Now, a post about the sports scene in Saskatchewan. Last night was one of the more significant nights of pro sports in our province in a long time.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing their very first game at the new Mosaic Stadium, and it seems the stadium is getting a lot better reviews than the team is! At the same time, the Saskatchewan Rush were playing game two of the National Lacrosse League Champions Cup finals against the Georgia Swarm.
For those outside SK, these teams may say “Saskatchewan” but they are in two different cities. As the sign on the highway says: it’s South for the ‘Riders (Regina) and North for the Rush (Saskatoon).
The fact that both games were going at the same time surely impacted the Rush’s attendance: they didn’t even sell out their Cup finals game. No doubt, it was because so many fans opted for their usual drive to Regina to see the ‘Riders, who dominate sports media and sports interest in Saskatchewan so totally that it is insane.
Check out the media coverage from this past week and it’s been something like 90 percent ‘Riders, with the Rush getting the table scraps from Saskatoon media over the past couple of days. It actually gets to be kind of boring after a while — it’s all Riders all the time, basically.
Most of the media coverage has been on the quarterback battle. But with the much-touted Vince Young pulling a hamstring, that put his comeback on hold and people in Regina lost an opportunity to see him in action at the new stadium. Instead, the main battle Saturday was between Brandon Bridge and Bryan Bennett for a roster spot in a game that ultimately ended in a 25-25 tie.
Now, a big bone of contention for everyone in Saskatchewan last night was the lack of television coverage of both these games. Here was a pre-season game which was the historic first-one-ever at the new Mosaic Stadium, and yet TSN was showing French Open tennis and UFC Fight Night from New Zealand! Which is fine, but they have five channels. Couldn’t at least one of them have shown this game? There wasn’t even a live stream, either, for anyone to watch anywhere.
If you think that’s bad, what went down with the coverage of the NLL Cup finals game in Saskatoon was absolute bush league. First of all, there was no TV coverage of it at all, unlike last year when TSN showed it. There was not even local SaskTel MaxTV coverage like there was in previous games!
Okay, fine, then: there was still live streaming of the game on Twitter. Except when we all tried to tune in the game from Saskatchewan, we got geoblocked! We got stuck with a message claiming that due to “licensing restrictions” Twitter couldn’t show us the game. This made absolutely no sense, though, because Twitter had shown their past NLL games here, no problems.
I spent the whole first half tuning in an online radio feed of the Rush game while watching the UFC fights on television, and boy was I fuming. I was thinking maybe I should tune in the UFC more often and just say to hell with the NLL.
Finally, after half time, the NLL opened up their pay NLLTV stream to Canada free of charge, and so that was how we were finally able to see the Rush blow the game in the final seconds and then lose the Cup in OT, 15-14.
Honestly, this was terrible. Two big games of major importance to sports fans in Saskatchewan, meanwhile TSN and Sportsnet have 11 channels between them and not a single one showing either of them anywhere. No wonder these channels are referred to as “Toronto Sports Network” by people here. The Saskatchewan audience was not served at all Saturday night; our sports teams are being completely ignored. Why, again, are we paying big money on cable TV subscriptions? Why?
That’s my rant, now excuse me as I tune in the coverage of the Grand Prix race. From Montreal.
The big news from Saskatchewan is that former Heisman runner-up and ex-NFL quarterback Vince Young has signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. TSN broke the story Wednesday and it was all made official at a news conference today. This is not only big news up here in Canada, but also down there in the USA. Heck, even agent Leigh Steinberg was up here today. The locals are impressed.
Will this succeed? The Riders are taking a risk here. Young hasn’t played for years, yet he does not see this as a comeback — instead, he calls it an “opportunity”.
All I know is that when I was watching the feed from 7 News Miami and their Sports Xtra show a few weeks ago, when all this Young comeback talk was happening, superagent Drew Rosenhaus was saying he didn’t think much of it and thought a return to football was a bad idea.
Personally, I say, why not? For one thing, anyone who could handle the fishbowl atmosphere at the U. of Texas and with the Tennessee Titans in the NFL should have no difficulties at all in Saskatchewan. Moreover, the Roughriders are such a total mess at the quarterback position that coach/GM Chris Jones might as well give Young a shot. Really, the Riders have nothing to lose.
As for Jones: boy, does he ever look more and more like the Donald Trump of the Canadian Football League.
He is anti-establishment all the way in getting rid of popular players like Darian Durant, Weston Dressler and John Chick, in thumbing his nose at the Commissioner and the league office with all his rule violations, and by making unconventional moves like this.
Just like Trump, Jones is crazy, all right. Crazy like a fox. We’ll see if this works, and if Vince Young makes good on his pledge to Make Vince Great Again.
I don’t know what to make of this. A report from Justin Dunk of 3DownNation.com came out today that the Saskatchewan Roughriders gave disgraced ex-NFL Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel a workout last month.
The problem is Manziel is on the neg. list of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats! So this workout would’ve been illegal, and the Riders would therefore be in trouble again. Just like they were last season, with one violation after another!
For his part, Saskatchewan GM Chris Jones issued a statement denying this even happened, and TMZ Sports reported that Manziel himself is denying he had a workout with any CFL team!
You know, when I said that the Roughriders were turning into the Cleveland Browns of the CFL, I thought I was half-kidding. It’s quite possible I’m not! Anyway, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have become part of this whole Johnny Manziel circus that he’s had going for a while. All the sports outlets that love to report on Manziel’s endless antics are now reporting this story, too. Somehow, given the gong show the Riders have become under Jones’ leadership, it seems fitting.
Honestly, I don’t know who or what to believe on this one — the Riders, or Justin Dunk. Somebody is fibbing, big time, about something.
Indeed, the big news broke this morning that the Roughriders have traded quarterback Darian Durant to the Montreal Alouettes for a couple of draft picks. Durant was due to hit free agency and it sounds like the talks to re-sign him weren’t going well. We were all waiting for news about Durant and, wow, did we ever get news today.
The fans here are totally freaking out, as you would expect, with fans threatening to cancel season tickets and all that, and wanting to string up GM Chris Jones, etc. All the usual irrationality we’ve come to expect from the fans, except this time they are only trying to keep up with the irrationality in the Riders’ front office.
Personally, I find this latest move bewildering. Yes, football is a business, and I get the fact that Durant had been riddled with injuries and probably was not worth the amount of money his agent was demanding. But Durant was still a good quarterback for the Riders last season, even though the team lost.
What’s more, there really is no clear heir-apparent waiting in the wings to replace him.
This franchise has had plenty of time, and been on notice for a long time, about the need to address this situation given Durant’s injuries of the last three seasons. Instead, we’ve seen a revolving door of utter pretenders at the backup position, not a single next-great-CFL-QB in the bunch. Now, Durant’s departure date has arrived and the Riders, and we the fans, are all up the creek.
What is the plan in Riderville to replace Durant at the quarterback position? If there is one, I’d sure like to know what it is.
Well, folks, that was an abysmal game the Saskatchewan Roughriders played this weekend, losing 24-6 to the BC Lions, but at least the post-game sendoff to Taylor Field (aka Mosaic Stadium) was worthwhile.
It was unlike a lot of other postgame tributes we’ve seen at stadium closings in recent years. At these other places, they would usually bring out every old fossil who ever played for the team, and the tribute would go on and on and seem more about the team than about the stadium or arena they were leaving.
