Friday, October 28, 2016

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.

--We are on the eve of the last ever Rider game at Taylor Field. What type of night does the football team have planned? The answers will be found out soon. Some suggest whether or not we are going over the top in saying goodbye to a stadium that was past its prime years ago.  Iconic buildings like the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens were past their prime years before they held their last game. Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum was well past its prime last year and so was Yankee Stadium and Tiger Stadium. They are iconic buildings that deserve the proper sendoff. The Riders will give them one and hopefully they will give their fans a victory too. This is the last time we will see the green and white at home this season, and like it is any year, you want to go out on a high. That is the case moreso on Saturday. It will be a night where you come in, cheer your team on to what you hope will be a victory and then remember the moments.  My farewell essay will come on game day.

--The Rider player nominees for year end awards will be coming out soon. I don't have a vote. If I did, it would look like this

       MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER -- Naaman Roosevelt
       TOP CANADIAN  -- Rob Bagg
       SPECIAL TEAMS -- Tyler Crapigna
       LINEMAN -- Thaddeus Coleman (is he the only one to play all year?)
       DEFENSIVE PLAYER -- AC Leonard
       ROOKIE -- Justin Cox

The selection of Cox may upset some because of his past history. He isn't the best character guy that the Riders have ever had, but he has kept his nose clean while in green-and-white unlike some others.  He has given the Riders no reason to not want him around, and he has done what has been asked of him on the field. If he strays off that path, we can talk.

--Will Jeff be at this game? He ducked out on the Plaza of Honor, and he was a no-show when the Riders were officially handed the keys to the old Mosaic Stadium.  The relationship with the Riders is a tenuous one for the commish. I would think he should be here representing the league. He has to be! I won't be surprised if he isn't.

--The Stampeders finish the regular season off this weekend as they have the bye for the final weekend. That means they will get some substantial time off before playing in the Western final. Does Dave Dickenson rest his starters knowing they won't play again for a while?

--The Oilers are 6-1. When do we start actually taking notice of what is being done and start talking about this team as one that ends its lengthy playoff drought. 7 games is too early. 15? 20? By the way, do you still think the Taylor Hall trade was a bad one?

--The Habs are the last NHL team to be beaten in regulation. If you're a Montreal fan, was the PK Subban trade still a bad one to make?

--Week 8 NFL Lock of The Week -- Seahawks over Saints
  Week 8  NFL Upset of the Week --Bills over Patriots 

--If all goes right, by this time next week the Chicago Cubs will be World Series champions. Something evil must be lurking, It has to be doesn't it?

--Who thought the University of Regina Rams would be walking into Winnipeg tomorrow to play the Bisons knowing a win would give them first place in Canada West about two months ago.  The job Steve Bryce and his coaching staff have done this year is second to none. If the Rams win this game, Bryce is the CIS coach of the year. There can't be anyone in Canada doing a better job than what he has done. Having a Hec Crighton-calibre starting quarterback helps a lot too. Saturday night should be a fun night at Investors Group Field.  I will have that one for you alongside Braden Konschuh on CKRM2 ( starting at 7.

--The WWE world is abuzz as Brock Lesnar will fight Bill Goldberg next month in Toronto at "Survivor Series". Lesnar is from Maryfield, and Goldberg's wife is apparently from White City. Let's just hold this match at the Superstore East parking lot.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Trinity Western, 6:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Trinity Western, 8:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Trinity Western, 5:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – vs. Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Away Schedule – Friday
Women’s Basketball – vs. Fraser Valley, 12:00 p.m. PDT (Victoria, B.C.)
Women's Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – at Lethbridge, 7:00 p.m. (Lethbridge, Alta.)
Women’s Wrestling – dual at Calgary, 7:00 p.m. (Calgary, Alta.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Men’s and Women’s Wrestling – at Dino Open, 9:00 a.m. (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. UBC, 11:00 a.m. PDT (Victoria, B.C.)
Cross Country – at Stewart Cup, 12:00 p.m. (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Soccer – at Saskatchewan, 12:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – vs. Alberta, 3:00 p.m. (Lethbridge, Alta.)
Men’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Rams Football – at Manitoba, 8:00 p.m. CDT (Winnipeg, Man.)
Women’s Soccer – The Cougars (5-6-3) finished the Canada West schedule with a pair of road wins last weekend, including a 5-1 victory over Thompson Rivers that featured a Sydney Langen hat trick and a tight 1-0 win over UBC Okanagan the next day. The strong performance locked down fourth place in the Prairie Division standings and a playoff berth for the Cougars, who will make the short trip north to the University of Saskatchewan to take on the Huskies on Saturday at noon. The winner of that match will move on to the Canada West Final Six, to be hosted by a Pacific Division team.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars (1-3-0) host Saskatchewan this Friday night (7:00) at The Co-operators Centre in the team’s annual game in support of the Shine On Foundation, which was created to help financially support mothers with an advanced cancer diagnosis. All proceeds from the 50/50 at the game and the sale of 22Fresh Cougar sweatshirts will go to the Foundation, and the University of Regina Students’ Union will also select a contestant to shoot for free tuition during the second intermission. The teams finish off the two-game weekend set in Saskatoon on Saturday.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars start out the Canada West schedule this weekend with a pair of home matches against the top-ranked team in the nation, as No. 1 Trinity Western is in town to open up the conference slate. The two teams will play on Friday night (6:00) and Saturday night (5:00) at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.

