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Monday, April 25, 2016

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


THE GREATEST DAY EVER

On Wednesday of last week, safety Tyron Brackenridge announced his retirement from pro football at the age of 31.  His star-studded career included a stand-out tenure at Washington State followed by NFL stops with the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars before signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in October of 2011.  What followed were five full seasons with the Green & White, back-to-back All Star nods, and a Grey Cup championship in 2013.

The next stop for "T-Brack" is the Roughriders' Plaza of Honor.

Many times over the past number of seasons I've stated that Tyron was my favourite current Roughrider, so it's no surprise that he opened up during a Friday interview on 620 CKRM's SportsCage with some insightful, colourful comments on his career in Saskatchewan.

And when we asked him about the 2013 Grey Cup on November 24, 2013 - a day I maintain is the greatest in the province's history - Brackenridge gave a long, thoughtful recollection of that 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium.

TB:  "Oh my gosh.  That whole week.  It was just unreal!  It was negative-150,000 (degrees) going into that week.  I mean you didn't even want to go outside.  Your eyeballs would freeze just looking outside.  But that energy, and that feeling of going to the Grey Cup, hosting it in our backyard, it just warmed everything up.  It was just unreal leading into that thing.

"We knew that (Hamilton) had no chance.  We didn't want to party -- none of that was in our minds.  We stayed in the hotel and nobody went to their homes.  We had one common goal and I remember the last meeting we had going into that game.  I remember (former Rider linebacker) Mike McCullough telling nobody to get emotional, just to have fun and do what we do.  He said nobody needs emotion right now.

Brackenridge
"You know how Mike McCullough is.  He's just a happy, go-lucky guy.  He kind of reminds me of Jim Carey.  And when we were lined up in the tunnel, the CFL wanted to introduce us one-at-a-time and we said 'This is our house! We going out together!  Nothing changes and is everybody with me?'  The guys were like, 'Ya this is what we gonna do!'

"Then as soon as they introduced Xavier Fulton we just took off, like BOOM!  Everybody just ran out and it was electrifying.  It was crazy.  There was like a green glow over the stadium.  Hamilton had 13 fans and the rest was all Rider Nation.  Oh my gosh it's so hard to explain.

"So we're runnin' on the field and the first guy who said not to get emotional - Mike McCullough - he was the first person I see.  And he ran out, looked around, and had tears running down his cheeks.  I thought, 'Man this is what it's all about'.

"To be in that moment, yes we were a big part of it but it was so much bigger than us.  And to be a part of something that's so much bigger than you, and you're just a fraction of it, man that was amazing.  Beyond amazing.

"And then the party in the locker room after, we partied for like three hours and it felt like 10 minutes.  It was nothing but champagne showers and beer baths.  I don't know, just to relive it and just talk about it, I don't know if you guys can hear it but, ARGH!, it was so awesome."

* Brackenridge has retired to Riverside, California and plans to go into the investment and financial planning business at which he'll undoubtedly be successful.  I'll have a more-detailed column on Brackenridge's career - and his retirement - at the Roughriders' official website this week but I thought Brack's comments on the 2013 Grey Cup would fit nicely into this week's MMG.

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Alomar in Red Sox gear
CATCH THE TASTE

Regina Red Sox President Gary Brotzel said Saturday night's annual Red Sox fundraising dinner at the Turvey Center featuring Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar was the team's best yet.  I would have to concur.

Alomar's jaw-dropping resume hardly needs to be repeated but for the uninitiated, the Puerto Rico product is regarded as the best Toronto Blue Jay ever.  Not only was he a part of the Jays' back-to-back World Series championship teams in 1992 and 1993, he was a 12-time MLB All Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time Silver Slugger Award winner and has had his #12 retired by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Like many of the keynote speakers who've come before him at the Red Sox dinner (like Tommy John, Jose Canseco, Rick Cerrone, Devon White, Jesse Barfield, Duane Ward, etc.), Alomar was nothing but first class.  However given his Hall of Fame status, I was expecting him to display at least some sense of arrogance.  Nope.  He was as pleased to be in Regina to share his stories as we were to have him.

Like Tiger Williams told me years ago, the "jerks" don't do public appearances like this.  Many of those types of guys are content to stay home, count their millions and not be pestered by fans.  However the good guys - the ones who truly love the game they played - jump at the chance to give back.  Alomar is no different.

Yours truly with Alomar Saturday night
So here today are some notes from Alomar's hour-long Q&A session which I moderated with dozens upon dozens of questions from the crowd:

1 - Firstly, Alomar noted that he's still an employee of the Toronto Blue Jays - as a special advisor working with prospects as well as an ambassador for the club - so he has to be somewhat guarded with his comments.

