Archive for the 'Media' Category

6 Things

1. Happy Valentine’s Day, all you lovable little chickadees! Whether you are in a couple, or as single as single can be, take a minute today to close your eyes and send a few extra love vibes out into the world. After that, celebrate Valentine’s Day however you see fit. Personally, I prefer the “eat some candy-hearts and then otherwise go about my business,” method of celebration.

2. Maybe it’s because of Valentine’s Day (and my belly full of soul-nourishing candy hearts), but I’m just not too worried about the Islanders game. I mean, seriously.  It was one game.  The Sabres kept pace with the Hurricanes, the offense looked robust, Drew Stafford is completely blowing our minds, and it’s warm enough outside that some of this snow is finally going to melt.  Chin up, soldiers!

The bad news: Miller was terrrrrrible (Bad, Ryan!  Bad!), and the defense looked quite poopy.

3. Apparently, things got all cranky and bitch-slappy during the postgame, but whatevs.  People get cranky sometimes, especially cranky goalies when they are in cranky moods. I don’t think I care what goes on between Ryan Miller and the local media. Sometimes Miller’s going to be a brat because he’s a crazy-assed goalie, and being a brat kind of comes with the territory.  *shrug*

Here’s a dramatic interpretation of events that would rouse my genuine interest:

Vogl: Did you feel okay?
Crunchy: (screeching) WHAT ARE YOU IMPLYING?!
Sullivan: He’s not implying anything!
Crunchy: Why don’t you let him speak for himself?!
Vogl: …feces?
Sullivan: You’ve given up 4 goals or more 14 times this season, LOSER.
*Crunchy karate-chops Jerry Sullivan*

Call me if (when?) Miller karate-chops Jerry Sullivan, but until then, I’m unmoved.

(For the record- I have absolutely no problem with how Vogl handled himself in the audio I heard, so it’s probably not very nice of me to reference his famous “feces” twitter-analysis.  But I couldn’t resist.)

4. Would it be nice if Ryan Miller returned to Vezina form? Absoluuutely. Is it reasonable to demand that he do so?  Sadly, no.  Frowny faces all around.  :(

Corey Griswold made a pretty good case yesterday on Twitter that the Miller we’re seeing this season is the real Miller, and that last season was an anomaly. (I believe Corey used the Malcolm Gladwell-approved word, “outlier” to describe Crunchy’s last season.) Corey used a bunch of stats to make this point, so, you can rest assured that numbers and mathematics were consulted when I came to the following conclusion:  Every needs to calm the eff down about Crunchy.

I’m not in the mood to get all pissy about Ryan Miller. He’ll be fine. He’s just doing his thing and unfortunately that thing does not include winning the Vezina every year. That’s a bummer for us.

The Sabres lost yesterday because of Ryan Miller. It’s true. Deal with it.

Be glad it doesn’t happen very often.

If you really have your undies in a bunch about Ryan Miller, you can begin crossing your fingers that he gets traded before the deadline. (Lemme know how that works out for you.)

5. That said, a competent backup goalie would be REALLY HANDY right now.  I have no idea what’s got Miller all out of sorts, but it sure would be nice if there was another NHL-ready goalie on the team. Riding Miller into the ground has always seemed like a bad plan, but it seems like a particularly bad plan this season.

Not only is it a bad plan on an intuitive level (I mean honestly, look at Ryan Miller. He looks like he belongs on a Depression-era soup line), but we’ve seen AMPLE evidence that Miller is not up to the task.  It didn’t work when Lindy played Miller for the entire second half of 07/08, it didn’t work when Lindy played Miller for the entire second half of 08/09, and Miller was not particularly sharp in the playoffs last season (an Olympic year).  In my opinion we’ve waded WELL into “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” territory.

The Sabres need another competent, NHL-caliber goalie on the roster, and they also need a coach who is willing to play him.  They will need this for every year that Ryan Miller is on the team.  (Mr. Pegula, if you’re reading this [and I assume you are], you might want to add that to the list of “needs”.)

