Mike Wilner Fan 590 Suspension Optically Unsound

radioI used to watch Mike Wilner on a cable 10 show called "Let's Talk Sports". I'm thinking it was around 1990 when my brothers and I would tune in to watch Mike Wilner and this other guy discuss current sporting events. I thought Mike knew his baseball then, and I think Mike knows his baseball now.

Mike Wilner was suspended from working this weekend's series against the Yankees for The Fan 590 following an exchange he had with Cito Gaston.

During Gaston's daily media scrum on Wednesday afternoon, Wilner raised questions about the way Gaston had used his bullpen in Tuesday night's 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay. A brief but tense exchange followed.

Later on his Fan 590 blog, Wilner wrote at length about the exchange, asserting that Gaston had "painted himself into a corner" by using relievers Shawn Camp and Scott Downs too early. Wilner also wrote that Gaston had "belittled" him in front of other reporters.

The optics here are terrible for The Fan 590. The Fan is owned by Rogers, the same company that owns the Blue Jays. From what I've read or heard, Wilner did his job as a reporter. For that he was suspended, essentially a shot across the bows for other Rogers employees (and remember, it's not just The Fan, but Sportsnet as well) regarding criticism of the Blue Jays and Jays management.

When your pay cheque is signed by the same person financing the team you're covering, should we expect unbiased, fair and balanced reporting? Clearly not.


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dale

He's done. He is great reporter but NEVER belittle those who sign your paycheques even though they may be wrong.

June 5, 2010 @ 7:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@dale

That's precisely the problem. For Wilner to be effective, he needs to be able to second guess and challenge Cito's decisions. This suspension has me seriously wondering if The Fan 590 can be trusted to report fairly on anything Blue Jays related.

Do we look to mapleleafs.com or Leafs TV for our Leafs analysis? Of course not, because we know it's inherently biased. Maybe it's time we view The Fan in the same way.

June 5, 2010 @ 7:50 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

You know I watched that game and I listen to Wilner after a lot of games and lately it seems that nothing Gaston does pleases Wilner, Wilner has no love for Cito and after that game I thought that Wilner was a little harsh, I thought Gaston did what he had to do to give his team the best chance to win.
Did Wilner deserve the suspension? Probably not, but I think that lately for whatever reason, Wilner doesn;'t think too much of Citos job. I like what Cito has done with the team this year, Pitching was never Citos strong point back in the day either remember the blow ups with David Wells amongst others? Thats why Cito had Galen Cisco back in the day to do his dirty work with the pitching staff.
I feel sorry for Mike because he was insightful but the guy hasn't been talking up the team when I tune in, hes been waiting for the anvil to fall and having watched 80% of these games I don't see this team falling back anytime soon. They are a fun group to watch. Wilner while needing to be critical also needs to sell the team to the fans and after a recent win I just didn't hear him doing that.

June 5, 2010 @ 8:33 PM

Greg

Mike got what was coming to him. Every game he belittles the post game callers on his show. So he got some of his own medicine. A suspension may wake him up, but I doubt think so.
Greg

June 5, 2010 @ 10:07 PM

Steve

You guys are missing the point. Maybe Mike is a bit hard on Cito at times, but so what? Those are his opinions and it's his job to express them. Suspending the guy because you don't like what he says about something else you own really calls the credibility of the whole Rogers organization into question. It isn't unprofessional to be confrontational with somebody or to criticize what that person does when that's what you're paid to do. It isn't Mike's job to sell the team to the fans, that falls to the coaches, the players and the marketing department.

June 6, 2010 @ 4:23 AM

Buffalo Boy Mike

As part of the Blue Jays broadcast on a Rogers station yes it is his job to sell the team, and as far as the players, coaches and management they have been doing a hell of a job in my book. Im not saying that Wilner can't voice his opinion of course he can otherwise what fun would it be to listen to an orgasmic love fest after every game, thats no fun either but i would say even in 80% of the wins this year Mike Wilner has been all over Cito for little dipshit things instead of propping up the win a little more, EVERY game you could second guess something done but bottom line is they won.
I would have second guessed bringing in Kevin Gregg yesterday and letting him set the table but the guy pitched out of it and they ended up winning and Gregg gets his confidence back.....Cito isn't god, hes not perfect but geez wilner needed to back off a bit.

June 6, 2010 @ 7:57 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Buffalo Boy Mike

I've got to disagree with you on this one. It's not Wilner's job to sell the team, at least it shouldn't be. If it is, that's precisely the problem.

If Wilner is punished for being too hard on Cito, the entire operation's integrity goes out the window.

June 6, 2010 @ 9:40 AM

Al

If that is truly what the suspension is for then I disagree with it although I'm not so sure. I Bob Mccowan has frequently criticized Cito and even had a bit of a feud with the manager his last time around when Cito accused Bob of being racist towards him and to my knowledge the Bobcat was never suspended.

Wilner is a condescending weasel. I hate the way he handles callers. He's just pissed because his man-crush Riccardi was forced to hire Gaston while he was still here and then let go. To Wilner, Riccardi could do no wrong, even when he did everything wrong.

I'll give it to him that he knows his baseball, and as a columnist, he'd be fine, but as a radio personality...well...he just doesn't have any.

June 6, 2010 @ 9:56 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Al

I remember the Bobcat thing. It was different. Rogers didn't own the Blue Jays until 2000 and The Fan until 2002.

And Bob McCown wasn't part of the Blue Jays broadcast crew... not to mention the fact he's their flagship host and a huge money maker for the station.

