Saturday, July 22, 2017

Players To Watch

The Riders look to go to 2-2 tonight in Calgary as they battle the Stampeders in a Western Division showdown.

Here are some players to watch for on both sides

KEVIN GLENN -- The Riders quarterback should surpass the 50,000 career yards passing mark tonight as he is just 116 yards away.  It should cement KG as one of the best ever passers to play professional football as he will become the 7th CFL quarterback, and the 13th overall to reach that milestone. Glenn goes into tonight leading the CFL in completion percentage at 72.8 percent.

DURON CARTER --  Is this the night?  In three games, Carter has caught a rather pedestrian 14 passes for 144 yards.  There is no doubt Carter is a game-breaker and can flip field position with one play.  The matchup between him and Calgary's Tommie Campbell could arguably be the  best one on the field tonight.  If Carter wins that matchup, the Riders could very well pull off an upset.

CHARLESTON HUGHES --  The Stampeders get what arguably is their main man on defence back for this one as Hughes comes back onto the roster after missing two games with a leg injury. The CFL's reigning sack king has been exchanging words with former teammate Derek Dennis this week. If he can get to Glenn and disrupt his rhythm, it will be a good sign for the Stamps.

KIENAN LAFRANCE --  The free agent pickup makes his first appearance on the roster after being bothered by an injury suffered in training camp.  Chris Jones says he will play special teams, but one has to think we will see him spell off Cameron Marshall a tine or two.  The Riders showed against Hamilton that they are a more diversified offence when running the football and Marshall/Lafrance could be a nice 1-2 punch.

JEROME MESSAM --  It is somewhat hard to fathom tthat the beast that is Jerome Messam is averaging just over 3 yards a carry. That could be one of the reasons Calgary is struggling  out of the gate. I am guessing the Stamps may want to rectify this meaning the Rider D could get a solid dose of number 33 running the rock. It will be a big test for Zach Minter and Eddie Steele in the middle of that Rider d-line to keep Messam in check.

Depth Charts for Saturday's Riders-Calgary Game


620 CKRM's coverage begins at 4 with Rod Pedersen and Luc Mullinder having the play-by-play at 7 

Friday, July 21, 2017

This And That

--Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

Image result for spy vs spy

--"Spy Games" goes tomorrow night in Calgary, and I can't wait.  The Riders don't like the Stampeders, the Stampeders don't like the Riders. A green wave will once again descend on MacMahon Stadium, and both coaches are treating this Week 5 game like a playoff contest by closing practices so things don't get "leaked".  It's a little far-fetched to think fans are divulging secrets, but hey whatever sells tickets works for me. 

The Riders are better than last year, and Calgary isn't as good as last year.  While it is early, the Stamps seem to be missing something from last year when they ran roughshod over the league until the Grey Cup game.  Will this translate into a Riders win? One would have to think the Stamps will win at home, but I will say the Riders will cover the 11 and a half point spread.  Yes, Calgary could add a late TD to make it a double-digit win, but I think Bo Levi and crew are in for a tough game against an opponent that gives them nightmares no matter their record. 

--Riders head coach Chris Jones has the quote of the year in the CFL so far this year for his "We had more fans in the stands today (for Tuesday's practice) than Toronto has fans. Some have said that was an unnecessary shot against the Argos and are condeming him (surprise, surprise!) while others are taking it for what it was which was humour.  It was a well-played dig, and he wasn't really wrong was he? We all know fan support in Toronto is disgraceful. 

--Can someone please tell me what Dave Dickenson was trying to accomplish when he told Calgary radio station QR77 on Monday night that he thought the Riders had  a good team last year with the exception of their QB play?  Why is Dickenson taking a shot at the now-departed Darian Durant. The same Darian Durant that beat his Stampeders one week ago!  If he had said, they had bad o-line play or a bad secondary I could understand it, but taking a poke at a player who is no longer here. I don't get it! 

--Another thing I don't get is fans (smokers) who are railing on the Riders for the fact they put out an edict this week reminding people Mosaic Stadium is now smoke-free. Why is that? It's a City of Regina bylaw.  A city of Regina bylaw and not a Riders one. It's also a bylaw this non-smoker wholeheartedly endorses.  If it's a city bylaw, the Riders are simply adhering to it. Do you want them to not abide by this?  The hate of the smoker is being directed at the wrong folk. 

