Top 10 Tuesday: Talking Champions, Expectations AND The Late Ernie Harwell

Well there is a LOT of things going on in Toon-Town and the national sporting scene at the moment and in that vein it is my look at the top 10 observations from the week that was. In no particular order.

10 – Starting things off of the asphalt where I had a chance to announce my first race at the newly named Wyant Group Raceway. What an intriguing experience to be in the tower and hear the story behind the action. With that being said Richard Woodbine is a true treasure and amazing book of knowledge. The track is better for his efforts not to mention all of the great volunteers.

9 – I have tried to sneak into a couple of Rider work-outs to see who is who and what is what. It is pretty clear from the outside looking in that the Riders have some work to do. Fortunately for them I think that Chris Jones and company will be afforded a season or so to right the ship. The team is a work in progress and it could be a tough start to the campaign as the team gels.

8 – I still will wonder what might have been had Darian Durant, Sea Emery, Kevin Glenn, et all were dealt serious injury at the start of the season. With all of that being said I think the one area that the Green and White are focusing on shoring up is Quarterback. GM/Head Coach Jones knows the importance of a quality back-up in the CFL.

7 – More on the Riders and I applaud their stance on hold-out, first-overall pick, Josiah St. John. St. John and his representation appear to be attempting to hit a contract out of the ballpark. Despite this being his first professional contract. I think that the Riders are right to make him earn the money. All I hope is that all organizations in the CFL have the same resolve.

6 – Last one from the Riders and I don’t think that it is much of a surprise that the Green and White were in the red. The Riders announced a 2015 operating deficit of $4.3-million. So is it time to panic? I wouldn’t ring the alarm bells but it is definitely time to perk up and take notice. AND I think that notice extends beyond our province. If there is one thing that the CFL learned last year I would submit that it is that they need a competitive Rider team on the field. With a dismal 3-and-15 showing TV numbers were down, attendance at away Rider games was down and merchandise also took a hit.

5 – More CFL and the Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field could be scary. While the team’s new owners try to create some form of buzz for the team in southern Ontario, quietly some teams are buzzing about the configuration of the new field. We already know that the field will have shorter end zones than the prototypical CFL field. Now we are learning that the on end zone will be half turf and half grass while the other one will entirely be turf. Player footwear could be interesting to say the least! I guess it’s nothing like what CFL Hall of Famer described as a disaster in Memphis, where the Mad Dogs played at the Liberty Bowl. When I spent an afternoon with him earlier this spring he pointed to the fact that the end zones were so short that receivers could not run any patterns into the end zone virtually negating their opportunity to score I the red zone.

4 – Well hard to believe that I am more than halfway through this week’s list and I have yet to mention the Saskatchewan Rush. The province’s newest professional sports franchise was able to cap their story book season with fairy-tale ending. What a game what an atmosphere what a Rush! Everything that Lee Genier and crew touched in 2016 turned to gold and with three first round picks in the draft the Rush should be well poised to continue the success on the field.

3 – With that being said it is amazing the Saskatoon sports skepticism. With the Rush down a couple of goals in the second half there was a huge here we go again by ToonTown sports fans tuned into the game. I think that it may be that attitude that all sports franchises in our city need to deal with as Sasktel Centre, aka Credit Union Centre, aka Saskatchewan Place, has only seen the home-town team win a championship twice before. (Team Canada at the World Juniors and one incarnation of pro-basketball in our city.) That’s a lot of history to overcome!

2 – Incidentally enough with all of the champion talk the last few days I found it interesting that the Saskatoon Hilltops National Championships were overlooked. I guess sometimes a tradition of success that Hilltops have built gets taken for granted despite the amount of work that goes into it!

1 – On a different field where it is truly unfortunate that baseball’s alignment no longer has Detroit and Toronto in the same division. Watching the game last night I truly thought that it is too bad the Jays and Tigers don’t get together more often. As a kid from Weyburn we were inundated with Cable TV signals originating from Detroit, and at the time not all Blue Jays games were televised, so getting a chance to watch Sparky Anderson and the Tigers with Ernie Harwell calling the game was a treat.

BONUS: I guess Pittsburgh is a win away from the Stanley Cup. Who knew? Not a lot of Canadians, according to the numbers, but the Canadian broadcasters and journalists must trudge on. In the meantime, if you are looking for a great insight on broadcasting I would highly recommend the James Duthie book, “The Guy On The Left.” I particularly enjoyed and empathized his take on TSN losing the NHL national broadcasting rights.