• Page 1 of 3
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • »
  • »»

Sports Fans - Keep the Faith!

Oct 30, 2014 -- 2:42pm

The Giants are champions of the baseball world! Enjoy San Francisco, enjoy.

Any time a team starts to fill out their hand with rings in a short period of time, the word dynasty gets thrown around. The Giants have now won 3 championships in 5 years…they are a dynasty! Sure, why not. I’ll give it to you.  It is impressive for a franchise in any sport to not only win in the postseason, but to do it with consistency. That’s the key word here…consistency.

Let’s give Doc Brown a call and jump in his Delorean for a trip back in time…back to a time when Giants fans were among some of the most miserable in the sport. The last five years have been great for San Francisco, but before that?....Woof.

San Francisco has won the World Series a total of 8 times: 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954, 2010, 2012, 2014.

Take a look at these dates…it’s like looking at Ivy League Football National Championships. Half of San Fran's titles came before 1940. Of the remaining 4, 3 of them have come in the last 5 years. Look at that gap between 1954 and 2010. That’s 56 years!

Throughout this year’s series, the underdog Royals were the hot button topic on sports talk shows. Can the “no name” darlings of the post season win their first title since 1985….1985! That’s only 29 years! I understand this season also marked the team’s first postseason since that year, but still.

Take some solace Royals fans knowing that you were beaten by a team and a fan base that not so long ago, were in your shoes. The Giants are what losing fan bases should hope there team’s become.

I’m a lifelong Bills & Mets fan. I have never celebrated a National Championship during my lifetime. I have never made plans to skip work to attend a victory parade. Heck, postseason appearances for my time over the last several years have been few and far between.

I hope the Mets become like the Giants. I hope the Bills do as well. I hope they become teams who not only snap championship losing skids and learn how to win, but learn how to do it consistently.

San Fran took a 56 year championship drought and shortened the waiting period to only 2 years. Will they win it again in 2016…who knows? That honestly doesn’t even matter. What matters is that the Giants are proof that trends can be bucked and teams can find ways to win.

My BTL co-host Eric Silverman always rags on me for being too big of an optimist with my beloved Mets and Bills, but I always respond, why not? The Royals and Giants are great examples as to why sports fans need to always have faith that their favorite teams can turn it around. It might not happen over night or over a 50 year period, but just someday it can happen. I mean the Giants just won ring number 3 in the past 5 years. Crazier things happen.

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

Bills/Pats = NFL's Groundhog Day

Oct 13, 2014 -- 6:48pm

I’m tired of buying into the buildup only to feel a giant let down. I’m tired of soul sucking penalties. I’m tired of watching an endless Grounghog day of divisional losses. I’m tired of getting pushed around like the New England Patriots' baby brother. (Deep Breathe)

Yesterday morning, I woke up with a giant smile on my face. It was NFL Sunday (AKA Buffalo Bills Gameday). Always the optimist, I eagerly bought into the idea that yesterday’s Bills matchup with the Patriots was going to buck the trend of recent games against New England. Heading into the afternoon, The Pats had won the last 5 matchups. Brady was 22-2 in his career against Western New York’s beloved team. “Not today Mr. Brady,” I thought to myself….this year was going to be different.

Through five games, Bills fans had already been on a roller coaster of a ride. The ups-and-downs started with two season opening victories, followed by two quick losses. My faith in the team was jacked back into the clouds with last weekend's last second comeback in Detroit. Throw in a sold out crowd at The Ralph on the first day of ownership by the Pegula Family and I was reeled back into this season, hook, line and sinker. Yesterday, was going to be different.

As the game wore on and the Bills secondary conceded long gain after long gain to Brady & Company, my head began to spin. My cheeks grew red with rage. I couldn’t believe it….another season, another loss to the Patriots. No matter who’s coaching the Bills or taking the snaps under center, it seems like Buffalo can’t get out of its own way and snag a “W.” “I’ve seen this movie before,” I thought to myself as I slouched back in my chair.


