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Boring papers, hot dates, long talks, shit books and Spurs basketball.

By Michael Erler on April 5, 2007.

Greetings from San Diego once again, ladies and germs. It has been nearly a week since I posted, as I have been quite preoccupied in the interim. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of my past week, as near as I care to remember…

Friday March 30th: Well this day started off slow enough. I finished off my Nooch blog, and Manolis came over so that we could see the cinematic masterpiece “Blades of Glory.” I give it a 5.3 out of 6 – 4.9 for the technical aspects, 5.7 for creativity. While it was no “Anchorman,” (that movie is to Will Farrell what the ’05 Playoffs were for Schnozzo) I certainly found it more enjoyable and rewatchable than “Talladega Nights.” Maybe I’m in the minority, but I thought it was rather lazy and uninspired of Farrell to take on such a broad, easy target in the white-trash, homophobic, Nascar-loving South. I much prefer him skewing these narrower niche little targets such as late 70’s era newscasts and the figure skating community. Also, it turns out that Jenna Fischer from “The Office” has been hiding quite the hot little body under those drab outfits she wears on TV.

Anyway, I’d been looking forward to the Jazz game for weeks, as finally we were going to take on a fully healthy, quality Western team. And now the game was going to be doubly entertaining because it was determined that I’d be watching it with the fellas at I’d missed the chance to get together with them the past Monday at the Warriors game because I had completely lost my voice by the 2nd quarter, so meeting would’ve been rather pointless on my end.

Around 6:30 we all gathered in Bramlet’s luxurious apartment. As usual it was a comfortable setting, but woefully lacking in tortilla chips. I shit you not people when I tell you that it took us in excess of five hours to watch a 2:30 basketball game. Every ten minutes or so we paused his DVR to get into another extended debate about God knows what. This was particularly ironic considering that we’re all 1) liberals and 2) Spurs fans. One would think that it’d be hard to disagree about anything, no?

I don’t remember everything that was discussed or if a consensus was ever reached, but as near as I can figure, the main topic was whether calling the United States a “free economy” is more offensive than using the N word. Also I tried to convince the gang that Mark Cuban is a complete prick, even outside of the NBA. Dingo and TheFunk were a bit skeptical, but here’s the proof, guys. I told you he voted for him.

Game 72 Vs. Utah: Spurs 102, Jazz 93

I don’t remember too much from the game obviously, but I distinctly recall feeling afterward that was the best that the big three have all played simultaneously all year, Tony and Manu especially. The two were repeatedly looking for each other and bringing out the best in one another and consequently we shot 52% against a real solid defensive club in the Jazz. Frankly if we could bottle such a performance, a championship would be all but assured. Hell, we even out rebounded Utah 40-31, and this is the most physical, dominating board team in the NBA. They didn’t play a great game defensively, but didn’t let anyone on the Jazz get off and kept the Turk from getting open looks at the three where he’d killed us twice already this year.

Basically, none of our frontline guys played badly outside of Brent (he has an excuse, we’d come to find out) and I couldn’t have been more encouraged by the game. Even Pop was effusive with his praise afterward and we all know how rare that is. Yet in a thoroughly entertaining contest with highlights aplenty, including eight lay-ups and one magnificent “talk to the hand” gesture from The Hustlemaker, – FYI Derek Fisher is a punk bitch – all of us in the room were mesmerized halfway through the 3rd quarter when the cameras caught this goddess in the stands.

What basketball game?

Not only was this the hottest chick I’ve seen in a year (outside of that animated minx, Erin the E-surance girl) but we stopped the game for a good five minutes just to ogle at her. The only reason any of us even remembered that a game was on is because the four of us were gathered together around empty pizza boxes instead of alone in our respective dwellings surrounded by Kleenex and shame. I’m not sure who this tent-pitching Cleopatra was, (I believe there were some threads about it on PtR) but I just know Eva Longoria is royally pissed. Clearly this was a blatant violation of her contract which states that she is to be the only T&A shown at any Spurs game outside of the dancers.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, big win, woohoo, six in a row, we rock. When you add up our cumulative record against Dal, Phx, Hou, Uta, LAL, Det and Mia, it stands at 10-10 now. That’s not impressive at all, but it was 6-10 at our nadir, so we’ve won four in a row against the contendahs. Your 3 stars: a very predictable 3) Parker 2) Duncan 1) Ginobili, but in a playoff-type game, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Manu really wanted to win this one.

