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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

POSTCARDS FROM CALGARY

Over the weekend in Calgary I was taking photos and jotting down notes for the Monday Morning Goalie column but after the Riders' painful 36-30 loss to the Stampeders in the western semifinal, I didn't feel too much like putting it together. I'm also pretty sure you weren't interested in reading it either. However there was some good stuff there so I decided to post it today:


The trip was doomed from the start. Friday night was miserable, as you can tell by the picture from the tarmac at the Regina Airport. There was an issue loading the equipment which caused an hour delay at this end and there was a further delay once we landed in Calgary. All this occurred while the Stampeders were home snuggled in their own beds. That's why it's called homefield advantage.



We got to the Westin hotel just before midnight and this nice note was waiting in my room from Lindsay Sandomirsky, the hotel's Sales and Marketing Director. More on that further down in the column. It felt like home!



The Riders made every effort to make their locker room at McMahon Stadium feel like home. Here are some inspirational posters from Coach Corey Chamblin...



Odell Willis posed for a shot outside the locker room. Tough to say if he'll be back in 2013 although Chamblin said Tuesday they'd like to have him back. Although high maintenance at the start of the year, he seemed to have settled down by Labour Day. However he didn't have a sack after Week 13.



There were tailgaters outside McMahon Stadium however as you can see, there weren't many of them. Will the Roughriders ever allow tailgating? Team President Jim Hopson had this to say to the Globe and Mail last week: "We've talked to the province and they don't want to make a change in the liquor laws and have tailgating at ball tournaments and hockey games. We're a little bit reluctant (to do tailgating). We want to have a good family environment at our games."



QR77's Jock Wilson and Dave Rowe host the Stampeders' pregame show on Sunday from the booth next door to ours..


And finally, kickoff. As you can see the stadium wasn't nearly full and there wasn't a ton of green either. The game just didn't have the excitement or vibe that we were used to for Rider games in Calgary. Not sure why. Did the forecast scare people off? Is the Rider Nation losing steam? You tell me.
______

RANDOM WEDNESDAY THOUGHTS

* Apparently that Rider loonie is still somewhere under the turf at McMahon Stadium. A stadium worker, originally from Saskatchewan, winked and told me that the day before the game. It was placed there before the 2010 West Division Final, which the Riders won, but the luck ran out in 2012. I'd still prefer to keep it there.

* The weather this time of year always makes travel dicey but I suppose we don't have to worry about it any longer. The voice of the Rams Michael Ball was due to land Saturday at noon for the 2:00 Hardy Cup kickoff between the Rams and Dinos but there was a storm forecast for all weekend. Carm Carteri and I were prepared to broadcast the game on 620 CKRM but thankfully Ballsy and colour commentator Marco Ricci got there in time. They called the Rams games all year and deserved to call the last one.

* Rams quarterback Marc Mueller and the 30-or-so graduating players can take a bow. Losing in the Hardy Cup is no embarrassing way to end their careers.

* With the temperature below-zero for Sunday's WSF many people asked why the western game didn't kickoff before the eastern game, while the sun was still up. The answer? The people who make those decisions, the suits in Toronto, don't have to play in the games nor sit on the cold metal bleachers outside.

* Over the weekend this blog surpassed the 8,000,000 all-time hit plateau. As always, thank you!

* The Riders stayed at the Westin for this road trip to Calgary and it was, in a word, magnificent. How can you go wrong with a Keg and a Starbucks right in the lobby? Plus I got a note in my room from Lindsay, the Sales and Marketing Director from the Westin who said she's a lifelong Rider fan who's wanted to the Riders to stay there forever. Her father "Stan from Saskatoon" is a regular caller into CKRM's sportstalk shows. She even left a bucket of beer in the room! How did she know?? Here's hoping that's the Riders' new Calgary headquarters, although I enjoyed the Marriott too.

* FYI the Riders stayed at the Delta Bow Valley for the 2009 Grey Cup. That's where that fanatical Rider fan chamber maid works.

* More proof the weekend in Calgary sucked: my rental car was a Volkswagen Gulf and I left the lights on overnight Saturday. Sunday morning in freezing temperatures, the battery was dead. What an absolute pain in the neck that was. Fortunately the Westin staff helped with a boost.

