Over the last few weeks, Bills fans probably feel like they’ve been on a little bit of a roller coaster ride. I remember visiting family and friends in July who were legitimately concerned that there wouldn’t be games to attend at One Bills Drive this September. I tried to reassure them that the opportunity to torture themselves would still be there. And I was thinking of them and all the other Fall pilgrims to Orchard Park when the league announced that the lockout had ended.
Further proof that Bills fans are insane.
Their first and most perplexing move was to overpay for the services of Brad Smith. Don’t get me wrong. Brad Smith is a lovely, versatile player. But he’s about as far from a necessity as this team has right now. Particularly since he won't spend much time blocking for anybody. The receiving corps. was the one unit that appeared to be deep.
Of course that was until the Bills decided that they no longer had any use for Lee Evans. Or as more fans chose to take it (myself included), the Bills decided they didn’t want to spend so much money on Lee Evans.
You could argue that this cleared the way for guys like Donald Jones and Marcus Easley to make their presence felt. However, you cannot tell me that we’re a better team without Lee Evans. Add in the fact that the trade was only for a fourth round pick and it’s hard not to call this a calous salary dump from the small-market kings of profit margins.
(Fourth-round picks under Nix: Marcus Easley, DaNorris Searcy and Chris Hairston. Ummm. Maybe?)
All that said, I don't mean to totally trash Buddy Nix. He and Gailey put their faith in Fitzmagic, only Buffalo's 3rd 3,000-yard passer in the last decade. He snagged Merriman off the waiver wire, a gamble that appears to be paying off. Then he signed a solid veteran in Nick Barnett to shore up a linebacking corps. that had been a black hole for years. And after solidifying his run defense with 343 lbs. of Marcel Dareus, he made his wisest move to date, locking up Kyle Williams for the next 6 seasons at a reasonable price.
That's why, despite this post's somewhat dour start, I really am excited to see this team on the field in 11 days. It's just the waiting that's killing me. Between waiting for the games to mean something, waiting for Ralph to kick the bucket (Did you hear Los Angeles approved a deal on their new stadium? So that happened.), waitng for your average fan to stop overanalyzing preseason games and waiting for Jerry Sullivan's next column blasting anyone and everyone in the Bills' front office, I've had enough predictions and projections. It's only been a month and I've already heard more than I can handle.
But it won't be long now. Soon the season will start and odds are, pretty soon I'll wish it never had. Then it's on to the next task...
Waiting for the Sabres' season to start.
With the Scizz striking a positive tone in his latest thoughts on our Buffalo Bills
- thoughts I generally agree with, even if they make me backtrack on some of my more ominous predictions of last week
- and with my vested interest in the Sabres still a few weeks away, I'm going to try to channel my scattered mess of soccer thoughts into a regular routine. I think it's fair to say that there's a growing interest in the sport amongst Buffalo sports fans, due in part to the growing popularity of the US Men's and Women's teams, as well as local favorites WNY Flash (champions!!) and FC Buffalo (future champions!!). And while crotchety members of the Buffalo blog/social media sports scene may begrudge this growing trend, associating it with some sort of annoying hipster vibe even, those hard-nosed, resistant-to-change douchebags probably don't read this blog anyway. (Sidenote: I get the argument that soccer fans are occasionally smug about their fandom. Much in the same way that opponents of the Iraq war came off as smug about our opposition to Bush's blood for oil scheme. Sometimes, when you're right, it feels like you're living in crazy town talking with people who have yet to step out of the cave and into the light. So, yeah, you get smug and reference Plato, envelop yourself in your own superiority, and come off as a dick. What can I say? It's a burden being so awesome and enlightened in your worldview.)
So I bring you now the first installment of my Closing Arguments on the Premiership - the Week 3 Edition.
Liverpool 3, Bolton 1
Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson celebrate breaking through at Anfield
Unless I'm unusually depressed about the result, these posts will always feature the Reds first and foremost. A Red supporter since the days of Michael Owen before his transfers to Real Madrid and Newcastle - I am ever the sucker for prototypical good looks in my sports heroes - my interest has been rejuvenated of late by the King Kenny Revival currently in full swing in Merseyside. As I've discussed in previous posts on the subject
, the summer was full of transfer news for the Reds, and - like many fans - I was very eager to see if the money spent would have a positive impact on the pitch. (Sound familiar, Sabre fans?). After a disappointing first week result, Liverpool took advantage of a weakened Arsenal team last week, and was looking to continue that success against perennial mid-table dwellers, the Bolton Wanderers. With a ridiculous 9 straight wins against Bolton (including many that came during the recent Dark Ages for Liverpool football), few doubted that the stacked Liverpool roster would fail to secure three points at home.The Reds did not disappoint, and they took home their most convincing win of this young season, particularly since the scoring came from players who had yet to find
themselves with goals this season. Jordan Henderson, the young midfielder acquired from Sunderland during the summer, scored the first of the afternoon as he found the net with a beautiful strike from distance. While Luis Suarez was kept off the score sheet for the first time this year, his pass on the leadup to Henderson's goal was the kind of thing that makes you recall why you love the game so much in the first place. Just watch how he gets the ball into the box.... (and my apologies if the EPL shuts this video down at some point; for some reason this league HATES making highlights accessible to fans)
Henderson's strike was, of course, well-taken and impressive in its own right. It was nice to see the kid break through after being so highly touted this summer.
