Thursday, June 9, 2016
ODDS 'N ENDS FROM SASKATOON
1 - It was great to see CFL football on television Wednesday night. We hit the fabulous Saskatoon sportsbar RedZone to watch both the Alouettes-Blue Bombers and Warriors-Cavaliers. In truth, the CFL preseason game attracted our eyes more. It was a wire-to-wire victory for Cleveland, and a blowout victory in the end. Meanwhile the CFL game had a dizzying pace of players in and out, and you really had to pay attention to what was going on. Summer is here! The CFL TV schedule is underway. Winnipeg trounced Montreal 36-13.
2 - A Bomber fan texted me after the game, "Plan the parade!". He was being facetious of course, but he always sends a note like that after an early-season Winnipeg football victory. However with immense expectations on The Blue this year, one has to think last night was close to a must-win game. Coach Mike O'Shea looked relieved at game's end, while Alouettes coach Jim Popp looked throughout the contest like he's aged over the winter. (Maybe it's just because he cut off his long locks). Montreal was underwhelming, and we think that will be a theme this year.
3 - Didn't that guy signalling in defensive plays on the Bomber sidelines look a lot like long-time Roughriders defensive back Ventson Donelson? That's because it was. I'm told he's a guest coach on the Winnipeg staff. Bomber defensive coordinator Richie Hall has long been in Ventson's corner, including attending his motivational presentation "Unbroken" a few years ago at Regina's Performing Arts Centre. I was there too. I often wonder how many people in Regina know there's a former Packer, Patriot and Rose Bowl champion living in their midst.
4 - The new CFL stats system crashed in the second quarter of last night's CFL preseason game, and the live scoreboard was taken off the league's official website at CFL.ca. We're wondering if the CFL owners, Presidents and Governors understand how important this information is to the league's fans? We've concluded that they do not. But the situation is out of our control.
And the band plays on.
5 - As I sit here in Starbucks early Thursday morning in Saskatoon, they're talking about Garth Brooks at the tables all around me. Never before have I seen a city so on fire as this one is for six concerts by the country music legend beginning tonight here in the Bridge City. On one hand, I get it. As my mind perused my favourite Garth Brooks songs (all from the early 1990s), I realized it sure would be nice to see him again. But in the 90-minute sets he has scheduled, he's not going to get to all of his best. I'd have to think awhile on my favourite Garth Brooks tune, but near the top of the list are Unanswered Prayers and Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old). The Dance was our grad song. That's how far back we go with Old Garth.
However I'd be just as excited to see Clint Black live in concert again.
6 - The Garth Brooks concerts, Meatloaf in Moose Jaw and Theresa Caputo in the Brandt Centre will devastate the Riders' crowd for Saturday's home preseason game against the B.C. Lions. The fact rain is expected, and it'll be televised on TSN, aren't helping matters either.
I'm still mildly shocked that the game isn't soldout since it's the kickoff to the Farewell Season but I'm not going to scorn anybody. How you spend your entertainment dollars is your business.
I just fear that later on this season when the games are soldout and you can't get a ticket, you'll be wishing you came to this one.
Some fan has been incessantly writing into the SportsCage saying the Roughriders are missing the boat by not adding more seats to Mosaic Stadium this season.
Hey - if we can't sell all the ones we have now, why add more?
7 - Just as I write this, a gentleman comes up and introduced himself in Starbucks. His name is "Cal" and he says he's a daily listener of the SportsCage on 620 CKRM here in Saskatoon. HE is coming down to Saturday's game.
Garth Brooks bedamned.
8 - Starbucks notes: 1) it's so hot in this location that a bead of sweat has broken out on my forehead and 2) Google Maps says there are 11 Starbucks locations in Saskatoon (some of those may be Safeway locations). Back home in Regina, not counting Safeway, there are only two.
Overheard at another conversation in this coffee shop this morning:
GUY #1: "I watched my first CFL game of the season last night!"
GUY #2: "Why?"
Sheesh. I might sit here and listen to people all day.
9 - TSN's Gary Lawless predicts in his column "The Rouge" this week that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will win the Grey Cup this season. Thanks Gary, for the shoutout in the column by the way.
It's an interesting prediction because Oddsshark.com has Calgary installed as the preseason Grey Cup favourites and Hamilton is listed 4th (behind Ottawa and Edmonton).
Meanwhile nobody has the Riders predicted to win the Grey Cup, which suits them just fine.
10 - Interesting news out of the SJHL annual meetings this week. Apparently the league is going to a five minute 3-on-3 overtime period this year followed by a shootout. Remember the SJHL was the first Canadian league to go to a shootout years ago. ... Meanwhile the league is introducing a "media timeout" at the 10:00 mark of each period, thus mimicking the WHL. I proposed that advancement to The Dub over a decade ago and it was quickly passed. With the WHL going to the "fast faceoff", we had no time to get our radio commercials in so the 60 second break allowed us to roll off two commercials without missing any action. ... Also the Voice of the La Ronge Ice Wolves, Braden Malsbury, is reporting the Western Canada Challenge Cup experiment will end after the 2017 tournament in Penticton, BC. Hopefully a poor showing in Estevan this spring didn't kill the concept.
11 - Get by your televisions tonight because the Stanley Cup will likely be handed out in Pittsburgh. That's a can't-miss event on my calendar annually. Now, the task is to find an appropriate sportsbar to watch the occasion. Decisions, decisions.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY. THANKS FOR READING!