A few days getting away from it all in the summer-time can be a great thing, but life goes on and so does work. Like the Riders, a brief vacation was taken and like the Riders, it will be back to work Tuesday for this blogger after some time in the good old US of A---in particular Minot. Its been a long time since I've been to the city and it has grown immensely since the last time I was there. What did I miss while I was away
1. Hugh Charles comes and goes
I'll be honest with you. I was surprised when the Riders went out and picked up Hugh Charles. When he was here the first time, he couldn't block, he had a problem hanging onto the football and he seemed like a "me" guy with the backflips--I remember one game where the Riders were getting blown out and late in the game he scored and then pushed some teammates away so he could backflip. Yes, Hugh ran for 86 yards in the first half of the loss to BC, but stats don't mean everything. He fumbled and he still showed he couldn't block. What surprised me was the outrage amongst some Rider fans towards Coach C and GM Brendan Taman. Did some think Hugh was the savior? I have had many a Rider fan ask me why Taman can't find a RB. Excuse me?? Taman found THEE running back last year in Kory Sheets---a guy who only got the job remember because Brandon West couldn't hang on to the football. He went out in the off-season and found both Keith Toston and Anthony Allen. It is not Taman's fault that neither man is playing. He gets the ingredients and Chamblin cooks the recipe. Why Toston isn't playing is a mystery to me, but after last year, I think Coach C proved he knows a helluva lot more football than a lot of us do. "The Mad Scientist" has a plan and he isn't diverting from that plan.
A gentlemen told me as I was in the bank waiting to change some Canadian cash into American cash that the Riders wouldn't make the playoffs and would be lucky to win 5 games this year. I laughed at him and asked what his rationale was. He said the team wasn't as close to being talented as last year's team which I agreed with, but I reminded him we are only four weeks into a long season. I think as a fanbase our expectations may have been a little high. I still think this team despite its losses is a very good team, but injuries to Chris Getzlaf and rookie Chad Kilgore haven't helped. Without Getzlaf in there, it means the loss of Dressler, Simon, Sheets and Getzlaf to that high powered offence. That will hurt anyone. Did anyone think Edmonton would be 4-0 to start the season. How about Winnipeg's great start. Who had Hamilton at 0-3 and Toronto at 1-2. Relax people. There is still a long ways to go. I think our expectations for this team were maybe a little too unrealistic---I'm starting to think that even though I still think this team wins the West again. Lets let this book play out for a few more weeks before we start playing CSI Regina and examine the corpse.
3. CFL in the USA
I didn't see every down of football this weekend and I would have liked to seen the first game back in Ottawa, but its great for Canadians like me to have the ability to watch the CFL while in the US. The Edmonton-Winnipeg and Hamilton-Calgary were both on ESPN2 and it was outstanding sitting in my hotel room watching that game after a day in the hot sun. I don't know how many are tuning in down in the states, but they have their own host for the proceedings and he does a good job in bringing the CFL to Americans. They even have a couple of commercials I haven't seen up here. This can only be a plus for the CFL as they try to make household names out of the Durants, Cornishs, Rays and Willy's.
4. Baseball's all-star game
I knew baseball's all-star game would be a lovefest for Derek Jeter or Michael Jeter as a tweet from CBS news read (OOPS!!), but baseball should be embarrassed for what happened or what didn't happen at Minnesota's Target Field ( a stadium where I must watch baseball first-hand). How the game could salute Jeter while ignoring Tony Gwynn was a grievous mistake. Gwynn was just as great an ambassador for the game as what Jeter is today and to not even mention his passing during the game or on the FOX telecast was a horrible, horrible mistake. Both tried covering their tracks by saying there were many who played the game who passed away over the course of the year that weren't mentioned as well. That couldn't have been done at some point? I would have much rather seen that than Erin Andrews looking all flabbergasted when Adam Wainwright told her he didn't groove a pitch into Jeter in the first inning and that comments he had made suggesting that were a joke. As I said, both MLB and FOX should be ashamed of themselves for this slight.
