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Bandits notebook: Planning ahead?

The Bandits sent out an interesting mass e-mail on Monday. It was a survey about whether there was interest in going to games for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship if it were held in Buffalo in 2015. The competition is going on in Prague right now.

I would assume some games would be shipped elsewhere, while the U.S., Canada and Iroquois games would be played here. I also assume they'd do reasonably well in terms of attendance. It's certainly worth watching in the days ahead. The Sabres' organization made some serious money on the World Junior Hockey Championships, so gauging interest in a lacrosse event is good business.

Meanwhile, the National Lacrosse League has sent out the order of picks for the upcoming draft. The Bandits have no first-round pick, as they gave one up in the Tracey Kelusky trade. Only nine first-round picks are listed, with Buffalo's original choice not down. As I eventually discovered, that pick was traded to Orlando before the Titans folded. Therefore, the choice disappears into the mist. The Bandits do have a second-rounder (16th overall) and three thirds.

Draft picks often go flying around at the time of the draft, as teams sometimes have to accomodate player situations. The Bandits are famous for that. So we'll see what happens.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Van out, Al in

    May 24, 1972 -- This was a rather historic day in Western New York sports radio history. Van Miller was out as the Bills' play-by-play man.

    It was quite a shock at the time to hear that announcement. The Bills switched flagship stations of their radio network from WBEN to WKBW. Miller had been the only broadcaster the Bills had ever had, dating way back to 1960. So a new voice on the games was almost traumatic.

    Al Meltzer made the trip up from Philadelphia to do the games until 1976, with Rick Azar and Ed Rutkowski serving as his sidekicks. It was something of a return for Meltzer, who was one of the most beloved sports voices in Philadelphia history. He had come to that city in 1964 after working at WEBR in Buffalo.

   Miller stayed with WBEN and did the Buffalo Braves basketball team. But he missed some serious fun on the job Ô it was Meltzer who got to describe O.J. Simpson's 2,003-yard season in 1973 and playoff game in 1974.

   Then the Bills went back to WBEN in 1977, and Miller was waiting for them. He served as the team's announcer until his retirement after the 2003 season.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Roly comes through

   May 23, 1999 -- It might have been Dwayne Roloson's best moment as a Sabre.

   Buffalo was heading into the Eastern Conference final, against its biggest rival, Toronto. But star goalie Dominik Hasek was on the sidelines with an injury.

   Enter Roloson, or if you prefer, Roly the Goalie, who didn't even tell his parents he was going to start the game.

   "I didn't want to wreck their weekend," Roloson said. "I knew but I didn't know. I didn't want to get overzealous and wreck their weekend if I didn't start."

   Roloson had 28 saves in a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs in the Air Canada Center. Stu Barnes, Geoff Sanderson, Vaclav Varada, Dixon Ward and Curtis Brown scored for the Sabres.

   "I told them we could beat Toronto if we played as a team," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "In Dom's absence [for 12 games earlier this season], we were one game over .500. I told them one game over .500 in a seven-game series would win it for us."

   Roloson was still playing at a high level, as a starter, 12 years later in Tampa Bay.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A second win

   May 22, 1975 -- The Sabres' home games against the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL finals were rather eventful for the most part. This is the one that was merely a good hockey game.

   The Sabres, who had skated through the fog to beat the Flyers in Game Three, only needed a couple of fog breaks to win Game Four, 4-2, before a happy crowd in Memorial Auditorium.

   Gerry Desjardins was a little better than Bernie Parent in goal. Buffalo's Desjardins made 23 saves on shots.

   Philadelphia had a 2-1 lead through 30 minutes of play. Then Buffalo bounced back. Gil Perreault tied the game on the power play, and Jim Lorentz added the winner late in the second

   From there, Buffalo hung on in a tight checking third period that saw only 12 shots taken by the two teams combined. Danny Gare ended the suspense with an empty netter.