--There is also a furour over the fact once you leave,  you can't get back in. IT WASN"T LIKE THAT BEFORE!!! claim many.  Guess what? Things change, deal with it! Many other stadiums have this policy in place. Every NFL, NHL and MLB game I have seen over the last few years whether it be at Rogers Place, Bell Centre, Target Field, Wrigley Field, CenturyLink Field, the now no-more Metrodome, you are not allowed to leave once you enter. Its a safety thing!!  It's the same reason you get your bag searched, and its the same reason many venues give you souvenirs in a clear plastic bag. How easy would it be for someone to say oh, I forgot something and come back into the stadium whether it be here or anywhere with a weapon he or she has hidden hoping security will go "Oh I remember him/her. you're good and then chaos breaks out. 

Yes, the chances of that ever happening in Regina are slim, but if it did, questions would be asked about why fans weren't protected. Things change! Get used to it. It could be worse. Once again, the anger for this is a little unwarranted.  Do you say the same thing when going through the airport? Yes I do, but I understand why it's being done.  Bottom line, settle down and don't let the little things consume you as they seemingly are with some.

--Through 4 1/2 weeks of the CFL season, as a fan you can't say you are not seeing good games. Wednesday's game in Ottawa went right down to the wire and so did last night's game between the Eskimos and Ti-Cats. What a letdown by the Tabbies.  Despite another night of shoddy o-line play, Hamilton had a chance to win until late in the 4th quarter when Mike Reilly said enough was enough.  A win by the Ti-Cats (or Spy-Cats as RP has joked) would have tightened things up in the East and he West.  Perhaps Derek Meyers wasn't wrong when he said the gap between top and bottom in the league has shrunk significantly in the last year.  There seemingly isn't a lot between the top team and the worst one in the CFL.

Of the 18 games in the league this year, 13 have been decided by 8 or less. You can't ask for much better than that as a fan. A majority of the games including the two this week are coming right down to the end which I think is what you want in the end.

--Football of another kind comes to Mosaic Stadium on Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing the New York Cosmos take on Valencia CF in the first ( and what won't be the last) international friendly. Say what you will about the game, but its popularity is increasing in our country by the day with more and more kids playing.  There is talk about a new league setting up a franchise in either Regina or Saskatoon. Former Rush prez Lee Genier is one of the people trying to make it happen. That guy knows what he's doing, so don't bet against him. Lee is scheduled to join me in the Cage at 605 Friday nightt to talk about it before a meeting at O'Hanlons at 7.

--It would only be fitting if Al Cowlings picked up OJ Simpson once he is paroled and drove him home would it not?

--People are talking about the home runs being hit in baseball and whether or not the ball is "juiced". How about the fact there are many more young stars in the game than before who can make you pay for a mistake.  Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Miguel Sano and Jose Altuve are just some of the names that will carry baseball for the next many years. There is a lot of talent on the field, and that is being shown by the increased numbers and interest in the game. You won't see me complaining about it.

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend! GO RIDERS!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lulay Gets Start for BC This Week

The news about Jonathon Jennings’ wounded shoulder probably couldn’t be much better for the B.C. Lions.
After an MRI, the Leos’ star pivot appears to be in clear.
Jennings told reporters Monday at the team’s training facility in Surrey that his range of motion was already better than the day before.

Head coach Wally Buono said he was “relieved” at the news.
The Lions host the Blue Bombers on Friday; Travis Lulay is slated to start.
The veteran put up the best-ever performance by a backup on Saturday, after he came in early in the game in relief of Jennings.
Lulay threw for 436 yards after relieving Jennings, who hurt his shoulder on the first play from scrimmage.

(Vancouver Province) 

Why Are So Many HR's Being Hit In Baseball?

