Monday, May 25, 2009

Long Time No Blog

I'm back!

Not that I really went anywhere...I've just had the busiest non-college-related week of my life. Dance competitions, rehearsals...and my sister's softball team made it to the state championships which start tomorrow in NYC - Congrats Lady Lancers of St. Mary's!

With all that's been going on, I really haven't had much time to even watch the conference finals. It's not too hard to guess who I'm rooting for (if it is...Chicago and Pittsburgh), so I'm happy with one series and sad (but not unexpectedly so) about the other.

As a way of summing up the great amount of hockey that I've missed out on, I present the "Top 5 Revelations I've Had (So Far) During the Conference Finals ":

5.) I really don't hate Sidney Crosby as much as I let on this year. I spent the whole regular season telling myself that Sid was a whiner that I must have been crazy to follow like I did during the 2008 playoffs. Well, absence must make the heart grow fonder because my love for Sid is back in full force. I just like how he has really stepped up in these playoffs, proving that this really is his team. For all the crap he gets about being immature, I think he truly does handle himself well for being put on a pedestal as a role model so young.

Colby would be so happy to read this!

4.) I hate the Carolina Hurricanes more than I let on this year. Really. I hate them. I have such a visceral reaction every time they show footage of Brind'Amour lifting the Stanley Cup that should have been ours - it's like I want to cry and throw up at the same time. Or maybe that's just from his face...Whatever it is, I don't think it's a reaction that's going away any time soon. I'm Polish; I hold grudges like it's my job.

3.) The Chicago Blackhawks have the best mixture of playoff beards ever. From Toews's mutton chops and Kane's peach fuzz to Sharp's mountain man look and Soupy's bright red beard, the Hawks run the gamut in terms of ritual facial hair. Whether it's ruggedly handsome that you're going for or boyishly pathetic, they have something for every taste. In addition, they also have this hilarious video playing up the beard-growing prowess (or lack thereof) of their two biggest stars:

2.) I am still not really over losing Brian Campbell. I say this not because I sit there and wish he was still playing for us with the nostalgia that I save for Briere, Biron and McKee but because I like to pick on him a little too much. It's like that significant other who dumps you and then you try to pick out everything they do wrong and get a kick out doing so...Until it's over a year later and you look more than a little pathetic in your inability to move on. He's playing for the team I want in the West, but I'll be damned if a little part of me doesn't smile inside when he makes some major mistake. I don't want him back, but I don't want him to be a star for anyone else, either. I sound way more than "a little pathetic" now...

1.) I miss Sabres hockey more than last year. Last year, it seemed easier for some reason. Maybe it's because we knew from early on in the season that it wasn't going to be a good year. Maybe it's because we thought missing the postseason was a one-time deal. Whatever the case may be, I was able to transition into playoff hockey a lot easier last year than this year. This year, I find it really hard to keep up a rooting interest in a team or even in the game itself without some level of bitterness towards the Sabres. It's hard to watch other teams progress when I felt for the longest time this season that my team would be in the mix right along with these others. They're not, through no one's fault but their own, and it's difficult to feel no resentment to cities that get to experience the beauty that is hockey in May.

That doesn't mean, though, that I'll stop watching. I have my teams, and I'm starting to get out of my "playoff funk." Expect more posts in the coming days; I really do feel bad for how I've been neglecting my writing and my readers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Birthday Recap Part II

Three posts in less than 24 hours - I must say that I am very proud of myself!

To conclude the Muckers and Grinders birthday festivities, I bring you a collection of some of the "bests" of the past year of blogging:

Most Hopeful Post: "The Bills Make Me Wanna..." (Nothing like the start of a season to remind you of what it means to be a Buffalo fan)

Best Title: "Paul Gaustad has Given Me Unrealistic Expectations About Men" (Need I say more?)

Most Emotional Posts: "At a Loss" and "Everything We Needed" (The swing in emotions from despair after the crash of Flight 3407 to that euphoric Sabres statement game against the Sharks still gives me goosebumps to think about)

The Best of "Overreaction Central": "In Denial" (Ryan Miller's injury and the team's response to it still gives me this same reaction)

The Best of "Emo Blogging Time": "Waking Up" (Langston Hughes gets Buffalo sports fans like no other poet)

And now, the moment I know you've all been waiting for:

The Best of Google Analytics:
People have found this blog searching for some pretty amusing things. Sure there's the obligatory "jason pominville paul gaustad," "pat kaleta girlfriend," and "paul gaustad shirtless" searches, but there have been some downright fantastic ones as well:

"sports writing locker naked"
"alex ovechkin cannibal bit ear"
"craig rivet's dad"
"jarome iginla good deed"
"jason pominville's favorite color"
"stupid birthday comments"
"their just really good at hockey" (great grammar here as well!)
"when can jason pominville leave the sabres?" (NEVER!!)
"cheap muckers"

Hope you enjoyed those as much as I did!

As a final birthday treat for myself, I started a Twitter: Feel free to follow even more of my random thoughts!

Birthday Recap Part I

Today, Muckers and Grinders is officially one year old. As I said last night, I still can't believe that people actually have been reading my overly emotional take on the Buffalo sports world for so long.

To celebrate, what goes better with a birthday party than stats! Before you start making a list of all the things that are (which better include Paul Gaustad), I promise, most of these are pretty interesting.

*I've had 10,926 separate visits to my blog this year, with 14,896 pageviews. I know that, to some, this is not the greatest number, but for someone who is often slow to update and has very little creative impulse to make my work stand out among the other awesome blogs out there, this is a lot. So thanks for reading everyone, and I hope you keep reading my rididculous thoughts for another year!

