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I’m Back, Bitchier Than Ever

By Michael Erler on October 18, 2007.

Hey. Hi. Hello there. Remember me? It’s been a while. In case you forgot, my name is Michael, and I’m an asshole. Ask anybody, they’ll tell you. Fortunately (or unfortunately for you, dear reader) I’m an asshole who adores the Spurs. In a completely mostly non-gay way, of course.

I have enjoyed my off season as much as any terrible bartender and middling intern for a free daily newspaper possibly could. In the past week I had one bitchy customer tell me, to my face, that I had the “personality of a dead fish” and that I “suck” at my job. In fact, she used the word suck eight times (I counted) in a span of 25 seconds. Apparently she was upset that I wasn’t more communicative with her when she was at the bar, even though I have no recollection of her ever being at the bar. She was always in the back playing pool or by the juke box. Her husband was the one ordering all of her drinks. Also, she said I took too long to pour her mother-in-law’s glass of wine, even though I patiently explained to her at the time that I had to chill her glass in the ice box to serve her Pinot Grigio properly.

Already I’ve told this story wrong. I’m kinda rusty at this writing thing, so be patient with me. Here’s how it went down. Four people, not regulars, all middle aged or older, were at my bar last Friday; a husband, a wife, her mother-in-law and a female friend, I think. They were there for a looooong time, and by 11 o’ clock or so, they were quite drunk. The husband drank vodka cranberries, and the wife drank vodka tonics. The good vodkas too. Between the two of them, they completely tapped out my bottles of Ketel One and Gray Goose. At the end of the night the bill for the four of them was $122. I showed the check to the husband and he was so completely out of it that he tried to write down my tip on the check. It looked like it was going to be $22 or $25, I forget which.

Being the honest, ethical person that I am, I told him that I was just going to charge his credit card for the bill and I’d let him fill the tip out on the credit card slip. And that’s exactly what I did, charging him just the $122. I came back and explained that to him and gave him the credit card slip to sign and add the tip to. Again, this man had no problems with me whatsoever since he never said anything, he kept ordering drinks from me, and he had shown a willingness to give me a decent tip.

His evil ogre of a wife though, ruined everything. She took the credit card slip from him and said, “Oh no, no way you’re tipping him that much, he was AWFUL. I’m not sure, but I guess I made a face at her or something, or showed my disappointment in some fashion (I’m not a good actor) and this prompted her to launch into me with the dead fish comment. I tried to briefly defend myself , to no avail. I really have no idea what her problem was. I had to watch her ugly mongoloid face and heinous body dance lamely to Madonna songs all night without ever saying a peep about it. Doesn’t that count as me being polite? I deserved fifty bucks just for not losing my lunch at that. And I made all their drinks strong for good measure. Once I saw her change the tip from $22 to nada, I kind of lost my composure. I went up to her and calmly said, “Way to spend your husband’s money, ma’am.”

Ooh was that a mistake. The lady lost it, launched into a string of profanities for the next five minutes, and her husband, who up to then had been a quiet observer, oblivious to the proceedings, threatened to break my neck. I’m positive he had no idea what I said to her, he just instinctively knew he had to be offended by it. They both promised to call my bosses the next day to complain (good luck getting them to give a shit about anything at the bar during pumpkin season at their ranch) but I very much doubt they were in condition to remember anything once the hangovers kicked in.

Once the happy foursome left, the bane of my existence, Lisa the Whigger, one of our regulars felt the need to chime in with, “you know what your problem is Mike…” and she complained about me to my face for another twenty minutes. The more I defended myself and gave logical rebuttals to her arguments, the angrier she got. She told me that at least seven people had complained about me in the past week, which Manolis vehemently denied. She told me that she doesn’t like being asked questions (such as when she orders a drink, asking her what she’d like). She said she doesn’t like being nagged to pay her tab. Before I got here we had all sorts of people with gigantic tabs because the owners are too nice and apathetic to not get taken advantage of deadbeat drunks.

Not once have I ever called the police on this chick, even though she always smokes pot outside on the balcony. Does she care? Of course not. She told me she’s had to restrain herself from punching me numerous times, y’know because she’s so tough an’ all, and that she was going to call the Better Business Bureau on me. Uh huh. I’m sure they get calls from drunks at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night all the time.

So yeah, that’s pretty much what my daily bartending shifts are like. However, despite the occasional bit of unpleasantness, I do have a few customers who claim to like me, I get tipped fairly well by the, well I don’t know how to delicately put this, so I’ll just be straight with you, the white people, and I don’t have to worry about being fired from the job anytime soon seeing as how I’m their only bartender who isn’t a thief or a junkie. Oh and Lisa moved to Reno to start her new career as a Mustang Ranch fluff girl or whatever, so sunnier days are ahead.

