"Snake oil salesman" ~ @MichaelNecci
I am making a pact to not spend more than twenty minutes on putting this quick ragestorm of a post together because, honestly, the Buffalo Bills can go die in a fire for all I care. (Not really please don't move the team I love them inexplicably oh God)
This morning, our 5-7 Buffalo Bills were given a gift. Russel Salvatore, WNY Meat King, agreed to purchase all remaining tickets for the Bills' remaining home games
. Apparently, after just one blackout this season, Bills fans are getting bailed out of having to find illegal streams online or listen on the radio or ignore altogether, and the Bills are being bailed out of an ongoing PR nightmare - having to answer questions about ticket sales and TV blackouts without discussing, too much, the underachieving and disappointing team of elephants in the room.
Except, of course, on most weeks, the Buffalo Bills.
Let me preface my anger on this point by expressing good feelings for Mr. Salvatore, though his good deed does little to impact my life living outside of WNY's blackout zone. And, to the extent that these extra tickets are given away and a few thousand people that otherwise would have stayed home make it to the game, I have no gripe.
Nevertheless, the fact that this even has to be done is, and should be, an embarrassment. Yet, those Buffalo Bills are apparently the poorly wrapped and overpriced gift that keeps on giving.
As I was marching up the tunnel to MetLife Stadium on Sunday, marveling at how lucky Jet fans were that the Giants built them a new stadium, an asshole in a green jersey started to rail me and the Barrister about losing the Bills. Lost in a haze of hops and kielbasa, I countered with a hoarse, incoherent version of "Buffalo will never lose the Bills!"
Then karmic displacement came and booted me directly in the ass in the form of this article
Let's not focus on the government coming in and having to help the Bills build a new stadium. That's a foregone conclusion/argument to engage in on some other day. Let's focus on the reality of the situation. The facts are as follows (stipulation that Ralph lives forever):
- We do not have a remotely competitive stadium in the current NFL climate.
- The economy of New York State is depressed.
- The franchise cannot afford to build a stadium because the owner's wealth comes solely from the team.
- The state, county, and even league will have to help renovate the stadium to keep the Bills viable.
All of this adds up to one giant pile of suck the week before the home opener.
Scizz and Barrister
Much like Chuck Schumer, we love to hear ourselves talk. With the Bills and NFL G4 loans on our minds, we have a little chat about those and more Olympic matters. Scizz defends #NBCFAIL as the "best of the worst" and Barrister vies for @Sam_Hartman's role as Chief Apologist of the DGWU Crew. As usual.
We also gush over our excitement for NASCAR at Watkins Glen this weekend. More on that to follow, of course.
Named and uploaded to comport with our new podcast hosting home at Libsyn
, you can also stream this little gem below or download straight from the iTunes (and, while you're there, subscribe to the CrapTastiCast for future Casts and Boner Eps!!) Musical intro is from College featuring Electric Youth off of the awesome Drive
soundtrack, and the outro (getting us in the mood for "The Glen") is Blitzen Trapper.
Stay vigilant Buffalo. There's white vans in those woods.
Hey there animals, Scizz here. Since none of us at the Deeg A.) know that much about college football, and B.) have the time or patience to do enough research to write a draft preview, we outsourced the task to a much more knowledgeable friend of the Deeg. He is simply known as "The Wire". If you were reading this blog last year, you may remember the Wire's two part in depth wrap-up on the Buffalo Bills draft. (Part one here) (Part two here). The Wire is a dear fiend of mine and, honestly, knows more about college football and the draft than any other person I know. He is basically just a more bad-ass Mel Kiper who shows up once a year for us to handle the draft. So without further ado, check out the Wire's DGWU Sports Buffalo Bills draft preview. The Wire
Considering value, need and availability, the following players are presented as the top 10 most likely selections for the Bills at #10 overall:1. WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (6' 3", 220 Lbs.)
