Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail

 

Good morning sports media fans, hopefuls, insiders, and powerful executives. The local media is churning out quality content and it is hard for me to keep up between shifts at the gas station. More than ever, please send me items for inclusion in this space. The same request goes for people in media: if you or someone else wrote or said something noteworthy, let me know. I wish I had time to see and hear all the good work being done. My failure to mention it here is almost always unintentional.

 

Lastly, I’m also working on another roundtable (on a top secret topic) that should come together next month. These are some of the most well-received things we do here. I really enjoy being able to use the platform we have to engage in productive conversations about the industry. If you have ideas for interesting roundtable topics and guests, please write to me.

 

With that out of the way, you may want to get comfortable; this is a long one.

 

Zaun Swings & Misses

 

This week Marcus Stroman pitched the Jays to a win with a complete game. In his usual fashion, he celebrated with exuberance. Cameras caught Albert Pujols gesticulating at the mound. After the game Marcus said he would talk to Albert and by the next day the issue had been resolved.

 

Baseball, as we all know, is governed by a set of unwritten rules that covers everything from bunting to sliding to the proper pacing of a home run trot. For some, these rules add to the charm of the game. For others, they represent an attempt to enforce 1920s morals on the current generation. Most of the rules in the mythical tome come from a time when baseball dominated the national sports scene, earning it the moniker “America’s pastime”. The game was also racially segregated for most of the time when these rules were being unwritten.

 

Stroman’s roistering provoked the ire of Sportsnet (m)analyst Gregg Zaun. You can watch his analysis here.

 

“It’s an unsportsmanlike way to behave. I don’t understand all the […] rubbing it in people’s face […] The fact that you’re screaming and hollering … there’s a certain way to behave on a baseball field and ways not to do it […] I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s the newer generation: everybody has to have that ‘dig me’ moment.”

 

Several baseball reporters, none of whom have played the game, disagreed with Zaun. Here’s Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair:

 

“There are a lot of the game’s conventions that are fine by me; a lot of its unwritten rules and nuances and quirks and anachronisms that add to my enjoyment. But when it comes to players being expressive? Have at it, is my feeling …”

 

Richard Griffin shares a similar viewpoint:

 

“He had a right to release his emotions at the end of it. To me, an emotional leap and a fist pump is far better than an orchestrated bow-and-arrow routine like Fernando Rodney or some of the other choreographed celebrations.”

 

Andrew Stoeten had a harsher take:

 

“[J]ust how much credibility on “sportsmanship” does Mr. “I gave my teammate a blank cheque for a gambling debt and I have no idea how it ended up with a steroid dealer” think he has?”

 

The harshest response of all came from Marcus himself who called Zaun someone with “zero” credibility:

 

 

The weakest take came from Zaun’s on-air partner, Jamie Campbell:

 

 

First, no one believes that you didn’t see the events in question. You’re in a studio surrounded by screens. Second, the tweeter was asking for an opinion. The “why do you hate free speech?!?!” reply is embarrassing. Jamie seems like a nice person, and has been a fixture on the Jays for a generation now. If he really can’t bear to offer an opinion then he should say nothing. The fence on which he has chosen to sit is painful to watch.

 

Back to the issue at hand. I think there is an interesting debate to be had on the following question: what defines the difference between celebrating and showing up your opponent?

 

Leave the rule book to one side. Every sport has some answer to this question, and the standards vary  in each sport. Can you imagine a baseball player celebrating a home run the way an NFL receiver celebrates a touchdown catch? Or the way an NBA player reacts after a dunk or a 3 pointer? Remember Teemu Selanne’s patented goal celebration that we all loved?

 

 

I am not arguing that baseball should automatically adopt the conventions of the other major sports. However, lost in Zaun’s self-aggrandizing rhetoric, is a valid question about which reasonable people can and do disagree. However, as usual, Zaun marched gladly into the false equivalence between a celebration of any kind and insulting your opponent.

 

This is what makes Zaun a bad choice for his job. Any good discussion gets lost due to his inability to make a point without turning people off, or his default mode of describing all opposing views as strawmen. See also Mike Wilner.

 

Facing the Music

 

Jays followers will recall that this is not the first time a Blue Jay has called out Gregg Zaun. In 2013 JP Arencibia publicly denounced Zaun and then-Sportsnet analyst Dirk Hayhurst (who went to the same Twitter summer camp for people with thin skins as Patrick O’Sullivan). JP’s most pointed comment was this:

 

“I know speaking for myself and for the team, that there’s not one person in that clubhouse that respects those guys. They’re informing the fans the wrong way and it’s not right. [N]ot a lot of us, including myself, respect someone that used performance-enhancing drugs and was able to stick around as a below average player in the major leagues.”

 

You can read all the gory details of that back and forth in this excellent article by then-National Post baseball writer John Lott. The interview in question can be heard here. It’s a good listen. Jim Lang, former morning show host on FAN590, asks a great question following one of JP’s claims about Zaun/Hayhurst: “what is the right way for people to criticize you and the team?” I was expecting JP to stutter and stumble but he handled it pretty well.

 

As with Stroman, JP asserts that Zaun has no credibility in the Jays clubhouse. At the core of the case of Arencibia v Zaun/Hayhurst is, per Lott, the following:

 

“[T]hey do not inform their commentary by showing up to talk to him or his teammates before home games. “They’re never around,” Arencibia said. “They’re never around the clubhouse. I was able to talk to Dirk today, and I told him, ‘Hey, you can say what you want to say. Just be around the guys more. Come in. Why was it the first time you’ve shown face today, when something was said?’ ”

 

The piece continues, with a quote from Dirk:

 

“Approached for comment […] Hayhurst first said Sportsnet had barred him and Zaun from doing outside interviews on the subject. But then he offered a few comments […] he agreed that Arencibia had a point. “Maybe if I was here, it would have alleviated some of those things for him, to address me personally,” Hayhurst said. “But I still don’t think him going on a radio show and voicing that was the right way to voice that stuff.”

 

I am not surprised that Hayhurst defied the gag-order. Few people have as much confidence in the truth of their own opinions as The Garfoose. Lott also mentions one of media’s unwritten rules:

 

“The tradition is longstanding: Those who comment regularly on a team should appear in the clubhouse the day after writing or broadcasting criticism. It is considered proper form to face the music. “You never see either one of them,” Gibbons said. “That’s a fact. To tell you where that goes, people view that as gutless.””

 

This is a very interesting point, and explains a lot of the tension we see between players and media. “Gutless” strikes me as a little over the top, but I understand Gibbons’ point. Finally, Lott takes some pleasure in pointing out how difficult it is to obtain clarity on all of this:

 

“During a radio appearance, Zaun said Arencibia’s PED comments were “over the line.” “He may come to regret those at some point,” Zaun said. At that, the Rogers talk-show host asked the Rogers baseball analyst whether he might sue the Rogers baseball player over comments made on a Rogers radio station. The Rogers baseball analyst said he didn’t know. He did not sound particularly keen on the idea. Nor would it likely get much traction among the folks who run the Rogers hall of mirrors.”

 

The interview in question was Elliotte Friedman and John Shannon. You can watch the whole thing here, including radio professional Shanny scrolling through his feed on not one but two devices while the guest is talking.

 

 

Some highlights:

 

  • Zaun says JP has his phone number and call him anytime. That’s why he doesn’t need to go to the clubhouse. He resents that JP didn’t come to him. “I’m one of the most approachable guys in the world.”

 

  • He watches batting practice every day from his perch but doesn’t go down to the field. “I won’t go into the clubhouse unless necessary … I’m intruding on their time. I’m 10 feet away … All they need to do is wave at me.”

 

  • In response to Elliotte asking about the Michell Report (way to go EF!), Zaun says he doesn’t put much stock in allegations, and mentions A-Rod, Melky and Ryan Braun as examples of the dangers of the court of public opinion.

 

  • JP mentioning PEDs broke the “bro-code”.

 

The most interesting quote was this:

 

“The reason why I don’t go to BP is because my job is to analyze […] not to go down and listen to stories and glad-hand and play the slap and tickle game. I don’t need to hear from coaches or front office people. I don’t need them to skew my vision of what I saw or what I will see.”

 

Follow the implicature: he doesn’t spend time down on the field because he thinks that will somehow interfere with his ability to comment objectively on the team. The implication is that those other people you see hanging around the batting cage and the locker room — reporters, journalists, the radio and TV crews — are compromised in just this way.

 

What he doesn’t get, surprisingly for someone who played the game, is that those people are building the credibility to be able to comment critically. Zaun doesn’t think he needs to build that credibility because, as he often reminds anyone who will listen, he played the game.

