Buffalo receives a well-deserved call for seniors this year

Call me a sentimental old man, or call me an old softy because I’ve always had a soft spot for the city of Buffalo. That actually goes back beyond my time as an undergraduate at university (I may have pointed out here once or 30 that I went to San Buenaventura, which is about 90 minutes south of there), because Bob McAdoo showed up on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated I received (as Brave). And that’s all it takes when you’re 9 years old.

But I’m thrilled that Buffalo is getting some big league innings this year. I don’t like the reason: because the Canadian government would not approve of the Blue Jays playing home games in Toronto due to COVID-19 concerns. I’m not thrilled by the fact that the Jays seemed to be trying to figure out how to play literally anywhere other than Sahlen Field, due to concerns about the quality of the stadium lights and the size of their clubs.

And, of course, Buffalo baseball fans, a dedicated and little-recognized group, will almost certainly not be able to see any of the games that will be played there this summer and fall.

So, no, it’s not ideal.

Still, for the first time since 1915, Buffalo will host major league baseball games. The Buffalo Blues (nee Buffalo Buffeds) were two-year-old rogue Federal League members whose most prominent alumnus was probably Russ Ford, who had twice won 20 games for the New York Highlanders and then went 21-6 with 1.82 ERA in 1914.

Buffalo Sahler Field
Buffalo Sahler FieldAP

Two previous franchises, both called the Bison, had spent seasons in the National League (1879-85) and one in the Players League (1890), never ending more than 10 games from the first (and, in the ’90s, going 36-96, 46 ½ games behind the Boston Reds pennant winners). And aside from that, it’s been a city of NFL Bills and NHL Sabers (and, for a gloriously short time, also home to the NBA Braves).

And for the first time since 1957, New York can also boast of having three major league clubs to call home, even if there are unlikely to be subway people making the road trip through Thruway this year.

However, what I find great is that many people I know from Buffalo are really accepting it, even as flawed as it may be. Buffalo is generally a stronghold of the Yankees (although its proximity to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Toronto means that there are also pockets of support for those teams). The Mets called Buffalo a Triple-A home early in its existence (Ed Kranepool and Cleon Jones played there) and also from 2009-12 (Justin Turner hit and Matt Harvey pitched there).

Joe McCarthy, the great Yankees captain, called Buffalo home. Sal Maglie is from Niagara Falls. Terry Collins won 246 games in three years at Buffalo, earning him custody in 1992 in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Buffalo went to great lengths for inclusion in the 1993 baseball expansion, drawing 1 million fans in its first six seasons at 16,600-seat Sahler Field, which, when it opened in 1988, was a standard in stadiums. new age baseball and set a model for Camden Yards and Jacobs Fields and Coors Field to follow.

Baseball chose Miami and Denver, unfortunately, and Buffalo is unlikely to be on the radar again. Which is fine, because no matter how the Jays end this year, Buffalo will always be 1939, when the New York Knights led by Roy Hobbs roared out of nowhere to beat the Pirates in a playoff for the National League title when Hobbs won the pennant with a three-run blast at the light towers.

Sure, we’re supposed to believe that the Knights represented New York City, but we also know that Buffalo was the substitute, that in the summer of 1983 “The Natural” filmed all of the local team’s baseball scenes in Old War Memorial Stadium, with affection. Nicknamed “The Rockpile” by the locals.

“It lived up to its name,” Barry Levinson, who so beautifully directed that film, once told me, “but surely you didn’t have to use your imagination to believe it was 1939.”

Welcome back, Buffalo, old friend. Enjoy the view from The Show while it lasts.

Vac’s Whacks

Forget the dizzying heights it reached, and whatever you thought of its outcome. Mike French’s career is a testament to how much you can achieve if you work hard (and few did more than you did when you were in the process) and believe in yourself enough (even when others think you have a better voice. for a body shop). It is a wonderful example to leave behind.

This week there was a story about the possible owner of the Mets, Alex Rodríguez, exalting as a virtue that “he knows what he does not know.” Hopefully he brought that trait with him into the transmission booth, too.

As with many things during this pandemic, I’m a bit late for the party, but my new obsession with Prime Binge Watch is “Absentia,” which features the charming Stana Katic.

Normally you wouldn’t be a defender of the extended playoffs. But in a 60 game season they make sense. Now, a bad week is not going to convict a team, and with all the highest seeds getting all the first round home games, the probability of short series tricks decreases. Unfortunately, I totally object to him coming back for a 162 game season, and I’m afraid the toothpaste is out of the tube.

James Dolan
James DolanRobert Sabo

Whack Back at Vac

Alan Swartz: Should I assume that James Dolan thinks he knows more about basketball than he does about hockey? It seems like he leaves the Rangers alone and they succeed. While the Knicks, with whom he regularly intercedes, are a disaster.

Holidays: The amazing thing is that you talk to Rangers and Knicks fans about their owner and it is impossible to believe they are talking about the same person. And what’s REALLY surreal is that many Rangers fans ARE Knicks fans.

Howie Siegel: Several weeks ago, when I wrote saying I think I’m done with baseball, you asked me to keep in touch to see how that went. After Cespedes’ home run yesterday, all I can say is what George Costanza once said: “I’m back, baby!”

Holidays: I don’t expect everyone to change like that, but it’s good to see you back on the baseball field, Howie.

@nerflagger: This line is stolen, but … Dr. Fauci is serious that we don’t catch anything! (TY, Doctor) #Respect

@MikeVacc: I once had the honor of pitching a first pitch before a Jersey Jackals game at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair, NJ, and I can assure you it was the most terrifying thing I did. (Because you asked: you threw it low and out. But don’t bounce.)

Mike Reilly: Too bad we are going to lose the Oklahoma-Army football game. At the end of September, Michie Stadium, the beginning of the fall foliage … a day to enjoy so much that it is good to eliminate the virus.

Holidays: Of all the things we’re missing out on the sports mat, the likelihood of it going away is subtle but significant. We just don’t have that kind of game around here very often, and the Cadets are always good at scaring teams from a team like the Sooners once a year.