* Quotable: Globe and Mail media columnist Bruce Dowbiggin walked by me in the news conference room the day before the game, smiled, and said "Hello Trouble!" What's he talking about??

* Quotable: Calgary Herald football writer Allen Cameron after the coaches' news conferences: "Huffer was more entertaining than Chamblin. And that's saying something!"

* Quotable: QR77's Dave Rowe on our pregame show: "We are three years away from having the worst stadium in the CFL."

* Quotable: QR77's Peter Watts on our halftime show: "The Stampeders have not sold out a game all year, including this one."

* People are scratching their heads over CFL attendance right now, and not just in Calgary. I'd say the things that have plagued the WHL the past number of years have caught up to the CFL. Everybody has a mancave now with a big screen TV and it's hard to pry a guy out of there to buy tickets to go outside in the winter. It's a problem that the marketing people need to solve. Glad that's not my job.

* It's too bad Jon Cornish's personality has been exposed. It's hard to appreciate his on-field prowess now, given the ridiculous stunts he's pulled. Carm Carteri and I were walking up the ramp from the field to the media facilities on Saturday and Cornish was walking down the other way. Carm said "Hi Jon", but he never even acknowledged us and kept walking. I checked to see if he had earbuds in. He didn't. Can't even say hi.

* Global TV's Derek Meyers said on the Sports Cage yesterday, "Do we really want our league MVP to be the guy who mooned the crowd at a game this year?"

* Many have asked why Stamps Coach/GM John Hufnagel puts up with this crap from his players (see: Nik Lewis). Simple. He wins with them.

* It was great to see former Regina Pats villain J.D. Watt outside the stadium after the Rider game. He was dressed head-to-toe in Stampeders gear and I asked him if he lost a bet. The cowboy from Cremona, AB is playing hockey at SAIT and getting his education. He gave me a big hug which cracked my back. He was only with the Pats for half a season but boy did we get along well! Great to see that guy.

* 620 CKRM is broadcasting BOTH the East Division Final and the West Division Final. Why? Because we sell SOOO many commercials for Rider Radio broadcasts that we couldn't fit them all into just one playoff broadcast this Sunday so we needed to carry both games. Don't tell me sports aren't the backbone of that radio station.

* It meant a ton for Rider quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to wander up to me on the team bus after the game and say "Hey I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy the content on your blog. I'm a sporadic reader but I can tell how much work you put into it, and I really enjoy it." Wow! That coming from a veteran of 11 NFL teams! And I can tell you the God's honest truth, I didn't even think he knew who I was. Honest. I hope he's back in 2013.

* Also, Stampeders statistician Darryl Slade has published his second book and it's on the shelves at the Stampeders store. It's called "STAMPEDERS - GREY CUP OR BUST" and is a chronicle of the rich playoff history of Calgary pro football. Darryl signed a copy for me "To Rod, A Great CFL Man and Author", and gave it to Jim Hopson to get to me. We were treated so well in Calgary.

* So many CFL types and fans have asked me which CFL GM was ripped by that NFL scout last week when I was in the press box in Seattle. Honestly I'd rather not say, but it wasn't the Riders' Brendan Taman. I prefer not to make anybody look bad here, unless I really want to make them look bad, and this is not one of those times.

* RUMOUR: Doug Brown is going to join the front office of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

* Congrats to the Saskatoon Hilltops for their third-straight Canadian Bowl title. Graig Newman of the Roughriders is a proud alumnus and was decked out in all Hilltops gear on the weekend.

* Great ploy by Molson/Coors to threaten legal action against the NHL for lost sales during the lockout. It probably won't go very far, but it's getting lots of play in the national media.

* The AHL game between Oklahoma City and Abbottsford must have drawn big ratings on Saturday night on Sportsnet. Everywhere I went in Calgary, the game was on TV. I think I speak for most Canadians that we'd enjoy some hockey on Saturday nights, no matter the league. Hopefully Sportsnet keeps it up.

* And please, replayed hockey games are as old and boring as last week's newspaper. Whether it's Team Canada Rewind or Classics on Hockey Night in Canada, we know the outcome!! Show something live for goodness sake.

