Archive for the 'I’m New' Category

“Must” Win

The expression “must win” always cracks me up.  It’s so overly dramatic.  I have a difficult time determining when exactly a win becomes a “must”.  I mean, sure, game 7 of a playoff series is a must win, but other than that, I think it’s a tough call to make.

Even when a particular game is obviously super-duper, mega-important, I’m still uncomfortable with the expression “must win”.  The phrase seems to imply an “or else”.  It’s a must win….or else….what?  We miss the playoffs?  Kate cries?  Buffalo is swallowed into a sink hole?  Or else what?

In spite of myself, I started thinking in terms of “must wins” about ten games ago.  Games would come along, and I’d think, “Dude, the Sabres MUST beat the Senators.  This is a MUST WIN,” but then the Sabres would inevitably lose and the next morning I’d wake up to discover I had somehow survived the experience.

I’m shy about declaring a game a “must win,” because I want to preserve my right to be all gung-ho and hopeful about the Sabres tomorrow.  If tonight is a “must win” and they lose, well, that’s the end, right?  That’s lame.  So, I’ll add a qualifier for tonight-  This game against the Flyers is a “kind of must win”.

The Sabres kind of must win this game so that they kind of makes the playoffs, and Buffalo kind of doesn’t get swallowed by a sink hole, and I kind of don’t cry.

You Look Different Today

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I can’t believe Timmy woke up on “sign a 9 million dollar contract day” and thought, “I’ll record this day by wearing my polar bear pelt-lined Dickies jacket and my giant knit cap.  I love hats with preposterously small bills.  Especially when worn backwards! ”

Darcy, you nailed it.  Call me.

Going into the trade deadline I was advocating for BIG CHANGE, and that’s really not at all what happened yesterday.  In fact, yesterday was a pretty strong declaration that the Sabres intend to stay the course.

I like it.

I don’t pretend to know why I think the things I do, okay people?  I just have a thought or a feeling about the Sabres, and then I write it down here, on the interwebs.  It’s not for me to attempt to decode the vast mystery that is being a sports fan and a crazy bitch.  I just report the thoughts and feelings as they occur.

I am happy to report, I love the Sabre again.

I went to the game last night more excited to see the Sabres than I’ve been in a long time, and the Sabres rewarded my enthusiasm with a dominating performance.  Maybe it’s all just the result of seeing Goose spread his mighty wings and pot a shorthanded goal, but the “same old” Sabres are suddenly looking shiny and new.

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Hel-lo.  Ales, you look smashing.

Good Seats

Last night Heather and I took in a game from the 6th row, sitting directly to the left of the tunnel to the visitors dressing room.  This was quite a different perspective for me, because I usually sit up in the balcony with the riff-raff.

Things you notice when sitting in the 6th row that you don’t notice in the balcony

- The rink looks TINY and the players look MASSIVELY LARGE.

- Right above the tunnels to the dressing room behind the benches, there is a pane missing from the glass.  I’ve never noticed that before on television, but let me tell you, when you are sitting directly behind the missing pane of glass you’re suddenly hyper aware of the fact that it’s not there. Heather and I totally could have died at that game.  We’re lucky to be alive, frankly.

- The hockey players are really, really, really good at ice skating.  I found myself hugely distracted by their fancy footwork.  When you’re sitting that close the speed seems incredible.  The fact that they are leaping around doing goofy little pirouettes while pushing a little black disc around with a stick just seems insane.

- We got a lot of time to check out the Ducks while they were standing around near their bench, so, here is my highly professional report on them:  I don’t care how much you scoff at his 70’s porn star mustache, George Parros is hot.  I’m worried that maybe I think he’s hot because of the mustache rather than in spite of it.  Which, when you think about it, brings up a whole cornucopia of other disturbing issues, not the least of which is that I caught myself wondering if Netflix carries any 70’s porn in its inventory.  I dunno.  The Parros thing was kind of confusing.  Ryan Getzlaf is reeeeally ugly (even before Goose demolished his face).  Rob is better looking than Scott.  Chris Pronger reminds me of blond guy who played the villain in all the 80’s high school dramas- the guy who got knocked out by the Karate Kid.  That guy. (I’m actually not sure if this idea was planted in me by another hockey blogger, or if I came up with that likeness myself.  Either way, it’s totally true.)

