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Canada’s Big Game

Yes, I know hockey is, without a doubt, Canada’s favourite sport.  That being said, this weekend in Calgary our nation comes together to celebrate something exclusively and honestly Canadian.  It is Grey Cup week!  Let the festivities begin!

This year’s edition of the CFL Championship features the Saskatchewan Roughriders taking on the Montreal Alouettes for Lord Grey’s mug.  It should be a good game.  2009 CFL Outstanding Player Anthony Calvillo and the Als are favoured by 9.5 points as of the writing of this blog.  After watching both of these teams playing in recent weeks, I think it will be one hell of a game.  I think it will be physical, fast, hard-hitting and evenly matched.  I expect a close game.  I also expect Saskatchewan will win this game.

I don’t think Montreal’s vaunted passing attack will be enough to top the Roughriders’ balanced team.  With Durant proving he can get the job done in the clutch, time and time again, this somewhat negates Montreal’s advantage at QB.  With Saskatchewan having the advantage in many other aspects of the game, I don’t think Montreal will have the same success with their air attack as they did last week against the banged up BC Lions.

I think it will be close but look for Saskatchewan to win by 4.  31-27

Re-learning the CFL rulebook

September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Not to sound like I’m making wine with sour grapes…but…last night’s game between the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium was, in my humble opinion, not decided by the players.  The referees seemed determined to ensure the home team walked away with the victory.  The interpretation of certain plays by the officials were, at times, laughable and were all in favour of the Stampeders.  Some of the calls the refs made were extremely creative.

Where to start?  Let’s start with the one that seemed to confuse every objective football fan who thinks they know something about the rules of the game, including the TSN play-by-play team of Chris Cuthbert and former CFL star Glen Suitor.  Yes, I am referring to the Nick Lewis “catch” on the 3 yard line with the game tied at 17.  Calgary Stampeders receiver Nick Lewis leapt into the air to catch a Henry Burris pass and was hit while in mid-air by a Lions defender.  Upon coming back to the ground the ball popped out of his grasp and into the hands of Lions safety Barron Miles before hitting the ground.  So, as a former football player, and long -time football fan, I celebrated what appeared to be either a Lions interception or fumble recovery…depending on wether the officials would rule it as an incompletion which was intercepted at it had never hit the ground, or a fumble recovery as the receiver did not survive contact with the ground as clearly stated in the CFL rule book.

The game officials, who set a new standard in incompetency time and time again throughout the game, upon reviewing the play when challenged by Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, ruled that Nick Lewis had not only caught the ball, but survived contact with the ground, did not fumble the ball, and was ruled down by contact.  This took some serious creativity to come up with an explanation that favoured the Stamps.  There is no way that he was down by contact as the only part of his body that hit the ground after contact was his elbow which caused the ball to come loose, thus, by definition, resulting in Lewis not surviving contact with the ground.  The officials explaanation was inherently self contradicting.  Oh well, no matter…this is the CFL after all…logic, reason and the rulebook should not come into deciding a key play in the game.

On the ensuing play, Henry Burris threw a pass to Jermaine Copeland in the endzone.  Copeland stretched out to make an athletic catch mere inches from the ground hanging out of bounds but with both feet in bounds.  The problem?  His knee was touching the out of bounds line.  No problem says the ref.  After reviewing the play challenged by Lions head coach Wally Buono the head referee declared that the TD would stand because Copeland did in fact have both feet in bounds.  Of course, that was never the question…Buono challenged wether his knee was out of bounds before the catch…which it was.   But that is neither here nor there.

Later in the game, yet another controversial catch by another Stamps receiver saw a catch made in mid-air and the receiver falling to the ground when a Lions DB would strip the ball from the receiver.  Fumble!  BC recovers, right?  No…this is the CFL…and the refs were determined to not allow all of their previous hard work to go to waste.  After another Wally Buono challenge, the referee declared that the Calgary receiver was, again, down by contact.  But…what contact?  The replay clearly showed the Stampeder receiver fell to the ground on his own and was never touched…the only contact coming on the stripping of the football.  Again….Wally Buono was wrong!  I wonder how he became the CFL’s all-time winningest coach…clearly (at least in the referrees minds) this man has no clue about the rules of this game despite having played and coached in the league at the highest level for decades.’

