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Bruce Dowbiggin

Open Mike: Let My People Speak

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Canadian baseball GOAT Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds turns to Atlanta’s Ossie Albies and asks, ”What do you think about me getting a diamond tooth?”

Albies smiles and says, “Go for it.”

This silly exchange might have just been another throwaway jock remark, except it took place live during the fourth inning of the Cincinnati/ Atlanta home opener last week. Votto was playing first base and Albies has just arrived there with a single. The goofy chit chat was part of ESPN miking Votto live for a half inning.

The technique has never been done during a regular season MLB game. Judging from public reaction, people want to see much more of their favourite sports stars in non-formal interviews. *(Although they could pass on Votto adjusting his protective cup every 30 seconds.)

Votto is that rare athlete who can pull off a conversation in the heat of a close game. The Toronto native is a witty, loquacious guy, and it showed as he shot the breeze in English and Spanish with the ESPN crew (Karl Ravech, David Cone, and Eduardo Pérez) about his “mid-life crisis”, having to be vigilant because his starting pitcher Tyler Mahle doesn’t have a great move to first, his training with a golf pro and assorted other chit-chat.

Not every star is as camera-ready as Votto nor is every sport adaptable to this intimate multi-tasking. But it was hard not to feel that Votto and the ESPN crew were pulling back the shroud on something new. Like movies going from silent to talkies, in-game sports have been almost mute for decades.

Live audio has always been the final frontier of sports broadcasting. Lip reading is the best we could hope for. And here it was; the Votto conversation was akin to hearing The Jazz Singer in 1927. Hard not to imagine the implications— especially for a sport like baseball struggling for relevance with Millenials.

You also got a limited taste of what golf— another sport with a young-demo problem— might be like with wild sound at The Masters this weekend. There were more than the usual “shits” and “fucks” sneaking in to accompany wayward shots. No one tried to apologize for the blue language. But there were also moments where fans were taken inside the action. Scotty Scheffler’s wayward ball-in-the-shrub on No. 18 Saturday showed his caddy talking him out of a risky shot  from the branches.

Billy Horschel supplied plenty of “No, it can’t be short” laments as his ball rolled off the green after landing on the green. Jon Rahm was caught pleading with the gods. While Scheffler’s caddy advised his man to hit a “nipper… pretty basic for you”. What a nipper is was not explained by Jim Nantz.

It was just a thimble-ful of audio but better than the incessant bird-chirping audio bed that plays beneath everything at Augusta National. Or the banal blandishments offered up by the broadcasters on behalf of Augusta National.

Some sports are less adaptable to the in-play audio, of course. Perhaps broadcasters could mike a chatterbox wide receiver in the NFL or a talkative goalie in the NHL. At first it right meet with resistance from the traditionalists, but when athletes see the branding opportunities from being uncensored by the network you could see a very rapid acceptance.

And let’s face it. Fans want to hear the inside action from stars who are normally sealed hermetically by cautions management and ownership. And as we said last September, less from cliché ridden analysts and play-buy-play.

“The public is craving the inside audio scoop, yet these events are carried as if it were still the 1990 Masters. Ditto for almost all team sports outside of the CFL and curling. (Rugby allows audio from referee’s video decisions.)  It’s like watching a silent movie.

The success of Netflix’s F1 documentary series Drive To Survive (now showing its fourth year) is a perfect example of the public’s demand for the inner sanctum of sport. Drive To Survive has plenty of the Nuke LaLoosh blarney from athletes and owners. But it also has enough free-wheeling about the bitchiness between drivers, the headaches of team managers and some of the greatest video from the pits to intrigue even the least serious fans.”

It can also be a revenue source. As we wrote August 2018: “As we’ve suggested for many years now, fans would probably be amenable to paying for a special channel with unlimited audio. Pay a special fee on top of your NHL Centre Ice or NFL Red Zone subscription and get full live audio from games. 

The effect might be like what happened when Hollywood converted from silent to talkies. Instead of scandal they’d have a new generation of viewers interested in their product. You can just see the promotion: “Fans, you’ve have seen their favourite sports stars for years. Now hear them live for the first time.”

Joey Votto just gave them their best advertisement.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Presumed Authority: Would We Say Something That Wasn’t True?

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“The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure.”— Matt Taibbi, taibbi.substack.com

Were the American Revolution fought today, not in 1776, it’s likely that the current American establishment that raids the homes of former presidents would side with Mad King George III, not with the hot-blooded pursuers of freedom and independence in the Constitution. The Media Party’s love of power, elitism and entitlement— from Stephen Colbert to SNL’s appointed fools— would make even the 18th century British snobs seem like everyday folk.

