The Mirl
The Website of Eric Mirlis
Blog Archive #2 - December 31-January 9

January 9 - The Jet Roller Coaster
Well, last night pretty much summed up life as a Jet fan. They win. No, they don't. Now they win. No, they don't.
NOW they win. I think. OK, they do? Good. Wait - they won?

That had to be one of the most emotional games I've ever sat through as a fan. I remember as a kid going to my
sister's soccer games on Sunday afternoons with my little yellow transistor radio (hey, it was the 70s) and sitting
there listening to Marty Glickman call the games. The Jets sucked then, so I was never used to winning. Then came
the Mud Bowl and A.J. Duhe costing the Jets their best chance to make the Super Bowl in my lifetime. Then, the Mark
Gastineau game in January 87, which we relived last night. Anything since then isn't as much of a disappointment as
much as it was expected. Elway steamrolling the Jets in the AFC Championship Game. All other playoff losses, which
are just run of the mill at this point. Its 35 years and counting. I can only imagine what 86 years of this was like for
Red Sox fans.

And the scary thing is that this all comes after an OT WIN!!!! When Eric Barton was called for roughing the passer on
the fourth and one play, after the entire bar thought the Jets had just wrapped up the game, Mark Gastineau started
running through our minds. Same call, same opposing coach. Then the Chargers tied it and I think the entire place
had resigned itself to a forthcoming loss in overtime. Of course San Diego wins the toss. The teams traded punts,
then the Chargers were able to try a field goal. It was over - the kick wasn't a gimme, but it was against the jets, so
we knew it was going to be good. Then, the miss. The Jets actually had a chance here. They get a chance and make
their field goal to win. But wait. San Diego had called a timeout before the snap. The Jets had to re-kick. Surely, this
was the time they would finally choke - that's what we expected. But not this time. FINALLY, the Jets won the game.

When Keri and I got home, we were both still speechless. Her words were "That was ridiculous". Mine? "Holy shit".
Over and over. That is all we could say. Sleep? Not for a while - we were still wound up, but drained at the same time.
Keri is learning about life as a Jet fan and doesn't know if she can take much more of it. I keep telling her - try doing
this for 35 years.

And next week, we get to do it all over again. The scary thing is - I can't wait.

January 8 - U2, SNL Fans Get the DVR Ready
Tonight on NBC, Saturday Night Live replays one of the great moments in the history of the show and possibly the
greatest musical moment ever in SNL's long history. So set the DVRs and get ready for something amazing.

When this episode first aired on November 20, it was highly anticipated. US had a new album coming out and, while
we had all heard "Vertigo" by this point, it was till going to be great to hear it live, as well as the second song they
would perform - a song we most likely had not heard yet. Now, with most acts, the second song is quite often the time
to turn off the TV, but not with US. However, it didn't end there on November 20. The second song came on a little
earlier than normal. Then, at around 12:55, host Luke Wilson introduced U2 for a THIRD performance, which is
unheard of on the show. Not only did Bono, Edge and the boys not disappoint, they moved the evening into legendary
status. Here is what happened next.............

The opening chords of "I Will Follow" start up and the place goes nuts. Bono starts really playing to the crowd. He
starts going into the audience. He grabs a camera and starts dragging it around. Then, he moves over to an adjoining
stage, where the show's cast has amassed and is watching and singing along. Bono joins them and Amy Poehler is
crying. All of this is one long classic moment, one of the best ever on t show that has 30 years of classic moments.
Then, the song ends, the credits are rolling and, as they sign off, you hear Bono telling the crowd that they are not
done and are playing another song (or two or three for all we know). But before the song starts, they are gone, so we
have no idea what song it was - if anyone knows, PLEASE let me know.

My DVR is set to watch it again tonight and over and over. And while I'm a big U2 fan, I'm far from the biggest. I can
only imagine how many people are recording this tonight (Mike Frank?).

January 6 - Whither Beltran
Well, the clock keeps ticking on the Carlos Beltran derby, with both New York baseball teams involved (at least on the
surface, both teams are). It is expected that a decision will be reached by his agent, Scott Boras, by January 8, so this
ordeal can finally end and baseball's premier free agent can finally select a suitor. Beltran cannot sign with the Astros
after Jan. 8, but the guess here is that he is staying in Houston and this all of the bidding and posturing was just a
farce by Boras designed to drive up an already bloated price tag.

