MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Coming up short, again

B.C.'s losing streak hard to swallow

Watched the B.C. Lions lose their fifth straight game to start the Canadian Football League season Thursday night on television.

Aaaaargggggghhhh.

After such a successful Vancouver Canucks season, well except for that last game and that riot thing and the fact that they went so far only to come so close and come up empty (heavy sigh), it’s a little tough to swallow being, well, losers.

And the tough thing for us fans is that in every game (except maybe the Edmonton game which I confess I didn’t see) the Lions had glorious chances to win, and, well, obviously didn’t.

Is there such a thing as playing just well enough to lose? Apparently there is because the Lions are on their way to perfecting it.

On my recent holiday I took my family to the Lions home opener at Empire Field against the Calgary Stampeders, so the fact that I’ve made my $400 (tickets, parking, beer, hot dogs, program etc.) investment in the franchise gives me permission to whine a little.

Actually it was a great time and fun was had by one and all at the temporary facility that harkens back to the old Empire Stadium where I saw Don Moorhead, Jim Young (who I think I saw but was too chicken to ask), Paul Brothers, Ted Gerela, Jim Evenson and others strutt their stuff (one tip if you go though, try not to have to use the facilities as they are also temporary and in short supply).

It was a beautiful day and the mountains were an amazing backdrop for a first half that….fizzled. The number of dropped balls by B.C. receivers and sloppy plays in general by both teams was atrocious, I think the Lions had two first downs in the first half, and it ended mercifully 7-6 for Calgary when they somehow managed to mount a TD drive in the dying seconds.

But just when I was rethinking my investment and considering offering my kids ‘services to the Lions for the last part of the game, the second half started with a bang and just got better and better as each team answered the other’s touchdowns until the dust settled and the Lions had lost a 34-32 thriller.

We got our money’s worth. And more.

Well, except for that nagging feeling that again, like the previous week, the Lions blew a golden chance to win it when the Stamps fumbled the ball in the last minute and all B.C. had to do was advance the ball 20 or 30 yards and kick a winning field goal with no time left on the clock to cap off the most exciting second half of football ever at Empire Field.

Except they didn’t do it. Kind of like Thursday night against Winnipeg when they needed a big play to win it in the dying minutes. Or the week before against Hamilton when the game was within reach, but alas.

Now the beauty, and of course frustration, of sports is that there is often the narrowest of margins between victory and defeat (the Bruins narrowly beat the Canadiens in overtime in game 7 in the first round and go on to win the Stanley Cup, the Canucks narrowly beat the Hawks in overtime in game 7 in the first round and…..), but when it keeps happening you have to look a little deeper.

A rookie quarterback who can’t seem to make the big play at the crucial time, an inexperienced receiving corps that too often forgets that it’s “catch first, run second,” coaching decisions that make you think they’re also rookies, a defence that breaks at just the wrong time, and, always a factor, bad luck (there should’ve obviously been a flag on Geroy Simon’s late third-down gamble play Thursday night).

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, it’s all in the mix.

Of  course it’s the CFL and two wins can put you back in the playoff hunt (thanks Saskatchewan), so all is not lost. However, I’m getting a little tired of coming oh so close only to, well, lose.

It’s getting uncomfortably close to the Charlie Brown trying to kick the football scenario, only this time he’s wearing a Lions jersey.

 

Like I said earlier, arrrrrgggghhhhh.

 

– Glenn Mitchell is managing editor of The Morning Star. He writes a weekly column for the newspaper.