Realty One

Monday, December 5, 2016


We're down here in Phoenix, AZ on the SportsCage/Marlin Travel Ultimate Sports Trip VI!  60-some SportsCage listeners hit the Valley of the Sun for a week of sun, sports and fun.

Here are some photos of what we've been up to:

The home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, 75,000-seat University of Phoenix Stadium ..

It's funny who you run into down here!  We had the pleasure of tailgating with Rouleau, SK farmer Bill Aulie, the father of Calgary Flames prospect Keith Aulie ..

The tailgating goes on for miles, and miles ...

Posing with Mrs. SportsCage prior to the game ...

Our host hotel for the week.  It's a perfect set-up, just steps away from the Coyotes' Gila River Arena and the football stadium ...

A lot of time has been spent by the pool, enjoying the sunshine and 20-something degree temperatures ...

We've been able to take in a pair of Coyotes games, a 4-3 loss to the L.A. Kings on Thursday and a 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus on Saturday ...

Jody Jackson of Fox Sports Arizona prepares for the Coyotes telecast ...

The traditional group photo before Saturday's hockey game!  There are listeners on the trip from Regina, Saskatoon, P.A., Hodgeville, Assiniboia, Fort Qu'Appelle, Odessa, Montmarte, Plenty, Landis, Carnduff, Indian Head, Swift Current and several other locales ...

John Frenzy and Terry from Carnduff enjoy the Coyotes cheerleaders ...

A shot of the Coyotes' owners box ...

Rider fans Luke Schenn and Shane Doan spent some time with the Chain Gang ...

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett of Moosomin, SK and yours truly ...

Doan spent a good 30 minutes chatting with our group ...

We've put on plenty of miles, including this trip to Fashion Square in Scottsdale ...

A wonderful dinner Sunday evening after the football game at Mike Ditka's restaurant ...

Of course a big part of the trip is broadcasting the SportsCage live on 620 CKRM with John Lynch from the Whiskey Rose at the Westgate Plaza.  We were live on Friday, and will be again Monday at 4:00 pm ...



1 - It's been five days since the horrible Joe McKnight shooting and things appear to be getting worse instead of better.  The Roughriders running back was gunned down Thursday in a suburb of New Orleans and as of Monday morning, the shooter is still roaming free after being released by the Sheriff's Office without being charged.

It's one thing for ESPN to be broadcasting live from Terrytown, LA during this ordeal but it's quite another for ABC's Good Morning America to have a crew there as well.  The former speaks to Joe's celebrity status in pro football while the latter speaks to the racial overtones of the story.

2 - The Roughriders locker room is completely torn up by this story. McKnight was only with the club for a few months but when he was here, he was side-by-side with his teammates every day.  Now you're starting to see what the Calgary Stampeders went through with the death of Mylan Hicks. I've asked some Rider personnel to come on the SportsCage to describe their feelings but they're still too distraught.

The outpouring of emotion from the Rider Nation has been startling as well.  I'm with 60 hardcore Rider Priders here in Arizona and they're emotional about the murder of McKnight.  I suppose once you're a part of the Rider family, the fans don't play favourites.  But I can't imagine how affected everyone would be if it was a multi-year veteran like Kory Sheets or Terrell Maze.

3 - Thank your lucky stars that we don't deal with a gun and racial culture like they do in the southern U.S.  Many black Rider players have taken to Twitter to voice their disgust at how McKnight's killer has gone free, and how it's not surprising that he's white.

We can't criticize them for what they say, because we've never been through it.

But America as a whole is getting gashed, particularly by the Canadian media for its violence.  What people don't see are the many random acts of kindness which go on on a daily basis around here, but garner no publicity or media coverage.

I feel extremely comfortable down here, and safe.

4 - One of the benefits for the people on this SportsCage trip is the fact they get to talk Riders with John Lynch and me on a one-on-one basis.  We've fielded many questions over the past five days and we'll relate them on the radio this afternoon.

