Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 8 NFL Capsules

The first game of Week 8 of the NFL season should be a good one as the Chargers and Broncos meet in Denver.  For a look at the complete week, click here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Riders Release Three

The Riders have released the following three players

  • RB Will Ford 
  • WR Eron Riley
  • QB Denarius McGhee 

Game 1 World Series Preview

Kansas City, with its couple hundred fountains and seemingly equal number of BBQ joints, is about to take its place as the epicenter of the baseball world tonight when -- after a wait of 28 years, 11 months and 25 days -- the World Series returns to Kauffman Stadium.

Six days after celebrating an American League pennant in front of their own fans by dispatching the Orioles, the Royals will host the Giants in the first World Series matchup between the clubs. First pitch in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET. Pregame coverage on FOX begins at 7:30 p.m.

It is a Fall Classic matchup bubbling with intrigue, one that will feature newbies to this postseason stage against the every-other-year World Series regulars of late. The Giants, who defeated the Cardinals in a five-game National League Championship Series, returned to Missouri having won each of their last eight postseason series. In between, they've raised two World Series banners (2010, '12).

The Royals are riding their own streak, undefeated in their first eight postseason games, something never before accomplished. Their 11-game postseason winning streak (dating back to 1985) ranks as the second longest in Major League history.

"I think this city has been waiting for this for a long time, and the fact that we're doing it in the fashion that we are is tremendous," said James Shields, Kansas City's Game 1 starter. "This is our goal in Spring Training, and we had one mindset, and that was to go to the World Series and win it. And to be able to be here on this big stage is exactly what we've been working really hard for all season long."

Defying the assertion that the Wild Card Game, added in 2012, would prove to be an unclearable hurdle for a Wild Card team to advance to the World Series, both the Giants and Royals emerged from the winner-take-all Wild Card Games and then twice overcame the home-field advantage of their opponents. This World Series gets it start in Kansas City thanks to the AL's victory in the All-Star Game.

Since MLB started using the All-Star Game outcome to determine home-field advantage, the team that has held it has been crowned World Series champions eight times out of 11. That included the Giants in both 2010 and '12. With a series win over the Royals, the Giants would join the Yankees as the only clubs over the last 40 years to boast three championships during a five-year span.

"I was amazed at the Yankees on what they accomplished. It's not that easy," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will send Madison Bumgarner to the mound in Game 1. "I mean, first of all, you've got to get there. Then the road to get there now is a lot more difficult than it used to be. It used to be two pennant winners going at it, and now you have to go through some playoffs, and this year we had the extra one with the [Wild Card] playoff game."

While the two clubs have no October history, they aren't entirely unfamiliar with one another. In August, Interleague Play sent the Giants to Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals completed a sweep during a stretch in which they won 14 of 16 games. San Francisco was outscored, 16-6, with Bumgarner taking one of those losses in a complete-game effort.

Now, the Giants are back, with the lights brighter, the stakes higher and just the second World Series Wild Card matchup on tap. The first all-Wild Card World Series also involved the Giants, who lost a thrilling seven-game series to the Angels in 2002. An unexpected October clash, for sure. But one certain to add to the drama of a postseason in which there have already been 14 games determined by one run.

"This is final, you know?" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "This is the last big series, and there are two teams left standing, which is special. I think it's a great matchup between both clubs. I think that both teams are ready for this."

Giants: Morse set as designated hitter

Content to leave Travis Ishikawa in left field, Bochy intends to make room for Michael Morse in his Game 1 lineup by using him as the Giants' designated hitter. Morse came off the bench to hit a game-tying home run off Pat Neshek in the eighth inning to set up the Giants' walk-off win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. That was just the sixth at-bat Morse had taken since the end of August, as he spent six weeks recovering from a strained oblique muscle before being added to the NLCS roster.

Morse went 2-for-4 pinch-hitting against the Cardinals and has 33 career starts as a DH, including four earlier this season. This will be his first time filling the spot in the postseason.

Royals: A layoff letdown?

Kansas City knocked Baltimore out of the postseason last Wednesday, leaving the Royals with a five-day layoff before they pick up World Series play against the Giants. So will that downtime hurt? History suggests probably not.