Men’s Volleyball – With 10 newcomers on the roster, the new-look Cougars take to the home court for the first time this season with a pair of home matches against No. 2-ranked Trinity Western. The U of R and the Spartans are scheduled to start on Friday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday at 7 p.m. following the conclusion of the women’s matches on both nights.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (2-3-1-0) lost twice to Manitoba last weekend in Winnipeg and are now tied with Alberta for fourth place in the Canada West standings through the first three weekends of the Canada West schedule. The U of R is right back in action with a home-and-home against No. 9-ranked Saskatchewan, as the two teams will square off in Saskatoon on Friday night before finishing off the weekend set at The Co-operators Centre in Regina on Saturday night (7:00).

Rams Football (U Sports Ranking: No. 7) – The Rams (5-2) scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to come up with a 35-33 win over UBC on Friday at Mosaic Stadium, ensuring a top-two finish for the U of R and a home date in the first round of the postseason. The Rams finish off the conference schedule this Saturday night (8:00 CDT) at Manitoba, needing a win to lock up first place in the Canada West standings for the first time in program history.

Women’s Basketball – The Cougars continued their torrid start to the 2016-17 season with three more non-conference wins in Edmonton this weekend. They defeated Toronto, Lakehead, and tournament host Alberta to improve to 10-0 this year despite not having the services of Sara Hubenig, Michaela Kleisinger, Charlotte Kot, and Katie Polischuk – those four were off in Xiamen, China representing the U of R and the CIS at the 3x3 FISU World League final. They won a silver medal at the event, which featured 12 university teams from around the globe. Back to a full roster, the Cougars continue their non-conference schedule in Victoria, B.C. this weekend with games against Fraser Valley and UBC.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars have now won three of their past four games after going 2-1 at the RBC Classic hosted by Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. The U of R started out the tournament with wins over Guelph and UQAM before losing to a powerful Ryerson squad on Sunday. The Cougars close out their non-conference schedule in Lethbridge this weekend, as they face the Pronghorns on Friday night and Alberta on Saturday afternoon.

Cross Country – After sending a partial squad to the Saskatchewan Age Class Championships in Yorkton last Saturday, the Cougars will enter full teams on both the men’s and the women’s side in the Stewart Cup this Saturday in Calgary. Considered a final tune-up to the upcoming U Sports Championships, the meet will be held at Canmore Park near the University of Calgary campus.

Men’s and Women’s Wrestling – The Cougars open their 2016-17 schedule in Calgary this weekend. The women’s team will square off with the Dinos in a Friday-night dual, then both teams will compete in the Dino Open on Saturday. The teams will have the next two weekends off before competing in the Cougar Invitational (Regina) and the Huskie Invitational (Saskatoon) in November.

Week 8 NFL Capsules

Image result for marcus mariota titans 

Week 8 of the NFL season will start with a game between Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans against the Jacksonville Jaguars. For a preview of that game, and others in the NFL this weekend, click here 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

World Series Primer

Image result for 2016 world series

The Cubs are four wins away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. The opening-day favorites took three of five from the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series and bested Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. By using a dominant rotation and a recently hot lineup, the Cubs are on the brink of sending Chicago into a frenzy.

Curse of the Billy Goat? The Indians have their own World Series drought to end when Game 1 of the World Series begins Tuesday in Cleveland. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948, three years after the Cubs' last appearance in the Fall Classic.

