--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.
--GET OFF THE FIELD WALLY!!! It is potentially the last time Rider fans will be able to yell that at Wally Buono as he makes his final regular-season appearance in Regina tomorrow night. Love him or hate him, Wally is someone who has made the CFL great. His record with the Stamps and Lions can't be discounted. I don't know if you could classify him as a "character", but he is someone who understands the CFL and is good for the league. I would love to see him move up into a position with the league, but I don't see that happening because when he walks into the sunset, I don't think he will return.
--Former Lion and Regina native Jason Clermont joined us to talk about Wally on the Sportscage Thursday. You could tell how much respect JC had for Wally by listening to the conversation. Clermont said you might not have liked what Wally was saying, but he was being honest and respectful with you. When I asked him if you could compare Wally to his old Rams coach Frank McCrystal, Clermont said you could throw Ken Miller into that mix as well. Clermont said "These are three guys that as far as in-game management, they didn't do it a lot. What they did was assemble the right group of coaches and people around them to build a culture that would develop strong men and a strong locker room which all three did."
--Mosaic Stadium has not hosted a playoff game in its infancy, but I think it is safe to say it will get its first "unofficial" playoff game tomorrow night. I am expecting a ring-a-ding-dong dandy. The Lions have made some big moves in the second half of the season by picking up guys like Tyrell Sutton, Devier Posey and Shawn Lemon. Many have them as the top team in the CFL in the latest power rankings. I can't disagree with that. The Riders will have to bring the game they had in Calgary if they are to beat BC. I can see this one going down to the final gun.
--Zach Collaros silenced some of his detractors last week with what was his best game in a Riders uniform. For whatever reason, some have not warmed up to the quarterback. Then again, there haven't been many starting quarterbacks that the Rider Nation has warmed up to. Would I be right with that Darian Durant? How about you Kevin Glenn? The list goes on and on and on. Zach Collaros doesn't have to apologize to anyone as far as I'm concerned. Yes, he is the highest paid player on the team so perhaps he is put under the microscope more than any other, but I haven't had a problem with him unlike others. Collaros didn't do himself any favours after the Winnipeg loss, but I don't think I would have said too much after seeing my team get spanked 31-0.
Maybe Collaros hasn't put up the numbers expected this year, but dropped passes and rookie receivers who have slowly acclimated themselves into the game can take some of the blame. As Collaros told me after practice this week, when he goes in the huddle, he doesn't see raised eyebrows as much anymore as he used to. That is a huge help for a quarterback who maybe didn't have the confidence in the group he was throwing to at the start of the year.
--A home playoff game for the Riders will be healthy for the old chequebook. It will mean more than a million dollars. Ticket sales, merchandise, food and beverage sales, etc, etc. It will add up and be a nice little injection of cash into an account that isn't suffering. You don't think the bean-counters are pulling for a "W" for selfish reasons do you?
--The Edmonton Eskimos likely won't make the playoffs. Come Grey Cup week, they will likely see A) the hated Calgary Stampeders in their dressing room B) Chris Jones and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their dressing room or C) Ed Hervey and the BC Lions in their dressing room. Len Rhodes just might take a flight out of town and miss Grey Cup festivities---especially if its C.
--Was Ed Gainey wrong with his tweet last week when he said Regina was "boring"? A little yes, a little no. Six days of the week Gainey is wrong. There is a lot to do in this town once the sun goes down. Sundays (which is when he made the tweet) are a little different. Regina isn't the only place that closes its doors early, but it does limit what one can do. Pats captain Jake Leschyshyn went to Twitter to tell Gainey he obviously hasn't seen a Pats game and that perhaps a trade in tickets could be worked out. While such a trade should be arranged, Jake should know that A) the Pats are in Prince Albert Saturday night and B) Sunday Pats game starts at 4 meaning the "what-to-do" options will be limited once he leaves.
--Sidney Crosby reminded everyone not to forget about him in this McDavid vs Matthews debate that is going on with his overtime marker in Edmonton Tuesday night. What a goal it was! It might have been one of his best and he has scored a lot of highlight-reel goals. The goal capped off a great game between the two teams with the difference being the play in goal. Matt Murray made saves when needed while Cam Talbot didn't---especially in the 2nd period. The Oilers are an improved team except between the pipes. It shows constantly. If Talbot gets a new contract from the team this year, I will be shocked. When you look at free agency, guys like Sergei Bobrovsky and Pekka Rinne are available at this date, but they will be too rich for Edmonton's taking. A trade to upgrade will have to be the way to go.
--One innocuous comment on the Sportscage Thursday mushroomed. The question was in their prime who would win a fight between current Moose Jaw Warriors coach Tim Hunter and former Warriors coach Al Tuer. What a scrap it would be!!! I would give the nod to Tuer. What would a Tuer-Stu Grimson bout look like! GAHHHHH!!! While the days of the Pats and Warriors in their heyday will never be revived which is too bad for today's generation that doesn't even know what they missed, those of us who remember those days can do so with a smile. At some point, I hope someone writes a book on the Pats-Warriors rivalry. I think former mayor Pat Fiacco would still like to deck Sean O'Connor for winning the ceremonial faceoff during that one playoff series. Memories!!!
--Who exactly is this new Blue Jays manager? I'm not a fan of the club, but what an uninspiring hire. Considering other candidates took other jobs, it does make me wonder if the Jays took the best option left. It will be Charlie Montoyo's job to try and guide a young group of players who Toronto fans hope will make an impression quite soon and make the team a playoff squad again. A more seasoned manager would have been better in my opinion, but we will see if Montoyo grows with his team.
--The one thing that is great watching the Boston Red Sox in these playoffs is the fact they are playing baseball the way it should be played. They aren't swinging for the fences with each batter, they are simply trying to put the ball in play. It's not small-ball, but its working. Other teams should take note.
--Week 8 NFL Lock of The Week --- Redskins over Giants
Week 8 NFL Upset of The Week --- Seahawks over Lions
-- Noah Picton wants to play in what will be his last football game with the U of R Rams, but septic arthritis in his foot may prevent him from doing so. I'm not a doctor, but I am told what Picton is suffering from is something that can be very serious. If he can play, he will. If not, we have seen the last of what is arguably the greatest quarterback (sorry Dean) that the Rams have ever seen and we have seen many go through. If he does suit up, I don't see the Rams losing and I see Noah going out with a high. Game time is 7 o'clock tonight.
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!