Friday, July 21, 2006

Comedy Of Errors

As the title of this post indicates, I had a wonderful time at the Esks-Blue Bombers game last night. The Bombers won 25-22, with the winning play coming on a 100-yard hail mary as time ran out, one of the more incredible things I have seen in sports.

A quick summary of my thoughts:

The Good
• Commonwealth Stadium is still a great place to watch a game. Despite the fact that our seats were about 190 stories above field level, we had a great view of the action.

• Winnipeg came out operating out of the shotgun, and seemed to be emulating the popular flex-gun that American college teams like Texas and West Virginia use. They even ran the option a couple of times, which is all kinds of awesome. I was really enjoying watching them on offense, but they got sloppy and moved away from the offense as the game moved on.

• The singing of the Eskimos fight song after the third quarter was great. It would be even better if they took a page from the book of Harry Carry and the Cubs and had a drunken Bryan Hall on the mic to lead the crowd.

The Bad
• I apparently couldn't have picked a worse game to attend if I wanted to evaluate the CFL.

• The Edmonton fans put in a weak showing last night. While the attendance was over 37,000, the crowd was quiet and sat on its hands for much of the game. Even worse, with a couple of minutes left, they began filing out, even though their team was still very much in the running to win. I still believe that Edmonton has some of the best sports fans in the world, but last night's showing was terrible. If you're going to come to a game, you should stick it out, unless it's an absolute blowout.

• It's clear why Ricky Ray didn't make it in the NFL. Despite having good physical skills, he's a terrible game manager. (My apologies to Andy, who had to hear me use that phrase about 25 times last night). He made poor decisions all night, and did nothing that would have made a CFL neophyte believe that he even warranted a shot in the NFL.

• The quality of play overall was terrible. After the Bombers' fast start on offense, the game slowed to a crawl, and bored me out of my mind for the next two and a half hours. The only reason the finish was 'exciting' was because of sloppy play on both sides. We had the Esks fail to punch it in after starting with first and goal on the two, followed by the Bombers' failing to convert a goal line situation, and only managing a field goal because the Eskies defender dropped an interception. Following that, Ricky Ray threw a pick, then the Bombers went for it on 3rd and 1 from their 30, got past the first down marker on a QB sneak, only to fumble it and turn it over. After the Esks touchdown, they had the Bombers pinned on their own 10, but gave up a touchdown because they blitzed the safety (apparently the prevent defense is only employed in American football), then one of the defenders who was back overcommitted, missed the receiver, and managed to trip up the other defender who could have saved the touchdown in the process.

• Speaking of that play, in all of the football games I have ever seen at any level, I don't think I've ever seen a worse coaching decision than the Esks' decision to blitz, and not have a safety (or two or three) back. Add that to the way he never ran the ball until the third quarter, the Holmgren-esque botching of the two minute drill at the end of the first half, and I'm not sure how Danny Macciocca has a head coaching job at any level, nevermind in a professional league. I'm not sure if I can take a league where this man can lead his team to a championship seriously. And on top of that, he threw his defense under the bus, blaming them in his post-game press conference for blowing that play. What a douchebag.

While I enjoyed the experience of hanging out with my friends at the game, I did not - first 10 minutes aside - enjoy the game itself (except when I laughed my ass off while the final play was happening). That's perhaps the most damning thing I can say about the game. Until last night, I always thought that I could enjoy myself at any live sporting event, that the right mix of the game, the live feel of it, and the crowd could make anything enjoyable. Well, I was wrong. Last night's game was a stinker, and dragged on for far too long (3 1/2 hours from start to finish). I may have picked the wrong night to give the CFL another look, but if last night's game is any indication, it will probably be another 10 years before I go back.


At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Robert Cleave said...

Alex, your comments regarding the quietness of the fans are not surprising. I'm a Bomber fan who lived in Edmonton for the last few years. I found Commonwealth a very comfortable place as a visiting fan, which isn't entirely a compliment. I remember asking one of my former co-workers out there why his fellow Eskimo fans were so quiet, and his response was basically that success had made them a bit smug. Frankly, when the 'Riders play in Edmonton, you'd be hard pressed to know who's the home team. Nice stadium, nice people, but except for maybe Calgary games, not much atmosphere from the home folks.

Oh, and I was laughing on that last play too, although I took a bit more pleasure in the Eskimos' comedy defending than most. Rush 3, drop back 9? Nah. That would smack of competence.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

The CFL=Inferior Product.

If I ever hear someone tell me that CFL is better than the NFL again I am going to pull out that game-tape. It was what, 7-5 at half-time? There must have been about 300 holding penalties, 82 rouges, and Abboud didn't even count the horrible clock-management at the end of the first-half that prevented the Esks from even getting a field-goal attempt off, despite being around the Bombers fifteen for the last minute. And I wouldn't even say that Ray has good physical skills. He has throwing balls that would get a guy murdered in the NFL. Very high balls that were making his receivers leap, and be totally exposed to the hit.

Just an awful product. Plus, I couldn't find a Don Getty or Jackie Parker jersey. So boo on them all.


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