"Mouthwash"

Ooooh. Them’s fightin’ words!

I’m a little miffed at a certain sports columnist this morning. Marty York, whose yammerings I merely put up with, had the following to say this morning about the woeful state of Canadian professional sports teams:

The good news, perhaps, is that the CFL season starts relatively soon. Granted, this league is laden with flaws and shortcomings. For instance, it still has no drug policy and simultaneously has become a haven for renowned drug-users, such as the Toronto Argonauts’ newest receiver, David Boston. The league’s general talent is so-so. Ditto for its officiating. And it has a salary-management system in which cheaters are fined for exceeding the cap but still are allowed to win championships, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders were last year.

Now I agree with York’s assessment that the league is flawed; no arguement there. But so is the NHL. Even with their best referees and an almost foolproof video replay system, they still managed to miss Patrick Marleau’s 2nd goal versus the Stars last night. Nothing is perfect.

As for the league’s lack of a drug policy – I concur completely. The league needs a drug policy. Period. If it wants to become a preeminent league, it needs certain standards. But what’s holding up a drug policy are certain CFL governors – not the league.

Personally, I think the CFL has some great talent. And the parity across the league right now is one of the best things the league has going for it. And there are always going to be perennial losers in any league (see: St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers).

But what REALLY pisses me off is the last sentence of York’s report: “And it has a salary-management system in which cheaters are fined for exceeding the cap but still are allowed to win championships, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders were last year.”

You can probably imagine how I reacted: my eyes got real big, I let out a sigh and thought of a million things to say in response, including some not-very-nice words.

So let’s look at the facts. The Roughriders were approximately $75,000 over the salary cap last season. They were originally only $55,000 over, but lost an arbitration case last week that added another $20,000.

Now, prior to last season, the Riders were approximately $1 million over the salary cap of $4.1 million. Tillman released many veterans and popular players in order for the Riders to come in under the new salary cap. And he was. Until the Riders were plagued with injuries. In fact, the Riders had more man games lost to injuries than any other team in the league, almost by half. THAT’S where the extra money went to – NOT to a marquee player. The Riders didn’t BUY their Grey Cup. Far from it.

But I do wonder how some other teams (BC, Calgary) managed to make it under the salary cap. BC employed three top QBs, three top receivers, a top defensive line and still managed to make it under the salary cap. Calgary has Burris, Copeland, Reynolds – a lot of big names. If they honestly did, congrats to them, but I suspect that teams are finding ways around the salary cap.

Regardless, insinuating the Riders ‘bought’ the Grey Cup is ludicrous. The Yankees buy championships. The Leafs and Rangers tried to before the salary cap era in the NHL. When you’re outspending other teams by TENS OF MILLIONS, then you’re buying championships. But when you overspend by only $75,000 when you’ve led the league in man games lost due to injury and win the Grey Cup, you haven’t bought a championship; you’ve done a damn fine job of finding second-string talent that can step up, as well as a good job of controlling your finances when they’re no longer in your control.

Marty York, SIT DOWN!

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