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.
Sad. And adorable.
The Barrister & The Scizz
It was a rainy, misty, shitty day in New York City on Thursday. The perfect setting for our second installment of Infinite Sadness, one of the peripheral cogs in the Deeg Podcast Industries. Scizz, still sitting in the solitude of his sobriety, and I, still sitting in my own sweat and overworked misery, got together via Skype to discuss some of the more recent sports news that makes us infinitely sad.
While the arc of our conversation is often tangential, we touch on the NHL playoffs and how it's been to watch hockey suddenly get big in the big market of NYC, and then have a reflective discussion on how unsurprised we are to see that the Buffalo Sabres have not invited us and our stockpile of dick jokes to attend next month's Blogger Summit. Hint: It's Scizz's fault. Second Hint: It's also Alex Sulzer's fault.
This was a ton of fun to make, as always, and includes musical interludes from Incubus, Ben Folds Five and Biggie Smalls. Enjoy by streaming or downloading below.
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This week, the CrapTastiCast pays tribute to Adam Yauch as The Scizz and I, along with friend of the Deeg Joe Pinzone, record the first virtual CrapTastiCast via Skype. We obviously miss having Apologist and Yachtsman along for the ride on the SS Disaster, but that won't stop us from bringing you another set of poorly thought-out analysis and ill-timed humor. Consistency.
We spend a lot of time discussing Fred Jackson and the future of the Bills backfield following his contract extension on Monday afternoon, as we all feel pretty good about the way One Bills Drive has been doing business this offseason. In segment three, we have a typically belated discussion of the Bills draft choices, including the intellectual superiority of Twitter and Tank Carder's wake surfing dog. And finally, in segment four, we talk playoffs - both NHL and NBA - and pick the teams we want
to win and the teams we think will
win the respective championships this spring.
As always, we lack focus and love tangents - even if Scizz isn't drinking this month (Weird, right??) - but do our best to keep on topic. All musical interludes are courtesy of the Beastie Boys, of course. Stream and download the MP3 with the trusty links below. (Or directly from our Libsyn site right here
Seven games left and here we are, back for another season's finish where our Buffalo Sabres have inexplicably put themselves back in the playoff hunt after having looked dead in the water not six weeks ago. We've been here before, all too recently, and while there's no shortage of frustration at the current state-of-things with this, at times, underachieving and, at times, overachieving hockey team, the fan in me knows this is better than some of the alternatives (see: Maple Leafs, Toronto; see also: Lightning, Tampa Bay).
Last year, the Sabres' late season inspired play was one of the things that got this blog going again, and certainly was a driving force in my own friendship with Scizz, Yachter and Aps, not to mention my interest in jumping along for the ride that is DGWU Sports. This season, the Sabres uninspired play through early February was one of the things that kept us away from our keyboards many nights, as we just couldn't stomach writing about a team that had promised so much and delivered so little. But now, here we are, faced with a team of many new faces playing the same script out and encouraging us all to dream big yet again. The lingering questions remain, though: Can this team pull off another miracle, despite having put themselves in an even bigger hole than they were in last year? And, more importantly, if they do, will that be the only miracle we see? Could there be another, perhaps one that pushes them past the first round for the first time since 2007? Will we actually start to see the promises of Pegula take shape, or will those promises be deferred another year as has been an annual Sabres custom?
For all the hope I have for this team, I certainly don't have any answers, and my recognition of these questions can just as easily be interpreted as "mailing it in" as genuine befuddlement at what this team is and could become. I may talk a lot about how great Ryan Miller is, for instance, but even I couldn't have predicted his stellar bounce back into form during the past 25 games or so. Even the most ardent of homer fans (pot calling kettle black, admittedly) would not have put money on the kind of progress this team has made up the standings over the past six weeks, so it makes absolutely no sense to start predicting where this all may lead. The statisticians say the team has a roughly 22% chance of making the final cut, a number that is encouraging only when compared to the absurdly low 5% chance the team had about four weeks ago. And while a lot of the fan base is encouraged by the team "controlling their own destiny" now that the Sabres are a mere 1 point behind the Capitals with a game against them next Tuesday, there's really no such thing as destiny control in the NHL. Sure, you can skate your tails off and control the amount of effort you put out onto the ice, but so much of the game is about luck and bounces and what kind of team effort you see on the other side - among thousands of other variables outside of a team's control. We're left then with a rather meaningless assurance that the team will make the playoffs if they win out, set against the reality that they will, in all likelihood, not win their last seven and that we all have a lot of hoping and praying to do as we depend on the rest of the pieces falling into place.
Translation: Things will happen that I can't predict, and until they happen I can't really say much about them beyond emotive ramblings that are equal parts hope and despair. Analysis.
Despairing game predictions aside, there is a lot to look for in this game, not the least of which is the possibility that this could very well be a preview of the Sabres' first round match-up if there's one to be had. The Sabres' poor results against New York this season came, in large part, during the utterly forgettable parts of the season, when Ryan Miller looked like a shell of his former self and the team couldn't string together back-to-back wins if their lives depended on it. Now that we're looking like a threat on most nights, with a goaltender showing reminiscent shades of his All-World talent, the one thing I'm looking for tonight is a glimmer of what this team might be able to do if they do manage to get in the playoffs. Are they going to be pushed around by a team that has dominated the conference all year, or are they going to fight tooth and nail for sixty minutes as they have been for the past several games? Again, they're likely to lose a couple of these last seven - we all need to accept this - and we can do little else than hope that neither of those losses is against Washington and that the Caps cooperate by losing a couple more of their own. Yet, assuming those pieces fall in our favor (knocking on wood SO HARD), I'm really looking for the team to show what that run might look like against the likely #1 seed tonight.
Bloviating, overstated opinions having been thoroughly exhausted, I can't forget to mention three quarters of the Deeg will be in attendance at MSG this evening (along with friend of the Deeg and star of CrapTastiCast #25
, The Pink Elephant), which means that, no matter the result, fun will be had and drinks will be poured down our overserved gullets, leaving us perhaps less (or more) inclined to despair should the final score tonight end up as I fear it will. This magical run of the past month and a half began, some might say, with the Sabres shootout victory at Nassau Coliseum, with the Deeg in attendance
, so we're looking to continue that good fortune even if good sense tells us otherwise. If memory serves me right, MSG can tend to be a black hole of cell phone reception, so our twitter feeds may not be as current as they might otherwise, but be sure to follow us @theycallmedubs
, not to mention @DGWUSports
, for potentially nonsensical, poorly worded and/or genius musings on the game. Let's Go Buffalo.
This stretch run, to the extent it arbitrarily starts with the timing of this post, begins tonight with a monumental task of beating the East's best team with perhaps the league's best goaltender in the World's Most Famous Arena (having been crowned as such because soccer stadiums aren't arenas and because New York City self-anoints itself the "center of all that is good in the world," despite the lingering smell of piss and vomit emanating from the streets. But I digress...). This Rangers team has owned the Sabres all year, having won every game thus far (including two that went to OT/SO) and, coming off solid efforts against the Devils and Red Wings this week, the Rags don't much look like they're letting up as they round out their season. I'm as heartened by the Sabres' recent effort and success as anyone - perhaps more than most - but I really don't have a whole lot of confidence heading into tonight's game. A point would be great. Two points seems like it might be too much to ask for, even if it is exactly what we need. "Must win" or not, this is one of those games on the schedule that just look like losses going in, meaning that there is still a lot that needs to go right elsewhere in the league for the Sabres to get into the playoffs.