Tonawanda News

September 21, 2012

MENDOLA: Feeling the cross-border love

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — If sharing is caring, then the cities of Buffalo and Toronto are in a relationship as deep and loving as ever.

The Buffalo Bisons and Toronto Blue Jays are announcing a two-year affiliation agreement today in a pomp-and-circumstance press conference at Coca Cola Field in downtown Buffalo. Roberto Alomar will be there. Mayor Byron Brown will be there. Buster Bison will be there.

Hot on the heels of Bills games across the border, a safety-harnessed stroll over Niagara Gorge and whispers of a bi-metropoli Olympics, Western New York is linking up Tin Pan Alley’s “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” with Keith Hampshire and The Bat Boys’ “OK Blue Jays.”

Given the proximity of the Herd’s fifth Major League affiliate in 25 years — 102 miles, 164 kilometers, about 53 charity 5k races — I thought it would be fitting to explore not only the immediate benefits of the relationship but some next-level ideas should this relationship move from going steady to marriage:

1) A doubleheader at First Niagara Center featuring the Toronto Raptors versus the Los Angeles Clippers (too soon?) and Niagara University versus the University at Buffalo.

2) A formal and irreversible trade of Goo Goo Dolls for The Tragically Hip.

3) A rocket train between Toronto and the States with Niagara Falls and Buffalo as major hubs.

4) A Nik Wallenda museum spanning both countries across the Peace Bridge (harnessed, of course).

5) An exchange of expertise: we’ll help them make better pizza and they can teach us a ton about common courtesy.

While some of that is strictly for humor/humour, it’s always amazed me that there weren’t significantly larger connections between Western New York and Southern Ontario. As a former soccer tournament director, I’ve seen a great deal of youth teams cross the border in both directions to rave reviews (Let alone all the free Canadian used shoes left in parking lots for needy New Yorkers!).

Especially in the current NHL-free climate where neither of our teams will again win or even contend for a Stanley Cup, wouldn’t it be beneficial on so many levels to take this to the next level? Can’t we have an international group marriage of the 2.6 million Torontonians and 1.3 million Buffalo-Niagarans?

The Bisons and Blue Jays in the same family, by the way, is a very good connection for Western New York. Save actual Mets fans, I don’t know too many people who were impressed by the new Jetsons-styled uniforms or “Baseball State of Mind” campaign. And sorry to those Yankee fans reading, but most Western New Yorkers are perturbed when outsiders imply we’re a hop, skip and jump from the Big Apple.

As a Facebook friend said, keep your maple leaves off Buster’s uniform and we’ll continue to make our failed forwards available to the Maple Leafs. Comme ci, comme ca.

Let’s combine wine trails and pond hockey tournaments. Let’s make the Friendship Festival a full-time fondness.

And let’s watch some baseball with Canadian flavo(u)r.

Respond to Nick Mendola at or follow him on Twitter @NicholasMendola.