Here, this tribute focused mainly on the history of the stadium and the fan experience there, and the great games. They showed a tribute video with a light and fireworks show, keeping player appearances to a minimum. And they had George Reed, Roger Aldag, Gene Makowsky and Darian Durant with the Grey Cup at the end. That’s the way a closing tribute ought to be done. A video of it is up at the Riderville site.
Once the Regina Rams are done with their CIS football playoff run, that will be it for old Taylor Field — ending a big part of Saskatchewan history.
And now, with the last home game of the season in the trashcan, the CFL season is pretty much over in Saskatchewan — freeing up people’s time to follow curling and junior hockey. Such is life in this province.
Yes, folks, at long last hockey season is upon us! Tonight, the SJHL season begins with five games on the schedule.
My press pass is here, and while I’m not going to be covering the game tonight here in the Battlefords against Kindersley, I’m looking forward to following the games on the radio and maybe even getting out to cover one in the coming weeks, in between municipal election coverage.
And may I just say that if there was ever a year in which Saskatchewan sports fans are looking forward to the return of hockey, it is this season! Usually, the return of hockey depresses the heck out of people because it means winter’s coming. But I think fans simply want something to get their minds off the Canadian Football League.
Honestly, the entire CFL product — and I’m not just referring to the terrible 1 win-10 loss Saskatchewan Roughriders — has been awful this season. Lousy officiating, endless senseless penalties, and too many delaying video reviews and decisions by league officials at head office have made the whole sport unwatchable, and the TV ratings reflect it. The CFL is getting killed in the TV ratings by the Blue Jays and by the NFL, and even by World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games! And it’s all because the product is lousy.
The Riders in particular have been a gong show, due to rules violations and bizarre player moves (ie. signing notorious anti-Semitic social media troll Khalif Mitchell, and now letting him go). If it wasn’t for the fact that this was the last season for the beloved old stadium, with everyone wanting to see the place before they tear it down, attendance would be far worse than it is. This team is so far out of the race now that it’s a waste of time tuning in, and there are still seven more games to go. Seven utterly meaningless joke contests – the season ticket holders won’t be impressed.
As for the fan mood in Saskatchewan, people here are just plain depressed and want this season over with. It’s a contrast to last season, where anger prevailed and everyone wanted everyone fired. Most don’t even have the energy to be mad at coach/GM Chris Jones anymore for all his roster moves — they’re just exhausted. Lately, the press has been trying to drum up interest in whether or not QB Darian Durant should be re-signed or traded, but people are too exhausted for that whole issue, too.
I think there will be interest in the final CFL game in old Mosaic Stadium as well as the “trial run” game at the new stadium between the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina. Beyond that, fans are spent. They simply want to see this football season hauled to the dump, finally.
But hockey season offers new and fresh hope. I think sports fans in Regina are actually more enthused about the Regina Pats right now than the ‘Riders, because of all the predictions about how good a team they’re going to have in the WHL. The bottom line is a lot of people are looking forward to hockey season, not just myself.
Also starting up very quickly is the World Cup of Hockey, and for some reason I’m pumped up about this tournament. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic for those Summit Series and those Canada Cup tournaments that had taken place years before. It has been a long time since we’ve had a tournament like this happen in the month of September, going back all the way to 2004.
You may recall what happened back then: Canada indeed won the World Cup of Hockey, and then the very next day the lockout started that ended up wiping out the entire NHL season. So that kind of killed the fans’ enthusiasm for this tournament right there.
Of course, the main complaint out here in the West is that all the World Cup games will be going on in Toronto, at Air Canada Centre, with no games being hosted outside of there at all (except for these meaningless pre-tournament “friendlies”).
It seems strange that organizers would set it up this way. Then again, many aspects of this tournament are strange (under-23 squads, etc.).
Anyway, the bottom line is hockey is back, and for suffering Canadian football fans it cannot come back soon enough.
Welcome to “Sports from Nowhere” for this final day of the Olympic Games in Rio. All in all, I am sure glad to see another Summer Olympics over with, because I was tired of seeing it on just about all these sports channels.
The main reason I’m glad it’s over is because I was really getting fed up with the usual nationalism and jingoism we’ve come to expect. And as usual, it was mainly emanating from Team USA, in particular its insufferable swim team.
In particular, Ryan Lochte’s half-cooked story that he told about being robbed at gunpoint, when in fact it was his buddies busting a washroom door at a gas station, has made all Americans look arrogant and obnoxious. No wonder people are mad at him.
Honestly, though, I haven’t been too focused on this Lochte controversy, either. In part, it’s because I was focused on covering other important news this week. But it’s also because I have spent my free time concentrating on these other sports besides the Olympic Games. Such as: the CFL.
Why, I don’t know. The CFL is increasingly painful to watch, and that goes double for my beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders who were clobbered in Hamilton yesterday by a score of 53-7.
Needless to say, the post-game shows on the radio were interesting again. Lots of fed-up people were threatening not to renew their season’s tickets over this debacle of a season. Saskatchewan fans feel they are being taken for granted, and they sure are, ladies and gentlemen.
I am noticing more and more consternation about attendance in the league as a whole. Yesterday, the Toronto Argos hosted Edmonton at BMO Field and the attendance there was once again terrible, announced at just over 15,000. Meanwhile, I tuned in the post-game show the other night from BC after they hosted Calgary, and the Lions fans were freaking out on the radio about how bad the attendance was for that game between two teams at the top of the CFL West. It drew only about 20,000. Seriously, people are more obsessed with the CFL’s attendance numbers than they are with the scores for the bleepin’ games!
In particular, people are tearing their hair out about how the local MLS soccer teams are beating the CFL in attendance in these big cities (that also includes Montreal). There is also hand-wringing about the league’s demographics, and how millennials are tuning out the CFL and tuning in soccer instead. But that is nothing new, folks, it’s been going on for years. Of course, the Saskatchewan sports media folks look at this and wonder what’s wrong with these people, but this is what happens in markets where fans have options. They make choices.
My read of the situation is that the CFL is just shooting itself in the foot with all these flag-happy referees, all these challenge flags and booth-reviews, and of course all the controversies regarding roster violations and the like (this means you, Chris Jones). If the CFL wants to be relevant again in the big cities, they need to stop being such a gong show.
As I said, even in Saskatchewan the customers are losing patience, and interest. I was in some establishments the other day where instead of having TVs tuned to the CFL game like they normally are in the province, they’d be tuned to (a) the Blue Jays or (b) the Olympics!
Other establishments no doubt had their TVs tuned into the big fight last night — the Nate Diaz- Conor McGregor UFC 202 fight that went the distance with McGregor prevailing by decision. That, my friends, was entertainment. Fans would rather watch that than this current CFL product any day. Heck, they’d even rather watch the final concert of the Tragically Hip. As I said, the CFL needs to up its game.
Finally, may I add that I’ve been trying to tune in this weekend’s NASCAR racing from Bristol, Tennessee, but the weather has absolutely failed to cooperate. It was rained out last night and it’s raining again today. I have no idea when they’ll get that racing in.
That’s my ranting for this afternoon.
Welcome to Sports News from Nowhere live from sunny Saskatchewan, where the top sports story is — no, not the Blue Jays, not Michael Phelps, and definitely not Alex Rodriguez.
