Connect with us

Sports

End Of An Era, Mike Wilner Gone From Blue Jays Broadcast Team, New Stadium Talk & More – Toronto Sports Media

Published

 on


By TSM

I couldn’t believe that Scott Ferguson was not going to be the voice associated with pre-and post-Toronto Blue Jays games when he announced his departure for a short-lived competitor to the Fan 590.

I also couldn’t believe it when the replacement, Mike Wilner for YEARS let it be known that he had never traveled with the team on the road.

I still couldn’t believe it when Wilner took a regular spot in the booth doing play by play.

I can’t believe it today that he won’t be part of the Blue Jays broadcasts moving forward.

There have been iconic names associated with our teams as we have grown up and old(er).

Mike Wilner earned his stripes and was Toronto Blue Jays.

I can’t and won’t try to pretend that I was his biggest fan. We had disagreements publically and via DM on Twitter. So much so that I never thought once of being too tone-deaf of even inviting him on a podcast. However, and, I don’t know if he read this I have always said he earned his stripes, paid his dues and that the Blue Jays would have a hard time finding a more loyal voice than they had in Wilner.

Bob Elliott captured what I have thought and said for years perfectly in a tweet:

By all accounts taking listener calls is the host dilemma. You get to know people are engaged. However, you get to hear who is engaged and more importantly how long they are willing to sit on hold to share their thoughts with you, no matter how far from reality those thoughts may be. For every cab driver Alan there are 100 Moro from Maple. For every one interesting question or comment, there are 1000 idiotic takes or trade ideas.

Wilner did it and for a LONG time.

Wilner developed a reputation for being brash or rude to callers. Maybe not the smartest tactic but wholly hell we all have limits.

Jeff Blair had a really nice tribute on air, equally as complimentary on Twitter:

As did so many, many others.

I bet Mike Wilner NEVER thought he’d be named in the USA Today!

I was able to reach out to Nelson Millman who hired and groomed Mike Wilner for his thoughts on the news:

“I was sorry to hear about Mike’s departure from the Blue Jays broadcasts. I hired Mike because of his passion for baseball and especially for the Blue Jays. When I first met Mike he told me his dream was to be a play-by-play broadcaster for the Jays. I’m glad he got that chance to do that for a couple of years.”

Don Kollins who replaced Millman wrote to me:

“Sad to read the news. There is no one that bleeds Blue Jays more than Mike and those will be some big shoes to fill in the broadcast and as a Blue Jays insider on radio.”

Tributes and well wishes were literally everywhere as they should have been.

Jeff Blair, on his radio show with Richard Deitsch, gave an emotional goodbye to Wilner, recognizing Wilner for the job and dedication he showed over the years. Blair was in the booth with Wilner down in Tampa Bay apparently and was blown away by just how hard the job was and he well Wilner executed. Every time a door closes, one tends to open was the theme of Blair’s emotional commentary.

So, the number one question I got was why and number two was why now.

I don’t know so the following is a mix of thoughts, educated guesses, and observations.

First, while the sports media business is taking it on the chin right now during the pandemic I do not believe this was a cost-cutting move. I have no idea on the exact numbers involved here but I don’t imagine that has anything to do with it. I am told that Wilner will be replaced.

You read here when Rogers hired Chris Cuthbert to join their hockey play by play crew with an eye to mid-week Maple Leaf games that it was the key hire since they took on the NHL rights deal. I don’t believe Maple Leaf or hockey fans received talent commiserate with the size or value of the market. Toronto is one of the top tv/radio markets in North American and deserves the best.

I think that this is the start of that change with the Blue Jays.

Personally, I had no issues with Wilner doing pre and post games. I get that there is a need to promote someone and give an opportunity. It’s not personal. I thought then and do now too that the Blue Jays fans deserve world-class talent on the field and in the booth and I sense that this part of a new day. I’d argue with the Jays, as the only team in Canada the need here is stronger than the Leafs.

Before you start, that is not an intended shot at Mike. As others said, he bleeds (hope present tense) Blue Jays blue. It’s apparent in his work. He worked his ass off to get where he got. Personally, I think the wrong role for the guy, and that’s not a knock or intended as one. That’s just me.

