Nope, today we're talking about two teams that actually matter.
If the reports on ESPN.com and everywhere else are true - and I always operate under the assumption that everything I read on the Internet is factually-based - then the Boston Celtics have somehow managed to trade for Kevin Garnett, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I have no desire to write about Boston's reaction to the trade or how they pulled it off, if you're interested in such things, here is Bill Simmons' column from yesterday about the trade.
What my concern is with is how this trade is going to affect the Toronto Raptors, reigning Atlantic Division champs - who just happen to share a division with the Celtics. My initial reaction was that the addition of Garnett meant the Celtics were now favorites to win the Division and probably the whole Eastern Conference. However, upon further review I'm not so sure anymore.
Make no mistake, the Celtics probably have more star power than any other team in the East, including Miami, Detroit, and Cleveland - with Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. But can you name another player on their roster? Because the Celtics had to trade away 5 players to get Garnett, their depth chart is now slimmer than Michael Vick's chances of being an honorary judge at the Westminster Dog Show. That's going to mean an awful lot of minutes for 3 guys who are all in their 30's.
Which brings me to the Raptors. The idea behind this post was to show how the Raptors matched up against the Celtics - as they should be the 2 teams vying for the Atlantic Division - and honestly I didn't think the Raptors were going to match up very well. So I started by writing out the probable starting 5 for the Celtics - Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo. Then I wrote out the Raptors that I thought would start at those corresponding positions - Rasho Nesterovic, Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, T.J Ford.
However, as I was going down the Raptors roster I realized or remembered that the Raptors are a ridiculously deep team. These are the players that didn't make that starting 5 for the Raptors - Andrea Bargnani (my man Il Mago, who could easily be a starter, just needs some more experience), Jose Calderon (again could easily start in place of T.J Ford), Jorge Garbajosa ( a starter last season when Mo Pete was on the pine), Joey Graham (who was a bum in the playoffs, but played well in the regular season), and Carlos Delfino (by all accounts an above average defender who came over from Detroit - and averaged 16 minutes a game last year on a very good Detroit team). And my list of Raptors leaves out Kris Humphries, who I really like and was a great energy guy off the bench last year.
So if you're scoring at home, the Raptors have up to 11 guys (Nesterovic, Bosh, Parker, Kapono, Ford, Bargnani, Calderon, Garbajosa, Graham, Delfino and Humphries - pretty impressive when they're all listed in a row, eh?) that can contribute in big ways, as compared to Boston's 5 - well 6 I guess if rookie Glen "Big Baby" Davis can contribute.
Now don't get me wrong - Boston's Big Three are far and away better than anybody Toronto puts at those positions. I'm terrified the Garnett is going to eat Chris Bosh up every time they play. I don't know if Bosh has ever consistently faced a big man of Garnett's skill level and intensity. It's going to be a great challenge for Bosh at any rate - I'm hoping for some Optimus Prime vs. Megatron type battles from those 2 guys. And then Pierce and Allen are going to be better than anyone Toronto puts out there, unless Bargnani comes out and plays like a monster. At Center it's a wash between the two teams. The only position that Toronto has a clear advantage is at Point Guard - where both T.J Ford and Jose Calderon are going to be better than anybody Boston throws out there.
However, I don't know if you can win a championship or even a division with only 3 impact players playing big minutes over an 82 game season. I know that Toronto can't match the talent and star power of Boston's Big Three but I love Toronto's depth and I think that might be the key to them matching or surpassing what they did last year. I'm not going to say that Toronto is going to win the Atlantic Division and Boston isn't - but I think it might be closer than people think it's going to be.
All I know for sure is that I'm already all kinds of fired up for the NBA season to start. Toronto and Boston should have some epic battles this year - well, a guy can hope anyway.
This may be the year I break down and buy a Bargnani jersey.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Nope, today we're talking about two teams that actually matter.
It's been a tough couple of days.
First Tom Snyder on Sunday night. Then Bill Walsh and Ingmar Bergman yesterday - which Cooper very astutely equated with the day that Jim Henson and Sammy Davis Jr. died. And now today Britney Spears has finalized her divorce from K-Fed.
That may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
No, in all seriousness I just wanted to say a couple quick words about legendary San Francisco 49er coach Bill Walsh. I'm not going to write about what a great man he was because I didn't know him. And I'm not going to write about him being my favorite coach of all time because quite frankly I don't really remember him coaching - he retired when I was 9. But he did build and coach the team that was my first NFL love, the 49ers. And he mentored the quarterback that was my idol growing up, Joe Montana. So I do have a strong connection with him even if I don't specifically remember him doing those things.
I don't want to say that Walsh revolutionized the NFL because that might be a little strong but he definitely changed the way that head coaches coach. Walsh was the first to script the first 15 plays his offence would run in a game - a practice that is now copied by almost all the head coaches in the NFL. But more importantly, Walsh created the West Coast Offence - which is used, at least in some form, by, I would guess, at least 65% of teams in the NFL. He didn't get the nickname 'The Genius' for nothing. His coaching tree, which includes Super Bowl winning coaches George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, and Jon Gruden, is unrivaled in the NFL.
I hadn't really planned on writing anything about Bill Walsh, because really, who am I to write anything about him, but after I had received a few sympathetic emails from people who know of my affinity for the 49ers, especially those teams from the mid to late 80's, I thought that I should write something. And now that I'm looking back and thinking about everything - those Walsh-led 49er teams are the reason I started following the NFL and fell in love with 4 down football. Oh, I'm sure I would have found the NFL eventually anyway, but I probably would have ended up a Cowboys fan or something.
So thank you Bill Walsh. Thanks for Joe Montana, for Jerry Rice, for Tom Rathman, for Ronnie Lott, for Roger Craig. Thanks for 5 Super Bowl wins. And thanks for sparing me the indignity of becoming a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I'm not entirely sure how/why/when the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders claimed the title of Best Fans in the World or the CFL but I'm beginning to think that neither title should apply. After every loss people here in Regina are on 24 hour suicide watch and sales of Prozac increase 10 fold. They rip everybody from the quarterback to the mascot. And then after every win, like Saturday's, those same people celebrate in the streets like the Berlin Wall just came down. Perspective, I suppose, is not high on the list here. More on this later in the week.
Anybody who wrote one of the 28,193 articles (my estimate) over the last week titled Tour de Farce - including the one published in the Leader Post today - should never be allowed to allowed to write anything again - ever. They should have their journalism degrees from their community college's revoked and never be allowed to possess writing instruments again. This goes for anyone who makes a pun on a team or athlete name too. Can't you do any better than this?
As much as I dislike the local media (and I do), I've got to say that I like Rod Pedersen's blog. He had a an interesting bit today about a new football stadium for Regina - you can see it here. And while it's all well and good to dream big, rest assured if this ever came to pass and the team/city/province tried to build it with public funds (i.e - your tax dollars) I would be leading the revolt. Is there any reason to build a stadium like this? Unless the Roughriders can find a sugar daddy, like the Asper family in Winnipeg, to fund at least the majority of the stadium privately, I don't see any reason for it.
Last Thursday Edmonton Oiler General Manager signed restricted free-agent Dustin Penner to an offer sheet worth $21.25 million over 5 years - a move reeking so strongly of desperation it will linger for years. Penner made $450,000 last year with Anaheim and scored 45 points. Apparently 45 point players are now worth $4.25 million a year. One Oiler fan said to me, "Great another Duck to come over and do absolutely nothing." Can you feel the excitement Edmonton?
To no one's surprise, Duck's GM Brian Burke had strong words for Lowe. Now I have no problem with Lowe trying to sign restricted free agents but this salary is ridiculous. This is precisely the reason there was a lock out 3 years ago. I'm not sure how a league with absolutely no TV revenue and no exposure in the United States thinks it can sustain this kind of spending - ticket revenues will only take you so far. I'm not saying I guarantee it, but I can foresee a scenario in which the NHL no longer exists in 5-7 years.
I always liked Tom Snyder on the Late, Late Show. Although in all honesty I thought he passed away a couple years ago.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
... This is what the Internet was created for. We can all go home now - the Internet has run its course and won't be needed anymore. I'd love to see the boys up in P.A pull something like this off.
... I think this is the exact video of why my NBA career never really materialized.
... Very interesting. In 5 years this guy will either be a multi-billionaire or dead at the hands of the Imperial Oil spokes-tiger.
... Classic. My personal favorite is the theft deterrent system. Although the Dr. Zaius, OBGYN is pretty good too.
... I was struggling for a 5th clip for today, so I decided to go back to the Letterman well - I know it's not him, but it's his show.
A day early I know but I'll be off tomorrow and it always seems I have more time to post at work than at home - funny that. So Artist of the Week and The Links should be up today.
So this week's Artist is Band of Horses. You can find their Myspace site here.
