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FAMOSO MONDAY NIGHTS

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

THROWIN' ELBOWS WITH BRENDAN MCGUIRE

1-BRIDGE NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Lucky for me, I was spared from Saturday’s Rider loss as I lobbed softballs in the homerun derby for the 6th annual Bobby Vargo Memorial Slow-Pitch Tournament in Kipling, Saskatchewan.

Unlucky for the 33,308 souls robbed of their Saturday night by Brandon Bridge, the quarterback showed us yet again he just isn’t ready (like they said in those tacky Justin Trudeau ads). So what if he had to contend with spotty protection and broken plays? This is a 4th year QB who suggested a few months ago that he still has NFL aspirations. Those who earn the right to be a starter in the pros have to at some point make chicken salad out of chicken poop and turn those around him into something better than they really are. Looks pretty clear to me that Brandon Bridge has been handed his share of groceries around here and so far to date, hasn’t cooked a very good meal at all.

2-WHERE DOES THIS RANK ON DISAPPOINTMENT SCALE?: Two other games come to mind in my 27 years of following the green and white. In 2000, John Huard showed up at Taylor Field wearing an orange coast guard outfit to lead his Toronto Argonauts (the Argos don’t wear orange in case you weren’t aware) to an opening day win over the re-building Riders. It was embarrassing because everyone knew the Boatmen would be a disaster that season, which they were. That would be Toronto’s only win under their crazy head coach in 8 tries before he was shoved aside for Pinball Clemons to take over. Then in 2003, the 1-17 Hamilton Tiger-Cats had their perfectly winless season ruined by a backward lateral fumble from Andrew Greene which set up a game-winning Ticat field goal for their only win of the year. Saturday’s loss reminds me of these games, not for any hopelessness brought about but rather by the embarrassment of losing on a night most of us felt certain victory would be ours. I expect listening to talk radio this week to be the highlight of my summer. 

3-WORST THING THAT COULD’VE HAPPENED TO ALOUETTES: Now that Drew Willy, Jeff Matthews, Kavis Reed, Andrew Wetenhall, and company have a win to speak of, they can high-five each other with the reassurance any win brings that they are in fact on the right track. Wrong! Snapping a 13-game losing streak to a backup quarterback your own organization gave up on not that long ago does not a season make. The Alouettes preyed on porous pass protection, an ineffective Bridge and a confused raw rookie, David Watford. Like Brandon Bridge, the Alouettes still haven’t impressed anyone at all. This win will only mask the plethora of deficiencies they still suffer from and might delay the inevitable blowing up of the management team that so badly needs to happen in order to get Montreal’s CFL team back on track.

4-TICATS A CUP CONTENDER: How could they not be? 3 games against the West and 3 games of 330-plus yard passing performances from Jeremiah Masoli with a pair of victories. June Jones has officially erased any doubt his 6-4 finish to last season was any kind of fluke. I boldly predicted June’s run-and-shoot experiment would go winless and Jones would return to the Hawaiian sunshine before Christmas. I was wrong. He’s adapted his offense to a hybrid of the run-and-shoot just enough to leave room for at least 10-15 carries a game plus whatever Jeremiah can do with his legs. It’s turned out to be a match made in heaven and the Ticats have entered the conversation to be the next eastern team to pounce on the Stampeders choking habits in this November’s Grey Cup. The fans in Edmonton would get a real kick out of that. 

5-LIKE BRIDGE, FRANKLIN SHOULD BE READY: I’m all for giving a quarterback time to develop before tossing him the keys to the Cadillac. But within 3 weeks of his 27th birthday and, like Bridge, into year 4 as a CFL quarterback, it’s time to pee or get off the pot for James Franklin. He’s still a big wildcard as we have very little to judge of him on in his 3 starts so far. His 12 TD passes to 1 Interception is eye-popping but Franklin has to show everyone now that he’s fully developed. Anything short of a win or 30-point outburst Saturday against Edmonton should and will be viewed as a disappointment. He hasn’t seen much game action yet but James Franklin should be on a short leash. He ain’t no kid anymore and Marc Trestman shouldn’t treat him like one either.

6-REGINA RED SOX IN A PENNANT RACE: The steamroller otherwise known as the Regina Red Sox pitching staff continues to roll. Adam De Le Cruz capped Canada Day’s thrilling extra innings 4-3 win at Okotoks with his game-winning RBI single but it was starting pitcher Dylan Bells who kept the Dawgs off the run column through the first 5 innings. Just how dominant have the Sox pitchers been? Going into Monday’s game at Okotoks, they had surrendered only 42 runs in their last 15 games! That’s an average of well under 3 runs per game. The 13 wins for Regina over that stretch have allowed them to pounce on the front running Weyburn Beavers who’ve cooled by losing 3 of their last 5, closing the gap to just 3 games. Now that we’re halfway through the season, it’s finally safe to say the Regina Red Sox are in a pennant race.

7-MY WHL GOONS ARE IMPECCABLE: Used this space exactly 2 months ago to report I was told Dean Brockman was being eyed to take over the Swift Current Broncos if Manny Viveiros got a job in the AHL or NHL following the Memorial Cup. Well, it took 8 weeks to actually happen but there he was being unveiled last Wednesday. Congratulations to my source who chooses to remain anonymous for knowing what the Swift Current Broncos are about to do before the Broncos themselves even know.

8-DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: It’s a competitive world out there and news outlets have to do what they can to drive traffic in order to survive. Some complained about the media showing pictures of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April and others have commented that stories involving athletes or ex-athletes, like the tragic crash near Elrose over the long weekend, get far too much attention compared to accidents that don’t. This is also true but it’s the readers who drive the market and if these media outlets don’t break these stories first, then they don’t exist at all. If you don’t like the way a website covers the story, then don’t visit the website. Y’er welcome.

9-HOW TO BE LIKE MIKE: The homerun derby in Kipling provoked another thought for this week’s column. Ty Vargo, the 4-time reigning champ of this spectacular event, was dethroned for the first time by a fellow named Mike Meszaros. Why does this matter you ask? Mike is 39 years old. These homerun competitions are like most sporting events, dominated by jocks in their 20’s. Most of us get distracted by other things like raising a family, work, I-phones, etc as we get older and let ourselves go in the belief we quit playing because we get old. But there was Mike Saturday night getting ready to turn 40, swatting dinger after dinger over the short porch in left (33 he hit in all) wowing the crowd and leaving a whole lot of us wishing if only for a night we could all, as they say in the cheesy 80’s Air Jordan commercials, be a little more like Mike. A nice reminder of how we don’t quit playing cuz we get old. We get old cuz we quit playing. 

10-DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: MY TURN AT BATT is a great read in which the author, Claude Brochu, tells his side of the story as to why he as owner of the Montreal Expos broke up the team that should have won it all in ’94 when the strike killed the season before they got another chance a year later. A decision many still believe today ultimately killed the Expos.

(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)

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