February 17, 2012
Lots to like, dislike about Argo scheduleWill meet Ticats five times in 2012
By Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency
The Argos and Ticats will get plenty of opportunities to knock heads, talk trash, throw punches after the whistle gets blown and generally intensify their dislike for each other this season.
That’s what happens when two rivals are forced to play each other five times during the course of a season, a sixth date looming if Toronto and Hamilton happen to lock horns in the post-season, which is a distinct possibility given how each team has upgraded from a year ago.
As always, the Argos were basically screwed by their landlord, Rogers Centre, but the football team has no leverage to come out and say it when in fact it’s precisely what happened as the CFL released its 2012 schedule on Friday.
All it did was speak to an eight-team league where there are too many games featuring too few teams, one of those necessary evils in a gate-driven business.
At least the annual Labour Day tussle in the Hammer is back on again following last year’s embarrassment, caused, naturally, by Rogers Centre, which treats the Argos like third-rate tenants.
Until the Argos, who clearly need help from the league, find their own playpen, they’ll continue to be at the mercy of Rogers Centre.
Unlike last year, the Argos won’t have to play their opening three games on the road.
But if anyone can possibly see a positive in this year’s dates, they are clearly looking through some rose-coloured glasses.
Imagine a professional sports team with no consistent date to call home, but that’s the sad result when the Argos mean little to a building where the bottom line is all that matters.
One gets the distinct impression Rogers Centre would rather see the Argos play elsewhere when one looks at the wretched dates presented.
Every day of the week will feature an Argos game, which is completely insane when trying to sell a product to a fickle market, with kickoff times varying.
Newly anointed Argos executive chairman Chris Rudge is too classy to publicly criticize the team’s landlords, especially with the lease about to expire following this season and Rudge said to be in talks on a new deal.
Good luck to Rudge.
When the Argos released a statement to trumpet their home schedule, Rudge took the high road.
“We are pleased to bring our fans a home schedule with competitive matchups and variety,’’ read the statement. “The intermingling of weeknight and weekend dates accommodates the many needs of our audience and we are thrilled once again to close the home regular season against the Tiger-Cats on Fan Appreciation Night.
“Overall, the 2012 schedule affords our football team a regular training schedule and the competitive advantage of playing at home down the final stretch. We look forward to Toronto residents joining us to cheer on the Double Blue as we strive to win the Grey Cup at home for the first time in 60 years.”
If the Argos can somehow develop a semblance of a home field advantage, which has been elusive in recent seasons, they can certainly make a strong push for the post-season and playoff positioning as the schedule has the Argos playing four of their final games at home.
ARGOS 2012 HOME SCHEDULE
* June 19 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Are you ready for some pre-season football?; strictly for the diehard.
* July 7 vs. Calgary, 3 p.m.
Stamps got their nose out of joint when new head coach Scott Milanovich contacted Chris Jones, which led to a fine for tampering.
* July 18 vs. Winnipeg, 7:30 p.m.
Bombers won both games played in Toronto last year, including a memorable win when half their roster was carted off the field.
* Aug. 6 vs. B.C., 5 p.m.
Return of Byron Parker and Rich Stubler; rookie Lions head coach Mike Benevides is a Toronto native who attended Central Tech.
* Aug. 27 vs. Edmonton, 7:30 p.m.
Steven Jyles returns to Toronto for the first time; Brampton native Jerome Messam may be back from his audition in Miami.
* Sept. 8 vs. Hamilton, 1 p.m.
First of two visits from the Ticats and first chance to see Andy Fantuz in Toronto; Terry Grant produced longest play last season.
* Oct. 8 vs. Saskatchewan, 4:30
Month between games at least features a team that draws an audience; Dominic Picard is sure to knock a few of his former teammates to the turf.
* Oct. 14 vs. Montreal, 1 p.m.
Depending on the health of Anthony Calvillo, there should be plenty of big plays and points produced with the weather a non-factor.
* Oct. 19 vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
Hopefully this game means something in the race for the playoffs; if not, it has the makings of a snooze fest.
* Nov. 1 vs. Hamilton, 7:30
Playoff repercussions or not, it’s the Ticats; could very well be a post-season preview, but only time will tell.
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS 2012 HOME SCHEDULE
* June 13 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Even if it is exhibition, first look at Henry Burris in a Ticat uniform as he resumes rivalry with Ricky Ray.
* June 29 vs. Saskatchewan, 7 p.m
Home opener has new Ticat slotback Andy Fantuz playing his former team.
* July 14 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
First regular-season meeting as the stage for Labour Day officially begins.
* July 21 vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.
If only teams can rekindle the magic that led to last fall’s epic playoff game.
* Aug. 9 vs. Calgary, 7 p.m.
QB Kevin Glenn, who took a pay cut with Stamps, returns to the Hammer.
* Sept. 3 vs. Toronto, 1 p.m.
It’s Labour Day, baby, hide the babies and let the booze and booing flow.
* Sept. 15 vs. Edmonton, 3 p.m.
Ticats hope to avenge an embarrassing pounding by the Esks from 2011.
* Sept. 28 vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.
Who knows what the future holds, but perhaps Avon Cobourne resurfaces.
* Oct. 12 vs. B.C., 7:30 p.m.
A year ago, Ticats demolished visiting Lions in a thumping for the ages.
* Oct. 27 vs. Winnipeg, 1 p.m.
Final regular-season game at Ivor Wynne Stadium until building overhaul is completed.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CFL’S 2012 SCHEDULE
* Winnipeg at B.C., June 29
Grey Cup rematch with all eyes on Geroy Simon, who is closing in on the league’s all-time mark for receiving yards.
* Toronto at Edmonton, June 30
Ricky Ray makes his return to the Alberta capital as Argos make first and only visit of season.
* Hamilton at Saskatchewan, July 22
We’ll go on a limb and say Andy Fantuz will not be welcomed back with open arms after bolting the prairies for the Hammer.
* Hamilton at Winnipeg, Aug. 16
Some Ticats will be looking to make amends for last year’s bitterly disappointing loss in East final, which triggered plenty of change.
* Winnipeg at Saskatchewan, Sept. 2
Latest renewal of a great rivalry that sees teams play in the Peg the following week, assuming there are enough players left standing.
* Hamilton at Calgary, Oct. 20
Smilin’ Hank returns to Cowtown, where upstart Drew Tate was handed the reins to the Stamps offence.
* Nov. 11, divisional semifinals
* Nov. 18, divisional finals
* Nov. 25, 100th Grey Cup in Toronto