly is falling victim to a CBA which no longer serves its members ‘correctly’ in this new market paradigm.
I generally lean pro-player in all things but I feel that many a free agent this year has overvalued themselves (or Boras has blown a bad bill of goods up some arses). Frankly, Hosmer and JD Martinez in particular are not Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, or Josh Donaldson!! My point: the next crop of FAs is epic, far superior to the current group, and IMO teams are clearly stocking the war chests for that 2018-19 group.

I think that players need to understand the new reality that teams are learning to ‘tank’ and prepare longer-term for the perfect storm scenario: their in-house young talent maturing as a group, plus sprinkle in 1-2 key FA’s when their window is open, and you have an instant champion (can anyone say Houtson Astros?)
Money tied up in mid to long-term deals with Logan Morrisons and Francisco Lirianos just doesnt fit the plan anymore.
Thanks for the opp to share a few thoughts- not much of a ‘media’ angled response I suppose but to take it a step further: Damien Cox need to stay out of the baseball commentary business, as he is way off base as usual and doesnt fully understand what he is arguing or why. There- now it’s a media comment 🙂

Paul G.
Paul G.
February 6, 2018 3:30 pm

I would like to see Zaun replaced by someone with a similar outspoken and critical attitude. That preference aside, I fear the new hire will sadly just complete the existing pool of SN yes men!

Agree with your assessment of the Bettman piece. It was the type of thoughtful journalism that we see to little of most days.

Species 1967
February 6, 2018 4:01 pm

A huge problem with evaluating Bettman is the lack of comparables. We’ve got Bud Selig, Roger Goodell, and David Stern. On top of that, it’s hard to tell how well he did his job because wouldn’t the market for sports franchises have boomed anyway? And what did he really contribute behind the scenes as advice for the owners. Did he really call the shots, or was it ultimately the owners who made all the decisions?

February 6, 2018 6:53 pm

By promoting Andrew Krystal and Gregg Zaun, you are, in a way, endorsing Zaun’s behavior towards his female co-workers. What kind of message are you sending to women that want to work in the industry?

February 6, 2018 7:25 pm

Oh come on. I’d hardly call commenting that Zaun was a guest on a barely listened to radio show “promoting”. Is TSM (or anyone else for that matter) to never utter Zaun’s name again because it “endorses” his behaviour towards women? Please…his is the kind of faux offense-taking that plagues too much of society.

February 6, 2018 7:27 pm

listen to boomer and warrener podcast with stepen brunt today.a bit cryptic at the end but sure sounds like he’s returning to a radio gig in three weeks..doesn’t sound thrilled…gotta be thrown back together with mccown…that’ll be interesting

February 6, 2018 8:39 pm

Cris Collinsworth was gawdawful. The first TD was debatable (though it really was a TD) but the second TD was NOT debatable – a TD for sure. He might not be anti-Eagles but he certainly is pro-Pats.
The greedy agents should not be whining in the press. Scott Boras is especially odious – an agent known for dumping lesser players in order to steal upcoming players from other agents has concern for one thing only – his high commissions.
And the greedy richest players should not be whining in the press either. As a life-long Dodger fan, it angers me to see sign-a-seven-year-deal-for-a-bazillion-dollars-only-to-opt-out-in-pursuit-of-a-gazillion-dollars Clayton Kershaw mouthing off about how owners should pay even more in salaries.
‘Indentured servants’ ? Sign me up to be an indentured servant for 8 months per year at an annual pay of $500,000 to $1,000,000
I haven’t been on this site for a while – what’s the objection with Jim Hughson ? That he’s not Bob Cole ?

February 6, 2018 8:57 pm

I wouldn’t go as far to say that I get my sports news from primarily Instagram (rather, from I get it from twitter + SN/TSN/ESPN’s websites), but Instagram is certainly my #1 source for highlights. The Leafs and Raptors insta accounts post quick highlights of every key moment during games, and it’s the fastest way for me to access any big goals or saves I may have missed. Ditto for the NBA and NFL official insta accounts, which have all the highlights you’d want to see. I used to seek out highlights on TSN and Sportsnet’s websites, but oftentimes there’d be intrusive autoplay ads and video wouldn’t be as mobile-friendly as you’d like. On Instagram, I get highlights in the form of 10-20 second videos or gifs. No ads. By far the easiest way to watch highlights.

I’m in my 20’s, for reference. Don’t think I’ll ever go back to seeking highlights on sports network websites, let alone sportscentre. What I would watch on those networks – something that’s seriously lacking in Canada – is anything resembling ESPN’s Outside the Lines or E:60.

Bob Jones
Bob Jones
February 6, 2018 10:10 pm

With Zaun out, this is the perfect opportunity for Sportsnet to replace the hopelessly saccharine and opinion averse Jamie Campbell with somebody who minimally is unafraid of taking a position not held by his broadcast partner.

Gary M
Gary M
February 7, 2018 1:42 am

Species, you absolutely nailed it here: “wouldn’t the market for sports franchises have boomed anyway?” As the saying goes, everyone is a genius in a bull market.

McIvor, I strongly disagree with your premise. None of this is promotional. They are reporting on items of interest in sports media, and this definitely counts. I’d also say that losing his gig and being relegated to the lowest echelon of satellite radio is sufficient punishment. He isn’t required to never be mentioned again. He could even mount a second act some day after a lengthy exile and remorse and reform. He’s not Hitler, nor even Weinstein nor Spacey, nor even Matt Lauer.

February 7, 2018 11:15 am

As you wrote -“If the league is serious about cutting down times of the game, restrict the length and frequency of tv timeouts (good luck with that)”
A minute less ads per half inning would knock off about 20 mins per game but that will never happen and of course it will never be addressed by anybody in control – I don’t watch TV by choice simply because of the ads and I rarely listen to PTS any more partly because of McCown and his caving in on Zaun but mostly because of the 8 mins of ads per 1/2 hour –

Original Mitch
Original Mitch
February 7, 2018 12:27 pm


Ironically you also described the exact reason the god awful Jamie Campbell has a job lol

Andrew Stoeten went to the Mike Wilner school of condescension except since he hasn’t penetrated the Rogers wall, he’s ten time worse! 

Poker Guy
Poker Guy
February 7, 2018 3:17 pm

Hearing and/or viewing Leafs Lunch the last few days has been a delight since Petrillo is on assignment. The guest hosts that have filled in so far-Rowe, MacArthur, and especially Jim Tatti, are far and away a major improvement over Petrillo. The shows all have a great pace, and seem to stay on point.
Too bad ‘yes guy’ Tatti couldn’t take it over full-time.

Paul G.
Paul G.
February 7, 2018 6:53 pm

Gary M, Completely agree with your take on Zaun. Steve’s as well. Treating every single allegation as a Capitol offence is unjust and takes attention away from the worst cases.

February 7, 2018 8:41 pm

Gary M, retweeting Zaun is promoting him. That is the whole point of retweets!

David Toronto
David Toronto
February 8, 2018 8:32 am

Cox’s absence from PTS coninsided with Bob’s new contract. Coincidence?

Gary M
Gary M
February 10, 2018 4:09 pm

That is not the whole point of retweets, McIvor.

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