2000, sitting at the counter of a coffee shop, thumbs through a newspaper. He’s finished his French Toast. It was delicious. A dude sits two stools down. He’s finishing up a breakfast burrito. It looks delicious.
The dude two stools down turns to 2000, who is putting down the sports section of the newspaper on the counter.
“Hey friend,” The Dude Two Stools Down asks. “Mind if I take a look at that sports section?”
Without looking, 2000 hands him the section.
“Nothing worth reading in it,” 2000 says.
“Thanks. But I’ll be the judge of that. I want to check out the Sabres’ box score.”
“The Buffalo Sabres?”
“You from Buffalo?”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“Being from Buffalo- is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“I’m fine with it.”
“That make you a Bills’ fan?”
“What about baseball?”
“Who’s your baseball team? Buffalo doesn’t have one.”
“We have the Bisons. A Blue Jays’ farm team.”
“So…the Blue Jays? That’s your team?”
“Nah, I like the Yankees.”
“Something funny about that,” The Dude Two Stools Down asks.
“No sorry. I just feel bad for you.”
“Gonna be a tough year for you.”
“Probably. But you never know. Baseball season is long as hell. Lot can happen.”
“True. But I’d think that wouldn’t really be something you’d hang your hat on as a Yanks’ fan. What, with your team having an average age of 45 and all. Father Time isn’t really on your side this year.”
“You never know.”
“I know the Yankees are old as dirt. I know you’re not going to get squat from ARod. I know-”
“We don’t need anything from ARod. As long as we have Jeter, we have a chance.”
“Please. Yankees’ fans keep saying that. Been saying it for the past couple years. If it was 2007 or even 2008 then yes, I’d say that as long as you have Jeter, then you have a chance. But in 2012? No, I don’t think that statement or that line of thinking really has any legs.”
“We still got Cano.”
“Great. So that means every other game, when Cano decides he wants to play, you have a great player.”
“I’ll give you that one.”
“But after Cano, you don’t have much.”
“Teixeira is still good.”
“Not really, friend. His numbers have been going down every year. Homeboy is on the decline.”
“All right, fine. It might be a tough year, but-”
“Yeah it’s gonna be tough. Especially with those assholes in Tampa Bay and Baltimore coming along. Hell the Blue Jays might even be good this year.”
“They got half the Marlins playing for them now. Plus R.A. Dickey. Blue Jays are gonna be good.”
“I wouldn’t put much faith in Dickey. Putting faith in a knuckleballer is like putting faith in waves. You never really know what you’re gonna get.”
“I’m from Buffalo. Where the hell am I gonna surf? It was just a saying.”
The two men sit in silence for a few minutes. The Dude Two Stools Down leafs through the sports section, looking for the Sabres’ box score.
“Hockey lock out must have sucked for you,” 2000 says.
“No worse than the last one.”
“You prefer watching it live or on TV?”
“Tough to say. Both have their positives and negatives. Beer is cheaper when I watch it on TV.”
“Any sporting event live is pretty good, though.”
“I would agree. Although I’m not so sure about football. I think that’s better on television.”
“I’m not really a football fan.”
“Because of the Bills?”
“Pretty much. Things been down hill ever since Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas left town.”
“So you just a baseball and hockey man?”
“I enjoy bowling.”
“No. That’s ridiculous. Just playing it.”
“Okay. That makes sense.”
“I bowl side arm.”
“That’s kind of weird.”
“So what are you? A Red Sox fan?”
“Now that’s unfortunate.”
“Maybe it was last year. I think this year will be different.”
“Can’t get any worse than last year.”
“That’s true. That’s very true. Last year was terrible.”
“Sox might still be a last place team, though.”
“No. I think this year’s squad has some spunk. I don’t think they’ll roll over and die like last year’s club. And if we can get a full season out of Will Middlebrooks and if Lester and Bucholtz get their acts together, things might be better.”
“I will say that as a Yankees’ fan, it’s enjoyable seeing the Red Sox be a train wreck again. Last couple years have been annoying as hell.”
“We’ll be back.”
“It’s easy to say you’ll be back when you’ve hit bottom. Doesn’t really mean a damn, though. Still gonna end up in last place.”
“Well if anyone would know something about last place, it’d be a dude from Buffalo.”
“You heard me.”
The Dude Two Stools Down puts the paper down and looks at 2000.
“You got a problem, buddy?”
“Nope. I just don’t take kindly to folks talking jive about the Sox.”
“I’m not talking jive. I’m talking the truth. Your team is a joke.”
“This from the fella from Buffalo.”
The Dude Two Stools Down stands up, revealing himself to be well over six feet tall. He takes a step in 2000’s direction. 2000 only glances at him over his shoulder.
“Comin’ at me that way makes me think you want to do more than talk,” 2000 says, turning away from The Dude Two Stools Down. “You want to do more than talk, cowboy?”
The Dude Two Stools Down puts his hand on 2000’s shoulder.
“I’m going to leave,” he says. “And you’re going to pay for my delicious breakfast burrito and not so delicious coffee. Seeing as you not only ruined my meal, but insulted the city of Buffalo.” He presses down on 2000’s shoulder a little harder. “That’s what I want to do. And frankly, I think you do too.” He lets go of 2000’s shoulder, who still stares straight ahead. “Make sure you tip well. Us Buffalo folk know how to treat people.”
The Dude Two Stools Down pats 2000 on the back and starts for the door and 2000 continues to look straight ahead. A waitress walks up to him.
“More coffee?” She asks.
“Do you like sports?” 2000 asks her.
The waitress fills up 2000’s cup.
“Anything else today, hon?”
“Nope. Just the check.”
The waitress looks at 2000.
“And his too,” he says.
Victorino/Cherington photo by AP Photo/Elise Amendola