Category Archives: Buffalo

Things are good.

One of the downsides of running a solo blog is that if you can’t post, nothing goes up.

I was working on a VP-Day post (Victory over Patriots) day post last Sunday. I was doing a good job putting my thoughts together (in my head at least) before I had to leave for the concert at First Niagara Center.

(Sidebar: Foo Fighters were incredible. I became a Rise Against fan as well. Phenomenal, memorable show.)

Unfortunately, it never got finished. Started a new shift at my new job, and all of a sudden, almost a week later, here we are, my first post since the early stages of that Bills game, about a Sabres game no less. For posterity, the two Sabres preseason games since that were a 4-1 loss to Columbus Sunday night and the 4-3 shootout loss in Washington Friday night. But you likely already knew that.

There really isn’t much I feel like needs to be said. The Sabres wrap up the North American portion of their preseason 4-1-1, which isn’t bad for games that don’t really matter. The ownership that has swept in and pushed the franchise toward the light is still too good to be true, right?

The Bills are in first place in the AFC. They’re 3-0, and in first place. Not just the division lead. They have the best record in the conference. If the season ended today, the Bills would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is the same franchise that started 0-8 last year and finished 4-12.

3-0, first place. Insane, right?

Oh, and they just beat the Patriots for the first time in eight years. No big deal.

But something needs to be reiterated: things are really good for Buffalo sports fans right now.

Will you be able to make that statement a week from now? Who knows. The Bills season could come crashing down in Cincinnati. The Sabres could fly back from Europe with a couple losses and more questions than answers. The way things have been going, would anyone expect that? No. And that’s a good thing.

There’s this sense of hope that is the special kind we don’t see in Buffalo too often. It’s not the hope that usually shows up at the start of each season, totally disregarding any past history and overrating what our teams really are. This is hope with merit. The Bills just beat the Patriots. The Sabres just went and bought a whole bunch of good players this offseason. There’s tangible results to back this up.

It’s not just hope, it’s optimism.

Anyways, I’m heading to Cincinnati this weekend with some friends for the Bills game Sunday. Maybe I wouldn’t be making this trip if I didn’t believe the hype. But the way things are going, there’s a little Mark Miller in all of us.

It’s good to have this confidence in our teams and ourselves. The end result is far off, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the moment. At the moment, things are good.

Buffalo all the way this time.

(Be sure to follow me @3rdManIn on twitter for updates and other random insights)

Shots in the dark

You’re naked inside your fear
You can’t take back all those years
Shots in the dark from empty guns
Are never heard by anyone
Never heard by anyone

Goo Goo Dolls – “Naked”

As some of you who follow me on twitter have heard, I’m moving back to Buffalo after spending the last 8 months as a resident of Nashville, Tennessee. I made a big deal about it in the past, talking about how being a fan changes when you’re living elsewhere, and how I felt about being away from the excitement when Terry Pegula took over.

The obvious thing to think would be that I’m excited to come back for hockey season. I am. I’m looking forward to going to camp, games, and being a part of what should be an entertaining season. But it’s really mixed emotions. I fell in love with Nashville. It’s an amazing place to live. The people are nice, there’s tons to do and see. As a young professional, you can’t ask for a better atmosphere. The nightlife is great, and having an NHL team is icing on the cake. The area has a lot going for it, and there’s a reason it’s going in the right direction. I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Buffalo Sabres tickets

I had left a good job I really liked when I came to Nashville. I left my family, friends, my season tickets… everything. I was assured nothing when I took my job, other than it was a good opportunity and a step in the right direction.

It didn’t quite work out the best way it could of, but in many ways it did. The last eight months put up a good case for being the best eight months of my life. I would’ve preferred to stay in Nashville for the foreseeable future. Does it suck to see it end? Yes. Does this whole thing ending deem it a failure? Absolutely not. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other. The end result this time may not be ideal, but I know how to get to the end result and I’m confident that I will at some point.

Weighed down
Safe now

The line above is, to me, how a lot of people in Buffalo live their lives, tying in with the inferiority complex you grow to embrace living there. It’s easy to say it’s all up against you, and live with that as an excuse. Buffalo struggles in a lot of areas as a city.