It is, as usual, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, whose recent activities seem more in line with what the Russians might do in the Olympics. The Canadian Football League has lowered the boom big time on the Riders for their monkey business with all their roster violations. They got fined $60 K for breaking CFL rules that “prohibit practicing with ineligible players, players participating in practice who are on the 6-Game Injured List and having free agents practice with players who are under contract.” The Riders were doing such things as having pre-practice squads, bringing extra players in and putting them up in houses, and so on.
The Riders also took a $26 K hit to their salary cap. Well, great. The loyal fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders have found out their hard-earned money is going towards supporting a bunch of crooks. The money we pay for tickets and merchandise is now going towards paying off CFL fines. I know Rod Pedersen has been going on the radio claiming other teams in the league do this stuff, too, but I don’t care about that. Our team ought to rise above this level.
Is this what the Chris Jones era with the Riders going to be about, then — winning at all cost? Well, if that’s the plan, they aren’t even getting that right, because this team is 1-5 and sinking fast. They’re no good at winning, and not even good at cheating. Saskatchewan fans may well have no reason left to care about this football season come Labour Day.
Now some thoughts about the Olympics. It has turned into a really bad Olympics for announcers. Among other things, the “sexism police” have been on the loose looking for things broadcasters have said on the air which they find objectionable.
But nothing beats the agony of the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, who called Ryan Lochte’s victory in the 200 m individual medley.
There was just one problem: Lochte wasn’t the winner.
It was actually Michael Phelps winning, for his fourth gold of these Games and 22nd overall. Friedman had confused the two lanes in his call of the race. Oh, boy.
But good on Friedman to admit his blunder on Twitter and make no excuses for the screwup.
If it makes Friedman feel any better, there has been plenty of agony to go around at the Olympics. Just today the heavily-favored USA women’s soccer team lost to Sweden in penalty kicks, crashing out in the quarter-finals and prompting a disgusted reaction from Hope Solo.
If today’s tense and high-level soccer action has you all excited about that sport, here’s more good news: Barclays Premier League season starts tomorrow.
That is it for now — now back to watching A-Rod’s retirement game on FOX.
After what has seemed like ages, I finally took a road trip to Edmonton yesterday. Enjoyed listening to Edmonton and Calgary sports talk stations on the radio while driving.
I have to say – I found it refreshing, very refreshing, to hear the radio hosts spend their time talking about the NHL, and a little bit of the Blue Jays and UFC and English Premier League, instead of what fans are stuck with in Saskatchewan.
And what do fans get stuck with in Saskatchewan? Why, what else — nonstop coverage of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the CFL. Even when it’s NHL season.
It’s at the point now where they cannot even do an NHL story without the ‘Riders being mentioned! This week the news was about how ‘Riders fans were invading Arizona with their green jerseys to see the Arizona Coyotes play the Anaheim Ducks! And I know people want to show their “Rider Pride” but this, folks, is getting ridiculous.
This is the offseason, guys. Let’s focus on the other sports that are actually going on right now, shall we? This is a paid political announcement.
Quarterback Darian Durant agreed to terms of a new deal today. So hopefully this will quiet down all the usual hysteria and high blood pressures we have all come to expect from Saskatchewan Roughrider fans, a.k.a. “Rider Nation”, about his future.
Jeez, folks, you need to calm down, all of you. This is supposed to be the offseason. Save your strength for the regular season, eh?
I just thought I would add my two cents about the sports scene in Saskatchewan, and in particular about the arrival of the National Lacrosse League and the Saskatchewan Rush. The Rush are a hit! I was glad to see over 9,000 fans at SaskTel Centre for the first game. By contrast, both the UFC Fight Night event and the NHL exhibition game last fall (with Connor McDavid and the Oilers) saw a much lower gate, closer to 7 thousand. Quite honestly, if I were Lee Genier, president of the Rush, I’d be ecstatic. All that saturation promotion of the Rush on Saskatoon billboards and on TV (with their commercials littering the NFL games on CTV) did the job — in spite of the obvious non-interest shown by much of the sports media in Saskatchewan. Thanks for nothing, you guys. Fortunately, the people have spoken.
The good news is that there are all kinds of reports of people giving the game experience rave reviews. On social media I am seeing a lot of comments from people who say they will go back for another game. This is exactly what had to happen — the Rush needed a big crowd in order to accomplish big word of mouth. I think the momentum is just going to build for this.
As for the whole fallout from the Weston Dressler-John Chick departures from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, fans are starting to calm down, but a lot of bitterness remains. All I have to say to Saskatchewan football fans is keep things in perspective. It could be far worse — you could be a football fan in St. Louis.
That is it for now. Coming up soon: News from Nowhere.
To bring this lost season to an end I served up this venom-filled rant of a column in the newspaper looking back at this terrible Saskatchewan Roughriders 2015 campaign.
In a nutshell, I basically skewered the “conventional wisdom” we got from the Riders and from the “Riders media” all season. I was sick of the nonstop hype for this team, and sick of continually hearing how this season was the inevitable tradeoff for 2013, and sick of hearing all this whining from Riderville about all the fans being interested in the Blue Jays instead of the Riders. I was probably far more disgusted with all of this than with the actual play on the field.
Mainly, this column on the Riders season serves as my final parting shot as I can finally set aside my duties as “interim sports reporter,” and get a full weekend off for the first time in weeks.
And no, I am not going to go out of my way to watch the CFL playoffs this Sunday afternoon. NASCAR is going to be my priority, especially since there are only two weekends of racing left and I haven’t watched nearly enough of it all season.
It was one of my worse days as a sports fan yesterday.
- The Toronto Blue Jays lost in 14 innings to the Rangers 6-4, so they are now down two games and facing elimination on Sunday.
- To add to the misery, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were finally eliminated from playoff contention in a 30-15 defeat to Hamilton that was so thoroughly a depressing display of football on their part that I truly wonder if the Riders will be any good any time in the foreseeable future.
All I have to say is this will make it really easy for me to devote my focus to the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the coming weeks.
I just thought I would add an update about the sports action from around here. Today, the SJHL Showcase is on in Warman, so I am following the Battlefords North Stars’ progress there this week. The team was also in action on the road this weekend. Here is a link to my story about the two North Stars SJHL games in Nipawin and Flin Flon, although I feel I should point out I was not actually at the games.
Instead, I wrote this story entirely based on SJHL online score sheets and Craig Beauchemin’s radio play-by-play — which, I should note, got bumped on Saturday night to FM 93.3 The Rock because rights holders CJNB 1050 were airing the game featuring the pathetic Saskatchewan Roughriders against the BC Lions. Honestly, it is the ‘Riders who deserve to be bumped, because they are awful. 46-20 was the final score on Saturday.
Incredibly, the backup Lions QB who started and did so well in taking the ‘Riders apart on Saturday, Jonathan Jennings, had actually been given a tryout by the Roughriders down in Florida a year ago! But the geniuses running the Riders passed up on him to go with Tino Sunseri, and Seth Doege!!
This brilliant decision-making, my friends, is exactly the reason why ex-GM Brendan Taman and ex-head coach Corey Chamblin are out of jobs today. And while on the subject of Florida, I notice the Miami Dolphins fired their head coach Joe Philbin today, right after they had gone to London, England and lost to the Jets — and his record this season was 1-3! By contrast, here in Saskatchewan they waited until the team dropped to 0-9 before the people on high finally did something about it.
