Writing Flashback: Letters to the Editor, Part 2

Part one was all about the cars, Part two is all about the sports. As a born and raised Buffalonian, having opinions about the Bills and Sabres is a birthright. Of course, I didn’t stick to just the Bills and Sabres, because that’s the sort of opinionated s.o.b. I am.

The Buffalo News

Go For Hawerchuk  (1990)
Everyone’s seen the Nike commercials starring Michael Jordan and Mars Blackman (Spike Lee) and that great new saying, “Just Do It.”

Dale Hawerchuk has asked to be traded from the Winnipeg Jets and their GM has obliged him in trying to find a new team. The Sabres are in a time of transition (or at least they should be), attempting to filter out the older players. I hope Mr. Meehan understands what I’m saying. Maybe Phil Housley, some young scorer from Rochester and a draft choice for Dale.

Come Gerry, just do it. Along with Turgeon, Buffalo could have two high-scoring lines instead of just one. Do you know what this could do to the Sabres’ offensive ability? Do you know, do you know, do you know? I do.
Timothy Minneci

Misguided Wizard (January 28, 1990)
Recently a hockey wizard from Williamsville wrote a letter blasting the Sabres for being boring, predictable, and a bunch of wimps. Since the Sabres organization doesn’t respond to petty little letters, I will.

First, on the elbow to Mogilny, just because the Sabres didn’t hack Chelios’ head off, it doesn’t mean they didn’t go after him. As I remember it, Foligno tried to get him but a Canadien and a ref got in his way.

Second, I can’t think of one time when Mogilny or Turgeon shot the puck in. I wish they would, because it sure helps set up goals. And why do you think we have players like Vaive and Andreychuk going to the nets? I’ll tell you, to get rebounds from the shots at the blue line after they shoot the puck in. And if you think this team can’t check; maybe you’d like to meet Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Ray. You can wear a Bruins jersey and let them squish you through those little camera holes in the glass.

Third, would you rather watch the Zamboni go around the ice than win a car? I’m sure you love your Yugo, so I’ll take the $15,000 car the Sabres organization is giving away. If you think the music is too loud, you should adjust your hearing aid because I can hear everything and everyone just fine.

So I don’t care if you don’t go to any more Sabres games. I’d rather have a real Sabres fan sitting next to me in the Aud rooting the Sabres to another win. That way, there’s more champagne in the Stanley Cup for real fans to drink!
Timothy Minneci

Ship-jumping (1994)
I lived in Buffalo for the first 16 years of my life before moving to a small town outside Cleveland.

I am now attending Bowling Green State University, but have remained loyal to the Buffalo Bills through these past 2 1/2 years. I have put up with all the jokes and comments by various football fans in my dorm, and have shot back with something I thought all Bills’ fans could at least say with pride: at least we got there.

It has become very apparent that many of the fans who are jumping off the bandwagon are thin-skinned and have short-term memories at best. As soon as one bad thing happens, people yell, “Jump ship!” It sickens me to see sportswriters and fans call for all but the disbandment of the team. The Bills are not perennial losers like Tampa Bay. The few times they do lose just happen to be at the most inopportune time.

If you’re off the bandwagon, then get off and stay off. Or at least go on a year-long sabbatical from reading about, watching or listening to anything about the Bills. You have become drunk with the success of the team, and it’s time for you to sober up with reality. You have no idea how special these past five years have been, particularly to me, a guy whose only connection to the city beyond his family is his football team.
Timothy D. Minneci
Bowling Green, Ohio

No Great Loss (1995)
This is a question to every Sabres fan who thinks trading Alex Mogilny was a bad move, and is willing to turn in his season tickets to show distaste for the organization. If Mogilny was such a valuable commodity, why is it that not one team offered a deal before the draft and only two other teams besides Vancouver showed interest during the draft?

The Sabres, like most teams, don’t want an overpaid, whining malcontent who pined for playing time yet couldn’t convert on 17 breakaway chances all last season. For someone who is supposed to be a scorer, with numbers like that, he’s lucky he got 20 minutes a game.

Some of you will argue that the neutral-zone trap the Sabres play hindered Mogilny’s playmaking skills, that it’s not his fault he didn’t fit into the system. Wrong; Mogilny avoided defense like the plague, and the word “backcheck” seemed to remain as foreign as the day he stepped on American soil for the first time. Granted, Bob Gainey he is not, but nor was he asked to be. It is not too much to ask him to play some defense sometimes, though.

