The apostrophe in Brind’Amour

I never liked Philadelphia. I’ve hated the Flyers for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until the third period last night I actually tried to think of a real reason for my feelings other than they were going against the Sabres.

As a kid I always hated Rod Brind’Amour for his stupid nose and his stupid apostrophe and just fact that his name was Rod, but it had to be more than that.

I dug through the family archives and came up with this beauty. That me in my dad's arms. I wouldn't face the camera because I was too upset over breaking the bell.

Maybe it started when I was 4 years old on my first-ever vacation. My parents took me and my brother to a few different toddler attractions — Hershey Park and Sesame Place stick out in memory — and the last stop on the trip was to see the historic Liberty Bell.

As you know, the bell cracked after its initial ring. However, I had yet to learn that history lesson.

My dad convinced me that I broke the Liberty Bell. I didn’t remember touching the bell, but my dad would never lie to me, right?

Immediately, I started balling my eyes out. I couldn’t believe I was responsible for that. I found it odd that no one else seemed notice that the bell had such a large crack, or if they did, they didn’t seem too upset about it. I figured it was only a matter of time before security came and locked me up for good. The sooner I could get out of that miserable city, the better.

I don’t remember when I first understood it had been broken for 200-and-some odd years before I ever visited Philadelphia, but maybe I’ve had Philly hatred inside me for a lot longer than I thought.

That disdain got a lot stronger my freshman year of high school. It was spring 2006, and R.J. Umberger was largely concussion-free.

After years of pre-lockout struggle, the success of the ’05-’06 Sabres led to a rampant outbreak of Buffalo fever through the community. Add in a cafeteria full of 400 young, stupid, immature high school freshmen and you have a recipe for disaster awesomeness.

A poor classmate of mine, born in Pennsylvania, made the mistake of coming to school decked out in vomit-orange Philadelphia Flyers apparel. We loved our Sabres and we didn’t hesitate to let anyone know it.

So we booed her.

Four hundred kids in the freshman cafeteria booed a 14-year-old classmate because she wore the wrong shirt at the wrong time. And yes, it was a she.

If your line of thought right now is, “how rude and inconsiderate,” I’m going to need to close out this window right now. This is sports. Hatred and being mean are a lot different than they are in regular settings. Injuring someone in public is looked down upon (generally). On the ice, you set out to cause your opponent pain. Being in the stands (or the lunchroom) isn’t quite like playing, but it’s the same idea.

The poor girl didn’t know what to do. She was an intelligent person, but this moment was psychological overload. She looked like a deer in the headlights, kind of like Peter Laviolette trying to decide which goaltender should play Game Six.

But it didn’t stop there. A kid at the table next to me picked some food off his tray and threw it at her from across the cafeteria (with astonishing accuracy, I might add). Others joined in shortly thereafter. Honestly, it was impressive how dead-on these kids were with tater tots from four rows over.

She finally had the presence of mind to run out of the room after the tears started flowing. We were pumped and we needed a new way to channel our emotions. There was no one else to yell at, so we just started banging on tables and chanting “Let’s go Sabres” for the last 10 or 15 minutes of the period.

Was hatred just the logical opposition of so much passion? Either way, we hated the Flyers and their fans, and sticking it to them was always a reason to celebrate.

Game One of that series was cause for celebration. It started when Brain Campbell nearly ended Umberger’s life in the first overtime. I don’t know how I did it, but I was lying on the couch one second, and the next, I was on my feet screaming “OHHH! OH! OH! OH!” with my brother in the living room. We scared the crap out of my mom, who was bored half to sleep from an overtime game. She didn’t understand why were cheering for violence, but we didn’t expect her to anyway.


(Yeah, I put that video in two posts in a row. I’ve watched it at least 1,000 times in my life. I’m okay with it.)

This hit was awesome, and it great for one of our own guys to finally give the Flyers some of their own medicine.

Every hockey player in Western New York knows about that hit, and monstrous body checks have been dubbed “umbergers” ever since.