6. The thing we really should be talking about today isn’t, “Ryan Miller vs The Local Media, Hair Pulling Galore!”  We should be talking about the wondrous, shocking, titillating, confusing, glorious, and jaw-dropping recent play of Drew Stafford.

Yesterday during the game, Kevin Snow tweeted that Staffy had six goals, on his last six shots.  THAT’S RIGHT, YOU FURRY BEEYOTCHES.  Six shots. Six goals.

Personally, I have absolutely no idea how to analyze Staffy these days.  He’s a mystery, wrapped in a hat trick, and smothered with club sauce.  Staffy is currently the most beloved wonky-browed player on the Sabres, which is title I NEVER thought could be wrestled from Ryan Miller’s bony grasp. This is a stunner, Sabres fans.

Behold, our new Wonky-Browed King:

Nice highlights, Staffy.

Punch-Gate Begets Feces-Gates, And Then We All Just Laugh And Laugh And Laugh.

In case you somehow missed it, Tim Connolly got a mysterious black eye at the Catwalk for Charity. Although he later amended the story, at one point, Matt Barnaby of ESPN claimed Roy-Z punched Timmehin the face. In the day 24 hours after the Catwalk, twitter was abuzz with goofy chatter about Roy-Z and Timmy’s big slap fight. (Roy-Z and Lindy both say it never happened, and not a single person has come forward to definitively say, “I saw Roy-Z pop Tim Connolly in the eye, and I liked it,” so I’m inclined to believe that the whole thing is [hilarious] hogwash.)

Regardless of the what, something happened to Timmy’s eye, so the local media was rightly intrigued, and the next thing you knew, Lindy Ruff and Roy-Z were being asked about it after practice. Connolly is conveniently nursing a groin injury from the comfort of his home, far away from the prying eyes of the Buffalo News.

THEN, John Vogl got compleeeeeetely asinine and wrote this little gem about how it’s ALL TWITTER’S FAULT!  FECES! GET OFF MY LAWN!

I actually think this post is so poorly argued and utterly ill-informed that I’m not even compelled to respond except to say that if Vogl wants to get his newsie-britches all twisted up into a bunch over misinformation on Twitter, he should take it up with former Sabre and current ESPN employee, Matt Barnaby.

Lost in all of the ruckus were a few bits of juicy information:

1. The story that Lindy Ruff is apparently going with (and sticking to!) is that Tim Connolly fell and hit his head while rehearsing a routine that was to be performed during the catwalk. I find this 100% believable (except by “practicing a routine” I think Lindy meant Timmy was, “flailing about like a drunk baboon”), and at LEAST 70% sympathetic.  Who among us hasn’t sustained a minor injury here or there after a few beverages?  It happens, you know?  Unfortunately for Timmy, he’s a handsomely paid professional athlete, so theoretically he and Roy-Z probably should have understood that reenacting the tricky “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” lift from the end of “Dirty Dancing” while drunk backstage at the Catwalk for Charity is inherently risky.  But can you blame them for wanting to put on a good show?  NO!  You can’t!

2. When I first read the Vogl post I found it so irksome that I wanted to leave a comment on Sabres Edge.  I understood that they’ve recently implemented a commenter verification system which makes leaving anonymous comments impossible, but I was willing to jump through their hoops.  I tried to activate my account.  After I gave them my full name, my address, AND my phone number, I waited for an email confirmation that was like, “If you are who you say you are, press this link,” or possibly a text that was all, “If you’re really Katebits, text “Yes, I’m Katebits” to this number.”

Here’s what I got.

Read it and weep.

Yeah, you read that right.  The Buffalo News is sending me a piece of MAIL, that will be delivered to my MAILBOX (not the inbox in my computer, but the actually physical mailbox I have attached to my house), delivered via the US Postal service using an actual STAMP, so that I can begin “commenting right away”.  This is BEYOND redonk.

Now look, I applaud TBN’s for their efforts to eliminate the racist comments left on their articles.  I think it’s healthy to insist that people attach their actual name to what they write on the interwebs, but seriously, this system is absurd.  There has GOT to be a better, faster way to verify that people actually are who they say they are than sending them a piece of mail MADE OUT OF PAPER.

