Just two more weeks till the Stamps are champs! (My 2014 CFL playoff predictions)

As far as I’m concerned, this is Calgary’s year.  The Stamps finished 15-3, tied for the second-best record in CFL history, and won most of their games with ease.  Their offence scored more points than anybody else this season, while their defence gave up the second-fewest points in the league–just one touchdown more than Edmonton.  And for what it’s worth, all three of their losses were to teams they couldn’t possibly face again before the Grey Cup Final…if B.C. or Montreal even makes it that far.  Personally, I think the path through the West is pretty clear.

Out East, it’s a totally different story.  All three playoff participants finished 9-9, including the crossover B.C. Lions, who have a much better chance of extending the home-team Grey Cup winning streak by qualifying through the Least Division.  But I hafta give the edge to a different feline, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who’ve secured homefield advantage for the Eastern Final.  The Cats haven’t lost a game at home since Tim Hortons Field (belatedly) opened, and they earned their bye by beating Montreal quite convincingly at Timmies in Week 20.  But as the CFL schedule shifts to Sundays, it’s time to cue up that Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday–the only part of that movie worth re-watching–especially if you’re an Esks, Riders, Als or Lions fan.  With that said, here are my 2014 playoff predictions:

WEST DIVISION

Semi-Final: Edmonton over Saskatchewan.  With Darian Durant and Mike Reilly both dressed, but not expected to play, it’ll be another battle of the backups between these two teams.  In Week 20, Kerry Joseph got the best of Matt Nichols, despite completing just five of his 16 passes.  But that game was completely meaningless to Edmonton, and it was also in Saskatchewan.  While I expect the Rider faithful to paint Commonwealth Stadium a lighter shade of green, a 5-for-16 effort from their starting pivot just ain’t gonna cut it this time.  27-14 Edmonton.

Final: Calgary over Edmonton.  Chances are Mike Reilly will be back for this one, and the Esks are gonna need him.  Edmonton went 0-3 against Calgary in the regular season, although two of those games were decided by no more than a touchdown.  That being said, the lone contest in which the Stamps pulled away happened to be the only game of the trilogy played at McMahon, a little contest called the Labour Day Classic.  The Calgary D held Edmonton to just three points in the second half of a 28-13 win–coincidentally, Matt Nichols also started that game at QB for the Esks.  So maybe Mike Reilly makes it closer, but it still won’t be close enough.  Calgary 34, Edmonton 28

EAST DIVISION

Semi-Final: Montreal over B.C.  The Lions are reeling heading into the playoffs, having been outscored 70-19 in a pair of season-ending losses.  Granted, those games were against Edmonton and Calgary, but the Stamps had nothing to play for last week, and still beat ‘em by 17.  On the other hand, Montreal had reeled off six straight wins before suffering a season-ending loss in Hamilton.  And hey, gimme Jonathan “Future Hair Model” Crompton over Kevin Glenn any day!  Als 40, Lions 19

Final: Hamilton over Montreal.  The Week 20 matchup between these two teams wasn’t just a potential playoff preview, it was also a must-win for Hamilton.  With the Least Division race coming down to the wire, the Cats woulda been eliminated if they’d lost–but a win by more than seven would give them homefield.  Turns out, they won by an extra TD in a 29-15 statement game, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter alone.  And did I mention that they’ve never lost a game at Tim Hortons Field?  29-15 Hamilton (again!)

102ND GREY CUP

Not gonna lie, this would’ve been a much better storyline if Henry Burris still played for Hamilton.  Then you’d have the longtime Stampeder–the last Stamps QB to win the Cup, in fact–in search of redemption, not only against his former team, but to make up for his shitterific performance in last year’s big game.  Hell, I’d even bust out my old Burris jersey and duct-tape SEXTING HANK across the back.  Cuz while Calgary’s the much better team, it’s actually Hamilton who’d be coming in as two-time defending division champs.

