It's always a sad day when the major-league baseball season ends. Summer is officially gone. It's time to put the screen windows up and replace them with storms, and start up the furnace. It's even sadder in our house when the Red Sox and Mets both miss the playoffs, and the Yankees make it.
Here in Buffalo, though, Sunday marked a double whammy. Not only did the baseball season end, but football season is about over as well.
That's not what the schedule says, but that's what my head says after watching the Bills get positively crushed by the Jets. As the cliche goes, if it had been a prizefight, the referee would have stopped it after three rounds, er, quarters.
What was pretty obvious two weeks ago has become painfully plain now. The Bills are going nowhere, again. Even if the new coaching staff and front office knows what it is doing, there is a big job ahead. The run of non-playoff teams is going to extend another year, minimum. And probably more.
It's easy to see the culprit here -- bad decisions litter the team's past. They traded up for J.P. Losman, traded up for John McCargo, drafted James Hardy (who pulled a gun on his father on Father's Day shortly after the draft) ... heck, drafted Mike Williams a while ago. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. That doesn't even mention some of the free-agent acquisitions.
But here's the worst part, that doesn't get mentioned much. People are starting to wonder if we'll ever see the Bills get good. I emphasize ever.
Let's review. Putting the Bills back together is obviously going to be a bigger job than we thought. It's tough to picture them getting more than a handful of wins this season.
Then comes 2011. You have to wonder if there's going to be a 2011 season. Both sides seem poised to dig in and have one of those huge labor disputes that happens to pro sports every so often. Football has had some labor peace in the past 23 years, so it will take some work to avoid one next year.
No matter what, 2012 will be here before we know it. That's also known as the last season of the Bills' 15-year lease. There hasn't been a peep out of anyone about that. It's tough to know what everyone is thinking, since it's still two years away. But with a shrinking market and a 92-year-old owner who apparently has no plan of succession about the team's future, it's easy to wonder what will happen to the Bills. That's particularly true since the franchise is probably worth $250 million more in Los Angeles than it is in Buffalo.
I have out-of-town friends who say they would love to be in Buffalo the day the Bills win a Super Bowl. You wonder if they'll ever have the chance.