Mid November, two thousand fifteen…
Something happened last night that used to be a regular occurrence. For the first time in almost six years, the Bills and the Sabres won on the same day!
I imagine that fans from other cities with major league sports would not consider this a very big deal. Those people have not lived through the last fifteen years of sports hell in Buffalo, NY. We’ll take our small victories wherever we can find them, thank you very much.
The Bills, of course, have not made the playoffs in 15 years. That does not even come close to telling the complete story. No, the whole story includes an aging former owner who could not run the team anymore and countless coaching and general manager changes. Even worse for us die-hards, the past fifteen years have been filled(I mean filled) with losses, each one increasingly more heartbreaking than the last. If you were going to write a book on heartbreaking sports losses, you would only need to read up on the Bills. That’s why we, as fans, are programmed to expect the worst. When the punter missed the bad snap with five minutes left in the game, I was sure that would be it for the boys in blue, I mean red(put me down as hating the red). We’ve all seen that movie before. A rare prime time game where we are in the lead, only to screw it up in some ridiculous way(I’m looking at you, Leodis, since you’re still on the team). It wasn’t to be this time though. This one prime time game went our way. Finally. If the season ended today, we would be in the playoffs. Again, for fans of other teams, not much to brag about. For us though, this is progress. I’m not sure when the last time was that the Bills had a winning record this late in the season. I’m going to enjoy it until next week, when they have to face the hated Patriots on Monday Night Football. There’s not enough beer in Buffalo to make that game go well.
As exciting as it is to have a football team that is at the very least, relevant again, I am even more excited by the Sabres. I was not for the tank at all but now that it’s over, and it actually worked, I’m going to pretend it never happened. Eichel is better than most of us thought he would be at this point. They put him out there in key situations and he’s getting valuable experience while still providing “did you see that” moments almost every night. Ryan O’Reilly is much better than advertised too. He reminds me of a young Chris Drury. He hates to lose, is tough on himself, wins key face offs, and is a hard-nosed, two-way player. The Sabres went from having no viable centers to having an embarrassment of riches, with Eichel, O’Reilly, Reinhart, and Girgenson. What will this team be like when they get Kane and Bogosion back? No one was seriously picking them to make the playoffs this year and of course it’s still very early, but I say why can’t they make it? The division and the conference are weak so far. I think there’s a real opportunity for them. Even if they don’t make it, they are finally fun to watch again. Let’s face it, they have not been fun to watch since 2007. The best part is, every key player is under 25!
More than anything, I want my kids to finally experience what this town is like when the Bills and Sabres are in the playoffs and are actually good. The boys are 17 and 20 and have no memory of the Bills ever being good. They have vague memories of 2006 and 2007 but that’s it. Buffalo was bat shit insane in 06 and 07. How freaking fun would it be to experience that again?