The Curious Case of Howard Berger

Local hockey fans likely know the name Howard Berger. He covered the Leafs on The Fan 590 for over twenty years until being let go in 2011. Love him or hate him, you knew his voice.

Upon being fired, Howard Berger started blogging, first at blogspot.com and then at bergerbytes.ca. He did not stop following the Leafs on the road, however. He essentially kept that going so he could blog about it.

I know this because it's all here in Berger v. The Queen. You see, since Howard Berger incurred about $60,000 in expenses over two years, he wrote that off as a business expense. His trips to New York to see the Rangers take on the Leafs were so he could better blog about the game and post-game conferences. This would make the blog better which would cause traffic to increase which would have sponsors knocking on his door.

On the one hand, I'm sitting here shaking my head at Howard Berger. I've been blogging for 13 years, and even though I didn't appear on a Toronto radio station for twenty years prior, I know a little bit about monetizing a blog. I can tell you Berger's blog was never going to support $30 in expenses every year, much less leave him with an actual income. It's as if he never did any homework or even any basic math.

And he didn't. Howard Berger never had a business case for his blog. Section 31 says it best:

Mr. Berger fails in this regard to have provided me with any projections, comparisons, readership numbers, anything at all frankly to allow me to accurately assess the venture’s capability to make a profit. It is all conjecture. No solid data, just a suggestion his readership numbers were trending upwards. This factor works against Mr. Berger’s position that this was not a hobby but a business. Businesses are out to make money and generally have an idea of how much and how feasible the money-making venture is. Mr. Berger does not seem to have a handle on this. It leaves me to guess whether a steady readership in the few thousands is sufficient to attract sponsors to cover expenses of $30,000‑$40,000 a year.

But, I actually feel sorry for him. After over two decades following his favourite team for a living, he was fired and reacted as if in complete denial. He kept doing what he had always done, and that meant joining the team on the road and blogging about what he observed. He didn't actively seek sponsorship or consider how he was going to monetize the venture and support this expensive activity, he just plowed ahead as if nothing had changed. It's incredibly sad.

As it stands, Howard Berger is still blogging, but without income. He's still welcome on my podcast anytime as I'd love to talk with him about all of this. This case, as curious as it is, will be great fodder for legal classes to debate. When is a hobby a business and vice versa?

What do you think? Was this a legitimate business that justifies $30,000 in yearly expenses? Was Howard Berger personally benefiting from trips to New York to see his favourite team play in the Big Apple? Can you call a blog a business if there is no business plan?

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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Flat Brim Caps = Generation Gap

My daughter knows me well. She can anticipate my reaction to just about everything. It's frightening, really.

She has a birthday this month so she's started dropping hints about things she'd like. After her last soccer match, it went something like this:

Michelle: Daddy, there's something I want, but you're not going to like it.
Me: Oh yeah? What's that?
Michelle: I want a Raptors cap.
Me: Why wouldn't I like that? I totally dig that.
Michelle: Well... I want a flat brim. I know you hate caps with flat brims.
Me: You're right, I don't like that at all.

The flat brim cap era has provided us with our very first taste of the generation gap. Every time I see someone wearing a cap with a completely flat brim I want to grab the brim and work it in. I like curves!

I may personally despise the flat brim style, but I'll love my daughter in one regardless.

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Phil Kessel Traded to Penguins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Way back in 2009, Brian Burke pulled the trigger on a trade with Boston that scored us Kessel a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in 2010 and another 1st round pick in 2011. That 1st rounder ended up being Tyler Seguin, who finished fourth in points last season. The price was steep, but he did average 30 goals a season over his six years here, and that includes the shortened 2012-13 season.

Coming to Toronto are forwards Nick Spaling and Kasperi Kapanen, defenceman Scott Harrington and a 1st and 3rd round draft pick.

Heading to PIttsburgh, in addition to Kessel, is forward Tyler Biggs, defenceman Tim Erixon and a 2nd round pick. We'll also retain 15% of Kessel's salary. Gulp.

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Cycling: June 2015 vs. June 2014

June 2015 was an amazing month for cycling. The temperatures were pretty ideal, there wasn't much rain until last weekend, and we even got new trails to ride. I rode more kilometres in June than I have in any other month of my life. Here's how my cycling in June 2015 measured up against June 2014.

June 2015: 742.85 km

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June 2014: 539.92 km

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My goal for 2015 remains a personal best 5,000 km. I'm currently at 3010.6 km with 6 months to go.

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Josh Donaldson Has Most All-Star Votes in MLB History

Josh Donaldson is having a heck of a season. The Blue Jays third baseman currently ranks first among American League third baseman in runs batted in (48) and slugging percentage (.525), is second in on-base percentage (.879) and is third in hits with 84. His 18 home runs are good for sixth among all AL players.

Royals fans have been trying to vote in an all-Royals starting lineup, but Donaldson collected over 2.7 million votes last week to move into the top spot for third base over Mike Moustakas. It's not just the most votes overall this season, it's the most votes ever recorded. A great deal of credit goes to Don Cherry for rallying the troops.

There's really nothing to dislike about Josh Donaldson's game. I'd take him over Brett Lawrie every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

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Voting in starters for the all-star game ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can vote here.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 127: Melissa DiMarco

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 127In this 127th episode, Mike chats with actress and television host Melissa DiMarco about playing the principal on Degrassi, working with Robin Williams on Death to Smoochy, what she thought of Aubrey Graham before he was Drake and all the awesome people she interviews on Out There with Melissa DiMarco. This episode is exactly 51:16.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

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Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Great Edutainment at Ontario Science Centre

Edutainment isn't just a 1990 album from Boogie Down Productions that made its way into my collection, it's also something I'm constantly on the lookout for my kids. I seek activities that make science fun, and the MythBusters exhibition currently at the Ontario Science Centre is precisely that.

We visited yesterday after taking in a Humpback Whales doc at the Omnimax theatre. There's plenty for the kids to do as they get to perform hands-on experiments, and there's even a live show. Michelle's favourite was trying to remove a table cloth without breaking the tableware while James dug the "what gets you wetter: running or walking in the rain" experiment.

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Maple Leafs Draft Mitchell Marner

With the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have drafted Mitchell Marner of the London Knights.

I've had this feeling since April. This past season he tallied 44 goals and 82 assists to amass an astounding 126 points across 63 OHL games.

He's not big, but he's got boatloads of skill, and I'm glad he's a Maple Leaf.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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