Floyd has prototypical size and strength for the WR position. Statistically, he was one of the top WRs in college football. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Floyd demonstrated good hands, flexibility and sharp routes in open field drills. Most importantly, he clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash which was better than most scouts anticipated for his size. His combine performance addressed concerns about a perceived lack of explosion, agility and straight line speed and vaulted him into the upper echelon of draft prospects. His Notre Dame Pro Day
provided the exclamation point. Mike Mayock (NFL Network), who attended the workout, commented that Floyd had tremendous breaks in and out of his cuts and explosion off the line of scrimmage comparable to top WR prospect Justin Blackmon. At this point, concerns about his several arrests in college on alcohol-related charges seem like an afterthought. The Bills showed their hand in free agency by aggressively pursuing Robert Meachem who ultimately signed in San Diego. GM Buddy Nix, who scouted a similar player - Vincent Jackson - during his time in San Diego, would clearly like to add a complement to newly re-signed WR Stevie Johnson and a big weapon for newly extended QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. 2. LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (6' 3", 242 Lbs.)
Kuechly clocked in at 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. This was significant for a projected ILB prospect who now proved he could hold his own in pass coverage against increasingly athletic TEs and move from a 2-down LB prospect to a potential 3-down LB. Kuechly also registered an impressive 38" vertical jump and 123" broad jump which further demonstrated his surprising athleticism. Kuechly did not run at the Boston College Pro Day, but showed acceleration and burst in positional drills to prove that he is not limited to only zone drops in pass coverage. Kuechly's strengths, however, remain his tackling and instincts. He averaged eight solo tackles per game at Boston College and finished with 532 total tackles in only three seasons. While he will not blitz often in the NFL, he should be a steady, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Zach Thomas. The biggest question regarding the Bills' potential interest in Kuechly is whether they project he has the size, strength, and block-shedding ability to play on the strong side of their 4-3 base. Nix stated that second-year man Kelvin Sheppard is slotted for MLB and Nick Barnett at WSLB, so an upgrade over veteran Kirk Morrison is warranted. Kuechly would provide an upgrade over Sheppard on passing downs in the middle, but that is not enough to justify investment of their top overall selection. A projection to the strong side is key.
3. OT Riley Reiff, Iowa (6' 6", 313 Lbs.)
Reiff has played DE, TE, and OG in his football career. He looks the part of an athletic NFL LT with good footwork, lateral agility, and natural knee-bend. He proved durable at Iowa in starting every game in his college career after replacing Bryan Bulaga. While he uses his hands well and can anchor against bull rushes, he will be susceptible to fast NFL pass rushers such as hybrid 3-4 OLBs. The biggest knock on Reiff is a 33 1/4" arm length measurement which is below average for NFL LTs and a concern for some scouts who now project him as RT or even OG. It should be noted that Joe Thomas measured shorter arms than Reiff, so it is not a deal breaker. This pick depends on whether Nix disqualifies Reiff as a LT based on the arm length issue. If not, he is a very likely replacement for recently departed Demetress Bell. In his post-season press conference, Nix described current LT Chris Hairston as "serviceable" and with potential to develop into an everyday starter, so the desire to solidify the left side of the offensive line is evident. 4. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (6' 0", 193 Lbs.)
As South Carolina's Mr. Football, Gilmore transitioned from high school QB at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC, to three-year starter at CB for the Gamecocks. He is a late rising CB prospect, pegged as a high effort team leader and student of the game with good awareness, natural ball skills, and an aggressive demeanor. At the Scouting Combine, Gilmore posted a 4.40 in the 40 yard dash and a solid 10' 3 in the broad jump which led Sports Illustrated to label him one of their Scouting Combine winners. He may be one of the most underrated prospects in the draft but is quietly moving into the #2 CB spot behind high profile Morris Claiborne. Statistically, he was superior to Alabama prospect Dre Kirkpatrick. Gilmore showed well on film against Julio Jones and A.J. Green and has all the physical attributes of a starting cover corner in the NFL. He may be most effective in zone coverage schemes but has the abilities to develop into a man-to-man cover corner with further experience and coaching. For the Bills, 2011 second round pick Aaron Williams looks to be a lock as one starting CB, but with Terrence McGee fading with age and injuries (and a contract recently restructured to that of a nickel corner), Drayton Florence struggling for long stretches last season, and Leodis McKelvin subject to the "bust" label, Nix will need to add an impact cover man at some point in the draft. While Gilmore may not have tremendous upside, he would be a safe, prudent selection with quality intangibles.5. OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia (6' 5", 345 Lbs.)