 

I see many sides to the clubhouse visit rule. Certainly if someone is in the clubhouse on a regular basis getting material for their stories then one has an obligation to be there after those stories appears. That makes sense. The harder issue is with people whose stories don’t depend on being in the clubhouse. Should Ben Ennis be making regular visits because he talks Jays on his show? What about Cathal Kelly who is paid to deliver his trademark opinions on the entire world of sports and is rarely at the Dome before the playoffs?

 

That’s where Zaun’s case is interesting. He watches all the games on TV and his job is to analyze what he sees. Can he do that if he doesn’t talk to the players or the coach? Does he see all he needs to in order to have an informed opinion from his perch above the field?

 

I would say no, but can also appreciate the opposite view. My question for those using Zaun’s logic is why any baseball columnist like Griffin or Lott or Davidi ever needs to go to the clubhouse to get material for their stories. All the quotes are easy to access (and less and less interesting with each passing year of media training) within minutes of the media scrum taking place. I think there is more to being in the clubhouse and on the field than getting quotes. That’s why Zaun loses credibility in my eyes.

 

Over to you: is Zaun, or anyone who comments on the Jays, exempt from the Clubhouse Rule? 

 

Postscript on Zaun v Stroman

 

In an article about the JPA case, Richard Griffin had this to say:

 

“The unfortunate part for the Jays is that Arencibia pays too much attention to the Social Media, to the fans, to the critics that react instantly and with great relish, piling on gleefully to criticisms they see Zaun offering on the pre-game and what Hayhurst says on radio. […] He prefers to react to the vocal minority, which in pro sports always presents itself as the strongest critics.”

 

This is phenomenal analysis from 2013 whose truth has only matured in the years since. In 2017 players can instantly access all the critical things said about them, if they want. This is what drives athletes into dangerous waters. What they do with all that information is entirely up to them. The best thing they can do is to put it into context. In Stroman’s case, all he needs to do is consider the body of work of his critic. Zaun has a track record of targeting demonstrative young stars, most of whom are not white, while ignoring or celebrating similar or worse behaviour from veterans, most of whom are white.

 

This is not to say that athletes should fall into the trap of dismissing all critical comments as the work of “haters”. A good strategy if you are diving into your mentions (or searching your your own name) is to take what you can from the reasonable negative comments and to ignore the rest. It’s not difficult to separate intelligent and informed comments from the rest.

 

Funnily enough, this is the response I give to media who write me to complain about the comments section here. The tendency to focus on the negative becomes an obsession for some despite the presence of positive comments as well. It is very hard to work with people like that.

 

Zaun is one of the least likable people at Sportsnet, in my opinion. That is not a short list. I wonder how much value Zaun brings to the organization with his flashy form of analysis. (Recall, as a player Zaun was opted for attention-seeking customized catcher’s masks unlike the traditional ones worn by almost all other backstops. This “me-first” approach has only intensified since joining the media.)

 

With the 2017 Jays season in danger of being over before summer begins, Sportsnet will be taking a hit in terms of ratings. Rogers will be losing a lot of ticket sales and opportunities to sell you a cell phone contract. We have grown accustomed to more than a million tuning in on a regular basis to watch the Jays, but things were very different in the not too distant past. The average of 900,000 viewers reported in middle 2016 was a big jump over the 700,00 average from the same time in 2015 and much more than the 590,000 from mid 2014. During the darkest days of the Riccardi era averages fell down to around 320,000.

 

Obviously the play on the field is the most important factor here but the peripheral stuff matters too. The Dome has its faults as a baseball venue. There are residual gripes about the end of AA’s tenure. Ed Rogers is still a bad word among the fanbase, and his father’s statue continues to wrankle. Popular Twitter PR person Stephen Brooks was dismissed without explanation. Blair and Wilner have hostile relationships with the fanbase. Blundell recently called a respected member of Sportsnet’s baseball staff a shill. Zaun adds another layer of negativity to this already loaded platter.

 

The Future of Sports Radio

 

With the announcement this week that Sportsnet is adding a 3rd all-sports radio station this is a good time to reflect on the state of the industry. One thing is clear from the comments attached to the previous link: some people really don’t like TSN1040 in Vancouver. The same sort of comments appeared here about the FAN back in 2011 when TSN1050 was announced and launched. It will be very interesting to see if the FAN has more success against the incumbent heritage brand than TSN did here. It would be hard for them to do worse.

 

One notable difference between the two cases is that Sportsnet 650 will launch with Canucks radio rights. It took a couple of years before TSN1050 was able to acquire half the Leafs games. That being said we have seen little evidence of a ratings boost at TSN1050 from being a destination for Leafs listeners. Another key difference is that Sportsnet650 will be able to draw from established radio voices from 590 and 960. TSN1050 launched with a significant number of relative unknowns and sports lightweights, rather than sharing some of their big TV names with radio. I’ll save speculating about a Vancouver line-up for later. A third possible difference-maker will be the signal strength. As we have seen here, 1050 was dead on arrival for a bulk of the listenership.

 

One thing that is a near certainty is that 650 won’t rely on syndicated US programming during the day. This mistake by 1050 has remained a mystery to all observers for half a decade. The height of this confounding decision came when they chose to get rid of Matt Cauz (1 salary – 3 hours) in favour of extending the workload of Naylor& Landsberg by a half an hour, adding an hour to Leafs Lunch, with 1 hour of Dan Patrick sandwiched in between. This decision came as the Leafs and Raps were both in the playoffs, the Jays season was just getting going, as was TFC’s. Inexplicable.

 

I spent some time looking at the line-ups from the 6 other TSN all-sport stations and the decision to run syndicated US programming makes a little more sense in aggregate. Across their network, almost all stations rely on a goodly amount of US programming, either live or taped.

 

  • 1150Hamilton runs DP & Rome instead of Leafs Lunch
  • Neither 1050 nor 1150 run any mainstream local programming all weekend
  • Edmonton1260 runs taped Jim Rome from 6-9pm then goes back to local at 9pm
  • Winnipeg1290 runs local replays from 10-11am and 6-8pm before switching to US programming from 8pm-6am

 

I am starting to see the logic: an hour here and there adds up to lots of salary when you have 7 stations. Focusing on the financial savings would be a decision made by someone who doesn’t understand sports radio very well. Local is king, and we have 30 years of evidence to confirm this principle. Local is what drives listenership during the key time-slots. If you can’t afford local hosts then there is a real question about what you are hoping to accomplish. Paying for US programming means hours of NCAA basketball and football, as well as lots of baseball and basketball with little focus on Jays and Raps. What percentage of Canadians will tune in for that?

 

The problem is deeper than just listenership. The decision to syndicate and replay also means there are few opportunities for advancement for young broadcasters.  Take a glance at the bench over at TSN1050. You have Andy McNamara … and who else? Mike Hogan has been retained as a fill-in host since being relieved of his Argos play-by-play duties in favour of a TV audio simulcast. The opportunity costs of this strategy are obvious. This Wednesday instead of going with local talk about end of the Leafs season or upcoming clinching game for the Raps, TSN1050 went with an out of market NBA playoff game.

 

Compare that to 590: Ennis just got the tap on the shoulder to move up after years of paying his dues. Dan Riccio (soccer) and JD Bunkis (basketball) are getting pumped by the network as guest experts on their other shows, and both work the evening shift regularly. Rob Wong and George Rusic are also getting time to develop. 590 have a short bench but everyone contributes in relatively well-defined roles.

 

Here’s some free consulting advice for TSN (contact info above for retainer options). Try a local-national hybrid. If you don’t want to pay someone to host a local show then why not take advantage of the programming you are paying for in other markets? Will Winnipeggers really prefer hearing Dan Patrick talk to Arkansas’ head football coach to listening to the topics being discussed by the local Vancouver show?

 

The concept would be to offer a “channel surfing” form of syndication relying on the best live and taped programming from your own network. This would raise the profile of your existing radio personalities, and create more of a national conversation around Canadian sports. You could also do simulcasts between markets ahead of or after key games (e.g Sens-Leafs, Impact-Whitecaps, CFL)

 

The fact that this has not been tried speaks to lack of creativity at TSN when it comes to radio. More than ever before I am worried that this entire division is at risk. It is clear that Bell believed slapping the TSN brand on radio was a ratings guarantee. At least in Toronto the results have been disastrous and have cost many frontline workers their jobs. Few cuts have been made at the management level.

