--Welcome to Saturday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they come in no particular order.
--As I started the drive home from Mosaic Stadium late Thursday, the first call came in to the 620 CKRM Sportscage Rider Radio Roundtable. I forget the guy's name, but he said he wasn't giving any credit to Chris Jones for the 18-13 win over Hamilton. None! This just in, while the Riders head coach may be making everyone wonder just what the h-e double hockeysticks he is doing on offence, there is no doubt he has his defence working.
Jeremiah Masoli threw for 333 yards, but no touchdowns. The Riders D got one touchdown from Charleston Hughes and another set up by a Tobi Antigha interception. Masoli faced blitz after blitz after blitz from the team's defensive co-ordinator who called one helluva football game. That defensive co-ordinator is Chris Jones. Giving Jones no credit for the win. Yeah OK, you keep thinkin that. By the way, was it Jones who decided to make sure both Jerome Messam and Duron Carter were on the field for the game-winning touchdown drive in the waning moments?
Hey, I'm not going to sit here and say Jones isn't worthy of criticism because he is when it comes to the quarterback rotation that has everyone wondering what he's doing, the fact Messam doesn't have a big role in the offence and the fact Carter's role is on the wrong side of the ball. However, at the end of the day his team is 2-2 thanks to two solid defensive efforts with a third that was wasted against Montreal.
You'll never convince some so why keep trying.
--Still with Jones, as you likely know he responded to a question of mine on Wednesday when I asked him if he had any messages for fans who had already hit the panic button three weeks in. Whether you like it or not, his answer was correct. Jones said he doesn't worry about what the fans are thinking. The only person or persons he should worry about are Craig Reynolds and Wayne Morsky and even then he may not worry. As has been said many times before, when you start listening to the fans, you end up being one of them.
I can only imagine where this franchise would be stretching back many years if fans made the decisions. I completely understand the frustration being felt, but if you think your calls for this to happen or that to happen will come to fruition because you asked for it, think again. Another caller to the post-game show suggested Jones had listened to the fans by blitzing all night long instead of the three-man rush that has frustrated many in the Rider Nation. This just in, he didn't and he won't be.
--As the team goes into its bye week, they are 2-2. Considering what they've been through that isn't that bad. The big question between now and when the team gets back on the field is how many new guys are coming in (defensive backs and offensive lineman) and what the status of Zach Collaros is. It has become clear that this season may depend on Collaros' health.
--Has anyone noticed how well the Regina Red Sox are playing? After a sluggish start to the season, the Red Sox are rolling having just won 9 in a row to sit second in their division behind a very good Weyburn squad. I was going to head to Currie Field Friday night to watch them play Lethbridge, but I am not a fan of slowly baking in 40 degree heat, but they have another date with the Bulls tonight and a few more home games in July before playoffs hit. I've said it once and I'll say it again. When the conditions are right, a Red Sox game is a great way to spend an evening in Regina.
--Good luck to Tim Hunter as he takes control of the Canadian junior program. Moments after the announcement was made, it was said let's hope Hunter doesn't do with the juniors what has happened in Moose Jaw the past two seasons. As a Regina guy, I'm OK with Moose Jaw flaming out in the playoffs, but I wouldn't be OK with Canada flaming out at the Juniors especially when it is on our soil.
--Still with Moose Jaw, the city is bidding for the 2020 Scotties. If its anything like the 2015 event, it should be a no-brainer to come back. Mosaic Place is a great venue and events like the Scotties are a great showcase for the building----one that I still think could see a Memorial Cup in its future.
--The Tartan Curling Club has decided to sell their Broadway Avenue location and move out to the Callie having both operate under one roof. Both say it will create a stronger sport in Regina. How can closing one rink be a positive? There are many kids playing the game and they need a spot to play. Can the Callie and Highland support all the curling that happens in our city? Is the need there to build another rink in Regina. Those are questions I can't answer at this time and I don't know if the curling community can either. I guess we will find out if this is a good move or not.
--It's getting down to crunch time in the Majors and the Toronto Blue Jays have a prized chip that teams want. What do they do with J.A Happ. The Yankees, Brewers and Mariners are all showing interest as they look to strengthen their rotations. It will cost whoever gets them. The Jays have to make sure they get maximum return for Happ as they look to get back to where they can be a legitimate threat in the American League and re-open the window. I will be interested to see what Ross Atkins can do. I will also be interested to see what Theo Epstein does in Chicago as they don't really have a lot left in the cupboard after the last two years. The team they have now is a playoff team, but they need a lot to happen in those playoffs if they are going to be a championship team.
--The Erik Karlsson watch is on. His days in Ottawa are over as that tire fire continues. If he goes to Tampa as has been suggested, there is no doubt the Lightning will be the favourites to win the Eastern Conference. Sorry Toronto! Vasilevskii, Hedman, Kucherov, Stamkos, McDonagh, Point and Karlsson amongst others makes the Lightning would make Tampa one of the most powerful teams we have seen in a long time. If Karlsson does to go to Tampa though, I wounder if someone like Brayden Point would go the other way. Point is going to get paid and one of Tampa's young guns will have to go. I can't see Steve Yzerman parting with Mikhail Sergachev so Point might be the odd man out.
--Will Jordan Eberle be an Islander at this time next year? Ebs becomes a UFA at the end of this season. I can't see the Islanders being a playoff team so do they trade him before the deadline knowing they likely won't be keeping him.
--By the time you see this England will have either disappointed the many following their exploits at the World Cup or they will have moved on to the semis as they are playing Sweden in a quarterfinal that begins at 7 AM. As you know, there are a lot of people with British roots in this province and they are full in on what is going on. Is there a Croatian club in Regina? If so, I am guessing they will be ready to rock later Saturday for their quarter-final match against the hosts.
--Farewell to the Burger Baron! Their hamburgers and all their food was top-notch. If I would have known they were closing up shop last week, I would have made one last stop to get a Baron Burger.
--That's all I got. Stay cool this weekend!