Seven expert voices speak on Sportsnet’s Blue Jays simulcast experience

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Seven expert voices speak on Sportsnet's Blue Jays simulcast experience


ESPN analyst Dan Shulman waits for the start of the Maryland-Indiana NCAA College Basketball game in College Park, Md. On January 10, 2017.

GAIL BURTON / The Associated Press

When Sportsnet announced it would remove a standalone radio broadcast from Toronto Blue Jays games this season and replace it with a simulcast called by Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez on radio and television, fans cried foul. Although the network explained that this decision was made due to protocols related to COVID-19, no other Major League Baseball team will simultaneously broadcast their games.

The Globe and Mail spoke to a number of prominent broadcasters, writers and super fans about the loss of a dedicated play-by-play radio show, a Canadian tradition of spring and summer. was founded on the legacy of airwave heroes Jerry Howarth, Tom Cheek and others.

Veteran TV and radio host Bob McCown who served as the Blue Jays’ game spokesperson at Exhibition Stadium during the franchise’s inaugural season

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I don’t think people will notice a noticeable difference as long as Dan Shulman is allowed, essentially, to do a radio show on TV. It can be done. A TV show on the radio, however, does not work. So now you get into the TV producer mindset versus the radio producer mindset.

It’s little things like commercials and promotions. If you have a radio crew, they are able to promote things that happen on the radio. Much like Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez would be promoting things to come on Sportsnet. Are they going to do promotions on radio networks on television? I doubt.

I have lived for a long time the relationship between radio and television, on Prime-time sports. It is not a friendly relationship. It’s conflicting. This is where you create a potential situation that could be problematic. And I’m not even sure the costumes that made that decision realize it.

Rush singer-bassist Geddy Lee and Blue Jays subscription holder

Some of my most memorable baseball memories weren’t sitting in the stands or watching the game on the tube, but listening to the radio. Coming back from the chalet, I heard Dave Stieb’s heartbreaking first hitter.

There are nuances and descriptors that broadcasters share with their audiences that just aren’t the same as a cabal of TV announcers, no matter how good they are. It is an age-old profession that requires a special ability to bring to life what we simply cannot see at home. It is a bad and regrettable decision.

Comedian Ron James, with Direct from my living room: spring loaded aired on March 21

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I’m not sure simulcasts are the end of the world. Maybe people are overreacting. But we’re losing something that we enjoy, and there’s already a chance we won’t be seeing baseball in person in Toronto this season. In the United States, you can get vaccinated at a Wendy’s drive-thru service. Here in Canada, we are still waiting for the arrival of cotton swabs from Mauritania.

Stacey May Fowles, novelist and author of Baseball Life Tips

There is a certain nostalgia, romance, and storytelling style evident in the experience of the traditional radio show. At a time when we all seek the comfort of the familiar, the connection, it seems extremely precious to us.

Baseball takes a lot of fans’ time, and that distinctive background buzz is so important to getting into the game. Even though the Jays baseball on the radio doesn’t actually go away, it feels like it’s about to die. be fundamentally changed – that it could easily become an afterthought. Even if you’re optimistic, it’s hard to deny that the loss of any beloved media is stinging right now, as it’s part of a much larger picture of things – experiences, places, and voices – than we do. have lost.

Mark Hebscher, podcast host Hebsy on sport

I’m afraid Dan Shulman is stretched to the point where it’s unfair for a broadcaster of his stature. Getting the idea into his head that he needs to speak differently – to present the game differently – is a big request from Dan.

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Maybe if they tell Dan and Buck Martinez to pretend it’s a radio show, it could be of use to everyone. But I don’t think so. I think you must have a dedicated radio show. Having said that, if anyone can be successful, it’s Dan and Buck. They have been together for a long time. The chemistry is there.

Steve Patterson, CBC Radio host Debaters

It’s a different skill, calling a game on the radio as opposed to calling it on the TV. Radio is the theater of the mind. I learned that on Debaters. Baseball on the radio takes me back to my childhood. I could have passed Tom Cheek in the street when I was a child without knowing it was him. If someone had told me who he was, I probably would have lost my mind, because I listened to him more than I would listen to some of my own family.

Bernie Finkelstein, Founder of True North Records and Day One Subscription Holder

I think Dan Shulman might just be the best all-media baseball broadcaster we’ve had in Toronto. And I think Dan and Buck Martinez will be able to handle the simulcast. Having said that, I am totally against not having a standalone radio show. It’s a shame Sportsnet isn’t out there trying to find another radio team like Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth.

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