I like them because I have no idea how to describe them. All too often we talk about bands in terms of something else - as in, "You'll like them, they sound like _______." But as I'm sitting here trying to describe them to you, I find that I can't in terms of other bands, which is probably why I really like them - because of their original sound.
They're another one of those bands that I came across by accident. I was standing in HMV one day and they came on the stereo. Just one of those things.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
It's been quite a while since I've gone through the Sports As Life Mailbag - so on the first sub-40 degree day in a week here we go...
"Alright....so here is my first comment ever posted....on any site anywhere. However, as an eskimos fan who has been hearing a lot of crap lately about the riders vs. edmonton, I feel I should give you just a bit of feedback on this. First, thanks for keeping it real (as they say) about the riders success.
I actually received an email that said "it is great to be a rider fan isn't it?". Hilarious. So, welcome back to the real world rider fans.
Here are two points I wanted to mention that you didn't, and keep in mind I follow about as much CFL as to barely call myself an eskimos fan. 1. Pulling Kerry Joseph? Is that the best move? I mean, obviously Crandall threw an interception first drive out...but that is besides the point. Shouldn't you show a bit more faith in your quarterback to rally the troops? The game wasn't that out of reach.
2. And last, and again I don't watch a whole lot of CFL so I don't know the names here, but shouldn't the Defensive Back that was covering G. Simon not celebrate like he had just been given a puppy for his birthday? They were down by like 28 points and he is showing off with dance moves. Sure Simon had been shut down, but it is a team sport.
I can't imagine I will post too many comments, but I have to tell all the Rider fans out there the following. If you know an eskimos fan out there, wait until your team wins more than 2 games before you start talking trash!"
What makes JK's comments even better is they were posted before Saskatchewan's meltdown against Edmonton on Friday. Who's laughing now!
I totally agree with the dancing when you're 28 points down, I noticed this as well during the B.C game - it wasn't a DB that I saw but a defensive lineman. I can't remember if it was a sack or just a tackle for a loss but whoever made the tackle got up like he'd just stopped Walter Payton on the 1 yard line on 4th down. First of all - SCOREBOARD! If you want to dance after a tackle, do it when it means something, not when you're trailing by 4 converted touchdowns. And second of all, you're a professional - act like you've been there before. I don't get up on my desk and dance after I make a really good photocopy.
About harsher security measures at Taylor Field-
"I really like the moat idea, seriously. I am all about the over-reaction, and people seem to be great at it in this province. Crime goes up, more police, harsher punishment. Price of gas goes up, well lets drive the same amount as always and ask for a new government. People run on the field at a football game (like that doesn't happen anyplace else, moat or not) and misbehave, lets get guard dogs and explosive neck collars for all fans.
Sure people misbehave, but it happens all over the place and isn't confined to sporting events, this is life...get use to it. So you don't want your kids to hear swear words and see fights, go sit in the family fun zone (or perhaps you could cut off their ears and gouge out their eyes cause they will see and hear that stuff sooner or later). Hey riders want to do something pro-active? Have a section for adults only (then put all the lazy security guards in that section).
But I am probably wrong...more guards and a fence will fix everything, good idea Riders."
First of all I love the idea of explosive neck collars. I think that instantly solves all of the crowd-related problems at Taylor Field. It probably creates a couple new problems, but that's neither here nor there.
I like the idea of the Adults Only section - I'm not quite sure how the logistics of it would work. Send in your ideas about what this would look like/contain and we'll work up a proposal for the team.
If you haven't heard, apparently Woody from Jack FM here in Regina is taking donations to cover his fine when he streaks at the game on Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure about the specifics of this, as I don't listen to the radio. But if this is true and it actually happens, it could be the greatest publicity stunt of all time - especially since the rival FM rock station is a big sponsor of the team. Hilarity.
See things like that wouldn't happen at Taylor Field if they had a moat.
"Luke I must agree with you. Kent Austin was so out coached in the 2nd half it was sick. I was there gentlemen live in living color. It was part of the Walker stag extravaganza. I sat there and watched the Riders build a 20-1 first half lead. I was still waiting in line for food after half time was over. Watching on cctv as the Esks scored their first TD. I knew right then and there what was coming. But back to the coaching comparison or lack there of. What was Austin thinking in that 2nd half. Why run the same play over and over and over if it hasn't worked once. Could Joseph learn to sell a play action hand off? For the love of god! Why on 3rd and 2 would you not call an audible at the line and change the QB sneak that everyone on the Esks D can see coming. Then you get a second chance to make good and he gets sacked. I can't talk about this anymore some Wii bowling will take this of my mind."
Welcome back to Rider Football! As Andy Fantuz was breaking off his route 2 yards short of the first down marker on 3 and 23 or whatever it was (nice awareness) - I was having a discussion about whether this team is just cursed. Well maybe not cursed but whether this is just their destiny - to be maddeningly inconsistent and finish 9-9 every season for the duration of my lifetime. I think the solution we came up with was to demolish Taylor Field, exorcise the grounds, change the team name and colour and start again.
I will say this for Austin though, at least he admitted to being out-coached. Well maybe not in so many words, but he did admit that he needs to do a better job. But he is still a rookie head coach, so there are going to be some growing pains.
One last thing about Friday's game - how about Sean Fleming's 47-yard dagger of a field goal with 2 minutes left? Out of 10, how confident would you be in Luca Congi having the leg to make that kick... 2...3?
And why on Earth does Taylor Field not have a CCTV system where the concessions and beer vendors are? With the lines at those places people usually miss substantial amounts of the game. It's probably because they're saving for the moat.
"Just a quick "told ya so" to Trebor about "he who shall not be named" in the football world. I told you they wouldn't let him play and Goodell telling him to stay away from training camp until the NFL has reviewed the charges is the first step of the NFL washing their hands of this horrible case.
Next will be the team asking him to take a leave of absence until the case is resolved...trust me, I looked into my crystal ball this morning.Oh and sorry for bringing this up, I know no one wants to talk about it, but it is not often that I am right about anything in the sporting world (especially the NFL)."
P.S. I hope you noticed that I didn't actually mention his name...I just alluded to him.
"damm chubby fingers and not thinking my posts through.... as for the one that adidas named 'zoom'. It made sense initially so that i wouldn't have to say the unnamed one but it came out with the wrong words ???"
I appreciate you guys being delicate and respecting the Mike Vick moratorium - but that's officially over now - so mention him all you want. I said I didn't want to talk about him until something actually happened and with his suspension from training camp yesterday, I think that would fall in the category of something. He also makes his first court appearance tomorrow, so that's something as well. THEN it was also reported yesterday that the Falcons were going to suspend Vick four games until the NFL asked them not to so they could conduct their own investigation (you can read the story at ESPN.com). So the flood gates are open now.
If I had to guess I'd say that at the very least his career in Atlanta is over. I also have a sneaking suspicion that his NFL career is over. Even if he somehow avoids jail time on this, he'll be suspended for the year by the NFL. After that he's going to be close to untouchable for every other team. What team is going to want to bring in a public relations nightmare like that - especially one with a career completion percentage of about 54%.
My advice to every CFL team is to get this guy on your negotiation list right now.
"I just wanted to point out that if you watch the baseline replay of the first call in the Suns vs. Spurs clip, you can see that there are about 3 players in between Donaghy and the foul. What the hell? Unless they were wearing invisibility cloaks (that is the first and last Harry Potter reference I will ever make), then how the hell can he make the call. There is better reffing in Quidditch....damn it, that is the last one...Seriously...Sirius Black...ahhhhhhh"
Awesome - you just can't avoid it, Potter mania is everywhere.
"Just watched the video... wow. that first one was a good clip, though you could make the argument that from behind it looked like maybe raja followed through with the hack and didn't pull up ??? however the one at 6:20 is the one that i thought was the best even though it didn't involve donaghy.... Rush is standing 6 ft away from nash when horry slaps his arms.
I enjoy watching basketball and never bought into the conspiracy that certain games are fixed or teams given preferential treatment..even after seeing the ...1986 draft lottery... but with the report that others are being investigated... if there is more than one then this league is in a world of hurt... maybe not as much as NHL but pretty bad."
My personal favorite bad call on that Donaghy video (this is the video in question, by the way - in case you missed it yesterday) is the blatant Bruce Bowen knee to the groin on Steve Nash. It was called as an offensive foul but that's one of the more deliberate attempts to injure I've seen in the NBA. And looking back at the video it seems like Ed Rush is involved in most of the bad calls as well - including that one.
NBA commish David Stern says that Donaghy was a rogue ref but if some of the reports are true and Donaghy is going to name names and implicate other people the NBA is going to be in enormous trouble. It's going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
I was watching Prime Time Sports yesterday and they were discussing Donaghy's personal life and apparently he is regarded as a bit of a nut. It seems he wanted police to arrest his neighbour's 5 year old son because he was throwing mud at Donaghy's house. Sounds like the kind of stable person you want refereeing a professional sport.