Despite injuries to Michael Brantley, starters Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer, Cleveland kept winning all season against everyone's expectations. With a dominant bullpen (1.67 ERA in 32 1/3 innings this postseason), clutch hitting and superb defense, the Indians are a formidable opponent for the favorite Cubs.

World Series 2016 TV schedule

Game 1: Cubs at Indians, Tuesday 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) vs. Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA)
Game 2: Cubs at Indians, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) vs. *Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA)
Game 3: Indians at Cubs, Friday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox —   *Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA) vs. *Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA)
Game 4: Indians at Cubs, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox — *Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.17 ERA in 15 1/3 career innings) vs. *John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA)
Game 5 (if necessary): Indians at Cubs, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox
Game 6 (if necessary): Cubs at Indians, Tuesday Nov. 1, 8 p.m. ET on Fox
Game 7 (if necessary): Cubs at Indians, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. ET on Fox

Players to watch

Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the owner of an MLB-best 2.13 ERA, and Jon Lester combined to notch baseball’s top two ERAs, becoming the first teammate pair to do so since Roger Clemens (1.87) and Andy Pettitte (2.39) did  with the 2005 Astros. The Cubs duo has been stellar this postseason, combining for 1.21 ERA.

The Cubs are 47-13 (.783) this season (including postseason) when Dexter Fowler reaches base safely to leadoff a game. After beginning the postseason 1 for 23, Anthony Rizzo is 8 for his last 15 (.533) with six RBIs. NLCS co-MVP Javy Baez leads the Cubs in runs scored (7), hits (13) RBIs (7) and stolen bases (2) this postseason.

The Indians are now 5-0 this postseason and 11-0 this year when relievers  Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen all appear in a game. The star of the trio of course is Miller, who got eight Jays outs in relief on just 21 pitches in the ALCS clinching win. The series MVP now has 21 strikeouts in 11 2/3 postseason innings this year with just five hits allowed and zero runs.

Corey Kluber will likely take the ball in Game 1 for the Indians, who hold home-field advantage in the series thanks to an AL All-Star Game victory (in which Kluber was credited with the win). The right-hander saw a personal 15 1/3-inning postseason scoreless streak come to an end following a homer by Josh Donaldson in Game 4 but looks to start another against a Cubs team he held to one run over 7 2/3 innings with four hits and 11 strikeouts in 2015.

Key stats

The Cubs won a MLB-best 103 games in the regular season. Of the last 27 teams with at least 100 wins in the regular season, only two went on to win the World Series (Yankees in 1998, 2009).
The Cubs have scored five or more runs in seven of their 10 postseason contests this year but also suffered back-to-back shutout losses against the Dodgers.

Chances are the World Series won't end in a Cubs sweep since the Indians never lost more than three consecutive games all year. The two clubs last faced each other in 2015, splitting the four-game series although the Cubs outscored the Indians 22-11.
The Indians' pitching staff has held opponents to a .206 batting average this postseason and only .130 with runners in scoring position.
The sixth inning is telling for the Indians. Including the postseason, Cleveland is 76-5 when leading after the sixth inning but are 9-55 when trailing after six.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting Ready For Last Rider Game at Mosaic Stadium

There are still 1600 tickets left for Saturday's Rider game against B-C. The last Rider game to be played at Mosaic Stadium.  The night will be a special one with the Riders telling fans to get to the park early and be prepared to stay a little later as the Rider Nation says farewell to its only home.

List of events:
2:00pm – GoodLife Fan Fest gates open
3:30pm – Mosaic Stadium gates open (get inside the stadium early as the party begins before kick-off!!)
5:00pm – Kick-off with the Saskatchewan Roughriders taking on the visiting B.C. Lions
Halftime – Capital Auto Mall Tailgates & Touchdowns Truck Giveaway and extended half time concert featuring Jess Moskaluke, light show, pyro and some “luminous” help from the fans
End of game – A once in a lifetime 25-minute closing celebration including video, pyro, and special guests! 

NHL Three Stars of Week

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 23.

Talbot went 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .970 save percentage and
one shutout to pace all goaltenders in wins and guide the Oilers (5-1-0, 10 points) to the
top of the NHL’s standings, highlighted by their best six-game start since 1985-86 (also
5-1-0). He recorded 31 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Oct. 18 and
34 stops in a 3-1 triumph over the St. Louis Blues Oct. 20, one day after becoming the
father of twins. Talbot capped the week with a flawless performance in a 3-0 win over
the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Oct. 23, becoming the
third goaltender in League history to post a shutout in a regular-season outdoor game
(31 SV). The 29-year-old Caledonia, Ont., native owns a 59-43-10 record in 119 career
NHL appearances (2.29 GAA, .924 SV%, 12 SO), including a 5-1-0 clip this season
(2.75 GAA, .919 SV%, 1 SO).

