Monday, May 30, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About

A hodge-podge of thoughts as we approach the beginning of June. Where has 2016 gone? 

THE TIME HAS COME - No, I am not talking about one of Martina McBride's first hits, I am talking about Riders training camp. The off-season came to an end Sunday morning as players stepped on the field at the U of S.   It is time to start talking about the CFL in earnest with the focus being of course on the Riders. Who will turn heads? What vets are on the bubble? Just two of many questions we will start getting answers to over the next couple of weeks. I was asked on the weekend what receiver might have the biggest year now that Dressler, Getzlaf and Ryan Smith are gone. The answer was easy---Rob Bagg! He brings that familiarity to Darian and he can get the job done. If he stays healthy, (and I hope he can because I am a big fan of #6), I think he could lead the way in 16.  I also believe the experience gained by Naaman Roosevelt has him poised for what could be a very solid year as well.

RING, RING --- The Edmonton Eskimos received their Grey Cup rings in the first of two stages Friday night.

(Photo Courtesy Edmonton Eskimos)

I am guessing the second stage of the ring handout will be June 18 when the Riders go to Edmonton for a pre-season game as Chris Jones, his coaching staff and several players like Shawmaud Chambers, Kendial Lawrence and Otha Foster will make their first return to the Alberta capital.  I am guessing there won't be a ceremony at the 55 yard line, but I am hoping the Riders don't come to their dressing room and find the rings in their stalls and that there is a classy handoff of the rings that the former Eskimos and their coaching staff worked hard to achieve.  I also wonder what Jones will do with his ring. I just can't see him wearing it that much around here. For that matter, I wonder what he has done with the other three championship rings he has won. 

SPEAKING OF JONES - In the days leading up to Riders camp, many were asking who was the  most valuable acquisition by the green-and-white in the offseason. Was it Greg Jones? Kendial Lawrence? Justin Capicotti? I say it was none of those three, and that the most important acquisition was the first one made by the team in the off-season...CHRIS JONES!

Media preview
(Photo Courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders)

This guy's resume is second to none. He came in here with an agenda to change the culture and that is what he has done whether you like it or not. I still wonder how 2015 might have been different had Darian Durant stayed healthy all year, and if he had, what it would have meant moving forward. I truly don't know if Jones would be here had such a putrid season not occurred. I don't think Corey Chamblin would have been back, but I don't know if the team would have jettisoned Brendan Taman.  There is no use looking back at the tire-fire that was 2015, but there is no doubt in my mind that bringing in Chris Jones who brought in John Murphy and his Eskimos coaching staff was the biggest move in the off-season and one which should start paying immediate dividends.

OOPS!!! ---  TSN's Jennifer Hedger is getting some heat on Twitter from Argos linebacker Matt Black. In the Sportscentre that followed the Raptors-Cleveland game, Hedger said Toronto is still searching for its first professional sports championship since the Blue Jays won in 93.  Black says "I could have sworn the CFL was a professional sports league, Meh, Guess not. " That had others chirping through social media at Hedger. Yes, the words which she uttered were probably not the right ones considering TSN is the rights-holder and it came as training camps get underway, but I am guessing if you went across this fine land of ours and asked people "When was the last time Toronto won a pro sports championship?", many wouldn't refer to the Argos and would say the 93 Blue Jays. That's just the way it is. The CFL has had a legitimacy problem for years and we all know Toronto thinks it is too big for the CFL. This is why I, and many others, hope the move to BMO Field is something that does for the Argos what moving into Molson Stadium did for the Alouettes. Time will tell.

LEBRON - Lebron James came to Air Canada Centre Friday night determined not to send the NBA East final back to Cleveland for a Game 7.  "The King" showed why he is one of the NBA's all-time greatest players in a marquee performance against the Raptors as he goes to the championship for a 6th straight year. He also showed a lot of class after the game by saluting the rabid Raptors fan base. While Toronto had no success from the 3 point line and had to battle some very questionable officiating once again, the Cavaliers were simply the better team in Game 6 and the series. Once Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love got going at full speed, it was game over.

