|The kids in my hometown know what's up even if some of the adults don't!|
1. NOT GOOD: On Sunday I was at my Aunt Jean's 95th birthday party in our hometown of Milestone, SK. (We both live in Regina now). Countless times on Sunday I was asked by my relatives, "What are you going to do now the Rider season is over?"
I got that guestion several times over the weekend. THE SEASON'S NOT OVER PEOPLE! The Riders still have three games remaining including this Saturday at home against the Edmonton Eskimos. What a disappointing scenario it will be if the Riders slide right out of peoples' conscience in the next month! Are people actually forgetting there are still three weeks to go before the off-season?
Another note: it would be great if the Roughriders produced birthday and anniversary cards. A Rider birthday card was the first thing that popped into my mind when I considered what to get my aunt for the occasion. However they don't exist, to my knowledge.
2. AUNT JEAN: Jean Nicholas is a Rider fan if there ever was one (she's been around almost as long as the franchise and is as sharp as a tack). I enjoy our visits and am always eager to get her take on the club. For instance, this summer she was particularly riled up at Corey Chamblin's comment that he "doesn't give a damn" what the fans think (or something of that nature). On Sunday I got her latest take on the Green & White and her comment was, "They fired the Coach and GM but nothing changed!"
That comment will take some further examination in the weeks ahead in this column and on our shows. Is she right?
3. GO BLUE: The Blue Bombers, Lions and Alouettes are all in the race for the final playoff spot but all those teams lost in Week 17. That prompted Montreal Gazette football writer Herb Zurkowsky to Tweet: "Do any of these teams want to make the playoffs?"
It certainly has turned into a turtle race to the finish line. Having examined this on our shows last week, we figure it'll be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who claim third spot in the West. That's based on their remaining schedule, and the talent on their roster compared to the other two. Plus they own the tiebreaker against BC.
Of course it could just add up to them being "road kill" in the western playoffs but at least it'll keep some hope alive for the 2015 Grey Cup game in Winnipeg and who knows -- maybe the Bombers will be a Cinderella story?
However I have no problem throwing my support behind the Blue Bombers. They've got some great people over there including Wade Miller, Drew Willy, Richie Hall and Bob Irving, just to name a few.
4 - THE TRADES: I was shocked at the anger that spilled out of the Rider Nation regarding last week's trades of Kevin Glenn to Montreal and Jerome Messam to Calgary. Some of the comments people said were, "How could they trade Messam when he was the only bright spot on the team?" or "How could they trade Messam for a kicker?"
Ahem. Were they not paying attention to GM Jeremy O'Day's explanation of the deals? Neither Glenn nor Messam were under contract past these final three games and the team wasn't confident they'd be able to re-sign them. Thus, they were dealt off in trades which acquired assets kicker Tyler Crapigna and a third round draft pick. Otherwise, the Riders might've ended up with nothing.
Regarding O'Day, he's making it awfully tough on the Roughriders not to name him full-time GM in December. Why? Because he's not making any mistakes. And he won't.
It was an honour Friday night to be called by the Prime Minister's office and asked to attend Stephen Harper's rally at the Regina Airport Sunday afternoon. I've taken some flak for supporting the Conservatives, but see nothing wrong with backing OUR PRIME MINISTER! Plus I was excited to hear he plans to lower the Small Business income tax rate from 13% down to 9%.
As far as mudslinging the other candidates goes, I don't get into that.
6 - ARRRRRRGOOOOOS: A palty 3401 fans turned out to Tim Hortons Field on Saturday to watch the Toronto Argonauts fall to the visiting Calgary Stampeders. Rogers and Rogers Centre have certainly given a stiff kick in the teeth to Toronto's football team, possibly booting them out of the stadium for their next home game as well.
How's that boycott of Rogers going anyway? Oh ya - LET'S GO BLUE JAYS!
7 - JAYS BANDWAGONERS: I just assumed all these people wearing Blue Jays gear in these parts were just like me; lifelong Jays fans who woke up from a 22-year slumber and dusted off their shirts and hats now that the team is relevant again. Apparently I was wrong? Turns out most of them don't know a Jose Bautista from a Carlos Delgado! Here's a sure-fire way to find out if one of them is in fact a bandwagon jumper: ask them where they can listen to Blue Jays radio broadcasts in this area. If they're stumped and don't say AM 1190 in Weyburn, you've exposed them.