*People from 42 countries have visited this blog. The majority come from the U.S., with Canada coming in second. There are some other cool international visitors, though, like readers from Germany, Finland, India, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Latvia.

*In America, my highest percentage of readers are obviously from this area, but Virginia ranks second.

*Call me obsessed, but I love when I see returning readers from East Lansing or Portland. I like to pretend that people in contact with Ryan Miller and Paul Guastad like reading about how much I love them.

*Out of all the blogs out there, the most readers come to my site from The Goose's Roost. Thanks for bringing some of your readers my way, guys!

*My most popular post in terms of readers was the Class of 1970 Reunion post I wrote about the Canucks-Sabres game back in October. It had 151 pageviews, which leads me to believe that I have some readers from Vancouver that I should cater to more often!

* Most popular search label: Ryan Miller with Paul Gaustad and Jason Pominville rounding out the top three. It's good to see that I'm not the only one out there who wants more info on The Trio.

Later today I'll recap the best of Google Analytics because nothing says Happy Birthday like hilarious searches!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tomorrow's a Pretty Big Day

One year ago today I decided that I would start my own hockey blog. It took me another day to actually write something for it, but I consider May 13 to be almost as big of an anniversary around here as tomorrow will be.

I know that sometimes I don't keep this blog updated as much as I should, and it kills me when I have something really important to write about but I can't because school or work or some other ridiculously boring thing takes me away from what I really want to be doing.

A year ago, blogging looked so easy. I credit all of my fellow Sabres bloggers out there that I read religiously (you know who you are) with making it appear that way. I've learned a lot in a year, though:

I've learned that it takes a lot of skill to recap a game that everyone has already seen in a way that makes people want to read

I've learned that it's really hard to give an interesting opinion on a topic that's been beaten to death. I've also learned that it's even harder to put a new opinion out there for everyone to pick apart.

I've learned that blogging isn't as easy as it appeared 365 days ago, and I give all of you bloggers credit for keeping your sites updated and interesting far more often than I do.

Most importantly, though, I've learned that I really love blogging. I love having a place to celebrate when my teams do well and a place to vent when they let me down. I love being part of the Buffalo sports blogging community. To those of you out there whose blogs I've come to love, thanks for bringing me into the fold. I honestly love reading your work, and it always brings a smile to my face to see a comment from you guys on things I write.

I still can't believe that people out there actually read this thing. I started this blog with really no expectations, so to think that there are actually people interested in what a college girl from West Seneca says about sports still blows my mind. I always try to be honest, and I know that sometimes it may make me seem like a gushing teenybopper or a whiny kid. However, my goal a year ago was to start a blog that was really in my voice, and if I accomplished nothing else, I know that I never try to sound like anyone but me (no matter how annoying I can be at times).

I suppose I should have saved this for tomorrow, but I have a couple of posts planned already. I know - more than one post in a day - that's got to be a record for me!

A lot has changed in my life since the night of May 13, 2008, but I'm glad that I have this to remind me that some things don't change. I still love my teams. I still love to write. I still wish I was as good a writer as many of my fellow bloggers.

One year ago, I was just a fan sitting in her house ranting about sports. The only thing that's changed is, for some crazy reason, I have people reading my ranting now. I couldn't be more thankful for those of you that do. You're the reason I'm so glad that I got myself into this world and the reason I'm not leaving any time soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Becoming a Fan

On Saturday night, the Buffalo Bandits were defeated by the New York Titans 9-3, eliminating them from the NLL playoffs and a chance at a repeat championship.

It took me a couple of days to really sort through how I felt about this loss. After most of the Bandits losses this season, I've stayed relatively unaffected. Sure, I'm usually sad that they lost, but I'm usually more upset that my two best friends, two dedicated Bandits fans, are going to be so miserable for the next week. I was almost glad that I was able to keep myself from falling head-over-heels for this team because I knew that I could at least save myself some heartbreak.

Saturday night's loss ended all hopes of objective lacrosse viewing for me.

I'll admit it now...I am a Bandits fan.

I know that this sounds strange. I live in Buffalo, I'm even a season ticket holder. Naturally, I should be a fan. It should not have taken me an entire season to become one. I guess it all boils sown to how I define being a fan.

Liking the games, enjoying the atmosphere, feeling a high when a team wins - that's enough to be considered a fan of a team for most people. For me, though, that's not nearly enough.

Being a fan for me is like being in a relationship. There are the teams you flirt with but know that they'll never amount to anything, and you'll probably forget about them in a few hours (Pittsburgh Penguins of last year's playoffs). There's the ones that you hang out with every once in a while but you know they're not "the one" (Vancouver Canucks, Indianapolis Colts).

Then there's the team that you hang out with for a whole season with the feeling that this could turn into something special. They could be something exclusive, something very few will ever be...your team. It's just that you've had your heart broken very recently by a few teasing teams that made you believe they were something that they weren't.

Saturday night, this new team broke my heart again the same way the others did - by not showing up in a game that mattered immensely. I got mad at them, and that, to me, is the key to being a true fan of a team. You get upset, you fight with them, but, in your heart you know that, like any good relationship, you can get through it. You still love them anyway.

The Bandits may have lost the game, but they won a fan on Saturday. I know that this doesn't matter at all to them, but it's something special for me. When I give my heart to one of "my teams," I give it totally, and the Bandits join the Sabres, Bills, and Duke Blue Devils on a very short list in my heart.

Even though the loss hurt, even though I'm still mad that my first season as a season ticket holder ended in an offensive failure, I'll be back. Because I'm a fan, and that's what we do.