There were several other, albeit smaller, descrepancies throughout the game all of which favoured Calgary.  Holding only called when BC did it, roughing the passer only called once on a borderline soft call against the Lions despite Buck Pierce taking multiple Stampeder head shots, pass interference called only one way, etc.   I know being a ref is hard.  I know they are human and make mistakes…but when there are that many mistakes?  and they ALL favour the same team?  it leaves on to wonder.

It is a shame, really.  There are so many great athletes and coaches in the CFL.  The style of play leads to an exciting brand of football as well…its just too bad the standard of officiating is dismal and greatly affects the outcome of the game again, and again.

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Printers back in Lions’ den?

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, it appears the Casey Printers/BC lions drama has come full circle.  Fresh off a win over the Toronto Argonauts at BC Place Saturday which made him the CFL’s all-time winningest coach, Wally Buono has confirmed that he has had talks with former Lions QB and CFL Outstanding Player Casey Printers.

It is something that most thought would never happen, but with Jarius Jackson out for at least a month and Buck Pierce still not 100% from multiple concussions and what appears to be a rib injury suffered on Saturday, the Lions could very well be faced with the possibility of trying to resurrect the season and make the playoffs at the hand of one of two young and inexperienced QBs: first year Travis Lulay, or second year Zac Champion.  This is not something Coach Buono would like to have to deal with. Therefore, a call to his former starter, and controversial character Casey Printers was made.  Printers, though out of the game since his failed attempt at a CFL comeback with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, knows Buono’s system.  Without the luxury of a training camp to bring a QB up to speed on the offensive scheme, Printers seems like the logical choice.

Can the two put their past differences behind them and get the Lions back into playoff contention?  The next few weeks should be quite interesting.  After all, Casey Printers’ career has been nothing if not interesting.

Not ‘Jappy’ about ‘Javy’

The BC Lions have started the season 1 – 4.  Things are not going well.  Wally Buono, who until now, hasn’t made any changes because of his loyalty and belief in his players’ abilities, went out and made a couple of changes.  Now, I’m all for change when necessary, but if you ask me, they added players at positions that seem to be their strongest.

Are we to believe this early season swoon is due to the lack of a running game and ineffectiveness at middle linebacker?  Really, Wally?

In my humble opinion, the running game with Martel Mallett has been surprisingly effective, at least when the Lions don’t find themselves down by two or more scores and have to go away from it and go exclusively to the air attack.  So why bring in yet another new running back?

This year and last, myself and other fans in my circle have commented on how well Javy Glatt has played, how he always puts in an effort, and plays to the whistle no matter what the score.  The Canadian linebacker, I think, has been a key cog to the Lions defense, and many ti,es i have seen him chase down receivers from behind when the secondary doesn’t step up and make the tackles they should.  Maybe we should teach the secondary to make tackles instead of replaceing Javy Glatt….are you listening, Wally?

For someone who is so reluctant to change quarterbacks because of loyalty or stick-to-it-iveness, or whatever you want to call it, I think he’s make a couple of unnecessary, knee-jerk reactions in the wrong places.

Q & A with Wally Buono?

So, Wally…what now?  The BC Lions 40 -22 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium asked as many questions as it answered.

While it showed us that the offense is in fact capable of producing over four quarters instead of two, it asked us if this is only possible with Jarius Jackson behind centre.  It answered the question of wether or not rookie kicker Sean Whyte was capable of filling in for veteran Paul McCallum, but asked if the defense played well or Edmonton’s offense stubbed their toe.

The biggest question brought about by this game…if Buck Pierce is healthy enough to play next week against Saskatchewan does he get his starting job back?  Or does Wally go with Jarius Jackson’s hot hand?  So?  Wally?  This is a question that has been asked more than a few times not only this season but every season during Buono’s tenure here in BC.  Wally Buono’s embarassment of riches at quarterback over the years are a blessing and sometimes, it would seem, also a curse.  After both losses this year Wally Buono has had to field questions over and over about wether Buck Pierce should be pulled in favour of former starter Jarius Jackson.  Every time asked, Wally would shrug off the question suggesting there is no reason to question Buck Pierce’s performance and the media is just trying to stir up a quarterback controversy where there is none.

