Posted tagged ‘sportsnet’

That’s right, my fellow Xennials. It’s been 25 years since the 1994 Players’ Strike

August 27, 2019

We’re in the midst of a very grim anniversary.

25 years ago, a work stoppage hit Major League Baseball and it literally fucked up everything.

The players and owners were at war, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Fans were nothing more the collateral damage.

It was an ugly time.

If you lived in Toronto and loved sports, the fall of 1994 was brutal.

Along with the baseball strike, the NHL was going through a lockout. The Raptors existed, but were a year away from their expansion season. The Argos struggled for attention – much like today, unfortunately – but managed to make the playoffs, despite a 7-11 record. They lost the East Semi-Final to the Baltimore Colts CFLers/soon-to-be Stallions.

Other attempts were made to fill the void.

The Fan 1430 – now known as Sportsnet 590 – would air minor league contests and classic World Series games. They even hooked up with a software company that could generate “live” matches involving teams from different eras and seasons. I can remember the ’61 Yankees battling the ’92 Jays; the ’81 Expos taking on the ’85 Jays. Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth were actually doing play-by-play of these games.

Things were worse in Montreal.

The ’94 Expos were the biggest casualty of the strike. They would’ve/could’ve won it all. Instead, it was the beginning of the end.

A lot changed because of the strike. None of it was positive. To an 11-year-old scrawny kid, it was jarring.

Suddenly, nobody liked baseball. Suddenly, baseball was boring. Suddenly, people started to care about the salaries of athletes and were outraged by them. Suddenly, nobody wanted to watch the Blue Jays or purchase tickets. Suddenly, the stadium was half-full. Suddenly, Skydome wasn’t impressive anymore.

It all came crashing down.

In a short and alarming amount of time, the Jays lost all their popularity.

It was a perfect storm: The ugly strike that cancels the World Series, followed by a last place finish in 1995. All the joy and glory was gone and no matter what the Jays did on or off the field, they couldn’t bring it back.

It wasn’t easy being a Jays/baseball fan in the mid-90s. It was a lonely experience. The sport and the team were scoffed at. Say what you want about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa; what they did in 1998 was a much-needed boost.

The silver lining from this dark chapter: There hasn’t been a work stoppage since. However, I’m concerned that two-plus decades of relative labour peace are now threatened.

During a recent segment on Prime Time Sports, Jeff Blair and Richard Dietsch argued there wouldn’t be another strike like ’94 because neither side would want to negatively affect the lucrative television revenue.

I’m not so convinced.

The players are pissed and I don’t blame them. Needing at least six seasons of service time before they can achieve their true market value is a heavy requirement. Adding to the challenge are front offices evaluating a player’s worth based on what they’re projected to do, rather than their resume.

It’s scary because the Jays are (hopefully) building towards something successful and sustainable. A strike would seriously hinder that.

The current CBA has a couple more years before it’s up for renewal. Things could get intense, especially with the precense of social media. There will be a lot of spin and cryptic messaging from both sides.

It’s said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’m praying the players and owners consider what happened in 1994 as they strategize.

Neither side can afford a work stoppage. The carnage would be devastating. Much worse than what happened 25 years ago.

ER

Seriously, you all need to cool it with the mean tweets directed at Sportsnet personalities

August 20, 2017

If there’s one thing that irks me about my fellow Blue Jay fans, it would be how they get upset over the smallest, off-the-field things. Now I’m not 100% innocent myself, but there are certain causes that have been taken up on Twitter and Facebook that have me perplexed. One popular cause is the constant bashing of Sportsnet reporters and broadcasters.

Every day, it seems I always come across nasty comments such as…

“Buck and Tabby are the worst.”
“Zaun’s an idiot.”
“Wilner’s a schill for Rogers.”
“[On-field reporter] is boring.”

Sorry, I just don’t understand why the quality of these personalities is so damn important. They bode no affect on the team’s performance, nor do they heavily influence my decision on how I  consume Jays content.

Now there’s nothing wrong with poking a little fun at the expense of the people on the mic and in front of the camera. Remember “Buck Blunders?” Does that still exist? However, the stuff I’ve seen lately is over the top and malicious.

Now before this post gets too preachy, here are four items to consider before you decide to rip a SNET personality:

1. If [insert personality’s name] was really terrible, he/she wouldn’t have a job with Sportsnet. Lets be serious: The producers don’t base their hiring decisions on a game of darts.

