Monday, October 26, 2015
Something to Mitch About
Calgary was the destination for this blogger as I headed to the Stampede City to do the Rams-Dinos game and then stayed behind to visit some family.
After Friday's column where I talked about no one watching the CFL because of the Blue Jays, many thought it was just a Saskatchewan thing because of the Riders poor performance. I can tell you this, if there are Calgary Stampeders fans out there, I'd like to know where they are because they were nowhere to be seen this weekend and either was the CFL.
As the plane taxied down the runway at the Regina airport many were not happy with the fact the satellite TV on Westjet did not have Sportsnet meaning they could not watch the Blue Jays game and many were quite excited to hear upon landing that Jose Bautista had just tied the game. We took a cab to our hotel and then U of R Sports Information Officer extraordinaire Braden Konschuh (whom many in Canada West should try to emulate for the work he does to get the Cougars/Rams message out there) suggested we hit up a Boston Pizza right by the hotel. Off we went just as the rain delay ended. There were six TV's in the establishment---all six were on the ballgame even though the Ti-Cats-BC game was still going on. No one cared.
On Saturday, the Rams-Dinos game ended about 430 and by 530 I was at Crossiron Mills to have some post-game frosty beverages. We walked into an establishment where there were at least 10 TV's, but even with the team battling Calgary for first in the West on the field at Mosaic Stadium, all 10 TV's were on Hockey Night in Canada and not one was on the Eskimos-Riders game. No one cared! While walking past a Jersey City at Crossiron, there was very little if any Stamps gear to be sold. I asked a guy in the store where all his CFL stuff was and his response----our CFL stuff doesn't sell! No one cares!
Walking through downtown Calgary on Sunday afternoon, we didn't see huge crowds, but no one was wearing Stamps gear. No hats, no shirts, no jerseys, no nothing. This is a team that is the defending Grey Cup champion and is currently 12-4. No one seemingly cares!
Contrast this to Regina. I don't have to tell you what it is like from one corner of this province to another. The /=S=/ is on display everywhere whether it be on a hat, a coat, a jersey, whatever. The team sucks this year, but the Rider Nation continues to show how much they love their team by wearing the colours and it isn't just on game day. There is no doubt this year, the fan has been the MVP of this team for the way they have continued to come out and support their team. I wasn't at the game Saturday for obvious reasons, but when the attendance says 30,488 it means 30 thousand seats were sold for the game and while the number of sold tickets compared to the number of fans in the seats varies greatly, people were still buying tickets when this season has been over. It was the last time they would see their football heroes in green do their thing live on Saturday night until next year. They trudged out of Mosaic feeling down like they have so many times this year, but they were there because they care and despite the loss, I am guessing many had on something with the /=S=/ today because they care. Yes, I am guessing many will put on something red or something with the horse logo on it next Saturday as they head off to MacMahon, but they apparently take it off quite quickly and hide it in the closet until the next time, because they aren't waving the colours in a place where they should be. As I waited for my flight to Regina, I couldn't help but shake my head as five passengers on a fairly full flight were wearing something with the beloved /=S=/ on it. It says a lot and there is no doubting where the heartbeat of the CFL is.
So let's go to the game. I didn't see it. All I saw was one highlight and it has got be a lowlight in the career of defensive back Junior Mertile. His massive brain-cramp even made it to highlight reels south of the border and it wouldn't surprise me if before Monday Night Football, we hear Cris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Ditka or Steve Young going CMON MAN!!!! as that play is shown, WTF was that I screamed as I saw the play for the first time on Sunday morning. That's inexcusable! Mertile hasn't made much of an impression during his time here and that won't help. YEESH!! What happened? The Riders were up 21-3 and it looked like an upset would happen, but it didn't. A win would have been so gratifying for the fans in the home finale, but instead they got the same thing they have seen all season long and that is another frustrating performance. There's just two more weeks to go and then we can flush this season away. It is so funny because after the Riders won the 2013 Grey Cup on that magical Sunday November night at Mosaic Stadium, no one wanted the off-season to end and there was a tinge of sadness when training camp opened to start 2014 because it was officially over. Fast forward to now and everyone just wants this season over with so they can start working on 2016. I can't blame them. The news won't stop in Riderville in this off-season as a new GM is needed and likely a new head coach as well. Who will go? Who will stay? Can this team rebound and be a contender in 2015 and of course what will Darian Durant's status be and who will his backup be. Brett Smith and Keith Price perhaps showed they don't want another veteran coming in here to be an "insurance policy". I expect once the 103rd Grey Cup has been handed out that your Saskatchewan Roughriders will be dominating the off-field headlines for the rest of this calendar year and into free agency.
Before I left Regina, I had someone ask me what it would take to perhaps lure former CFL quarterback Tom Clements to Saskatchewan as a possible head coach. I told him to keep dreaming. He's the associate coach of the Green Bay Packers. He isn't going anywhere unless it is to have Mike McCarthy's job.
