It's a meaningful tilt

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Let's start today's musing with a brief look back to the 2000 CFL season. Specifically, Aug. 25, which was Week 8 for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

At the time, the Bombers were a rebuilt outfit rife with rookies like Albert Johnson III, Ryland Wickman and Matt Sheridan.

Predictably enough, they stumbled out of the gate, carrying a 1-5-1 record into a home game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Fast-forward to today: the Bombers, with CFL neophytes like Gavin Walls, Vinny Sutherland and Dan Goodspeed, lug a 1-6 mark into tomorrow's game against the 0-6 Tabbies.

Just another lousy game between the two worst teams in the CFL?

Possibly.

But it's also a game with huge implications.

In case you hadn't noticed, the natives are restless, grumbling like a Sumo wrestler's stomach after a skipped breakfast.

The word on the street, in the coffee shops and on the radio call-in shows suggests they already want heads to roll.

For some reason, head coach Jim Daley's rebuilding effort isn't being accepted with the same patience second-year boss Dave Ritchie's was in 2000.

The Bombers' wild, 51-46 win over Montreal, July 22 -- the last time they played at home -- seems like a lifetime ago. Any goodwill generated from that game was squandered in back-to-back drubbings in Toronto and Calgary.

It's likely a chorus of boos will once again greet the home side if it gets off to a bad start, and we can only imagine the fallout from a loss to the worst team in the league.

At 1-7, we think things would get downright ugly.

For starters, the Bombers could pretty much kiss a playoff spot goodbye. I mean, even going 5-5 the rest of the way would only give them a 6-12 mark.

A loss tomorrow, and this organization can get ready to plant a big, wet smooch on any chance of financial success, too. I'd hate to be the guy trying to sell tickets for the second half of a lost season.

That'd be a heck of a way to go into a year you're hosting the Grey Cup, wouldn't it?

The implications don't end there, though.

You think GM Brendan Taman has been busy making moves lately? Wait until he finds out his team can't even beat the winless Tabbies.

That is, if Taman keeps his job.

So if the drama of a team on the brink is your cup of tea, it doesn't get much bigger or better than tomorrow's game. And that's to say nothing of what's at stake for the Ticats.

Strolling through the Bomber locker-room these days, you get the impression optimism is waning. How couldn't it be?

"There are days that are better than others," Sheridan said.

Remember, this is the team most observers had pegged for last place going into the season. So at what point does a player simply throw up his hands and concede the obvious: They were right.

We're not suggesting this group is on the verge of quitting. Most professional athletes have an ability to go to work every day, despite the big picture.

But even the most blue-collar one in the bunch would have to admit, at least when injected with truth serum, that eventually the losses become numbing. Losing breeds losing, it's often said.

Of course, the same is true about winning.

Which brings us back to that August night in 2000, when the Bombers managed a 38-33 win over Hamilton to improve to 2-5-1.

Big deal, you may have said at the time.

But it was.

Because the Bombers became a team during the second half of that season, finishing 7-10-1, then winning their first playoff game in seven years.

Over the next three seasons, nobody in the CFL won more games.

So, you see, an apparently meaningless matchup in August can wind up meaning everything.


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