Meanwhile, the newspaper gig is going so-so. I am having difficulty mustering up the enthusiasm for it. I know that sounds incredibly stupid of me, but I’m not going to lie to y’all. I miss having columns with opinions where I could write smart and well. Now I have to write “articles” where I’m the neutral messenger and everything has to be bland. Interviewing city planners, disgruntled restaurateurs, and anal movie theater managers isn’t my cup of tea. I actually had some peon at the Century Plaza 20 in Redwood City refuse to talk to me because “he had some bad experiences with the press.”

Bad experiences with the press? Who the fuck even knows you? You make like $14 an hour if you’re lucky you pompous shit. Consider yourself lucky if an intern at a free daily wants to treat you somebody for five seconds. That should be the highlight of your goddamn month, asshole. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Like I said, life is going swimmingly.

I was doing quite well without it, but dammit, I miss the Spurs. I think I miss basketball in general. I actually watched a Warriors-Lakers preseason game beginning to end just because it was on. I need something in my life to be consistently well executed and satisfactory, and I fear that the Spurs may be my only hope. Plus, when they play, I have to write about them, and that keeps me disciplined. I have gotten lazy as hell in the off-season, and as you may have noticed, my writing has suffered a lot. I probably won’t get back to my regular “B” game (I’ve never had an “A” game) by January.

Speaking of laziness, I won’t bother writing up any NBA previews or anything like that. I just don’t have the time to get into the nitty gritty with 25 teams I could care less about. Also, it’s a given at this point that Kobe will be moved, it’s not a matter of “if” anymore but rather “when, where, how, and for what?” No matter how you personally feel about the Colorado Casanova, you can’t deny that his move will alter the balance of power in the league in some fashion. If he really does get traded to one of his three preferred destinations (Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix – contenders all) then that will be major news and render many a preseason projection moot. Besides, my man John Hollinger has done all the hard forecasting work for me. He is by far my favorite person at the toxic waste dump in Bristol, CT, and I can only hope and pray that those folks won’t ever brainwash him and force him to write about how awesome the over-hyped superstar du jour is while the black hole is shooting 39% and playing zero defense.

As I predicted after the Scola trade, Hollinger is all over the Rockets’ nuts and has them as the best team in the league. On paper they look quite formidable indeed and for a stat guy like Hollinger, paper is all you can go on this time of year. Looking at it realistically though, while I can’t disagree with the notion that a Rockets squad running on all cylinders would be a favorite against us, what are the odds that will ever happen? 10 to 1? 20 to 1? There are sooooo many things that can go wrong for Houston between now and May.

Just ten, off the top of my head.

1. Injury to Yao.
2. Injury to T-Mac.
3. Rick Adelman getting abused by Pop when it counts.
4. The team slipping drastically in defensive intensity without Van Gundy.
5. Bonzi’s big playoff numbers in ‘06 having everything to do with a contract push and nothing to do with a particular fondness for Adelman.
6. Mike James playing like the Minnesota version and not the Toronto version.
7. Legal troubles for last year’s starting point guard, Stabby McGee
8. Steve Francis is prominently involved.
9. Luis Scola’s transition to a new league (although truthfully, I’m not worried about this at all, he’s a great player).
10. Jackie Butler might get hungry for Chinese food and take a bite out of Yao’s triceps or something.

Yeah, yeah, that was a cheap shot. Butler is much thinner in person than he looks on TV, I swear. The Rockets biggest problem, outside of the health of their superduperstars will be chemistry, of course. With so many new faces and just one ball to go around, the adjustment period for these guys should take a while. Good luck finding a set rotation with so many talented players to go around. And just when you do find one, bam, T-Mac tweaks his back or Yao comes up lame and you have to find another rotation for ten games.

Compare that to the Spurs, who brought everyone back intact one through twelve – even Beno, who even I have given up on at this point in light of all his stupid off-season comments and training camp pussishness. Our guys know each other better than their mistresses, everyone knows their role and how many shots/minutes they should expect to get, and we’ve finally patched up that glaring hole at point guard that has plagued us for years, so we’re all set.

Ooh, also, Hollinger also put all of his PER projections, and this is simply mandatory reading if you consider yourself an NBA fan. Sure, some of you might consider any system that projects Yao first and Duncan 13th overall as an abject fallacy, and that is your right, but generally Hollinger gets his stuff right more often than not and his ratings are a bona fide way to find out who’s actually helping his team win ballgames and who’s an overrated fucktard. The most important thing to remember is that everything Hollinger does is based on math and proven statistical formulas, so there’s no inherent bias going in. He doesn’t trust his own lyin’ eyes in other words. What’s a bit weird though is his forecast for one Manu Ginobili. Hollinger spends the better part of fifteen paragraphs worshipping Opus, (a new one I’m gonna try out for a couple weeks) obviously a position I can get behind – no, not like that, jerkass – but then lamely ends it with “well he’s 30 now, so even though he had his best season last year, he’ll have his worst season since ’03-’04 this year.” I mean, he didn’t write it exactly that way, but essentially, he did. See for yourself.