To the Rams and what happened on Saturday wasn't surprising as the University of Calgary Dinos laid another solid beating on a Canada West foe beating Mike Gibson's guys 57-7. Did the Rams cover the spread? As I strapped on the headset to call the game, I was hoping it wouldn't be another 72-8 debacle like it was at Mosaic Stadium, but when Calgary jumped out to 1-0 lead on the opening kickoff and quickly made it 15-0, I was going uh-oh!! Those guys don't take any prisoners and while a lot of young guys played for Calgary, they still kept quarterback Andrew Buckley in for three and a half quarters which was about a quarter and a half too long as far I was concerned and many guys on defence played the whole game too. There will be a lot of Dinos names called in the CFL draft and there are a couple of guys the Riders should take a good hard look at because they have players who will be impact players in the CFL for years. What the Dinos have done to their Canada West opposition this year has been amazing and somewhat embarassing for the conference because of the one-sided games. It just makes me hope the Jim Mullin/David Dube Northern 8 proposal starts gaining some steam across this country because a game between Calgary and McMaster or Calgary and Montreal would be far more entertaining and far more rewarding for both teams than a Calgary-Regina or Calgary-anyone in Canada West game right now.
The World Series will begin Tuesday night in Kansas City and the interest of Canadians from coast-to-coast has waned considerably after what was an amazing game Friday night as the Blue Jays went down to defeat. Many took to social media to criticize John Gibbons for the fact Toronto could not get the tying run across with a man at 3rd and no one out. ????? I will be the first guy to sit here and tell you that I don't think John Gibbons is a great manager and that guys like Terry Francona, Paul Molitor, Joe Maddon, Terry Collins and many others are guys who could get the current Toronto lineup over the top, but to criticize Gibbons for the way Friday ended is wrong. It isn't Gibbons' fault that neither Dioner Navarro or Ben Revere could get the bat on the ball when they had to and it isn't Gibbons' fault that the American League MVP could only get a slow roller to third to end the game. It was Gibbons who likely called the Dalton Pompey steal of 2nd AND 3rd with that second call being as risky as hell. In the end, the Toronto bats did not come through with runners in scoring position and as is the case in most playoff series, the team that has the better pitching wins and that is what Kansas City had. Is this a one and done for Toronto. I don't think so, but they do have some work to do when it comes to their starting rotation. The team that captured Canada's hearts this summer will be back next April and I am guessing there will be some who just might pick them to knock off the Royals as two time American League champs and perhaps bring that title back to Rogers Centre in 2016. One other thing, don't get on Gibbons' case for the way Game 6 ended, but please remember it was some poor managerial decisions in the last week of the season that caused that Game 6 to be played at Kauffmann Stadium and not the Rogers Centre as it could have been had the Jays not played that "we are happy to be here card" after winning and seemingly acting very casual about having the best record in the American League.
Is Daniel Murphy of the Mets this year's Madison Bumgarner? Still with the Mets, if they don't win this year, they aren't going away either. Their oldest starter is Jacob DeGrom at 28. They are this generation's version of Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux and Avery. They just keep coming at you with one talented young arm after another.
I just want to make sure I am correct when I state the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers are 6-0. The Bengals and Panthers? No one is saying we are going to have an all-Cats Super Bowl are we?
Did you get up at 730 Sunday morning to watch the Bills and Jaguars on YAHOO? Either did I. Don't you find it interesting the league made this move for people to watch on their smartphones or laptops instead of watching it on a big screen TV the way most of us like. The times are changing my friends.....the times are changing.
As the last game ended Sunday in the NHL, Connor MacDavid was one goal behind the league-leaders. What everyone has said about the kid appears to be accurate and watching the Oilers play as I do, he is becoming more and more confident with each shift. Oiler fans, the team may not make the playoffs this year but the decade of darkness is close to being officially called over. Thank god!
It doesn't hurt me at all to see the Calgary Flames early season struggles. Yes, the season is still early, but I thought last year something was being done with smoke and mirrors with that team and this start only validates that thought. On the flip side, the Habs are 9-0 and I am guessing some are wondering if they have started inscribing the team's name on the Stanley Cup yet. Avid Montreal fans wouldn't do that would they?
Has Regina caught a dose of Pats fever? Judging by Sunday's crowd they have as over 5-thousand poured into the Brandt Centre to see Regina lose 2-1 in overtime to an over-achieving Prince Albert squad. The Pats are a very exciting team this year, and you won't be disappointed to see them live.
While my weekend was spent in Calgary, my thoughts were in Regina on Friday night as the legendary "Principal Richard Pound" was inducted into the High Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame. Principal Pound or John Cozman as he is more commonly known was one of the best characters I have seen in all my years of watching Stampede and now High Impact Wrestling. His shtick and his mike time were classic. Health has caught up to Cozman and it is why the Principal is not dishing out his form of education any more. I understand it was a very memorable night as High Impact honored Pound/Cozman for what he has done. I wish I had been there to show the man some respect, but I made sure the message got through.
Have a great week everyone!