Jesse Goes West.

The family jersey jinx is now complete:  yesterday, Jesse Lumsden’s days as a Ticat officially came to an end (he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos as a free agent).    Two summers ago, Spouse and I made a commitment to the team and ordered two official jerseys;  I ordered myself up one of Lumsden’s 28s. 

Spouse could not decide between Richie Williams’ number (she’s a sucker for the unsung hero)  and that of Dwight Anderson, the scrappy cornerback (she liked his flamboyant moxie).  We received our jerseys late one week and wore them proudly to a game against Saskatchewan the very next day.  Anderson lasted all of three quarters;  he punched a guy at midfield, got thrown out of the game and was promptly sent home for the rest of the season and told to enroll in anger management.  He never played another game for the Cats. 

I don’t wish Jesse ill, but I have to admit I kind of hope that he doesn’t have a breakout dominant season – the one all Cats fans fear he should have had for the Black and Gold, but which he never managed as a result of injury.  He seems like a good guy, but the Ticats have had such rotten luck over the past couple of years, I just couldn’t stand it if Lumsden finally shook off the injury bug and ruled the world with a broad two-handed sword;  my tolerance for “number of indignities suffered by struggling sports franchise I follow” may just be reaching my maximum operating limits given the last few years of Maple Leaf hockey.

On a positive note, I was encouraged to see that the Cats’ schedule includes fewer midweek games this year;  hopefully, Spouse and I will be able to make it down to more games as a result (the midweek games made it difficult for us to work, go home, feed the dog, turn around, drive back downtown, cheer the Cats to a massive defeat and then return disheartened to Juniorvania).

Now THAT’S a Minibus

Spouse and I went for some lunch to a little burger and sub shop in St. George yesterday.    I took a picture of the sign out front (depicted in the photograph below):

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I’m not sure what utility there is in a mass transit vehicle that is twelve inches in length;  but you really can’t beat the price.

The work continues here in Juniorvania;  we have completed our work on the eastern front, and have begun focussing our efforts to the north (the front of the house).  My entire body aches, and as soon as I am done at the keyboard, I am going to go put a bottle of Motrin in a bowl, pour some milk over the pile of tablets, and eat them like Rice Krispies.  I spent the better part of today’s work session cutting out the numerous stumps from various trees and shrubs in the eastern portion of the front garden (most, if not all, of which were cut down long before we got here).  As a result of these labours, I am now prepared to swear an affidavit to the effect that the reciprocating saw is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest of man’s inventions.  The wheel, though sporty and sure to attract a lot of buzz, runs a distant second to the blessed miracle of the reciprocating saw.

On an unrelated note, I must again marvel at Mike‘s diligence and industry:  though he is on vacation and travelling afield, he has nonetheless managed to continue to post daily.  I think I will excuse myself now and go make myself a dunce cap and sit in the corner for a while;  he makes me look very, very bad by comparison.

Tomorrow night, we are off to see the Ticats/Stampeders game at Ivor Wynne.  It’s the Cats’ last home game of another lost season.  I am getting used to a lot of losing – Spouse and I (courtesy of Joe) were down to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Tuesday night to see the Leafs defeated (in a shootout) by the Anaheim (don’t call us Mighty) Ducks.  It was an interesting enough game;  the Leafs were awful in the first period, so awful that we witnessed one of hockey’s greatest rarities:  George Parros scored on a breakaway.  No, that’s not a typo.  The notably mustachioed habitual pugilist was the benefactor of a communication breakdown between Leaf defencemen Tomas Kaberle and (rookie) Luke Schenn.  Still, getting the breakaway is one thing, but actually putting the biscuit in the bucket is quite another.  I don’t think George’s mom has ever seen him score on a breakaway, even in road hockey.  Anyway, I suspect some choice profanities were uttered by Ron Wilson in the Maple Leaf locker room during the first intermission, as the team was wholly different in the second and third stanzas.  Antropov tucked a rebound home in the second to draw the Leafs to within one, and they pressed throughout the third for the tying marker, failing to click on a 38-second 5-on-3 advantage.  When the Ducks iced the puck with about a minute to go, though, I turned to Spouse and said I felt the Leafs were going to tie the game.  Not fifteen seconds later, they did.   Overtime solved nothing, so the game went to a shootout, unfortunately for the Leafs (they’ve been terrible at this aspect of the new NHL since its inception).  Curiously, Wilson chose to pull Toskala (who’s 0-2 in shootouts already this year) and insert Curtis Joseph.  Tough assignment for Cujo;  he had to have had more than a little trouble getting ready to face the first shooter, having sat on the bench and opened the door for his mates for the previous two and a half hours.  The first Anaheim shooter?  Teemu Selanne (gulp).  CuJo whiffed on Teemu’s quick wrist shot and got beaten by a Corey Perry deke, while both Leaf shooters missed the net;  game over.