Finally, some work-related news. The good news is I am no longer “Temporary Interim Sports Reporter” at the newspaper.
The bad news is I am now simply “Interim Sports Reporter” as it is increasingly obvious there is nothing “temporary” about this situation. Once again, apologies to Northwest region sports fans. I clearly am going to be doing the sports beat for a while yet.
It has been a busy last couple of weeks for myself on the sports beat. On the local sports scene alone in the past 72 hours I have covered two high school football games, an SJHL game, a AAA midget hockey game, and a roller derby game.
As you may know, roller derby is on the comeback again and lots of women are playing it, and we now have an organized league here that has regular matches. The local roller derby game was heavily promoted as the “Blood Moon” game because of the supermoon lunar eclipse that is happening late tonight.
I took a lot of photos but the story will have to be a short one. Unfortunately, it became obvious rather quickly last night that I have absolutely no clue what the rules are for roller derby.
Today, I file the pictures I’ve taken over the last couple of days and hopefully after that I might be able to rest my back, which is acting up again due to all this writing and blogging I am doing lately. I clearly am overdue for that vacation which I have been putting off over and over again. I need to finally use my backlog of vacation time, eventually.
Other thoughts about other happenings in sports:
The Toronto Blue Jays have officially ended their 22-year playoff drought and have clinched at least the home field for the wild card game — which they hopefully won’t need to play because they lead the division by four games and their magic number to clinch over the New York Yankees is five.
Needless to say, I am a very happy and proud Blue Jays fan today. Beyond the fact that they’re winning, they are also exciting to watch. The home runs have been just flying lately.
They had their ace David Price on the mound yesterday against Tampa Bay and it was kind of a bad day for pitchers in general, but the Blue Jays did manage to win 10-8. Today’s game is the last home game of the regular season so hopefully the Jays can get one more crucial win at home before they go on the road. It is great to see Blue Jays fever return to Rogers Centre and all over the country. May I note it is far more fun being a baseball fan when your team is “in it.”
I should also note the same is true in football. But alas, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are not “in it”, though they do remain mathematically alive as they face the Montreal Alouettes at home. I was surprised to find out that they only have one more home game after this, against Edmonton, and I am going wow, football is almost over already here?
Maybe Canadian football should expand its season so it’s as long as the Australian football season. On that note — Hawthorn and West Coast Eagles are set for the Grand Final.
And if you think plane ticket prices are bad in Canada, due to the state of our dollar and so on, apparently for West Coast fans it’s cheaper to fly to London, England from Perth than it is to fly to Melbourne for the Grand Final.
Anyway, we don’t have any of these problems in Saskatchewan, because Winnipeg is close enough that we don’t even need to fly there for the Grey Cup. Apparently, ticket sales are still slow.
In other ticket sales, only 7500 showed up for Connor McDavid and the NHL preseason game between the Oilers and Wild in Saskatoon. Not surprised, really, there was really not a lot of buzz out there for the game and plenty of the usual local negativity about preseason NHL hockey and all that.
And season ticket sales are now on for the new Saskatchewan Rush in the National Lacrosse League, so hopefully they get some fan support.
The biggest obstacle is familiarizing a lot of local fans with the game, as this is still more of a football-hockey-curling area. So a lot of fans might be wondering if they would like pro lacrosse. Folks, all you need to do is just go on YouTube and see the videos there of NLL games, especially some of ones featuring the Toronto Rock’s championships from the early 2000s. That was intense stuff, with winning goals scored in the final second of the game and so on.
That ought to give you an idea, but if that doesn’t work, check out the coverage and watch the videos of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships 2015 going on right now in upstate New York. Good stuff.
And that is all for now.
This has been a work weekend so I have been out covering the local events for the past couple of days and filing pictures and stories. My work is pretty much done for the weekend, so that means I am now tuning in the NFL as well as the NASCAR “Chase” which is now on. It’s a pretty brazen move by NASCAR to put their product up against the mighty National Football League, but they manage.
While watching that, I have been looking for audio streams for these NFL teams and had been listening online to the Buccaneers and Dolphins radio networks. The thing I like about football from Florida is that folks there are totally into football and the NFL. Reminds me of the passion fans have here on the prairie for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Despite all the teams’ troubles, the fans still show up. Wish it were that way all over Canada, but it isn’t.
As an aside — I am done, absolutely done, with the Riders this season.
Last night the Riders managed to call a timeout that they didn’t actually want to call to begin with, allowing quarterback Henry Burris time to lead his team down the field to get the winning field goal in a 30-27 Ottawa win.
This was in spite of a decent enough start by quarterback Kevin Glenn. So now the Riders are 1-11 with six games to go in the season, and with Zach Collaros out injured in Hamilton all the talk now is about how the Riders might officially throw in the towel and trade Glenn over there.
The way things are going, this is shaping up as possibly the worst season in franchise history. This has certainly been the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and I’ve endured no shortage of terrible Roughrider teams.
While the team is not yet officially eliminated the next six games are shaping up as meaningless contests for the Riders, for the most part. Makes me nostalgic about the old days when Roughriders teams routinely played nothing games late in the season every year.
Let me tell you, the Riders are really making it easy for me to concentrate on all the other sports going on right now.
As for me, I didn’t even tune in most of this CFL game on Saturday night. Instead of tuning in the Riders, I mainly followed the SJHL Battlefords North Stars game versus the Kindersley Klippers. This was job-related, as I was writing up the story on the weekend series between the two teams during this opening weekend of the SJHL hockey season.
In fact, it’s just two games into their regular season and the North Stars have more wins than the Riders have all year.
Can I add a comment on the weather? It has been beautiful this weekend, and while it is expected to cool down, this overall El Niño weather pattern looks like it will benefit this area for several weeks. Yet the local football fans aren’t getting a chance to enjoy it. This is September, supposedly the heart of football season, yet these loyal Saskatchewan fans who have shelled out their hard-earned money for Riders football are being reduced to watching a bunch of absolute nothing games coming up. Rider Nation deserves better.
I have an announcement to make. In honour of the fact that I am now “Temporary Interim Sports Reporter” for the coming couple of weeks, I have decided to completely turn over my blog to sports for the duration.
This will be until my “interim” tag is lifted and I can go back to covering news — I expect Oct. 1 or whereabouts. Then I’ll go back to posting what I normally post.
That means, for now, (a) no coverage of the election, and (b) no coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival — although I notice eTalk and ET Canada, and Citytv, seem to be doing a good enough job of their live feeds. In fact, I notice Tanya Kim is with Citytv now, doing their red carpet coverage.
Bottom line for me, though, is I have nothing to add about the film festival anyway because I’m not there. Maybe I’ll go to The Martian or Black Mass or these other films when they hit the cinemas later on.
As for my whereabouts, I am covering the SJHL hockey season beginning tonight at the Civic Centre when the Battlefords North Stars host the Kindersley Klippers. The North Stars will also be on the road tomorrow in Kindersley, but I will not be at that one, it’s too far away.
As an aside, this is one year in particular when everyone is really, really happy to see hockey back, because this football season has been a BUST.
It’s not just CFL season that is a bust, it’s also the CIS season! Tonight’s big university contest is between the Rams and Huskies in Saskatoon. Of course, both teams are 0-2. So yeah, it has been a big disappointment for everyone.