Let's look at the facts, or should I say fact, as there is only one in this case. Beltran is going to the highest bidder.
There has been very little talk about going to a winner or contender, or going where he is going to be happiest, or any
of the usual rhetoric that goes on with free agents, whether it is true or not. In this case, it has been a thinly veiled
secret that the highest bidder was going to win Beltran's services.

Word is that the Yankees are bowing out, since their payroll is already ridiculous (and that is before the extension
given to Randy Johnson). They needed pitching and they got pitching this off-season, lots of it. The Mets need a bat,
so they are going real hard after Beltran, who is just 27 and capable of 40 HRs and 40 SBs every season. When he
became a free agent, the comparisons were drawn to Barry Bonds at similar stages of their careers, except Beltran's
numbers are slightly better than Bonds' and he played for a team that wasn't as good. And Beltran's performance in
the playoffs this season finally drew him the attention he was missing while languishing with the Royals for the early
years of his career.

And that brings us to the Astros, his most likely destination. They realized how good he was first hand and, with their
core of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aging rapidly, the off-season loss of Jeff Kent to free agency and the potential of
Roger Clemens actually retiring this winter, they need something to build the future of their club around. Beltran has
played there a half season and a playoffs and is the perfect place to start. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to make sure
they get the last word in the bidding and top anything the Mets or anyone else has offered.

Where would that leave the Mets? The need a bat desperately. And there are two big ones still out there - Carlos
Delgado and Magglio Ordonez. With both of them coming off below average (for them, at least) seasons and injuries,
and the number of suitors dwindling, they might be able to be had for below market prices. Neither one is exactly old
(Delgado 32, Ordonez 30) and, with Beltran commanding $17 million a year, the Mets might actually be able to get both
for that price and fill two holes instead of one. If its up to me, that might be the way to go, actually. I know they are
both coming off banged up seasons, but so was Vladimir Guerrero last season and look what happened. Neither one
has a history of injuries, so one season shouldn't send up that much of a red flag. The Mets are set with pitching, but
their offense is lacking, so maybe losing out on Beltran (if that happens) will be a blessing in disguise.

As for the Yankees, do they really need him? Yes, Bernie Williams is aging. And Jason Giambi is just a shell of his
former self (literally and figuratively). But let's be honest. When they need to reload, they'll go out and get someone
else. They always do.

By the way, there are also two real good starting pitchers out on the market - Derek Lowe and Kevin Millwod. Aces?
No. Quality? Yes. With the market drying up just six weeks from spring training, where they end up at this point is
anyone's guess.

January 5 - Random Thoughts
No big topics to talk about today, so its bullet point time.......

--Didn't see the BCS Championship Game last night and apparently I didn't miss much, just a dominant performance
by USC. My question is this, after giving the coaches a month to come up with a game plan, how much of that win was
the team and how much of it was the coach? With all of the hype this game was receiving and with everyone I heard
picking Oklahoma, something seems strange about the whole thing to me. Obviously it was all on the up and up. But
if you think about it, this is just another argument for a playoff. Give superior coaches lots of time to prepare and this
is what happens. If this game is played three weeks ago, I wonder what the score is.
--No surprises from the Hall of Fame. Boggs and Sandberg are in, just as I predicted, with Sandberg just barely
squeaking in. Bruce Sutter is gaining momentum, though. With no clear cut additions to next year's ballot (Will Clark
and Orel Hershiser are the headliners), next year just might be the Year of the Reliever, with Sutter and maybe even
a very deserving Rich Gossage getting in (you heard it here first!!!!!). My question about yesterday is this, though -
Jack Morris only gets a third of the vote? Huh? Is he a borderline guy? Yes. Would his ERA be the highest in the Hall?
Yes, but........Did he pitch possibly the single greatest game of his generation? Yes. Did anyone win more games than
him in the 80s? No. Did any modern day pitcher start on Opening Day more often? No. I just don't get this one.
--Just got a call from ESPN to do an NBA game for them on Jan. 14 in Denver. Keep 'em coming - I need the work!!!!

Not much else to report from me today. Looking forward to the weekend and all the football I actually get to watch on
TV (and in bars and on the couch) for a change. It certainly will be fun going out to watch the JETS Jets Jets Jets on
Saturday night. Then, with Keri at a brunch with friends on Sunday, good luck peeling me off the couch while the two
games are on Sunday. Can't wait.

January 3 - My Hall of Fame Ballot (if I had one)
The Baseball Hall of Fame announces their Class of 2005 tomorrow at 2:00 Eastern. This is always one of my favorite
days of the year, not to mention one of my favorite debates with friends. No other sport's Hall of Fame generates
these conversations - its just a fun topic to talk about.