Regarding Bautista's bat flip in Game 5 of the ALDS (which no one is talking about anymore), I see it no differently than a football player spiking a football. Let's move on.
8 - BLUE JAYS CUISINE: Riders Executive Chef Josh Robins was flown to Toronto to cook for the Blue Jays before Game 5 of the ALDS (which they won, 6-3 over Texas). Was he the lucky charm? We'll know if the Jays fly him out again this week with their backs against the wall.
9 - SHANIA: My wife dragged me along to Sunday's Shania Twain concert at the Brandt Centre. Truthfully I'd have preferred to stay home and watch Sunday Night Football and the NLCS but was I ever glad I went! Turns out I knew the words to every song. That had to be the third-loudest the old Agridome has ever been for a concert. The top three in my opinion are 1) Justin Bieber 2) Backstreet Boys and 3) Shania Twain. I don't count the KISS concert from a few years ago because that was just banging noise and barely any music could be deciphered.
10 - HOCKEY NOTES: In our text and Twitter poll on Thursday's SportsCage, a whopping 70% of listeners said they'd be watching the NHL that evening while 25% said MLB and only 5% voted for the NFL. It seems Regina - a long-standing Oilers town - is swept up in the McDavid hype with the Oilers. However it took until Saturday for them to finally get a win, a convincing 5-2 triumph over the Flames in Calgary in which Connor McDavid had three points ... You've got to think the Regina Pats are somewhat happy with their 5-5-0 start however they must be looking for some consistency. It's been win, lose, win, lose as of late including Sunday's 5-1 loss at Calgary. They tried to trick us by saying they'll be in tough with a young lineup this year but when they're clicking together, they score goals by the bushel. The Pats will be in the mix when all is said and done. Tuesday night the Pats are at Kootenay at 7:00 on 620 CKRM.
MONDAY GUEST COLUMN #1
THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF FOOTBALL
by Jarrett Rusnak
TORONTO – On Saturday, I sat in the hostile confines of Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Field, with 3,400 other fans, to take in the latest Toronto Argonaut ‘home’ game against the Calgary Stampeders.
We felt like a fight-to-the-death battle of ruination was unfolding before us, and it had nothing to do with a game of football that was taking place between two teams.
To my mind, it all began several months ago on May 19th.
On that day, long suffering Argo fans got the euphoric news that Larry Tanenbaum and Bell Media had agreed to purchase the Toronto Argonauts – and even better – the tandem announced the team would be relocated to a freshly renovated BMO Field in Exhibition Place, off the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario.
Unfortunately, they also announced that this transaction would not take place for another year. The Boatmen would have to endure the 2015 CFL season with all the verve of a prostate exam.
Fans understood the road ahead would be uncomfortable, but nobody anticipated how sharp a boot to the babymakers the season would actually become.
Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton was the fifth different stadium to host the Argonauts for a ‘home game’. The Argos have also taken on ‘visiting’ teams at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, SMS Equipment Stadium in Fort McMurray, and TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, to go along with their regular venue, Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Rogers Centre is owned by Rogers Communications, one of the largest media conglomerates in Canada, and bitter rival to one of the Argos’ new owners, Bell Media, an equally massive media conglomerate. It is worth noting that Rogers also owns the Toronto Blue Jays, while Bell owns TSN, the CFL television rights holder, and rival to Rogers Sportsnet.
So there we all were, 3,401 of us in the stands at Tim Horton’s Field, watching this Argo home game unfold, and many of us, speculating that something much more sinister was taking place. We were told that due to the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff run, the Toronto Argonauts would have to find some other stadium to play their home game in.
In an age when arenas and stadiums across North America are constantly being turned over to accommodate multiple sports, at times with only a few hours’ turn-around, why couldn’t Rogers Centre be made available? The Jays weren’t even playing in the same city!
Many have expressed the notion that given the corporate rivalries involved, it would not be hard to imagine that Rogers is committed to the destruction of the Toronto Argonauts and the Canadian Football League by extension. This may or may not be true, but as I sat there in the stands, mingling with an assortment of die-hard Argo fans, and hostile Ti-Cat fans, it certainly felt that way.
Late in the forth quarter, the stadium announcer was met with a hale of boos when he informed us that Friday’s upcoming Argo ‘home’ game would again take place at Tim Horton’s Field.