I was looking for something in my desk today and I came across a letter I got back from Merriam-Webster in high school when I tried to get the word “umberger” in the dictionary.

It was for a class project — writing a professional letter to a company — but really it was another way to try to stick it to the Flyers. It’s great that a bunch of kids toss the term around. If the entire (English language-speaking) world did too… how awesome would that be?

It turns out a slang word for a few hundred kids in the country’s 70th largest city isn’t enough to get a word into the dictionary, but even today reading this letter made me smile. This was so Buffalo, I thought, something we would do. That hit, and those %$#&ing Flyers.

That’s the same type of feeling I had last night when Tyler Ennis buried Mike Weber’s rebound to put those Flyers against the ropes heading into Game Six. The little guy had gone missing for the better part of the series, but he went hard to the net at the right time and was able to knock in a huge rebound.

Scott Hartnell is quickly becoming the most hated Flyer of this decade.

Last night’s Game Five wasn’t a defining moment as a Buffalo sports fan, but it did put the Sabres one game away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs. Going through a hated rival to do so makes it that much sweeter.

So maybe I’ve hated Philly longer than I thought. It’s Garth Snow, it’s Eric Lindros, it’s Danny Briere and it’s the 1975 Cup finals. Game Five isn’t making the list of the most influential moments in what it means to be a Sabres fan, but we beat the Flyers and we made it hurt.

You can’t really ask for much more.

Restaurant Draft perfect way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving dinner

Just finished the Restaurant Draft. Results are here.

Initial thoughts: It was awesome. Especially on a day where we are prepping for a huge meal, thinking about food all day really set the mood. This is basically two of my favorite things combined–fantasy sports and food.

We kept track of the snake draft in Google Docs and had a poster board on the floor marking picks by category so everyone could see what they still need and what is already off the board in that category. We also did a live blog of the event, although we had some difficulty with that.

I had my little brother filling out the board. This doesn't reflect rounds, just what positions everyone had already drafted to avoid confusion.

I would do this again with another topic. Everyone had fun doing it.

Here’s my team, round by round.

1-Salvatore’s Italian Garden (Italian) Classic. I had the fourth pick, but Salvatore’s is the Adrian Peterson of the draft.

2-Casino buffet (buffet) I didn’t think there was a lot of depth at this position, so I grabbed a good one early. This is my Antonio Gates.

3-May Wah (Chinese) See #2.

4-Duff’s (American) Best wings in town. Just ask Obama. Fantasy comparison: Peyton Manning.

5-Mighty Taco (fast food) This one was a steal. Great food and didn’t have to get stuck with a McDonald’s or Burger King. Comparison: LeSean McCoy. Waited on him and still got great value.

6-Alethea’s Chocolates (dessert) I love ice cream, so I was happy with this pick. Not a sexy pick, but you know what you’re getting. Comparison: Wes Welker.

7-Olympic restaurant (Greek) There weren’t a lot of Greek places left here, and this was all I could think of. Good pancakes, too. Comparison: You don’t know who else to draft, so umm… Eagles defense.

8-Moe’s Southwest Grill (Mexican) I would take Moe’s over Chipolte. Sorry everyone. Playing favorites here, compares to Fred Jackson.

9-Quaker Stake and Lube (Utility) Solid pick. This place is awesome inside. If you haven’t been to one, you need to go. It’s on Transit. You don’t know what you have unless you see the place. Comparison: Stevie Johnson.

10-Starbucks (coffee) I love frappuccinos. Little bit out there, but price isn’t an issue in fantasy sports, so Starbucks is a winner. Comparison: Terrell Owens.

11-Bagel Jay’s (breakfast) I was really stuck on breakfast places, and I didn’t want to take IHOP. I heard Manhattan Bagel get selected and it gave me this idea. The “Hey, why not?” pick: Mike Vick.

12-Bocce Club (pizza) Everyone took a pizza place early, so I just waited until the end. Can’t go wrong with Bocce club. Waiting everyone out and still getting a great selection? Sounds like Matt Ryan.