As for other football news — only in Saskatchewan is there a quarterback controversy for a lousy 1-10 football team!
Veteran QB Kevin Glenn will start for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against the Ottawa RedBlacks, much to the consternation of fans who want to see the Riders develop young QB Brett Smith.
People, get off the ledge. This Riders season is a write off, and it really doesn’t matter who plays. Smith has had enough playing time as it is and will likely get even more once the team is officially eliminated. As for Glenn, he is your best chance at winning right now and probably your best chance of evaluating the receivers and other talent on offence. On top of that, he’s still getting paid, so you might as well make him earn a paycheck in the meantime.
Overall, this silly “QB controversy” means little in the grand scheme of things and getting all worked up about it is not worth the effort. It’s just more pointless drama being cooked up to maintain what little interest fans have left in this season. Folks here need to settle down and quit drinking so much Pilsner, already.
It is football Game Day again, and as usual all the province’s media are hyping up this Banjo Bowl game in Winnipeg between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and how we all ought to be interested in this football game and in the Canadian Football League, and so on.
I think it’s some sort of law in Saskatchewan that we are supposed to all be big CFL fans. Yet I’m not into this game, a matchup which looks more like a “toilet bowl” than a “Banjo Bowl”. The Bombers are 3-7 and the Riders 1-9!
In fact today I am much more concerned with what’s going on with the Toronto Blue Jays and their baseball series with the New York Yankees, fighting for first place. They have an important doubleheader today.
I can’t help it. I’m just a bad Saskatchewanian.
Update: And the Saskatchewan Roughriders are just plain BAD. They lost 22-7, and their record drops to 1-10. (Well, at least the Blue Jays won.)
Well, after yesterday’s utter debacle of a game in Ottawa, followed by mass outrage by fans on social media and on the post-game talk shows, the hammer has indeed fallen for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It has been confirmed now in a news release from the team that head coach Corey Chamblin and GM Brendan Taman have been fired.
This absolutely had to happen. I know these two led us to the Grey Cup, but now they are leading this Riders franchise to ruin.
This team is 0-9 and going nowhere. Yesterday’s game was an utter debacle, with Chamblin pulling QB Brett Smith and putting in the hapless Tino Sunseri for no discernible reason.
As for Taman, he was the architect of this bunch of castoffs and old timers, and of course the older they are the more injury-prone. He saddled Chamblin with this group of people. Worse yet, it looks like this team is going to be terrible for years now, so he has to be fired, right now, before any further damage is done to the franchise.
Personally, I had felt for a while that both of them had to go, but only if there was a plan in place for who to bring in. But the Ottawa game was absolutely the straw that broke the camels’ back for me and for everyone else, the game that finally finished off any hope that Saskatchewan fans had left about this season. People were threatening to boycott the Labour Day Classic if nothing was done.
Now, the plan is for Jeremy O’Day to be interim GM and Bob Dyce to be interim head coach for the rest of the season. I can’t see either of them doing any worse than the two guys who were there before.
Forget all of what I said.
This Saskatchewan-Ottawa game is absolutely bush league. And I can’t believe our coach Corey Chamberlain, I mean Chamblin, put quarterback Tino Sunseri into this game.
At least the Blue Jays are worth watching. What a farce.
Well, all I have got to say is that it’s a good thing this province is getting the Saskatchewan Rush pro lacrosse team, because that’s about the only championship-calibre action to look forward to around here for the immediate future.
The low point of last night’s 30-5 debacle to Edmonton, which dropped the Saskatchewan Roughriders record to 0-6 for the first time since 1979, was when Corey Chamblin threw the hapless Tino Sunseri in as QB in the fourth quarter. It was that moment when I threw my hands up and said “that’s it! It’s official, the Riders have completely given up on this season.” This was the moment the Riders season jumped the shark, in my view. The “it’s over” moment.
Still, being a Rider fan to the end, I will keep on following the team for the rest of this miserable season, even if only for the spectacle of listening to fans freak out on the post-game shows on CKRM and CJME. Last night’s shows were epic, to say the least.
So that was the first piece of bad news, the Edmonton game. Now the second: Saskatoon-born wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper has died.
That’s really about it. What a way to start a long weekend, eh?
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are 0-5, going on 0-6, going on 0-18. Now that quarterback Kevin Glenn is on the shelf for six weeks, everyone has lost hope except for the few die-hard optimists remaining.
I noticed this afternoon that even the sports radio guys here in the province, the ones who normally devote 24/7 saturation coverage to the Riders and the CFL, are losing hope. Evidence of this happened today on 620 CKRM on the SportsCage show. I noticed they spent much of the show this afternoon discussing the Blue Jays’ big acquisition of David Price from the Tigers. They also talked about the local WMBL baseball team, the Regina Red Sox.
A sports talk show in Saskatchewan talking about baseball? During CFL season, no less?! For most of the show? This, my friends, never happens here.
Now granted, Rod Pedersen wasn’t on the SportsCage show today because he’ll be calling tomorrow’s game in Edmonton, but it still is a great example of how far the Riders have fallen.
Among fans, I notice a distinct change in mood this week. A couple of weeks ago when the problems started, everyone was freaking out and calling for people’s heads to roll, including coach Corey Chamblin’s. But there has been an eerie calm this week. I get the feeling people realize what a train wreck this campaign has become with all the injuries and problems, and that nothing can be done to save the ‘Riders season. People seem to be coming to terms with it all. Either that, or the fans are still in such a state of shock about how swift a fall it has been that they don’t know what to say anymore.
As for the game against Edmonton on Friday the fans’ expectations couldn’t be lower. No one expects third-string QB Brett Smith to do much.
I’ll likely tune in the game tomorrow, but I really ought to stick to baseball instead. In 2015, football season is simply depressing the heck out of me.
Wow, was last night’s defeat to BC Lions the most inexplicable one for the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the ’09 Grey Cup?!
The Riders had the game in the bag — until that BC touchdown, and then QB Brett Smith was stuffed on the third down conversion, handing BC the opportunity to tie the score on an improbable 55-yard field goal. And of course in overtime the Riders lost the game.
Now the Riders are 0-3, and even though it is still early in the season, the fan base is outraged at what they are seeing.
The local post-game call-in shows were interesting last night, to say the least. People were bashing head coach Corey Chamblin, and moaning about the play calling and the defence again.
The message boards are also full of venom. Check out the headlines at the Riderfans.com discussion forums and they tell you all you need to know about the general fan mood right now. One of the threads is entitled “Chamblin you are a disaster…” while another reads “worst coached Rider team since Greg Marshall.” Another thread reads “if they let Chamblin go.”
This is just two years after Chamblin led this team to the Grey Cup, yet people are already calling for his head. But this place is notorious for pulling the trigger quickly. In fact, coach John Gregory was just two years removed from a Grey Cup win himself when he was fired early in the ’91 season.
The real problem for Chamblin is all the other scapegoats you could point to on this team have already walked the plank. The offence tanked last year, so they canned offensive coordinator George Cortez. They also tossed Richie Hall over the defence’s performance.
The fans cannot even blame QB Darian Durant for any problems anymore, because he’s out for the season. The real issue is there’s no one else left to blame. It’s all on Chamblin, and for that matter, general manager Brendan Taman. Who, by the way, is taking increasing heat for building a squad full of old and castoff football players.
