sulzer

It’s May

Boobs, the lot of us. Not the pretty kind. Not the kind that are fun to squeeze. I mean the kind that wear tinfoil hats and talk on transistor radios and mistake airplanes for UFOs. Maybe “rube” is a more appropriate word, but Google tells me that “rube” means country bumpkin, and Buffalo isn’t filled with country bumpkins. There’s the HSBC building after all… and food tr…well there’s lots of people. Well there’s some people. Look: Not a lot of people are raising roosters in their backyards is what I’m getting at here.

What I’m talking about is the dramatic, rube-like nature with which Buffalo sports fans dissect and devour any sports-related transaction news. Vince Young signed? He’s wearing Bills gym shorts, you guys. He’s answering press conference questions in complete sentences, you guys. I bet you, based on only these outlying facts, that he’ll totally compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting QB position. (Yes, I know he has won a national title in college and was a Pro Bowler as a rookie and then maybe was gay and almost killed himself from loneliness and got Jeff Fisher fired and became a mediocre back-up for Philadelphia and was kind of famous WHICH MAKES HIM AWESOMELY GOOD AT FOOTBALL NO MATTER WHAT! So there. Saved you the e-mail.)

Today, the Sabres signed Alex Sulzer. Sulzer was acquired this past winter as the throw-in for a trade with Vancouver whose primary parts were Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian. Marc Andre Gragnani, a young, offensive-minded Sabres defenseman whose struggles would make Dimitri Kalinin scoff in horror was traded in exchange for Sulzer. Sulzer was a fringe, journeyman defenseman who has spent his entire career hanging in the balance between AHL stalwart and NHL depth guy. He played decently once coming to Buffalo. By decently, I mean he did not have any egregious eff-ups like falling on his ass right in front of his goalie several times a game (looking at you, Montador), or dying a death anytime anyone skated in his general vicinity (how’s it going, Mike Weber?). 

But today’s reaction to his signing treats Sulzer as if he landed in Buffalo, strutted into the F’N Center, unfurled his knapsack of hockey gear and rained joy and shinny-farts on every one in the organization. Alex Sulzer makes the defense better. Alex Sulzer gets them to the playoffs. Alex Sulzer is stoic, steady, stay-at-home and various other descriptions that mean “not very fast or good with the puck, but in a good way!”. Alex Sulzer: he probably cures venerial disease. @Royner9?

Some folks think Sulzer should play with Ehrhoff (you know, that almost-world-class offensive defenseman who plays 40 minutes per game and, who according to everyone just as recently as April, is THE MOST VITAL HUMAN BEING TO A HOCKEY ROSTER IN HISTORY.) So that should work out for Sulzer, a guy who has barely been able to crack the Top 6 of most organizations in the league. 

Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Sulzer is a terrible signing. He’s cheap, he’s inoffensive and he’s not Chris Butler. I just think there needs to be some ratcheting down of the fiery reactions, both in the positive and the negative. At the same time that some people are preparing to wax Sulzer’s pecker as a member of the vaunted, invisible, mysterious “Buffalo Guy” brigade, there is the similary inappropriate counter-reaction of “JIMINY CHRISTMAS, WILL EVERYONE JUST CALM THE FRICKITY FRACK DOWN?”

Of this, I am a part. Guilty as charged. In fact, you might be reading this post and going, “Hey isn’t this..?” Well, sorta. 

“So the Sabres will have a presser announcing the signing of their 7th d-man but not for when the season ends? Alrighty then.” these words coming from our very own Joe’s (JoeBuffaloWins) twitter just a few short moments ago.

Though I’d never actually wish this on him, for a brief moment there, I imagined a gaggle of gangsters clubbing him to death with baseball bats for saying that. Sort of like Joe Pesci in Casino.

 “You’ve got a big fucking mouth, Joe. First we’re gonna do your brother. Then we’re gonna do you.”

Sometime shortly after Joe tweeted that, resident “PRESS CONFERENCE?!!?” journalist Mike Harrington appeared from the shadows wearing a party hat and throwing confetti. Joe and he high-fived, and then Harrington moon walked back into a closet in the Buffalo Wins studios. 

Thing is: It’s not really the “approve” or “disapprove” that is the problem. It’s the lengths we go to justify our ridiculous reactions that is sort of tedious. Sulzer is just a guy. He’s just a guy who could play a little bit of defense, or, conversely, he could not play any at all. And no one would really notice that much of a difference because Sulzer is very rarely a difference maker. He’s. Just. A. Guy. 

If you think Sulzer is a good signing because he’s economical and contributes to the depth of the organization, good on ya. If you think Sulzer means nothing because he’s indicative of the do-nothing moves that have defined this regime, good on ya.

But if you’re on the soapbox, shouting through a bull horn, dreaming up fantasies of top line minutes and great playoff moments or, on the flip-side, if your bowels are boiling because of the Sabres various Sulzer-related-transgressions, just stop. The Sabres are out of it, and the Bills haven’t played in almost a half year.

I don’t know if this used to happen. I don’t really remember this happening even as recently as 10 years ago. I think it’s a relatively new result of the furious strength of new media. We’re suddenly all simultaneously abhoring Stephen A. Smith while screaming out the same sort of microwavable analysis. ESPN and the fast food nature of media and culture have driven us to insatiable new lows in terms of our desire for content, analysis, opinions. These things don’t even need to make any sense, exactly, they just need to exist. 

Shawne Merrim- HE ONCE BANGED A CELEBRITY, EXCELLENT ACQUISITION. STEROIDS ON THE PEACE BRIDGE, NO PROOF, CUT HIM. 

Mario Will- SACKS THINGS LIKE DEER AWESOME.

Cody Hodg- ISN’T TIM CONNOLLY AWESOME.

Can we just… is it just so hard to shut the hell up for a minute and figure it out? 

Figure it out has become my new favorite catch phrase. I don’t get road rage. I don’t cuss, I don’t honk, I don’t really yell or do anything spiteful with my car. But if someone is operating their motor vehicle ridiculously, occasionally I will just utter to myself: “Would you slow down and figure it out?”

Cutting people off, veering, changing lanes unnecessarily, making wrong turns just friggin’ because: Would you slow down and figure it out?

I am the type of guy who thinks it’s far better to miss your turn, miss your exit, keep going the wrong way so as to not incorrectly disrupt traffic and screw everything up, then make your corrections when it is appropriate to do so. We don’t need to cause an 10-car pile up to get the job done. The drive-by opinions of 24/7 sports fans have become the equivalent of cutting off three lanes of traffic and clipping a semi-truck to hit an exit ramp that may or may not be the right one.

Slow down. Take a breath. Figure it out.

Was the Sulzer re-signing a smart move? Yes. No. These are opinions.

Is Sulzer the catalyst of the defense that will pair with our all-important top defenseman, solve the ills of the back line and march us through 16 victories in the playoffs? Does his re-signing equal a moral failing so appauling that news editors are jumping out of windows and bloggers are eating babies?

Slow down. Figure it out. It’s May.

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