Now, I don’t know what happened here. Did they approach Mike about going back to his old role? Did they think he wouldn’t accept it? I have no idea. Do I think there was anything lingering from the time out he had to take years back? No. Sorry to the 100’s of you who have asked me if this had something to do with that. I don’t think you get to be a play by play guy if that issue is lingering.

I genuinely think this is about making the team better off the field.

Let me say this.

There are very few of us in life who get to realize their dream job. With kids in high school now I laugh when I hear those things we tell little kids that with enough work you can be anything you want. Well, work is definitely part of it, so too is luck. I don’t want to be a downer but there just aren’t too many people who get up and LOVE what they do. To his credit, Mike got it. That, for however long it lasted is admirable and should be celebrated.

Dealing Wilner this fate right now during the pandemic is not right by the way. Someone should have to take sensitivity classes for this brilliant move.

To me, there should be a place for Mike on Jays’ games if he so desired. Maybe one day he will get to come back. Until then I wish him well.

Not sure if you know alternatives, but who would you like to see do color for the Jays on the radio?

Are changes coming on the TV side???

Me thinks that may be the case.

In other news…

Andrew Willis of the Globe and Mail dropped a news bomb yesterday morning in his page one story that Rogers is looking to build a new stadium, contemplating either a waterfront location or demolishing the Dome, replacing with a modern, baseball-only stadium on part of the current footprint with the remaining be filled with condos, green space and I am sure retail.

This set of quite a stir of media attention, which, let’s be honest is badly needed in the world of Corona bad news stories.

The dome which has now been totally vacant for months, and will remain so for the foreseeable future is in serious need of repair.

It’s not that much of a surprise that a bean counter at Jarvis and Bloor suddenly opined that maybe spending 500m on a renovation wasn’t the best use of funds if an entirely new facility could be arranged.

A couple of things worth noting.

One, multiple MLB HQ folks told me this weekend that there is no way MLB would ever allow the Blue Jays to play in a temporary location for however long it may take to build a stadium should the dome be imploded and a new stadium erected on the same site.

Two, building at a different site removes all the pressure related to building delays, etc. If they can arrive at a new location to build the Jays don’t have to play anywhere else during what is supposed to be the new era of competitiveness.

Shi Davidi, a Rogers employee note that not much is going on this front right now from a civic standpoint right now:

“Two of the people I spoke with today insisted that there was nothing new here, that this file has been largely dormant since last fall. A check of the City of Toronto’s lobbyist registry supports that, as there’s been no documented meeting since Oct. 17, 2019, when a staff member for Councillor Joe Cressy, whose ward includes the dome site, spoke with Jodi Parps, Rogers’ manager of government relations, provincial and municipal. That followed a bigger meeting July 10, 2019, that included Cressy, two staff members, Edward Rogers, the RCI chairman, Tony Staffieri, RCI’s chief financial officer, Parps, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro and Ben Colabrese, the club’s executive vice-president, finance.”

So what’s really going on here?

We talk about this all time, why did this story get leaked now?

Who wanted it out there and why?

I don’t know.

The best part of the story as a sports fan is that the author, Andrew Willis covers Rogers as his day job. So he is well connected. Similarly, he used to work at Brookfield (the property company rumored to be involved in the development). He has a good reputation for veracity and in this case, his sources should be impeccable.

The leaking of this story allowed Rogers to go on the record and say they are not thinking about the dome during the pandemic. So, we can forget any upgrades no matter how long the dome remains vacant. That takes the pressure off.

I think it’s safe to say the blow up the dome build a new stadium where the stadium currently resides is a red herring. I don’t buy it for a second.

Now, did the story got floated to put pressure on a different location?

Maybe.

Is there something else going on?

I think so.

Would Shapiro and others want a new stadium? Of course.

So who leaked the news and why now?

Remember, everyone has a motivation for leaking a story. It shall in time come out the motivation here.

Here’s what puzzles me the most.

Every day there are multiple reports of 1 Blue Jays interest in class A free agents and trades for big salaried stars. The like of which we have not seen in years.

The curious part is that I am told by many close to the action that Shapiro, at this moment in time does not have a budget for the upcoming season.

Why is that?

There appears to be some friction between those responsible for shareholder value and one Edward Rogers. Some believe that the family wants to win badly and recognizes this is the time to strike. The story goes that those with offices on Jarvis are putting up quite a fight.