Also finding the net, with both a goal and a great helper on a corner kick, was Charlie Adam, another of Liverpool's summer signings. Reds fans have been without a quality corner kick taker for a few years now, particularly with the left foot, and Adam showed on Saturday why this is considered one of the better parts of his game. His assist on Martin Skrtel's second half header was simply great. Adam's goal, which came only a minute later, was also quite good, though some of it has to be laid upon the failures of Bolton's back four, as Adam had a TON of space as he converted that chance. That said, Liverpool is going to be mighty tough to beat if Adam starts finding his feet over the next few games. Now if only Andy Carroll can get going...shit will get real.
Chelsea 3, Norwich City 1
Fernando Torres: Still Ineffective. Still a Little Bitch
The other big match of Saturday - in that I watched most of it and had a vested interest in because it featured two of my least favorite Premier League players - was Chelsea hosting recently promoted Norwich City. Unlike the Liverpool game, which was not as close as the 3-1 scoreline suggests, Chelsea's two goal win over Norwich was much closer than one might think. After taking a 1-0 lead, Chelsea allowed the game to be tied on a nice volleyed shot over the keeper by Norwich striker Grant Holt. Chelsea ultimately took the lead back on a questionable call (#understatement) following a take down by the Norwich keeper in the box, leading to a red card and subsequent Frank Lampard penalty on the freshly substituted backup keeper. I say questionable because Liverpool's Luis Suarez was taken down in a similar moment in Week 1 against Sunderland, and - while a penalty was similarly awarded then - no red card was issued, meaning no keeper coming on cold to handle the subsequent penalty kick. (Not that Luis's attempt was missed because of the keeper...but, still).
After Lampard scored, the game was essentially over, and was sealed soon after by Spanish player.Juan Mata. See! Spanish players can score for the Blues. Just not ones named Fernando Torres. Because, as has been established, dude is a little bitch. Speaking of bitches, Didier Drogba was taken off the pitch with a very serious concussion - reports are that he was out cold for 30 minutes or more, but is recovering ok. My hatred for Drogs runs very deep, mostly because he often represents the kind of whining and embellishment that gives soccer players a bad reputation. It is taking a lot of willpower to not kick him while he's down about the delicious irony inherent in his injury after years of embellished falls on the pitch. Get better, Drogba, so I can give you a proper verbal lashing without the guilt.
Man City 5, Tottenham 1 - Man Utd 8, Arsenal 2
Emblematic of the Spurs' effort on Sunday
I put these games together because, as a Liverpool fan, these two matches meant A LOT for the Reds' 2011-12 chances of a top four finish. As an initial matter, the winners of these two matches are looking to be the top 2 teams of the EPL this year, and it seems pretty apparent that the two Manc sides are STACKED. Man City benefited from four tallies from Edin Dzeko, who has admitted in interviews that he was scared of being cut from the City roster given the quality of players. And City also benefited from a weak Tottenham squad - maybe thrown off by the riots that delayed the start of their season a couple weeks back? - who is suffering from drama over transfer rumors implicating possible losses of stars Peter Crouch and Luka Modric. Harry Redkapp, the Tottenham skipper, has noted that there is a distinct downturn in player morale given these issues, particularly since ownership has made it very clear that neither player is for sale. Not good times for the Hotspurs (currently in the relegation zone with ZERO points and a -7 goal differential on the year, albeit in only two games).
Was going to post a Wenger crying pic, but even I have limits
After the early match on Sunday, Fox Soccer's featured match of the day came up between Manchester United and Arsenal, last season's #1 and #4, respectively. As Liverpool saw last week, Arsenal just isn't the same this year, and United continued the theme with an ABSOLUTE ASS WHOOPING. Rooney scored his triple, and Arsenal looked a fucking mess. Now barely above the relegation zone themselves, with a -8 goal differential, it looks like it could be a seriously long season for the Gooners. To be fair, of course, Arsenal has just played back-to-back matches against two clubs - LFC and Man Utd - that are both favorites for the top 4, but it doesn't change the fact that they simply look terrible. There's a difference between losing and losing like Arsenal did on Sunday, and even though Wenger is said to be secure in his job, I can only wonder how long this can last without some heads rolling at the Emirates.
Either way, the state-of-things for the Spurs and Gooners is promising for the Reds, as the failures of these teams would seem to open the door a bit to LFC taking one of those top spots for a Champions League birth.
And the rest...
I didn't watch much else of the EPL this weekend, though I did catch some highlights. Wolverhampton are early surprises, though their schedule has not been terrible challenging. Queens Park Rangers, while losing this past weekend, are notable for their win at Everton on August 20th, and their loss to Wigan included three dingers off the post, which should be heartening to those fans who want to see QPR succeed in the Premiership after winning the lower-tiered League Championship last year. Fulham, led by Clint Dempsey and owned by a bat-shit crazy fucker that puts Ralph Wilson to shame, have been disappointing for fans who want the best for Clint or who weirdly support teams with Michael Jackson statues outside their parks
And with that, hope you all enjoyed, since the EPL is on a hiatus for international play over the next couple weeks. I'll be back after Week 4, hopefully with continued good tidings regarding the Reds and continued bad tidings regarding the Gooners and/or Mancs and/or Blues. If you're a fan of these teams, my apologies, though I can't be blamed for your poor choices.Follow me on Twitter.
Or don't. Whatever works.
Marcell love you long time
Apologies. The last time I posted was the August 12th preview of our insane road trip to Watkins Glen. Since then I have spent little to no time in my actual apartment. After retuning from the Glen, I spent a full day editing Ep. 14 of the CrapTastiCast
and then left for six beautiful days (and one shitty one) in the Dominican Republic. That was awesome and much needed.
