And here we go

Hey all of you! (OK more like no one and my mom) This Blog is dedicated to any Buffalo Sports fan that has moved away from their beloved hometown to bigger or smaller things. This whole Blogging thing is going to be a work in progress, so please bare with me. What I want to get out of this is to describe what it’s like to be a sports fan in a different city. You must all (I mean mom) wonder what exactly will I be writing about? Well.. I don’t know. But I will start my blog about the best and worse websites to get your Buffalo Sports updates.

I’m sure all of us Buffalo Transplants realize that getting any sort of Buffalo Sporting news in the city you are living in is next to impossible. I live in NYC and the way the city works is there is exactly 4 local sports channels (MSG, YES, SNY, Fox Sports NY), of course these networks make my beloved Empire Sports network look like a college TV station. Obviously these networks hardly ever mention any teams from Buffalo (unless the Jets and Rangers play the Bills and Sabres) I’m sure if you live in cities like Chicago, Boston, or Charlotte it’s pretty much the same thing. And I’m not going to get into ESPN, which doesn’t even know the NHL Exist and took about 4 years to mention the Bills on their channel until T.O. signed with Buffalo.

Now that we got the “what are my TV options?” out of the way, onward to the best and worse Buffalo sports web sites.

1) The Buffalo News.com:
What I like: This website is by far the most informative website for Buffalo Sports. Not only does it post about 5 sports stories a day, but they have 3 weekly chats with their reporters and columnists. I’m sure all of us have read our fare share of Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan columns when we were living in the B-Low. Whether you like them or not the one thing they both have in common is they will try and make the site work. These guys will spend a good 2 hours a week in there chats and answer every single question that is asked. The Website will also report anything that breaks (and we aren’t talking some AP Story), the reporters will post the story whether it’s 7pm or midnight. They also have a blogs dedicated to the Bills, Sabres, and Baseball, along with my personal favorite “Sully’s Blog.” In a world where print media is on life support I applaud TBN for keeping up with the times.

What Needs work: There is an old expression in the radio business that goes, “they have a face for radio”, and that pretty much goes the same for the print staff at The Buffalo News that produces and reports in their video packages. No, they aren’t ugly reporters but they aren’t exactly oozing with camera presence. Now look, back in my college days I sucked when it came to doing stand-ups and and my voice overs weren’t exactly Bob Costas esk, so I understand it’s hard for reporters who have never done TV to just start looking like Ed Kilgore. But there are ways to cover up their flaws and that’s called enhancing the production value. The cameras are about as high quality as the camera on Zach Morris cell phone. One report I remember watching was a mini-camp report on the Bills. Mark Gaughan’s stand-up outside of One Bills Drive was poorly done where the audio kept cutting in and out. The lightening was so bad that during the players interviews I couldn’t make out who was being interviewed till they showed the chyron (name of the person) at the bottom of the screen. Also the design of the website needs some work to it, it just screams “blah”

2)WGR550.com
What I like: Ah yes, one of my old intern stomping grounds. The great thing about the site is that you can listen to WGR Shows live over the Internet. Say what you want about these guys (and trust me I will in later blogs) but anyone who doesn’t live in Buffalo will almost listen to anyone talk Sabres or Bills. The also have a great audio vault that will list all of their interviews they have done with experts, players, and coaches. The design of the web site is also very cool, which is a lot more then I can say for my Blog.

What Needs Work: When you click on the homepage, one of the options you have is to go to the talk show hosts blogs. Unfortunately when you click on it there isn’t anything from the main hosts. If you don’t know, WGR has 2 local programming shows a day. The Howard Simon show and Schoop and the Bulldog. Call me crazy, but if I want to read opinions of anyone from that station it should be from the hosts. I applaud guys like Nick Mendola (Producer of Howard Simon) who posts a column about 2 times a week, but I want to read what the hosts are thinking about not about what the producer or the fill in sports update guy thinks. On a side note, they have to work on the fan forum site, it just is a cluster f#$k. I would also recommend that the site try and conduct chats like TBN does, but since most of the hosts are lazy when it comes to posting a simple blog that may just be a pipe dream.

3) Sabres.com
What I like: The best part of sports internet media is that you can go on a team’s website to watch highlights and interviews and the Sabres don’t lack in that department (their hockey department? well that’s another story). Besides the highlights, the website airs two web shows. The Sabres Show, which is a weekly magazine show that airs during the regular season featuring stories about the Sabres team on and off the ice (More on that show later). The second program is The Sabres Lunch Express, a live web show (Not When Darcy Reiger is on, wink wink) that is hosted by Kevin Sylvester and a player or coach who takes questions from fans from the world wide web. The website posts at least 1-2 stories a day along
with a podcast from one of the Sabres hosts.

What Needs Work: The problem with Team websites is you may get a ton of bang for your buck with highlight and web shows, but if your looking for Sabres reporters (IE Sylvester, Rob Ray) to get tuff on the team when say, Darcy Reiger does nothing at trade deadline or the owner is extremely cheap, this website is not the place for you. Another issue I have is the Sabres show content. There is a term in TV circles called “fluff pieces” and this show has more Fluff then Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Take their first ever show, no seriously TAKE IT and burn it. The first part of the show was a 12 minute interview with Tom Golisano and if you’ve read any of the TBN articles it is quite common that he doesn’t return their calls or talks to the media. About only 3 minutes of the interview was dedicated to the Sabres while the other 9 was just a infomercial about his interests. The weather lady, err, Maria Genero asked Mr. Golisano what his favorite movies were (With the way he runs the team you’d think it was Major League) and what his political views on NYS were. All due respect to Mr. Golisano but I could care less about your favorite movie and why your in politics. You are the Sabres owner and talking team is what you should be doing. Another part of the show had Ales Kotalick playing pool at a bar and talking about his girlfriend. That segment was painful to watch, you can tell the guy was way out of his element, it was like watching a priest talking about watching Desperate House Wives. I will give the show credit, they do have a “inside the video room” with Mike Robitaille (God he’s older then dirt) where he does his best Ron Jaworski with breaking down film.

4) BuffaloBills.com
What I like: Just like the Sabres website they dont lack when it comes to showing team highlights and interviews. During the regular season they have two entertaining mini shows with two of the players. Marcus Stroud’s mailbag, where the big 300 pounder answers questions from the fans who email the site. The Big man will answer questions from what his favorite WWE Wrestler is too what celebrity he would like to marry. The other show is “68 Seconds with Langinston Walker” which follows the same path as Marcus Stroud goes as far as off beat. Langston will pick a topic (IE, What did you do this offseason) and interview players on the team and ask them off beat questions. The site also runs a chat on every Sunday during all Bills games hosted by their reporter Chris Brown.

What Needs Work: The site lacks original programing, besides the two shows I mentioned the site doesn’t have any web shows. If the Sabres can find the budget to do two shows you would think the Bills could do the same thing. The site also falls under the same category as the Sabres when it comes to voicing their opinion about the team. In other words, When the going gets tuff, whip out the “we are young card”. The design of the site can use a little work as well.

That’s my top 4 Buffalo sports sites, I would go on but I’m beat! Till next time.

Joey P