But hey, judging by the REDBLACKS!!!!! record this season, it’s safe to say the Ti-Cats would not be here today (or rather, two weeks from today) if they still had Sexting Hank behind centre.  Though he didn’t exactly light up the league, Zach Collaros had a respectable season as a starting QB when healthy, completing 65.8 per cent of his passes with 15 TDs and nine interceptions.  But with their RB-by-committee approach to the run game and a defence that only looks respectable against the Least Division, I don’t think Hamilton has enough weapons to get ‘r done.

These two teams played one of the ugliest games of the CFL season, waaaay back in Week Four, with the Stamps squeaking out a 10-7 win at home.  But I’d argue that QB Bo Levi Mitchell, he who’s only lost, like, two games his whole career, was still finding his wings as a first-year starter in that game…as his non-descript 20-35, 201 yard passing effort would indicate.  When these teams met again a month later, it was a totally different story, with Calgary winning 30-20 in front of a packed house of 6,500 at Hamilton’s Ron Joyce Field.  Mitchell was much better in that one, completing 19-of-27 for 271, while Hamilton was held to single digits until late in the third quarter.  So yes, the Cats have lost at home this year–their new stadium just wasn’t ready yet.

Of course, despite its much-closer proximity to Calgary, B.C. Place is technically considered a neutral site.  You’d also hafta wonder how many Ti-Cat fans would take the trip after that absolute ass-whooping in Regina last year.  As a Stamps fan, I was severely outnumbered at the last two Cups I attended (96 and 100), so I’d be looking forward to turn the tide in this one.  As for the on-field action, well, I hate to break it to my fellow Eric Church fans, but this game oughtta be over by halftime.  Hey, if I see you at the stadium wearing a Steeltown trucker hat, I just might put a drink in yer hand.  Calgary 50, Hamilton 29

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Gruesome Greg attends country-music concert (in Hamilton). Drunkularity ensues!

You might not know this about me, but I’ve been a big Eric Church fan ever since August.  When my Stamps-REDBLACKS!!!! tickets didn’t arrive in the mail, I had to call Capital Tickets a couple times, where their on-hold muzak was actually a promo for an upcoming Eric Church concert in the nation’s capital.  After hearing the damn thing at least a couple dozen times–let’s just say, they put me on hold a lot–I realized that A) The man has some catchy tunes and B) (Almost) all of them are about drinking.  Hearing this, I pretty much had to investigate further via YouTube.

Drink in my Hand,” from his 2011 album Chief, is my new Friday-night jam.  It’s an epic meditation on intoxication that is extremely uplifting.  I know I sang along to every word last night…from the front row of his sold-out concert at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Place.  I guess that two-minute “The Outsiders are Coming!” promo spot had its intended effect, even though I ended up in a different city than the show it was promoting.

Unbeknownst to me, Eric Church is a pretty big deal ’round these parts.  The show in Hamilton was completely sold out–in fact, there were only single seats left when I went looking online last weekend.  The guy hails from North Carolina, a helluva long way from Hamilton, but he has a number-one album and a coupla country-chart-topping hits (including the aforementioned “Drink in my Hand”) under his belt, so he’s not exactly a nobody.  In fact, he’s racked up so many cowboy points that country legend Dwight Yoakam, a man whose “Guitars, Cadillacs (& Hillbilly Music)” has been a Stampede-breakfast staple for nearly three decades, was actually opening for Church.  You can kinda make out his white-lighted silhouette on the monitor below:

004Uh, this is probably where I mention that I was front row in the grandstand, not the floor.  But hey, at least they had flush toilets at that level!

