Thursday, October 25, 2018

Because Even 280 Twitter Characters Just Aren't Enough

I've never been shy about being a sports and numbers nerd but the CFL's West Division standings and the rollercoaster ride of the Saskatchewan Roughriders specifically has brought my geek squad mentality to another level these last few weeks.  I've actually never successfully used Microsoft Excel until this year at work for tracking monthly income and expenses and found it fun to play around, so I put the Grade 9 computer class tool to use for sports too, so I can see specifically the West Division standings and each teams' remaining schedules all in one easy spot.

I've also been a long-suffering Rider fan and come to expect the worst when the going gets tough, so I had very little hope that they'd go into Calgary and win this past Saturday.  After their performance in Winnipeg seven days earlier, with Charleston Hughes staying home, being on the road in Calgary after the Stampeders put up a rare loss the week before, the cards were against them going in.  With that recent downward momentum (one game, but a bad one), and Winnipeg on the upswing (slapped the Riders and Esks, were up big in Ottawa and pulled it out in overtime), I was starting to lean towards the Riders quite possibly dropping their final two games, the Bombers winning theirs and jumping into 2nd place.

With the Bombers on their bye week, the Rider win in Calgary already means the Bombers will be on the road IF they make the playoffs, as they can't finish any higher than 3rd.  The only team standing between the Riders and home field are the BC Lions, their opponent this coming Saturday.  Again, a hot opponent who won in Calgary two weeks ago and rolled past Edmonton last week.  While the Riders need to lose their final game and BC needs to 'win out' in their final two, it's also not very far-fetched.  The Lions have their destiny in their hands this week going head to head in Regina, and if they're successful there, they'll have Calgary at in BC next week, and they'd be facing a Stamps' team that's already clinched 1st (even if they lost in Winnipeg) due to the Rider loss, so the Lions would be at home against a team with nothing to play for.  I really think a loss this weekend would send the Riders on the road, to BC for the West Semi. 

If the Riders and Lions are tied at 11-7, the Lions get the tie-breaker, as long as they win Saturday's game by more than three (Riders won 24-21 in their only other meeting).  If the Riders, Lions, and Bombers are ALL tied at 11-7 (yes it's possible), then believe it or not, the Riders would get 2nd.  The tie-breaker in that case is head to head vs all teams who are tied.  The Riders are 2-1 vs WPG, would be 1-1 vs BC, so 3-2 (.600%).  BC would then be 1-1 vs SSK, 1-1 vs WPG (2-2 total, .500%), while Winnipeg would be 2-3 (.400%) and be 4th in that scenario.

It's a lot more simple if the Riders can just take care of business on home field, and with a 5-3 mark at home, they need to shine up that record a little.  If they win, they lock up no worse than 2nd.  By then they will know Friday's Calgary @ Winnipeg result, so if Calgary won, 2nd is the best the Riders can be.  A Stamps loss and Rider win this weekend, then the Riders head into their Week 21 bye week where they'll watch the Stampeders in BC, and should Calgary inconceivably lose a fourth straight, the Riders & Stamps would both be 12-6, Riders with the 2-1 season-season tie-breaker, and hosting the West Final (with 22 days between games).

I know, you don't want two byes weeks back to back before a big West final.  Sorry.  If someone handed you a pen and blank standings and you could fill it out however you want and you don't put your team 1st in the CFL playoff format, you're crazy.

Route 1 to the Grey Cup (finish 3rd): Go to BC, win, go to Calgary, win (good luck)

Route 2 to the Grey Cup (finish 2nd): Host red-hot BC or red-hot Winnipeg, win, go to Calgary, win (possible, sure)

Route 3 to the Grey Cup (finish 1st): Win one home game. (Let Calgary host red-hot Winnipeg or red-hot BC and you play the winner at your place).

If you don't pick option 3, I don't know about you.

Let Naaman Roosevelt and Dan Clark get healthy and make the most of two weeks off.

Yes, odds are the West Final is in Calgary but everything's on the table.