"I missed the final U20, but really the whole tournament was pretty good watching. It isn't too often that you can watch a game where five empty break-aways occur in 10 minutes of play (the USA had a non-existent defense). And good for Toronto Metro for doing what they've been known for in the past. Respect through fear. Strength through discipline, strength through action.
I'm just not sure how attempts to invoke fear in all foreigners will work out for the city of Toronto in this day and age. I am more for instilling fear in a general sense. If you're going to target someone, why not make it hippies?"
Just the sort of comment I'd expect from long arm of the law.
Why don't you take your 1980's, made for TV, Grade 10 Social Studies, post-apocalyptic, militaristic propaganda and go elsewhere. Perhaps you'd be more comfortable at Rob Vanstone's blog.
Ok, that's it for now - the Mailbag is closed. Keep the comments coming as always, they're all appreciated.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Because of yesterday's monstrous Rider post I decided to keep the Headlines till today - I wouldn't want you guys to get spoiled.
Did you happen to hear Kerry Joseph's reasoning for why the Saskatchewan offence faltered in the second half of Friday's game? He said it was because Edmonton switched from man-to-man defence to zone defence - and I quote, "They played a lot of man in the first half and all of a sudden in the second half were playing zone." (from the Leader-Post) Yikes. Does that give you any confidence at all? Would you want a quarterback that can't recognize and adjust to a zone defence? From 15 years of playing various football video games I can differentiate between zone and man - and know what works against each one. Now obviously it's a totally different story when you're actually on a football field. But come on, you're a professional quarterback - these are things they've gotta teach you on day one.
One thing I failed to mention in my NBA post on Friday was the impact the referee scandal is going to have on the fans. Sure it will give credence to every NBA conspiracy ever spouted. But there are fans out there that got legitimately screwed by this guy. I submit this video for your approval (thanks to JK for passing it along). This has to be definitive proof of something shady happening in the Suns - Spurs series this year. There is no other explanation for this. Watch the first call of the clip, Donaghy makes a cross-court, behind the play call - as JK said, that's one of the major officiating rules, if you're behind and on the other side of the play, you can't make a call - it's not yours to make, you're simply not in position. Don't forget too that Donaghy worked the Raptors final game of the season - a one point loss to New Jersey in Game 6 of their first round playoff series. Bears keeping in mind.
Police in Toronto apparently decided to avenge Canada's loss to the Chilean team in the Under 20 World Cup by beating them senseless. It seems that the police prevented some members of the Chilean team from getting to their own fans and then a melee broke out and police clubbed, handcuffed, pepper sprayed, and Tasered them (not necessarily in that order). That's a pretty big black eye on a tournament that otherwise seemed to be a big success. I honestly didn't watch any of it, probably for the same reasons that I can't get into junior hockey - it's slower and less skilled than the professional games. And apparently there was a lot of flopping in the final (which I also can't stand) - Trevor called the final "the U-20 Diving Competition."
Seriously, for a guy who has never won anything, is anybody more over-hyped than Sergio Garcia? And I like the guy. I didn't get to watch much of the final round of The Open (that's the British Open to people who don't know), as Harry Potter was taking up much of my time, but what I did see was pretty exciting. Isn't it infinitely more exciting to see guys making birdies and eagles down the stretch instead of struggling to make par like at the U.S Open and even the Masters. I'd much rather see two guys duelling down the back nine with birdies and eagles than two guys just trying to outlast each other with pars and bogeys. Although the U.S Open is kind of funny to watch just to see the best golfers in the world brought to their knees - but the course set ups are usually pretty unfair.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Good afternoon - or whatever time of day greeting is appropriate when you are reading this. I know everybody has been waiting patiently for the inevitable Saskatchewan Roughrider analysis, in light of their Three Mile Island-like meltdown on Friday night. There were 2 reasons for the delay.
First was Harry Potter - I'm sorry but sports, especially CFL football, came in a distant second when compared to the release of the 7th Harry Potter book.
The second reason is that I had no idea what I was going to say about the game and the team. With so much media saturation about the Roughriders it's sometimes difficult to come up with something fresh. But I've done it and it only took 2 days - actually it didn't it only took an hour of sitting at my desk this morning. I was too busy reading over the last 2 days to think about the Riders. See there is life outside the CFL - I told you.
However, before we get to the meat of today's discussion, here are some of the story lines that didn't end up making the cut for today:
- Luca on his way to getting Congi'd out of town: If you're a professional kicker, you can't miss 19 yard field goals. It's as simple as that - you can't. The last guy that pulled a stunt like that had manure dumped on his neighbour's driveway...oohh, vindictive.
- Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Kent Austin got out coached in that game, at least in the second half. There is no way to refute that argument. 20-1 lead at halftime. 21-20 loss. You do the math. Danny Maciocia went in at halftime and absolutely peeled the paint off the walls of the Eskimo dressing room - you can be sure of that. Saskatchewan came out after halftime satisfied with their status quo and had no answer for the adjustments Edmonton made. But he's a rookie head and things like this are bound to happen - just ask Flames fans who went through the Jim Playfair experiment last year and lived to tell about it.
- The Curse of Dave Ridgeway: That's what I've decided to call the slump that Saskatchewan's sophomore's are in. Those who know me know that I often speak of the ghost of Dave Ridgeway haunting Taylor Field - although I'm 100% certain that Dave Ridgeway is still alive. Anyway, Luca Congi is suddenly pulling Paul McAllum's and not talking to the media. And Andy Fantuz suddenly has worse hands than an American Airlines pilot after 3 or 4 Whiskey Sour's. Eerie
- Paint drying was looking better and better: Wow, was the first half of that game not the most boring half of football you've ever watched. Besides Fred Perry being a destroyer of men and Jason Armstead returning a punt while half of the Edmonton team was lying on the ground, there was very little entertainment value there. I was so bored that I turned to the NFL Network to watch the story of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the most boring Super Bowl champs of all time - and that was still more exciting. I also threw a little Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in there for good measure, just to kill some time between 2 and outs.
- Management blasts fans upset with Rider Football: Here's a nice little tidbit I came across while reading Rod Pedersen's blog this morning. Apparently Eric Tillman was patrolling the Roughrider message board and decided to respond to some derogatory comments about himself and the football team. Here's a link to what transpired, just scroll down a little ways. I would rate this about a 7 out of 10 on the Roy Shiver's Bad Decision Scale - but at least Tillman is showing some passion about the team and building a winner.
Ok, now that we've gotten through all the second-tier stuff - although I think there's some good things in there - it's time to move on to the main event. And it's this...
Over the past few weeks everybody has been asking me what I thought of the team and how I thought they were going to fare against different opponents. And my answer has always been some variation of, "I don't know, we'll have to wait and see." Then, even after 'waiting and seeing' I still didn't have any answers. First the B.C game was supposed to be the litmus test. And after the Roughriders got crushed, the away game in Edmonton was going to be the measuring stick for team. Then after the Chernobyl game on Friday last proved so unsettling, this Saturday's game at home against Edmonton is going to reveal some truths about the team. Uh huh. So as I was sitting here this morning thinking about this constant search for answers only being greeted by more and more questions and it hit me...
...the Saskatchewan Roughrider's season so far has been like a season of Lost.
Think about it for a second. Every week you think you're going to get some answers but when that week ends, not only do you not have answers to your original questions but now you have about a dozen new questions. Lost is the potentially the most frustrating show in the history of TV and Rider fans know that their football team is definitely the most frustrating in the history of the CFL. However, at least fans of Lost know that at some point their perseverance is going to pay off. Roughrider fans on the other hand have no such assurance.
The more I thought about this comparison, the more similarities I saw - not only in the overall theme (that of never knowing anything about anything) - but between characters on Lost and members of the Roughrider organization. All of these comparisons are based on the first season of Lost, which I sort of thought was the most maddening. But in any case this is the first season of the new Roughrider regime, so we'll compare both first seasons.
...Obviously the easiest comparison is between Norm Fong, the Roughrider Equipment Manager and Hurley, the Lost Island's resident humourist and food aficionado. Insert your own joke here.
...Roughrider General Manager Eric Tillman is John Locke. Locke is the man who seems to have inside information and a connection to the Island. He always seems to have a plan and sees 2-3 moves ahead of everyone else. That seems like a description you'd want your General Manager to have isn't it? Foresight, intuition, knowledge, leadership all sound like good qualities for a GM. Of course Locke has been known to make mistakes - and Henri "Jackie" Childs did drop the only pass thrown to him on Friday. Spooky.
...If Eric Tillman is Locke, then Kent Austin has to be Walt. Austin was Tillman's hand-picked choice to save the Roughriders. He is the adopted prodigal son, returned home to lead the Roughriders back to glory. Tillman obviously saw something in Austin that nobody else had and these special skills are what led him to put his faith in Kent. Chillingly similar to Locke and Walt. Of course Walt did end up getting kidnapped, so let's hope that the Roughrider's start winning again because Kent and Walt are not far from sharing the same fate. I also hope that Kent does not summon any polar bears with his mind. Polar bears could not survive in this heat.
