Friday, August 28, 2015
The weekly set of thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they are in no particular order.
--The 103rd Grey Cup is quickly becoming a nightmare for both the CFL and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Fans are not buying tickets, the Bombers have reportedly lowered the attendance at Investors Group Field and at this point, there is no way the Bombers will get the reported 4-7 million dollar profit predicted. The game is usually sold out by this point and as of last count, around 26-thousand had been sold. An article from the Winnipeg Sun says the Riders record can be to partly blame for this (which I'm not buying) because Rider fans aren't buying up seats the way they normally would. It has seemed to me over the years as if win or lose, Rider fans always go to the Grey Cup! If that is what the Bombers are trying to make some believe, they are doing a poor job.
--With all apologies to Kevin Glenn, I hope the Saskatchewan Roughriders continue on with Brett Smith as their starting quarterback. He deserves it and in the long run, the franchise will be better. The chances of the Riders making the playoffs at 0-8 are minimal. Smith has shown improvement each week he has played and as the LP's Rob Vanstone correctly stated this week, the Wyoming product was the first Rider QB to throw 3 TD passes since Darian Durant in the 2013 Grey Cup. He needs to continue getting reps and getting experience. Sitting him on the bench will just hamper that development. A progression plan for Durant has to start and Smith is a pretty good start. This is not to suggest Durant won't be quarterbacking the club come game 1 of the 2016 season because he will be if that Achilles is fine, but a guy is needed to take over one day because Durant won't be around forever. Keith Price and Blake Sims can't be ignored either as both may or may not have a future. We need to find out and putting Kevin back in is not the answer. This isn't a condemnation of Glenn either so don't make it out to be. If this team was 3-5 or 2-6, I would be calling for Glenn to start immediately because the team would be in a playoff fight. One could say the team should put Glenn back in when he is ready until the team is mathematically eliminated which is something I can't argue, but this needs to be Smith's team the rest of the way.
--Congratulations to Weston Dressler and his 500 career catches that he established against the Stampeders. For the sake of Rider fans, lets hope he has another 150-200 catches if not more in him.
--Peyton Manning has thrown for 131 touchdowns over the past two seasons and he says he has no feelings in his fingertips. Considering the position he plays, that is simply amazing.
--The talk of the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl this year took a huge hit with Jordy Nelson going down. Fantasy football players who have Nelson in keeper leagues can't be happy these days, especially if their team also had Kelvin Benjamin on it.
--Playboy is suggesting Saskatchewan's own Kaylyn Kyle might be the hottest athlete in the world. Who am I to argue with Playboy! Kaylyn plans on having some soccer camps in both Regina and Saskatoon this October. Just another example of a Saskatchewan athlete giving back.
--Speaking of Saskatchewan athletes giving back, Jon Ryan and his foundation came through with a 75-thousand dollar donation to equip Regina Minor Football with what is needed for the brand new "Mighty Mites" Division. I don't have to tell anyone about how much Jon loves Regina and vice-versa. Perhaps another Jon Ryan or two are starting their quest thanks to this donation.
--Question asked in the wake of UFC Saskatoon that had an attendance of 72-hundred from a blog reader. The question was "Would the event had been better at the Brandt Centre". The answer I think is NO! When organizers decided they were coming to our province, they wanted to go to the best venue and the best venue is SaskTel Centre. Was there any guarantee that type of crowd would have showed up at the Brandt Centre? That is a question UFC officials will have to ask the next time they come into Saskatchewan whenever that is. If what I hear is any indication, the next time the UFC comes to Saskatchewan, the venue will be a Graham DeLaet three wood from the Brandt Centre. If that is the truth, I hope the UFC isn't expecting an attendance of 30-thousand plus because I don't think that will happen as much as I would love it too.
--Once again while on a trip to Saskatoon, a trip to Fuddruckers had to be had and once again, I saw several people from Regina. Does the Saskatoon Fuddruckers know how much business they will lose when the Regina one opens its doors in the future and where will Reginans go for their dining experience in Saskatoon if they don't go to Fudds because its in Regina.
--The Toronto Blue Jays are not the best team in baseball right now. That distinction goes to the New York Mets.
--The way the Blue Jays are playing, it will take a complete collapse for them not to make the playoffs and have Josh Donaldson named the American League MVP. Donaldson's hustle on a routine grounder to 3rd that ended up being an error because of that hustle ended up turning a loss into a win in Texas Tuesday night. The guy does it all. Jose Bautista could certainly learn a lesson or two from this guy, but instead he decides he is going to boycott Sportsnet and not talk to them because they won't reimburse Devon Travis for a suit. Cmon Jose! Your act is wearing thin amongst some. This isn't the time to act like this and why are you seemingly on a solo mission because no one else has squawked about this. It was interesting to note Bautista did talk to SNET's Barry Davis the day after this story came out. I have to wonder if he was made to do so by the Blue Jays brass. We will see how many more interviews he does this season.
