Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top 10

2010 is over and I gotta say I didn't really have any complaints about the year. It was pretty good. Lets just say, it was a lot better than 2009. I had the opportunity to do a lot of things I never ever thought I would get a chance to do and with my SJHL duties (which has been as challenging and rewarding as I thought it would be), my plate is quite full, but I'm not complaining.

TSN, Sportsnet and many other media outlets have had their top 10 moments of the year. So why are Scruffy's top 10 sporting moments

#10--"The Sportscage"

It wasn't a surprise for Rod Pedersen to phone me up and ask if I had time for lunch at the Press Box. It was a surprise when I got there and he asked me how the hell do I do two hours of sports-talk radio a day. With a little advice here and there and a little help here and there, the day came where Regina got a two hour sports show that has quickly become a staple. It was mid-May when that show signed on. I know this will be taken as a shot at my former employer and its not, but I can say that show is much better six months in than the show I was with five years in. Its become huge--bigger than I thought it would be at this stage. Its because of people like Scott Schultz (pictured above), Derek Meyers, Kelly Remple, John Lynch along with Rod himself. Having the chance to get back behind the mike with these individuals and talk sports has been great. It was fun going in the past two weeks with gameplan in hand, knowing what was going to be done and doing it. I don't know if I would want to be doing that again full-time, but dipping my feet in from time to time and hosting when Rod isn't around is OK with me.

9. Eberle's pro career starts with a dandy

Those that know me know I am a big Edmonton Oilers fan. It has been tough watching that team over the last couple of years, but knowing Jordan Eberle was Oiler property and that he would be wielding his magic with the team soon made it bearable. Add Taylor Hall's name to that equation and the Oilers are on their way back to respectability and then some. Night one of the NHL season meant Eberle's NHL debut against Calgary and it didn't take him long to show Oiler fans why there was so much fuss....

8. Mitch McDonald hits for the Triple Crown

I'm a baseball guy and I love watching games especially at the ballpark. I spent a lot of time at Currie Field this year watching the Regina Red Sox do their thing in the Western Major Baseball League. Each and every night that I was there, I just watched Mitch McDonald make a mockery out of the other teams pitching staff. A hit here, a hit there, an RBI here, a home run there. The guy was swinging some hot lumber from the first at bat of the season to the last one. McDonald ended up doing something that doesn't happen very often in the sport---in fact it hasn't happened in the majors in over 40 years. He led the Western Major Baseball League in homers, RBI's and batting average to accomplish the Triple Crown. I guess its because the Red Sox don't get the same press as the Riders or the Pats and I know he had stories done on him for the season he had, but I don't think he got the press he deserved. Those that saw his season saw something special. Those that didn't go to Currie this year missed something that you may never see again. If McDonald is back with the Sox in 11, I suggest you make the trip one or two nights.

7. Perfection from Doc

The baseball playoffs started with a bang. Roy Halladay was getting his first career playoff start with the Philadelphia Phillies and he was doing it at home against the Cincinnati Reds. All he did that day was throw the second no-hitter in post-season history. It was unbelievable watching him on that afternoon as he struck out eight while walking just one batter. He was in firm control right from the get-go.
I don't think its the best game I've ever seen someone pitch, but its right up there.

6. Ken Miller steps down

Like many of you, I was left disappointed on Grey Cup Sunday. The Riders walked off the field after the CFL championship as the losing team for a 2nd straight year. It wasn't as emotional a loss as the 2009 game was, but it hurt nonetheless. I had always believed from the time the 2009 game was over that this team would rally around themselves and win one not only for themselves but for their coach. The Riders love Ken Miller and vice-versa. Miller deserved his moment in the sun. He had inexplicably to me not been named CFL coach of the year in 2009 and I truly thought he would lead his team to victory and then walk away smiling. In the days after the Grey Cup, Miller told myself and the rest of the Regina media that he would make a decision on his future soon. I couldn't see him leaving. I told him after that media gathering that the job isn't over and that he deserves to have the tag 'Grey Cup winning coach" attached to his resume. It didn't happen. As I sat at Mosaic waiting for the press conference to begin, I didn't want to believe it until he actually said he was retiring. It didn't matter to me who the Riders replaced him with (and it looks like it will be Greg Marshall), that person has some big shoes to fill.

5. Meeting a legend

The SJHL hall of fame weekend in Humboldt was a great one. One of those being enshrined in only the 2nd year of the league's hall of fame was the great Glenn Hall. If you are a Saskatchewan hockey fan, you know all about Glenn Hall and his storied career. What I didn't know until my dad told me is that my late grandfather used to be one of Hall's coaches. I interviewed Glenn for HOF ceremonies for Access and it was an interview that could have lasted forever as far as I was concerned. I was talking to hockey royalty. I was talking to one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game. It was phenomenal. He didn't remember my grandfather coaching him, but he did say he has had a lot of coaches over his career and that at his age, its easy to forget a few people. It didn't matter.

