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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Gary M
Gary M
May 17, 2020 12:12 am

Boras doesn’t seem to know what that phrase means.

I have to believe the two groups that are ready for the lockdown to end the most are 1) The elderly and 2) Pro athletes. Because they’re the ones whose clocks are ticking the loudest.

mike (in boston)
May 17, 2020 8:43 am

I’ll add that Deitsch’s latest sports media podcast has a great interview with Tom Verducci. They discuss the possibility of Olympic style media availability when sports return, and the danger that media won’t be able to get to know players in the same way, and the corresponding risk that players will become just their stats. 

I’m in two minds about this. Verducci talks about how in the old days media would hang out with players, go golfing with them, etc. That was clearly a conflict of interest and I’m glad that is harder to pull off these days. At the same time he’s right that good stories often come out of the trust relationships that are built by having access to players beyond a scrum. I always go back to Scott MacArthur’s legendary interview with Colby Rasmus as an example.

Shi Davidi piped up in the early days of covid to lobby for continued media access to the locker room. A lot of people rightly shot that down as putting media interests ahead of player safety. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how things change when sports return. Rights-holders are going to be pushing hard for access as part of what they are paying for. Will that further exacerbate the issue of rights-holders pandering to their league partners? Will leagues go in for a 2-tiered access system?

Paul G.
Paul G.
May 17, 2020 7:25 pm

Appreciate the effort to maintain written content.

Regardless of potential vaccines etc., I don’t think we can yet predict what the “new normal” will end up looking like. Teams with good national and local broadcast revenue streams will survive; even if total revenues are reduced. As for the poorer teams with smaller broadcast & attendance revenues…perhaps more relocations or closures?

May 18, 2020 10:39 am

Because Bob must be engaged to deliver gripping sports radio, perhaps the 590 PD can save their station by luring Bob back at a discounted salary with the promise of spending an hour of prime-time-drive playing Trivia. 

“Bob, on the show ‘Friends’, who pees on Monica’s leg after she’s been stung by a jellyfish?”

Matty Zero
Matty Zero
May 18, 2020 10:55 am

Glad you chose not to socialize the losses over at the Jeep dealership!

May 18, 2020 8:03 pm

Just wanted to say the podcast you did with Don Kollins was fascinating. He really seems unimpressed with the current lineup, and the general way The Fan has been playing second fiddle to Sportsnet TV. Completely agree with him. I think he was dead right that compelling radio needs ‘characters’ hosting shows. He had a couple of major missteps with Krystal and Blundell, but overall I appreciate what he was going for. The Kollins era was lightyears better than what I’ve seen from Cadeau so far.

@yaz – You’re joking, but I’d absolutely take an hour of Bob reading trivia over simulcast of a Tim and Sid show meant for TV. When Bob finally gets a podcast up and running, Sportsnet should sell Bob the 6 o’clock hour and let him air the pod there. They’re not producing radio content as is, may as well.

mike (in boston)
May 19, 2020 9:18 am

Bob has been trying to drum up momentum for a return in the last few months. I wouldn’t say it is making much of a buzz. Any of you listening to Don Cherry’s weekly podcast? Didn’t think so.

One of the things that will be interesting to watch is whether he is able to generate original content, as opposed to just taking “calls” or having his friends come hang out. We forget how much work his producers put in to getting him important guests and prepping his talking points. Bob rarely acknowledged these people, and he won’t have money to pay anyone to work on his new venture so he will doing it himself or relying on free or in-kind labour. 

The standards for podcasts are really high, given all the good professional content out there. Bob’s Bytes needs to be something special if it is going to be worth the effort, and the risk to his legacy.


May 21, 2020 1:23 pm

I listened to Don Cherry’s podcast for a while but dropped it because the podcast morphed into old-time story hour – long before the NHL shutdown. Now, the guy has some great stories (he wouldn’t be able to have sustained Grapevine for as long as he did otherwise), but that’s not what I’m looking for over 30-45 mins. If he morphed the podcast back into talking about current NHL issues once hockey resumes, I’d return to listening.

May 22, 2020 12:14 am

I think bob may have more success than don, podcast wise.
For one Bob is 20 (?) years younger. And also Bob is used to driving a talk show.  It’s definitely less of a stretch to put Bob in front of a microphone alone for an hour and have it be compelling. That said – I agree with you that he’ll need to properly invest in production help for it to be close to Prime Time quality – and yeah, who knows I’d he’s up for that? Guess we shall see! 

May 22, 2020 6:44 pm

Did Cherry get any sponsors? 

I’ve never heard one person mention listening to it, and it hasn’t generated any news coverage. 

Hard to see Don sticking with it much longer. 

Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman
May 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Cherry’s audio is much like the audio TSM tries to produce nice try and all that but bottom line is it is not that good and after one listen nobody cares.

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