A Message From The Home Office Of Toronto Sports Media & COVID Musings Lots of thoughts from Hero's and down the list..

<span class="entry-title-primary">A Message From The Home Office Of Toronto Sports Media & COVID Musings</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Lots of thoughts from Hero's and down the list..</span>

by Jonah

 

While not comparing any of them in terms of impact to this current situation, I often think back to other situations for inspiration and hope that we will indeed get through this last trial if human spirit. I remember vividly, the tornado that ripped through northern Ontario, the power failure that left a good portion of the east coast dark, many, many school shootings, September 11th, Sars and yes of course I hope we don’t every live through anything else ever like this in my or my kids lifetimes.

 

Each of us tries to cope in our own way and in my opinion none us are in a position to judge how others deal with things with the exception of course those who endanger the lives of other people. This is a sports media website so I think it only fitting that we focus at least a little bit on that, because that is why you come here and follow us on twitter too.

 

Me? I am in Seattle. As you know I typically am on an airplane somewhere so this is new to me. I honestly don’t know the last time I have been in one place for this long. I typically get up around 7, check my emails, twitter read whatever articles have been flagged by my mobile device and then start my day.

 

I make my morning coffee, grab my gallon of water and retreat to my home office complete with laptop three additional screens and start going through the motions. Zoom has joined my tight nit circle of best technology friends with Twitter. Both are on constantly. I am on conferences constantly and watching the news via twitter when I can.

 

My kids (17 and 15 , the older a Junior in high school and the younger a Freshman, have been off school for close to three weeks with an at least shutdown day of April 27th. Their school district has for the most part washed their hands of them. Today was the first time their was an optional web class for my son. We received a notice that a project for my daughter that was originally due during this break will now be due next week. That is all we have heard. We, and the kids are left to do whatever they want or whatever we want them to do. Khan Academy has been good and writing drafts of college applications to come for the fall have filled their time academically speaking. Netflix, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok fill the rest. Thankfully two dogs need walking so that gets then out of the house. Yes you can find me on all of those- house party too, LOL and I am now a huge fan of the Scrabble Go mobile app. I am on my second 1500 piece puzzle too.

 

With my son’s prior flu episode we are reluctant to let him out even with social distancing so once a day or once every couple of days I will go out and try to get some fresh food and supplies for the house. FWIW, the local grocery stores seems to have recovered way better than the larger big box stores in terms of inventory post hoarding. Good news? We are all thus far, healthy, and doing fine.

 

I’ve followed the sports media world and I’ve been able to book way more guests for the podcast which is a nice distraction. As Ken Daniels put it, “It’s not like I am really busy right now!” So here are some thoughts on the sports media world and sports in general that I have been mulling over..

 

First, my son has been watching some old games. I can’t sit and watch an entire old game, classic or not. He and I watched the Bautista bat flip inning and that was plenty for me. I watched the Joe Carter World Series homer inning too. I have been watching some of the older ESPN 30 for 30’s and they are great.

 

Prior to the shutdown I was going to write to you all at the rise of one scribe and the continued growth of another. Both of their works continue to impress through this so I will mention it here too. Kaitlyn McGrath‘s work for the Athletic is really superb. She has risen to be amongst the best who cover the team and the sport in my opinion. The other on the Blue Jays beat who continues to impress is Rob Longley. Not a lifetime baseball writer but his work in the last couple of seasons has been exceptional and I think that this continued this spring.

 

Ok, now for the now….

 

In my opinion the sports media hero thus far has been Jamie Campbell. Lots of people give their money to great causes. Lots of people will also give their time, i.e. hosting events etc. There just are not many people out there who will say, if you are in the dumps over this whole thing and really missing the Blue Jays, I am here for you. Jamie did that, and gave his most valuable asset, himself and his time. No, this is not a knock on anyone else at all but it’s exceptional and truly the stuff hero’s are made off. On behalf of those you helped Jamie, thank you.

Kudos to Buck Martinez for jumping in to help Jamie with his amazing efforts:

 

I think Eric Smith who has been self isolating has been truly inspirational too. For a guy who also lives on the road and is used to be constantly surrounded by people to have to be cooped up and alone at home and to be grueling. His Twitter stories of dealing with it was amazing and way beyond the stuff he usually tweets about.

