## Am I Ready For Some Football?

I was out of bed at 11:00 this morning. That’s especially early for a Sunday start.

Helaine had long since left the bedroom. She was downstairs, doing everything she could to be ready for today’s important business – football!

Though New Orleans got clocked by Baltimore (I know – live with it) Thursday night, the season really starts today. The Eagles will be playing at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. And, of course, we live and die by the Eagles.

Two hours before game time, as she sat and intently listened to the ESPN coverage, Helaine turned to me and jokingly said, “I am every man’s fantasy. A woman who loves football.”

She is.

When we were married, it was her subscription to Sports Illustrated that came to our Buffalo apartment. She’s enough of a fan to root against teams, because my enemies enemy is my friend.

Oh, speaking of ESPN, five commentators on the set makes for one of the most unwieldy camera shots ever. Five guys in a row is just too wide. Maybe it’s better on HDTV with its stretched screen.

The real deal begins in about a half hour. A competitive team will make for a fun fall. Wish us luck.

## In A Super Bowl Pool? Me Too.

A week or so ago, one of our photographers at work came by with a sheet of paper and fistful of cash. It was time to pick boxes for the Super Bowl pool.

In case you’re not a football or pool fan, here’s how it works. A grid of boxes, 10×10, is drawn. You pick a box and hand over your cash. In this pool it’s \$5 per square or \$500 total.

Once all the boxes are chosen, digits are assigned to each row and column. So, the third row might be “8” and the sixth column… well it could be “8” too, or any other number! Then the rows and columns are assigned to the two teams.

When all was said and done, I was assigned 6 for the Bears and 6 for the Colts. If any quarter ends with both teams scores ending with a “6” (like 16 to 6 or 46 to 26), I win some cash.

The payoffs get progressively bigger as the game goes on. The winner of the 4th quarter (final score) gets \$250.

I figured “6” has to be about the least likely number possible. Even worse, since games can’t end tied, 6 and 6 becomes less likely to show in the 4th quarter.

Are there stats for this? Hey – this is the Internet era. Of course there are stats!

Of all the quarters played in all the games this season, 6 and 6 showed up twice.

## We’ve Arrived

Greetings from Atlantic City. We got here around 8:00 AM. I had hardly any sleep in the car, courtesy of good conversation.

While Rick and Dennis went searching for a card game, I called my friend Peter to ask if I could crash on his sofa… which I did. Am I a wuss, or what?

Actually that worked perfectly, because after my nap, Peter and I walked around his neighborhood – meaning along the Atlantic Ocean and on the Ventnor City Boardwalk. The skies were partly cloudy and the temperature hovered in the low 60s. It’s January, so the beach is deserted.

I met up with the boys at the Hilton for a 2:00 PM tournament. It was a small buy-in. That’s my plan. There’s no necessity to play for a lot of money to have fun.

We also had a little side bet going, paying the man who lasted longest before busting. I lost in the tournament and side bet! This win goes to Rick.

Our room at The Borgata is very nice. We’ve got a view of the Atlantic City skyline, which is reasonably impressive.

I’m sure there will be more card playing later, but right now it’s football. The early game is on and the Eagles get started at 8:00 PM.

Oh – there is one problem. I can’t get the wired Internet in the room working, so I’ve come down to the “Living Room” (where two little kids are currently running around, screaming at the top of their lungs) to use the wireless access.

I took nearly 300 pictures this afternoon. They’ll have to wait.

Aloha.

Blogger’s addendum – I originally called the Living Room the Library. Oops.

## Eagles Win!

The Eagles beat the Giants on a last minute field goal. It was not their best game. It was good enough.

At halftime, Pam Oliver asked Andy Reid what he thought this game would come down to. Reid answered, “The wire.”

Toward the middle of the fourth quarter, the three of us, sitting in the family room, got very quiet. There was the unspoken undercurrent of the Eagles snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And we were feeling this way while the Eagles had the ball!

Even as the Eagles took a time out with under 20 seconds to go, we worried the Giants would be left with too much time. The Eagles must have figured that out too. They called one more play. Garcia plunged up the middle and the clock was stopped at 00:03.

David Akers. Good. The final was 23-20.

Next Saturday the Eagles go through this again. Helaine and Steffie will be here. I’ll be in New Jersey with some friends. Thank heavens for cellphones.