WHAT IS THE RAPTORS FUTURE? - As I put on Twitter Friday night after the game was over, I hope the Raptors did for basketball in Canada what the Blue Jays have done for baseball.  There was a definite uptick in baseball after the Jays World Series win and there is a lot more interest for the game after Toronto's playoff run last year. Many Canadians are playing basketball, and we are seeing more and more Canadians in the NBA. I can only think this will help the sport out in this country, but the Raptors need to help out and take their product across Canada. Wouldn't it be great to see a Raptors caravan stop at a Cougar or Huskies game this year with some players in attendance? It can be done. As for the team itself, the talk after the game was either Demar DeRozan or Bismack Biyombo will go because the team can't afford both. DeRozan says he wants to stay. It will be an interesting off-season in Toronto for GM Masal Ujiri as they try and keep the squad amongst the NBA's elite and keep Canadians invested in what they have accomplished.

CHOKLAHOMA CITY - The Golden State Warriors appeared to be done in Game 6 of the NBA West final Saturday night. The 73-9 Warriors were down by 8 with five minutes to play and people were starting to write their epitaph. Despite the fact Klay Thompson was hitting three pointers from all over the building, the Thunder were in control, but then they forgot what they were doing and allowed Golden State to take the game setting up a Game 7 in Oakland. Its one many people think will be about a 15-20 point Warriors win and I'm one of them. Russell Westbrook had four turnovers in the last ninety seconds. You just can't do that if you want to take the next step. Oklahoma City was eight minutes from the final, but now they are 48 and well---lets just say they had their chance.

RED SOX OPENER - A Sunday afternoon at the ballpark is a Sunday afternoon well spent. 750 people showed up at Currie Field to watch the Regina Red Sox open the WMBL season against the Weyburn Beavers.

It was a scoreless game through 6, but the bats woke up for both teams in the late going with Regina eventually winning it 5-3. The forecast doesn't look as good for Tuesday as it did Sunday afternoon, but the Sox will be back in action against the Yorkton Cardinals at Currie Field in a 7:05 start.  The team has decided to break baseball tradition by not playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and instead playing "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate". All I can do is shake my head and ask why...why, why, why!!  At least Worksafe Bob isn't there so that's a good thing. 

FEEL THE RUSH -  I can't imagine what Sask-Tel Centre will be like on Saturday night. The phone booth may come tumbling down. The Saskatchewan Rush have set up what could be a championship evening after taking Game 1 of the National Lacrosse League final in Buffalo.  Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have adopted the Rush and what they have done in their first year has certainly helped. I loved their ad for 2017 seasonC tickets that aired during the game on TSN2. Very creative!

WHO OWNS HOCKEY -  I understand the concept behind the World Cup of Hockey ads running on Sportsnet right now, but the slogan is a dumb one. It is dumb because of the advent of "The Young Guns" aka Team North America and Team Europe.  Could North America own hockey?

GREAT POINT - Sidney Crosby touched the Eastern Conference championship trophy when the Penguins beat the Lightning in Game 7. The Sharks wanted nothing to do with it as many teams have done in the past and refused to touch the trophy. I have now heard this twice and I couldn't agree more...."If you aren't comfortable with touching the trophy, then why are you comfortable wearing the championship hats. If you don't want the trophy that goes along with winning the Conference championship, why do you want the hats? They should be avoided just as much shouldn't they? You will get a championship hat if you win.

PREDICTION TIME  -  Despite the fact Ken Hitchcock got the St. Louis Blues to Game 7 of the NHL West final, there is still talk he won't be back in St. Louis. Let it be said right here if Hitchcock is not retained by the Blues, he will be the new coach of the Calgary Flames. As for the Stanley Cup, I'm not a fan of either team and I won't watch a lot of the Penguins-Sharks matchup, but I think San Jose is a little deeper and will bring the Cup to Northern California for the first time.

That's all I got. Thanks for checkin in! Have a great week!


Anonymous said...

Great point on the hats indeed.

Couldn't agree more with your take on Jones too.


Anonymous said...

Hedger's ignorance of the CFL is something that shouldn't be tolerated, but is. The CFL just doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Kendell Lawrence looked incredible yesterday. He has the right green on now.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Canadian culture does not respect what we have. Unless its American or considered world class Canadians turn there backs. Toronto is the worst and hedger just shows how deep the gotta be attitude is.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree on Jones! Put 3-15 in the rearview mirror Rider Nation. He will turn it around.

Anonymous said...

When the beer is cold and the ladies are hot, the ballpark is a great place to be!