...Kerry Joseph has gotta be Jack - the leader that everybody has put their faith in for some reason, only Jack ends up having more problems than people first thought and might not be the best guy for the job. Sound familiar. I should also mention that Jack has long been one of my least favorite characters.
...It's days like today that I wish Jason French was still with the team. He was a perfect Sawyer - the guy you could never count on. Oh sure he might surprise you every once in a while. But when the pressure was on and you needed him the most - you could be sure that both would fold like a cheap suit.
...I'd say that Ritchie Hall would be Sayid. Calm, cool, calculating - and ruthless when they need to be - at least Ritchie's defence.
...And Kate, who could the Roughrider version of Kate be? Too bad Kenton Keith and Trevis Smith are gone - they would have been obvious matches, due to their troubles with the law. But I think now it's got to be Eddie Davis - not because of any legal troubles but because like Kate he's a crafty veteran and has some tricks up his sleeve. Kate was on the lam for many years and was always a step ahead of the authorities. Davis has been in the league longer than anyone can remember and is still the best at what he does. And both seem to be natural leaders and are willing to do what ever it takes for the team. Kate is slightly more attractive though.
...Thinking about this a little more closely, I suppose that if the players are characters from Lost, then the fans of the football team are the Island. They're always going to be there and make their presence felt. They may be inhospitable and cruel at times but they can also be welcoming and give you everything you need to survive. No matter what group of misfits crashes into it, you know the Island is always going to be there doing what it does - just like Rider fans.
So there you have it. The next time you're looking for definitive answers about the Saskatchewan Roughriders just remember that the team is like Lost - there are no answers, only more questions.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Ok, that headline is from Futurama - I admit it.
There will be no Roughrider talk here today. It's a crutch that's just too easy to lean on. For CFL football talk see: every other sports-related website in Saskatchewan. And besides, how can you intelligently analyze something that hasn't happened yet - speculate all you want, it doesn't add up to much. Watch the game and draw your own conclusions. Or don't, its up to you. There seems to an attitude around here that some geographic imperative exists that requires you to cheer for the Roughriders or love CFL football. Well no such thing exists, so make up your own mind.
If you haven't already heard a major story is developing in the NBA today. It involves a referee, betting on NBA games, a serious gambling addiction, the FBI, the mafia, influencing the outcome of games, and point shaving. From that little synopsis I'm sure that you can tell this is going to be a big deal. The ESPN.com story can be found here. It has all the details about this story, so I'm going to operate under the assumption that you've read it and not going go over them again.
Depending on how this plays out, it could be potentially devastating to the NBA. Above all else in professional sports, the integrity of the officials must be without question. If a league's officials are found to not be on the up-and-up, then the validity of the league must be called in to question. Or at least the validity of the results of those games that official worked.
What happens if this official in question, who's name is not being released - probably for very good reason, worked this year's NBA Finals or last year's Finals - when there was an extraordinary amount of suspect calls. I think if this official worked even one game in either of those Finals series' then those Championships are tainted. Mark Cuban's head is going to explode if this turns out to be the case.
One of the worst things about this is that it's going to give some satisfaction to people like me. I wouldn't call myself a conspiracy theorist per se but I would say that a lot of the time I think there's more going on in sports than meets the eye. This whole scandal just goes to show that there can be an outside influence on a professional sporting event.
It could potentially be the rallying cry for sports conspiracy theorists for decades - "If an NBA official could influence games, why couldn't __________ happen?"
This is really not what the NBA needed either. After an earlier referee scandal, the debacle with the new basketball and a championship series that nobody watched, the NBA has not been in great shape the last year or so. And this is really not going to help. Shaving points is not quite fixing games but its still a pretty serious black eye for the league.
Between this and the Michael Vick saga, this has turned into quite an interesting week in the world of sport - but unfortunately for none of the right reasons.
A couple other quick things I wanted to mention but not related to anything above:
First, as part of my ongoing crusade against Rod Black as a CFL commentator, I thought I would pass this along. I didn't watch much of the Winnipeg/Montreal game last night but I did happen to catch this beauty from Black. He was comparing Milt Stegall trying to break the CFL's all-time touchdown mark to Roger Maris chasing Babe Ruth's home run record in baseball. Is that right Rod? Do you think Milt is getting many death threats? Is Mike Pringle calling him in the middle of the night and threatening to slash his tires? Is Milt's hair falling out - ok, well Milt doesn't have any hair, but if he did do you think it would be falling out? Let's not delude ourselves into thinking the CFL is any more important than it is. There is absolutely nothing similar about what Stegall is going through and what Maris went through. On some level I hope that Rod Black is calling the Roughrider game tonight - that man is a wealth of material.
Secondly, JK just sent this link to me and it's so good I had to put it in here. It's following in the theme of the Mentos link from this morning.
And thirdly, here's something I should have included in this morning's Links. If you want 45 minutes of intelligent sports discussion - something we don't get much of around here, follow this link and click on the BS Report on the right hand side (it's the one above Jimmy Kimmel). It's Bill Simmons' podcast and his guest this week was Michael Wilbon, best know as the co-host of Pardon the Interruption. If you want to hear what sports discussion can be at its best - listen to this podcast. It'll probably be the best 45 minutes of your week.
If Harry Potter doesn't live to see Monday morning I could be a changed person.
Well it looks like the pressure I put on Nike yesterday, in regards to Mike Vick's new shoe, has worked (let's all pretend that's possible for a second). Nike has announced that they're going to suspend the release of the Air Zoom Vick V. You can get more details from ESPN.com.
So this weeks theme is things that have blown up, in light of Nike's marketing campaign blowing up...
... and because I came across this video yesterday, of a giant (dead) whale being blown up with dynamite. It's all fun and games till those pieces of whale start falling from the sky.
... if I had a talk show Richard Simmons would be on twice a week.
... I swear I will put up Letterman clips all day long if you let me. I'd like to know who the poor sap is that first figured out this Mentos and Diet Coke thing. One day he was eating a mint and decided to wash it down with some diet soda and then all of a sudden his mouth is exploding.
... let's just pretend that something blows up in this video cause I gotta put it up. I'm assuming this game show is sponsored by Swiffer. And apparently they stuff a rag soaked in ammonia in your face when you lose.
... genius at work.
... not really related to anything today but Trevor sent this link last night and I figured I'd pass it along. I'm not sure I can ever match that pace, regardless of how sensational my headlines become.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Now that's something we should be printing on buttons.
...Oh, and the crime rate capital of Canada too. I suppose it's not worth being one unless you can be both and unify the titles. And judging by the way the first half of 2007 has gone, I'd say Regina is well on its way to retaining the Unified Crime Capital of Canada titles. It's too bad we lost that car theft capital title - that was really something to hang our hats on. Oldsmobile Gang, where have you gone?
But don't worry, we're getting a new subdivision by the airport - I'm sure that'll solve everything.
Anyway, since we're on the subject of crime, I have a couple more Michael Vick related items and then I don't want to write about it again until something actually happens. This story is going to be beaten to death...ok, probably a bad choice of words...over the next few months. It'll be in every sports publication you read, unless of course you read the Leader-Post.
First of all, it looks like Nike is still going ahead with the release of Vick's new shoe, the Nike Zoom Vick V (after all, he hasn't been convicted of anything yet). If Nike does end up releasing the shoe I think that at least 10% of the profit from every pair of shoes sold (retail price, $100 US) should be donated to the United States Humane Society or PETA. I think that's about the only way they can save some face in releasing Vick's shoe. Although, that might not end up amounting to much money. After all, as Dan Shannon of PETA said, "Nobody wants to go out and buy the shoes that Michael Vick wears when he goes to a dogfight. That's not really a good pitch." (from ESPN.com)
The second thing I want to say about this today is to suggest a possibly sentence for Vick, if he is found guilty of participating in dogfighting at some point. My suggestion is this - if a guilty verdict is reached, Vick should be sentenced to being thrown into a dogfighting pit with three of his hand-trained pit bulls - those that survived the shootings, hangings, beatings, electrocutions and strangulations. I honestly think that would be the most appropriate punishment for Vick. And just so he gets the full experience and truly ends up knowing what it feels like, people should be allowed to stand around and wager on whether he makes it out of the pit in one piece.
That sounds fair.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
So who do you think had a worse day yesterday - The Tokyo Electric Power Company or Michael Vick?
The Tokyo Electric Power Company did spill about 1,200 litres of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan, then lied (misreported) about how radioactive the water actually was, admitted that Chromium-51 and Cobalt-60 (both radioactive) had been leaked into the air, and then realized that their the nuclear facility in question was probably built on a fault line (from CBC.ca). Oh, and there was an earthquake too, did I mention that?