I'm also really interested in what's going on in Winnipeg.  Two or three (mostly one) of their fans drive me absolutely nuts on Twitter but more than that, the Bombers scare me.  If Matt Nichols just doesn't screw things up, they've got Andrew Harris to run the rock when it's cold and an active defense led by Adam Bighill, and yes the 31-0 game is fresh in my mind.  I'd rather not see them in the playoffs, I'd rather not see them go East and become the first West team to go to the Grey Cup.  I'd be just fine seeing them miss, to quiet the peanut gallery but also keep a heckuva obstacle out of the picture.  If they make the playoffs they can certainly win the Grey Cup.  But they can miss and I'd even say there's a half decent chance.  They've got Calgary Friday with the Stamps staring at a potential 3 game losing streak and a chance to clinch.  Calgary doesn't want 1st coming down to Week 21 in BC and are they really going to lose three in a row?  If the Bombers drop that home game, it gives the Edmonton Eskimos (bye this week) life - it would mean the Week 21 game, Winnipeg @ Edmonton, decide who goes East and who misses the playoffs.  Edmonton at home, with a breath of life, with the Grey Cup at Commonwealth. 

So Friday, do you hope for the Bombers so that the Riders keep the 1st place dream alive for at least one more day?  Or do you pull for the Stampeders (who would clinch the division) to put the Blue Bombers on the ropes and force them to win in Edmonton or finish dead last at 9-9 (tied with Edmonton but Esks would have tie-break).  Not sure I'll truly know how I feel until that game gets going.  Either way that one turns out, it will ratchet up the drama for the next day and next week because it's the next domino to fall in this crazy West Division playoff picture.

Quickly about the Rider offense... first off how weird was it seeing a big-ish running back in Cam Marshall and a defensive halfback in Louchiez Purifoy returning kick-offs, and doing it well!  They set up the Riders routinely at the 40-45, even in Stamps territory.  We also saw some big YAC yards by Kyran Moore and Jordan Williams-Lambert in what were short-medium passes.  My favourite part of the 29-point effort was that Collaros was throwing the ball on a rope, zipping it in there.  His tosses have looked slow-mo for much of the year so that showed increased confidence by him on Saturday.  The next interesting debate is at running back and I don't know how you take Marshall out after that one.  He had 2 or 3 carries for 12-15 yards each, finished with 11-76 (6.9 avg).  But my favourite Marshall play wasn't one of his runs or kick returns.  It was a block that I didn't notice until re-watching the game.  It was one of those late penalties that put the Riders in a 2nd and 16 while trying to drain the clock.  The Stamps rushed six guys and an extra linebacker came around the left side of the O-line.  Marshall was lined up to Collaros' right in the shotgun and he stepped to his left, pancaked the dude and Zach stepped up and found Williams-Lambert right at the stick.

Mason and Thigpen don't give you that dimension, and since they're both smaller faster backs, I wonder if one of them sits if all three are healthy, and with Thigpen giving you the versatility in the return game, Mason could be the odd man out, despite being the starter much of the year.  Marshall's style just screams "playoff back" and the pass protection puts him over the top in my opinion.

Hey, have fun watching some football this weekend!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who IS The Real Tino?

Despite reports that Darian Durant could be activated for the last game or two of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' regular season, let's face it, there's still a reasonable chance that it won't happen, and that the defending champs' playoff run will be on the shoulders of Tino Sunseri.

I think we all hope to see Durant's return, but only if he's indeed 100%, and not putting the remaining 4-6 years of his career in jeopardy by coming back too soon.

With Tino, we've seen glimpses that show us the Riders are still in good hands without Darian, and also glimpses that say, the Riders will finish 9-9 and lose the cross-over game.

His sample size is still small, but as of now, he's been lights out in the second half compared to the first, and better at home than away.  He's also looked better coming off the bench than he has starting.  He took over for Darian at half time in B.C., led them to victory in the second half.  Took over for Darian at the Banjo Bowl, narrowly hung on for the win, entered the game for Seth Doege in the second quarter against Calgary on Friday, erased a 24-point deficit before losing on a late penalty and touchdown.  Then there's the ugly - his two road starts, in Hamilton and Edmonton, where he led the Riders to a combined three points.

The comeback vs Calgary has us excited despite the loss, but I'm still even wondering if we're over-reacting.  Really, the offence was effective on three series.  Not to take anything away from an incredible stretch that saw him guide the Riders downfield for three consecutive touchdowns, ALL capped by successful two-point converts - but minus the interceptions, he didn't really do a whole lot more than Doege in the previous quarter and a half.  The touchdown drives were also aided by inept tackling on Dan DePalma, and a pair of pass interference calls in the end zone.  This was also against a defence that obviously softened up while protecting what was a three score lead, at one point.