However one common theme throughout the line of questioning is the hardline, brash approach being taken by Chris Jones as it relates to running this football team.

"It's just not the Saskatchewan way," wailed one fan, who hails from Swift Current.  That's something I get ALL the time.

What do you want us to say about that?  Not surprisingly, John Lynch exploded saying the "Saskatchewan Way" is four Grey Cups in 106 years!

Lynch is right, and we covered this extensively way back in August during the Roster-Gate saga.

Jones will have this team winning consistently and if it means bending the rules, or breaking them occasionally, then that's something you'll have to deal with at the time.  Perhaps you'll have to hold your nose while cheering for this team.  I don't know.

But I don't have a problem with Jones's methods.

5 - The Darian Durant situation continues to be tough however.  While TSN's Farhan Lalji reported last Wednesday that we should expect something "within the next 7-10 days", that was news to the Durant camp.

The season's been over for exactly one month today, and there have been zero talks between the two sides from what I've been told.

Is this standard fare?  I don't ever recall a contract situation going like this.

However Jones has completely taken emotion (on his part) out of the equation here and it seems as though Durant has been tabled with a Take It Or Leave It offer.

And Darian appears headed to free agency.  That means we've got another two months of chasing our tails before a resolution is found.

6 - One interesting comment which came from one of the patrons on this trip was that, "The Grey Cup champs only had three more wins that us!"  He's referring to the 8-9-1 Ottawa RedBlacks who beat the 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders in the 2016 CFL championship game.  The RedBlacks were swept twice by Saskatchewan in the regular season, who went 5-13.

He's right.  With some minor tinkering, the Roughriders should be right in contention in 2017.

But who will the quarterback be?

Here we go again.

7 - Had occasion to talk to an NHL referee in the airport on the way down here last week.  We were discussing the new CFL rules and his comment was, "They've completely F'd it up to the point I can't even watch it anymore."

Right now, I have no comment on that.  The whole situation needs time to breathe before we dive back into it for analysis.  I watch CFL games not only because I want to, but because I have to.  So I can't speak for fans who've been turned off by the game and its delays and reviews.

Sunday's Arizona-Washington NFL game here in Glendale featured only ONE review and it was from NFL Head Office on a touchdown rather than from a coach's challenge.  The call on the field was correct.

The game flowed freely and was a treat to experience (save for the incessant TV timeouts which fans were distracted from by in-stadium promotions).

The CFL's Board of Governors has a mighty task ahead of them this winter.  They need to decide if declining TV ratings are part of the overall trend of TV or if fans are getting turned off of the CFL brand of football.

I'm sure these men have the smarts to reach the correct conclusion.

8 - It's annoying to me that trying to get people to get engaged in the Regina Pats is like beating your head against the wall.  On Friday's SportsCage before a live audience in Phoenix, I read the news release about the new lease deal between the Pats and Evraz Place.  Then we discussed the Pats being #1 in the country and bidding to host the 2018 Memorial Cup.

People sat there stonefaced in the Whiskey Rose.  "Uh, we haven't had a Darian update in at least five minutes," seemed to be their reaction.

The people on this trip can be forgiven because they're from all across the province and have their own hockey team to cheer for in their communities.  But they only have one football team and the Pats also need to understand that.

However come February, March and April, all of southern Saskatchewan is going to be gripped in Regina Pats Fever and they'll be the hottest ticket in town.

That's when people will be asking for freebie tickets and we'll have to say, "Go to the box office.  Where were you in December?".

For some reason, junior hockey is only a priority in Saskatchewan when it becomes "The thing to do".

Why isn't it right now?

9 - These SportsCage listeners will be heading home on Tuesday and back to their regular lives however I'll be staying down here until mid-December.  That is, except for this Friday when I return home to call the Pats-Broncos game on Access/Shaw with Darren Dupont throughout Western Canada.  That's going to be a real treat, as always.

Then it's back on the plane and right back here for more vacation days.

Today's SportsCage is my last on 620 CKRM for quite some time so tune in as we discuss any and all things pertaining to the Riders before I go dark for awhile.