So, without further ado, here is what my ballot would look like if I had a vote (using the same rules as the real voters
- up to ten players can be selected, but it can be less than that):

Jim Abbott - I would love to, as he was a great story. But a great story does not make someone Hall-worthy. NO.
Bert Blyleven - 287 career wins. Fifth all-time in strikeouts, eighth in starts, ninth in shutouts and seventh in
innings pitched. And one of the greatest curveballs in history. The question is this, though. Are the numbers that big
due to greatness or longevity? He never finished higher than third in the Cy Young voting. He made just two All-Star
teams in 22 seasons. And he never had that air about him that made you look at him in Hall of Fame terms, unlike
others that we will discuss later. I say
Wade Boggs - A member of the 3,000 hit club. One dimensional, yes. But also a no-brainer. YES.
Andre Dawson - If he played anywhere but Montreal the first half of his career, there would be no debate. But he
flew under the radar for so long, he was a nonentity in many baseball fans' minds. 400+ homers, 300+ steals, an MVP
award (and two second place finishes), a Rookie of the Year award, eight Gold Gloves and an intensity unmatched by
most in his day all add up to an easy
YES from me.
Steve Garvey - He was good. Very good. And he was among the top first basemen of the seventies. But he isn't a
Hall of Famer.
Rich Gossage - The most feared reliever of his day and, possibly, all-time. Made nine All-Star teams and finished in
the top ten in MVP voting a reliever. Two 30+ save seasons when saves were much tougher to come by than
they are today. He should have been in already.
Tommy John - 288 career wins. Cy Young runner up twice. Three 20 win seasons, sixth all-time in starts. Another
guy with the big question being that of greatness or longevity. But with this argument comes an intangible. He has a
surgery named after him. That is his legacy now, but he deserves more because of it - not just the thanks of the
dozens of pitchers his surgery paved the way for. Add it all up and its a
Don Mattingly - Man, just one or two more years before the back gave out would have made him a lock. He is still a
legend in New York, but that is going to have to be his legacy, because the Hall of Fame isn't going to be.
Jack Morris - Yet another longevity versus greatness debate. 245 career wins. Never finished above third in the Cy
Young balloting. But...he led all pitchers in the 1980s in wins, starts, innings pitched and complete games. On top of
that, his complete game shutout in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series proved him to be one of the great money
pitchers of his generation.
Dale Murphy - Great for a short period of time. Mediocre the rest of the way. NO.
Dave Parker - Big bat, bigger arm. Should have been, but couldn't keep up the pace of the early part of his career.
Jim Rice - Dominant when on top of his game. His 1978 season (46/139/.315, 406 total bases) is one of the all-time
greats. Seven .300 seasons, four 200+ hit seasons, 100+ RBI eight times. Yet something just doesn't feel right with
him. Maybe it was the surly attitude. Maybe it was the middle part of his career, where his numbers weren't the same.
I can't do it.
Ryne Sandberg - The best second basemen of the 80s. Power, speed, glove he was a complete player. Should be
there already.
Lee Smith - All-time saves leader. Too bad the stat doesn't mean as much as it did when other guys on the ballot
earned them.
Darryl Strawberry - Ah, what could have been. He had it all, but snorted it up his nose. I'll never forget the home
run I saw him hit about two thirds of the way up the big scoreboard in right field of Shea Stadium. This should have
been a no-brainer - just like Dwight Gooden next year.
Bruce Sutter - I hated watching him come in to face the Mets when I was a kid, since that meant the game was
over. Fingers and Gossage might have come before him, but this was the guy that revolutionized closing. He also
revolutionized the split-finger fastball, which a whole generation of pitchers should thank him for. Contributions to
the game are just as important as stats in my book.
Alan Trammell - Consistent? Yes. A great player? Yes. But just a notch or two below a Hall of Famer. NO.
Nice career, but no way - Tom Candiotti, Dave Concepcion, Chili Davis, Mark Langston, Jack McDowell,
Willie McGee, Jeff Montgomery, Otis Nixon, Tony Phillips, Terry Steinbach

So its seven on my ballot - Boggs, Dawson, Gossage, John, Morris, Sandberg and Sutter.

My guess is that tomorrow, its Boggs and maybe Sandberg. The relievers will get screwed again. The other three will
get their fair share of votes, but fall short and have to wait until next year, when there is no clear cut new addition to
the ballot (Will Clark? Orel Hershiser?). And then, in 2007, its possibly the great Class ever.....Tony Gwynn, Mark
McGwire and Cal Ripken Jr. Wow.

