Monday, June 18, 2018

Something To "Mitch" About

Courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders

The new guys got it done for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. For the first time since 2014, the Riders are going into Week 2 of the season with a 1-0 record.  I had taken the Argos to win this game. I thought the Riders needed at least another week to get their feet underneath them   While it might have been that way to start for the offence, it certainly wasn't for the defence.  What a dominating effort!

At one point late in the first half, the Argos had 89 yards in net offence.  40 of that had come on one play and 16 on another. They couldn't do anything.  Thanks to a monster-like effort from Charleston Hughes, the usually unflappable Ricky Ray was rushed.  He couldn't do anything as the defence kept giving Zach Collaros and the offence one opportunity after another.   I believe at one point in the first half, Toronto had six possessions and had six two-and-outs.  That's what you want to see from your "D". 

That being said, there wasn't one person at Mosaic Stadium or watching on TV who saw what was happening in the last five minutes of the 4th quarter going to themselves "UH-OH".  Despite the fact they didn't deserve to have it that close, Ricky Ray was putting his team in a position to win. It's not like we haven't seen that before.  Unlike the Eastern final, they weren't going to comeback this time. Willie Jefferson told me after the game they simply weren't going to let Ray repeat what he did last November.  They didn't!   If you're big number 7, how can you not love seeing Hughes on the other side of the field.  Those two, if we didn't know it before, are going to be an o-line's nightmare.  Add those two to the likes of Eguavoen, Moncrief, Gainey and Butler and it is going to be tough to move the football on this Rider defence when they are on their game.

Like many of you I am surprised Marc Trestman didn't throw his challenge flag on the Nick Marshall pick-six. He had to throw that, but he didn't.  Many think he would have won the challenge as well.  That's very un-Trestman like.

Two thumbs up for Zach Collaros for partnering up with Mosaic for the mâmawêyatitân centre. Collaros is personally donating one dollar for each passing yard and 100 dollars for each TD pass with Mosaic matching the donation. The money will go to keeping programs going for inner-city youth.  Gotta like that!  Night 1 resulted in 606 dollars (303 from each side) which is a nice start.

By the way, enjoy Derrick "The Chief of Grief" Moncrief now because he has NFL written all over him.

--There is no doubt the most impressive performance of Week 1 was that of Hughes.  That being said, can we give the play of the week to BC's Marcell Young? What he did Saturday night was outstanding! We don't like it when Wally goes on the field, but we really don't like it when a fan goes on the field.

--The West has taken an early 3-0 lead on games against the East. Is this another sign of here we go again?

--I don't understand the latest promotion by the Alouettes.  They are offering you tickets for eight dollars or ten dollars, but its only for the 4th quarter.  ????   Can you still get a beverage? Are the concessions still open? I'm not sure I understand the concept.  Do hockey teams offer you tickets for just the 3rd period? There has to be a reason for this, but I'm not sure what it is.  With the Als this year, there likely won't be many games where you want to see the 4th quarter.

--Why is it golfers complain when the course is too hard as it was during Saturday's 3rd round of the US Open, but you never hear them say the course is too easy when guys are running shooting 65's and 66's at will as is the case at some tournaments.  The third round was a little tough for many, but there were some who didn't have problems in getting around.  Sometimes you have to look in the mirror.

A lot is being made of Phil Mickleson and his stunt at 13 on Saturday when he hit the ball before it stopped moving on the green to take a two-shot penalty.  Some felt "Lefty" should have DQ'ed himself.  Ease up!  Mickleson was well out of contention and he was having fun. To my knowledge, not one golfer criticized Mickleson for his move as they saved that for the course itself.  When the PGA pros do what we do at our local course from time to time, it shows the human element.  Relax!

--Would the Ottawa Senators be better off as the Quebec Nordiques 2.0?

--Does anyone think John Tavares won't be signing a deal with the Islanders before July 1?  I just can't see the Islanders letting their franchise player go.  It would be nice though if Tavares knew who his head coach was going to be before it comes time to make a decision.

--Jays manager John Gibbons appears to be resigned to the fact he is going to be fired at some point.  I'm not the biggest Gibby fan, but is he to blame for Roberto Osuna's personal problems, Russell Martin's batting average and the health of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki.  Nope!

--Who had the Seattle Mariners as one of the top teams in baseball especially with Robinson Cano suspended for PED's, pitcher Felix Hernandez having an off-year and injuries galore. They are finding a way though with Canadian James Paxton and little-known outfielder Mitch Haniger leading the way.  They are a fun team to watch right now, but is their success sustainable?

--For those who watch wrestling, the NXT Takeover Chicago main event between Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa on Saturday was downright crazy.  You aren't supposed to do what those two did to their bodies.  The main event of the Money In the Bank PPV Sunday was just as wild.

