The Mirl
The Website of Eric Mirlis
Blog Archive #4 - January 17-23

January 23 - Championship Sunday
No leaving the apartment today - there is over a foot of snow on the ground and it is way too cold out there. That is
fine by me, of course, since it's a huge football day. Philly/Atlanta at 3, Pitt/New England at 6:30. Both games should
be great.

The NFC kicks things off first when the Eagles host the Falcons in icy Philadelphia - the snow is done, but the temps
are very low. I'm not one of those guys that puts a lot of stock in the weather being a factor, but it might in this game.
I only say "might", though, as Michael Vick has won in this weather before - just remember his win in Green Bay a
couple years back for proof. He is the key to this entire game. He is looking like one of those QBs that is either really
good or really bad, and the Falcons fate is almost always determined by that. I don't expect Atlanta to play like they
did last week at home against the Rams, but they can play well in this game if Vick is on. The Eagles go into this game
with the weight of the football world on their shoulders. If they don't crack under the pressure, they should win there.
But for those who say they are due to win a game like this (it is their fourth straight NFC Championship Game), I say,
"Prove you can do it before I believe it." With Terrell Owens, I say they win. Without him, same old Eagles. My pick:

The NFC game is the appetizer. The AFC game is the main course. This will be a doozy. Weather is not a factor - both
teams are used to the conditions expected in the Steel City. As with Atlanta, Pittsburgh's fate in the game depends
solely on their QB. Ben Roethlisberger looked like the rookie he is last week against the Jets. If he looks that way
again today, the Steelers are in trouble. Bill Belichick will be throwing everything he can against Big Ben. He will shut
down the run and make the QB beat him. As always, the Pats will score just enough to win. It's just a matter of
whether they don't give up more points (I Know it sounds very simplistic when said that way, but this is one of those
games where simple is going to be effective). I said in my playoff preview that it would come down to this and that
Roethlisberger was a year away from winning a game like this, regardless of whether he has never lost a game or not.
I'm not changing my opinion - the first loss comes today. My pick: Patriots.

So there you go. I say Patriots-Falcons in Jacksonville on February 6. Enjoy the games.

January 22 - Snowbound
I love snow storms. I really do. At least this part of the storm, that is.

I remember growing up and having very mixed feelings about storms like this. I loved watching it snow. I loved playing
in the snow.  I loved having the unscheduled day off from school. I hated the shoveling. Absolutely detested it. Of
course, that should come as a surprise to no one, since manual labor is not exactly one of my strengths. Now, it is a
bit different. It's still fun watching the snow fall. Forget that it is a weekend, so the unscheduled day off in not a
factor. There is no shoveling to be done. I don't have to deal with the perils of driving anywhere, either. However, once
the snow ends, it gets really nasty out there. The streets are terrible to walk in. The snow gets slushy and dirty and,
for the most part, disgusting. After looking at it for a couple days, you just want it to melt and go away. This part is
awesome, though. As long as you get to stay inside and relax.

Of course, those attending the two football games tomorrow will be freezing their asses off. That, I don't miss and I'll
be very happy watching from the comfort of my couch, where it will be nice and warm. I've worked games in weather
like they are expecting tomorrow, when the snow will be done, but the temperature will be brutally low and the winds
will be howling. Last year, we did a game in Denver the day after a huge storm. Game time temperature was, I believe,
18 degrees and the wind chill was below zero. I was bundled up in layers of fleece and was even wearing thermals
under my jeans and I was still freezing. Tomorrow might be even colder than that. So, to those working, I feel your
pain. Stay warm.

I will post my predictions for the game here tomorrow.

January 20 - We Are The World
When I was in Denver last week, I had just about a full day to kill, so I went for a walk and lunch on the 16th Street
Mall, which is a pedestrian shopping area in downtown, just two blocks from our hotel. One of my stops to kill time
was one of the big chain record stores, where I picked up a DVD I've been meaning to buy for about a month. Live Aid
was released about a month ago and I HAD to have it. A few of the acts are cut (sorry, no Hooters or Rick Springfield),
but just about everything else is on these discs. I'm actually watching Disc One (of four) for the first time as I speak.
The memories are rushing back. I remember taping the show off MTV live, but don't have it any more. This is a piece of
my childhood I'll never forget. I remember where I was when I watched, which automatically moves the broadcast into  
my personal vault. Now, I finally have it again, to watch whenever I want (and Keri lets me).

Here is the thing that got me going, though. The DVD kicks off with a news report on the crisis in Africa that inspired
the show, followed by the videos for "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and "We Are The World". Did you realize that
next week (January 28, to be exact) is the 20th anniversary of the recording of "We Are The World"? That's right - it is
now twenty years old. Can it really be that old already?  I remember the ado about it when it came out. And, while it is
certainly a little campy twenty years later (OK, maybe it was twenty days later, after we had all heard it 924 times), I'm
not ashamed to admit it is one of my favorite recordings ever.

