Sunday, July 31, 2011


The disappointing Saskatchewan Roughriders lost 22-18 to the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night, falling to 0-and-3 at Mosaic Stadium this year, and 1-and-4 overall.

Local media members and fans alike continue to bemoan the loss of receivers Andy Fantuz and Rob Bagg as well as defensive end John Chick and are pointing to those holes in the line-up as the main reason for the big fall from grace that has seen them appear in three of the last four Grey Cups.

Here's the bottom line as far as Fantuz' absence is concerned:  he's gone and there isn't anything that can be done otherwise other than find someone else to replace him.  It's a tall order as he was the most productive receiver in the CFL last year.  Perhaps replacing him is the wrong word.  However, they do need to get someone into the line-up that is, at least, a big enough threat for there to be more room for Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf.  It's not impossible.  Calgary's secondary looked pretty good tonight without Brandon Browner (NFL) and Dwight Anderson (Montreal).  The Alouettes have done okay without the likes of Ben Cahoon and Brian Chiu (both retired).  Winnipeg's defense is still fearsome despite not having Philip Hunt (NFL).  I'm tired of hearing about 'no Fantuz'.  Life goes on.

I've been a long supporter of Darian Durant, but I think it's time he watched a bit from the sidelines.  His touchdown pass to Dressler tonight was a fluke.  It should have been picked off.  If you take that major off the board, we are looking at about 8 points produced from him this evening and none in the week three Hamilton game.  Furthermore, the Riders dropped four of their last five to end the 2010 regular season.  Tonight's game was a winnable one at halftime despite substandard play from Durant.  I would've opened the third quarter with Ryan Dinwiddie and given him, at least, ten minutes to try and jumpstart the offense.  Hopefully within ten minutes the game is still within reach if Dinwiddie sputters.  If he succeeds, then leave him in there.  You have to win the football game.  I wonder if Durant's performance would improve if he was being pushed for playing time.

Full marks to defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall, as he has turned what looked like a lazy group on defense into a pretty good unit.  Sure, they were beaten a couple of times tonight, but I really like that the tackling has improved and the athletes look like they are buying into Hall's system, which is drastically different than that of former defensive boss Gary Etchevarry.  Linebacker Jerrell Freeman stood out tonight.  Now, if he could only get more out of Shomari Williams on the defensive line.

Unfortunately, the Riders don't have a single player on either side of the ball that would scare me if I was an opposing team's coach.  I do wonder if they could figure out a way to integrate Brandon West and Hugh Charles a little more if that would change at all.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I'm in no hurry to see the Houston Astros ever leave the basement of the National League Central Division.  Yesterday, they decided Hunter Pence and his $6.9-million dollar contract was too much to bear, so they sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies for a couple of wishes and a couple more prayers.  This is exactly the type of trade that makes no sense to me.  Pence could go to arbitration, but is under team control for two more years.  By superstar baseball standards, he makes next to nothing.  There is no reason to move him and if a team ever wants to be good, they have to hang on to guys like Pence.  He's only 28 and if the Astros have a plan to become a factor in their division within the next three years, he's still going to be in the prime of his career.

The Astros, who acquired Michael Bourn from the Phillies prior to the 2008 season as the main prospect in a deal that sent Brad Lidge the other way, are now expected to deal Bourn (who makes $4.4-million and is under team control for another year after this one).  They are also, reportedly, looking to 'dump' Wandy Rodriguez, who just got a new contract prior to this season.  He's scheduled to make $10-million, $13-million, and $13-million over the next three years.  Sure, Wandy is just 7-and-7, but he has a 3.47-ERA and is a usual lock for seven innings a start.  May the Houston Astros never win another game.

The Colorado Rockies and their dangling of Ubaldo Jimenez is also beyond stupid.  He has a long term contract that will pay him $5.75-million at its peak.  He signed the four year deal in January 2009.  If, in fact, he ends up a Yankee by the end of the trade deadline, then I tip my hat despite my hatred towards them.  If no other team can find the resources to get a number two calibre starter who is just 27-years-old, then shame on them.

Tampa Bay puts all of their players on the trade market no matter what their record is, including starting pitcher James Shields.  He makes $4.25-million this year and is under full team control until 2014.  Granted, his salary is set to escalate, but if you want to be a good team you have to pay players.  Shields, we already know, is a good one.  It makes no sense to deal him away, even at $7-million next year, if all you are going to get are prospects.

