(Intro Note: Friend of the Deeg Joe Pinzone just informed me the game was on NBC Sports Network last night, so most likely many more of you saw the game. You'll still get the point of the post. What am I, a journalist?)
I realize many people still watched the Sabres crush those douche-nozzle Bruins last night, but due to the TWC/MSG battle, a national crackdown on illegal feed websites, and overall disinterest for a team that is a long shot for the playoffs, there were also many more who missed it.
I fall into the last category.
It's not that I have totally given up on this squad, although I was incredibly close before the 3rd period against the Islanders at #OccupyNassau. I simply have had a shift in my fandom over the last few seasons of sports in general. When you take a look at the combined success of the Sabres, Bills, Knicks, and Cubs (the teams I cheer for) over the past three seasons, then you will see the obvious catalyst for this change. But first, let's take a journey back to 2008.
Although my teams were all struggling at this juncture in time, I still had an extreme emotional investment in all of the teams I loved. In the fall, every positive or negative of the upcoming work week depended on the outcome of the Buffalo Bills game on Sunday. I watched at least 75% of all Sabres games, keeping in mind that I didn't have Center Ice and I lived in Queens, this is quite a feat. I even caught somewhere around 1/3 of Cubs game, which compared to the 10 I watched this past season, is also pretty dedicated. These teams were a huge part of my life AND still are today, BUT, I have noticed a gradual change.
Maybe I am just getting older, or maybe I've become numb to the constant seasons of heartbreak and disappointment, or most likely, it is an equal combination of both. When the season starts, I'm on board in full. I'm gathering the Deeg for opening kick-off, I'm planning my location for viewing the first month of Sabres games, and hell, I even try to duck out of work early on MLB opening day to catch the Cubbies before they take their yearly nose-dive. Yet as the season continues, I find myself losing interest.
Let me start with age conundrum, as I have finally accepted it in the past few months. Maybe you think it is a bullshit excuse, but when I was younger, sports were one of the only true commitments I had in my life. I was more concerned with watching entire games, no matter how late they went, than I was with waking up in time to actually eat breakfast before work the following morning. Dear lord I even took my current fiance to a Sabres bar during the 2007 NHL playoffs, while keep in mind, we were still just dating and the total number of dates had probably not even totaled in the double digits yet. This was an era for me, that when the Sabres won, I'd stay out all night, and if they lost....well....ok....I still stayed out all night. Bad example. But now I don't even consider staying up for west coast games. The point is painfully obvious by now. Sports = Top Priority.
In 2012, it is more about working these teams into my schedule, and even if they do, I'll often pass for other priorities (or not so priorities). For example, when the Bills inevitably collapsed this year, I was almost relieved. I distinctly remember saying to the Scizzette, "Well it's not all bad, at least we can do other things with our Sundays and we don't have to watch the Bills suck". It pains me to type that. 2008 Scizz would have NEVER uttered those words, but as I get older, it's becoming easier to say. Which brings me to the second reason for my "lack" of fandom.
I have become comfortably numb.
As every year progresses, I am becoming more and more use to the idea of my teams losing. I hate it, I really do, but it's just fact. The Yachtsman has been harping on me for years now to stop caring so much, and I always resisted, but in the last few years, I have given in. Sure, I still have my moments. Like last weekend in Nassau when I threatened to never watch the team again if they lost, or during the 2010 Bills season when after an overtime loss to Baltimore, I called the Yachtsman and ragestormed for a solid ten minutes before he even got a word in. But those moments have become few and far between, which has left me with three specific examples from the last week that represent my shift in fandom.
1. With the Rangers playing unbelievable hockey and the Giants winning the Super Bowl for the 2nd time since I've lived here, I actually found myself saying, "can I switch allegiances?" I know, I know, HOW DARE I??? And the honest answer to that is no, I will never switch allegiances. HOWEVER, when I am being bombarded by images of these successful teams in New York, both of which I find extremely likable, the thought does stream through my consciousness. I remember several years ago I nearly got into a fist fight with a guy at a Jets game who told me he was born and raised in Buffalo, and after 15 years in New York, he switched to a Jets fan. I mean, the Jets suck, and he would have been better off switching to the Giants, but the crazy part is I totally understand it now (not the switching to the Jets, but the switching in general). I pray that in 15 more years, I'm not that beaten down, but with the current path of my teams' suckitude, I do worry. (Note: And one more time, seriously, fuck the Jets. THAT switch will NEVER happen.)
2. On Saturday night during the Sabres/Islanders game, after the 3rd goal that Miller let in during the 2nd period, many of us started booing and heckling Miller. Not proud of it, but you know how you feel when Miller hits those shit streaks; you want to strangle him with his hippy guitar strings. Anyways, the Barrister, Yachtsman, several others and myself kept on going at Miller pretty hard, and one of Barrister's buddies was getting pretty pissed off at us. It got to the point that he was standing up, telling us we should never boo our own team. Three years ago, that was me. I was the guy telling fans to never jeer their team and always be 100% supportive. Ugh. Now in my old age, my experience of constant letdown, and not to mention thousands of dollars I have shelled out to these franchises, I feel I have the right to boo, heckle, or anything else I so please. We all deserve better.
The funny thing is, I completely understood where this guy was coming from. I know how much it use to piss me off to be around that, but not anymore. The only thing that cheered me up during that game was the amazing CLOWNPENIS.FART chant we convinced most of our section to partake in. Which of course we all know was the real reason for the Sabres victory.
3. Finally, after the Sabres had won three of their last 4, in which the only loss was an impressive game they almost won against arguably the best team in hockey, you think I would have been excited to get home by 7pm Wednesday night to watch them take on the defending champion Boston Bruins. Nope. I thought about it for a moment, and then decided on a combination of Pawn Stars on my DVR, and a small Harvard graduate/Asian-American point guard that has been electrifying a struggling Knicks team. I'm not sure what made me decide that, but I think it may be that a Knicks loss hurts a little less than a Sabres loss. I wasn't ready to be sucked in by a rebounding Sabres team that is destined to give false hope. Jeremey Lin and Rick Harrison was the way to go in my eyes.
(Addendum: I should also make it clear that I have not given up on the Sabres totally, nor am I completely stopping my watching of games. I am merely pointing out the differences in the last few years. I needed this to be a little cathartic and I really felt like being honest with the readers and myself. I'll most likely watch more than half of the games remaining on the Sabres schedule, but three years ago, I would have watched all but a couple. I am also advocating against the idea of "tanking a season" for draft picks and what-not. for some reason, that is one thing I'll never be able to pull for, even with the Bills. When I watch, I cheer hard, and the losses still sting a little, however, other events and activities have become more important to me. I still know a lot more than the average fan about the current rosters and the history of all of the franchises, I've just put things in perspective. I'll never stop being a Sabres, Bills, or Cubs fan, but if I'm faced with the choice of dinner and a movie with my fiance, or watching these teams potentially break my heart again....the future-wifey wins out. Unless it's the playoffs, then she needs to suck it up.)
Will I take shit for admitting my downfalls as a fan? Maybe. Does it actually make me less of a fan? You can say that. Do I care? In the words of Mr. Marshall Mathers, "I just don't give a fuck". Now do me a favor and follow me on twitter @TheScizz and then do yourself a favor and enjoy some CLOWNPENIS.FART.