STILL, give the guy credit for going down field.  I'm not sure the first PI call on Dressler was a catchable ball, but the second one was a touchdown had Jamar Wall not jumped, screened, and knocked Weston on his back.  You had to like the 57-yard bomb to Getzlaf, the three strikes to Swain over the middle, and a little bit of scrambling.  He took off for 13 yards once before hook-sliding, which looked like vintage Darian from last year's WSF vs B.C.  His other run, was 8.5 yards, in a case where 10 yards may have secured the win.  At live speed, in the middle of the field, it's not like you can look at the sidelines and know where the yard stick is, but given that he started right at his 50, he likely knew that Calgary's 50 was where he had to get to.  That play was one of the more scrutinized from that game, with some, including Sunseri, feeling he wasn't touched before sliding HEAD-FIRST, well across the Stampeder 50.  No he didn't hook slide, which means he has to be touched in order to be down, but I think one of the Stamps' linebackers got a hand on him, as tough as it was to tell for sure.  What you'd like to see in a desperate situation like that though, is the guy to drop his shoulder.  Tino Sunseri's not going to run over Deron Mayo, but maybe staying on his feet an extra split second, and forward momentum of being tackled, gets you an extra yard and a half, or enough of it to bring up 3rd and less than a yard, and a sure gamble.

*By the way, I love Corey Chamblin taking the bullet for not gambling, but it was 3rd and almost 2.  They've been stuffed in that situation before, including on their third touchdown that took two cracks from the one, and even that was debatable that Messam broke the plane.  Punting was the right call, I believe.  The issue(s) was/were, Milo's very average 40 yard punt, the 14-yard return allowed despite a good 'directional' kick to the sideline, the defensive series that ensued, and, yes, eventually the illegal substitution call on Peters.*

*Fun fact, Chris Milo hasn't attempted a place-kick (FG or convert) since overtime vs Ottawa Sep/21.  The bad snap that he tried to punch through the end zone (and got Chad Rempel a new job), so who even knows where his confidence is now… he hasn't missed one or made one for three weeks!*

A successful 3rd down conversion probably secures the win and a shot at first place, so I see why Chamblin's upset at himself.  Now, you can't argue that Calgary's locked up hosting the West Final.  They're three up on Edmonton and have the tie-breaker with 4 games left.  They're three up on the Riders with one head-to-head left.  Riders would have to win that ROAD game by 8 or more, and get two more wins than Calgary does in the three other games.  Not happening.  The Riders are now playing for second place, and I believe have to beat Edmonton twice at home for the right to host, probably Edmonton again, in the WSF.  The once 'gravy' looking cross-over scenario looks about as much fun as a root canal right now, to the point that I would now say that 3rd is a better spot to finish than 4th.  And, my previous blog which guaranteed a Western cross-over, suddenly looks like less of a sure thing (but I still think it happens).

Did anyone really think the Riders would have a shot at 1st this season anyway?  2nd is still possible, and it's far from a guarantee they'll get a playoff game in Calgary, but I'll take our chances if they do.  They're banged up too, especially at receiver.  Cornish is on the limp again, and they've got questions at QB with BLM also not back yet.  Watching this team have hissy fits with each other, Tate-Dickenson, Cornish-Tate, and… they probably don't play another meaningful game UNTIL the November 23rd West Final.  They've got a bye-week coming up, followed by 4 games that shouldn't affect their positioning, followed by another bye.  By then, if the Riders are still playing, they'll have the underdog role, and either a healthy Durant, or a Sunseri with half a season under his belt, and hopefully some positive momentum.

If we're still wondering who our starting QB is at that point, or who the real Tino Sunseri is, that won't be a game the Riders will be playing in.  It's a good thing they've got four important games ahead (five including playoffs) to figure that out.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Call me Captain Obvious, but despite Week 13 in the CFL showing that the East Division indeed has a pulse, there's no way that three teams from that division are taking part in the playoffs.

There's a CFL podcast that's gaining some steam, called the Swag & Stagger Show.  It's actually really well put-together.  It features a pair of Bomber fans and a Stampeder fan, none of whom have a whole lot of love for the Saskatchewan Roughriders (understandably so), and all three are big time fans of the league who are all very well-spoken and knowledgeable about Canadian pigskin.