2. Any commentary is just one person’s opinion. It is not, nor will it ever be gospel. So when Gregg Zaun says something, either agree or disagree and then move on. There’s no reason to lose it online.

3. If you don’t like Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, then just watch the opponents’ broadcast, press the mute button or listen to the radio broadcast. Are they as good as Vin Scully or – for local flavour – Don Chevrier? Of course not and that’s perfectly fine. The quality of Buck and Tabby is not a top priority and I really don’t understand why some focus on this obsession. By the way, ever notice how everyone craps on the TV broadcast, but there’s never one positive comment made about the radio broadcast? I haven’t listened to every radio team in MLB, but I have heard a few and Jerry Howarth, Mike Wilner and Joe Siddal stand above them.

4. Be honest: How much venom is rooted in jealousy? Admit it! You resent the fact that – for example – Wilner’s job is cooler than yours. I have no problem admitting I’m jealous of him. Wilner’s paid to live and breathe baseball. It’s natural to feel a little resentful when someone has the dream career and you’re stuck with a job that isn’t as satisfying. We’re human beings after all.

Of course, hiding behind an avatar is like liquid courage. So I’m not expecting anyone to stop this kind of behaviour. It’s just irritating when fans complain about irrelevant off-field things.

Then again, perhaps I should just press the mute button.

ER

40 in 40: UNIQUELYEST (sic) Blue Jays

June 15, 2017

The folks at Sportsnet recently invited us to submit a list of the 40 greatest Blue Jays from the past 40 seasons. Like you, I will sit down in front of a computer and spend many agonizing hours putting together a list. I’m very excited for the vicious internal debates I intend to have with myself.

But first…

I recently created a list of the most unique players to ever wear a Jays uniform. Remarkably, I managed to come up with 40 names.

So what criteria did I use when creating the 40 “uniquelyest” Blue Jays?

I essentially followed three rules:

Rule #1 – A player would not be considered if he was already on the 60-player shortlist that was put together by Sportsnet.

Rule #2 – Stats be damned.

Rule #3 – Go nuts.

These are Blue Jays who are memorable for reasons other than being an all-star, a slugger, an ace or unstoppable reliever. They’re on my list because they were “blue collar” players, had famous dispositions or had one or a few “15 minutes of fame” moments. Heck, some made the list for simply having great hair, awesome facial and bodily features or just a cool name. I’ve even included some that became infamous.

By no means is this list perfect. In fact, it’s really a toss up after the top three. Almost all of the players on this list are from the early 90s and up. That’s simply because I wasn’t alive in the 70s and wore diapers in the 80s. I also doubt this list would ever lead to a documentary by Fadoo Productions.

Anyway, here are the 40 uniquelyest Blue Jays in team history! Questions and/or clarifications? You know where to find me. Feel free to make your own list.

  1. John McDonald
  2. Munenori Kawasaki
  3. Doug Ault
  4. Joe Biagini
  5. Jeff Frye
  6. Brandon Morrow
  7. A.J. Burnett
  8. R.A. Dickey
  9. Reed Johnson
  10. Frank Catalanotto
  11. Marco Scutaro
  12. Steve Delabar
  13. Jason Grilli
  14. Travis Snider
  15. Charlie O’Brien
  16. Matt Stairs
  17. Joe Inglett
  18. Mike McCoy
  19. Shea Hillenbrand
  20. J.P. Arencibia
  21. Sal Fasano
  22. Brett Lawrie
  23. Rick Bosetti
  24. Dustin McGowan
  25. Colby Rasmus
  26. Gustavo Chacin
  27. Gregg Zaun
  28. Scott Downs
  29. Craig Grebeck
  30. Rob Butler
  31. Marc Rzepczynski
  32. Willie Canate
  33. John-Ford Griffin
  34. B.J. Ryan
  35. Brian Tallet
  36. Russ Adams
  37. Jon Rauch
  38. Brandon League
  39. Marty Jenzen
  40. Mauro Gazzo

ER

Retro Blue Jays – Days of the Telemedia Sports Network

April 13, 2017

Posted by Catch The Taste.

​It’s scary to think how the majority of mainstream Blue Jays content is from one specific channel, streamlined for various forms of consumption. I could get upset about it, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

However, there are times when I yearn for the past when the stadium, the team and the broadcast rights were owned and operated by separate parties.

So it brought a smile to my face when I found this old radio intro on YouTube.