* Of course we couldn't get out of Calgary, an NHL city, without getting filled in, in-depth, on both sides of the NHL lockout. The players are mad the NHL owners are "hiding money". That's one of the biggest issues right now, I'm told. Settle in for a long fight.

* Today is Day 60 of the work stoppage and some are starting to crack. One TSN staffer, not on-air, told me Sunday afternoon "If I see an NHL player, I'll punch him in the face". This guy is a freelancer who gets paid by the game and now with the CFL almost done, he's broke with bills to pay and a family to feed. But hey! Let's make sure the players get their fair share!! Sickening.

HAVE A GREAT DAY
RP

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the nice pleasant surprise this Wednesday morning. I really enjoyed the read. Thanks again!
Matthew

Anonymous said...

That's why this blog is #1 in the country!

Anonymous said...

Go Jays Go!

Anonymous said...

Riders don't want tailgating so they can preserve the "family environment" inside the stadium, where half the fans are drunk anyway, but at least the Riders get a cut of the profits!!!

Anonymous said...

Just when I thought I couldn't hate an asshat like Cornhole anymore I read that after all the shit he has pulled.

Anonymous said...

You bring up the argument as to why CKRM should be all-sports radio again. I, and many others, would love it. I know you have said that won't happen and that's too bad because management is obviously mot willing to make the gamble.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to punch a NHL player in the face as well.

Anonymous said...

I second the "Go Jays Go!"

Caesar said...

The solution is easy and doesn't take a marketing guru to figure it out...start the season a month earlier. Problem solved.

As for J.T. , he will be our second stringer for sure next year. That's about as good a bet as beating Derek Myers in a poker hand, guess he's what you call a "fish" at the tables here! ;)

On the NHL strike. Who cares if the owners are "hiding" money (which they can't really do, but whatever.) the players get their paycheck and that's all that should count! Personally I think they should get ZERO percent of league revenue, as the owners don't get a percentage of players advertising contracts? Works both ways!

I agree on the NHL replays, nobody cares. I would rather them carry the AHL right now and the networks can broadcast a good quality game.

Anonymous said...

Jon Cornish shunned the "great" Rod Pedersen? How can that be? Say it aint so Rod...say it aint so.

Anonymous said...

Probably the reason there wasn't many Rider fans in McMahon was because they are sick and tired of losing there. We have we lost something like 10 regular season games in a row there. It's not very hard for a Calgarian to give a Rider fan the gears. Oh well as long as B.C. Montreal or Toronto win the Grey Cup and Owens and Emery win the awards I'll be happy.

BB

Anonymous said...

Watching the Barons play on Sportsnet was awesome! Why doesn't TSN pick up AHL and WHL games instead of old replays, just seems lazy. When Basketball was in their lockout I wonder if ESPN played old baseball games? My guess is no. J Dumba

Anonymous said...

I have to agree on the Go Jays Go chant, but the question then becomes Go where? Maybe New Jersey?
How about those WS champion Giants. Next up, a 49'er Super Bowl. As for hockey, please stay away.
Now the Riders. Here's hoping BT has a great off season and Coach Chamblin comes back strong. Go Riders.

ladybug said...

Thanks for the blogs this year. Good work.

Perhaps the reason the Stamps have such poor attendance by Calgary people is because of the attention seeking players that Calgary has. Calgary may win a few games with them but will the fans return with those asshats playing for Calgary. Who would want to expose the next generation of fans to such behavior or have their son or daughter look up to them as heroes and role models? I know I wouldn't be taking any of my young impressionable children, if I had any, to the games.

Thank God Darian and the Riders haven't behaved like that in public even if some fans can be real asshats.

Would Calgary even have the Stamps if it weren't for Rider fans at Calgary games.

ladybug said...

Riders should maybe consider converting a section of the seats in an end zones or sideline to a children's section with a discounted ticket price for the children sitting in that section. Adults still to pay full price. Make that section alcohol free. So that parents can take their children to the games and minimize the children's exposure to some of the fans more outrageous actions.

My understanding that the children's section was done away with some years ago.