In addition to their weekly 45-ish minute banter session, they also do a separate one specifically for CFL Fantasy, and the site, which I've taken part in every year it's been out (and usually dominate :p)

These guys know their stuff, and rosters, but alarm bells did go off for me when they actually made an argument that the East Division is turning things around, and because they're now playing more in-division games, that there's a good chance they'll block a western cross-over.

I understand this argument may have come on the fly, and they sounded good making the argument, and maybe it was simply just done for argument sake, but it's just simply not happening.

I know us Saskatchewan folk have trouble with math, and counting (right?), but I think this math is pretty simple.

The top three teams in the East are tied with 4 wins each.  The fourth place team in the East (B.C., currently), has 7.  That means three teams in the East need to finish with at least the same amount of wins as the Lions (or whoever ends up 4th)… so they need three more wins that B.C. gets in their last 6 games.  Odds are, the Lions aren't going to lose out (granted, they've got a tough schedule aside from Ottawa at home).  Let's say they go a sub-par 2-4 down the stretch.  That leaves them at 9-9.  That would mean that THREE teams in the East have to go 5-1 in their last 6 games to tie the Lions.  Because they play each other so much, it just isn't possible.

Taking this a step further, I believe the 3rd place team in the East that will be on the outside looking in will be Montreal.  Their schedule's not bad.  Five East opponents including two Ottawa, and home to the Riders (Riders don't usually perform well in these Sunday morning Eastern timezone games).  I just think Hamilton's starting to roll with Collaros at the helm (and they actually have 7 games left, a game in hand on everyone), and once Toronto's healthy, Ricky Ray will have them in one of the top two spots.  Montreal will likely be in the neighbourhood of 7-11, maybe 8-10 at best.  If that's the case, B.C. needs two wins to stay ahead of them, or Winnipeg would need three.

Hey, maybe the Lions and Bombers hit the skids, and maybe Toronto-Hamilton-Montreal beat each other just the right number of times that they somehow all finish with 8 or 9 wins, but it's just way too many things that have to go right in the last third of the schedule.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


In a dog-fight of a West Division, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, "basically," wrapped up a playoff spot with Sunday's nail-biting 35-32 overtime win over the Ottawa Redblacks.  Yes, the Ottawa Redblacks, with a single win to their credit in franchise history.  Took us to overtime.  And probably should have won in regulation.

I say - basically - wrapped up a playoff spot… because the Riders (9-3), now have three more wins than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-6), and have the tie-breaker.  So with six games left, the Riders could lose all of them (and that's not such a stretch right now), and that would force the Bombers to go no worse than 4-2 down the stretch.  They have a similar schedule remaining to what the Riders have - West Division heavy.  The Bombers also have not seen Calgary yet, and Edmonton just once (a lopsided loss at home early in the season).  Even after a bizarre week that saw three Eastern teams beat their Western counterparts, it's still all but certain that the fourth place finisher in the West will indeed crossover into the East for playoffs.  So, as long as you're not last, you're good to go.  I don't think anyone truly WANTS that 4th spot, but hey once you're in, you're in.  Say what you want about the weak sister East Division… good luck going out there two weeks in a row and think it's a cake walk straight to B.C. Place in late November.  That said, 3rd place in the West would simply be a death wish - and I'm not trying to say 2nd, or hell, even 1st, is out of the question.

Had the Riders fallen to the REDBLACKS, I'd say let me be the first to slam the big green PANIC button.  Seriously.  A lacklustre 28-3 loss in Hamilton.  Follow that with a loss at HOME to OTTAWA?  All of a sudden you're looking at the final third of the schedule that reads Edmonton-Calgary-Montreal-Edmonton-Calgary-Edmonton.  Show me a win on that schedule if you can't beat Ottawa at home.

Thing is, for a good chunk of that game, they played bad enough to lose to Ottawa at home, so why feel any more confident against the Caglary's and Edmonton's of the world?

I'm not sure.  But winning breeds confidence, and for a game and a half, I saw a quarterback that had none.  Zilch.  Tino Sunseri's happy feet bounced around in the pocket, his eyes on the pass rush instead of his route-running receivers.  He looked lost.  I felt for the guy more than anything - he was put in a tough spot, but even Coach Chamblin flat out said, he thought Tino would have performed better than he did in Hamilton.

