Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Canadian who likes baseball actually allowed to commentate baseball

And the world, remarkably has not spun off its axis.

The FAN 590's Mike Wilner, who's something of a folk hero in these parts, let it be known that he will have the call of Canada's first-round World Baseball Classic games next weekend. He'll partner up with ex-Jay Paul Spoljaric, who'll handle the colour.

"It’s my pleasure to announce the broadcast crew for the Fan Radio Network’s coverage! I’ll be doing the play-by-play, and former Blue Jay and Team Canada member Paul Spoljaric will be providing the colour commentary.

I can’t tell you how thrilled and excited I am to be given this opportunity, and I couldn’t be more thankful to Nelson Millman for having the faith in me to give me this chance, and to Doug Farraway for being strongly in my corner."
It's a bit of crack in the glass ceiling. No disrespect to any of the play-by-play voices who have handled the Blue Jays since the days of Dan Shulman, but it's always seemed like the only way to get a shot was to be a hockey guy who was slumming or be a studio host who would learn on the job (Rob Faulds and the guy whose name should always be typed in bolditalics as a send-up of his faux folksiness).

It's not a huge deal, but Wilner has been on the Jays beat since his days as a U of T student in the early '90s, and it's always nice to see an assignment handed out on the basis of who's passionate about the sport. It doesn't happen every day in the media.


Rob Pettapiece said...

Good for Wilner.

The Canadian roster was revealed today. As expected, the pitching staff is...well...the pitching staff has one guy, Scott Richmond, who's ever started a game in the majors.

I see three players (Russ Martin, Justin Morneau, and Jason Bay) who can possibly make a difference. Maybe Joey Votto. Everyone else, forget about it. (Stubby Clapp?)

Dave Cameron had the idea of moving the WBC to July, replacing the All-Star Game, but November makes more sense. The only concern there is that it would be Pro Bowl-like, in the shadow of the actual championship, but players representing countries may be more motivating than players representing arbitrary AFC/NFC divisions. Bottom line is they shouldn't have it during Spring Training and March Madness, as much fun as 2006 was.

Greg said...

Rob. Joey Votto is the real deal. A real masher. Morneau, Bay, Votto, Martin is a Canadian Murderers Row.

Greg said...

Awesome -- love Wilner and his straight talking ways.

Looking forward more now than ever to the WBC.

Rob Pettapiece said...

Fair enough on Votto - a .300 hitter at age 25 deserves respect. I'm just more bullish about Canada's chances this time around, because they're not going to benefit from Buck Martinez's attempts at managing, and neither Bay nor Martin can pitch.