Monday, March 25, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Canadian Needs

This past weekend the nation's top prospects were on display at the CFL Combine. There were also a number of European players looking to make their mark as CFL 2.0 takes its next step forward. By the way, the term 2.0 is grossly misused these days. It comes from software versions where various iterations would be released. 1.0, 1.1, 1.5, 2.0, 2.1, etc... But now we just skip over all the iterations and go right to 2.0. If there was nothing between 1 and 2 you can just drop the .0

Well you probably didn't come here for random rants about trivial things in life that bother me. And if you did I have a great rant about when people misuse the word "humbling" when getting an award. Anyway how about some actual football talk. 

The combine got me thinking about the current state of the Riders' Canadian talent and where they might be looking to add heading into the draft.

The addition of Dakota Shepley is huge and really shores up our OL depth. You can never have enough depth there but with Shepley in the fold longterm, I like where we are at there. We are also deep at Canadian LB. Judge may be the only starter but Hurl is a good rotation guy. Gagne and Chevrier are great on special teams and could be rewarded with some time on D. We also have Bartlett and Teitz. I also like how we sit in terms of our starting 7. Three on the OL. Evans, Judge and Edem on D (all impact players). Provided we can find a token Cdn Receiver, we are looking pretty good (which is a nice change from a couple years ago).

So what do we need?

Priority #1 - Receiver
We have a 34 year old Cory Watson and Mitch Picton. That's it. Technically you can add Lavoie to the mix but he is a mixture of a TE/FB/SB and is more a utility guy than a fulltime starter. Dan Clark could legitimately be the 3rd best Cdn WR on our roster. As mentioned above, short of adjusting our ratio, we will need to start a Cdn WR. So at this point its all on you Mitch Picton. Don't choke. We have actually lacked an actual quality Cdn WR since Demksi left. Harty would have been a great solution to this problem but health has not been on his side. We started Josh Stanford for goodness sake. We tried Bailey but he can't do anything but a jump ball deep. Rob Bagg was legitimately the best we've had for the past 2 years. I love Bagg (pause for immature giggle) but we need an injection of young talent here.

Priority #2 - Depth in the secondary
Skill testing question for you. Who is Mike Edem's back-up? It's a trick question, we have none. I guess technically Radford can play DB but that's in an emergency situation only. Edem is a great player and stayed healthy last season but at least bringing a second Canadian DB to training camp might be a good idea.

Priority #3 - Depth at D-line
Unlike DB we at least have some depth behind Zach Evans. Makana Henry is a solid depth player. But last year we also had Eddie Steele and currently we have yet to replace him. Jordan Reaves usually makes the roster but he is mostly just a special teams guy. We drafted and have been grooming Breton and Mufata but I'm not ready to just assume they are now good to go.  Not a pressing need but certainly worth addressing.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Ratio

While the CFL fan base is notorious for being friendly, welcoming and camaraderie spanning team alliances, they are still prone to some pretty intense disagreements (often about super trivial things). Moving the season up? Divisive. CFL 2.0? Divisive. Is Kavis Reed an idiot or just incompetent? Divisive. Even the beloved Rouge can be a divisive issue. As such, few issues can unite them almost unanimously. This past weekend we found one of those issues... the ratio.

It was reported that there was agreement in principle at the bargaining table to reduce the number of Canadian starters from 7 to 5. Now before I get into my thoughts on the issue, let me just say that some have rightly surmised that this is nothing more than a deliberate tactic meant to divide and weaken the CFLPA at a key time. Who would benefit from such division and thus be willing to "leak" this information? Well I'll let you fill in the blanks.

But tactic or not, it has opened up a big conversation on the importance and merits of the ratio. Your first question might be "are you wearing pants while typing this?" I'll leave that one to your imagination. Your second question might be "Why would the CFLPA (who represents Canadian players) be willing to even consider this?" Remember that while half the league is Canadian, the other half are...? American. And with the exception of QBs, Canadian make more money than Americans. So the American half of the CFLPA would benefit greatly from less Canadian starting spots from a $$$ perspective. Also, the top Canadian would likely be unaffected as well. The Labattes, Laurents and Sinopolis of the world will still make top $ regardless of 5 vs. 7 spots. So its really only the fringe/depth Canadians who would be harmed by this. Not saying I like the idea, just pointing out why from a CFLPA perspective its something to think about.

As for me? Look, I get that from a business perspective and maybe even from a quality of product perspective this would be beneficial. I don't believe the quality of Canadian players is inferior (the top ones are as good as the ones south of the border that come up here). But the quantity of quality Canadian players is not necessarily there. Canadian depth is always an issue and it gets worse as the season wears on an injuries happen. Do you really think we would have let Josh Stanford on the field without the ratio? So I can see the allure.

