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From Deep Throat to Brave Throat and Why the LA Clippers Must Return to Buffalo

Posted on April 27, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

This is the first in a Satirical Series

If you’re old enough to remember Deep Throat (the Watergate figure or the movie) you’re old enough to get the allusion, when I identify the mystery man who’s been contacting me about a subject close to my heart. I call him Brave Throat.

It all started with the demolition of Buffalo’s old “Aud” (Memorial Auditorium) and the death of one of its greatest tenants, Randy Smith, coming up on a year ago.

After being away from the area for most of my adult life it happened that I was spending significant blocks of time back in Buffalo on business. I had the opportunity to walk up to the Aud while demolition was in progress, a gaping hole on one end of the building allowing me to look in at the rest of the building, eerily still intact. I felt like Moses at the burning bush. It was holy ground.

Not long after that, when there was little left of the Aud but a pile of bricks, I found myself standing in the same spot, this time on command. I was meeting with a man in a trench coat, big shades, and a Buffalo Braves cap, who refused to identify himself. I had received a mysterious text message an hour earlier to meet him there in 60 minutes sharp. Alone.

“The time has come,” he said. “The Braves must come home.”

“Say, what?”

“Yes, we realize it will be hard enough to keep the Bills from leaving without trying to bring back a franchise that has been gone for thirty years, but we think both are not only possible but necessary to fix the sports karma in Buffalo.”

“Necessary?” I asked. “We?”

“Yes. Think about it. When the Braves were ripped from Buffalo, the gutted franchise that left town and became the Clippers wasn’t the spiritual essence of the Braves. The true spirit of the Braves remained to haunt the Aud until now. They’ve been disturbed by the wrecking ball. Now that it’s down to a few feet of bricks, still standing, the ghosts of the Braves have been released into the atmosphere and they’re beginning to work their magic.”

Randy Smith was the leader of the Braves.

Randy Smith was the leader of the Braves.

“I don’t normally think of ‘magic’ and ‘ghosts’ in the same context. You’re saying they’re good ghosts, you know, like in the Wizard of Oz when Glinda asks Dorothy, ‘Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

“Exactly. And since the Braves were a good team, how could their ghosts be bad? But think about it. Is it coincidence that the Aud starts coming down, the only book ever written about the Braves is released (Buffalo, Home of the Braves, by Tim Wendel), Randy Smith dies, and then LA admits it never loved the Clippers?

He handed me a print-out of an article by an LA Clippers writer at another publication who stated the Clippers are not loved in LA and cannot win there.

“No this is synergy! Synchronicity! The universe is realigning!”

“OK,” I asked, “but it’s been 30 years. Why should Bills fans care at this point? Half of them are too young to remember the Braves?”

“Two words,” my anonymous interviewee said to me, dead serious, with a penetrating stare. “Wide Right.”

“What?”

“And,” he went on, I have one for Sabres fans. “In the crease!”

“You mean the good ghosts weren’t completely up to good things. They jinxed all Buffalo teams?”

“No, not the ghosts,” he said. “Unless you mean the ghosts of John Y. Brown and Paul Snyder, but I’m pretty sure they’re both still alive.”

“Ok, I don’t get it.” I said.

“Look. When the Braves were ripped out of Buffalo, something happened to the city’s psyche, its soul. A city needs all the stars to be aligned perfectly to win a world championship. If even one star is out of whack the whole thing goes to hell. It’s like a clock with a missing gear.”

“So you mean bringing the Braves back to Buffalo would be putting the missing gear back into the clock?”

“Yup, he said.” And then you watch out. With all that pent up hope and passion and disappointment, look for a triple crown the following year.”

“You mean Lombardi, Stanley, and an NBA title all at once?”

“Better tell City Hall to stock up on tickertape,” he said.

And then a black limousine pulled up, picked him up, and sped off toward the Niagara Thruway.

Check back soon for part two of this series.


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