While I was gone, the Barrister not only won a trial, but kept this site up and running, so a huge thanks goes out to him. (Which by the way, where the fuck are Yachtsman and Apologist? Do they even write for this site anymore??) The plan was to return and start throwing up some posts about football, hockey, NASCAR, and even soccer. Hit the ground running if you will. But due to some bitch named Irene, the plan changed. You see, while I was in D.R., Irene started to develop in the Atlantic and on August 22nd she hit the resort I was staying at. It was more of a grazing rather than a direct hit so I'm not going to whine about it. The only inconveniences were having to stay in my room all day drinking beer and then a delayed flight the following day. No big deal. However, after putzing around Wednesday and Thursday by watching Dr. Who and catching up on laundry, I was forced to realize that the SLORE Irene had followed me back to the mainland. Ugh.
So began my adventures this weekend of preparing my apartment for the SAME hurricane and heading out to the girlfriend's parents to take up shelter. Upon returning last night, this is what my street corners looked like:
Fun times. Luckily there was minimal damage to the apartment building and everything is fine. So here I am Monday morning, one week left in my summer vacation and I have not posted any ramblings or rants in over two weeks. Brace yourselves for this statement.
I'm excited about football starting. There I said it. I know the rest of the crew is going to give me shit for this but I can't help it. I talked college and pro football all weekend with my girlfriend's family and now I am legitimately excited about football coming back. I just love the sport too much to not show any emotion before opening kick-off. It's like a drug that was introduced to me at a young age, and although the new version of it is watered-down and leaves me feeling strung out, I just can't help myself in the long run. I need it. But let me make one thing clear; I'm excited about FOOTBALL, not necessarily the terrible coverage I will have to endure and I am certainly not getting over-excited about....
The Buffalo Bills. Oh lord the Buffalo Bills. Pre-season has shown exactly what I expected to see from this team. The offensive line is arguably one of the worst in the NFL. The run defensive is equally as embarrassing (ran over by Chicago and Jax who rested their starters). The offense that looks the exact same as last season; at times electrifying and dominant, and at other times anemic and unable to accomplish the simplest goals. Preparing my best Denny Green impersonation aaaaaaaaaand, THEY ARE WHO I THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!! Scene.
Yet as angry as I am about Ralph still owning this team, the pathetic run-defense, and the consistently neglected O-line, I will take this time to mention THREE positives I have taken from the team thus far. I am reeeeeeeeeeally trying here people.
1. Marcell Dareus is a beast and we have a pass rush. Dear lord do we have a pass rush. I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but the worst thing about watching the Bills of the last several seasons has been QB's sitting in the pocket, taking their time to pick our secondary apart. Dareus has been pushing linemen out of his way, Merriman looks to be all roided up again (metaphorically of course - *loosens collar*), and young players like Antonio Coleman and Alex Carrington have the potential to be major factors. On top of it, throw in the Kyle Williams extension and I am loving what I am seeing out of this group. Now if we can only find a way to implicate Chris Kelsay in an illegal cock-fighting ring.
2. Fred Jackson is the starter. Bottom line. Thank God Chan didn't screw that situation up anymore than he already did. Freddie has been one of the lone bright spots on this team the last few seasons and he could be an All-Pro on a team that used him correctly. If I was still purchasing Bills Gear, his jersey would be an easy choice. The whole situation should have never happened and I totally understand that they need to give C.J. Spiller more confidence, but c'mon! Jackson has shown time and time again
that he deserves to be the starter on the squad, so let's keep it that way.
3. Marcus Easley? Really? Wow. I know it was only one game but he looked great. Running strong routes, moving DB's out of his way, and even throwing a key block on a big Freddie Jackson run. He looked exactly like what James Hardy was supposed to. Then again, I don't believe Easley ever pulled a gun on his father.
If you listen to the CrapTastiCast then you know my love for David Nelson, but maybe he needs to stay as a #3 or #4 if Easley can show some consistency. Fingers crossed, but not holding my breath. And for the love of God don't start with the "Marcus makes it look Easley" bullshit. He hasn't actually accomplished fuck-sake yet. Relax Berman-ites
There you have it, a quick and mostly positive look at the 2011 Buffalo Bills. A first here on this site. I am so proud of myself....or is that shame? I can't tell yet but I'll get back to you. I also may have written this only because I am fearing for my life from the Bills Mafia. Although I have a feeling that if they attempted to carry out a "hit" it would just involve a teenage girl yelling at me and saying I support Cancer. But more on them another time....
I shall battle Irene with Dark 'n' Stormies. You all should, too.
It's been quiet here of late. The Scizz, typically dependable for frequent musings on the trashy side of sports and entertainment, was on vacation last week and into this one. He's truly blessed with good luck, as he'll get the chance to be hit by Irene twice as a result of these travels. Good job, buddy. Serves you right for your hiatus.
I, too, have been quiet, as I was forced into submission - finally - by the needs of my first trial this past week. I had the urge to write Tuesday night, inspired by the bizarre events of that afternoon... dramatically giving my closing argument only to feel the earth shake below us minutes later, leaving me with a lingering sense of wonder at how we, as people, choose to live our lives when confronted with a daily threat of diaster - both by acts of man and God (if you believe in that sort of thing...which I do sometimes, depening on the day). Without going into the entirety of those thoughts I was having after the quake while waiting for the jury to render its verdict, I do think it bears mentioning that it is truly something special that we so routinely choose to seek out shared moments of joy and hope through sport, even when a life of self-preservation above all else might be the smarter move. Smart we are not, but committed to seeking joy we always are.
