Tag Archives: Sports

Calling all Runners, Mudders, Drinkers & Wannabe’s

10 Aug

The race – a group of people all running the same distance at the same time to see who is fastest – is a good candidate for oldest sport. Simple, elegant, timeless; a more basic exhibition of physical skill is hard to find. Its popularity endures, and judging purely by the number of 5K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathons and Full 26.2 ordeals, more people than ever, in every age bracket, are formally participating at all levels of skill.

But humans, being what we are and perhaps growing a bit bored with simplicity, soon jazzed it up. Invent a machine, like the bicycle, and it must be raced. Then combos: run and bike, ski and shoot. The first triathlons featuring the now-standard Swim – Bike – Run started in France in the 1920’s. Trail running and mountain biking organized in the last couple decades, and of course their combination followed shortly as well. The first Tough Guy in Wolverhampton, England took place in 1986. It was only a matter of time before the phenomenon spread.

Hard to believe, then, that the first Tough Mudder event was only a year ago. Now we have Warrior Dash’s, Spartan Race’s, Death Race’s and Muddy Buddy’s (including one held at Holiday Valley this June) all competing in the mud-race genre. Focusing on comaraderie, team work, grueling physical challenge and drinking alcohol at the expense of time keeping and individual accomplishment, mud races are setting attendance records across the country and raising bucket loads of money for charity.

Stepping into that fray is the home grown Finn McCool 4-Mile Odyssey, the brain child of Dan and Anne Horan of Eclipse Multi-Sport. A driving force in securing the nationally sanctioned Nickel City Triathlon scheduled for September, the Horans decided to start their own mud race to raise money for local charities when the national brands passed for larger venues. The gamble has paid off – Guinness signed on a major sponsor, the City of Buffalo and Olmsted Parks Conservancy gave their thumbs up for a three-year contract, and other cities are already courting the Finn McCool event. The Fates are lining up for an awesome inaugural experience.

I’m running the first-ever Finn McCool on Saturday, September 10th in Cazenovia Park, and so should you. Even better, join my team. I’m honchoing the official WNYMedia effort and I want us to make a good showing. The team is open to writers, contributors, commenters, complainers, readers and friends. If you hear of this invitation somehow, no matter how, you’re in. Join me and the expected 1000 other idiots in climbing walls, stepping through tires, wading the creek and hopping across hay bales. Let’s form a big gaggle, wear something dumb, run through a bunch of mud together and then (responsibly) drink beer afterwards til they kick us out.

Nervous because you are a bit out of shape? Who cares – we’re not going to set any speed records. Scared of mud and water and fire and climbing the rope in gym class? Get over it and come out anyway. If you’re in, comment below or shoot me an email at buffalorepat [at] yahoo.com or better yet, let me know on Twitter @WNYMediarepat. I’ll do the paperwork to register us as a team and we’ll meet up at a future BuffCashMob event to plot “strategy.” All you need is a willingness to get dirty and an attitude that won’t quit.

Let’s do it.

Chasing Joe Daley

12 Apr

A guest post by Chris O’Brien

When I was in second grade, the newly-minted Buffalo Sabres selected as the first member of their team a goalie named Joe Daley.  With that move, Punch Imlach, the Sabres’ general manager, set in motion an odyssey which would span forty years for me, finally ending last Friday.

That first season, anything connected to the Sabres had a sense of awe attached to it.  NHL hockey was new and wonderful in Buffalo; for a second grader, a program dad brought home from a game was a treasure to be shown off the next day at school.  I still remember the cover story, “Joe Daley: He Belongs.”  What that meant, I really didn’t know, but I thought it was the best article in the best program ever.

Fast forward to the 1990s.  I finally started playing hockey in a league with a team stocked with defensemen who couldn’t skate backwards and forwards who had trouble going forward.  Goalie for that team?  It was yours truly, but only after the captain promised that if I bought all the equipment, I would play every game, no matter how bad I was (and I was plenty bad).  When we ordered jerseys, there was no question what number I wanted: 30, Joe Daley’s number.  Our team that year resembled the first year Sabres: what we didn’t have in skill, we made up in camaraderie.  I often faced a ton of shots; unlike Daley, I was happy with the occasional save.

