Archive for the ‘Broadcasters’ Category

Tabler Buck July 19

Congratulations to Jays broadcasters Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler for having their contracts extended for five more years, which is totally an I-shit-you-not real thing coming from the offices of Sportsnet this afternoon.

To the rest of us? UGHHHHHHH.

“I’m just glad the ‘five year policy’ finally worked in our favour,” tweets @Doron_B, evoking the grim spectre of even more Buck and Pat than just this, and offering a brief moment of levity here, but… ugh.

I guess I might as well just learn to appreciate them, which is funny because if they actually took the time to try to learn and appreciate certain things they may not necessarily like — not thinking like total fucking dinosaurs comes to mind — maybe it would be easier. Though easier still is to just try to get a kick of how weird they are, what fucking things they prattle on about, and how Buck says things like “air” (error), “tinth” (tenth), “mayzure” (measure) and, of course, Encarnyasheeownn.

And I know… I know… Buck and Pat aren’t there for my benefit or the benefit of people like us. They’re not there to introduce big new concepts to people who just want to plunk themselves on the couch after a hard day of work and relax for a few moments before the bumbling Blue Jays start to make their blood absolutely boil. They’re also, if we’re being totally honest, not nearly as bad as a lot of other team’s broadcasters. Relatively speaking we may even have it pretty good, insane as that is to contemplate. But that hardly feels like an excuse for continuing the mind-bending banality of these myth-regurgitating personifications of beige and utterly tone deaf prisms through which Jays fans are forced to consume the game.


Thing is, Buck and Pat are there to be the soft, comfortable faces and voices of a company and a broadcast that would prefer to not alienate its core audience, rather than attempt to spark interest in the game for anybody else, which… is probably a fairly savvy idea, from a business perspective. Anyone here on this site is already finding other ways to satiate his or her appetite for the game, and many of us are already cutting our cable and watching on, which gives us actual choices as to the broadcast we hear. Maybe I’m projecting the way I do things too much onto everyone else around here, but complain as we might — and we sure do — Buck and Pat are sort of just an incidental part of our baseball experience.

That said, I don’t particularly like this any more that you do. In fact, I had a conversation the other day with someone where I agreed that, despite all the griping we did at the time, I’d even be very OK with giving Jamie Campbell another chance at the mic, which at the earliest now won’t come until the totally made-up sounding year of 2021! But if you’re a company like Sportsnet and you’re thinking about your core demographic and what they want to hear and valuing stability and fearing the unknown, to simply re-hire a tried-and-true couple of recognizable oldies like Buck and Pat? Shit, you have to.


It was just over a week ago that we were hearing, from Jerry Howarth, via Jays Journal, that Jack Morris would be back with him in the Jays’ broadcast booth this season.

At the time, here’s what I wrote:

Apparently the favourite of revisionist historians everywhere was only considering leaving — as reports earlier in the off-season had suggested — if he’d been elected to the Hall Of Fame. Since he wasn’t — which, OK, OK, would have been fine too (who cares!) — he’s going to return. And you know what? I was not keen on the hire when it was first announced, based mostly on a few clips I’d listened too, some poor reviews from Twins fans, and reports that were quick to highlight the negative. But I found him a whole lot more enjoyable to listen to than I gave him credit for. Old school, yes. A little to quick to point to dispelled notions that only aid his legacy, sure. But pretty alright, on the whole.

I probably could have been even stronger in my praise, really. But so much for that, as earlier today Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal tweeted that Morris was returning to Minnesota, and now the Twins have sent out a press release confirming exactly that.

Morris is a native of St. Paul and had worked on Twins broadcasts for several years, so it’s pretty much impossible to begrudge him for going back. It sure doesn’t do a whole lot to change the growing narrative about Rogers bizarrely getting tight with money on what should be a crown jewel property for them, though, does it? I mean, the broadcast and the club are obviously independent things, but if they’re not fighting harder to keep guys like Morris and Dirk Hayhurst when the States come a-calling, you can’t help but wonder what that says about the resources available to other baseball-related areas, like… uh… the team itself — especially in light of the fact that the club has done nothing this winter.

Granted, we don’t know what happened here and what the plans, if any, are for a replacement in the booth, or someone to take Wilner’s duties if he slides over into Morris’s chair. I should probably also grant that if the Jays were under some kind of asinine new budget crunch, I’m not sure that doing nothing would be indicative of that — surely there are ways that they could have moved some money around to free up cash to improve the club with, if that was the case — and, of course, the off-season isn’t over yet, and we’ve suspected all along that it would play out exactly as we’re seeing, at least with respect to starting pitching. And this is still better, I think, than seeing them trade away more of their top young assets.

So the time for pitchforks and torches this is not. Yet.

But hoo boy, it’s going to be a real fun year for screeds if the corporate sphincter has tightened up on this club so quickly and preposterously after seeing what kind of dent the Jays can make in this market when ownership doesn’t resign fans to swallowing the same false hope that has been peddled for, literally, two decades. Hoo fucking boy.


In a post on his Facebook page Tuesday, Dirk Hayhurst confirmed that he would not be returning to Sportsnet next season. Bob Elliott had first grumbled about the possibility around the end of December, burying the news in the middle of some silly listicle he wrote for the Toronto Sun.

