Spotlight on Blue Jays Attendance & Down The Stretch For Maple Leafs & Raptors


Quick hits on a day of inspiration as hundreds of thousands of students rally around the world for change.

We sit less than a week from The Toronto Blue Jays opening day, and still, we have no idea who will be calling balls and strikes on the radio station owned and operated by the same company that owns and operates the team. Has radio become so irrelevant? I don’t know about you, but I grew up listening to Tom and Jerry on the radio. Many a night they put me to sleep as the Jays were on the west coast. On many a road trip, I would hit the scan button trying to follow the game listening to static-filled stations trying to listen to the game. Radio used to matter. Perhaps no more.

Elliott Price is apparently calling the games in Montreal. He’s tweeted that he is not getting the full-time gig- which he should by the way.

Speaking of the Jays, a great story this week by Rob Longley.

Club president Mark Shapiro is already on record saying that season ticket totals have dropped from 20,000 to 13,000 for this season and you can bet there will be an indifference among the traditionally strong walkup crowd as well until it is convinced there is something to buy.

This appeared to be the theme of the week as the team prepares to head north. Shi Davidi had an equally interesting, “exclusive” interview with Shapiro:

We’re definitely going to have a decrease in attendance because season tickets are down dramatically for the reasons I explained. I hope we are back in the post-season and we rise back to the same league leading levels once again next year.

This theme continues in today’s Globe and Mail:

Even by the organization’s low standard in this regard, it’s been a dull spring full of the usual stuff. Donaldson is probably hurt already. Troy Tulowitzki may have to go full Six Million Dollar Man in order to be able to play baseball again. Stroman is irritated by something.The most notable thing we’ve learned about this team thus far is that closer Roberto Osuna of Mexico considers his jailed Sinaloan neighbour Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman a “hero.

It’s great to see all the coverage on the Jays as they head north. It is going to be fascinating to see how the coverage evolves based on how the team performs. There is a strong belief that those on the outside of the Rogers empire have a very strong anti-Rogers theme to their work. Winning cures that. By the same effect, how those within the family cover the team when they do not perform is equally interesting. Yes, the old Rogers bias gets tossed around. To be honest, how the media behaves is almost more interesting then how the team does.

Switching to hockey, Kevin McGran has an awesome behind the scenes look at life at Hockey Night in Canada. It’s well worth it to read. This appears to be a new trend for Kevin. I like it and look forward to more of it.

Interesting tactic by the folks at the Athletic to draw in Canadian eyeballs. This is what I see every time I browse to their homepage. The most recent article appearing is from February 2!

Notwithstanding that, Mirtle’s article on the Leafs is the type of coverage that makes every penny worht the price of admission.

Seriously, if you are a sports fan, how are you not subsciribing? No, I am not being paid to write this. There are at least 2-3 articles on the network that I am happy to be paying for.

I think we now have a new winner in the clubhouse for shortest tenure as a Canadian radio host in a major market:

An insider tells me that Darling jumping ship saved Rogers from having to make a very uncomfortable decision.

With the Raptors, it was interesting being in the USA to see they were the talk of the NBA media this week.

Interesting to see these two articles from USA outlets. SI and ESPN with two very different takes.

I feel for the Raptors. Another amazing regular season, and so many unwilling to believe they can do more given the failures of the past. The truth is until they slay the dragon the naysayers will speak and they have the ammunition to do so. Many a talking heads before the game vs. the Cavs this week were saying before the game, if the Raptors win it’s meaningless, it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s a playoff series. When they lost, they said with smiles, see they can’t even beat them in the regular season. Put up or shut up time Raptors. It’s really that simple.

Finally, I wrote last week about the tragedy in the Toronto hockey community. No, MLSE didn’t do anything, but Don Cherry showed, in my opinion, the only reason he still deserves his pulpit; nobody does this better than Don. Well done!

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Pants Go Brown
Pants Go Brown
March 24, 2018 3:17 pm

Who can blame Jays’ fans for staying away. The team has done nothing in the off season. This team looks old and worn out. What is there to be excited about? They are clearly not going to sign JD and the two hay seeds who have been imported from Cleveland are 100% tone deaf. TO fans are not dumb and some Execs from a second rate US market are not what this franchise needs.

They have even managed to make a non event out of Jerry’s replacement.

Regardless of the fact that Jays’ fans have turned out in strong numbers the past few years, you can anticipate the threats from Shapiro and Atkins ‘no fans = no investment in the team.’

Bob Canuck
Bob Canuck
March 25, 2018 12:18 am

When I read a Cathal Kelly article, like his Match 24 piece, I am often reminded of my kitchen after a dinner party. There are dishes, glasses, pots, pans, etc. everywhere and my first thought is “this is a mess” and the second thought is “let’s tackle this mess in an organized way”. These ideas apply to Kelly’s commentary.

In this case, let’s state for the sake of argument that the article is a mess.

Where should the clean-up start? Let’s roll up the sleeves and get at it.

