Rogers Sportsnet knew John Cerutti's shoes wouldn't be easy to fill.
Turns out it's going to take a full team effort.
The network announced yesterday it has hired four analysts to work its 103 Blue Jays telecasts this season -- Pat Tabler (43 games), Rance Mulliniks (28), Tom Candiotti (23) and Darrin Fletcher (nine). They'll work alongside the 'Net's new Jays voice, former CJOH anchor Jamie Campbell.
"Jamie's a new voice, and we thought trying different people would be advantageous to the whole package," said Sportsnet production boss Rick Briggs-Jude. "Each guy brings something different, and a little variety is never wrong."
Briggs-Jude admitted the process of replacing Cerutti, whose death on the final day of the 2004 season shocked the baseball world , wasn't a typical one.
"Quite honestly, I'd never run into something like this before," said Briggs-Jude.
In the end, after sorting through 25-30 tapes, he opted for some familiarity.
Candiotti worked West Coast games for Sportsnet in previous years, and asked to continue in that capacity again. And Briggs-Jude knew about Tabler's work from the days both worked at TSN.
Mulliniks and Fletcher each gained some experience working on Expos games last year for The Score.
Viewers will see plenty of Tabler this summer. He's also signed on to work 42 games for TSN. Such an arrangement is hardly new -- Leo Rautins has handled Raptors games for multiple networks in the past.
THE MARCH TO MADNESS: The NCAA men's basketball tournament (a.k.a. March Madness) doesn't officially tip off until Tuesday, but you'd never know it judging by this weekend's slate. CBS is airing six conference tourney games leading into Sunday's 6 p.m. selection show. The Score is picking up another four (see listings). Starting yesterday, some 46 games were available via the Rogers Super Sports Pak ... Sportsnet has Tuesday's NCAA "play-in" game, followed by a half-hour tourney preview.
ROCKIN' THE HOUSE: A Sun reader and fan of the roarin' game wonders how many bars and curling clubs across our land subscribe to CBC Country Canada -- the digital channel at the heart of the Brier/Scott TV controversy -- or even want to? Good question ... CBC was averaging a rock-solid 505,000 viewers per Brier draw through Monday ... Another casualty of curling's new world order -- no TV coverage of the world junior finals this weekend. TSN had aired them in previous years.
IT FIGURES: The world figure skating championships hit the prime-time stage on CBC next week. Same-day taped coverage from Moscow runs 8-10 p.m. from Monday-Friday, and 3-6 p.m. next Saturday. Mark Lee and former world pairs champions Barb Underhill and Paul Martini have the event's call. Lee is replacing the recently sacked Chris Cuthbert.
AROUND THE DIAL: Tomorrow's Carleton-Brock OUA final airs at 8 p.m. on Rogers, but it's on tape delay. Rogers is getting the feed from Cogeco Cable "and they don't have the capacity to generate a live feed through there," said Rogers senior producer Gavin Lumsden ... Sportsnet will air 49 Jays home games in high-definition format this season ... The Golf Channel has added 10 LGPA Tour events a year to its schedule. It's a new deal that runs through 2009.