Thursday, June 26, 2008


Wow. What can you say about that game? I think the obvious TSN turning point was that early third down gamble where they gave the ball to Lumsden rather than sneak it with Printers. As I recall, it was within range of a gimme sneak, so a dumb call. Sure Lumsden could have gotten around the defenders crowding the box and ran for major yards, but at that point, just take the first down. I've heard Ron Lancaster say if you can't get a yard, you don't deserve to win and that was definitely the case here. It is a bit sad to say a play like this breaks the team, but it really changed the complexion of the game and cut down on the Cats chance to win.

Printers didn't have a great game, but he didn't have a terrible game either. He played hard and didn't appear to give up under pressure and made some first downs. Better than we've had there in the last couple of years, but it didn't seem to help much. The running game was pretty poor. I don't know if Montreal was ready for the run or what. Consequently, we had no play action at all from what I saw from my seat in section 5 and we need that if we are going to be successful.

Receiver wise, I saw a few small positive things. Woodcock made a few completions and frankly I was surprised to see him on the field as I thought the Cats were going with four American receivers. Maybe he was on with five receiver packages. Mitchell seemed to make a few plays in the middle, which was nice to see, but he bounced a ball off his knee early that was another TSN turning point. Hopefully over the next few games he'll be more consistent. Miles made no game breaking plays.

Jonta Woodward seemed to have a few penalties called against him. I know that tackle is now an American position, however I have a theory that American offensive linemen statistically take a lot more penalties, especially procedure. Just a theory, but you have to wonder how many points a bad procedure call is worth. Anyways, I'll be watching Woodward from now on.

On defence, as I said in my previous post, the Cats will lose if they can't stop 2nd and long. I know if your team has a terrible record, they probably are bad at 2nd and long, however the Cats the past few seasons have seemed to be especially poor at 2nd and long. 2nd and 10, 2nd and 3, it seems that it is equally likely for the other team to get the first down. That pattern seemed to continue today. A few 2nd and long stops early in the game and the outcome could have been completely different.

Linebacker play was also mediocre in my mind. The secondary was ok. Sure there were some completions, but considering the way the game went, they weren't terrible. The line sometimes got pressure, and there were a few sacks, however too many times a slowfooted Cavillo made a positive play when things looked bad.

Special teams were ok. Not much more to say.

I thought the Cats were a bit on the short end of the stick penalty wise, however considering the way they played you can't blame the refs.

Next week versus Toronto? Going into this game, I can't say I was too hopeful for a win and now I'm even more negative. Maybe the team can put it together and get a win. They need to be able to stop the 2nd and longs in the first half and get their offence back on the field and getting some chances. Maybe Toronto's inherent weakness against the run will work for us.

Forgot a prediction, BC to win tonight. They're losing now, so you can't say I changed my pick.

I liked the halftime show. What can I say, the tiger was cool.

No Jason Maass to blame this year. Sigh.

Odds 2

Since it is a mere hours before game time, I should address the preseason odds to win the 2008 Grey Cup. Last I saw in the Spec the odds were: Toronto 5-2, BC 3-1, Winnipeg 5-1, Calgary 7-1, Saskatechewan 7-1, Edmonton 10-1, Hamilton 12-1 and Montreal 15-1. Strangely I thought the Cats would have even lower odds, but I guess everyone has aat least some chance in a eight team league. Toronto being the favourite I understand and I pretty much agree with the other picks. BC I'm not so sure how Pierce and Jackson will end up doing, although if one falters they do have the other, plus they have a lot of other talent. The other teams become mediocre from there, although I guess Winnipeg is ok.

For tonight's game, I'm hoping it doesn't rain since I'll be there in person. I do wonder if it does end up raining heavily if that is a distinct Hamilton advantage, with Lumsden and Printers on the ground versus Cavillo and whoever Montreal's running back is tonight. If it doesn't rain, I hope to see some play action as well as Printers running for first downs when the opportunity presents itself. On defence, Moreno has got to make some big plays. The secondary I hardly even know who is playing. I'm sure at the beginning of the season they will be a weak spot, but hopefully, fingers crossed, they won't cost us this game.

One last rant on televising preseason games that I made in an earlier post. Why TSN doesn't do at least two Friday night preseason games involving highly watched teams is beyond me. The first Friday have Edmonton at Saskatchewan as their fans are probably die hard enough to tune in even though the first week preseason games are usually a little tedious and then for the second Friday, have Montreal at Toronto where you can show it on RDS for a Canada wide audience. TSN has already paid a set fee for the package, so if they can get a decent audience for those two games that more than covers the production costs, why not? Plus more marketing and promotion for the league, that benefits TSN as the single carrier. Seems simple.

