Many experts were predicting a TiCats appearance in the 100th Grey Cup. Many fans bought into it which was extra tantalizing since the big game is being played just down the QEW. I saw comparisons of the Lancaster-McManus-Flutie combination with Cortez-Burris-Fantuz. We had assembled the best receiving corps and an old fashioned gun-slinger in a pass first league. There were some questions, but which contending team doesn't have any?
Of course, our high hopes have crashed before in the Caretaker era (Taafe-Maas-Lumsden-Printers) so we all should have known better. The four game losing streak was more frustrating than disappointing as every game we led in each fourth quarter only to lose by a single score, with an undropped challenge flag being a factor in two of them.
The loss in Skydome was particularly troubling. It put the team in a must-put-a-winning-streak-together scenario. The big win against Edmonton seemed like the start of it. Last week I allowed myself to actually expect not just a win in Winnipeg, but a convincing one. As we know the exact opposite happened.
So now at this point in the season, in order to make the playoffs, the TiCats have to go on a phenomenal win-streak while the Eskimos and/or Riders stagger down the stretch since they currently hold the last East Division playoff spot in the dreaded cross-over format. The good news is this is the CFL - by the end of next month we could be hosting the EDF. The bad news is this is highly unlikely. Such events require a drop of good luck, and when was the last time we saw that fall out of the Heavens?
What is a beleaguered fan to do with his high hopes? I'll attend the games (might as well since I paid for them already) but with no expectations - none. The TiCats can get blown out of each remaining home game and that's fine. They can win them all and make the playoffs too...and that's fine. Because this emotional rollercoaster has been so long and I've learned after the highs come lows, the safe plan is to not expect anything unless some minor miracle happens and the black and gold do get into the Grey Cup game.
Thankfully (in a bizarre fashion) we get a respite next year. Due to civic incompetence there won't be a normal home-game schedule. There may be a couple games at Skydome, most will probably be at Western U, which although a financial hit for Bob gives the fanbase a time-out. Some time to lick our wounds, catch our breath, and hopefully return for another chapter of TiCats football this time in a new stadium. Hopefully the furlough brings a renewal that gets caught up in the freshness of new sightlines, new seating, amenities, new promise and just maybe fulfillment.
Basically, I've written this year off. My enjoyment of the remaining games will be the old stadium, the memories, the league itself, and an opportunity to turn off the rest of the world for a few hours. If nothing else this year's TiCats have been a distraction.
Oskie Wee Wee,