- Derek Roy really is just a wee little fella.

- I was paying close attention to Goose’s faceoffs.  I’ve noticed him doing it on television, but sitting so close it’s very noticable how he’s constantly pointing at his teammates and telling them where to stand.  The rest of the Sabres just dutifully shuffled around until they were arranged to his liking.  At one point he was rearranging them over and over.  He’d be like, “Pommerdoodle, you stand there.  No wait.  Timmy you stand there. Okay, now Jaro and Pommerdoodle switch places.  No, no, go back.  No.  Not like that.  Staffy!  Why are you way over there?  Come closer.  NO!  TOO CLOSE!  Yeah.  There.  You stay there, Timmy.  Good.”  It was totally odd, but really fun to watch.  It’s possible he was just switching them around as the Ducks scooted around, but I couldn’t figure out the pattern at all.  To my untrained eye it just looked like Goose was having an OCD moment, and I half expected one of the other Sabres to suddenly be all, “GOOSE!  Snap out of it!  We’re FINE where we are!” but they never did.  They just went where he told them to go without any lip.

- When you’re sitting super close, you occasionally feel like you are looking at animals in a zoo, until all of a sudden one of those animals makes direct eye contact and you get all weirded out.

Things you DON’T notice in the sixth row:

- For the most part, I had no idea what the hell was going on with the game.  I could see most of the surface of the rink, but the net on the far side of the ice was at an incredibly odd angle.  I tried to look at the jumbotron when the play was down there, but the camera was on the other side, so the action on the screen was opposite from what I was looking at.  The end result was that I had a surprisingly difficult time keeping track of the game.  I’m not sure how many games I would have to see from that vantage point before I got used to it, but I suspect it would be a lot.

- I cannot accurately judge how well the Sabres played.  The energy just DRAINED out of the arena once the Ducks scored their shortie, but overall the Sabres didn’t look that bad to me.  They certainly didn’t look great, Lalime obviously could have been better, but other than that….I don’t know.  *shrug*  I was too busy looking at the clear tape they use to keep their socks up to also keep track of their playing.  The Sabres need Miller and Vanek back, ASAP if they want to make the playoffs.  Duh.

- I have no idea what happened with Goose and Getzlaf at the end there.  It happened on the far side of the rink, and I never saw the replay because I was too busy staring in horror at Goose laying facedown and motionless on the ice.  Then, Getzlaf walked right by us with blood and guts everywhere.  It was gee-ross.  I’ve heard some squawking that Goose’s hit was dirty, and if that’s true I will be so sad, and I will always blame Jerry Sullivan for ruining everything.

Like a Virgin….

..touched by high definition television for the very first time.

Of course I’ve seen hockey in HD before, but right now, for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying it from the comfort of my own home.  Until today, I’ve been watching hockey on a 19 inch television that I bought at Target in 1999 for $129.  (No, I’m not kidding.)  Before I started watching sports I couldn’t have cared less about HD, but things are different now.  I put it off as long as I could bear it, but last week I broke down and ordered the television.  It arrived this afternoon.

I am literally sitting here with my mouth agape.

My Super Sporty Holiday Weekend

When you look at this rundown of how I spent my MLK holiday weekend, please consider the fact that before the spring of 2007, I rarely, if ever watched sports.

Friday: Went to the Bandits game.  The Bandits won 23-6.  You guys, in a lot of ways I like Bandits games more than I like Sabres games.  I have no angst about the Bandits, and even if I wanted to get angsty about the Bandits, I couldn’t, because they seemingly always win.  The Bandits are just good, clean fun.