No wonder John Vogl is so confused and angry about Twitter.  If the TBN commenting policy is any indication of how things go over there, Vogl is working in an office that utilizes the technology we’re used to seeing on “MadMen”.

3. There ARE good, social media-savvy people working at the Buffalo News.  @BNHarrington is one of them.  There are many others, but truthfully, I took a Tylenol PM before I started writing this post, and as a result I’m too tired to be linking all over tarnation right now.

4. Ryan Miller has a sad groin.  :(

Scouts

Yesterday Heather tweeted a link to this Globe and Mail article about how the NHL teams with big budgets have much bigger scouting staffs than the on-a-shoe-string teams (like the Sabres).

The article is amusing for a few reasons.  First of all, you get information like this:

By sending one scout to a game who is trained how to use a video camera, he can come back with a DVD that can be studied by several other Sabres scouts.

I know!  They TRAIN professional hockey scouts to use a video camera!  What kind of science fiction world are we living in?  What is this, The Jetsons?  SCOUTS with video cameras?!  WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT?!

And then there is this:

Regier said he has had inquiries from other teams about their system, but so far no one has adopted the model as completely as the Sabres.

I’m pretty sure those inquiries went like this:

Brian Burke: Darcy, I’m calling to inquirer about your new scouting department. That is biz-ONKERS, dude.
Darcy: Well, it’s really quite fascinating.  You see, scientists have invented this crazy device that will record the things that happen at a game.
Brian Burke: ….You mean like a phonograph?
Darcy: Well kind of, but a phonograph is just a sound recording.  With a video camera you can actually see the action too.
Brian Burke: Whoa whoa whoa.  You are BLOWING my mind.
Darcy Regier: Do you want me to tell you more?
Brian Burke: No.  Please slow down.  This is too much to absorb.  I don’t think I can take it.  Just stop talking.

The article prompted Heather and I to have a goofy conversation on Twitter where I admitted that I’ve always imagined that the Sabres are actually sending soulless robots to do their scouting.  I mean, with all the uproar about the Sabres using video technology instead of thinking, feeling human beings, there was only one logical assumption left to make:

Robots are cheaper than people because they don’t need health insurance. THE SABRES ARE CHEAP!

Robot: A.ccord.ing.to.my.cal.cu.la.tions.you.should.draft.Drew.Staff.ord.next.
Darcy Regier: Are you sure, robot?  I mean, he appears to be a brain eating zombie….and a furry.
Robot: I.be.lieve.Drew.Staff.ord.will.be.an.im.por.tant.part.of.the.Sab.res.
or.gan.i.za.tion.
Darcy Regier: But….what about Evgeni Malkin?  Shouldn’t I pick him before Drew Stafford?
Robot: NO.Ev.gen.i.Mal.kin.does.not.compute.does.not.com.pute.does.not.com.pute.
does….not…com….puuuute…
Darcy Regier: Darn it.  This robot is always getting jammed. (slams the robot on the head)
Robot: (whirring back to life) ….a.cord.ing.to.my.cal.cu.la.tions.Drew.Staff.ord.
is.bett.er.at.hoc.key.than.Ev.gen.i.Malk.in.
Darcy: Okay, robot.  If you say so!  Stafford it is!  I’ll pick Malkin in round two…

(I know, I know. The Sabres did NOT actually draft Staffy before Malkin.)

_________

I think that’s enough nonsense for one day.

(Private message to the Sabres: The moral of the story is you should NEVER give me and Heather just a little information.  That’s about the worst thing you could possible do.  You should either explain how your video scouting works completely, or you shouldn’t say anything at all.  As God is my witness, I will believe for the rest of my days that you’re sending Short Circuit to do your scouting.)

2 Things: Schopp and the Bulldog Edition

1.Yesterday afternoon Schopp and the Bulldog had one of the most intelligent and logical conversations about Lindy Ruff that I’ve ever heard in the Buffalo media.

As everyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I’ve been harping on the Lindy issue for many months, but one thing I’m still not sure I’ve ever adequately expressed is that my real interest isn’t in seeing Lindy fired.  For me, the most compelling thing about the Lindy conversation is….the actual conversation.

Hearing a radio show where the callers were essentially challenged to make arguments that go beyond the endless repetition of “He’s one of the best in the league,” and “It’s all Larry Quinn’s fault” and “He’s doing the best with the players he’s got” was extremely refreshing.  Extremely. And the callers came through with intelligent responses. (FOR REAL.)  That was the part of the show that really blew my mind.  A guy called in, and defended Lindy with keen observation and a total lack of sentimentality.  I’m not sure I’ve EVER heard someone do that before.  It rocked, and it made me think about the Lindy issue a little differently.

The case for or against Lindy isn’t clear cut.  There’s quite a lot to discuss once we are operating in a conversational environment where Lindy isn’t in some bizarre blameless bubble.  All I really know for sure is that if Larry Quinn is the devil, and Lindy Ruff is a saint, the conversation is useless because it’s pure fiction.  By clinging to these cartoonish characterizations, we’ve been opting out of discussing the Sabres in any meaningful way.

I’ve been perplexed and frustrated that much of the main stream media in Buffalo has (until very recently) appeared to value Lindy’s quotability over reasoned, critical analysis.   Blogs have been clawing at this issue for awhile, but it’s the main stream media that can really effect the tone of the large scale conversation.  There are two perfectly reasonable sides to this story, and if both are approached with levelheadedness, we can elevate the level of dialog.

Hooray!

2. In addition to interesting Lindy conversations, Schopp and the Bulldog have been talking a lot about the impossible pipe dream idea of Martin Biron returning to Buffalo as Crunchy’s backup.  There are a couple of good arguments to be made in favor of this plan, but the most compelling one is something I hadn’t thought about until Bulldog brought it up.

Ryan Miller is almost certainly going to the Winter Olympics this year.  He might even be the starting goalie.  What are the chances that our high-strung, underweight, prone-to-exhaustion, little scarecrow of a goalie can handle the extra workload with ease?  Yeah…I’m thinking not good.

We need a better backup, and Marty Biron ain’t got no job.

Giggling

Bucky Gleason has a new column which I checked out because it was getting some discussion on Twitter, and the first line made me laugh out loud.  The headline is “Ruff Sends the Wrong Message” and the first line is, “Lindy Ruff is one of the best coaches in the NHL, but…..”  The article goes on to criticize Lindy for toeing the party line about the Sabres roster in comments made from prospect camp last week.

It cracks me up how Bucky castrated his entire column FROM THE VERY FIRST LINE with a qualifier which basically amounts to, “Oh, don’t worry, I KNOW Lindy’s one of the best coaches EVAH!  WOOOOO, Lindy!  Go Lindy!  Go Lindy!  It’s your birthday! It’s your birthday!”

Way to take a hardline stance, Buckster!

Still Funny

I really have no idea why I revisited this video tonight, but before I knew it I had watched it ten more times.  The screen captures are almost funnier than the video.  Every moment of Rob Ray’s shock and horror is just so special, you know?

Picture 27

Picture 11

Picture 12

Picture 13

Picture 14

Picture 15

Picture 16

Picture 19

Picture 20

Picture 22

Picture 24

Picture 26

I will NEVER believe Ray’s story about this incident.  There is no way a pushy journalist caused this reaction.  No way at all. 

(The joke of this post is in the rollover captions.)

OMG, The NHL Is So Dumb.

All day long I’ve been batting around the idea of doing a Sean Avery post, but I just read this, and I am now too dumbfounded to continue.  I….don’t have any idea how to respond to that.  I’m literally speechless.

So, instead of a post about the Sean Avery “sloppy seconds” incident, here is a video of a really funny dog wearing little dog shoes.

