Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Top 10 Items I'd like to See Banned from Leafs Coverage

10. Ubiquitous references to 1967/40-x years (and counting).

I don’t see 1975 in the Flyers headlines, 1955 in every article about the Black Hawks or "never" in write-ups of the Blues, Canucks, Sharks, Sens, etc. Seems most people who remotely follow hockey know the Leafs haven’t won the Cup in over 40 years.

This descriptor is about as fresh as the box of baking soda that went into the freezer with Walt Disney and about as insightful as Charles Duell’s most famous quote.

9. Tank v. Try

Pretty much the epitome of false dichotomy. Or is it Morton’s Fork?

8. Reducing the Leafs cup count to 11.

We get it. Yes the Arenas/St. Pats won 2 cups prior to officially becoming the Leafs, but removing those cups belittles the media more than it does the team or the fans. The owner and team name may have changed, but the bulk of the rosters remained with the team the following season.

Does anyone think the Twins can't count their World Series win as the Washington Senators; the Colts can't count Super Bowls won in Baltimore; the 76ers can't count titles won as the Nationals; and poor Sacramento should lose their NBA title from 1951?

Must trophy counts be re-set every time a team is bought, sold, moved or has a name change?

7. Any discussion of Sundin's future.

If and when he signs, there will be entire forests wiped out to generate newsprint for the resulting coverage. Until then, I don't think we need another special filmed at his dock or bad translations from Swedish newspapers...

6. Fan-centric "reporting"

The Ottawa media doesn't work the locals' apathy/insecurity into every story. The bandwagon isn't the lead item in Vancouver. Arson, white flight and a deep-seated love of Beef on Weck don't make the Sabres' game recaps.

So why do the day-to-day concerns, worries and wallets of Leafs Nation get such prominent play in every article from game summaries to in-depth features?

If I wanted to know what Tony from Woodbridge thought about the state of the Leafs specialty teams, I’d listen to a phone-in sports radio show and hear it directly from the source.

It's lazy, doesn't add value and it's not telling me anything new. Lose it.

5. Turning 1 or 2 game results into major trend pieces

It’s like identifying NFL trends based on a single quarter or half of a football game. How about a little perspective and some big picture analysis?

4. Complaining about the Leafs being on HNIC.

There are so many things wrong with these type of stories.

First: the Leafs play in Canada’s largest media market and the number five or six market in North America. There are more people in the golden-horseshoe than can be found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta combined.

Second: Ratings don’t lie.

Third: Let’s look at who this really affects: if you’re in the Ottawa valley, you get Sens games. If you're in Quebec, you get Habs games (RDS also carries all 82 Montreal Canadiens matches). If you’re in Alberta or BC, the HNIC early game is on at 4 or 5PM and one of the Flames, Oilers and Canucks will be on during Prime Time.

That means the only people “stuck” with the Leafs live between Winnipeg and Belleville. If they don’t like that ratings, market size and demand are enough to make the Leafs the default HNIC game, they can subscribe to RDS, Center Ice, or explore on-line options (if I can get an NHL game over the web in New Delhi, and the World Juniors in Hyderabad, I'm sure there are ways to avoid the Leafs every Saturday night).

3. Pretty much anything Don "Bochenski for Calder" Cherry has to say.

Someone much smarter than I am called him the Ann Coulter of hockey. Is it a schtick or is he really old-man crazy? Either way, there must be better things to report on that what an old show-man had to say on Saturday night.

2. The "When will Ron Wilson go nuclear on the media?" stories

This media angle is the equivalent of repeatedly poking something with a stick and then filing a sensational report on what happened. It's also a good reminder to never underestimate the media's love of writing about themselves, interviewing fellow journalists or covering existing coverage. This meme is a perfect case in point and a little more than a media-created mess.

Given the inanity of the questions, the size of the media contingent and the lack of quality of much of the end product there is only one right answer here: not soon enough. But let's look at the crux of the story angle here: what does it matter if Wilson snaps? What does it mean if he doesn’t? What value does this potential story bring to our understanding of hockey?


