I thought he’d given up on me. It has been almost a year since I first heard from Brave Throat. Despite my best efforts to light a fire under the idea of bringing the Braves back to Buffalo, I had received less than a grand and a few season tickets in commitments—and, to be honest, was eventually distracted by life and gave up on the idea.
I’ve been looking over my shoulder, though, fearful that he’d eventually show up in a more Dickensian form, terrorizing me with dream-travel to a Buffalo future sans the Bills and Sabres. I was already imagining it—Buffalo back in the AHL and the AFL as in (the new, old) Arena Football League.
But no. He was understanding of, if not completely resigned to, my failure.
As I suspected, he would not use text messaging to get my attention. He simply popped into my room when I was asleep last night, appearing as some kind of hologram. He had company. Randy Smith. That threw me for a loop.
The two gave me a moment to absorb, then Ranallo, aka Brave Throat spoke up.
“OK, John, I think I over-estimated Buffalo. I should’ve known.”
“Well, the problem is everyone is afraid of losing the Bills when (owner) (Ralph) Wilson dies (which at 90-plus, could be any second) that they are trying to circle the wagons. If they’re going to kick in some hard earned cash, it’s going to stop the bleeding, not revisit old wounds.”
“I know you’ve tried hard to convince them that there’s no saving the Bills without returning the Braves. It’s not your fault, Johnny. Just relax.”
“Whew!” Huge exhale. “So, what next?”
“Screw the Clippers,” Ranallo said. We can still bring back the Braves, in one important sense, and my sources in the netherworld tell me that would be an alternative antidote to the Curse.”
“Bring back the Braves without the Clippers?”
“One letter, Johnny Boy! W.”
“I don’t get it. W for ‘win?”
“W for women.”
“WNBA, Johnny. None of the WNBA teams are making money. Some are losing big time. There’s been contraction. Franchises have moved. Several others are there for the taking. The LA Sparks sold recently for $10 million.”
“Whoa! I never thought of that. That’s a hell of a lot less than $300 mil.”
“So, what are we down to? Three bucks per resident of the Niagara Frontier. Oh, wait. You don’t call it that any more. What is it? Buffalo Niagara, right?”
“But I thought the whole issue was the name, the logo, the offense to the Indians.”
“So, it is. So, why do we need the Clippers? The curse may have ruined them forever, anyway. We just need a major league basketball team that somehow utilizes the name and the logo, and, if at all possible, at least one or two people with some connection to the Braves. So, here’s what we do: We buy a struggling WNBA team, change the name, bring in Mac and Gar Heard as coaches (both are currently assistant coaches in the NBA), and we’ve brought the Braves back.”
“So we’d call a women’s team 'Braves?' Does that work?”
We call them the 'Buffalo Brave' (the singular plural, like deer, etc.).
“Ah, as in brave women, a brave town, a spirit of courage and determination.”
“And since the WNBA plays in the Spring and Summer, there will be no competition with the Sabres for dates or for fans. Sure, there’s the Bisons, but that’s apples and oranges. They’re minor league and the WNBA is major league. It’s the perfect plan.”
“Johnny, I knew you’d figure it out. Now, get busy. You’ve got $10 million to raise. And things aren’t getting any better for sports in Buffalo. For instance, what happened to the Sabres? You think it’s a coincidence that a former Sabre named Satan caused a reversal of momentum? And the Bills draft? No Jimmy Clausen, or even Tebow? No Jimmy Clausen, or even Tebow? No offensive line? Time’s a wastin'.”
I need three bucks from each of you. Pay up.
Photo: A full house for the Braves at the Aud in 1974
Read the entire Brave Throat Series:
Part One: Why the Clippers Must Return to Buffalo
Part Two: Brave Throat Resurfaces
Part Four: Brave Throat Revealed and the Plot Thickens