Saturday: Along with Heather B, I went over to Gambler’s house to watch the Sabres beat the Hurricanes.   Gambler is one of the first friends I made in the hockey blogosphere and it’s kind of ridiculous that I hadn’t met her before now.  (She was there waaaaaaay back in the day when I was inconsolable about Chris Drury. I know it’s hard to believe now, but when it happened, I took the Drury thing pretty hard.  Gambler was there for every pathetic twist and turn of my earliest sports neuroses.)  As expected, Gambler is hilarious and great fun, and so are her parents.   It never ceases to amaze me how well online friendships transfer to real life.  Basically, the Gamblers kick all sorts of ass, and if you get invited to chill with them at Casa di Gambler, you really ought to accept.  You won’t be sorry.  Thanks for such a fun evening, guys!  (Also, if you don’t already, you better be reading Gambler’s blog.  Desperation Hockey is top notch.)

Sunday: I went over to Dinesh and Jeannine’s and watch the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game.  I’m rooting for the Steelers because I think Mike Tomlin is extremely handsome.

Monday: Hockey at home.  All hail Ryan “Crunchy” Miller.

If I could go back in time two years and tell my former self that in January of 2009, I would happily watch sports for four nights in a row I would have said, “Future Self, you are clearly from an alternate dimension, because that’s bonkers.  I would NEVER watch lacrosse, hockey, football, and hockey on four consecutive nights.  Never.  Get out of town before you destroy the space/time continuum by filling my head with nonsense about a future that simply cannot be.”

4 Things

1.  I’m feeling deep sympathy for long time Bills fans today.  Yesterday afternoon I actually wrote a whole blog post joking about how I was feeling really maternal towards broken Bills fans, and how I wanted to cradle all of Western New York to my bosom and gently rock everyone to sleep with reassuring shushes and hopeful promises that someday it will all be okay……but then I listened to WGR for a few minutes at the conclusion of the game, and I heard the callers, and I realized that I do NOT want to rock those drunken angry people to sleep against my bosom, so I axed the entire post.  I wish Bills fans all the happiness and peace in the world, but the bosom thing is a definite “no go”.

2.  It’s amazing how many shifts in attitude one season of hockey can bring.  It’s possible that I was infected with an excess of holiday spirit (I love Thanksgiving), but I enjoyed watching the Sabres as much last week as I have at any point since I became a fan.  I absolutely loved watching the Sabres last week.  I thought they were scrappy, determined, and all-around appealing.

3. I really, really, really, really, really, hope the Sabres scrap the third jersey “schedule” and just wear them at every home game for the remainder of the season.  I’ve written in the past about how I don’t hate the buffaslug, but frankly, now that I’ve seen the new jerseys in action at the arena, I never want to see the team in the slug jerseys again.  Ever.  From the start, I’ve viewed this whole “updated version of the vintage uniform” scheme with unmasked cynicism.  I resent the obvious cash grabbing motivations of the Sabres organization and I have no intentions of buying the new jersey.  That said, I was unprepared for how much an attractive jersey would add to my Sabres experience.  I think the new sweaters look too dark on television, but in person they are freaking glorious.  You may now consider me a convert.  The slug has got to go.

4. I’ll be at the game tonight. (Anne save some green cotton candy for me, please.)  This will be my seventh game already, which is a signifigant increase from my attendance pace from last season.  When I bought all these tickets I wasn’t positive that I’d love such a rigorous game schedule, but I do.  I love it.  I want season tickets, and I want them bad.

My Approach

One of the things that amuses me about my new fascination with sports is that I have very little context in which to place all this new information. This has created a funny situation where I’m purposefully approaching sports from a rather quirky angle. I mean, even if I stay ravenously interested in sports for the next twenty years, I’ll still never be “caught up”, so why even bother? I like how I can digest this stuff at my own pace and according to my own tastes.

Take Friday for example.

