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Did the Blue Jays go after a reporter they don't like?

Jun 7, 2010, 2:25 PM EDT

There’s a chilling little story coming out of Toronto as Mike
Wilner, who covers the Blue Jays for Toronto’s The Fan 590-AM, was suspended for the team’s weekend series against the Yankees following a confrontation with Jays manager Cito
Gaston last week.  The “brief but tense” exchange happened on Wednesday, when Wilner asked Gaston about his bullpen usage. The reason his suspension is chilling is because both the Blue Jays and the radio station are owned by Rogers Communications.

Did someone at the team complain to Rogers execs about Wilner’s questioning of Gaston, leading to his suspension? That’s what the sources to the various reports of the event are suggesting. Though it would be strange if Wednesday’s thing — which most reports I’ve read described as a bit tense, but nothing crazy — was the kicker, as Wilner has been highly critical and often downright hostile to Gaston in the past. Indeed, earlier this season he either felt the need or was forced to apologize to Gaston on his blog for his sharp comments relating to Lyle Overbay.

I don’t know what happened behind the scenes here, but I hope that neither the the Jays nor Gaston had anything to do with this. Sure, no one likes to be criticized, but you gotta have a thicker skin about this stuff, and going after the media like this makes you look really bad.

Same goes for Rogers too, who I hope would realize that a conglomerate can’t expect its media holdings to have any credibility if they are punished for criticizing the sports teams they are tasked with covering. A certain decorum can be expected, sure, but if your media guys can’t ask tough questions, they’re basically a glorified P.R. department, aren’t they?

Now, let me give you a piece of mind about Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Bob Costas and the entire cast of “The Office” . . .

  1. Andrew - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Glad to see this story make it here. Seems like a seriously case of censorship and something that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if rogers didn’t own both The Jays and The Fan.
    Wilner has been very critical of Gaston, but who hasn’t. Is there anyone who actually likes his in game managing? He does a lot of things well but game strategy isn’t one of them.
    The apology over Overbay for those who don’t know was that Wilner suggested Overbay was being hung out to dry batting 5th playing everyday vs lefties whatever as punishment for his role in last seasons mutiny.

  2. Bob - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Yeah, it’s a sticky situation for the Jays. My understanding of this is as follows:
    Wilner has gone after Gaston all year long on his blog and radio show. His vendetta against Gaston deteriorated into a series of increasingly personal attacks. At one point, he accused Gaston of starting Overbay (while he was slumping) in the everyday lineup to embarrass him. Although Wilner is an intelligent man with a profound knowledge of the game of baseball, he is frequently confrontational with the callers on his show.
    After the infamous recent exchange with Gaston, Wilner relayed what had happened in an angry blog post. I think this inappropriate act of sharing what happened with the Internet – airing one’s dirty laundry is extremely juvenile – is what earned him his suspension.

  3. Paul Martin - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    I do not listen to The Fan, but I strongly suspect that Mr. Witner went much too far. Reporters often think that they know best, when in reality, they know about as much as the average fan. I have seen a lot of opinionated nonsense from sports reporters who in reality are complete idiots.

  4. RamboDiaz - Jun 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    In other news, the entire city of Pittsburgh has been suspended from the upcoming series against the Nationals due to critical remarks about the Pirates.

  5. Scott - Jun 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Wilner is an asshole, he deserves to be fired, not suspended.

  6. Old Gator - Jun 7, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    Journalists in general suffer from an exaggerated sense of entitlement. They can sit behind their microphones and keyboards and find all sorts of reasons and ways to savage anyone they don’t like, and their victims’ resources with which to respond are sharply limited simply because even their responses, past a limited point, must be disseminated by other journalists.
    Gratuitously obnoxious or abusive journalists are not an uncommon phenomenon, due largely because the public loves to put the boot in itself. They’re a reflection of our own collective pettiness and petulance, and their perpetual dissatisfaction with everyone around them is a reflection of our own collective dissatisfaction with the vapid lives we lead.
    Whereas I appreciate Craig’s concern for protecting objective reporting, there’s nothing “objective” about a personal vendetta being carried on over the air. It’s entirely possible that Rogers Communication, being a communication company, wants to maintain some semblance of professionalism in an institution whose professionalism and baseline dignity have eroded colossally over the past few decades, to the point where terms like “news” are uttered tongue-in-cheek.

  7. Prokopec - Jun 7, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    why does everyone say wilner knows the game? theres no evidence of this, and in a real baseball market his superficial knowledge of the game would be exposed, instead of praised
    the most chilling part of this story is wilner only missed a weekend, he should be fired

  8. Steve2413 - Jun 7, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Why should Wilner be fired? The fans who don’t like him are the ones who call in the post-game show with idiotic comments, and Wilner calls them on it. I love that. Jim Rome does it. It’s a big part of what makes a successful host. Of course i don’t agree with Wilner all the time, but those who are calling for his firing are simply looking for more time on the radio. They’d rather be back in grade 3 and get praised for their ‘good effort’ over the radio.
    As for Gaston, he’s earned his reputation for being thin-skinned. If he didn’t want criticism, he should have retired.

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