But you know what? There’s things you can change if you actually try. If you don’t do anything to help yourself, you’re going to end up sitting around getting nowhere.

Just as it’s easy for people I know to stay in Buffalo, get decent jobs and never get what they really want, never really take risks and take the safe route. If they’re happy with that, good for them.

In the past, the Sabres arguably have never really gave it their best shot, either. They waited for their small windows of opportunity, and when they didn’t get the opportunity, there was a litany of excuses to fall back on, whether it be finances or luck. Wait until next year.

It’s the same with anything else in Buffalo. Whether it be waterfront development, downtown revitalization, anything, it seems like it’s easy to sit there and argue about why trying something else won’t work and letting nothing happen. Instead of giving it a legitimate shot, usually it ends up being paralysis-by-analysis and people are still sitting around arguing about what to do. Time passes and meanwhile, nothing has happened, leading everyone to complain about how nothing has happened.

This summer at First Niagara Center (still weird to me) has been everything but that. Terry Pegula and Ted Black have come in and reshaped the mindset. The Sabres are not sitting on the sidelines waiting for their turn anymore. They’re creating an opportunity for themselves. There’s a confidence there, not quite “We’re going to win now,” but somewhere between confidently saying “We can win now,” and “We’re going to win.” It’s not just having the capability, which they now have. There is the key ingredient in any success: optimism.

That’s the same confidence I have about my career, my team… my life. I’ve learned so much through this Nashville experience that I’m optimistic for my next opportunity. Will that be a success? I’m not gonna worry about that now, but I’m confident that it can happen. I don’t look at this as a failure, it’s just another step forward.

I chose the lyrics and song I led this post off for a reason. I always liked the song, but the meaning is more important. A lot of people can look at life negatively and how everything is bad and let it that beat them without ever really trying. The only way to be comfortable with yourself is to have the confidence to really try to accomplish what you want to, without the fear of failing stopping you. The opportunity of today is going to disappear, and you can’t take it back.

I gave this summer my best shot. I’m gonna step back, look at what I can do differently, try again, and hopefully find success next time. If the Sabres go through this season without raising a banner, that’s cool. The people in charge are the kind of people that will find ways to get better. I’m confident they will. This season isn’t one shot. It’s not a shot in the dark, hoping for a miracle. The guns are loaded, it’s ready to go. This is a first shot, with an aim, with a goal.

Thanks for an awesome time, Nashville. I’ll be back.

See you all at training camp.

Case #19: The Sabres might want to resign Tim Connolly

Most Sabres fans probably can’t imagine there’s an argument here.

Without a doubt, Tim Connolly is the most maligned player on the roster right now. Many fans don’t like him. Many fans feel he’s not worth a dime. Many fans don’t see why Connolly would want to come back.

Since the trade deadline, when acquiring former junior teammate Brad Boyes was the only move the Sabres made, Tim has been much better, racking up four goals and 11 points in those 16 games. The non-movement of Connolly was not well-received by much of Sabres nation, but Tim was happy about staying.

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do: Stay in Buffalo and try to have an opportunity to win a Cup here,” he said. “First and foremost, we’ve got to try to make the playoffs. That’s our main goal. The addition of Boyes will help us down the stretch.”

Of late, it’s been Connolly’s line that has been the Sabres’ top unit. That line, featuring Tim at center, flanked by Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville is the closest the Sabres have gotten to a true #1 line this season. At times, it has looked dominant. Each of the three has six points in the last seven games.

Now, it’s one thing to say it’s time for Tim Connolly and the Sabres to part ways, time to move on, because he doesn’t really fit in anywhere. But say that top line sticks together, and looks good in the playoffs. Does that make the Sabres think twice about letting him go? Read the rest of this entry

The dilemma of a transplanted fan

For those who aren’t incredibly new to this blog (and if you are, I appreciate you coming by) you may have read a previous post mentioning how I relocated this January. I now reside in Predators country: Nashville, Tennessee.