In any event, the trial is now over and, victory in hand, I have opted to take today off and be productive with non-work-related things, including ending DGWU's lull in content. And, as New York City and the Atlantic Coast prepare for what may be one of the worst storms to hit this area in the past 50 years, Mother Nature provides a suitable theme to at least focus some of the thoughts going through my head as we enter the weekend.
Of course, I'll be talking about our Buffalo Bills.
I start with the news about Freddie Jackson. CHAN! BUDDY! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GUYS DOING?? I mean, Jesus H. Christ, I could not be more confused about the decisions coming out of the Buffalo Bills management and coaching staff these days. The season hasn't even started - a season no one expects to be successful anyway - and Chan, et al. have already gotten a full roster and full fanbase scratching their heads or worse. Reports this week that Freddie is uphappy and uncertain about his role, about his desire for a trade. Un-fucking-real.
“I feel like a No. 1 back, and I should be treated like one. As far as what’s going on, you would have to ask them. I’m going to come out here and compete. I feel like I have been competing. I feel like I have done everything I can. It’s been like that for two or three years, and nothing has changed.”
Freddie, you're right. Nothing has changed. Same old hapless Bills. Why would any of us excpect talent and productivity to be fairly and objectively evaluated? (Though, to be fair, Freddie's a #1 back on a shit football team. He's being treated like a #1 back on a shit football team, and that's part of the problem...but, I digress).
Listen, I get that CJ Spiller needs touches in preseason. In fact, I think it's completely appropriate that he gets most of the touches during preseason, because he needs some work. Everytime I see him run the ball, it's a disaster, and I figure it has to get better with work, right? But, with all that being the case, how is it that Chan hasn't made it abundantly clear to Freddie that he's the #1 RB? How is it that Tim Graham from the Buffalo News has heard that it's Spiller's job to lose? WTFFFFF. Even if CJ has a great preseason - which has already been shown not to be the case - the changing of the guard can't happen until he shows it during real games, and until that happens Freddie has to be your guy. He's been one of the only bright spots on this team over the past couple years, not to mention that he's a fan favorite and is one of the hardest working guys on the team. He has earned everything he's gotten in the league including the respect of everyone in that locker room - I mean, hell, I feel like I'm in crazy town that I even have to write this. Think back to those off-season, player-run workouts. Fredie was there, CJ was not. THAT MATTERS. If CJ is the future, fine, no argument. But why put the cart before the horse? Why not, at a mimimum, promise Freddie equal touches going into the season, as so many teams are successfully using multiple backs on individual Sundays these days?
This is turning into a serious morale issue, and it just shouldn't be. The only thing the Bills ever have to bank on is that they're underdogs who, despite being so overmatched in talent and skill, want it more than their opponent. With these reports coming out of camp, it looks like Chan might be losing that x-factor as well.
Contibuting to this is the fact that it comes on the heels of Lee Evans's trade to the Ravens. Honestly, I didn't mind this deal when it came down a couple weeks ago - Evans was barely productive last year and, while he was an asset in terms of drawing double coverage, I wanted to believe that this reason was not enough to keep him. However, after seeing the shit with Freddie this week, and after seeing Evans tear up the secondary in the Ravens' latest preseason game, my gut is telling me that Evans wasn't useless, he just wasn't being used. An under-utilized talent on the field, probably due in large part to the chemistry that Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson had developed in their second team roles on the practice squad, it may soon become apparent that the issue with Evans was not his waning effecitiveness on the field, but the Bills' waning effectiveness in getting him the goddamn ball. If Evans has a decent year - 10 touchdowns, say - it will prove what the rest of the league knows about Buffalo...that this Bills team is an embarassment. And, as soon as that happens, the players in the locker room will start to feel it, too. What we all want to be a two or three year project will get extended yet again, and we may not see a playoff team for five years or more.
Like many Bills fans, I was really looking forward to this season. I liked what Chan Gailey did last year, and I thought the team had a pretty good draft. Things were looking up. These days, though, I'm yearning for those days of locked out football when we didn't have to dread another season of embarassment for our team, our fanbase and our City.
Let's Go Buffalo?
Pure, unadulterated man-love
What a beautiful morning. After a long week of 12+ hour days preparing for my first trial next week (I am nothing if not a professional "horn tooter"... deal with it), most of which I struggled through with the taste of Pabst Blue Ribbon and shame lingering on my breath from our trip to the Glen last weekend, the footy gods gave me a true gift this monring.
Liverpool takes 3 points from the Emirates for the first time in 11 years.
God, that feels AMAZING to type.
After the "meh" feeling Reds' fans had after last week's 1-1 home opening draw against Sunderland, this feels exceptionally good. I won't waste my brief free moments talking about why it doesn't matter that Arsenal was down a few key players (our fucking captain wasn't playing, bitches, so shut your mouths), or about why it's still slightly troubling that a seemingly superior LFC squad couldn't put anything together in the first half, or about why I'm not all that concerned about why Andy Carroll hasn't made the impact we expected from him by now. Those are troubling topics, best saved for another day when we have more than a two game sample size from which we can glean actual, informed opinions about this team and where it might be going.
For now, I'm going to settle on these facts: Liverpool has four points out of a possible six, and Arsenal only has ONE. Liverpool has scored three goals (albeit one that was an own goal by the Gunners), and Arsenal has ZERO.
This is a whole new season of Premier League Football.
We've been waiting through a long summer to feel the joy and exhiliration of the EPL again, and this morning - the first game I'd been able to watch from start to finish - the world smiled down on me, and all LFC fans, and gave us something to be VERY happy about.