So if you are going to fire anyone, you have to fire them, it’s that simple. Any more losses like this one last night and the chorus will be on full blast from the fans to find replacements for both these two.
As an aside — isn’t it awful for a whole province to have to pin its hopes on just one pro team?
That’s the advantage of living somewhere else, like Toronto. Instead of just one pro team letting you down, they have five or six of them doing that.
But at least in Toronto, when one team’s season starts to head straight down the tank, you at least have the option to move on to something else that might offer fresh hope or at least a few wins in the meantime (ie. the Raptors).
Here in Riderville, you can’t. We’re stuck with the Riders, like it or not, and there are still 15 more agonizing contests left to endure.
We are heading into the playoffs for the CFL this weekend here in Polar Vortex-ridden Canada.
The division semifinals happen Sunday, as the BC Lions cross over to the East to play the Montreal Alouettes, while our Saskatchewan Roughriders head to Edmonton to take on the Eskimos. I guess this means I’m not tuning in the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, then, given the scheduling.
I wrote a piece that sums up the 2014 campaign so far. I describe the season as “one big hangover” because it really has been one issue after another.
The quarterbacking situation since Darian Durant went down, followed by the big late-season swoon, has sucked the life right out of the fans. The word to describe the mood is one of “exhaustion”, really. Fans here look ready to be put out of their misery.
The hype machine out of Riderville has continued non-stop, however, with all this phony optimism coming out of there that nobody believes anymore.
They have been raising the prospect that Durant might be ready for the playoff game against Edmonton. We’ve been hearing these rumors for days and weeks on the sports talk shows. Well, word just came the other day that it is it is Kerry Joseph who is starting, not Durant, which confirms to me what I’ve thought all along — that this Durant talk was all a bunch of hot air designed to hype up interest in the team.
Despite this, there are still people in Saskatchewan who insist they’ll beat Edmonton, pointing to the injury problems of the Esks QB Mike Reilly. There are also people suspicious that these broken-foot rumors are all a ruse and that Reilly will end up in the game anyway.
We’ll see. But I’d be far more confident in the Riders if they were at full health. If the Riders get past Edmonton, and if Durant can get healthy and come back, maybe they still have a chance at the Cup. But right now I’ll have to see it to believe it.
Just a reminder that on this, the final day of the MLB season, there is NHL pre-season hockey in Saskatoon! Edmonton Oilers versus Chicago Blackhawks in preseason hockey!
Woo hoo! Major league hockey in Saskatchewan! Aren’t we supposed to be excited?
Well, if we are, we are keeping it well hidden. I’ve noticed little local chatter at all for this game among the fans or even the press.
My guess is it’s partly because the Oilers have been so awful for so many years, so nobody is impressed to see those guys here. And why should they be?
The other part, obviously, is the local preference for another sport entirely.
Most of the talk here in the last 48 hours has been about the recent performance of Tino Sunseri and the quarterbacking crisis with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
You know, football, a sport in so much disgrace at the moment that you now have people going around lecturing us about how we shouldn’t be fans of it anymore. I guess the Edmonton Eskimos are right, then. Saskatchewan football fans really must be horrible human beings.
It is bad stunts like the Edmonton Eskimos ads declaring Saskatchewan Roughriders fans to be “horrible human beings” that are dragging down the Canadian Football League. (This is in advance of tonight’s game in Edmonton where the Esks are hosting the Riders.)
It’s not only that, it’s stuff like the Riders themselves putting up billboards taunting the fans in the other teams’ cities, with “green is the new blue” slogans and other crap. In a way, the Riders deserve this comeback/comedown by the Eskimos, given their previous billboard arrogance and disrespect shown towards the other teams’ fans.
Still, it is exactly this sort of juvenility that is making the entire CFL look bush league compared to the other sports in Canada. No wonder people in Toronto, sophisticates that they are, aren’t going to CFL games if this is what they see. The folks in charge need to quit with these cheap gimmicks and realize that any fans coming to any of their games ought to be welcomed with open arms. This league needs all the business it can get — even if it comes from fans of the opposing team who travelled for miles to get to the games.
Here’s a suggestion — instead of these stupid cut-down-the-other-team’s-fans promotions, save your marketing money and give your own fans a break in the ticket prices instead. Then maybe more of them might show up, for a change!
There, I’ve said my piece for tonight.
Quite frankly, I’m too disgusted to talk about it. So here is the link to the story at TSN instead.
The frenzy that ensued after the announcement Monday of cuts by the Kansas City Chiefs is finally over.
After a bidding battle this week that also involved Ottawa and Calgary, wide receiver Weston Dressler has rejoined the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a one-year deal. Too much history here, he said.
Well, good. I am glad this is over, because over the past few days these Saskatchewan fans sure reminded me of the nutty LeBron James fans in Cleveland.
People were offering free sandwiches, free carwashes, the works. Check out an example below, courtesy the CBC.
The only thing missing were the Riders fans camping out at his house. Seriously. Our fans are crazy.
The biggest winner in this deal, though, in my opinion, is GM Brendan Taman, who no longer has to worry about the wrath of our fans had Dressler gone elsewhere. He can finally exhale, just as the fans are doing, now that Dressler is back.
Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Kory Sheets goes in with the Oakland Raiders to Green Bay in pre-season action Friday and has this happen. Achilles injury, gone for the season.
So he’s not playing anywhere this year — not for the Raiders, the Saskatchewan Roughriders or any other team this season, in any league.
The sad thing about it was that Sheets was actually a factor on the field in these Raiders games, he wasn’t sitting on the bench. The worst thing of all is this is probably the end of his NFL hopes for good. Depressing.
With Sheets now done for the season, my interest in NFL pre-season is also pretty much done since the Kansas City Chiefs games have been a waste of everyone’s time to watch.
I am now reduced to hoping that Weston Dressler simply makes it to Cut Day in one piece in Kansas City without anything terrible happening to him, so that the Riders can pick him up.
As an aside — Saskatchewan fans thinking of attending one of those Chiefs-Raiders games this NFL season may be in a mood to change some plans.
Everyone in Rider Nation is chortling over the pledge made by BC Lions president Dennis Skulsky that his team would beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. He guaranteed a victory and said if the Lions lose they will give everyone in the building a free ticket to a future home game. Story here.
Consensus in Rider Nation is that this guarantee was a monumentally stupid thing to do and that the Lions will surely lose their shirts over this “promotion” when the Riders go in and clobber the Lions on Sunday.
I suggest members of Rider Nation step back and remember that it was the Lions who came in and made mincemeat of the Riders when they met at Mosaic Stadium earlier this year. Moreover, the Lions are all ticked off and motivated because of a billboard that was put up, that went after the Lions fans by claiming “green is the new orange.” I guess this annoying billboard was the catalyst that motivated the Lions to make their big “guarantee” to begin with.
It reminds me of last year when Premier Brad Wall did that awful banjo-plucking video that absolutely enraged the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their fans, and led to the Riders’ humiliation in the 2013 Banjo Bowl.
Honestly, the Riders organization and the fans need to dial back on the arrogance, and quit enraging the other football fans and other teams with these stupid billboards and the like — because it just bites us back in the end. Seriously, we could use some humility on our part.
