A Buffalo sports-speak primer



Recently, I was asked to put together a piece on "how to speak Buffalo sports." We're talking the basics—"Sports Talk for Dummies," if you will. Here is what I started with—take a look, and let us know what you would add. (Consider this a teaser for October's first-ever "sports issue.")

Aud — War Memorial Auditorium, the heart of pro hockey in Buffalo from the 1940s until its tearful demolition in 2008. The Aud still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Sabres fans, and always will.

Bisons — The easy description here is the city's Triple-A baseball club, but don't forget about the 1950s and 60s American League Hockey team. Buffalo's exuberance over their troops and the game itself inspired the Knox boys to bring an NHL franchise here, and inspired the league to allow us to pledge the frat. And how cool were those Pepsi-Cola bottle cap unis?

K-Gun — Known to all Bills fans who reveled in the halcyon days of the late-eighties and early-nineties, it was a fancy way to say "Hurry-Up" offense. Jim Kelly called the plays at the line with no huddle, leaving already bewildered defenses also bereft of breath. You needn't understand how the term "K-Gun" came to be; Bills fans were charged with simply watching Thurman Thomas or Andre Reed make repeated trips to the endzone.

May-Day — Isn't this the international distress/uh-oh-I'm-gonna-crash-land-this-thing signal? Perhaps elsewhere in the world. But here? It's none other than Brad May's game-winner in OT of the first-round upset sweep of the Boston Bruins in 1992, made famous by play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret's frantic call.

Music City Miracle — Frank Wychek's controversial "lateral" broke a lot of hearts back in January 2000, and also set plenty of dubious precedence in the process: it sent the Tennessee Titans on their way to the Super Bowl, saw the Bills play their last postseason game in 11 years, established that there, apparently, legal forward laterals in the NFL, and answered the question: is the NFL's instant replay model 100-percent perfect?

No Goal — OK, let's just move on, shall we?

Oranges — To the rest of the Free World, juicy and tangy fruits native to Florida, California and points south. To Western New Yorkers, the steep cheap seats at the lovely old Aud. Veterans of these Oranges would hold tight to the rails or risk falling onto the ice surface. Yep, they don't build 'em like they used to.

Ralph, The — Ralph Wilson Stadium (nee Rich). Call Mr. Wilson a self-absorbed Mr. Burns caricature if you will—here's a guy whose name bears both the stadium and the Field House—but at least he's kept the naming rights in the family. Otherwise, we'd have something to the effect of Meow Mix Stadium or The Bank of Treachery & Greed Field.

Rockpile — That exhalted old friend at the corner of Jefferson and Best, it was home to the Bills from their inception until in 1973, when Rich Stadium opened its gates in Orchard Park. Rome has the Coliseum, Britain has Stonehenge, but we have the ruins on the East Side.

Spahn, Warren — The old-timers require no education here, but for the youngsters: this South Buffalo boy was the greatest Major-Leaguer to come from 'round these parts, as the left-hander became the all-time winningest southpaw to ever take the mound, winning 373 games and a Cy Young Award in twenty-one seasons with the Braves franchise.

Wide Right — see "No Goal" and "Music City Miracle." Enough already.

Zubaz — Ahem, quite a fashion statement, if the fashion gurus were Andy Warhol and a bunch of zebras up to their eyeballs in Magic Kool-Aid. We needn't go into excruciating detail in describing them; suffice it to say it caught on for a few fleeting months around the nation in the early-nineties, but for some reason enjoyed a much more enduring ride here in Buffalo.

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