Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chara In The Box

Chara In The Box by kel h
Chara In The Box, a photo by kel h on Flickr.

every time I hear announcers talk about "Chara in the Box' this is what I picture. WORST. CHILDRENS TOY. EVER

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rooting for: Don Beebe

I plan to feature athletes I find particularly enjoyable, regardless of what team they're on and explore what it is about them that appeals to me.

The first one of these was originally going to be on David Ortiz, but I realized that I should start with the athlete, and the moment, that captures the spirit of this series for me. I'd like to think of him as the unofficial mascot of this blog. That man, and that moment....

I know, I know.....its hard watching those superbowls even after all these years. The game was pretty much a blow out at this point, yet Don Beebe was still in the game. As Marv Levy (head coach of the Buffalo Bills at the time) said of Beebe: "Don showed what a fighting heart is about. He gave everything he had all of the time". As a Bills fan, and as a Buffalonian, you have to take satisfaction in the little victories. We may not have won that Superbowl, but Don Beebe didn't let Leon Lett showboat and get away with it. (Also, I hate showboating. HATE IT).

Buffalo isn't a terribly flashy city. It has a lovely art gallery (seriously, if you're in ever in Buffalo, the Albright Knox is a must), amazing weather in Summer, beautiful architecture from a time long past, a great Orchestra (with a violist who is also has a really fun Sabres blog) and people who are kind and friendly and work hard. The athletes that the folks in Buffalo embrace tend to reflect these traits. The city LOVES its lunchpail type athletes. Athletes like Lindy Ruff, Steve Tasker, Don Beebe, and Chris Drury who do the hard work it takes without so much of the showboating and arrogance you see in sports today. And in Drury's case it's a heartbreaker when they aren't as into us as we are into them. As a Buffalo sports fan I was (and am) angry and outraged at LeBron because I feel a spiritual kinship with "the mistake by the lake" (also, Major League is the best sports movie ever). If Buffalo still had an NBA franchise it could have just as easily been us.

of course, kid couldn't jump two feet without landing on his head....

but he played hard, and was recognized by the league for his work ethic and character. That commitment to the job at hand was captured in that one moment when he slapped the ball out of Lett's hand. It illustrated that giving your all, even when the final outcome may not be changed, is still worthwhile. Or at least it did to me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Hockey Heaven Means to Me

me and missy at the ralph by kel h
me and missy at the ralph, a photo by kel h on Flickr.

(this post was written as an entry in the Buffalo Sabres Nation Hockey Heaven contest. I was one of the two winners selected and I get a super sweet T-Shirt from the folks at Hockey Heaven. The picture above is me and my sister AKA Her Heiny Granger of the Queen City Roller Girls' Devil Dollies)

I was born during the game that put the Sabres in their first Stanley Cup Final. Legend has it my dad had the game playing in the delivery room, and when I came home from the hospital he would rock me while watching the games on TV. I’ve been a Sabres fan since I was born, and Feb 22nd felt like a new beginning. For me Hockey Heaven is a rebirth, with the team and fans coming together as a hockey family. Seeing the Pegula family handing out programs, alumni welcomed back with open arms, and fans being truly listened to all reminded me of what brings me back to the Sabres year after year. It’s that sense of belonging to a community all dreaming of and working towards one common goal. Now we’re ALL united as a family, working towards the same vision: bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo.

Here's some old tyme hockey for ya!

Friday, July 1, 2011

It Gets Better....with the Boston Red Sox

OK, I didn't think it was possible to like Kevin Youuuuukilis any more....and then he took part in making the It Get's Better video from the Red Sox, and admitted that he went into therapy.

There is an blurb in the Globe about who's in the video. Props to the SF Giants and Cubs for making videos supporting GLBT youth and speaking out against bullying.

Kids who identify as Gay Lesbian Bisexual or Transgendered are four times more likely to try to kill themselves. Sports are one area that is particularly rife with homophobia, as seen in multiple players in the NBA using anti-gay slurs to insult refs and fans, and a sports management team tweeting against marriage equality in response to Sean Avery's support for New York's marriage equaility bill (which left a lot of hockey fans in the unusual position of agreeing with Sean Avery about something). There has never been an active athlete in a major sport who has come out while playing. John Amaechi came out after he retired, and Brian Burke's son Brendon came out while involved with Miami University's hockey team (and tragically died in a car accident), but that's as close as it has gotten.

I'm curious which of the four major mens sports will have an active athlete come out. Interestingly women athletes have had an easier time coming out, with Martina Navratalova and Sheryl Swoopes both being out while playing.

At any rate, it's nice to see some athletes take a stand and try to reach out to vulnerable kids.

