Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Media: Please don't pull that Toth

Media personality Mike Toth has inspired a few posts on this site during the 17 years we've been doing this blog.

It would remiss to overlook there is a Truth & Rumours report the Tother has been let go from Rogers Sportsnet. Toronto Sports Media chimes in "what that means exactly for his duties for the Fan 590 has yet to be decided," which is open to interpretation. It could mean something, or it could just mean it wasn't nailed down.

(Update: Well, that mystery is solved. He's staying on!)

Toth at least tried to make talking sports fun. He has been willing to go into the crevasse when it came sports topics that seldom get a good airing in Canada, like the Grey Cup's diminished standing, how culture played a factor in Ray Emery's departure from Ottawa (just as it does in the love-in the Ottawa Senators' for at-least-he's-local lunkhead Matt Carkner) or the way everyone pretends to be a huge junior hockey fan for during Christmas holidays because it "re-affirms our collective navel gazing tendencies," as Greg Hughes put it.

You could argue Toth's style is maybe on the wane. The Revenge of the Sports Nerd is at long last filtering up to sports talk radio, where the frat-boy mentality has long ruled the roost. No longer can you semi-seriously suggest Gary Carter would be a suitable manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, or say, "There are no female sportscasters that I can think of that have more knowledge than their male counterparts" without risking a bunch of swiftly well-organized wrath from the blogetariat and on Twitter. At the same time, if you start talking about WAR and VORP and quoting a bunch of statistics, people will change the station and Nelson Millman will put you on a diet of bread and water. It's a balancing act, people.

It's not negative. It keeps people honest, makes them challenge their thinking and become aware they don't live in the world they were born into. It's for the better, regardless of how much griping comes from misery-loves-company old media dinosaurs. There is the potential to cause people to offer tepid, inoffensive opinions, although if anything, maybe it will make people work harder to justify a minority opinion.

Personally speaking, Toth seemed all right. There are much worse things to be in life than someone trying to "stir the pot with a very short spoon," to quote Lloyd The Barber from Ghostrunner on First. It's also folly to take someone's on-air persona for the genuine article. Any communications medium has it limits and not everyone is the person you see and hear on TV and radio. Kinger, for one, swore by Toth, which says a ton.

Long story short, if Toth was shunted aside, it's a shame. We'll always have The Honky-Tonk Man.

Has Mike Toth Been Let Go From Sportsnet? (Toronto Sports Media)
Mike Toth dropped by Sportsnet (Truth & Rumours)


Tyler King said...

Here's one "setting traps for Tyler" I'll gladly indulge in.

Mike Toth is one of the nicest people I've ever known, and is the reason I started down this career path. Without him, I never would've thought it was possible for me to even give this a shot.

Sports media feature a lot of egotists, and he was the farthest thing from that.

Toth told it the way he thought it. I agree with you, Neate, that some of what he said was perhaps less "polished" and refined for mass consumption than some others are. But you always knew it was actually what he thought, and most importantly for me, every performance of his was the casual, conversational style that broadcasting is supposed to aim for, but rarely successfully does.

Plus, his wife went to Queen's, man!

That's a horrible decision by Sportsnet if it's true. The man's been there since day one, for chrissakes.

sager said...

Ah-hah! So you figured, "If this friggin' guy can do it ..." Just kidding.

A lot of problems occur because some media outlets have just punted on editorial oversight. That's how some of Tother's gems slipped through. Lack of staff or lack of qualified staff to edit out the bad stuff.

He and Hogan are great together, especially for those of us who aren't up early enough for the morning show. I can't fathom this, if it's true.

Superfun happy slide said...

If the rumours are true it shouldn't be too surprizing that Toth is on his way out. Toth's style of "editorializing" and personalizing during hi-lite packages has been squeezed out of the Sportsnet presentation. For what ever reason, the head-boobs at Sportsnet want as bland and as dull a hi-lite show as they can produce. I'm not sure if that mind-set is because their on-air talent lacks the ability to pull the schtick off sucessfully or what. There's no doubt that Toth has been the "dead man walking" since his little dust-up with the director.

Anonymous said...

Some of Toth's act, though, was a bit cringe inducing. I heard him on air one day talking about good looking hockey moms at the Mac's Midget Tournament in Calgary - he let some real eye rollers go over the years, and he never did seem to want to grow up. Donnie Taylor of Sportsnet Pacific has maintained his unique style while being able to apply some polish - it doesn't appear as it Toth ever tried to do the same.

sager said...

Believe you me, many a man dispatched to cover AAA midget hockey has found solace in taking a "MILF count." Talking about it on the air in place of topics of more general and less prurient interest ... not the greatest idea.

Duane Rollins said...

Toth is not my favourite for all sorts of reasons. I found him creepy as often as I found him funny. I think Hogan tempered him a bit, but I will never be a big fan.

That said, I would hope that he finds a place in the sports media landscape. He'd be great at a hockey show that went beyond the scoreboard (ad that's a show this country needs).

Is there podcasting in Toth's future? Maybe.

Of course all this is dependent on whether he's been canned by the Fan and we don't know...

Tyler King said...

It's honesty, though, and that's what I liked about Toth. I agree totally on how his style got squeezed out... he was one of the few able to balance the joking with actually knowing about the sport he's doing highlights for. I realized that when watching a certain other anchor on another network who spent more time trying to do a Dan Patrick/Keith Olbermann impression than trying to pronounce Yadier Molina correctly.

Tyler King said...

Hogan is listed as sole host of the Bullpen on the fan590.com weekly schedule, so I think he's out there too, Duane.

It's too bad... he was the best backup host of PTS and yet got squeezed out of that role too.

sager said...

Name name, Tyler ...

Dave said...

Deregulate Canadian television! Is there ANY reason this network with the college-level production values, withholds baseball that it holds the rights to while at the same time owning the only ballclub in the country? (The struggling one that seemingly will be the next to leave and bleeding fans.)
Let Fox Sportsnet come in and do regional sports PROPERLY.