Glenn had 50 starts at Georgia, tying a team record, including 32 at OG and 18 at LT. He played LT his senior season and also in Senior Bowl workouts. At the Senior Bowl, he showed quick feet, agility and body control for a prospect his size, and his stock began to rise as a potential LT in the NFL. He has ideal mass for a power rush blocker and a wide body and good base to seal off pass rushers. If he is able to gain leverage, he has the size and strength to flat-out erase defenders. Evidenced by a poor 23.5-inch vertical jump at the Scouting Combine, his overall explosion and athleticism is still in question and some scouts feel he's naturally suited to play on the interior in the NFL. While his versatility should be a strength, it is also a detriment as he is being projected anywhere from the Bills at #10 overall to mid-2nd round depending on where scouts place him along the line. Glenn visited the Bills in late March which should be no surprise as Nix is very fond of and familiar with Southeastern players. The issue is whether Nix feels Glenn's potential as a LT is worth a top 10 pick.6. OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford (6' 5, 312 Lbs.)
Martin is a true left tackle prospect, but his stock has fallen due to concerns about his strength. The most damning piece of evidence may be film from last season's USC game wherein he was dominated by Nick Perry
. These sentiments are echoed by ESPN's Mel Kiper who has dropped Martin from #13 overall to #21 overall over the course of his four mock drafts. Martin does possess all the requisite measurables for the position, including 34" arm length, as well as high character and intelligence. Having protected Andrew Luck's blind side for the past three years, he may have stationed the most critical position in all of college football. His experience in a pro-style offense should benefit his transition to the NFL, and with professional coaching to develop the technical aspects of his game, he could develop into an impact starter.
7. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (6' 1", 186 Lbs.)
Kirkpatrick is a confident, somewhat arrogant, athletic, tenacious CB prospect from the reigning national champions. He only had three INTs during his three-year college career, but this is attributable to his physicality against the man at the expense of ball hawking prowess. Kirkpatrick is physical off the line of scrimmage and denies WRs a clean release and separation with his strength and aggressiveness. He hustles in run support which may be a detriment in the NFL if he leaves the sidelines open. NFL coaches will have to rein in his tendency to over-pursue. Those same coaches could be tempted to transition him to safety due to his length and slim frame. At the Scouting Combine, scouts observed stiffness in his movements and some questions arose regarding his preparation for the event. He posted a 4.51 40-yard dash, which was above average, and sat on that number for his Pro Day. A possession of marijuana charge filed against Kirkpatrick after he declared for the draft was subsequently dropped. While his stock has dipped slightly, Kirkpatrick remains a big game, tough, reliable, battle-tested CB prospect. 8. OG David DeCastro, Stanford (6' 5", 316 Lbs.)
DeCastro is one of the top OG prospects in recent years with popular comparisons to Steve Hutchinson and more recently, Maurkice Pouncey. He is almost flawless technically and can block in any power or zone scheme. DeCastro gave up only one sack
in college - "The Sack" - to Brian Price of UCLA as a redshirt freshman in 2009. (Ed. Note: I had to look this up because I figured it had to be a typo. Nope.
). He is agile, mean, and powerful, posting 34 reps of 225 lbs. at the Scouting Combine. Son of a South African rugby star, DeCastro is a perfectionist at his craft and, pound for pound, one of the best players in the draft. Offensive guard is not an explicit need for the Bills, but if they go this direction, it provides them the flexibility to kick Andy Levitre out to LT from his guard spot, or to provide an immediate upgrade over Kraig Urbik at right guard. ESPN's Todd McShay has labeled DeCastro "a special talent" and suggested that any team may be hard pressed to pass on him no matter what their immediate needs may be. If it were not for the generally low value of OGs, DeCastro would be a top 10 lock.9. OT Mike Adams, Ohio St. (6' 7", 323 Lbs.)