What is the relevance of the El Chapo reference?
Why mention that it took Donaldson until the age of 27 (actually it was 26) to become a MLB regular? Donaldson was a late bloomer but all evidence indicates that Guerrero and Bichette will not be late bloomers. Does Kelly have any reasoning other than he is just so clever?
Is J.A. Happ the de facto ace just because he is starting the first game? Are not one of Sanchez or Stroman the likely ace?
“A bunch of guys you’ve never heard of are in the bullpen”? Has Kelly not heard of Osuna, Tepera, Barnes, and Loop? Is Kelly new to town? Is Kelly new to MLB that he has never heard of Axford, Clippard, or Oh?
Grichuk has played in the last 3 games (2 in right field) and has not shown any lingering signs of his injuries. Is that day-to-day? Does Kelly’s dictionary define “sophistry”? and
I’m tired. I could use a cleaning staff and Kelly could use an editor.

Hopefully, the next time Kelly decides to do a drive-by, he will focus on the road and just pass on by without incident.

Bob Canuck
Bob Canuck
March 25, 2018 12:40 am

I guess I could use an editor as well. It should be “March 24” and not “Match 24”.

March 25, 2018 8:13 am

This site has constantly called for more women in sports media, so why is it that Zaun gets so much promotion? Trolls like him are a big part of why there are not more women in the industry. It’s a simple question!

Matty Zero
Matty Zero
March 25, 2018 3:49 pm

My guess is that Price did not want the play by play radio gig. Plenty happy making good money working 4 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Baseball is everyday, weekends and a lot of traveling, and long boring days at the park pre and post game. Not sure he is at the stage where that is appealing.

As for the Jays as a whole, I think they could clinch a wildcard berth. They should have the pitching, but HAVE to dominate the Orioles and Rays, especially on the road.

March 25, 2018 4:10 pm

Really great Kevin McGran article. It calls to attention the fact that I would never have come across it if not for it being posted here. Especially since The Athletic arrived with MSM writers delivering vastly superior content, the newspaper sports section is on virtual life-support. Other than the Toronto Sun from time to time, I’ve completely stopped reading them. I know I’m not alone there. Crazy to think that only a few years ago I was still looking at Star/Sun/Globe sports daily as part of my morning routine. Now? Flip open the laptop and head right to The Athletic.

March 26, 2018 2:34 pm

“Seriously, if you are a sports fan, how are you not subscribing? (to the Athletic).”

The counter-point to this pro-Athletic statement is this: “If you are a sport fan, you should be cancelling your subscription to the Athletic”.

Those who subscribe to the Athletic and other pay general sports blogs/electronic magazines, are doing three things:

(1) encouraging more paywalls instead of free ad supported blogs
(2) decreasing diversity of views by increasing the power of the Athletic site to produce material/editorialize in line with the commercial interests and/or political views of the Athletic’s owners
(3) helping terminate newspaper online sports by siphoning off readers.

The issue of privacy is also becoming more important in light of the current Facebook situation. The personal information and reading habits of the Athletic’s subscriber base would be very valuable to many marketing types and others. The Privacy policy outlined on the Athletic’s website is worrisome in my opinion.

Liberty Village Bob
Liberty Village Bob
March 27, 2018 8:27 am

Bob – you make some good points but I can’t agree with #1: the ad supported model is dead for websites. Unless you are drawing thousands of clicks per day, there’s no way to break even. The more hopeful model is going on in podcasts where ad sponsorships can be quite lucarativbe. I can’t agree with #3 either: if The Atheltic kills sports at the Star and the Sun and the G&M then these places were going to die anyway.

I agree 1000% about the privacy stuff and I’ll go even further: since they are obviously not able to pay everyone based on ## of subscribers they must be monetizing their product in other ways. Example: the email I used to sign up at the Atheltic somehow made it on to a Trump PAC mailing list. WTF?? My biggest concern about them …. and I love some of their writers …. is what happens when the startup $$$ runs out. If they are eventually sold to Facebook or Twitter or Yahoo then their appeal goes way down in my book.

March 27, 2018 11:19 pm

I think the drop in blue jay ticket sales is easy to explain. First, Toronto is not a sports town, but a “winner” town. Except for the leafs fans do not support losing teams. Secondly, Shapiro and his management team don’t seem likable or trustworthy. Why should anyone support people like that?

March 28, 2018 7:05 pm

“Toronto is not a sports town, but a “winner” town. Except for the leafs fans do not support losing teams”

How does that make Toronto not a sports town? What city DOESN’T see a decrease in attendance/interest when the teams are bad? It’s kind of par for the course.

Brent In LA
Brent In LA
March 28, 2018 7:21 pm

Wonderful work as always.

I’ve listened to the morning show on the FAN a couple of times. Ashley Docking is quite good. She has a better rapport with Brady than Blair, probably due to age.

How much money does someone like Elliott Price make a year? Always been curious.

Leafs lunch has been lagging recently. I’m still quite a fan of Andi though. I think she’s great for the show.

Scotty Mac is amazing. I can’t say enough positive about his show.

I listened a bit to JD Bunkis when Rich Ben Ennis wasn’t on. JD is wonderful. I’d listen more often if Ben took a permanent vacation from the FAN.