After the season was over, a goalie friend of mine begged me for my autographed Grant Fuhr jersey.  I wasn’t a huge Fuhr fan so I agreed, on one condition—that he have a Buffalo Sabres Joe Daley jersey made up for me.

The jersey became kind of a running joke with the guys I grew up with.  They all knew that when they would say, “Joe Daley?”  I would respond with, “He belongs!”  The jersey began to achieve a reputation of its own.  Before going to important Buffalo Bills’ games, I would get the call from a friend, “You wearing the Daley?”  At the games, walking into the stadium, at least two or three voices would yell, “Joe Daley? Great jersey!”  All told, the jersey had a lifetime win-loss-tie record of 21-6-3, including NHL games, NFL playoff games, and one memorable outdoor NHL game. In its later years, the jersey was reserved for only the most important games, as I knew it could only have so much magic in it.

In the back of my mind, I always wondered if I would ever meet the real Joe Daley.  About ten years ago, I found his website, a sports trading card store in Winnipeg, but I never followed through on actually contacting him.  After all, what would I say?  “I’m a 37 year old lawyer who wears your jersey even though you last played for the Sabres thirty years ago.”  Right.  How long until the RCMP would arrive at my door to ask me to please leave Mr. Daley alone.

I guess for a while it was enough for me just to know he was still around.  But then God dropped an out-of-town billionaire named Terry Pegula on the Buffalo Sabres.  It turns out that Pegula had spent years following the Sabres the same way my generation did, listening to the games on the transistor radio.  And what does the new owner do but invite all former Sabres to the last game of the season!

I knew I had to be at the game.  This might be my only chance to actually meet Joe Daley.  The fact that the Sabres needed a point to make the playoffs was important, too, but I was focused on meeting the man behind the jersey.  I called the Sabres to make sure he was coming into town.  I pleaded with a friend to share his tickets with me.  And I suited up for the game, a grey-haired 47 year-old former second grader who only wanted one thing, to meet Joe Daley.

So there I was, in the second period, worried because the Sabres were down 3-2 halfway through the game.  Making the playoffs was starting to look in doubt.  I realized that maybe wearing the jersey wasn’t enough.  Maybe I needed the man himself.

I turned to my friend and said, “Let’s go!”

He looked at me blankly and said, “What?”

“Let’s go, we gotta find Joe Daley!”

It wasn’t just for me anymore, it was for the Sabres—they needed the karma (or so I convinced myself later).

So we walk around the arena, spotting the famous and the near-famous former Sabres who are mingling with the crowd in what is perhaps the best day in the history of the Sabres, for players and fans alike.  But no Joe Daley.

Finally I head to the private box where I see a bunch of former Sabres  watching the game.  Unfortunately, there’s an usher positioned to keep people like me from ruining the former players’ chance to enjoy the game.  In what I can only describe as a Pegula-like move, the usher allows me to approach the box and a Sabres official spots the jersey I am wearing.  He waves me around to the back door, where he welcomes me into a room full of Sabres history .

The next thing I know, I am walking up to a table where there’s a man in his 60s just about to eat a plateful of wings.  “Joe, you’re not going to believe this… “ the Sabres guy says.  The man looks up, sees the jersey I am wearing, jumps out of his seat and literally lifts me off my feet with the biggest bear hug I’ve ever had.

The next ten minutes are a blur of me and Joe Daley.  I tell him about the jersey and its winning record.  I tell him about all the fans through the years who have remembered him.  I tell him about the “Joe Daley” call with the “He Belongs” answer.  And I tell him of the only time I met the late Rick Martin, who at the first game of this season had spotted me wearing a Joe Daley jersey and had come over and shared a beer with me and my friends only because I was wearing that jersey.  Looking at the smile on Daley’s face, I know it’s a close call between which of us is happier, the kid who finally met his idol or the man who now knows he is still remembered forty years after he last played a game in a Sabres’ sweater.  His smile, his bear hug, the joy he has talking hockey: I know I was right to wear this player’s jersey for so many years.  This is a good man.

