Anything. Write any fucking thing about this team
Most words about this squad, right now, bum me out. Not because the team isn't fun or pretty good or promising. The team is all those things. Yet it is impossible to love with any semblance of sincerity. It is entirely too racked with frustrating moments and massive disappointments. It is a franchise, in no small measure, that will bite your fucking leg off as you sleep, leaving you to wake with an unshakable disbelief that no fucking way is it possible that they've duped us once again.
To be a sports fan is to be a sucker. A patsy. A fool unable to see or feel the hand in your back pocket as you are distracted by some shiny promise purposefully set in front of you so you don't notice what's happening behind. Incidentally, this is what I learned from the 10 minutes of the classic Will Smith film Focus I watched the other night. Figured snagging one metaphor for the pointless existence of my life as a fan was enough of that awful awful fucking movie.
Of course, sometimes it's not that at all. Apologist texted me sometime Sunday night / yesterday morning (unable to check my phone which is FUCKING SIX INCHES FROM ME HASHTAG LAZINESS HASHTAG FAT) and said "just write the Bills recap like you're talking about the Mets." Man, is that a difficult ask. Conflating the most joyous part of my sports-watching life with the most milquetoast is not an exercise I want to get to. Nevertheless, the suggestion illustrates a crucial point - sometimes we aren't asked to be patsies, we aren't asked to fork over our money and time and devotion in exchange for absolutely no return into our existential personal cash register of feelings. Sometimes we give all those things and get back something substantial, a series of unforgettable moments paired with actual, real, visible success. Sometimes we get a return on our investment that isn't the result of our rationalization; isn't a construction of our eager need to turn force a shit sandwich down our throats so that we might be able to salvage some pride. Sometimes teams give you enough actual victories that you aren't lining up to the lunch counter at Eataly or some such nonsense place for a helping of moral ones.
Obviously, we can't tell at the outset whether we'll be rewarded for our enthusiasm and optimism or whether we'll be left to make what we can out of an awful sports product.
The Bills, our Bills, make it pretty easy to bet on the inevitability of failure. Luckily, it's all second nature at this point, so I'm not about to let these assholes strip away the fun this year ... I've gotten pretty good at making do.
Let's recap this turd burger and then talk about beer and stuff:
2. Sammy's injury. Brutal as fuck. No way around it. After spreading the good word of "hey guys if you get me the ball more, we will be successful for reals" throughout the land last week, his opinion on his importance seemed to be paying off. On target #4, late in the second quarter (basically on pace to get at least close to ten targets on the day), Sammy catches a key TD, bailing out a poor throw by EJ to secure the catch and, ultimately, fuck up his knee. We talk about grit a ton as a point of hilarity in how sports media regularly spits out absurd prose to talk about players, but this was fucking GRITTY. He hurt himself before he even caught the ball, and still brought it in. His absence from the lineup will be noticeable.
2a. People talking junk about Sammy and injuries. Seriously, fuck off and die. No one likes you, you have no friends and your family is only capable of maintaining love for you when your mouth remains shut and the illogical vomit you harvest in your esophagus remains jailed behind the prison of your ugly fucking face.
1. EJ being not all that awful. We have a low bar for the guy at this point, and he benefited from that on Sunday. He was NOT the biggest reason the Bills lost - honestly, his faults are innumerable, but they're also no secret, so I'm sort of over criticizing him for bad play when a coach is asking him to do something he has only ever done poorly. I've been on the "do not dare throw the ball more than 30 goddamned times with EJ if you expect to win" bandwagon for a while (Note: I am the only one on the bandwagon, but there's room for everyone please someone come hang out the loneliness is crippling). I won't dig up the win-loss record, but it's bad when EJ throws a lot, i.e. 30+ times, and not that bad when he throws not so much, i.e. 0-29 times. He was asked to do far too much on Sunday, particularly after losing his best weapon at WR, and he still put together some good stuff. And, frankly, he did some things a lot better than he did in the four games he played last season; most obvious of them was his willingness to scramble out of the pocket, get some yards with his feet, and not be afraid of a hit. This was good to see. I may not want him playing QB for a team I support ever again (definitely not, let's be real kids), but he wasn't the reason the team lost and was a big part of keeping the score was as close as it was.
2. More gems from the Bills tailgate. If I can achieve anything over the course of my time in the dysfunctional, drug-abuse-laden-and-entirely-asinine village of Buffalo sports twitter and blogging, I hope it's one of two things: (1) provide an alternate viewpoint for people sick of mainstream media and the sycophant corners of the Buffalo blog world that try to emulate it; and/or (2) advocate for the glorious mess of being a Buffalo sports fan that salvages the fun sucked away by our abominably awful teams with the help of some combination of Canadian whiskey, recreational drugs, hoppy beer, and shotguns full of Genny. These are the music makers, the dreamers of dreams, wandering by lone sea-breakers, and desolate streams. Arthur O'Shaugnessy was writing about Bills fans in 1874, for real. I read it in a book.
Fun is to be celebrated, fam. That's the whole point. Putting aside the weird violence and drunkenness that truly and directly impacts the experience and, more crucially, safety of other fans (because that shit is so obviously out-of-bounds that we don't need to address it), what's the story with Bills fans being embarrassed by the fun being had by fans at tailgates outside The Ralph? Maybe it's not your style, and that's cool. No one is asking you to participate or even explicitly approve. But does Pinto Kenny really deserve derision for getting doused with condiments on Sundays? Do some dudes pulling off wrestling moves really reflect on you? Really?
Get your heads out of your ass and let people have fun without sanctimony raining down. Stop pretending that you have the monopoly on appropriate behavior and sip your Merlot in peace over there. Over here, we're having the best time of our lives and have no intention of stopping just because you feel like suggesting we grow up.
Fuck growing up. Growing up fucking sucks and so do you.
3. Media headlines misrepresenting player quotes. I went on a rant about this issue this morning on twitter dot com upon seeing Mario Williams "unloading" on Rex Ryan for defensive play-calling. Same thing happened with Sammy last week. These lazy, forced characterizations - layered with bias through the use of verbs that implicitly paint the player quotes as aggressive and selfish - are so fucking tired, even if I totally understand why headline writers do certain things in the quest for clicks. I get it. But until Americans in general and Buffalo sports fans in particular get going with the task of parsing headlines and determining for themselves whether the headlines accurately report on the facts of a story and, in this instance, do so without telling readers what to think before they even get to the fucking byline, the consequence of shitty headlines and subjective reporting will be sports fans left with an inaccurate impression of the players they cheer for. As I tweeted this morning, if you aren't finding the most accurate, value-neutral verbs, adverbs and adjectives to help paint the picture for readers, you're sacrificing accuracy for eyes. It's the business, for sure, but it doesn't mean we have to like it and, FOR FUCKING SURE, it doesn't mean we have to permit clickbaiting bias to shape our own understanding and conversations about our squads. They are the purveyors of heaping piles of horseshit and we are the shit-sippers they rely on to keep the rent paid.
Let's stop sipping shit.
Beer of the Week:
Barrister's Graphic Novel Reading List:
In the spirit of Scizz's (and now Apologist's, that didn't last long!) burgeoning preview and its myriad subsections, I'm branching out, too. Our public library carries a bunch of rad graphic novels and, after re-reading my first entry into this series of recommendations, I am determined to re-acquaint myself with the genre I've barely touched since college. This should help motivate me.
This week's recommendation:
Barrister's Fuck! This Isn't a Picture Book! Reading List:
Music to Soothe Your Soul After a Bills Loss:
I'm the handsome one.