Aresene Wenger: A Weepy & Wet Man on this Happy, Happy Day
Unless you've been living under a rock today, you know that there's been a few Mike Vick stories to come out. Or, more to the point, a few stories that all came out of a recent interview he gave for Will Leitch in GQ. One, highlighting the disgusting man that Vick is, deals with defense of canine murder as, in essence, a cultural thing. Nothing more refreshing than hearing a person of color use the same justification for his behavior as was used by Southern whites who couldn't help themselves from marching in lockstep with the culture of lynching. Way to go, bud. You're showing that your grasp of history, as well as your grasp of fundamental morality, are both in line with Michelle Bachmann's grasp of, well, history and morality. You should run for President! Now please dip yourself in beef jerkey grease and find the nearest pit bull. I hear Yachter's pup is pretty hungry.
The second story, and the more important one on a sports and, in particular, Buffalo sports level, is the one where Vick is quoted as saying that he was, in essence, steered towards the Philadelphia Eagles by Commissioner Goodell, despite the fact that Vick's inclinations were to sign with either Buffalo or Cincinnatti a\fter re-entering the league, both of whom would have given him a solid chance to be the starting QB. Vick's quote describes Goodell, and other unnamed persons (speculation is that it may have been Tony Dungy), as being helpful in their efforts to get Vick into a situation where he could succeed. And for the guys involved, that meant Philly.
My bet is that it had something to do with the high frequency of horrible human beings in Philadelphia. Blending in with the crowd is key.
Many Bills fans have today made a lot of this story - as I am doing now, in all fairness - as a sign of improper collusion between the head of the league and a player. People are concerned, rightly, with the motivations of a commissioner who is effectively telling a player to go one way, rather than another, and whether those motivations might be purposed towards benefiting one team over another. This concern certainly fits in with the Bills fan diatribe that the NFL is out to get us... which, let's be honest, is sometimes absurd and sometimes not.
Honestly, I think that in this case the "woe is us" meme is sort of moot. Bills fans - the fiercely principled people that we are - would have crucified Vick as soon as he rolled into town, and Vick would not have flourished in any way under Dick Jauron's late tenure at One Bills Drive. How do I know? BECAUSE NO ONE FLOURISHED UNDER SKELATOR. And, if we remember, like it or not, the prevailing opinion at that time was that we fans didn't want him. It's completely weak for the group think to shift to anger and resentment over "what could have been" now that he's suddenly great again and now that we're a few more years removed from those days of the puppy blood for cash scheme. So, let's push aside those feelings, shall we? There are bigger issues at play.
The bigger point, noted by many today, is the appearance of collusion - haing long since been replaced by a free-ish market of player contracts - which harkens back to days where players had little say in where they'd play, and where ownership ruled the marketplace of player talent. And, honestly, this should concern people. The idea of steering players to particular clubs - especially when those clubs are bug market and have a history of on-the-field success and ESPN-style marketability. Fans of small market clubs, especially ones barely surviving on the scraps of an uninspired and unmotivated near-death owner, should be wary of this sort of thing. Goodell, inherently concerned with viability of the league and its stars - both star individuals and star franchises - should not be sticking his nose into these kinds of situations, even if he thinks he's being helpful. Simply put, he is incapable of being fair and balanced in that kind of situation since, quite rightly, his top priority is puting a great NFL product out there. While Vick's comments imply that he was happy to get Goodell's advice (at least in hindsght, now that "all is well"), the power that Goodell wielded, and wields, with respect to these player discipline situations is enormous. He made the call to allow Vick to be reinstated, and you wonder - and only the people in the room know - whether that decision-making authority, and a veiled threat of reversing the decision to reinstate, was used as leverage in pushing Vick towards a team of Goodell's choosing.
While this should certainly concern people, it shouldn't surprise anyone in this case. And, honestly, if it remains an isolated example of this kind of influence coming from Goodell, I'm actually ok with it. As I noted above, Vick would probably not have been successful in Buffalo, and he certainly wouldn't have been successful in playing for the Bengals - the NFL equivalent of Siberia, both in terms of desolation and criminal population. For Goodell, who was taking serious heat for letting Vick back into the league in the first place, making sure that Vick found a successful stepping stone was probably less about Vick and the Eagles, and more about Goodell and the NFL covering their asses. A Vick implosion in Cincy or Buffalo would have meant further bad press for the league and for Goodell in particular. Right or wrong, I can certainly understand the desire for self-preservation, even if it takes the form of relegating the Bills to the kids table while the adults get drunk on port and scotch. There were a host of risks wrapped up in the decision to allow (or not allow) Vick back into the league, and Goodell was rightly conscious of those risks and the need to control the situation as best he could.
That doesn't mean that it isn't a troubling sign of a possble trend. It just means that, to the extent that it's limited to just this situation with Vick, my vote is that we all unbunch our panties and get off of our high, principled horses.
Unless you choose to take umbrage, like the Yachtsman, with the fact that this guy is even back in the league at all. In which case, bitch away. You have my blessings.
So, Bills fans, take a breath. Sure, we can be angry with the league and with Goodell - holding onto those principles for dear life - but doesn't change anything, nor does this news really indicate anything more than a commissioner trying to control the re-entrance of a dynamic and controversial talent back into the sport. Not to mention that, as we stomp our feet about the league's bias against our beloved team, let's not lose sight of the biggest threat to the Bills' chances of success: our odious taint of an owner who has us so far below the cap that we could afford Vick's new contract twice over at this point. Let's not worry too much about the "one that got away," since - if we're honest - that list has way more than just the one.
On an unrelated note, this song has been in my head for days. Enjoy it with me, friends.
The Barrister in one of his finest moments from Watkins Glen. Please note the empty beer coozy.