Being the guy he is, Joe signs my jersey, thereby insuring that the jersey will never be worn again.  He gives me his business card and we agree to keep in touch.  Naturally, the Sabres soon tie the score and make the playoffs.  I met Joe Daley and the Sabres made the playoffs, all in one night.  Could there be anything better?

As I am leaving the arena after the game, I hear people whispering, “Is that Joe Daley?”  I can only think to myself, “No, it’s not.  But it’s pretty great to have you think that I am.”

Chris O’Brien is a partner with the law firm of O’Brien Boyd, LLP.

BREAKING: The Sabres Aren’t So Bad

16 Nov

The clear #1 headline in Buffalo: we like sports again. 

A longed-for Bills win and two straight home Sabres overtime nail-biting triumphs will do that. I miss the way Buffalo feels on a Monday after a great Bills game – the sun is brighter, everyone is happier and friendlier, and even the toll booth collector smiles as he steals another dollar from you. When the wins matter, they feeling is even greater. It has been a while since we’ve experienced that collective mood, and even a poor shade of it yesterday was welcome. 

Image courtesy Sabres.com

 

The Sabres, on the other hand, were never supposed to be bad at all, and their malaise permeated the community unexpectedly. Much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth was expended at their behalf, from yours truly as well. And while I don’t want to gloat not really I love to gloat, no less a source than Ryan Miller agrees with my analysis of the situation.

Audio clip Talking about it on the radio this morning, Miller said there were a lot of new faces, and everyone just needed time to get used to each other.

I don’t think we’re all on the same page and we’re slowly learning about how to play with each other. . . We really do have five or six guys consistently in the lineup who weren’t consistently in our lineup last year. So it makes a difference, especially bringing two defensemen in, a third of your D-corps, and we’re still trying to find the pairings that are going to settle in like last year. 

Like I said, these guys need time. They aren’t the team that started the season in the basement. They also aren’t going to go unbeaten the rest of the year, as they are (4-0-1) in the last five games. Between now and April, they’ll win more than they lose, and settle into the middle of the playoff pack. Good runs can be made from the middle – ask Montreal, Boston and (especially) Philadelphia about last year. 

The Bills will go 0-fer the rest of the season, and the Sabres aren’t out of the woods. But let’s have a little optimism – the Sabres are suddenly only two spots out of the playoffs, and there is a lot of reasons to feel better about the rest of the season: 

1) Derek Roy. Who thought that Roy would respond to the wilting criticism he got at the end of last season by crushing it out of the gate, being seventh in the NHL in scoring, and on pace for a 34 goal/92 point campaign, at the one quarter mark? Yeah, me neither. Roy (right now) is proof that old dogs sometimes find new tricks and can improve to give you more, even 6 years into their career. I hate to say it, but he’s the best defensive forward on the team, hustles on the back check, comes up with big goals, and says all the right things in the media. Put the “C” on him, now, and watch him flourish. 

2) Steve Montador. Yes, you read that right. Not only is he on pace for a 42 point season (12 goals, 30 assists), but he leads the NHL in +/- at +12. So all that offense isn’t keeping him from being tidy in his own end. He’s part of breakout D-corps, which leads me to . . . 

3) Defensemen other than Tyler Myers: We’ve spent so much time noticing how bad Myers has been out of the gate, and how frustratingly slow and behind Rivet has seemed, that we aren’t paying attention to the seasons Montador, Leopold, and Sekera are having. Our defensemen, collectively, lead the NHL in goals. This from a group who couldn’t buy a goal a year or two ago. Myers is coming around, slowly, with the help of Sekera, of all people. 

4) Real Lines: I love Lindy to death, but his line combinations make me pull my hair out. Hopefully the success the last couple games shows that his “Fore-checker-scorer-grinder” plan for each line was flawed. Instead, we have a Real Top 3 line: Vanek – Roy – Ennis. I love it – a real threat to score every time they are on the ice, our best talent fielded at once. They are coming through with the goals when we need them. We also have a Real Forecheck/Shut Down Line (Niedermayer – Greer – McCormick) and a Real Checking Line (Gaustad – Ellis – Kaleta). Sure I’d like to see Hecht demoted to the Forecheck, and McCormick back on the fourth line. But this is the best we’ve had yet. I hope Lindy notices. 