So...that would rate about, what...a 9 out of 10 on the Bad Day Scale?
Even at that, I think I still have to give it to Vick, with a whopping 17 out of 10 on the Bad Day Scale.
In case you haven't heard, Michael Vick - quarterback for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons - was federally indicted yesterday on charges of, "...competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines." (from ESPN.com) Property Vick owns in Virgina has been the center of a dogfighting investigation for many months, although Vick had claimed he rarely visited the property and was not involved in what went on there. Well apparently federal investigators felt differently.
Now I know what you may be thinking, isn't leaking radioactive material and potentially poisoning hundreds of people and the environment worse than being involved in a dogfighting ring?
Well first of all, the mess at the nuclear plant in Japan was caused by a sizeable earthquake, so it's not like they were tossing buckets of contaminated water into the Sea of Japan. And secondly, because of the strong feelings people have towards household pets - dogs especially - Michael Vick is going to be absolutely vilified - like spat at on the street vilified. It would not surprise me if the reaction to all of this is that strong. I can foresee a scenario in which he is booed by his hometown fans, not for his poor play on the field but for his poor choices off the field.
At the very least I imagine that yesterday was a pretty bad day for Vick - and I suspect that there will many more bad days to come.
Let this be a lesson to all of you who are thinking about breaking into the world of getting two animals to fight to the death. It's really a cautionary tale for the ages is what it is.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"We've got some things to do. One of the problems is our field is poorly set up. At B.C. they have a 10-foot wall. At Edmonton they have a wall and a track that serves as a moat. We have a fan-friendly stadium, so we were looking at we could do, maybe with more permanent fencing and more fan control." (from the Leader-Post)
- Jim Hopson, Saskatchewan Roughrider President and CEO
Well, you know what that means:
Looks like a pretty good time, doesn't it? Much more fan-friendly.
Fencing around a field has never caused any problems, has it?
"May 29, 1985 - Brussels, Belgium; 39 people are killed at the European Champions Cup Final at Heysel Stadium when riots beak out and a wall separating rival fans of England's Liverpool and Italy's Juventus of Turin collapses.
April 15, 1989 - Sheffield, England; 95 people are crushed to death at an English FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, when police open gates to alleviate crowding outside Hillsborough Stadium. The resulting rush of people onto the already filled terrace sections traps fans against riot control fences ringing the field.
Jan. 13, 1991 - Orkney, South Africa; at least 40 people are killed, most of them trampled or crushed along riot-control fences that surround the field, when fans panic and try to escape brawls that break out in the grandstand." (from CNNSI.com)
Now obviously CFL football and soccer in... well, everywhere else in the world, create different types of fan response. However, putting fencing around a playing field to keep fans off is a bad idea no matter where it happens. It is a tragedy waiting to happen... or at the very least, it increases the chances of something bad happening.
But surely there are some alternatives?
How about what Hopson mentioned himself - a moat. And not some sissy running track like in Edmonton. I'm talking about a Leeds Castle-style moat. Take a look at that thing - no drunken hillbillies are getting past that. Or maybe they will. Just to make sure, the moat shouldn't be filled with water - but something more along the lines of boiling, molten lead. Oh sure they'll be some health risks to fans, player, coaches, geese flying overhead, and people living as far away as Pilot Butte. But at least it'll keep people off the field. And that's really what it's all about isn't it?
Or...how about this? How about actual security guards who know how to do their jobs? How about security guards who's day jobs aren't standing at the front of a Zellers store? How about a security guard who isn't a 60 year old man who is 45 pounds overweight, or a 38 years old mother of 3, or a guy who looks like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite (without the sai's)? How about more than 2 RCMP officers who walk around the stadium once a half?
The security currently in place at Taylor Field is an absolute joke. And people wonder why there are incidents in the stands and on the playing field itself. I have seen with my own eyes security guards standing idly by while situations arise in the stands.
"We need our fans, the vast majority who are there having a good time, to help us by calling the security people. If there is an issue, call the number that appears on our video screen. We've got two teams of five security people ready to move around the stadium to deal with things proactively." (from the Leader-Post)
Obviously security guards are human and cannot be everywhere and see everything that is going on in the stands, which is why I think it's a good idea to have a number people can call. However, I don't think that two teams of five people is adequate to deal with a stadium that can hold close to 30,000 people - especially with the caliber of guard currently in place at Taylor Field.
Instead of doughy, elderly gentlemen - how about a security force of off-duty police officers or firefighters? Are RCMP cadets allowed to have another job 10 days a summer? Because if they are Regina sure has a lot of those kicking around. Or what about Pre-Police Studies or Human Justice students from the University of Regina. It seems to me that improving the quality of security guard at Taylor Field is the key to improving the level of safety in the stadium. And it would seem like there are a variety of ways to improve the security personnel.
Are you more likely to run onto the field if there is an off-duty Regina City Police officer standing in front of you - or someone who looks like they could have been an extra in Good Burger?
Monday, July 16, 2007
Now, I have no actual proof that Rod Black kills puppies - the only thing I'm going on is a comment he made near the end of Friday's Roughrider game, Black said something to the effect of, "This puppy is over," or, "This puppy has had it." We were all so sick of hearing Black drone on about who-knows-what for 3 hours that this comment immediately led to speculation of Black's puppy killing habits. I believe the story went that Black was holding a puppy hostage in the broadcast booth and if the Roughriders did not win he was going to kill it on national television. And when Marcus Crandall threw the 4th quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown, that puppy was over alright.
But seriously, the Rod Black/Danny McManus booth combo has to be the worst in sports history doesn't it? I don't mind Black's voice but I don't think he can think/react quickly enough to do play-by-play for fast moving sports like basketball, hockey and football - and football doesn't even move that quickly. The only thing I don't mind Black doing is baseball and I think that's because it moves at a pace he can handle and he'll have stats and a script that he can work with.
My favorite Black-ism from Friday night: He was commenting on how Saskatchewan would have to bring its A game to beat a team that was an A+ (B.C). Now I'm not sure how scientific Rod's alphabet ranking system is but wouldn't an A+ still beat an A? Maybe it's just me.
And Danny McManus, wow - were to begin? I think the idea behind former football players in the broadcast booth is so they can provide inside information and insight that the viewing public might otherwise not be aware of. I can't be certain but I don't think Danny provided either one of those things on Friday. TSN needs to put Matt Dunigan in the broadcast booth and move Danny to the studio show, where there is a script and he doesn't have react and think on his feet so much. I'm not saying that McManus is not able to think on his feet but the guy has never been a broadcaster before, he's one year removed from playing in the league - that's a big jump. He was sideline reporter during the first week of the season and now by Week 3 he's a colour commentator - that's an even bigger jump. How about letting him do the studio show for awhile so he can get some experience in broadcasting instead of just unleashing him on the viewers.
Wow, that was quite the headline story.
This is not about a quarterback controversy. If I hear that phrase I'm going to puke in my own mouth. No, this is about an interesting discrepancy we noticed while watching the game on Friday. In his one half of work, Kerry Joseph threw the football almost exclusively to D.J Flick and Andy Fantuz. But as soon as Marcus Crandall came into the game, he immediately began throwing the ball to Matt Dominguez - and Crandall threw it to him often as well. This produced the only touchdown the Roughriders scored. I'm not sure if Dominguez's involvement in the second half was because of Crandall or possibly something that B.C was doing defensively but it was still interesting to note anyway.
To my great surprise, Cooper actually picked the Roughrider's to beat B.C 27-24 on Friday. I was so surprised in fact that I accused him of trying to reverse-jinx the Roughriders by picking them to win. He claimed that wasn't his intent, but it looks like I was right. So to combat the bad luck that he brings upon the Roughriders, Cooper is now going to be picking against them for the rest of the season.
The commissioner of the NHL is clearly trying to get himself fired. But he is going about it in such an overt way that nobody believes he is trying to sabotage himself - it's just too obvious. If you hadn't heard the NHL released it's schedule last week and once again they are going to play an outdoor game during the season - which was a success despite bone-snapping cold 2 years ago. This year the game is going to be played in Buffalo, between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
HOWEVER, this game is going to take place on January 1st, 2008. And that may not seem like a bad thing at first glance. But Mr. Bettman has long made it clear that his only mission in life is to grow hockey in the United States. And what are the majority of the people in the U.S doing on January 1st? They are watching college football. January 1st is probably the single biggest day in U.S college football and hockey has no chance at competing against it, none - even if it is a special game involving hockey's biggest star (Sidney Crosby). I have no idea why Mr. Bettman continually sets this league up to fail. Why on earth would the NHL want to compete with college football bowl games - or even think it could compete? This almost makes less sense than the glowing puck.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
41 points given up.
Starting quarterback going 4-14 for 35 yards in the first half and getting the big ugly axe.
A 42-12 loss.