   That win by the Sabres tied the series at two games each. But that was it for Buffalo, which lost the next two and the Cup.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Live from the Preakness

BALTIMORE - Good morning from Pimlico Race Course for the longest day in racing!  First post is at 10:45 a.m. and the last and thirteenth race of the day goes off at 7:13 p.m. It’s a sunny day here in Baltimore and it looks like we’ll start off with a fast track. Yesterday’s racing was highlighted by Post Time selection Royal Delta ($5.60) winning the Black-Eyed Susan by 2 ½ lengths over our third selection Buster’s Ready.

The Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom arrived at the Preakness Stakes barn this morning at 6:45 a.m. from the Fair Hill Training Center. The champ walked the shedrow before being led to Stall 40, the traditional home of the Kentucky Derby winner at Pimlico. We caught Animal Kingdom taking a bath this morning amid the numerous photographers and reporters.

Two other contenders were out and about early this morning, Dialed In looked very good as trainer Nick Zito bathed him.  The Post Time selection Mucho Macho Man also looked statuesque and absolutely terrific as trainer Kathy Ritvo held court at the Stakes barn.

We’ll do our best to keep you up to date throughout the day on how the card is unfolding and how the track is playing. I am even going to venture over to InfieldFest to report on the goings on where a large crowd is expected.

The first stakes race is Race 4 the Grade 3 Allaire Dupont Distaff Stakes featuring Life at Ten and the 2009 Black-Eyed Susan winner Payton d’Oro.

10:42 a.m. Early Preakness odds: Animal Kingdom 3-1; Dialed In 7-2; Mucho Macho Man 5-1 and the other 11 horses are all double digit odds.

10:50 a.m. We're off and running on Preakness Day. Technique takes the opener with Edgar Prado aboard overtaking the favorite Boreal Forest in the stretch. Technique broke his maiden at Saratoga last summer, but went overlooked at the windows. Off to the infield for a glimpse of Kegasus, beach volleyball and a view of the races from inside the fences.

11:59 a.m. If you were wondering if I was abducted by Kegasus, I wasn't. The infield scene is already jumping with Hotspur on stage and a beach volleyball tournament going on. There are some folks betting. Race 4 is coming up and I have Payton d'Oro and Life at Ten on my Pick 3 ticket and backed up with a win bet on Check Point who could get the best of them in the Dupont Distaff.

12:15 p.m. Some nice Bob Summers stories have been recounted to me over the weekend. Jennie Rees of the Louisville C-J told me he would box the Hall of Fame trainers in the Classic races along with some other wacky bets. Bob Fortus of the New Orleans Picayune-Times told me they used to have breakfast at the Stakes Barn every Preakness morning over the years. You can tell he's definitely missed in the press box. I did tell Mike Gathagan, Media Director for the Maryland Jockey Club that I would try and maintain Bob's handle.

12:21 p.m. Upset in the Distaff! Longshot entry and the "other Pletcher" Super Espresso with Ramon Dominguez scores at 11-1 and with a juicy $24.20 win mutuel. The next stakes race is the $100K Chick Lang Stakes named after the gentleman who was the longtime general manager of Pimlico.

12:54 p.m. Dan Silver from NYRA just passed out some of the Belmont Stakes probables (not including Preakness starters). They include Alternation, Anthony's Cross, Jaycito, Master of Hounds (dangerous), Nehro (second place Derby finisher) and Santiva.

1:28 p.m. Toni's the Won ($10.20) nipped Perfect Measure at the wire in a photo to win Race 5 and gets me off to a good start in the Pick-3. Time to buy my souvenir (hopefully) $2 win ticket on Animal Kingdom!

2:45 p.m. Well there's an hour of my life I'll never get back. The "legendary" and controversial Preakness mascot Kegasus held a press conference in the infield and we only received one gem of a quote. "I have some advice for Animal Kingdom...put Ex-Lax in their mush buckets, you'll win going away." Speaking of Animal Kingdom, the latest Preakness odds show him at 5-2. Dialed In seems to be getting some play at 3-1 and Mucho Macho Man is the third choice at 5-1.  We'll keep you posted as we move through the next three and a half hours until the Preakness.