Image result for giancarlo stanton home run

Home run hitters have always had great nicknames like The Sultan of Swat, Hammerin’ Hank and The Big Hurt.
And, now, Scooter.
Cincinnati utilityman Scooter Gennett — whose given name is Ryan — last month became the 17th player in major league history to hit four homers in a game, accomplishing the feat in a Reds win over St. Louis.
“For a guy like me to have done it, it’s amazing,” Gennett told reporters afterwards. “It’s maybe a little bit short of a miracle.”
Not this season, in what seems destined to go down as “The Year of the Homer.”
At the All-Star break, 3,343 home runs had been hit this season in the major leagues (15 of them from Scooter, by the way). That pace would produce 6,126 homers, which would not just break but obliterate the record 5,693 homers hit in 2000 season during the height of the Steroid Era.
At least this time around it’s the ball that’s suspected of being juiced and not the players (a topic addressed elsewhere today in these pages).
“There’s just something different about the baseballs,’’ Miami reliever Brad Ziegler said in a recent USA Today story. “I don’t have anything to quantify it, but the balls just don’t feel the same. It just feels different to me, a little harder, tighter than the past. ...
“Balls aren’t moving as much. And they’re being hit a long ways. Basically, it feels like every park is Colorado.’’
New York Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, in the same story, said, “There’s a lot of people unhappy with the baseball, and I’m getting the same feedback. You’re seeing guys going opposite field, breaking their bats, and the balls are flying out.
“It’s the balls. They’re throwing harder with it, but they’re getting less movement, so they’re just hanging there.
“There has got to be some investigation.’’
Speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America hours before last week's all-star game, Commissioner Rob Manfred said they have “done more testing on the baseballs in the last few years than (ever), and we know with certainty the baseball falls within the specifications that have existed for many years.”
Added Manfred: “We are in the process of trying to come to a conclusion as to what is going on.”
MLB uses Rawlings balls that are produced by hand at a factory in Costa Rica. The balls that don’t meet minimum standards are pulled aside, stamped with the word “PRACTICE” on them and used for BP.
Balls have been produced to exacting specifications — 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference and 5 to 5.25 ounces in weight — for more than a century. They still have a cushion cork center and four layers of tightly-wound wool wrapped with two strips of horsehide that is secured with 108 stitches.

“To be honest, I haven’t noticed anything (with the ball),” Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard said. “I think the game constantly advances and it’s ever adapting, and pitching becomes more difficult, as I’m sure hitting does. It’s a game of adjustments. To me, it doesn’t seem like it’s changed much.”
Walking through Padres clubhouse during the discussion was first baseman Wil Myers, who said: “Strikeouts and home runs, baby! It’s what we’re about.”
He’s right.
Interestingly enough, this HR explosion has occurred just after homers had dropped to their lowest level since MLB expanded to its present 30 teams — with only 4,186 hit in 2014.
That year, Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz led the majors with 40 homers. The most 40-homer seasons in history was in 2000 when 16 players did it. Nine players did it in 2015 and eight players last season.
This year, there were 24 players with at least 20 homers — led by New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge with 30 — and were roughly at a 40-homer pace at the All-Star break.
The surge in home runs has brought an even greater increase in strikeouts, which have gone up every year since 2006. There were a record 38,982 strikeouts last season. Hitters are on pace to surpass the 40,000 mark this year.
By comparison, there were 31,356 strikeouts in 2000 when the HR record was set.

“Everything that research shows is we’re not (juicing the balls),” Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler said during a radio interview this week. “I think part of it is that guys are all or nothing. That’s the mentality. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with it. I like balls in play, but there are fewer balls in play and more home runs and more strikeouts.
“I like (Paul) Goldschmidt, for instance, from the Diamondbacks. He changes his approach at the plate when he has two strikes. He might be a free swinger on the first two, but after that he puts the ball in play. There’s a lot to be said for it.”
Much more is said these days about launch angle and exit velocity. Players are swinging for the fences and don’t seem to mind much if they swing and miss.
Richard, for one, has noticed different approaches at the plate.
“It seems as if hitters’ holes have changed,” he said. “Four, five years ago, you tried to stay down with everything and you’d be right. Now, a lot of guys’ holes are at the top of the strike zone. It’s changing all the time.”
Among the revelations in a recent story by The Ringer was that there has been a significant increase in the home run rate per batted ball.
“That increase coincided with a significant rise in the average exit velocity of batted balls,” the Ringer story said, “which largely explained the extra home runs but effectively replaced one mystery with another, leaving us wondering instead why balls were leaving bats with such speed.”
Back to the ball. Is it wound tighter? Are the seams lower (explaining why more pitchers have complained about blisters)? Or, what?
“That’s something for a scientist to figure out,” Padres reliever Craig Stammen said. “There are a lot more home runs. I think the hitters’ approach is a lot different. ...
“I mean, it could be the baseballs. I’m not denying that. But I don’t know. I can’t speak on something I don’t know anything about. I’m just out there to pitch, and whatever baseballs they give us I’m happy to use.”