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As much as I was digging Dwight, including his even-more-countrified take on “Ring of Fire,” the beers started catching up to me (I was drinking in the Augusta British Pub District up until showtime) and I had to hit the head.  Suffice to say, I wasn’t the only hombre with this idea–hey, that’s what opening acts are for, right?–but I was slightly amused to find that I was the only dude in line who wasn’t wearing a plaid button-down shirt.  I guess that’s how you’re supposed to dress up for a country-music concert in Hamilton; although I always thought plaid was more of a grunge thing.  In any case, I was wearing the exact same outfit as the evening’s headliner: leather jacket, black t-shirt, blue jeans and a trucker hat, although I doubt Eric’s headgear had WEED METAL written on it. ;)

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Then again, I think Eric Church probably also enjoys the combination of marijuana and heavy metal.  Church and company came off almost as polished and electrifying on stage as a much-heavier outfit–perhaps not Black Sabbath, but a mid-tier touring metal band, maybe.  Church’s lead guitarist even launched into the riff from “Sweet Leaf” towards the end of his smoke-em-if-ya-got-em anthem “Drink a Little Drink, Smoke a Little Smoke.”  I mighta been the only person in attendance who picked up on that, though…

There was no shortage of rock ‘n roll stageshow props either, most notably a 50-foot inflatable Satan that was right in my wheelhouse.  I actually got a coupla decent shots of said sweet Satan on my iPhone…aaaaaaaand that’s why I always delete all my pictures before I cross the border! ;)

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Alas, there’s more to an Eric Church show than Satan and Sabbath and booze.  He took the stage to Clutch (“Electric Worry,” mind you), covered Skynyrd and Springsteen, and even had a KISS-style drum riser.  This ain’t yer grand-pappy’s country music!!!

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And when it comes to official concert apparel, Eric Church measures up with the metal-heads, too.  Believe it or not, but the Canadian-flag pot-leaf tee was one of the least-offensive designs on offer.  (Little did I know, but the man’s middle name is actually Fucking, as in Eric Fucking Church…)

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Yuuup, I’m officially a member of Team Church now.  I’ve actually been listening to his last two CDs as I typed this up.  Although, I gotta say, the design on the front of said shirt sorta looks like he took it from my ol’ buddies in Diablo Red:

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All I can say is that if Eric Church covers “Rise of the Fallen” on his next tour, I’ll shit my fucking britches.  And yes, I do fully intend to be there next time.  Turns out, if you wanna get me to like country, all ya gotta do is put a DRANK in ma hand! ;)

Episode 142 of Gruesome Tunes now available for download!

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CLICK HERE.

11/09/14 PLAYLIST

Jello Biafra & the Melvins – Dawn of the Locusts (Sieg Howdy!) 5:40

Sexton Creeps – God is an Audience Too Divine to Clap (The Sour Acre) 4:13

Prizehog – Gnumskill, the Ruler (Re-Unvent the Whool) 7:09

Black Tusk – Ender of All (Set the Dial) 4:47

ÖfÖ Am – Montée Religieuse (The Beast Within) 4:35

The Lone Crows – Next Thing I Know (Dark Clouds) 2:50

 

SolarCruiser – Roll the Dice (self-titled EP) 5:42

Wo Fat – Noche del Chupacabra (Noche del Chupacabra) 15:03

Nether Regions – Your Name is Madness (Into the Breach) 4:50

Space Mushroom Fuzz – Wreckage (Stealing Some Time) 5:40

 

Doctor Cyclops – Waterfalls (Oscuropasso) 6:10

Diesto – The Road (For Water or Blood) 6:48

Devil to Pay – This Train Won’t Stop (Fate is Your Muse) 4:40

Nightbitch – Into the Fire (Chainmaker EP) 3:41

Mothership – Win or Lose (self-titled) 5:58

 

When the Deadbolt Breaks – My Coffin is Loaded with Sand and Fire [Part 4] (Drifting Towards the Edge of the Earth) 13:33

Morkobot – MoR (Morbo) 9:45

Tia Carrera – Slave Cylinder (Cosmic Priestess) 7:34

Just when I thought I was done with Ink Master, the show sucks me back in…

When I heard that Season Five of Ink Master would be all about “rivalries,” I had to cringe.  Even on competition reality shows, producers always try to play up the drama…aaaaaand that’s why I don’t watch Storage Wars anymore.  Alas, while I half-expected Dave Hester to be handed a needle for this one, it turns out they’ve got a few decent artists this season, bringing more than enough drama to feed a llama.  Real-life brothers with very different industry names Robbie Ripoll and Jayvo Scott brought the family feud big time, while Emily Elegado turned out to be nuttin’ but a bitch on two legs.  (Something tells me she might have been playing it up for the camera though.)  Dude, with all this shit’s that gone down around him, uber-heel Josh Hibbard actually seems like a nice guy by comparison.

