As a Sportsnet studio analyst for Toronto Blue Jay broadcasts, Gregg Zaun is known for his sharp suits and sharper tongue. We spoke to the charismatic former Jay about his outspoken broadcasting style and his take on the Blue Jays, who open their home schedule this weekend against the New York Yankees.
You started your broadcast career in 2006, working during the post-season while you still were an active player. Over the years, you’ve developed a confident and candid broadcasting style. Did you grow into it naturally or did it take coaching?
A little of both. I’ve had some great mentorship from my partner and friend, Jamie Campbell. He’s a total pro. He’s encouraged me to be me. I’m a very opinionated person. I have strong feelings on how the game should be played. A lot of people take that as being negative, but that’s not it at all. Nobody is a bigger Blue Jay fan than I am. I’m just disappointed in the way they play the game a lot of the time. And I’m brutally honest.
That honesty has gotten you in trouble with some of the players, right?
You know what? I don’t really care what they think. If they’re a mature ballplayer, they’ll understand what my job is. The older guys, the Jose Bautistas and Adam Linds of the world, they get it. They know I’m holding them accountable, in the same way I [was] when I was playing.
As far as the team not always playing the game the way it should be played, can you give an example of the Jays playing the wrong way?
The fact that a guy like Anthony Gose can’t [use his speed to hit] .300 speaks volumes to me about what’s going on in the minor leagues. The fact that he doesn’t spend an hour a day in the batting cage with a coach, whether it’s by his design or whether they have to grab him by his shirt collar. The Jays don’t draft well and they don’t develop players well. There’s a lack of accountability in this organization, from the top to the bottom.
There’s that honesty. Okay, all that being said, can you give the fans a reason to turn up to Rogers Centre or tune into the game on television or radio this season?
Oh yeah, 100 per cent. I was very excited about this club when they put it together last year. And they have pretty much the same players as they did last year. They played poorly last year, but there is a tremendous amount of talent in the clubhouse. They’re going to score a lot of runs. And it’s baseball, after all. Anything can happen. All it takes is a rallying point. You get a bunch of talented guys rowing the boat in the same direction, you have something special. There’s no reason why they can’t happen in Toronto.
The Toronto Blue Jays play the New York Yankees (April 4 to 6) and the Houston Astros (April 8 to 10). $14.25 to $216.25. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, 416-341-1234 or ticketmaster.ca.
This interview has been condensed and edited.