 

A massive kudos to those in the media who keep on keeping on. All the radio hosts who are doing their gigs remotely. It is remarkable that they are able to program 5 days a week of over 12 hours a day of sports programming when sports is active and happening. Doing so in the absence of really only the NFL continuing it’s off-season work is exceptional. I don’t think any show has gone missing, everyone is showing up, being authentic and doing the best they can to entertain and find unique ways to distract us from the chicken little living in all of us.

 

It is, I am sorry to say, not very surprising that Bruce Arthur work beyond sports right now is amongst the best he has ever produced. Not a backhanded compliment but if you follow and read Bruce’s work you know that before this current epidemic some of his best work wasn’t about the games going on but rather life itself.

 

His colleague Kevin McGran has equally been adding in “real life” stories to his work and they are really really good. Again, no backhanded intent here at all, but Kevin has shown a breadth to his writing that goes way beyond the arena.

 

This past Sunday’s notes column was amongst the best Steve Simmons has written. Steve’s piece on sports personalities of days past was exceptional and exactly the type of sports content I enjoy right now.

 

Michael Grange is doing the same, finding a way to humanize a part of sports that’s authentic and impactful:

 

“The irony is all of this is happening at a moment when so many people will have more time on their never-been-cleaner hands as they ever have. Hunkering down is being encouraged – like those nights when a blizzard is coming – but instead of getting lost in Hockey Night in Canada we’ll all have to watch Peaky Blinders or something. Or maybe read books. Or go for walks. Or play cards.”

 

Also to be filed under not unexpected by Stephen Brunt punching stories like the one he did on Peter Mansbridge is well worth your time reading.

 

I want to reiterate again, this isn’t a knock on the rest of the content creators in anyway, shape or form. Arden Zwelling, Dave Feschuck, Andrew Stoeten, Rachel Brady, Brad Wheeler and others continue to pump out quality sports work. Paul Hunter feature on playground’s or mall’s is just a really good, needed distraction for me right now. While running errands on the nights and weekends I have enjoyed listening to Andy McNamara and George Russic. Their Corona Virus Confessions has been a really good feature.

 

Kudos to the likes of Carlo and Jamie MacLennan who seem to be bounding around a lot these days filling in whenever needed. That’s cool. I took to Twitter by the way and asked for people to tell me who their sports media go to’s are right know here is who I heard about:

 

Richard Deitsch, Jeff Blair and Writer’s Bloc
Bruce Arthur
Bill Comeau
MAtt Sekeres and Blake Price in Vancouver
Eric Smith
The Jays Jam Podcast
Jamie Campbell
Ariel Hewani
Michael Landsberg is the & Carlo Colaiacovo
Mitch Melnick
Steve Simmons
Dave Naylor
Scott MacArthur
Entire Fan 590 on air crew
Matt Cauz
Grant Wahl and Derek Ray
Scott Billeck
Gino Reda

 

I want to throw in a couple of other thoughts. I am told that there are a ton of freelance workers in sports who have been left on the outside during the Corona epidemic. That is really unfortunate and I hope each of those who are involved are okay, healthy and able to make ends meet during these trying times.

 

We often forget those behind the scenes and I am sure the producers, camera operators, etc are all suffering in addition to those in front of the camera and I personally want all those folks to know we appreciate all you do and your situations are front and center in my mind right now.

 

Also, I am told that there are many of you out there who may not be a part of the payment program that the Blue Jays are talking about for game day staff. It sounds like those who serve food at the Rogers Center are employed by Aramark and not the Blue Jays directly. By all accounts those people are not going to get paid for missed games. This is unfortunate and I hope that those of you who rely on that income to basic needs are in fact able to make accommodations in other ways. For those suffering right now, my DM’s email and other social channels are open.

 

It is really nice to get to know more about Mark Shapiro, and the grapefruit season and this episode has allowed us to do that. I hope Mark keeps up this new public persona. It is refreshing to see.

 

I see that the BBC is reporting that radio ratings are up dramatically while streaming audio services are down:

I am sure that in 7-8 years Numeris will get us some numbers we can, you know, rely on.

Really nice message here from a voice I miss on both my TV and radio:

I now pay for access to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post in addition to the Athletic. What news content if any are you paying for these days that maybe you weren’t paying for before?