Adams was one of five players suspended at Ohio St. last season due to NCAA rule violation of receiving improper benefits. He had shoulder and foot injuries in 2008, a knee injury in 2009, and was initially suspended by Ohio St. for two games in 2009 for violating team rules. In a separate incident in 2009, he was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia although the charges were eventually dropped. All this being said, Adams has exceptional height, length, quickness and agility for a LT prospect in the NFL. He had a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices which vaulted him into first round conversation. While he struggled in the weight room at the Scouting Combine, with only 19 reps at 225 lbs., he recovered with a better Pro Day, posting 21 reps on bench press, and reportedly enamoring the Steeler's front office with his entire workout. Looking at 2010 game film, Adams handled Houston's J.J Watt but struggled against Washington's Ryan Kerrigan. Overall, Adams is technically raw, generally inconsistent, but with big potential as an eventual starting LT in the NFL. In fact, Mike Mayock has him rated as the third best OT prospect behind Matt Kalil and Reiff, but one has to assume that is based on long-term upside not immediate reward. 10. OT Matt Kalil, USC (6' 6", 307 Lbs.)
This is a wildcard pick. Adam Shefter recently tweeted that the Vikings are not as high on Matt Kalil as most prognosticators assume. Couple this with recent comments by Minnesota GM Rick Spielman that the Vikings will consider potential trade options, and the trade-down rumors are beginning to float. If the Bills are set on upgrading LT and are not satisfied with flawed prospects Reiff, Glenn, or Martin, it seems they may have the option to move up to #3. It would take their 2013 first round draft pick to do so of course, but acquiring their best offensive line prospect since Will Wolford may be worth it. Kalil has all the physical attributes to go with a nasty temperament and has been considered by some as the most complete OT prospect since Tony Boselli. To add further intrigue, Kalil's father was drafted by the Bills and played in the USFL. His mother was Miss California, so there's that too.And that's it from The Wire. If you're in the New York City area for Draft Day and don't have tickets to Radio City, be sure to check out the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers Draft Party at McFaddens on 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. At least a couple members of the Deeg will be there, so you're guaranteed to see at least one or two guys audibly cursing Ralph Wilson, whether it's necessarily relevant or not.
I have an hour before physical therapy on my back and I need this outlet to get some things off my chest. If the DGWU crew haven't made it clear enough to you yet, let me just reiterate that we are having difficulty getting excited for the upcoming NFL season. The reasons are countless, but I believe I have narrowed it down to three major points.
1) The media coverage in the NFL has become sickening. The Apologist covered this a few days ago, but I have to chime in with how much I despise ESPN. They only hype up the stories that have a positive effect on the network and only report what the NFL force feeds them. Do you remember Ron Mexico
? In fact, when it comes to a story that they feel is "beneath them", they will flat out not even make an attempt to get the info correct. Don't get me started on how they fuck up hockey news. Whether it's reporting that Tampa Bay was playing in the Stanley Cup, pronouncing Derek Roy's name wrong in highlights (several times), or completing ignoring free agency this summer, it is apparent that they just don't give a shit. However, ESPN will still show painfully obvious signs of doing no research whatsoever in other sports if they believe the team doesn't matter. For example, twitter member twoeightnine dropped this gem a few moments ago.
Are you kidding me? Even a wallflower fan could probably tell you how dumb that comment is. Anyone who plays fantasy football, Bills fan or not could have told you how wrong that statement it is. Fucking ridiculous.