We had two extra rounds of utility picks after the 12th round just for fun.

13- Outback Steakhouse. I love steak and I couldn’t believe no one took this. Major steal, even though everyone knows it’s good. The Phillip Rivers of the draft.

14- Hibbard’s Custard. If you’ve ever been to this ice cream place out in Lewiston, you know what I’m talking about. They scoop their soft serve, which sounds odd but it tastes fantastic. They are a good player with limited exposure, so if I wasn’t jonesing for some right now I might say Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I have to go with James Jones.

Keep in mind we haven’t been to every restaurant out there, and everyone likes different things. I know right now there are some restaurants that were criminally left out, such as Anderson’s and P.F. Chang’s. That’s the nature of the beast, sometimes you get in to draft mode and you blank out.

Matt has declared himself the winner of the Restaurant Draft, which is funny because winning things that are supposed to be for fun is usually my thing.

I would like to do more of these in the future. Right now I’m thinking something about Christmas cookies, but that seems a little specific. Never a dull moment on this site… stay tuned.

Restaurant Draft II

Remember this post? Today is a day about food and giving thanks, and we decided it would be appropriate to to have our Restaurant Draft today.

Follow the live blog: Restaurant Draft

Here are the categories again:

Cuisine

-Italian
-Greek
-Mexican
-Chinese
-American

Specialty

-Breakfast
-Coffee houses
-Fast food
-Pizzerias
-Buffets
-Dessert
-Utility

Chance was renamed to utility because it sounds more sporty.

For all discrepancies, we are just going to have to vote on them as they come up. There are too many restaurants and situations to cover them all before we begin.

However, one distinction we made was between pizzerias and Italian cuisine.  If the place is an Italian place that also serves pizza (i.e. Frank’s Sunny Italy), it only counts as an Italian place, not a pizzeria. If it is mainly a pizza place that only sells other stuff to make money (Pizza Hut), it won’t count as an Italian restaurant.

We also considered making a steakhouse division, but opted against it due to lack of options and because it infringes on other categories.

Feel free to comment, I’ll be monitoring the chat throughout. I’ve never ran a Cover It Live chat before, but it seems pretty user-friendly.

Also, we are only using places from Buffalo and immediate surrounding areas. No Rochester for this… sorry Dinosaur BBQ.

You we will also be keeping track of the draft on a Google doc, which can be seen here.

I have a new team to root for

The Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate announced the results of its Name the Team promotion this week. And let me tell you, I’m excited with the results.  The name and logos are fantastic, but before I get into detail, we need to lay some background.

I don’t think running a blog technically makes you a “writer” in a professional sense, but it’s a fantastic building block along the way. I’m going to school for journalism, and I really like my field. However, it’s still good to have a few backup career options in mind.

At this point in my life, I think I can safely say being a professional athlete is all but out of the question (still holding on to hope). I don’t plan on failing in anything I do, especially something I love like journalism, but before I applied to college they told me I needed to have a few backup plans in mind.

I came up with two: a weatherman and math teacher. I was always good in math and I liked being able to work out difficult problems. Knowing where to factor and what formula to use were a lot like calling the right play and picking apart the zone in football.

When I got to college, my advisor couldn’t understand why a freshman communications major would sign up for advanced calculus in his first semester. I specifically remember the face she gave me in her office. But I never cared what anyone thought about me before, so why start now? I enjoyed the class, but after having a fantastic teacher all throughout high school, a professor from South Korea who learned English as a secondary language kind of turned me away.

My college doesn’t offer any weather or meteorology classes, but if they did I think I might take one. I was always fascinated with weather, and I loved Earth science in high school. Being a weatherman sounds like it would be an awesome job, especially with all the crazy weather we get in Buffalo.

Now if it were that simple, this wouldn’t be a blog post. But I always take things up a notch. What’s more than “just” a weatherman?

How about being a tornado chaser.

A cumulonimbus cloud, sometimes called an anvil cloud. Known for bringing severe weather.

