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Monday, December 14, 2015

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Here's the photoblog we promised from the just-completed SportsCage/Marlin Travel Ultimate Sports Trip V to Miami followed by the regular Monday morning notebook you've come to know as the MMG.  Thanks to all 46 SportsCage listeners who came along as well as Marlin Travel's Terry Kaszas who did another AMAZING job of organizing and selling the excursion!  In the above photo, you see the home of the Miami Dolphins and the site of tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Dolphins and the New York Giants.


The tailgating was well underway hours before the 1:00 pm ET kickoff last Sunday, and was populated by thousands of Ravens fans ...



Here's a tour from around SunLife Stadium, which has gone by several names since its construction in 1986.



The original owner of the Dolphins, South Dakotan Joe Robbie after which the stadium was named 30 years ago.



The Dolphins Hall of Fame features plenty of franchise greats considering they're celebrating their 50th season.  Coach Don Shula is the most famous of them all, leading the Dolphins to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1972 and 1973 and the famed perfect season of '72.

A lot of those alumni still live on the same street in Miami and are keeping a close eye on the 13-0 Carolina Panthers of 2015.  Whenever an NFL team's perfect season ends, those alumni meet in the street and pop a bottle of champagne to toast the 1972 team.  True story.



A fun area for kids to run football drills with Dolphins staff ...


The famed Dolphins cheerleaders ...



This is that farmer from Kipling, SK, Brett, whom I wrote about in the column last week ...



It seems every week in the NFL is like a Grey Cup and it's no exception in Miami...


Learn about the Dolphins here, and get photos and autographs with the Dolphins cheerleaders ...



The doors open to NFL stadiums two hours prior to kickoff and we went down to the field to survey the goings-on.  It was a treat to study the goings-on, examine who enters the field and when, and what they do while they're out there ...



We often hear the NFL isn't "fan-friendly" but these photos will prove otherwise.  Here, one Ravens player stops to sign autographs before warming up ...


Ever seen a coach stop to take selfies with fans before a game?  Baltimore's John Harbaugh did just that last Sunday ...



Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman chats with an NFL-type.  This was as close was we could get to Marc ...


Super fans from both teams...



Another appearance by the Dolphins cheerleaders ...


Field level luxury boxes are all-the-rage in new or newly-renovated NFL stadiums.  You have to wonder if boxes like these will be incorporated into the New Mosaic Stadium?  $$$$$$$$$$$$  They were a part of the recent stadium renovation in Miami ...


The Dolphins take to the field for the 1:00 pm ET kickoff ...



Game action ...


Another staple of new stadiums are the many areas for fans to congregate and watch the games.  Teams aren't concerned with fans staying in their seats any more.  They'd prefer you get up, mingle, and above all, spend money ...



Too much of the "Devil Juice", to quote my friend Johnny Athens ...



Another area for fans to visit...



One thing we don't have in Saskatchewan:  acres upon acres of parking space...



A great shot of SunLife Stadium.  You'll remember it used to have orange seats but Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross forked over hundreds of millions of his own money a few years back to modernize the facility ...  One thing struck me -- the Dolphins have sucked forever but dear Lord do their fans love that team!  It seems they're still riding the cache earned from back-to-back Super Bowl wins over 40 years ago ...


Another area for fans to mill about and watch the game ...



A shot from behind our hotel, an hour north of downtown Miami in Deefield Beach, FL ...



The sun broke out for a few days during our trip, and it was fantastic as the temperature reached nearly 30 degrees Celsius ...



The Atlantic Ocean.  But the waters were shark-infested and a Hammerhead made an appearance just off the nearby pier.  Some of our SportsCagers were fishing and snapped a photo of the beast ...



The area around our hotel ... Very nice.


Monday night we headed to downtown Miami to catch the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards at American Airlines Center.  The game was soldout ...



Miami sports teams seem to be ahead of the curve as it pertains to sales and marketing.  Each gate is sold to a sponsor.  Mental note ...



It's a party atmosphere with red lighting on all concourses at AAC ...


Want a party?  Bring in a deejay.  NBA games always provide the best "show" or game day presentation ...



Tip-off ...


Expensive yachts float right behind the American Airlines Center.  This one features a helicopter pad on one end ...


Ready to go alligator hunting in the Everglades?  Justin is going to be our tour guide ...



Our mode of transportation ...