Of the 13 teams with five or more days off between the LCS and World Series, seven have gone on to win a championship. Those clubs went 6-7 in Game 1. Short-sightedness may be contributing to the assumption that the Royals will be affected by the layoff, as only one of five teams since 2006 with at five or more days off between the two rounds has gone on to win it all.

Worth noting

• MLB announced that it will dedicate Game 1 to honoring veterans and military families as part of its Welcome Back Veterans program. There will be an on-field, pregame ceremony to highlight this initiative.

• With a Game 1 win, the Royals would tie the Yankees (1927-32, 1998-99) for the most consecutive postseason victories with 12.

• In winning 15 of their last 17 postseason games, the Giants have outscored their opponents, 77-32, while posting a staff ERA of 1.71.

Monday, October 20, 2014

NHL Three Stars Of Week

NEW YORK (Oct. 20, 2014) – Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin, Anaheim Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen and Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 19.


Seguin led the NHL with eight points (4-4—8) in three games to help the Stars earn five out of a possible six standings points. He opened the week by recording his fifth career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 14. Seguin again tallied the decisive goal, this time with 2.9 seconds left in regulation, in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Oct. 16. He then capped by the week by posting a career-high four assists in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 18. Since joining the Stars for the 2013-14 season, the 22-year-old Brampton, Ont., native leads the League with four hat tricks. The second overall selection by the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL Draft, Seguin has 97-116—213 in 288 career regular-season games.


Andersen went 4-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and one shutout to help the Ducks extend their winning streak to five games. He made 11 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Oct. 13, 39 saves – plus another three in the shootout – in a 4-3 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 14 and 27 saves in a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Oct. 17. Andersen then closed the week by recording his first NHL shutout, making 28 saves in a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues Oct. 19. With the win, Andersen improved to 25-5-0 in his NHL career (33 GP), joining Boston’s Ross Brooks (25-2-3; Oct. 25, 1972 – Feb. 28, 1974) as the only goaltenders in League history to win 25 (or more) of their first 30 decisions. The 25-year-old Herning, Denmark, native also maintained his perfect record in 2014-15, improving to 5-0-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average and .950 save percentage in five appearances.


Stamkos led the NHL with five goals and tied for second in the League with six points to power the Lightning to two victories in three starts. He began the week by scoring his eighth career hat trick (including the game-winning goal) and firing a career-high 12 shots on goal in a 7-1 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 13. After being held off the scoresheet in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Oct. 14, Stamkos posted 2-1—3, including the primary assist on Ryan Callahan’s tiebreaking marker, in a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Oct. 18. The 24-year-old Markham, Ont., native is tied for second in the League with five goals this season. Since the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign, his second in the NHL, no one has scored more goals than Stamkos’ 215.

Something To "Mitch" About

SIGHHHH!!!  That's what the Rider Nation is saying after yet another loss as the green and white saw hopes of a home playoff game this year go "poof" as they were beaten 24-19 by the Edmonton Eskimos Sunday afternoon.

At the half, it looked good. Kerry Joseph was playing well and the defence was playing well, but it came to an end on the first play of the second half as Kendial Lawrence took the kickoff back 96 yards and while the Riders still had a two point lead at the time, it was basically game over. 

For whatever reason, the team acted emotionally as if it was game over after that as the Eskimos controlled the second half to win the game. 

Some thoughts

 --Kerry Joseph can still play the game. His timing wasn't there, but he made some plays and gave the offence some life it hadn't had over this losing skid. Believe it or not, there still is reason to be optimistic. However, Joseph will have to pick up his game as the Stamps and Eskimos now have film on him....fresh film at least.

--Dropped passes did not help Joseph.

--Levy Adcock had one of his better games, Ben Heenan did not

--Covering a kick and punt return has definitely been the Achilles Heel of this football team this year. They've been atrocious as was the attempted short kick at game's end. You have to be better in those areas. Much better

--The Kisscam was uh----um.....uh......interesting and downright funny this week. I'm wondering if a certain fan got slapped after that escapade had come to an end.