--Watching the World Cup of Soccer I am reminded of two things 1) I would love to see hockey announcers use the colourful language that their soccer counterparts do in describing what is going on and 2) I am guessing there is no concussion protocol.

That's all I got.  Have a great week!

What Did You Miss Sunday?

Image result for brooks koepka

--Brooks Koepka  is the first player to win back-to-back U-S Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989. He was in a four-way tie for the lead after three rounds at Shinnecock Hills and shot 68 on Sunday for a 1-over 281 total as no player could match par to complete the feat. Koepka shot 16 under par last year at Erin Hills for his first major victory, winning by four shots.

--The Bombers need a quarterback.  Backup Alex Ross suffered an injury during Thursday's season-opener against Edmonton.  Rookie Chris Streveler is the starter due to the Matt Nichols injury with former Rider Bryan Bennett now the backup.

--Tom Brady is thinking retirement. Speaking with Oprah Winfrey in an interview that aired on Winfrey's OWN Network Sunday,  the five-time Super Bowl champion and reigning NFL MVP said he now thinks about retirement more than he ever has. “I think about it more now than I used to,” Brady said. “I think I’m seeing that there’s definitely an end coming sooner rather than later.”  The reason appears to be family. The future Hall of Famer has two children with supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen and another with actress Bridget Moynahan, and he said his desire to be there for them has become a priority.

--Thousands of exuberant Mexican soccer fans took to the streets Sunday to cheer their national team’s long-shot win against Germany in Mexico’s first match of the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.  Hirving Lozano's first half goal set off such a commotion that seismic detectors in Mexico City registered a false earthquake, which the geological institute said may have been generated by "massive jumps" across the city.  Other scores had Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0, and Switzerland tied Brazil at 1

-- Adrian Houser -- who left Colorado Springs at 5 a.m. on Sunday, flew to Chicago, drove up to Milwaukee and made it to Miller Park about 30 minutes before first pitch -- vomited on the infield behind the mound on two occasions while pitching in the eighth inning of the Brewers' 10-9 loss to the Phillies. Houser allowed one run on two hits, but got through it with help from members of the Miller Park grounds crew, who cleaned up so play could continue.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What Did You Miss Saturday

--Details are being withheld at this time, but  the Lethbridge Hurricanes issued a statement Saturday regarding an incident involving players, Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis; along with alumnus, Matt Alfaro that has put all three in hospital,  While it is not exactly known what happened, Global Lethbridge is reporting the three were hurt at a stag party when "a fire incident" occurred.  One of the three is said to be in serious condition.

--The BC Lions clawed their way to a 22-10 home victory over the Montreal Alouettes in the Week 1 finale on Saturday night. Jonathan Jennings  got his 2018 season off to a hot start, completing 20 of 24 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a career-high 57 yards on the ground.  In the other game to close out Week 1 of the season, Calgary outscored Hamilton 19-3 in the 4th quarter for a 28-14 win.

--Dustin Johnson at least gets one more round to try to redeem himself in the U-S Open. Johnson, who started with a four-shot lead, finished with a 77 to fall into a four-way tie for the lead as he and the rest of the field struggled with fast greens and gusty winds. The World Number One sits atop the leader alongside Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and defending champion Brooks Koepka.

--The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has welcomed its Class of 2018. Former Major League Baseball stars Pedro Martinez and Lloyd Moseby were inducted along with baseball historian and author William Humber. Martinez, who spent four seasons with the Expos, earned three Cy Young Awards over his career. Moseby played 10 seasons with the Blue Jays over his 12-year M-L-B career, hitting 169 career home runs.

--The WMBL is excited to announce the rebranding of the League. Starting at the beginning of the 2019 season the new name will be: Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL). In a second major announcement, the WCBL will be reintroducing their League-wide All-Star Game, to be held in Edmonton, Alberta in 2019, then again in 2020. The 2019 All-Star Game will be held on the evening of Monday, July 8 - the day prior to the 2019 MLB All Star Game.

--Saturday scores from the World Cup:

France 2 Australia 1
Argentina 1 Iceland 1
Denmark 1 Peru 0
Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Saturday, June 16, 2018

What Did You Miss Friday?

Courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders 

--Charleston Hughes' first game as a Rider was one to remember.  He had three sacks as the Riders beat Toronto 27-19 in the season-opener for both.  It's the first Riders win to start a season since 2014

--The Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes have swung a one-for-one deal.  Alex Galchenyuk heads to the desert while Max Domi is going to the Habs.

