Monday, July 31, 2017

Something To "Mitch" About


DURON DAZZLES -  Those waiting for Duron Carter to break out aren't waiting any more. Number 89, who has been called the CFL's version of Odell Beckham Junior, made a Beckham-like grab that is giving the league some publicity across North America.  This catch was not only the number one play on Sportscenter in Canada, but it was number one on ESPN in the U-S.  Standing in the press box behind Rod Pedersen and Luc Mullinder, I could not believe what I had just seen as Rod proclaimed the catch of the year with an emphatic "Oh My Goodness" 

It's the greatest catch I've ever seen by a Rider and it definitely is the greatest catch I've seen in the CFL.  I don't know if it was good as the Beckham catch against Dallas a couple of years ago, but Beckham didn't backhand the ball the way Carter did.  It doesn't really matter what catch was better, it was just one of those that Rider fans will remember for a long time whether they were in Mosaic Stadium or not. 

As the night went on, we saw it wasn't the only spectacular catch made by Carter. This is why they got him.  

Other thoughts from a steamy Saturday night at Mosaic:

  -- When the Riders offense is playing like that, they are hard to stop.  Cameron Marshall is running for 100 yards, Carter, Roosevelt, Holley and Bakari Grant are making catches and Kevin Glenn is getting them the ball.  It just emphasizes how important the o-line play has to be for this squad.  It can be said for any team at any level, but when you give the QB time, it makes it tough on defenses and with the group assembled by the green-and-white, it can't be easy for a defensive co-ordinator to concentrate on neutralizing one guy. 

  --Is it just me or are we seeing the best play from receivers in this league in a long time.  CFL fans have been inundated with great catch after great catch after great catch this year.  Carter, Naaman Roosevelt and SJ Green all had highlight reel catches in the first half!  When TSN has its top 10 catches at the end of the year, there are going to be many left on the cutting room floor.  Oh yeah, we have just hit the 1/3 mark of the season so there are a lot more to be made. 

  --I need to have a chat with special teams coach Craig Dickenson. On Friday, some reporters were speaking to Dickenson about the short kick performed by Winnipeg in their comeback win over Montreal and how rare it was to see that kick done where it was as it was down the hashmarks instead of the sideline.  Just before Dickie left, I asked him if he has it in his repertoire where Tyler Crapigna just basically kicks it 10 yards to himself as he did during the victory.  He just chuckled and shrugged his shoulders.  I'm sure it was ready to be rolled out at the appropriate time, but did I plant a seed by asking that question.  I'm sure the answer was no.. What a great call though at a great time.

 --Speaking of Crapigna, can we put his early season struggles to rest now? He has hit 13 of 15 FG's this season and all of his converts.  He hasn't missed since the "doink" against the Bombers. 

  --Where was the 13th man flag? At the last home game, the team said it was too windy. That excuse couldn't be used this time around. 

 --Just pure class from the Riders in bringing in the family of Joe McKnight for the game.  The slain running back was not a member of this football team for a long time, but it shows you something about the organization when they do what they did.   Seeing Joe's young son in the dressing room getting a football signed just reminds you win or lose, the football fraternity is a special one. A tip of the hat to Craig Reynolds, Wayne Morsky and all involved for making that night happen to a family who is likely still grieving.

 --Speaking of class, I completely understand some of the negativism that has surrounded Carter during his time in the CFL. Yes, he can be a hothead and that has resulted in some not necessarily welcoming him with open arms to Riderville. I do understand that.  It is a product of the past, and I think he understands that too.  Perhaps Rider fans can change their tune after hearing this.  The ball that he made that catch with isn't sitting with him. It is sitting with a 12 year old cancer survivor. Carter saw a sign her family had made before the game and said if he scored a TD, he would celebrate with them. In the hubbub of what had gone on, Carter did not forget as he went over and celebrated as promised before giving the girl the football.  That my friends is a first-class move.  Well done DC. Well done indeed! 

--The task is more difficult now with the next three games against the best two teams in the West. How much growth is there from this performance? That is up to the guys in the room. The talent is there, and if the effort is there they will be rewarded.  If not, it could be a lonnnnnng 2nd half of the season.  Let's see what road the team takes.

WTF - Upon arriving at Casa de Scruffy after Saturday's win, I asked the wife and daughter how their first experience at Mosaic was (it was outstanding BTW) and then turned the TV on to the Calgary-Hamilton game thinking it must be near the start of the 2nd half.  The 3rd quarter had just started and once I saw the score, I turned the channel.  WTF??!!  Did a high school team take the spot of the Tiger-Cats? I knew they were bad, but are they that bad? Have they given up on Kent Austin? Was a message sent? Does the Hamilton post-game phone in show get anyone like Sheldon phoning in because if they do it might have been the call to end all calls. How did Hamilton get their point? As was mentioned to me Sunday by a friend, I think I'd rather just get shut out than get rewarded for a mistake.  YIKES!!

ARE CHANGES COMING? -  I don't know about you, but I love what Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has been doing in his first month on the job. He has been more visible than the last guy, and he is actually speaking out on topics concerning the game he oversees.  The latest comments came Saturday night in Calgary.

Ambrosie told reporters he would consider making changes in-season to instant replay. He did add it is something that must be discussed by the teams on whether it should be done sooner than later. He also said when he gets into the office today he will be meeting with football operations staff on the issue.

