Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Paying Tribute to the Death of Buffalo's Hopes and Dreams (Again)

Before the Buffalo Sabres (probably) shuffle off into the sunset tonight and begin to enjoy all of the great golf courses that Western New York has to offer, I'd like to raise a glass to what might just be the most desperate city in all of sports; the city of Buffalo, New York. Only miles from the Canadian border, it is home to the the Sabres and the NFL's Bills.

Buffalo has endured some of the worst moments at the most important of times, and you really gotta feel for them. There's Brett Hull's controversial goal in Game Six of triple OT back in 1999, which was rated the 5th worst officiating call in sports history by Page 2. The Sabres made the playoffs in 24 of 27 seasons between 1974 and 2001, reaching the finals once. Yes, once. Just in case you were wondering, they lost in six to Philly in the first year of that streak; 1975.

This year, the Sabres took the President's Trophy, for finishing with the league's best record, a title they seemed to hold from the start and never give up. They scored the most goals of any team, had the fifth best defense in the Eastern Conference, and lost only 10 of 41 games on home ice. Now, they face being swept by one of their arch rivals one round away from the Cup Finals. After folding quicker than the WUSA, they'll have the opportunity to inflict more pain on their fans, by ending the year with a playoff sweep.

Is this what Sens fans dress like all year?
Tom Hanson/AP

All that is pretty bad. The worst part is that it's only half the story for the city.

Dare we try and recap the cursed football franchise that is the Buffalo Bills?

The Bills last league championship came in '65 when they were still part of the AFL, and of course we don't have to remind you of the misery that is the early 90s, but we will anyway. In Super Bowl 25, Jim Kelly took them 60 yards with under two to go, only to have a game winning field goal go wide right. They lost the next year to, of all teams, the Washington-freaking -Redskins in SB 26. The 27th edition saw them get their clocks cleaned by the Cowboys, despite fielding 12 Pro Bowlers, and in the 28th edition (hey, they've got to win this time, right?) they blew a 13-6 halftime lead to those same Cowboys, going on to lose by a count of 30-13. It's amazing that the Bills still had fans after all that.

Just try and think of another city that has had this much futility in such a screw-you-in-the-ass-at-the-end-of-the-game kind of way. I dare you. It's been a while since Philly won, but the 76ers won it all in '83 and the Phillies won in '80. Not quite as long as Buffalo, and they've had some recent title chances to boot. Chicago has the Blackhawks and the Cubs, but Jordan canceled out most of that. The city of San Diego has never won a major title, but they haven't had nearly as much bad luck (if luck is what we should call it). The only real comparison can be drawn from Seattle, Washington where there are three pro teams and the only championship to show for them is from the SuperSonics NBA Finals win in '79. Nonetheless, that's one more major title than Buffalo, and a whole lot less heart break. Let's face it, the Seahawks loss in SB 40 pales in comparison to anything the Bills went through.

So join me, in paying tribute to the death of Buffalo's hopes and dreams yet again. They seem to live the worst nightmares of even the most pessimistic sports fan on an almost yearly basis.

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