State of Flux: Why So Serious?
As my vacation from Fredonia wears down to its last few days, I have begun packing. Of course, packing means procrastinating, and what better way to procrastinate than to go on Twitter. While trolling the Twitters today, I read a very interesting tweet from Ryan Kraus (@TheKrausHouse (OF WHOM YOU SHOULD ALL FOLLOW)). The tweet was as follows:This got me thinking about our position as Buffalo sports fans, and inspired this post. Today, I’m going to try to dissect this question and hopefully provide a solid answer. Hit the jump to continue on the journey.
I don’t need to tell you, the most intelligent readers in sports, the struggles we as Buffalonians have experienced. In the last 12 years, we’ve been screwed out of a Stanley Cup (seriously), a divisional playoff game in Indianapolis (thanks, Frank Wycheck), and have been tormented with inopportune Staph Infections, injury bugs, losing to JV no-namers who are/were All-Pro players, losing two top forwards to free agency, and getting drubbed in deciding game 6’s and 7’s respectively. And yet, no matter what, after every season, we continue to hold the montra, “there’s always next year.” That’s why we’re awesome, but I digress.
The Bills haven’t been NFL relevant in a coon’s age, so typically, we fall back to the Sabres. After an excruciating football season, it is usually hockey that cures our woes. No better example of this can be seen than from last year, when Lord Pegula created Hockey Heaven, willed us to 16 wins, and an exciting but short lived playoff stint. This sports year, however, started out backwards. The Bills shocked the world, drubbing Kansas City, coming back to beat Oakland, and then saying to the world, “We’re no longer your doormat,” in beating New England for the first time in 16 games. People were excited. I was excited. I went out and bought a pair of Bills swishy track pants! I bought in, as I always do. But then, after starting 5-2, the team fell apart, and we all said during the slide “It’s okay! We still have the Sabres!” And at first, we were right. But then things went horribly wrong.
Hockey Heaven started off well and good overseas, as we drubbed the Kings and Ducks, but once Ryan Mille got ran over and dumptrucked by Milan Lucic, the team hasn’t been the same. They haven’t won a road game since December 3 in Nashville, and haven’t won back to backs since November. Hockey Heaven has become a literal Hockey Hell, as we all clamor for a sign of life, change, firings, trades, and the beheading of a goat. (Actually, not the goat part, but you get the point). And given what Bills GM Buddy Nix said about being more aggressive in free agency this off-season, we seem to be looking forward to football season more than we enjoy the current hockey season, understandably so.
To answer Ryan’s question, we just look at recent history. The Sabres have made 7 playoff appearances, counting from 1999-2000. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs SINCE the 1999-2000 season. The Bills have 1 winning season in the last 12 years (9-7 in 2003-04), while the Sabres have 9. (Winning season means having more regulation wins than regulation losses, for the purposes of this post.) So why are we so upset when the Sabres fail? Because they’re our success story. The Bills and Sabres are like our children. The Bills are the first born child of Buffalo, and the Sabres are the 41 year old sibling. We typically lean on our second child because they’ve been more successful recently, but during the 1990s, we leaned on our first born to provide for us. Now that both teams are coming off/leading into what seem to be bad seasons with no playoffs, we’re confused and don’t know what to do.
We’re in a very interesting period in Buffalo sports history. The Bills appear to be swinging upward, and the Sabres seem to be trending down. I don’t want to project the future, and I’m not going to. But I will say this: we cling to the team that does the best, and when both of our major teams slump, we try to find blame and get angry and harass the great people at WGR, or even worse, the OWNER’S DAUGHTERS. To those of you who troll the internet and try to place blame, just stop, go take a shower, and move out of your parents’ basement because you can’t blame one person, or one factor for the optimism for the Bills or the pessimism towards the Sabres. As long as fans understand that, the world will be a better place. And if not the world, then at least the Buffalo part.
To conclude, the reason we’re so angry at the Sabres is because they’re the more successful child. And when they screw up, we don’t know what to do. We could look to our cousins, the Bandits, and many of you will do so to fill the void. Or we could look to the Bisons, but they haven’t won a lot since 2004’s championship. The way I see it, we just have to be patient. And if that fails, you could always root for our excommunicated child, the Los Angeles Clippers, formerly the Buffalo Braves.
Let’s Go Sabres.