Because of that, he steered clear of questions regarding Chris Colabello's postive PED test and the contract talks with Jays stars Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Check out his shoes by the way, which he sported with a Blue Jays blue blazer.  He was proud to report the shoes are Louis Vuitton's which he picked up in Florida.

2 - Alomar's MLB debut was with the San Diego Padres on April 22, 1988 in which he faced Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan - a friend of Alomar's father whom he played catch with at the age of seven.  In his second at-bat, Ryan plunked him.  Why?  "Because he wanted me to know we were no longer friends!" the younger Alomar smiled.

3 - The current Blue Jay he'd most-likely hang out with away from the field?  Manager John Gibbons.

4 - The best manager he ever played for?  Cito Gaston.

5 - Baseball fans across Canada bring up the phrase, "Catch The Taste!" to Roberto Alomar absolutely every single day, to this day.  It was from the wildy-popular McCain's Punch television commercial from 1994 in which Alomar starred.  The guy who came up with that campaign should be in the Marketing Hall of Fame with that kind of staying power.

6 - On baseball's new Chase Utley Rule?  Alomar's not in favour of it even though he starred for 17 seasons at second base and was a part of hundreds of situations where the base-runner attempted to break up a double play.  "Players should be allowed to be aggressive," Alomar explained, however he has no problem with the current rule prohibiting intentional collisions at home plate.

7 - Did he actually live in the Skydome Hotel during his five seasons with the Blue Jays?  "Yes and it was awesome!" Alomar smiled.  He said he didn't have to walk to the park and had the benefit of room service and bed service daily.

8 - Who was his favourite teammate?  Alfredo Griffin however I misheard him and thought he said Fred McGriff.  He promptly scorned me for that.  Who was the best shortstop he played beside?  Omar Vizquel however Roberto initially said Devon White just to see how many in attendance were paying attention.

9 - Speaking of, the 600 patrons learned their lesson from last year and were an attentive, respectful crowd.  Last year - as we've noted several times - guest speaker Devon White twice had to tell the crowd to quiet down.  That wasn't the case Saturday night.  Bravo.

10 - Despite his Hall of Fame status, Alomar gave the Red Sox a real break on his speaking fee which helped greatly to the club's bottom line Saturday night.  He's formed a new company entitled Alomar Sports, www.alomarsports.com, with which he hopes to do several speaking appearances across the country so he's just hoping to get his name out there.

* Alomar was out until the wee hours of the morning with the Red Sox staff and continued to display why he's a Hall of Fame person as well as a player.  On Sunday morning at the Regina Airport, Alomar even told a friend of mine that Saturday night's Red Sox dinner was the best event he's ever been a part of outside his native Puerto Rico.

High praise!

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MONDAY RAMBLINGS

1 - I'd have given my right arm to be at this weekend's National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee where Chris Jones brought the Grey Cup to his hometown.  That event sounds like it's right down my alley.  Regardless, Jones is getting some heat for wearing a Roughriders sweater at the event given the fact he won the 2015 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos.  Some Eskimos supporters have gone so far as to say Jones's wardrobe choice was "disrespectful".  The MMG says Jones should wear whatever he darn well pleases but it's clear he doesn't need to be told that.

Some SportsCage listeners wondered why we were giving the Cornbread Festival so much publicity but it's prudent to introduce Jones to the Rider Nation and prove he's not as surly as his reputation suggests.

2 - Kudos to the Toronto Argonauts for posting minicamp recaps, photos and videos to their offical team website for use by the media.  How progressive!  Some other CFL teams have not been so accomodating this spring.  The Argos even contacted me to ask what else they could provide.  I thought that was very impressive.  (I always said if I wasn't calling Rider games, the Argos are the team I'd like to announce for).

The word is there's some jealousy across the CFL for the resources the Roughriders put into their digital media department but there was a time not so long ago that Saskatchewan was referred to as the "least digitally aware" team in the CFL.  Step up!  The Argos are.

3 - So many sports fans across this city are still dismayed over the Regina Pats' Game 7 loss in Red Deer last Tuesday night, ending their season after two rounds.  I've mentioned to many that the team "over-achieved" this season and that far brighter times are ahead but several fans have said, "There are no guarantees".  On that assumption, they are correct which makes Tuesday's loss doubly painful.  At least the fans are paying attention but it's tough to not allow your mind to drift to "What might have been", and dream about how bananas this city would have gone with an Eastern Final appearance by the Queen City Kids.