These are things with which I can relate. And in a way it's almost welcome to see, not because I am actively rooting against the Roughriders but because this is a reality I am familiar with. After 15 years of high expectations coupled with staggering defeats, this is sort of what you'd expect from the team. At least I do. Shouldn't the burden of proof be on the team, to prove to me that they've changed. Rather than me once again blindly believing that things are going to be different this year, without any real proof.
That's why I've been preaching common sense all week. Starting the season 2-0 doesn't guarantee a Grey Cup, home playoff game, or anything for that matter. But you know what, starting the season 2-1 doesn't guarantee ignominious defeat either. The reality of the situation is that the Roughriders are 2-1 and in second place in the Western Division. Nothing more, nothing less. So can we make an agreement to wait until at least the halfway point of the season before we start looking for fires to put out or start. There are still 15 games to play, so ease up eh.
That being said, there are some things I'm interested in seeing now:
...how will the Roughriders respond after facing some adversity for the first time?
...how will Kerry Joseph respond to getting the hook after the first half?
...will I get any credit for saying months ago that the Roughriders would not be able or have any interest in running the ball? I sometimes find it hard to be really interested in football that allows you to totally discount the running game. In the NFL the extra down demands that running the football be part of a team's offensive strategy.
In related news, apparently the blackout was lifted for the game? What time did that happen at? I had TSN on until about 8:30 and had nothing but black screen. So myself and those who I watched the game with proceeded to watch everything on my 15" laptop screen. Which was not as bad as it may sound. The worst part of the experience was have to suffer through Rod Black and Danny McManus. I don't think I can even get into how bad they are without having chest pains, so I'll just leave it as is. But is there really no way we can do better than this?
And one other note for today. I need your help with something. Because I am inherently biased I need some outside opinion. On Friday, the Official Roughrider Blogger wrote,
"Fire-up the Riderville express, and get on now, because after tonight, it may be standing room only!"
Now fine, that's all well and good. However, on June 18th I had a headline that read:
"THE ROUGHRIDER BANDWAGON - GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE"
And on July 4th I wrote:
"The Roughrider Bandwagon: Sold Out
Seriously people, I told you to get on months ago when there were still lots of good seats available. Now, after one mediocre win the Bandwagon is dangerously close to being over-capacity. This might be a fire marshall situation soon."
Now I have no delusions about how far reaching this blog is and I doubt that this person actually read what I wrote. That being said however, this seemed just a little too close for comfort for me - but it's actually not as close as I first thought it to be. Still I need to go to the judge's scorecards on this one - I'm turning this over to the public to decided.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Based on the fact that the ESPY Awards are going to be airing this Sunday I wanted to throw up a bunch of the parodies they've done over the years. I seem to recall a really funny one with Vince Vaughn as a sports agent for children. However, exhaustive YouTube and internet searches didn't really provide much material...
...except this one and I can't even take credit for it. JK (not Rowling) sent it to me this week and I had never seen it before. This was what gave me the idea for the ESPY-themed links. So thanks to him.
...Cooper just sent this to me. Is this what passes for high-level science in Japan?
...and continuing with today's Flight of the Conchords theme I thought I would throw a few songs of theirs up here. There is some debate as to whether this is called Sally or Part-time Model but it's good nonetheless. I rather enjoy the line about the flautist in this song. And I suggest you do this next time you are about to get mugged - and if you live in Regina it's probably not far off.
It appears as though Artist of the Week has made a permanent move to Friday's. It seems to fit better with what we do on Friday. So be sure to mark your calendars.
This weeks artist is Flight of the Conchords. They are described on their website as "New Zealand's fourth most popular digi-folk paradists." They also have a new show on HBO called, not surprisingly, Flight of the Conchords. The official site for the HBO show can be found here. You can also watch clips of them on Myspace here and here.
If you currently subscribe to Movie Central, or may sometime in the not too distant future, you can watch new episodes of their show on Sundays. You can also watch old episodes on demand from Movie Central. I must warn you that the show is very, very dry. So if you're a big fan of According to Jim this might not be the show for you.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
July is widely regarded as the worst sports month of the year - and yikes, for good reason, there is just nothing happening right now. This week has been especially bad because baseball has even been off - and when you're upset because baseball is taking a break, you know you've officially hit rock bottom. If it wasn't for the CFL, Sports As Life might be on a month-long hiatus.
But since everyone in the newsroom (me) is a little punchy today after staying out too late last night at the new Harry Potter movie (he stole my shoes), I've decided to take some shots at other people in the world of sport. Not cheap shots mind you, I'd just like to talk a little common sense today.
If you've been paying attention to the local sports media (you know who I'm talking about) this week, and come'on how could you not, you'd know that there has been much hand-wringing about last Sunday's game not being a sell out. The accusation seems to be that the people of Saskatchewan are too lazy/cheap/dumb (ok, that last one might be a bit of a stretch) to get out to a football game and support the Roughriders. Ok, now let me break this down for you in simple chapter and verse - instead of blaming the fans (25,000 of whom still showed up, by the way) why don't we shift it to who should be taking the blame, the TV broadcasters and the team itself. Games on Sunday's now start at 5pm local time, instead of 1pm or 3pm, which used to be the standards. You can thank TSN and the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club for that decision.
The real problem with this is that much of the ticket buying public that attend Roughrider games comes from outside the Regina area, this much has long been known and is not disputed - it's Saskatchewan Roughriders. By no longer starting games in the early afternoons people who live in, oh I don't know, say Saskatoon, are less likely to drive down to Regina for a football game. And here's why - with a 5pm kickoff that means the game won't be over until 8 or 8:30, which means you aren't in your car and on the way out of town until 9 at the absolute earliest. Then, if you're going to Saskatoon, you're not home until between 11 and 11:30pm at the absolute earliest. Those are tough hours to deal with on a Sunday night with a work week looming, especially if you're taking the family to the game. And let's be honest there are people that drive from a lot farther away than Saskatoon to come to a Rider game - and if you're not going to get home until midnight or later, I'm pretty sure you'd think twice about driving down to Regina for a game.
So before we're so quick to jump all over the people who didn't attend the game, perhaps a look at why they didn't attend the game was in order - the late start time is a huge reason.... ticket prices have gone up again this year and some people who have attended in the past might now have been priced out.... if you look out your window you'll see that gas prices are around $1.20 a litre - for someone that has to drive a couple hours (or even less) to get to Regina, this could potentially be a huge factor in whether they go to the game or not.
Wow, my sociology minor is finally paying off.
And since we're on the subject of attendance, there is already hand-wringing and complaint about this Friday's game against the B.C Lions possibly not being a sell-out, both from your official Roughrider Blogger (seriously go read him - buy the ticket, take the ride) and your local sports media. First of all, have I been asleep for a thousand years? When did sold out football games become the norm in this province? For as long as I can remember, one or two sold-out games a year is pretty much standard, Labour Day being the one guarantee. Why is a game with 90 or 95% capacity suddenly unacceptable? I think because of the sold-out preseason game - where there were literally thousands of free tickets given away - expectations have been set just a little high, don't you think? Perhaps nearly 2 decades of mediocrity have turned people off from the team as well- although Robin Williams still has a film career, so maybe that logic doesn't hold.
Anyway, back to the subject of Friday's game. Obviously I'm no expert, as I don't get paid to do this, but I would suggest to you that Friday's game might not sell-out because of the INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL that's taking place just out side of the city. If you're a country music fan or a fan of alcohol - and remember what province we're in - do you attend the once a year, colossal country music party, or do you go to the Roughrider home game, of which there are 9 per year, albeit this is a first-place showdown against B.C. I will leave you to come up with your own answer to that question - but just think logically about it for a second.
I would love to see some common sense, some rational thought and logic employed by the sports media in this province - instead of knee-jerk reactions and heavy-handed opinions given down from on high. I suppose that is the nature of sports reporting in general (I can be as guilty of that as anyone) and isn't necessarily specific to Saskatchewan. But just because that's how it is everywhere else doesn't mean we can't strive to be a little bit better than that sometimes.
We're better than that aren't we.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Well as many of you have noticed Sports As Life has hit 1000 views. The number might actually be slightly higher, as my counter seems to be about as accurate as Kerry Joseph in a wind storm (sorry, old habits you know) - I think the actual number is closer to 20,000...well maybe not. There also seem to be multiple people claiming the title of '1000th Viewer' - again, blame the counter and you can also fight it out amongst yourselves.
But I do want to say thanks to everyone who has stopped by over the last 6 months. I doubt I would still be doing this if it wasn't for you. I know 1000 hits doesn't sound like much in the grand scheme of things but if far surpasses any expectations I had for this site. And I know I said that about 500 hits as well, so I'm even more blown away by 1000.