4. The Canada Day Classic

The Montreal Alouettes don't normally draw the wrath of the Rider Nation the way Calgary, BC or Edmonton does, but they did on July 1. The Alouettes opened the season against the Riders in a rematch of the Grey Cup. It was a painful winter for many that religiously cheer for the /=S=/. They wanted their team to take it out on the Als and they were ready. The Als silenced the crowd as they were up 33-12 in the 2nd half. The Riders responded and in the last minute, they tied it at 40 on an Andy Fantuz touchdown. A Chris Getzlaf TD in overtime followed by the two point conversion made it 48-40. It looked as if the Riders had won when a 3rd down Anthony Calvillo pass in the endzone fell incomplete, but there was a flag. When it was announced the Riders had 13 men on the field, an unreal and almost comical feeling settled over the stadium. They couldn't! They didn't! Yup, they had! SJ Green then scored on perhaps the catch of the year in any level of football, but the Riders eventually won it on a Weston Dressler touchdown. It was a great way to start the 2010 season.

3. The World Juniors

I was pretty happy when it was announced the World Juniors were coming to Saskatchewan. I was surprised because I didn't think it was going to happen. Being out of the media, I didn't think I would have as much to do with the event as what I did. A Hockey Canada based group called Fasthockey does games over the Internet for those wanting to see games not done on TSN. They were looking for someone in Regina who could do play-by-play. Les Lazaruk (Blades play-by-play), Kevin Waugh (CTV Stoon) and Wray Morrison all said they knew who to call and before you knew it, I was calling a handful of games from an event that I think is one of the best events in the world. I wasn't calling any Canadian games, but I could have cared less. I had the opportunity to call what was a fantastic game between Russia and Finland, along with a near upset of Sweden-Austria. The production value was second to none as were using TSN cameras, graphics, etc. It was a surreal experience and it was one I won't soon forget. The good people at Fasthockey and Hockey Canada asked me a few months later to be the voice of the Esso Cup for them. I was more than happy to do so, but my voicebox took a beating. Lets just say I was pretty happy when I had called my last game. I did 11 of the 19 games there, but I met some great people and had a great time doing it. The Fasthockey bunch said they may call me for the 2012 RBC in Humboldt. Chances are I will be there with my SJHL duties, but if they need me and I can do it, I'll be there.

2. The Golden Goal

Canada was closed for business on the final day of the Winter Olympics. It was Canada and the U-S in the gold medal game in mens hockey. It went to overtime and well you know the rest. It capped off what had been a tremendous Olympics and what had been two weeks of Canadians showing their pride in this country. From Alex Bilodeau's first gold on home soil to Joannie Rochette's skate just days after losing her mother to Jon Montgomery walking through the streets of Whistler with a beer in hand, we were proud to be Canadian for two weeks and no more so than when Crosby gave us gold.

1. The Western Semi-Final

Having been involved with "The Sportscage" on CKRM, I was asked for the last regular season game of the year to work the sidelines of the Edmonton Eskimos because Michael Ball was unavailable on the Rider radio broadcast with Rod and Carm Carteri. I was then asked by Willy Cole if I could work the sidelines for the Western semi-final seeing he was unavailable. You know what happened. The Lions forced overtime on the last play of the game and then the Riders won it on Jason Clermont's touchdown catch. The sound of the crowd when Clermont caught that ball was absolutely deafening. I could not hear the broadcast in my headphones because it was so loud. I've been to Mosaic for years and I don't know if I've ever heard it louder. That revelation on this blog made Global's Tom (I am Howard Wolowitz's twin)Vernon do a story on the crowd noise using yours truly. That was a moment that was not only the top one of 2010 for me, but one that is definitely in the top 10 all time.

That's my top 10. I guess I probably should have put in there the fact that my step-daughter should have been crowned city wrestling champ in her weight class in her first year and would have been had some people known how to add and how she went on to place 5th in the province making her step-daddy awfully proud of her, but that is on another list. If only she had smoked someone with a chair or come off the top rope with a flying elbow. :)

I just about forgot---if there was a picture of the year, this had to be it.....

Is there anything better than Canadian girls in hockey gear with gold medals around their neck while smoking a cigar and enjoying some Canadian. This truly is one of the best ever pics dont'cha think?

What does 2011 have in store? I have no idea, but it starts tomorrow and I'll be ready. Could this be the year the Cubs bring home a World Series? If all goes well, I will be at Wrigley this June when they take on the Yankees. That could very well be number one when and if I do this again in one years time.

Happy New Year to one and all and thank you again for coming here to check things out. It will be two years in February that I started this blog and in that time, I've had almost 375-thousand hits, and over 520-thousand views along with many complimentary and some non-complimentary comments. Thanks again!


Mike from Vita, MB said...

Well done Mitchell with your top ten. In the words of the immortal Ed Whalen...."it's a ring-a-ding-dong-dandy!"

Anonymous said...

There is nothing more Canadian than girls, hockey, beer and cigars. That is a great pic!

Anonymous said...

The invent of the Sportscage was tremendous. You and Rod need to pair up and host that show every day. Adding Schultz and Meyers and Remple would just make it more chaotic and more entertaining. The show is a helluva lot better than the one you used to be on. However, when Jamie Nye does the show by himself it sounds a lot better.


Glenn said...

Great top 10 Mitch. Love the show too. Happy New Year from BC.


Anonymous said...

Good to see Mitch MacDonald getting some recognition...Would really like to see the WMBL pick up in popularity with the quality product they put on the field in the summer.