Full disclosure, I am still catching up on past episodes via Rogers on Demand, but I think I know why the third-generation used-car salesman seems a little more subdued this season.  It says here that he just got kicked off the show for smoking some reefers.  Cuz apparently, that shit’s still illegal in New York City, or something.  Gawd blees Amurrica, and no place else!

Methinks Lips would certainly not approve:

Not that I needed a reason to never listen to Moxy Fruvous again…

Do you like Moxy Fruvous?  They started out as buskers on the streets of Toronto, before signing a record contract with Warner Bros in 1992.  But when Bargainville came out in ’93, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.  Their musical stylings were barbershop quartet meets hoser folk rock, sort of a shittier version of the Barenaked Ladies.  The band showed its goofy side in its rap-rock version of “Green Eggs and Ham,” while they proved their pretentiousness by covering the Talking Heads, the ne plus ultra of pretentious art-rock outfits, on their album Live Noise.

You could even call them English Canada’s answer to Les Colocs, but whereas Dédé Fortin, Mononc’ Serge and company delivered stirring social commentary with a catchy, colloquial twist, Moxy Fruvous’ attempts to tackle serious topics, such as “Gulf War Song,” usually fell flat.  Fruvous’ biggest hit, “King of Spain,” namedrops Pizza Pizza, Crokinole, Skydome, the Leafs and the band’s own moniker, yet it isn’t more than mildly amusing…and only when taken in small doses.  Fortunately, this isn’t 1993 anymore.

Mind you, the band broke up in 2000, and would have been relegated to the CanCon college-radio dustbin if their drummer wasn’t such a perv.  I actually think I know the woman in her late 20′s who opened the Jian Ghomeshi can of worms, and for what it’s worth, I applaud her.

2014 CFL POWER RANKINGS: Week 20

Well, there we have it, folks, another CFL regular season in the books–this one being a week longer than the past few, what with the new expansion team ‘n all.  Of course, the REDBLACKS!!!! will be watching the playoffs from their favourite local establishment (but only until 7:30), as no team was further from postseason contention this season.  Almost everyone else had some sort of shot, with five teams finishing no more than two games apart.  But whether it’s Calgary or Edmonton–and based on their head-to-head record, it shouldn’t be Edmonton–the 102nd Grey Cup is the West Division champion’s to lose this season.  I’ll be back with my playoff picks next weekend, but for now, here’s how things stand after Week 20:

Preseason Predictions

Last Week’s Rankings

Rankings Archive

1. Calgary Stampeders (15-3) Last Week: 2.  Despite a slight slip-up in the snow in Week 19, the Stamps still finished tied for the second-best record in CFL history…alongside the ’93, ’94 and ’95 Calgary Stampeders.  What’s crazy is that those other three teams didn’t win a single Grey Cup between them–they lost in the West Final twice, and were defeated by the Baltimore Football Stallions in the 83rd edition.  That being said, I definitely think this year’s team is good enough to get back to the Big Game.  And when they do, it’s not like they’re gonna lose to Hamilton or something…

2. Edmonton Eskimos (12-6) Last Week: 2.  Sure, the Esks lost an entirely meaningless game in Regina last night, but if Mike Reilly’s healthy–and Darian Durant isn’t–the Riders will be wishing that they’d crossed over by this time next week.  I also think Edmonton has the best chance of beating the Stamps in the playoffs…but those odds are still pretty slim. :P

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9-9) Last Week: 4.  The road through the East, much like many Canadian road trips, includes a stop at Tim Hortons (Field).  To their credit, the Ti-Cats are 6-0 at the Doughnut Box, so securing homefield advantage should give their Grey Cup hopes a big boost.  And I hafta say, it’s a pretty sweet place to play–even though it was still unfinished when I was there.

