The Mirl
The Website of Eric Mirlis
Blog Archive #7 - February 7-February13

February 12 - The State of the Sports World
This might end up being one of the most boring, yet historic sports weekends in recent memory.

First off, football is done. I don't count the Pro Bowl - when is the last time anyone you know actually watched it. For
those that make the trip to Hawaii for it, it is nothing more than a vacation. So, really, who cares. That doesn't count.

Baseball is a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting. Outside of the Jose Canseco book crap, that sport is
still relatively quiet (and I'm not dignifying that attention and money seeking book on this website).

Hoops is in the dog days. NBA All-Star (my least favorite week of the year when I worked there) is next weekend. The
big news there is the announcement of the retirements of Karl Malone and Reggie Miller, two Hall of Fame locks -
please, NBA, invite them to Denver next weekend and acknowledge them correctly in front of a national audience on
your biggest stage. The college regular season is a month away from ending, although the matchups this week were
amongst the best in sports (Carolina/Duke, for starters).

And all that brings us to the dysfunctional member of the sports family - hockey. When they officially cancel their
season, be it this weekend or early in the week, they will be forever changing their sport, not in a good way. Here is
what happened, and it was something that every analyst wrote about from day one. They spun the negotiations in way
so that the players ended up turning down their own proposal. Yes, the owners were able to place conditions on it
that made it unworkable. But legally, and to the National Labor Relations Board, the players are turning down the very
proposal that they themselves made. And now, in September, the owners can declare the negotiations at an impasse
and, even though it is a lockout, bring in replacement players. Plenty of NHLers will cross the picket lines and the
union will end up ceasing to exist, much like what happened in the NFL in the late 80s.

What remains to be seen is the state of many of the NHL's franchises. Will all of them be back? If they are, will they
be able to survive in the new climate - not the CBA climate, but the apathetic fan climate. With a few exceptions
(Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, the Rangers, but not many more), the NHL teams are going to be rebuilding their fan
base. With two extended work stoppages, including a cancelled season, in the last ten years, this will be a very
difficult chore. In cities such as Nashville, Raleigh, Atlanta, Anaheim, South Florida and, yes, possibly even my
beloved Islanders, will this be possible? Will these teams be able to withstand the immediate loss of fans and be able
to survive until they have enough incoming revenue? And what of the teams that were already in dire financial straits
- Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Buffalo?

The NHL is about to tread on new territory in sports. No matter what happens, their sport will never be the same.

February 10 - The Goerke Principle
So, I'm sitting in the press room last night at Madison Square Garden before the Knicks played the Heat, having
dinner with a few members of the Knick stat crew. Most of us were Jewish, so the fact that it was Ash Wednesday was
lost on us. However, Rob Goerke is not Jewish, so his dinner routine was altered a bit.

Rob's favorite MSG press room meal is the chick parmigiana, which was on the menu last night. But because it was
Ash Wednesday, Rob couldn't eat meat and was heartbroken. The entire meal, as he ate the pasta instead, he was
lamenting his "misfortune". And eventually, it led to this nugget, which will be known from this point on as "The
Goerke Principle"--

"If you don't remember it is Ash Wednesday and you eat meat, it is not a sin."

Of course, we now had our conversation from the rest of the meal set and I had a blog topic for today.

There are so many roads you can go down analyzing this statement, I'm really not sure where to start. My initial
question was this, "If you commit a crime, but forget it is a crime, does that mean you aren't guilty?" I actually
equated it to shooting someone, but forgetting it's illegal to owning a gun, but I think it is better as a broader
question. Someone else told him to convert to Judaism for the night, until I reminded everyone that chicken parm is
not kosher, since there is meat and cheese in it. We then asked Rob where his ashes were, to which he told us that
he doesn't get them (hello, another open can of worms!!!!).

I'm not a religious person by any stretch. In fact, I refer to myself as Jew-lite. I avoid religious discussions whenever
possible. And we did that last night, instead focusing on how silly the whole statement was. I even had Rob dictate it
back to me as I wrote it down, just so I would have it in front of me for this blog (yes, Rob is expecting this to appear
today). Isn't religion fun?

Now here is the punch line. A little later on, someone else sat down at the table. This person is Catholic. He had
chicken parm on his plate. Rob made sure to remind him he couldn't eat it before he took his first bite.

Looks like Rob was quite pious last night.

February 7 - Monday Night Quarterback
At this stage, there really isn't much more analysis of yesterday's Super Bowl that can be done.

When you look back at the game 24 hours later, what do you remember? Not all that much, to be honest. The game
was just, I don't know, there. There really is no better way to say it. It wasn't a bad game, but it wasn't particularly
exciting, either. That is the way the Patriots wanted it, though. That is how they have won 32 of their last 34. Deflect
any and all attention to their opponent, then just go out there and take care of business. And this year, it played right
into their hands. Think about it. All week long, it was Terrell Owens this, Terrell Owens that. Will he or won't he play.
Will he be effective? Will his leg fall off during the game? That was the story all week. Patriot headlines? I honestly
don't remember a single one. Yes, there was the underlying story of their offensive coordinator leaving after the game
and their defensive coordinator probably doing the same (and it became official today that he is). But real headline
grabbing stories? Not one.

As for the game itself, what is there to remember? The game was vanilla and unmemorable. Five years from now, what
are you going to recall from this game? Anything? Outside of it being a legacy entrenching win for Bill Belichick and
Tom Brady, that is.

There were a couple of individual performances during the game that are worth noting, however. First off, you can
either love him or hate him (and there is no middle ground with him), but regardless of how you feel about him, you
have to tip your cap to Terrell Owens. I know it is not an original sentiment, but what he did yesterday, just five
weeks after having screws placed in his leg, was nothing short of heroic. I'm not a big fan of his, but my opinion of him
went up dramatically. Second was the game's MVP Deion Branch, who seems to save his best games for the Super
Bowl. As of yesterday, a star is officially born. Let's see how the Patriots new offensive coordinator uses him next
year. And that coordinator better not forget about my third guy from yesterday - Mike Vrabel. Five career catches for
five career touchdowns, with two of them coming in the last two Super Bowls. The catch he made yesterday was
remarkable, especially when you remember he is a linebacker! I haven't looked at the list, but it boggles the mind how
many receivers have fewer Super Bowl TDs than he does.

One last thing about yesterday - the commercials. Here are my three favorites, in order:
1. The Ameriquest commercial with the guy who is cooking dinner, only to have his cat get in the way, leading to his
wife/girlfriend coming in thinking he just killed the cat. As a cat owner (remember - the cats were living here with Keri
way before I was), I know exactly where this is coming from. This was downright funny.
2. The MasterCard commercial featuring all the advertising icons, such as Charlie the Tuna, the Green Giant, the
Pillsbury Doughboy and others. For a pop culture fanatic like myself, this was a wonderful nostalgia trip. I loved every
second of it.
3. The Bud Light spot with the skydivers. Humor, when done right, is always effective and this was one of those cases.
I laughed out loud AND the ad got its point across. As usual, a solid Bud Light Super Bowl spot.

So that's it. The biggest non-holiday day of the year has come and gone. Did it live up to the hype? Does it ever? But it
wasn't exactly a letdown, either. Now if the Jets could actually get to the game one of these days.