Friday, August 19, 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.
--I don't know if the CFL wanted to pick a fight with the Rider Nation, but they have on their hands now, and it isn't going away anytime soon. While some don't like what has happened with the team under Chris Jones, most are united in the fact that on the surface, CFL commissioner Jeffrey (just call me Jeff) Orridge is not a fan of the guys from the wheat province. I said last week in this column that I thought a witch-hunt was on when it came to the green-and-white after what Craig Reynolds did in the off-season, and there is nothing to me suggesting there isn't. By the sounds of what is being heard in the Rider locker room, they think there is as well. Like it or not, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the engine that drives the CFL. Attendance, merchandise, ratings, fan-base, etc. etc. etc.-----it is Riders all the way. Yes, every other franchise in this league has a competitor in their market, but with all apologies to the Saskatchewan Rush, that isn't happening here and I don't see it happening here for quite a while. Has anyone talked about the Rush since their championship season ended? We know the answer to that. Were people talking in the middle of the Rush season about a 3-15 Saskatchewan team and what the future held? Once again, we know the answer to that. The CFL can sit there and write letters stating their disgust over thoughts about what is going on in this league, but the reality is a nerve has been touched in the league office. If they want to go to war, the Rider Nation is more than ready to foil up their knuckles and go to town. It's that good old Saskatchewan spirit isn't it?
--Chris Jones casually mentioned during a scrum this week that the CFL is handing out way more fines than they have in years past. While I don't think its the case, I have to wonder if the CFL chequebook is starting to shrink. The league has had bad TV numbers over the past two years and they aren't anything to write home about this year either thanks to the Olympics and the Blue Jays. Did you know that while Olympic primetime is averaging over 3 million a night on CBC that the Stamps-Riders game only had an audience of 544-thousand with the Hamilton-BC game having a greater total. An all-Western game getting beat out by a Hamilton-BC game is almost unfathomable, but its happening. Yes, the Olympics end this weekend, but the Blue Jays season doesn't. Poor numbers equals a tougher time getting advertisers. You can deny it all you want, but the truth is the CFL is struggling with viewership and butts in the stadium. Whatcha goin to do Jeff?
--I had a solid disussion about the Riders over a cold beverage at the Great Canadian Brewhouse this week with some fellow Rider fans. They are all sold on Chris Jones and what he brings to the table-----as a coach. His resume is unparallelled with many Grey Cup rings as an assistant and a head coach. There is no doubt the guy knows what he is doing when it comes to coaching. However, it was brought up that as a general manager, he has perhaps bitten off more than he can chew. I don't know if that can be argued successfully when you are the GM of a 1-6 football team, but he has surrounded himself with a good team. No one realistically thought this would be a complete 180 by this team. Jones and crew keep trying to improve this team day-by-day. If they didn't, guys like Brandon Bridge, Gregory Alexandre, and Jeff Hecht would not be here. He continues to try and improve the personnel on this football team. Once they get on a roll, they will be a tough out and many in the CFL realize that.
--As the Riders get set to walk into Hamilton on Saturday, I compare their situation to a parent watching their child hop on a bicycle once the training wheels are off. You are right there behind your son or daughter watching them do their thing with a hand on their back to guide them. You slowly take that hand away and watch them pedal off on their own---you hope that ride is smooth, but you cringe as that bike tips over. You dust off your kid and away you go again knowing that ride will be smooth. The training wheels are off, and the fanbase watches with anticipation hoping this is the week it all comes together. Don't be surprised if they fall, but don't be surprised if they pedal their way down the street with a smile on their face knowing it can be done.
--John Chick is saying all the right things going into Saturday's game. but I am guessing the gentle giant has had this game circled on his calendar. He has already shown he has more gas in his tank than what Jones thought, and I think he would love nothing more than to show him that in person Saturday night.
--The Regina Pats and Toronto Blue Jays are joining forces. On January 7, the Pats will wear special Blue Jays uniforms that will get auctioned off with proceeds going to the Jays Care Foundation. It's too bad the Pats aren't playing Victoria that night!! (Think about it!) If the Pats get a goal to go up by 2 late in the 3rd, will the goal scorer do a "stick flip". More importantly, will Phil Andrews decide to do his thing from the broadcast booth with Buck Martinez like hair!!! While nothing has been said, it would be great if the Blue Jays sent a few players to the game for an autograph session. I don't think you could rationally expect to see someone like Josh Donaldson in attendance, but a Kevin Pillar appearance or a Russell Martin appearance would be cool for Regina hockey fans who love their Jays. Of course, if all goes well, the World Series trophy won't be with them seeing the Cubs will finally have their paws on it.
--The Ryan Lochte story just re-defines bizarre. WTF dude? The talking heads on ESPN Radio are wondering if Lochte should go back to Brazil to apologize. It makes me think of the Simpsons episode where Bart had to go to Australia to say I'm sorry. Simpsons fans know how that episode ended, I don't think Lochte will be going back anytime soon.
--It looks like Canada will break the 20 medal plateau in Rio. I think that's a pretty solid performance. Some medal hopefuls disappointed, others came through and some came out of nowhere to win a medal. Some are wondering if the "Own the Podium" program is working. I say don't fix what isn't broken, By the way, there isn't a lot better than seeing one of our athletes on the podium with a gold medal around their neck while O'Canada plays. I can't even imagine what that feeling would be like.
--McGregor-Diaz 2 right after the Riders game. Yeah, I'm OK with that. That card should be a great one Saturday night.