I contacted Dirk to see if there was anything else that he could add, but he politely declined, explaining only that their parting of the ways was amicable, and that he doesn’t have any future broadcasting plans to divulge at this time.

The year-and-a-half that he was here wasn’t without controversy, but it was mostly of the lighthearted variety. Of course, Clay Buchholz may disagree. And, actually, the whole Buchholz/cheating incident actually did get a little bit nastier — and awesomer, as in the insta-classic Jack Morris quip, “Salty, this isn’t my first fuckin’ rodeo” — than we might remember. Even the Arencibia stuff and the David Price thing from the ALDS maybe don’t quite meet the standards of “lighthearted,” but they sure as hell were entertaining. More importantly, those incidents really only represent a small portion of a body of work that was, among other things, strong enough to get Dirk noticed by TBS.

It was around that time — when Hayhurst joined Keith Olbermann, Tom Verducci, Gary Sheffield, and Pedro Martinez as that network’s postgame playoff studio crew — that a lot of us around got the inkling that his days in what remains, if we’re being honest with ourselves, a baseball backwater might be shortly numbered. It didn’t help when we saw praise for his work, like when Will Leitch wrote for Sports On Earth that Dirk was “an impressive, unconventional choice as a studio guy; he has proven to be an outstanding one. Hayhurst is 32 years old and is going to be on your television screen for a long, long time.”

I know that there are folks out there — I mean, unless we’re talking about Vin Scully there are bound to be – who won’t be particularly troubled by the move, but that’s far from my view, and I know I’m far from alone in that. Dirk brought more than just standard ex-ballplayer fare to broadcasts and to Baseball Central, in much the way that he does in his books, telling personal stories and toeing the line of what those in the room might find acceptable to divulge, just to provide us with insight into how he sees the game, and doing so with uncommon wit, intelligence, and flair — at least for a baseball broadcast in this city.

You’d think that Rogers might see enough value in that, validated as it was by the interest last fall from TBS and the praise their man received for it, to maybe fight a little harder to keep him around, but… well… it’s Rogers, and the only value they seem to see is the kind where they end up with more cash in their pocket at the end of the day. And since we have no idea what’s actually going on, raising the spectre of Dan Shulman is perhaps a little premature. Whatever’s happened, someone’s going to be better off for it, just not Sportsnet, and not us.

Hey, and maybe it’ll work out for the best for Dirk, especially since his new book, Bigger Than The Game, focuses on his time with the Jays and comes out in early March. I haven’t dug into my review copy just yet, so I can’t speak to any lurid details, and I know a lot of faces have changed since then, but I’m pretty sure no organization is real fond of being written about so openly… which is exactly why Jays fans are going to want to pick it up. Speaking of: you can pre-order it right now by way of a number of sellers (including Canadian ones) provided at Dirk’s website.

Jack Morris As Zack Morris?


Funny stuff via the MLB Fan Cave– in which Jays fan April Whitzman is still going strong, having made it as one of the final three cave dwellers, and heading to the World Series live– as they got Jays radio man, and almost Hall-of-Famer Jack Morris to do some riffing on the similarities between his name and that of a fictional character on an unwatchable early-1990s kids show.

Obviously Morris is being a good sport here– he’s certainly not being much of an actor. HEYO! But it’s endearing, as was his analysis during Jays radio broadcasts this season. (See what I did there?)

Sure, there was maybe a little too much drum beating for the pitch-to-the-score concept that is so crucial to his legacy, and some old school ideas that clash a bit with the modern game, but generally he’s been far, far better– for me, at least– than ever expected. Not that we’d set the bar very high, given some of the bristling we’d heard from Twins fans about him, but still, I really do have to admit that he was a very good addition to the broadcast team, and a worthy replacement for ol’ Buns Ashby.

Check out the video after the jump…

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Not the best night for the Sportsnet broadcast of last night’s Jays game, it turns out, and I’m not just talking about putting these two jokers on the screen for way too long (thanks again for that, by the way). I’m talking, of course, about the image above, which was shown prior to Brett Lawrie’s eighth inning at-bat– you know, the one of all-time MLB saves leader Alfonso Soriano!

Aaaaaand there was also supposedly this:

Cue a hundred insufferable “They must have known Arencibia was coming up! MEUH!” jokes. (Sorry tweeps.)

Also: seriously? Ugh.

Also also: shit, I mean, who isn’t mailing it in at this point in the season? Can I really blame anyone for that? Glass houses and first stones and what not? I mean… meh.


Crotch grab in the direction of @MovieGuyJBL for the top image.


Get it before the video gets taken down: here, after the jump, we have “Sweet” Lou Piniella offering his analysis of this winter’s Jays-Marlins deal during the Yankees-Red Sox Grapefruit League game this afternoon, and… as far as inappropriate comparisons go… um… it’s a bit on the rape-y side.

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Ugh. If you’re under the age of 45, this is probably not going to come as good news.

According to a tweet from Rogers Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, the Rogers-owned Blue Jays’ Rogers-owned radio broadcaster, Sportsnet 590 The Fan, has finally filled that position they’ve had empty since Alan Ashby departed for Houston, by choosing the man whose name has been most linked to the position all along: Jack Morris.

Cue riffing:

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