Help a brother out, I can’t for the life of me seeing either the NBA or the NHL coming back to play this season in front of live audiences. So, the NHL players and owners are hell bent on resuming play to keep the cap up for next year, in a league that is primarily gate driven, where is the revenue coming to cut back on the lost revenue? In other words, playing in front of empty arenas won’t help the bottom line if there are no fans. There won’t be fans in arenas or stadiums for a long time.

Hat tip to the Commissioner of the NFL for the Show Must Go ON mentality in the NFL with regards to free agency and the draft. The human spirit in all of us appreciates the distraction from the doom and gloom of our new every day life. It is from TMZ but, if Kirk Herbstreit really called on the NFL and NCAA to cancel their seasons now, well, I could not disagree with him more. No, I am not suggesting the games should be played. It is however, only March, and that little thing called hope is a critical part of what keeps us going every day. The games may get postponed. Doing so now seems unnecessary. By that theory, should we heed the warnings of the second wave that may hit us in the fall and call of the 2020-2021 MLB, NBA AND NHL seasons too? Be, smart, take the right actions at the right time.

Yes, I have been watching a lot of TV shows and streaming too. When does the library of new content run out? Asking for a friend.

Finally, I want to give a lot of credit to Jonas Siegel. I would imagine that interviewing Brendan Shanahan would be somewhat intimidating. It appears that Jonas and Brendan don’t spend a whole lot of time together. I am not entirely sure that the interview that Jonas conducted with Brendan went as planned but Jonas and the team at the Athletic published and that takes guts.

 

Jonas: “How would it feel to win a Cup in a season like this?

Brendan: “(Laughs) That’s the first question — that’s a new one! That’s original.”

 

You can read the rest of the interview and decide on your own how it went but parts of it made me rather uncomfortable. As I said, I think many of people would have summarized it or alluded to it but good on Jonas for going with it. For comparison, I think James Duthie‘s interview with Shanahan was really insightful and telling. This provided a view into Shanahan’s life (literally) and what he is doing and what he is thinking. For yet another angle, the highly underrated Jeff Marek with Brian Burke and Justin Bourne interviewed Shanahan and it was the same type of content as Duthie’s but told differently.

 

As always, happy to be able to write and talk to all of you. You can find me here, on Twitter, IG, Facebook, Tik Tok, etc. If you want to chat I am on (to the chagrin of my kids) HouseParty and also on Zoom, Google Chat, WhatsApp and more.. Hit me up, always happy to chat.

 

Jonah

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 4
  • comment-avatar

    Thanks for the post. Hope everyone is healthy and staying safe.

    Sports radio obviously hardly matters at a time like this, but I wanted to give kudos to Writer’s Bloc. Funnily enough, I think the past couple weeks is the best the show has ever sounded by far. Since the crisis, I think they’ve found a formula that works really well – 1) have all three of Blair, Brunt and Deitsch on at the same time, and 2) focus on deep cut, interesting, smart topics.

    Prior to the crisis, I’ve found the show has done topics that are a bit too ‘generic sports radio’. Also, when it’s just been Blair and Deitsch, I find Blair interrupts Deitsch a lot and tries to be (I’m sure jokingly) antagonistic and it just doesn’t work. When the crisis is over, I hope they stick with this formula they’ve found in the past couple of weeks. The show does have potential, it’s just on The Fan not to screw it up. The last couple weeks have been good radio and would be a nice alternative to most of what you hear on The Fan or TSN.

    Take care everyone, and please be sure to stay home.

  • comment-avatar

    Typical Bruce Arthur rant on my end.  It doesn’t matter how great Bruce Arthur’s coverage of the Coronavirus has been.  I absolutely refuse to read it, and as soon as I see him on TSN, I change it.  The guy lays in the weeds, and when something like this comes up, he jumps at the chance to talk down to everyone and tell them what to do.  Fuck him.

  • comment-avatar
    Gary M 5 months ago

    I hear you, Pete. Bruce Arthur is an unfortunate combination of ignorance and arrogance. I recognize it because I had it for the first 40 years of my life. He’s a skilled writer, though.

  • comment-avatar
    Steve 4 months ago

    I stop following and reading Arthur years ago, but I can’t imagine how insufferable and “holier than thou” he is on the Covid beat.