The Amaro and Reid Moving Company.

They’ll Do a Better Job.

I moved the other day.  As everyone knows, moving is the worst.  There are few bigger favors you can ask of someone than to help you move.  It’s a call you dread.  I’m not built for carrying furniture around.  I don’t have one of those belts.  One way to avoid getting asked to help move a friend is to not ask them to help move you out of your place.  Don’t set up a quid pro quo situation.  With that in mind I decided to splurge on a moving company.  I cracked open the old yellow pages (I still keep multiple phone books around–you don’t?) and started to peruse the ads.  On the first page I saw a potential winner: A&R Logisticks.  A sampling of their promotional claims:

  1. Highest overhead in the business since 1999
  2. Industry Leading Driver Turnover
  3. In Bed with Our Investors
  4. Marginal Hands-On Moving Experience

What could go wrong, right?  It was a compelling advertisement.  I boxed up all my stuff and waited for the crew to arrive. Everything started out well.  They weren’t supposed to start until eight, but I heard the diesel engine idling outside my building at 3 am.  I went down and saw the driver reading “Moving For Dummies,” by flashlight in the cab of his truck.  His partner was watching the Richard Pryor classic, “Moving,” on his iPad.  This all seemed encouraging.  I went back to bed.  When they finally got started, things were under control.  When they were about 3/4 of the way through the move I decided to go ahead to my new place to make final preparations.

So, there I was, vacuuming the carpeted walls of my 70s-era “fixer-upper,” when my cell phone rings.  It’s the driver of the moving van.  As it turns out, his name was Juan.

JUAN: We’ve got a bit of an issue here.

ME: An issue?

JUAN: Well, Howard was hungry.  My assistant here–Howard?

(Juan sounds nervous, like he’s never called a client before.  I think about his assistant, Howard, a prodigious man who walked with a noticeable limp.  It wasn’t surprising that guy was hungry)

ME: So, you’re a little bit late?  Stopped for a bite?  It’s not a big deal.

JUAN:  We’re stopped all right.  I’m stuck in the drive-thru lane at McDonalds.

ME: Stuck?

JUAN: I’m wedged under the building.  We’re in there pretty good.

ME: You drove that huge f*cking moving truck through the Drive-Thru?

JUAN:  Partially through as it turns out.

ME:  What are you telling me?

JUAN:  Bottom line, the State Trooper says we should be out within the hour.

(Speechless, I hang up the phone. I’m starting to worry about my belongings.)

Sure enough, it’s not much more than an hour later when I hear the truck pull up out front.  It’s in pretty rough shape, but I hold out hope that all my furniture is still intact.  Howard gets out of the truck first.  He has a large fry wedged into the chest pocket of his coveralls.  His limp has gotten worse.  Juan gets out and he’s talking into a headset while staring blankly at a laminated sheet.  I see “Lift with Your Legs,” in bold type.

ME: What the hell happened guys?

JUAN: Bit of a clearance miscalculation.  I’m used to the metric system.

ME: Don’t you drive that truck all the time?

JUAN: Not this truck. I drove this truck once before.  I believe that was Autumn, 1986.

ME (after 4-second long exhale): Just bring the sh*t inside.

I get ready to boss the movers around.  This is why you really hire these guys, right?  Put this there.  That goes IN THE STUDY!  It’s a very powerful feeling.  So, I post up in my grand foyer and crack a fresh beer.  First box in is my television. The 31″ Panasonic with tube technology.  Juan and Howard are struggling with the weight.  In their defense the thing probably weighs 125 lbs.  It’s fat screen.  I point them to the rumpus room and when they set the box down it sounds like the TV is in more than one piece.  I hurry in and cut open the box.  My TV looks like earthquake rubble.

ME: You sons of bitches.  In another 30 years, that was going to be an antique.

HOWARD:  It’s my fault.  He lobbed the box over to me and I totally missed it.  Whiffed.

JUAN: No, it’s my fault.  I shouldn’t have thrown it left-handed.

HOWARD:  Totally my fault.

ME: I’m calling your boss, this is a god damn circus.  If my Foreman grill is damaged, you guys are going to be in deep.