Saturday, March 31st: I had to get up much earlier than I’d have preferred and spent the first half of the day writing this torturous column on “Bad Apples in the U.S. military.” Yeah, yeah, I know war is hell and shit happens, but if you take the time to read some of the articles and magazine columns out there or to watch a documentary or two, you’ll see that having a volunteer-only military while trying to recruit soldiers during wartime has led to some disastrous results.

This isn’t a political blog and I’m not going to stand on a soap box, but all I’m saying is regardless of how you feel about the war, a better recruiting pool, i.e. a draft, would’ve been a good idea if the administration felt that the cause was so important. Because the military is stretched so thin right now, they’re literally picking soldiers from the bottom of the genetic barrel so we’re basically sending the equivalent of some expansion team out there when we should be sending the Russell era Celtics. Okay, all done with that, promise.

Anyway, around four in the afternoon I started getting ready for a date with Katie (I mentioned her before, right?). I picked her up at the train station, we went into the city for a movie, – BoG again, since she hadn’t seen it – had a nice dinner at this Turkish pizza place and then I took her to a karaoke bar. Katie has been a trained singer for practically her whole life so this is right in her wheelhouse. The place was so packed that we had to wait for two hours before she could do “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner, and had to put up with a host of crappy songs and crappier singers before she could go on.

Fortunately we were seated far from the stage so I was treated to her versions of some of the better choices rather than having to listen to the actual singers. She could’ve blown the place away with either “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey or “Like a Prayer” by Madonna but the only people privy to those recitals
was me and the bartender.

As for me, my voice was still shot so I couldn’t participate, and it was probably just as well. Their Cure selection was shit and I don’t know how Katie or the rest of the bar would’ve taken to my crooning of “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182.

The bottom line is that it was a fun night and that my mom is so cool that she left me a text on my cell saying she’d sleep over at Grandma’s if I wanted. Damn us if we didn’t take her up on it.

Sunday, April 1st: It’s so not fair that I got complimented on my nookieing on April Fool’s Day. I’m either starting to like this girl a lot or she’s diabolically evil. Little of Column A…

I don’t remember too much about anything before the Spurs game. I got 30 pages into a book and a Nascar race was on the tube. I ignored the Phx-Dal game out of spite. The Suns were winning the whole time so the Mavs are officially fucking useless. They basically took a gigantic crap on the court. That’s twice in a row now that Diggler, Mr. MVP didn’t show up against Nash. I think Dallas is sufficiently afraid of us enough to prefer the Suns to get that 2nd seed so that the Spurs have the toughest time possible making it to the WCFs. They want us to play Kobe in the first round and Phoenix on the road rather than the Nugs in the 1st and the Suns at home. Pansy fucking bastards.

Game 73 @ Indiana: Pacers 100, Spurs 99

Of course all the good will from the Jazz game was immediately rendered moot by an embarrassing loss at Indy. They didn’t have O’Neal and their other good rebounder, Jeff Foster, was sidelined after nine minutes (and eight boards) with back spasms. Yet the Spurs allowed seven rebounds for soft as puddin’ Mike Dunleavy and a whopping 13 caroms (8 offensive) to Ike Diogu, a gentlemen not known for his ball procurement.

It’s the kind of game that one could either dismiss as a fluke or get completely pissed about yet we’ve seen so many of these lackluster performances against Eastern conference squads that I truly don’t have the energy to do either. Believe it or not but I am even sicker about bitching about tinyball and Pop’s rotations than you are of reading me bitch about them. Christ it’s not even May yet.

Manu was crap after a good first quarter, once again taking way too many threes even though he didn’t have the legs to shoot them. Seven of his 11 attempts were from downtown and he didn’t take any shots in the final ten minutes. No one really took up the slack as both Tim and Tony were just solid but not great. The former had seven turnovers and the latter was awfully soft on D. The ball movement was not there (just 16 assists) and the defense was wretched. How we let five different guys score 16+ when none of them have the talent to get more than a dozen on an average night is beyond me. Just a terrible mail-it-in performance and the whole team deserved the reaming Pop gave them.

I can’t believe we let Tinsley score on this shot.