Anonymous said...

Not to beat an old horse, but I've said it several times on this blog. I would have my radio on CKRM 24/7 if it went all-sports. There is a craving for it in Regina and CKRM is the perfect place to have it because of Riders, Pats, Rams (etc. etc). The only time I listen to you now is for sports programming.

Wayne

Mr.Morin said...

For what it's worth I would rather not see Odell Willis back. The guy only did two things all year; take stupid penalties (at least one a game) and dance between plays.
Honestly he was all hype and no action. Seriously we can get six sacks out of a lot of other guys who will do their job minus the dancing and the headaches.
Just my thoughts; as for moving the season up, not in agreement. The CFL has existed for 100 years; many games have been played in col weather. To me that is one of the great things about this league; you can watch a game in July with 30 degree heat and a game in November that is sixty degrees colder. It is what seperates true fans from all those part timers who leave early and stay home when it is cold.

Anonymous said...

Couple of comments. I'd love all sports radio and probably wouldn't move away from it in the car, but I hope it would have some national or international content - love the Riders, Pats and Rams but that is just too inward looking. The big leagues are other places.

You raise an interesting possibility about the Rider Nation losing some steam. I can't speak to any trends, but I've personally taken about half a step back in my support for the team. The lunatic fringe of the fanbase has been a bit too visible/vocal of late, and I'm a little resentful of what building a stadium is going to mean for my taxes.

willie said...

Why should Cornish say "Hi" to you guys. HE'S A COMPLETE ASSHOLE AND HE SHOWED THAT TO OUR FANS RIGHT HERE ! Saskatchewan people have forgotten more about "CLASS" than Cornhead will ever know !!! You Guys Are The Best. Thanks for another great year.

Anonymous said...

The head scratching does't only pertain to why the attendance at games is dropping it continues as to why Regina is building another outdoor stadium IF attendance is dropping.
Sorry but it pisses me off to spend my tax dollars to fund a new stadium under these circumstances. Oh I can hear the howls already....oldest stadium....if not now when?....but has anyone calculated how much more my taxes will be? $100 per year? $500 per year? When I know then I can make an informed decision not get bent out of shape with blind faith in politicians.

Anonymous said...

RP: "...many people asked why the western game didn't kickoff before the eastern game, while the sun was still up."

This goes on every year and, for whatever reason is never brought up for further discussion. I am sure that the fans down East would not mind if the Eastern game was a 7pm Eastern start time... they would watch, and they would attend those games.

As for the cold West in Nov, to start at 1pm, would likely fill the stadiums, rather than the late afternoon start. I don't know of anyone who prefers to be sitting in the stands in the late afternoon as the sun is starting to set... the chill in the air is definitely not as comfortable as the mid-afternoon games. This goes on and on year after year.

I will also remind all readers that the last playoff game that was hosted by the Riders WAS NOT a sell out. And that was after a year with all games sold out, including the exhibition. Is it the late afternoon cold weather start time??? As RP suggested, I believe it is a real problem.

The time has come to switch the starting times of the East and West playoffs...

Anonymous said...

As for tailgating, it really doesn't matter if there are no campers monopolizing space out side of the stadium or not, especially when the Riders have created a 'place to go' with using the practice grass (beside the stadium) to hold their version of a tailgate party. There really is nothing wrong with the Rider version of that party... especially when one considers that the Rider fans are having lots of fun as it is, so why mess with success... just so some campers can take up all the space with their private parties?

I was at a college game in Phoenix last year (ASU Sundevils 80,000 fans, and the tailgate was similar to the Riders. They had no campers, but they had designated spaces to go and gather and or to have some fun time and the cheerleaders visited to make everyone happy... similar to Regina... it works.

Anonymous said...

John Cornholeish is an A-hole!

I can't wait for the Rider fans to give it to him next time he is in town. The Rider fans should have pictures of him on their flashcards... Should not be hard to find a picture of an a**face and stick it on a sign.

--- John Corn'hole'ish---- A**face!----

And he took the record from Normie Kwong, a gentlemen who went on to become Lt Gov of the Prov of Alberta... quite a contrast in charachter that is for sure.