The infield crowd has swelled throughout the day and the hot sun will no doubt do in some of today's revelers. The main band act, Bruno Mars, goes on stage at 4 p.m. One thing is for sure, there are not a lot of places to watch the racing, with only a big screen next to the Jagermeister stage and a few small TV screens within the betting tents. I don't think many of those folks really care about the racing as it is a fair-like atmosphere with carnival games, food tents and plenty of beer stations.  Here's a view of the infield from the press box (with my thumb in it!)

3:00 p.m. Ventana gets the Pick-5 off to a chalky start at 8-5 winning the eighth race, the Maryland Sprint Handicap, for trainer Bob Baffert with Martin Garcia up. Those are familiar connections here at Pimlico, winning last year's Preakness with Lookin at Lucky. Time to handicap the Pick-4 into the Preakness. 

[Update: Baffert was pretty excited about getting his day going with Ventana, "California sprinters are pretty tough. I've got to move them around. I thought it would be a good fit for him to come here. He's been working real well and there really was nothing in California. We thought it was a good spot for him and it was. And he ran fast. 1:09 4/5 is fast here."]

3:11 p.m. The Woodlawn Vase was just delivered to the winner's circle. The elegant vase was originally created by Tiffany and Company in 1860. The vase was assessed in 1983 for $1 million and is considered the most valuable trophy in American sports.

3:30 p.m. The Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap is up next (Race 9) as eight fillies and mares tackle the 1 1/16 mile distance on the turf. Shared Account is the class in here and is currently 9-5 on the board. If you're trying to beat her in here I like the 2-No Explaining and the outside horses, the 7-Desert Sage and 8-Dyna Waltz. The latter is interesting with her second try here in the States after shipping across the pond for Jonathan Sheppard. Ramon Dominguez is in the irons and already has a win on the undercard.

3:40 p.m. I hope you tried to beat Shared Account! No Explaining ($8.80) with Johnny V aboard take the Gallorette over the two aforementioned outside horses, Desert Sage and Dyna Waltz, who dead-heated for second! Shared Account finished fourth as the 3-2 favorite.

The Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer Memorial Stakes is up next for 3-year olds and up. I like 2-Apart (Al Stall's horse), 5-Ichabad Crane and 8-Colizeo, which make up the second leg of my Pick-3 ticket. The Pletcher/Velazquez combo has had a good two days so far and Colizeo is 4 for 8 at the 1 1/16 distance and the Distorted Humor colt should be a square price for horseplayers.

4:00 p.m. Updated Preakness odds, Dialed In has emerged (for now) as the favorite at 7-2 overtaking the Derby champ, Animal Kingdom who is currently at 9-2.

That didn't last long, must have been a big bet down on Dialed In that swayed the odds momentarily. He's back to 7-2 and Animal Kingdom has reassumed the favorite slot at 3-1. The Macho Man is at 9-2. It shouldn't be lost for hunch bettors that Macho Man Randy Savage passed away yesterday, so take note.

4:20 p.m. Apart takes the Schaefer edging out Colizeo and Ichabad Crane runs third. Looks like we were spot on with that short field. Garret Gomez was aboard for trainer Al Stall and owner Adele Dilschneider, the same connections that led Blame to a Breeders' Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta last fall.

The Grade 2 Dixie Handicap going 9-furlongs on the turf is the next race on the card. Paddy O'Prado makes his first start since his fifth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November. Trying to beat him off the layoff?  How about 5-Baryshnikov w/Julien Leparoux up or 6-Slews Answer (who looked awesome this morning at the Stakes Barn) with Rajiv Maragh in the irons. I also threw in 1-Eighttofasttocatch for a longshot play.

4:42 p.m. There's still 23 minutes to post (MTP) in the Dixie and Train is now rocking the InfieldFest. I'd say it's pretty loud over there and they have a huge crowd that has been getting larger as the day has progressed. There are now longer time periods between races to let everyone get to the windows, as is the case on the big race days.

5:10 p.m. Nice return by Paddy O'Prado who motored past Baryshnikov at the eighth pole to win the Dixie. Baryshnikov had led them all the way around before Paddy made his patented late move. The good news is I have a winning Pick-3 ticket in my pocket, the bad news is it only paid ten bucks. Worse things have happened. My predecessor used to say, "a bad day at the track is better than a good day at the office."