Things are also starting to pick up around here. It took 117 days for Sports As Life to go from 0 to 500 hits and 43 days for it to go from 500 to 1000 hits. I'm not sure if we can keep that pace up but it's something anyways. The exposure from Sask Blogs has help, although that site has been down for the past few days - not sure what is up with that. Also hopefully the Mysask.com thing will get rocking and we can be a part of that. We're also still thinking about getting some podcasting off the ground, so hopefully that'll come together too.
Wow, it feels like there should be something else I write about today but there is literally nothing going on in the sports world. There is nothing happening today except the new Harry Potter movie coming out. And the last two days have featured and unwatchable All-Star game (MLB) and home run hitting contest.
Thankfully its only two weeks until NFL training camps open and then the real football season starts.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Were you aware of it? Yesterday and tomorrow are the only two days of the year on which no professional sports are played in the United States and Canada. Apparently the day before and after the MLB All-Star game are the only two that don't have any pro sports. That's kind of frightening isn't it - 363 days a year you can turn on your television and find a game to lose yourself in. But it does keep people like me in business, so who am I to complain?
As some of you know, Mysask.com held a contest to find an Official Roughrider Blogger and I was disqualified because of affiliation with SaskTel. However, despite me being ineligible Mysask decided to go on with the contest anyway and the winner was Devin Heroux. You can check out his blogs here. I'm not including the link to hate on the kid (trust me, that's happening enough as it is - this kid is getting lit up like a Christmas tree, check out the comments people have been leaving if you don't believe me) but people should be aware of what else is out there for Rider coverage. In my own personal opinion his stuff reads like a Junior High book report but I'll still give him credit for getting out there and saying what he has to say.
This is a related item to the above headline. As part of their Official Roughrider Blog Contest, it looks like Mysask is going to be adding links to other Saskatchewan-based sports blogs. And as one such blog, Sports As Life has been asked to be a part of that. When and if that is actually going to happen we're not sure. But it looks like Sports As Life might be up on Mysask.com even without the Official Roughrider Blogger title. So we're all excited about that here.... perhaps I shouldn't have brought this up until it actually happens.
In case you hadn't heard, the radio station sponsored hot tub that was a fixture in the south end zone of Taylor Field for many years has been removed. All of this was done in an effort to make Taylor Field more 'family friendly'. Say what you will about this move (a little over the top, no?) but at least Taylor Field is still a stadium where you can yell at Miss Teen Saskatchewan, "Lay off the Beta Carotene!" (trust me, she was orange)
As tough as it's been to get used to the Roughriders' play through the first two weeks of the season, it's been the departures of Charles Thomas and Jason French that I'm really struggling to adjust to. Those were my go-to guys and now I've got nobody. Through the first two weeks a front runner for the new whipping boy hasn't even emerged, so as of right now I'm still taking applications. After the Montreal game I thought D.J Flick might be the guy and even though he was inconsistent against Calgary too, that touchdown catch he made on Sunday I think has taken his name off the list. So the search continues. I suppose in a perfect world nobody would come out and claim the job - but how much fun is that?
First off, I think I should apologize to everyone who had to wait an extra day to read this inevitable Roughrider post. But I am not without (good) excuses.
Excuse number 1 is physical. Whoever thought that the Saskatchewan Roughrider home opener should be on a Sunday evening obviously doesn't know their demographics very well. Will power and self-control? A Roughrider fan knows not these things.
Excuse numbers 2 and 3 are emotional and psychological. Yesterday was a day full of discussion, thought, meditation and hand-wringing over what the current state of Roughrider football actually is. Are the Roughriders the football juggernaut they appeared to be on Sunday or have they played the right teams on the right days and all of this is just a big house of cards? The truth is that I don't know. The only thing I do know is that 2 games isn't enough to judge a team on. This Friday's game against B.C should be the first real test this year - and if the Roughriders can win that game, then all bets are off. But for further discussion of this see: every sports reporter in the province, every Roughrider-related website and every water cooler in every office in Saskatchewan.
That's not what I want to talk about because quite frankly, there's nothing to talk about. Only time will tell what the Riders really are. What I want to talk about is how I feel about all this - and the truth is I'm terrified that this team might actually be good.
After 15 years of mediocrity and unmet expectations, the possibility of Saskatchewan fielding a dominant football team is a strange thing to have thrust upon you all of a sudden. Now as I said 2 games is not enough to judge a team on - let's not forget that the Roughriders started the 2005 season 3-1, and should have been 4-0, only to finish 9-9 (big surprise). But those that saw Sunday's game saw a team that was not firing on all cylinders but was still pretty dominant. Whether that had more to do with Calgary than Saskatchewan I guess we'll see.
If the Roughriders actually live up to the expectations that everyone seemingly has for them now, I'm not sure how I will react - 15 years of disappointment is a tough thing to get over in a short span of time. Call me crazy but that amount of mediocrity has created a healthy scepticism in me about this team. I'm not quite ready to believe again.
But let's be honest, this province deserves to have a football team that we can be proud of. A powerful football machine that is talented, well prepared and accountable. It's been too long since that has happened and now that it seems we might heading down that road I'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall. It's not that I'm nay-saying for no reason, I've got 15 years full of reasons to be sceptical. And I suppose that until the Roughriders actually do some of the things that football teams are supposed to, i.e - play consistently, host a playoff game, win a championship, I am still going to be waiting for those old Rider demons to show up.
Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, what I'm feeling is not scepticism but realism.
Friday, July 6, 2007
I was in big trouble today.
I felt that a blog post was in order but when I went to the well, the bucket came up... empty. Apathy I think was the main cause of that. It's in the mid to high 30s outside and here I am in my office drinking hot coffee. I just couldn't get up for it today.
And then, just when I had resigned myself to not writing anything today, Edmonton Oiler GM Kevin Lowe comes along and bails me out of a jam. He has been my go to guy all week, constantly providing material with which to skewer him with. And just when I think he's through embarrassing what was once a proud franchise - he's at it again. Say what you will about the man, at least he's consistent.
In case you haven't heard by now, the Oilers tried to sign another big name free agent today. But of course they were once again foiled. This time it was not an unrestricted free agent (UFA) but one of the restricted (RFA) variety. Which means that you can't simply sign the player (as with a UFA) - with an RFA you make an offer to the player and if he accepts then you have to compensate the team he came from with draft picks. But of course the team that player is currently on has the option to match the offer and if they do the transaction is null and void.
Today the Oilers signed Buffalo's RFA Thomas Vanek to a 7 year, $50 million contract. However, as everybody, except apparently Kevin Lowe, knew they would do, the Buffalo Sabres quickly matched Edmonton's offer. So this means that Buffalo keeps Vanek and has signed him to the 7 year, $50 million contract. If Buffalo had decided not to match Edmonton's offer, the Sabres would have received 4 first round draft picks from Edmonton.
This is all a very convoluted description of what went down today, and probably not a very good one at that - so if you're confused and want to see how a professional journalist would explain everything, just read this article from TSN.ca - http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=212929&hubname=
Oh poor Kevin Lowe, he can't win even when he bends the rules. Well let me rephrase that, there's nothing wrong with what Kevin did. Teams are totally free to make offers to other team's RFAs. However, there has always been something of a gentleman's agreement about doing something like this. It's like hitting on another guy's girlfriend when they're sort of broken up but he's still got his arm around her - and then if you talk her into giving you her phone number, you have to give her boyfriend your car and your little brother's Xbox 360.
Signing an RFA to an offer sheet is considered in bad taste because it forces the player's current team to either match the offer, which in most cases is over the top, or let the player go and receive draft picks in return (the number of draft picks the team receives is based on the salary of the player in question) - this whole procedure is more complicated than instituting a code of conduct for a CFL team.
However all's fair in love and war. And I guess as far as Kevin Lowe is concerned, it's war. He's been totally unable to lure any top tier players to Edmonton - only castoffs that nobody else wanted. So now he's moved into the territory of forcing the hands of other teams. With no luck even at that so far.
It's too bad that Edmonton doesn't need a goalie, they could easily make offers to Ray Emery and Henrik Lundqvist that Ottawa and New York couldn't match because of salary cap reasons. But oh that's right, Edmonton has a 39 year old, career backup goalie who makes over $4 million a year. Oh well.
But beyond Kevin Lowe's total futility, there is another interesting story here. Thomas Vanek now makes over $7 million per year. Does that sound right to you? His salary will be $10 million this year (and then decreases in the years after that to average out to $7.14 million per year) - his salary last year was less than a million. Sure he had 43 goals last year on an insanely talented Buffalo team. Let's see if he can do it again this year with no Briere and Drury around. I have my doubts.
So that makes one more player who is making more money that Jarome Iginla or Joe Thornton. Who would you rather have on your team? Vanek or Iginla? Briere or Thornton? History is going to remember that Iginla and Thornton took less money than they would have gotten on the open market so that their teams could still compete. Sure they could have probably gotten $10 million a season next year in free agency but when one player takes up a 1/5th of a team's salary, your chances of building a championship contender are slim.