We saw nine alligators on this excursion.  After three days of rain and cloud, these fellas were excited to come out and sunbathe ...


A seven-footer ...


One of our drivers and the owner of D-And-J Transportation: "Mike".  I learned a lot about the area from this guy ...



The BB&T Centre, home of the NHL's Florida Panthers ...


The Panthers brought in a deejay too, but the party fizzled.  Spits of rain didn't help ...


You can learn all about the Panthers' 22-year history in this museum on the concourse.  And there was plenty of room to move around ...



Get your Panthers merchandise!  The selection was fairly picked-over and didn't have a lot of sizes ...



Didn't know Roger Neilson was a reporter?


Here's the view from our seats for Tuesday's Florida-Ottawa game.  For $99 you can get a game ticket in a huge lounge with all-inclusive food and beverages ... Also, the Panthers don't sell or hand-out programs however game notes are provided to all season ticket holders.  That's a nice touch.


And finally, most of the group gathered for a shot on the second-last day.  Thanks to all who came along and also thanks for being such faithful listeners to the SportsCage on 620 CKRM!

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MONDAY NOTEBOOK

1. THE LAST WORD:  As is usually the case, near the end of the trip talk started to circulate about where we'll venture for the SportsCage/Marlin Travel Ultimate Sports Trip VI next year.  Chicago, Nashville and New Orleans all came up but it seems many would consider doubling back to Phoenix or Dallas (so far we've visited Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Southern California and now Miami).

For the first time we didn't broadcast the SportsCage while on the trip and that's probably a good thing considering all of the Roughriders news that was breaking back home.  The primary reason for the lack of a show was that a budget wasn't built-in for a co-host and I wasn't too interested in doing 2 1/2 hours alone each day from a sports bar.  Plus if we were to do lots of phone interviews, I can't host the show and operate a sound system all at the same time.  Maybe next year we'll be able to drag along a co-host.

2. ONTO THE RIDERS:  We were back home in time for 620 CKRM's annual Christmas Party in the Harvard Broadcasting Green & White Lounge at Mosaic Stadium Saturday night.  Our owner Paul Hill addressed the crowd and when he mentioned the hiring of Chris Jones as Head Coach & GM of the Roughriders, he got a huge ovation.  The applause continued when Paul announced plans to hold next year's Christmas Party in the New Mosaic Stadium.

Those cheers for Chris Jones Saturday night seemed to be a small sample of what the entire Rider Nation is feeling right now after last week's news.  As the Leader Post's Murray McCormick said on a podcast last week, "It's like the 3-15 season never even happened".

The Jones Regime hasn't won - or lost - a game yet but the feeling across the CFL seems to be that the 2016 Roughriders will automatically be considered favourites or front-runners.  A lot of that will depend on how the roster takes shape, and we'll get into that further down.

2016 will be the Farewell Season at the old Mosaic Stadium and Rider fans expect to send the old girl out with a bang!  The positive vibes emanating from 1910 Piffles Taylor Road are endless.

As one patron on the SportsCage trip said last week, "I think the Riders will destroy everything in their path next year".

Amazingly, other than last week's hiring of Chris Jones, there have been no subsequent announcements by Canada's Team.  CFL Insiders like Arash Madani and Gary Lawless have reported John Murphy is jumping to Saskatchewan from Calgary and Jones is luring his entire Edmonton coaching staff to the 306 but not one single thing has been confirmed by the club.

That's not to say it hasn't happened though, as one of those coaches contacted me last week about accomodations for the 2016 CFL season.

I expect over the new few days these moves will be confirmed along with, hopefully, an announcement on what role Jeremy O'Day will fulfill with the Roughriders moving forward.

And when the music stops on this wild game of Musical Chairs within the CFL coaching fraternity, one has to wonder if Jacques Chapdelaine will have a spot to sit down.  I'm told the Riders' 2015 Offensive Coordinator and his son Justin (Riders Offensive Assistant) have cleaned out their offices at Mosaic Stadium however their names haven't been linked to any job openings in the league as of yet.

3. TRAITOROUS CHRIS JONES:  The way the Edmonton Eskimos have handled Chris Jones' departure has been classy including GM Ed Hervey's assertion last week that no compensation is necessary.  Hervey told reporters Jones fulfilled his obligations by delivering a Grey Cup championship and the Eskimos will not be a franchise that "holds people back".