But for all the operational sense this would make (for owners and players) it overlooks one important issue. Its a marketing nightmare. The CFL has become and longstanding Canadian institution thanks to a core of very dedicated fans. Fans who love Canadian football. Any attempt to reduce the Canadian portion of Canadian football does not make for a good headline and will not sit well with the core CFL fan base. While most of CFL's superstars are admittedly American, you need Canadians for fans to cheer for. Riderville is the shining example of this. Chris Szarka would get a standing O for a 2 yard run on first down. Every one of Jason Clermonts 7 receptions as a Rider led to a rash of pregnancies and babies named after him 9 months later. Parades are planned every time Rob Bagg catches a pass.  We love our Canadians. Want another example? Because he is Canadian, people want so badly for Brandon Bridge to succeed that they are willing to overlook the fact that he isn't very good. I repeat, We love Canadians. 

And so its in the CFL's best interest to maintain strong Canadian content and that does require the ratio. Would the top 4-5 Canadians still be on the starting roster without it? You bet. But reducing the ratio gives less opportunities for Canadians to shine. Less jobs for young players to aspire to. And less of what makes this league the CFL. Canadians. Zach Evans is likely never given the chance to develop from a raw junior player to the stud starter he is today with a 5 man ratio.

Are the 6th and 7th Canadian starters as good as American equivalents? In a lot of cases no.  But Canadian pride has a lot more marketing value to the CFL than does the potential for a slightly better on field product. 


Monday, March 11, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Retro Sentimonies - Rider Prophet Salutes Bad Team Names

Sorry to break it to you but I'm still too lazy to write new content this week. So once once it is the blogging equivalent of a clip show.

Back in 2009 I dedicated a number of posts to saluting bad team names. The post below is the culmination of that salute.

I promise new content next week.

Rider Prophet Salutes Bad Team Names - Best In Show (Originally posted in 2009)

Well the offseason has come to a close so I guess it’s time for my offseason filler posts to end as well.

For the past 4 months I have been saluting bad team names from across the sporting world. From high school up to the pros, from reputable leagues to leagues you probably didn’t know existed and everything in between, we’ve covered it all.

It’s time for our final installment in the salute (pause for single tear). I’ll end this salute with a look at my personal favourites. Enjoy, and thanks for hanging in there through the long offseason and my corresponding absolute lack of material.

Top 10 – Best In Show

10. University of Tennessee Volunteers (NCAA) –

I still find it hard to believe that such a reputable sports program developed out of such a bad team name.

9. University of Akron Zips (NCAA) –

As you may have guessed, Zips is short for zippers… but you probably didn’t guess that in this case zippers doesn’t refer to what holds your coat together but rather rubber overshoes produced by BF Goodrich which were popular in the 20s called “zippers”. Nothing says quality like a shoe produced by a tire company and nothing says respectability like naming a team after said shoes. As for what a kangaroo has to do with all this… I have no idea.

8. Kansas City T-Bones (Minor Baseball) –

Little known fact: Kansas City was actually given the name T-Bones by the league commissioner. Another team wanted it, but the league wasn't willing to have two teams with the same nickname so they decided to call the other team the Kokos.

7. UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (NAIA) –

So… they’re slow, ugly and often covered in a mysterious sticky goo? Sounds like the girls at JD’s… zing!

6. Campbell Fighting Camels (NCAA) –

If Michael Vick has taught us nothing (you know, other than Ron Mexico is an awesome alias if you have to go the STD clinic), it’s that organized animal fighting rings are probably illegal. But even if camel fighting were legal, would it not be the most boring thing in the world. I mean dogs and roosters are vicious so there’d at least be some action. What are camels going to do? Stand there for weeks on end to see who dies of thirst first?

5. Jacksonville State/ University of South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAA) –

While you are all used to regularly beating your cocks, this time around the Cocks will be beating you. Go Gamecocks!

4. University of Massachusetts Minutemen (NCAA) –

Evidently U Mass athletes are not known for their stamina. Odds are the All-American fantasy of the starting quarterback ending up with the head cheerleader rarely plays out there.

3. Macon Whoopee (defunct ECHL) –

Macon Whoopee… not only is it Georgia’s favourite team it’s also their favourite pastime. Note how the logo features a bird and a bee… outstanding!

2. Wichita Shockers (NCAA) –

Wichita is hands down my favourite college team based solely on their team name. Now if you don’t know why I’m such a big fan of their name… let’s just say you are a better person than I.

