Really Mike Wilner? Really?

Mike Wilner

I don’t mean to be that guy but… I’m going to have to be that guy.

This weekend, Mike Wilner was benched for his actions during a verbal “confrontation” with Cito Gaston. Wilner felt that the Blue Jays manager “belittled” him and wrote about the exchange in a blog post. If you can, please show me exactly where during the discussion Wilner was “belittled.”

I don’t need to be belittled by the skipper in front of the entire assemblage when I’m asking legitimate, rational questions about a situation that he brought up earlier in a conversation.

In fact, I would argue that it was Wilner himself who was showing up the manager in front of the assemblage.  Yes, asking the manager about in-game strategy and decisions is part of the job, but when your schtick is challenging (let’s be honest: second guessing) the manager on every single detail of every single game and expecting him to debate every thought that enters your head… well, needless to say it gets old pretty quick.

Wilner apologists are up in arms that Wilner’s suspension is a journalistic freedom issue, that Wilner is being censored by Rogers, who happen to be the Blue Jays’ corporate overlords and Wilner’s employer.  What it comes down to is Wilner’s latest tête-à-tête with Cito is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s a camel weighed down by Wilner’s grating, condescending, and confrontational style. Rogers is giving Wilner a time-out to re-think his approach. Kudos to them.

At the end of the day, Rogers is in business to generate interest in the team and to attract viewers to Blue Jays broadcasts, both radio and television.  I don’t listen to JaysTalk or radio broadcasts that feature Mike Wilner because of his style and I know there are many others who share the sentiment.

It is interesting that Wilner takes such offense to being “belittled” – as he puts it – by Cito, while he belittles many of the callers on his JaysTalk program.  He is especially sensitive when his opinions are questioned.  For example, I was speaking with Early about an episode of JaysTalk where a caller had this to say to Wilner: “Mike, you said that Tampa making the playoffs was a fluke. They are in first place now and a lock for the playoffs. Do you still think that they are a fluke?”

Wilner’s response went something like this: “This is JAYS TALK! Why would you call in and ask a question about the Rays? How stupid can you be?!?! Next caller.”

Wilner likes to dish it out, but clearly he can’t take it. Of course, no one likes to be second guessed.  But sometimes you just reach your limit, like Cito Gaston did.

Mike Wilner on Jose Bautista

Just to be that guy, here’s an exchange I personally had with Wilner:

In Wilner’s blog post “My First Day of Spring” he writes:

I have seen Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill, Randy Ruiz, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay look very good so far.  Granted, it’s stupid early, but it’s better to look good than not.  I still don’t understand why the way has been paved for Bautista to have an everyday job, but they can’t find a spot to give Ruiz a legitimate chance to play.  Ruiz is older and far weaker defensively, but he’s had nothing but success as a major-league hitter. Bautista has had many years of mediocre offensive production in the big leagues.

My response is below, with Wilner’s reply in bold:

You can’t understand how the way has been paved for Bautista? Last year, under the tutelage of Cito and Dwayne Murphy, Bautista changed his swing. As a result of his new swing, he hit 10 home runs after September 1st and looks like a completely different player. If you are going to give credit to Arencibia for mashing this spring, save some for Bautista as well – he’s been no slouch. He can play all outfield positions – in addition to third base – and he plays them well. Ruiz can only play first base, and just barely. As you know Mike, defense is just as important as offense. That is why Bautista is a lock to make the 25-man roster while Ruiz continues to battle for a spot in the 1B/DH log jam. This log jam is made up of proven major league hitters (more than 200 MLB at bats!) and those that can play defense.

– Callum

MW: I don’t think it’s that simple. As I said, why does Bautista’s September matter more than the five years of major league production that preceded it?

really

I don’t know if he bothered to read my question or not, but I clearly stated why Bautista’s September matters more than the five years of major league production that preceded it: because Bautista has a new swing and is a different player. Wilner states that Randy Ruiz has had “nothing but success” at the major league level. He’s a journeyman minor leaguer who has struggled to find employment over the course of his 32 years.  He’s only ever played 55 games at the major league level! Bautista’s September nearly equalled Ruiz’s entire major league career offensive production:

Randy Ruiz

Jose Bautista

Statistics courtesy of baseballreference.com

If you are going to chastise Cito for avoiding your hard questions and being fed up with your annoying reporter routine, take a look in the mirror first. 