The fans are the real dummies here though.  Their teams sell hope based on the fact they collect prospects, but as soon as the prospect matures into a bonafide Major League player, he's shipped off for guessed it...prospects.  The fans of these teams (San Diego, Tampa Bay, Houston, Kansas City, etc.) should hold their franchises more accountable by staying away from games.

The reality is that you have to develop prospects and then sign them to long term deals once they mature.  If you can complement those guys with a couple of astute trades and a few free agent signings, then you are well on your way to success.

Look at the Boston Red Sox:  Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Reddick, and Daniel Bard are all home grown through the system.  David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, and Tim Wakefield were all brought in through trades that were not necessarily salary dumps by their former teams.  Adrian Gonzalez was added via a San Diego dump of salary.  Carl Crawford, John Lackey, JD Drew, and Marco Scutaro came through free agency.  You know what?  The free agents are the worst guys on this list.

The lesson?  Develop and sign.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Someday, I wouldn't mind trying my hand at politics, but I don't think any political party would ever take me on. I just don't conform to any one party's beliefs.  Sure, there are political parties that I agree with 'most' of the time; but there isn't a single one out there that I would be willing to just nod my head affirmative no matter what decision is made.

We all know a politician goes nowhere as an Independent, so I think I'm probably out of luck as far as a political career is concerned.

Take the Saskatchewan Party, for example.  Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit is someone I consider to be a friend and I would vote for him as a person, not as a representative of any particular party.

Over the weekend, Greg impressed me with his due diligence as I expressed on my Facebook page my total annoyance that the Saskatchewan Party would phone me, repeatedly, looking for a donation.  I can appreciate that 75% is a tax write-off, but Canadians are already taxed to the hilt.  Why would we want to empty our pockets even further to support a political party?  Furthermore, to undertake this campaign through telemarketing, which 99% of Canadians find very annoying, is puzzling to me.  I would be more apt to give money if Greg himself knocked on my door some evening and said, "Mike, we need your financial help to win the next election."  I'm not saying I would give anything, but it would definitely make more of an impact to me.   I realize not everyone thinks the way I do, but my opinion is that if you do a good job while in office, I'm going to vote for you in the next election.  You don't need to sell me with an advertising campaign, yet I understand the need to do it.

Anyway, Greg responded to my rant on Facebook on Saturday and, quickly, took steps to have my name removed from the Sask Party's telephone list.  It was further demonstrated when a Sask Party representative left me a message at work today.  Thank-you Greg.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


What would you do, if trapped somewhere with nothing to eat for days and weeks at a time?  If the only thing in front of you was human meat, would you eat it?  It's not a question I'd like to answer, but past stories tell us that it's exactly what people will do.  They will eat each other if presented with the only option to survive.

Look no further than Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, otherwise known as the Andes Flight Disaster.  The movie 'Alive' was based on this real life tragedy in which a rugby team's airplane crashed in the mountains; stranding survivors for over two months.

Once rescued, I don't believe the survivors resorted to eating people to satisfy their diet for the rest of their lives.  Therefore, I can't support putting these dogs to sleep.  Find them good homes.  End of story.

Here's the update...

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week July 13)


One of my favorite things to do during the summer while I'm just vegging at the lake is read books.  I just finished a real good one called 'Vice'.  It's a story about policing the streets of Compton, California; which is a city of about 100,000 people, including 10,000 criminals.  There were 130 police officers to maintain some sort of order.

The cop who tells the story is Sgt. John R. Baker (Rick), and there is paragraph in the book that, I think, sums things up perfectly when looking at children and their upbringings and whether or not that has any bearing on their future as a successful contributor to society or whether the individual is going to be a drain.

I, personally, believe that all of us make a personal choice at some point in our lives (some do it earlier than others) as to what type of human being we are going to become.  For some, this choice is easy.  For others, it's more difficult.

Here's the paragraph:

"The futures of children are balanced on a knife's edge of character and choice, and perhaps a little luck.  With proper parenting, or good guidance, or moral role models, any child no matter how unfair his circumstances, can succeed, and excel, and live a life of accomplishment and dignity.  Without these, what will  become of him?"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


If the Colorado Rockies trade Ubaldo Jimenez, then they deserve to finish last this year and for the next four or five years after that.