How strange is this game of football? Unless you’re in the Super Bowl, the season has been a disappointment. Sadly, every team but one exits the playoffs with a loss.

## Is It The Kiss Of Death?

Have you seen the cover of Sports Illustrated? Of course you have. There it is over to the left.

That’s Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia Eagles fill-in quarterback. He is here because Donovan McNabb is not. Jeff Garcia, a discarded quarterback well past his peak, is our savior. He’s amazing every second he’s on the field. If this is my football dream, I don’t want to wake up.

But now he’s on the cover of S.I. Oh no!

You see, being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is an honor, but it comes with the world famous SI cover jinx. No, I’m serious. Even lesser sports fans, like me, have heard about it. Sports Illustrated itself, in a true exercise in navel gazing, has written about it.

Whether it’s true or false… it had better be false this time. From here on out, as the Eagles start the first round of the playoffs, it’s win or walk.

I wish they would have put someone else on the cover. How about Tiki or anyone named Manning? Don’t the Giants deserve a little additional attention?

## Busy Sunday

Another beautiful winter’s day in Connecticut.

Sure it’s Sunday, but it’s also the third night of Chanukah&#185 – the Jewish Festival of Lights.

It is not ‘our Christmas’ – though I sense the hoopla over this lesser holiday is our defense mechanism. It’s tough to compete with Christmas.

Trust me – growing up Stef never objected to eight nights of gifts. She probably still doesn’t!

Every year around this time, our friends Harvey and Sandy throw a Chanukah party. We weren’t able to go to the last few, but said yes tonight.

Then we saw the calendar. The Eagles would be playing the Giants in a meaningful game right as the party was getting underway.

Hey, a commitment is a commitment. We went and had a great time.

There’s a special tradition that goes with this party, though we only knew a few of the 50 or so adults and children there. Along with the people and the food and the being incredibly jealous of whatever new adult toys Harvey has acquired in the past year, there is the lighting of the menorahs.

Each night during Chanukah, at sunset, one additional candle is lit on the menorah (One the first night, two the second, and so on), accompanied by a few Hebrew prayers. I’m not particularly religious, but this is tradition worth keeping, especially with all the kids this year.

Before we left our house, Helaine and I decided we’d record the football game and then try and avoid any mention of it. But seriously, how could a Giants game be ignored here in Giant’s territory?

As it turned out, no one said a word about the game. We were stunned. Does this speak to the athleticism of Jews, or Harvey and Sandy’s friends, or did we just luck out and avoid discussions that were ongoing, but out of earshot?

When it was time to go home, we headed out with the radio off. By the time we picked up this 4:00 o’clock game, it was nearly 9:00PM.

If you’re a football fan, you already know, the Eagles won. If you’re not a football fan, you don’t care. This entry will no game details.

There is one observation I must make. Helaine and I were surprised… no, astounded, to see the Eagles win. This was especially true, since they were their own worst enemy with stupid penalties at crucial times. The Giants didn’t take advantage and the Eagles didn’t quit.

I believe this Sunday was a total success.

&#185 – Chanukah, being a Hebrew word, is only approximated in English. This spelling is one of many. I am of the personal opinion that if you say it right, people near you will get wet.

## Enjoying Football

Earlier today, the very sad Philadelphia Eagles beat Washington. it wasn’t on TV here. Disappointing.

Tonight Helaine parked herself in front on the TV to watch Dallas vs New Orleans.

My guess is the Cowboys could easily be named the most beloved and most reviled team in professional football. Neat trick.

The game was close early, but New Orleans poured it on to rack up a big lead. My friend Farrell, originally from New Orleans but now living in Palm Springs, sent me an email.

How bout my ‘Aints?

The fourth quarter has just begun and New Orleans continues the blow out. We couldn’t be happier.

I know it seems petty to root against a team year-after-year. We can’t help ourselves. It feels so good.

## T.O To Go

A few minutes ago, Helaine yelled to me upstairs. “Are you going to write about the Eagles in the blog?”

That was her way of saying, “Write about the Eagles in your blog.” OK – who am I to resist, especially after such an emotional victory.

If you’re not a football fan, let me get you caught up in about ten seconds.

The Eagles are Philadelphia’s football team. They used to have a player… a star player, named Terrell Owens. Though he was a pain in the ass, he was our pain in the ass. At least he was until he became such a pain he threatened to create dissension within the team.

