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I'm Back (Sorta)

Hey there!

I know, I know, you hate me. I'm a terrible person for neglecting all of you, my loyal peeps, for what's it been, like two months now? I'm sorry, I really am, but I've been terribly busy with my (giggle) career. Besides I didn't think I'd be missed so much since Powell would surely be diligent in writing frequent posts in my stead (ha).

No, actually Matthew died. He's dead now. Really, he's gone.

Sorry if no one told you all. But he told me only last week.

Well, actually he told me he would have a post up by Sunday, and he hasn't so...

[Slumps shoulders] I guess I'll call him soon.

But yes, I suppose I should give people updates on what's going on. I've got a lot of stuff on my plate lately, literally in fact cos I'm still a big fatty. But work wise I cover the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS, the Stanford Cardinal in college football, and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. So that's like four or five articles a week right there. For examples of my "work" you can find them here, here, and here. There's also the occasional non-sports story I get, and as you can see, they really give me the important stuff.

I also write for this magazine in Redwood City called The Spectrum, and I have no idea what to think of my situation there. Basically, I'm getting treated like a mule. I'm writing their cover story every month, in the 1,600 word range (or basically, 1/2 of my typical Spurs post), and my miserly boss pays me $50 for the privilege. That's criminal. The reason I know I'm being suckered is that it's gotten to the point where I routinely overshoot my deadline like three, four days and he doesn't even care. Either he's purposefully giving me a deadline a week earlier than it actually is, to counteract my chronic procrastination and mind-blowing unprofessionalism, or he knows he's not going to get anyone better for what he's paying me. I'm like the Jacque Vaughn of feature writers (go to archives and scroll down to page 17 of the September issue).

Hmmm. In retrospect, comparing that girl to Hayden Panettiere may have been a stretch.

So, what's being a sportswriter like? Odd. Most of them are terribly cynical and jaded, as far as I've seen, but literally everyone I work with has been at it far longer than me and probably has ten times as much work on a weekly basis than I do, since they're getting paid on salary an' all. Some of the sportswriter stereotypes are true, for sure. For example, if you want free food, you got to get to these games early because the scribes descend on the spread like a horde of locusts, especially at the Stanford games. Stanford always puts out lunch meats and veggies and breads and cheeses so people can make their own sandwiches and a month ago when I showed up a half hour before game time to cover their game against San Jose State, all the turkey and roast beef was long gone and all that was left was ham.

Fuck that.

What else is there to know? Oh yeah, those folksy, animated portraits of the sportswriters that the San Francisco Chronicle uses? Extremely flattering. Every one of those people are much older, fatter and less attractive in real life. In fact, I think if I work hard and play my cards right, I can get a job there in fifteen years when they're all ready to keel over.

But yeah, the job has definitely thought me a few things. First of all, if the game is on at nighttime, say a 7 p.m. start, then I guarantee you that nobody in the stadium is spending less time watching the games than the sportswriters. They're all on strict deadlines and they're all furiously banging away at their laptops. Every once in a while people will look up to see a replay or something, but most of the time it's like one eye on the game, one eye on the monitor. For NFL Sundays, it's a lot more relaxed atmosphere because the games are on in the afternoons so all the writers have time to leisurely type some notes, go to the locker rooms to collect quotes, and put their stories together before leaving the stadium around 7 p.m. or so.

This leads to point number two: Nothing sucks for a sportswriter than a late game scoring change. This happens in soccer frequently when you have your neat little 1-0 story written and then somebody scores the tier in the 89th minute and then somebody else scores the winner in the 92nd. Grrrr. It makes for great TV, but it sucks total ass with my job. You almost have to write three stories before the game, the win version, the loss version and the draw version. Even for Stanford's home opener, I was almost having a heart attack. It was 36-20 for the home team with less than five minutes to go when I left the press box and went down on the field, which writers do for football games. Oregon State scored a touchdown and a two point conversion. Then Stanford goes three-and-out, and while I'm watching from behind the end zone, the Beavers are coming right at me, about to score the tying touchdown and two-point conversion and I will have to totally change my 85% done story and have to watch overtime and I'll have blown my deadline and my editor will be all upset at me... and Oregon State fumbled at the one so it was okay.

For an example of my typical > 5 min football field positioning, check out the end of last Sunday's Eagles-Niners game when Juqua Parker intercepted J.T. O'Sullivan and returned it 55 yards for the clinching score (woohoo!). If you pause it at the ten second mark, I'm the blob in the black jeans and gray shirt on the upper left corner of the screen, the last human before the end zone pylon.