Is it possible that the likes of super-agent Scott Boras and USA based media members are stroking the appetite of Mr. Rogers to get him to win the battle?

Enquiring minds want to know.

The spectacle of a new stadium is fascinating. Several issues present themselves beyond just the lack of buy-in by the government yet. Even if this was all arranged where would the team play during the 5 years it would take to demolish and replace the dome. To be frank, even with the team on the cusp, if it means getting a new stadium with grass that is fan-friendly I don’t care where they play. Richard Peddie former kingpin of the dome told the OD boys yesterday that “when he built the dome” (right after Al Gore built the internet) it was built to survive a nuclear bomb. Yes, I know he was joking, but the point was it’s not as simple as a few sticks of dynamite. Taking it down would require significant time and money.

This is going to be interesting to watch as the interest around this was deservedly high and I am sure more people are going to be digging.

I know nothing. Here is my bet though, in early 2021 an announcement on a funded feasibility study on building at the Portlands begins and eventually they build on another site and the dome gets repurposed for uses other than baseball.

You should listen to Andrew Willis on Writer’s Block with Blair and Deitsch. It is a really good interview. Willis tells Blair he will be sitting in a new pressbox in 5 years.

We will keep an eye and ear on this as I think it’s going to be fun.

Other things to watch…

Tuesday will be December 1. Mike Tyson fought Saturday night. We have this Jays story. There are NHL issues to cover. The Raptors are about to re-launch. The NFL is on-going. There are a ton of sports stories to cover. Lots of things to talk about. Editors and PD’s should be relieved. If we can get through the next few weeks we will have games again to watch. That could be welcome news.

Speaking of which, The NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining issues have flared up and gone silent.

I am told that there is significant displeasure in the commissioner’s office in that he had to reneg on a deal where the ink was not yet dry. Not a good look nor something that he takes lightly.

If you didn’t hate the Bruins before, perhaps you now have even more reason, or so the story goes.

I am a big believer that they all need the money and ascribe to the 100% of 0 is 0 theory and they will figure it out but it’s not good.

One rumor circulating is that the current market for new TV money in the USA is not what Bettman had believed and Jacobs and Co. are looking for savings now while they can.

Black Friday came and went. The Athletic is available for $12 for the year. If the Globe and Star offered that would you sign up? I would. If they joined forces and created an all you can eat model with the other papers I would pay for that too.

There were more cuts at Rogers and other media outlets this week.

With the exception of Burlington Vermont, I have never called a small town my home. So I can’t say for sure, but at least one of the reasons people live in small towns is to avoid the big cities.

However, earlier this week, the KiSS morning radio show programs in North Bay, Timmins, and the Sault, listeners learned, will be replaced with the Roz and Mocha show based in Toronto. With more changes to be announced soon.

The pandemic was blamed, for the changes:

“We are modernizing our business to position us for growth as we face the continued effects of a seismic shift in the media industry from traditional to digital and the challenges of the global pandemic,” Rogers spokesperson Andrea Goldstein said.

“These changes allow us to prioritize our focus in areas where we have the assets and capabilities to deliver best-in-class multi-platform experiences. Decisions like this are never easy, particularly as they are not a reflection of the enormous talent, dedication, and passion displayed by the team members leaving the company.”

Ouch…

if you are driving around these Saturdays tune into Jim Tatti and Perry Lefko on TSN radio. A couple of older gents talking sports on a Saturday afternoon. Not the worst idea ever.

Listen on all your favorite podcasts or listening services..

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Canucks snap losing skid, rediscover scoring touch in drubbing of Senators – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


VANCOUVER — A hat trick from Brandon Sutter lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 7-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

It was a much-needed victory for Vancouver (3-5-0), which had not won in regulation since its season opener on Jan. 13.

Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist for the home team, while Tyler Motte, Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi also scored. Bo Horvat tallied two assists.

Ottawa’s (1-4-1) lone marker came from Austin Watson midway through the second period, with assists from Thomas Chabot and Mike Reilly.

Thatcher Demko had 34 saves and collected his first win of the season for the Canucks.

Sens goalie Matt Murray stopped 28-of-35 shots.

With just 54 seconds left on the game clock, Sutter snuck his third goal of the night in behind the Ottawa goaltender.

Juolevi beat Murray with a long-range blast to make the score 6-1 three minutes earlier.

