I hate having to write this, but I'm a sucker for accuracy and specificity and setting the record straight when it's been sullied by knuckledragging journalists who couldn't care less about accuracy, professionalism or personal hygiene, and today was a perhaps overlooked adventure in misrepresentation in media and the willingness of fans to fall down a rabbit hole of obfuscation.
How's that for a fun potshotting intro? You're hooked! You're blissfully unaware I'm just a hack, basement-dwelling blogger!! Success!
The good (great) news is that this isn't a fan piece on booing. It's a fan piece on why the #WhiteVanBrigade has failed us, again.
NEWSFLASH: RYAN MILLER AND RON ROLSTON CALL SABRES FANS ASSHOLES FOR BOOING; FANS RETORT BY CALLING THEM UNDERPERFORMING PUSSIES
It's probably more fun to just believe that our favorite players and our coach are talking directly to us after a game, giving unsolicited comments about the game we just watched. It's more fun to think of just those comments, and not the context of those comments when assessing a game story because, among many reasons, Paul Hamilton and Mike Harrington are both creepy and weird looking and who wants to think that they're part of the scenario. Hell, I can't be bothered to watch locker room interviews after a Sabres game anymore for fear of a walrus peeking out in the corner of the frame, voice recorder in hand, pastrami sandwich in pocket.
They want to see better, sometimes it's going to be a battle, sometimes it's going to be hard, we need their help, we need them to be behind us... the encouragement we can get during a tight game, it can help these young guys.
But, is Miller wrong? A cheering crowd makes it easier to play hard? No shit. Cheering helps? OF COURSE IT DOES FUCK. We're not mad at him because he's wrong, though. We're mad at him because the team basically sucks and we don't want one of the stars complaining and acting like a baby by bringing up how his feelings are hurt when the fans boo.
When we learn, though, that the star player was merely answering a direct question with a direct, honest answer, do we feel as strongly? (That's an honest, not just rhetorical, question, so if you still feel the same, have at it in the comments).
I don't blame fans for missing the context. After all, to find the lead-in to Miller's comments about fans booing last night, I couldn't look to the Buffalo News video accompanying the game story, which had edited the question out and began only with Miller's answer. And even WGR's audio had it very faintly, but clear enough to get the important parts:
You talk about survival, and that's the word for this game, but how tough is it to persevere during those stretches when the crowd is really on you? I mean, more so than most nights?
And, of course, Ron Rolston also talked about it, and made us mad, but the context?
How concerned were you about the crowd's reaction? Some of the players talked about it and it was a relatively negative atmosphere for a while, you couldn't get the puck out.
Have an opinion on whether booing is cool or lame, if you even give a shit enough to do so, but don't pretend that our Buffalo sports media isn't out there looking for a story like a ravenous truffle hunting pig. And don't pretend they won't package it to make you blissfully unaware of that context they created.
For instance, Paul Hamilton:
Well they weren't being prodded to talk about it. Both of them [Miller and Ott] brought it up on their own.
Or, how about Mike Harrington?
I've talked a lot about how the Buffalo sports media needs to do better to help fans digest the sports we follow, and this is yet another example of feeding us the story in a way that makes us actually work harder to get the truth about why Miller went off on fans (if that's even an accurate characterization), or why Rolston said what he did. Stories like this make fans fucking nuts with anger towards overpaid players who deign to complain about, well, anything. That narrative played well during the lockout, if you remember, and it's playing well again with an underperforming team full of players with the gall to tell you how to behave at a hockey game.
But even if that's what Miller or Rolston did - it's not, and I won't bother arguing with you if you disagree; it's just not that important - and even if it's totally fair to say that the Sabres sound like babies here, the least we deserve is the context that these incendiary comments arise and to have the reporting that follows represent that context accurately.
We're getting much less.
Before I really started putting this together, I figured I should ask Harrington about the context of the responses to see if we could chat about why I thought the context - if, for instance, Miller was just answering a question - was important for a fan's understanding of the comment itself. So I tweeted him and then got a response after I actually listened to Miller's interview in its totality (not the chopped up piece on Buffalo News [dot] com). After listening for myself, I assumed Mike would agree that Miller's comment was an answer to a question and then I could ask him why this context was absent, but, well, he didn't agree.
In the meantime, the audio tells the story I suppose. (cue WGR's player to 1:15)