You want to know what the real difference is between us, Dallas and Phoenix? Check this out.

Team Record GB
Mavs…. 35-9…. –
Spurs… 33-11… 2
Suns…. 31-13… 4

These are our respective records against the Western Conference. In a 44 game sample we’re only two worse than the seemingly invincible Mavs and two better than the fun-n-gun Suns.

Now look at the Eastern conference marks:

Team Record GB
Mavs…. 27-3…… –
Suns…. 25-5……. 2
Spurs.. 20-10….. 7

Pretty dramatic difference, isn’t it? As many Eastern Conference jokes as I’ve made this year, our winning % against these guys is a mere .667. Against the West it’s .750.

Or to put it another way, here’s the difference in winning % for the three teams vs. the two conferences.

Phoenix + .128 (.833 vs. the East, .705 vs the West).
Dallas: + .105 (.900 vs. the East, .795 vs. the West).
SA: – .083

We’ve made our own bed with the third seed mainly because we’ve lost focus and intensity against “unimportant” Eastern conference teams and the other two haven’t. The silver lining I suppose is that we’ve largely played the other two elite teams to a draw in competition vs. familiar opponents and that no one can really make much of a rational case for us being underdogs to the Suns in a second round match-up. Still, to me this reeks of Lakeritis, turning the switch on only when we feel like it.

We were a ghastly 4-6 against the Central, the one conference east of the Mississippi where teams play physically and D up. That means we show up, make a little push, they push back harder and we quit. Granted, we did go 2-0 against the Pistons, and they’re still the squad most likely to come out of there, but I just think that it’s sad that we have to be a crummy three seed because we weren’t mentally tough enough to respect all of our opponents equally. 3 Stars: 3) Vaughn 2) Bonner 1) Parker. Wheee.

I had slacked off all week for this paper I had to do for this History of Sexuality exploration class, due Monday, so now I was up against it. I spent my last six conscious hours reading “Going the Other Way” by Billy Bean, a journeyman baseball player who came out of the closet in 1999, four years after retiring. He basically blamed the crappiness of his career on the stress of having to keep his homosexuality a secret so he couldn’t just relax while he was at the plate. Me, I blame the .266 on base percentage and the 5 homers in 478 lifetime at-bats. If you can’t get on base, can’t hit with power and can’t even run, (three lifetime stolen bases, eight caught) then really you’re of no use on a major league roster. But whatever, if you want to read about the life and times of a whiny, “four-A” caliber, self-involved man whore, go ahead. The quintessential lesson I took away from this tome is that gay or straight, you can get loads of people to fall in love with you if you’re athletic and good looking despite having no semblance of a personality or interests outside of your vocation.

Monday, April 2nd: However Bean’s autobiography was a goddamn page-turner compared to John Amaechi’s “Man in the Middle.” Oddly, the same gentleman served as the ghostwriter for both books so one would think he’d have the sense to tell the tall British bloke that his life story is boring as piss. Or some editor would. Good god, it took me from nine in the morning til’ four in the afternoon to slog through this snoozer.

Here’s the whole book, in one paragraph: He grows up really fat and friendless in England. Two scouts approach him about playing ball because he was 6’8” at 17. It takes him about a year to become the best player in the country (there’s a high bar to reach). He goes to high school in Toledo for a year and does enough to get recruited to Vanderbilt. Gets laid by girlfriend in Vanderbilt, but transfers because coach won’t play him. Goes to Penn State and begins shagging wrestlers and volleyballers in bathroom stalls. He develops an affinity for “big brother” program. Signs as undrafted free agent by Cavs and plays crappy, gets released. Plays all over Europe and is mostly celibate. Signs with Orlando, adopts a couple of teenage brothers. He stays there for two seasons. Signs with Utah, Sloan hates him, he stays there for two years but
is less secretive of his lifestyle because he has a guaranteed contract and he hates the coach. Still doesn’t fuck anybody. He retires when he gets traded because he never liked basketball that much anyway, and it was just a way to make a living because he’s tall and he wants to help kids. The End.