I was listening to the radio and some guy filling in for Jim Rome was interviewing a football player named Tony Gonzalez. Now, I’m sure that many of you have heard of Tony Gonzalez, and you probably have a variety of opinions about him and his football playing. Friday was the first I had ever heard of this guy, so it was with some interest that I listened to him talking about his non-legal, spiritually binding marriage, and a crazy story about saving a guy’s life by administering the Heimlich Maneuver in a restaurant. (Weirdo commitment ceremonies? Heroic deeds? A vegan football player? Sign me up, Tony Gonzalez!) I totally liked what I heard from Tony Gonzalez, enough so that I decided to look him up this morning on the interwebs.

Here’s how my “I want to learn about Tony Gonzalez” process went:

1. Google him. Results: Meh. Boring. This is all about football. Ew.

2. Google image search him. Results: Hmm. Interesting. Tony Gonzalez is fetching.

3. Read his Wikipedia page. Results: Totally boring. This is not the information I seek.

4. Go to SportSquee to Read “The Girls’ Guide To Football: Kansas City Chiefs” Results: Rats! There is no such Girls’ Guide! I poke around SportSquee until I realize there is no one besides Margee that I trust to tell me the truth about Tony Gonzalez. (The question being: Is he actually cool? Or is he secretly lame?) I’m sure she knows the truth, so I emailed her.

5. Wait around for Margee to get back to me. (I’ll let you know what she says.)

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It’s an amazing age we live in, isn’t it?

In short, I am the type of sports fan who spends tons of money on sports. I read and write about sports everyday. I very carefully assess the sports media, and I have clear ideas about what I like and what I don’t like. I think about hockey almost every single day even though it’s July; at the same time, I have no idea where ESPN is on my cable dial and I almost completely ignore my local paper’s extensive coverage of my favorite sports team.

One of the things that I like about sports is that it is news, but it’s not really that important. I keep one wary eye on politics and international news, but I’m a bit embarrassed to say, I only do it out of a sense of duty. I feel a certain grim responsibility to keep track of the real news. I don’t feel this sense of responsibility towards sports. I follow sports because I enjoy it, and if I ever stop enjoying it I’ll simply stop paying attention, and I’ll do so without a single speck of guilt.

I love how all this adds up to getting to turn to SportSquee when I want to get to the bottom of the situation. Just to be clear, I’m not being even remotely sarcastic. I love that “sports” is this massive topic that I can attack with the most hilarious, whimsical weapons in my arsenal.

Sports are fun.

Graduation Day!

I realized tonight that this week marks the one year anniversary of my hockey fandom. After the Sabres were eliminated from the ECF last spring, I underwent the strangest transformation. I wanted to continue watching hockey, even without an obvious rooting interest. When I found myself inexplicably drawn to the remaining games of the WCF, I knew that my attraction to hockey ran deeper than just my attraction to the Sabres. I spent the remaining ’07 playoffs practically studying the sport, and suddenly, hockey was a major part of my life.

One year, and one blog later, here we are.

I’ve spent the entire season trumpeting my “newness”. “I’m just a new fan,” I’d squawk, as I said something purposefully ridiculous. “I don’t know what I’m talking about!” Now, a lot of the time I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m ready to make an admission: I don’t say ridiculous things because I’m a new fan, I say ridiculous things because I’m…um…..ridiculous. I’ve learned a lot this season, and it’s time to fess up that I’m not quite as dumb as I’d have you believe. We are now entering the part of a hockey season I have carefully witnessed before. This will be my second Stanley Cup Finals, and my second off-season, and my second July 1st.

While I can’t really claim to be a new fan anymore, I’m certainly not a seasoned vet either. I’m something in between. I’m a hockey fan “tween”, if you will. If the first year of my fandom was the Brownies, I think I’ve now graduated to the full fledged Girl Scouts. I’m growing up, folks! Once, I was bright-eyed and innocent, and now I’m a moody, hockey-loving preteen. It’s time I packed away my brown vest, and stepped into my green jumper.

I’m not a baby anymore.

