Saturday, May 30, 2015

Photo of Last Night's Canada England Women's Soccer Friendly

Incredibly Slow Concession Service at Canada England Women's Soccer Friendly at Tim Horton's Field

Attended the Canada England friendly last night at Tim Horton's Field, which was enjoyable and packed, and fortunately Canada won with the quintessential 1-0 soccer score.

One bad thing was the epically slow concession service. I realize this is the first game of the year, but if that happened during a Ticat game, people will be upset. In their defence though, the attendance was heavily tilted towards tween and teen girls so their concession orders were heavily favoured towards slow food orders rather than quick beer orders.

It didn't seem like the stands were understaffed, they just seemed really slow.

I'll be curious to see what service is like for the first pre-season game for the Ticats. The first regular season home game isn't until August, so hopefully things will be ironed out by then. 

I was able to get beer pretty easily from the staff roaming the seats selling beer so at least that was OK. Not a big fan of the 50 cent jump in price for a tall boy to $9.50 though. That's a 5.6% increase which is certainly more than Ontario's inflation rate. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tallboy Beer Prices Up to $9.50 at Tim Horton's Field

I'm at the Canada England friendly tonight and tallboy prices for Canadian and Coor's Light are now $9.50 up from $9 last year. Obviously that's more than 5% inflation and last time I checked Ontario wasn't anywhere near 5% annual inflation. 

I'm thinking I'll spend the pre-game period at the Eddie and ghost in for kickoff. 

TSN Extends CFL Deal From 2018 to 2021, Good Thing?

Somewhat surprising word that TSN and the CFL have extended their broadcasting deal from 2018 through the 2021 season. It has been reported that the previous deal through 2018 was worth around $40 million per year for the CFL.

Exactly why a deal was done now, rather than waiting to closer to 2018 hasn't been reporting on, but it does come suspiciously close to when TSN's parent Bell bought the Toronto Argonauts.

No terms have been announced, although in North America sports properties have been hot. TSN lost hockey to Rogers recently and Rogers has the Blue Jays in the summer so TSN needs the CFL for content. Advertisers crave male audiences and in this era of cord cutting, the CFL gives people a reason to get cable.

I have a couple of questions about the deal. First were the terms of the deal until 2018 revised upwards? And second is there a substantial increase from 2018 beyond $40 million?

Likely TSN wanted certainty (why bother promoting the CFL extensively if you could lose the rights in 2018?). Did they pay for that certainty?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

CHML Loses Ticat Rights to Bell TSN Radio 1150, End of the Fifth Quarter

News today that Bell is rebranding the old AM CKOC 1150 station to its TSN all sports brand with the centerpiece being the broadcast rights to the Ticats.

Obviously this is a blow for CHML (a Corus channel) which has carried and supported the Ticats for decades. I feel bad for Rick Zamperin and the rest of the CHML staff associated with the broadcasts. That includes Ted Michaels and the Fifth Quarter after the games. I'm guessing TSN 1150 will have their own after game show with a different name. One benefit for the Cats is that the after game show may well go on longer. Sometimes the Fifth Quarter seemed a bit truncated and there were times where I would have kept listening but CHML switched to some old radio serial. Hopefully now we will get several hours of after game coverage.

I'm wondering how easy it will be for the station to fill time. I would guess that there will end up being some rebroadcasting of TSN's Toronto radio station signal. However likely coverage of other Hamilton teams like the OHL's Bulldogs will be a big part of the station.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Probable Tiger-Cat Canadian Seven Starters in 2015

The Ticats like all CFL teams need seven Canadian starters. What seven will they choose in 2015?

With the trade for Bomben, the Ticats are likely going with three offensive home grown linemen. Dyakowski and Bomben at guard, and Filer at center. Perhaps O'Neill starts as a guard instead of Bomben.

Obviously Andy Fantuz while healthy starts at slot. This is where things get interesting. Last year they had Giguere as a second starting receiver. Former Hamilton Hurricane Matt Coates backed him up last year. This year maybe they could also potentially start Seydou Junior Haidara who they picked up in a trade with BC as a second Canadian receiver. That would mean the Cats would have five Canadian starters on offense. When the fullback Prime in, likely Haidara would come out and that would still leave them at five Canadian starters on offense. The Cats have some impressive import receivers and likely someone will emerge from camp, so Haidara may not start as a receiver and just play special teams.

Defensive starters are also interesting. In the CFL historically few Canadians have started on defence. The Cats last year had a lot of Canadian starters. Possibilities this year are defensive tackles Ted Laurent and Brian Bulcke as well as Craig Butler as safety and Courtney Stephen at cornerback. So that's four.

However for the defensive tackles with import Bryan Hall being so good only one might start. Plus former number overall Lynden Gaydosh is gone for the season. With him healthy, starting two Canadians in the middle might have made more sense.

Butler is likely a lock ans Stephen probably starts again. That's three starters on defense..

Potentially the Cats could go with the three on defense, plus the three offensive linemen, plus Andy Fantuz. If a Canadian goes down, they could always play both defensive tackles sending Hall to the bench. That's not a bad option to have.

Of course if Gaydosh and receiver Spencer Watt hadn't torn their Achille's heels before training camp, the Ticat non-imports would have been even stronger. But then they may have not traded for Bomben.