More than anything, there’s a sense that in the long run, everything is going to be alright. In a few weeks’ time, 2015 will be over, and Argo fans can get something they haven’t had in decades – a proper football stadium, with proper football sight lines, and solid ownership committed to the team’s long term future.
On the drive home I tuned the radio to the Jays’ game. Things seems to be going well until the 7th inning hit.
Ain’t karma a bitch.
Jarrett Rusnak is Creator and Executive Producer of The Riderville Radio Sitcom. Visit www.RidervilleRadioSitcom.com to download a free episode.
MONDAY GUEST COLUMN #2
By: Chris Pollon
My brother asked me to put together a top 10 list for memorable games at Mosaic Stadium/Taylor Field. I don’t think he imagined I’d put a bit of effort into it. Here you go….
10. Tie …… Personal Memories
Two distinct memories I have of attending games at Mosaic/Taylor Field:
1st …….. the first game taking both boys together, Isaac and Jackson, in 2003………Isaac was 2 ½ and Jackson about 15 months. I didn’t have a sitter and Robyn was out of town so I took the boys. Our tickets were still in the University Section but everyone was incredible around us. There wasn’t any negative feedback at all. I was 25 years old and really, barely knew what I was doing as a parent on a day to day basis. The guy shooting the mini yellow footballs up into the crowd spotted me and shot two consecutive balls up to us! Just a great experience!
What was I supposed to do …….. just miss the game??
2nd …….. when I was young (between 7-10 years old), I use to go to games with Dad but he didn’t have an extra seat up where his season tickets were so I use to sit on the grass in the southeast end zone (yes, by myself!). I remember crazy Labour Day games and cheering on Gainer to beat the crap out of those “Two Birds” from the Peg!
9. September 18, 2005 - Omar Morgan saves the day!
I can clearly picture fans leaving the stadium as Edmonton drove the field during the last two minutes into field goal range. It looked like just another heartbreaking loss us Riders fans had gotten used to……..but not today…….. Omar Morgan came around the right end to dive and block the last second FG attempt and send us Sec 28 crazies into hysterics! NUTS! Riders 37 Esks 36.
8. June 25, 2005 – Cory Holmes starts the year with a bang!
This game was delayed because of a thunderstorm that rolled through the Queen City right before game time. After a few pre-game sodas’ with Ryan, in the Gabbo’s parking lot, we made our way to the stadium and just got to our seats right as the Bombers kicked off. Cory Holmes was more than ready for the start of this season as he took the ball all the way back for a return TD.
I really see this year the start of the “boom” for the increase in fans as you could see the Riders getting better and the talent was better than we had seen in years. #Schivers #Nealon #Schultz #Morgan #Makowsky #Holmes #Nate #Hunt #KK. (We were only a couple pieces away….which would come in two years)
7. September 1, 2002 – Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!
I think all 30,220 fans in attendance at the LDC believed the Riders were about to get an a##-kicking as 4th string QB Rocky Butler made his first career start for the men in green! These were the Bombers I grew up hating ……Charlie Roberts, Mike Sellers, Doug Brown, Milt Stegall, Troy Westwood etc.
To everyone’s surprise, Rocky ran all over the Bombers scoring three rushing TD’s and leading the Riders to a 33-19 victory.
One interesting thing I recall is this was Isaac’s first game (he was covering his ears the whole time…..poor kid) and we sat on the West side. Dad was with us. I didn’t sit on the West side again until the 2013 Grey Cup game.
6. August 18, 2007 – BLACKOUT!
This game will always be remembered for the thunderstorm that delayed the game for over an hour in the 3rd quarter. At least half the fans had left because of the storm and also because the Riders were losing at that point.
I can remember standing in the rain as Eddie Rabbitt’s hit “I Love a Rainy Night” pumped through the Mosaic Stadium speakers when a lightning strike killed the lights and power leaving the stadium in total darkness. Robyn, the boys and myself waited underneath the stands, out of the rain, for a while until Robyn took the boys home as it wasn’t the safest place to be at the moment as all fans were pushing to get out of the storm.
When the game was almost ready to resume, the atmosphere was beyond incredible. There were only about 10k fans left from the sold-out crowd but the “Go Riders Go” chants seemed louder than 28,800 could make!! I just knew when we got the wind back in the 4th quarter, we would win! Guaranteed! Sure enough…..12 unanswered fourth quarter points! #KJ #DJ #MattD
Crazy memory was seeing Eric Tillman waving a Rider flag on the sidelines late in the game!