2. All other sports are more exciting right now. The NBA playoffs were phenomenal. Not even including Dallas & Dirk's route of the Heat, you still had underdogs like Memphis and Indiana playing crazy good ball, the Miami - Chicago series, and everything that Kevin Durant does. You also had the NHL playoffs, which despite Buffalo bowing out early (more on them later), there was still Washington - NYR, Tamp - Boston, Vancouver - San Jose, and what turned out to be a pretty solid Cup finals (minus the rioting and the fact that I HATE everything Boston
). Hell, even soccer is hitting its stride in the U.S. Between the USMNT's Gold Cup play and the USWNT in the World Cup, I even got excited about soccer. The nationally televised WNY Flash game (yeah, Mendola!) and a Portland vs. Seattle MLS games a few backs were both more entertaining than your average ESPN Monday Night Football plug fest.
Back in April I was legitimately freaked out by the possibility of no season, but as the months passed, I started to care less and less. On top of that, the new Terry Pegula Sabres have me so excited for next season, I just want football to be over so I can focus on hockey. Oh it's true. It's damn true. But, that leads me to the next reason....
3. Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills have broken my spirit. The entire crew here is TIRED of the Buffalo Bills being an embarrassment. Does that make people think we are bad fans? Yeah...well...you know that's just like...uh...your opinion, man.
Trust me. I was on the other side not too long ago. Yachtsman and I have had some battles the last couple of seasons because I felt like he gave up on the team. I have realized it isn't so much about giving up, it's about getting sick of the same old crap and an awful football product being placed on the field year after year. I know the players try, I'm not calling them out so much as I'm aiming at the front office and ownership. This team is exhausting.
I actually like Chan Gailey, and I love the Whaley kid they brought in from Pittsburgh to most likely be Nix's eventual replacement, but it has become astonishingly difficult to get fired up for the up and coming Bills season. Getting let down year after year isn't about the lack of movement in free agency, it's the terrrible moves they make that never pan out. The offensive line has been a joke for 10 years after brilliant moves for players like Dockery, Walker, and the lovely Cornell Green. Ugh. It is so difficult to stomach.
I'm absolutely NOT saying I know what they can do to fix this. I would be a terrible GM. My point it is, there has been little to no positive results from the franchise carousel in the front office. This includes the draft, which you can follow up with if your new to the site, and never read my Epic Fail Draft series
. I'm not going hate on Poz leaving anymore, or what I originally thought was a ridiculous signing of Brad Smith, or any other move they make until I can see how it pans out. But that is the problem. 95% of all personnel moves have been vomit-inducing. Why can't any of these professionals get it right? Yachter has touched on this before, and recently Corey at The Goose's Roost added to the fire
. Until Ralph is gone, this team is a big "Fuck You" to fans. Ralph doesn't give a shit about us. When he is gone, it is either going to be the greatest thing for the franchise (a new passionate owner ala TPegs) or the worst (The L.A. Leonardo's). I know it. You know it. Assholes like Brett Ratner and Jeremy Piven are jerking off over it.
I haven't always felt like this. In 2007, I would have wanted to kick future me in the nuts and dump a beer on him. So let me get it straight: I LOVE THE BUFFALO BILLS. On opening day I will be with the rest of the DGWU crew and other fans cheering on the Bills and going absolutely nuts for every down. I wrote once before about how important Western New York and the sports franchises are to me and everyone else born there
. It is one of my favorite things I have ever written and I mean every word of it. But over the last few years, my expectations and reactions to the results of the games have changed infinitely. I'll break it down for you.
In 2007, I started dating my current girlfriend and I quickly converted her to a Bills and Sabres fan (stills pull for the G-men though). Almost every week we would head out to one of several bars in NYC and watch the games with hordes of fellow Buffalo Bills fans. We would reserve tables, arrive before alcohol was even being served, and be decked out in as much Bills gear as possible. During the games the we would go through kegs worth of beers and pounds and pounds of wings. There was even rituals such as football in the street during halftime and the famed "Tim Dance" after a touchdown. It was the highlight of my week, but here's the thing; every game I was so fired up for a win and I truly believed they could pull out every game. I believed in the franchise and the outcome of the game either made my week or destroyed it. The girlfriend would often dislike this about me, because after a Bills win I was the happiest guy in the world, but after a bad loss (you know the kind) I would be miserable the rest of the night and would count down every hour until the next game so I could possibly get that "winning high" back. Sad, I know.