Tonight against the Eskimos, Buono’s hand was forced.  Buck Pierce taking a shot to the head and leaving the game with what appears to be a concussion.  Jarius Jackson stepped in and propelled the Lions offense to 38 of their 40 points…and he did it in impressive fashion.  He stretched the Eskimos defense by throwing the ball downfield while sprinkling in a few good runs by Martel Mallet.

So what do we do, Wally?  If Buck is good to go do you play the stubborn cagey old coach and put him back in claiming that he doesn;t lose his job to injury?  Or do you “give him ample time to recover” and see if Jarius Jackson can keep the petal to the metal of the Lions offense?  Either way, there will be a lot of questions this week for Wally to answer.  Right after he answered a whole bunch of them this week.  It never seems to end…does it?

BC Lions start 2009 season 0-2

I know the Lions started last season 0-2.  I know they ended up with quite a respectable record at the end of the year.  I know they won the Western Semi-Final and with a few breaks against Calgary might have gone  to the Grey Cup.  But this year seems different.   This year 0-2 looks like it could easily turn into 0-4…or worse.

Now, I am a HUGE Wally Buono fan, and I agree with 95% of his decisions.  He has clearly made this team a perennial threat to win it all since he has been here.  His penchant for finding talent, especially at quarterback is unrivalled.  I can’t argue with his coaching record either as he is about to pass his friend, colleague, and rival Don Matthews to become the winningest coach in CFL history provided he can win 5 games this season.  However, it looks like that is no longer a slam dunk.

With the departure of stars Cam Wake and Stefan Logan to the NFL, and Rob Murphy to the Toronto Argonauts, it can be argued that the BC Lions lost 3 of their 4 best players, Geroy Simon being the other.  That would cripple any team without question.  But to follow that up with the sending away of multiple-time CFL Outstanding Canadian Jason Clermont to the arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders, Otis Floyd who last week ended the Lions comeback attempt with a key interception for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, veteran Canadian lineman Kelly Bates, as well as stalwart defensive lineman Tyrone Williams many questions have been rised as to the direction Wally’s squad will be taking this year.

The above-mentioned names comprise half an all-star team.  They were replaced by….um, well…let’s see here…oh yeah, depth offensive lineman Walter Stith (now released), rookie lineman Dean Valli, previous year send-off and recent Calgary Stampeder cast-away Bobby Singh and a bunch of no-names and previous camp cuts.  The one pleasant surprise, in my opinion, has been import running back Martel Mallet, or as I like to call him “The Hammer”.   From what I have seen he has done a superb job filling in for the departed Stefan Logan.   I just wish they would give him the ball more often.

While it seems as though this article is full of criticism and laced with despair, I am very confident in Wally Buono’s abilities and the abilities of his staff.  I think the team will turn things around and make the playoffs and hopefully by then be firing on all cylinders and make a run at the Grey Cup again.  It is just not the near certainty it has been in recent years.

Welcome to Sporting Vancouver

Hello,

Welcome to the premiere edition of The Sporting Vancouver Web Log.  Here you will read about sports in Vancouver.  Wether professional, amateur, or recreational, all sports will be covered.  Vancouver sports teams and sporting events in the city will take center stage, but sports of interest taking place elsewhere will also be talked about.

We will venture to provide in-depth discussion and coverage of the most popular sports teams while also writing about lesser known local teams and events, thus providing a truly wide spectrum of sports coverage.

The latest Vancouver Canucks trade rumour, wether BC Lions head coach Wally Buono should start Buck Pierce or Jarius Jackson, will the Vancouver Whitecaps GM Bob Lenarduzzi ever convince city hall and the Port of Vancouver to give team owner Greg Kerfoot the go-ahead to build a soccer stadium with his own money?  These are examples of the types of professional team sporting interests that will be discussed in this space.

We welcome comments on any of the topics discussed, as well as suggestions for topics or local sporting events to be covered.

We hope to serve the growing Greater Vancouver sports market and create a social media alternative to the traditional sports coverage we have grown accustomed to here.