Yeah, I don't really have any unifying theme for this post. I've got Bills draft impressions, Bulls playoff impressions, the Sabres continuing warpath, and more thoughts on Buffalo sports fandom. Heck, I'd have something to say about the Cubs if they had any consistent story so far besides inconsistency. Anyway, it's a pretty huge time of the year for sports fans, but especially in my realm. Let's get into it.
-Yep, the NFL Draft is next Thursday. The Bills have been linked to seemingly every player with the number three pick, which leaves me terrified. The general consensus I've seen is that the Bills will take Von Miller, the linebacker from Texas A&M. If the Bills actually do this, I will be elated. Seriously, I have visions of Von Miller sacking Tom Brady on key third downs dancing in my head. A defensive playmaker at linebacker is exactly what we need. He can rush the passer with devastating speed (hopefully like Clay Matthews) and has good run stopping and coverage skills. If Marcell Dareus isn't available at that spot, I would love for him to be on the team. Unfortunately, I have almost no faith in Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey to draft for any semblance of 'need' after last years first round pick of CJ Spiller when we had two 1,000 yard running backs already. So when I hear Nix say that the Bills have always been "super high" on Blaine Gabbert...guh. And when I see that Andre Reed basically gave away that the Bills are trying to draft Christian Ponder in the 2nd round...oh Lord. A quarterback from Florida State with injury problems and above average accuracy and arm strength? Replace 'Florida State' with 'Stanford' and you get the exact description of Trent Edwards. For the love of God, not again. And, if the Panthers go with anyone else but Cam Newton at #1, I would not be surprised to see him go to the Bills. I've already stated my preference for Newton over Gabbert, but not over Miller or Dareus or any other defensive stopper. And you know what? I wouldn't even be surprised if the Bills took A.J. Green, the wide receiver. Seriously, Buddy Nix is capable of anything. I could see him explaining his pick by going Charlie-from-It's Always Sunny-style "WILDCARD, BITCHES!!!" and leaving the press conference. I'm not going to trust any source until I hear the name called at the podium. It's going to be a looooooong week.
-Onto the Bulls, who have a 3-0 series lead over the lowly Pacers, but haven't looked dominant in any of the wins. Every game has gone down to the wire; and it's usually the Bulls who are coming back as opposed to fighting off Pacers rallies. Derek Rose was phenomenal in games 1 and 2, struggled through game 3, but managed to hit the game winning shot. Even with the 3-0 series lead, plenty of pundits are beginning to write off the Bulls as serious championship threats, instead turning to the Miami Heat as favorites to come out of the East. Franky, I find this ridiculous. For one thing, the Bulls have still managed to win these games (unlike fellow #1 seed the Spurs who lost game one) despite playing well below their potential (too many turnovers, poor shooting, lackluster defense). Secondly, the Pacers are a better team than their record indicates- yes, they only won 37 games, but they've played much better once they fired their coach and got Vogel in there. Thirdly, Joakim Noah is still easing his way back into the lineup after a late season injury. Once he gets healthy and the team gets its collective mojo back, watch out. Till then, they're still winning. So why's everyone complaining? Sorry, in the playoffs, a W is a W, no style points needed. We'll see how the Miami Heat fare against the Bulls in the conference finals, with Bulls fully motivated and firing on all cylinders.
-Finally, onto my daily, no, hourly obession. The Sabres playoff run. I haven't been able to write about every game, for a confluence of reasons, but I've been living and dying with every game of this series. The whole series has been shocking to me, because the Sabres are actually matching and often beating the Flyers in terms of toughness. Last year, and in preceding years (think '05-'07 with Briere and Drury), the Sabres have always been the finesse team that either wins with that finesse or gets completely out muscled in every loss. Now, they have the opponents complaining about them and their after the whistle antics. Lindy Ruff has rightly called them 'whiners', sparking a whole new controversy. I think the Flyers complaining about dirty play has to be the most hypocritical thing I've ever heard. This is a team whose history is built on dirty play, and they love to continue that legacy today. You can't complain about another team "getting away with murder" (what Mike Richards said) on the ice and also try and play dirty at the same time. It's maddening. That whole attitude comes from their d-bag of a coach, Peter Laviolette, who seemingly spends the whole game complaining about calls and working the refs. He did it in Carolina in '06 to screw over the Sabres and now he's doing it again in Philly. I'm just ready to see Kaleta booed every time he touches the puck, and to continue antagonizing the Flyers.
And now it comes down to a three game series. The Sabres have fought hard throughout the whole series, winning two 1-0 games behind Ryan Miller's otherworldly goaltending (he's in that 2010 Olympics Zone right now, firmly in the opponent's head), and losing two games where it came down to the end, a 5-4 loss in Game 2 and a 4-2 loss in Game 3 (the last Philly goal was an empty netter, so it was a one goal game). The Sabres have shown remarkable resilience in the two losses- almost every time they went down a goal, they were able to respond, and have basically shown that they can stick with the Flyers even if Ryan Miller lets in a goal. The next step is to win that way, though, to win with a concerted offensive effort (so, come on Boyes, Connolly, etc) that nets more than one goal so Ryan Miller doesn't have to be our savior, because he can't do it every game. If the Sabres can do that, along with cutting out the dumb penalties and stupid mistakes, this is their series. One can only hope, because this team is so different from previous years- they play a good style for the playoffs and they play with physicality. It's warpath time.
And, you know what, this has been bouncing around my head for a little bit...so why not?
- I've just finished Beckett's famous play Waiting For Godot, and, in lieu of actually trying to deeply understand it (in terms of the human experience and whatnot), I've instead just related it to being a sports fan, or my own particular experience. As a fan, I've been waiting, like Estragon and Vladimir, waiting for a championship, for the thing that will give validation to my allegiances. Despite the fact that we've (now I'm switching to fans in general of my teams, Bulls notwithstanding) been beaten down by continued years of abuse, we find ourselves back at that same old place, waiting for the same old thing. Sometimes we see something coming down the road, and our hope rises- but its just Pozzo and Lucky (similarly, we all could just be Lucky, strung along by our 'master'. Or maybe he's luckier than us, because he has no allegiance except for to Pozzo...sorry, I haven't sorted it all out, obviously). When things are at their worst, we contemplate suicide or just giving up, but we just can't. Every time we say that we're done following these teams, that we're done caring- (-"Shall we Go?"-"Yes, let's go"), that when the curtain is about to fall, we will not move, we will remain because we now that once Godot, the championship, what have you, comes, we will be saved.
Or we could be wasting our time. As I said, I'm not sure I understand the play, so. Sorry for getting English-Nerd-y on you.