--I really wonder what the Durant haters are saying these days

--Don't pin any blame for this loss on Ricky Foley. He was all over the field and maybe took the hardest hit of the day from teammate Tyron Brackenridge at the Riders sideline in the first half.

--I still believe the Eskimos are the best team in the West at this time.

While it was a frustrating afternoon for the Riders on Sunday, it was yet another frustrating afternoon for the University of Regina Rams at Thunderbird Stadium (pictured)  as they were beaten 33-32.  They are now 1-5 on the season, but three of those losses have come by 1,2 and 5 points. The one point that decided this game was a rouge as UBC punter Quinn Van Gylswyk launched his best punt of the afternoon late in the 4th quarter that the Rams could not get out of the endzone. They couldn't muster any offence after that single either as their playoff chances took a serious hit and one that likely prevents Frank McCrystal from going to the playoffs in his final year.

 I've seen Frank walk off the field after a loss many times before, but there was something different about the walk this time and the look. I think the realization its over has hit him. There's a lot of talk about what will happen to the Rams and who will take over. That person has big shoes to fill as Frank was more than a football coach and there are many around this city that will tell you that. Many!

As for our broadcast on 620 CKRM Saturday, all I can say is I'm sorry for the phone line problems. Yes, I heard how bad it was and as I called the game via my cellphone while my colour guy Marco Ricci could just sit there helplessly in a spotters role, I knew how bad it was sounding. The mandate is to get it out there and we did. Once again, I'm sorry you had to endure that for 3 hours, but we did the best we could. If you're wondering, the double ryes consumed after the game did not really make up for the frustration being felt.

Thanks to former U of R Hockey player Greg Hutchings. Hutch texted Marco Ricci on Saturday wanting to know if we wanted his tickets to Saturday's Lightning-Canucks game. We just couldn't find a spot for a ticket drop that was easy so we had to say no to the request.  Just to recap---a terrible football broadcast forced by having to say no to center ice tickets for free for an NHL game. How was your Saturday?

Congrats to Peyton Manning. He doesn't have the championships that the others have, but he has to be considered the greatest of all time after becoming pro football's leading touchdown pass leader on Sunday night. I don't know if you caught the piece ESPN on had on the nine players that have caught just one of Manning's passes for a touchdown, but it was a great feature.

Its tough to repeat in the NFL and the Seahawks are showing that. What the hell happened on that punt return? That was just bizarre. By the way, the officials screwed them at the end, but we'll never know if Seattle may have been able to get a game winning field goal and it shouldn't have come down to that so I'll just let it go---albeit reluctantly.

Looking forward to the World Series. If its like the rest of the baseball playoffs, strap yourself in.

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons asks a great question about the Royals when it comes to the Blue Jays. Should the Jays be encouraged or discouraged that another team using their formula is in the World Series. The one big difference between the clubs---look at KC's bullpen and then look at Toronto's---end of story.

I read an article on the weekend suggesting Buster Posey is the new face of baseball now that Derek Jeter has retired. I can't argue with that. I'm a big Posey fan myself.

I'm hearing rumblings from TV people who aren't necessarily liking the new Hockey Night in Canada. What are your thoughts?

As a hockey fan, tell me you were upset to see the refs get in between Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla who were going to square off the other night. That would have been a great fight!

Why doesn't Regina have a Papa John's Pizza? I have never had one and I want to.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This And That

The weekly collection of thoughts running through my muddled mind in no particular order.

In February of 2009, I started this blog. This is the 5000th post. In that time, this blog has had 1.12 million hits and 1.5 million views. A sincere thank you to one and all who have checked it out over the last 4 1/2 years.

--As the Saskatchewan Roughriders get set to play the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday, I sense a large part of Rider Nation has given up on this season. They are angry over the quarterback situation and they have resigned themselves that this promising season will likely end on a very bitter note. C'mon Rider Nation!! When this team wasn't good, you always found a positive. You thought there was a way they could win. It seems like this isn't the case this year. People have been moping around for the last month taking every chance they can to take a potshot at the organization that brought you a Grey Cup last year.  We should well know around here you can't win every year even though you'd like to. Let's get some buzz going again this weekend. Kerry Joseph may succeed and he may fail, but in my mind, he is the best option and the last option this team has. Stand behind them as they roll the dice and don't get so negative over what has happened. No one wanted Darian Durant to go down, but it happened. Its the cruel reality of sports. We've been through worse haven't we? When it was worse, there was always a quiet confidence that the team could find a way. Can we have that attitude back for the remainder of the year?

