Thursday, October 15, 2015
RAPID FIRE NOTES
1 - CUE THE REBUILD: When did the term "rebuild" become such a swear word in professional sports? Clearly that's the direction of the Saskatchewan Roughriders after they dealt off veterans Kevin Glenn and Jerome Messam on Wednesday however no one wants to say it. No team ever wants to use that term anymore for fear of angering the fanbase and having them throw their hands up in disgust. Rider GM Jeremy O'Day said on Wednesday's SportsCage that he prefers the term "refocus" however he chuckled, "you can call it whatever you want."
Callers and texters into the SportsCage on Wednesday said they universally support a rebuild, since the club is coming off a decade of decadence and want to be at full steam moving into the new stadium. These fans appear to be more patient than perhaps the club thought. Are you willing to be patient during a rebuild? Please vote in the poll on the left side of the page.
2 - A PLAN IN PLACE: Somewhere over the years I heard the phrase, "If you're not selling wins you'd better be selling hope". Clearly the Riders are selling hope now, providing a glimpse at young quarterbacks Brett Smith, Keith Price and Hutson Mason. They're also going to work stockpiling draft picks and moving up in the draft. O'Day admitted on Wednesday that their Canadian talent needs an upgrade. The team wasn't rebuilding with the likes of Jamel Richardson, Taj Smith or even Glenn and Messam. It seems the prior regime favoured bandaid "fixes" in order to get them back to the Grey Cup ASAP. Obviously the season-ending injury to Darian Durant in Week 1 derailed that plan and by then it was already too late.
Had a disagreement with a Rider fan Wednesday morning who said the team should trade Darian Durant. I contended that Darian is the "soul of the franchise" but the guy shot back with "No he's not". Consider this: the Riders haven't won a road game in over a year since Durant's injury in the 2014 Banjo Bowl. He's everything to this team.
3 - AN OPPORTUNITY MISSED: The CFL's weekly Game Notes package suggests that only six or seven wins may be needed for a West Division club to get into the playoffs. The last time a team with that low of a win total got into the playoffs was the 7-11 Calgary Stampeders in 2007. However they didn't last long, getting upended 26-24 in Saskatchewan in the Western Semifinal.
4 - HENNNNNNNRRRRYYYYYYY: 40-year old quarterback Henry Burris is turning back the clock and is the frontrunner to be named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in 2015. Smilin' Hank is poised to become just the second Ottawa quarterback in history to lead the CFL in passing (the first and only was Russ Jackson in 1969).
Burris also leads the Shaw Fans Choice Player voting at CFL.ca, which is football's version of hockey's Molson Cup (points for 3-Star selections). Oddly enough the only Roughrider in the Top 10 of this race is linebacker Macho Harris.
Found this while perusing the Rider record book this week: Steve Sarkisian led the Roughriders in passing in 1999 (my first season with the team). Haven't stopped thinking about Sark after he was fired by USC on Monday and immediately checked into treatment. Fingers crossed for him.
5 - ON THE VERGE OF A RECORD: The Roughriders have already tied a CFL record by losing seven games by four-points-or-less this year. It would be great if they could eak out one more and have the record all to themselves, thus immortalizing this season as one of "tough luck".
6 - RIDER TICKET PRICES ON THE RISE: A few fans have bemoaned the fact ticket prices are going up in 2016. However the most-expensive Rider ticket will be $80.50, which is cheaper than every other team in the CFL. I'm a season ticket holder, but will gladly plunk down the dough when you see the new stadium being built and a clear plan in place on the football side. This franchise is worth it.
7 - THE NAME GAME: There will be a vote between October 19-23 on a new nickname for the University of North Dakota's sports teams. The choices are: Nodaks, Sundogs, Roughriders, Fighting Hawks and North Stars. 82,000 voters are elligible and they consist of UND students, faculty, staff, retirees and alumni. How do you feel about sharing our name with Scott Schultz's and Weston Dressler's alma mater?