T.O. was let go.

A guy’s got to earn a living, so Terrell to his number 81 and went to the Dallas Cowboys. In Philadelphia, the Cowboys are tied with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Kim Il Jung at the bottom of the popularity polls.

To make things a little juicier, T.O. was involved in some sort of incident with the Dallas police. Whether he attempted to commit suicide or just had an accident – who knows? The next day he was practicing on the field and smiling. It was weird.

Today the Cowboys came to play the Eagles for the first time since Terrell left. Fox saw fit to make it their marquee game, shown nationwide at 4:15 PM EDT. Anyone even peripherally connected with sports was talking about it. There was no end to the hype.

Quickly, the Eagles went to a 10-0 lead. Helaine and I pinched ourselves. Then we remembered, this is football the king of non-linear games. Ten points in the first quarter means nothing.

We were so right.

The game seesawed back and forth. Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback had a pretty good game. T.O. was ineffective. Still, the game was close.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were up by seven, when a missed tackle, long pass and offensive pass interference penalty (all on the same play) moved the Cowboys eighteen feet from tying the game.

We had seen this before. So close – yet so far. When the Giants tied the Eagles in week two, they went on to win. Would the same fate befall the Eagles again?

Simply – no.

With the Cowboys charging, Drew Bledsoe threw to the end zone. The pass was caught, but by the Eagles Lito Sheppard who scampered 102 yards for an Eagles touchdown. Case closed.

Here’s the one awful part of this game. We were on an emotional roller coaster, as if it were meaningful in our lives. It’s only a game, but we allow the football season in general and the Eagles in particular to stake a claim on our lives.

Already, in the Eagles loss to the Giants, we took an emotional hit that lasted a few days. We were depressed as if something really awful had gone on.

Even though I can intellectualize the real meaning of football, that’s not strong enough to overcome my emotional attachment. It’s just as bad for Helaine, maybe worse.

The Eagles were picked to finish last in the NFC East. Now they’re leading the way. The emotion has just begun.

## Invincible – The Movie

Invincible, the story of Vince Papale, opened this weekend. There was no chance I wasn’t going to see it. As the former owner of Section 614, Row 11, Seats 19 and 20 at The Vet, how could I not see a movie about a former Philadelphia Eagles player.

And, of course, there was Helaine. It was pretty much decided she’d see this movie when it went into pre-production. She too is an Eagles fan, plus at one time she knew Papale&#185.

Surprisingly, a lot of other people felt the same way. We went to the 3:00 PM show at Showcase Cinema in North Haven and found the theater nearly half full. That’s pretty good for a summer’s day – even one with mainly cloudy skies.

Are there that many Eagles fans? We watched a few groups of girls come in. Probably Mark Wahlberg fans.

Invincible is the story of Vince Papale, a 30 years old South Philly bartender with no college football experience who walks into a Philadelphia Eagles open tryout and makes the team. Imagine Rocky as non-fiction.

Though the movie claims to star Mark Wahlberg, it really stars Philadelphia. The city is portrayed as gritty and downtrodden. Papale’s South Philadelphia neighborhood is cramped with narrow streets and smaller homes. The Eagles are the one salvation to men who see no salvation or future in their own lives.

Wahlberg did a nice job, though I suspect the real Vince Papale was a lot more ebullient. The Papale seen on the screen was a self doubting moper.

Coach Dick Vermeil, played by Greg Kinnear, also seemed to lack the incredible enthusiasm… maybe naive enthusiasm… I saw in him as a Philadelphia resident.

It’s seldom you see a movie with a nearly wall-to-wall soundtrack of mid-70s music. This one did, and I loved each and every one.

Some of what’s portrayed, specifically Papale’s failure during his first pro game and his amazing turnaround in game two (calling a special teams audible which enabled him to make a tackle, creating a fumble, which he carried to the end zone, setting up an Eagles win against the Giants) seemed too contrived to be real. I checked, but the detailed game-by-game stats you find today just aren’t available online.

Papale is credited with one takeaway fumble in ’76 – so maybe.

It was nice to see names on uniforms and know they were really there. Harold Carmichael and Bill Bergey – these guys were big deals in Philadelphia. My bet is, back in 1976, backup quarterback Mike Boryla never thought his jersey would be featured in a movie, but it’s there too.

There was little suspense. You know he makes the team and how the movie will end.