--Another fanbase that is seemingly giving up is the one who cheers for the Edmonton Oilers, but realistically I can understand it. At what point is this team going to be competitive? In a tough Western Conference, you need close to 100 points to get in the playoffs and I didn't expect Edmonton to be at this level this year. I didn't expect them to give up 23 in their first 4 games while still searching for its first win. 23 goals in 4 games----I can understand if that's me playing NHL15, but I'm not! If this team doesn't play well in an upcoming 7 game homestand, it is going to get very ugly. I still think they screwed up last  year when they didn't trade their first round, first overall pick or at the least take Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart ahead of Nail Yakupov. He's been a disaster. Should I just resign myself to the fact Jordan Eberle will be traded. What can they get for him? I heard someone on NHL Radio Thursday morning suggest kicking Florida's tires to see if they could get Brian Campbell, whom the Panthers are trying to get rid of, a draft pick and a prospect or two. I don't think they could get that. Who knows? Would Buffalo trade Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford for Ebs and Jeff Petry? I will not be happy if Ebs gets traded and if he were to go to the Leafs, I might consider selling stock.

--Week 7 NFL Lock of The Week---Dallas over Giants
   Week 7 NFL Upset Of The Week ---Lions over Saints

--Milan Lucic = Class Act

-- I should have mentioned this Monday, but congratulations to Dave Taylor and the U of R womens basketball team. The team, with seven players thanks to injury and absence, managed to win three straight games against tough opponents last weekend on their home floor.  Dave has got himself a good team again this year and the mens team led by Steve Burrows looks to be a lot better meaning a lot of entertaining nights are ahead this winter at the CKHS. I hope to see a lot of basketball fans at the gym this winter.

--Congrats as well to the Cougars softball team (yes they have one)....they won bronze at the Canadian Championships. Good job to coach Mike Smith and his squad.

--Could be an interesting afternoon in Vancouver on Saturday. I'll be calling the Rams game on CKRM against UBC at one of the most picturesque stadiums in Canada---Thunderbird Stadium. Word is Marco Ricci and I will be calling the game in a beer garden in the crowd. Do I need a cooler? If the Rams get spanked the way they did in Calgary, can Marco and I crack some at halftime? For what its worth, I'm not expecting the Rams to get spanked. They beat UBC on opening night and if the defence can hold, they can do it again.

--These baseball playoffs might be the best collective one I've ever seen. Its been one dramatic game after another. I'm guessing it will be the same when the Royals and Giants go at it. Can't wait for Tuesday and Game 1.

--If you did not see the piece of Riders linebacker Brian Peters and a young fan that aired on TSN this past week, you might want to click here.

--Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game," when we are already there?

Have a great weekend!!