(San Diego Union-Tribune) 

Something To "Mitch" About

NEW NUMBER ONE ON CFL LADDER  -- Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for the past few years there has been no denying the Calgary Stampeders have been the best team in the CFL.  Yes. they aren't the defending champs thanks to Ottawa in last year's Grey Cup, but after what I saw this past weekend, they are no longer atop the CFL throne.  When this week's power rankings come out, I would not be surprised to see the BC Lions atop the pack.

Say what you will, and yes Edmonton may have a claim to that #1 spot as they are the lone unbeaten, but BC is the top team after four weeks if you ask me.  Playing three straight games out east and winning all three of them is huge. To cap it off with Travis Lulay throwing for over 400 yards shows you the Lions can do it with their number 2 quarterback.  It is not known how long Jonathan Jennings will be out of the lineup for after injuring his shoulder, but if he is out for a while the Lions can rest easy knowing Lulay can do the job.

As for the Stampeders, well they showed us a thing or two as well.  First off, let's be clear. This team is not as good as last years. At least not yet.  They were a fortunate call from getting a tie in Ottawa and they didn't deserve to win in Montreal. There is still a long ways to go in this season, and yes they will be in a growly mood when they play the Riders, but we know they don't like playing Saskatchewan in MacMahon because of the tractor factor.  I'm guessing and hoping Chris Jones will be looking at the film of the Alouettes game and the first half of last year's Grey Cup to see what can be done to confuse the MOP.  I'm not calling for the upset, but I like the Rider  chances a little more after seeing what transpired this week.

Those chances might go up a little more if the league decides to hand out some further discipline to Jerome Messam. After getting kicked out of Friday's game for what was a stupid play, would the CFL suspend him? I'm guessing the answer is no, but who knows! This is the CFL after all!

AMBROSIE GETS AN "A" --  CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie showed us Friday he gets it.  Ambrosie was in Winnipeg Thursday night when a PR stunt blew up in the league's face.  The penalty that shouldn't have been called, and resulted in a Winnipeg woman losing one million dollars had headlines across North America. Ambrosie realized this, and he acted.

He, and the league, turned what could have been a PR nightmare into a positive by awarding Karen Kuldys and her family a trip to Grey Cup. It's a small way of saying you're sorry for the officiating and the fact they jobbed her out of the cash she deserved.  The Bombers, the CFL, Safeway and Air Miles also hopped on board to make it better for this woman and themselves.  Without admitting the call was wrong, the league and its partners gave what was a bad story for the league a good ending.  Would Jeffery Orridge had done this? I don't even know if he would have been aware of it if the truth be known.

I like the way this guy is starting out, and CFL fans should too.  He could have taken the "oh well" attitude, but he didn't. He was proactive on what took place, and he should be recognized for that as should Wade Miller and the Bombers.

Some asked if the Riders would do the same thing if they were in that position. Absolutely!  Wayne Morsky and Craig Reynolds might have done something before the CFL did. It likely would have been the same gift as what the Bombers were giving, but they would have done it.  Despite what some have said, the Riders still realize how important its fan-base is and what they mean to this organization. The team does what it can to look after its fans. Sometimes it can't happen, but most times it does.

RUN THE BALL AND GOOD THINGS HAPPEN -   The lone unbeaten team in the CFL are the Edmonton Eskimos.  During Saturday's game, TSN's Derek Taylor, who you can hear every Wednesday on the Sportscage, sent out a tweet showing the pass to run ratio.  The Eskimos are the closest to 50-50 as they pass 58 percent of the time.  Running the football has made Edmonton a little more dangerous.  We saw what happened with the Riders offence against Hamilton when Cameron Marshall started touching the football. Yes, the CFL is a pass-happy league, but "W"s might be more achievable by "pounding the rock"!