I storm off into the kitchen and call A&R headquarters.  After some double-talk I finally get through to Reid.  He tells me he and Amaro will come by the next day at 12:00 pm to talk about how things went.  For some reason I accept this, and spend the rest of the day peeling glow in the dark star stickers off the ceiling in my new bedroom.

THE NEXT DAY…

At high noon, on the button, there is a knock at my door.  I open it up and I see Amaro and Reid standing at my threshold behind some type of portable podium they’ve set up.

REID:  Time’s yours.

ME: You guys want to come in here and see what your guys did to my stuff.

REID:  Listen, I’ve gotten a chance to see the film.  It wasn’t good.  I’ve got to do a better job.  That’s on me.

ME:  What the f*ck are you talking about?  You weren’t even here.  It’s your guys.  Howard could barely walk.

AMARO:  I might have underestimated the impact of that injury.  You know, Howard was once the best mover money could buy.

ME:  Really?

AMARO:  Well no, not really, but that’s something I said once.

ME: Did you know they got stuck in Drive-Thru?

REID:  Listen, drive-thrus happen.  But at the same time, I’ve got to put Juan in a position to avoid them.  That’s my fault.

ME:  Who’s fault is all my broken stuff?

REID & AMARO (in unison):  That’s our fault.

ME:  So, what are you going to do about it?

REID:  We already fired Juan.  We’ve totally changed our approach.

ME:  What about Howard?

AMARO: We’re still committed to Howard.  We don’t pay attention to his negative BARM (Boxes Above  Replacement Mover).

ME:  What does any of that have to do with my stuff?

REID:  Listen, your broken stuff.  That’s on us.  We’ve got to do a better job there.

ME:  So, you’re going to replace it?

AMARO:  No, like we said, we fired Juan.

ME: It’s your fault, but you aren’t going to do anything about it, is that right?

REID: Nailed it.

Jimmy Rollins Goes Christmas Tree Shopping…

Welcome to Amaro Nurseries.

It was a late night at the tree farm.  It always is this time of year.  I was disposing of the last of the day’s complimentary gingerbread cookies.  My chosen method of disposal being to see how many I could fit into my mouth at one time.  My co-worker, Scotty, was loading miles of garland into the shed.  You can’t just leave garland out over night. Do you know what garland goes for?  Theft is rampant.  But, anyway, he’s taking down garland and wreaths by the armload and I’m closing out the register.  Seventy-Three Douglas Firs in the books.  Just another day at the office.  I’m getting ready to kill the lights that illuminate our “pre-cut” selection when a car comes roaring up the drive.  My stomach sinks at the thought of having to fire up the dang tree baler again.  Maybe they need directions…

Nope, they’re dressed for tree gettin’, there’s no doubt about it. People always show up in their best plaid and thickest mittens to pick out a tree.  And, earmuffs.  You can go your whole life without seeing someone in earmuffs.  At a tree lot?  You’ll see 40 pair.  And, an absolute volcanic eruption of scarves.  I’m still hardly paying attention, trying to swallow the gingerbread ball I’ve got working in my face hole, when I realize this isn’t the typical yuppie couple.  It’s frickin’ Jimmy Rollins, his wife and some seedy looking white-boy.

Rollins (wearing a leather jacket with fur lining, jeans with elaborate flame and dragon embroidery and a Miami Heat hat):  You guys still open?

White Guy:  They’re open.  He’s standing there, isn’t he?

Me: Sure, yeah, what can I do for you?  Care for a tasty treat?

(I hold up a plate filled with crumbs and stray gingerbread man body parts)

White Guy (Rushing past J-Roll and Wife):  I’m gonna deal with this guy, J-Roll.

(I look behind me assuming there’s no way I could already be a “this guy” at this point in the conversation…no one is there)

White Guy:  Hey, Dan Lozano.

(He sticks his paw out into the space between us, I leave it sitting there like a forlorn old man at a bus stop)

Dan Lozano:  I’ve got Jimmy Rollins here.

(I do that double hand motion that means: “Annnnnnd….get to the point”)

Dan Lozano:  We need to fit him with a 16-ft Douglas Fir.