 

By contrast, the FAN will likely create 5-10 new jobs in radio and reward promising young talent with a chance to move up to a more important time-slot. Or they might make John Shannon their signature host: Shenanigans with John Shannon, every day from 4-7. (Reader submitted alternative: Shannonigans).

 

One cautionary question I have about the decision to branch out to YVR: how much money there is to be made? Consider the following data:

 

  • iHeartRadio owns 850 stations in the US and they are close to declaring bankruptcy
  • Sports talk radio is about 5% of all radio listenership (PPM markets only)
  • Revenue for AM radio has decreased each of the last 5 years
  • Broadcast (TV & radio) revenue in 2015 = 18 billion. Only 1.6 billion of that is commercial radio

 

There is certainly brand building opportunity in taking ears away from TSN in a major market. The same logic supported keeping Sportsnet Magazine around but Rogers decided to axe that publication at the end of 2016. It will be interesting to see how they approach this new venture at a time when cutbacks and austerity still dominate the company’s internal operations.

 

Over to you: 1) Would you listen to local programming from Edmonton, Montreal, and Vancouver late nights in Toronto? 2) Vancouver folks: tell us what you are hoping for out of your 2nd all-sports station. How is 650’s signal?

 

Quick Hits

 

ESPN abandons hockey. What does this do to the NHL? Very big questions. Bruce Arthur has a good piece on the human side of this from a Canadian perspective.

 

The NHL is trying to bury its ongoing concussion lawsuit in paperwork. This is a classic move when you are dealing with plaintiffs with declining and expensive health conditions. A judge denied their request, per Rick Westhead.

 

There are so many podcasts from ex-media members these days: Rumack & Zelkovich, Mike Richards, Mark Hebscher, Barry Davis. Any others?

 

I very much enjoyed this piece by Sean Fitz-Gerald on the bright future for the Leafs.

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • The Athletic have updated their app to enable landscape mode. As someone who never reads articles on my phone, I am very happy about this development. Next they need to work on their podcast production. The most recent Blue Jays one sounds like it was recorded on the TTC.

 

  • Jeff Blair still has many of his colleagues blocked on Twitter.

 

  • Bryan Hayes commented that too many media are telling fans not to boo the Jays’ poor performance. I agree with him on this. The only qualification I would add is that booing a pitcher who can’t throw a strike or a hitter who grounds into a double-play is pretty dumb. Do you think that was their objective? But booing a lousy team at the end of the game to express your displeasure with management? Fill your boots.

 

  • Ennis, Walker, Bunkis. Pick two. As soon as 3 of them are on the mic I change the channel.

 

  • Missing since 2015 is TSN’s Jays podcast. Too bad. It was good.

 

  • Zelkovich back at Yahoo Canada after 4+ months off?

 

  • Unintentional Overdrive comedy — Noodles referring to someone as a jock sniffer.

 

  • Sportsnet congratulated itself for the number of minutes of hockey viewers watched. The rest of the industry laughed at them. You can’t underestimate how widely this document was mocked.

 

  • Brady asked Cox a good question on the morning show (April 24th, 8am) about whether this Leafs season puts to bed the Brian Burke talking point about how players have a hard time playing here because of the rotten media. Cox said this was always an excuse by bad coaches/GMs and this team’s success exposed it as such. I am so glad Burke is gone from this market.

 

  • The FAN needs to pay someone to edit out the sports updates from the podcast version of the morning show. I listen far less as a result.

 

  • If you have nothing clever or witty to tweet, resist the urge to churn out one of these:

 

 

  • Steve Simmons and Damien Cox have both discovered quote-tweeting. Now we all get to see their replies to the crap people tweet at them.

 

  • Nothing will ever beat this.

 

 

  • Finally, POS is back next week. Let’s see what a very public suspension will do to his on-air persona. Leopards don’t change their spots, and this guy is addicted to Twitter. How long before he takes the bait.

 

 

 

 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: Gregg Zaun

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 94
  • comment-avatar
    Brent in LA 3 weeks

    Amazing as usual.

    A few thoughts.

    1) Why does someone like Rusic still work on radio? Wouldn’t he make more money doing ANY other career? It’s obvious he’s missed his only opportunity and won’t get another one. Is living in poverty doing garbage shifts worth it?

    2) Zaun is abrasive and tries to be too “American Media” with his hot takes.

    3) “The Jays lost by 3 but we can call it a 1 run loss” was just said on the Jays pregame show by Wilner’s partner.

    4) Please tell me Shannon isn’t really getting his own show on Vancouver radio.

    5) has anyone improved more in radio than Jamie McLennan? I find him extremely likable and talented.

    6) I used to listen to Toronto radio all day as I worked. Now, I only will listen to Overdrive. The rest is terrible. Walker seems like a great guy…but Ennis has ruined the show. Scotty Mac also seems nice but my God is he boring.

    That’s all for now. Thanks for all that you do. Have a great and safe weekend everybody!

  • comment-avatar
    Roy 3 weeks

    Personally. I enjoy Zaun and O’Sullivan. Whether I agree with some of their takes, or not. Both played the game and have an inside knowledge of their respective sports, that a non-player simply cannot have. They are the opposite of bland. Bland makes me change the channel.

  • comment-avatar
    Curt 3 weeks

    “What defines the difference between celebrating and showing up your opponent?”

    I don’t have a problem with anyone showing emotion – especially after throwing a complete game gem. For me though, screaming and then glaring into the opposition dugout (which was conveniently omitted from Griffin’s and other’s game reports) is over the top. It was Eckersleyesque. And how did we all feel about old Dennis?

    Agree about Zaun tho. Occasionally he makes a good point, but the hypocrisy of coming down on someone who likes to self aggrandize is, well, laughable.

  • comment-avatar
    GreyCountyMike 3 weeks

    To Roy’s point above about Patrick O’Sullivan and Gregg Zaun, I generally agree and give them a little more room to beat their chests because, yes, they did play the game. What is truly astonishing is Mike Wilner’s continuing charade.

    Wilner’s automatic condemnation of any opinion that differs from his own is a very tired act. As the Jays continue to flounder, he just continues to stubbornly and stupidly dig in his heels and insist on spewing complete and utter nonsense about the team’s performance … to the point that pretty much anything he says now can’t be respected. It takes a lot to become a joke in this media market, but he has managed to do exactly that.

  • comment-avatar
    mario 3 weeks

    Great article thanks for the read. Gregg Zaun and Donald Cherry are one in the same you either like them or you don’t there is no in between . I find them both entertaining even though I don’t agree with everything they say.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 3 weeks

    A really extensive and varied read this week. A lot of good material to take in.

    As a Greater Toronto Area area media listener, I wholeheartedly support moving Shannon to Vancouver!

  • comment-avatar
    AP 3 weeks

    I think once you knocked Zaun’s catcher’s mask as meaning he was all about himself, you started to look like you were making it personal.

    Maybe it’s fine for athletes to show emotion. But when their team sucks they should dial it down.

  • comment-avatar
    cirroc 3 weeks

    I’d take Zaun and O’Sullivan, warts and all, over the likes of a James “I’ve been reporting analytics for a decade” Mirtle every day of the week. Being able to hear opinions from guys that have lived it never gets tiring for me.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 3 weeks

    @AP

    I had the same reaction concerning the mask comment.

    Since the introduction of this type of (“hockey inspired”) mask to baseball, personalized artwork has been the norm. On this issue I do not find any reason to single out Zaun for criticism.

  • comment-avatar
    Boots 3 weeks

    Zaun is an idiot, Overdrive is fantastic and I had to switch the fan morning show this week as they were actually debating what injury they would rather have, concusion or MCL tear and in the end choose MCL tear!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    yaz 3 weeks

    If Brady and Price are going to leave score updates in their Pod, they should also leave the traffic and weather reports in as well. They would be just as relevant to my listening pleasure when I listen to Tuesday’s show on the weekend.

    Sullivan is a little rough around the edges but he offers a different take than the phalanx of homegeneous ‘Insiders’. I also like that he talks specifically about the play of the game and why certain players can and cannot do certain things. He doesn’t speak with the level of specificity like Keven Barker – which I love, but he goes beyond the ‘first line guy, second line guy, third pairing guy…’ etc etc ‘analysis’ that dominates both stations here. Overall, I’d say he does tend to dwell on the negative, and while being negative isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it should be a smaller portion of a more rounded commentary.

    And does anybody know what happened to Zaun’s boxing career he announced on Tim & Sid last year that he was training for? Maybe if he can get a boxing career going he could afford a nanny to take his crying baby daughter into another room when he calls into PTS.