I Believe in Pegula-Claus or: The Haves and The Have Mores

Happy NHL Free Agency Day (AKA NHL Christmas)! Apparently Darcy Reiger (GM for the Buffalo Sabres) was a good boy and is getting everything on his Christmas list so far. It's a new day for Sabres fans, who more used to being played and only beginning to adapt to being playas.

Clip is from Tropic Thunder and is NSFW

I kind of want to see Darcy walk out in his next press conference to this music.

As a Buffalo sports fan, you get used to the label "small market team" and all that it implies:
  • You're lucky you still have a team
  • We can't compete financially with the "big boys"
  • Nobody wants to live/play there
  • We have to be cautious and build through the draft because we can't afford free agency
and there's a narrative around those assumptions. Teams that circumvent the cap are "cheaters", or aren't getting there honestly. We turn these limitations into virtues, and romanticize the situation. David and Goliath. The plucky, loveable undrdogs. USA vs USSR in the "Miracle on Ice"

Well, under Pegula, we're starting to look less like David, and more like Goliath. WE are the team other NHL fans are upset with because of our wheeling and dealing. People are waiving "No Trade Clauses" in their contracts to come to Buffalo. As Corey Grizwold said on Twitter: Kinda weird to be the Red Sox. We are totally the Red Sox now. (By the way, if you are a sports fan and you aren't on twitter yet, you should be. But that's a whole other post).

I'm interested to see how changing the way Buffalo thinks about it's hockey team changes the way it thinks about itself. Pegula didn't just talk about spending more, he talked about changing the culture of the team. So far it seems to be infectious. Twitter is ablaze with rumors and excitement about possible free agents. People are upbeat, and looking forward to October and the start of the season. People are talking about WHEN the Sabres win the cup, not IF.

The more I think about Corey's comment, the more it rings true in a way. The dirty little secret about Boston is that there is a HUGE inferiority complex with New York. The Red Sox vs Yankees rivalry seems to be an externalization of that inferiority complex. The Yankees are the "evil empire" that bought their rings, and the Red Sox are the plucky underdogs....or at least that's how it used to be.

It's a lot harder to pretend to be the underdog when you have the second highest payroll in the game, and baseball's approach to salary management means you can just keep throwing money around as long as you pony up for a "luxury tax". While Bostonians can still be touchy about how we're "not New York", having those rings, and the cup, and the super bowl and NBA Championships can help. At this point you can argue that Boston sports fans are spoiled (and you would be right). You can also argue that the wins have added a bit of a swagger to the town, for good and for not-so-good. It will be especially interesting to see what happens to young fans who weren't around for the lean years of Boston sports and only know a decade of championships as the pendulum inevitably swings the other way.

And it will be interesting to see how winning the cup will change the way people in/from Buffalo respond to their city and their team. As for me, I'm going home for the parade when they win the cup.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Go Socks Go! or Why a Sports Blog?

My name is Kelly, and I am a sports fan in Boston.

Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal. Turn on ESPN...heck, turn on CBS and you're likely to see someone with a Red Sox hat on. "Loudmouth Boston sports fan" has become a "type" in pop culture in the last decade. From the outside, it looks like every single fan lives and dies with the Sox, the Pats, the Celts, and the Bruins.

Except almost none of my friends are sports fans.

There is a HUGE pocket of "geek culture" here in Boston. Most of my friends are more likely to know which Sci Fi/Fantasy author has a new title coming out and when than the score of the
latest Red Sox game, and could name several comic book authors before naming three players on the Sox. I'm pretty sure they know even less about football, hockey, and basketball (although they MIGHT know the names Chara and Brady...mostly because they've heard me talk smack about them). The two exceptions are my boyfriend, who is a HUGE Sox fan, and my roommate who has begun to absorb some hockey since both myself and the previous roommate are BIG hockey fans.

I remember sitting in my apartment once explaining to one of my roommates why the other team had to give the ball back on a failed fourth down conversion. "Kelly, what's a down?"

A question I get from time to time is, "why care so much about sports?" (especially when I bail on social events to go to the bar to watch a hockey game). We do spend a lot of time, money, and emotional energy on adults that get paid obscene amounts of money to play a kids game...but why?

The other question I get a lot from people from Boston is, why
don't I root for Boston teams? I have become a Red Sox fan (having no Major League team in my hometown of Buffalo, NY), but I still bleed Blue and Gold for the Sabres, and feel that I should list being a lifelong Bills fan on my resume as a testament to my loyalty and dedication in the face of adversity.

Jerry Seinfeld brings this up in a bit he does at the beginning of an old Seinfeld episode. The bit talks about how with free agency, players switch teams all of the time, and when a player like LeBron (BOOOO!) takes his talents from Cleveland to "South Beach", he's still the same guy, so why do we all hate him so much for wearing a different shirt? (BTW, I have a LOT to say about that at some point).

So, what is the point of being a sports fan? There are a million reasons, which is part of what I want to explore in this blog.

Play ball!