Part 1 of a series on Buffalo sports media outlets
Whenever a Buffalo sports fan moves away from Buffalo you always miss the little things in sports coverage. Sports Extra on channel 2, the terrible lightening they had on Empire Sports, and the Bills leading the newscast on channel 7 (was a 7 guy growing up). The one thing that I never missed was reading a Buffalo News article. It’s because I never could remember ever picking up the sports page. You see I was a TV Sports junkie (yeah I know..should of read the paper) and got all my sports from Empire Sports and listening to WGR. I didn’t know who Jerry Sullivan or Bucky Gleason were. I knew of Larry Felser only because he use to be on Empire Sports on occasion. I just was a part of a generation that didn’t care to “read” the news.
When I got to NYC, I quickly realized that I was not a TV click or a left to the radio dial away from hearing the world of Buffalo Sports. I then started reading BuffaloNews.com and that my friends became my reading material for the morning. It’s My morning paper if you will that my dad use to have when I was younger.
Whenever I read or listen to opinions on any sports team, one of the first things I think of is if this talking head has an agenda. I know agenda seems like a strong word. But I’m not talking about whether the expert or panelist hates the team or player. I’m talking about the business side of it. WGR Radio (Which I will talk about later this week) has gotten a lot of criticism from fans because they rip and scrutinize everything the Bills do, but when it comes to the Sabres, they have a tendency to handle them with kitty gloves. The theory is has a broadcast deal for all the Sabres games and don’t want to piss off the powers that be.
The Buffalo News is the most unbiased sports outlet in Buffalo. Period. Meaning they don’t cater to anyone. They don’t have a hidden agenda with building up or tearing down a team to make the team some money. And if they have a good relationship with a player or owner they don’t let it sway their opinion. For instance, Jerry Sullivan who has a pretty good relationship with Ralph Wilson when it comes to picking up the phone and interviewing him has always criticized Ralph with the way he has run the team. That exact same criticism goes for Golisano, a owner who has not returned any of the reporter’s calls since 2007 (But will always call to talk politics, ugh). Not picking up the phone for a reporter can lead to the reporter having a bad agenda against the person or team, Just ask Randy Moss. Even with Ralph returning the staff’s calls he still gets the same criticism that Golisano gets who has been M.I.A. at HSBC Areana.
If my numbers are correct, the News has 2 columnists, 4 beat reporters, and 3 part-timers. I’m a sucker for a good opinion and Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason are the two columnists who bring out the best in the sports scene. Sully is by far my favorite columnist for 2 reasons. One..he said it best himself he’s not paid to be a cheerleader, he’s paid to be the team’s biggest critic. If I want to hear a cheerleader’s opinion on the team, i’ll call my overly optimistic friend whose had season tickets since 1986. Two..the guy is pretty diverse when it comes to sports. For being in a 2 team sports town he can write a good column on any of the other sports. Sully’s writing always strikes a nerve with me, whenever I’m ticked off at the Bills or Sabres he writes exactly how I feel (maybe that sounds a bit gay, but you get the picture)
Bucky is pretty much known as the hockey columnist. If I was a hockey purest I would give the nod to Bucky. He knows his hockey and is never shy when it comes to criticizing and giving (which hasn’t been a lot) credit to the Sabres. Allen Wilson and Mark Gaughan head up the beat for the Bills. Mark’s work speaks for itself. The guy is on the Hall of Fame Committee and his Bills chats are the most informative the site. Allen does double duty as he does writing for the NBA and is a big Lakers fan (good man). The beat goes on for Mike Harrington and John Vogl on the Sabres beat. Harrinton seems to be more opinionated about the Sabres while Vogl seems more just the facts. I only say that cause I don’t think Vogl has ever written a column.
Living in NYC you come to realize that the press core is very different from Buffalo. As in they are stalkers! If you don’t want to talk to them they will come to you! Ask Randy Johnson who almost kicked the crap out of a camera guy for stopping him on the streets. Ask the NFL Network who had some guy waiting at the airport in Mississippi airport only to “Twitter” that Brett Favre was getting on a airplane. If you haven’t heard, the Sabres and Bills decided not to have year end press conferences. This was a huge burden for the fans who wanted to hear what exactly both teams plans were for the offseason. This is when TBN should go into full fledged NYC Press mode. They should of gone to 1 Bills Drive and Seymour Knox Plaza and wait till some front office guy is walking in the building with his Tim Horton’s coffee and ambush him. Fans want answers, they want closure and hope. Maybe I’m too old school when it comes to the press core, but if the story doesn’t come to you, then you goto the story.
“WWE is still cool”