With the Olympics being over and the NFL pre-season heating up the sports season is finally back in full swing with the MLB centric doldrums of July/early August quickly fading away. So with that being said the first ever Ruttig’s Rants: Rapid Fire Edition is commencing. This week’s headlines will include, the Riders return to chaos, the Blue Jays dismal summer, and of course the impending NHL labour dispute. Let’s get it started.
Sunday marked the fourth straight loss for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a 24-5 loss to the BC Lions at BC Place that re-confirmed what many Riders fans choose to ignore. The confirmation was simple: The Riders just aren’t that good. This always serves as a shock to Riders fans, you know the type, the thirtysomething mother of three who just simply does not understand why Darian Durant is so awful or why the Riders just can’t win every game 99-0. Then there are the diehards, who are no better who you best believe will be calling into radio shows for the next three days with their various theories as to why a team that went 5-13 last season continues to lose.
Sure the Riders started off the season showing signs that they might actually be able to right the ship sooner than expected. An impressive win on the road over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week One and follow ups over the Edmonton Eskimos and defending champion BC Lions gave the Riders a 3-0 start to the season and gave Rider Nation the chance to return to flexing their “Rider Pride” all over the place. But, two close losses to the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats turned into less then close losses to the Eskimos and Lions and now the Riders have officially been put all the way into full on panic mode. Now I am not calling out people who live and die with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, past my job I include myself in the group of Roughrider fans. Fans that are a part of our province’s identity and heritage at this point. But there comes to be a point where the amount of opinion and constant pressure becomes too much for a team, we see it all the time in pro sports outside of the CFL, there is a reason the Dallas Cowboys never win everything and are constantly looking for the win right now approach, because their fans simply do not have the patience to except anything else then the “all in” approach of quick patchwork fixes to try to have even the slightest chance of contending now, instead of building slowly and changing the culture.
The Riders had a great era with the old guard, and they were a few plays away from winning three Grey Cups from 2007-2010, but now is the time for patience and until the Rider faithful learn that putting their management, players, and coaches on the hot seat and going on witch hunts after every loss isn’t helping, there is a chance it gets a lot worse before it gets better.
While on the topic of disappointing Canadian franchises, the Toronto Blue Jays have been on a very abrupt crash to earth and have managed to top their normal August departure from the AL East playoff hunt that has become as much of a Canadian summer tradition as the Calgary Stampede or the Craven Country Jamboree at this point. Sure there have been injuries that have caused the downturn, but supposed staff ace and Roy Halladay replacement Ricky Romero has now became the first Blue Jays pitcher in twenty plus years to lose ten straight decisions. Not a good look for a team that decided to rely on him while bolstering the bats. The Jays have built themselves a team that should compete, but watching the likes of the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays thrive in the one season where the Boston Red Sox bags of money didn’t get them a Wild Card spot is leaving a poor taste in the mouths of fans who haven’t seen a Jays playoff game since the year I was born.
Lastly, there is the NHL labour dispute, the NHL’s seemingly once every ten year program that turns Canadians into lawyers and business experts is back as the CBA has once again caused a rift between the NHLPA and the owners. This time the owners have decided the concessions made by the players in the previous agreement are not enough and want more of the revenue sharing pie in addition to an attempt to further cut salary and rumblings of taking away the players guaranteed contracts. In a league where players now can have to sit out with season long concussion issues there is no way I foresee the players budging on their guaranteed contracts and they shouldn’t. I am siding with the players this time around as they have already offered to take a three year cut in the revenue to grow the game, and it is sad to see the fans turn so quickly on the players without reading fully into the big picture of the dispute. The owners know the players will eventually cave to play the game they love and it is sickening to see them threaten the game in order to line their billionaire pockets.