Now there is an awesome job. I’m intrigued by the aura of cumulonimbus clouds and golf ball-sized hail. Tornadoes and tidal waves used to be the wallpaper on my phone. I love watching thunder storms as they roll in, and being a tornado chaser is the logical overachiever’s extension of that pastime.

I know I just said that looking to stick your nose in severe weather instead of running from it is “logical.” Just make like thunder and roll with it.

I’ve never seen a tornado in person, but I always wanted to. I’ve had dreams about tornadoes, actually. I’m not scared in the dreams. Everyone else is freaking out in my mind, and I’m there saying “this is so cool” and noting hail size and determining how much uplift must be occurring. (Again, I’m a dork, but I’m okay with it.)

Okay, now that you know the story behind the story, let’s get back to Kansas City–or rather Omaha, where the minor league team is.

Their contest started back in August, and the finalists were announced in October. There were some really good entries (Funnel Clouds, Sodbusters), and some not so good (The Pride? That name even sucks in the WNBA). I love the playfulness of minor league names–yes, I’m looking at you, Albuquerque Isotopes–but that’s another story.

The winning name for Ohama was the Storm Chasers. I love it. LOVE IT! That region of the country is known for tornado season and severe weather, and given my history, I think the name is fantastic.

The logos are also well-done. A bad logo can really ruin a good team name (ringing any bells?), but luckily, the Storm Chasers don’t fall into that category.

The home cap logo is at the top of the post. It’s a tornado made to look like a baseball, with a bat through it as a nose. I want a hat with that logo (somebody make it happen!). The road hat logo is an “O” for Omaha with a lightning bolt through it, and the alternate logo has the baseball tornado again, this time shaped to form an “S C” for Storm Chasers. The batting practice logo is a combination of the road and alternate. 

Road, Alternate, Batting Practice

These look awesome, in my humble opinion. They were done by Plan B Branding, which is based out of San Diego. I looked around on their site, and all of their stuff seems pretty well-done. All of the numbers they plan to use on the jerseys include some type of lightning bolt, which I think is another awesome addition.

I still love the Bisons and they won’t be dethroned as my favorite minor league team any time soon, but I think I have a new No. 2.

For more info, check out Benjamin Hill’s blog and Plan B Branding’s post about it. Cool stuff.

Some people might say this is a stupid blog post, but to me this is what it’s all about. Something in the sports world caught my interest (and I had some free time for a change), so I wrote about it. I’m the story assigner, editor and copy reader here, so what I say goes. And seriously, somebody get me a hat.

Restaurant Draft

A restaurant draft is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. The Bills had their bye week last Sunday, so my brothers and I decided to use the free time to finally set this thing up and lay the ground rules for the draft.

If you listen to WGR you may be familiar with Schopp and the Bulldog’s actor draft and food draft. This one will run similarly. We will take turns going around the table selecting restaurants, and it will run much like a fantasy football draft.

The difference between WGR’s drafts and this draft though is that we have “positions” to fill. While the talk show draftees just tried to assemble an all-star team, competitors in this draft will need to round out their rosters with restaurants from several major categories.

Here’s what we came up with:

Cuisine

-Italian
-Greek
-Mexican
-Chinese
-American

Specialty

-Breakfast
-Coffee houses
-Fast food
-Pizzerias
-Buffets
-Dessert
-Chance

Did you ever play Yahtzee? That’s what the chance category is. If you want to think of it in terms of fantasy football, that’s your flex spot.

We still haven’t decided how many of each position you will need yet. However, it seems logical to allot for more Italian restaurants than buffets, for example.

I’m positive there will be some gray areas and conflicts that will arise once we begin the draft. When a debate arises, we will discuss it on the spot. That’s the only way to do it; we can’t foresee every problem.

Feel free to comment below and add a suggestion, any help is good help. The draftees are currently myself and my brothers, but if you would like to join in the draft we could consider adding more teams.

Stay tuned for more info. This is going to be awesome.