He had 26 yards passing in the first half vs Ottawa.  That - I don't entirely put on Sunseri.  He completed 3 of his first 4 balls, and was 5/9 in the half.  That means, math scholars, that 9 passing plays were called in the first half.  NINE.  That's on George Cortez - he calls the plays.  However in hindsight, the boring play calling of the first half almost seemed to set up some big plays in the second half.  Sunseri handed the ball off every time in the first half, even with the REDBLACKS DE crashing down on every play.  One of the first plays of the second half, he went around the edge himself for a nice gain.  And the more he moved around, the more comfortable he appeared.

So if Sunseri can manage to pick up where he left off, and continue to gradually improve, there's less of a reason to believe the Riders are in serious trouble in the balance of their schedule.

A key point in the game that us Rider fans glossed over, but would be fuming had it happened the other way, was the Dressler punt return TD.  Will Ford ran into punter Brett Maher and it wasn't called.  It wasn't vicious, and maybe Maher tried to sell it - but there was contact - and I've seen a lot less contact than that get called (*Luke Tasker on Ricky Schmitt at the Grey Cup*).  If that's called, you take 7 points off the board and the Redblacks get a first down.  Totally different game.  For what it's worth, there wasn't a lot if any contact on the PI call on Taj Smith that led to ball being placed on the 1, setting up the game-tying touchdown and 2 point conversion.  Some iffy calls went the Riders' way on Sunday, no question.

Now, it's the by far the toughest third of the schedule, backup quarterback aside.  How many can they win?  I'd say 3-3 is realistic, if not a little far-fetched.  The road games, at Edmonton, Calgary and Edmonton will all be tough.  Home to Edmonton twice and Calgary once.  If they can beat Edmonton twice, that should mean they'll finish ahead of Eskimos, and if they win 12 games, BC's not catching them.  So, 3-3, if two wins come vs Edmonton should mean a home playoff game.  More than three wins, and they're in the conversation to host the West Final.  Not only tough opponents with a second string QB under centre, but the Riders also have short weeks three times during this stretch, including games five days apart twice (starting this Friday in Edmonton).

Weston Dressler and Tearrius George both played out of their minds Sunday.  Ridiculous, really.


Should be a wild finish…

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Anyone in the local sports circles, or really any circles, around Yorkton in the last few decades, likely knew Donna Moore.  Because she was in the lives of so many, the sad news that she passed away this week travelled fast, and caught us all off guard.

Regrettably I can't make it to Monday's Memorial Service, so I thought I'd take a few minutes here to remember one of my truest friends in Yorkton.

First off, sports fans, think of the team you're the most "die-hard" about.  Would you be able to be just a few feet from the action at every home game, but not actually be able to see the game?  I know I couldn't.  That's what Donna did.  She was the Yorkton Terriers' #1 fan, and their top volunteer.  Combining the two, she ran the gate to the main entrance at Farrell Agencies Arena, stamping hands, punching tickets, and making sure no one was sneaking in.  And I pity you if you ever tried!  She was maybe 10 steps from the ice surface, but from that vantage point, couldn't see the action.  I asked her about that once and her response was "it's okay, I get to watch the third period from upstairs."  She won the Volunteer Of The Year award at the Terriers' banquet a few years ago, and I know that wasn't the only time.  I really wonder if/how many games she missed running that gate since she started.  She was there game after game, year after year, for the 7 years I've lived here, and I'm sure many, many seasons before that.

Our first verbal exchange happened just inside those doors, likely in October 2007, and my boss at the time, Lyle Walsh said, "someone wants to meet you."  Having heard my first few Terrier broadcasts on GX, Donna, rather sternly, said, "I want you to be like Terry Struthers!  And talk about apple pie!"  Terry, as most or all of you know, did the games on GX before me for 20 years, and must have had a catch phrase like, "he put it top shelf where mama hides the apple pie," or something!

Let's just say our conversations only got smoother from there!  But she did keep me on my toes and make sure I was doing my job.  Her phone calls to my desk in the newsroom came, on average, weekly.  It wasn't always just about the Terriers, or even hockey.  

"What about that Balaberda kid from Esterhazy," she'd ask.  "He won a gold medal in weight lifting."

"Yeah Donna I saw that, I had it on the air yesterday."

"AND…. You gonna interview him?"