However the Edmonton media has been lambasting the new Coach & GM of the Riders, including a column in the Edmonton Sun by Graham Hicks over the weekend which featured the headline: "Good Riddance To The Traitorous Chris Jones".

The whole article comes across like a Facebook post from a jilted lover however if you dig deeper, Hicks made some great points.  He mentioned that the Eskimos gave Chris Jones his first opportunity to be a head coach after 10 years in the league and he paid them back by jumping ship at the first, and best, opportunity elsewhere.

Hicks likened it to several employers who put time and money into training employees - and giving them a chance - only to leave them holding the bag.

That, I get.  Especially after talking with several business operators over the past few years who've been left high and dry and forced to continually mine the field for staff.  Hicks writes, "Jones is representative of a disturbing new business ethos taking root through the modern world.  In contemporary culture in general, in business particularly, it has become all-about-me."

However on the flipside, for anyone who's ever been oppressed or "held back", you have to silently pump your fist in support of Jones.

Dynasties in sports are a thing of the past.  Coaches and players in all leagues are "cashing in" when they have the opportunity and their stock is high.  It's no longer satisfactory to see how many consecutive championships you can win with your franchise.  It truly has become all-about-me.

And you can hardly blame them.  Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman are examples of the other side of the coin, being shown the door when times are bad.

"Get while the getting's good" is the new mantra in sports.

I can see both sides, and that's why I thought Hicks' column was excellent even if I don't agree in the case of Chris Jones.

4. ALL THE RAGE:  You're going to be hearing a lot of the term "compensation" in the days and weeks ahead.  In the business world, compensation generally comes in the form of money but in sports it's players and/or draft picks.  NHL GM's voted last week to do away with compensation for fired-employees who join other teams while they're still being paid out the term of their deals.  That's completely understandable and actually surprising that the policy was still in place.

However there's an entirely separate phenomenon going on in the CFL and it's at the forefront right now.  While Ed Hervey doesn't feel the Eskimos are due compensation for Chris Jones being plucked away by Saskatchewan, the Ottawa RedBlacks reportedly are after some sort of compensation for the Edmonton Eskimos stealing their Offensive Coordinator Jason Maas to be their next Head Coach.

Everybody seems to have a different take on this so here's mine:  if said coach or personnel-type is offered a promotion in terms of job title and salary from a rival team, then he should be free to go.  It seems black and white to me.

Where it gets gray is a case like Stampeders Assistant GM John Murphy reportedly heading to Saskatchewan for a manufactured title.  At this point we don't know what title or salary Murphy has agreed to with the Roughriders but that may all get sorted out this week.

Stamps GM John Hufnagel doesn't seem to mind however, as he's reportedly already hired his son Cole away from the New York Jets to replace Murphy.

It figures to be a very interesting time ahead.

5. THE PLAYERS:  The Riders will get through this wave of coaching announcements and before long (maybe even before Christmas) we'll start to hear which players from 2015 will be invited back while others are set free.  While Chris Jones coffee'd with buddies and enjoyed family time in South Pittsburg, Tennessee late last week, you have to know he was making a list in the back of his mind.

Several Rider fans have asked about the status of quarterback Darian Durant and how it may change.  Many have asked if he'll be asked to take a paycut from his nearly half-a-million dollar salary and for that, I have no answer.

Perhaps he will be asked, but I don't expect it to happen for two reasons: 1) The mismanagement over the past couple of seasons isn't Durant's fault and 2) In any discussions with Chris Jones that I've had regarding Durant over the past few years, Jones has had nothing but the utmost respect for Darian as a player and as a competitor.  I recall Jones saying Darian is nearly impossible to defend when "he's on".

Now, you could rightfully bring up Darian's injury history in 2014 and 2015 but it's no different than other top-flight CFL quarterbacks like Travis Lulay, Drew Willy and Ricky Ray.  There's no reason to expect Durant won't be allowed to play out the duration of his current deal and see what the scenario is when it's time to renew.

As far as the other players go, it figures to be an uneasy Christmas.  Murray McCormick has a nice article in today's Leader Post quoting Weston Dressler about the angst the players are feeling right now.  Really no one knows where they stand.

But they'll know soon.