Over the last few seasons there has been a change. I still love the GAME of football and the Buffalo Bills, but I'm not letting them set me up for an emotional letdown anymore. Two seasons ago my girlfriend mentioned that I wasn't getting quite as upset after bad losses as I use to, and then this past season I can honestly say there was only one game where I was angry and highly disappointed afterwards. That was the Baltimore overtime loss. I still have no clue why that game got to me, but it did. The Yachtsman broke it down for me quite well on the phone after the game after I screamed for 15 minutes. "Why do you care so much when ownership couldn't give flying fuck about you?" Good question. I didn't want to believe that Ralph was a terrible owner. He ran my Bills and the stadium I worshipped was named after him, but it all started making sense.
I started thinking about Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, and Jason Peters leaving our organizations after earning paydays they would never get from Buffalo. Then that made me remember every Cornell Green, Larry Tripplet, and Matt Bowen. Seriously go back and look at Buffalo's free agent signings over the last five seasons. One word came to mind after I reviewed each one: Pathetic. Even T.O., which was a just a desperate maneuver from Russ Brandon to sell tickets and jerseys.
Sorry if I sound like a pissed off, moody teenager who isn't getting his way, but I've had enough. I'm getting older and I'm convinced that every Bills game from 1997-2008 took at least one month off my life. I'll still be there on September 11th, ready to cheer for the Buffalo Bills and hope for the future, but I'm doing it a lot more cautiously and with much more indifference after a loss. It sucks. I kind of miss the old days when I didn't care that they were 6-10 and there was always hope for the next year, but I just don't have it in me anymore. For instance, me four years ago would be super optimistic about the way Buffalo finished the second half of last season, maybe even talking about the playoffs (cue Jim Mora). I am no where near that now. I haven't given up, but I need to see consistency and a real passion from ownership to save this franchise before I'm going to put in the same effort anymore.
I'll be a Bills fan for life. That is a fact. I will never change allegiances or totally walk away from football. Does everything else I wrote hurt my "fandom"? Maybe. I'm past the point where I care what others think about my level of fan dedication. I'll watch every game through the bitter end, but don't expect me to get too fired up if C.J. Spiller has one break out game or Marcell Dareus has a monster rookie year. The entire franchise has to do a lot more than that to get that mid-2000's love back. But dear God I sure hope they do because there is nothing like cheering on a franchise that is doing everything in it's power to win and make fans Happy. *Cough Cough* Buffalo Sabres *Cough* Terry Pegula *Cough Cough*
I was at this game with my father. I will never forget it. This is what Buffalo Bills fans need. This what they deserve.
Pestilence, thy name is Fred: spreading sickness to the sports masses through ill-advised decisions and apathy for those fans left sick and dying in his wake.
I get paid to think everyday. Which isn't to say that my thoughts are generally profound, or that this is necessarily different than peers in other professions, but only to say that my job generally keeps the wheels turning quickly in my grey matter throughout the day, and it's often pretty difficult to switch it off. More recently, as I've settled down into my career and have managed to avoid too many anxiety-ridden nights fretting over deadlines that are coming or have passed, I've found myself with the opportunity to reflect back on books and movies that I was forced to watch as a kid or student, but which I either (a) did not actually read because I was the least-motivated ball of potential my teachers had ever seen (seriously, a teacher called me that once), or (b) did read, but didn't understand. Sometimes I'm giving it a second read or viewing - like I did with Crime and Punishment last year. (Sidebar: How anyone expects high school kids to truly understand that fucking book is beyond me, but my adult self thought it was boss. I know City Honors thinks its the shit or something
, but they might have been reaching with that particular curriculum choice.) Or when I watched Fraggle Rock
just the other day. (Second Sidebar: seriously, that show is a scathing critique of American society as it harkens back to Platonic ideas regarding social homogeneity and the benefit of stepping out of the cave - literally. That was definitely lost on me when I watched as a kid, as my only thought would have been - "Oooh, COLORS.") However, sometimes, like the last couple days, my reflection is prompted not by the decision to re-immerse myself in a book or movie, but by real-world events that somehow spark a memory of some lesson urged on me by a teacher; a lesson I guarantee I didn't fully appreciate - and may still not yet. I revisit the themes of long-since-read tomes in the hopes that they might provide some guidance in framing the issues of my day - whether frivolous or profound - so that I might find a more thorough understanding of my world.