Me:  16-ft?  What do you think this is, the Canadian wilderness?  We don’t have anything that big, and even if we did, it would never fit in the damn baler.  Sorry, if you want like a 10-footer, or if you know if I’m ever in the Los Angeles area looking for an escort…maybe we can do business.

Dan Lozano (squinting hard at me):  I find it hard to believe that in this whole place, there’s not one 16-ft tree.  How many acres you got here?

Me:  30.

Dan Lozano (getting animated):  30 acres!  And, on not one of those 30 individual acres is a tree that stands 16-feet?

Me: I’d say take a look for yourself, but, you know, it’s dark.

Jimmy Rollins (walking over to us):  What’s the problem?

Dan Lozano:  He says there are no 16-ft trees.

(J-Roll looks in my direction, or I think he looked in my direction, he was hitting me right below the elbow)

Me:  Nothing even close to that tall.

J-Roll: Dan, you said we could get a 16-ft tree.  You said if we had to go smaller it’d be our decision.  My option.  That’s what you said.

Me:  Ten feet is about the best we can do.

J-Roll:  No!  I did 10-ft last year.  It’s embarrassing.  I go to Chase’s place, he’s got a 15-ft tree.  Ryan Howard’s got a 20-ft tree and he can’t even get off his ass to decorate this year.  Hunter Pence just moved here and he’s talking about getting a 12-footer.  And, don’t get me started on Cliff Lee.  Johari show him the damn text.

(Johari takes an iPhone out of her Louis and holds it up to my face.  There’s a picture of Cliff Lee standing in front of what looks like the gosh dang Rockefeller Center tree.  The text reads, 25-ft this year…Lulz.)

Me:  Well, they didn’t get those trees here, or if they did they struck much earlier in the season.  It’s a little late in the process to be shopping for that kind of height, isn’t it?

Dan Lozano:  We’ve got plenty of other options.  Don’t worry about it.  Christmas is still 2 weeks away, this isn’t the only tree farm in town.

Me:  Eh, technically, we are the only tree farm in town.

(Rollins whispers something in Lozano’s ear)

Dan Lozano:  What if we bought 5 trees this year.  All 10 feet.  Five years from now, that last tree would be 15 feet?  Correct?

Me:  Well, it’s not quite that simple, Lotta things can happen over 5-years.  Drought.  Beetles.  Garland Thieves.  Hard to say.  Plus, I don’t know that we could commit that many trees to you.  Right now you’re only like our 7th or 8th favorite customer, and who is to say someone doesn’t show up in the next year or two to bump you even further down the list?

(Lozano takes a step back, the three of them converge into a little huddle.  It breaks)

Dan Lozano:  What’s the best you can do for us tonight?

Me:  I’ll give you a 10-ft tree tonight.  I’ll let you reserve a 9-ft tree for next year and another for the year after, but if you piss us off–the 3rd tree is off the table.

(They huddle up again)

Dan Lozano:  Fine.  Deal.

(We shake hands)

Me: Old Scotty P. over there will show the 10-footers.  SCOTTY!

(Scotty comes over)

Me:  You want to help these nice folks find a 10-footer?

(Scotty eagerly agrees and heads off at a dead sprint toward the trees.  Dan Lozano and Johari chase after him at full speed.  J-Roll follows behind them at much more leisurely pace.)

18 Minutes Later….

(Scotty and I are standing by the baler, watching J-Roll and Company drive off)

Me:  How was it?

Scotty:  Not bad, no problems except Jimmy tweaked a calf muscle helping tie the thing to the roof of his car.

Me:  Is that right?

Meeting of the Minds.

Thoughts on the Phils?

Plenty of misconceptions going on in this town.  There’s this notion that the Phillies and Eagles have some rivalry going. That’s just fuel for the over-zealous media.  All these guys love each other.  They bond together over their mutual distaste of talk radio and Philly fans.  The other misconception is that the Eagles were actually doing work during their bye-week. Getting ready for Dallas?  Hardly.  What’s to get ready for?  They’re coming of a win over Washington.  They control their own destiny.  I don’t even think Castillo was sleeping at the Nova Care Complex.  Talk about some free time.  So, what did the Eagles get into?  Well, the brain trust farmed out their skills to the Phillies.  Old Ruben brought Joe and Howie in for a powwow.  He wanted some fresh eyes on these personnel decisions he has to make.  They met last Saturday down at the Bank.  I happened to deliver the assorted muffin basket, and just stuck around to see what happened.  

