Editorial: So long, 2016, and thanks for all the spite

Friends, the new year is upon is. Now is the time that we reflect on our last trip around the sun, and look forward to what the next journey brings. We resolve to better ourselves, to better our community, and better our world.

If you just heard a record scratch, you’re not alone. Let it serve as a warning of the hijinx that lie ahead.

2016 is coming to an end, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Buffalo fans. The deaths of Gods,  Kings, Princes, and Princesses are widely known and deeply felt, but perhaps none so much as the death of hope for yet another season of Buffalo sports.

Gone are the halcyon days of the Sabres’ rebuild, or the goodwill of a seventeenth consecutive, “THIS IS OUR YEAR!” for Bills fans. In their stead, we’ve got emergency callups from Juniors and another coach that couldn’t last the length of his contract.

Given enough Canadian beer and populist bourbon, one might be able to convince themselves that the Bills have accomplished something that bordered on impossible. It was reported that the chance of the team missing the playoffs for 17 consecutive seasons were 1:6,000,000. WE DID IT! Tip your collective crown, citizens of the Queen City. You’ve accomplished something that may just unseat snow and four straight Super Bowl losses as our hometown storyline.

Rex is gone. Roman is gone. Most of the coaching staff will be gone. Surely they’ll fire the one person who orchestrated the whole debacle, right?!

Nope. This is Buffalo, and we see futility straight through to the bitter end. Botched draft picks, poor staff decisions, and no track record of success? Sounds like the perfect candidate to lead our ninth coaching hunt in 17 seasons.

Apparently, the Buffalo Bills have resolved to maintain the sub-mediocre status quo that fans have grown to loathe with every oz of corn liquor surging through their veins. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It isn’t all bad, though. Tyrod proved he can sling the ball around on the vaunted Miami Dolphins defense, so we’ve got our number one for the next regime to build around…right?

Oh…sooooooooo…about that…the Bills are benching their best QB so he doesn’t get hurt, because if he gets hurt, we have to pay him, and we don’t intend to pay him. Next year. His contract. We’re letting him go, and we’ll be relying on EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones next year. Or a version of Tony Romo that comes free with a neck brace and a few rolls of duct tape, just in case something falls off midgame.

But, Sammy’s back! (Knock on wood.)

And the Sabres. Of all of the teams in all of the leagues in all of the world, we had to fall in love with this one. The American Red Cross has set up a triage tent outside of Key Bank Center. The Pegulas are flying to DC to lobby FOR Obamacare. Team doctors have started off-ice training programs of hours-long games of Operation, just to prepare for the next awful thing to occur.

The flashes of brilliance that occasionally take place on the ice are tragically dimmed by the constant bright beacons of emergency vehicles coming to claim the next injured Sabre from their agony.

To say the team has suffered is barely a euphemism; the Buffalo Sabres injury list reads like a warzone report. And the fans suffer along with them; with expectations high in the second season of their rebuild, they’ve watched star after star fall to the ice clutching this part or that. With each mangame lost, hope dies a little more…and a little more…and a little…

Welp. I guess there’s none left. 2016 has taken its last victim – the hope of longtime Buffalo sports fans. It’s just…gone. There’s no talk of a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s barely any recognition of a tunnel at all. It’s just dank and dark and ultimately hopeless.

Perhaps it’s for the better. Expectations lead to disappointment, disappointment leads to escapism, escapism leads to Deadspin headlines. Perhaps a comfortably numb fandom is what Buffalo needs right now. Sit out a few plays. Get our minds right. Come back in 2018 bigger and better than ever.

Probably not, though, right? Like I said, we take futility all the way to the bitter, violent end. That may as well stretch to the utter futility that is the everyday life of a fan of Buffalo sports.


On behalf of the 716 Sports Podcast crew, I’d like to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. Few things give us as much joy as sharing our frustrations with the world’s best fans in the City of Good Neighbors. All bitter sarcasm aside, here’s to a joyous 2017. May your glass always be full. May you always have what you need, and often what you want. 

Erik Wollschlager