Make sure to watch to the end!  (It’s only 45 second long)

3 Things

1.  I (hiLARiously) won the football pool at work, and in doing so immediately became the Annoying Chick In The Football Pool Who Wins Despite Knowing Nothing About Football.  I promise to represent the title well during my reign.  I swear to be as obnoxious as possible as I taunt my coworkers with my awesome decision making system which involved following internal debate: “Who would win in a fight, a bronco or a saint?  A saint has pious righteousness on his side, but a bronco has four wheel drive and optional leather seating.  Hm.   I think the bronco would win easily.”  Apparently it was my pick of the Jaguars over the Colts that clinched my win, which is kind of cool because that was a pick I actually tried to get right by using adult reasoning- that reasoning being, “Wasn’t everyone all worked up because the Bills beat Jacksonville last week?  Jacksonville is supposed to be good. I think the Jags have to win eventually…..and Payton Manning has a bitch face……plus, a colt is no match for a jaguar.”

2.  Bucky Gleason wrote a column (which I refuse to link to because TBN doesn’t keep their archives up and I hate having dead links in my posts) under the headline, “Difficult to be inspired by lackluster performance”.  Really, Bucky?  I think it’s easy.  The column is vintage Bucky.  First he begrudgingly praises the team for the win, then he sagely and condescendingly dispenses advice to the fans to avoid enjoying the win too much, and then he grumps (with juuuust enough validity) about the the mistakes from first the three quarters, and then he completely ignores the rather remarkable manner in which Trent Edwards comported himself in the final ten minutes.  You know, I’m not sure Bucky “gets” sports.  If I can’t enjoy a fun come-from-behind win in which our rookie quarterback looks like a grizzled vet, why on earth would I even be watching football?  I know it’s not Bucky’s job to be a fan, but is it really his job to be a total pill?  I’m concerned that it is.

As far as the headline goes, I happen to have an email from Bucky in my inbox archives in which he personally explains to me that the columnists don’t write their own headlines.  I’ve always been confused about this little bit of publishing protocol.  It seems to me that the headline is rather important and that journalists would feel strongly about how their articles are perceived “at a glance,” but I’m sure there is a good reason that a third party writes the newspaper headlines.  I can only assume that if Bucky could have written his own headline it would have read, “Please Send Help.  The Buffalo News has Kidnapped Me and Locked Me in a Dark, Dank Basement.  I Have No Contact With the Outside World.  I’m Totally Out of Touch.  Please Call the Authorities.”  No wonder TBN insists on writing his headlines!  Poor Bucky!

3.  ModFan is back!  Please go read our Eastern Conference Season Preview right away!  (If you are horrified by the thought of reading another season preview, fear not.  Our team-by-team season preview has a rather pleasant twist:  It’s very short.)

TWC Interviews Mike Schopp, Part 2

Welcome to part 2, of the Mike Schopp interview! You can read part 1, here.

Katebits: How much responsibility do you feel for setting the tone of the sports dialog in Buffalo? Take the Sabres free agency fiasco from last summer for example. Obviously, there was a lot of anger and frustration in the community. How much obligation do you feel to allow that frustration to be voiced? How much responsibility do you feel for helping to facilitate a levelheaded conversation?

Mike Schopp: I suppose I have this responsibility to some extent, but I don’t think about it in that context. Rather, I take pride in helping to set the tone. I think the tone of the calls should match that of the fans in general. But when considering that only a certain small percentage of fans ever feel so strongly about an issue to call in, it can be difficult to accomplish that.

Last summer’s Sabres news is a great example of how this can be challenging. Anytime a rich owner and seemingly distant executives let good, popular players leave, thousands of fans come out of the woodwork to call these men cheap, incompetent, arrogant, etc. But many, many other fans, while not necessarily approving of the moves or the methods behind them, understand the process and accept that these moves were not made in an attempt to sabotage the organization. These people won’t call in to make that point often as they lack the impetus of outrage to do so.

I think that the serious effort we make to represent this more level-headed fan is a huge factor in our success. Our show does not sound like idiotic runaway madness like many, if not most, sports-radio shows do.

