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Bandits notebook: Meet the new boss

Steve Dietrich has been named the new general manager of the Buffalo Bandits, and it's easy to see why. He certainly hits the obvious checkmarks that you'd want in a team executive here in Buffalo.

Want someone that knows the league? You'd have to say Dietrich qualifies. He played 18 seasons in the National Lacrosse League, with stops in Baltimore, Detroit, Rochester, Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. Heck, he could double as traveling secretary. Dietrich most recently served as an assistant coach in Toronto.

Want a good player that can command respect? Dietrich was the first goalie to be named most valuable player in the NLL, with the honor coming in Buffalo in 2006. He was a finalist for the league's hall of fame this summer, and I would guess that he'd have a good chance of getting in. If it's not this year, it will be soon.

Want someone with a connection to the Bandits, but not too close of a connection? Dietrich spent six seasons here, so he's familiar with the fanbase, tradition, etc. But Dietrich has been associated with enough other teams that he's liable to bring some fresh ideas to Buffalo.

This is not an easy assignment for Dietrich. Some of Buffalo's best players are relatively old, and the league seems to get younger and more athletic by the year. Darris Kilgour often has preferred veterans to youngsters. That's understandable for an organization that sells 16,000 seats a game and wants to keep selling them. In other words, mortgaging the future to contend in the present is more than defensible.

Buffalo only has one first round draft pick in the next three years, the third overall choice this fall. That's where stars come from, and the Bandits need to make that pick a good one. Otherwise, restructuring the roster while staying good will be a challenge. Will Dietrich stick to Kilgour's plan of using mostly players within commuting distance, or will he broaden the team's sights?

I'm always fond of saying that it's impossible to guess who the next great sports executive will be. It's particularly tough in lacrosse, where there are some unexpected factors. A key player may decide for personal reasons that he needs to either be traded closer to home or will retire. That can be good (Luke Wiles' acquisition last season) or bad (Sean Greenhalgh's move to North Carolina for a job before Buffalo had a chance to see him at 100 percent.)

Can't wait to see how this turns out.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Coming up

Coming up in Sunday's running column is the story behind the cancellation of the annual Mississippi Mudds race, held since 2000. There's a lot more to it than anyone could have guessed.

The season for four-mile runs is upon us. There aren't many of them over the course of the year, but we've got three within a couple of weeks. Two of them are back-to-back starting tonight. Here's the weekend wrap-up of races, courtesy of

* Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest Run, 4 miles, 17 Broad St. in North Tonawanda, 7 p.m. tonight, 688-7839. You might recall that this race was run last year on the hottest night of the decade. Tongiht should be better. This is always a well-done race, even if it takes me a while to figure out on which side of the canal the race is staged.

* SVS 5K Summer Sizzler Walk/Run, 6441 Seneca St. in Elma, 6:30 p.m. Friday, 949-4256.

* Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase, Bidwell and Elmwood in Buffalo, 7 p.m. on Friday, 881-1652. This race puts some effort into its t-shirt design, and this year's is a classic. Oh, and it's also a chance for runners at my level to lose to a much better class of athlete, since the prize money usually attracts some top international runners.

* Laurel Run 8K & 5K, Silver Creek Village Square, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, 661-4735.

* Crabapple 5K, Stiglmeier Park in Cheektowaga, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 897-7207. And don't feed the deer in the park.

* Character Chase 5K, 150 Pleasant Ave. in Hamburg, 11 a.m. Saturday. Make sure you know in advance where the post-race party is located. I didn't last year. This is a nice little race back for its second year, even if July 1 deadline for a t-shirt seems a little early.

* Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race, 5K, 6909 Milestrip Road in Orchard Park, 10 a.m. Sunday, 667-3786. I ran this race last year, and wasn't expecting such a big hill along the way.

* St. Mary's Church Chowder Chase 5K, 6919 Transit Road in East Amherst, 11:15 a.m. Sunday, 636-4617. I think this race is technically in Swormville, which is some cases has been spelled Swormsville. Wherever it is, let's hope things go well in the church's first try at the racing business.

-- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Steve Shields

(Born July 19, 1972) -- In the spring of 1997, the Buffalo Sabres won the first Game Seven in their history, as they defeated the Ottawa Senators at home in the first-round matchup. Everyone remembers Derek Plante’s goal in overtime to decide the series. The Buffalo goalie that skated down the ice to join in the celebration was Steve Shields.

