On Twitter @TedSillanpa 

Stuck in the car, driving home, without my music or the podcasts that entertain me as radio once did. Old, old habits die hard, so I tuned to KNBR to hear my favorite Bay Area radio guy Tom Tolbert talking about Angels star Mike Trout. Actually, Tolbert and co-host Ray Ratto were talking about Trout’s contract being extended by the Angels and …

OK. I’ll admit that I don’t care about player salaries or team budgets. Don’t care. Thus, I ran from sports talk radio to my iPod. Still, come on, who does want to hear two segments of Bay Area sports talk radio where the hosts kicked around Trout only getting $20,000 above the Major League Baseball minimum and how that meant the Giants should deal with Buster Posey as he enters … approaches …

Really? There are baseball fans who sit around and think about whether young stars like Posey and Trout should be paid more or given longer contracts than they absolutely need to stay with their teams? Really?


Trout and Posey are both being paid right now what the clubs can get away with paying them based on the MLB collective bargaining agree. (You want something I really don’t want to talk about? Talk about any sport’s collective bargaining agreement!) Neither of those guys will be leaving their team any time soon soooooooooooo … moving on!


Tolbert, admittedly an Angels’ fan, got into Vernon Wells’ contract (Ratto agreed it was the worst in baseball history … well, for everybody except Wells). I would’ve tuned into a different radio station if I knew off the top of my head any other station to tune to past 680 AM. Ratto opined that the Angels were probably going to give all the money currently going to Wells to Trout in … whenever Wells’ contract ends. Then, Ratto imagined he was the Angels’ general manager (actually, he imagined it twice) and said, “They’ll go to Trout and say … ‘You know what? …’ “

People really want to know what a media buy in San Francisco thinks comes after the Angels approach Trout and start with, “You know what?”


Times have changed and KNBR needs to let Tolbert be Tolbert and just … tell stories, plug into pop culture at whatever level he can do that. And, heaven knows they have to do better than to team him with a writer whose claim to fame are his negatives takes on sports. Tolbert can be entertaining. He had me interested when he took talk of Gonzaga being ranked No. 1 in the men’s basketball poll to his being recruited by UNLV, Clemson and just riffed on how how basketball star Tom Tolbert picked a college … leading to a story about how UNLV would pay players in the 1980s and 1990s. Tolbert remembered hearing how a big-time basketball recruit out of Los Angeles was playing UNLV versus LSU … and said that he was told that UNLV dropped out of the recruiting chase when the player asked for $75,000.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s interesting to basketball fans, people who just have casual interest in sport … to anybody. Tobert heard a kid got more than $75,000 to go to college at LSU? Imagine that?

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  1. The Bat

    I find Ratto tiresome, too, sometimes. He’s a borderline bloviator. I like when Ted Robinson does a guest stint with Tolbert. Ratto’s not a broadcaster. Robinson is.

    March 4th, 2013 7:10 pm

  2. overtime

    Bat…In the interest of full disclosure, I’m aware that the majority of sports radio listeners feast on talk about hypotheticals like whether or not the Giants should sign Posey for 8 years now to avoid arbitration and, maybe, free agent years…or whether Trout would take Wells’ money…or…what if…maybe…don’t get me started on trade talk. It loses me completely. So … I look for something different in sports radio talk and — it’s a mix of sports and other stuff that entertains or informs me. Tolbert can probably entertain and inform me, but not if he has to follow the standard sports talk playbook. … Funny thing, got home and turned on the TV to see Ratto on Chronicle Live. He’s a popular and skilled writer, I’m sure, but I think it’s too easy to complain and point out the negative stuff that draws readers like bees to honey in the sports media. TED

    March 4th, 2013 8:35 pm

  3. The Bat

    Interesting. I have a question for you, re: Ratto and sportswriters in general, but I don’t want seem insulting or negative or seem like I’m coming from a negative place because I’m not, but I got the sense sometimes, when working with and reading some, that there are some who’ve developed a jaded view of sports heroes. By sports heroes I mean both the record breakers, the greats, all the vaunted stories of the past, contrasted with the modern professional athletes, the big contracts, the egos, and unfortunately, the cheaters, the steroid users, etc. My question is, does writing about that for a living, while at the same time having a remembrance of the great players and the way they played the game, give one a cynical view at some point, as if the true lessons of the past and why we follow sports at all, are lost in the din of the professional sports of today? Ratto, and other local writers, too, strike me sometimes as having such a view, and therefore takes is more given to point out the negative.

    March 5th, 2013 8:34 pm

  4. overtime

    Bat…I can only speak for myself. I’ll bet you could ask the columnists you read and they’d tell you their feelings about a “jaded view of sports heroes.” The athletes of yesteryear were covered by what amounted to fairytales … they had all sorts of the same problems today’s athletes do, but sports writers protected them. Mickey Mantle was an alcoholic most of his career, right? In his playing days, he was roundly considered everybody’s all-American guy. … Today’s athletes can’t hide any shortcoming or personality quirk. So, they were no more heroic back then than they are now. We just know the truth about them (mostly) today. … I didn’t get jaded covering professional athletes. I just couldn’t considered them “heroes” because I was around them all the time…heard them…knew them a little. They’re just guys who are really, really, really good at games. … I hate to pick on Mantle, but he was arguably the biggest sports hero in America during my youth. When I was 24, I met him for a radio interview and he showed up … falling down drunk and trying to hit on a teen-aged/early 20′s girl who was accompanying him for the sponsor of the event. Mantle was 20 years retired so he was like late 50s. … That didn’t lessen my view of his accomplishments but it was heads-up to me. He wasn’t heroic unless he was hitting game-winning homers. … My biggest football hero of my youth was John Brodie. A friend called me from the local country club when I was 11 to tell me he had played a charity tournament and then hit the bar where Brodie, too, was alone and drinking to the point he was falling down drunk and just embarrassing himself. … I rooted for the guy but … a hero? … I don’t know why some media types are so critical and jaded but you could probably find out. TED

    March 5th, 2013 10:45 pm

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