Big news this past week in Riderville was that Schaefer-Baker had undergone hip surgery and would miss “at least the first part of the season”. This is a rumour that had been floating out there for a while but you need to be pretty careful in terms of what Rider rumours you put any stock in otherwise you might still be wondering what Bo Levi Mitchell did with that house he bought in Regina.
Obviously this hurts the Riders in the short-term. Not only is Baker a stud receiver, we are currently a team without a bona fide #1 receiver and he had the best odds of being that guy. Apparently this is something that had been nagging him for a while. So for me the silver lining is that there is a possibility that when he does come back, he will somehow be better than what we have seen so far. A Baker at 100% down the back half of the season and into playoffs (if we happen to be so lucky as to be in contention for that) would be outstanding.
My concern though is the wording they are using. They aren’t really giving a time estimate (though the first third of the season has been mentioned i.e. 6 games). Also, they are using terms like “at least” and vague statements like “the first part of the season”. Reading between the lines I don’t think this is something we should expect an early return from. I’m also a bit worried given our recent history. Just last year Micah Teitz had a hip issue heading into the season that not a lot of details were given on. As the season wore on, the only thing scarcer than offensive TDs was Teitz. He did not play one snap. Now Teitz apparently got injured in May and had a groin issue to go along with it so Baker is certainly further ahead. But the point is that hip issues can drag on. Let’s all keep positive thoughts that it will be sooner rather than later that we see Baker doing his thing on the field again. My early wild ass guess is he makes his triumphant return on Labour Day.
This injury may explain how the NFL seemed to inexplicably pass on him after he tried out for a third of the league.
The short term impacts of Baker’s absence will be double. First and foremost he is our best receiver. Some of you will disagree and point to Walker or Wieneke. I have said this before and will reiterate that I believe both have potential but Walker hasn’t been a number one guy in 4 years and Wieneke has always played beside Geno Lewis and we don’t have a Geno on this roster. Both could be great but are far from a sure thing at this point. The other impact is that Baker is a Canadian. In theory, Lenius, Picton, Brescacin and Emilus should be able to step in. But even communism works “in theory”. I honestly worry that this will make O’Day think he needs to draft another Canadian receiver in the first or second round, ignoring far greater needs elsewhere.
For now we wish Baker a speedy recovery… and eagerly await the chance to talk about positive Rider news… at some point… right?