It certainly was the highlight of Shields’ hockey career. The tall goalie grew up in North Bay, Ontario, and played hockey at the University of Michigan. There he attracted the attention of the Sabres, who took him in the fifth round of the NHL draft in 1990.

Shields turned pro in 1994 and spent the next two season in the minors for the most part. He helped the Rochester Americans win a Calder Cup in 1996.

Then it was up to the Sabres the following year, mostly to back up Dominik Hasek. But when the MVP goalie got hurt in the playoffs, Shields answered the call. He won Game Six of the Ottawa playoff series, and then was in the nets for Game Seven.

Shields was traded to San Jose in 1998, and he bounced to Anaheim, Boston and Atlanta. He only played more than 40 games once in his career (Sharks, 1999-2000). But he’ll always have Game Seven.

--- Budd Bailey

Porter Cup first round recap

By Jay Skurski

At the top: University of Virginia sophomore Denny McCarthy, 19, shot a 6-under 64 to lead the 78-player field after the first round in the 54th Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston. A shot behind tied for second are University of Florida senior Trever McCumber and Texas A&M sophomore Tyler Dunlap.

Featured group: Defending champion Patrick Rodgers didn't do anything to hurt his chance of repeating, opening with a round of 3-under 67. Rodgers had back-to-back bogeys on the par-3 16th and par-4 17th, but made a big birdie on the par-3 18th to close the round with some momentum. Justin Thomas, the top-ranked college golfer in the country according to the Golf Week rankings, was cruising along nicely at 3 under before hitting the ball out of bounds on the 16th. He took a double bogey and finished the round 1 under, the same score as the third member of the threesome, 18-year-old Matt NeSmith.

My bad: Scott Harvey, a 34-year-old Mid-Amateur from Greensboro, N.C., shot a 2-under 68, but it could have been better. Harvey was assessed a two-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball on the par-4 10th hole. The ball Harvey hit was a Titleist 2, like he was playing it, but after he hit it, he found his ball and saw its distinctive mark, meaning he played the wrong one.

Gotta go: The oldest player in the field, 49-year-old Mike McCoy, recorded a nice 4-under 66 as part of the third group off the tee. The reason for the early tee time? McCoy, who works in the insurance industry, had to get to a business meeting in Toronto. He talked with this reporter while waiting in line on the bridge to Canada.

Locals report: Niagara Falls Country Club club champion Mike Boss was the low Western New Yorker with a 3-over round of 73. Buffalo's Chris Covelli and Clarence's Matt Stasiak both shot rounds of 4-over 74, tied for 70th, while North Tonawanda's James Blackwell and Hamburg's Brian Jurkiewicz carded 5-over 75s, in a tie for 75th.

Quotable: "You’re dealing with a lot as a Mid-Am. You’re married, you have a family, you’re working. You feel like you should just get a medal for being here for five days in a row," 33-year-old Nathan Smith, on how tough it is for the older players to compete against college-age opponents.

Follow me on Twitter, @JaySkurski, for updates from Round Two on Thursday.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Razor Shines

(Born July 18, 1956) -- Admit it - it’s one of the great names in Buffalo baseball history, even if he only was here for one season.

The full name is actually Anthony Razor Shines. His grandfather named his father Razor, dad passed it along to Anthony, and Anthony gave it to his son.

Shines started his professional baseball career in 1978, when he played in Jamestown. Razor slowly worked his way up the ladder, arriving in Indianapolis in AAA ball in 1984. He stayed for seven years.

Then it was on to Buffalo, where Shines spent the 1990 season. He was a popular figure even though he only hit .190.

Razor probably missed Indianapolis, as he went back there for three more seasons before retiring. He only played in 68 major-league games, in part because he got stuck behind some of the first basemen/third basemen in the Expos' organization over the years. Shines then spent eight years as a minor league manager.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Scott Norwood

   (Born on July 17, 1960) -- The Bills have had some good kickers over the years. Scott Norwood certainly ranks in that category.

   Norwood grew up in suburban Washington D.C.. He moved on to James Madison University, where he played both football and college. Obviously, there was more money to be made in football.

   Norwood was cut by the Atlanta Falcons in training camp in 1982, but got a second chance with the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League. He kicked for two seasons there, having a fine rookie season but then suffering an injury that shortened his 1984 campaign.