--The Humboldt Broncos hockey club says it has received so many applications to become the team’s new head coach and general manager that it needs more time to review them all. The new hire will replace Darcy Haugan, who was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the April 6 crash involving the team bus and a truck just outside of Tisdale. Team president Kevin Garinger says the club is humbled and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of applicants for the head coach and general manager position. He says there are so many good people they need more time.

--Cristiano Ronaldo's 3rd goal of the game was a highlight-reel goal as Portugal rallied to tie Spain 3-3 at the World Cup.  At 33, Ronaldo became the oldest player to score a hat trick in tournament history.

--Dustin Johnson is holding on to a one-shot lead at the U-S Open after a day of terrible weather at Shinnecock Hills. Johnson shot a 3 under 67 and is 4-under after the second round. Charley Hoffman and Scott Piercy are at 3 under.  Tiger Woods did not make the cut

Friday, June 15, 2018

This and That

Welcome to Friday. Here are the usual assortment of thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they come in no particular order.

--The CFL season is here....or is has it been delayed again?  Did those who moaned and whined and complained about the weather on Grey Cup Sunday get to see a football game played in three and a half hours. I believe they did!  Did those wanting to watch the Bombers-Eskimos game Thursday night get to see the first half in three hours.  No they didn't.  I don't know what time the game ended because I didn't get to the second half.  I didn't even get to the end of the first half.  Like the league couldn't control the weather in Ottawa on Grey Cup Sunday, they couldn't control it in Winnipeg on the second Thursday of June either.  Players can play when it is snowing lightly.  They can't play when there is thunder and lightning nearby. In the end, it is a disastrous opening act for the CFL. Some people loved playing the Grey Cup in a snow-globe, but I am guessing no one loved what they saw Thursday in what looked to be an entertaining 1 and 3/4 quarters   I am guessing no one east of Winnipeg gave a rat's you know what when they called it for the second time.  As Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press said on Twitter, the way that game went, Matt Nichols will be back for the 4th quarter.

--Does anyone wish they had a mic on Jason Maas through all of this?  I bet he was Mr. Happy all the way through.

--In 2013, the Riders treated their fans to a Grey Cup on home soil.  My prediction for this year (and yes I do feel somewhat dirty for saying it) is that the Eskimos will do the same thing as they beat Toronto at Commonwealth Stadium to win it all. When it comes to the /=S=/, I will admit it I am torn. 

Going into training camp, I thought this team would be there with the Eskimos and Stampeders and I am still there.  I don't think they are good enough to finish first, but I do think they are good enough to finish second and welcome Calgary for the Western semi.  While I don't know if the Riders have made exponential improvement, I do think this is the year Calgary comes back to the rest of the pack.  My spidey senses tell me Bo Levi Mitchell is not 100 percent despite the claims that he is.

My spidey senses also tell me this Rider team shuffled the deck somewhat in the off-season, but they aren't marginally better.  The team played last season with no established quarterback and while it would seem as if this team is Zach Collaros', Chris Jones has not publicly handed him the keys.  The offensive line was a question mark last year and it remains so today.  What also concerns me is the amount of "new" on this team.  They have the second-least amount of returnees at 31.  Experienced teams ready to take a run at the Grey Cup shouldn't have the second-least amount of returnees.  I understand why veteran players were cut, but there is a lot of youth in that lineup---youth that will make mistakes which is something this football team can't afford as they look for a home playoff game.

At the end of the day, Chris Jones knows a LOT more about football than I do and he will have these guys ready. Can he get them to second place? I think he can.  Can he get them to the Grey Cup? I do not.  At least not as we get set to start.   We all know that predictions can change in a heartbeat and that most everything has to go right in order to win. I have them going 11-7.

--If history is any indication, the Riders may be that team to win it all in Edmonton. As the rumpled scribe Rob Vanstone says,  the Riders have lost the divisional final in 1965, 1988, 2006, 2012 and 2017 and gone on to win the Grey Cup in 66, 89, 07 and 13. Can that trend continue?  Can the trend continue of me issuing kudos to Vanstone?

--Randy Ambrosie was speaking with Rod Black and Duane Forde in the first half of the Eskimos-Bombers game before the first delay hit.. Ambrosie said a lot of the reason why the illegal contact challenge rule was taken away was because the fans hated it. He says he listened to those fans in his cross-country tour by removing that from the coaches.  Did no fan mention Rod because he is still there?  Did Randy not talk to TSN? I keed, I keed!!

--Mike Reilly's hat collection is solid! He should have been given the #1 player in the CFL honour in the TSN Top 50 just for that!