What was there was lots of passion. That’s what made it worthwhile in the theater and what made it acceptable to be a fan in that 4-10 season.

&#185 – I was thinking Jessica Alba or possible Hillary Swank as Helaine, but somehow she must have been written out. Damn Hollywood!

## Mazatlan and Jorge – Another Great Day

Aboard the Norwegian Star

I’m not a light sleeper, so the captain speaks up when he comes on the P.A. early each morning we’re in port. This morning he addressed us at 7:30 AM.

In spite of being in Mazatlan, the spa will be open. He will be there. Too much information.

I assume the captain is Norwegian. Should I meet him, he will be the first Norwegian I’ve run into! Same thing goes for the United States and Mexico.

The crew is very much like the United Nations with a few critical expulsions.

We are in Mazatlan. I knew there was a city named Mazatlan, but nothing else. Shame on me. It’s too large not to know. This is a city of 700,000 (source – cabdriver).

Looking off the balcony this morning, I saw a small city… until I pierced the haze. There in the distance, tall buildings that usually accompany larger populations (I have enhanced the photo which reduces the haze and lets you better see the distant skyline).

I’m not sure if the haze is a product of pollution or the local geography. Some cities can be naturally hazy (Los Angeles), though pollutants can make it much worse.

Steffie was still tired, so Helaine and I headed up to Deck 12 for breakfast. It is cafeteria style up there, but still tasty. And there was no problem bringing a full plate back to our cabin on Deck 11.

Have I mentioned the stairs? I wish I had a pedometer. We have been walking stairs like crazy. Each of us climbs and descends dozens of floors worth of steps. Sure, I huff and puff when I reach our room, but isn’t that OK after climbing six or seven flights?

Today was going to be a beach day. We stopped at the reception desk to ask where to go. Hotels and shopping were in the Golden Zone, we were told.

Since we’re in an industrial port, with lots of activity, including auto imports, we got on the mandatory, but free, shuttle, which brought us to the main gate. From there we hopped a cab.

The sign said the fare to the Golden Zone was \$10, so I never verified it. When we got to our destination, \$12! My fault for not asking. Of course I was taken. Was it worth kvetching in a foreign land with limited time?

We got out, walked to the sidewalk, and about three feet later Helaine and Stef walked into a store selling silver and other things you buy in foreign ports. Stef got a few little rings.

We walked down the main drag toward the Casa de Oro, stopping again in an area of small mom and pop shops. Stef bought something else, while Helaine and I bought a ceramic Sun. We have a small collection. This one was 100 pesos – \$10.

We had been told on the ship we’d be welcome to use the facilities and beach at the Casa de Oro. We never announced our arrival and they never asked.

Considering this was a mystery resort, what we saw was a pleasant surprise. We walked through the lobby and between hotel buildings, following signs to the “playa/beach.”

The pool was built adjacent to a retaining wall at the beach. It was really beautiful and the people there looked to be relaxed and having a good time. Next to the pool were a bar and restaurant.

We made our way to the beach, to a man sitting in his ‘office’ under an umbrella. Did he have wave runners to rent? You bet!

I rented two, one for me and one for Stef, and we set out to explore the bay. There was just enough wave action and chop to make it an exciting ride.

The bay itself was large and bounded by hilly islands. Criss crossing the water were other wave runners, sail boats and power boats, some towing tourists harnessed into parachutes.

As we began Stef was a little apprehensive and followed me. Before we were done she was leading the way, forcing me to ‘gun it’ to keep up.

I don’t know that much about wave runners, but I do know we went fast and neither of us had the guts to really let them run! I can’t imagine.

As we cut across the bay, our little jets would jump out of the water, throwing spray in our faces. Behind us, a tail of water shot high into the air.

This was very cool.

I know it wasn’t Steffie’s first thought for a good time. That changed by the time we were done.

Helaine, not wanting to ride in the bay, stayed on the shore, looking for shade and clicking away. I had put the longer lens on ‘Clicky’ and Helaine took advantage.

I’m sure there will be more than a few shots worth framing from a day Steffie and I will long remember.

We headed back through the hotel, looking to find a cab. Here in Mazatlan there is a strange looking, open air vehicle, used as a taxi. If you recognize what this was when it started life, let me know. There are no identifying marks – as if the manufacturer wanted to disavow all knowledge of its Mazatlan usage.