-------------

Three posts in a row, I think I will give it a rest now...

Kel in Victoria

Anonymous said...

Mr David Braley, dedication and long term commitment to the CFL Is what makes this football league currently possible.Viability precarious In some markets. 2013-14 season will be a challenge with the Hamilton Tiger Cats having no confirmed home field venue/venues for new upcoming schedule/Itinerary travel arrangement for all Involved. Question marks still pertaining to Ottawa franchise operations. Only positive Is a Grey Cup Championship game at Regina Saskatchewan. Mr Braley your contribution to this league are fully recognized and appreciated by this CFL fan, Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I thought the reason the Riders games are so well attended was because it was 'all we have.' Now that Calgary doesn't have the Flames, the Roughnecks don't start til January, the Hitmen still draw similar attendances to last year, ski/snowboard season JUST started, what's their excuse for not showing up even though they field an entertaining and successful team? Oh, yeah...they just don't care.

And it's not because they're represented by people like Lewis, Cornish and media members wishing death upon the Riders. Calgary-folk love to defend these people.

3RD and 1 said...

Is Rider Nation losing steam?
I would say with the inconsistant year of football from the Green and White on the field. That the fan base became just as inconsistant. If your fan base truly has a strong belief their team can pull off the win. They will come. I thought we might win the game. Then again I thought we could lose the game. There's that Inconsistancy again.
I sure hope the Riders make believers out of us again in 2013. They need to start the season strong. With the money they have in the bank. Taman and O'day need to bring in defensive players deep at every position. Especially in the secondary. With out a stellar defence. There is no hope in hell of winning the GC at home. Go Riders Go

Anonymous said...

Besides the Inconsistent year the Riders had, there are other Issues that have turned away some fans of this team. Alienating people by Imposing a stadium seat cap, there used to be a time when the Roughriders mantra was they would never turn away a fan who wanted to support/attend a game.Some people can not afford season tickets but still manage to take In the occasional football game whenever they can afford the pleasure of entertainment, seems like only the privileged catered to. Some people not happy with the hire of a gm with a overall losing record to his resume. Finally, the way the new stadium build was proposed and Imposed upon the general public of the City of Regina/Saskatchewan without consultation as to its design without year round multi purpose use by all who will be paying for many years Into a uncertain future. Part time venue unacceptable and Impractical, rethink this proposal and couver the roof.with more seating capacity. Is this league even viable for a long term Investment ? Roughriders currently viable, but not so long ago was holding telethons and begging for a dollar from anyone and everything just to stay afloat.Take note Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club, CFL, respect all who support this franchise that give It the honour of It's very existence.

Anonymous said...

Is the Rider Nation losing steam? YES!!! I drove in (three hours each way) to three games this year. I never saw a Rider home victory. Until the top end displays that they are interested in winning not just selling T-shirts fan interest will continue to drop. We've been three years looking for a rush end, that's pathetic and to expect everyone to stay hooked for that long is nothing short of presumptuous which essentially is an insult to the fans.

Veeseven

Anonymous said...

620 STSN (Saskatchewan TSN) has a nice sound to it.

Anonymous said...

Rod, seriously, trash talk Cornish for a month and then wonder why he won't acknowledge you?

Anonymous said...

The Rider Nation is for sure losing steam and it has nothing to do with the win/loss record. There can be all these comments about this so called new Saskatchewan, but at the end of the day this Province works one way. You keep your mouth shut, your ass up, and you work hard. You carry yourself in a humble manner. The Riders don't do that anymore, and frankly people want to see them knocked off their perch and realize they exist off a small ticket buying base at the end of the day. That base is getting alienated.

So Riders don't get above your raisin' and you'll get that support back. I can say this, when they get into the political arena right there that meant there will not be a single solitary nickel getting spent on Riders football for the time being.

Anonymous said...

Rod, your MOP vote is not hard. Cornish had 1400 yards rushing, good, not great in the context of league, didn't even lead league in yards from scrimmage because he can barely catch. That he broke Kwong's record (while playing 3 more games) is irrelevant to MOP vote. Owens, on the other hand, had 3800 yards, broke a more important record and was instant field position.