Go Cats!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


So I finally got around to checking out the current Las Vegas odds in the Hamilton Spectator today. Hamilton is favoured by 2.5 against Montreal for this game on Thursday. When was the last time Hamilton was favoured going into a game? I'm not surprised, as after last week's preseason game, the Cats are looking reasonable. More importantly Montreal seems like they will be mediocre this year. If the Cats can get good yards from Lumsden to set up the play-action passes from Printers, I think they'll be all right on offence. Play-action seemed to work ok last week in TO.

On defence, Cavillo has been a noted Cat killer over the years. The Cats have to actually stop on 2nd and long. Simple.

In the other games this week, BC is favoured over Calgary at home by 3, Winnipeg by 2.5 at home versus Toronto and Saskatchewan is favoured by 6 at home against Edmonton. Saskatchewan by 6, I'm a bit skeptical about, especially when my mind turns to Marcus Crandell. I guess Edmonton will be terrible again this year. Well they do have Jason Maass...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Last Preseason Game

Just got back from the last preseason game in Toronto. Pleasantly surprised by the way the Cats hung in and pretty much dominated the last 5 minutes of the game. When Toronto scored on the first drive of the game, I had the feeling it could be a long game, especially with Kerry Joseph starting out hot. Joseph was only satisfactory, but Bishop was unsatisfactory, so I'm betting Joseph will be Toronto's starter. I think Toronto will end up being the top team in the East, with Joseph's ability to get first downs and more being critical.

Regarding the Cats, I was pleasantly surprised by the play of the defence, moreso as the game progressed. They seemed to be better in second and long situations, which has been their Achilles Heel the past few seasons in my opinion. Occasionally they were a bit weak against the Toronto run, but they may have been more surprised by all the times Toronto ran. I know I was. Moreno seemed good as per usual and great to see some interceptions.

The offence was good for the last three quarters, although Williams was again relatively ineffective. Printers played well enough to be excited for the home opener, but there's no need for crazy talk. Porter looked good at the end, I figure he will stick around on the practice roster. Curiously no Timmy this week, which was disappointing mainly because I couldn't yell Timmy in the Skydome. Lumsden only touched the ball a few times from what I could see, but Tre Smith seemed able to move the ball. French was ok receiving, Miles and Woodcock didn't do much from what I saw. Setta was good, but not great. The punts Vanderjagt got off for Toronto were decent, so it seems as if booting Prefontaine might work out for them.

Going into the home opener against Montreal, I think the Cats have to be the slight favourite now, whereas before this game I would have gave the edge to Montreal. It will be interesting to see what the Vegas line is...

Team Revenues

Just a quick post on CFL teams revenues and costs. Scott Mitchell was quoted as saying in the Spec yesterday that the costs of running the Ticats is around 14 million. He is also quoted as saying each blacked out game is worth $100,000 by their estimates. Dividing by $40 for the average ticket price, that's an extra 2500 fans per game. Strikes me as a bit high.

Yesterday in the National Post, it was reported that revenue in Saskatchewan was $23 million last year, up from $11 million in 2004. The profit last year was $1.7 million. That much in revenue versus a $4.15 million salary cap isn't bad, although it makes you wonder where the remaining $19 million after salaries were spent.

I'm going to the preseason tilt in Toronto tonight. I think the biggest thing is how Lumsden does, plus if Printers can be successful against the blue team's defence passing. I'm still somewhat leery of the Ticat receivers. I sometimes wonder how hard it can be to find a decent import receiver. Maybe Tony Miles will step up. At least we won't have Jason Maas and his broken down shoulder holding us back...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Televising Preseason Games

I know you can watch the Ticat preseason games on Cable 14 (well I'm not sure about the one in Toronto). What I've been wondering is why TSN doesn't just go and start broadcasting all eight CFL preseason games. I know there is a fixed cost associated with producing each game and the ratings and subsequent advertising revenues would have to be higher than the producing cost. I think there may be a economical case for broadcasting these games. Regular season games get typically between 300,000 and 600,000 viewers. I would estimate that 200,000 viewers might be achievable. For Saskatchewan games, with their committed fans, you might get 400,000. Preseason games, while in a sense meaningless, have the bonus that no team is out of it. Fans that are wondering how their team is going to do this year will have a natural interest in watching. TSN could promote the games by having an extended analysis of each team before the game with the panel, and more discussion at half time. Broadcasting these games would also be free marketing for the CFL and TSN's regular season games and get the casual fans interested early. Plus the NHL playoffs end just before, so there is a natural segue into broadcasting these games. If TSN wanted to be real jerks, they could schedule games to occur during the Sportnet broadcasts of Jays games.