If you would’ve told me five years ago I’d willingly leave Buffalo, I don’t know if I would’ve believed you. The Sabres have always been a huge part of my life. I’m sure if there was no team, if they would’ve left in bankruptcy or the lockout never ended, I may have been willing to go to college outside western New York. But there’s no way I was going to leave the area. There was no way I was going to leave my team.

I made that decision back in 2005, when I decided to get season tickets out of the lockout. Going to school in the city, I was finally going to have the chance to go to every game. Tickets were cheap. For a college student, I could easily handle $400 for 300 level season tickets. I mean, what hockey fan wouldn’t pay $10 to see an NHL game? For some, it wasn’t enough, as evidenced by all the empty seats. No decision for me. My team was coming back, I was going to be there every night. I bled black and red. And holy shit, that team was fun to watch.

But a funny thing started to happen. The empty seats disappeared. They changed the colors I bled. And the money I was paying for tickets wasn’t enough. It seemed like the organization was more interested in my wallet than my presence. Eventually, I felt like I was being pushed away. Read the rest of this entry

An open letter to Mr. B. Thomas Golisano

Mr. Golisano,

Hello. Can I call you Tom? Okay. How about Tommy? No? That’s fine.

Anyways, Tom, you’ve got yourself in the news, haven’t you? You’ve said all along that you would be open to sell, and, well, here’s your chance. There’s this guy named Terry, who, while we don’t really know him that well yet, wants to buy the team. He seems like he’s a hockey guy. He’s a local guy too, and he loves the Sabres. I mean, he had season tickets!

We know you got into this mess without really being a hockey man yourself, and that’s alright. You were approached because you cared about our community and had the money to do good things. And you’ve done good things. Look at all the hospitals and universities in western New York that are better places thanks to your generosity. We appreciate that.

When you came in 2003, things looked bleak. We almost lost the team. But you came in, brought your business skills, streamlined the operation, and turned the franchise around. The organization went from bleeding money to sustainable.

You had a good run. We got to see probably the two best seasons in franchise history under your watch. We were a contender. At least until the business side of the operation got in the way of the hockey side of the operation. Things haven’t been as good since, but things are still alright. Hey, at least we’ve had a bunch of new jerseys to go and buy! Thanks for that!

You’ve had your share of bad moments in this whole thing as well. Some of them, well, most of them, can be blamed on the guy who you have running the show, but that’s not all on you. But Larry Quinn was smart enough to get you involved in the first place, so all the dumb things he’s said and done aren’t your fault. I’m not even gonna use the words “eat” or “microphone” here.

Oh… sorry.

But Tom, things have changed. You’ve got an opportunity here to be a hero again. I know it’s a fun toy to have in the arsenal. Professional sports can be pretty sweet. But the fans in Buffalo want a guy who’s not just here to save the team, or be profitable. It seems like this Pegula guy wants to win. That might be cool, right? Winning? I know winning is fun, but we get the sense that you’re not willing to lose a few bucks for a few more notches in the win column. Not that we can blame you, but can you blame us?

You’re gonna get a solid return on your investment. This guy has money, and he’s willing to spend it. You’ll be able to relax in Florida with your beautiful woman and enjoy retirement. You’ll forever be remembered as a guy who stepped in and saved the team. You can also be remembered as a guy who was willing to step aside when his work here was done. So, we’re asking you to do that.

This is not kicking you out the door. We’d be happy to have you around whenever you wanna stop in. Leaving on good terms can cement a reputation. Be remembered as an important part of our beloved Sabres’ history.

But, for the same reason you stepped in, we’d like you to walk away.

For us.

Adventures in Buffalo sports fandom

The most important thing that blogging has done for the internet is give a voice to everyone.

That may not always be a good thing, as my friend Mike, a past 3MI contributor, pointed out.

From Bleacher Report, by far the premier outpost of sports opinions on the interwebs (to sports what TMZ is to world news), comes this gem entitled “Buffalo Sports Teams: Stop Taking Advantage of Your Fans” from a person called “Alec Joy”.

A quick snippet:

Clearly, we cannot rely on the Bills to create excitement so let’s turn to the Sabres and the focus of the majority of my anger in Buffalo Sports.