I told the girls I wanted to go back in one of those cabs. No sooner did I say that than Jorge pulled up to the curb.

I checked. Jorge wanted \$10 to go to the ship, so we jumped in – Helaine and Stef in the back, me in the front passenger seat.

As we drove, I stuck my body to the right, out of the vehicle, and took photos. It didn’t take Jorge long to notice. Before long we were slowing down for anything vaguely resembling a photo op.

We passed the university and headed into the hills. Ships don’t dock above sea level, but we didn’t question Jorge. Up we drove, until we rounded a curve and Jorge slowed to a stop.

We were at the edge of a hill with an unbelievable view of the buildings below and our beautiful ship.

I’m glad I have this shot, because it is really the first time I’ve been able to show the ship in perspective. It is a behemoth – and I think you sense that looking at the size of things in the foreground.

The Norwegian Star is longer than three football fields, has fourteen decks I know of, and is carrying 3,000 souls.

Every time it docks, it is as if a small town had floated into town!

Jorge (note the Red Sox hat) asked for \$10, but got \$15. He is the kind of good will ambassador any tourist town needs. I speak no Spanish and I think Jorge matches me in English.

Stef was my reluctant translator, feeding me the words to ask Jorge for his name. That was the sum of our communication, except for my ‘muchos gracias’ at the dock.

We’re back on board now. The captain says we’ll be leaving in a few minutes. No word on his spa treatment. I’ll let you know should there be late breaking spa news.

Tonight it’s a slow sail northwest to the tip of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas.

Meanwhile, we still have dinner to eat, and another chance to see Dave Heenan, the comedian. Steffie says we should take in both his shows.

Hey, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Blogger’s note: As I put the finishing touches on this entry, at the computer area, a couple sat down at a nearby terminal. While I typed, he showed her an email – and she went a little nuts.

As far as I can tell their son has accepted an athletic scholarship to Cal Poly. He must have been heavily recruited by more expensive and prestigious schools.

Mom was very upset – very. I will spare you quoting her opinion of her son and Cal Poly. She will not get a humanitarian award based on this evening, and this cruise will not end on a pleasant note for them.

## Yankees Versus Angels – At Yankee Stadium

Last weekend, I took in a Phillies game. It was the first major league baseball game I’d seen in at least fifteen years. Yesterday I took in my second.

I got the call early in the week from my friend Steve. A friend of his, a Yankee season ticket hold, had an extra ticket. Would I like to go?

Later it came out, Steve knew I wasn’t a Yankee fan, but thought of this as a photo safari for me. Good thinking! Our seats were down low in right field, beyond the dugout.

I met Steve at 8:50 and we drove to our rendezvous point where Norm, the ticket holder, picked us up.

The drive to the Bronx was a breeze. We made one stop on the Hutch (see my previous entry) and then headed past Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo to a stop on the #4 train.

This was a great idea. I haven’t been to Yankee Stadium in nearly 50 years, but I’ve heard traffic is horrendous. Taking the train for the last few minutes eliminates the crush of traffic going into and out of the stadium. Anyway, I love the subway and can’t remember the last time I was on this classic elevated line.

Looking down the tracks from the Fordham Road station, all I could think of was a roller coaster. The tracks went downhill, not steadily, but with few little bumps along the way. Finally, they took a dip and disappeared.

Getting off the train put us right next to the stadium. We were too close to have any perspective of its physical size. There are majestic views of Yankee Stadium from the Major Deegan Expressway, but none from our vantage point.

Norm’s daughter joined us here and the four of us walked around the outer edge of the park and into the Stadium Club. The Stadium Club is a very nice restaurant. In a venue where a beer can cost \$8.50, the Stadium Club’s prices keep pace! We sat down for brunch.

Norm had celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, like me. Part of what he wanted had to do with Yankees and he had made arrangements to get us down to the edge of the dugout before the game started.

Unfortunately, being that wasn’t quite enough. The players never showed and we retreated up the foul line to our seats.

Let’s talk a little about Yankee Stadium. I have been there before. It was some time in the late 50s or early 60s. My dad had somehow gotten tickets to a football Giants game.

It was a day as cold as I can remember. We sat under an overhang, in the end zone with an unobstructed view. The smell of cigar smoke was thick enough to cut with a knife.

I don’t remember anything about the football game. Nothing.