4. Montreal Alouettes (9-9) Last Week: 3.  Full credit to Jeff Garcia, Jonathan Crompton and company for turning a 1-7 team into a playoff contender.  The Als reeled off six straight wins down the stretch, but couldn’t get ‘r done when it counted most in Hamilton yesterday.  For the record, I’m also taking the Tabbies in the East Final rematch…unless Garcia actually suits up. ;)

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders (10-8) Last Week: 5.  If ever there was a must-lose game, it would’ve been yesterday for Saskatchewan.  As the distant third-place team in the West, they face a much tougher test than the B.C. Lions, who get to go through the Least Division.  Not that I think either team makes it past the first round, mind you, I’m just saying.

6. B.C. Lions (9-9) Last Week: 6.  Y’know, I actually debated putting the Argonauts in the sixth spot, but what it came down to was B.C. made the playoffs, while Toronto didn’t.  And you can probably point to the Argos’ pitiful 2-7 road record as the reason why.  Hey, for all their struggles of late, the Lions actually went 5-4 away from B.C. Place this year…which is something Montreal might wanna keep in mind, eh?

7. Toronto Argonauts (8-10) Last Week: 7.  Though they did put forth a decent effort behind backup Trevor Harris–I wouldn’t say holding the REDBLACKS!!!! to five points was all that impressive, though–the Argos were a day late and a dollar short when it came time to hand out playoff berths.  I guess we’ll never know if the putative Least Semi-Final between Toronto and B.C. would match the official attendance of 18,283 they drew back in August…

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-11) Last Week: 8.  Winnipeg actually didn’t play in Week 20, as their season ended a week early.  But hey, I’m sure they’re still winners in the hearts and minds of their friends and families…just not so much on the football field.

9. Ottawa REDBLACKS!!!!! (2-16) Last Week: 9.  I just took another look at my preseason predictions, where I had pegged Ottawa to win a whopping five games this season.  (FWIW, I had the Bombers at 2-16.  Wrong city, I guess.)  So, that turned out to be even more optimistic than I’d imagined.  About the only way the REDBLACKS!!!!! can actually beat somebody is if A) it’s their home opener or B) that team’s from Winnipeg.  With that said, I’ll jump ahead to next year and pick the ROUGE ET NOIR!!!!! to win three games in 2015…which is also the over/under on MP Rob Anders’ naps until the next election:

No Bon, No Malcom, No Phil Rudd… Time for AC/DC to retire?

2014 was supposed to be a big year for AC/DC.  The band had planned on celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new album and extensive world tour…but so far, things haven’t exactly gone as planned.  First, Malcolm Young, riff-writer extraordinaire and the backbone of the band, was diagnosed with dementia, forcing him to step down in favour of his nephew.  And just the other day, Phil Rudd, the band’s longtime drummer, who a fellow metal scribe called “the potatoes to Malcolm’s goddamn riff-meat!” was arrested (see above) on charges including “attempting to procure murder,” which has since been dropped.  Their new album, now slated for release December 2, is called Rock or Bust.  Looks like Rudd chose Bust…

Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC just as much as the next guy; in fact, probably a bit more.  But suffice to say, I’m a little less excited for the new album, knowing that Steve Young–not the Niners QB–served up the goddamn riff-meat this time around.  And speaking of sports, the leadoff single, “Play Ball,” was used as a promotional tie-in for TBS’s baseball postseason coverage, in the most blatant display of commercialism by the Thunder From Down Under since they provided the entire soundtrack for Iron Man 2.  And besides that, the song really kinda sucks.  Gimme “Big Balls” any day!

Will I still go out and buy the new album next month?  Not gonna lie, I probably will.  But I’ll definitely think twice before attending the next AC/DC world tour.  No word as to who’ll be playing drums as of yet, but if they were to bring Bon back from the dead, they could always stick him behind the kit:

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