If you have been holding your breath since Saturday waiting for an update on Rob Bagg’s knee injury … You’re probably dead by now. For those of you with superhuman lung capacity, or who were smart enough not to hold your breath that long in the first place, the verdict is in: The
Six Million Dollar Man Roughriders wide receiver suffered a sprained ACL, not a tear, and has been upgraded from “less chance than a day without someone getting fired in Winnipeg” to “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Edmonton.
Bagg was one of approximately 4,000 players hurt in last Saturday’s Saskatchewan win over Montreal when he hurt his left knee – the same one he had season-ending surgery on in 2012 – on a routine blocking assignment before halftime. By all accounts Bagg is one of the hardest-working players in the game so the good news is almost certainly welcome not just in Saskatchewan but across the CFL.
As I mentioned Monday on Overtime, if Bagg is not ready to go this weekend (and the team would be smart to give him the week off regardless) the Riders still have four other potential 1,000-yard receivers to throw to and will probably cope just fine. If he is deemed healthy … someone should probably start rounding up a couple dozen sympathy cards for the Eskimos’ defence.
Simon’s 1,000th catch was overshadowed, but a far more important milestone is already being gift-wrapped
How would you celebrate becoming the third man in CFL history to catch 1,000 passes?
“I’ve caught 1,000 balls and tonight I’m going to drink 1,000 beers,” Geroy Simon proclaimed in the locker room after the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 24-21 win Saturday over the Montreal Alouettes.
Of course we all know he didn’t mean that – even the real Superman passes out somewhere around beer 924. But you can’t say Simon wouldn’t have been entitled to it. After all 1,000 catches is as legitimate a sign of greatness as you will find among the arbitrary round numbers sports people celebrate way too often. On one hand it was a little unfortunate that he was so unhappy at the end of the play. He called the milestone catch itself “a bonehead play” on his part – he knew the ball was coming to him, got excited about No. 1,000 and ran his route two yards short, leading to a punt instead of a first down.
Simon’s 1,000th was also overshadowed by a rash of injuries (Anthony Calvillo’s suspected concussion, Rob Bagg’s knee, etc.) and the teams combining for 17 points in the final two minutes of an otherwise brain-draining football game. But it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the real celebration, The Big Cahoon-a (that was way funnier in my head), Simon’s coronation as the GREATEST OF ALL-TIME is just a few weeks away anyway – probably at home in Week 12 against Toronto or Week 13 against B.C. when he breaks Ben Cahoon’s record for career receptions. And when he does, nothing – not even the echoes from years past of the west-side fans shouting for former B.C. coach Wally Buono to get off the field – will be able to overshadow him then.
One team came to play football. The other came to admire Jon Cornish.
A couple weeks ago we wrote about how the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defence appeared much better than it was due, primarily, to the strong field position gained by the offence and special teams units. Also included in the post was the not-so-bold assessment that even a short-term breakdown of discipline, or an opponent who actually gave more than half a thought to its running game, was going to leave the Riders in a very vulnerable position. Last night the Riders ran into (and, in many respects, created) the perfect storm and the result was predictably horrifying to the residents of Canada’s Greatest Province.
Scoring 27 points is supposed to be enough to win. Instead, Saskatchewan’s defensive players were penalized six times for 71 yards (and no the officiating wasn’t great but it was not the first, second or 10th reason they lost either). The offence came up with five first downs in the entire first half. Jock Sanders decided returning the ball to his own four-yard line was better than giving up a point and taking it at the 35 (though Corey Chamblin’s attitude toward giving up any points, no matter the situation, may have played a part in that). The much-hyped linebacking corps was more content to watch Jon Cornish from afar than actually consider stopping him (he averaged 11 yards per run … ‘Nuff said), which in turn meant they weren’t playing the role of de facto defensive line, which in turn had been the primary source of the defensive unit’s success this year. And that of course opened up the passing game for Calgary later on – not to the tune of eye-popping numbers, but to the tune of Rider coverage, or lack thereof, making Nik Lewis look like Usain Bolt.
No one is suggesting the Riders were acting cocky. Quite the opposite actually. They were – publicly, at least – carrying themselves in a remarkably level-headed manner for a 5-0 team. But for any team with character being reminded that you’re not invincible can be a motivator like no other. And as any New England Patriots fan will tell you, it’s much better to lose in Week 7 than Week 21. This year’s Riders appear to have character. The next four games will reveal it. Saskatchewan’s next four games are against Montreal, Edmonton and Winnipeg (twice) – combined record 4-14. Those are bad football teams. If the Roughriders can (and they should) win at least three of those games, all will be well in Riderville. If they drop two or more, it’s quite possible we’ve misevaluated the team and the winds of change will be blowing in short order.