Juqua Parker Touchdown VS 49ers (via Westbrook36Iverson3)

Athlete wang: Soccer players don't care. These little midgets freely flaunt their wangs in the locker room for all to see. Ironically NFL players, these huge behemoths, are a lot more careful to cover themselves. When coming out of the shower they're always toweled, then they go to their lockers, give you a nice faceful of ass before they put their boxers on, and then they turn around to face the media, if they even feel like talking at all that is, and most of the 49ers don't, since they're usually losing. The football wang phenomenon most likely has to do with the fact that there are no female reporters for the Earthquakes, but like 20 or so different women in the 49ers' massive locker room at once after a game, none of whom incidentally, are remotely bangable.

Weird Resemblances: Stanford's best player, running back Toby Gerhart, whom I think has a solid chance to become a productive NFL player, perhaps in the Mike Alstott mold, looks like a dead ringer for Lochlyn Munro, the guy who played "Greg" in Scary Movie. You know, the micro-penis guy. You can't just go up to a some football player and tell him, "Wow, you look just like a guy I saw in a movie with a baby penis." If anyone has a suggestion how I can bring this up to him without getting beaten up, I'm open to suggestions.

Meeting My Idol: So far while on assignment I've met David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Donovan McNabb, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Jim Harbaugh, Edgerrin James, Kurt Warner, Randy Moss, Bill Belichick, and even the ungodly wide Andy Reid. But none of them phased me in the least. Only one guy blown me away so far:


That's right, I met Ray Ratto. Ray Ratto! He's probably my favorite sportswriter of all time. He works at the Chronicle and you might recognize him from his frequent appearances as a forum guest on the Jim Rome Is Burning TV show. As humorous as looks on TV, rest assured the guy is even weirder looking in person; jowlier, with that big furry walrus mustache and a bald spot that puts Manu's to shame. He's not as fat in person, mainly due to the fact that he's only 5'8" or so, but he's covered in hair, with huge thick forearms and he types using only his two sausage index fingers, albeit very fast. Really, the guy's body is eerily similar to Tom Cruise's "Les Grossman" in Tropic Thunder. (nsfw).

I love Ratto. He is such a clever wordsmith, and he can really needle a target without being a blatant asshole about it like Skip Bayless or Jay Mariotti do. (By the way, I just realized I root for the same basketball team and football team as Skip Bayless. Just rape me with a food processor). He has all these little catchphrases like "If you know what we mean and I think you do" and "So and so might happen, but that's not the way to bet" but by far my favorite is "But that's a whole another kettle of squid."

Ratto hates Nolan, hates the 49ers cheap, clueless owners, and actively roots for the team to lose every game. Down at the sidelines of the season opener against the Cardinals, when O'Sullivan's final fumble clinched the game for Arizona, Ratto was yelling at the people in the stands getting ready to leave - nobody in particular mind you - "ENJOY THAT YOU FUCKING IDIOTS! THANKS FOR THE MONEY! COME BACK IN TWO WEEKS FOR THE SAME FUCKING THING! KEEP THROWING YOUR FUCKING MONEY AND SUPPORT AT THESE IDIOTS SO NOTHING EVER CHANGES!!!"

Mr. Ratto is decidedly more profane in real life than in the newspaper and TV.

Incompetent coaching: One thing you will most likely see way less of from me this season is criticism of one Gregg "Get Off My My Lawn" Popovich.


Why is that? Have I grown kinder and more patient in my old age? No. It's because now working in the business for a little, I have seen the true face of incompetence, and its name is Mike Nolan, head coach of the 49ers. I've spoken to like 30 different Bay Area sportswriters, long time grizzled veterans who've seen it all, and I can tell you, unequivocally, that they all think this guy is completely and utterly clownshoes. He is the George Bush of NFL coaches in that he thinks he is the smartest guy in the room (which all NFL coaches do, I'm told) but he is without a doubt the dumbest. Against the Eagles this figurehead buffoon "coached" the entire game without putting his headset on, leaving the entirety of the coaching to his coordinators and assistants. He was about as involved in the game as I was, and I'm positive I worked more that day. His relationship with the media is testy, terse, and confrontational and his answers are sarcastic (wait, this sounds familiar), phony, and almost always dishonest. I can tell you, personally, that this guy has zero presence when he enters a room and his act is fooling precisely no one. Even Gwen Knapp, kindly matronly Gwen Knapp, told me in the elevator that she tried to give the guy every benefit of the doubt, but she's given up on him. After Nolan foolishly challenged a made field goal last Sunday, the writers decided en masse to take the kid gloves off and they're all mercilessly trying to outdo one another in calling for the coach's head. It's fun. I don't feel the least bit guilty, he's a dick.