1. Plan the Parade Jokes

My daughter’s favourite joke goes like this:

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Banana

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Orange
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

I hear this joke about three times a day, seven days a week. It was funny and sort of cute the first time, but now it’s just white noise.

This is what the “plan the parade joke” has become.

But, in the case of the parade joke, it's not coming from an exceptionally adorable five year old who has no idea how tired and played out a joke can become. No, the joke is coming from a cadre of supposedly professionally trained journalists who have been hired and are compensated to provide insight and analysis on Canada’s favourite sport.

It's time for this one to be retired until the Leafs win at least three in a row.

11 comments:

  1. Can I add one?

    - Any reference to whether a player sticks around for interviews.

    I'm sorry, I really don't care. Yes, I realize players have some duty to the media and the should fulfill that, but I have people who make my job difficult sometimes too and I don't drone on and on about them every chance I get.

    It's become so bad that the Leafs media completely missed one of the biggest stories of recent years -- the major problems in the dressing room the past four years that only came to light recently -- because they were too busy telling us that anybody who didn't do interviews was a cancer and anyone who stuck around was a great leader.

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  2. Pat Verbeek5:04 pm

    We in the Maritimes are also often 'stuck' with the Leafs. Inexplicably, we also get Sens games on Sportsnet.

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  3. love the list or should I say hate it...my biggest pet peeves are #5 and #10 and any time Cherry opens his mouth

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  4. The Meatriarchy9:56 pm

    Brilliant post. Number six in particular is my biggest pet peeve.

    Why do reporters feel that they have to write from the perspective of that "anti leafs" commenter that shows up on every website?

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  5. The Meatriarchy10:07 pm

    Oh and I totally agree with Down Goes Brown. What players have to say is only interesting after they have retired and can speak freely.

    Reporters too often confuse their agenda with our own. They need to get a quote for a deadline to file a story. Because they don't get it doesn't mean that it is a betrayal of the fans on the part of the players.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. This is pretty funny stuff. Awesome post.

    "I hear this joke about three times a day, seven days a week. I".... wasn't this recently published in one of the regional newspaper with the headline..."PLAN THE PARADE"

    enough already :S

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  8. DGB - Totally agree with your addition. I think the reason that Stajan was bandied about as captain material was simply because he always makes himself available to the media.

    Ken Thanks for your comment, I deleted it because I'm looking (hoping?) for a higher level of disourse on this site.

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  9. mapleleafsforever8:04 pm

    Great stuff sir.

    Hopefully this Ken will leave a more tasteful post than the one that has been deleted.

    The Ann Coulter thing gave me a good chuckle. I'm about 99% confident that Cherry's act is exactly that. Does get tiresome though..

    Complaints about the media quality are in a similar vein to #4. If people read it and buy the newspapers these boneheads will continue to spew forth the most inane insights and mundane musings that they can conjure up.

    Alliteration is fun!..er.. Amazing!!

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  10. Anonymous7:56 pm

    [If you’re in Alberta or BC, the HNIC early game is on at 4 or 5PM and one of the Flames, Oilers and Canucks will be on during Prime Time. That means the only people “stuck” with the Leafs live between Winnipeg and Belleville.]
    Right what about last Saturday. The Leafs visit Vancouver for the first time in 2-3 years. And because you Trawna folks can't imagine watching your Laffs at 7pm Pacific...you and the CBC trough lickers move the Canucks home game to 4pm Pacific so you twerps don't loss sleep or get all time zone confused. No doubt you think that is fair. Lovely bunch you've all been since 1967 (the last time da da da da Coupe was won by Trawna).

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  11. anonymous - Thanks for commenting. A few thoughts in return:

    A) If you ran the CBC would you plan your schedule for the smaller local market or for the largest audience in your entire market? I'd be doing everything I could to ensure my employer got the biggest ratings possible.

    B) It's one game out of 82, I think you'll live.

    C) Your '67 comment is one of the most clever things I've ever read. A bitingly insightful remark especially given the unbelievable number of cups the Canucks have one over the same period of time.

    I look forward to future comments like this that add such great value and insight to the world of hockey and lead to an engaging and open exchange of ideas.

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