At the time – and up until the end of the 1997 season – the radio rights were owned by Telemedia. CJCL 1430 – known today as Sportsnet 590 –  was the flagship station.

Having listened to more games on the radio than watching them on television, the best part of the clip is the theme song. It’s simple, bubbly and has a strong 80s influence. If you were a young Blue Jay fan of the late 80s and early 90s, the tune should be an instant flashback to a simpler, yet exciting time. In addition, it’s much better than the heavy, “armageddon-ish” anthem Sportsnet has churned out over the last few seasons on the TV and radio broadcasts.

Also enjoyable was hearing the late Tom Cheek reading out the sponsors, followed by Jerry Howarth setting the scene.

ER

Episode 66: The Big 50 with Shi Davidi

May 26, 2016

In tune with the Blue Jays’ 40th anniversary season, Sportsnet baseball columnist Shi Davidi has written a new book that presents a combination of 50 moments and people that impacted the team. It’s called The Big 50: Toronto Blue Jays.

Davidi joined DNJT to discuss his new book.

Episode 66 Direct MP3 Download

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Retro Blue Jays – Dan Shulman In The Booth

November 24, 2015

Posted by CatchTheTaste, FlightSimFanatic and MLB.

Last week, Rogers announced that Dan Shulman will be joining the Blue Jays’ broadcast team for the next two seasons. It will be on a part-time basis as Shulman will continue his duties with ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Nevertheless, there was a sense of nostalgia and excitement.

Shulman had a prominent on-air role during the early years of Sportsnet 590 (back when it was known as the FAN 1430). He was even the host of Prime Time Sports at one point.

Certain Jays fans will also remember Shulman as the team’s play-by-play voice from 1995-2001 on TSN. He worked alongside Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler.

In honour of Shulman’s return to the Jays’ broadcast booth, here are some clips from his TSN days. Starting off is a commercial he appeared in with Martinez, Roger Clemens and Benito Santiago. Next are seperate intros with Martinez and Tabler, followed by a play-by-play clip from a 2001 broadcast.

 

 

 

 

ER

Retro Blue Jays – The CTV Years

September 4, 2014

Posted by Travis Doucette, CatchTheTaste, Angela Grace Carriere and boobycluck.


 

 

 

It seems like there’s at least one “hate tweet” directed at Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler during every Blue Jays game. Sometimes, it’s appropriate constructive criticism. Sometimes, it’s over the top and unnecessary. Regardless, this running critique of the Sportsnet broadcast team recently inspired me to reflect on what Jays games use to look like on television.

When I was a child, the Jays’ television rights were usually divided among three networks: CTV, TSN and CBC. Sportsnet didn’t exist back then. Since my house didn’t have cable TV (go rabbit ears!), I could only watch games on CTV and CBC.

The CTV broadcasts hold a special place in my heart. The first time I ever watched the Blue Jays, it was on CTV. The first time I ever watched  the All-Star game and World Series, it was on CTV. Every Wednesday night at 7:30pm, I would turn the channel to CTV’s Toronto affiliate – CFTO, Channel 9, Cable 8 – and watch Labatt’s Blue Jays Baseball. Wednesday night was easily my favourite night.

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a website the chronicles the history of the Jays on television. Therefore, I have to rely on Wikipedia and my memory.

CTV aired games from 1981-1996. The broadcast would feature on-field reporter Fergie Olver, who usually started things off with “How about those Blue Jays!” Colour commentary was first provided by Tony Kubek and later by Tommy Hutton, who currently works on the Miami Marlins’ broadcasts. Play-by-play duties were handled by the late Don Chevrier.

Chevrier was a versatile broadcaster. He was knowledgeable and had a great voice. It’s a shame most fans born after 1993 missed out on watching him call games.

The clips in this post represent what a CTV broadcast looked like.

The first clip is a promo for an upcoming game. The second clip features a video intro, graphics and one of the theme songs. Clip three features different graphics, plus live intros from Olver, Chevrier and Kubek.

The final clip is a half-inning from the May 1, 1991 broadcast – Nolan Ryan’s seventh no-hitter. One common trait of a CTV broadcast would be taped interviews conducted by Olver that would occasionally play between at-bats. Chevrier and Hutton provide the play-by-play and commentary.

You’ll also notice how Ryan dominated the Jays that faithful evening. It also helps when the home plate ump has a generous strike zone. Not that Ryan needed it, of course 😉

Eric aka @TheHek


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