Thinking back to this game gives me chills. Unreal!!
5. July 1, 2010 – Canada Day Comeback!
This game was nuts! A rematch from the 2009 13th man GC loss.
Riders were down 33-12 with four minutes to play in the 3rd quarter before storming back to send this game to OT. It was 40-40 end of regulation time. An incredible offensive display by both teams.
A few plays to remember from overtime …….. the Riders were called for 13 men again to give Montreal another chance at a TD, which they scored, followed by SJ Green’s catch of the year converting the 2-point convert attempt.
In the second “mini-game”, Dressler had two diving catches, the second was the game winning TD!!
This was one of the best CFL games of all-time!! #Calvillo #DD #SJ #Bagg #Dressler
4. September 2, 2007 – KJ’s Labour Day!
Just another classic on Labour Day. I think we all knew we had a good team but this was the game that really made us believe we had something special with Kerry Joseph at QB and Kent Austin as our Head Coach.
Bomber receiver Derrick Armstrong torched us in this game.
Little known Rider receiver Mike Washington had a big day, including a TD. Did he ever play another game for us? Ha.
The Riders drove the field in the last minute to set up a game winning Luca Congi FG but KJ had other ideas…….with 12 seconds to go, Joseph called his own number running a 27 yard draw play to the house! Riders win 31-26!
3. November 10, 2013 – DD puts team on his back!!
The Riders finished in 2nd place and hosted the BC Lions in the West Semi-Final.
It was cold for this one and honestly for three quarters, there wasn’t a lot to cheer about. Chris Milo was money, going 5/5.
Lions RB Ian Logan ran all over us.
The 4th quarter will go down, at least for me, as one of the greatest individual performances by a Rider player ever. Durant just willed us to victory. He wasn’t going let his teammates or the fans down!
I believe he had 100 yards rushing in the 2nd half which included three incredible runs in the 4th quarter, all for crucial first downs and the last to seal the win with 70 seconds to go.
For me …….this game (and the two games that followed) really put DD up in the Ronnie and George category for all-time Rider players.
I remember walking out of the stadium following this game and I was actually nervous and worried but for a weird reason. I knew we would win in Calgary the next week, I just knew it, I was soo sure of it……..but the reason I was nervous was because I didn’t have a ticket for the Grey Cup! WTF was I thinking?!?!
2. November 11, 2007 – First Home Playoff Game!!
I’ll always remember this game as one of the best moments! I have chills and goose bumps just thinking back……..and not because it was about -10 outside!!
First home playoff game for me and the first in 20 years for the Riders!
This was the loudest game in the history of Mosaic Stadium / Taylor Field, no question. Thundersticks and rabid fans that had been waiting for this moment ….. some, their whole lives.
Waiting for the Riders to enter the “stage” was almost indescribable. “Bring Em Out”. Crazy loud!
On the second play of the game, Joseph hit DJ Flick for a 62 yard FG! What a start! Deafening in there!
We punished Burris most of the game and if not for a 110 yard interception return & blocked punt by the Stamps, we would have blew them out.
Final was 26-24 Riders. This game puts a big smile on my face!! Great win and experience!
1. November 24, 2013 – 101st Grey Cup @ Mosaic Stadium!
No surprise. No brainer. Cup champs on our own turf!
Thanks to my brother for securing me a ticket following the West final victory in Calgary.
The one thing I’ve always said about this game was I wish I could repeat the whole day over again. It was such a blur…..almost an ‘out of body’ experience.
We absolutely punished the Ti-Cats but I remember standing by myself under the stands at the half, it’s 31-6 Riders, and I’m basically praying that we would close this out. I don’t know if I could handle being let down by this team again. It’s not that I didn’t believe in this team, I absolutely did BELIEVE but I was scared. Honestly scared!! I was shaking. I couldn’t even carry on a conversation with folks around me.
Late in the 4th quarter, now knowing we were going to do it! We were the champs! Such relief! Tears of joy! Finally!
Last memory ……… on the field following the game and I see my brother from 30 yards away running towards us ….. a big hug and an emotional embrace! I’ll never forget!
Well, that’s all I got. I’m drained now. It’s hard to explain being a fan of this team and re-telling games at the old girls place on 1910 Piffles Taylor Way.
It will be like moving out of the house someone grew up in their whole life!!
One more year!!