I read Great Expectations for the first time pretty late in my life. I was in England at the time, a junior in college, and enjoying a semester abroad in Bath. We read the book as part of 'Images of Masculinity,' an interesting course exploring the way that men were represented in literature and popular culture. Pip, the protaganist of the story, is chosen - by whom, it does not become clear until much later - to be a beneficiary of a life track toward greatness. Without his full knowledge, he is encouraged to make more of himself, to strive to be greater than he could ever have dreamed. And, as the esteemed American author and visionary Stan Lee teaches us, unearned benefits of privilege carry with them a corresponding responsibility to conduct one's self according to higher standards of manhood. While Pip fails to live up to those expectations for much of the story, the high standards set for him are always in the back of his mind, urging him to be better, to find something deeper within himself to share with the world. And, when we discover that Pip's expectations were set by Abel Magwitch, the Convict, we the readers share in Pip's realization that, sometimes, the dreams of our own greatness may just be thriving in people who don't necessarily achieve that greatness themselves. Thus, story suggests, I think, that there is real value in patronage when it is coupled with a moral imperative that the beneficiary act to the highest standards of humanity.
I'll be the first to admit that I may be getting all of this wrong. I haven't read this book in 8 years. But, in my perhaps nonsensical deconstruction of this book, it becomes abundantly clear to me that one of the central points is that we are often at our best when motivated to live up to the better version of our self hoped for by those around us, but that the extent of that motivation may realistically need to be tied directly to the promise of rewards or the threat of penalties.
I turned to Dickens because expectations have been on my mind this week, and - being a simple fellow - the title popped into my head and I had to run with it. While this theme had been forming in my thoughts for a while, it all came to a head the other night walking to the subway from a drunken DGWUSports night at The Pony Bar in Manhattan. The Apologist and I were treated to classic Yatchsman: lots of yelling, cursing, high-fives to random people he met along the way. It sort of began with Yachstman enraged by a horse-drawn carriage - his PETA sensibilities coming out very strongly - and continued with more general themes about tourists and commercialism as we approached Times Square. His comments, while hilarious in the sheer awkwardness that it caused amongst the out-of-towners we passed, also got me thinking about our collective unwillingness - with few exceptions - to call each other out and encourage each other to be better. His comments begged the question: whether acceptance of, for instance, the ridiculous reality of Times Square, is a rather unacceptable failure on our part to demand that humanity keep striving for something more than merely scraping along with a commercially-driven set of priorities and values. These thoughts were with me as I began scribbling notes and ideas for this post on my way home that night, and they were with me as I woke up Friday morning - hungover as all hell. Seeing Yachtman's post
Friday morning continued the theme - he was, again, demanding something more (this time from Ralph Wilson), and was doing so for all our sakes as fans of Buffalo, the Bills, the NFL and its history. Hell, his post - logically sound, if verbally offensive - was making demands on behalf of reasonable thought, itself.
I share the Yacther's beef with Ralph, though he is not even be the most apt example of ownership fuckeduptitude in my sports universe these days. That title, dear readers, is of course held by Fred "I don't ask questions about ridiculously good returns on my investments with my pal, Bernie, and will casually act in a way that will endanger the future of the Mets franchise for years to come"
Simply put, by way of comparison, if Ralph is an "odious taint," Fred is somewhere between a despicable pile of douche and Sarah Palin. Assuming there's even a difference between the two.
Some may call him willfully ignorant, some may call him passively fraudulent. To me, he's just the rotten bastard who has ensured the Mets will be be in financial crisis for the next five to ten years. Good job there, bud.