There. Didn’t that paragraph put you to sleep? Well imagine that extended to 290 pages and figure out how I felt. Mostly I was disappointed in both these gentlemen for deciding to keep their books “tasteful.” It’s one thing to put out a boring milquetoast book if you were a big star and your numbers tell the story, it’s quite another if you were a complete scrub. Jim Bouton, Bob Eucker, even Jason Williams the limo driver murderer had funny stories and eye-opening anecdotes. If I’m gonna read about a couple of gay ballplayers, call me crazy, but I want some actual gayness in there. Bean shared a couple of details here and there, but didn’t go nearly far enough. And as far as I can tell Amaechi was more asexual than homosexual and no athlete should pen an autobiography with his sexuality as its selling point when I’ve had more sex than him in the past decade.

After finishing Amaechi’s cure for insomnia, I crapped out the worst and god willing last term paper I’ve ever written. It was long, rambling, incoherent, and lacked both a thesis and a conclusion. In short it’s just like my blog entries, but without the pictures and profanity. Also, on here I occasionally sound like a homosexual whereas with the paper I simply wrote about homosexuals. The thing was supposed to be 1,250 words and I think mine was 2,400. It had a five page limit and mine was six, and that was after cheating the double space margins to 1.5 instead of 2. And the professor wanted it to be done in “Chicago” format and I had no idea what that meant so I ignored it. Whatever, as long as I get a D+, I’m good. Have I mentioned that I’m tired of being a college student? Has that come across yet?

While I was writing the paper the college championship game was on. Oh, Florida won. Imagine that. Man you sure have to be a fucking genius to figure out the “madness.” Let’s just expand the NBA by two teams, invite all of them to the playoffs and make the whole thing single elimination. That’ll be much more riveting and worthwhile than how we do it now.

I repeat, the NCAA tournament is the biggest sporting fraud in the world. The reason they do this silly single-elimination bracket gimmick is to encourage people to gamble so that hopefully they won’t notice the one simple truth: THE QUALITY OF PLAY IS FUCKING AWFUL. Why is it that in all the other pro sports nobody pays attention until the second round of the playoffs where all the pretenders have been weeded out but with college basketball the whole country pops a collective boner over 56 shit-ass teams? Every year people make such a big fuss about upsets, but for what? The teams that win it are always one of the five or six favorites.

You wanna go ga-ga about an unpredictable playoffs? Go watch baseball. Or hockey. Hell, even the 6th seed Steelers won the Supe two years ago in the NFL. Just can it about college hoops already. I never watch, I’m a complete dope and I can figure out who’ll win or get one of the finalists damn near every year. Thankfully now that it’s over Simmons will move on to the god-forsaken Red Sox now.

The Gators did it again!

And speaking of Bilbo, here’s what he had to say about the Gators’ Corey Brewer: “Ultimately, we settled on a 6-foot-8 Ricky Davis, only if you surgically implanted Manu Ginobili’s brain in Ricky’s head. Why Manu? Because of his open-court play and penchant for sneaking away from his man to cause turnovers. Because of the way he rises to the occasion in bigger games. Because of the deadly 3-point shooting. And especially, because of the unconventional angles that Brewer takes when he’s driving to the basket. If you want to get technical about it, he’s the player we always wanted Todd Day to be. And since he’s a better athlete and defender than Manu, and since he’s a winner and all, the question remains … why isn’t Corey Brewer being considered for a top-five spot in this draft?”

First off, I wish you could all see all the squiggly green underlines on my monitor that Microsoft’s grammar check has unleashed on Simmons’ one paragraph. I fear that if I were to cut and paste the whole thing my computer might explode. Secondly, I have major issues with this comparison. Why is it a given that Brewer is a better athlete and defender than Manu? What does he base this on? Is the guy a faster runner and a higher jumper? Well, compared to Ginobili now he might be. But he can’t slash and get to the rim and explode like the Euroleague Manu could. Once again Simmons is engaging in racial profiling, just another in thousands upon thousands of generalities he’s wallowed in over the years without anyone ever calling him on it. Every white guy is “heady” and “gritty” and every black guy is “athletic” and “dangerous.”

Okay, I made up the last one. Still, I think the guy is racist as shit and I can’t believe he gets away with this stuff. You rooted for Larry Bird and Larry Bird wasn’t the best athlete, I get it. Not every white basketball player is Larry Bird. Also, Bill, it seems pretty retarded to me for you to compare a player to Ginobili and then ask rhetorically why he’s not a top five pick when NBA GM’s thought so highly of Manu’s game that they plucked him at # 57. The reason our shooting guard has become so much more successful than anyone (including the Spurs FO) predicted is because he’s got intangibles and drive that can’t be quantified. And by definition you can’t compare or project the intangibles of one player onto another.