The 136th running of the Preakness Stakes is on deck. We'll stay with our picks from the paper and box our top four in exactas and trifectas: Mucho Macho Man, Animal Kingdom, Sway Away and Dialed In. I'll play another larger exacta box that includes Astrology and Dance City, two new shooters that I can see hitting the board. Remember this is the race where a newcomer usually breaks into the trifecta. Last year it was First Dude.

5:30 p.m. The top three horses remain unchanged on the odds board, and then 8-Dance City (10-1), 5-Shackleford (11-1), 6-Sway Away (12-1) and 7-Midnight Interlude follow. 2-Norman Asbjornson is currently the longest price on the board at 40-1. Sway Away's sire is Afleet Alex, the 2005 Preakness winner out of a Seattle Slew mare, not a bad pedigree for this race. I'm going to respect him. We'll be back after the race with some closing commentary.

6:36 p.m. Shackleford ($27.20) shocks the world with an incredible effort with fast early fractions by holding off Animal Kingdom by 1/2 lengths at the wire. He had an absolutely beautiful trip around the Pimlico oval sitting second behind Flashpoint early on. Animal Kingdom taking more dirt in the face than he did in the Derby had too much ground to make up and just missed after a valiant stretch run.

Another year, another hope for a Triple Crown dashed again.

I hope you had fun following along all day, it's on to final leg, the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

-- Gene Kershner

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The dream dies

     May 21, 2004 -- It's great when one of the area's teams qualifies for the NCAA tournament in any sport. The tough part comes when that team has to go up against some of the nation's best.

     Such was the case when Canisius made it to the softball version of the big dance. The Golden Griffins drew powerful Michigan, at home, no less, and then were eliminated by DePaul.

     The final loss came via the so-called eight-run rules. Since Canisius was losing to DePaul by eight runs in the fifth inning, the rest of the contest was called off. Canisius finished its season at 23-30, but still wasn't too upset about its finish.

     "It's a matter of execution," coach Mike Rappl said to The News' Amy Moritz. "[DePaul] had some seeing-eye hits, but then they had some balls hit right at our players and we didn't make the plays. That gave them a couple extra outs and you can't give a good team extra outs because they'll capitalize on them."

     The Griffins managed just four hits, two each by Beth Enk and Tempie Coelho-Freeman.

     Canisius had played much better in a 6-3 loss to Michigan, the sixth-ranked team in the country. But it was still two losses and out.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Not done yet

   If you are looking for a clue about the intensions of John Tavares in terms of playing for the Buffalo Bandits next season, we got a good-sized one this week.

   The Peterborough (Ont.) Lakers announced that Tavares would be back to play for the team this season.

   Tavares enjoys playing summer and winter versions of indoor lacrosse, and he's always said that he'd keep playing as long as he had fun. In addition the Bandits' 20-year-standout probably thinks he needs to play in both leagues to keep his stick skills sharp at this point in his career.

   It's not a slam dunk for Tavares to return to the Bandits in 2012; obviously, things can go wrong with his health, family life, etc. But if he's not done playing summer ball, you'd have to like his chances of turning up in training camp in December.

   Elsewhere in lacrosse, the world indoor championships start up this weekend in the Czech Republic. Bandits' transition player Brett Bucktooth will be part of the Iroquois Nationals team. Goalies Mike Thompson and Angus Goodleaf of the Bandits are also in Prague.

   The event will last about a week. You can watch pay-per-view telecasts of the game at for $3 per game and $5 per day.

   The National Lacrosse League invites fans, media, players and coaches to suggest candidates for the next round of nominations for the league's Hall of Fame. Fans can submit their entries via the National Lacrosse League page on facebook. Suggestions will be accepted until June 1.

   Finally, I try to write a short recap of each Bandits' season for a blog. The 2011 version is now done and posted. You can find it by clicking here. Feel free to look around the other 19 seasons too. I started the blog two-plus years ago when I started covering the Bandits and realized I didn't know much about the team's history. To catch up, I wrote a short version of that history myself.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Joe the Crow

     May 20, 1972 -- The Sabres weren't a one-man hockey department in their first two years, but sometimes it felt that way.