4 - One media member covering the Brandon-Red Deer Conference Final texted over the weekend, "I wish the Pats were here".  Join the club!  But it's heart-warming to know the Pats have finally earned the respect of others across the Dub.

5 - And finally, many patrons at the Cougar Mens Hockey Alumni Dinner featuring Dennis Hull from Thursday evening are still laughing over Hull's address to the sold out crowd.  I swung over to the Travelodge after my presentation to the Saskatchewan Angus Breeders Assocation and caught Dennis just as he was taking to the stage.  I've seen his speech at least a dozen times and knew what was around every corner but was still doubled over in laughter.  He's regarded as the best After-Dinner speaker on the circuit and didn't disappoint.  Many in attendance had never seen Bobby Hull's brother perform before and they were in stitches.  Well done!

6 - Happy birthday today to Rider safety Matt Webster and former Rider receiver Rocky "Lloyd" Henry!

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THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!  SEE YOU IN THE CAGE ...
RP
@rodpedersen

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is a 'digital media department'?

Anonymous said...

Enough about the Pats. They are finished and that is it. Your starting to sound like TSN and their beloved Leafs who haven't even been in the Playoffs for years and they still harp about them almost every day on TSN. "Get over it, THEY ARE DONE " !. A-Men .

Anonymous said...

The Saskatchewan Angus Breeders Association is a good place for you to speak. At least they appreciate bull****.

Rod Pedersen said...

To Anon #1: the digital media dept. includes the Riders' website, management of their social media feeds, etc. Digital media is described as any form of media which allows interaction with the consumer (ie this blog).

That's ONE of the things we'll discuss at the seminar I'm putting on. www.pedersenmedia.ca

Anonymous said...

Anon #1 to Rod. Thank you for the explanation.

Anonymous said...

There are so many bitter, negative people commenting on this blog. If the content on this blog angers you so much, why not spend your valuable time doing something else? Also, if you're such a sports writing genius, why don't you have your own blog? I would love to see legitimate answers to these questions.

-Dwight

Anonymous said...

Why did the riders spell "Honour" incorrectly?

Rod Pedersen said...

The forefathers thought it looked better this way on marketing materials.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. I'm sure that's what they were thinking.

Christopher Evans said...

The Brackenridge interview was amazing! He gets it and it should be required reading for all players/staff! His telling of the Grey Cup intro's had me looking up the YouTube video of it! What a great day that was!! :-)

Rod Pedersen said...

^^^ That's the answer bub. Whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you.

Anonymous said...

I for one appreciate the write up Rod. It's a staple with my coffee on Mondays. Thank you.

Travis

Anonymous said...

The forefathers were products of the Saskatchewan public school system .... that's the real reason.

Pearse Gribbon said...

I have bought 2 season tickets for next season at the Brandt centre. First time season ticket holder. I grew up in the 90s with my dad taking me to games and cheering on Holden, Calder, Morris, Kane, Nabakov and Stuart. The team we have now is more special. After high school I moved to London, Ontario for almost 10 years and was disgusted with the Knights. A lot of fans had never heard of the WHL. Fishbowl effect I guess. I'm so excited to be home and this new Pats hockey is taking me back to my childhood but with greater success. Keep building the boys up Rod.

Anonymous said...

Birthday greetings! That's a nice addition to your blog Mr Pedersen. Some names immediately recognizable, some not. Happy birthday Mr Henry, Mr Webster.

Ryan said...

Kind of true I guess. Honour is a correct spelling. Honor I only the correct spelling in the US. Everywhere else uses the British spelling honour

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the corn-pone festival......where a good time is had by all. Only second to the Dubetown pig festival. Hope those folks down there had an inkling of exactly what the Grey Cup IS.

Anonymous said...

"Ahhh, the corn-pone festival......where a good time is had by all. Only second to the Dubetown pig festival. Hope those folks down there had an inkling of exactly what the Grey Cup IS."

Saskatchewan's version of racism and discrimination. Insulted that people don't know things about Canada but critical of when the Riders try to do things to sell the league.

Keep buying your tickets and jerseys!

Anonymous said...

Could you please elaborate a bit on what exactly is the point you're trying to make?

Thanks,
A guy in Lower Canada

Rod Pedersen said...

Good question. I wondered too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, glad to know I'm not alone on that one.

A guy in Lower Canada

Anonymous said...

Dumb dumbs are out, it must be Monday afternoon.

The guy in upper Canada

dave spad said...

If the Esks fans can't handle Jones wearing his Rider shirt they can stick where the Sun don't shine. He is in Riderville now. GET USED TO IT!!!

Anonymous said...

"Roughriders Football" Rules !