December 30 - The NHL Ugliness I am one of those people that is losing money because of the NHL lockout, as there are no games to work. So I obviously have an opinion on the situation. However, my take might be a little different than most, given my background.
I have lived through three work stoppages before this one - no one should have to deal with one, let alone three. The first two were while I worked for the Islanders - the NHL strike of 1992, which lasted ten days and the NHL lockout of 1994-95, which ended in mid-January. Then, after moving to the NBA, I had to deal with the lockout there in the 1998-99 season, which also ended in January. Now, for fans, lockouts are met with a lack of someone to root for or watch on television. For a team or league employee, its much different. Try getting up to go to work every day knowing there is nothing to do. Now try doing that knowing that there is no timetable for this to end. Now do it knowing that, if the talks breakdown, your job might have to be eliminated. That is what its like to live through one of these. And I had it easy, since I never lost my job, like my good friend Adam Schwartz did this time around. I never lost a dime, unlike this time, where I get paid on a per game basis, only with no games being played. That is what makes this one so much tougher.
And what makes this even tougher is how unnecessary it is and how shortsighted everyone involved in it is. Forget the fact that it is millionaire fighting with other millionaires over millions. Yes, the system needs to change. Hockey just isn't as popular than the other sports and thus doesn't have the income (TV or otherwise) that the other sports has. The players need to realize that, and they have to an extent. The owners, though, are playing hardball, and to me, that is where this all gets sticky.
The owners are not bargaining in good faith. I don't care about the arguments about who is right or who is wrong, who loses and who wins, who is in control, who needs to be taught a lesson, etc. What bothers me about this whole thing is that, the owners basically announced this lockout two years ago and didn't do much to prevent it from happening. Now, they are not accepting any other ideas from the players at the bargaining table. Its a salary cap or nothing. The players offered to roll back their salaries by 24%. They offered a payroll tax. They are trying to come up with ideas to get this done. The owners are not moving. They are not trying other things. There are ways to get this done that might actually help, but the owners just don't care (or want to care). And the game be damned because of it. Its their puck and they are taking it home. And the fans? Well, who cares about them. They only pay the salaries. They only drive the TV ratings.
Let me ask this - What kind of ratings does the NHL expect after this is all over? They were terrible before, when some people actually cared. Remember: Out of sight, out of mind. Any market that was struggling before will be even worse now. How does that help the game? How does any of this help? Bowling gets better ratings. So does bass fishing. The bowl game between powerhouses UConn and Toledo in the middle of the day the other day will get better ratings than a game between two great NHL teams. And they think that what they are doing is good for the game? Please.
Keep this in mind - I have always been a fervent owners' guy in these things. Athletes these days are seriously overpaid, while the people behind the scenes work their asses off for average at best pay. People like me work in sports for the love of it, not for the money. Which is what makes this so difficult to deal with. The money is being taken from our pockets by people that have more than we'll ever dream of having.
How much sense does that make?
December 28 - Random Thoughts Its almost midnight and I just got home from working the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, so its gonna be a short one tonight. I've got another game tomorrow after a day of work, so I might not get back on here until Thursday and I've got a few things to cover, so here goes....
--To the person who tonight gave me a hard time about my starting a web site, I say this.......Open up your narrow mind and actually read what I have written about this topic. --Man, does St. John's stink. They didn't draw Columbia in the next round, so they can't lose the city bragging rights game. They beat an even worse Canisius team, though, so they get the right to be destroyed in the tourney finals by #17 North Carolina State. Columbia gave NC State a nice run, though and even led in the second half. Joe Jones is doing a hell of a job with the Lions and it won't be long before he trades in the Ivy for something bigger and better. --What's up with Eric Milton signing in Cincinnati? They actually are spending some money (finally). First a one year deal on the cheap for Joe Randa, now an above average starter. If Junior and Austin Kearns can figure out how to stay healthy, it might be an interesting season in Cincy. --Enough with some of these bowl games. Toledo vs. UConn in the Motor City Bowl? Are you kidding me? I'm curious what kind of ratings ESPN drew with that one. The scary thing is, it might beat their usual NHL ratings (more on this in a future blog). --Vinsanity is underway in Jersey. I was talking to Rod Thorn the other day and after he talked about their rough start, I reminded him that all they need is to get to .500 and they are in first again. Good thing they are in that division. --My pick is in for the suicide pool. It is Houston. Slim pickings in Week 17 when you have already used 16 teams. For one week, I'm a BIG Texans fan. Only ten people are still left and after this, we have the playoffs - five games left to pick. --Actually had my first roto baseball conversation yesterday. Three months left until draft time.