  • comment-avatar
    TrueNorthPatriot 3 weeks

    I like Marcus Stroman’s competitiveness and the fact that he shows his emotions, the same way I like the same in Jason Grilli. One is black, one is white. At the same time, I can see why a player like Albert Pujols, who is Hispanic, wouldn’t like it. I can see why Jose Bautista, from the Dominican would like the bat flip and why Rougned Odour, also Hispanic, would not. Alex Ovechkin is white as is Evgeny Kuznetzov as is Don Cherry. The first two like to celebrate after a goal and the latter wants players to be modest and act like they’ve been there before. To raise the race card and make this into a racial issue is lazy and beneath a thoughtful journalist.

    With respect to Mike Wilner, I too grew up in Grey County (Durham | Chatsworth)but I have a slightly different perspective than GreyCountyMike. Yes, he is often unfair to those who hold a contrary opinion. For example, he often shuts down fans who want to speculate about the post-season before they get there or about the off season etc. I don’t know why Wilner thinks, in this case, that the show is only about what he wants or thinks is ok to talk about. It’s supposed to be Blue Jay’s fan talk, not Wilner talk. However, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Wilner has an antogonistic relationship with the Blue Jays fanbase. A lot of fans enjoy his passionate play calling when he steps in and his insightful analysis. He knows the game. Wilner doesn’t suffer fools easily and he doesn’t suffer fans who can’t back up their arguments with stats/facts. In this, he is different from a lot of other hosts of call-in shows. If you call in to Wilner’s show and you’re gonna make claims, you better have your facts straight otherwise you’re going to be corrected.

    I suspect that even though they don’t all agree with Zaun, most Jays fans think he adds to the broadcast and make it more interesting (like Don Cherry).

  • comment-avatar
    MjwW 3 weeks

    “I suspect that even though they don’t all agree with Zaun, most Jays fans think he adds to the broadcast and make it more interesting (like Don Cherry).”

    This is not true at all. Visit any Jays forum or fansite. Good lucking finding a lot of positive comments about Zaun.

    But I forgot fans are biased. And only people that watch for the purpose of media criticism have valid opinions on anything!

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 3 weeks

    RE Sportsnet Vancouver – I’d rather hear a late night show or weekend from Vancouver over what The Fan currently has late night and here and there on weekends (CBS Sports radio). Why not broadcast their late night show over here?

    You’re right -considering that TSN has really started mailing it in after 7pm, I’m surprised they haven’t tried something like that.

  • comment-avatar
    Art 3 weeks

    I listen to TSN 690 Montreal all the time online. It is far better than what we have in Toronto. McKenna Star and Mofat are a far supierior morning show. Tony Marinaro is as entertaining as you could poasibly ask for. The guy is a abslute rapid fan and it’s halarious to listen to him when he gets on a rant. But he is also intelligent and informed. Knuckles Nilan and Shawn Cample are great. Knuckles brings a personality and a knowledge of the game and Campbell is a radio pro. Mylneck is as good as it gets on radio. A teu ledgend. Like the Bob McKowan of MTL but not mailing it in like Bob does.
    Ofcorse they are not percect Mitch Gallo is awful and the Angry Gallo thing only angers fans.

    I listen to 690 exclusivly at work altough now that Mike Richards has a 2hr daily Pod, I’ll probably work him on perhaps over Knuckles.

    As for Podcasts you missed by local sprts media. Bastl’s Bytes. Love his show. Glad he’s sti doing it, despite being on Richards pod and having Inside The Lines and some fill ins at the Fan.

  • comment-avatar
    Steve in Waterloo 3 weeks

    I don’t think it is necessary, and maybe even NOT appropriate for game commentators to be in “the room”

    A degree of separation offers the space and the credibility to comment and analyze without personal bias. Being buddies generally limits the critic when criticism may be due.

    Simmons and Cox seem to have build a pretty good career without hanging with the Athletes.

    BTW, I think the colour reference with regard to Zaun’s criticism was unnecessary and distracting.

  • comment-avatar
    Hans 3 weeks

    Could the ESPN/US radio content on TSN radio be a part of the longstanding deal that TSN and ESPN have had for all these years?

    I’m also a bit surprised over the lack of chatter here about the ESPN cuts and more specifically the complete gutting of their hockey department. I know this is primarily a Canadian media site (and more specifically Toronto based) but reading on the net about 100 or so on air staff being cut in one day is not a good thing since Rogers could easily head in that direction given their talent heavy shows and declining ratings especially this year with the Blue Jays not doing well.

    This something to watch with Rogers starting a Fan radio in Vancouver and adding more talent to their already large talent pool. On that front, if the chatter about John Shannon going there is legit then that’s fine. Let him go out west. He’s stated on PTS a few times he prefers the West and wants to go back to BC so it’s a win-win for all. He gets to go where he wants to be and the Toronto market will be rid of the resident NHL shill. He can take Jim “I only cheer for Vancouver” Hughson with him and get him off the National hockey broadcasts and let him cover canucks.

    I just want to also say it was awesome to hear/see Bob Cole calling the Caps-pens game last night. I guess Vancouver boy/Rogers don’t see it as their “#1” matchup despite the US media calling it such.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 3 weeks

    Mike Wilner has been tolerable over the last two years because the team was good so his shilling was normalized. Now that the team is garbage, his presentation is over-exposed and its embarrassing. I legit think he’s now doing it on purpose and it has become his identity so he’s running with it. Clearly the Fan doesn’t care. Rogers has never particularly cared about talent. They chose people, put them on air and stubbornly keep them on. Reid, Shannon, Campbell, the list goes on and on. They don’t care as long as they fill the airwaves. I guess Bell does the same, but generally speaking their talent seem to be more popular in the court of public opinion. Zaun and POS are a breath of fresh air compared to all the shills at Rogers and the super fans at TSN. Stroman is embarrassing. Pointing and taunting at the, chuckle, St. Louis Cards with a 3-14 record? Please. Grilli going bananas after striking out someone? I guess since he so rarely does it, its worth exuberance. embarrassing.

  • comment-avatar
    Patty 3 weeks

    This site’s constant promotion of Rick Westhead is a little much. Has he done anything you didn’t fall over yourself praising? I don’t see you giving as much attention to other sports media who do similar work.

  • comment-avatar
    Bob Canuck 3 weeks

    Patty,

    Merriam-Webster states that constant means “continually occurring or recurring.”

    This article was the first time Rick Westhead was mentioned in an article by either Jonah or Mike since March 4, 2017; today is April 30, 2017. You must have a different definition of the word “constant”.

  • comment-avatar
    NefCanuck 3 weeks

    Zaun to me is trying to build himself up as baseball’s answer to Don Cherry.

    If he thinks that he’s the answer, then I think Zaun misheard the question.

    As to TSN Radio trying something else to fill the US “dead air”. I would suggest they try it stat, because at this point their simply circling the bowl (Not that I’m a fan of the CBS Sports Radio filler that The Fan 590 uses, but at least it’s decent background noise)

  • comment-avatar
    Darren 3 weeks

    First time commenter here. Thanks For the interesting column every week Mike. Love the Zaun photo this week.

    Two points I would make – imagine how any one of us would reach if we were Wilner and had to deal with the ridiculous callers he has to deal with every day. And would it be better radio if he simply said “yes i agree” when callers phoned in to say the jays are dead in the water? r

    and @Patty, on westhead, i have to say, the guy does a brand of sports journalism that’s not like anyone else in the country. terrific follow on twitter. i’ve read him since he was covering south asia and pakistan for the star.
    when you say there are others who don’t get similar credit for doing similar journalism, who comes to mind? the guy went to crazy Venezuela to do a story about baseball there. Anyone else doing that?

  • comment-avatar
    MjwW 3 weeks

    Mitch,

    I bet you’re a lot of at parties.

  • comment-avatar

    Overdrive’s weakness on sports other than hockey was on full display during their interview with JP Arencibia (April 26, Hour 3). JP is obviously a timely figure and it was a great get by their producers. Oh-Dog asked 2 questions, Hayes asked 3, 0 from Noodles (possibly a taped interview). None of these questions were about the Stroman-Zaun conflict that made headlines over the 3 preceding days.

    Their weakness as interviewers was also evident. Several times JP opened the door for follow-ups about his own experiences with the Toronto media. The lads just plowed on to the next question on the handout.

    http://www2.tsn.ca/podcasts/tsn1050leafslunch.xml

    What a waste. Hopefully Naylor or MacArthur gets JPA back on the air this week.