Ruben welcomed the guys in.  His dress was “forced casual,” almost like he wanted to give the impression he had just been working out.  He’s grinning ear-to-ear.  

RUBEN (faux graciousness after a round of handshakes):  Sit down guys, grab a seat, grab a muffin.  There’s bran, double bran, pumpkin spice, boysenberry….

JOE BANNER (takes seat, spreads a pile of papers in front of him): Grab me a double bran, Howie.  

(Howie pouts, gets up and goes over to the muffin basket.  He’s scanning the room, checking to see if it’s nicer than his conference room)

RUBEN (Pouring a Sugar Free Red Bull into some orange juice):  Should we cut through the pleasantries and just get to the point?  What’d you guys think?  

HOWIE (Distracted, fighting his muffin wrapper):  What?

BANNER:  He wants to know what we think!  

HOWIE:  OK! Sorry.  

BANNER (scratching his head):  Well, honestly Ruben, we don’t see your problem.  You’ve been to the playoffs five straight years, you sold every seat in the stadium, I can’t go anywhere without seeing one of those god-forsaken Cliff Lee T-Shirt jerseys, what more do you want?

RUBEN:  Well, we’re trying to build a championship team here.  

BANNER:  What’s a Championship?

(Howie whispers something in Banner’s ear)

BANNER:  Oh, right.  Are you sure about that?  We’ve found it actually has no impact on our revenue.  

RUBEN:  You guys aren’t trying to win a Super Bowl?  

BANNER:  A Super What?

(Howie whispers something in Banner’s ear)

BANNER:  Oh, that thing.  Well, we’re not trying to not win it, if that makes any sense.  

ME:  Actually, that doesn’t make sense.

BANNER:  What?

ME:  Another double bran?

RUBEN (frustrated):  Gentelmen, can we just move on then, forget about the championship for a second.  What do you see when you look at the roster?

BANNER (shuffling through papers):  Ok, well, we see a lot of areas where you could cut.  Do you realize how old your team is?  Howie who are we cutting?

HOWIE:  Ryan Howard.  

BANNER: Right, Howard.  And..

HOWIE:  Polanco Placido.  He’s gone.  Then you dangle Chase Utley for a 3rd and a conditional 5th, if not…CUT.  

(Banner looks at Roseman, they nod in agreement)

RUBEN:  We can’t just cut guys, they have contracts.  

BANNER:  What do you mean you can’t cut them?  What do you do with players once they turn 30?  

RUBEN:  We keep them.  The contracts are guaranteed.  

BANNER:  Guaran-what now? 

RUBEN (Getting more and more livid):  Guaranteed!

BANNER:  Howie, Google “Guaranteed.”  

(Howie whips out an iPhone, punches away for a second and shows Banner the screen)

BANNER:  You’ve got to be f*cking sh*tting me.  What moron thought that up?  Who did your collective bargaining for you, Antoine Walker?

RUBEN:  I don’t think this is going to work, guys.  I was under the impression you had some basic understanding of what we were doing here.  Several of these players, Howard, Polly, Chase, etc. we are committed to.  There’s no wiggle room, there.

BANNER:  To be clear, you can’t cut players under contract?

RUBEN:  NO!  Look,  stay and enjoy your muffins, but I think we should probably just call it a day.  

HOWIE:  It’s a great muffin.  

BANNER:  Wait, wait.  We’ve got other ideas.  Sorry about the whole (air quotes) cut half your roster thing.  Look, we’ve put together a projected starting lineup for 2012. 

(Banner slides a piece of paper across the table to Ruben)

RUBEN (after studying the sheet for a moment):  There’s no 3rd baseman in this lineup, and you’ve got two guys playing centerfield.  

BANNER:  We don’t value 3rd base as a position.  

RUBEN:  What does that mean?

BANNER:  Howie…

HOWIE:  It means we don’t value it.  You don’t need one.  Poof!  Problems solved.  