Where have I seen this before? Courtesy of espn.go.com

Maybe I should blame myself for getting too invested in a team that has broken the hearts of many over the last several decades. However, something feels different about this year’s team. I like to think that the Bills are on the verge of turning the corner as a franchise. Also, if you’ve been listening to ESPN Ithaca over the last couple of weeks, several former NFL players and current analysts think the Patriots are no longer an untouchable team in the East. The past few weeks, all I was hearing about was the decline of Tom Brady and the “wide-open” AFC East. Well, yesterday his 361 yards passing and 4 touchdowns lead me to believe that he’s still got it and The Pats are still the class of the conference. You can’t be the best until you beat the best (consistently).

The Patriots have proven over the last decade and a half that the Patriots own the Bills. When the two team’s play, the safe bet goes in favor of New England. That is what infuriates me most. I’m tired of seeing the same results year after year. This game had so much meaning to me as a Bills fan. It’s hard to believe in a Bills season until they can knock off the teams that have tormented them during their playoff drought. After the final victory formation kneel by Tom Brady, I took a walk around the block. I needed some fresh air to gather my thoughts.

As I walked under beautiful Ithaca trees ripe with foliage, I began to think about the game from the perspective of a Patriots fan. I know what these games mean to me, but what does this series mean to them? The Bills represent an easy win on the schedule. The Bills represent a team that haven’t proven to anyone they are more than a mediocre, inconsistent franchise. My thoughts began to drift a bit….slowly drifting into a dream world where the Bills actually came away with the Sunday victory. What would be the response from the Patriots fan base? I’m guessing disgust. They’d be saying to themselves, “Brady is officially sliding as a quarterback…how do you lose to the Bills!?!?....The Bills!” Patriots fans see Buffalo as an automatic win on their schedule. A loss to the Bills is unacceptable.

My mind began to drift again. What’s worse I thought? Losing to a team you have consistently beaten over the last several seasons (ala The Bills losing to the Pats) or switching around the outcome and being a dominant team losing to the bottom feeder? (Pats losing to the Bills).

I know I’m biased being a Bills fan, but I can’t see how it gets much worse than consistently getting trounced by the team that is standing in your way of crawling out of the basement of your division. If the Bills beat the Pats, Patriots fans should have enough pride in their team to believe it was just an aberration and that New England will get them the next time around. If the Bills beat the Patriots, Buffalo fans simply breathe a sigh of relief. For Bills fans, nothing is worse than a game against New England. Playing the Pats is like openly knocking on the door of the neighborhood bully, asking for a whooping.

I want to get to a point in my NFL fandom, where I’m not afraid of playing another franchise. Right now, the Patriots scare the hell out of me as a Bills fan. Pinch me when that day comes…in the meantime, I’ll be watching highlights of the Bills last victory over Tom Brady & The Patriots.

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

Very Superstitious

Sep 12, 2014 -- 5:34pm

This past Sunday felt like Christmas Morning. With the first crack of sunlight that peaked through my bedroom shades, my eyelids sprung open like a jack-in-the-box. The first Sunday of the NFL Season was upon me. After months of anticipation and waiting, the Buffalo Bills season was finally here.

 I ran to the bathroom, going through the motions of brushing my teeth, showering and preparing for the day. There was little time to waste, but I figured taking care of my personal hygiene would benefit not only me throughout the day, but also those who unfortunately found themselves in booths next to me at the bar.

Once the shower wrapped up and I was back in my bedroom, the ritual began. You see, Week 1 of the NFL Season might as well be the most important of NFL Weeks. This is when a die-hard fan’s ritual takes shape. I walked into my closet to pick a Bills jersey to wear….a confused look fell over my face. Which one do I go with? The throwback road CJ Spiller #21 jersey? How about the JP Losman jersey that brought me luck a few years back? (Mind you, that luck was short lived!) With the same blank puzzled look plastered on my face, I decided to go with my late-90’s white Doug Flutie jersey. I figured I can’t go wrong donning the jersey of my all-time favorite player.