Even though I am convinced we’re doomed this weekend, I still say — go Riders! That’s all for now.
I covered the first two SJHL playoff games at home involving the Battlefords North Stars, and as you can tell from the story I filed, the local fans were a little shocked. Fortunately, the North Stars swept the two games in Estevan, including in overtime Wednesday, and can advance to the league semifinals with a win tonight. All in all, playoff fever is hitting the Battlefords in a big way and I fully expect bigger and bigger crowds at the Civic Centre to see the exciting Canalta Cup action.
Saturday was my busiest day as I also covered the Battlefords Stars as they beat Prince Albert to reach the Sask. midget AAA finals, which starts against Notre Dame Argos this weekend. One good news story from the team is that Spencer Bast has just signed a deal with Kamloops of the WHL.
The other game that day was a charity hockey game involving the Saskatchewan Roughriders to raise money for Battlefords Minor Football. Several Riders players including Chris Getzlaf, Chris Milo and others were there trying their best to play hockey. The autograph sessions drew big crowds and long lineups last week. Needless to say, it was the most excitement sports fans have seen here all year. On top of that was the North Stars SJHL playoff game so Saturday was a long day.
There is some other sports activity happening this weekend — the University Cup is on this weekend in Saskatoon, which is good because it will give hockey fans there something to do now that the Blades are kaput for the season. Of course, there is also the NCAA basketball tournament going on, though I guess everyone’s brackets are already busted.
Just today Duke got beat, and I notice Kansas is losing right now to Eastern Kentucky. If the Jayhawks lose and Andrew Wiggins bows out, what will TSN do now?
Anyway, I thought I would simply update you about how busy I was in recent weeks. In addition to all this riveting sports coverage at the Civic Centre, I was at several city and town council meetings and also covered the provincial budget. Next week, the provincial finance minister Ken Krawetz will be in the Battlefords, so there will be even more coverage of that. In short, I have no life.
The last three weeks have been ridiculous and I most definitely need this break, just to save my sanity. Now that I finally have some time on my hands, expect me to finally post more of my rants here.
Today was expansion draft day for the Ottawa RedBlacks and I found it interesting they got quarterbacks Kevin Glenn from Calgary and Thomas DeMarco from BC. A lot of the local geniuses around here thought they’d go for Zach Collaros out of Toronto, or even Sask.’s Drew Willy. In retrospect, though, these QB picks make a lot of sense.
Beyond that, though, a lot of no-names made the roster of the RedBlacks today in my opinion. I don’t know why people are claiming Ottawa got to raid the other teams of talent, because this looks like any other expansion team to me.
I get the impression, by the way, the only people who really cared about this expansion draft were the usual folks in Saskatchewan. People here were freaking out today over losing James Lee and Keith Shologan, and Zack Evans. As for the rest of the country, I don’t think people cared. I even wonder if people in Ottawa cared. At the very least, I’m pretty sure people there didn’t go nuts over the expansion draft to the same extent that people in Saskatchewan did. People around here were terrified the Riders were going to get absolutely raided by Ottawa. There was a lot of panic.
I noticed the expansion draft was buried on the Sportsnet and even the TSN websites, which is surprising. You would think the CFL would merit more attention on an important day like this, but I guess they’re more interested in hockey. It sure seems like the only part of Canada that is prepared to give football the time of day is in my own neck of the woods.
Anyway, I sure hope these former Riders enjoy walking down the streets unrecognized (for a change) in Ottawa. Should be a nice change from getting hounded for autographs at the grocery store in Saskatchewan.
My newspaper column this month is about Saskatchewan Roughriders withdrawal, now that football season is over in the land of wheat and potash.
Basically, the main thing we’ve got going here now is the junior hockey season, which is great, but it’s definitely not the same as I point out in my column.
I will say, though, the dropoff from football season to junior hockey is mild compared to what happens when hockey season ends in the province. There, it drops off from hockey to basically nothing. Really, there is usually nothing to do in Saskatchewan except be bored silly once hockey is over.
Still, the end of Riders football season is nevertheless always a big shock to the system. Some people on the Riderfans.com forum page have compared it to postpartum depression.
Really? How can you be depressed at all about the Riders? Still, it is an adjustment to get out from the routine of being psyched every weekend for a Riders home game. Personally, though, I’m glad Roughriders season is over because it frees me up full-time to follow college and NFL football on the weekends, not to mention the other sports. I really don’t feel too much of a post-CFL season letdown, given the amount of other football options still out there. (I will have more to say on college football later.)
I will say, even though CFL season is now over, ‘Riders talk never really goes away. Just wait until the Ottawa RedBlacks expansion draft happens and the Riders lose a few players. Then Rider Nation will be back to their usual selves, ranting and raving. Such is life in Saskatchewan.
Well, yesterday had to be the greatest day ever to be a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, especially if you were in the seats in Mosaic Stadium watching that 45-23 total domination of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
First of all, they totally eschewed the introductions and ran out there as a team, just as the New England Patriots would do during their Super Bowls. That showed me they were dead serious about winning.
Second of all, they wore the new-style helmets with the modern-style Riders logo — not the old retro circle “S” that they lost with in the ’09 and ’10 Grey Cups, not to mention in the early portion of the old “Reign of Error” years in the Seventies and Eighties. I’ve always regarded the “circle-S” logo as the mark of futility, and the “streaky-S” (pictured) as the mark of victory in 1989, 2007 and now 2013. Bottom line is, they chose the right helmets. Way to go, Riders.
Of course, the previous week these guys took a page from the Stanley Cup playoffs and refused to even touch the West Division trophy. So that told me how dead-serious the Riders were about this game. They weren’t looking ahead one bit.
Anyway, Kory Sheets ran like mad on Sunday and Geroy Simon caught two touchdowns, and Darian Durant just carried the team on his back, and this game was over by halftime. This was the Riders basically taking out 100 years of frustration out on the Tabbies. It was long overdue for Rider fans to see their team completely blow out an opponent in a Grey Cup game.
It was so great watching the final minutes and seeing the shots on TV of the Mounties standing next to the Grey Cup and knowing the Riders were going to be handed the trophy after the game.
I was amused at the number of celebrities at the game. It was interesting that Martin Short and Tom Hanks, of all people, were in Regina and cheering on the Tiger-Cats. It was really cool to see Tom Hanks at a game IN REGINA OF ALL PLACES, but honestly, it seemed like they were the only people in the stadium brave enough to cheer for the Tiger-Cats.
I’ve never seen a game and a week so dominated by one team at the Grey Cup, ever. The Tiger-Cats were simply invited to be in the same room. Now, the Tiger-Cats have left the party completely and the Riders will have their big victory celebration at the Legislature building tomorrow.
This has to rank as the greatest year in the history of Mosaic Stadium, or Taylor Field as it was before. First the Paul McCartney concert, and now this. I imagine, up there in the clouds, former coach Piffles Taylor must be smiling.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in frozen Saskatchewan we are drowning in hot air from every TV and radio channel, with people hyping up the Grey Cup game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and that other team with the yellow jerseys that has been getting completely ignored all week long.
The fact that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are being so thoroughly ignored absolutely scares the heck out of me. I worry coach Kent Austin could use all this nonstop Riders hype to pump his team up with a “us against the world” attitude and so on.
