Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shovelling off to Buffalo

Last year the Detroit area experienced a record snowfall, approximately 96 inches over the entire winter. Residents found it difficult to cope.

Now imagine that same amount of snow -- 8 feet -- were to fall in the course of four or five days. Everything would stop. Consider some ramifications:

Forget businesses, any unfortunate soul that experienced an in-home medical emergency (heart attack, stroke, etc.) would be in even direr straits. Ambulances and EMS personnel wouldn't be able to get there to assist them.

Pregnant women going into labor would have their babies the old-fashioned way, at home. All the pre-natal planning in the world would go out the window if driving to the hospital becomes impossible.

Woe be it to one if they were to lose power and not have a back-up generator, much less food in the house.The utility repair crews would be paralyzed as well. Eight feet of snow would rise above first floor windows blocking out daylight. It would be like living in an igloo with the entrance snowed in. Maybe okay for eskimos, but not recommended for city folks. Cars and small trucks outside would be completely submerged in the white stuff. Disappeared.

But this is basically what has happened to parts of Buffalo over the last couple days. And two or three MORE feet of snow is supposed to be on the way.

And on the sports front, the Buffalo Bills are scheduled to host the New York Jets this Sunday. Though they may be terrific football players, unless they can sprout wings and/or have a Star Trek transporter at their disposal, many Bills' players are snowed in just like the other residents. They can't get to the stadium. More on that to follow.

Stadium authorities have offered 10 bucks an hour plus free game tickets to anybody that wants to show up and help shovel out the open-air Ralph Wilson facility itself. Hundreds of thousands of tons of snow have to be removed. Good luck with that. First, the only way to get there is by snowmobile. Are we to believe football fans are crazy enough to bungee shovels to their Arctic Cats and Skiddoos, just so they can do such back-breaking work for a measly Hamilton per hour? Hmmm. Of course they will. Something about those free tickets. They'll come in droves. I can almost smell the two cycle exhaust fumes from the far side of Lake Erie.

Yet with the city still pretty much buried, and even more bad news on the way, it remains doubtful whether even the stadium itself can be made fit to play. And not counting those lunatic snowmobilers with their free tickets, how many people would show up?

Even if the teams themselves can somehow find their way to the stadium, this game should not be played. Why? Because it would give one team a huge advantage over the other.

While Buffalo has been under siege from the blizzard, the NY Jets have gone through just another week of usual NFL practice at home in Jersey. If the Bills' players can't get out of their own homes, obviously they haven't been able to practice this week. Yes, while reports have it the Bills' coaching staff has sent various plays and strategies to their players via Ipads, that hardly takes the place of real practice in preparing for an opponent.

In the event the game in Buffalo on Sunday is deemed unfeasible, alternate venues have been suggested. Perhaps Detroit, Pittsburgh, or DC, all teams that will be on the road this Sunday, so their stadiums are "available". It's not without precedent. Years ago, when snow collapsed the roof on the Vikings' stadium in Minnesota, the upcoming game was moved to Detroit -- and it worked out -- sort of. That's assuming Vikings' season ticket holders and others that had paid big bucks to see the game within a 20-30 minute drive of their homes didn't mind travelling about 700 miles by car, gas, motels, and all, for the same privilege.

It would be much the same for Buffalo fans were the game to be moved to any of the above mentioned alternate venues. We've all seen those pesky "hidden costs", like various surcharges and fees on bills, but this is getting ridiculous. Imagine having to drive 12 hours both ways to pay your electric bill, because it was the only place available to keep the lights on. I dare say most folks would not be happy with that scenario. But NFL football fans aren't most folks. They'll even travel overseas, at the cost of thousands of dollars, to see their bottom feeding team play another school of carp.

The talking heads keep ranting on whether or not Buffalo and their stadium will be fit to accommodate the game this Sunday. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't, but they miss a far more important point. This decision has to be made quite soon. Typically, for a Sunday game, the road team (Jets) travels on Friday. Once aboard an airliner at 35,000 feet, it's normally a really good idea for the pilots to know what their destination is. Those holding patterns have their limits. Something about a finite amount of jet fuel, and avoiding a possible mutiny. Besides, the travelling secretary of the team is usually much better off if he knows what town to arrange bus pick-ups in and make hotel reservations for the players, coaches, trainers, waterboys, etc., before they actually touch down.

Once on the tarmac, calling an entire fleet of cabs, even if the drivers speak English and have bathed recently, to take them all to a giant Motel 6 is not exactly the optimum scenario for a plane load of millionaires and their minions. Even if the proprietors of such an establishment left the light on for them, it's likely a fair statement to say the team esprit de corps would take a serious hit under such circumstances.

No matter what, whether the game can be played in Buffalo or elsewhere, it would be grossly unfair to the Bills. They haven't been able to practice all week while the Jets have. The only fair thing to do is cancel it. But how to make it up at a future date?

Simple. Don't. Give them both a tie on their records, a refund to those that had purchased or shovelled their way to tickets -- and tell them all to be happy.

It's the Bills and the Jets who, BTW, happen to play in the same division as the New England Patriots. Guess who the division champ is going to be? Who cares who would have won or lost such a game? Does any person this side of the afore-mentioned snowmobile lunatics seriously believe either has the remotest shot at making the playoffs? Not a chance.

It doesn't matter. Let it snow.

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