Canadians (under the United Empire Loyalists tag) were still content to be ruled at long distance by an autocratic monarch incapacitated with porphyria. (Unless Joe Biden were available in Washington DC, in which case they might accept the zombie at close range.)  Deference to authority has been Canada’s abiding trait the past 235 years for those who skedaddled from Jefferson, Washington and Adams. In whatever guise— nutty Mackenzie King, huffy Pierre Trudeau or foppish Justin Trudeau— prime ministers have been able to count on the obsequious support of everyone from the original Confederation four-pack— and its media— if the alternative was being American.

Being American meaning a propensity for noisy debate, showy display and siccing the FBI on enemies. This sniffy condescension to all things American— while lapping up their charity— solidified the Family Compact’s presumed superiority over those it governed.

Americans now have snobs, too. Whether sequestered at Hyannis Port, Hollywood, Aspen or Napa the special people thrive on punching-down elitism. But even before the Mar-A-Lago raid there was a sense the Media Party’s noblesse oblige might have hit its expiry date. The vox populi is restless. Substack writer Matt Taibbi has seen it coming. “Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else.”

The Trump election by “everyone else” in 2016 signalled the shift. Gatekeepers accustomed to choosing the elected on Sunday morning talk shows became irrelevancies. They thought they’d dust Trump faster than you could say “raid Mar-A-Lago”. Bad assumption. Somehow they failed to see how reviled they’ve become as they thrust Hillary Clinton or Al Gore at a totally disinterested world.

Taibbi chronicles the reason for the rapid 2016 decline of the self-appointed. “The mechanism that launched (Trump) from small plurality to victory in the general was a coverage avalanche that conferred elite disapproval in massive doses. The more times outlets like fivethirtyeight.com incorrectly insisted Trump couldn’t be nominated because “voters are paying more attention,” or the Washington Post ran headlines like, The three times Donald Trump demonstrated he was unfit for the presidency in last night’s debate, the more he gained.” Ending in stunning election.

Rather than amend their loathed status Team Obama continued to conjure up ciphers like Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Liz Cheney as the next great thing, unaware how repellent the governing class has become to regular America. When that failed they launched a censorship campaign.

This backwards strategy kept Trump populism alive. Example: The Trump era seemed over when he was removed from Twitter and Facebook shortly after Jan. 6. Instead, “Silenced Trump has only improved his electoral viability since”. Orange Man Bad is now tracking in the 42-45 percent approval band— above anything during his presidency. His polling with blacks and latinos is at an all-time high.

Media Party attempts to use Florida governor Ron DeSantis to quell the Trump revival have been hampered by DeSantis refusing to play Topo Gigio to PBS/CNN/ MSNBC and the printed press. After the fraudulent Russiagate narrative it marks an end of their presumed privilege. Daffy King George would be proud.

In Canada the irrelevance of the Trudeau-bought media is still a buried story. To those paying attention the Trucker Convoy was the watershed. The anointed CBC/ CTV/ Global shills in the 416/613 praised Trudeau’s abrogation of civil rights against mainstream Canada and cheered the jailing of Convoy leaders. (One CBC host, who suggested the Convoy was a Putin plot, was promoted.) A withering international barrage of criticism from even the Bill Mahers of U.S. media failed to sober them to their corrupt irrelevance.

The current attempt to tame populist fires is the left-leaning media’s swooning for played-out 1990s man Jean Charest as the answer to Conservative electoral dreams. Charest is what a liberal thinks a Conservative should be. Namely, defeated. But CBC panels and G&M editorials caution against rejecting Charest’s sober experience in favour of fiery Pierre Poilievre.

“Canada is different” says the Ottawa consultant class when faced with the Trump menace. Not if you’ve paid attention since social media freed up voices banned from “proper” journalistic society. Trudeau’s plunging polls and Liberal collapse are written off as a cycle that will disappear. Don’t count on it. Just ask Doug Ford.

Taibbi sums up the wilful denial. “This new press that forgives its own mistakes but cheers lifetime bans for others needs to realize it’s achieving negative influence in the process. Failure to stare that dynamic in the face means they’re sure to repeat the error over and over, remaining in their beloved roles as gatekeepers, only in reverse.”

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book of by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Force Play: The Vaccines And The Damage Done

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Warning: This article could contain Covid-19 heresy. Readers are asked to take precautions. The Whit Merrifield crisis is over. The Toronto Blue Jays latest infield acquisition from Kansas City got a COVID-19 vaccine and can now play in his new team’s home games. Provided he doesn’t get COVID-19 all the same. Or have a freak heart problem. But we digress.

Canada has not allowed dozens of unvaccinated MLB players to play against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre— including Merrifield when the Royals visited in July. (Similar bans affected unvaxed NBA and NHL players entering Canada.) But Merrifield wanted to play in the MLB postseason, so he relented to Trudeau’s pressure and took the shot.