This is not taking a home town discount, as some might suggest. These are great players who want to win above all else and will put the teams needs ahead of their own. Wanting to get the most money you possibly can and wanting to play for a winner are two totally different things. Just ask Paul Kariya.
In an age when Vanek is a $7 million player and Kimmo Timonen is an $8 million player, I'm glad that I can still look at players like Iginla and Thornton and be reminded that there are still superstars who care about being part of a winning team.
See, sometimes it isn't always about money - just ask Edmonton.
Hey - it got to the end of week and I realized there was no Artist of the Week. So here we go, this week's artist is Brandi Carlile. Those who run in Grey's Anatomy circles will be familiar with her work, even if you don't know her name.
She starts comes off as very quiet and unassuming - and then she kicks you in the chest. Check out this video and you'll see what I mean - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJa-KazVMYU
I didn't post the Links last week because quite frankly I didn't have any. But I think I've got a few this week, and I know how much everyone loves them. So here we go...
- Put this in the category of game shows I want to be a part of. I would travel to Japan just to participate.
- I can't remember if I've linked this before or not but even if I have it's still pretty ingenious. I think I see a theme developing.
- And this one as well, same as above, I may have linked it previously. But it reminds me of a simpler time. Plus it goes with today's theme.
- I'd like People Who Have Too Much Time On Their Hands for 1000 Alex. Wow.
- Say what you will about me for putting this video up, you know you laughed.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
First of all, before we get into all of the NHL free agent signings, I'd like to share my condolences with the 31 remaining fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
Wow, could the last 4 days have gone any worse for you? Your general manager, Kevin Lowe, was unable to land any front-line free agents - just like everyone except Kevin knew was going to happen. His big selling point over the last year was that Edmonton was going to have big money to spend on free agents this offseason - after Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth jumped ship. The only problem was that nobody wanted to play in Edmonton, regardless of the money.
And now the bats have come home to roost in Edmonton. Their big free agent signings? A back-up goalie and a defenceman who was a healthy-scratch with the team during their Stanley Cup run 2 years ago. When you have to send out a DVD selling your city to potential free agents this is what you end up with.
And just when the Oilers thought they had landed a big-name free agent in Michael Nylander, they learned via the television that Nylander had in fact signed with the Washington Capitals instead. People in Saskatchewan just had a Scott Flory Flashback. This situations is going to get very, very ugly - mark my words. You can read about the whole sordid affair here.
AND... as if that wasn't bad enough, on Sunday the Oilers traded away their captain (Jason Smith) and one of the two players they got for Chris Pronger last summer (Joffrey Lupul, who was a total bust in Edmonton, by the way) for a defenceman who was a -25 last year (Joni Pitkanen) and a 35 year old (Geoff Sanderson). Last week I was saying that Eric Tillman has been getting about 30 cents on the dollar in his trades, apparently Kevin Lowe is fine with getting about 7 cents on the dollar.
I'm surprised the people of Edmonton haven't strung Lowe up from the statue of Wayne Gretzky yet. It's just baffling to think that he still has a job with the way he's run the team over the last two years.
And also to the fans of the Montreal Canadiens - Welcome to the Roman Hamrlik era! You thought you didn't like Sheldon Souray, just wait till ol' Roman takes the ice for you this year. Hamrlik has about the same defensive prowess as Souray, only without the offensive upside. Oh and did I mention that Hamrlik is making over 5 million dollars a year for the next 4 years. Have fun!
Now to the rest of the free agent news...
I'm not going to rank how teams fared in the free agent market or anything like that. I'm leaving that to men who wear suits and have profile pictures on websites for TV stations and newspapers.
Is Buffalo's management deliberately trying to sabotage their team? How do you have the two top free agents on your team and end up keeping neither of them? Both Daniel Briere and Chris Drury were Sabres last year and now they've lost both of them. Wow, I just don't understand that one. By all accounts the Sabres made offers to both Drury and Briere but both offers were well below market value. All of the talk leading up to free agency was about which superstar Buffalo was going to keep and somehow they squandered their chance at both of them. The Sabres were one of the best teams in the league the last two years and now they've taken a huge step backwards.
Somehow the New York Rangers are going to be able to pay Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Henrik Lundqvist and apparently Brendan Shannahan. Is nobody looking into this at all? When 3 of your players (Jagr, Drury, and Gomez) make up almost half of your payroll, about $25 million, how are you going to pay your other 20-odd players? The Rangers could be a little weak on the supporting cast this year... oh, and on defence.
The Philadelphia Flyers have gone from joke to probable playoff team. A team that was old and slow last year is suddenly younger and faster. Daniel Briere, Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and even Joffrey Lupul make up one of the best young groups in hockey. Kimmo Timonen and Jason Smith are upgrades for them defensively as well. Now if only they could rid themselves of the corpse of Derian Hatcher. Has anyone been made more obsolete by the new NHL? He's like watching a phone booth on skates.
Paul Kariya is still a 6 million dollar a year player, when did that happen? What year is this? Kariya signed a 3 year $18 million contract with the St. Louis Blues, proving once again that Paul Kariya doesn't care about winning (from Sportsnet Connected).
The Colorado Avalanche have a chance to be very good for the next two years, or until Joe Sackic retires. By adding Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan the Avalanche are now right in the mix in the West. Goaltending is still an issue with them though. However, if Peter Forsberg decides he can play next year, don't be surprised if he ends up in Denver again - even if it's for only half a season. Right now they're my dark horse in the West for next season.
The biggest deals that Calgary and San Jose made were re-signing their big guns to new contracts. In Calgary Jarome Iginla and Robin Regehr both signed new 5 year contracts. And in San Jose Joe Thornton signed a new deal as well. All 3 of those players would have been big names in next years free agent market, Iginla and Thornton especially. But are you really ready for a world in which Scott Gomez, Kimmo Timonen, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury all make more than Iginla and Thornton? There are guys who are in this for the money and there are guys who are in this to win.
Based on all the signings and trades of the past few weeks, I think I'll pick some dark horse teams that are going to surprise people next year. I'm not saying these team will win the Stanley Cup or anything but they'll be playoff teams. I've already picked Colorado in the West and I'm going to go with Florida in the East.
So that's it, hopefully your team spent their money well. Unless of course you're an Oiler or Canadiens fan and then... well there's always next year.
Seriously people, I told you to get on months ago when there were still lots of good seats available. Now, after one mediocre win the Bandwagon is dangerously close to being over-capacity. This might be a fire marshall situation soon.
I haven't seen this much excitement based on suspect evidence since the O.J trial.
I hate to be a naysayer (actually, I don't) but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. Yes the Roughriders won in Montreal for the first time since Kent Austin could fit into a size-32 pair of pants (trust me, it's been awhile). Yes the defence held Montreal's offence in check for the entire game. And yes a win is a win.
I am firmly of the belief that that game was more about Montreal's offence than it was about Saskatchewan's defence. Don't get me wrong, the Roughrider defence looked pretty solid but let's be real, Montreal's offence was terrible. Apparently they only have one viable offensive weapon, Ben Cahoon - and when you throw to him 135 times in a game, it becomes reasonably easy to defense.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about the Roughriders' run defence though. When Montreal actually wanted to run the ball, it seemed like they were able to with some ease. Montreal running back Mike Imoh averaged 5 yards per carry on 10 rushes. I'm also curious to see how the Saskatchewan defensive line will play against a team that actually employs a pass-blocking scheme.
And then there's the Saskatchewan offence...
If that was the high-octane offence that Kent Austin spent the last two months installing, I really don't know what to say. It seems the offence consists of two plays (more or less) - the sprint option, that teams are going to learn how to defense real quick, and the shotgun draw that we're all so familiar with. Seriously, how is that draw play still hanging around? It only worked because Kenton Keith was slippery enough to make at least two defenders miss - and even then it only worked about 40% of the time. How much sense does it make to give the ball to the running back at a dead stop 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage? Does that sound like a recipe for success to you?
Kerry Joseph picked up this year right where he left off last year - trying hard to overthrow Jason Armstead on the game's first play - only to be foiled by Armstead's 4 foot vertical leap and 5 foot arms (although I'm still not convinced it was a catch). The only touchdown of the game came when Joseph made a nice play to avoid the Montreal pass rush and then hit Henri "Jackie" Childs (listen, I know it's actually Jackie Chiles but are you really going to nitpick over this?) behind a disinterested Montreal cornerback. It was a really accurate throw on the run but let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. The ball had such phenomenal spin and trajectory on it that on its way down the ball almost looked like it was going to start moving backwards.
I'm not trying to discount what the Riders did in Montreal on Friday night, a win is a win, especially in Montreal. However, I'm not hating on the team for no reason, there definitely are some problem areas that I see.
All I'm saying is that before you put a deposit down on your home playoff tickets, lets see how the Riders stack up against teams like B.C, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.