TORONTO – It had to happen. A bad game by the Argos. Considering this was their 5th game in a row on the road to start their season, after travelling almost 30,000 km in one month this had to happen. Better it be on the 5th game. This long of a road trip has never happened before in pro football. I think most observers of football would say that going 3-2, and having a share of first place after such a road trip is a success.
For Toronto they did not play a complete game, making mental errors and taking too many penalties. The offence had a couple of nice long drives, but did not come away with touchdowns. The game fell out of sync for them. When the offence drove and scored, the defence would allow a follow-up by Hamilton. When the defence would stop the Tiger Cats, the Argo offence could not sustain drives . Throw in a long weather delay and then a normal halftime break and the game really was out of sync. The Hamilton Tiger Cats maintained their unbeaten streak at their new stadium Tim Hortons Field and look like a solid football team on a mission to get back to the Grey Cup.
Quarterback Trevor Harris had a good game statistically going 29 of 40 passing attempts for 326 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. Unfortunately he lost a fumble and was unable to convert on 3rd and short on a couple of occasions. Receiver Vidal Hazelton led all receivers with 10 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Early in this season the Argonauts have established a dynamic group of young receivers in Hazelton, Tori Gurley and Kevin Elliott, to match up with veteran Chad Owens. As the season rolls on they should only get better. Chad Owens has not yet had a breakout game, and it appears opposing defences have been focusing on him and seeing if the rookie receivers could get the job done. As the season progresses defences will need to cover the rookies and Chad’s numbers should improve. He sustained an injury against Hamilton and it is not known yet the extent of it.
There is no doubt the Argos are looking forward to playing at home, and will be looking to get back in the win column playing against an injury depleted and an emotionally drained team in Saskatchewan on Saturday night. Even though it is a short week for the Argos, they will be heavy favorites to win.
The Argo home for 2015 is Rogers Centre, although I’m sure they wish they were playing at BMO Field already. Proving again why their move is critical, rumor has it that Rogers will displace the road warrior and weary Argonauts in the month of October should the Toronto Blue Jays make the playoffs this year. I have been a season ticket holder since 1983 and I remember years when the Blue Jays made the playoffs and the Argos were never pushed out of their dates. There is an expression, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Rogers has absolutely no will and no desire to accommodate the Argonauts if this is true. The Argos are scheduled to play 4 of their last 5 games of the year at Rogers Centre because Rogers forced them into those dates so the Blue Jays would not need to go on extended road trips this summer while the Pan Am games were on. The previous two seasons Rogers has forced the Argos into 4 game road trips.
The Blue Jays should make the playoffs. They are playing well, and they have made excellent trades to improve their team. That does not mean the Argonauts should be kicked out of their dates. They pay rent, and have a lease agreement. And if the playoff games do fall on scheduled Argo games than Rogers should do everything they can to reschedule at Rogers Centre. This is a world-class facility and they should be able to accommodate both teams. To not do this simply cements that Rogers does not care. It also demonstrates how unprofessional they have been with respect to the Argos. Their sports radio station does not even discuss the first place Argos. Their justification for this is the fact their competitor has the CFL broadcasting rights. This is a weak argument and unprofessional, for when Rogers did not hold NHL broadcasting rights they still covered the sport and the Maple Leafs, because it is a Toronto sport and you are supposed to be sports journalists. They also like to argue that nobody in Toronto is interested in the Argos. A weak argument in the face of TV audience numbers for Argo and Ti-Cat games in southern Ontario that are second only to hockey.
Pressure should be applied to Rogers to make the necessary arrangements. They have two months to prepare. A professional organization would make it happen.
Written By: Scott Ford