We shall find out Mr. Hollinger, we shall indeed find out.

As far as the Spurs go, it’s been, as predicted, a pretty quiet camp, from what I can tell. I’ve made my feelings on the Scola trade quite clear, and also I think cutting James White, in favor of Marcus Williams was also quite stupid, although clearly not on the same scale. I mean, when you’re debating which 15th man is better for your roster, your team is obviously in a pretty sweet position.

That being said, Williams sucks. He can’t do any one thing better than White could and I didn’t understand the point of drafting him in June, still don’t understand it now and probably never will. It’s like the front office caved to fan pressure and just drafted an American for the hell of it, any American will do. Why they didn’t go after a point guard, I have no idea.

Ian Mahinmi, another newcomer, from France no less (yay), I’m less down about. I doubt he’ll ever mount to much either, at least compared to Tiago Splitter, but how much less could he possibly contribute than Butler did last season? Really, I know that the guy is expected to spend most of his time in the D-league this year, but I don’t see the harm in giving him a few spot minutes here and there against the dozen or so of the patsies we’ll play multiple times. If the dropoff between Elson and Mahinmi costs the Spurs a win against the likes of the T-Pups, than what does that say about us in the first place?

The prized off-season addition though is – am I getting this right? – Ime Udoka. A relative youngster of 30 to our lot of grizzled vets on the wings. I am reading troubling posts over at Spurs Talk (yes, I’ve gone back, I have zero willpower) that mayhaps the Spurs would consider playing him and Bowen together.

Heavens to Megatron is that a stupid idea. It’s like we want to willfully kill the NBA. Isn’t having one offensive albatross on the floor for 30+ minutes a night enough? Please Pop, tell me this is just a vicious rumor that L.J. Ellis pulled out of his butt and not something you’re actually considering. Why not just put Vaughn out there with them while you’re at it so we can go through a five minute stretch of four points scored to two? Naturally, to this Pop would ask, “Well why not if we’re the ones who score four?”

No, no, a thousand times no. I want to see Udoka and Bowen on the floor together about as much as I yelped with glee for the Vaughn-Parker backcourt last year. The way we should should handle Udoka, a supposedly good defender though Powell and I have our doubts, is the same way Pop used Horry and Bonner last year. Play one or the other, but not both.

Actually, if you think about it, this could be quite an effective move for us, and for Bruce. Not every team has a perimeter force than needs to be slowed down. Really there are maybe 15-20 wing guys in the league that are threats to go off on any given night. Why not let Bruce, who’s 36 friggin years old in case you forgot, get 20 to 30 games off this year? Give him the Horry treatment and let him rest on thost back-to-backs. Save him some wear and tear against the likes of Toronto or Portland where nobody between 6’3″ and 6’10” is likely to score in double digits. Doesn’t this make sense to everybody?

And speaking of Horry and Bonner, I really hope this is the year that Pop snaps out of his man crush for Mr. May and gives the Red Rocket all of Horry’s minutes in the regular season. I don’t want to see coach go through the “Does
Rob have anything tonight?” charade every 2nd quarter for another 70 games. Let me spare you the guesswork, Pop, the answer is “No.” It will always be “no” until the playoffs, okay? And it will more often than not be “no” then as well.

I can’t wait til Horry retires and the Spurs retire his number. But which number, the #5 or the #25? Either way we have to do it right? If fucking Avery “Jesus is ashamed of you” Johnson can get his number retired, don’t we have to do it for any Tom, Dickhead, and Harry who’s been with us a few years and won a couple rings? Hell Johnson just won the one, y’know. Bowen is a foregone conclusion already, but if we’re honoring the Lil’ General, then we absolutely have to honor Horry, Malik Rose, and Brent Barry as well, right? Findog and Fab-O also have to be shoo-ins if we repeat. Really, even letting Horry switch to #25 is bullshit if you ask me. Why isn’t Steve Kerr’s jersey up in the rafters already? He hit those big shots in Game 6 against the Mavs in ’03…

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  1. Dingo October 19, 2007

    Three thousand words and no pictures?!

    If the Spurs retire Horry’s jersey, it shouldn’t be before they’ve retired the jerseys for Coby Dietrick and Allan Bristow.

    Can’t the Spurs put Big Shot’s $3 million to better use? Maybe Tony Massenburg will be looking for work again in a few months.

    It’s great to have you back, Michael.

  2. Jeffrey Hardy Quah October 19, 2007

    Good point about Bonzi playing for a contract. But isn’t he doing the same thing this year?

  3. Michael October 19, 2007

    I’m a little rusty with It’ll come in due time. The links have pictures though.

  4. Andy W October 25, 2007

    interesting post, especially about manu, although I would love to see him start this year.


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