The NBA draft is conducted, by and large, on the basis of a player’s athleticism relative to his height. Unfortunately these guys are playing basketball and not running track. Who winds up being good and who winds up being mediocre is mostly a factor of luck and circumstance. Predicting how a guy’s play will translate or develop from one level to another is damn near impossible so the scouts go by things they can measure and compare. The science behind it, at this point, is mostly a joke. Whether Brewer’s career will wind up better or worse than Manu’s in 10 years (and I would lean toward the latter) won’t depend a lick on his athleticism.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I finished the paper around 9:30 pm and planned on driving to San Diego right then. I went to the bar where Briana works to have a good bye drink for the road and show her this article I wrote. I ended up staying there for two and a half hours and we talked for a long while, a good catch up talk. I regrettably showed her the tat with her initials and it freaked her out a little, but not too much. I felt I had to in the interest of full disclosure. I felt too dishonest talking to her without her knowing. I feel a lot better about that whole situation now, water under the bridge. We might be friends in the future, we might not be, and I could care less either way. The booz made me sleepy so I went back to mom’s for one more night. She accused me of sneaking off to Katie. If only.

Tuesday, April 3rd: Woke up and made the uneventful eight hour drive to San Diego. Was totally discouraged by the Giants’ opener; a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Jake Peavy and
the infernal Pads. Their radio guy, Jerry Coleman is a cheeky little punk and I wanted to choke the life out of him by the fourth inning. I hate San Diego more than the goddamn Yankees just because of how completely unprofessional their broadcast teams – TV and radio – are. Fucking bush town.

Game 74 Vs. Seattle: Spurs 110, Sonics 91

I made it home a half hour before tip and I don’t know why I bothered to hurry. The Sonics are beat up and lifeless, they have the least inspiring coach in the Association, and we’ve pounded the holy snot out of them even when they had a pulse. What the hell did any of you expect to happen in the game after the piss poor showing at Indiana? If anything, it was closer than I expected, thanks to a pair of above par showings from their starting forward tandem of Wilcox and Lewis.

Brent was out for us with his back and we got another terrible showing out of Frankie, (c’mon dude) but won easily with crisp ball movement and Bruce Bowen’s typically clutch shitting against awful competition. We had more assists at half time than we did in the full 48 at Indiana and nearly doubled their rebound total as well. We shot 55.7% and the only Spurs below 50% were Bonner, Beno and White.

Mr. Potatohead eyes another three pointer.

Speaking of which, Matthew told me his internet broadband crapped out on him so he missed this game. Naturally that meant we’d get an encore performance of the James White Show, with a special cameo appearance from Jackie Butler thrown in for yuks. Neither made much of an impression – there was some good and some bad – but I will say that White has the ugliest J on the team. It’s worse than Beno’s, worse than Fab’s, worse than anybody’s. Dude should either take it to the rim hard or pass it up. Didn’t we learn our lesson last year about a dude from Cincinnati jacking 3s?

I was encouraged by White’s ability to get to the line but he got bailed out by the zebras when Sene practically swallowed his dunk attempt. Looked like a clean block to me. Butler looked noticeably slimmer and posted up aggressively, but didn’t get enough looks. He was still a total zero defensively, though.

Your 3 Stars…
3. Manu Ginobili 2. Bruce Bowen 1. Fabricio Oberto

Record: 53-21 Streak: W-1
Up Next: Vs. Phoenix Suns

Here it is, our last crack at the 47 foot All-Stars until round 2. Win or lose the two seed would seem out of our reach and I’m not too optimistic about Brent’s availability. Still we have to show these guys, right now that we’re better, just to get into their heads a little. Tim has to dominate inside, Tony has to kick the Canadian’s ass and Manu has to take it to the hole repeatedly against a bunch of disinterested big men. Most of all we need Frankie to show up and give Pop a reason to not play into their hands with the midgets and unabated chuckery of Michael Finley.

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  1. derrich April 5, 2007

    That beauty would be Vanessa Macias. She does the World Car commercials. I have a severe crush on this girl. She’s absolutely gorgeous.


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