Good Summer Morning, fellow DBTBers!
I've just recently returned home from Ireland with my bride of 25 years and promised McGee a full report. I also thought it might be fun to couple my report on Ireland with some Summer Saber Thoughts (and some early Women's World Cup ones as well).
Not sure how many of your have ever ventured onto the island of Ireland, but it's truly a beautiful country. While most of the 9 days we stayed there were overcast, it was a welcomed relief to my wife and I as we left Atlanta's early heat wave of mid 90s on May 28th. The cool summer air of Ireland was pleasant. We traveled at night and arrived on May 29th, early in the morning. We decided to forego the Hilton's and Marriott's for a more "Irish" establishment, which proved to be an excellent choice. I'd much rather soak in the flavor of a country by staying in a local B&B than a chain establishment. Our B&B also served up a daily breakfast, very European.
Dublin: We stayed most of our visit in Dublin. I am very happy have made the decision to NOT drive in Ireland, especially Dublin. That city is crazy driving defined (and I drive in Atlanta). They drive on the left side of the road, have pedestrians all over the place, bicycles, scooters, buses, tourists (who don't know when to cross the streets), a rail system, all vying for a place on the roadways. Ugh. Buses are easy access to everything. After our first day of "Hop on, Hop off" tour bus, however, we decided to walk everywhere. Fit Bit told us that we walked an average of 20,000 steps a day. It was well worth it to us as we took our time everywhere.
The people are amazing, the culture is as well. We encountered many Irish on a daily basis and just sat and talked to them. They are a laid back, enjoy-life type of people. Our hosts at the B&B went out of their way to make sure we had a good "Irish" experience. They truly helped us in deciding what to do and how to get everywhere.
The Irish LOVE their beer! I'm just not a "8 in the morning drinking type of guy". Beer, to me, is enjoyed at dinner in the evening, not as a morning or lunch-type ritual. Guinness on tap....yum! We did the Guinness tour our second day. It was a very good afternoon spent, however it is a very "tourisy" thing to do. Beware of the crowds! We also did the Jameson tour, which was more manageable.
Other points of interest for us (Dublin): St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ Church, St. Stephen's Green (a wonderful park), many Irish Pubs.
Other points of interest for us (Non-Dublin): Day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, East coast beaches (Bray and Greystones), and a day in Belfast. Quick Notes: Up to seventy people each year die falling off the Cliffs in Moher. Why do people consistently walk to the very edge of dangerous rocks to take selfies? Although roped off, a number of people the day we visited got around the barrier and walked to the edge to take their selfies. Not sure of the mentality in that at all.
Belfast: Saddened to see that Belfast (Northern Ireland) holds a very tenuous peace. Prayerfully, that peace will last as the city is thriving since the Clinton-brokered peace accords. Brexit will put a strain on that peace once England exits the EU as Northern Ireland will "pull away" from the Island. The Irish will need two currencies and Visas to visit family if you are traveling from Northern Ireland to Ireland "Proper". Very messy, and they are searching for answers to this situation.
Friday Night: While staying at our B&B, we ran into a playwright and some of his troupe. He comped us some amazing tickets to his play that evening, a wonderful play called "The Three Hail Mary's". We met Tommy Marren (writer) at the Olympia Theater that night and just watch a wonderful performance. It was a blessing, to be sure and we had the best evening of our stay. I can't say enough of the kindness showed to us that evening. We have not laughed so much in quite a while. He is considering bringing his play to the US. I hope he does!
Europeans also love their smokes as well, which to us non-smokers, takes a bit of getting used to. The culture of Ireland seems to be very much ingrained in their writers and poets. They are proud of their literary heritage (and should be).
On Sabre Thoughts:
Skinner: Glad to see this was finally done. (Confession: I read DBTB nightly from our little B&B room in Ireland to keep up with the Skinner signing and other notes from all of you!) Was this an over-payment? I guess, but really, what choice did the Sabres (and Botterill) have? I think we all can agree it's not a drastic over-payment, but we needed to keep scoring on the team since we lost so much of it with the Kane and ROR trades and haven't really replaced it yet.
Draft: I think we end up drafting Boldy, with no movement or trade unless we trade back to get an extra pick. We just can't afford to trade away extra assets for the privilege to move up a spot or two. Honestly, we got screwed this year with the lottery, so we need to hang on to as many assets as possible.
Rochester: I just don't see that we're that deep in prospects that we can afford to miss out on this year's draft. Nylander hasn't produced and doesn't pass the "eye test" for me. I hope that the advanced stats that Faramir posts actually prove me wrong and he displays "first round" abilities, but I think we're all arguing about a third or forth-liner, to be honest.
Botterill: Most of you know that I've said my piece about what I consider the dumbest trade in Sabres' history, and certainly the most damaging. That being said, I think BOTs can turn that around with solid drafting and some deft (and lucky) trading/FA pick ups. We'll see. If Jason Zucker is indeed on their radar, it remains to be seen at what price we'd have to pay in order to obtain him. This will not take place until the draft, next week (and I'm getting excited about it despite wishing we were picking either 1st, 2nd, or 5th)
Ristolainen: I think we end up keeping Risto. He's too valuable a piece to trade at this point in time with injuries to half of the defense from last season. We need to shield him, in all honesty. What was Risto's +/- numbers 5v5 (not counting empty net goals against), versus his +/- numbers in total?
Women's World Cup: I am THOROUGHLY enjoying World Cup and have seen almost all of the matches so far. Hoping for a USA win this afternoon vs. Thailand. Pulling against Japan, because I think they can beat us. The Japanese team is much too fast for most teams. Glad to see they tied Argentina 0 - 0 yesterday and hope they stumble against Scotland. Would love to see an upset there.
USA's biggest test will come in the quarterfinals against France! We are in dangerous territory there! Hope you've all been watching and enjoying great soccer. USA Men's team needs too much care to be competitive at this point in time.
Note to McGee: Thank you for your spot-on draft notes. If you have any more questions about Ireland, please drop a note!
DBTBers: Thank you for amazing reads and keeping me entertained these past few years!