Overdrive. What more needs to be said? Best show on radio anywhere in North America.

Have a pleasant day.

March 29, 2018 3:03 am

Orson, the dirty secret about the Leafs is that they only sellout due to corporations buying up the tickets to give away to employees, special guests, VIPs, etc. The fact of the matter is the Jays have had significantly higher attendance than the Leafs, even during the losing years. Toronto has been a Jays town since the mid-1980s, the sportsmedia just deludes you into believing the Leafs still rules all.

Micky in The Hammer
Micky in The Hammer
March 29, 2018 8:28 am

Saw the Star article on ticket scalping, and I’m trying really hard to act surprised that the Rogers folks are taking a piece of the secondary action. I guess with season tickets down 30% or more they have to make it up somewhere, but it’s shocking that they would screw their own fans over…oh wait…

Mike V
Mike V
March 29, 2018 12:30 pm

I saw the Star article and tried to think of what the big deal is. We know there is a secondary ticket market, we know prices on it are determined by supply and demand, we know there are professional scalpers who use bots to scoop up tickets when they go sale or have season tickets just for re-sale, we know sports teams are trying to collapse the premiums to face value with things like dynamic pricing and we know that MLB has had a partnership with Stubhub for over 10 years now. This cut of commission amounts to what, $1/ticket resold? less? Take away the incendiary tone it’s written in and there’s really not much new there.

The only thing that would’ve been a story would be if the team posted there directly instead of the ticket site but they couldn’t show that.

March 29, 2018 2:53 pm

Micky, it’s MLB-wide agreement, not Jays specific. Maybe if you did more than read the headline…

March 30, 2018 8:05 am

Happy that Baseball Central is back. Barker delivers more information per minute than anyone in any sport in this market and Blair gets a lot out of him. Great pairing.  As a baseball fan who never played, I thoroughly enjoy Barker’s takes on the actual play of the game. He was the only one last year who broke down exactly why Bautista was hitting less; everyone else’s analysis was ‘he’s older and slower.’ Thanks geniuses.

Overdrive should take a cue. Less ‘he’s a second pairing D, he’s got two years left at 4.5’ etc etc. Delve a little bit into the actual play of the game: sticks guys use, skating styles, choices on gloves, differences  in teams’ breakouts. Not all of the time but at least some of the time. Jamie Mcalennan is between the benches and can deliver insider info to we fans desperate for unique and Interesting info. God know the ‘partners in the game’ NHL players (goats) are incapable or unwilling to deliver anything other than offensive  grunting ‘get pucks deep, chip pucks ahead, play hard, stick to the gimme an HNIC towel and F off’. The ‘Sakic Blade’ segment on HNIC Satirday for instance was a great spot and thiose are the kind of spots kids will watch dozens of times. 

I’m not saying every NHL player has to aspire to be Chris Rock in his prime live at MSG but when Fehr talks out of his ass and puts forth the reprobate hogwash, stank, festerous drivelling butt butter that NHL players need to get 50% of HHR because they’re ‘partners’ in the game’, I instantly expectorate. The NHLPA has to make even a 1% effort to get personalities in front cameras and radio mics. Whel JVR gives a between periods interview he may as well say F off. His answer isn’t just vacuous , it’s offensive. Players like these need to be informed by the lNHLPA that the only reason their salaries are so god damned ridiculous and out of touch with the working man/wkman is that they are entertainers first, not hockey players. I hope the ‘partners in the game’ get shit kicked in the next round of negotiantoins, as they shoud.  5 year contracts max.  Maye a 25,000 grand bonus per game if they put on Groucho glasses and moustache and do a little tap dancing schtick.  

March 30, 2018 4:05 pm

I’m done with this site while Mike in Boston continues to be employed here. He continually misrepresents stories about the Jays, this stubhub nonstory being the latest. It is a joke of journalism and I urge all free-minded thinkers to join this boycott. PODCAST scrubbed from itunes, as well. To quote Peter O’Toole, I deny you!

Matty Zero
Matty Zero
March 31, 2018 6:33 pm

@yaz I agree with you on the hockey personalities being so vanilla, but you know as well as I do the whispers and the stares if anyone in hockey culture strays outside the box. The only time anyone says anything, is when they are retired. One of the good things about PTS is that there are almost zero player interviews. If I’m listening to Leafs Lunch or Hockey Central, almost any player interview is an automatic skip.

As for the players salaries, I’m going to disagree here. I used to be a ‘these guys make too much’ type, until the owners showed us all their asses twice. The players and game are the product, not the billionaire in the box. Why should he make even more? It’s not like the ticket prices, merch or concessions are going down. So fuck that.
I would however, agree with the cap on contract length. These GMs just can never help themselves. I’d also ditch the no trade/no move clauses. Look at how exciting the past few NBA off seasons have been compared to the joke that is July 1st in the NHL.

Gary M
Gary M
March 31, 2018 7:11 pm

Outstanding, Mike V. I guess we don’t really know what % the teams are getting and what Stubhub is really getting in return, and there could be an interesting story in that. But this story was all tone and no substance.

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