U of R Athletics This Weekend

Home Events (Canada West)Women’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, Friday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Women’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, Saturday (3:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Away Events (Canada West)Women’s Volleyball – at Manitoba, Friday (6:00 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Men’s Hockey – at Calgary, Friday (7:00 p.m.) in Calgary, Alta.
Men’s Volleyball – at Manitoba, Friday (8:00 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Women’s Soccer – at Saskatchewan, Saturday (12:00 p.m.) in Saskatoon, Sask.
Women’s Volleyball – at Manitoba, Saturday (1:00 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Men’s Volleyball – at Manitoba, Saturday (3:00 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Rams Football – at UBC, Saturday (2:00 p.m. PDT) in Vancouver, B.C. – Access7, 620 CKRM
Men’s Hockey – at Calgary, Saturday (6:00 p.m.) in Calgary, Alta.
Women’s Soccer – at Saskatchewan, Sunday (12:00 p.m.) in Saskatoon, Sask.
Away Events (non-conference)Women’s Basketball – vs. Toronto, Friday (2:00 p.m. EDT) in Montreal, Que.
Men’s Basketball – at Dickinson State, Friday (7:00 p.m.) in Dickinson, N.D.
Women’s Basketball – at McGill, Saturday (5:00 p.m. EDT) in Montreal, Que.
Men’s Basketball – at Mayville State, Saturday (6:00 p.m. CDT) in Mayville, N.D.
Women’s Basketball – vs. Lakehead, Sunday (10:00 a.m. EDT) in Montreal, Que.
Men’s Basketball – at Jamestown, Sunday (12:00 p.m. CDT) in Jamestown, N.D.
Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (1-1-1-1) split on the road with No. 4 Alberta last weekend, losing 7-1 to the Pandas on Friday but recovering for a 2-1 victory on Saturday for their first regulation victory of the Canada West schedule. Tied for fourth place in the early conference standings with six points, the Cougars are at home this weekend against No. 10-ranked Calgary (3-0-0-1). The teams will play on Friday night (7:00) and Saturday afternoon (3:00).
Rams Football – After the conference’s bye week, the Rams (1-4) are back in action this Saturday with a road game at UBC that will be Canada West Football on Shaw’s featured game. Though the Rams enter Week 6 one game behind Manitoba for the final postseason spot in the conference, they have the good fortune of having UBC (1-4), Manitoba (2-3), and Alberta (3-2) on the schedule for the final three weeks of the season – all teams they’re currently battling for the last two playoff berths. Saturday’s game kicks off at 3 p.m. Saskatchewan time, live on 620 CKRM and Access7.
Women’s Soccer – Playing in their final two home games of the season last weekend, the Cougars (5-3-2) were edged 2-0 by MacEwan on Saturday before coming back with a 2-1 victory over the Griffins on Sunday. The Cougars are in fifth place in Canada West’s Prairie Division and just one point back of Saskatchewan for the fourth and final playoff berth in the division – and the two teams meet this weekend in Saskatoon, with the Cougars needing at worst a win and a draw to advance to the postseason for the third consecutive year.
Men’s Volleyball – After sitting out the first week of the Canada West schedule with a bye, the Cougars finally kick off conference play this weekend with a pair of road matches. They’ll take on Manitoba, which enters the series at 1-1 after splitting with Calgary last weekend. The Cougars and the Bisons have first serve scheduled at 8 p.m. (CDT) on Friday and 3 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday following the conclusion of the women’s match both days.
Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars kept busy during their bye week with four matches against CCAA opposition at a tournament hosted by Briercrest College, winning all four to finish their non-conference schedule with a 7-5 record. Playing their first Canada West games of the season, the Cougars will face a Manitoba (0-2) team that lost in five sets to Calgary twice last weekend. Match time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CDT) on Friday and 1 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday.
Men’s Hockey – The Cougars played the top team in the CIS tough at home last weekend, but were defeated 2-1 by No. 1-ranked Alberta on Friday and surrendered a late pair of goals in a 5-2 loss to the Golden Bears on Saturday. The Cougars (0-6-0) will hit the road this weekend for a pair of games against No. 6-ranked Calgary (4-2-0), which moved up one spot in this week’s national poll after a home-and-home sweep over Lethbridge. Game times are 7:00 on Friday night and 6:00 on Saturday night.
Women’s Basketball – The Cougars put forth a gutsy effort to go 3-0 at their own non-conference tournament hosted at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport last weekend. They defeated Carleton 61-55 on Thursday, then followed that up with a 76-50 win over Fraser Valley and a convincing 95-69 victory over Saskatchewan – the latter two wins coming with just seven players available due to injuries. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Cougars are 6-2 against CIS competition and continue their non-conference schedule this weekend against Toronto, McGill, and Lakehead at a tournament hosted by McGill in Montreal.
Men’s Basketball – The Cougars started their non-conference schedule last weekend in Winnipeg, losing 71-59 to Winnipeg in a game played at St. Paul’s HS on Friday and falling 88-70 at Manitoba on Saturday night. The team will now prepare for their traditional three-game road swing against NAIA opposition this weekend, as the Cougars will take on Dickinson State on Friday, Mayville State on Saturday, and Jamestown on Sunday.