8 - OKAY BLUE JAYS: What's going on with Canada's (blue) Team is truly sensational. The Toronto Blue Jays clinched their ALDS with a 6-3 victory over Texas in the deciding Game 5 on Wednesday. The game was wringing with drama and had staggering TV ratings. Kudos to Weyburn's AM 1190 for carrying Blue Jays radio broadcasts for all these years and on Wednesday's Jays Talk postgame show, host and back-up Jays play-by-play man Mike Willner gushed on CFSL, "We've been waiting so long for this!" It's such a feel-good story, but remember they still need eight more wins to capture the World Series.
ESPN's Tim Kurkjian told Sportscenter this morning the incident where catcher Russell Martin's throwback to the mound hit Shin-Soo Choo's bat, scoring the go-ahead run, was something never before seen in well over 100 years of baseball! And the homeplate ump screwed up. It's why we love sports! You never know what's going to happen.
As always, the Jays' postgame celebration was over-the-top but at this point I'm not going to criticize them. They've earned it, so let them have their fun. However the baseball mentality continues to be strange. Don't give me this "They've worked hard over a gruelling 162-game schedule and they're just letting off some steam!" Football and hockey players work hard everyday too, and I'd submit their road is even harder because they're practicing most days rather than playing games. As the great Kenny Miller once said, "Players will tell you they get paid to practice, but would play the games for free". Meanwhile $20,000,000 man Mark Buerhle remains the Jays' biggest cheerleader.
9 - LOCAL FOOTBALL: The PFC's Regina Thunder are headed to the playoffs and host the Calgary Colts in a PFC semifinal Sunday at 1:00 pm in a game which will be shown live on Access 7. Thunder coach Scott MacAulay figures the 2015 Thunder are a better team than the one which captured the 2013 Canadian Bowl. We'll know over the course of the next few weeks ... Meanwhile down on Compete Street, the U of R Rams field, Mike Gibson's Rams are coming off a bye and host the Manitoba Bisons Saturday at 4:00 pm on Access 7. At 0-5, Gibson said he's already making plans for next year and that includes much more time in the weight room. "We need to get much bigger and stronger," Gibson told us on 620 CKRM in his weekly radio appearance on Tuesday ... Here's a thought for Canada West football: ALL games should be televised. These football programs don't survive off ticket revenue so why not expose their product to television viewers at every opportunity? I've been able to catch over half of the Rams games on TV this year whereas I might not have even seen one game otherwise. It would be a great recruiting tool and would greatly enhance the CFL prospects' profiles in advance of the yearly CFL Canadian College Draft. Who wouldn't have wanted the opportunity to see Nic Demski in all his games at the University of Manitoba?
10 - STOP WITH THE MCDAVID TALK!: The hype surrounding Connor McDavid is far more over-the-top than Major League Baseball clinching celebrations. TSN's SportsCentre opened Tuesday night's show with McDavid's first career NHL goal in Dallas while the Blue Jays were on the verge of the biggest game for the franchise in 22 years!!!! The goal wasn't anything special either. Just let the kid play ... How about those Arizona Coyotes? The pups are destroying everything in their path, led by inspired goaltending from Mike Smith who's coming off one of the worst seasons of his career (14-47) ... Where was Sportsnet's Wednesday Night Hockey last night? ... TSN and Sportsnet are still behind Fox's NHL telecasts where they display the Shots On Goal right next to the graphic of the score in the top corner of your screen. It's great when you flip a game on for a minute and want to get the essence of the game. Perhaps Canada's networks are too stubborn to implement an American innovation ... The top tidbit I learned from watching hours of NHL games this week came during Tuesday's Vancouver-L.A. game on Fox. Did you know the Sutter farm near Viking, AB didn't have electricity until 1967? ... A bit late on this one, but congratulations to Regina's own Rich Preston who's been hired as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks ... The Regina Pats saw their three-game win streak snapped with a 6-4 loss in Lethbridge Wednesday night. The Hurricanes are said to be dangerous this year. Apparently the game was on Shaw. Who knew? Not everyone's on Twitter. Regina (4-4-0) visits the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night at 7:00 on 620 CKRM.
THAT'S IT! THANKS FOR STOPPING BY