While posting this now arguably makes me as slow as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ board of directors, passing up the chance to respond to the Calgary Stampeders’ list (published Wednesday) of why Stamps fans find Saskatchewan Roughriders fans annoying would be about as smart as hiring a former XFL executive to run your franchise, ignoring Murray McCormick’s pre-game meal photos or losing a Grey Cup because you had too many men on the field.
Objective and independent (because, you know, this is serious business) responses are in green.
#10 – Whiners
It seems as though every time the Riders are in the wrong and take a penalty, it’s the referee’s fault for making an outrageous call.
The refs absolutely deserve your sympathy – if the Riders had just thrown The 13th Man under the bus right after the 2009 Grey Cup there wouldn’t be all this pent-up anxiety about the officiating in the first place. On the plus side, at least they’re not dropping trow and mooning your players on the sidelines. Actually, they probably are. Never mind.
#9 – Watermelon prices
When the Riders come to town, the cost of watermelons increases in our grocery stores. Watermelons are for eating, not wearing!
Hey, if you’re going to sell Saskatchewan’s provincial fruit like it’s your own, there has to be consequences. Also please keep in mind those two games every year account for half of your city’s GDP.
SaskaNews: Durant to start Friday vs. Calgary, Albers making MLB debut for Twins, new goalie coach for TBirds
Today’s can’t-miss stories, rumours and fairy tales from around the province:
Yes, Darian Durant is going to play Friday against Calgary. No he’s probably not going to pull a
Buck Drew Tate. And thus ended the beating of the ground where the dead horse finished decomposing several weeks ago. [Regina Leader-Post]
Albers has endured Tommy John surgery, and a second operation to clean things up when he continued to experience pain. He has been released, by the San Diego Padres, and he has failed subsequent tryouts with major league organizations. That stubbornness shifted into crisp focus when Albers came up with the crazy idea of making a 40-hour drive from Florida to Arizona, just so he could show the Minnesota Twins what he was capable of — and he’d pay his own expenses if they didn’t want to keep him around.
Great story (here) and column (here) from Saskatoon StarPhoenix sports editor Kevin Mitchell on North Battleford product Andrew Albers, who will start tonight for Minnesota Twins against the Kansas City Royals and, in doing so, become the first Saskatchewan-born player on a Major League Baseball roster in 22 years.
Prized blueliner looks forward to skating with top D-men Martin and Heatherington
It wasn’t so long ago that Jordan Harris couldn’t wait to get to Prince George. Fast forward a couple years and the 17-year-old defenceman couldn’t wait to get out. Wednesday he got his wish when the Swift Current Broncos acquired Harris from the Cougars for fellow 17-year-old blueliner Zack Gonek in a swap of former first-round Bantam Draft picks. Harris was the 10th overall pick in 2011 while Gonek went three spots later.
“I don’t know that I necessarily had a team in mind,” Harris said Thursday. “I talked to my family and my agent and Swift Current was one of the places in the league I would have liked to have been traded to, but leaving Prince George I wasn’t necessarily asking to be traded closer to home. It was more just to get traded.”
“As a player I just didn’t feel like Prince George was the right fit for me. Moving now to Swift Current the whole idea of it feels a lot better.”
It took the most improbable of heartbreaks, but Connor Sanvido thinks he has this whole killer instinct thing figured out. (No, we’re not talking about the classic Street Fighter clone – Sanvido had just turned one when that came out – though that would be cool too. That Eyedol guy is the worst.) Sanvido was part of a Seattle Thunderbirds team that built up a 3-0 lead over the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL’s Western Conference quarterfinals last year. Victory was certain. And then it all fell apart. Kelowna won the next two games, rallied from a 3-1 deficit on the road to win Game 6 and finished the historic comeback with an overtime goal from Tyson Baillie in Game 7.
Thursday it was announced the over-age winger had been traded to the Swift Current Broncos along with Andrew Johnson in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 Bantam Draft.
“That was my first time in the playoffs and I realized what it takes to win even one game in the playoffs because we came so close and yet we were so far away and we couldn’t close them out,” he said. “I know what it takes now and I’m going to bring that every day to Swift Current.”