Monday, July 23, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to .500

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.


Anonymous said...

Luke I must agree with you. Kent Austin was so out coached in the 2nd half it was sick. I was there gentelmen 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 autible 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.


Trebor said...

Good comparison, i'll have to check out that fan board later. Was there any mention of the later play calls. It was 2nd and short we'll say 3 and they ran the ball. I understand that this is what most teams do but when they tried and failed... I remarked...why are you pretending to be a running team... you know your not, the D knows your not... why wait till the final drive...why.

Also I'll admit to checking into this page a number of times over the last few days even with the knowledge that you'd be reading to see if Harry dies or not. However the rider story was, 2nd 3rd on my list. The past few days there's been some entertaining sports stories. The U-20 diving competetion... I mean soccer final... i had to shut the game off after watching 20 min of Argnetina flop around. the Chilean team taking on the TO police. Or even the british open implosion (Sergio,harrington, cabrera), harrington hits 2 into the burn on 18 and still makes it. Sergio wasn't the worst though seeing the lowlights of the '99 open has got to be up there on the top-10 list of something.