When in doubt, go with the jersey of your favorite player

The reason the Week 1 jersey selection is so important, is because it just might set the tempo for the rest of the season. I knew that if the Buffalo Bills won and continued to win, this jersey was going to be worn throughout the winning streak (and not be washed).

Outside of sports, I’m not a very superstitious person. I don’t tap the roof of my car when I drive under a yellow light or stay away from black cats. I have a pretty basic, day-to-day routine. However, once a Mets or Bills game comes on the TV….all bets are out the window.

Superstitions make me feel like I’m somehow spiritually involved with the outcome of the game. Wear the wrong jersey and the cards are stacked (even more) against the Bills chances of winning. Eat more than 12 wings during the game and you might as well bury their grave. When all of my superstitions line up perfectly and Buffalo notches a W, it feels like “WE” notched the W.

Once I put the jersey on, I went through the rest of my pre-game ritual:

 

Clip red Bills lanyard on key ring – 

Listen to comedian/blogger Nick Mendola’s weekly Bills rap – 

Analyze the weekly injury report - 

Drink a pre-game Labatt Blue Light – 

Call my older brother Matthew and go-through weekly injury report - 

Kiss my childhood Jim Kelly doll – 


#Kellytough

Once this was all taken care of, I was ready for game time. I called up some friends and met downtown at a bar. I don’t have many in-game superstitions or rituals. I try to take care of them before the game. During the Bills matchup with the Bears, I watched the game like any true Buffalo fan….drinking Blue Lights, munching on wings and cursing at the screen.

When it was all said and done, the Bills won. I jumped up on the bench of the booth I was sitting in and belted out a glass shattering “Let’s Go Bills!” I had helped the Bills bring home the season opening win. The red lanyard, Doug Flute jersey and peck on the Jim Kelly doll all contributed.

This Sunday when the Bills host the Miami Dolphins, I will go through my trusty 2014 superstition checklist all over again. If Buffalo advances to 2-0, that checklist will come with me to Week 3. And if the Bills lose….well, the pregame ritual will change quite a bit. I will don a new jersey, take the lanyard off my key ring and skip the pregame Labatt.

On second thought, the pre-game beer will stay.

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

Pickin' a Driver to Root for

Aug 11, 2014 -- 9:38pm

Sports fandom is a dangerous animal that can rear its head in many ways. It can range from simply wearing the cap of your favorite team at the big game to looking like this guy. It is a force of nature like none other in American society.

I'm a die-hard fan of the New York Mets & Buffalo Bills. I treat each and every game day like a “mini holiday.” I cook a special meal for the game, deck out in my favorite player's jersey and meet up with a bunch of friends & family. I live and die by the success (and more consistently) failure of my teams.

However, there are a lot of sports fan that prefer not to have a dog in the fight. They are instead a fan of “the game.” These types of fans are much more likely to be seen wearing a league insignia on their game day outfit instead of a team logo.

I'm not one of those people. I love all sports and will watch just about anything that's played on a field with a ball, but I love rooting for teams. I love feeling invested in a game. It adds to the suspense that make sports great.

I'll admit that I'm a modest NASCAR fan. The only televised race I sit down and watch each year is the Daytona 500. Also, the last few years, I have made it out to Watkins Glen International for the CHEEZ-IT 355. Beyond those races, my attention to the Sprint Cup standings is limited. However, this year, I wanted to show up at The Glen with the intention of rooting on a specific driver. I love the atmosphere and circle the race on my calendar each year, but I wanted to have a deeper investment this time around.

As I began doing some research to figure out who I'd back, I outlined the different variables that people use when selecting a favorite team or player.

1 – Hometown: It's always fun rooting for the local boy. In regards to NASCAR, the “local” boy is Central New York (Cato) native Regan Smith. He drives the No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports. Sunday, he filled in for Tony Stewart, driving the No. 14 SHR Chevy.


