I’ve watched virtually every play of every CFL game this season, just as I did in past years, and so I believe I can safely make these two remarks:
• I need to get more of a life;
• The games have become duller. The average amount of scoring in games is down by seven per cent from last season at this time. The average number of touchdowns scored has decreased by 14 per cent. For a league that prides itself on wide-open offence, this trend is not desirable and it does not make for good marketing material.
Reasons for the CFL’s offensive plunge range from:
- Stronger defences and improved defensive systems;
- More emphasis on conservative running games instead of imaginative passing attacks;
- Injuries to key offensive players such as Toronto quarterback Damon Allen;
- QBs such as Jason Maas and Kerry Joseph joining new teams and still becoming familiar with their teammates;
- A bizarre, inexplicable number of dropped passes by receivers.
There’s something else, however, that has decreased the entertainment value of the CFL this season, and it’s significant.
It concerns kick returns. They’ve historically been long and exciting more often than not in the CFL. Memorable returns by legends such as Mike (Pinball) Clemons and Gizmo Williams were spine-chilling and often responsible for determining outcomes. This year, though, CFL kick returns have been about as enjoyable to watch as traffic jams. At this point in 2005, nine kicks had been returned for TDs. This year, there has been none.
CFL officiating supervisor George Black suspects new rules are affecting kick returns in ’06. Please find his thoughts and other CFL nuggets — as well as my weekly picks — in my latest CFL Report, exclusively by clicking on “columnists”.
• This week is huge for the Blue Jays. Win a few games and they’ll stay in contention, so they’ll be using Ted Rogers’ money as buyers for the July 31 trade deadline. Lose a few games, though, and they’ll be sellers. If they’re going to be buyers, they’ll be looking for pitching, of course, and a shortstop. They’ve already expressed interest in Craig Counsell and Julio Lugo, who are in the final years of their contracts with Arizona and Tampa Bay, respectively. Both can play short and both are eligible for free agency next season.
The most coveted non-pitcher on the trade block is Washington’s Alfonso Soriano, who has attracted the interest of the Yankees, Angels, Detroit and Seattle, among others.
Marty York’s column appears Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen for Marty on The ROCK 94.9 FM, Monday and Friday at 8:40 a.m.
(after five weeks)
• Total Points: 2006 — 883; 2005 — 1054
• Touchdowns: 2006 — 82; 2005 — 106
• Games: 2006 — 36; 2005 — 40