A RIDER DOZEN MONDAY NOTES
The error charged to Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, in the bottom of the 11th of last night's Game 3 of the ALDS, was responsible for the game-winning run for the Toronto Blue Jays who completed the sweep and move on to the ALCS.
Odor, of course, was the one who decked Toronto's Jose Bautista in the mug back in May when the two clubs got together for the first time since last year's ALDS. It was seen as retribution for Bautista's "Bat Flip Heard Around The World", and no one seemed to have the problem with Texas evening the score.
So why did he baseball gods victimize the Rangers Sunday night, and Odor specifically? It's tough to tell, and maybe it's for someone to discover who's following the game far deeper than me. Or, maybe it was because of the headline in the Dallas newspaper which called Bautista and the Blue Jays out prior to the series.
Either way, the Rangers will have a long winter to think about it while Toronto gets ready for either Boston for Cleveland.
2 - Here in the Rider Nation, we certainly have a lot to be thankful for. We have a 106-year tradition, the most-loved football franchise in Canada (and one of the most on the continent), a brand new stadium, what's looking to be the best Head Coach & GM in the CFL, and now a three game winning streak.
Whew, that's a lot! And as a Rider fan, you deserve to feel good as you read this column on a Holiday Monday.
We'll all be better off when we're thankful everyday, and not for just one weekend out of the year!
3 - Remember Friday's 32-30 overtime Rider victory in Ottawa? It seems like ages ago. The Riders won it, or the RedBlacks gave it away, orrrr, who cares? The Roughriders are certainly guilty of giving away their share of football games this season so it doesn't matter how the game went for 60-plus minutes. What matters is what was on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
SASK 32 OTT 30
The one amazing thing I came out of the weekend with was that the Riders are in last place in the West Division with 4 wins while the RedBlacks are in first place in the East Division with 6 wins.
That's simply embarrassing for the teams of the CFL's East Division while it's also a testament to how tough the West Division is in 2016.
Saskatchewan could well finish with an 8-10 record (I'm starting to believe it'll happen), and wind up in last-place in the West. I can guarantee you that will be a first in the CFL because I've studied the standings meticulously over the years.
No team has ever had 8 wins in a 5-team West Division and finished in last place. Interestingly the 2009 B.C. Lions finished at 8-10 and in last place in the 4-team West Division, and must've felt like they were jobbed.
So the 2016 Chris Jones Saskatchewan Roughriders have a chance to make history and I say, Why not?
They've already set a CFL record for the most players used in a season at 90+, so why not dive headfirst into the record book!
4 - You saw the quote from Chris Jones on 620 CKRM's postgame show Friday night but it's worth repeating in the MMG:
"Three, or four, or five plays in games early in the season, we were close enough to win," Jones told Carm Carteri. "Our average age is 25. I feel like we're gonna have a real good team for a long time here."
Were you watching Friday's game at Ottawa? Armanti Edwards was a human highlight reel. Darian Durant and Rob Bagg turned back the clock, Ed Gainey, Justin Cox and Fred Bennett were game-long menaces in the seconday, and Willie Jefferson covered the whole box himself.
I can only assume Chris Jones admonished Jefferson on the postgame show for his two offside penalties Friday night simply to prevent his head from getting too big.
It was his first game back in the CFL!
The Riders are going to look like a contending team the rest of the way, even if their record doesn't show it. They're not going to fool anybody over the final four games, although I got the sense going into the Ottawa game that the RedBlacks were looking past them.
5 - Chris Jones is 7-0 against the Ottawa RedBlacks.
6 - Jones is getting some heat in Riderville for his lack of success on challenges this season. However he'll be the first to tell you that he gets the challenges right when they matter, like in the 2015 Grey Cup when his Pass Interference challenge in the fourth quarter won them the game over Ottawa.
There's always going to be heat on Jones in Riderville. He loves it.
7 - Speaking of Pass Interference, I noted in the MMG a few weeks back that CFL headquarters seems to be softening its stance on what is, and what isn't, pass interference as we forge our way down the stretch. The coaches have noticed it too, and they're applauding what appears to be a conscious move by the on-field officials as well as the Command Centre. Simple contact is being let go however if a defender prevents the receiver from catching the ball due to contact, then it's a penalty. All - for the time being - is as it should be, and the league is saving face.
8 - Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but perhaps there were two reasons why Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris was called down on a game-deciding review by the Command Centre in Saturday's game against B.C.: 1) The ground can't cause a fumble and it appeared as though the ball came out as Harris hit the ground (it did to me at least) and, 2) Was his forward progress stopped? When was the whistle blown?
The CFL Command Centre was getting roasted on Twitter by media, fans and CFL players alike Saturday afternoon but I wondered how much of the noise was warranted versus how many jumped on the negativity train because it was the thing to do at the moment?
The League issued a statement to 3DownNation.com Saturday night and it read similar to what I wrote above.
I'm not sure the criticism of them in the Andrew Harris case was warranted.
9 - Time spent in Ottawa is FANTASTIC! It's one of the greatest cities in North America and it was a thrill to get some juicy gossip on the sports scene in the nation's capital. We're told Senators owner Eugene Melnyk doesn't get along with the OSEG ownership group (owners of the RedBlacks, 67's and Fury), and that's a big reason why the Sens' final preseason game against Buffalo was scheduled directly against the RedBlacks/Roughriders game Friday evening.
However the move backfired and only about 5,000 fans showed up for the NHL game versus the 24,668 who attended the CFL match. Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun wrote that at best 8,000 were on hand for the hockey game.
10 - Holy smokes Oilers fans ... stop whining about the trade of Nail Yakupov. Did you actually watch the games while the Russian forward was with Edmonton? He was all flash and dash and no substance (a poor man's Taylor Hall), and appeared to come with a poor attitude to boot, despite his Twitter thank you over the weekend to the City of Edmonton.
Let Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli do his job and stay out of the way. How can you admonish him for jettisoning players from the habitual worst club in the NHL?
11 - For what it's worth, the EA Sports annual similation for the 2016-17 NHL season has the Nashville Predators winning the Stanley Cup over the Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers, Flames and Coyotes are predicted to finish 8, 9, 10 in the Western Conference with only Edmonton making the playoffs of the three, and the computer has them beating L.A. in a first round series.
Other interesting notes from the similation: The Leafs are expected to make the playoffs while the Senators and Red Wings are not. The Canucks and Blue Jackets are expected to finish dead last in their respective conferences.
12 - It's back to listening to the Toronto Blue Jays on 1190 CFSL during another Jays playoff run. That was the first-ever radio station to give me a paycheque and it has a huge spot in my heart. I heard a spot for E. Bourassa & Sons (Your New Holland Dealer) during Game 2 of the ALDS, and the Big Voice Guy said "Bourassa" three different ways in the same commercial!
To quote Neil McCoy, "You gotta love that".
13 - What I'm thankful for lately: 1) Pumpkin Scones at Starbucks, 2) An empty Ottawa airport at noon on a Saturday, 3) The CFL being referenced respectively in the latest edition of GQ (the one with Kurt Russell on the cover, 4) My android box is fixed and ESPN is once again pumped into my home office, 5) My family, friends and you!
ENJOY YOUR MONDAY ... SEE YOU ON THE RADIO AT 4:00 PM