Sitting in our seats a few minutes before game time gave me a chance to look around. The stadium itself (as opposed to the field of play) was smaller than I expected. Though the paint and fixtures seemed to be in good repair, the stadium looked old and tired.

The field itself was spectacular. We had come early enough to watch the ritual as the lines were carefully painted up the base paths, along with the batter’s and coaches boxes. The infield dirt was gently raked and then lightly sprayed, turning it a beautiful brown.

I’m sorry I’m not a Yankee fan, because this was an amazing win for them. Trailing all game, and looking sad doing it, they rallied in the bottom of the ninth and won as Hideki Matsui lined a double into left field.

A few sections up, a group of Japanese fans celebrated in a way I haven’t seen since I saw my grandparents celebrate at my Bar Mitzvah!

All I could think about was the pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez – aka “K-Rod.” He’s on my fantasy league team. He had just given up two runs, four walks and picked up the loss! Ouch.

I must admit, the vast majority of the game was seen by me through the lens of my camera. I brought the Canon, both lenses and nearly 2 gb of memory. Nothing was wasted.

In fact, it wasn’t until after the game and a chance to thumb through my photos that I realized how awkward and stressful a pitcher’s motion is. This is the kind of thing you just don’t get to appreciate unless the motion is stopped.

Having seen the Phillies last week, I was ready to try some new and improved techniques. My timing on fly balls and swinging bats is better. I also decided to sacrifice ‘noise’ (the digital cameras equivalent of graininess in an old fashioned photo) in order to shoot with a very fast shutter and open aperture.

For most of the game I was capturing images at 1/3200 second. That was enough to freeze every bit of action I saw. Opening the lens a little less increased my depth of field, making it easier to get sharper pictures.

When men were on first, I turned the autofocus off, focused on 2nd base and hoped for a play there. A few times that move paid off. Mostly it didn’t.

My favorite shot came as Juan Rivera of the Angels chased down a home run to right. I caught him as he jumped, hoping to find he ball. He didn’t get it but I did… well, at least I got the shot.

As the game ended, we poured out of the stadium and headed back to the “el.” This strategy of Norm’s worked again. In ten minutes we were in the car and faced no traffic all the way home to Connecticut.

Isn’t this strange? After all these years I get to see baseball games on consecutive weekends. And, there’s the possibility of more. My friend Bob is coming up from Charlotte, North Carolina in a few weeks. We’re not totally set in our plans, but he’d like to see the Red Sox play the Angels at Fenway.

## Eagles Get To Go To Jacksonville

If I wouldn’t have seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons today, and will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. This was a very convincing win.

Helaine and I sat in the family room to watch the game. We were more than a little pleased to be joined by Stefanie. I’m not going to call her a football fan, because she’d deny it on principle, but she’s getting awfully close.

The Eagles looked great from the the first series. On defense, they kept Michael Vick – a quarterback known for his athleticism and mobility, immobile.

I’m not going to write more about the game, because if you’re a football fan you already know. If you’re not a fan, you don’t care.

Two things do need addressing. Earlier last week, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (who wears his hair tightly braided) showed up with it totally ‘free.’ I commented on the air, it looked like Oscar Gamble’s. Luckily, thanks to the net, Oscar Gamble photos are available.

Then there’s Eagles tight end Chad Lewis. As a Mormon, Lewis performed missionary work in China. So, of course, he learned to speak the Mandarin dialect of Chinese.

Last year when the Super Bowl was broadcast in China, he worked the telecast as the color commentator, in Chinese. This year he’ll be busy on Super Bowl Sunday.

## Watching the Eagles at the Bar

This is two out of three weeks now. Helaine and I have become ‘regulars’ at Eli’s where the bar is ringed with TV sets showing satellite delivered football feeds.

We decided, so we’d get a good seat, to go at 12:30 for the 1:00 PM start. Maybe we could have gone a little later, but not much. The place filled up pretty quickly with groups of fans clustered near individual sets and games.

To our right a group of Detroit fans watched, cheered, and complained, as the Lions played . When Detroit lost on a botched extra point with a few seconds to go, they were crestfallen. As fans they have lived a life built on heartbreak.

As ways to spend an afternoon go, this is pretty good. Within a few minutes of sitting Helaine ordered a soda and I had some coffee. Then as the game began, so did the food!

