Friday, August 31, 2007

Blue Jays Fans Not Served Well By Toronto Media

Ok. So we have come to accept the fact that Toronto is a hockey town (although we think that it is not in line with the Leaf saturation in the media). But that is a poor excuse for providing subpar coverage of the only other major league sport in town (and possibly the only true major league sport in town). Here's a rundown of the players and how they rate in their coverage:

Newspapers (Online versions):

1. The Globe & Mail - The Globe does a pretty decent job of covering the Jays and baseball in general. Jeff Blair provides good analysis of the Jays and, when applicable, other major baseball stories. Blogs by Blair and MacLeod have rounded out the coverage nicely. Probably the best in this list.

2. The Toronto Sun - The Toronto Sun is probably a bit underrated. They do have unique angles in their stories on occasion but the columnists are not on par with Blair from the Globe.

3. The Toronto Star - Alan Ryan is adequate as a beat writer, but The Star is doing a disservice to its readers with Dick Griffin as their main baseball columnist. Griffin fancies himself a serious baseball writer so he often focuses on the "bigger" baseball stories such as the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry (God knows we need more articles on that subject). In the Internet Era we can read about any team we want to with the click of a mouse. So we're not sure why The Star would employ someone that has nothing but disdain for the local team as evidenced by his columns -- when he writes about them at all (5 of his last 6 columns are about teams other than the Jays). But his readers love him--- apparently.


1. Rogers Sportsnet - I suppose the channel owned by the company that also happens to own the Jays has more than a little self-interest in covering the team. To push the product, they broadcast 120 games, run Jays ads non-stop and produce a weekly kid oriented show where we see Greg Zaun eating breakfast or Aaron Hill playing guitar. Despite the favourable airtime, we don't get the kind of in depth analysis of the team and the game in general that we see for Hockey. If someone in a Leafs jersey gets a blister in July, there are 3-4-5 member panels assembled to analyze it and re-analyze it. We don't get more than a passing mention of what takes place with the Jays. This isn't covered off in the booth either by the broadcast team of Eagle Scout Jamie Campbell and whoever the dullest ex-Jay they can find to fill the other seat.

2. TSN - These guys only carry 20 games and offer no other coverage of the team apart from highlights on Sportscentre. Outdated onscreen graphics (what's up with those grey, faceless 3D figures occupying the field) and the team of Rod Black and Pat Tabler does not help their bleak situation. But the ratings are better than Sportsnet's for some reason.

3. CBC - Canada's public broadcaster signed on to carry 8 games this season with more in the works for next year. The team of former TSN and EA's Triple Play baseball's play by play guy Jim Highson, Jesse Barfield, and Rance "Mr. Excitement" Mullinks are the best of the three networks (not saying a lot). Ratings for Jays games on CBC have been the highest of all three networks. CBC doesn't carry any other Jays coverage other than these games.
Too many to name but it's clear that they are needed to fill the void for we, the baseball info starved fans in the Great White North.

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