Update:

Cito did not complain to get Wilner suspended: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2010/06/06/gaston-says-he-didnt-complain-about-broadcaster

Bautista RuizJose Bautista & Randy Ruiz

Written By

has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

  • I’ll avoid getting caught up in the Wilner is a jerk-off and the freedom of the press arguments.

    I will say that the suspension proves that the fan 590 is merely an extension of the club. I never listen to the station but I will certainly stay away in the future.

  • We all have our own conspiracy theories….

  • Les

    If this weekend off is supposed to be for wilner to refine his approach, how can we take anything he says in the future seriously?

    • I don’t think it is so much the message as the way it is delivered.

  • Darren

    So, Wilner wanted to disregard Bautista’s Sept. but make too much of Ruiz’ September? Mmmmkay.

    God forbid we don’t know what to make of some pasty sportswriter’s position on Cito’s bullpen management. Off the top of my head I can think of many sportwriters and broadcasters whose opinions change from day to day. This isn’t important stuff. Save your freedom of the press rants for politics, finance and big business. Baseball is supposed to be a harmless diversion. We can bitch about Overbay or Kevin Gregg for a month and love them the next. Who cares?

  • JobuJays

    You changed my mind on this one. Good argument. He is a douche on the radio and belittles more people in his show than not.

  • Ryan

    I’m sort of on both sides. There is no doubt Wilner is a douche. He belittles callers and does nothing to try to educate fans who might not be as ‘in’ to baseball as he is. Instead of using those opportunities to spread a little knowledge, he just scoffs/whines.

    He thinks he is some sort of baseball genius, even though half the time he brings out sabr stats he uses them wrong, which never stops being funny.

    With all that said, Rogers benching him because he disagreed with the manager and asked a valid question, is kinda lame. Wilner might have whined a bit in his blog post, but there was nothing really worth suspending him over.

  • Tight PP

    I don’t understand his Cito bashing. He would always defend JP and Gibbons, going on about them havinga plan and we shouldn’t question it. Now Cito and AA have a winning team, he bitches about Cito, and often brings up the JP aquired player X who is doing so well.

    I will listen JaysTalk in the car, just to hear what the callers bring up. Wilner really doesn’t bring anything to the table.

    That seems to be the way with call in shows. Bob McCowan disagrees with everyone who calls in no matter what. Jim Rome will spend 30mins + 15 mins of ads making fun of a caller, after hanging up on them.

  • Early

    Wilner just second guesses managing decsions as a Radio Show. And when he faces Cito on Cito’s turf, which is real life he gets belittled and condescending anwsers.

    When callers call and give impossible trades and foolish lineup changes, Wilner jacks up his callers in radio fantasy land, belittling and giving condescending anwsers.

    I hope Wilner had a great time this weekend in his mom’s basement catching up on his Halo 2 tactics. Loser.

    • ray b

      Ah man..thats funny shit..Maybe he will get a job belittling gamers at EBGames..

      • cb

        hahaha. good one!

  • Tommy

    I think Wilner should be able to question Cito without fears of being given the weekend off. That’s just weak.

    That being said, Wilner comes off as an arrogant jerk at the best of times. Who knows what his tone was when he was questioning Cito. If he used the same thinly veiled tone of contempt that he thinks is polite on his call in show, then I get why Cito would give it back to him.

    • Tight PP

      Asking questions is one thing, pestering is another. From the stories I’ve hear about this it sounds like Cito “answered” the question, and wilner kept going “Why did you do this when you could have done this” “Why did you paint your self in a corner by using him”

      When covering the Jays is your job, you have to make sure you don’t burn a major bridge (Cito) the FAN should have slapped his wrist for being a dummy.