January 2 - The NFL Playoffs
Well, the football regular season is over and what have we learned?

--That there are probably only two teams capable of winning the Super Bowl, and they would play in the AFC
Championship Game instead.
--That a whole lot of mediocre teams entered the last day of the season with a shot at making the
playoffs..............and choked.
--That a whole other bunch of mediocre teams entered the last day of the season with a shot at making the
playoffs............and backed in.

Two teams backed into the playoffs. Minnesota - losers in Washington. The Jets (JETS Jets Jets Jets) - losers in St.
Louis to a Rams team that needed a win to finish 8-8 and get a spot in the post-season. And the chokers? Buffalo.
Carolina. New Orleans won, but got nosed out in the tiebreakers (how they were even still alive is beyond me).

It almost seems like a foregone conclusion that New England and Pittsburgh are meeting in the AFC Championship
Game. Indy and San Diego might scare them, but I just don't see them winning. Denver? No chance. And my Jets? I
want them to win. I'll be donning my jersey next Saturday night and yelling and screaming for them to win in San
Deigo. And they might win that one, but I can't see any more Ws after that. Over in the NFC, though, its a totally
different story. Who is winning that mess? Seattle, Minnesota or St. Louis? Before you say no to any of them,
remember that the other teams - Green Bay, Atlanta and Philly (with no Terrell Owens) aren't exactly powerhouses.
But someone does need to win. Beats me who its gonna be, though.

Here is the early guess......New England and Green Bay. Pitt is a year away and need one playoff to learn how to win
the big one - the Pats are the perfect team to learn the lesson from. And win no clear cut favorite in the NFC, its time
for one last sentimental Brett Favre run to the Super Bowl.

In other news..............
--I'm out of the suicide pool - thanks, Texans. And to think...if KC loses last week instead of kicking a game winning
field goal, I am one of five people to win and split the pool. Oh, well. There is always next year.
--I had the pleasure of knowing Yankee Stadium/Madison Square Garden/Nassau Coliseum organist Eddie Layton
during my days at the islanders. He was one of the nicest gentlemen I've ever known. He will be missed.

December 31 - My Year in Review
Some people take New Year's Eve as a time to reflect on the year gone by and to make resolutions about the coming
year. I'm not a big resolution guy, though, since let's be honest and say that resolutions, like promises, are made to
be broken. However, it was such a big year for me that I would be remiss if I didn't look back.

When the year started, I was in a very strange place personally. On a person level, Keri and I had just set our wedding
date and there was lots of planning and fun times to look forward to and keep us busy. Work-wise, though, it was
another story. Football had just ended and I had no idea how much, if any, work I would be getting in the other sports
outside of the Ranger radio games with Kenny. The job market was (and still is) very dry, so I was a bit down about
what was going on professionally. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get quite a few calls and through April, I worked
at least three games a week every week. This included a handful of NBA games for both TNT and ESPN. I also lined up
my month in Athens for NBC, so what started as a potentially rough period ended up not being so bad after all.

As the year went on, July 18 and our wedding became more and more of a priority. The summer was going to be slow
for work, so between the wedding and Athens, I was covered. I also started planning our honeymoon to Australia and
got really into the planning of that, so there was lots to keep me busy while I was job searching.

When July 18 hit, it was obviously the highlight of the year and something I'll never forget. And then, a couple weeks
later, it was off to Athens, which I'll also never forget. A couple weeks after I got home, football started back up, so I
now had a little work coming in. We left for Australia at the end of September for 17 days, then I started back up with
football right after we got home. And at the start of November, Dan Kaufman called and was nice enough to offer me
some work a couple days a week at to get some more money rolling in. Hoops also started up, so I
now work some more games as football comes to a close (five hoops games in three days this week at the Garden).

To say it was an eventful year for me would be an understatement. I told Kenny last night that I did more in a year
than lots of people do in a decade and while it sounds outlandish, I'm not too far off. That statement might not make
sense to most people I know, but when we all look outside the box and realize what we all do and how many people
don't have these opportunities, it starts to make more sense. I think we all take for granted the things we get to do,
since, to us, its work. Do I look back and take Athens for granted? Absolutely. It was a job and I went, but when I take
a step back and think about it, I did something that most people dream of.

So let's summarize my year - I got married, worked an Olympics, honeymooned in Australia. I flew approximately
87,000 miles and spent 64 nights in hotels. Just another routine year.

Thanks to everyone who made the year so special. It was a wild ride. Let's hope next year is as much fun - just a little
more stable.

Happy New Year!!!!!!