When I first started following the Mets in 2005, I had a vague notion that Wilpon was kind of a douchey owner. Yet, even clear instances of incompetency of the Wilpon's ownership didn't really bother me. Subconsciously, part of me may have identified with the crotchety, dottering old man, if only to the extent that he was a clear, but distinct, model of the sports-team owner archetype with which Buffalo fans had become oh-so-familiar. In other words, he often seemed stupid and pathetic in his management decisions, but also ultimately harmless and maybe even admirable in his seemingly feeble efforts to present a world-class product with his professional baseball team.
After all, even though there were frequent moments during which I was acutely aware that the Mets were being run like a second-rate franchise, my standards were artificially decimated by previous acceptance of Sabres' ownership that proved to be as slimy as they come.
Nothing like a little securities fraud to make you count yourself blessed to follow a team with ownership that can keep itself out of prison.
What was vaguely apparent to me as I recovered from the Adelphia/Rigas clusterfuck back in '02, and what is all-too-apparent now, is that sports franchises - even moderately successful ones - have a fickle existence, and that even a team thoroughly adored by its fans could vanish in an instant. So, perhaps it was my own willful ignorance to that reality that encouraged me to be generally accepting of Wilpon since, at least so far as I knew, he wasn't doing anything to endanger the Mets' future as a New York baseball franchise. My standards having been lowered by on- and off-field (or ice) failures of Buffalo sports franchises, I was frankly too willing to give Wilpon - who had a World Series ring, after all (Ooooh, Shiny!) - a pretty long fucking leash with which to, bit by bit, destroy the franchise. Not that I was personally in a position to put a stop to it, but - then again - the collective leash given by Mets fans as a whole may have allowed good old Fred a little bit too much leeway to treat this franchise like, as the Yachtsman might say, a country club project with no real-world consequences with which he chooses to be bothered.What's ultimately made me so troubled by Wilpon's recent troubles is that we Met fans enabled this guy with our consistent attendance at games (even when the team has been decidedly garbage), our jersey and clothing purchases, and - most importantly - our willingness to
casually ignore what's really going on with Wilpon's financial dealings. This lack of accountability is especially absurd when you consider that the athletes on the field are under an incredible microscope and are held to incredibly high standards by media, fans, corporate sponsors and owners alike. The sports world has become obsessed with ensuring that procedures are now in place to catch those who violate rules against performance-enhancing drugs (which, by their nature are designed to help a team), but we have thus far failed to create any real mechanism for ferreting out misconduct amongst the highest levels of sports franchise's hierarchy. And, for those of us who cherish these teams and want them to thrive within the communities we love, that's really where the most damage can be done.I guess what I'm trying to say, and without very much brevity or eloquence - so who knows if anyone is even reading at this point - is that we, as consumers of the sports industry, have a unique responsibility to require a higher level of conduct
from those people who directly benefit from the dollars that we so freely deposit into the world of sports commodity. Not just the players. The players are being watched with an eagle-eye by the league and ownerships that run shit, but it is incumbent on the rest of us to make sure that someone is watching the owners. The media picks this stuff up from time to time, but even so, there have clearly been times where an owner's misconduct went under the radar. Who knows if Wilpon's shady deals would have been apparent had a light been shone on Wilpon's financial records? But, as a basic starting point, given the public trust given to owners - through tax breaks, cheap lease deals, zoning exemptions and the use of public funds for renovated or new stadia - the least we can do is ensure that the public trust is not squandered. Through years of support and utter devotion, WE are the benefactors of the Freds and Ralphs of the sports world. For years, we have required very little of them, and we can't now be surprised that they treat us with such disrespect. Owners have received our patronage, often without any conditions whatsoever, while frequently conditioning their part of the relationship on our conduct - whether by demanding that a stadium sell out before allowing it to be broadcast locally, or by requiring that a city or county pony up public funds before investing anything more into a franchise. This status quo is backwards, or at the very least unreasonably one-sided.
But it can also change, as recent evidence suggests
. The open question, then, is how engaged do we each want to be in raising the expectations for the owners of our teams? To that, I have no answer - even for myself. Would love your feedback. Leave a comment!Follow me on Twitter! @theycallmedubs