It was the Finnish defenceman’s first NHL goal.

Hughes had widened Vancouver’s lead to four 12:12 into the final frame after Horvat’s shot clinked off both posts. The young defenceman deftly snatched up the rebound and deposited it home

Watson got Ottawa on the board 11:58 into the second, deflecting in a shot from Chabot, despite having two Canucks defenders draped all over him. Demko didn’t appear to see the puck until it was behind him in the net.

Vancouver was quick to regain the two-goal lead.

Thirty seconds after Watson scored, Horvat won a draw in his own zone and sent the puck to Nils Hoglander in the neutral zone. Hoglander chased the puck over Vancouver’s blue line and dived, poking it to Pearson. The left-winger fired a wrist shot past Murray for his first goal of the season.

Sutter padded Vancouver’s lead with a short-handed marker, his second goal of the night, 17:44 into the second frame.

Canucks winger J.T. Miller had been called for slashing on Ottawa’s prized rookie Tim Stutzle, drawing the ire of some Sens players. Chants of “boot him!” emanated from the ice as Miller made his way to the box.

Artem Anisimov blasted a shot at Demko on the ensuing power play and the Canucks netminder dived backwards to make the stop.

Antoine Roussel picked up the loose puck and got it to Sutter, who streaked down the ice and took a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle that found the top-left corner of the net.

The veteran centre already had a highlight-reel-worthy goal on the night, having flicked a diving backhand in past Murray 9:31 into the first frame.

Motte put the Canucks up 2-0 before the end of the first, stealing the puck as Ottawa tried to clear it from deep within their own end as Vancouver changed lines.

Motte sent a pass to Beagle, who waited for the right moment to put it back on the Winger’s tape. Motte then buried a snap shot from the top of the crease.

Roussel and Josh Brown drop the gloves midway through the third period, with boisterous encouragement from their respective benches. Neither seemed to get a blow in before the pair were separated by officials and sent to the box.

Tempers flared again shortly after Hughes scored. Watson took umbrage with Zack McEwen’s hit on Brady Tkachuk and faced off with the big forward at centre ice. They continued to have words in the box and their teammates appeared to exchange verbal jabs from the benches.

Monday’s matchup was the first in a three-game series between Ottawa and Vancouver. The Canucks will play host again on Wednesday and Thursday.

NOTES: Stutzle returned to the Sens lineup after missing three games with a wrist injury. ? Vancouver has allowed more goals (34) than any other team in the league this season.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Quick Reaction: Pacers 129, Raptors 114 – Raptors Republic

Published

 on



.grade background: #315233; padding: 10px; border: 3px solid #977252; color: white; font-size:35px; font-weight: bold; text-align: center;
margin-top: 5px

TOR Raptors 114 Final
Box Score
129 IND Pacers

A. Baynes14 MIN, 9 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-9 FG, 1-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

Baynes clearly has a lot more pep in his step since righting his early season wrongs over the past few games. Tonight was another stride in the right direction. Indiana’s bigs were cheating off of him on numerous occasions, and Baynes burned them for it. The big Aussie displayed some really soft touch around the rim, and helped free up space for his guards with some rock solid screens on the perimeter.

K. Lowry32 MIN, 12 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2-11 FG, 1-5 3FG, 7-7 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -4 +/-

Kyle started this one looking a little hungover from his 2 game absence, turning the ball over and playing quite sloppy basketball by his standards in the first half. Lowry failed to counterbalance his shoddy offense with any other sort of real contribution in this game. He notched up the intensity up a bit in the fourth quarter, but relied heavily on his teammates for points as he struggled to put the ball in the net all night long.

N. Powell39 MIN, 24 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 8-19 FG, 2-7 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -14 +/-

Powell provided the offensive spark Toronto needed in this one, filling it up from multiple areas from the moment the game tipped. Shades of 2017 Playoff Powell were on display tonight, as Norm was both ultra aggressive and efficient whenever he touched the ball. He slashed to the cup like a madman in control, and his jumper was looking buttery. Without Norm’s immeasurable offensive boost, this one might have been over at halftime.


O. Anunoby27 MIN, 10 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 4-8 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -5 +/-

OG followed up his best game of the season with a fine performance on Monday evening. The work he’s putting in to his jump shot is clearly paying off, as he’s been an absolute marksman to start the year. His night was cut short by a bloody lip, but he still managed to hit double figures for the 9th consecutive game. Yeah that’s cool.

