Blue must earn respect

Bombers' quarterback Kevin Glenn wipes sweat off his brow during practice on Tuesday. (Sun...

Bombers' quarterback Kevin Glenn wipes sweat off his brow during practice on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Marcel Cretain)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

It's about this misplaced notion that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers can still salvage their season by hosting a playoff game.

Despite a 3-8 mark, they're only two points out of second place in the CFL East, the argument goes. And since they play second-place Toronto again -- here, no less -- the Bombers could easily host the East semifinal, Nov. 9.

If you want to hang your hat on that peg, feel free. I wouldn't dare put a fall jacket on it, though. Because it's flimsier than an O.J. Simpson alibi.

Let's put that rationale to the test of extremes.

COULD GO WINLESS

If you go through the remaining schedule, you'll find the Bombers could actually go winless in every other game but the Argos game, save for one tie along the way, and still finish second.

They could even lose both remaining games to Hamilton, for the love of Tommy Joe Coffey, including tomorrow night's -- as long as they beat the Argos and get one point somewhere else.

You can bet the CFL would hate to see it, but a 4-13-1 record could be good enough for second place in the week-kneed East.

It would take a complete collapse by the Argos, of course. But it could happen.

If you'd take comfort in that, you probably think a hoodie will get you through the winter, too.

Let's be more realistic and say Toronto wins a couple more, and the Bombers squeeze into second at, say, 6-12.

All warm and fuzzy now, are we?

Give me a break.

It's true, finishing second and hosting a playoff game would, in a normal year, be worth something. If you're the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it's cause for province-wide celebration. At least, it used to be.

But in the turtle derby that is the CFL East this season, it's like your class voting you the most likely to fail.

For isn't that exactly what will happen in the playoffs, anyway, if the Bombers don't turn things around and actually start winning?

Does anybody even want a 6-12 team in the post-season, just so we can watch it get stomped by one of four legitimate teams in the West?

To deserve a playoff game, never mind hosting one, the Bombers should probably win eight games this season, at least putting a decent coat over those early- and mid-season rags.

That's still not much of a record, 8-10. But a 6-2 finish deserves a nod of acknowledgment.

There's a precedent for it in three-down football, too.

Twice, 8-10 teams have got on a roll in the playoffs and won the Grey Cup. Strangely enough, it happened two years in a row, with the 2000 B.C. Lions and the '01 Stampeders.

The worst team to reach the Cup, and lose -- Ottawa in '81, at 5-11. The East was just as bad then as it is now. Heck, Montreal got in at 3-13.

Thanks to the crossover rule, that wasn't supposed to happen anymore.

Problem is, 4-13-1 is slumming in the same neighbourhood.

This could be a precedent-setting season. If it happens, how long before the league changes another rule?

Any team that bad shouldn't be allowed to host a semifinal.

Even if the Bombers go 6-12, they've done zilch to earn home-field advantage over, say, a 9-9 Lions team.

So do me a favour: if the Bombers lose in Hamilton tomorrow night, and the Argos lose the next night in Calgary, I don't want to hear one word about how they're still one win out of second, so they can't be that bad.

If this team loses to Hamilton and falls to 3-9, it is that bad.

You earn respect by the way you play, by how many games you win.

Not by being the brightest of the Three Stooges in the CFL East.


Videos

Photos