Actually, this allows me to question the whole economics of football at a bar. There’s no doubt we got our money’s worth. The food was good. We were thrilled to watch the Eagles. Would it be cheaper over the long run to drop cable and just get DirecTV and the NFL package?

The problem becomes my high speed Internet package. The cable company would ramp up its cost if that was the only service I bought from them – and I’m not about to get my Internet access from anyone else right now.

Something to ponder before next season.

The Eagles’ game was painful to watch. The Eagles went up 6-0 early. The Eagles scored a touchdown but David Akers, who is to kicking as FedEx is to packages, failed to deliver. It was 7-6 a few minutes later, and Dallas stayed ahead most of the way.

One of the Eagles star receivers, Todd Pinkston, dropped another ball in what seemed like a case of hearing footsteps. If, all of a sudden, he’s lost his nerve, that’s troublesome. Then, all star receiver Terrell Owens went down with ankle problems. It’s too early to know how serious that injury is.

Toward the end the Eagles scored to go ahead, and did win. But it was an ugly win for a team that has been a dominating force in football.

Going into this game the Eagles had so little more to gain by winning that a performance like this goes down as a moral loss as much as a “W.”

Next week they’re playing on Monday Night Football. Helaine can watch at home. I will watch at work. We’re out of the bar scene for one week.

## Watching The Eagles At A Bar

I don’t drink alcohol. OK, that’s not entirely correct. Once or twice a year I’ll get a Bailey’s Irish Cream (aka chocolate milk with booze) at a casino. When the waitress asks, “straight or rocks,” I won’t remember how I had it the last time or if I have a preference.

Helaine is right up there with me. If it were for the two of us, bars and the spirits industry in general would cease to exist. On the other hand, we’re fairly non-judgmental about this. We don’t mind if other people drink and have served alcohol in our home.

All this is leading to the fact that Helaine and I spent a good part of the afternoon at a local bar watching the Philadelphia Eagles humiliate the Green Bay Packers. For Eagles fans, this was a wonderful game. Our biggest concern was the coach leaving quarterback Donovan McNabb in too long, possibly subjecting him to injury.&#185.

I’m not sure I had ever gone to a bar just to watch a football game. It was actually a lot of fun.

We went to Eli’s on Whitney, a bar and restaurant that also does catering. The bar itself is rectangular with the bartenders in the middle. On the outer walls are about a dozen TV sets. Inside, above the bartenders heads, are another 10 sets.

Each TV was tuned to a satellite feed of a game. Since there were fewer games than sets, many had the same game on.

We came in around 4:00 o’clock. The place was crowded with fans still watching the early games as the late shift moved in. A large proportion of the people there were wearing jerseys, sweatshirts or other team attire. Helaine and I were wearing Eagles sweatshirts.

Through the course of the afternoon we had appetizers, (soft) drinks and dessert. The tab came to about \$30 and I gave our waitress a 35% tip based on both her good service and the long time we were there.

It is not like watching at home. On the other hand, it wasn’t bad at all. I enjoyed it, especially when it became obvious there were many more Philadelphia than Green Bay fans. There were cheers for each good Philly play – meaning a lot of cheers today.

As the season winds down, more and more games will be on free local TV, meaning there will be less reason to watch at Eli’s. If the opportunity presented itself again, I’d go in a second.

&#185 – If you know Rush Limbaugh, would you please tell him an apology to McNabb for what he said last season is way overdue. There’s just no arguing with the numbers and Limbaugh must see that by now.

## Living and Dying With the Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are on Monday Night Football tonight. If you’re not a fan, let me make an analogy. Monday Night is to football as Carnegie Hall is to music. It is a showcase venue with no other games competing. All the fans, all the other players, are watching.

As Eagles fans, this game is especially important for Helaine and me.

OK – I’ll admit it. My wife is the bigger fan than I am. She’s been a fan longer and is more knowledgeable. And she lives and dies with the team.

Right now the Eagles are ahead – though I know she’s sitting there at home worrying about everything the Eagles can possibly do wrong. If the Vikings go ahead, she’ll turn the volume on the TV down and watch without listening.

If the Eagles win, tomorrow she’ll read every sports story, listen to every radio show, even stay up tonight for the post-game interviews on ESPN. If they lose, she’ll be incommunicado.

The shame of it all is no matter how the season ends, unless they win the Super Bowl, it will be a disappointment.