MONTREAL — CJAD must have run the promo at least a half-dozen times during its Saturday-afternoon broadcast: “The 2013 Alouettes,” we were told again and again, “are birds of prey.”
Um, yes. But only if you spell it “birds of pray.”
You might have to help me out here. By my unofficial count, the Alouettes finished that game in Saskatchewan with seven key offensive starters either in Team Clinic or out for the season: Brandon London, Jamel Richardson, Brandon Whitaker, Josh Bourke, Andrew Woodruff, Scott Flory — and some guy named Anthony Calvillo.
They also lost defensive motor Kyries Hebert with what might be torn knee ligaments — and long snapper Martin Bedard had his arm in a sling after the game.
Oh — and the Alouettes lost a game they had apparently won against all odds, 24-21, after the exhausted defence that had kept them in it all afternoon gave up a 65-yard scoring strike in the dying seconds.
The Als are now 2-5 on the season. Nothing disastrous in the awful CFL East, which has only one good team, the Toronto Argonauts. The Als could still lose several more, limp into the playoffs, catch fire and win another Grey Cup.
Raise your hands please, all those who believe that will happen. Thank you.
The 2013 Alouettes are birds of pray, indeed. As in, if you get down on your knees and pray very hard to the deity of your choice, something good might happen here. Or not.
You can’t blame GM and head coach Jim Popp for all of this. Not when Richardson, who in theory at least is the team’s best receiver, goes down at Popp’s first practice as head coach.
But this mess started with Dan Hawkins — and Popp hired Hawkins after a process that must have involved a dart board and a blindfold. A guy with a very spotty record in the NCAA and not a down of experience in pro football? Who couldn’t coach a little quiet time in a graveyard, according to my spies in Boulder?
The second strike against Popp is the failure to develop a credible backup quarterback. The list of those who have blown through town during the Calvillo years is so long, I’m surprised I’m not on it. But the only one who stuck around for any length of time was Adrian McPherson, and now he’s in the Arena League.
Josh Neiswander did not look out of place in very difficult circumstances Saturday, given that he was parachuted into a road game against the league’s best team after Calvillo was hurt. But the bottom line is that Neiswander was 12 for 30 for 147 yards.
Any other result would be a shocker, given that the Als have historically given their backup quarterbacks about as many reps as I can do with 350 pounds on the bench press. The result is that they have zero experience at the position without Calvillo.
Quinton Porter was in camp, but he was released in June. Troy Smith has NFL experience, but knows nothing about the CFL, which means the Alouettes are down to Neiswander and fellow backup Tanner Marsh, who has thrown (and completed) two passes.
Calvillo will turn 41 Friday, the day after the Als host the very tough B.C. Lions at Percival Molson. He is concussed, which means he’ll likely miss that game and who knows how many more after it. And he has no immediate replacement.
Right now, this is a team in crisis. The Alouettes almost beat the Roughriders because Noel Thorpe’s defence kept it together and the Riders obligingly coughed up the ball. But you aren’t going to win many in this league with a two-and-out offence.
All in all, the marketing department came up with a great slogan. The 2013 Alouettes? They’re birds of pray.
Heart-attack kid: If I were Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum, I’d ask Joey Saputo for some extra life insurance. Not because Schallibaum sees more red than a bull in Madrid, but because striker Marco Di Vaio is hard on the ticker.
Saturday night’s effort against D.C. United was, as far as we can tell, pretty much vintage Di Vaio. Again and again, he was offside by a couple of car lengths. Then there were the inexplicable misses on point-blank chances — why did he try to chip that ball over the ’keeper instead of driving it home?
Oh, yes — and Di Vaio scored two goals, including the winner, and dominated the evening to the point where he could have had five. Di Vaio is fun to watch and so are the Impact, when they’re on their game. I’m just glad I’m not his coach.
Another one bites the dust: Back in 2005, Miguel Tejada was one of a group of Baltimore Orioles who put on a disgusting display for reporters waiting to talk with Sammy Sosa, who had just returned from testifying before congress about PED use.
While a couple of dozen reporters waited in the clubhouse, Tejada and Sosa and a half-dozen other players watched a noisy and repetitive porn clip at one player’s locker, howling with laughter as the scene went on and on in full view of the media, including a scattering a female reporters.
I was one of the waiting journalists that day. The Orioles players obviously knew that we were waiting to talk to Sosa and they were going to make us as uncomfortable as they could.
Tejada was clearly part of Sosa’s crew that day. Given his 105-game suspension for amphetamine use, he still is. The PED boys: Whether they’re watching porn or jabbing needles in their butts or ratting out fellow players as Alex Rodriguez allegedly did, they’re a lovely bunch.
Missing coverage: Our alleged sports networks pump out hours of poker programming every day, but if you wanted to see the IAAF world track and field championships from Moscow (Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Canadians doing surprisingly well with four medals) — good luck with that.
Heroes: Brianne Theisen Eaton, Derek Drouin, Damian Warner, Justyn Warner, Aaron Kingsley Brown, Dontae Richards-Kwok and Gavin Smellie, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jerald Brown, Miguel Cabrera, Alfonso Soriano, Clayton Kershaw, Marion Bartoli, Eugenie Bouchard &&&& last but not least, Marco Di Vaio.
Zeros: Yelena Isinbayeva, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Sammy Sosa, Ryan Braun, Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau, Stephen Harper, Pierre Gauthier, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.
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