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THAT'S ALL!  SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4:00 PM
RP
@sportscage

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod, love the pictures of the trip. Wish I could've went! Regarding John Murphy and the subject of compensation for his lateral move to the Riders....I read somewhere that his contract with the Stamps was up on December 31st which would explain why he was available to come here for a similar position.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your blog but really hate all your vacation pictures

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your blog and really love all your vacation pictures.

Imagirl

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great trip. Go Dolphins!

Don Mitchell said...

Looks like a lot of empty seats at the Panthers-Sens game and at the Dolphins - Ravens game. Were all those people in the fan friendly areas mingling?

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Acres & acres of parking stalls? What do they know that we don't? We'll have "the nicest stadium in North America" but no where to park to attend it.
But, don't worry right? Parking, shmarking

Anonymous said...

The Eskimos gave Chris Jones his first shot at being a head coach and he bolts after two years. The Riders gave Kent Austin his first shot at being a head coach and he bolted after one year. What's the difference?

Anonymous said...

I read a report way back when they were looking at the new stadium in Hamilton. It looked at 10 of the last built stadiums in North America 6 were successful or at least not money losers. The only real difference between the 6 that were good and the 4 that were not, was inexpensive access to the stadium. Either with parking (Which the team could generate revenue). Or public transport which was accessible, safe and easy to get to and from the stadium. Although the exhibition grounds won't be the easiest to get in and out of, at least there is some parking there. The Bar district would have been a disaster.
Ultimately the most best location would have been somewhere that you could got either direction with out lights or crossing lanes so traffic and come and go without stopping. Or a Calgary style light rail that people can hop on and off of to get to the events.

Anonymous said...

Too many pics today RP. You had a good time and yes we see that, but by the time I got to the meat of the column, I was ready to move on.

Rod Pedersen said...

I'll be sure to check with you next time.

Anonymous said...

Game day water management and delivery. Why do I get the impression that this position will be occupied by a former player once John Murphy starts managing the riders?

mister winnipeg said...

I love the photoblogs from your trips, Rod. Don't listen to the haters.

On Miami, ever notice that the more amazing the city, the less their fans really care about sports? Miami, LA, NYC... I mean there are enough people there to keep the teams in the black financially, but they don't have the passion, know what I mean? Look at the Dolphins, they actually removed thousands of seats from Dolphins Stadium because the Dolphins can't fill the thing anymore. Don't even ask about The U and their "crowds". The Panthers draw fewer fans than the Pats, the Marlins play in front of no one, and the Heat are at least respectable but just a shadow of what they were in their Lebron championship days. I guess it's hard to blame people in South Florida for staying away when there is so much else to do.

And as for Chris Jones, isn't he just doing what athletes and coaches have been doing in Edmonton for decades? Win big and then get the hell out of E-town as fast as humanly possible? LOL

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the pictures of the trip, it's neat to see other professional stadiums. Thanks for all of the work you put into this blog, I appreciate it

Mike

JackD83 said...

I liked the pics even though I was on the trip! A great time was had by all. The Ottawa game had 10K people while Washington had about 12K all in a arena that holds 18K. And yes Rod us fins fans are a passionate group! I've got pics of the massive tail gate at sin life stadium.. Monday nighter tonight Go Dolphins!! See you next year!

Anonymous said...

So on Friday, you mentioned Obama was dead. Would you like to share with us now who Obama was since he is dead?

Anonymous said...

So on Friday, you mentioned Obama was dead. Would you like to share with us now who Obama was since he is dead?

Alex said...

"I'll be sure to check with you next time"


Hahahahahaha. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

i like the pics thanks

Anonymous said...

Funny ! The Pats got beat by the Saskatoon Blades on the week end but not a word said here. On the other hand if the Pats would have won we would be reading how great they are doing this year as usual.

Anonymous said...

In regards to #3 . . . there is an old adage in business. It's better to train an employee and lose them, then to not train them and keep them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the many empty seats seen so often in many NFL and NHL cities reflect the reality of high ticket prices and the ongoing decline of the middle class in the US.

Anonymous said...

That reporter from Edmonton is out to lunch. Of course its all about me, when employers starting showing loyalty them maybe the employee will also. Just ask the 1000's that have been let go from the oil company's in the last month or so. Not much loyalty there. Companies only see to the next 1/4.

Anonymous said...

Hey Riders fans you can't be that stupid to ask what's the difference between Austins situation and trader Jones situation Austin went to American college route and trader Jones went to the division rival and perennial losers Sask whiners

Anonymous said...