2015 CFL Power Rankings: Pre Trainnig Camp Edition

1. Calgary Stampeders
The reigning Grey Cup champs may have lost some parts, but they're still a class above the rest of the league in consistency.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Losing two potential Canadian starters before training camps starts definitely hurts but the Cats still have good Canadian strength and picking up Bomben in a trade with Montreal before the draft likely allows them to play three Canadians on the line. Collaros is obviously a star, and the rest of the offense is impressive with both CJ Gable and Nic Grigsby at running back.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
If quarterback Mike Reilly stays healthy, the Eskimos will do well. If Reilly who historically has taken a beating is injured, Edmonton won't be very good. I'm assuming he's healthy now.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
This placing assumes Darian Durant is healthy enough to start at quarterback again. The Riders have great defensive talent, but last year were weak at backup quarterback.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Can Crompton continue kicking ass as Montreal's starting quarterback? I've argued his numbers weren't great, but with Montreal's defense he doesn't need to be. No Duron Carter as a target is going to hurt.

6. BC Lions
Is Travis Lulay really going to be back and start? I'm skeptical. The rest of the team is meh.

7. Toronto Argonauts
Now that the Argos are sold, I'm assuming some money will flow from Bell and Tanenbaum. Yet another quarterback question, will Ricky Ray be healthy for the start of the season? I say not 100%.

Lots of receivers. An aging Hank Burris. Better than Winnipeg

9. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers continue their rebuild. Maybe they're better. But not much.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bell and Tanenbaum to Buy Argos, 2016 Grey Cup Likely in Toronto Not Hamilton

TSN is reporting that Bell and Larry Tanenbaum from MLSE will likely but the Toronto Argonauts tomorrow. The deal appears to include the Argos hosting the 2016 Grey Cup:

"Bell is the majority owner of TSN, the exclusive television rights holder of the CFL.The deal includes the Argos hosting two Grey Cup games, including the 2016 CFL championship game.

Whether either or both of those games will be played at Rogers Centre or BMO Field is yet to be determined, with the possibility the 2016 game could coincide with the NHL staging its first Toronto outdoor game at BMO."

Hamilton looked like it had a chance to host the 2016 Grey Cup (the last time was in 1996) however this deal seems to trump it. Ottawa likely has the inside edge for hosting the 2017 due to the 150th anniversary of Canada. Would the league hold the Grey Cup three years in a row in Southern Ontario? I'm guessing no unfortunately.

Likely a lot of pissed off TFC fans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tiger-Cats Draft Less Interesting; Cats Trade Picks Including First Rounder for Alouette Offensive Lineman Ryan Bomben

Farhan Lalji has reported on Twitter that the Cats have traded their first and third round draft picks this year for Montreal offensive lineman Ryan Bomben (drafted in the fourth round out of Guelph).

Bomben appears to be mostly a backup, although he actually made some catches in 2011 and 2012.

Given that at times last year the Cats started three Americans on the offensive line, I'm not surprised the Cats wanted a lineman, I just figured they would draft one. After playing in the league for four years Bomben is closer to playing right now if they need him.

However the Ticat draft has become considerably less interesting.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Old 90's CFL Poster with 13 Teams

I saw this old CFL poster in a bar on Kenilworth on the weekend. The poster dates from the nineties when the CFL was at its max with 13 teams, including the Memphis Maddogs, the Shreveport Pirates, the Birmingham Barracudas and the San Antonio Texans. Also Baltimore is just known as the Baltimore Football Club. 

Recent Photos of Tim Horton's Field

With word that Tom Horton's Field isn't officially done yet, I took some photos on the weekend. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ticat Salary Cap Implications of Linden Gaydosh and Spencer Watt Achilles Injuries

Obviously have two good Canadian players lost for the whole season before training camp even starts isn't a good thing for the Ticats. Spencer Watt as a receiver being injured presents more of a problem. One assumes that Watt would take over from Sam Giguere as the second starting Canadian receiver after Andy Fantuz and would also likely start in the case of any Fantuz injuries (which certainly existed last season). After Watt (a former Argo), for Canadian receivers the Ticats have former Hamilton Hurricane Matt Coates who caught a few catches last year and likely will get a lot bigger of an opportunity.

Gaydosh's injury effects on the team is more muted, simply because the Ticats have two excellent Canadian defensive tackles in Brian Bulcke and Ted Laurent plus an awesome import in Bryan Hall. If the Cats were to sit Hall and go with Bulcke and Laurent as starters, Gaydosh (a first overall CFL draft pick in 2013) would have been a very useful backup. However the Cats likely will start Hall, so Gaydosh would have less playing time barring injuries. The Cats just have a lot of non-import defensive tackle talent and if they don't start two Canadians, it is pretty crowded. I was curious about what the Cats were going to do about the situation, but with Gaydosh now gone, it is now a non-issue.

With both players being out for the season, their salaries won't count against the salary cap. I don't know what Gaydosh signed for, but being on the second year of his first CFL contract, it probably wasn't a huge amount. Watt as a talented import receiver likely did receive a fair amount of money by CFL standards (although if I had to guess, slightly less than what Giguere got). The Gaydosh and Watt money is now available for other players, but since most of the free agents are picked over, there's not any obvious places to now spend it, as the new imports coming to camp usually have pretty small first contracts. The Cats now have some room to take on salary as part of a trade, although meaningful trades are rare in the CFL. Potentially the Cats will be in a position to sign some players that end up getting cut from other teams in training camp, especially if those players were cut because of another team's salary cap problems.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ticats Release Nine Including Import Receiver Cary Koch

CHML just reported on their Twitter feed that the Ticats just released nine with the most noteworthy being Cary Koch. Koch signed as a free agent from Edmonton with the Ticats in 2014 and never was effective partially due to injuries. With other import receivers like Brandon Banks, Bakari Grant and Luke Tasker around plus who ever the Cats unearth this year, there aren't a lot of spots for import receivers (for non-import receivers with Spencer Watt's season ending injury, that's a different story).