I Don't Like Mondays — October 5, 2015
"We don't need a banana, we need champagne.”— Munenori Kawasaki
After 22 years, it was to be expected that the Toronto Blue Jays might be a little excited at finally getting back into the MLB playoffs. And so the boozy dressing room exuberance last week in Baltimore was not completely unforeseen. As Sportsnet hosts tried to interview the players they were inundated with beer and cheap bubbly.
Players smoked cigars and engaged in some chanting about a Bush Party. There were Go Pros on heads and ski goggles to keep the brut from stinging eyes.
For Blue Jays fans, whose sports heroes could do no wrong, Kawasaki’s tipsy tango with the English language symbolized the lovable, confused hurly-burly of the dressing room.
There was a car-crash curiosity in the scene. But one wonders if the bacchanal image was exactly what the Blue Jays and MLB want to portray. Let’s be honest, post-game celebrations in pro sports have taken on a life of their own, with the celebrations topping each other for audacity.
In particular do the Blue Jays and MLB want to project a scene of shameless drunkenness when the public has grown tired of athletes arrested on DUIs and displaying boorishness?
The players are entitled to celebrate as they wish behind closed doors. But there was something voyeuristic about fans watching the party after its first moments. It seemed that some players gravitated to the microphones for their shenanigans while off-camera the party was more subdued.
Perhaps a more managed ceremony, with players being brought into a separate room for interviews, is called for in this time. The NHL has short circuited the public goofiness for the Stanley Cup celebration by incorporating families into the public image of the night. Players do their rowdiness away from the prying eyes of public and media.
It might be time for baseball to do the same.
Should the Blue Jays have let sentiment get in the way of a possible home-field advantage in the postseason? Needing a win to have a chance of home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs, Toronto instead gave pitcher Mark Buehrle a chance to hit the 200-inning plateau for a 15th consecutive season.
Instead, Tampa soundly thumped Buehrle and the Jays for eight runs in the first inning on the way to a lopsided loss. Kansas City overtook Toronto for top spot in the AL.
It was a kind thought to reward a beloved veteran for his service with the team and in the game. Had it worked, it might have been another homespun story in a miracle season. Now that it has face-planted, however, it makes you wonder if Toronto’s team has recovered from its delirious clinching party. Between blown saves and the hangover, the team has found it hard to get re-focused since clinching the AL East.
For a team that has thrived at home, getting a bounce from fans in Game One was significant. Now that has been frittered away. It seems this well-meaning but suspect call does nothing to reassure fans that things are back on track.
There was a mini-typhoon of indignation when the Toronto Maple Leafs were reported to be grounding their radio announcing team of Screamin’ Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph. The idea? Have them do games off a monitor back in Toronto to save money. The cost saver was greeted with something less than enthusiasm.
Since beingtossed from the team’s chartered jet, the broadcast team (hired by the two media giants in MLSE that also broadcast the radio productions) was left having to patch together a travel schedule on commercial flights and at hotels on their own. Estimates were that grounding the radio pair would save about $200,000.
It’s not a great sum in today’s business. It’s about four of five months’ salary for many of the talking heads who spend their entire season on the studio panels.
But the reality is the classic radio play-by-play of Danny Gallivan or Foster Hewitt is not what it once was as a commercial or artistic factor . Conventional radio is being minimized by webcasting, satellite radio, social media and ubiquitous TV packaging. With games streaming on phones, who needs the medium of radio?
The Leafs’ aborted move is not an outlier as clubs and broadcasters look to economize in the face of diminishing radio revenues and ratings. So Leafs fans will have Bowen and Ralph again. But make no mistake, the door has been wedged open on the issue. Expect some of the lower revenue teams to explore any and all means of saving money— including calling games off a TV monitor in a cramped studio somewhere.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy #IDontLikeMondays