Anisimov led the NHL with 4-3—7, including a pair of multi-goal performances, to
power the Blackhawks (3-3-0, 6 points) to two victories in three contests. He opened the
week with 2-2—4 in 7-4 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 18, his third career
four-point outing and first since Feb. 6. Anisimov added one assist in a 3-2 loss to the
Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 21 before scoring twice, his seventh career multi-goal
game, in a 5-4 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs Oct. 22. The 28-year-old
Yaroslavl, Russia, native has 110-132—242 in 495 career NHL appearances, including
4-4—8 in six outings this season.

Green registered 3-2—5 to lead the Red Wings (4-2-0, 8 points) to a perfect 4-0-0
week. He notched his first career hat trick – and the first by a Detroit defenseman since
Dec. 15, 2010 (Nicklas Lidstrom) – in the final home opener at Joe Louis Arena, a 5-1
win over the Ottawa Senators Oct. 17. Green then collected one assist in both a 2-1
victory over the New York Rangers Oct. 19 and a 5-3 triumph over the Nashville
Predators Oct. 21 before being held off the scoresheet in a 3-0 win over the San Jose
Sharks Oct. 22. The 31-year-old Calgary native has 123-279—402 in 655 career NHL
outings, including 3-4—7 in six appearances this season.

(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

Where does one start?  What a weekend it was on a variety of levels  For this blogger, it's pretty simple!

FLY THE W:  This is tailor-made, but it just might be the sweetest 6-4-3 double play I've ever seen.

Did Fox's Joe Buck really just say the Cubs have won the pennant? YES HE DID!!

I had started to wonder if I would ever see the Cubs in the World Series. I will!  What a night at Wrigley and what a World Series it will be as the two teams with the longest drought in baseball go head to head in the Fall Classic.  The Indians haven't won since 1948, the Cubs haven't been won since 1908 and have never been in the World Series when it has been televised. Imagine that!  To steal a line from John Lynch "It's just gonna be fantastic".

What a scene it was inside and outside Wrigley Field as the Cubs wrapped it up. I thought FOX did a tremendous job in capturing it all.  From that look of nervous anticipation, to that look of cautious optimism as out after out after out was registered to the overwhelming release of emotion. It was compelling, and it reminded me so much of the 2013 Grey Cup at Mosaic because we went through the same thing.  The only thing that was different was Rider fans weren't gathered outside the stadium during and after the game. Can you imagine what those pictures would have looked like from high above that night?

Game 1 will go in Cleveland Tuesday night and the story has been Major League Baseball saying thanks, but no thanks to Charlie Sheen's request to throw out the first pitch.  Sheen, as you know played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in what is one of the best sports movies ever---"Major League".  MLB and the Indians say they want to recognize former great Cleveland players and I understand that completely.  However, Progressive Field would be shaken to its core if "WILD THING" blared over the speakers and Sheen came out of the bullpen to throw that pitch. It would be a moment you would never ever forget.

FROM WORST TO FIRST? -  One year ago at this time, many were bemoaning the fate of the Regina Rams. They were not a good football club and a lot of question were being asked.  When Steve Bryce came in to clean up the mess left behind by the former coach, some wondered how long it would take. Did anyone see this coming?  With one week to go in the season, the Rams are in a position to finish first in Canada West. A victory in Winnipeg Saturday night over the Bisons and that will happen.

 Like any good coach, Bryce is quick to share the credit, but there is no way this team is 5-2 and playing for homefield advantage in the playoffs if someone hadn't done that team a tremendous favour and got out of town.  There is still a lot of work to do for this team, and beating the Bisons on their home turf will not be easy.  We know the Rams will play the last ever game at Mosaic Stadium. It could be November 5 in a semi-final, it could be November 12 in the Hardy Cup final or it could be November 19 in a national semi-final. Don't let Mosaic go out with a whimper, let it go out with a bang and stuff some bodies in there for some entertaining University football.