Katebits: Do you listen to This American Life? Howard Stern?

Mike Schopp: No, and not anymore. Was a big Stern fan about 10-12 years ago. Learned a lot from that show. My favorite radio show ever to listen to was The Phil Hendrie Show. He’d dream up ridiculous scenarios and proceed to conduct an interview with himself — Hendrie, the host, and some imaginary expert that he would play. Then he would take calls from irate listeners. I’m not sure this makes sense, let me give you an example:

He made up some story about a priest who claimed that God told him to spend church collection money on a hot tub. So he “interviewed” the priest, who was really just him in a different voice. And people would call in just furious that anyone would do that. Genius, and executed beautifully.

Katebits: I seem to recall you metioning having a journalism degree in the discussion after Tim Russert’s death. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that. When you started out as a fresh faced 18-year-old what did you envision doing with your degree? Was sports talk radio always the plan?

Mike Schopp: I graduated from St. John Fisher College in 1993 with a Communications/Journalism degree. Had this job that I have now been prevalent in 1993, I think I would have wanted it exactly. But it wasn’t; there were sports radio shows but not more than one or two stations in the country. And the shows were usually very dry and informational. Back then I wanted to do play-by-play. But this is better for me. Talk offers much more variety and intimacy. I think it’s more challenging than PBP. Announcers put touches on the artwork that is the game they’re calling, while talk-show hosts get blank canvases to work with. Don’t tell anyone, but I think play-by-play is easy.

Katebits: Hold on. Did you just call Rick Jeanneret “easy”? YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, PEOPLE!

Katebits: Are you superstitious? The Sabres are, like, 1-883 with me in the building. This makes me feel sad. Do you think I’m bad luck?

Mike Schopp: 884 games and no overtime losses? Come on, Kate. I bet your record is more like 1-572-235-176-2-40-1. It’s the NHL, after all.

When I was a kid I used to think that if I concentrated really hard on the TV or radio announcer calling a goal for the other team that it wouldn’t happen. Inevitably, I would lose focus and that’s when the Sabres would allow goals. The worst example of this was, with the score tied 5-5 late in the decisive Game 5 of the Sabres’ first-round series with Quebec in 1985, I looked away from the TV and Brent Ashton scored to break the tie and win the series for Quebec. I still blame myself for that one.

No, I’m not superstitious.

Katebits: For me personally, I have a limit to how much sports angst I can deal with before I lose interest. At a certain point I just think, “Eh, I guess Marshawn Lynch is just a big dumb jerk. Whatevs.” I’m curious if this happens to you, and how you deal with your job when it does.

Mike Schopp: My first producer in Buffalo, Steve Cichon, once told me after three hours spent wallowing in Doug Flutie-vs.-Rob Johnson blabbering, that just because I’m sick of talking about the subject doesn’t mean some guy just leaving work is. Steve was right. It’s important to remind yourself that most people don’t listen for the whole four hours a day.

We like variety on our show, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if people tune in for a short while when there’s a big sports story and don’t hear it discussed, they might become annoyed.

But, do I ever hit the wall with topics? All the time.

Katebits: Do you read sports blogs? Which ones? Do you read BfloBlog?

Mike Schopp: Yours is the first one I’ve visited more than twice. I’m sure I’m missing a lot out there, I’m just a creature of habit. I couldn’t even name another blog. Seriously.

Katebits: Well, I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty pleased that TWC is your introduction to the world of hockey blogs. That is…..hilarious. But, Mike, you really HAVE to read BfloBlog. I’m going to hold my breath in protest until you do. I could DIE, Schopp. I could die.

Katebits: This might sound weird, but bear with me for a second. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing a character on The Willful Caboose. “Katebits” is a much more outspoken, obnoxious, and outrageous version of me. Do you ever feel like that on the radio? Do you ever ramp up the drama for the sake of entertainment, or is it the opposite, where the goal is to be as genuine as possible?