    1050 is due for an inevitable shuffle over the summer. Please, put the fellas back on Leafs Lunch 12-2 where they won’t be so exposed. That would give TSN an opportunity to work on a 4th stab at creating a drive time show that resonates with the audience.

  • comment-avatar
    SN employee 3 weeks

    Wow! I can tell you this article is causing a stir in the hub today. There’s lots of excitement about the new Vancouver station. I could see Sportsnet pushing into other markets and trying to do the national network thing. Cadeau already works a lot supervising Calgary.

    TSN is on the ropes across all platforms. They aren’t going to disappear but their power as a network brand has never been more precarious. It would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago that they could be this vulnerable.

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    jeff 3 weeks

    Once you step back and realize that Wilner is playing more of a character similar to Hannity or Alex Jones, he becomes less infuriating to listen to. (I truly want to believe this)

  • comment-avatar
    TSN Viewer/Listner 3 weeks

    SN Employee

    Realax on Corporate propaganda. TSN Radio “may be on the ropes” in Toronto. But they are doing just fine in other markets. TSN 690 MTL has a rabid loyal fan base. So much so that they stopped it from becoming RDS French Sports radio by petitioning the CRTC when Bell took over Astral Media. TSN is strong in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Ottawa as well. As far as Vancouver goes it’s yet to be seen. Yes you got the Canucks radio rights awesome. But 1) The Canucks sucks. 2) most people watch games on TV. 3)You are still the new station going up against 2 established TSN stations. When TSN 1050 has Leafs games and it doesn’t seem to matter 1 bit, so why is automatic that the Fan would have TSN 1140/1040 “on the ropes”?

    As for TV, yeah it sucks for TSN that they don’t have the NHL rights. but they are still very competitive with SN just as SN was when TSN had the rights. TSN/CTV still has the NFL rights other than Thursday and that’s a big deal. Hadly “on the ropes” The Jays suck again so the baseball viewership advantage that Sportsnet has enjoyed will start to fade. It was a nice 2 yea run.

    The NHL as good as it is this year wasn’t so awesome last year when Canadian teams all missed the playoffs. Yes the Leafs and Oilers are headed for decade long runs as contenders. but the other Canadian teams have a lot of questions. The Flames and Jets are bubble teams that will make it some years and won’t some others. The Canadiens window is closing, The Canucks still suck and have no hope of changing that any time soon. The Sens are good but can’t even sell out their playoff games, so I wouldn’t count on great TV numbers there.

    To add to that TSN/RDS still has some regional rights in Montreal (60 games RDS), Ottawa (54 games RDS), Toronto half season TSN, and Winnipeg. They also have radio rights in all but Vancouver, Calgary and half of Toronto.

    Sporsnet survived TSN having the NHL rights for years, I’m sure TSN can stay competitive for another 10. When the 10 years is up, they may end up out bidding Rogers who knows.

    Everyone has their own opinion, but for me TSN TV is far superior to Sportsnet.

  • comment-avatar
    Too Loose La Trek 3 weeks

    @Mike (in Boston) I had no problem with the Arencibia interview on Overdrive and I have to wonder why would TSN have any kind of interest in talking about Gregg Zaun? What your comment reveals to me is you only listen to the FAN. To them it was a story because it involved one of their guys. And how about your colleague Jonah (in Seattle) going gaga on Twitter about an interview McCown and Cox had with Mike Babcock. Overdrive’s interview with Babcock was better, more informative and also entertaining. And that’s what you and Jonah are missing about Overdrive. It’s entertainment. McCown has been mailing it in for years. Does TSN have problems? Yes, a lot of them. Landsberg comes across as a jerk (like McCown) and is tough to listen to because of it. McArthur is sleep inducing. Earnest as hell but really needs to lighten up. Leafs lunch is much better with O’Sullivan and Andi can be annoying. The biggest problem TSN has is they can’t seem to find chemistry anywhere other than Overdrive. One other thing about the Fan. The new morning show needs a lot of work. It demonstrates how difficult it is to find chemistry. So far they don’t have it.

  • comment-avatar
    MontFromLondonOnt 3 weeks

    My take on Wilner is that 1)he honestly believes he knows more then any caller and it is his life mission to let everyone know that 2)He really thinks he is a great PbyP guy when in reality he never shuts up – Even when Siddall is calling the action Wilner can’t keep his trap shut because as an insecure knob he has to let any and all know just how smart he is and 3)The fact that none of his bosses seem to want to reel him in he keeps it up – They see him as a useful clown who works for peanuts and would have to be replaced by a higher priced pro – To me he is insufferable but I am sure he is secure in his smug little world – He is the kind of guy that when he arrives at a party no one says hello but when he leaves EVERYBODY says good bye – I really hope Jerry returns soon and they can at least start leaving Wilner at home on road trips again – I am a Tigers fan and prefer ballgames on the radio but can only pickup the Indians or Jays PbyP and enjoy Siddall but when I hear Wilner behind the mike I turn him off-

  • comment-avatar
    yaz 3 weeks

    Leafs Lunch still sans O’Sullivan today (Mon, May 1). Petrillo, Roe and Miller hosted both hours. I didn’t listen, just read the show description. Assumed he was on today but I guess his Tweet did say ‘next week’.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 3 weeks

    Hang on,

    I’m supposed to believe that someone under the name “SN employee” comes here and shills his own network? Nice try! I think someone is playing a May Fool’s joke on us. there is ZERO chance that is a real post by a real employee of Rogers. It’s way too surreal to be true. I understand Wilmer and Campbell and the like shilling for Rogers because their careers depend on it. But now I’m supposed to believe that behind the scenes employee also spew that corporate rhetoric? I call BS. Unless rogers implemented mind control devices upon hiring new staff. If anything I would believe it’s a Bell employee posing as “SN employee” to intentionally make rogers look ridiculous.

  • comment-avatar
    Greg 3 weeks

    Does it drive anyone else crazy that instead of showing the Jays game on SN they bump it to SN1 in favour of a hockey game that’s also being shown on CBC? I guess they’re still trying their hardest to get people to buy their cable extras before everyone hops off the bandwagon…

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 3 weeks

    @ Greg

    Could not agree more. I’ve posted myself about Rogers relegating the ballgames to SN1; when other options were available…(SN360 tonight is carrying WWE)!

  • comment-avatar
    Sean T 3 weeks

    It could be because I am newer generation, maybe it’s because I didn’t really care for him as a player, but because Gregg Zaun, used, or allegedly used PED’s anything he says is instantly recorded garbage to me. I just don’t think he should have ANY voice at all, if he cannot play the game without using PED’s.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike 3 weeks

    Surprised this site hasn’t commented on Deadspin takedown of Richard Deitsch.

    http://deadspin.com/how-to-suck-at-being-a-sports-media-critic-1794674167

    Personally I think the hot take was spot on, Deitsch can be insufferable

  • comment-avatar
    Justin 3 weeks

    Previous comments are spot on re: Wilner now that the team is bad. How many times can he talk about “good” batted-ball speed from players who aren’t hitting? Talk about grasping at straws. Like I’ve said previously, he’s become an exaggerated self-parody, a caricature of himself.

    Case in point: I haven’t listen to JaysTalk in years because of him, but recently started listening to a few after losses just to see how low or outrageous Wilner can go in his unabashed shilling. If he feels his journalistically dishonest act gets more listeners like myself who now hate-listen, then he’s doing the right thing. But the fact that it’s at this point is fully ridiculous and looks bad on him, the FAN, and Rogers.

    FWIW, he’s improved a lot doing play-by-play. And I mean a lot since when he first started. He’s clearly worked hard at it. If only he’d work hard at becoming a semi-objective media personality.

  • comment-avatar
    Sperk 3 weeks

    I think Zaun doesn’t go into the clubhouse because it is more work…he figures his job is hot takes and hanging in the clubhouse won’t help him come up with those. That and hanging with current players makes him realize he isn’t respected by his former colleagues and the new crop of players don’t care what he has to say. Might as well stick Jamie who hangs on his every word.

    Not sure I follow the logic that race is a factor in who Zaun chooses to criticize

  • comment-avatar
    monologue 3 weeks

    Greg, just cut the cord and get mlb.tv alr!

    Zaun is such a tryhard. Luckily for me you don’t see his ass on mlb.tv anyway.

    I love Ben Ennis but I kind of agree that Ennis + JP + Walker gets a bit noisy sometimes. I’m hoping I’ll just get used to it.

    I’d definitely rather hear Canadian overnight stuff than whatever American crap they have on now. I only leave that on when they play that one woman who is a bit entertaining. They really should have late night until 1 AM year round anyway. Those of us who work nights are still heading home at that time and are interested in the day’s recap and whatever baseball clubhouse interviews, etc.

