Buffalo, New York—As we reflect back on the year that was 2019 the staff at Buffalo Mud has determined, after extensive research, the two saddest people in Western New York are republican consultant Michael Caputo and former Buffalo News Sports columnist, Jerry Sullivan.
Michael Caputo came of age in the Reagan era, and under the tutelage of now convicted political gadfly and prankster Roger Stone, eventually became a strategist and media consultant. Working as Roger Stone’s driver, after a short stint with Congressman Jack Kemp, he learned from the old master how to push up against the edge of the abyss without falling in. He spent time in Russia in the 1990’s and early 2000’s helping Boris Yeltsin win reelection and was an image advisor to Vladimir Putin, before returning to the U.S. to work in Republican politics.
Once re-established in the U.S. he took on the role as campaign manager in Carl Paladino’s failed New York gubernatorial bid. In that campaign, lofty governing ideas were like the three crusty, rolled up dollar bills you find in your pocket after a night of blackout drinking. Brandishing a baseball bat, the main premise of Paladino’s campaign was—attack. Speaking to the The New York Times Paladino said of Caputo : “I’m facing some major demons here, and I needed someone who could go right back on top of them in a matter of minutes. You’ve got to let them know they are going to get punished.”
But gone are Caputo’s salad days of repping baseball bat wielding Paladino, or smearing Jon Bon Jovi while working for Donald Trump in his failed bid to buy the Buffalo Bills or telling women on Twitter to: “fix him a sandwich,” in defense of now convicted NY 27 Republican congressman, Chris Collins for insider trading.
Instead, Caputo now sits in a lonely office somewhere in East Aurora, N.Y. gaining sustenance from ringing church bells. He does a quiet little podcast, writes articles and is working on a book, where he and Roger Stone and President Trump are victims of the vicious, unfair Democrats and fake news. In a March 2019 Politico article, he details the pain and suffering he and others endured from being ensnared in Bob Mueller’s Russia probe. While claiming vindication, like the President, he fails to mention the report did NOT exonerate the President from the obstruction of justice or from the fact six former Trump advisers and a slew of others have been indicted or pled guilty as a result of the probe.
Now, with the President facing impeachment, Inspector General Horowitz finding no bias in the FBI probe of Russia, and Roger Stone and Chris Collins set to do some serious prison time, Caputo sounds almost defeated and in desperate need of self-care. Maybe some targeted “do my laundry” or “serve me a drink” tweets at strong women like Nancy Pelosi or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez would help him find his fire. Or maybe, a few email exchanges with his old boss Carl Paladino where the Obamas are depicted as gorillas. Nothing like a little bawdy, racist humor to help an old Republican strategist to get on their feet again. Better yet, maybe a quiet afternoon of spooning with Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, with those church bells ringing in the background
Whatever he does, we hope he gets the help he needs and emerges from the ashes of sadness to be flaming asshole we know and despise.
Next up in our look back at the saddest characters of 2019 is Jerry Sullivan, former columnist at the Buffalo News. After decades of being a front row commentator on the Bills and Sabres at the News, Sullivan now writes columns for the Lockport Gazette, The Amherst Bee and The Lorraine Academy Boys School, where his stinging criticism of the meatball bomber, which is served every Wednesday, recently led to the firing of three lunch ladies. He also hosts a daily sports talk show on AM radio at WWWHogivesashit 1270.
Sullivan, a native of Rhode Island, grew up in an era where negative reinforcement was surely a driving force. After reading his columns for years and then hearing his abrasive, whiny voice doing radio spots, one senses not only was he a roto-geek, but the last player chosen in every pick up game ever. Also, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he got slapped upside the head regularly by his parents, teachers, friends—really, anyone who could get away with it.
Coming to Buffalo in the halcyon days of the 1990 Bills and the Sabres of Pat LaFontaine, Sully had to work hard to channel his negativity. But, as the population of the city contracted, he found a way—often having public battles with All-World Defensive End, Bruce Smith and by trying to draw out beloved coach Marv Levy’s edgy side, which was just a poke or two away beneath his erudite veneer.
But with the 2000 Bills season, came the beginning of nearly two-decades of futility that resulted in four general managers and nine head coaches. The Sabres would remain competitive until 2010, but have missed the playoffs for the last nine-years. Like when Inigo Montoya finally chased down his father’s killer in the Princess Bride, starting in 2010 Sully finally chased down the true darkness he sought covering Buffalo’s major sports teams. The extreme futility and failure of these teams led to Sully call out everyone from Terry Pegula to Rex Ryan to Tyrod Taylor, even the saviors, Josh Allen and Jack Eichel. But after nearly a decade of this nirvana of negativity, which saw Sully walking around with a perpetual hard-on, the News in a giant purge of the sports department bought him out, saying his antagonistic style was bad for business.
Furthermore, his fall from grace from the News, coincided with the rise of a competent Bills team, front office and coaching staff, which has seen them make the playoffs two of the last three years. The Sabres are still in a morass, but may be showing signs of life propelled by superstar Jack Eichel. All of this blunting Sully’s gruesome negativity. It’s really so sad and disheartening looking at his Twitter feed and see him praise Josh Allen and the Bills or talk about how Jack Eichel will go off against the Bruins. These days, a guy like Sully seems more suited to cover an inept team like the Cleveland Browns with their horrendous front office, coaching staff and it’s talented, but underachieving players, rather than the rising Bills.
Hopefully, Sully will receive a job offer in Cleveland or Los Angeles. The Rams have traded away first-round draft picks like they were candy corn at Halloween and are destined to suck for at least a decade. But, here, right now in 2019, seeing him hopeful and positive makes Jerry Sullivan one of the saddest people in Western New York.