BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
1. If you're peering into this blog from outside Saskatchewan's borders, you wouldn't believe the hype that's been generated by the Chris Jones regime and Canada's Team as of late. For February, I'd put it at an all-time high and that includes the 2013 season when the Roughriders were hosting the Grey Cup and were assembling an all-star team which would eventually win it all in the biggest game in franchise history. Over the next few points, I'll illustrate how bonkers it is around here right now.
2. Gassing 19 players on December 9 was one thing, but jettisonning Weston Dressler and John Chick a month later was "next level" as the cool new saying goes. People still haven't settled down over that one and it continues to dominate coffee row talk almost six weeks later. More on that in a minute.
3. Now with the news that Chris Getzlaf is poised to sign with the Edmonton Eskimos, it's like another tidal wave hit the coast of the Rider Nation. If we had a coast. The general thoughts I'm hearing? Good for Chris, good for the Eskimos, and who exactly are all these new players that'll be wearing Rider jerseys once the 2016 season kicks off? At least we've still got Darian. On a personal note, it's too bad Getzlaf has to leave his hometown to prolong his football career but he knows full well what he signed up for. He's had a blessed career and departs with two Grey Cup rings and tons of memories.
4. Another thought dawned on me while driving past New Mosaic Stadium on Thursday morning; it's too bad Chris won't get to suit up for the Riders in the new facility but if things go well with the Eskimos, perhaps he'll at least get to play in it in 2017. I'm positive that anyone who drives by that gorgeous new stadium gets tingles each and every time they see it. I certainly do.
5. Somebody from the Riders' past wrote me on Facebook from the States a month ago or so saying, "What are they doing to my Riders?" That person - who will remain nameless - was referring to the folksy, downhome nature of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Well those days, from what I can see, are gone and it didn't just start with the hiring of Chris Jones. Corey Chamblin injected an NFL-mentality and Jim Hopson actually turned this franchise into the monster that it is today. With regards to cutting fan favourites, Roy Shivers did it years ago when he released Don Narcisse and Dan Farthing. The furor always dies down eventually.
6. Somebody said it on the SportsCage awhile back - and I can't even remember who it was - that Chris Jones has as many Grey Cup championships to his credit as this entire franchise and that's about all you need to know.
7. As far as how Rider talk is dominating this province right now, well, the topic of Chris Getzlaf going to the Eskimos was fodder for all the morning radio shows today. Shouldn't they be talking about music? You simply can't get away from it even if you wanted to. For a guy who makes his living in the Rider news business, this is a windfall but I'm finding it truly staggering these days. What a quick turn from fans tuning out the team in 2015.
8. And it comes at the expense of the other sports entities in this town. The Regina Pats have won seven straight hockey games and I can't remember the last time that happened. However it's rare that anyone comments to me about the Queen City Kids unless they have some direct connection to the team. Hopefully people get on board soon and if the Pats should happen to go a couple of rounds in the playoffs, everybody will be on the bandwagon in record fashion. Right now though, it's tough sledding if you want to discuss the Pats. There's the odd comment, and I'm hearing "maybe I should buy a ticket" more and more. Hopefully there's a big crowd on hand Friday night when the Pats host the P.A. Raiders.
9. Saskatchewan's Jolene Campbell is on the cusp of a playoff berth at the Scotties and that seems to have grabbed peoples' attention, if only mildly-so. I've even sat down to watch some of the games but if Saskatchewan isn't featured on the TSN telecasts, I switch channels. Watching curling is a throwback to the good old days of sportsmanship and fair play. The curlers are laughing and shaking hands with opponents which is SUCH a far cry from the testosterone-fuelled sports I usually engage in. For instance when I interview MMA fighters, a standard question is "What round do you think you'll knock him out in?" And they always give a prediction!! Can you imagine posing a question like that to a curling skip? "In which end do you think you'll finish her off?" They'd look at you like you're from another planet.
10. JUST NOTES: Scruffy just wouldn't let it die on the SportsCage on Wednesday. He maintains the face of the Toronto Blue Jays is Josh Donaldson even though Toronto sportscasters Jim Lang and Arash Madani concur that it's still Jose Bautista. ... Regarding Bautista's contract demands - ignoring the fact the money in sports is completely out of whack - I say give the man $30-million per season on a new three-year deal. He's earned it, he's reportedly a tremendous guy, and should be rewarded for all he's done. ... I wasn't shocked to learn that SportsCage co-host Luc Mullinder sided with Apple in its argument with the FBI over unlocking the Iphone of the terrorist shooter in California from last year. There are many who agree with Luc however I feel when it's in the best interest of national security and the law enforcement process, open the damn phone. They're probably not going to find anything in it anyway. Does Apple support terrorism? Of course not - and I can't boycott the company because I love my smartphone so much - but some are making that leap. In polls, a narrow margin is siding in favour of the FBI. ... Best comment I heard over the Regina-Saskatoon rivalry this week: "It's like too old ladies arguing over who's hotter". ... I wish they'd leave poor Peyton Manning alone. Who hasn't regretted something they did when they were 19? Sometimes the haters just won't relent. ... The story from the website 3Down Nation this week quoting an anonymous player about how the CFL takes advantage of its players would have carried a lot more weight if he'd identified himself. Otherwise, his comments mean little to me. ... The talk in American sports circles this week has centred around an NFL team at this week's Combine asking a player, "You have dreadlocks so you must smoke weed". It's offended people far and wide but perhaps oddly enough, one CFL scout told me he'd rather a player smoke dope than drink excessively. Take that for what it's worth. ... The plight of the Oilers? That's a topic for another time but it's shocking their braintrust just now discovered they need "huge" changes. ... An app for RodPedersen.com is in development. When it's ready, hopefully you'll find it in your heart to download it. It'll make reading this blog even easier and will automatically link you to my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR READING