RUBEN:  How can we play without a 3rd baseman?  

HOWIE:  Change your scheme.  Have you thought about bringing in a new defensive coordinator?  You might be interested in hearing about this thing called a wide-nine.  

RUBEN:  There’s no such thing as a defensive coordinator in baseball.  

HOWIE:  Well, there should be.  We’ve got a guy for you.  Bobby Abreu.  

RUBEN:  Bobby Abreu is a terrible defensive player.  What the hell are you guys talking about?  This is ridiculous.  

BANNER:  Whoa, let him explain.  This is good.  This was actually Coach Reid’s idea.  

HOWIE:  Right, Well coach Reid and Abreu go way back.  Don’t know if you knew that, but they do.  One day they were supposed to meet at Denny’s at 2:30 am for a Grand Slam.  Well, Abreu isn’t there.  Coach Reid meanders through a few orders of Moons over Mi-ham-i and finally at 4 am, Abreu walks through the door looking like a mess.  Turns out his Bentley broke down and he had to walk 23 miles to the Denny’s.  Talk about Dedication!  Plus, he’s always wanted to be a good defensive player.  He’s been around plenty of good defensive players.  It makes sense.  

ME:  It makes no f*cking sense.  

RUBEN (slams table, stands up, yelling like a lunatic):  Why the hell is the muffin guy still here?  Is this a practical joke? Am I on camera right now?  If I’m on camera, someone is fired.  You’re all fired.  

HOWIE (to BANNER):  What’s his problem?  

BANNER:  Ruben, these are just ideas, don’t get so emotional.  There’s no room for emotion in any of this.  

RUBEN:  Get the f*ck out of my conference room.  

HOWIE: But…

RUBEN:  OUT!

(Howie hurries to finish his muffin and Banner collects his papers.  Ruben starts walking them to the door.  As soon as they’re through he slams it with authority, and let’s out a huge breath)

(KNOCK on the DOOR)

RUBEN (opening door):  What?

BANNER:  You should franchise Hamels.  

HOWIE:  Franchise him.  Next year too, then when his arm goes, it’ll save you a For….

(Ruben slams door shut again.  He untucks his shirt and sits heavily back into his chair)

ME:  Boysenberry?  

 

 

Guess Who Was At the LLWS?

Quien Es?

Little Known Fact: On my way back from scenic New England yesterday I stopped in Williamsport, PA to catch a little bit of the Little League World Series.  I’m a fan of the event, though the expanding coverage is starting to cultivate a group of haters and I can see that viewpoint as well.  Part of me would like to go back to when only the final was shown on Wide World of Sports, the US team would get throttled by Chinese Taipei, and everyone moved on.  The Little League World Series is a big enterprise now, and in no place was that more evident than the merchandise shop.  I’ve seen shorter lines cue up for golf shirts at the Masters.  You can outfit yourself with an entire wardrobe of your team’s gear.  So, I’m stocking up on flat brims when I see a grown man, who looks vaguely familiar posing in the mirror wearing a complete Clinton County, PA replica uniform.  Is that Ben Francisco?  I call out:

ME:  Ben!

(Francisco turns, makes eye-contact, a look of dread washes over his face and he starts beating a hasty retreat toward the exit)

ME (chasing after him):  Excuse me, Mr. Francisco?

(Ben bangs a quick left out of the door, and I make a right, utilizing the old TV cop trick.  When we both turn the next corner, suddenly we’re facing each other.)

ME: Whatcha up to Ben?

BEN: Um, my kid plays for Clinton County.

ME: No he doesn’t.

BEN: You’re right, he doesn’t.

ME: What the f*ck are you doing here?  Don’t you have batting practice in a couple hours?

BEN:  They don’t notice when I’m gone.

(I think rightfully so, this makes me chuckle)

ME: Point taken.  What are you really doing here?

BEN:  I’m just trying to get some ABs.

ME:  You know this is Little League, right?

BEN: But, they said everyone gets to play at least one inning.

ME: Aw, Ben, that’s almost cute.  But, you realize these are kids out there.  It might be your skill level, but you’re a grown man.  Someone would probably notice.

BEN: I just need a chance.  My WAR adjusted to a field with Little League dimensions is 7.8.