Yes, the Sabres have issues. The team looks better with Stafford out of the line up, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I also avoided the Connolly (-7) – Pominville (-7) – Hecht (-4) line, because they are the epitome of the Regeir era: overhyped, over-loved internally, disappointing, soft. Better that they are lumped together than they spread their mediocrity to the other lines. Butler is still struggling – I say put in Weber for the physicality and meanness. And NO ONE seems willing to throw a punch anymore. Gaustad and Kaleta need to get the memo that their game is suffering, though it pains me to say so. But take solace in what we have, and the fact that we are moving in the right direction.

Run the Option

23 Sep

I can’t do it. I can’t watch another debacle, waste another Sunday afternoon, turning away from the television screen in disgust. I can’t ruin all my Autumn weekends on this pitiful performance. I am, of course, talking about the Buffalo Bills.

Miami was frustrating. Green Bay was embarrassing. New England this week will be disgusting, and even harder to watch. After a loss to the J E T S Jets Jets Jets, Brady and Belichick will want to run up the score. I feel bad for my team.

Which is why Chan Gailey, with nothing to lose, needs to think outside the box. Benching Trent and going with Fitz is nice, but only a start. Try something new. Be inventive. He has a chance like few coaches to try something completely different. Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? He should have carte blanche.

Which is why Chan Gailey should run the Option. Be the wacky but effective Air Force of the NFL.

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If you have no quarterback, but have three above average running backs, including one potential star, then logic tells me to run the Option full time. “But the NFL is a passing league,” you say. I agree. And we can’t pass. So please at least entertain me and confuse defenses for the next 14 weeks.

Step 1: Make the Fitz switch permanent. Trade Edwards for a bag full of footballs, or dump him on the street. I don’t care which. Fitz is smart enough to run this offense, humble enough to accept 10 throwing attempts a game, and willing enough to throw a long ball once in a while when its called for to surprise the defense.

Step 2: We get 50 plays from scrimmage a game. Run the Wildcat with Jackson in charge for 25, let Fitz hand off the ball for another 15, and throw for 10. Perfect game: two of the three running backs get over a hundred on the ground, and Fitz is 7 for 10 and 100 yards in the air. 40 runs and 10 passes plays to our strengths, and should be confusing enough for the opposing defense, even with obvious 3rd down passing plays required. 

Step 3: Trade Lee Evans. He makes too much money to be wasted in this new offense, and he won’t be around by the time the Bills contend for the playoffs again. Better to trade him for draft picks as we rebuild. I like Lee. I’ll miss him. But if you love something, set it free. Let Lee go be the superstar he can be on a team that knows how to get him the ball.

I see no downside. The offensive line and tight ends get a full year to concentrate on learning to run block. Our receivers are terrible, and we won’t miss their contribution anyway. Roscoe Parrish will get one end around a game, and be the most prolific of his career. We have no quarterback to develop anyway – when we draft one next year, we can implement a real NFL passing offense then.

I think the players could get behind this too. I keep hearing now mean and nasty Eric Wood is. So prove it. I’m imagining this scene in the Bills locker room this week, once Gailey tells his team the news, that they are switching to the Option.

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I want to see Wood throwing around some chains. I want to see Hangartner slamming some beer kegs on the floor, and Stupar heaving those Kettle Bells up in the air. I want to see the line a freight train in front of Jackson’s pitch to Lynch. 

Run the Option. Before it’s too late.

Plus la même chose

6 Oct

1. The Bills lost on Sunday? Oh, gosh, what a surprise. During my 8-year residency in WNY, I can’t recall a time that the Bills weren’t a disappointing vessel of suck. They’ve sucked pretty suckily since 2006, and now people are calling for Dick Jauron’s head on a platter? He’s sucked since jump street. I’m surprised he wasn’t given an extra 10 years on his contract first thing yesterday.