That is it for tonight. Until next time.......................
December 27 - A Week on the Web So I've been at this for a week now and I've already learned a few valuable lessons about running a website:
--Don't start one without expecting TONS of abuse from friends and co-workers. --At the same time, though, some really good ideas can come from their half-serious, half-joking comments. --No matter how much credit you give people, there are still some people out there with a warped sense of reality. --When you make a lucid, well-spoken point, people actually respond with solid feedback.
I'll go into more details on these and other lessons learned at a future time and will give the credit or point the finger at that time. But it has really made me think hard about whether this was a good idea or not. It was, but with reservations. I guess regret is a normal part of life and, when you start to put yourself out in front of your family, friends, co-workers and the rest of the world, you bring all the abuse upon yourself.
Regret might not be the right word in this case, though. Case in point - people might be laughing, but they are coming to the page and looking at it. They are acknowledging that it is there and probably telling others to check it out. If just a small percentage of those people come back on even a semi-regular basis, I win. Word of mouth is the first way for this site to grow. So, with that said......Keep talking. Keep laughing. Keep telling your friends. I'm fine with it. In this case, any attention is good attention.
On to other topics: --Buffalo wins, so I've survived another week in my suicide pool. Its down to 10 (and, if it wasn't for a last minute KC field goal, we'd be at 5 after starting with 463 people), including my very good friend Adam. Best of luck, buddy. Let's see if we can both take home the prize. Unfortunately, this week's slate of games looks like a toughie, given what teams I have left to choose from. I'll get my pick in on Tuesday, but I'm already struggling with who its going to be. --This weekend, we are off to Charlotte for the best NFL game of the weekend - Saints at Panthers, with a probable playoff spot on the line to the winner. Regular season games don't get much bigger than this one. --Its a busy stretch coming up for me before the weekend gets here. Five hoops games at the Garden over the next three days - two college doubleheaders Tuesday and Thursday, sandwiched around Knicks and T'Wolves on Wednesday.
I've got a few fun ideas for some upcoming blogs, so keep your eyes open for that.
Until next time......................
December 25 - What's a Jew To Do Well, it's Christmas Day. A day for all Jews to have Chinese food and go to the movies. But what if you've already done that? It's like Kyle sings on South Park....I'm just a Jew, a lonely Jew, on Christmas. That is the dilemma facing Keri today.
I have it easy. At 3:00, I fly to Tampa for the Panthers and Bucs tomorrow (4:00 on FOX - don't miss it). But Keri is home. Nothing is open. Unfortunately, she can't stand the movie A Christmas Story, which is on all day on TBS and I would be subjecting her to if I was home - seriously, that is one of the great movies not just of the 80's but ever. We did Chinatown for dinner last night with our good friend Ken. We also have done a Star Wars marathon over the last couple days. And all of her friends are busy.
The poor girl. Her office is closed this week and I'm working all week. We finally had a chance to spend some time together, but I'm busier than I've been in months. How much does this suck?
So we were watching the Star Wars DVD box set over the last few days and noticed changes in the movie. What is the deal there? Why change classic movies. And I'm not talking about minor details, either. For instance, at the end of Star Wars, when they do the medal ceremony and everyone poses, the ghost of Obi Won does not appear. Why? Did he have something better to do this time? And at the end of Return of the Jedi, when the ghosts of Obi Won, Yoda and Anakin appear, the original Anakin ghost is replaced by the actor who plays him in the more recent Star Wars movies, Hayden Christensen. I know its for consistency purposes, but the guy was a toddler (at most) when the movie was made. EVERYONE knows the order the movies were made, so why bother changing it. And possibly, the most egregious change - the deletion of the Ewok song at the end of the movie. Was it silly? Yes. Was it fun? Definitely. I just don't understand. And these are the changes that we noticed. We hadn't seen these movies in a long time and are far from Star Wars diehards. We don't know all the details like some people do. So if we noticed them, its pretty big. Can someone explain this to me? What's next......Bill Murray catches the gopher in Caddyshack? Rudy doesn't get in the game? Or, in the spirit of Christmas, George Bailey actually commits suicide?