A RAINY FAREWELL -  Saturday was my last Riders game at Mosaic Stadium as I'll be in Winnipeg with the Rams for that final game against the Bisons. Let's just say the final game was nothing to write home about. That was a terrible football game, but the constant downpour of rain played a huge factor in the game being that way.  Vernon Adams Junior won his pro debut, but the Oregon product was far from spectacular. He was very Nealon Greene-like if you ask me. While the Rider D did manage to sack him several times, they should have double-digit sacks against the slippery Adams who did make some plays when he had to.

Chris Jones wasn't using the weather as an excuse, and he was spitting nails after the game because he was not happy with the performance of his team. He had every right to feel that way.  Too many two and outs, too many costly penalties. It just seemed as if the Riders weren't into this one right from the get-go. They looked guilty of not filling up the emotional gas tank.  Just some other thoughts on what transpired

  •   The last play was a blatant headshot on Joe McKnight from Winston Venable, You would think a flag would fly on that, but this is the CFL.  It's just become so tedious know so why bother complaining about it. Maybe that is what the league is hoping for.  That was as big a joke as their release this week that ratings are up. If they are, that means the ratings last year were worse than I thought.         -
  • What happened to the running game? After chalking up 150 yards in Toronto, I thought Joe McKnight would be more of a factor in the game especially with the conditions. That didn't happen.
  • Say what you will about Nik Lewis, but the guy could play forever 
  • The game was 6-5 at the half. The final score of the Jets-Oilers alumni game (more on that later) was 6-5.  For a while, I was thinking those in Winnipeg would get more than those in Regina

 MAN ADVANTAGE? PFFFFT - The Regina Pats scored three shorthanded goals on Friday night against Spokane giving them nine on the season. They have played 12 games with 60 to go. There are many teams in junior and pro hockey who won't get nine in an entire season.

WHO'S NEXT? - Cleveland Browns fans were some kind of po-ed when the team left for Baltimore. They were ecstatic when they returned! I'm guessing now, the Cleveland sports fan is firmly entrenched in the Cavaliers, Indians and Ohio State. What a garbage fire! What is the record for most quarterbacks used in a season and what is the record for most starting quarterbacks in a season? Cleveland used their 6th quarterback in 7 games this year as Kevin Hogan came in for a concussed Cody Kessler in a loss to Cincinnati. To recap, the Browns have used Hogan, Kessler. Josh McCown, Terrelle Pryor, Charlie Whitehurst and Robert Griffin III. It's no wonder they are winless. When a quarterback needs to go somewhere to die or be irrevelant, they go to Cleveland. Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott must be so happy! What a tire fire!

KICKERS!!! - There are games played where both teams don't deserve to lose, there are also games where both teams don't deserve to win. That is what happened Sunday night in Glendale as the Seahawks and Cardinals played to a 6-6 tie. I like defensive football, but that game was just horrible. It was capped off by both Chandler Catanzaro and Steve Hauschka missing chip shot field goals that would have given their teams the win. Its perhaps only fitting this one ended in a tie.

THE THUNDER ARE SILENCED - For the 3rd straight year, the Regina Thunder season ends in the semi-final. In what was a season where there were many close losses by Scott McAuley's crew, the game against the Saskatoon Hilltops had the same script as they were beaten 25-24 missing a late field goal that would have given them the win. The team won't use injuries as an excuse, but they certainly didn't field the lineup they wanted to for the most of the year.

THE HERITAGE CLASSIC - While I watched most of the Oilers shutout win over Winnipeg on Sunday, I have yet to watch the alumni game from Saturday featuring the likes of Gretzky, Hawerchuk, Kurri, Lukowich, Boschman and Ranford. I know the score and how it ended.  Verrrryyyy Winnipegish! Did Vince McMahon write that script? In the end, just seeing the guys that I grew up watching the game to back on the ice again is what will make watching this game worthwhile. I will just ask this. With the new Mosaic Stadium ready to open, can I call for a revival of the Trans-Canada Clash and get a Pats-Warriors alumni game with a regular WHL game going at the park in November of 2018? That would be epic!

SASKATCHEWAN LOVES THEIR BASEBALL - Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being MC for the Baseball Saskatchewan 2016 awards. Its no secret there are many in this province who are playing the game, but I was astonished to hear there were 2300 new kids playing the game this year. What was also great was seeing different division champions in the various age divisions from all over our great province. As I told the gathering at the Doubletree, we have had many Saskatchewan players in the majors, we have others who will hopefully make it as they are in the minors now and we have an MLB umpire from our province. In the next decade, I am guessing we will have more. It is great to see!

That's all I got. Have a great week!