Episode 14 of the DGWU CrapTastiCast is another roadcast edition that was recorded at Watkins Glen International Speedway this past weekend. The crew (minus Yachtsman, who had work duties that even the rest of us felt bad making fun of him for) engaged in a large amount of alcohol consumption and debauchery, but still found time to record four vignettes that we turned into a podcast. A quick rundown:
Segment 1: A rundown of the first night's events and what its like to tailgate all weekend at a NASCAR event. A must-listen to really understand the strange world we entered into. We also introduce friend of the blog/podcast, D-Roc, who filled in admirably for the absent Yachtsman....except when he insisted on talking about golf and not wearing underwear. Musical interlude brought to you by Wu-Tang Clan - Ain't Nothin' Ta Fuck Wit
Segment 2: A recap of the previous night's events, as well as some actual Buffalo sports talk takes place! The Lee Evans trade and the Bills receivers are discussed, the Barrister previews a little EPL action, and we comment on how disgusting we are all while the campsite next door rocks out to some Barenaked Ladies. Musical interlude brought to you by Spacehog - In The Meantime
Segment 3: This is where it gets a little crazy. As we explored the track Saturday evening, we discovered an entire bar set up trackside, complete with bartenders, strobe lights, a giant sound system, and FREE BOOZE. A short segment was recorded in which we break down what we are witnessing and even take a moment to interview a FratTastic bartender (could not have been more stereotypical) and a guy dressed in a FULL Batman suit. We also talk a little bit about the Apologist's new friend "Bob". Sidenote: Apology to any female listeners for the "Show me your titties" talk. Hopefully the level of sarcasm we are using to make fun of it comes through here. Musical Interlude brought to you by Incubus - A Certain Shade of Green
Segment 4: The longest section of the podcast, it was recorded on the way home from Watkins Glen after the Sprint Cup race was postponed due to rain. Warning: In the first couple of minutes it becomes painfully obvious how exhausted and hungover we are. After a few minutes we fight through the tired struggle and discuss more events of Watkins Glen, the Buffalo Bills first preseason game against Chicago, Mark-Andy Gragnani, Tiger Woods, and the infectious laugh of Papa Scizz. Final Musical interlude brought to you by Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down
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. Streaming options are also below. Thanks for listening and enjoy some extra photos included on the bottom of the post. Each one will be better understood after listening to the podcast. Also thanks to Mondee for helping with the edits as always. We seriously cannot do it without the guy!
The Apologist's new friend Bob....and Batman.
The Scizz and "Goober"
The DGWU crew and an unmanned US fighter Drone. America.
The Barrister asked me to post this for him because he's somewhere upstate drinking and watching cars that only turn left occasionally make a right turn. This post is long and sort of good, so enjoy. I perused it briefly. It's about tailgaiting, I think. Also, the majority of us at DGWU do not support the posting of a Phish song on our website, so understand the Barrister's video does not reflect the overall hatred of hippies shared by the members of DGWU. This will be the first and only time a Phish video will be posted on this website, so enjoy. You fucking hippie.
SIDENOTE: Years ago, we started tailgaiting just outside of the stadium at the Fountainbleau (?) Motel, far from the wandering eyes of Bills Security/Erie County Sheriff's Department. We get there when we please, do what we want, and have our own patch of grass where we can urinate freely. I suggest all Bills fans do the same to preserve the traditions of our overserved forebearers.
It was my birthday last weekend, and - having the great friends that I do - I had the good fortune of spending a great night out on Wednesday for a belated celebration over some adult sodas and wings. Sure, not Buffalo wings in the truest and purest form, but certainly serviceable for Manhattan. In any event, as I made the long trek home, spirits brightened by the 1-1 draw we had just watched between Mexico and the U.S. after such a long and tedious day at work, I was in a reflective mood. Having just celebrated what very well may have been my parents' most questionable decision - at least in hindsight - with some of my best friends, I was acutely aware that, despite being in a city of 9 million and counting, and despite going to law school with virtually no one from Western New York (at least that I knew), the best friends I have in New York Fucking City are all - with a few very notable exceptions - from the Buff. We spend a lot of time on this site making note of our love for the Queen City, and while this is a post about life back there, rather than life out here, the basic, foundational premise needs to be clear: Buffalonians are AMAZING.
Before I convince myself that I should add some caveats or mitigating language to that prelude, we shall move on...
Over the past month or so, as the lockout has wrapped up - and, actually, even before that with The Scizz's journey through Bills QB Suckitude - the DGWU Crew has had a noticeable struggle with our Bills fandom. In recent years, it seems like this struggle mirrors the internal dialogue within most Bills fans over the past decade. The fiercely loyal side of us fights with the pragmatic side of us, battling for position and the ultimate say in whether we dive headfirst into another season of inevitable disappointment. And, unsurprisingly, the fiercely loyal side usually wins, maybe in part because of some engrained refusal to accept a reality that if frankly too depressing to fathom after the years of plenty in the 90s.
Being in New York City, it is a little easier to let that pragmatist in me win out. Sure, I still love the Bills, and will still watch (at least until Week 8) if for no other reason than to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the magic of that miracle season that could maybe just finally happen. When I'm away from the daily, communal support that Buffalo has for its team, it's a lot easier to think realistically, and perhaps with a hint of cynicism, about how best to spend my time and, taking it a step further, whether being a fan of this team really benefits me at all.