I just hope Keri finds something to do today. I don't get back from Tampa until Monday morning and go right to work at CollegeSports.com, so I don't get to see her again until Monday night. I am definitely ready for football to end.
This week's pick in the suicide pool is Buffalo (on the road in San Francisco). Let's go Bills, as well as those we want to lose........Kansas City and Jacksonville.
Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas.
December 23 - The BCS Mess Since the rest of the sports world has voiced their opinion on the wackiness known as the BCS, I figured I would offer my two cents worth.
Now, let me get a few things out of the way first. I am not a college football fan. I don't follow it, I don't have a favorite team and I rarely, if ever, watch it on TV. Let's face it - when you go to a Division III school with no football team (can you imagine going to a football game to root on your team and yelling "Go Violets"? I didn't think so.) and grew up and live in a region with no major team to root for, apathy has a tendency to fester and grow. So, I'm looking at this with an objective eye, with no preconceived ideas of who I want to succeed and with no care about who gets offended.
Is my idea plausible? No. Why? Because it makes sense and I think its fairly obvious that the powers that be that run college football are more interested in the money they get from their system as opposed to instituting a system that makes sense. And if everyone thinks it is bad now, just wait until next year, when, due to the AP pulling out of the BCS, a committee selects the teams. Can anyone sit there with a straight face and tell me money won't play the largest role in their choices? I think not. But my idea might actually answer those questions, too.
I say this. Make it a 16 team tournament. Not 8. 16. Here are the first round matchups, using the following parameters:
--All 11 D-I conferences get an automatic bid --The remaining five bids go to the five highest ranked BCS teams that did not receive an automatic bid --No conference can have more than two bids --The seedings are in BCS Standings order, no exceptions
First Round: #1 USC (12-0, Pac-10 bid) vs. #16 North Texas (7-4, Sun Belt bid) #8 Va. Tech (10-2, ACC bid) vs. #9 Boise State (11-0, WAC bid)
#4 Texas (10-1, ranked 4th in BCS) vs. #13 Miami (8-3, ranked 14th in BCS) #5 Cal (10-1, ranked 5th in BCS) vs. #12 Michigan (9-2, Big Ten bid)
#3 Auburn (12-0, SEC bid) vs. #14 Pitt (8-3, Big East bid) #6 Utah (11-0, MWC bid) vs. #11 Iowa (9-2, ranked 12th in BCS)
#2 Oklahoma (12-0, Big 12 bid) vs. #15 Toledo (9-3, MAC bid) #7 Georgia (9-2, ranked 7th in BCS) vs. #10 Louisville (10-1, C-USA bid)
Only one team falls into the category of a three loss team getting an at-large bid, but Miami has such a huge following and fan base, the money they would generate would be a plus, not to mention the first round matchup they create (Texas vs. Miami in the New Orleans Bowl? How much would the NCAA love that?). Every at-large team has to prove themselves in the first round, which is the way it should be. The same goes for the small conference teams. Every matchup has at least one team that has at most one loss, so the quarterfinals on could see teams with zero or one loss exclusively - yet another benefit. And check out the possible second round matchups - if Boise State, Utah and Louisville are live up to their records, they get to prove it against USC, Auburn and Oklahoma respectively. And the two teams that flip-flopped on the last day (Texas and Cal) would also play each other.
As far as when and where to play the games, use eight smaller bowls for the first round the weekend of Dec. 18-19 (as the calendar falls this year). Use the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton and one more for the quarters and semis the weekend before and after New Year's and have a separate National Championship game the following week. The other 14 bowl games that currently exist would host teams not in the BCS and be played between the first round of the tournament and the quarters, enabling all the players to take their exams. 44 teams would still pay at least one bowl game, which is plenty.
Who bitches in all this? Only one team in the top 14 of the BCS gets skipped - LSU at #11, but only because there were two SEC teams ahead of them. And every team below Miami in the BCS also comes from a conference that already has two bids. Not too many arguments can be made. Five of the six power conferences get two bids, with the sixth being the Big East, who sucked this season and doesn't deserve a second bid anyway.
Like I said, this is far from feasible, since there is no chance of a playoff happening in the near future. But on paper, this isn't that bad of an idea. And if you don't think so, check out the Crystal Bowl at CollegeSports.com. When I mentioned this idea there, they pointed it out to me.
Maybe I'm on the right track after all.
December 22 - The Stat Weasel Well, I was supposed to work the Knick game last night. I say "supposed to" because I didn't. And I didn't because the stat weasel struck and I was his victim.
