OK, we were wrong on O’Shea; apparently it’s mature to admit your mistakes

A conversation between FP sports editor Steve Lyons and columnist Paul Wiecek


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/07/2016 (2253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Paul Wiecek: Hey,  I want overtime pay for all the emails I had to answer over the weekend from readers who’d read my column on Saturday  in which I suggested Mike O’Shea bears the lion’s share of responsibility for what’s wrong with the Bombers right now.

That was the most email I’ve gotten about a column since that piece I wrote last winter in which I suggested maybe, possibly, Paul Maurice should shoulder some of the blame for what was wrong with the Jets.

But here’s the difference between where O’Shea (and the Bombers) stand in this community and where Maurice (and the Jets) stand: the overwhelming reader consensus to the Maurice column was that I should die, slowly and painfully, of cancer; whereas the reaction to the O’Shea column, without exception, is that I should run for mayor for having the brass to say what everyone in town is thinking.

Cancer or the mayoralty. They’re a fickle bunch these Winnipeg sports fans.

Steve Lyons: You know you don’t have to read your emails on your days off right? I think perhaps you like the attention ha ha

O’Shea looks to be scrambling in the pocket now with the decision to start Matt Nicholls against the Eskimos on Thursday.

I like Nicholls. He has good pedigree and has shown he can win in this league — 5-2 as a starter with the Eskimos last season before being traded to the Bombers.

I’m not sure I’m crazy about deciding to start him NOW; might be too late. Seems like O’Shea is bowing to external pressures — or maybe internal?

Oh, and you as mayor might get people moving to the States despite the possibility of Trump as president.

Paul: I’d be an awesome mayor: everyone would get a civic holiday on their birthdays and city parks would be clothing optional in the summer.

That’s a good point you make about why O’Shea — who is, hands down, the most stubborn man I have ever covered — is finally relenting and giving Nichols some serious playing time. There’s no question who the fans want to see, but I’d love to know what the machinations inside IGF looked like over the weekend. I can’t imagine Kyle Walters was issuing ultimatums — he’s just not that kind of guy. But Wade Miller is very definitely that type of guy: Start Nichols, or we’ll find someone else who will. I’m not saying it happened. But I could definitely see it if it did.

Think O’Shea gets canned this weekend if the Bombers lose in Edmonton? If I was making book, I’d set the line at even money.

Steve: I think that if he had started Willy and lost, he get’s canned for sure. Because he is starting Nicholls, I’m not sure. It might depend on the score and how they compete.

It’s a tough situation for the team, especially with all the injuries they suffered in the loss to Calgary. Losing three starters in the secondary, including perhaps your two best players so far this season (Chris Randle and Macho Harris) doesn’t bode well against the Eskimos.

Btw, I guess it’s perhaps time to admit we were wrong about something. Leading up to the season, we both thought the right move was to give O’Shea a contract extension. It’s now looking like that would not have been the right move — or would an extension have made a difference in how team/coach have performed? 

Paul Wiecek: You had to bring that up, eh? Yeah, I was wrong about the extension for O’Shea. I figured if they gave him a one-year extension before the season began, that might give him time to get things right if this 2016 team struggled early, something I thought was predictable given their tough early schedule and all the off-season personnel changes. 

But what I never saw coming was just how bad this team would be. Their only win this year came in a game in which Hamilton turned the ball over six times. Take that out of the mix and they’re 0-fer. This isn’t about strength of opponent or personnel changes — a team this talented playing this badly has much bigger problems and it’s clear those begin at the top with a guy who doesn’t learn from his mistakes because he can’t admit he makes any mistakes.

The good news is Wade Miller didn’t listen to me — another fine move on his part — and they can fire O’Shea if they want and do so with very little financial penalty.

On the plus side, I also argued before the season that Walters and Miller should be extended and I’m sticking to that. Those guys are part of the solution, not the problem, as far as I’m concerned.

Speaking of being part of the solution, I think I might be one of the few people who thought the IOC got it right on Sunday when they didn’t ban Russia outright from Rio, opting instead to leave it up to individual sports federations. I hate the idea of collective punishment on principle and a blanket ban would have punished clean Russian athletes — call me naive but I think such a species still exists — right alongside the dopers.

Plus, I hated the 1980 and 1984 Summer Games precisely because everyone didn’t participate. A bunch of goofy records got set because the competition was watered down by boycotts and the whole thing was forgettable.

No one is going to forget Rio, that’s for sure. This thing is shaping up to be a debacle.

Steve Lyons: All this doping stuff leading up to Rio kind of flips my apathy switch. Personally, I love watching the athletes compete — the exhilaration in victory; the agony of defeat. Wish all this politics stuff would just go away.

Hey, I grew up watching Wide World of Sports on Saturday afternoons — remember the theme song?


Btw, Manitoba will have 10 Olympians and two Paralympians in Rio. The Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba sent out a great press release this morning on the ‘Tobans — check it out here.

Yeah, I was with you on the O’Shea extension. Thought it would give the team some stability after decades of hiring and firing. I really thought O’Shea would have started to show some maturity in his job after a couple years of ‘rookie’ mistakes and attitudes — wrong!

And speaklng of immaturity, how about Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale refusing to wear a throwback uniform on Saturday and then cutting it up. And he gets suspended for five games for insubordination, etc — big deal. The guy is making $9 million US this season and he’s pouting because the uniform made him feel ‘uncomfortable.’ Call me a whambulance!

Paul Wiecek: It’s not a coincidence that Chris Sale is the same guy who also took teammate Adam LaRoche’s side when LaRoche retired during spring training because the White Sox asked him if it was possible for him not to bring his kid, Drake, into the clubhouse EVERY SINGLE DAY. Once again, sorry for yelling. Sale thought that was a grave injustice and voiced his displeasure to management in a very public way at the time.

So to find out on the weekend that someone that disconnected from reality would also have unusually passionate views on retro uniforms didn’t surprise me a bit. Best headline I saw on this story was on the Sporting News site: ‘Chris Sale blows up over retro uniforms, clearly misses Drake LaRoche’s leadership.’

I will say this: I’ve covered sports for a couple decades and feel confident in saying that on a per-capita basis, there are more a-holes in baseball than any other sport. Curlers, on the other hand, are the nicest. Also drink-iest, gambling-est and carousing-est.

Steve: Personally, I’ve always like volleyball players — they’re the beachiest 🙂

We should probably wrap this up. Should be an interesting week in Bomberville. Have a safe trip to Edmonton.

Paul Wiecek: Ahhh, Edmonton in late July. Just like Paris in springtime, except the opposite in every way.

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