Occasionally I would catch heck for talking too much about Melville, or heaven forbid, if I went 24 hours without updating this blog!  

The most funny conversations were between her and Melville Millionaires' Coach/GM Jamie Fiesel.  When we'd broadcast a Terrier home game, it was usually a Melville road broadcast, and I'd visit with the Mils' coaches and interview Jamie in the Gallagher Centre lobby, and Donna, always 2+ hours early, would pull up a chair right beside us.  Feez loved to push her buttons, and she'd give it right back.  For some reason I can't remember specific conversations right now, but listening to them go back and forth about the Terrier/Millionaire rivalry was hilarious.

I probably got to talk to Donna the most when I was covering Yorkton Cardinal games.  I got to sit in the stands like everyone else, not in my own little booth like at the rink… and she rarely missed those games either.  She'd be there with her hat and coffee in the same spot behind home plate, and we'd chat about baseball, the Riders, the upcoming SJHL season… my family, her family, summer holidays, anything and everything.

One of her funniest lines was at a Melville/Yorkton ball game at Jubilee Park.  Millionaires Coach Garnet Keller came out of the dugout to argue balls and strikes with the ump.  Garnet got tossed, and as he did, Donna stood up and yelled, "KICK HIM OUT!  TYPICAL MELVILLE!"

Another time, one of the Cardinal batters got hit by a pitch, prompting Donna to scream at the pitcher, "HEY! YOU IDIOT!"  She wasn't shy.  And she was passionate about her teams I tell ya!

She was always front and centre, not just at games, but any events having to do with the Terriers or Cardinals, especially.  Year-end banquets, the SJHL All-Star festivities when Yorkton hosted, Terrier Sportsman Dinners, the Terriers' 12-hour Season Ticket Blitz, etc, etc.  Wouldn't miss anything like that, and that was all on top of working at SARCAN, where if I'm not mistaken, she was full-time until just a few years ago, before going to part-time, and retiring only very recently.

Remembering all these stories and how much of a fixture she was in the local sports scene, I'm honestly feeling really ashamed that I never had her on the radio.  I bet she would have gone on if I'd ever asked, and done well.  The stories and memories she could have told would have been fascinating for an intermission of a Terrier broadcast, and/or a sportscast.  I'm really not sure why I wouldn't have thought of that, either live during a game between periods, or pre-recorded, or after she won Volunteer Of The Year.  Definitely kicking myself about that.

The past 2+ years since I left the radio station, my conversations with Donna were certainly less frequent, but I'll really miss her smiling face at the games.  I never made it through that gate without her stopping me to chat, and always appreciated our dialogue.  She added me on Facebook and would always ask about my kids and say how much she enjoyed seeing their pictures.

If her parents and other family members happen to stumble across this, please know that Donna was one of the people who made me, an early-20's radio broadcaster feel welcome in Yorkton, and was just an all-around amazing person, fan, and friend.  She'll be missed by many at the rink, at the diamond, and around town.  In hindsight, it was even a little extra fitting that the Terriers captured their first ever National Championship this year, for their biggest fan.  And now, she won't have to settle for just watching the third period of home games again.  She'll have the best seat in the house, right from puck drop!

Miss you Donna!

Donna's Memorial Notice

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Random Ramblings

Tis been a while!

Since last time I mustered up a post, the Yorkton Terriers won an SJHL Championship, the Stanley Cup playoffs came and went, and so did summer.

Just figured instead of cramming thoughts on Twitter, I'd throw something together, and maybe sleep better tonight with my thoughts on paper (or a screen)!

- I'm past my one-year anniversary at DR Auto Extras.  We had a very good summer for RV sales, despite winner hanging around well into April this year.  Yes, things are slowing down a little now, but there are certainly deals to be had this time of year (so ya know, come see me!).  Still enjoying the change, but always missing what I used to do, as I knew dang well I would.  A gal I worked with at DR just took the receptionist job at GX and asked me about working there, and I couldn't think of a bad thing to say if I tried.

- My wife and kids were in Saskatoon for a wedding over September long, and went up a few days early.  I painted a bathroom, and thought I was throwing in an old "mix CD" while I was working.  Turned out it was 10 or so intermission 'features' I ran during my first season of broadcasting games, 2005-2006 at CKDM in Dauphin.  Unreal to think that's closing in on 10 years ago!  Jeez I was a young pup.  Turned 19 the day that season started.