  • comment-avatar
    NefCanuck 3 weeks

    @monologue

    While I agree, I can see the bean counters logic in trying to squash such an idea.

    It’s not only the on-air talent but the behind the scenes staff that have to be paid, even if it’s peanuts compared to the daytime staff, it’s probably still cheaper to simulcast considering the ratings they’d likely get.

  • comment-avatar
    Robinaurora 3 weeks

    Wow! “Too Loose….” made all of my points for me already – and very succinctly I might add…the only thing we differ slightly on is that I find Andi Petrillo to be most definitely and extremely annoying. Everything else he said are my thoughts exactly…

    I find this blog to be basically a round up of what’s going on at the Fan, with not much at all about TSN 1050 except some criticism and mostly ridicule. The Fan is unlistenable for me. Overdrive on TSN is the only show I find that is consistent and entertaining anywhere on Toronto sports radio.

    Does anyone else notice that Cabbie is almost completely ignored by all of the radio shows on 1050 and barely mentioned except to introduce his (mostly useless) segments on SportsCenter? I’ve heard rumours that he is not too popular among his colleagues….

    Podcast listeners: try “Rubber Boots” if you’re a James Duthie fan. Quite funny and very engaging.

  • comment-avatar
    cirroc 3 weeks

    This site is quite the study in media in and of itself. I had to laugh when I saw MIB’s tweet about readers being “split” on Patrick O’Sullivan’s contributions to LL. It only takes a few clicks to comb through the comments on this site and see that the majority of commenters enjoy Patrick. Fake news??? Now MIB is relishing in a rather innocuous POS tweet regarding Radulov’s omission from Hart consideration. Talk about cherry picking. Their boy Mirtle tweets seemingly every three minutes and it’s not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

    Now I get everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to outright lie about readers being “split” is rather bizarre. Also, deleting my anti Tyler Dellow comment last week seemed odd as well. Maybe I’ve read one too many Billy Mumphries’ but something seems amiss…

  • comment-avatar
    Liberty Village Bob 3 weeks

    I encourage all the people who listen to and love TSN1050’s shows to post about all the great things you hear. Seriously. Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • comment-avatar
    Mclki 3 weeks

    You’re becoming a good read. Keep it up.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike S 3 weeks

    Patrick O’Sullivan does say some interesting things from time to time but overall I haven’t been a fan of his work on 1050 since he started last fall……….too arrogant and too much of a know it all in my opinion………..having said that, I didn’t like Jeff O’Neill at all when he first started on radio four or five years ago and now I am a fan so maybe O’Sullivan will grow on me too

    Getting suspended right in the middle of a Leafs playoff series when you are one of the analysts on their radio broadcasts and co-host of a show that is named “Leafs Lunch” has got to be pretty embarrassing…………it would humble most people, but I get the impression that there is not much that would humble Mr. O’Sullivan

  • comment-avatar
    Franklin 3 weeks

    When did Dirk Hayhurst turn into such an inarticulate goof? Loved his books, but his Twitter feed is a hot mess.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 3 weeks

    @Robinaurora

    I feel like the site is pretty even handed re TSN Radio vs The Fan. The comments discuss The Fan a lot more, but a lot more people listen to the station. So that may be all that is.

  • comment-avatar
    Julien 3 weeks

    Can someone explain the Noodles ‘jock-sniffer’ comment? I don’t get why Mike included that in Low Hanging Fruit.

  • comment-avatar
    robinauroa 3 weeks

    I made the mistake of tuning into Leafs Lunch today….the lineup? Well, there was Andi (more whiny and obnoxious than ever)…Mark Roe (the ultimate in lame substitutes…he tries way to hard to fit in and laughs nervously and far too hard at anything, including his own jokes, which aren’t ever funny)…and…none other than Dave “What an idiot here” Feschuk.
    –Why not just play the other two hours of Dan Patrick?…This is clearly mailing it in.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 3 weeks

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I don’t mind the US radio in the evenings. I actually look forward to listening to it after hockey. Leafs don’t play another game for 6 months, the raps will be out by next week, and the Jays are already out and its May

    So why do I care to listen to speculation on who the leafs might play on their 4th line in October? Some perspective about NBA playoffs, NFL draft and baseball is something I like out of TSN radio

  • comment-avatar
    robinaurora 3 weeks

    Julien – I can only guess that Mike either doesn’t know what the term “Jock Sniffer” actually means or perhaps he thought it was the ultimate insult and inappropriate – but I heard the comment at the time and it really didn’t seem out of line to me. I don’t know why I never hear these kind of ticky-tacky criticisms about the Fan hosts – only about TSN 1050. That is just an observation and me being overly critical. (Like Mike blaming Brian Hayes for not asking JP Arencibia about Greg Zaun…really? Is that a serious criticism? I listened and that was a perfectly good, normal and engaging interview about the Jays)

    Anyway–the term “Jock Sniffer” from it’s original meaning referred to baseball beat writers back in the old pre-electronic media days that would try to get to know too much, get too close to the players – more than was needed or was normal. They would let their own curiosity and fandom get in the way of just doing their job reporting…something like “So what kind of deodorant do you use Mickey?” kind of thing – those guys were known as “jock sniffers” among the athletes and the other beat writers – and the term got used throughout North American Sports including hockey. It became the ultimate insult to a reporter to be known as a Jock Sniffer. But then it kind of morphed into a term for anyone that hung around athletes to make themselves look better or feel like they were more important. Either way, MacLennan’s use of the term at the time was not some kind of outrageous or inappropriate comment.

    Speaking of insults, Mike shouldn’t really be saying that the Overdrive guys are out of their depth talking about anything other than hockey – I find the discussionabout the Raptora and Jays to be interesting and engaging – I don’t listen to Sports radio to learn anything – I aalready know way too much – I just listen to get some opinions and insights that I may not have come up with on my own. Like I have said 100 times: Bob McCown makes me feel 100 years old (I am alreadt half way there) He reminds me of the old fart Muppets in the balcony of the Muppet show

    If I have to criticize Overdrive for anything, it’s listening to two married guys and a divorced guy talking about who is picking up chicks and getting hammered in bars – they term it “Bar Play”. I am thinking of starting a pool to see how long MacLennan and Hayes stay married and when they’ll join O’Dog “swiping left or right”. I don’t know why their wives put up with it….They are very entertaining as a team. Funny and informative most of the time – but they also sound like 3 guys that just got out of jail or 3 sailors on shore leave way too often….enough already

  • comment-avatar
    Jeff D 3 weeks

    RIP to the comment board, its become a parody. Use to be awesome, not so much now, its just people looking to take shots at each other.

  • comment-avatar
    Big G 3 weeks

    I am so sick and tired of hearing Blair chime in on Racism as though he gives a rats ass. Yesterday him and the elitist lefty Stephen Brunt decided that they wanted to play SJW regarding the Adam Jones fenway park drama, what Blair and Brunt should be doing is taking a look in their own backyards in media and realize that sports media especially in this country seems to be holding on to a colour barrier, exactly the same way fenway park is, yet I don’t hear then slamming sports media. It’s completely hypocritical.

  • comment-avatar
    Big G 3 weeks

    When was the last time the fan had a person of colour in their daily lineup of shows.

  • comment-avatar
    GreyCountyMike 3 weeks

    Big G: You and I may not use the same words, but I think you’re bang-on about the hypocrisy. Here are two middle-aged white media guys sitting in Toronto looking down their noses at cities and people far away, yet won’t dare offer commentary where it can actually make a difference (the Toronto media community and specifically the Rogers organization).

    At this point, I suppose nobody should be all that shocked by Stephen Brunt, a once prominent journalist who sold his professional integrity card to the Rogers folks a long time ago. As for Blair, the behaviour is typical of the more recent part of his career … he likes to pretend he’s a big tough guy, but only when the targets of his faux-anger are so far away that he’ll never actually have to back up his hollow words.