Bye bye .... Dressler, Chick, George, Getz, Harris, Maze, Hall, TBrack, TJack, Best, Allen, etc.

Brand new team next year.

mister winnipeg said...

I don't even think it's a matter of the declining middle class so much as it is an issue of high ticket prices.

When I was a kid, tickets to Jets and Bombers games ranged from the same price as a movie ticket to maybe 8x the price of a movie ticket for the very best seats. Now the cheapest seats start at about 3x the price of a movie ticket for the Bombers and 5x the price of a movie ticket for the Jets. And they only go up from there, into the hundreds of dollars. Regular season games just aren't worth it. Factor in the extra time to allow for the crazy security routines, and it makes more sense to sit at home and watch on TV.

Honestly, unless someone else is paying for your tickets it's getting harder to justify the ever increasing expense.

Jaydon said...

Awesome blog today. Loved the pictures. Gonna be a fun offseason. Looking forward to Rider Monday today.

Anonymous said...

"the dolphins have sacked forever but dear Lord their fans love their team" kind of reminds me of a green Saskatchewan team who has 4 championships in 103 years. Dolphins have 2 championships in 50 years so they are on the same pace!

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling snarky this morning so here goes:

When you were a kid everything was cheaper moron. Terrible comment annon above.

Rod, great pics. Fantastic really, if someone doesn't like em shut the f up because you are a complete idiot who doesn't understand what a blog is. You want straight news go somewhere else you idiot.

And to the retarded anon above saying there is a diff in Jones and Austin, sorry, there isnt a diff, both left for a better opportunity that they wanted, shut it, you sound like a whiney Saskatoonian.

And Rod didn't mention the Pats because he wasn't here you complete f'ing baffoon who actually does hail from the whiniest most yuppy based city in the world.... Stoon. You guys all think you deserve stuff you don't deserve like an NHL or CFL team or a life. You are all on a high horse but for what reason? You have water that you can't swim in? Or because you have a bridge or two? Wooooooooooooo. So amazing you are with your bridge.

Incase nobody has figured it out yet Obama is John Gormley. Sorry Roddy, I had to spill the beans.

Randy the Rocket from Raymore

Anonymous said...

To the anon above, you should know that both Rod and Blair loathe Saskatoon, and it would pain them greatly to report a win by the Blades over the Pats.

Anonymous said...

Obama isn't dead. I saw him this weekend!

Anonymous said...

The EE's fan base reaction is just priceless.

WOW what a bunch of whiners. This is just too funny.

Keep up the good work Rod.

Newt from YQR.

Anonymous said...

The Pat's Blades write up had it's own post, no need to repeat in the Monday morning post. I guess it should have been the lead off story because the Blades beat a Regina team for the first time in 2 years.
Randy the Rocket has toon town figured out.

Anonymous said...

RP.COM obuma tapped out? Nut licking brown noser finally got a job. Geeze I'd like to kick him around some more.

From the engine that drives In the 306, V8.

Anonymous said...

Obama isn't Gormley, nor is he dead. Him and Rod had a falling out cause he grabbed Mrs Sportscage's butt at a party. Thought Rod gets pissed off on air? That's nothing compared to that evening. But no punches needed cause Mrs Sportscage responded with a hot one across the face. Slapped Obama into next Sunday.

Anonymous said...

I don't get people who come on thie comment section to complain about what Rod puts on his blog. If you don't like the pictures just skip them and move to the content you like. If you don't like the blog, just leave and go somewhere else. You don't need to tell us you are leaving, just go.

mjb

Anonymous said...

Great pics , those stadiums look awesome . Even the end zone seats are close to the action.

Anonymous said...

Does the new Regina stadium have an open concourse where you can walk around and still see the field like the one in Miami ?

Anonymous said...

Mrs Sportscage should have criminally charged Obama for that, it's sexual assault like Subway Jared

Anonymous said...

Just finished Ron McLean's excellent new book "Hockey Towns" - a great Xmas gift for any hockey fan. Stories about players who hail from Regina are included. One of those books that is hard to put down once you start. Very much exceeded expectations.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Please don't ever associate the town of Raymore in your post again. Don't bring the rest of us down to your level.

Anonymous said...

Ah Raymore sucks anyway.


Craig from Foam Lake