Winner: Liberal Beejays (Minor League Baseball) –

Good name for a brothel… bad name for a baseball team. Though I must say I’m considering a road trip to Liberal, talk about a game day experience! I mean it’s the only place where getting to 3rd base is a given and there’s always a happy ending. It also brings new meaning to the term “left handed middle relief” and “fan appreciation night”.

*Don’t ask me what I was Googling when I came across this team.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Rider Prophet Salutes Bad Jerseys

Today's post will be the blogging equivalent of a clip show. I'm too lazy to come up with something new so I'm bringing back a post from a few years ago instead. Look, you try coming up with original content for over a decade without resorting to drugs or outright copyright infringement (a may flirt with such infringement but never outright). Anyways, enjoy my salute to Bad Jerseys which contains at least 10% new content.

Rider Prophet Salutes Bad Jerseys (originally posted in March 2010)

For many years, jerseys for sports teams were pretty simple… they had a white one and a coloured one and was usually limited to the team name or a logo. Then somewhere along the hippie artsy-fartsy crowd decided that the existing jerseys were too plain or lacked feng shui or whatever it is those beatniks call it and began coming up with new designs. Then the marketing crowd came along and realized just how much potential money could be made off these hippies and ever since there has been a never ending stream of new jersey designs.
Now many of these new designs are successful but as you’ll see below, many of them end up being massive failures. For the purposes of this list I'm excluding the NFL Color Rush experiment (remember those vomit inducing Jaguars jerseys?) and also any of those special one night only jerseys that abound in the junior and minor leagues.

Top 15 Worst Jerseys

15 - Pittsburgh Pirates
Let's see, giant ugly pirate face on the front, numbers and names that are trying to be new and cool and go in new directions but failing miserably. Yup, this is a good way to start off our list.

14 - Pittsburgh Steelers
 Early in this list and already 2 appearances by Pittsburgh, what is it with that city? These jerseys look like a cross between a prisoner uniform and a Grade 3 art project. It almost made your stomach ill watching these fly around the field

13 - Birmingham Baracudas
Both the Mad Dogs and Cudas experiment with the front logo and nipple numbers. Can't see why it didn't catch on. Throw in some bad 90s colour palette and the made up word CUDA on the front and you have a jersey almost as bad as the team that wore it.

12 - St Louis Blues
This jersey was so hideous that the coach nixed the idea and refused to wear them so the story goes. It's a shame the world was denied these beauties.

11 - LA Kings
The infamous Burger King jerseys. They made Gretzky wear this... that should have been a criminal offense.

10 – Houston Astros
Although the rainbow-ish shirts leave a lot to be desired, my bigger concern is the questionable choice to place the numbers directly next to a player’s crotch. Generally speaking, that’s not the first place I look when I’m trying to identify someone. “Hey, you figured out my number 2 minutes ago, now you are just being creepy!” 

**Anyone else think the white guy looks kinda like Ricky Ray?

9 – Boston Bruins
If you were going to prominently feature a timid, cute, non-threatening looking bear on your jerse
y you could have at least gone with a more publicly recognized bear such as Winnie the Pooh, Baloo or at the very least put a forest ranger’s hat on him to make it look more like Smokey.

8 – Vancouver Canucks
It honestly looks like they ran out of money for equipment and were forced to decorate a set of plain black jerseys in coordinating lines of duct tape.

7 – Seattle Seahawks
Apparently Seattle didn’t get the memo that the “Everything automatically becomes cooler with neon green” phase died back in the early 90s.

6 – Denver Nuggets
It’s fitting that Denver is know as the mile-high city since clearly whoever designed this jersey was also extremely high. I’m shocked that the “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” look never caught on.

5 – New York Islanders
The only explanation I can think for this jersey is that Captain Highliner secretly cut a sponsorship deal with the Islanders.

4 – Anaheim Mighty Ducks

A jersey such as this is what happens when you base a professional hockey franchise on an Emilio Estevez movie, create a spin-off cartoon series based on that hockey team and prominently feature a character from that cartoon series on the hockey team’s alternate jersey. It’s a wonder more teams haven’t followed suit.

3 – Philadelphia Eagles
Marketing lesson #1 – In a town notorious for the toughness and aggressiveness of its sports teams and its fans, a delicate blend of pastel colours is likely not going to be well received.

1 – Montreal Canadiens

Look I’m a Habs fan and even I have to admit that these were the worst jerseys I have ever seen. They look more like audition for Where’s Waldo gone wrong or “Wear Your Pyjamas To Work Day” than the most storied franchise in hockey history. It also says CAC on the front. Say it out loud and you'll see why its funny.

1 – Dallas Stars
Marketing lesson #2 - Logos that look suspiciously like a uterus will likely end up being huge failures.