Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Chuck Swirsky leaving Toronto does come as a shock.

Here's hoping the next Raptors play-by-play voice is a true basketball guy who learned the craft of commentating in Canada.

The team is in its second decade, the fan culture is mature. The time has come, the same way it had when Dan Shulman called the Blue Jays before he went to ESPN.

There's a long-standing, self-fulfilling prophesy in the Canadian media to maintain that we can't perform certain roles. They (quote, unquote) say there's no one out there and affirm it by never giving anyone a chance. It's manifested itself into a belief that no one could ever develop the craft to commentate any sport other than hockey or the CFL while living in Canada.

It's total bullflop. The executives would rather recycle an on-air personality and have him learn on the job than take on someone who steeped in the game, although he might not be a known quantity to the sponsors and the highers-up.

In a better world, this would create an opportunity for someone such as Tim Micallef from The Score. He's done basketball play-by-play, he comes across as a true hoopophile and he's slugged it out for years. He's even cut back on the masssssives, so here's a missive hoping he gets a chance, if there's an opening for a Raptors play-by-play voice.

(One logical guess is that Paul Jones and/or Eric Smith might get switched to the TV side.)

The Jays did improve their broadcasts by bringing in American who's a known quantity when Alan Ashby was hired to pair up with Jerry Howarth on the radio. The hierachy should go (a) look for a deserving Canadian who's a true basketball guy; (b) try to bring in a 'name' NBA broadcaster from the States; (c) opt for the trite and true, so to speak.

The T Dog Media Blog, which covers Chicago sports media, might be a go-to site over the next couple days.

Voice of the Raptors leaving for Chicago (
Bulls shake up broadcast teams (
Raptors announcer Swirsky leaving for Bulls (Toronto Star)


Tyler King said...

Not one of the radio guys, please god no.

sager said...

That's a not uncommon reaction over at ...

If they figure Paul and Eric merit being moved over to TV, so be it.

Bottom line, someone fresh and Canadian should get a shot soon. Not any Canadian would do, but there are many Canadians who could do it.

Tyler King said...

Now, it'd have to be an MLSE employee, right?

As in, you couldn't have TSN promoting Rod Black (god forbid) and The Score giving the job to, say, Adnan Virk?

sager said...

The implicit understanding here is that MLSE would prefer to have their own employee assigned to the play-by-play/colour commentary roles.

A lot of the A.V. Club (fans of Adnan Virk) have suggested for the past couple years that someone should let him try play-by-play. Micallef is a little older and more steeped in it, so he might have more merit.

Dan R. said...

One combination of a) and b) might be John Saunders, the original TV voice of the Raptors. His ABC/ESPN schedule seems reduced to The Sports Reporters and some college football. And there's only really one month of overlap between college football and the NBA, if he wanted to keep his hand in both. The whole thing about Canadians not being able to do basketball play-by-play should be put to rest already - in addition to Saunders, Mark Jones and the aforementioned Shulman are top notch. And while she hasn't done play-by-play, Stacey Dales is probably talented enough to do it.

sager said...

does Stacey Dales do any TV in Chicago, or just ESPN (she played hoops there with the Sky)? I was just wondering because a comment on the a Chicago blog's post about The Swirsk made some reference to a Stacey.