     Punch Imlach was obviously the man in charge. He was brought in after a successful stint in Toronto, and served as the Sabres' general manager and coach. But in 1972, Imlach became ill and needed to get away from one of his jobs. The coaching position was obviously the one to give up.

     That meant the Sabres needed a new coach, and they happened to have one handy. Joe Crozier had been coaching the Cincinnati Swords, Buffalo's top minor league affiliate, when Imlach suffered his heart attack. Crozier was promoted on an interim basis then.

     Even though the Sabres didn't win too often in the rest of the 1971-72, no one was blaming Crozier. So Imlach gave him the job on a full-time, permanent basis on this date.

     Crozier made an immediate impact in his first full season on the job. He led the Sabres to the playoffs in 1972-73. Joe the Crow spent one more year in Buffalo before jumping to the World Hockey Association. He says he knew it was a mistake, and returned to Buffalo to work for the Sabres a couple of other times.

     Crozier was one of the great characters in Buffalo's sports history, and he knew his hockey too.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Stay dry

   Had enough rain yet? Me too.

   Last Saturday I ran the Heritage Run in downtown Buffalo. The rain appeared at the start of the race, and a little bit of fog came off waterfront to cover up the space around the lighthouse at the Marina. It added a mysterious touch to the race, but I heard it was much better than last year -- when the water was bouncing over the rocks to douse runners.

   And, it was much better Saturday than Sunday. I felt sorry for the organizers of the Stella B. Foundation 5K. I would imagine the deluge hurt that race's walk-up registration.

   There's a busy weekend coming up as we close in on Marathon Weekend. The schedule is courtesy of our friends at

   * Pinnacle Charter School 5K, 115 Ash St. in Buffalo, 6 p.m. Friday, 583-3055.

   * Buffalo Greek Fest 5K, 146 W. Utica St. in Buffalo, 6:30 p.m. Friday, 796-3381. I don't believe finishers have to down a shot of ouzo.

   * DNFBA Run with the Rapids 5K, 101 Old Falls St. in Niagara Falls, 9 a.m. Saturday, 278-2115. This was an interesting course last year.

   * The Wooden Shoe 5K, 8672 E. Main St. in Clymer, 9 a.m. Saturday. Day-of-race registration is $15 -- a bargain!

   * Rotary and Lions Club Steppin' Into Summer 5K, 1 Main St. in Akron, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 270-3883. It sure seems like Akron has hosted a lot of races this year already. Someone is
doing a good job there.

   * Fitness 360 JDRF Run for the Cure 5K, 2625 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 874-2005.

   * 4 for the Corps, 4 miles, Arcade Village Park in Arcade, 10 a.m. Saturday, 353-6216.

  * Chris Griswold 5K, Como Park in Lancaster, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 685-2640. This is one of the few races that gives up singlets. I save mine for the few truly hot days of the year --
usually the July 4th 10K race.

   * SSPP's Charge of the Knights 5K, 5480 Main St. in Williamsville, 5 p.m. Saturday, 946-0198. A Saturday afternoon race? Interesting.

   * Take off for Learning 5K, 3163 Airport Drive in Jamestown, 9 a.m. Sunday, 789-2230.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Slammed shut

     May 19, 2007 -- Realistic dreams of a Stanley Cup have been few and far between over the years in Buffalo. The 2006-2007 season, was one of those rare times.

     On this date, the dream died for that particular season.

     The Sabres, who had won the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record in the NHL, were eliminated by the Ottawa Senators. Daniel Alfredsson scored in overtime to give the Senators a 3-2 win, and that wrapped up a 4-1 series win by Ottawa.

    "You don't get these chances too many times," said veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen to the News' Tim Graham as he left HSBC Arena that afternoon. "I thought, for sure, we had the team to do it. But it just didn't happen. It's an opportunity wasted."

     Jochen Hecht and Maxim Afinogenov had the goals for Buffalo, who lost three home games in that series.

     That summer, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury left the Sabres as free agents, and the door of opportunity closed again for a while.

---Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.