A depressing way to spend an evening, or my night at Rangers-Lightning Game 5. ESPN’s Ernie Johnson story is remarkable. And a beautiful Memorial Day tribute from a stranger.

RangersGame5.Tampa

Well that stunk.

As I write this I have just returned from Madison Square Garden, where 18,000 people walked in to the building around 7:30 p.m. excited, pumped up, and ready to make some noise and support the New  York Rangers.

A little more than three hours later, we walked out quietly, heads in our heads, spilled beer at our feet, muttering about getting pucks to the net.

Man, what a rough night to go to a Rangers game. My boys played just a lifeless-offense-free game against Tampa in Game 5, generating maybe four good scoring chances the whole night, while Tampa, who hardly did anything either, scored on two of theirs.

From my seat in Section 318, it looked like Tampa played exactly the kind of playoff game the Rangers usually play: Block a lot of shots, clog the middle, slow the pace down, and capitalize on the few chances you get.

The crowd got more and more frustrated as the night went on, of course, and the poor kid sitting next to me in the Ryan McDonagh jersey said it was his first-ever live game. I had to tell him that usually the home team scores.

Hockey’s such a nutty game: Rangers score 5 goals in each of the last 2 games, then can’t even get one tonight.

Ugh. I’d feel more depressed about the Rangers’ chances if they hadn’t escaped this kind of situation many times before in the last few years. They must win Game 6, and then come home and win Game 7, which they’ve done plenty the last few years.

But still, how many times can you pull the same rabbit out of a hat? Sunday was a golden opportunity, and they blew it.

Only fun part of my night was coming home and seeing LeBron will his Cavaliers to another win. Man oh man, is it time to start putting that dude on the same level as MJ? Not yet, but he’s getting real, real close.

130502-N-MG658-011 ARLINGTON, Va. (May 2, 2013)  An Sailor plays

**Next up today, it is of course Memorial Day, a day we honor all the brave men and women who sacrificed and died protecting our liberty.

I thought this tribute essay, to the men and women who served and are now buried at Arlington National Cemetery, was achingly beautiful. It’s written by Breanna Garren Mueller, and here’s an excerpt (the whole thing can be read here:)

Arlington National Cemetery. I didn’t know any of them. There were thousands. Hundreds of thousands.
John. Robert. Charles. William. Unknown… Not one did I know personally.
I had never seen them. Never met them… 

But as I stood there — silent tears filling eyes that scanned rows and rows of white marble cold upon warm, vibrant grass — it occurred to me that they had known me. All of them. Oh so well. And they knew you too.

They had thought of me often, and they thought of you. From the very first moment they considered the armed forces they thought of me. They knew I would want to walk freely outside, taking deep breaths of freshly clipped grass giving the sweet fragrance of spring, face turned toward the warmth of the sun. They knew I would value leisurely picnics and rides on playground swings; that I would need work opportunities and that my children would need college; and that someone would have to ensure that I was given those chances.

So they enlisted…

**Finally today, ESPN, for all its faults, still does some remarkable broadcast journalism, much of it on their signature shows like “Outside the Lines” and “E: 60.”

There have been a ton of wonderful stories brought to life by ESPN’s storytellers over the years, but this piece from last week might be the best thing the network has ever done.
It’s on TNT sportscaster Ernie Johnson, who while seeming to have it all on the air, has had quite the life off it. The piece is long, but hopefully you have the day off and can watch it. What Johnson has done, for his adopted son, his family, and everyone else in his life, is truly wonderful.

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