      • Early

        Well Tighty, Wilner is a legit journalist and if he can’t cover the Jays, can’t get access to Cito or the players he will just have to cross the floor and cover News or social issues. He can be the new Adler in the Morning on 640! (I am laying on the sarcasm huge here)

  • ray b

    Ahh poor Wilner..I have had the displeasure of calling his show a few times and commenting on his blog..

    He has gone on record as thinking Tampa Bay was a bit of a fluke in 2008 and were never going to be able to repeat their success..

    So I commented on his blog about the fact that Tampa Bay is no fluke and they were legit and wondered how he felt about being wrong..I was very careful not to make a dreaded spelling mistake or buttwad Winer er..Wilner would not post it..But of course he didn’t post it..Lord forbid if wonderboy was actually wrong about something..

    He wants to live in fantasy land with his good bum buddy J.P Riccardi and belive you can’t compete in the AL East without large wads of dough..Tampa has proved that to be very wrong and me thinks the Jays are going to do that as well..

    Funny how super good Riccardi hasn’t found a new job as a GM..

    Maybe I should point it out to him but nah he wouldn’t post it anyway..

  • Cumbubble

    Wilner is a cunt and Stoeten has his cock planted firmly in his mouth, hence the bullshit Rogers flamewar on Twitter yesterday.

    Who the fuck is Wilner if not for his radio show? Some nobody who talks like he’s got a permanent cold jerking off in his uncle’s basement? Fuck…

    He’s radio’s version of the whining bloggers who have nothing positive to say unless it’s wrapped in holier-than-thou putdowns.

    The tactless douche needs to get over himself in a hurry or he’ll be retired faster than Cito.

  • AlanTdot

    Perfect comment Callum. Wilner is crying about the same treatment he dishes out.

    Jeez, if a reporter can’t show off how much smarter he is than the manager, in front of a media scrum then I don’t know what this world is coming to.

    Wilner wasn’t commenting or reporting on the story, he interjected himself into the story. Wilner was wrong.

    • I think it is silly to think that Cito is going to go out of his way to talk to the “right people” to get Wilner suspended.

      He has better things to do.

  • daperman

    Wilner has looked at the Blue Jays through rose coloured glasses for 5 years. When callers wants to point out a Jay’s weaknesses there is always an underlying factor that makes the caller’s opinion wrong and voiced to that caller in a negative or condescending way.

    Wilner has now got a taste of his own medicine. He is probably right in his pointing out something wrong with the Blue Jays (in this case Cito’s) performance, and the club (Rogers) has belittled him.

    You cant have it both ways Mike. The irony of all this is overwhelming because he has been the Blue Jays biggest excuse making booster of all time.

  • After taking in additional information I have to really get behind Cal’s argument.

    When this story first broke I could have cared less. To be honest I still could give a damn but the fact of the matter clearly appears to be that
    Wilner was being a douche and tried to show up Cito in front of other media members.

    There should be repercussions at some level for this type of action. Perhaps not by the Fan 590, although I don’t have a copy of their mission statement handy.

    Baseball is a game of tried and true rules. Some examples include not stealing a bag up 10 in the 8th, having your catcher make a mound visit if the homeplate ump gets nicked by a pitch and NOT showing up a manager or player in a public setting if you are a member of the media.

    Truth police be damned, that’s just the way it is. If you don’t like it don’t watch baseball, it’s just that simple.

    • could NOT have cared less.

      /wilnered.

  • Jeff

    Mike Wilner is a jerk and that is the end of the story I hope they fire his ass.

  • daperman

    Wilner has also been on Cito’s case about Lyle Overbay. When Lyle was hitting under .200 for much of the season, Cito’s given reason for playing him was for Overbay to get good numbers for his Free Agency Year. Wilner was right to go after him. It is Cito job to win games for the Blue Jays this year, not to worry about players contracts in the future.

    Wilner is right in a lot of cases in dealing with Cito, but just the same he is getting a good taste of his own medicine. If and when he comes back Wilner listen to the arguments of the intelligent callers. YOu know what it feels like now.