F. VanVleet34 MIN, 25 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 11-21 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -16 +/-

With Lowry back at his side, FVV demanded less defensive attention on Monday evening than he did yesterday, which directly increased his appetite to score. Fred did a solid job of supplementing his barrage of pull up jimmys with attacking open space early and often. Offense was tough to come by at points in this one, but Fred was one of the few who seemed to keep it rolling all night long.

C. Boucher29 MIN, 9 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3-12 FG, 1-6 3FG, 2-4 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, -15 +/-

The boy was back tonight. Well, at least from a defensive standpoint he was. After a couple rather pedestrian outings for the wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube man, Boucher served up a tasty defensive performance on Monday. Boucher saw the fear in his teammate’s eyes when they looked at Myles Turner in the first half, then said, “hold my beer”. He was an absolute shot-bothering stud during the second half, anchoring a performance which could’ve only been improved by a much more accurate jump shot.

S. Johnson25 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 4-4 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 3 +/-

Stanimal began his night with one hell of a nasty swat on an Aaron Holiday transition lay-up attempt, and never looked back. Johnsons value might not be recognized from those lightly skimming the stat sheet, but if you watch him play, his impact on the game is pretty clear. He’s an intuitive disruptor who’s skillset shone bright in the minutes he played tonight.


Y. Watanabe15 MIN, 9 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-6 FG, 1-4 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -8 +/-

Yuta had a couple bad turnovers and didn’t show the touch around the rim that we’re used to seeing from him, but he still made a few great plays in timely spots. He’s got a smooth-looking jumper, and as has been mentioned in many a QR before, is extremely agile for a player his size.

T. Davis6 MIN, 3 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-2 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-

Not much to say about TD’s 6 min in this one. Took two 3’s and made one. He was part of a unit that gave up a ton of points in the 2nd quarter.

D. Bembry5 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-

He filled in for OG for a couple minutes in the forth while he was getting his lip tended to, but didn’t do much that was noticeable.

M. Thomas2 MIN, 4 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-1 FG, 1-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-

Thomas was standing out of bounds when he caught the ball on his first touch of the game, but swiftly made up for it with a 4-point play on the next possession. Great work staying ready from a guy who hasn’t seen the court much since the first couple games of the season.

Nick Nurse

Nurse definitely did a good job of instilling some change in the locker room at half time, turning his clubs defensive performance around. However, he was 2 quarters too late, not being able to respond to the small ball, rapid pace which Indiana played from the jump.

Things We Saw

  1. Talk about a tale of two halves. The Raptors were god awful from a defensive stand point for the first 24 minutes, then came out looking like a totally different team in the third quarter. They outscored the Pacers by 9 in the frame, but more importantly, they held them to 28 points. That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but for the pace this game was being played at, it was.
  2. Maybe it’s nagging pain from the toe infection, or it might be rust from being out of game action for a few days, but the Raps need their star player in Kyle Lowry to make more of an imprint on the game if they hope to keep trending in the right direction. Very peculiar to see Lowry, who usually contributes in multiple areas, be pretty ineffective across the board tonight. Let’s hope it’s just an aberration in the perennial All-Star’s game.
  3. Toronto has righted the ship somewhat, going 6-2 in their last 8 contests against several banged up teams. Now a real test presents itself in the form of their next game. The Raptors play the Bucks at home on Wednesday, in what should be a good litmus test for how far this club has come.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Player with Kamloops Blazers critically injured in weekend snowboard accident – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


A player with the Western Hockey League Kamloops Blazers has suffered what the league describes as “life-altering injuries” following a weekend snowboarding accident in Saskatchewan.

A statement posted by the league says the news about Kyrell Sopotyk is devastating.

The 19-year-old forward from Aberdeen, Sask., was entering his third year with the Blazers.

Story continues below advertisement

An online fundraiser set up for Sopotyk says he has been paralyzed.

The fundraiser launched Sunday to assist Sopotyk and his family with “possible renovations, health care costs and any additional supports,” and had far surpassed its $50,000 goal in less than 15 hours.

A statement issued by the Kamloops Blazers encourages public support of the fundraiser and calls Sopotyk “a tremendous young man and an exemplary representative” of the team.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending