An Incoherent Toronto Sports Media Post


I’ve read, listened to, and talked to many of you about the lack of fresh posts from me lately. I greatly appreciate the thirst and hunger for news and opinions from this site, however, I am suffering from the same thing you are and that is an overall lack of things to really talk about given where we have come from and where we are going. While I have never written for an audience, I will use the Corona as an opportunity to help me by apparently helping you too – maybe writing will help me from going mad too. Apologize in advance for the lack of a coherent thought pattern here, I am going to just write..

As much as I’d like to see sports return, I personally think we will not see a game WITH FANS in attendance until next September at the absolute earliest. The other day a doctor from FDA announced a new take-home drug was ready for production and that they were hoping to soon get production up to approximately 300,000 a day. While that may sound like a massive accomplishment, to me it’s like peeing in the pacific ocean. With 350 million people in the USA, how long will it take to get everyone just 1 test, let alone the 2-3 we are talking about needing?

Politics aside, if the current administration is right and we somehow get to a vaccine by December, how long do you think it will take to make enough for everyone (some 400 million Canada and the USA alone) and how long will it take to get them administered?

Large, loud gatherings, aside from nursing homes are the worst places to be right now. So the likelihood of sporting events and concerts with fans in attendance just dipped way down the list of things that are coming back anytime soon.

“I’m not playing unless I get mine,” said Snell. “That’s just the way it is for me. Like, I’m sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way … higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?”

Thank you Blake Snell for at the absolute very least being honest. Many fans may not like the attitude but I hope they can appreciate the sheer honesty. The guy has a short money to maximize his earnings. Why risk injury or disease with a lower rate of pay? While I can’t see myself thinking that way, I certainly can respect his decision. On the flip side, if games are not played until it is 100% safe, meaning this whole season is wiped out the possibility of the players not being paid at all is going to increase. The longer this lasts the less likely it will be that MLB teams continue to pay players. The old 100% of 0 is always zero comes to mind here. Not my body, not my career not my place to judge.

“The importance of completing the season and handing out the championship trophy” -the underlying themes from the NBA and NHL these days. Personally I’d like league executives to go a little Blake Snell and throw in some honesty here too. How about “our owners and league finances desperately need any type of revenue and the best way to do that is through playing games even without fans.”

“You don’t privatize the gains and socialize the losses.” MLB Scott Boras announced this week in his opposition to the MLB’s ask to share revenues with the players. Really? What business doesn’t privatize the gains and socialize the losses to some degree? Don’t get me wrong. Boras’s job is to fight for his players to get every cent, irrespective of public opinion.

The media is focusing on the where games will be played in each league should they return to action. I am told that at least in hockey, the plan that has the most likelihood of success is… wait for it.. local media in those cities to provide play by play coverage of those games when they are played. In other words, don’t necessarily expect your hometown or national crews to be living in one of the 4(?) hubs that get picked. If, say, Las Vegas was one of the cities picked for NHL games to be played when play resumes, I am told it is not only possible but likely, that Las Vegas talent would be utilized for play by play responsibilities in that city. In other words, unless Vancouver is a hub city, you may not hear Jim Hughson calling games anytime soon.

I think the league will have to control production from a quality perspective. The rights holders will need to provide Stanley Cup playoff quality in terms of cameras and crews. The only way we will get bigger broadcast play by play crews is they do so from a studio watching a game on a monitor.

The best rumor on timing I’ve heard thus far is that training camp for playoff teams will begin in late August. Playoffs to begin on Labor Day. The next season would likely start on Christmas Day, wrapping in June as usual with no All-Star Games, etc to catch up. Don’t bet on that but it is the one scenario I am hearing that makes sense.

The latest example of there not being a dumber animal on this planet than the college or professional athlete is Deandre Baker with a special mention to Quinton Dunbar. Have you seen this story?

“The defense lawyer for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar says five witnesses have signed sworn affidavits that exonerate the football player of any involvement in a supposed armed robbery that took place in Miramar.”

If Dunbar does in fact get exonerated here, which according to this article seems possible, I’m thinking someone should be talking to him about the people and places he spends his free time with, don’t you?

How do you run all-sports radio stations without live sports taking place? Really F’n well if you ask me. Both TSN and Rogers outlets across the country are producing some of the best, if not THE best content they ever have in the absence of games. No special call-outs to any hosts or shows but a general hat tip to those on the radio for doing your thing, bringing a higher frequency of a lens into your personal lives, showing a high frequency of empathy to your audience and doing your jobs during exceptionally trying times.

Equally, to those in the “print” business. The pivot to news is amazing. Yes, the sprinkling of sports content is good too but wow the work many of you are producing is as compelling to as much of your pre-Corona work. Thank you.

On the TV side, it’s hard. However, I have been able to watch both networks a little bit more now that I am stapled to my desk most of the days and you all are doing yeomen works keeping content fresh despite nothing live to show and from what I hear are plummeting audience numbers.

Finally, to those who create special stories, those are the real gems right now. Investigations, side stories, and the like are the ones that are capturing a lot of time so thank you too.

While there is nothing normal or stable during these times I think we have reached a plateau. Most people I encounter have beyond panic and emergency fire fighting mode and are settled into or resigned that this is where and how we are going to be for some time.

I have a new routine and the biggest difference is I suddenly don’t look forward to weekends and prefer the rigor of a workday. I am typically at my desk at 730am coffee and a gallon of water in hand. I eat something around 11 am and again around 2 pm and working predominantly on Zoom throughout and up until 6 pm. I then go out, pick up some fresh meat or seafood cook dinner and then stream shows or do a puzzle, enjoy a cigar, and call it a night. Rinse, wash, repeat. If you need someone to chat with holler, happy to zoom, text or talk.

As you know I travel a ton and that means restaurants. Have you read the California restaurant regulations? That’a big no thank you from me. It will be take out for, well forever as long as there is no experience in the dine-in restaurant world.

My good, bad and ugly?

Obviously those on the front line in medical, grocery, etc are the exceptional.

The good? I’ve had phenomenal experiences with a few retailers: Best Buy your order, click and collect works really well! Costco you’ve nailed the customer experience in my mind. If any QSR wants to know how to food Corona style, check out Chick Fillet and or McDonald’s. McDonald’s app is amazing.

The bad? QSR’s like Dairy Queen that take mobile orders but make you physically line up to tell them your order is ready so they can bring you your order. Manufacturers in areas that have not been able to get stock levels back up at all. I am looking at the electronics and accessories verticals. Have you tried to order a Logitech camera or a Peleton bike at all?

The Ugly? Jeep. The day before the shutdown I negotiated a lease on a car. $1900 due at signing and $377/month. The dealership closed. They re-opened 8 weeks later and immediately called me telling me that the price on the car was down $5k but that the lease program was new so that the new monthly fee went up to $599. Thanks but no thanks.

So, that’s what I got for you today. Next week I will try to write again if you have ideas or thought let me know.

I posted a podcast yesterday with nothing to do about sports or media. It is not here on the website but you can get it here. If you have kids or interested in or worried about education and where we are with schools and universities John Couch was employee 54 at Apple hired by Steve Jobs two different times. He started the Apple education department and has written about the entire education system. He’s a brilliant storyteller with great ideas providing hope in a rather hopeless time.

Stay safe. Keep healthy and be smart. We can get through this.


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