  • comment-avatar
    Jeff D 3 weeks

    @GreyCounty

    Im sure you won’t respond to this, Ive mentioned this in the past and you have not but I figure one more time. I grew up in Grey County, I count myself as a small town guy. I like to think small town people are humble and kind, not aggressive, condescending and full of smugness. I grew up on local Grey County broadcasters who where vocally cheering on their teams and didn’t expect anything different, that was what they did, and they are not wrong for doing so. I constantly see you attacking ‘Toronto’ and ‘Rogers’ as if they act different than anything we see at home, the standards that we grew up with. Judging solely on content here and on your twitter feed (I saw you go after Andrew Stoeten for some reason on twitter) you are always the first to go after anything ‘big city’, and I think its curious, its the same small town vs. big town insecurities that we see, the ‘I hate always hearing about that place’ that makes everyone hate the big town, be it Canada, US or over seas. Its a weird phycological insecurity that small town people seem to bring up randomly. You’re more than welcome to bring it up, but be aware, a lot of the things you constantly complain about also are prevalent in your back yard, yet you don’t comment on those, and actually praise them. There’s a hypocrisy there that you seem to be ignorant too, everything big city Toronto is bad, everything around my local area is great, despite the fact that the same ‘homerism’ is prevalent in both. If homerisim is akin to evil as you point out on here, every single week, every single post (its been a lot of posts), then why is it only ‘Toronto’ homerism that gets your scorn, why isn’t it all homerism? Again, you can see the hypocrisy there. I can’t expect you to see my side or change your need to complain, you’ve been doing it so often that I can’t see the leopard changing his spots, but its an interesting question. Sometimes its harder to look in the mirror than it is to attack others.

  • comment-avatar
    GreyCountyMike 3 weeks

    Jeff D: Respond, I will. But only to one point …

    Could it be possible that, in the Andrew Stoeten reference, you may have me confused with somebody else? I honestly don’t recall having any recent interaction with Andrew Stoeten. I’m not saying I haven’t for sure, but I just don’t recall (and I scrolled back a couple of months to see). If so, it must be some time ago and not this ball season. Regardless, I do indeed follow Andrew Stoeten on Twitter and find his thoughts to be quite interesting and topical.

    Hope this weather doesn’t get you down and that you have a good day.

  • comment-avatar
    Jeff D 3 weeks

    GreyBruceMike,

    Unless there’s another Mike who constantly goes after Rogers, trolls their employees, takes shots at Toronto and promotes everything Grey Bruce, that’s you. Even Stoeten called you smug after you went after him over some Rogers thing, and he doesn’t even work for them.

    You can say ‘have a nice day’ and try to be the nice guy, hey, I’m not saying your not a nice guy, but that doesn’t take away from the aggressive trolling all the posts before and the hypocrisy of loving local bias while hating Toronto/Rogers bias.

    I like to think of most Grey Bruce people as fun, humble people who let things roll off their back, I’m not sure that’s the case here. I don’t get the need to hate all the time on something that really doesn’t matter, and something you love when it’s your own small town.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike 3 weeks

    Deitsch exposed again yesterday by of all people Damien Cox, re: ESPN purging their NBA writers and reporters so they can bring in Woj and his Yahoo staff.

    I know Deitsch gets tonnes of praise on this blog but I don’t think it’s deserved. The guy is as milktoast as it gets.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike S 3 weeks

    Patrick O’Sullivan 1050 Update:

    Monday………..did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Tuesday……….did appear on Leafs Lunch but only in hour 2
    Wednesday……..did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Thursday………did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Friday………..did not appear on Leafs Lunch

  • comment-avatar
    Cirroc 2 weeks

    @Mike S

    I noticed that as well. I tuned in and found it borderline unlistenable this week. I guess I didn’t realize how annoying Andi can be when Patrick was there to anchor the discussion.

  • comment-avatar
    seguaro 2 weeks

    We may not like his opinions but at least Zaun espouses them. My problem is with his lackey Jamie Campbell who has made avoiding opinions his raison d’etre. Jamie is now so versed in opinion avoidance that I don’t think he could form one of his own under threat of execution.

  • comment-avatar

    Jonah is holding down the fort for the next while. A few thoughts for the road:

    The last 4 months have been incredibly gloomy. Where is the sun? Speaking of gloomy, it’s going to be interesting to see how the next few months go in terms of media coverage. The Raptors are crashing out of the playoffs and won’t be back in the public eye until November, with perhaps a blip before then if they fire Casey.

    TFC won’t be a big story until the playoffs. And of course there is lots of bad news around the Jays after 2+ years of positivity to start the season. The Dome isn’t going to be open for another few weeks, and even when it opens the team is still going to be well below .500 so the big crowds are unlikely to return until later in June.

    That leaves the Leafs to carry the load. How many stories can the media churn out over the next 4 months about free agents and defence pairings?

    Drumbeats are starting to sound of more changes in radio at both stations. Pay attention to who is and is not getting airtime.

    Edwin is back next week and everyone (from what I have heard and read) at Sportsnet agrees that it is not the Jays’ fault he didn’t re-sign. I look forward to hearing what the rest of the media think. Personally, I am happy to start the rebuild now, with the goal of being cheap and young and ready to compete in 2019. Hazel Mae has a 2-part interview with EE coming up on Monday and Tuesday. Hazel is the best Jays interviewer in the city.

    Find me on twitter or email me with anything of note. Later.

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    Robinaurora 2 weeks

    “Hazel is the best Jays interviewer in the city”…well, they fired Barry Davis and no one else does interviews with the team, do they? (I haven’t watched more than an inning or two of a game this year – The Jays are as bad as the Rogers coverage of their games, so I know that I’m not missing much).

    TSN gets limited to no interview access to the Jays players – but just as a hint, Steve Philips has forgotten more than Hazel Mae will ever know about Baseball and he conducts fantastic MLB interviews (Jays included) and has huge credibility as an ex Met GM and MLB executive- but Philips works for TSN, so I doubt anyone writing this blog has seen his work. Hazel has no competition at Rogers, but she has all but been shunted aside – I am pretty sure she’s playing out the string on her last contract with Rogers as host of their suppertime highlight show that was punted for the dynamic duo. She needed something to do, so they gave her the job she did with NESN.

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    Sergio 2 weeks

    I think Phillips does a great job too. Probably the best insider for Jays analysis of the front office and manager. Haze does a different kind of job, and she’s great too.

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    Liberty Village Bob 2 weeks

    LOL at Brady and Cameron. Who is this podcast for? Brady already has 15 hours a week to interview people and talk sports. Does anyone need more Brady in their diet? Also, is there anyone who watches her giggle it up on TV who thinks “””Gee I wonder what she thinks about the Raptors?””

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    Cowboyskanuck 2 weeks

    TSN just aired the last game of the Raps getting swept by Cleveland, and instead of doing an in-depth post game show, decided going right to SportsCentre to promote the NHL playoffs, which they don’t have the rights to broadcast, would be a better idea.

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    Daniel 2 weeks

    I actually think I would be more likely to listen to a Brady podcast than his morning show (I don’t listen to morning radio too much). Morning shows sometimes seem to be all about blasting out scores and hot takes, whereas in a podcast I could see a host having more room to have fun/chat about the things that interest them.

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    I’m more curious who initiated this project. Did management suggest it? Was it her idea? Brady loves talking about things other than sports (music, politics, parenting, gardening, traffic, food, …) so I reckon the podcast will have a wide scope. Could be interesting.

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    yaz 2 weeks

    Bob Mackowycz has been found and is doing ‘Macko and Cauz Podcast’. They have a preview up somewhere. I like Brady but it seems odd to do a pod with a different partner this early in Brady and Price. Are agents pushing the Pods? Duthie explained that while a fan is listening, they’re focused solely on you without commercials. Builds your brand. Too many out there for me. When you hear Bob McKenzie talk about the Bobcast, you really get the feeling he was pressured into doing something he didn’t want to do.

    Most interesting moment last week was Gary Lawless on PTS who had just landed in Vegas a couple hours before he was on the air. He’ll be the new voice of the Vegas hockey team handling all their media content. When pressed by Cox that he is a known ‘crap-disturber’ and how will he handle working for the owner – he said ‘I wouldn’t call it journalism, I’d call it storytelling, there’s a difference.’ Lawless mentioned this job will become more common because there are fewer media covering teams and the ones that do rarely get access to any players. Teams will be generating their own content. He also said his decision was made in the context of the recent layoffs and rumours of more that are imminent.

    PTS reached out to Lawless to get the interview. Why wouldn’t TSN? Or did they and Lawless chose the higher rated national program? Perhaps it is a bit of an embarrassment for TSN that Lawless quit. Lawless would have been on on a list that interviewed for the job – wonder who else did? As a percentage of total fanbase, I doubt any city’s fans will travel to Vegas to see their team more than Winnipeg, followed by Edmonton and Calgary. Maybe the Knights wanted a face familiar to Canadians to pump their product. Did you know Bob used to live in Vegas?