Two Words: Darcy Regier.

Yes, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, Darcy John Regier is, in my opinion, the worst administrative professional in all of sports. Regier is responsible for the loss of such players as Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell, Clarke MacArthur, J.P. Dumont, and Martin Biron for little, or no, compensation.

I’m not going to touch his arguments, because they’re flat out stupid.

Read the rest of this entry

Blackhawks’ Kane arrested in Buffalo

pic_kanepat08This is one headline I sure didn’t expect to see this morning when I checked the Buffalo News website for Bills news.

Buffalo native, Chicago Blackhawks star, and South Buffalo’s favorite son, Patrick Kane was arrested this morning, the Buffalo News reports.

Chicago Blackhawk right winger and South Buffalo native Patrick Kane and a relative face robbery and other charges after allegedly assaulting a cab driver and failing to pay their fare after getting a ride from Chippewa Street early this morning.

Kane, 20, and James M. Kane, 21, were arrested about 5 a.m. on Eastwood Place, according to Buffalo police reports.

Alright, so you can assume two things from this report.

  1. Kane was drinking, and was most likely drunk, because no one goes to Chippewa and gets a cab ride back sober.
  2. Our boy Pat is a drunk asshole.

What kind of moron does this kind of thing? Read the rest of this entry

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo… Bulls?!?

Holy crap.

An advance warning to those not on the UB football bandwagon yet: Hop on now or you’re getting left behind.

Thanks to a miraculous finish, the University at Buffalo improved to 2-1 this afternoon with a 30-28 victory over MAC rival Temple at UB Stadium.

After Temple took a 28-24 lead with just 38 seconds remaining on a touchdown pass by Temple QB Adam DiMichele, Buffalo stormed down the field to try to win the game. With only seconds remaining, and pinned back on the Temple 35 yard line, UB QB Drew Willy heaved a bomb towards the end zone, dropping it right into the hands of St. Joe’s alum Naaman Roosevelt to give the Bulls the win.

Willy, who at this point is just improving his stock for next year’s NFL Draft, finished 29/41 for 348 yards and three touchdowns. Roosevelt’s eight catches and 132 yards led all receivers, and UB is sitting pretty at the top of the MAC standings.

After falling short of taking down Pitt in Pittsburgh last Saturday, UB got a gift from the heavens today to get back in the win column. They are now poised to win the conference, and are only four wins away from bowl eligibility. All thanks to one play.

If you didn’t see it, be sure to watch SportsCenter tonight, it’s bound to be on the Top 10 plays.

Buffalo is for real, people.

Indians era in Buffalo ends

One of the most prolific minor league affiliations in recent history has come to an end.

With the Buffalo Bisons loss in their season finale yesterday, the relationship with the Cleveland Indians has officially ended after more than a decade of watching future stars come through Buffalo.

The frustrating finish left the Bisons with a 66-77 record, their worst since 1994 and their only losing season with the Tribe.

After putting nine playoff teams and three league champions in Buffalo since 1995, the Indians are expected to move their Triple-A operation to Columbus, Ohio, next season.

“It hasn’t settled in for me,” said Bisons outfielder Jason Cooper, a pending free agent who extended his franchise record by playing in his 410th game. “I feel like tomorrow morning when I wake up that it’s going to be a very strange feeling to realize I’m going home, the season is over, my tenure with the Bisons for right now is over, and my tenure with Cleveland is probably over.”

Read the rest of this entry

A good read for any sports fan

Thanks to Deadspin for finding this blog post written by Luke Russert, son of the late Buffalo-native Tim Russert.

Luke talks about what sports meant to his relationship with his dad, and of course, the Bills are prominent.

My Dad loved college and pro football so the weekends always centered around that. Nothing was better for him then going home and watching the Bills after a long and tough “Meet The Press.” My Dad got the Sunday Ticket the first year it came out in 1994. I’ll never forget a guy had to drive down from Baltimore to install it because no one knew how to install yet. As soon as a satellite package was available to show the Bills games, he got it. He would go to sports bars to watch the Bills games before DSF came around. I’ll never forget spending time on the couch watching the Bills with him.


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