--Is Mike Hoffman's girlfriend Bryan Colangelo's daughter?  My jaw literally dropped as I read the cyberbullying story involving her and the wife of Erik Karlsson.  How on earth did Karlsson not take Hoffman to the woodshed? Was this why the Senators were the biggest disappointment in the NHL this past season?  I can't imagine what that dressing room must have been like.  This has movie written all over it.  It really is one of the more unbelievable stories I have read in a long time.  It also asks just how big of a greasefire is it in Ottawa.  This is more than Eugene Melnyk.

--The World Cup of Soccer got underway on Thursday with the host Russians beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 in a game that shows me Saudi Arabia won't be winning the world's biggest sporting event. The game after a lavish opening ceremonies that included a speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin.  I kept waiting for Alex Ovechkin to crash the party by walking into the stadium.

--Canada will be co-hosting the World Cup in 2026.  One would assume the Canadians will get a team in the 48 team field.  I don't care how many teams are in the 2022 event, Canada has to be there to show they belong.  John Herdman did great things with the women's program so here's hoping he can turn the men's program around.

--Congratulations to Adam Brooks.  The former Pats captain was on the Toronto Marlies team that won the Calder Cup as they took the AHL Championship with a seven-game win over the Texas Stars  It's a game where we see a professional hockey team from Toronto get awarded a championship trophy in colour.  It can happen----although I'd rather see it happen more for the Marlies than their other hockey team.

--Someone knows where the stolen Regina Riot jerseys are!  You can't really hide those and you can't really do anything with them.  If you know where they are, do the right thing and get them back to the team.  They can't afford to go out and get new ones and they shouldn't have to depend on "charity" and "goodwill" to get new ones.  Get the unis back to their rightful spot.  In the meantime, two thumbs up to the Regina Thunder for saying "use our jerseys and wear them with pride".  Nice work!

That's all I got.  Have a great week and enjoy the game.  I don't think we will be there until 2 AM.  Wouldn't that be delightful!  At least it would be a Friday night though. YEESH!

What Did You Miss Thursday?

--The CFL's season-opening game did not go exactly as planned.  The game between the Bombers and Eskimos was delayed twice before the first half was over because of lightning around Investors Group Field. Five hours and 42 minutes after the game started, it ended with Edmonton winning 33-30. Sean Whyte kicked a 44 yard field goal with eight seconds to play to give the Eskimos the win.

--The World Cup of Soccer started with a blowout.  The host Russians blanked Saudi Arabia 5-0.  Day 2 of the tournament features a highly anticipated matchup between Spain and Portugal.

--The Edmonton Oilers have signed forward Drake Caggiula to a two-year contract.  The 23 year old signed a two year deal that will pay him three million.  The University of North Dakota grad had 20 points in 67 games in what was a disappointing sophomore season.

--Strong winds and high scores dominated the day in Round 1 action at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson was one of four players to shoot a one-under 69.  Many of the big name players had a disastrous open round.  Justin Thomas, who unleashed a 422 yard drive on the 18th hole, finished at +4,  Sergio Garcia was +5, Phil Mickleson was +7, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth were +8 and Rory McIlroy was +10.

--Four WHL Clubs will vie for the right to host the Memorial Cup national championship when it returns to Western Canada in May, 2020. Confirmation was received from the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals, that all four WHL franchises intend to bid for the right to host the 2020 Memorial Cup.  That announcement came at the league's annual meeting.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

CFL Fans To Get In-Game Questions Answered

 Canadian Football League (CFL) fans will be able to use some new sources this season to access information on video reviews in real time and learn more about the game they love anytime.

A new Twitter account, @CFLFootball Ops, will deliver explanations for in-game officiating decisions made by the Command Centre, outline what the rules say about unusual plays, provide interesting stats and keep fans abreast of the latest news involving league decisions.

A new website  will be a hub where fans can access instructional videos on what officials look for on various plays, information on player health and safety, updates on supplemental discipline and points of emphasis for this season. They will also be able to visit a storehouse of news releases and data on the three-down game.

“If you’ve ever wondered or debated, for example, whether the Command Centre ruled a pass incomplete because the receiver’s feet were out of bounds or because he was bobbling a pass, this will give you the answer,” said Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s Senior Director of Officiating. “As a league, we are in a constant conversation with our fans and the media and we’ve strived to share information. But this will allow us to streamline this aspect of our communications by giving fans and the media specific destinations for information on officiating and other football operations.”

Ryan Janzen, the CFL’s Senior Director of Football Operations, said this is an opportunity for fans to dive deep inside the decisions, rules and procedures that can affect the game they love.

“Our fans are very passionate and knowledgeable,” Janzen said. “Every time we feed that passion, and help them expand that knowledge, our league is that much stronger.”

The @CFLFootball Ops twitter account and the new football ops website will both be active tonight at 8:30 pm ET when the CFL regular season kicks off with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Edmonton Eskimos