It sure has been a while since I dusted off my gloves and took the media to task for its latest absurdity in the sports world. Sometimes, these venomous hit jobs are directed at The Network - an easy enough target, what with the willingness to sit on apparent evidence of child molestation at Syracuse, only to run the story without even giving the authorities the opportunity to vet that evidence and find that, in sum, it was demonstrably false. And sometimes, these hit jobs are directed at Buffalo sports media - also an easy target, what with the spelling errors, the apparent desire to merely yuk it up with a failing, entrenched hockey coach and the pathetic derision of a blogger community which has arguably provided better and more insightful sports analysis over the past couple years. (Not here at the Deeg, of course. We are more than happy to be the slime scraped out of the bottom of the barrel, presented as food for your more carnal cravings. It's what we do.)
One of the things I've noticed about Buffalo sports fans is that they can tend to believe that their town is getting jobbed at every opportunity. It's certainly no surprise, given the history, but it can leave people with a lingering sense that, in essence, whatever we get in Buffalo is a class below what everyone else gets in other cities. Sports teams? Inferior from top to bottom. Local theater and music? Undeveloped and of poor quality. Government? Corrupt and ineffective in a way unseen throughout America. Schools? Underfunded and forgotten. Cheerleaders? Sixes instead of tens. (This one may be right).
Some of this is true. In many ways, other cities do have it better. In a lot of ways, though, Buffalo has the exact same problems as other cities, but has convinced itself that the grass is greener in New York City, in Boston, in D.C., in Philly. I've found this to be especially true when it comes to how we digest our local sports media in Western New York. There always seems to be a lingering sense that Bucky and Harrington and Hamilton and Sully are on a lower tier than the guys who cover sports in the big markets. With the internet, though, we can verify that this is simply not true, and never was this more apparent to me than during the post-game presser following last Friday's Rangers-Devils Game 6.
Dear God, it was brutal.
So, in keeping with the overlap between "media hit piece" and "mailing it in," here is the transcript of the questions asked to Rangers coach John Tortorella following Game 6. My thoughts are in italics.
The Grouch (guest contributor)
One of the most unique attributes of the American culture, or any culture, really, is the way in which that culture deals with its most basic problems. Think about death for a second, and the many ways in which different places in the world handle that issue. The predominant American method, on the other hand, is a stridently Anglo-fied rendition which includes a whole mess of things from grief, to fundamental Christian religion, to economics. There are, as it goes, surely better means available to us.
This is the usual derivative, trash of a piece on the failings of, *sigh*, us as a people, but so it goes. At the more finite levels, our failings rear their ugly head in all manner of pithy domestic issues. Put broadly, it is, essentially, this: we are not particularly good at sorting out the many messes that entail any problem, and certainly no good at handling foresight.
My favorite phrase for this is that we are hopelessly addicted to building fire stations after the fire.
As I sit here in a dome of absolute sadness and depression due to the fact that I will be in Philly today at 5pm, but not at the game, I am attempting to absorb as much Sabres knowledge as I possibly can. I was not planning on posting anything this morning besides a reminder for a meet-up of the game watch tonight (information forthcoming), but Bucky Gleason has a fantastic article up this morning on defenseman Chris Butler
that I needed to comment on.
It has been easy to dismiss Butler as yet another young defenseman the Sabres have brought up through the system that could simply not cut it. They possibly showed some potential, but never achieved at the level that us fans thought we were going to see. I'm not so much talking about someone like Dmitri Kalinin (seriously, fuck him though), but more so names like Funk, Card, and Paetsch. On a higher level, and I know I'll take some major flack for this, I also mean names like Weber, Sekera, and Gragnani (Yes I understand they are all playing well now, but you cannot tell me that not one of these players hasn't sent you into fits over the past several seasons). These are all draft picks that came up through Rochester or Portland that never seemed to make their mark. That's why when Tyler Myers busted through door the last season, we were all giddy as hell. The Sabres FINALLY had a young, sure-thing defenseman.
Eat shit Charo
The thing is, I absolutely thought Butler had the potential to be a top defenseman in the league. During his rookie year in 2008-09, he didn't put up many points, but he was a +11 in 47 games and he skated hard every game I saw him in. In an odd way, he reminded me a bit of Jay McKee. Then to start the 2009-10 season, he was playing lights out. Myers was the major story, but I am assuming that many of you, like me, noticed that Butler was making a nice little mark for himself. In fact, ESPN put out a story a few weeks into the season naming the top 75 defensemen in the NHL. No surprise, Buffalo had a big ZERO on the list. However, at the end of the article, there was an addendum naming Myers and Butler number 76 and 77. Myers AND Butler. To open the season, he was playing well enough to get that type of national attention. (By the way, if you can find a link to that article, please leave it in the comments or e-mail us. I scoured the internet trying to find it, but so far no luck.)
The rest of the season was not fantastic for CB. He ended up a -15 and those healthy scratches that have been so common this season, were starting to rear their ugly head. Butler had fallen off, and I started to get the feeling he was going to end up falling off the roster altogether, with young defenseman like T.J. Brennan and Drew Schiestel coming through the system. I simply felt disappointed. Another young player that I had so much hope for was sucking hard AGAIN. But if you read anything I write, or know me in person, I do not have much patience. These defensemen are all young guys trying to make a mark, and as Bucky notes, even Brian Campbell went through some major growing pains before he became the star we all knew and loved. I'm hoping that the Chris Butler that is playing now, is the guy that will be around for years to come. This pairing of Myers and CB is something special. Then again, I'm no expert. In my younger years I once uttered the words, "Taylor Pyatt is a future All-Star". Forgive me Lindy, for I'm a douche-bag.
I'm sorry! I will never question you again, sir!