   Norwood then jumped to the Buffalo Bills in 1985, and he stayed with the team through 1991. Norwood was extremely accurate, which helped get him into the Pro Bowl for the 1988 season. But he didn’t have great range, something which became evident when he couldn’t hit a 47-yarder at the end of Super Bowl XXV.

   Norwood was cut after the 1991 season, and retired to Virginia. He moved into private business.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Roscoe Parrish

(Born July 16, 1982) -- Professional football players are quite often large physical specimens. Roscoe Parrish never fit that mold.

Parrish looked more like a center fielder than a receiver, but his career in the NFL is at seven years and counting.

He went to college at the University of Miami and was taken by the Bills in the second round of the draft, checking in at 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds. He had 4.37 speed in the 40, so it was always difficult for those big fellows to catch him.

Parrish saw limited action as a rookie, a year noteworthy by the time he saw snow for the first time during an 18-inch story that left him almost paralyzed. Parrish had something of a career highlight in 2006. He ran a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown against Jacksonville in one of the most spectacular returns in Bills history. In fact, he had three returns for touchdowns in his career.

Parrish had other good moments in a Bills’ uniform, but injuries kept him off the field far too often during his time here. He left as a free agent this past offseason, signing with San Diego.

--- Budd Bailey

Alliss at World Golf Hall of Fame

In my Mixed Media column today, ESPN golf analyst Paul Azinger is quoted saying that Peter Alliss' induction speech at the World Golf Hall of Fame is required viewing for golf fans.

Below is the speech in its entirety.


-- Greg Connors

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Gregg Williams

   (Born July 15, 1958) -- It’s fair to say that this particular entry has a different feel to it than it would have a few months ago.

   The Missouri-born Williams went to what is now Truman State University and worked his way up the ladder. He made a big step forward when he was an assistant coach at the University of Houston under Jack Pardee.

   Williams reached the pros with the Oilers in 1990, and became the team’s defensive coordinator in 1997. He stayed there through 2000, when he won the job as the Bills’ head coach.

   Williams was a big change from the more laid-back Wade Phillips. The team went 3-13, 8-8 and 6-10 during his time in Buffalo, and his contract was not renewed.

   Since then, he has worked as an assistant with Washington, Jacksonville and New Orleans. Earlier this year it was revealed that he ran a "bounty fund" that rewarded players for knocking opponents out of games. Williams was suspended by the NFL, and his future in football is very uncertain at this point.

--- Budd Bailey


Bandits' notebook: Who's next?

The search for the next Buffalo Bandits' general manager continues behind the scenes. IL Indoor had a nice article on some possible candidates on Friday night, and there's no question any of them would be worth a look.

As for my viewpoint, I'm just not sure what the Bandits are looking for.

That comes in two parts. Would a new general manager have to live in Western New York, within commuting distance to downtown Buffalo? If so, that might limit the field of candidates severly. If the line was extended to say, Toronto, then the field would get larger. The Bandits have done most of their scouting/player acquisition in Southern Ontario/upstate New York area. It's tough to know where the line is for where a "local candidate" would live. 

Besides, this is lacrosse, and real-life jobs sometimes get in the way of a part-time lacrosse career. Would a new GM earn enough to give up a regular job to move here? Would a "fly-in" general manager work, or even be considered? I don't know.

Then there's the tricky matter of the balancing act needed for the job. Darris Kilgour obviously is a strong personality who has been doing both jobs for some time. The Bandits are looking for someone to fill the general manager's job who can take charge of the lacrosse operation. That would seem to imply that someone with a little distance from recent Bandits' history would be helpful. Traditionally in sports, general managers like to hire their own coaches, and this GM won't have that luxury on Day One. A new strong voice is helpful in such situations, but one is needed that would gain instant respect from all concerned.

But ... how unfamiliar should that voice be? The Bandits do have a strong tradition of winning over the years. That's worth something. If you throw out everyone with a connection to the Kilgours (I''ll include Rich in the situation too), well, you probably exclude half the league's possible candidates.

I'm throwing up my hands, then, at guessing. The Bandits probably have more resources that any other team in the league. In other words, this is a large market team by NLL standards. They should be able to get someone good, even if finding the right fit is going to be tricky.

No matter who it is, though, he'd better win. Bandits' fans are loyal, but we saw a little more than 10 years ago that a small run of losing seasons can make a large impact at the box office.

--- 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.