This just in. Ambrosie gets it. The other guy wouldn't be visible at games, and he would be hoping the problem would just go away because he didn't get it.  Ambrosie sees what fans are saying and he sees what type of product is league is delivering. If he can get this issue solved, he could be sitting on a gold mine.   Why wouldn't the teams be on board with this?  Surely coaches must realize what is happening, but as has been said before, they are using the rule to their advantage.  Chris Jones didn't want to throw a challenge flag the other night, but he was basically forced into it because you just don't know how the command centre will rule.  Ambrosie went on to say he doesn't want to lose one single fan because especially over replay. As I stated, he gets it!  This hire could be huge for the CFL if the board of governors allows him to do his job.

CHANGE IT UP -  The "Canadian" Open golf tournament ended at Glen Abbey Sunday with Jhonattan Vegas winning for the second straight year beating Charley Hoffman in a playoff. He won at 21 under. 21 under!!! Did any PGA pro complain about how easy this course was/ After all, they were quick to do at the US Open! Sorry, but its time to toughen up this course somewhat.  Minus 21 is embarassing./ That isn't a challenge for guys at this level. It's a glorified pitch and putt. The tournament has apparently committed to going back to Glen Abbey for the next two years. Is this not a "Canadian Open".  How about Cabot Cliffs in the Maritimes which is considered one of the top courses in Canada/ or Banff Springs/  There are other great courses in the GTA as well.

Bring some respect back to this event and put it on a course where a winner won't be 20 under par.  The cut line on Friday was minus 4.  As I said, Glen Abbey comes off more as the Lakeview Par 3 when it comes to the PGA than an actual course which will challenge the world's best.

WEIRD WAY OF SAYING THANKS -  The Blue Jays have been downright horrible this year. A team that so many (not me though) were headed back to the playoffs for a 3rd straight year starts the day languishing in last in the American League East despite 9th inning heroics on Sunday.  They aren't making the playoffs barring a complete collapse from many teams in the American League.

The back-to-back playoff appearances have resulted in the Blue Jays having the best attendance in the American League. How does the organization thank its fans for doing that. Yes, in a year where they have sucked. they are raising ticket prices next year. How arrogant can you be?  This could actually drive people to BMO Field to watch the Argos.  In fact, if I were the Argos marketing team I would start working on plans for next year.  The Blue Jays window has closed and who knows when it will be open again. Raising ticket prices between 7 and 18 percent is just wrong and is a move that will likely go over like a lead balloon.  I am guessing the days of leading the AL in attendance end after this year.

Image result for tim raines hall of fame

THE ROCK GETS HIS DUE -  Rickey Henderson is probably the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of baseball, but Tim Raines would be a close second. The Expos outfielder got the ultimate honour on Sunday as he was officially inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Gary Carter fans might disagree, Raines could very well be the best player to ever wear an Expos uniform. He could do it all!  A career batting average of 294, 2600 hits, 800 stolen bases. He reached base over 4000 times during his 23 year career. Raines' spot in Cooperstown should have been cemented years ago, but he's there now.  BTW: Getting to Cooperstown is on my bucket list. I can't imagine how long I would stay at the BBHOF when I arrive. It may be more than one day.

MAKING SASKATCHEWAN PROUD -  I completely forgot about this in the Friday column, so I'll make it for up now.  Best of luck to all 400 plus athletes from our province competing at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. Over 70 communities in the province are represented with competition in 17 sports.  We know our athletes are just as good as any other province, but its time to show the country just how good we are.

That's all I got. Have a great week everyone. Looks like it's going to be cooler, but will it rain? Here's hoping!


Anonymous said...

Sitting in the endzone where Carter made that catch. Unbelievable! If he keeps his head on, and his attitude right, the Riders have a huge weapon at their disposal.

Anonymous said...

Where was the flag? Was that a one and done thing? If you can't bring it out on a night like that, why bring it out period!

Anonymous said...

While I'm hopeful I'm not convinced that Ambrosie 'gets it'.
I listened to an interview with him on a Calgary radio station during the Stamps/Ti-Cats game.
He said he'd consult Glen Johnson when he got back east.
He should be telling Johnson what to do, not asking him.
Johnson's inconsistency is part of the problem.

Bill Eng said...

Thank you for the column. Very complete - you covered a variety of sports and you also wrote about the positives in sports. How refreshing! Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

The receiving corps in the CFL right now is at an all time high. Great to see!

Anonymous said...

Good point on the flag. Where was it?

Anonymous said...

Nothing on the water issues? How bout the fact Toronto didn't have A/C in their room?

Anonymous said...

Ambrosie needs to put his foot down and change this now.

Anonymous said...

Asking and telling are two different things.

You ask Johnson and if he doesn't give you the answer he wants, you tell him.

Anonymous said...

Mr Blair! Can you use your inside connections with Mosaic stadium staff or whoever plays that gad aweful Green Is The Colour, ask them to trash that ASAP! Watching the game on TSN, over and over and over again hearing that aweful noise being broadcast to a national audience (they must surely think, what hicks) and beyond. New stadium needs new music pronto! Do what you can do Mr. Blair, thanz a bunch.

The Boyz

Anonymous said...

The only ones complaining about Crapigna were those idiots that think they are a competitor to Sportscage.