--When you are winning a bad pitchers pool, you bemoan the fact the Blue Jays sent Aaron Loup (the worst of the worst this year) to Triple A and hope to god Toronto calls him back up in September. He can turn a 12-3 game in the 8th to 12-6 just like that.
--The Regina Pats start training camp this weekend. It means hockey is slowly coming back. Soon, fantasy football drafts will be replaced by hockey drafts as the NHL season is right around the corner.
--Why did it take the Ti-Cats so long to retire Angelo Mosca's jersey!
--Why did TSN take time out of their programming schedule to give us the Coors Light Games after the CFL game? That bubble soccer and volley pong games were beyond fierce! It was bad enough one of Canada's Sports Networks was showing a repeat of Amazing Race Canada on one of the channels the CFL game wasn't, but the three letter made a bad decision by giving this publicity stunt any air time.
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend everyone. GO RIDERS!!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
With the CFL abandoning its stars of the week, and going with performers of the week, I give you my Week 9 CFL stars of the week.
OFFENCE- BO LEVI MITCHELL --Calgary
There were many players who could have received the recognition this week and Riders QB Brett Smith was one of them for throwing 3 TD passes against Calgary. However, Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell gets it not just for the fact he also threw 3 TD's in the win over the Riders, but the hail mary at the end of the first half was a thing of beauty as he fired that on a rope to Eric Rogers in the wind.
DEFENCE -- MIKE DALY-- Hamilton
The Ti-Cats throttled the Eskimos at Commonwealth with Daly being one of many who had a great night. He intercepted two passes, forced a fumble and had a sack in the 49-20 win. The McMaster product should be named the Canadian of the week as well.
CANADIAN -- MATT WALTER -- Calgary
Jon who? Matt Walter stepped in like he did last year and got the job done for the Stamps at Mosaic running for 110 yards. The University of Calgary product is showing he can be a dominant back in this league as well when given the chance.
SPECIAL TEAMS -- SWAYZE WATERS -- Toronto
The Argos have their kicker back and he had a great debut. He kicked 3 FG's, converted 2 TD"s and averaged over 50 yards on 7 punts.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Take a bow Saskatoon, and take a bow Saskatchewan. UFC Fight Night left a little to be desired on both ends, but what a spectacular night it was at Sasktel Centre as the UFC made it much-awaited first appearance on provincial soil.
A crowd of 72-hundred was on hand to watch the event which was beamed across North America on TSN in Canada and Fox Sports 1 in the US. While 72-hundred in the 15-thousand seat Sasktel Centre is not great, you would not have known being in the building as the place was jammed with people who I think left having spent a solid night watching the many fights that were on the card despite the fact the main event hadn't even got going before it was called due to injury. It was a sour ending to the night when Charles Oliviera had to pull the pin early in the 1st round after suffering what was said to have originally been a shoulder injury, but was later confirmed to be an esophagus tear. While the ending was not great, it did not diminish the card at all.
The gate for the event was just under a million dollars Canadian which is what was expected and it had Tom Wright happy, but the UFC Canada boss couldn't have been happy at seeing an event which wasn't sold out in its first trip into Saskatchewan especially when Saskatchewan is one of the per-capita leaders in UFC PPV. It brought up a great discussion as to who is to blame for that. Are Saskatchewan MMA champs content to plunk down 70 bucks to watch a pay-per-view, but not plunk down the money when the event is in their backyard or did the UFC do a poor job in giving Saskatchewan MMA fans who know the sport a card which was not filled with name performers. I think considering there weren't a lot of names on this card, Saskatchewan showed organizers what they would do if some names were to come here. Don't expect Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones to ever fight in Regina or Saskatoon, but organizers probably would have gotten more people with fighters that a lot have people have heard about.
Saskatchewan's two most famous Mitch's were in the house (OK, one for sure) as Saskatoon's Mitch Clarke was on hand to greet fans before the performancce and throughout the weekend. The place would gone off its hinges had he stepped into the octagon and the plan was for that to happen, but he was sidelined due to injury. It killed him knowing he couldn't do his thing in his hometown.
While the UFC play-by-play tandem of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan were not behind the mike on this night calling the action to the world, Bruce Buffer was there. Watching this guy in person is amazing. He is extremely popular with the fans and is more than willing to take pictures and meet as many as possible as are fighters who are there to watch and his act which is sometimes not seen on TV is a treat. He is great to watch!
As mentioned, those connected with the sport are very accomodating. Here's your truly with Tyron Woodley who is getting ready to face Jonny Hendricks in a welterweight bout in what is the co-main event of UFC 193 in Houston in October. The guy below Woodley is no stranger to CFL fans as he is UFC Canada boss. I talked to Tom for a few minutes and he was so happy to be showcasing his product in the heartland of the CFL. By the way, he is just as shocked as anyone over what is happening in Riderville.
The fans were into it for many of the fights and no doubt, it was the loudest when Canadian Patrick Cote took on Josh Burkman.