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    Original Mitch 2 weeks

    Cameron knows her roll is tenuous at best so she decided to expand her “brand” and went to Brady with this suggestion. She’s smart. This podcast will be bland, irrelevant and boring. But at least she’s putting herself out there, telling management that she is more than just a promoter reader, a la Osmak. IMO it’s a mistake if they start talking movies, politics, etc but we will see. I believe that’s what is killing ESPN, their lack of focus on sports and more on social issue. This is easy for Brady. Will do this podcast on his time, she’ll book guests, do all the legwork. All he has to do is talk for however long the podcast is. Again, I give her credit for doing this.

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    Mike 2 weeks

    ^ Hahahaha oh yeah, the old “ESPN is dying because of all the left wing politics talk” meme.

    GMAFB.

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    Original Mitch 2 weeks

    What’s so funny Mike? You don’t think a sports network should stick to sports?

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    Bob Canuck 2 weeks

    @Original Mitch,

    There is little evidence to support the contention that politics is main cause of ESPN’s decline. The Atlantic had a very good article on ESPN and the layoffs.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/05/espn-layoffs-future/524922/

    Two of the more important quotes from the article are the following:

    “The number of homes getting ESPN has declined from about 100 million in 2012 to just under 90 million this year. Today, 23 percent of U.S. households have either cancelled cable or never signed up in the first place, according to a 2016 PwC survey.”

    ESPN collects approximately 7 USD per month per subscriber which means that the annualized reduction of revenues since 2012 from the loss of subscribers is approximately 840 million USD. That’s a significant revenue loss and it started prior to any focus by ESPN on social issues.

    The other quote is as follows:

    “But it’s mostly silly to blame politics for ESPN’s financial decline. The network makes most of its money from subscription fees, not advertising, and it’s pretty absurd to imagine that a Trump voter would hear a pro-multiculturalism comment on SportsCenter and respond by cancelling his entire cable subscription (which would mean no more Fox News.)”

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    Original Mitch 2 weeks

    I’m fully aware that social conversation is not the MAIN reason why ESPN is on the decline. I completely understand the revenue aspect. That said, sports fans are turned off by politics in their sports talk for the most part and may read or listen to actual just sports talk/articles as apposed to anti-Trump rants by sportscasters. As much as you can scoff at that theory, it’s not a pure coincidence that their footprint on the broadcasting landscape has dissipated following their new Left Wing MO.

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    Mike V 2 weeks

    There is no “Left Wing MO” at ESPN. There are plenty of conservatives employed there too and the shows that are getting attacked for being too liberal or socially-conscious (i.e. The revamped 6pm Sportscenter) are experiencing smaller declines than other shows that don’t have that bent like First Take. Much like the NFL’s decline was because of Kaepernick’s protest, people come up with a bs narrative and then try to skew evidence to fit that.

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    Mike 2 weeks

    If it was because of “left wing bias” then wouldn’t you see ratings and subs for FoxSports1 going up? Guess what they’re not.

    The other thing is, all of the social commentary happens during non live event programming ….. who cancels their sports channels because of the stuff that gets said when games aren’t on? All that stuff is just filler, people subscribe to watch the games.

    Put another way, if instead of having any highlight or “hot take” show, and if they got rid of all studio hosts and just ran live sports 24/7 (filling in with random stuff like snooker or Strongman like the old days) do you think that ratings would suddenly spike? Come on man.

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    Bob Canuck 2 weeks

    @Original Mitch

    The number of ESPN subscribers peaked at 100 million in 2011; it lost 8 million subscribers before 2016 and lost 2 million more after 2015. ESPN’s decline started well before people spoke about the amount of politics on ESPN; also, 80% of the subscriber losses occurred before the politics complaint.

    Is it possible that some people cancelled cable because of their dislike of politics on ESPN? Sure, it’s possible. However, the decline in subscribers predates the perceived politics of ESPN in 2016.

    Let’s not forget that you started by stating “I believe that’s what is killing ESPN, their lack of focus on sports and more on social issue.” Clearly, based on the evidence, cord-cutting has had a significant impact on ESPN and that phenomenon started over five years ago.

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    Original Mitch 2 weeks

    @ Mike
    http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/currency/analyst-sports-ratings-down-1-year/163886#.WMFDFuCj-y8.twitter

    “Sports commentary shows like ESPN’s SportsCenter were down 7% in viewership. Ratings for ESPN were down 7%, and ESPN2 was down 34%, while Fox Sports 1 showed a 34% increase.”

    Obviously the mothership still has a much larger audience, but facts are facts. People are turning off SC and their other shows because they focus less and less on sports. I’m literally not even just talking about their liberal agenda (which is very off-putting to the average sports fan), I am talking about all sorts of shows and topics that have nothing to do with sports! Adnan Virk has a movie podcast for crying out loud! I heard a commercial for a ‘sports and cooking’ podcast on ESPN. I mean come on!

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    Mike V 2 weeks

    Attributing a 7% decline in ratings to a so-called liberal agenda just because a bunch of angry trolls on the internet insist that’s the case is ridiculous. This is following the general decline of total TV viewership over the last year.

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    robinauroa 2 weeks

    Lawless went on PTS because he and Hayes had a pissing contest back in January or February about who was a better player, Matthews or Laine. Lawless had written an article for a tan on line saying how Laine was the superior player…With Matthews’s play taking off and Laine’s leveling off since the debate, Hayes was gloating a bit on his show and Lawless was never on the show again…. Lawless was never a TSN 1050 fan. In fact he seemed to have a bit of a Toronto hatred going on. He used to come on Macko and Cauz, but all he did was take shots at the hosts and at Toronto in general. After a while he disappeared.

    Prediction: Lawless won’t be very good at this new job. He is a sports writer and a force fit in broadcasting. When he shills he sounds desperate and whiny. He is a small market gasbag. He should have stayed in the ‘Peg and covered the Jets and ‘Bombers.

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    Rob, you’re a fountain of inside info. Thanks for sharing those details. I too found it odd that TSN regular Lawless would appear on PTS right after the announcement. I wonder if he was hoping for a more high profile position at TSN but an offer never came.

    A topic I’m bouncing around for another day is the workload relationship between journalists and TV/radio networks. Arthur, Simmons, and (formerly) Cox write extensively for their print employers but then also put in tons of hours on TV and radio for, presumably, a 2nd paycheque. Other journalists spend those hours working on stories for their primary employers.

    How can the same job be full-time for some and part-time for others?

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    I am in the camp of “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. ESPN’s $7 subscriber fee (vs $1 for FS1) was always both a huge advantage and a huge vulnerability. TSN is $2 to $1 vs SN, so they are in a similar position though not nearly as vulnerable.

    I think all the good points on the topic of politics and ESPN have been made. Let’s move on to another discussion.

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    Original Mitch 2 weeks

    Shut down by the teacher after we began a lively and diverse conversation on the nature of sports broadcasting. oh well. lol.

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    yaz 2 weeks

    Vegas is a smaller market than Winnipeg. Bit warmer though.

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    Omar 2 weeks

    Why the heavy handed moderating? This is a comment board is it not?

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    Omar – Why the heavy handed moderating? This is a comment board is it not?

    Comments deleted from this thread = 0

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    Omar 2 weeks

    Never claimed comments deleted but was referring to the “lets move on…”

    Thought it was a worthwhile discussion, perhaps I am alone in this. Oh well.

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    Cirroc 2 weeks

    Still never got an explanation for my Tyler Dellow comment being deleted in previous thread…

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    Mike S 2 weeks

    Another Patrick O’Sullivan 1050 Update:

    Monday May 8……………did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Tuesday May 9…………..did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Wednesday May 10………..did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Thursday May 11…………did not appear on Leafs Lunch
    Friday May 12…………..did not appear on Leafs Lunch

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    Antonio 2 weeks

    Judging by Jonah’s tweets, it seems he’s challenging Bruce Arthur for the Social Justice Queen title. Good luck with that.

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    MjwW 1 week

    Antonio, why do you think advocating social justice is a negative?

    Let me guess…you’re a white male.

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    Hans 1 week

    MjwW – Wow, you’re really going in that direction? What if Antonio is white? What does that have to do with anything here?

    Did you think that perhaps it’s more a case that Jonah said he was going to post the article here a week ago and instead it seems he’s spending his time on twitter complaining about Trump or retweeting about Trump and trying to out virtue signal Bruce Arthur? Did you think perhaps his tweeting has little to nothing to do with sports (and Canadian sports, and Canadian Sports Media on top of that) and that people just want to read about sports media round-ups and the likes and are Trump fatigued on all sides?

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    New post is up.