The New Jersey Devils showed that when a team plays as a single unit, trusting and relying on one another on the ice, anything is possible. Mogilny remained an enigma to everyone on this team, which hurt team unity.

The Sabres have a number of hard working, blue-collar players such as Wayne Presley, Dave Hannan and Rob Ray, and with the addition of the four new youngsters they acquired draft day, this team is only lacking a hard working scorer who isn’t afraid to mix it up, such as the Devils’ Claude Lemieux. Lemieux may not be the most liked player in the league, but no one has ever questioned his heart or work ethic. And unlike Mogilny, Lemieux has actually showed up for a playoff series.

Basically, it comes down to this. If Wayne Gretzky can get traded after four Stanley Cups, Mark Messier after five cups, then Alexander Mogilny can get traded in a heartbeat after doing zilch in the playoffs, where every real hockey fan knows the stars are made.
Timothy D. Minneci
East Amherst

The BG News

Ignorance slaps hockey in face (March 19, 1993)
To the Editor:
I have a question to ask Mark Leonard Dechant: If you have never been a big fan of hockey, why did you even bother bashing a sport you obviously know nothing about?

Here’s a list of some “cool” things you left out:

-Breakaways and penalty shots. One on one. No other sport has anything that equals the excitement.

-Bone crushing body checks. Hard to believe that you got called for a foul in basketball for merely putting two hands on the person you’re guarding. Then again, we don’t want to hurt anyone, do we?

-Little player favoritism by refs. In hockey, if you commit an infraction, you’re in the penalty box, regardless of who you are!

-Finally, defense. Something NHLers take pride in is the plus/minus system. Every time a player is on the ice an his team scores, he gets a plus, and when the opposing team scores, he gets a minus.

Hopefully, some people’s ignorance and stereotyping won’t discourage hockey from flourishing, as it has begun to recently and in the years to come.
Timothy Minneci

The Times (Chagrin Falls)

Writer’s research lacking (May 26, 1994)
In Barry Goodrich’s May 19 “Fifth Quarter” column, he attempted to tear down the Cleveland Browns for, among other things, signing ex-Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien to back up Vinny Testaverde.

I would like to explain to Mr. Goodrich why most people knowledgeable of football consider this a good move, as well as respond to some other questionable comments made on his part.

First of all, in order to understand Mr. Rypien’s situation over the past two seasons, you must take into account the transition of coaching staffs from Joe Gibbs to Richie Petitbone, whose offensive philosophies differed greatly. Mr. Gibbs preferred a three wide receiver, one running back set, while Mr. Petitbone preferred the more conservative two wide, two back formation.

In addition to this, Mr. Rypien’s offensive line was debilitated by injury in 1992 and ’93 and gave him little protection. This had a direct effect on Mr. Rypien, because the year before he played behind a healthy line which gave up only seven sacks and led them to the Super Bowl.

Plus, injuries suffered to his shoulder and back during the last two seasons compounded all of the problems going on with an aging team in turmoil. When healthy and playing behind a stable line, which the Browns displayed last year, Mr. Rypien has shown he can play as well as any quarterback in the NFL.

Secondly, there is the totally innane comment on the return of Earnest Byner: “If the Browns backfield gets any older, they’ll have to worry about Ed McMahon trying to sell them insurance policies.” Since you are a journalist, Mr. Goodrich, maybe you should try doing something called research before you make an idiotic comment such as that.
The facts: Tommy Vardell, 24; Eric Metcalf, 25; Leroy Hoard, 25; Randy Baldwin, 26; Kevin Mack, 31; and Earnest Byner, 31. Hardly ages to start buying walkers and Geritol for these guys, you think?

Finally, saving the best for last, Mr. Goodrich’s comment, “…the Tribe finally realized you have to develop your own talent. In baseball this is accomplished through the farm system…” is probably the most backward of them all.

The Indians 25-man roster at the beginning of the season consisted of only five players drafted and developed by Cleveland. Carlos Baerga, Sandy Alomar, Kenny Lofton, Dennis Martinez, Paul Sorrento, etc., etc., were all acquired through trades or free agency. That’s two-thirds of the starting lineup and the majority of the talent on the team.

Maybe next time, Mr. Goodrich, you’ll do a little research before you go off on pointless tangents that show your lack of sports knowledge, which is very surprising for a sports columnist.
Timothy D. Minneci
Chagrin Falls

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