I mention this aspect of my own Bills-related thinking because, even in my darkest of days as a Bills fan these past six or seven years - days when I had come to grips with being the joke of the league, with no discernible hope of recovery - one of the things I absolutely cherished was the Tailgate. Now, I don't get to games often, so my experience of tailgating at The Ralph is a pretty small sample size. Even the basic bullet points the tailgating culture, though, have always been a source of great pride for me. Wide open space for groups of friends, annual and routine meeting spots that seem to never change, touch football, buses and vans decked out in the red, white and blue. This is a tailgate that doesn't happen in other cities, and Bills games remain a vestige of the NFL's past as the league moves forward to a fully commercial culture where the only drinking and eating you'll do at a stadium will be inside it. Everyone has their own stories of tailgating for Bills games, each one affirming that the Bills Gameday experience is not to be missed. Affirming that, even if our team continues to be irrelevant on the field, games at The Ralph will still be one of the best experiences for the diehard football fan.
Unless you're wearing a Pats jersey, in which case you may get punched in the face, covered in beer and/or tipped over in a port-a-potty. But, I digress.
If you follow Buffalo sports or news, or if you can make a simple logical conclusion based on reading the title of this now uncontrollable post, you know that the Buffalo Bills have recently revamped their tailgating rules so that lots will be open an hour later, and so that cars must park in the order that they enter, with a prohibitiion on saving spots for friends coming in later. What these changes signal, coupled with a new and broad "No Smoking" policy in the stadium (which eliminates ever the option to go somewhere for a quick cigarette during the game with a right to re-entry), is that the Bills seem to be stepping further towards a more cookie-cutter existence where fans matter less and less. Of course, after reports of wonderful and obnoxious stupidity (and violence, at times) coming out of the fanbase over the past couple years, I guess no one should be all that surprised by these steps "forward." Though, the purist in me - the one who still pines for the days of Rockpile football where fans rolled kegs down the aisles to their seats - was really hoping that the Bills would do us all a solid and avoid making changes that directly alter the Buffalo traditions of gameday. The Bills tailgate is, honestly, one of the things that keeps people coming back, and is widely regarded as the best tailgating experience in the league. Lord knows that if Buffalo had the kind of rules you get out at the Meadowlands over the past decade of on the field suck, many fans would have given up ages ago.
And there's the rub, the reason that this really grinds my gears. Russ Brandon, in defending the changes in policy at One Bills Drive, has noted that, and I'm paraphrasing a touch, the Bills' most common complaint is that it takes too long to get in and get out of the lots, and that the policy will help with that. (Sidenote: Anyone who thinks customer complaints are a valid and complete metric of fan satisfaction is stupid. The only people who fill out comment cards are the ones who have an issue. The satsfied customer can't be bothered to comment because he's too busy enjoying himself and, in the case of happy Bills fans, getting over his hangover). Mr. Brandon also notes that the rules changes will allow more people to make use of the lots, since there won't be big gaps between cars where people have typically set up ample tailgating areas for their groups.
Listen, I get the point about the speed of exit/entry, but this policy simply flies in the face of all that was good about tailgating for games - the consistency, week to week, year to year, of spots where the diehard groups of fans would park and set up shop for the day. These spots have often been a matter of tradition and routine, such that you know which lot to go to if you want to link up with any given group of fans who you happened to party with last game or last season. And, this policy, which tells fans that they can't continue that tradition, is basically telling us all that the Bills don't much care about us. That they don't appreciate this decade of support despite the failures of the product on the field. That they don't understand that, with such a shitty team, there might have been other reasons we all bothered to keep coming back.
From a financial standpoint, assuming these policies are implemented as the Bills say they will be, this could very well backfire for the team. Parking revenue could go down significantly if people choose to take their tailgate to other, privately owned lots that allow for greater flexibility. Worse yet, people could just stop coming to games altogether. The Bills have already proven that they don't really care about the product they put out on the field, even if those in charge convincingly say (and maybe even believe) otherwise. But, they've benefitied from a fanbase that kept coming back because gameday is FUN, even if the games themselves are likely to cause deep contemplatons of suicide. In my estimation, if these changes have the stifling effect that they appear to be aimed at, and if the Bills continue with other changes down the road, that product on the field needs to get better, and fast, if they want to keep folks coming back.
Then again, I'm not one of those die hards who gets to every game. In fact, its been a while, so maybe I'm wrong. Have at it in the comments if you'd like - I'd love to get your take.
In the meantime: a dedication to our taint of an owner. It's your fucking ship, Ralph. "Wilson, King of Prussia, I lay this hate on you."
Later this afternoon, the DGWU will be embarking on an adventure for the ages. Roughly 250 miles upstate from New York City lies the small town of Watkins Glen. 361 days out of the year, the town is a peaceful area with breathtaking state parks, terrific wineries, and it is only a stone's throw from beautiful Seneca Lake. However, on those other four days of the year, usually in early August, the gates of Hell are opened and the demon spawn known as NASCAR fans transform the quiet village into pure madness. The path of destruction can be scenes from miles away; hundreds of thousands of crushed beer cans, empty Crown Royal bottles, and occasionally even abandoned children.
In other words....our kind of people.
I joke. The majority of NASCAR fans are not THAT bad. My father is the biggest fan I know and he will 100% be the one to drink the smallest amount and embarrass himself the least on this trip. What's that you ask? My dad? Oh yes, the DGWU crew will be meeting and partying with my father for the first time this weekend. I know how to do things the right way. We have been anticipating this trip since mid-Spring and are raring to go, but before I grab my bag and walk country strong into Manhattan, a few notes about the weekend.
Section B: You've been warned.
- As you can see from the image above, Watkins Glen International is not your typical NASCAR track. Instead of the usuall oval shape with four turns, you get a road course with 11 different twists and turn, complete with different levels of elevation. Yes, that means that they actually drive uphill and downhill at different points in the course. The biggest knock on auto racing is that it's boring because all they do is turn left over and over again. Not at "the Glen". Road courses are much more common in F1 and Grand Am (who are also racing there this weekend!), so when NASCAR runs them, it always becomes a highlight.