June 6, 2010 @ 10:10 AM

Al

That may have been the case back then, but Bobcat still criticizes Cito every chance he gets now. The point about not being part of the broadcast crew is a valid one. It just goes to show you that the FAN still CAN have critical reporting as it involves the Jays, just not from the crew that broadcasts the games, but isn't that basically true for any team? I wouldn't expect Joe Bowen to have unbiased opinions on the Leafs either.

I think the Fan's journalistic credibility is safe on this one.

P.S. Wilner still sucks, but shouldn't have been suspended.

June 6, 2010 @ 10:30 AM

Wilnerbeast

This really isn't about whether we agree with Wilner or not, this is about journalistic integrity.

And suspending a reporter for doing his job destroys that integrity.

McCown is a cash cow - he can get away with it - Wilner's not McCown and he is on the broadcasts.

Bad move FAN 590.

June 6, 2010 @ 10:38 AM

Buffalo Boy Mike

We will have to agree to disagree on the selling the team point, the post game show host is to A) be critical when they lose and B) Get people excited when they win plain and simple is it not?
I have heard Mike lose it on a few callers lately then again, and this is no knock on the smart baseball fans out there who root for the team have you heard some of the callers? They dont know fact one about the current team
Its ashame that this is the post too Mike on a day when they walked the Yankees off in the bottom of the 14th. We should be talking about the win and the team contending for a wildcard spot/division with a chance to sweep the Yankees and go on the road in Tampa and return the series loss to Tampa.
We have the major league leader in home runs and two of the best lefties in baseball. We should be talking Team here.

June 6, 2010 @ 11:33 AM

Thebaj

Mike treats is callers with no respect. He thinks he is always right and is so arrogant. Dan Shulman, Scott Ferguson before him, knew more baseball but they also had personality and more importantly they respected the callers opinions and spoke to them in a very respectful manner. Good for Rogers, I speak for many when I say this.

June 6, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Down Goes Brown

I've never heard Wilner. He sounds like a bit of a jerk.

But if so, fire him. Don't suspend him after he gets into an argument with the manager. Like Mike says, the optics on this are just terrible.

June 6, 2010 @ 1:13 PM

Sarah

I don't think that Wilner was suspended for "just doing his job," as you state Mike because that makes no sense. No employer would be able to get away with suspending an employee for nothing. Yes, reporting on a team that is owned by your company objectively and fairly is next to impossible, but I don't see Wilner being suspended for doing just that. As I stated in my blog post on the issue, perhaps Wilner was suspended for airing his dirty laundry and frustration with Cito on his blog.
(And to a certain extent, the MLB TV station in the States has proven you can be owned by a company, but still report critically on them — as they proved with the steroids stuff last summer).
We'll never know why Wilner was really suspended, and perhaps, we really shouldn't (after all, would you want the world to know why your employer suspended you?)

June 6, 2010 @ 1:15 PM

Il Duce

Despite your feelings for Wilner, whether he treats the callers with respect or what ever the case may be, everyone should be alarmed at this. A reporter is doing his job and if that means criticizing the manager than so be it.

Cito's problem is he's thin skinned and a terrible manager. But he believes he's the greatest and should never be criticized. As Bobcat found out, if you do question his skills then you're a racist or whatever excuse Cito can think of.

Suspending Wilner for insubordination or incompetence is one thing but suspending him because he was critical of anyone within the organization smells of nothing more than censorship.

The Jays and the Fan590 should address and correct this issue as soon as possible. If they don't then its no wonder why the Jays can’t draw fly’s if there not playing the Yanks or the Red Sox and this is the type of reason why the Fan BLOWS.

June 6, 2010 @ 1:24 PM

Jon

Wow. There must be something more to this story. Surely the Fan and Rogers can't be short-sighted enough to suspend a reporter for *gasp* being critical and holding the manager accountable. Wilner is an excellent broadcaster and I listen to him precisely because he says things the way he sees them. To The Fan and Rogers: please remove the muzzle from this man and let him do his job.

June 6, 2010 @ 1:59 PM

Anonymous

Wilner understands baseball better than most anyone I hear on the radio. His analysis is usually bang on, and he tells it like it is, sometimes he's a bit short with callers, but I don't blame them - these people that call in with critiques that aren't accurate or propose radical and impossible trades to solve the problem of the day.

In a nutshell, the man has integrity. tells it like it is, so I am dissapointed to see what Rogers has done here... I am a loyal fan590 listener, and will now question every time I hear any host talking about the jays and whether they're being genuine and honest. Its a shame, and afront to journalistic integrity. I've got Wilners back on this one. Sad day indeed.

June 6, 2010 @ 8:47 PM

jason | getyouroj.com

Mother**** Rogers... don't ever expect any less from the Unholy Empire

June 6, 2010 @ 9:05 PM

Doc

Wilner is a weasel. He may be right (it's easy to second guess) but he is smug and condescending. He really thinks he knows better due to all of his basement dwelling stat geekery. Just like his idol J.P.

June 7, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

J.J.

If nothing else, we have to notice that Mr. Wilner is less critical of his callers in recent days and co-incidentally Mr. Gaston is being far more creative in his line-ups.

Both are using more logical sense in approaching their daily jobs. Each is searching and finding a more winning formula.

I am very sorry any of this even occurred. I respect both men for their talents and efforts.

Congratulations to both of you, the fans will be the winners in this resolution.

J.J.

July 5, 2010 @ 12:55 AM

Dennis

This guys head is so far up the players butts he can't see through the excrement!
Him and Pat Tabler are so bad if one of the players ran the wrong way around the bases the two of them would have a good excuse or reason why the player did it, Ridiculous!!

May 25, 2016 @ 10:46 AM

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