- My daughter Bailey turned 3 in May, and Kaiden will be 7 months this week.  He's just started eating solid foods (well, mush), and is FINALLY starting to sleep all, or most of the night.  Not that I know the difference... you think I was waking up with him??

- I'm like a little kid, as I think that it's '4 more sleeps' until the next Rider game.  I heard the saying that there are 2 days in Saskatchewan. 1) Rider Game Day 2) Waiting For Rider Game Day.  Ain't that the truth.  What an eye-glazer of a Banjo Bowl, though.  The Bombers deserved kudos, but as a Rider fan, I'm worried.

- I'm not worried because of how they played Sunday, losing to a 1-8 team.  I'm worried because I truly believe this team, albeit 8-2, has played MAYBE 3 complete games this season, and I'd even say they haven't had a 'great' game since Week 4.  Week 1 in Edmonton, they dominated start to finish, taking their foot off the gas only when it was well out of reach in the 4th quarter.  They trailed Calgary by as much as, I think, 17-3 the next week, before storming back in the second half, and that's been the theme.  They were okay in Toronto the next week, one of their more complete games, and then whitewashed Hamilton 37-0 at home the next week.  I was there for that one, and even it was a slow start.  If I'm not mistaken it was scoreless after one quarter, and 13-0 at half.  At Hamilton, they were down early... at Calgary, turned the ball over on offense for the first time all season, on the first offensive series of the game, were down 7-0, and never got back into it... home to Montreal, absolutely should have lost, and would have had Calvillo played the whole game - needed an unprobable 2-minute comeback to steal it... at Edmonton, again, trailed early, Chris Milo had them up 12-10 at half, they made Mike Reilly look amazing, and won by a field goal... Labour Day, another slow start, down at half time, and then steamrolled them in the second half.  And the Banjo Bowl was, well, the Banjo Bowl.

- Like Coach Chamblain says... you're not going to blow teams out every week.  I get that.  It's an 8-team league and it's competitive.  But if you're a so-called elite team, why does take until halftime to get going?  The experts say they 'wait to see what the other team's doing, and then adjust.'  Again, if you're 'elite', then make them play YOUR game, make THEM adjust.  They've got 8 tough games to go, and against Toronto, BC and Calgary especially, they can't expect to win by playing 30 minutes.

- I'm not of the one extreme of fans who thought everyone should be fired and Durant should be benched when they were 6-1 and Durant's TD-INT ratio was 17:0.  However I'm not the sunshine and roses breed either, who thinks "as long as they win that's all that counts, who cares how they play!"  Ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter a whole lot... you play for wins and losses, and playoff positioning.  I just don't see Calgary losing a game they should win, meaning if the Riders don't beat them there in October, it'll mean 2nd place at best... and should they, say, win only 1 of their 3 meetings with BC (or, none)... that would likely mean NO home playoff game.

- Darian Durant IS the QB who can get this province their next Grey Cup.  I sure hope it's this year.  But stop calling for his head!  I'd put Ricky Ray ahead of him (and he's hurt) this season, and that's it.  Sure hope the fans don't end up running him out of town.

- I think it will take 14 wins to host the West Final, and with the team regressing lately, I just don't see them going 6-2 down the stretch to attain 14 W's.  I wouldn't doubt they go 4-4 and finish 12-6.  12-6 will leave them 2nd with B.C. breathing down their necks.  3 BC's @ Calgary, vs Edmonton twice, vs Toronto, at Montreal.  Are there 6 wins there?  Sure could be, just not banking on it.  It's a huge back to back weeks at home coming up, with the Argos here Saturday night and BC the following Sunday.  Sweep those two, and top spot is more than realistic.  I think they needed the loss in Winnipeg to wake up.  Part of me also worried that they'll be stuck in mediocrity and lose some close games they were winning earlier..... or worse, that the Banjo Bowl could start a free-fall, a la last year (5 game skid around this time of the season).

- I feel like a Debbie Downer here, but I want this team to succeed as much (or more) as any other fan, and probably take it more seriously than I should.  I've just always been cautiously optimistic.  In my years as a Rider fan, there've been some lean ones (90's), and some close calls that almost rip a person's heart out (09). 