Being a Hockey Brownie was great. I got to spend a full season finger painting and splashing in the shallow end of the pool, but I’m ready for some real challenges. Hockey Girl Scouts are expected to learn a bunch of skills, and earn badges, and sell cookies and stuff. I’m ready. Now, please don’t expect this transition to be altogether graceful. Preteens are notoriously strong-willed and difficult to reason with, and I’m already displaying these unattractive characteristics in spades. Heh.

5 Confilicting Feelings At The End Of The Season

1. I’m really sad that the season is over. I’m going to desperately miss Sabres hockey during this long offseason. The Sabres in their current incarnation are….not that good, but I’m still going to miss them.

2. I was pretty stunned by how depressing it was to see the Sabres lose last night. I mean, we’ve spent the entire season on the outside of the playoff picture, and yet, there was a large part of me that was genuinely shocked to see the season come to an official end. I didn’t even realize how much I still believed that a miracle was on the way. My capacity for hope, enthusiasm, and optimism took me by surprise this year.

3. I believe the Sabres will be better next year, I really do, but over the last few days it has come into sharp focus how we as fans have no control over any of this, and it has left me questioning the whole enterprise. I’ve read a lot of analysis of the Sabres in the last two days. Some of it is angry, some of it is hopeful, some of it is “the sky has fallen” some of it is “just wait until next year”. For a gal who writes a hockey blog, I have remarkably little interest in dissecting the season. How odd that I’m willing to place so much emotion and energy into a team, but when it comes time to take a look at what happened, my entire attitude is “Meh. It is what it is.” What it “is” SUCKS ASS, but so does a lot of stuff. I’ve spent more time fretting about the Sabres this year than I ever thought possible, but it’s sort of a relief to discover I still have the ability to shrug my shoulders and say, “What are ya going to do? It’s just a game.” (Except for when I think about Crunchy’s upcoming free-agency. When I think too hard about Crunchy’s contract I can’t sleep….or breathe. Hee.)

4. Everyone keeps saying, “It’s good they will miss the playoffs. Squeaking in would have given them a false sense of accomplishment. This failure will be good for them in the long run,” and “They would have been demolished in the first round.” I absolutely agree with both of those statements…..and yet. I fell in love with hockey during the playoffs last year. I’m incredibly disappointed that I don’t get to see my first hockey team play in the playoffs. I know, I know, they would have been destroyed by either Montreal or Pittsburgh in the first round. I don’t care. I refuse to budge on this one. I feel personally cheated by the short season.

5. This team, for all of their faults and inadequacies is my first team, and no matter what, I will always remember them fondly. Several times this season I have tried to express my odd gratitude about the current state of the Sabres, and I’ve never felt I was able to make myself clear. I’ll try again: I jumped on board with this sport as a bandwagoner last spring, but this gnarly season has afforded me the opportunity to earn some baby stripes as a real fan. This was no kind of season for the bandwagon fan, and I’m proud to say that my love of hockey and of the Sabres only grew as the season progressed. Furthermore, I’m not sorry that due to this lost season, history will separate this Sabres team from the teams that came before. I like that any future Sabres success will be a result of something that happens in the future. I’ve missed a lot of Sabres hockey, but I guarantee, from now on, I’ll be there. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.

Let Go Buff-a-lo!

Happy Dyngus Day!

I am deeeelighted to have three days off without Sabres hockey. I needed it. Even with the nice offensive bonanza before the Toronto loss, I was feeling a bit wore out. It feels like we’ve been in the home stretch forever.

The Sabres are in a pretty tight spot. The odds are against them for sure. Every game from here on out is the most important game of the season, and we’ve got some fairly problematic teams on the docket.

Before we jump back into the do-or-die final stretch, I’d just like to say one thing: This season, while frequently frustrating, has been a blast. Blogging about the Sabres has been a hoot and it’s enriched my life in ways I never could have anticipated. Thanks for joining me, guys!

(Why do I feel like I’m one of the musicians at the end of “Titanic” who were all, “It’s been an honor and a privilege playing music with you tonight,” while the ship slowly slipped into the watery abyss? Heh.)

(Buck up, people! We’re not dead yet!)


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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