Merrifield’s stubbornness mirrors how pig-headed Canada has been in employing its standard— vaccines uber alles— that clearly has little remaining basis in The Science®, if it ever did. Newly released documents obtained by former NY Times reporter Bari Weiss show that “in the days leading up to the implementation of the (Canadian) travel mandate, transportation officials were frantically looking for a rationale for it. They came up short.”

Further, “no one in the ‘COVID Recovery unit’, which was responsible for enacting the policy, had any training in epidemiology or public health… instead, the director-general has a degree in literature.” The real decision, said a member of the unit, came from above. “A senior official in the prime minister’s Cabinet or possibly the prime minister himself had ordered COVID Recovery to impose the travel mandate… I’m not at liberty to disclose anything that is subject to cabinet confidence.” 

It’s the same in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration documents newly obtained show the agency knew almost nothing about how well mRNA boosters might work when it okayed them. Or why travel lockdowns work. As we reported here in “Revise, Hide, Resubmit” White House Task Force member Deborah Birx simply lied to the the president about having evidence to prolong lockdowns. “We had to make these (moves) palatable to the administration by avoiding the obvious appearance of a full Italian lockdown… We were playing a game of chess in which the success of each move was predicated on the one before it.”

Dilbert cartoonist/ social media star Scott Adams sums up the confusion of ordinary folks.”Regarding vaccinations, people I don’t trust say they have access to data I am not allowed to see, and because of that I should be concerned about the risks.”

Not that it mattered in Whit Merrifield’s case. It could have been 2020 as far as Health Canada is concerned. Even as we learn that multiple vaccinations do not prevent re-infection (POTUS Joe Biden is five shots in and sick again) or that the scientific evidence for vaccine efficacy was always missing, Justin Trudeau still stands like a Stalinist wall against revising earlier bans on the un-vaxxed.

What are the odds he’ll revisit his Convoy-inducing policies? He only just relented on allowing Canadians to fly domestically without a vaccine. The PM himself goes maskless in Costa Rica, begging the question why he adheres to a liberal standard on holiday while the plebs— and baseball players— back home must obey his diktats on Covid prevention.

The Science®, people!! No jab, no journey to Canada’s Blunderland. And No Talking!!

Maybe not. The vaccines have short-term benefits of six or eight weeks. After that Health Canada and the CDC claim they lessen the impact of the virus— but millions still get sick or die. That’s nothing like the powers Health Canada and Trudeau attributed to them when rushing them into the market.  Increasing evidence shows that the vax cures for Covid-19 and its variants might be worse than the virus. Millions getting the virus a second, third or fifth time belies those assurances. Or the threats of expulsion that accompanied them.

Estimates now suggest as many as 40,000 certified deaths worldwide may have resulted from “vaccine injuries”.  Meanwhile, five surveys of the American public, totalling over 2,500 people, show that while 4.4 percent of respondents reported that someone in their household had died from COVID-19; 8.9 percent said someone had died as a result of Covid vaccination.

What’s going on here? Researcher/ author Alex Berenson notes that funeral giant Service Corporation is showing excess deaths persisting into year three of the pandemic. But not from Covid-19. “Smoking and obesity take decades to kill, and drinking usually takes a decade or more,” says Berenson, who was banned from Twitter for Wrong Think. “Overdoses are way up and traffic accidents are higher too, but not nearly enough to account for the overall rise in deaths.

“Gee, I wonder what could be leading to all the excess non-Covid deaths we’ve suddenly seen in the last 12 months, not just in the United States but all over Western Europe and Australia too? Something definitely changed near the end of 2020, I just wish I could remember what…”

Lincoln National Insurance has reported a 63 percent increase in the rate of death claims for their customers. “The only new thing that’s happened in 2021,” says Baylor University cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, “is the Covid vaccine.” The one that Trudeau insists you get or lose your job or liberty to travel.

Berenson notes another head scratcher. “The poor countries that avoided the mRNA shots have largely put Covid behind them, while wealthy countries navigate their fifth or sixth or seventh waves. (India: lots of people, no mRNA vaccines, no boosters, no second boosters, no super-special Omicron boosters, not so much Covid!)”

The previous antidote for believers in The Science® was banning or censoring this research. “California’s Medical Board, has been extorting MDs not to speak out against actual COVID misinformation by labeling what we say as misinformation and threatening licenses to practice,” says Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. “Docs just sued the medical board. Read the suit. Brilliant!”

The establishment in the person of globe-trotting/ no-masking Trudeau is making a bet on many levels that it can bluff through its agenda. It is testing social will. The results may prove bracing to those like Trudeau who presume authority for themselves as a right of his class.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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