2. A guy who blew the whistle on lackadaisical prosecution of alleged Election Law violations is fired, and then vilified by people who chomp on squab testicles every day. Former ADA Sacha – who, upon information and belief is not a perfect and infallible person – brought up lots of good points and troubling issues. Well, I guess by shooting the messenger everything will get all clean and whatnot.

3. I wonder who it is who called gliberarians Nazis? The person who runs all of the local glibertarian circle-jerkeries has posted about two items where he defends libertarianism against charges of being Nazis. These are, of course, charges that he has made up out of thin air because it’s easier for him to be a petulant little victim. It’s not that you’re a Nazi – it’s that you’re ________. (You, dear reader, can fill in the blank in comments).

4. Whoever finished the I-87 interchange with I-84 in Newburgh, thus eliminating the need to jog onto Route 300 and join local traffic deserves a medal. Also, why that interchange wasn’t finished oh, like 40 years ago when the damn roads first intersected each other is more proof that New York is run by numbskulls, and always has been.

5. Hey, another escape from an Erie County Holding Center. Hey, the buck(y) didn’t stop with Tim Howard. It never does.

Anyhow, here’s a couple more pretty pictures from my weekend away.

Penises on McKelvin's Lawn

17 Sep
McKelvin catches a phallus

McKelvin catches a ball

You have to be a real dick to go to a Bills player’s home and deface it.

It’s a football game. They lost. Astonishingly, the Earth still spins on its axis, and still orbits the Sun. Leave the players and their families alone. Vandalizing their homes with pictures of schlongs in a residential neighborhood? That’s way over the line.

Dukes of Awesome

2 Apr

The Dukes have a new URL and pledge to post more frequently. I generally don’t give a crap about sports blogs – even Buffalo ones (BfloBlog being the chief exception), but the Dukes of Awesome are funny.

In my old age, I’ve decided that if you have no sense of humor, you’re shit.

So check ’em out.

Jamie Moses on the Arts

23 Mar

Buffalo Rising posted Artvoice Publisher Jamie Moses’ acceptance speech given recently at the 23rd Annual Arts Awards Luncheon.

It rambles a bit and reads a bit like a rant, and I don’t think the Buffalo News is what’s keeping arts in Buffalo down, but he makes some interesting points about the arts being an economic engine of their own, rivaling even the Sabres and Bills.

The International Bowl

2 Jan

It seems as if half of all Buffalo will be in Toronto Saturday watch the UB Bulls take on the Huskies in the International Bowl.

The WNYMedia.net sports guys will be liveblogging starting around 11am on the 3rd:

http://www.coveritlive.com/index2.php/option=com_altcaster/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=28f176f56d/height=550/width=470

The Problem

8 Dec

The problem with playing a couple-three Bills games in Toronto is that, while it might make you richer and help build the team’s regional appeal, it pisses off the local folks who bust their asses every week to afford tickets to go to your games.

Twoeightnine at BfloBlog wrote this:

The season, the team, the coaching, the ownership and this Toronto experiment. I can’t think of a better word to describe it all. I’m sure Kevin will have much more to say, I’m at the point where I just don’t care anymore. The only positive I can take out of this season is the complete joke (for everyone but Ralph’s wallet) that is the Toronto Bills. Seriously, take a look at that crowd. I think Ted Rogers himself was sitting in every other seat. Who tarps over hundreds of seats against the sidelines at midfield? I’m guessing the answer, should anyone ask and they won’t, is that you can’t sell those tickets because of the sight lines. Looking at pictures of Argos games they do the same thing then but they cover less seats. Probably because of demand. I heard that they get 200,000 requests every year. And don’t even get me started on the tailgating.

*Update. Watching the news right now and I guess Ralph’s response to the game was that the “team doesn’t have enough talent.” I’m not even sure where to start with that. So much is and isn’t said with that statement that my mind can’t even process it yet. Thoughts?

I’m starting to wonder whether Torontonian buzz over the Bills is not dissimilar to Buffalonian buzz over the Argonauts.

I’m also glad the girls were watching a Christmas movie, so I was spared watching the not-sold-out game.