CRYING IN YOUR BEER -  I just want to make sure I have this right.  There are one group of Rider fans who are upset over the beer prices at Mosaic Stadium.  There are another group of people upset because they can't drink craft beer.  Is there a group out there that wouldn't pay the high price for a craft beer? You can get Great Western beer at the Brandt Centre during Pats season, but you can't get a Molsons product. Damn you Pats, you don't sell Molson products. How dare you!! The Riders moved to Pepsi this year from Coke. Are Coke fans outraged? I'm not the beer connoisseur that others are, but give me a beer and most times I'm happy.  It can be a Coors, it can be a Kokanee, it can be a Mus Knuckle, something from Rebellion or whatever.

FEDERER -  Roger Federer's legacy grew a little on Sunday as he won his 8th Wimbledon mens singles title.  Federer has to be getting up there as one of the world's greatest athletes if he isn't already there.  He went through the entire tournament without losing a set.  That is beyond impressive.

FLOYD & CONOR - What a circus the hype between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor has been as the two criss-cross the continent promoting their August fight.  It has been entertaining to watch these two snipe at one another, but it was a WWE feel to it because the two are flying from stop-to-stop in the same plane.  The hype is worth following because it gives one a chuckle.  The only chuckle from the fight will be those who pay for it.  I just don't see this being worth the oodles and oodles of cash both are going to get.  I also think McGregor win or lose will want Floyd in his domain and will want another fight in the octagon so both can get another huge pay-day. No thanks!

THE FUTURE LOOKS GOOD -  Team Saskatchewan was oh so close to winning gold at the 2017 Football Canada Cup losing on a last second touchdown to Quebec by a score of 10-7. Saskatchewan has seen many good players move on to the next level with more ready to move after a year of university and college ball.  The future looks good.  One has to wonder though when Rams DC Sheldon Gray (head coach of Team Sask) and Rams OC Mark McConkey are going to get a call to the next level.  That statement probably has Rams HC Steve Bryce going SHHHHHHHHH! Good programs have good people!

That's all I got. Have a great week! Would it be too much to ask for 6-12 hours of rain?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fan Shafted In Touchdown To Win Contest Going to Grey Cup on CFL's Dime

Image result for touchdown to win

Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie spoke with Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan and Safeway and Sobeys’ Touchdown To Win contestant Karen Kuldys today and invited her and her family to attend this year’s 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw in Ottawa as VIP guests of the League.

“We’re all fans and whatever team you root for, we would all love to see a CFL fan win a million dollars. So we all feel for Karen and what she must have gone through last night, and what she must still be feeling today. I was in Winnipeg for the game and I spoke with her today. On behalf of the CFL, I invited her and her family to come to Grey Cup this year as our guests,” said Randy Ambrosie, the CFL’s Commissioner. “I know Karen’s a Blue Bomber fan and her son plays football, so we spoke with Wade Miller, the President and CEO of the Bombers, this morning. He immediately pledged to provide Karen with Bombers season’s tickets for the rest of this season and next season as well. We all know these things can’t compare to a million dollars but we wanted to do something to let her and her family know that we all wished she could have won last night.”

He added: “It was a very tough call made by our official last night, one that could have gone either way. There are tough calls made all the time in our game because these are world class athletes, moving at tremendous speeds, and we ask our officials to make difficult judgement calls in the blink of an eye, and we have to respect their decisions.”

Safeway and Sobeys’ Touchdown to Win Contest, which awards a Visions $25,000 home theatre package to a contest entrant if one kickoff is returned for touchdown, and a million dollars if a second kickoff is returned for a touchdown in the same game, is part of the grocery chains’ partnership with TSN, which along with RDS is the exclusive broadcaster of the CFL. Today, Sobeys announced that, in addition to the home theatre package, it will provide Karen with free groceries for one year at any Safeway or Sobeys.

“We were thrilled that Karen won a $25,000 home theatre package after one kickoff was returned for a touchdown,” said Lyne Castonguay, Executive Vice President, Sobeys Inc. “And while we can’t reverse a referee’s on-field call, we are delighted to be able to offer Karen a year’s worth of free groceries in addition to the great football offers made by the CFL and the Blue Bombers.”