Courtesy Nascar.com

2 – Sponsorship: Growing up, whenever NASCAR came on the TV, I always rooted for Bill Elliott, because he drove the No. 94 McDonald's Ford. To a six year old, the Happy Meal is king. Hell, if the Hamburglar was a professional driver, I would have rooted for him too. As I've gotten older, my tastes and preferences have changed. Sorry Jamie McMurray....I've traded in Chicken McNuggets for the King of Beers. Kevin Harvick drives the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet.

3 – Colors/Detailing: This one is simple....which car looks the coolest? I've always been partial to green. Danica Patrick's #10 GoDaddy.com Chevy is that exact color.


Courtesy Zimbio.com

4 – Popularity: There are two schools of thought on this one. Some people love to jump on the bandwagon of the most popular and successful athletes, while others love the underdog. The popular choice would be to cheer on four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr, the winner of The Most Popular Driver Award eleven consecutive years. A.J. Allmendinger falls in the category of the underdog. Before winning yesterday, he went 212 Sprint Cup starts without parking in Victory Lane.

5 – Success: Who has won at WGI before? Marcos Ambrose is the king of the road course. He won the 2014 Zippo 200 in the Nationwide Series. He took the checkered flag in the CHEEZ-IT 355 in both 2011 & 2012.


Courtesy nascar.com

6 – Name: What's in a name? Another technique for picking out a favorite athlete is based around a catchy name. Greg Biffle & Joey Logano are just fun to say. However, some people are lucky enough to share their surname with a driver. I am one of those people. Hell, I'm lucky enough to share my last name with his sponsor; Menards home & improvement stores. Paul Menard drives the #27 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing.

NASCAR fans choose their favorite drivers based on a variety of reasons. For me, I've got to go with my family name. “Menard” tops any sponsor, color or hometown. Win or lose, I'll stick by the name.

For the record, Paul finished 32nd. 

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

I Like Soccer, But LOVE Patriotism

Jul 02, 2014 -- 10:40am

Well, that was fun while it lasted. Team USA’s run in the 2014 World Cup is officially over. The Americans gave Belgium everything they had in the Round of 16, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

Seeing The Belgians celebrate their advancement made me sick to my stomach. I threw my hands down in anger. I paced my apartment’s living room and even blurted out some four-letter words.

I’m guilty of getting sucked into World Cup Fever. I’m guilty of jumping on the Jurgen Klinsmann & Team USA bandwagon. One month ago, I was a modest soccer fan. If it was on, I’d watch it. I knew the big names of international soccer….the Messis and the Ronaldos….but no one beyond that. But once Team USA knocked off Ghana and the World Cup dream seemed real, I was hooked (line and sinker). As I slumped back on my couch, I asked myself the following question: Why do I become a soccer fan once every 4 years only to push my fandom behind baseball & football once the Americans are eliminated from World Cup contention?

After gaining some composure after the loss, I received a phone call from an old college friend. After answering the call with an emotionless “hello,” he responded back with a monotone “my eyes just shed a patriotic tear.”

His short and simple statement stopped me dead in my tracks. The secret to my fandom was now starring me in the face. I responded back just as emotionless as before, “Me too…I’ll call you back.”

Patriotism is what fuels my World Cup fandom. It is awesome seeing people come together in the name of the good ‘ol U-S of A. I’m extremely proud to call myself an American. My grandfather fought in World War II. An American Flag hangs over my bed. My phone’s ringtone has been known to belt out “Real American.” The stars & stripes always give me goose bumps. I loved seeing similar patriotism from my fellow Americans the last few weeks during the World Cup.


Courtesy globalflare.com

During America’s 4-match run, if you stopped into one of Ithaca’s several watering holes mid-match, the atmosphere was electric!

·         Team USA Chants – Check

·         Red, White & Blue Attire – Check

·         Eyes Glued to the TV – Check

The World Cup brings out the best in sports fandom. For the last few weeks, it really felt like the most important thing in the sports world. Each game was an event!

