Monday Morning Commentator: 8/1/11
My Monday Morning Commentator column took a break last week as I was away on vacation. Since today was a Holiday here in New Brunswick for New Brunswick Day, I haven’t had time to write this until now, early Tuesday morning. Better late than never, I suppose. Here is the best rock band in New Brunswick, Ross Neilson & the Suffering Bastards, for you to listen to while you read in honour of my province’s birthday. It’s “The Devil Knows You’re Dead”.
- First off some New Brunswick Olympic news. Harvey Station’s Catharine Pendrel won the Olympic mountain bike test event in Essex, England on Sunday. Great accomplishment for Pendrel and New Brunswick sport on New Brunswick Day weekend and one year ahead of the London Games. Everyone should follow her on Twitter; she is one of Canada’s great medal chances in London.
- Now former NHL on TSN analyst Craig MacTavish has joined the Chicago Wolves as their head coach. This means that TSN now has to fill their lead game analyst role and find an everyday studio analyst. I expect both roles to be filled within the month. I though MacTavish had come a long way as an NHL analyst. I wasn’t a fan of him when he first joined TSN a few year’s back, but he was really good last year.
- Sportsnet showed ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball broadcast of the Red Sox-Indians game earlier tonight; usually they use the NESN feed. I think this is the first time Sportsnet has shown an ESPN broadcast all season. I hope this is a sign of things to come. Even though I’m a Red Sox fan, I always prefer a national broadcast to a regional broadcast. It would be nice if Sportsnet would show Monday Night Baseball, Wednesday Night Baseball, TBS MLB Sunday and MLB Network produced games on at least one of their channels.
- Speaking of Monday Night Baseball, I got my first chance to listen to the broadcast team of former Red Sox play-by-play Sean McDonough, Aaron Boone and Rick Sutcliffe. I’ve heard McDonough and Sutcliffe for years and I’m a big fan of both. Boone really impressed me; he seems to do very good for a new baseball analyst. Maybe ESPN should consider removing the hapless Bobby Valentine from the Sunday Night Baseball booth for next season and replace him with Boone.
- Last weekend TSN and Global aired golf’s Canadian Open. It’s been asked a few times why TSN and Global don’t produce their own coverage. As I understand it, the PGA Tour only wants one broadcaster on the course. Golf Channel and CBS insist that they do it. I’m not sure Global would want to (or even have the means to) produce their own coverage, but I understand that TSN would like to. Maybe a compromise could be Golf Channel simulcasting TSN coverage on Thursday/Friday, with Global simulcasting CBS coverage on the weekend. At least Golf Channel and CBS do a good job of showing Canadian players.
- CTV released its first round of Olympic commentators for the 2012 London Games on Tuesday. Overall, I am impressed by the commentators; less so by many of the studio hosts. TSN obviously wanted to hold Cuthbert back to call CFL games, or maybe Cuthbert wanted to stay back. Taking that into account, I think CTV made the right choices for all of their play-by-play announcers. Gord Miller has experience on athletics, let’s just hope his voice doesn’t crack if (when?) Bolt sets a World Record in the men’s 100 metres. He can’t be worst than Mark Lee though. Faulds usually does best on “race” sports, so he should be more than fine on rowing. Smith is TSN’s Steve Armitage (I mean I swear, they sound almost identical), so he is a perfect fit for swimming and diving. Rod Black will do gymnastics. He does good on slow(er) paced sports, like figure skating, so he is a good choice.
- Among analysts, CTV’s choices mostly line up with my predictions from a week ago. These include Blythe Hartley (diving), Kyle Shewfelt (gymnastics) and Barney Williams (rowing). I kind of had a feeling Larry Cain might be their choice for canoe/kayak. Dave Moorcroft and Michael Smith were excellent for CBC in 2008, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them on CTV’s list. I do hope Donovan Bailey is involved in some way though, maybe as a studio analyst like Marnie McBean.
- CTV’s studio hosts range from the best ever (Brian Williams), to a pairing with lots of potential (James Duthie and Jennifer Hedger) to the odd pairing of Dave Randorf and Catriona Le May Doan. Sportsnet has dumped co-hosting as Don Taylor, Brad Fay and Darren Millard will go at it solo. Fay in Primetime seems odd, as he is the lesser known of Sportsnet’s three hosts. TSN’s hosts seem weak, with Michael Landsberg, Darren Dutchyshen and the pairing of Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. I don’t like use of SportsCentre and Connected hosts to be honest, especially when the likes of Gino Reda and Dan Matheson, who have lots of Olympic hosting experience, will be left home. If I was CTV I would have replaced Randorf with Matheson; moving Randorf to TSN Primetime. Then I would have put Gino Reda on TSN Afternoon. Then I would have put Landsberg on TSN Morning.
- No real surprises at RDS, but it looks like many RDS commentators may be left in Canada calling events off monitor from Montreal. The athletics commentary team with Pierre Houde, Richard Garneau, Bruny Surin and Jean-Paul Baert looks very strong. In fact, I might watch some of the bigger races on RDS because Houde is one of Canada’s strongest playcallers.
- It is expected that the NHL national TV schedule will be released in the coming weeks. Still not sure exactly what day, but it came on August 25 last year, August 19 the year before and August 14 the year before that. The last two years the TV schedule has been released on a Wednesday. I think it will likely come on August 17 this year, but that’s just a guess
- The Rogers Cup begins in one week’s time in Montreal and Toronto, with the men’s and women’s tournaments running concurrently for the first time ever. Sportsnet, Sportsnet One and CBC will combine to show 95 and a half hours of live coverage. Some of the Sportsnet and Sportsnet One coverage will be overlapping. That’s 11 more hours than TSN and CBC combined to show last year. We have yet to see their coverage, but Sportsnet already wins my vote of confidence as this being a great move for tennis in Canada.
- The new European soccer season kicks off this Friday with the Bundesliga opener between Dortmund and Hamburg. Ligue 1 also begins this weekend. The broadcasting of these leagues will remain the same as last season. The contracts for Champions League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga are all up for grabs after this season, so things could vastly change over the next year. I did come across an interesting article on how much each league makes per year from TV rights worldwide. The Premier League makes 1179 million Euros, Serie A makes 911 million Euros, Ligue 1 makes 668 million Euros, La Liga makes about 500 million Euros and Bundesliga makes 412 million Euros. It is worth noting that most of La Liga’s money goes directly to Real Madrid and Barcelona, creating a gulf in that league. Serie A does very well for itself, it will be interesting to see if the brand has taken enough of a hit recently to knockdown the cost of Serie A rights at the season’s end.
- And finally Toronto Sports Media is reporting that theScore Radio will be shutdown with the merger of Sirius and XM in Canada. Breaking news, expect more later.