The Cats and the Hats

I’m going to interrupt my own fishing story here to mention two unrelated things.

First, the Ticats lost to the Roughriders on Saturday afternoon, but miracle of miracles, the Tabbies were in the game right up until the end against the Grey Cup Champs. Games in which the hometown side meaningfully participates have been kind of rare around here for the last few years, and especially so in the early months of the season. As this highlight package shows, the ‘Cats battled back after being down by more than a touchdown on a couple of occasions, and they actually had the lead with a minute and a half to go. The visiting champs, though, had luck on their side – a first quarter field goal that followed a glide path designed by M.C. Escher, a critical second quarter fumble in the so-called “red zone” by the hometown monster-back Jesse Lumsden, a series of ill-timed penalties that got the visitors a major late in the first half, and finally, an incredibly obvious blown call by the officials that sealed the Ticats’ fate. Jykine Bradley‘s hustle and effort to chase down the ‘Rider player from behind (the guy who was seemingly on his way in to the end zone unchallenged for the winning score), punching the ball out to cause a fumble – that was an amazing feat of determination. It’s a shame that the official who was standing right there blew the call so badly. That guy’s buddies should get a refrigerator-sized enlargement of a picture showing him with his arms upraised and signalling “touchdown”, with the ball clearly being fumbled by the Saskatchewan ball carrier – and post it on a wall across from the guy’s house for the next six years, just to remind him what a colossal fuck-up he committed. Although there were reasons for concern – one might legitimately point out that the Ticats could have won the game if they were simply able to make another first down, and that it might have been possible to choose a more inventive play than “Lumsden up the middle” on second and four with the game on the line and everybody in the building expecting Jesse to get the ball. One might also point out that the ‘Riders might have had the winning touchdown if their slotback hadn’t tripped and fallen when he was wide open on the second-last set of downs run by the Green Riders’ offence, or that a six-yard completion on second down with a minute and a half left should NOT be permitted by the Ticats’ defence to turn in to a sixty yard pass and run touchdown play in that situation.

It says here though that – all things considered – these criticisms would be nothing more than nitpicking right now. Instead, there are a great many positives to be taken from Saturday’s game: the play of Lyle C. “Tre” Smith (his kick returns alone were a major factor in the game, consistently giving the Steeltowners excellent starting field position), the determination of a defence that rose to the occasion on several key series to derail the ‘Riders’ offence, create two-and-outs and give the offence a short field to work on, and little things like (in addition to Bradley’s play) the play of DB Chris Thompson, who in addition to hustling back to force a Saskatchewan receiver to drop a sure touchdown in the endzone, made a timely interception on the play immediately following a Ticats turnover. The bottom line is that the game was thoroughly entertaining, and Spouse and I haven’t felt so engaged by a Hamilton team in the three years we’ve been going to games together; these guys are hustling and playing like they believe they can win. Let’s hope they do win a few, but I will gladly go back to watch another game like the one Spouse and I saw on Saturday, win or lose.

A couple of quick photos – here’s one of Jesse taking the ball off tackle right.

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Here’s my favourite picture of the day; a nice-enough looking lady, likely somebody’s grandma, decked out in her proper finery – including yellow hat with a giant “Argos Suck” button affixed to the brim:

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Second, it was my birthday today and I have an update for you on this post. You may recall that I whined somewhat about the fact that I was destined to be operating the new tractor without a suitable chapeau. Well, Spouse is apparently many things, including an attentive reader: she came through in flying colours and when I awoke to her dulcet tones imploring me to have a Happy Birthday this morning, the accompanying bag o’ gifts included (amongst other tractor-related swag) one green ball cap emblazoned with the J.D. logo. I was almost sorry I had cut the lawn yesterday, denying me the chance to saddle up immediately with my new haberdashery.

Spouse headed off to the barn to ride Ralph, and Popeye and I headed down to the road to pick up the mail from the box. When I reached in and retrieved the day’s delivery, there was a letter from the tractor manufacturer.  It was a letter of thanks for purchasing a JD, and enclosing a little coupon redeemable for a fitting token expression of the gratitude of the John Deere company of Moline, Illinois.

The coupon may be exchanged for a free green and yellow “John Deere” ball cap.

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.

3 comments

  1. Prompted by grandma’s vehement denunciation of the (nearly) cross-town/metropolitan-area rival Argonauts, I was intrigued enough to read up about the Grey Cup and Canadian Football in general on wikipedia.

    (1) Is the ball live for both teams on the kickoff? That is, should the kicking team recover the ball, would they then have possession to start the game?

    (2) Has any trophy had quite as checquered a history as the Grey Cup (or does it have an almost magnetic attraction to disaster/breakage/players behinds)?

  2. And happy birthday! With two hats we could see a regular rotation on the tractor, or perhaps a couple of uniforms — dress greens, home/away, etc. — replete with color-coordinated coveralls, and perhaps with an embroidered patch indicating some sort of colorful nickname — “Mac”, “Buddy”, “Red”, “Curly” maybe. Being married = several different anniversaries to beg, er whine for gifts, right?

  3. Mike:

    I think, like American football, the ball is only live for certain players on the kicking team – the kicker and anyone who is behind him when the ball is kicked. I’ve seen kickers try to recover kickoffs, it happens not infrequently because there is no “touchback” when the ball is kicked into the end zone – rather, the receiving team has to either atttempt to advance it out of their end zone or else concede the single point (aka “rouge”). Thus, it sometimes happens that the kickoff is propelled into the end zone, the kick coverage or game situation is such as to dictate that the kick returner hesitate about picking the ball up and attempting to advance, and he hesitates long enough to let the kicker get down the field and make a try at recovering the ball himself.

    As for the history of the Grey Cup, it seems to be something about Canadian trophies, I’d say. The recent experience with the Memorial Cup, plus things like the Stanley Cup being drop kicked into the Rideau Canal and left behind on a curb by members of the winning team who stopped to fix a flat. I don’t remember Lord Stanley’s bowl being stolen though, unlike the Grey Cup.

    …and thanks for the birthday wishes! Excellent idea concerning proper use of the multiple hats; you have fortified my resolve to obtain coveralls (who’s going to take a guy in a rural area named “Junior” seriously WITHOUT them, come to think of it). Given my tonsorial challenges, maybe “Curly” would be an excellent choice for embroidery. As for gift-seeking activities, I’m sure I have NO idea what you’re talking about. Right?

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