 I’m a lifelong New York Mets & Buffalo Bills super-fan. I live and die by every game….well over the last few years, die more than live. When I’m at a bar on game day watching the Mets or Bills, I’m generally decked out in authentic attire, rooting obnoxiously from the end of the bar. But, I’m an outlier. Most fans don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves game in and game out. However, during the World Cup that all seems to change. When you’re rooting for Team USA, regardless of your interest or knowledge of soccer, you feel comfortable cheering your brains out, because at the end of the day you’re celebrating the success of our country.

Stand up and be proud of what America accomplished in this year's World Cup. No one and I mean no one, expected Team USA to make it out of "The Group of Death" and into the Round of 16. It was a helluva run. Will this increase national excitement for soccer? Maybe. But it doesn't need to. There is nothing wrong with simply enjoying the ride while it lasted.

I’m going to miss seeing Team USA compete in the World Cup. I like watching soccer, but I LOVE seeing patriotism in motion. I’m proud of how this nation supported Team USA in the World Cup. Everyone who watched a game or brought up soccer at the water cooler deserves a pat on the back. Good on you America!

I hope I don’t have to wait four years to see similar patriotism and fandom in sports. I’m already gearing up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In the meantime, I plan on breaking out the Red, White & Blue this weekend for one of my favorite holidays – Fourth of July.

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

Dynasties v. Parity

Jun 05, 2014 -- 12:42pm

We are officially in championship season. For the next couple of weeks, on any given day, a game that matters will take place on either a rink or a court. The Stanley Cup Finals kicked off last night, with the LA Kings topping the Blue Shirts in the City of Angels. The NBA Finals get underway tonight in San Antonio. Frankly, my attention will be on the NHL. I could care less about Lebron James & The Big 3’s Quest for the “three-peat.” I’m tired of seeing the same ol’ teams in the NBA battle it out year after year. For a 2nd straight year, the Finals storylines will be focused on Lebron James & the Heat re-writing the championship record books and Tim Duncan’s quest for another ring with the Spurs.

 
Courtesy betvega.com                                                          Courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Do you know what makes the NFL great? Parity. Regardless of how your team fared last season, a hot streak can send your hometown squad into the playoffs. Well, don’t get me wrong, the best teams are generally in the playoffs year after year, but they don’t always hoist the Lombardi Trophy when it’s all said and done. Every team has a chance on any given Sunday. Take a look at the last 5 Super Bowls…there are no repeat winners.

2013: Seattle Seahawks over Denver Broncos

2012: Baltimore Ravens over San Francisco 49ers

2011: New York Giants over New England Patriots

2010: Green Bay Packers over Pittsburgh Steelers

2009: New Orleans Saints over Indianapolis Colts

Also, it is important to mention that since 2009, no team even has a repeat appearance in the Big Game. Parity keeps things interesting. Sports are all about fan involvement and storylines. New teams & players year after year in championship contests are exciting for everyone. That is why I don’t care that the Heat are going for a third straight title. It’s a tremendous feat, don’t get me wrong, but for a casual NBA fan like myself, it is boring. Sports dynasties are fun for only a select group of people…the fans of the team that just keeps on winning. For everyone else, it just feels repetitive.

That is why my eyes will be fixed on the Stanley Cup Finals and New York Rangers. It has been 20 years since the Blue Shirts have won Sir Stanley’s Cup. They are rallying behind trade deadline acquisition Martin St. Louis, whose mother passed away during the playoff’s second round. Now those are some storylines!

All I want is a fresh face to hoist a championship trophy. The Heat won the NBA Finals the previous two seasons. The Spurs took the title in 2007, but were in the Finals last year. On the ice, the Kings won 2 years ago. Ranger fans are due to see their team take the cup….and sports fans are due to see a new team on top.

Catch Jeremy Menard on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca (1160/107.1) & ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 PM, alongside Eric Silverman. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyJMenard.

  • Page 1 of 3
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • »
  • »»

ON AIR - LISTEN LIVE

PHOTO GALLERIES

CALENDAR

An Ad has not been trafficed here..