10 - It's hard not to be a fan of the Arizona Coyotes because of all the gracious things they do for us.  Details on the 3rd Annual Riderville Arizona Tour are coming up - likely this week - and this year's even has been scheduled for February.

With an owner from Regina, a coach from Moosomin and a player from Saskatoon, there's some strong ties between the Coyotes and the 306.

Unfortunately they're in last-place in the 30-team NHL and it seems like they're in a perennial rebuild.  They're playing incredibly exciting hockey, yes, but they're still losing and that's not enough to keep the sun-soaked fans here coming back and shelling out their money.

But the team's not going anywhere, other than a move across town to Tempe, AZ where a new arena for the Coyotes is planned within the next few years.

It also doesn't help the cause that the NFL's Cardinals are making a MAJOR name for themselves in the Valley.  They're 38-20-1 since Head Coach Bruce Arians showed up in town and many of the transplants have shed their allegiances to their old teams and taken up with the Red & White.

Funny what winning will do.




Anonymous said...

Three things that are impossible to figure out: How did the pyramids get built, how did Lindberg cross the ocean and how did Rod end up with the beautiful Mrs. Sportscage. Incredible...

Anonymous said...

Good win by the cardinals, but the hockey team is awful this season.

Anonymous said...

With some minor tinkering, the Roughriders should be right in contention in 2017.

Get real - you may like Jones hillbilly ways but this is plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

I bawled like a baby this weekend discussing the murder of Joe McKnight with my husband.

I can't believe that someone can open fire on another human being, and walk out of a police station, and no charges are filed.



Anonymous said...

Arizona, like Louisiana, has the "stand your ground" law. Watch your back and don't look sideways at some of the rednecks.

Buggy said...

My hope is that the current CFL brain trust don't simply rely exclusively on their brains to assess what to do about the shrinking TV audience. Here's a novel concept, do what most businesses do....RESEARCH!! Spend a few bucks to find out from current and former fans what makes the product engaging. Push that through those big brains and come up with a plan to improve and course correct based on more and more feedback. I'm with the NFL ref, it's hard to watch the CFL these days and if it weren't for an irrational love for the Riders, CFL would not get much viewing at all. The experiment has been interesting...but the league needs to understand the effect the experiment has had and respond. The league has said that it is about improving the game for the fan. Well.... certainly not a one and done. Or so it seems.

John Knight said...

Most of the province and Rider fans agree with Jones. Get over your negativity and realize we will have a winning team for many, many years

Anonymous said...

It was great to read today's Peter King's MMQB which has an excellent section titled "The Henry Burris Story".


The NFL's players use of their cleats to highlight their cause of choice this past weekend and tonight is one the CFL should emulate.

Anonymous said...

NFL ratings are down 10% and Thursday and Sunday night games are down more. Not just a CFL problem.

Anonymous said...

Question of the day;

The CFL Ottawa REDBLACKS were swept twice during the regular season by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Would that not make the Roughriders the league champions? Flag thrown!!!! again? could we get a ruling by Andre Proulx? ASAP! We got a GC parade to plan if the ruling favours the Roughriders.

Anonymous said...

"The Saskatchewan Way". Probably coming from the old boys club loyalists who are still bitter that Jones got control of the football ops instead of one of their hand-picked heirs. Wayne Shaw even asked a certain president why he gave a huge GM contract to someone who had never played the game and had a sketchy track record in football ops. The guy replied "well, I think he'll be the next Bob Ackles". Boy that turned out just brilliant didn't it.

You might not like it but Jones has a plan for success. If it means stepping on some toes and hurting some feelings to bring sustained winning football to this province then so be it. Or maybe some fans want to keep the losing culture. Hell, we ran Tillman and Roy both out of town after they didn't do things "the Saskatchewan way".


Anonymous said...

