It’s been sold out for months, it’s the most highly anticipated game of the regular season and now it’s but days away.
Sunday the Riders (4-4) take on the Bombers (3-5) in the annual Labour Day Classic. Since 1946, the Riders have won the infamous clash 27 times out of 44 and have not lost since 2004. Over the length of the rivalry there have been games that were truly deserving of the term “classic” such as Joseph’s last minute TD run in 2007. Of course there have also been games at the opposite end of the excitement scale such as last year when the game was highlighted by Michael Bishop’s 100 yard passing, 0 TD, 2 turnover performance completely overwhelming an absolutely brutal Bomber team. Classic Michael Bishop… yes. Classic game… hardly.
Normally when Labour Day roles around my pre-game post is filled with jokes and insults directed as the residents of Manitoba. It’s kinda of a victimless crime since most of them don’t possess the requisite 3rd grade education required to read and comprehend this blog. This year, however, I’ve decided to take it easy on our unattractive inbred neighbours to the east… mainly because I feel sorry for Winnipeg fans this year. While they have gotten used to a poor performing team over the years… no fans should have to endure the embarrassing gong show that the Bombers have become.
The team is far worse than their record would indicate and have been a complete an utter gong show since the day Mike Kelly took charge.
- Fined for breaking league rules… check
- Willingly acquiring both Michael Bishop and James Johnson… check
- Caught spying on opponents… check
- Losing despite spying on opponents… check
- Horrifying when shown up close in High-Def… check
- Over $300,000 in salary cap spent on players who are now cut, traded or retired… check
- Claiming the universally accepted shotgun formation is for coaches who don’t know what they are doing… check
- Embarrassing offense… check
- Losing record… check
- Failed attempt at signing a repeated felon that has been rejected by the NFL… check and double check
I enjoy watching the Bombers fans wallow in misery as much as the next guy but even I have to admit this is a bit excessive.
Defensively the Bombers are actually fairly underrated. Jovon Johnson and Sideeq Shabazz are turning in all-star caliber performances. The Bombers lead the league in INTs and turnovers and are second in points allowed. This poses the question: with a defense this good, why does Winnipeg suck so much?
Well as good as their defense is… their offense is about a million times worse. Dead last in TDs scored, dead last in total yards gained and by far the worst passing game in the CFL (averaging only 150 yds per game). If it weren’t for Fred Reid the Bombers could very well be winless this season.
Personally I’m shocked that an offense led by Michael Bishop is struggling so much… haha! Oh hell I can’t even type that with a straight face. The Bombers, who evidently learned absolutely nothing from the follies of the Riders and Argos, brought back the partially retarded QB in a misguided attempt to jumpstart their offense. The result is a starting QB with the worst completion % among QBs not named Stephan and twice as many INTs as TDs… which should actually be considered a resounding success by Bishop’s standards.
There are 2 keys to victory for the Riders. #1) Load the box and do not allow Fred Reid one square inch. Force Bishop to attack us through the air because we’ve all seen the catastrophic results that can lead to. Given Bishop’s inability to account for the safety, James Patrick should have a huge game (early favourite for Defensive Player of the Week). #2 Attack the secondary. They may lead the league INTs but they give up a ton of yards in the process. Quick passes and timing routes will reduce their chance to ball hawk while still moving the ball. As always, a solid ground game and a special teams that doesn’t repeatedly screw up would be nice but I’m not holding my breath.
Rider always seem to step up big on Labour Day and besides I’m very confident in Michael Bishop’s ability to screw things up royally (c’mon knock yourself out again!). Though I think it will be closer than some are expecting…
Riders by 12
Of course my annual Labour Day post wouldn’t be complete without a Winnipeg joke, so I’ll end with one. Enjoy the game everybody.
An Ontarian wanted to become a Newfie. He went to the neurosurgeon and asked, "Is there anything you can do to me that would make me into a Newfie?".
"Sure it's easy." replied the neurosurgeon. "All I have to do is cut out 1/3 of your brain, and you'll be a Newfie."
The Ontarian was very pleased, and immediately underwent the operation. However, the neurosurgeon's knife slipped, and instead of cutting 1/3 of the patient's brain, the surgeon accidentally cut out 2/3 of the patient's brain. He was terribly remorseful, and waited impatiently beside the patient's bed as the patient recovered from the anaesthetic. As soon as the patient was conscious, the neurosurgeon said to him "I'm terribly sorry, but there was a ghastly accident. Instead of cutting out 1/3 of your brain, I accidentally cut out 2/3 of your brain."
The patient replied "Go Blue Bombers !!”