Mike Schopp: I feel the same way you do. I wouldn’t say I “ramp up the drama” though. Basically, some of the sports topics we discuss mean a lot to me, and some mean less. I don’t much care for or about the Buffalo Bills. I used to, but their management style and the attitude of players and staff have over the last few years annoyed or offended me in just about every way. So pretty much anytime you hear me talking about the Bills I’m having a conversation that I wouldn’t be having with friends.

Katebits: What’s up with the Panther? Just so you know, I LOVE the Panther. I’m not complaining about him at all, I just want to know where he came from. I also want to commend you for being so consistently polite to the Panther. “Thank you, Panther” is pretty much always funny to me.

Mike Schopp: I was watching some game — Florida Panthers, Carolina Panthers, I don’t know — and I thought, we should do what they do and just drop in a panther noise every once in a while. Quality entertainment.

Katebits: Agreed. The Panther is quality. Perhaps I should start lobbying for some random panthery growls during BPO concerts.

—-

Well, dear readers, thanks for tuning in to the Mike Schopp interview. This is pretty far outside the normal TWC fare, so let me know if you think it worked.

I owe a special thanks, of course, to Mike Schopp for playing along. Thanks, Schopp!

TWC Interviews Mike Schopp

You guys are not going to believe this, but a few days ago Mike Schopp of WGR fame agreed to be interviewed for The Willful Caboose. I know. He must have taken a recent blow to the head or something. He’s definitely not thinking clearly. I suppose he figures he really has nothing to lose by tangling with the like of me, but you’d be surprised. My ridiculousness has a way of tainting everything it touches.

I’ll start out by telling you that Mike Schopp is an Official Friend of The Willful Caboose. A few weeks ago he was making a really interesting point on his show and it inspired me to write him an email. He and I have developed an email friendship, and although I probably wouldn’t recognize him on the street, I now consider him a BFF. (I tried to give him half a BFF locket, but Schopp claimed loyalty to Bulldog and declined. Harsh.) I’d also like to thank him for dealing so respectfully with me, a lowly blogger. (He even mentioned TWC on the air once. We’re famous, guys!) Considering his lack of experience reading blogs, he’s been very open-minded about the whole thing.

Just a word of warning: I’m, um, not a journalist….to say the least. I’ve never interviewed anyone before, and once you read this you’ll surely agree that Schopp was very generous to put up with my shenanigans. This interview was conducted over email, so please forgive the lack of conversational flow.

Without further ado, I present Part One of the Mike Schopp Interview:

Katebits: First of all, and most importantly, who is your favorite Sabre? And none of this “I don’t have a favorite”, bullhonky. Who is your man crush? If it makes it any easier, I’ll tell you that my girl crushes are on Kate from Lost, and on all the cylons from Battlestar Galactica. If you have to resort to Sabres from the past, I suppose I’ll allow it, but only because you have to deal with the Sabres in person from time to time. At this point, after all I’ve written on TWC, I think I’d rather die than have to deal with the real life Paul Gaustad, so I can respect it if you’re too bashful to admit he’s your man crush. Just blink twice if it’s Goose. I won’t tell.

Mike Schopp: One of the first things I learned from Mike Robitaille when beginning to work in Buffalo radio was, “You’ll never need a hockey player for a friend.” While I have known a few players through the years, I generally like to keep a safe distance from them. I do consider Martin Biron, Jay McKee and Rick Martin friends, and I feel safer communicating with them now that they no longer play for the team.

I admire certain traits about a few players. I admire Ryan Miller’s analytical mind, and I like when he challenges inquisitors in the locker room like he does shooters on the ice. Brian Campbell and Adam Mair have a great way with people. Gaustad is just a super guy, and I admire how well-rounded his interests in life are. And to finally get to the essence of your original question (I think), on last year’s team there is no question in my mind that Nolan Pratt was the cutest.

Katebits: Oooooh. Good call. Nolan Pratt is extremely adorable. You get a gold star for not only having exemplary tastes, but for being such a good sport about this question.

Please forgive me if this question is insulting. I really, really do not intend for it to be. Do you consider yourself to be a journalist? Radio seems like a no-man’s land between print journalism and a couple of fans shooting the breeze over some beers in a bar. Do you consider radio closer in nature to newspapers, or to fandom?