- Another great thing I enjoy about the Glen is that I don't have to sit stationary in a grandstand all day. You can move around to different turns on the track and see the action anywhere you want. This of course means that you miss a lot of the action, but it makes for a fun time when you pack a mini cooler with beer and venture all of the place.
- If you look at the map above one more time, take notice of section B. This will be where the DGWU crew will be camping and spending most of our hours boozing it up. If you hear anything on the news about infield fires or riots in section B of a NASCAR race....don't be surprised.
- The plan as of now is to record episode 14 of the CrapTastiCast from Watkins Glen this weekend. That doesn't mean all NASCAR talk (although expect a little) because I'm sure we need to talk about Mark-Andy's new contract, Lee Evans trade rumors, and of course all of the EPL action we will be missing. Bottom line: an on location podcast from a NASCAR event is going to be pretty awesome. Promise.
- You can also expect many ridiculous tweets from us. Keep an eye out for the hashtag #DGWUNASCAR from @DGWUSports, @theycallmedubs, @Y_vo, @Sam_Hartman, and @TheScizz. High comedy.
This level of tailgating NEEDS to happen.
I realize that the majority of our readers probably have very little knowledge of NASCAR, so if you do decide to watch the race (or at least part of it), here is a list of drivers you might want to be familiar with for the weekend:
- Jimmie Johnson: You have to know who this guy is by now, fan or not. Although never winning at the Glen, Johnson has won the past five NASCAR points championship and can easily win on almost any type of track in the sport. Yeah, I said SPORT. Suck it.
-Tony Stewart: Better known by stupid-ass nickname "Smoke", Tony has won five times at the Glen and has an average finish of 5th overall. Always a favorite.
- Juan Pablo Montoya: The former F1 won driver is a road course expert and won the race last season. Most NASCAR fans dislike him because he isn't white. If they give you any other reason they are full of shit. (Sidenote: several years ago while at the this same race, every time Montoya would drive by these racist hicks would boo him, so I yelled pretty loudly "AAAAAAAAAH, THAT'S HOW I LIKE MY NASCAR! WITH A LITTLE SIDE OF RACISM!" The crowd was not amused.)
- Jeff Gordon: Another household name in NASCAR. Although he is getting up there in age, Gordon has still won at Watkins Glen four times and should never be counted out.
- Carl Edwards: One of the league's most likable drivers, Edwards has come close but has never won at the Glen. His average finish of 8th is not too shabby.
- Marcos Ambrose: A Tanzanian driver, Ambrose has won the past three Nationwide races at the track (kind of like the minor league of NASCAR) and has finished in the top five of all three starts he has had in the big league race. This could be the year he gets his first career win.
-Robby Gordon: Once a top competitor in NASCAR, he went on to buy his own team but has struggled to even keep his car in the top 35 in points. At this track, all bets are off. He always dominates here and and has won in the past with a career average finish of 13th in 12 races.
- Kyle Busch: Meh. Fuck this guy.
-A.J. Allmendinger: His name is fun to say and he is my dad's favorite driver (Richard Petty Motorsport). He also has driven well on road courses and has an average finish of 9th in three starts.
-The Road Course Ringers - Boris Said, Ron Fellows, P.J. Jones, Brian Simo, and Andrew Ranger: These guys are not full-time NASCAR drivers and are usually brought in by smaller teams for only the road course races. They are basically experts who struggle on the larger superspeedways, but tend to dominate road courses. Said, Fellows, and Jones all have top five finishes to their credit, meanwhile Simo has struggled and this will be Andrew Ranger's first career Sprint Cup start. Don't be shocked to see him in the top 10 at the end of the day.
Of course there are many other drivers that are talented at this track. Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick too name a few. I would expect all of these drivers to make a run at it. I'll even toss in two other small team drivers that I expect to run well here this weekend: David Gilliland and Andy Lally. You never know what is going to happen at Watkins Glen. Except the fact that the DGWU crew will be hammered and making fools of themselves, that you definitely know will happen. Enjoy your weekend and see you at the races! Yee-haw!
Or, more accurately, I suck. Yeah, that's fair.
Hello interwebians. This apology for a DGWU technological error is coming to you straight from The Barrister. Needless to say, sometimes my little netbook and our Weebly publisher site don't mix well. Especially when I'm drafting a ranting post about Derek Roy's recent rebirth as a Tweeter of all things annoying and asinine, still drunk and struggling to keep my eyes open because I'm afraid that the Scizz is angry with me for not contributing much lately. The end result is a mistakenly published post entitled "Post Title" or something to that effect, and containing no test other than "These are the contents of your blog post."
I'm giving myself the finger right now, so don't you worry.
Remarkably, or embarassingly, the mistaken post actually got two comments, which is more than I can say about any of the Mets posts I spend so much time on. So, there's that to hang my hat on.
As for the "Derek Roy is a remarkably annoying DB" post, I'm not sure that post was ever really finished, or whether any of the drunken screed running through my head ever even made it through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Either way, it's lost in the ether now (whether it's the ether of the web or just my brain). And it's a good thing, too, because I can easily see me changing my tune on Roy9ner at some point, and I wouldn't want to be accused of flip-floppery.
Embarassment now subsided and groveling now complete, here's the part where I might ask you to follow me on Twitter, but won't because I don't deserve it. Instead, just check out some highlights of our Buffalo Sabres from last year. That's fun, right?!?