    • Early

      Sure, Cito should not be worried about a contract year player and should be concerned about winning games today for the Jays.

      But Randy Ruiz??? Really??? Ruiz lost his job like all of Wilner’s other bros (JP, Gibby). Is Wilner going to let his Ruiz love cost him his job? It was hard to watch Overbay in his prolonged slump at the start of the year but what Cito could have said the whole time is a simple equation;
      OVERBAY > RUIZ
      Since Ruiz has been out of the picture Overbay has been on a tear, even getting to LH pitching. He has been hitting over .350 in his last ten starts. Ruiz has been unemployable in the ML in his first 32 years on this Earth, why is he going to change? Because Wilner said so?

    • Tight PP

      I recall maybe a month back callers bringing up Ruiz over Overbay, and Wilner going on about how Overbay’s avg over the last +/- 5 games is +/- 400 and there is nothing to complain about.

      • Gotta love a five game batting average sample. Great analysis by Mr. Wilner

  • cb

    you’re the first person i’ve read on this subject that has made any sense. good job!

    you’ve got a new fan here.

  • terry the censor

    As for Callum v. Wilner, I think Mike was right about assessing Bautista’s talent (even though Bautista has been my favourite Jay for a couple years). And look at all the idiot contracts given out to guys who had one good year (Gary Matthews Jr ring a bell?). As the stat heads always drone, “regression to the mean.”
    Callum also makes reasonable points about Bautista and Ruiz, but Wilner’s arguments to me are persuasive.
    The impression I get: Callum is angry that his comment didn’t change Wilner’s mind, period. He is not satisfied — at all — with two people having reasonable but different opinions. You come off as a crybaby, lad.

    • The difference in this case between statistical outliers/HGH junkies is that Bautista has changed his whole hitting approach from seasons past. This is well documented.

      To me, Wilner’s argument about Ruiz having nothing but success at the major league level when that success is based on less than 200 plate appearances is flimsy at best.

      Your impressions are your own, but I would advise against projecting an emotion you would like to see in text that isn’t necessarily there.

    • Early

      You are out of your mind.

      Lets talk about “regression or progression to the means”.

      Sure Bautista has been playing out of his head but do if you think that Randy Ruiz would be contributing more or have more upside than Bautista or Overbay you are sadly wrong.

      Ruiz is a 30+ journeyman that has never been able to find steady employment in the Majors. He gets cut by the Jays and he can’t get a job on this continent.

      Bautista and Overbay are ML veterans. You know what you are going to get from either one. Anything more is a bonus.

      With Randy Ruiz you get a player who is AAAA calibre on a ML team which is the formula for losing.

  • Jeff

    I refuse to listen to Jays on the radio because of Wilner, I can’t stand him.

  • Mike was a favorite of Former PD Nelson Millman. Millman is no longer at the Fan590. Mike does have a grating style, he is mister negative and he loves ripping on people who just want to love the jays. He is one of the few Radio People in the Country however who knows baseball, as a result, he has become very cocky. I wish he was a bit more humble, like he was in the beginning.

  • DJ Jazzy Jeff

    You guys are disturbingly fixated on Mike Wilner.

  • Magpie2

    Late to the game here but why is it that business sense always trumps critical thinking? Listen, I actually think Blair’s a good writer and Wilner’s energy kind of drives me nuts — but Blair’s literally the last man in the universe to get the larger point here. (Blair is the ultimate pragmatist with absolutely no care for larger ethical issues — see anything he’s ever written about steroids for proof.) The fact that he doesn’t agree with Wilner’s reporting strategy completely misses the point. (Whooosh!) You either believe in critical thinking or you don’t — and whether you agree with Wilner’s reporting style makes no difference to the larger argument. So, if you like the fact that people with power can control messages to their own advantage — don’t read George Orwell, or Aldous Huxley or the six hour speech that Joseph Howe gave. It will annoy you and it seems probable that you’ll miss the point.