Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner let go and fans are outraged
Veteran Toronto sportscaster Mike Wilner, longtime voice behind the Toronto Blue Jays' radio broadcasts on Sportsnet, has parted ways with the Rogers-owned company after more than 20 years service.
Sportsnet announced the news on Twitter Friday afternoon, writing that it is "parting ways with Mike Wilner" and describing the broadcaster's voice as "synonymous with Blue Jays Baseball."
"Whether engaging fans in spirited post-game debate on Blue Jays Talk or doing play-by-play analysis, mike was an integral part of Sportsnet 590 The Fan for the past two decades," wrote the corporation.
"As the first Blue Jays radio play-by-play announcer born and raised in Toronto, Mike's passion for the team, city and sport is unparalleled."
Horrible news.....loved that voice on my drives home in the summer. I was saying to someone the other day (on another topic) that a measure of quality is does the person attract people to the sport......this is a voice that had this non-baseball person tuning in nearly daily!— Toarea Fan 🇨🇦 (@TOareaFan) November 27, 2020
Sportsnet went on to "sincerely thank Mike for his tremendous contributions and "wish him the very best in his next chapter," but did not provide a reason for the split.
Wilner took to his own Twitter feed with a similar message of praise for everyone he worked with during his time as a Sportsnet radio broadcaster, but also noted that he was heartbroken by the news.
"Today my heart is broken as I won't be part of the Blue Jays broadcast crew going forward, but I got to live an absolute dream for the last two decades," he wrote in a lengthy letter posted to Twitter.
"Who would have ever thought that a kid who grew up at Bathurst and Steeler in Toronto listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth through a speaker hidden under his pillow would actually get to sit in a booth with those two legends, never mind actually go on the air with them and call playoff games for my hometown team?"
Oh, Mike, I am in shock. I cannot believe that your time as a #BlueJays broadcaster is over. I have listened to you regularly for 14 years since I returned to Toronto. You and the #Jays are inextricably linked in my mind and heart. This is a sad day and I am devastated. 😪— Marla Waltman 🇨🇦😷🎯 (@marlawd) November 27, 2020
The 50-year-old father of two didn't provide a reason for his departure either, but it seems as though fans would still be upset by him leaving the network, regardless of why it happened.
The anger toward Rogers is palpable on Twitter this afternoon (especially given that it came along just hours after the Globe leaked the telecom's plans to raze the SkyDome and replace it with a smaller baseball stadium / mixed-use development.)
Mike was integral to the Jays and Roger's. Interesting, opinionated and a knowledgeable fan. Only suits can make a dumb move like this. He made radio fun. Rehire Mike.— Paul Brown (@pbrown86) November 27, 2020
"Bad Decision. Mike is a rare broadcaster who can be passionate, critical, and philosophical all the same time. Mike is reflection of the passion of Toronto sports fans, wrote one person to Sportsnet PR on Twitter.
"Your organization is example of lacklustre and arbitrary decisions that have lead to missed opportunities."
Mike Wilner is a very good radio broadcaster and is synonymous with #BlueJays radio. There appears to be no reason for his dismissal other than naked cost-cutting on the part of Rogers.— RapsLeafsJays (@RapsLeafsJays) November 27, 2020
Our loss. His next employer’s gain. pic.twitter.com/8CWbImsK1Z
"This is honestly one of the worst decisions you have made. I have followed and listened to Mike for years. He was a huge supporter of the team, and I loved his insights," said another fan to Sportsnet.
"Please reconsider. From a long time Jays fan."
Well said. Mike is a really dedicated, unique broadcaster. And I thought he was doing a really good job on play by play. I think it’s a real shame.— Dan PB (@dlindsay80_pb) November 27, 2020
Even people who didn't necessarily agree with Wilner's viewpoints are ticked off to see Rogers let him go.
"Didn't always agree with your opinions or way you went about dealing with opposing views. But you were great, entertaining, and informative," wrote one person addressing the sportscaster on Twitter. "And when you got the chance to call the games you made some of the best calls I heard over the years."
Speaking as a long-time listener, I enjoyed hearing Mike Wilner (and don't @ me about what might have gone into this besides Sportsnet needing to cut headcount). I also liked that he would get testy with low-information, misinformed callers. #BlueJays https://t.co/e9K8O5Qrfn— Nathan Sager (@n8sager) November 27, 2020
"I'm overwhelmed right now, and wish I could reach out personally to every one of you who has said such nice things since the news came out," said Wilner himself in response to all of the well-wishes and disappointment on Twitter. " Thanks for all the love and kindness."
As he wrote in the closing line of his original announcement: "Dreams can come true, even though they don’t always last as long as you'd like them to."
Join the conversation Load comments