Why would you deal an ace pitcher, who's under contract long-term at a decent rate?

This is the news today, from ..

The Reds have Ubaldo Jimenez "on their radar," according to Ken Rosenthal of
Cincinnati is at an interesting crossroads. They are in fourth place in the NL Central but only stand four games out of first place. With potential free agents like closer Francisco Cordero and catcher Ramon Hernandez, the Reds could be buyers or sellers at the deadline depending on how they play immediately after the All-Star break. The Rockies aren't yet shopping Jimenez and would probably need to be blown away to consider an offer. After a rough start, he has a 2.52 ERA in his last eight starts (4-8 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.30 WHIP overall). Jimenez is signed for $2.8 million this season and $4.2 million next year with club options of $5.75 million and $8 million in 2013 and '14.


STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week July 6)

Our family spent Canada Day in Regina and as I watched an overcrowded Wascana Park enjoy things like free concerts, food vendors, and fireworks; I couldn’t help but wonder if Yorkton could pull off something similar. Unfortunately, our city doesn’t have a lake in the middle of it.  But, we do have a nice green space south of Logan Crescent. I wonder if we couldn’t utilize that for a Canada Day fireworks show and have Queen Street completely closed off.

Thinking out loud, but I wonder if we also couldn’t utilize what is quickly becoming a melting pot of cultures to draw in some tourism during the summer months by showing off some items specific to the Ukrainian, Philippine, English, Jamaican, Native, South African, and East Indian (I’m sure there are other nationalities) heritages. Would a downtown market work if we had something set up every Saturday during the months of July and August?

Heavy applause to the Yorkton City RCMP for acting quickly and making an arrest of a suspect in the murder of Jimmy Wiebe. I knew Jimmy as the first person I would see every morning when I worked at Fox FM. It would not be unusual for me to get my coffee from the Shell at 4:45 a.m. each day.

Jimmy was an easy guy to see at that hour. Who wouldn’t be grumpy being awake at 4:45? Despite my apparent pippy nature on the radio, I would much rather be in bed. Jimmy had a way of allowing you to forget what time of day it was and you always left the store feeling pretty good. Often the conversations were brief; but you didn’t need to spend much time with him to know he was a good man.  Further, the attendance at his funeral last week was proof that he impacted many lives in our city.  May justice be served in this case.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were roughed up by the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday afternoon and they’ll go from the frying pan into the fire this Saturday when they host the Montreal Alouettes.  By no means am I sounding alarm bells; but an 0-and-2 start with both games at Mosaic Stadium would be a disastrous way to kick off the 2011 season. From my seat in Section 26, Row 9 on Sunday; I would say the team needs to work on a couple of things in particular: rushing the passer on defense, and protecting their own quarterback on offense.  Sure, Darian Durant needs to keep better care of the ball; but I think he’ll sort that out in short order. I also think the team could have been better prepared than what they showed on Sunday; but that’s also a small correction. A more balanced attack on offense, fewer turnovers, and some resemblance of a pass rush should result in a win against the Als.

Dany Heatley has been traded again. Go figure. His not reporting to Edmonton a couple of years ago was such a blessing. Heatley has proven to be nothing more than a negative in the dressing room for the last three years, at least.  He has 5 goals in his last 32 playoff games, which is unacceptable for someone who counts 7.5-million dollars against the salary cap. The baffling part of this equation to me is how do the Minnesota Wild figure things are going to be different with them?  Or, maybe they don’t and need to get themselves to the salary cap floor.

I was sad to learn of the passing of Dauphin native Steve Adamski over the weekend. Steve was heavily involved with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings for many, many years; although that had been scaled back in recent times. I lived in Dauphin for a year upon moving to the prairies back in the mid-1990s and I became friends with Steve almost immediately. Steve’s connection with the Kings ended, roughly, about the same time I decided to leave broadcast media; so I hadn’t had a lot of contact with him in the last two or three years. May you rest in peace, Steve.

Nice person mentions this week:  Tony Playter, Joe Greba, Melissa Kowbel, and Bonnie Penner.