Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.
--The bye week is upon us. The green-and-white are not in action this weekend. With Country Thunder happening in Craven that is probably a good thing as many of the 18-35 demographic that are country music fans are probably wondering more about what is happening at the annual country music festival than the goings-on of their favourite football team----at least for the weekend. As of Monday though, the team will be back and the talk will start for their game Saturday in Calgary.
--The win over Hamilton has seemingly quieted some of the critics. That win validated the team was a good one and that the two tough losses to open the season were ones where lessons were learned. It won't be easy facing Bo Levi Mitchell and crew on their own turf where they are so good, but the green-and-white have showed us what type of football team they intend on being this year. Some believe this is a playoff team. I still stand by my statements at the start of the year that the best they can hope for is 3rd behind Calgary and BC as they will have to beat the Edmontons and Winnipegs and they have already lost one to the Bombers. Let's not go overboard here!
--With the season now three games in, here is a question for you Rider fans, Did you buy a new jersey this year or are you thinking of getting one? If so, whose name and number goes on it if you do that? I am guessing some dusted off their old Kevin Glenn jerseys, but I am guessing some new ones have been purchased. I am sure Mark Habicht at the Rider Store could give me what I am looking for, but I would have to think there are a few people walking out with Willie Jefferson jerseys, a few who have decided on a Duron Carter uni, and some who have now decided to sport a Naaman Roosevelt shirt. While I have not been in the Rider store since it opened at the new facility, I will ask this. Can Rider fans and CFL fans in general get t-shirt jerseys? The NHL has them and I am guessing shirts like "Bagg 6" "Glenn 5" and "Roosevelt 82" would be as big here as a "Mitchell 19" would be in Calgary, a "Reilly 13" would be in Edmonton and a "Dressler 7" would be in Winnipeg....and arguably here too. You saw the Canada 150 shirts with "Reed 34" on the back. How about adding a Lancaster, a Ridgway, and an Aldag to the repertoire. You can't tell me those wouldn't sell.
--One has to wonder if new CFL commish Randy Ambrosie has had a "chat" with director of officiating Glen Johnson yet. If he hasn't, he might want to after a great football game between the Argos and Bombers was spoiled by one horrific call and one questionable non-call.
Karen Kuldys of Winnipeg is getting her 15 minutes of fame today, but for all the wrong reasons. Kuldys should be going to a Safeway or Sobeys in Winnipeg tomorrow to get a cheque for one million dollars. Thanks to the buffoonery Johnson leads, all Kuldys is getting is a what if....a big what if. Riders PR man Ryan Pollock may have summed it up the best on Twitter Thursday night when he said "in the past, no one could put a value on a bad call----turns out its 1 million dollars". Yup! A terrible call not only negated a Toronto TD, but took a million dollars out of the hands of a fan. Safe to say she has every right to bitch about the officiating. Yes, bad calls are going to be made, but they are magnified in situations like this. Add to that that Ricky Ray was the victim of a blatant head shot on his game-ending interception yet no flag flew on this one. This is why CFL fans hate what they see from the stripes.
On a night where the CFL could have made headlines for all the right reasons including what was another fantastic game, they will make headlines for all the wrong reasons as their officiating will be put under the microscope yet again. One can only wonder if Bo Levi Mitchell thought of tweeting something and then decided not to after his controversial fine for making a comment about a call in the Riders-Hamilton game.
As for the game itself, Toronto seemed to take a step back while Winnipeg seemed to take a step up. That isn't good news for the green-and-white in what is once again a very competitive Western Conference.
--When the sports world brings you one negative story after another no matter the league, all it takes is watching 3 hours of the ESPY's to make you realize why sports is so great! Once again, the four letter knocked it out of the park with its broadcast Wednesday night. The stories they tell leave many with a lump in their throat. Peyton Manning also did a great job (as expected)as host. Kevin Durant might not think so, but he did. Get over it KD!
--The Toronto Maple Leafs are seeing what Pats fans have known for a while. That being Adam Brooks is a player! The former Pats captain is turning a lof of heads at the team's development camp and is being considered as one of their top talents. GM Lou Lamierello has told Toronto media Brooks will likely start his season with the AHL's Toronto Marlies, but a trip to the NHL is there. It will take some time, but Lou isn't saying how much time. If Brooks does what I think he can, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take a good shot at cracking the main roster for the 2018-19 season.
--I wonder if those in Quebec City are asking what it will take. It looks as if the Carolina Hurricanes will be staying in Raleigh as they are about to be sold. That will end any rumours of the Hurricanes relocating in Quebec City and becoming the Nordiques 2.0. Where do they look now? Florida?
--Are the Dallas Stars the most improved team in the NHL? They have added a solid defenceman in Marc Methot, they have added scoring punch in Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal and they hope to have solved their goaltending woes by getting Ben Bishop. Add this to Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg and the re-emergence of Ken Hitchcock behind the bench and Dallas appears ready to once again worm their way into the Western Conference playoff battle.
--The news from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that once Oakland and Tampa get ballpark situations resolved he will look at Montreal as an expansion team. How about just moving the A's or Rays if it doesn't work Rob? Yes, I know there's a lot more to it than that, but Montreal fans shouldn't have to wait for two other teams to sort out its problems. In the meantime, those who want to bring MLB back to Montreal need to keep working. I wonder if Manfred would change his tune a little if plans for a ballpark were announced. Apparently, the land is there somewhere near the Bell Centre. Waiting and staying patient won't work here. Being aggressive and continuing to show baseball you want a team whether it be expansion or existing is the way to go.
--Best of luck to new U of R Athletics Director (or director of sport as they want to call it) Lisa Robertson. She has many positives to work with when it comes to Cougar Athletics, but she will have some issues that need to be worked on. One of them which was indicated in the review of the athletic program was engaging the University population with the Cougars no matter the sport. I have some ideas, and I have shared some ideas in the past as to how to get more students at games. There are ways to do it. I am sure Robertson has the background and the expertise to get it done otherwise she wouldn't have been hired. She ticks off all the boxes the hiring committee was looking for so let's see what happens. Those who know me know I'm a big supporter of U of R athletics and I would love nothing more than to see these teams and these tremendous student-athletes do their thing at home in front of some decent crowds. Yes, that expectation may be too much in some areas, but there is no reason why the CKHS shouldn't have good crowds for basketball, the Rams should have better crowds for footbal and the hockey teams should have more attendance as well.
--The NBA season hasn't even started yet and I've had enough of Lonzo Ball and his old man!
That's all I've got. Enjoy Country Thunder if you're there and have a great weekend!