Anyway, speaking of the Spurs, the reason I haven't felt particularly compelled to post in a while is that I don't feel nothing all that newsworthy has happened. Yeah, it's preseason, big whoop. I've watched them before and wasn't exactly awestruck by the experience, and those games had Manu. Now I'm supposed to be scrutinizing Anthony Tolliver vs. Darryl Watkins vs. Ginger? You want I should whip up the strengths and weaknesses of Malik Hairston or Devin Green? Should I mourn the fact that Ian Mahinmi's bum ankle is costing him a viable opportunity to crack Pop's rotation?

Are you serious?

People, people, people, sorry, but I've got a life. At least more of a life than I had two years ago. At this point I'm skeptical that Pop will ever trust someone younger than 31 to valet his car let alone play meaningful minutes in May, so not exactly springing a pup tent in my shorts over the development of George Hill. I absolutely refuse to even think about anybody named "Stoudamire" after last year's debacle. I do feel a bit bad about not having gotten to see Roger Mason, but again, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so in the regular season.

Or maybe not.

I put in a call to my satellite provider, Dish Network, to order the NBA League Pass, as I usually do this time of year. The lady told me that it's not available at this time because the NBA, in its infernal wisdom, is trying to copy the NFL and have all the satellite and cable companies get in a bidding war with one another over the exclusive rights for League Pass (like DirecTV has for football, to my chagrin). She told me they're in the process and won't determine the winner until October 28. When I asked for a clarification, she repeated the same two sentences, but LOUDER, and with more than a tinge of attitude.

Call me a pessimist if you must, but I don't feel good at all about Dish Network's chances of winning this thing - after all, it's frickin' Dish Network - so I'm not sure how I'll be able to watch Spurs games at this point. I'll know more in two weeks I guess and will do my best to come up with a workable solution. I'm surprised this issue hasn't been discussed more by other hoops bloggers. Or maybe it has, I really haven't paid attention.

The only good news I can give you is that if I am in position to blog regularly, meaning if I can watch the games, then I will comply to Matthew's request and write exclusively for PtR and drop any official association to Spursdynasty, though obviously I wish to remain friends with the guys.

Two pieces of Spurs related news that did catch my attention:

1) Spurstalk is all aflutter because apparently the hombre we routinely call God, as well as The Sickness, Plainview and the scores of other akas we've given him, announced recently in his website's forum that he doesn't believe in God. That's not the kind of admission you hear a famous athlete make too often, particularly one from an overwhelmingly Catholic country, such as Argentina.

2) Our least favorite player, The Donut Delivery Truck, opened his fat yap again the other day, ripping coach for using Hack-a-Washed-Up-Fucktard and calling him a coward, saying

"The only thing I call cowardly is when you're up by 10 and do it," O'Neal told Phoenix radio station KTAR. "That's a coward move and [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] knows that and I'll make them pay for it."

At this point the only way Shaq can make us "pay for it" is if during a Spurs-Suns game he feels hungry between his post-dinner snack and his pre-dessert snack and decides to take a bite out of The Wee Rapping Frenchman's thigh to tide him over until a commercial break.

Really, the guy is clinically insane. He went on to say that it was proven that the tactic didn't work because

"You know San Antonio tried it but they went home a couple weeks after we went home."

Uh, what? First of all, we went home 29 days after the Suns and secondly, we didn't lose to the Lakers because of Hack-a-Shaq, Mr. O'Neal, because as enormous as you are, even you aren't morbidly obese enough to exist on two team's rosters at once. If you were a Laker last season, Pop would've assuredly used his cowardly tactic and to most-likely prevail in the series since your statuesque mobility and "veteran savvy" on a basketball court is even more of a liability to your teammates than Ginobili playing on one leg.

If I ran the Spurs, I'd write "Hey Lardass, Tell Me How My Ass Taste" right on the free throw line at SBC before the next home game with the Suns.


Shaq-Daddy sweats through another grueling off-season workout