A BAD SATURDAY NIGHT -- That was ugly! At least the first 30 minutes were By the time the Saskatchewan Roughriders righted the ship Saturday night in Calgary, it was too late.
As I said at the start of the season, the Riders need to compete with Edmonton and Winnipeg if they are to make the playoffs. Calgary and BC are on a different level so I didn't really expect the green-and-white to win this one and while they did come back to make it a one score game in the 3rd quarter, there was little doubt as to who the better team was.
Once again though, the CFL was embarrassed by the work of its officials in what to me might have been their worst game of the year.
It started in the first minute with 3 challenges in what were the game's first 5 plays including a challenge of a challenge. Would this needless delay not have been averted if the official in charge called pass interference on Sam Williams right away? It did get worse from there. How it took so long for Cameron Marshall to be awarded a touchdown, how Jerome Messam was not given a touchdown when it was clear he had broken the plane, and how both teams were constantly getting away with receivers going offside, yet ticky-tacky illegal contact penalties were called were just a prime example as to how the Canadian game, which has been highly entertaining this year, continues to be tarnished.
I think it is safe to say CFL fans are sick and tired of pass interference and illegal contact being reviewed. That has to go! It should never have been put in. It is an easy out for coaches. It is also too easy for a receiver to run into a defensive back outside the 5 yard cushion and then claim there was illegal contact. Reviews need to be limited to turnovers, scoring plays and possession.
By continuing to allow this, the CFL denigrates their game. They are doing this themselves. An umpires strike zone is discretionary and we as fans realize that as it is part of the game, much like a basketball official on a foul or a hockey referee on a penalty. We might not agree with it, but the call is made. That is what has to be done in the CFL. If a ref feels there has been illegal contact or pass interference than throw the flag, if not, move on and don't allow the coaches to throw a flag.
I'm tired of seeing this, and so are others. It is mundane. it is tedious, and it is eroding the overall product. The league seemingly just wants to spew propaganda at us saying there is nothing wrong with the officiating. CFL fans are smarter than that----even ones in Toronto. Yes, I know I've repeated this message before, but it will continue to get repeated until action is taken. Why the league allows this to happen without doing something to even try to fix what is their most glaring problem is a huge head-scratcher! I hope the new commissioner is paying attention. Randy Ambrosie is saying and doing all the right things in his first few weeks in office. He may not be able to do anything this year, but something has to be done moving forward.
Back to the game, and as mentioned the first half was one of the uglier ones the team has had if not the ugliest since Chris Jones assumed control. They could not stop Jerome Messam, they could not neutralize Charleston Hughes and they had secondary breakdowns again meaning guys were wide open. Sam Williams had a night to forget. Did he ever! The squirrel had a better first half than the Riders. The team admitted they came out flat. Why is that? They knew they had a stiff challenge facing them and that this was a measuring stick. It showed they have a long ways to go even though there has been improvement.
Give credit to Derek Dennis. The free agent o-lineman admitted Hughes got the better of him on Twitter after the game. He needs to be better. He's not alone. While it wasn't a complete blowout, the Riders found out they have a ways to go before they can compete with the league's elite. Toronto has been up and down this year, but Marc Trestman seemingly has them on the right path. Will the Argos be up or down next Saturday at Mosaic? It's a question the Riders can answer. If they can't, all the good feelings orchestrated by the victory of Hamilton will be flushed away. Once again, it will be an interesting week in Riderville.
AN ENTERTAINING FRIDAY NIGHT -- Officiating aside, CFL games have been great this season. Perhaps no greater than Friday in Vancouver as the Lions and Bombers slugged it out in what was a tremendous contest to watch. The game had it all from trick plays that worked to trick plays that didn't to big plays to big hits to a lot of points being scored. It was a perfect way for the CFL to market itself. The game went right down to the end, and Weston Dressler showed why he is considered as one of the league's best and one of the most respected players in the league by not giving up at the end.
Chris Rainey looked like he was going to take Justin Medlock's missed field goal at the end of the game back for a touchdown. Rainey could have gone to a knee when the field goal was short as BC had won, but he didn't. Dressler didn't give up on the play when it looked like Rainey would score as he corralled the Lions talented kick returner just a few yards from the goal-line. Many would have and did give up on the play. Not WD7. He wasn't letting Rainey get in despite the fact his team had lost. Chris Jones can say age and money didn't translate, but hustle and leadership are qualities you can't let get away. He whiffed on that one as most of us already know.
A GREAT SATURDAY AFTERNOON -- Soccer Day in Saskatchewan was tremendous! I think the 15-thousand in attendance at Mosaic Stadium Saturday afternoon saw a great display of the game as the New York Cosmos beat Valencia 2-0 in what was termed to be a huge upset.
The talent and the speed of those on the pitch was evident, and the fans were very knowledgeable which was great to see. On Ice's John Graham told me after this was not a one and done and more soccer will be coming to Mosaic in the future. I can't wait! If you went, I'd love to know your thoughts.
A DRAMATIC SUNDAY MORNING -- When Jordan Spieth decided to take a page of "Golfing the Scruffy Way" with his tee shot on the 13th hole at the Open Championship, I think many thought his chances of winning much less finishing in the top 5 were in huge jeopardy.
The 23 year old simply shook it off and played the final five holes in something which wasn't even Tiger-esque. Most would have folded after that wayward right tee shot, but Spieth was not going to meltdown like he did at the 2016 Masters. He rallied from what was a huge bogey on 13 to play the final 5 holes in five under par to take the Claret Jug in resounding fashion.
While it was incredible to see Spieth do what he did, I do have to ask this. How was it he was allowed 20 minutes between shots. Is there not some kind of time limit? While Spieth was extremely classy in going over to Matt Kuchar and apologizing for the delay he caused, why wasn't someone coming to up to Spieth or his caddy and saying "Let's go!". Yes, he had to weigh out all his options, but it seems to me as if he should have been told to decide what his game plan was and continue.