So, I'm watching the video of the song and there are plenty of things that strike me:

--Bruce Springsteen looks exactly the same. So does Stevie Wonder. And Lionel Richie. And Paul Simon. And Kenny
Rogers. Maybe their wardrobes have changed, but their faces have not.
--Of course, Michael Jackson's wardrobe hasn't changed, either. Except for that damned glove.
--What exactly was Dan Aykroyd doing there again?
--Wow, Billy Joel got old!!!! Have you seen him recently?
--What ever happened to Steve Perry? I would have asked that about Kenny Loggins, but he turns up on "American
Idol" in the next couple weeks. I guess he is trying to use Paula's rub to resurrect his career.
--LaToya Jackson? She sang? At least Dan Aykroyd was in a music movie at one point. What's LaToya ever done? Why
was she there?
--This might be the only song where you can understand the words Bob Dylan sings.
--Where was Harry Belafonte's solo? Or Bette Midler's?
--I haven't seen "Ray", but I really have to. Man, Ray Charles could sing.
--Hey, there's another Jackson. Not Janet, though. Not sure which one that is.
--Where have you gone, Lindsay Buckingham? Did he tour with Fleetwood Mac recently? Are they still on their ten year
long, Eagles style reunion tour?

I can't wait to watch this thing all the way through (unfortunately not in one sitting, though). It is in chronological
order, with a few acts cut. See Prince Charles and Princess Diana right off the bat, sitting with Bob Geldof. Your first
musical acts from London? Status Quo, the Style Council, the Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant and Ultravox. I think I know
one song combined (no "Goody Two Shoes" from Adam Ant, so it is "I Don't Like Mondays" by Geldof and the
Boomtown Rats). They cut out "And We Danced" by the Hooters for this?  The US portion on the DVD opens with
Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys and a couple of British bands - Tears for Fears and Simple Minds. A review of the four
discs might have to be a future blog. The DVD, though, is music in the 80s in a nutshell. And everyone knows my
feelings about 80s music. Rock on!!!!!

January 19 - Roto Fever
Well, the calendar has changed and more and more baseball news is popping up in the sports section, especially in
New York. And with all these stories, I'm already getting the itch for my fantasy league drafts. That's right. With New
York City in the throes of a major cold spell, I'm warming up by thinking about pitchers and catcher......and infielders
and outfielders.

We are about a month away from Spring Training getting underway and about six weeks away from having to declare
my keepers in my mixed keeper league (my NL only league does not have keepers). Today, I actually started doing my
research into who I'm keeping. I get to keep four players from last year's disappointing, sixth place finishing New Mirl
Order, but can't keep anyone drafted in the first six rounds, which I had a lot of (I made lots of deals as the season
went on, when I actually thought I had a chance to win the league). So, no Jim Thome, A-Rod, Brian Giles, Andruw or
Chipper Jones. No Vernon Wells, Roger Clemens or Keith Foulke. Yes, with all those guys, I still finished sixth.

Who does that leave me with? Here are my choices, with the round number they were drafted in last season in
parentheses, since that is the choice I give up this season if I keep them (I'm not listing anyone I am not
considering): Derrek Lee (7), Jose Vidro (7), Aramis Ramirez (10), Danny Kolb (14), Jose Reyes (15), Khalil Greene (26),
Guillermo Mota (27), Scott Kazmir (FA), Rickie Weeks (FA). So I have plenty to choose from, which is good. I will not
list my choices until I submit them to the league - I am not tipping my hand on this. Any ideas? Feel free to e-mail me.

As for my NL league, I actually almost snuck into the money, but the no offense and injury riddled pitching Mirlinators
ended up fourth (don't ask me how). No keepers, though, so the prep work won't start for another few weeks.

Both drafts are at the end of March. Until then, it is something to look forward to - a harbinger of warmer weather to

January 17 - Weekends in New York
I forgot what it was like to spend weekends at home. I really did. It's been so long since I've actually spent time in
New York City on the weekend that it is taking some readjusting.

What did Keri and I do this weekend? We did things married couples do. Errands. Meals together. A movie. Things we
had taken for granted over the last six months. Even watching football all weekend was fun, since it was at our pace
and from the comfort of our couch. These were the first back to back weekends I spent in New York since July/August
- the first two weekends after our wedding. And I really enjoyed every minute of it.

We saw "Sideways" today. It won the Golden Globe for Best Movie, Comedy last night and I'll tell you what - it was
great. Really enjoyable, really funny. I was laughing out loud at some parts. We recommend this one to everyone.
Expect to see it as an Oscar nominee. We also checked out the new Bed, Bath and Beyond on the Upper West Side
(finally, a store like that within walking distance). Yes, I am totally domesticated now - and they said it couldn't be

Don't get me wrong. I love working football and even this weekend was started on the road, as I didn't get home from
my ESPN hoops game in Denver until Saturday afternoon. But there really is something to be said for being able to
spend quality time at home. I missed it and look forward to having plenty of them until the next games come along.