Canadians on the card ( and there were many) were obviously the fan favourites, but none more than "The Predator" who took out Burkman.
As I left SaskTel Centre, two thoughts went through
1) How long will it take to get back into Saskatoon because of the traffic. I don't think that situation will ever improve.
2) All that were there should have been happy with six hours of the UFC. The crowd was kept alive right from before the opening bell went with loud music and great videos that kept you invested. There wasn't a lot of dead time. It is something some hockey teams should take note of including every Saskatchewan based team in the WHL. Make it an event from the time you open the doors and don't give fans an excuse to be bored. Six hours is a long time to keep people interested in the product and by hook or by crook, the UFC does that.
As I was also leaving, I heard one guy ask his buddy when UFC might return. That is a very good question. Tom Wright has said UFC is interested in doing something in the new Mosaic Stadium, but the UFC also needs to go back to Winnipeg and Calgary as PPV's there did not go well thanks to cards being re-structured due to injury. UFC boss Dana White has promised a return to both cities and he will follow through on that promise. Once those events have been held, Saskatoon or Regina will be looked at again, but I don't see it happening until at least late 2017 or 2018.
As mentioned though, it was well worth the drive and the night in Saskatoon because what was seen by myself and others was a great night of MMA.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
The day that many Saskatchewan mixed martial arts fans have waited for has arrived.
The Ultimate Fighting Championhip holds its first ever card in Saskatchewan at Sask-Tel Centre in Saskatoon with a card highlighted by the main event featuring Max Holloway against Charles Oliviera. A preview on the card can be found right here.
If you are not going to Saskatoon, it will be on TSN 5 starting at 5.
I'm off to UFC Fight Night in Saskatoon, and I'll blog about it upon my return Monday, but here are thoughts on what transpired at Mosaic Saturday night.
--There were a lot of positives to take away from the 34-31 loss, but that doesn't mean all is good because there are still a lot of warts on this football team. The squad will not win until the defence comes through and they are not. I will give Bo Levi Mitchell all the credit in the world for his hail mary pass at the end of the first half. That was a perfect pass to Eric Rogers and it was into the wind. That was one helluva pass by the Stamps quarterback, but it doesn't take away from the fact that you gotta KNOCK IT DOWN!!! That was simply unacceptable by a group of defensive backs who were A) behind Rogers and B) looking at him instead of the ball. I'm guessing that play doesn't happen if Barron Miles is still the DB's coach because that wasn't the type of play he would even want to be associated with. That was just embarassing. Everyone knew what was going to happen and Calgary still scored. It was just one of many things that left a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the ball.
--Speaking of embarassing, the call on Randy Richards which saw the Riders offensive lineman ejected was embarassing----for Dave Foxcroft and crew. That's a 15 yard penalty, I will give you that, but that was not 25 yards and ejection-worthy. This crew was not as bad as some of the other crews we have seen this year, but on the play where Richards was kicked out, he was blocked from behind moments before what was a lethal clothesline, Brett Smith got one roughing the passer call where he embellished it big time, and on another roughing the passer call, the Calgary defender was pushed from behind causing him to fall into Smith. The Riders were not the only team to get jobbed by the stripes on this night so no blame can fall on their shoulders.
--Brett Smith continues to grow as a quarterback and I'll be completely honest, I just love what I am seeing from this kid, and I think many in the Rider Nation feel the same way. He is still rough and needs a lot of experience yet, but he is getting some valuable reps and is getting better and better with every game. While head coach Corey Chamblin said after the game, he still intends to go with Kevin Glenn when he gets off the injured list, I would seriously consider riding this season out with Smith under center. What can it hurt?
--The Riders have lost six games by five points or less while Calgary is now 6-2 winning five of them by five or less points. What is the difference between the two teams because one is finding a way to get the job done and the other isn't. There isn't a lot separating the two teams not including the win-loss record is there? What would Calgary be like if Bryant Moniz was the quarterback? The talent is there in that room, but it isn't getting done and that perhaps is the most frustrating thing.
--While I don't agree with those who want Corey Chamblin fired, I do understand it. However, someone needs to explain to me why there is a desire to bring in Mike Benavides as the new HC, What did Benavides do in BC to make those who want him here think he would get this team to where you want it? Sorry, I'd rather have Chamblin with a healthy roster. You can disagree with that all you want, but that's the way I feel, To those who say Benavides should come on board as the defensive co-ordinator, I am cool with that.
That's all for now. It's UFC time! Part 2 will be up sometime upon my return Monday after I get back.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Montreal Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall announced on Friday that he has relieved Tom Higgins of his Head Coaching responsibilities.
"General Manager Jim Popp will take over the duties of Head Coach at this time. Our management and I have full confidence in Jim, as do our players," said Wetenhall.
"We have made this change as we believe it is in the best interest of our team, and especially our fans. We all wish to express to Tom our affection and respect, as well as our appreciation for the contributions he has made to the franchise."
(Alouettes Football Club)