Saturday, June 20, 2009


So I see that tomorrow's Buffalo News will feature Bucky Gleason's annual GM for a day column. I seem to have developed a reputation as a bit of Bucky slayer - I dropped in on one of Bucky's chats a few months back and even he commented on me being hard on him - so I know some of you will wander this way looking for my response. I figured I should explain why you won't find any reaction here.

It started with that Bucky column that most of the blogosphere got worked up about. You know, the one where he called us all dumb, lazy sheep? That column pissed me off something fierce. I thought it showed a gross misunderstanding of his audience and the local sports scene and I thought it was insulting for a number of reasons. I said in the post I wrote about it that I wasn't going near anything he wrote for a long time and I meant it. That was on April 22nd and I haven't read any of Bucky's columns or chats since.

The initial anger dissipated but the truth is, that column did make me think about how easy it is to just accept things as they are whether you're happy with them or not. I'm not ready to give up on the Sabres. They're only two years removed from back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances and I think they have talent and good, young players in the pipeline. For me, there are still enough signs of hope to hang in there with them, to think things might get better. I'm not, however, as optimistic for TBN's coverage of the Sabres.

I've written this blog for a little over two years now. For most of those two years, Bucky has been writing variations of the same column with me writing variations of the same reaction. The beat and blog coverage, while better, has often been as repetitive. The same people have been blamed over and over, the same mistakes have been criticized even long after they happened and the same people skate by without taking any criticism at all. When a beat writer finally getting around to criticizing the head coach of an undisciplined, unmotivated, non-playoff team is considered a big deal, I think you have to question how willing the hockey beat is to challenge us and itself.

Which leads to my real problem with Bucky. He thinks he's smarter than us. We're just fans, what do we know? We could never understand the way things work. And hey, why bother educating us when he can just lecture us instead? Why raise the level of the conversation when he can write for the lowest common denominator? Why challenge us or himself when he can just say the same thing over and over? And TBN is obviously just fine with that because when it came time to pick one guy on the hockey beat to send to the Stanley Cup Finals, to represent them, to fill us in on what was going on during the biggest moments of the hockey season, they didn't choose one of the beat writers, they chose Bucky. They don't care what we think of him or them. If we're reading their hockey coverage, great. If we're all talking about it and throwing up links to it, even better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's nothing of value in TBN's Sabres coverage. There is. And for better or for worse, they have some of the best access to the organization which would make it very difficult to cut them out altogether. But there are certain parts of their coverage that I find so consistently infuriating that I think it's about time I started showing my displeasure with those things and the best way to do that in this case is to quit reading them and quit commenting on them.

So there you go. If you want commentary on GM for a day, you'll have to seek it elsewhere. Going forward, it's an all-new Top Shelf.


Matthew said...

I pick up these comments via my RSS feed so I do find value and entertainment in many of these posts. However, all those paragraphs to explain why your NOT writing an article was a waste of space. Would have been more effective not to write one at all. From my perspective, all this did was create another example to support the criticism of bloggers who act like columnists. They say bloggers are amateurs with a laptop and the tone of this article supports that. Better luck next post, which I will surely read.

Heather B. said...

Matthew, I did consider just not saying anything at all but I changed my mind. A bunch of people will email me about this story - they always do - and I thought I'd just put it out there why I'm not commenting on it. I've spent a lot of time the last couple of years criticizing TBN in general and Bucky specifically and to stop doing so is a pretty big change, one that I thought deserved an explanation. I certainly don't want anyone to read something asinine from Bucky and take my silence as agreement. I may very well be overthinking the whole situation but hey, it wouldn't be the first time I've done that.

I also happen to know that there are people at TBN who read my blog because, while I'm not say Deadspin or anything, I do send them a fair amount of traffic even when I'm bitching and moaning. Consider this a public letter to the editor.

And I am an amateur with a laptop. I have never and will never claim to be anything else so I'm not sure I get the criticism there. I'm a fan blowing off steam and shouldn't be judged as anything else.

Mark B said...

The point of a blog is to vent about whatever you want and not be restricted in regards to content as the so-called "real" journalists are. So you had every right to post this entry since it was on your mind.

A Bucky-free Top Shelf is notable -he seemed to give you so much material. But it's now a brave new world where you can step away from your arch-enemy and do really do your own thing even more!

Matthew said...

"And I am an amateur with a laptop. I have never and will never claim to be anything else so I'm not sure I get the criticism there."

Reading it back, I had to laugh at myself. It wasn't a criticism at all, in hindsight. You are correct, it is I who forgot you were an amateur with a laptop after reading you for the past year. If anything, that is a compliment.

The rest is a matter of opinion and there is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. To Mark B.'s point I will only clarify that you have to right to blog anything you wish, I would never criticize that, I just didn't find any value with the original post.

Keep on keepin' on, first face-off of 09-10 can't come soon enough.

Heather B. said...

Matthew, fair enough! I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me all the time, and I'm perfectly aware that sometimes I like to hear myself talk. I suspect that was partly what led to this post. Why be quiet when I can talk a lot about WHY I'm being quiet? :P

You are correct, it is I who forgot you were an amateur with a laptop after reading you for the past year. If anything, that is a compliment.

Well, when you put it like that it DOES sound like a compliment so thank you. I think a lot of professionals have the misconception that all bloggers are aspiring journalists, determined to steal their jobs, so I just wanted to clarify that that is definitely not the case here.

Thanks for the comment. I do not at all mind a little criticism/disagreement especially when it's as polite and calm as yours was. Please chime in any time!

Gambler said...

Heather, I'm surprised you didn't comment on the irony inherent here: that Bucky has spent the last two years insulting fans for not demanding better quality from their hockey organization by refusing to buy tickets, and now you're demanding better quality from your local newspaper by refusing to link to their articles. Looks like you learned something from Bucky, after all! As much as I like watching you tear him apart, I say good for you.