On the Ticat front, as mentioned above, it’s been another lost season.  The Ticats were only recently officially eliminated from the (highly egalitarian and scrupulously inclusive) CFL playoffs, but in reality it’s  been a foregone conclusion since around the August long weekend.  Cat fans are focussing on the new QB in town, Quinton Porter.  He’s shown some poise and a great arm while standing in for an injured Casey Printers.   Porter seems to have developed some chemistry with his wideouts, something Printers has seemed unable to do.  Suddenly, Prechae Rodriguez seems all-World at times and Scott Mitchell has also managed to make some great catches with Porter on the field.  The young QB has played well enough to set up a bona fide QB controversy brewing by the time training camp starts next summer.   I am hoping to take my camera, and my 800 mm lens to the game tomorrow night.  I’d like to try to get some good close-up shots of the players, and try my hand at sports action photography.   As for the outcome of the game, I anticipate watching a lot of Stampeder touchdowns tomorrow – as well as Porter has gotten the offence going at times, the Cat defence, especially the secondary, seems prone to coughing up huge passing plays.  I am sure that Calgary QB Henry Burris is grinning like a Cheshire cat in anticipation this evening, and has found that he just can’t stop rubbing his hands together.

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.

WTF, Roughies?

TSN is reporting tonight that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have traded last year’s Most Outstanding Player in the CFL, quarterback Kerry Joseph, to the Toronto Argonauts.

That trade is a little weird from a couple of perspectives. Who trades the reigning Most Outstanding Player? Secondly, the Boatmen just finished resolving a quarterback controversy last year, when Michael Bishop (apparently permanently) inherited the reins of the Argonaut offence from All-Time-All-World-All-Star Damon Allen, who seemed to finally succumb to the laws of the universe and began showing his age. Result? Seems to me that the Boatmen have a logjam in the pivot position again.

Meanwhile, the new Tiger Cats GM Bob O’Billovich has been quietly making a number of signings and trades – receivers, receivers, defensive backs and a running back. So far, I am impressed – but a little disappointed that defensive back Dwight Anderson has been released – Spouse and I bought Ticats jerseys late last year, and Spouse couldn’t decide between Richie Williams’ number and Anderson’s 28. I made the executive decision that it was poor form to purchase the third string quarterback’s jersey, so the order went in for an Anderson. I am convinced the Cats are going to be a better team this year. Whether or not they make the playoffs, I think, has more to do with how improved Montreal is over last year. The improvement in Montreal is probably most highly dependent on Anthony Calvillo’s situation – he left the team late last year because his wife was seriously ill.

The first time Spouse wore it to a game, he promptly got involved in an on-field donnybrook with some Saskatchewan Roughriders, got thrown out of the game and following a confrontation with the Head Coach Charlie Taafe, was let go.

Update:  Spouse points out to me that I’m an idiot – Anderson wore number 20 – Lumsden is #28.  Good thing she’s around to identify my idiocy.