2-CHRIS JONES DOESN’T SCAPEGOAT: Very admirable of the Rider head honcho to not name names when asked about who screwed up with the roster mistake that made linebacker Matt Elam ineligible just moments before kickoff in the Edmonton game. This in a league where Wally Buono once chewed out long-time personnel aid Neil McEvoy live on national TV for a similar error that bounced Paul McCallum from their lineup just before the national anthem. Coaches in all sports are very sensitive about who gets credit/blame for just about everything that goes on. Some head coaches are always quick to lay blame on players, staff, referees, or anyone other than themselves when things go wrong. In this case, Chris Jones took the bullets and just moved on. If only we all had such courage when things don’t go our way.
3-SCHEDULE MAKERS ARE STILL MORONS: Back-to-back home games against the Stampeders? Seriously?!
4-NOT GIVING UP ON MANZIEL YET: Johnny Football’s disastrous debut would destroy just about any rookie quarterback in any league. Fact is, Johnny’s not a rookie. He’s been through an emotional grind most of us never have to experience. If he can beat addiction, then he can beat this too. I realize it is Montreal and the Alouettes personnel around him is horrendous. But Johnny signed up for this and is still saying all of the right things. I’m glad TV audiences around North America has something CFL-related to get excited about. I expect him to get better as the season goes. And remember, Doug Flutie’s first season in this league was a clown show with the B.C. Lions before they got it together in the final weeks of the season. And that seemed to work out okay for Doug. I’m not saying Johnny Manziel is the next Doug Flutie but I am saying it’s far too early to write him off yet.
5-DAVE DICKENSON IS MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER NORTH: A good visit with my old pal Marcus “Chunky” Adams jogged my memory about NFL coaching legend/perennial playoff goat Marty Schottenheimer and what might be ailing the Calgary Stampeders today. The Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers all put up impressive regular season win totals playing ‘Martyball’, only to succumb to big-game gaffes in the postseason when it mattered most. It hit me like a tonne of bricks! Marty Schottenheimer is Dave Dickenson and vice versa. Both men act in a very professional manner and obsess about details with the little things. They are both perfectionists in an imperfect game. This seems to wear both of their teams down to the point they have nothing left at the very end and they can never quite find that emotional extra gear to reach the finish line. Marty has alzheimer’s and won’t get another chance to get over the hump. Dave still has time but I have to think another November collapse in the Grey Cup or even sooner this fall will swarm people’s minds with doubt that he really is capable of ‘winning the big one’ as a head coach.
6-REGINA RED SOX DERAIL SWIFT CURRENT DYNASTY: It was my fantastic privilege to broadcast Games 3 and 4 of the Red Sox/Swift Current 57’s first round best-of-5 playoff round last week. Both games had an incredible finish with the Sox walking off the 57’s both times to eliminate Speedy Creek. “There will be no threepeat in 2018!” was the call after 3rd base coach Geoff MacDonald waved Sam De La Cruz home for the winning run off a Jashua Jones series-clinching base hit to cap a one-hour plus rain delay at Currie Field. The game 3 finish one night earlier might have been the greatest ball game I have EVER witnessed!Manager Mitch MacDonald’s first playoff series win in his 3-year run as head coach must feel like a thousand tonne weight off his shoulders.
7-SOX HEAVY UNDERDOGS IN WMBL SEMI-FINAL: Even before Monday night’s game 1 loss at Weyburn, we knew the Red Sox would face long odds in overcoming the first-place Beavers in round 2. Regina finished 10 and a half games back of Weyburn in the regular season and dropped 7 of their 8 meetings. The Weyburn Beavers are 82 years young and the Sox will have to beat what might be the greatest Beaver squad ever assembled. However, it is a new season and the Ides of August have always been unpredictable in this league. Games 3 and 4 were incredible in the Swift Current series and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again Wednesday and Thursday night in Regina this week either. No Rider games or Queen City Ex conflicts this time. I expect some great crowds at Currie Field.
8-WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE OLD TAYLOR FIELD LOT: It’s complicated but it’s simple. We have a piece of land within walking distance of Saskatchewan’s greatest sports/concert complex on one side and within walking distance of Saskatchewan’s greatest downtown on the other side. Somebody with money has to see value in living there. Luxury condos with some restaurant/bar space mixed in will clean up north central Regina like it’s never been tidied up before. Low income housing in a crime-ridden, impoverished neighborhood is never a good idea. Affordable housing needs to be spread around the city and not concentrated to one spot. At the old Taylor Field lot, go all in on high-end condos. Just don’t use the same developers who screwed up Capital Pointe.
9-GREAT SASKATCHEWAN SPORTS BROADCASTERS: Cameron Birnie in Weyburn, Rob Carnie of Moose Jaw, and Ryan Switzer from Swift Current.
10-BOOK/DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK:A GREAT GAME: THE FORGOTTEN LEAFS & RISE OF PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY is the book written by Stephen Harper while he was still our Prime Minister. Not a Harper supporter by any means and not sure how I feel about our prime minister using their time to write hockey books when there are probably more pressing matters at hand but the story is a good one and the proceeds do go to charity. Most hockey pucks think it started with an “original 6” NHL teams. WRONG! There’s a far more interesting story before that and it’s covered very eloquently here. A perfect read for any hockey fan going through withdrawal this time of the year.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)