Mike Schopp: I think of radio not as a “no-man’s land” but as more of a convenience store. We’ll give you the news, we’ll offer personal opinion, we’ll make you laugh and scream. We generally won’t offer the depth of reporting on particular subjects that the newspaper does. (Theoretically, anyway. The Buffalo News’ sports media analysis, for example, is consistently as shallow as a kiddie pool.) But we offer way more volume. As evidenced by sports radio’s massive popularity here and all over the country, this works for people.

Talk-show hosts simply cannot be journalists. The job requires, at least if done well, too much personality. For people to tune in to our show regularly, they have to want to know how Bulldog and I feel about certain stories. I learned this several years ago from Bob Koshinski, a former boss. I asked him his interest in a certain other local radio personality. His response was, “I don’t think people really need to know what he thinks.” People come to your blog to find out what you, Kate, are thinking. It’s personal. This is the key to your success on the blog, and mine on the air.

Katebits: If you had to choose for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Mountains or beaches? Cats or dogs? Television or Internet? Would you choose to have the super power of invisibility, or flight? Please answer carefully. There ARE wrong answers here.

Mike Schopp: Beaches, no doubt. MUST be near water. I’ll never live far from water. I like cats, so cats. Internet will make television obsolete in four years, so Internet. Being invisible would be too cool. And there’s no simulation for it. I can fly- in planes. I don’t even love it.

Katebits: I’m sorry, but “beaches” and “invisibility” are incorrect. Good call with the cats and the internet, though.

Katebits: What’s the best thing about working in radio? What’s the worst?

Mike Schopp: I’ll take the second part first. The worst part — all tied for first place — the thrill of broadcasting on big news days; the access to Sabres management and players; the occasional compliment from a loyal listener who appreciates the show’s variety and sense of humor; the guys I work with, particularly Bulldog and Greg Bauch; the satisfaction of finishing first in the ratings; and being able to do this instead of really working. The best part, obviously, is all the attention I get from women.

Katebits: It’s true. Women love sports talk radio hosts. I can relate because as a viola player, I am highly coveted myself. It’s a perk of the viola biz, for sure.

Speaking of quality dudes, I think everyone should start calling Ryan Miller, “Crunchy”, and Jason Pominville, “Pommerdoodle”. When can I expect you and Bulldog to adopt these nicknames on your radio show?

Mike Schopp: Not before the year 3 million. To say that I’m not a nickname guy is to say that Nathan Paetsch is not a goal-scoring machine. WGR callers used to use nicknames all the time; on our show it never happens. I even bristle when I hear a baseball announcer say “A-Rod”. I think this makes me a little crusty.

There are many reasons for this, but basically it’s a matter of, do I know this person well enough to call them by a nickname? If I don’t, I won’t. And with callers, to me a nickname is a warning sign that the caller is either going to attempt to be extreme, in an effort to distance his real self from the opinion he’s about to offer, or funny, which he hardly ever will turn out to be. Either result can knock the show off the tracks.

Of course, my partner is nicknamed “Bulldog”. We both wish I could call him Chris, and off the air I always do.

Katebits: First of all, henceforth I shall call you “Crusty Sir Names-A-Lot”. Second of all, this is an interesting answer. For the purposes of my blog, I like nicknames for the very reason you dislike them. Calling Ryan Miller “Ryan” seems uncomfortably familiar, and using his actual name seems like a violation of the natural boundary between fan and athlete. “Ryan Miller” is an actual human being, “Crunchy” is some imaginary version of Ryan Miller that I write about online. I never ever deal with Ryan Miller in real life, though. Using a nickname in person is a whole different ball of wax and I can certainly understand your vantage point, even if it is a little crusty.

—–

….to be continued! Tune in tomorrow when I threaten to kill myself if Mike doesn’t start reading BfloBlog, and Mike explains why it’s his fault the Sabres didn’t win the Cup in 1985.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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