His name is Marc Tand and he is the most unpopular stat guy in New York, if not the country. All the other stat guys hate him. Hell, even some announcers hate him. He can only get work by not following the correct procedures and pecking orders and go behind everyone's backs and over everyone's heads. And then he whines when more work isn't offered to him.
Here is what happened last night - Last night was the Elias Sports Bureau Holiday Party. Bob Rosen, who has been doing out of town TV and radio stats at Knick games for more than 25 years, works for Elias and was unable to work. Bob gets the first call for all games from the Knicks. It is his gig. Period. End of story. No one will ever argue that or fight that (except the stat weasel). When Bob can't work, or if there are two spots available, a call often comes to me to work. I thank Bob for this, as he has gone out of his way to make sure I am as close to next on the list as possible. Well, last night, with Bob not available, both he and the Knicks decided at Sunday's game that I would work the game. That is, until the stat weasel stepped in. Apparently, since he knows the Knicks won't call him to work, he has taken it upon himself to approach out of town broadcasters on his own to line up the work, thus cutting the Knicks out of the equation, as well as cutting Bob out of his spot.........a spot that has been his since I was in grade school!!!!!
Job stealing is just not cool. There are rules and protocols that should and need to be followed. When I got back into doing this last year, I did just that. I do what I can not to step on the toes of people, especially those who have taken care of me (such as Dave Fried, Bob Rosen and John LaBombarda). But the stat weasel just doesn't care about these things. And now, he must be stopped. He was already despised before this episode, but now, others are speaking out. I've already seen an e-mail about it. I know people who hire stat guys that have vowed to never hire him again. The Knicks know he screwed Bob, and subsequently me, last night. This is just the start. The stat weasel does lots of Nets game for out of town TV and radio, but I'm hoping I can get that stopped next time I'm at a Net game and talk to their people. He used to do Yankee games as the primary backup, but now I do them. Not because I'm special, but because he is not allowed back. Why? Well, that is the kicker to all this. He isn't very good. In fact, he's terrible. I've heard stories about how he is banned from some places because he has pissed off certain announcers. And how some teams have called post-game to say that he was so bad that he should never be hired again. And I'm not making this up either.
He got me last night and cost me a night's work. The amount of work it is about to cost him is ten-fold, if not more. And he better run next time he sees me, because I'll tell him all this to his face.
December 20 - The Launch So this is how it all begins. I am launching my own website. I know the question - why? I answered it a little on the front page, but now I'll go with the full answer..............
I like writing. I like sharing my opinions with people. So why not create a forum to channel those likes. I guess its a really simple answer when it all comes down to it.
There are other reasons, too, and I'd be a fool if I ignored them. My resume is posted on the site. Maybe someone will see it and hire me for a job. That isn't the primary reason for the site, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't at least a partial reason. Am I feeding my ego? Maybe. Am I giving myself a platform to be heard? Yes. Do those go hand in hand? I guess a little. But if I had to list the reasons, this would be near the bottom. All I know is that I have taken it upon myself to do this. I am putting a lot of effort and time into doing this. Would I be doing it if I had a full-time job? Probably not. But since I have the time, the resources and the ideas to do it, then why not?
So feel free to continue exploring the site. I really hope you do and I hope you enjoy it. I certainly plan on it becoming a labor of love for me and something that I continue doing for as long as humanly possible. I hope all of you tell your friends about it, since there is going to be lots of fun, interesting and opinionated stuff on here. I hope you take the time to come back and check the updates on a regular basis - not because you feel obligated as a friend, but because you enjoy it.
But do me a favor. If you don't like it or would rather ridicule me for doing this, then leave me alone. Will people bust my chops? Of course. Its human nature for people to tease when they find the opening. And guess what? I don't care. Its that simple. And those who know me know that I take as much, if not more, abuse than most. So I know what I'm in for upon the launch of TheMirl.com. Of course, teasing or constructive criticism is one thing. But keep the vitriol and the nastiness away. Don't come back if you don't want to. But if you feel like spewing venom, put yourself in my shoes first before you actually do it.
Now back to the people I care about and that care enough about me to support this site. I thank you. I might be doing this for me, but you are the reason I actually decided to go through with this. We are going to really enjoy the road I'm taking us all down. Let's just hope the ride isn't too bumpy.
Thanks for your support. Until next time..............