Find the Corners First

by Ryan

Tonight I got upset about something that I can’t possibly explain to anyone else.

The context needed is impossible to provide, but let’s assume I had reason to be upset. What happened offended who I am and what I believe in, and despite the fact that the people involved had no reason to know they were in the wrong, I left the situation fuming.

These things happen more than we’d like to admit, simply because we believe in very specific things. I’ve spent the last three years talking about sports on the internet. People have come to know I have an opinion about Thomas Vanek and what purpose blogs provide to the greater landscape.

But there are other things that matter to us as well. You probably don’t know that I find architecture fascinating and was maybe a few more days with a t-square away from a very different career path.

These are the things we don’t ask about each other but deep down are dying to divulge, the not-so-secret facts that remain hidden not because we choose to conceal them but rather because no one has decided to go digging.

I believe that these things are an essential part of who we are because they give us the context that makes us interesting. The clothes we wear or where we went to school is one thing; but what truly interests us, what impacts the way we look at the world is what really matters.

The fact that I write a sports blog is not written on my face. That I wrote my senior thesis about the future of newspapers on the internet isn’t something that comes up in regular conversation, but it is something that impacts my job and the way I look at the industry.

Chris Smith and Brad Riter had an interesting discussion about journalism today that got me thinking about all this because, well, that’s what I do.

One thing they touched on that I’ve always wondered about is why everyone cares so much about what “the media” says about the Sabres. It’s actually a bit silly how much thought is put into all this, but much of what the blogosphere says about the Sabres is in fact meta criticism of the people who cover them.

This site is no stranger to that area of writing, but what’s so ironic about the latest bit of criticism is that Jerry Sullivan was essentially doing on air the exact same thing dozens and dozens of people do every time he writes a column.

Disregard the self-importance and a bit of whining and you essentially get a man assuming he has a grasp on something he cannot possibly understand well enough to draw conclusions from. What was shocking about it was how personal that conclusion was, but Sullivan assumed he knew everything you possibly can about Darcy Regier’s job as general manager and didn’t understand why Tim Connolly is still on the roster.

It’s a conclusion that gets a spot on the mat right next to fans assuming the trade deadline is where you can dump all your useless players for for draft picks while the other 29 teams won’t notice they are useless. A columnist openly wondered what the value of Craig Rivet was a week or so ago. The answer was simple: half his contract price with zero return for the Sabres.

When we all assume we know things we don’t, we get ourselves into trouble. The truth is that it’s impossible for us to understand exactly what being Darcy Regier or Jerry Sullivan means, yet we continue to do so despite all evidence to the contrary.

The same can be said for Ryan Miller’s incident with reporters last month that sparked a newspaper’s managing editor to wax poetic about just how hard being a journalist is.

She then proceeded to display an embarrassing grasp on basic web fundamentals that highlights just how far away her organization is from true convergence. Just as we began to understand, we learn the teacher tossed out her copy of the textbook.

Writers start their stories before the game is over, and some goaltenders have an ego just as big as the most important of sports writers. These are not startling facts, but keeping them organized and in perspective is often difficult to do.

What kept me from biting my tongue tonight was not that I knew I was right, but rather that I realized ignorance is an inevitable part of communication. We all live our lives unaware of enormous amounts of things, and sometimes we bridge those unknown gaps with faulty logic and misinformation.

I’m not going to pretend I’m anything I’m not. Relying on what we truly know and feel is what I think makes a lot of sources (both professional and otherwise) out there interesting. If that changes, my opinion of their importance will follow suit.

The facts are constantly changing and the evidence is always incomplete. The sooner we treat it as such the more fun we’re all going to have.


  1. Mike

    When I listened to the segment, I wondered why it was that Jerry Sullivan was so angry about something he didn’t really know anything about. Then I realized, as I always do, that Jerry Sullivan’s anger was entirely manufactures, perhaps self righteously in his mind, on behalf of the Buffalo sports fan. That’s what makes him a scumbag in my mind. I don’t think he honestly holds half the opinions he does. I think his relationship with Buffalo fans is like that of an abusive, manipulative boyfriend.
    Does he have a point about Pegula? Absolutely. Fans have been on a high, and expectations are unreasonable at this point. I’m taking a wait and see approach. But I understand that people want to feel good about the team, because, well, why wouldn’t you? It’s more fun when they win. It’s more fun when they have a bright future.
    Masked in a lot of his comments was Sullivan’s nostalgia for the old days, and I think a lot of that is related to the influence of so called new media. Athletes don’t want to deal with Sullivan and his ilk anymore and because of the amount of voices out there, they don’t really have to. He’ll never have a relationship like he had with some of the Bills players back in the 90s and I think all this kills him. It absolutely kills him that he doesn’t have to be dealt with or taken seriously anymore, except by the WGR crowd.
    Regardless, the season might all come down to tonight. Tonight is really what matters.

  2. Verrry interesting post, Ryan. Now I’m supremely curious about what irked you so much last night.

    The facts are constantly changing and the evidence is always incomplete.

    Well, well said. This is one of the things that puzzles me so very much about the conversation surrounding sports. Um, we’re all wrong a LOT of the time. No one could possibly keep score. And what was once right, becomes wrong in a flash.

    I wish we could discuss Ryan Miller, for example, without everyone picking a side. Ryan Miller’s value is not static. I feel like it’s always a big argument when he comes up- half of the fans are screeching that his contract is a burden when he’s struggling, and the other half are rubbing it in people’s faces when he’s on. There is ALWAYS something unpleasant going on surrounding the conversation about Miller’s play. I wish everyone would stop trying to keep track of who was right about Crunchy, and who was wrong, and just accept it at face value a little more often.

    • Thanks for the kind words, guys.

      I really want to have a different discussion about Ryan Miller at some point, if only because he seems to be so very different himself. There is something worth talking about there but to accomplish it you have to step back and forget a few things, which is why it’s so hard to really get into it.

      Maybe we can work on that…

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