I can handle insults, I really can.
Living in Buffalo, you get used to the usual arguments about why you suck. The four Super Bowls, the Sabres in ’75, ’99, and their most recent stretch of post lockout hockey. Then you get into the weather, the economy, and, if they get there, the government.
Like I said, I’ve gotten used to it.
So when you go to a Sabres game with a few thousand Leafs fans in the building, you know what you are going up against. Still, you have your own ammunition. Someone has a “Losers Since ’67” jersey ready to go, and you can mock them about their 14th place standing in the East. Hey, remember when we beat them in the East finals in ’99? That was sweet.
Hey, it’s all in good fun, right? As long as no one ends up fighting and it remains just words all is well. Rivals are supposed to dislike each other, otherwise you would be best friends and laugh after each goal.
I know what you’re thinking: why bring it up? The Sabres won, Miller didn’t give all those Leafs fans a chance to cheer, and all is right with the world. Yeah, but on the way out I heard it:
Usually that’s something I’d enjoy hearing. Support the hometown teams, right? Wrong. The guy who said it was wearing a Leafs jersey.
Can you feel it? That rage building inside you? I did, because I knew exactly what he was talking about: he had us. The Bills are playing games in Toronto, and the team is anything but ours anymore. Just another example of their superiority over us, just like they want to think. A new toy in this never ending game of “can you top this?” Suddenly Bill Barilko or 1967 don’t matter because Toronto stole the Bills.
Is this how it’s going to be for the next five years? Anytime we beat Toronto, preseason, home and home, even playoffs, the comeback will be this: we have the Bills. Man, if that doesn’t just freaking piss you off I don’t know what will.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’ve really tried to take in all sides of the move. I’ve been told it’s to save the team and that we need to suck it up and quit whining, I’ve also been reassured that someone will swoop in and save us from Skydome’s greener FieldTurf. Then I take a look at the reality of all those dollar signs awaiting the league’s owners up north and I just can’t see the Bills on American soil in a decade.
Still, all that is for a future no one can decipher. At present, that phrase uttered by a Leafs fan is nothing more than a sharp wit denying the immediate loss to the Sabres.
“Happy Birthday, Mats. Score some goals next time there, cupcake.”
“Oh yeah? Go Bills.”
Ooooh, what a derisive way to get your point across. “We may not have won a Cup in my lifetime, but we have the Bills now, too.” It’s nothing more than another way to bruise the ego of a Buffalo Sports Fan. I only wish I had the chance to deliver a blow like that to a rival fan. What a coup for a city like ours to suddenly have the edge over another.
You know what? I may not have it in me, I’ve been kicked too many times before.
Sometimes you just can’t remember how to get up.