RATINGS are down? Hmm...might be because a Sunday night game, which starts at 7:30, is STILL in the 4th QTR after I played hockey at 9:30 and got off the ice at 10:45. Advertisements are killing the Sunday-Monday and Thursday games, terrible for the NFL in thinking that this is a great idea.
3 games I don't even watch anymore - those are the three. Watch REDZONE for about an hour and then I have better things to do.

Anonymous said...

On the Joe McKnight front - there must be some kind of info not released yet that cause the assailant to enforce the "stand your ground" law.
Who gets out of their car to say sorry for a traffic thing anyways?? Why not just pull up and wave to say your sorry?
Something is up and the people that are pulling the race card need to stop.

My one beef? That on almost every instersection in americuh there are cameras, yet there isn't ONE here that caught anything?

Anonymous said...

'All of southern Saskatchewan is going to be gripped in Regina Pats fever'.

Last time I checked, Moose Jaw and Swift Current were both in southern Saskatchewan. Those communities will never cheer for the Patsies.

Everyone east of Belle Plaine has reason to be excited though. The Pats have a good squad.

Anonymous said...

With the Pats and REA reaching a new deal some improvements are in store for the Brandt Center. REA will likely invest in a few more rolls of duct tape for temporary fixes.

Anonymous said...

I also watch NFL red zone for a couple hours every Sunday at noon. The rest of the days can be flushed down the toilet as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

Ratings r down because streaming numbers r not counted.

Anonymous said...

I agree on Tillman but Roy? He prefered Nealon to Henry. That's why he was let go. He could find RBs but that was all.

Anonymous said...

What is killing NFL TV ratings

1) Time of primetime games 7:30 for a 3 1/2 hour to 4 hour game. That's too late for those in Eastern time zone where it matters

2) NFL RedZone channel. Have you watched this channel? Why would I invest in any of the Sunday games when all the big moments are on one channel

3) Twitter. The NFL is now streaming games on Twitter.

4) Apps Are the network apps included in ratings. This could also be said with TSN GO.

Sit there and say NFL ratings are down, but there are four good reasons. 3 of which the CFL don't have.


Anonymous said...

A lot of fans are very skeptical that Jones is going to make the Riders into a winning team. The more fans I talk to, the more I find are very dissatisfied with the direction this team is going. If his idea is to let DD go and sign some no name QB, there is going to be some very unhappy people out there. One more losing season under Jones and season tickets will not be a hard thing to come by in 2018.

Darcy said...

"extremely comfortable down here, and safe" spoken like a white person in a good living area

Anonymous said...

Glad you feel safe in a resort Rod. That in no way is any real indication of the USA. White, money and resorts. Americana!!!!

Anonymous said...

So is this comment

Anonymous said...

The White Resort comment is so true. I dare you as a white person to go walk around Shreveport at night. Remember the CFL team down there?

Anonymous said...

Hey hey hey hey... How easily people forget that Mr Roy Shivers is responsible for resurecting the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club from the dead. Have some damn respect! That football club wouldn't be who they are to this very day without his contributions. So what if he prefered Nealon Green over Henry Burris. Nobody in Saskatchewan liked Burris anyway, what's with all the Henry Burris love-in all of sudden Saskatchewan? Henry got greedy and left while Nealon Green served the Roughriders Club well while playing for them, just a stop gap fill-in to the team build. Mr. Roy Shivers was also personally responsible for bringing in Kerry Joseph and Darian Durant, both Grey Cup champions on behalf of the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2007-2013 respectively.

Anonymous said...

Dude, for the love of god. Put some pants on!

Anonymous said...

I don't get fans that simply assume Jones will build a winner. Here are some realities 1. Jones was an awful coach this year. Graded F even by himself. 2. He has proven absolutely nothing as a GM. Only one 5-13 season to his name.

I have not given up on Jones and agree with the poster that it takes time to do a rebuild. But let's judge the facts as time goes on. In two years we will find out if this keys to the franchise worked out.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. Maybe venture to the hood then see how safe you feel as a white person.

Rod Pedersen said...

There's rough areas in Regina too fellas.

Anonymous said...

ya check out Cowtown strip!!!