- Last time I posted something, I said how pumped I was for Blue Jays baseball.  What a disappointment.  Can't tell you the last time I watched a whole game, or inning.  Call that a bandwagon jumper, but they're still my favourite team, but if I'm going to spend 3 hours watching something, I'd like it to be relevant.  I don't think there's any sense blowing it up.  Anthopolous made the moves to go for it and we all thought he was a genious for it.  Keep it together for another year at least, try to add a pitcher or four, and give the AL East a run.  They've got the horses.

- I was at a wedding during the NHL Draft weekend, and I either forgot or never knew that the Toronto Maple Leafs sent picks to Chicago for Dave Bolland at the draft.  I'm on Twitter, just about constantly, so I have no clue how I could have missed/forgot, but I did!  Just today, the Leafs, finally worked something out with Kadri, too.  So a team that struggled with depth at centre this time last year, can now throw out Bozak, Kadri, Bolland & McClemment on lines 1 through 4.  I like that dynamic.  No, there's no Crosby or Datsyuk or even Bergeron in that mix, but it's two who should clearly be in the top 6, and two can check and do a little of everything.  Here's hoping they make it 2 straight years in the playoffs and maybe win a round (or more) this time.

- SJHL Pre-Season is in full swing, and I'm still doing my thing with the SJHL & Yorkton Terriers websites.  There are three new coaches in the SJ this season (Estevan, Weyburn, La Ronge), so it could explain why we're not getting ALL game sheets from exhibition games.  It's tough to get info, and I saw the diehards already have their annual "SJHL WEBSITE SUCKS" thread going on the fan forum.  It's tough to get info this time of year.  Most coaches don't want to tell us what rookies are good bets to make the team, and want things to play out through camp, and understandably so, and as mentioned, even game results aren't always sent in.  It'll be better once the regular season kicks off Sep/19.

- I hunkered down and tried to work and sell as much as I could all summer, so I didn't really take holidays.  Just a few days last week to help with harvest, and that was out of the blue.  But I've got the next 2 weeks off.  Heading to Minot with the family early next week.  Never been there before, but we're staying at the Sleep-Inn with the Waterpark, Mall, etc.  Any other Minot recommendations?  I hear there's a good zoo, and have heard of some good places for grub.  Looking forward to getting out of dodge.  Not sure the last time we were out of the 'Yorkton-Farm-Saskatoon' triangle.

Well that was a good head-clearing session!  If you're reading, and you obviously are if you can see this... thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


So, I thought I'd click my hit counter and see if anyone's still stopping by... and, to my surprise, anywhere from 50-100 of you still are each day... I assume by accident??!

Just figured I'd toss on a pic of my TWO little ones.  My wife and I, and Bailey welcomed our son, Kaiden John Stein on Tuesday, February 12th.  He was 6 lbs, 12 oz, 20 inches long.

His big sister will turn three in May, and she absolutely adores him.

If you're wondering, YES... I absolutely miss my old job... and I told you I would before I even left.  Playoffs are coming and I found myself looking at old playoff preview blogs tonight... I've definitely still got the itch, and probably always will.

But again, big picture, those two at the top of the screen are my whole world, and my career change has been very beneficial for them, and in turn, for me.  Before Kaiden was born, I had Bailey in the hospital one night, and had to take the next day off to stay home with her.  I would have been on a Kindersley/Battleford road swing had I still been at GX.  And now that we have a terrible two and an infant at home... I really don't know how my wife would do it, basically on her own for the next few months.

AND, I do enjoy what I do now too.  Definitely not the same rush or excitement every day, but it is a rush of a different kind, and I'm very much looking forward to DR Auto Extras Indoor Show at the Gallagher Centre Feb/23 - Mar/3.  It kicks off our trailer season, and will hopefully have me busy!

No disrescpect intended to any other team, but I'd say there's about a 95% chance that either Yorkton or Melville will play in the SJHL final.  They just really seem to be separated from the rest of the south right now.  Estevan could be a sleeper and they're tough to figure out.  Whoever comes out of the north will provide a stiff test, but the Mils or Terriers are absolutely in the mix to be heading to Nanaimo and even Summerside in the spring.  I'll be a little jealous but a lot excited for the players and coaching staff if it happens!

While spending more time at home, I've come to love the NHL again.  Purchased Centre Ice for the first time, haven't missed a Leafs' game, and am beyond pumped for Blue Jays baseball and CFL football.

Anyway, thought I'd check in!  Might do it again in another 8 or so months!