The only stories about the Ticats were about how much they were shivering the other day during practice outdoors at Mosaic Stadium. But I worry about those stories, too. I worry if this talk about how frostbitten the Ticats were was a lot of orchestrated total bull by the Ticats, just to throw the Riders off and make them feel overconfident. I gather QB Henry Burris was telling people the cold didn’t bother him one bit.
There’s also been lots of talk and hype about whether the Riders should take down or cover up their big picture of ex-QB Kent Austin from the side of the stadium, now that he is part of the opposition. Such a move would be classless and would probably fire up the Ticats even more, and again sabotage our shot at glory. Yet people here actually want to do this.
All the one-sided, rah-rah-Riders coverage we’ve had shoved down our throats all week is a stark contrast, I find, from the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon earlier this year. There was lots of hype for that, but it wasn’t all Saskatoon Blades hype all the time; it wasn’t as if there was only one team in the tournament. In fact, I recall people were talking up how good the top players were on the other teams, like Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and everyone else. I guess Blades fans were prepared for the worst in any event.
But with the Riders in the Grey Cup, there’s now all this talk about this being a “dream come true” and the “best Grey Cup ever” from everyone. Wait a minute, folks, I’ve seen enough Riders football to know this game could yet turn into a “nightmare come true” and the “worst Grey Cup ever” — especially if our losing drunk-on-Pilsner fans end up rioting in the streets like these sore losers in Vancouver did. Come to think of it, it’ll probably be too cold for that to happen. Still, I ain’t counting any chickens before they are hatched.
There’s lots of media coverage as I have said, including from flagship station 620 CKRM who have been broadcasting live at the Riderville festivities this week. They have been streaming live this week and you can check out all that video here. That is all I have to say about the Roughriders, Ticats, and the Grey Cup right now.
Riders win 35-13 over Calgary. Obviously, Saskatchewan is a madhouse right now.
Last weekend I was down in Regina for the game where the Roughriders hosted the Edmonton Eskimos. It turned out to be meaningless as far as the standings were concerned, with nothing on the line, and unfortunately it was treated as such with the Riders throwing all their second and third stringers out there.
No Darian Durant. No Kory Sheets. Chris Getzlaf was injured, so he wasn’t there either. But really, when they pulled quarterback Drew Willy after one half and put their third stringer in, it was obvious the Riders were totally mailing it in. When you treat a game as a nothing game, as these guys did, you can expect exactly that for a result — nothing. And they lost, 30-26.
Still, it was great to see the game played in such good conditions, with fairly decent temperatures and no snow at all. Unfortunately, that was also the last day of no snow in Saskatchewan.
The very next day we ended up drowning in the white stuff. This province is now buried in snow.
The game Sunday promises to be COLD, with ice and snow, gusty winds and temperatures going down to possible -12 Celsius. Now, a lot of people here in frozen Saskatchewan are already moaning about the conditions and saying it is going to be terrible. I’m sure people here are going around pointing at the weather and saying “this is why we need a dome.”
What people ought to saying is “this is why we don’t need a dome,” because this is exactly the weather you want the opposing team to experience! Teams who play in domes are notoriously bad at cold-weather football, and that exactly sums up the BC Lions, whose road record this season is terrible.
If Roughriders fans were smart, they’d be wanting it to be as cold and as miserable as possible tomorrow, so that the opposing team will play poorly and lose the game! So I’m very happy about the fact that the weather will be bad tomorrow. I hope it grounds the Lions offence completely, but knowing the Riders as I do, chances are they’ll find a way to ground themselves instead. I hope not.
The other thing I have been hearing a lot of moaning about are the slow ticket sales. Everyone is talking about how it is not going to be a sellout, and so on, with people blaming the cold weather as the reason for not showing up.
Roughriders fans should quit pretending that they support the team no matter what the weather. Think of it — fans in Green Bay and Chicago and elsewhere will fill their stadiums for playoff games in January in conditions just as bad as this. It’s a point of pride for those fans to go to games in January and show the world how tough they are, yet all we do is whine and complain, and then we fail to even fill the stadium. Saskatchewan fans, I’m convinced, are really a bunch of chickens.
The real reason so many say they want a dome is really because they cannot hack the cold. It doesn’t matter now, though, because they aren’t getting any dome anyway. They’re getting an open-air stadium, like Winnipeg did. Fans here should just accept it and move on with their lives. Anyway, that’s my rant about that.
As a total aside, Miss Venezuela has won the Miss Universe title on NBC. May I note that CBS. ABC, and Fox all counter-programmed three, count them, three college football games — and that’s not even counting cable. Guess which channels the guys were watching.
UPDATE: They did it! 29-25 was the final score for the Riders. I guess you can change the headline now to “bring on Calgary.”
Namely, Dwight Anderson and Taj Smith.
Apparently, there is a lot more to the story than what is being let on. For the moment, though, the Roughriders team has been thrown into chaos.
Needless to say, life in our usually dull province came to an absolute screeching halt upon this news leaking out. Lots of fans are jumping off the bandwagon today and getting rid of their Grey Cup tickets.
Well, I say look on the bright side — at least the crops look good.
UPDATE: Ahem. Make it three Riders — Eron Riley also charged. Plus they have security camera video.
Seriously, only in Saskatchewan do people get tied in a knot because there are only two pre-season CFL games being shown on TV on TSN. People here are actually demanding more. To which my reaction is: why??
Folks, these games do not count, so you shouldn’t go nuts over these games! All these games are, really, are chances for the coaches to make decisions on who gets jobs! Beyond that, they mean nothing! Zippo!
Now, I wish these games did count, because that was a splendid Roughriders victory over Edmonton in the pre-season game last night on the road. But the reality is they do not count in any standings, so as far as I’m concerned there is no point having high blood pressure over it. If you’re going to have high blood pressure, have it during the regular season when the games mean something.
To give you an idea of what it has been like around these parts — last Sunday was the finals for the Memorial Cup, which of course garnered plenty of local interest. Well, the very next day on the sports talk shows, NOBODY was talking about the Memorial Cup. They had dropped the subject like it was a hot potato.
Instead it was all Riders all the time. People were just pent up and waiting to finally be done with hockey, so they could get back to ranting about their favorite topic, CFL football.
The big story from the past few days was the bombshell news that former Rider star and longtime NFLer, defensive end John Chick, was considering signing with the team. When word leaked out about those rumblings, that was the immediate jumping-off point for everyone in Saskatchewan to go crazy.
There was all this speculation and hype, with talk about whether the price for Chick was too high, as well as widespread rumors about which other teams might be in the running for him. Of course, the prospect of Chick joining Kent Austin, Andy Fantuz, Henry Burris and all the rest of the former Riders in Hamilton was enough to cause panic attacks. People were just going off the deep end here, it was ridiculous.
As an small example of what I am talking about, check out this post at RodPedersen.com from a few days ago, and then check out the comments section underneath where all our local fans were doing their typical ranting and raving. Yes, folks, our football fans really are this crazy.
As it turns out, everyone can now come back off the ledge, because Chick has signed with the team. He is now a Rider and now in training camp. In fact, to show you what little interest there is in other news in the province, his signing actually led the news on the radio. We really do need to get some lives.
You know, it’s great that training camp is starting and that Roughrider season is within sight yet again. The atmosphere really does step up a notch when the Roughriders are back and making news — but really, fans here do need to calm down a little.