It’s been quite a drought for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but with a couple of former all-stars from the west suiting up in the black and yellow uniforms of Steeltown, the Grey Cup could make a return to Hamilton in 2012.
The 100th Canadian Football League season is just nicely under way and trying to see through the cloudy crystal ball to see which teams will meet in Toronto in November is difficult.
But the Ticats, whose last two Cup triumphs were in 1999 and 1986 — that’s two Grey Cups in the past 26 years — have a good and interesting mix of talent. Considering six of the eight CFL teams in 2011 won between eight and 11 games (now that’s parity!), it’s a fine line between success and failure. A key injury here or there and a team could go from a potential 12-4 to 4-12.
New Hamilton coach George Cortez is hoping the pair of ex-westerners — quarterback Henry Burris, formerly of Calgary Stampeders; and receiver Andy Fantuz, the former Saskatchewan Roughrider great — will play key roles in the Ticats’ resurgence.
Toronto Argonauts have similar hopes; since their home field is the site of the 100th Grey Cup Game, they would love nothing more than to be the host team in the Sunday, Nov. 25, Canadian classic. After a 2-0 pre-season record, and new quarterback Ricky Ray (another former Western Conference standout) in the Argos’ double blue uniforms, there are high hopes in the Centre of the Universe, too.
Most CFL observers, however, feel the league’s power resides in the West, with defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions showing no signs of letting up as they go for two in a row. B.C., Edmonton and Calgary all finished with 11-7 records last year, and the Lions romped to an easy win over Winnipeg in the Grey Cup.
The Bombers seem to have taken a few steps back, likely leaving Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal to battle for top spot in the East.
Getting to the Grey Cup game out of the East may come down to a Henry Burris-Ricky Ray battle and it says here that Burris will relive his heroics of 2008 when he piloted the Stampeders to the Grey Cup.
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Bodog.ca gives the Montreal Canadiens 60-1 odds of winning the 2013 Stanley Cup. At 55-1 are pigs flying.”
• Greg Cote, Miami Herald: “The perfect game by the Giants’ Matt Cain was the fifth no-hitter already this season in a pitching-dominated year. Bumper sticker: ‘Steroids — Miss Me Yet?’”
• Currie again: “Not to knock Matt Cain’s perfect game, but baseball historians will be tempted to note it came against the Houston Asterisks.”
• Late-night TV funnyman Conan O’Brien, after a recent broadcasting stint in Chicago: “It is my last night in Chicago. In four days, I did everything you can do here. I ate well, drank a lot, and earlier this afternoon I beat the Cubs 11-2.”
• Headline at SportsPickle.com: “Foreign substance on CC Sabathia’s glove determined to be chocolate syrup.”
• Some of those NBA games take a wicked long time to finish. Tweeted Bengals cornerback Terence Newman: “If I had 10 minutes to live, I’d want them to be in NBA minutes.”
• Len Berman of ThatsSports.com, mulling the possible penalties for NBA floppers: “Who’s in favour of power plays in basketball?”
• CBS/Golf Channel analyst David Feherty, describing an errant tee shot: “That ball is so far left, Lassie couldn’t find it if it was wrapped in bacon.”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, after Cowboys running back Lawrence Vickers was forced to leave practice when fire ants crawled inside his pants: “But first he demonstrated the best open-field moves since Gale Sayers.”
• E-mailer H.K., to ThatsSports.com, on the 16th hole at The Olympic Club, the longest in U.S. Open history: “670 yards? It takes the Browns’ offence half a season to go that far.”
• Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “First, Barry Bonds essentially gets off, then Lance Armstrong has charges against him dropped and now Roger Clemens gets a full acquittal after the government spent millions trying to nail him for performance-enhancing drugs. I’m starting to think government attorneys who prosecute athletes are the legal equivalent of the Cubs.”
• Another one from Cote: “Despite a broad public perception of guilt, Roger Clemens was acquitted on all six counts of perjury over steroids accusations. Leaving the courtroom, federal prosecutors tripped over their gigantic floppy shoes and fell flat on their big red clown noses.”
• Cote again: “A jury found Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 of 48 counts in his child-sex-abuse trial. Testimony against the former Penn State football assistant coach was overwhelming, but his fate was sealed when the judge denied an emergency defense motion to fly in the Clemens jury.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg said this year’s NBA final between the Heat and the Thunder sounded like the finalists in a meteorologist softball tournament.