So the Ticat braintrust in their infinite wisdom, has decided to blackout two games in the summer. As I have season tickets, it doesn't affect me personally, but I do have an opinion. I think this is a terrible idea. I understand the desire to boost ticket sales, however I think it is a false economy. They may get an extra few fans for those games, compared to the surrounding ones, but I'm guessing the increase will be modest. The free advertising and marketing you lose out on are incalcuable. Consider a Hamilton kid today. He can watch NFL games with no blackouts. Say he only goes to a couple of Ticats games or none at all. I want him to be able to watch every Ticat game on TV possible, just like the Bills games. Hopefully he becomes a fan, watches more games, and down the line as he becomes a teenager and adult, he or she will start attending Ticat games more regularly, rather than becoming a fan of some NFL team from some crappy dying Midwestern city he or she will likely never visit. Plus having all the games on TV allows the casual fans to watch and discuss the game over the next few days. Consider the 500,000 people in Hamilton. With the blackout, you might get a couple of thousand extra fans (maybe). You're probably losing a few tens of thousands from watching the game, which in my opinion is worth a lot more over the years. I know that some of the Western teams like Edmonton and BC blackout a lot of their games too. I don't think that is a good idea either. You need to give kids the opportunity to become a CFL fan, whether their parents take them to a game or not.

How to increase attendance? A better team would be nice. Continually improving the stadium experience would be another. Deciding whether that extra 50 cents for a beer or a hotdog is really in the longterm interest of your club. Easy for me to say, but cutting out the best free marketing your club has, not a good idea.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Winnipeg Preseason Game

Last night, I was able to sit in some nice Box D seats due to the generousity of a friend. I have season tickets in section 5 so it was nice to be close the action for once, as well as being able to view the various hangers on who loiter around on the side line.

So we won. Last year we won both preseason games, but then we ended up with a 3 and 15 record so I'm a bit dubious of winning preseason records. Plus I read this morning that Winnipeg left their entire front seven of their defence in Winnipeg because of the high price of jet fuel. I didn't notice Lumsden playing either so maybe it all evens out. What I did notice was the new Pigskin Pete. Looks like he has a few years left on him although in bodyshape he didn't look much like the previous one. Surprisingly our Pigskin Pete doesn't have a Wikipedia page, although there is one for some loser radio host in Cleveland who is now dead. Doesn't seem right. Somebody should fix that.

Players who seemed to be doing something: Nick Kordic seemed to be around the ball on the defensive end, Setta's placekicking was good and his punting was satisfactory, and I think that Woodcock might have caught a pass, indicating that's he's not totally spent. However, just like last year in the home exhibition game, my man Timmy went wild. Ok, not super wild, but the Changster looked the best out of all the quarterbacks who played, including Dinwiddie. Surprisingly, I saw a number of Chang adorned jerseys in the crowd. They must have felt proud last night and somewhat prescient to boot. I just liked being able to yell out "Timmy" like on South Park at random times. Richie Williams looked mediocre and that's being charitable. I like Richie, however I'm now wondering if he just looked good last year in relation to Jason Maass...

And so it begins...

So this is my initial post for my Tiger-Cats blog. I had thought about doing one before, but attending the preseason game last night inspired me to finally get around to making one. It will mostly be my thoughts on the Cats, although I'll offer my opinions on some of the other teams too. I am a fairly stats oriented guy, so I will probably go on endlessly about obscure statistics. I'm a fan of the book Moneyball, so maybe I'll try my hand at that type of analysis for the Cats, although never really knowing the salaries makes it a bit difficult. I may even offer some analysis of what Vegas predicts. Last year I arrived in Vegas on Grey Cup Sunday and promptly put down $50 dollars for Winnipeg to cover the spread so obviously I'm a betting guru.

My predictions on this year's season, right at the start? The optimist in my says 8 and 10, but if I had to put money down, I'll say 7 and 11. That is still a bit optimistic, but I feel that the Cats were a bit better last year than their 3 and 15 record would indicate (5 and 13 sounds about right) and some of the Eastern teams don't strike me as being much better than last year. Toronto might be better, but we lost all our games to them last year, so we can't be any worse against the blue team. With a new coordinators who hopefully know what they are doing and hopefully a GM can pick some players, 7 wins is not unreachable. And no limp armed Jason Maass this year must be worth a couple of wins...