For a variety of reasons, including personal and health issues, I decided to take a break from writing. Everything is fine, just a lot of life getting in the way. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that the best course of action is to get back to writing again. So, here we go. Some random sports media and miscellaneous thoughts that have been keeping me up at night:
Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph are both nearing the end of their current contracts as the play-by-play team for the Toronto Maple Leafs radio duo. As we’ve seen over the last several months, those of us who really care about live game radio continue to dwindle, so one has to wonder how many people would really care if the announcing team were to change if the Leafs decide to make a change. For my part, I will say that it would be a real shame if anyone other than Bowen and Ralph were calling the games on radio if the Leafs were to go on a run and escape the first round of the playoffs. If someone on the team were to score a meaningful goal, it would be sad if anyone other than Bowen had the privilege of calling it. With respect to Chris Cuthbert, only two people in my memory have called memorable Leaf goals: Bowen and Cole, and I’m okay with Bowen doing so for the foreseeable future.
For what it’s worth, Bowen tells me he wants to continue for another three years. The ball appears to be in Shanny’s court.
Google and YouTube have won the rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, which has been held by DirecTV for years. At the same time, Jeff Bezos is a finalist for the ownership of the Washington Football team. These are interesting times for “TV” rights south of the border. I put “TV” in quotes because I think the term “TV” continues to evolve into more of a consumption method, where the device is more important than the platform. It’s unclear what this means for Canada.
The NFL has been interested in Bezos as an owner for years. With no disrespect to Ryan Reynolds, the NHL is focused on him. I can’t think of anything more “NHL” than that. I want to stress that this is not a knock on Reynolds at all. He’s a terrific actor and, by all accounts, a better human being, and he will be a great ambassador for the league. However, the idea of “we will get him involved in any ownership group” is pretty hilarious to me.
If you haven’t heard Mark Shapiro on the McCown podcast with John Shannon, you really should listen in. Not only is it the best interview Shapiro has given during his Toronto tenure, but he provides some pretty good insight into what it’s like to be the CEO and operate within the Rogers regime. Hint: it’s pretty good. I think those who have concerns about Rogers not being willing to spend to compete or win will feel much better after hearing Shapiro. Also, go back and compare this interview with many of the earlier ones from the early days of Shapiro’s tenure, and I think you will see that Shapiro has finally seen what the market needs and expects from a leader.
While on the McCown podcast, listen to their awesome interview with Dan Shulman. I won’t dissect the entire interview, but I will say that once and for all, I think many of you who have your heads in the sand about the challenges the Jays and Raptors have in luring free agents to Toronto may finally see the light. Shulman, who is arguably the best play-by-play man in baseball and NCAA basketball around, not just in Canada, does a superb job highlighting the issues that do exist for players and families when considering a move north of the border. These issues do not diminish Canada or Toronto. However, as both Shulman and Shapiro note, when the money is equal, market differences do come into play. As Shulman notes, “no Target, or different milk that their kids drink” or, as Shapiro notes, “extra time at the border” are real issues that the teams have to confront when trying to attract players to come north of the border.
I don’t know why so many fans refuse to believe that these issues exist, but there you have it. Shapiro does a remarkable job explaining the lengths the Jays go to ensure that they dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s in creating a fantastic family experience in all other areas, so that players and their wives and families are comfortable and happy to come to Canada despite the issues. These issues exist, they are real, and the two teams face them all the time. This is not my issue. Listen to those who talk to players and deal with them. It’s not an inferiority issue.
Still with the Jays, Tabler is gone, Buck is not signed yet, but it sounds like he is close. What else is going to change with the Jays broadcast? Will radio be stapled to the home booth again? I hope that Joe Siddal gets an expanded role, but we’ll see.
I have been hearing more Hailey Salvian on the radio of late, and I am really liking what I hear. Someone should give her more air time.
Two things I think, and they aren’t in conflict. I like Blake Murphy with Ben Ennis. I miss Stephen Brunt with Ben Ennis.
If I were running things, I would push the very talented Justin Bourne to talk about topics beyond hockey. He’s that good. The same goes for Frank Corrado.
Ray Ferraro owes us nothing, he’s earned everything, but our world was better with more of him. At the same time, Mike Johnson is arguably the best analyst in the game right now.
I don’t know how long Elliotte Friedman has been writing his blog, but his December 21st one was BY FAR his best one ever. Elliotte taking the NHL to task on the cap was a really good sign, and one expert called it “journalistic maturity” that many have been looking for from Elliotte for some time. That, by the way, is a 100% compliment.
On the CBA issue, you just have to believe that everything with Bettman is a negotiation. I can only imagine life as his grandkid. That’s a joke by the way. He has a stellar reputation on the personal side.
I continue to subscribe to the Athletic yet I am finding it harder to find reasons why. Where has all the good content gone? It seems to be a lot of meh these days. Have writer’s been let go we aren’t aware of or is content just buried in a sea of ads?
The year is about to be 2023 and yet the Toronto Sun and The New York Post websites are designed like they are 1996. Right behind them? TSN. Do folks who work there still have AOL email too?
The new social media app Post has one brilliant feature, it contemplates payment for reading links. I follow Reuters. If I want to read a story of their’s I have to pay in Post currency to do so. I imagine at some point a subscription will follow. Not sure why Twitter hasn’t done that, but that is where the gold is in my mind.
There are a lot of great podcast episodes out there, but for the sports fan out there, make sure you you don’t miss the great one on Smartless. It really is amazing.
As we turn our calendars, it’s hard to think of a bigger story in sports than the disaster that is Hockey Canada, ironically with the World Juniors being played right now. A massive hat tip to Rick Westhead, who continues to do incredible work on stories like these.
While sitting poolside in the sun for the last few days, wearing a Jays hat, I’ve been approached by fellow snowbirds from Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. Many of them are convinced that Connor McDavid will leave Edmonton (they didn’t specify where he might go), and they think he should. It’s also apparent that, as much as they hate the Leafs, they love the Raptors and the Jays. The more things change, the more…
Riddle me this, Batman: if Chris Cuthbert and his sidekick were to retire, who would CBC name as their game 1 replacements? It’s not such an easy answer, is it?
I ask you the same question I asked my Twitter followers: name for me your top under-25 Canadian sports media personalities who don’t currently have their own shows or permanent positions on a show that is hosted on a national broadcaster. I’m curious where the next wave of sports media talent is coming from.
Finally, a question on the topic of sports gambling. My feed is full of ads for it, and it’s full of people complaining about it. Millions of dollars are being bet and millions of dollars are being spent on ad dollars. So, what’s the beef? Is it just the sheer volume of ads? The repetition? Are people really that opposed or turned off by gambling? Is it complaining for the sake of complaining? For me, it’s noise. Back in the day, if a segment came on that I didn’t want to listen to, I switched the channel. Today, I can look at most streaming schedules and choose the segments I want to listen to. Those that feature things that don’t interest me, I don’t listen to. 99% of the time an ad comes on my TV, I either change the channel or walk out of the room. I guess I’m surprised that, after so many months, the volume of complaints remains steady. What is it?
Thank you all for checking in. Wishing you all a happy and HEALTHY new year.
3 Replies to “Toronto Sports Media Return Recap Turn The Page”
When I first interviewed Mark Shapiro in the fall of 2017, he was chafing against Rogers’ corporate ownership structure, and he surprised me by saying he didn’t know how long he could continue……after having been on the job for all of two years.
It looks like he’s reconciled with his management overlords since them.
Nice to have you back