5. Target Field
While sitting at a Barnes and Noble in Minot, I started reading a book on Target Field and it said that after a referendum, a slight hike to the sales tax was made in Hennepin County for funds that went towards the construction of the stadium. I repeat "Why couldn't we do that in Regina?" Could we not have a slight hike in the PST or a small stadium tax for goods sold in the downtown core----after all we are revitalizing the downtown with this initiative aren't we. Do this for a year and see what type of money is there for the stadium and other projects to make our downtown better. I'm sorry, but downtown Regina is still not what this city wants it to be and it won't be for a long, long time for a variety of reasons. A variety of reasons I'm not getting into, but reasons I think the smart Reginan knows full too well about. If this can be done, why aren't we doing it or why didn't we do it? Questions for another day I guess.
6. British Open
I realize he is the game, but I heard more about Tiger Woods at the British Open than I did about Rory McIlroy winning the thing and that's wrong. The Tiger luster is gone and its time to start focusing in on the Rorys, the Garcias, the Fowlers and the new group of young guns in this sport. I don't need to see every shot of a guy who barely made the cut and is stumbling his way around the course.
I know many of you have been to Minot before, so I won't show you pic after pic after pic. Here's the lion at the zoo though. She just has that "I want to rip your throat out look". The Minot Zoo definitely doesn't compare to the Calgary Zoo, but they are still trying to recover from the flood of 2011 that had 20 percent of the town underwater. The Moose River goes right through the zoo so obviously they were hit hard. All the animals there had to be moved elsewhere and this is really the first summer of a complete operation they have had since 2011. They had to be crossing their fingers after seeing what happened in Saskatchewan and Manitoba a few weeks ago, but it doesn't seem as if flooding will be a problem this time around.
A lot of you know what this place is...
Its the inside of Buffalo Wild Wings in Minot. With all apologies to Kevin and Jason at the Press Box and George at Four Seasons, why doesn't Regina have one of these??? What an outstanding place to watch the game or have some good eats. Those that remember the game QB1 will want to know its located here. People told me there was a Dressler jersey hanging up there. If its there, I didn't see it.
The North Dakota State Fair was on and the University of North Dakota athletics program---based in Grand Forks---did something I think the University of Regina should do in an attempt to get more people out to their games. They could even do this up in Saskatoon as well.
It was UND Day at the Fair on Saturday. Different athletes from the various programs were there to sign autographs, answer questions and all of those in attendance received a 50 percent off ticket to a UND hockey game at the magnificent Ralph Engelstad arena. The U of R should do that and with kids flocking around, give them a chance to meet and talk to some Cougar athletes and give them the opportunity to see a volleyball, basketball, hockey or football game for a low price. If they drag Mom and Dad along which most will, it could create a better environment in the stands than what currently it has. Its just a thought.
The ND State Fair is just a little different than Buffalo Days. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Buffalo Days, but for someone who goes every year, there is that repetitiveness because you know this is there and this is here and that is there. When you are a stranger to the ND State Fair, you don't know what is around the next corner.
The one thing I will say about Minot is the customer service. People there bend over backwards to make sure your experience in their restaurant or shop is a good one which as I think we know is not the case at all local businesses and watering holes.
One last thing. I was getting set to call it a night and did one last channel check in the room. Just starting on what I think is called the Midco Sports Network was a one hour documentary on the rivalry between UND and North Dakota State. It featured mainly on the football and womens basketball programs. What a great show. I was hoping to see a little Scott Schultz and Weston Dressler in college action, but the documentary was done many years ago. Schultzie informed me the documentary ended in what would have been his first year there so obviously no Weston.
And yes, when you wear the /=S=/ in Minot, you hear many "Go RIDERS". I don't know if they are others from Saskatchewan or locals, but it still brings that touch of home.
That's about all I got. One more day of this brief little vacation and then its back to work tomorrow. See ya!