ME:  That sounds made up.

BEN: It is.

ME: Look Man, you’ll eventually get another chance.  What if the game turns into a rout tonight?  What if it’s 10-0?  Charlie loves pulling guys.  He’ll get Mikey Mart in there, G-Load, probably time for Pence to get a quick blow.

BEN: I f*cking hate Pence.

ME: I know, I know, but I’m saying, Charlie might not play him every single inning.

BEN: He will.

(Editor’s Note:  This exact scenario played out Monday night.  The Phils went up 10-0, and Charlie emptied the bench…except for Francisco.)

ME: Look, things could be worse.  What are you hitting .220?  That’s robust.  Look at Adam Dunn.

BEN: I have 3 hits since the 4th of July.

ME: What?  That can’t be…(I take out my phone.  Click, click, click).  Oh, well, sh*t.  That is bad.

BEN: It’s all Mayberry’s fault.  Why is he hitting?  I don’t understand.  And, he’s smart.  He speaks f*cking Spanish.  I don’t even speak Spanish and my last name is Francisco.

ME:  Well, yeah, Mayberry.  I mean, he’s got that little something extra over you.

BEN:  Talent?

ME: Possibly.

BEN:  Look, I gotta go.  Batting practice is almost over.  Now’s my chance.

(Ben scurries off in the direction of Howard J. Lamade Stadium)

ME: (after he’s safely out of earshot) Good luck?

 

Look Who It Is.

 

Questions About My Recruiting?

 

So, here’s a little tidbit that probably not too many people know about me:  On Tuesdays I go to my local schoolyard right around noontime and I sell giant pixie sticks to unsuspecting grade schoolers at an obscene mark up.  Needless to say, this is very lucrative.  I can’t really go into further detail, because I’m not supposed to be there, but I keep it low profile and all the little sugar fiends know where to find me.

So I’m over there yesterday, waiting for the basketball game to break up, when this giant SUV pulls up, looks like a Cadillac.  The guy is trying to parallel park it into a tight space and before I know he’s got the front wheel up on the sidewalk.  Much to my surprise, no further adjustments are made.  Guy hops out, does the standard over the shoulder door lock with his douchey fob and he’s walking over toward me.  He looks like some low-level gangster wannabe in some ill-fitting bright blue warm-ups, but then as he gets a little closer I realize it’s John Calipari.  Coach Cal, in my hood, who would have thought?

Right away I’m in a bad mood, because I don’t need anyone drawing attention to me, but Cal looks like he’s done this a million times, striding over like he owns the place.  I start to do the nervous head swivel, looking for an exit strategy, but there is none.  Cal’s got me cornered.  He saunters right up to me.

CAL (sticking out his doughy paw): Hey, John Calipari, Kentucky.

Me:  James Naismith, horrified.

CAL (takes off sunglasses looks at himself in reflection): Naismith, huh?  That sounds familiar.  Were you an assistant at Temple back in the day?

Me:  No.

CAL:  How is coach Cheney, anyway?

Me:  He still wants to f*cking kill you.

CAL (nodding): What’s in the bag, cash?

Me: Uh, it’s more like drugs.  You’re getting a ticket over there.

(Normally, this would be something I would say to create a diversion and then I’d head for the hills, but literally 2 minutes after Cal parked a cop came by and started lighting up his windshield.  It was like they were following him around town.)

CAL (unfazed): That car is property of some old hillbilly in Kentucky I’ve never met, they can tow the sh*t box for all I care.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I store stuff in the back.

Me: Like what, empty promises?

CAL: More like the currency of the trade, young fella.  You’ll learn eventually.

Me:  So, what the hell are you doing here, shouldn’t you be getting ready for the Final Four?

(The basketball from the game gets loose and rolls to our feet.  Cal picks it up and when the kid coming to retrieve it is about two steps away he rifles it as far as he can in the opposite direction.)

CAL: Loser’s walk, kid.

(kid fights back tears)

CAL: What were you saying?

Me: The Final Four.  It’s this Saturday.

CAL: Oh, right.  You know, I actually do a lot less (air quotes) coaching than you might expect.

Me:  I’m not sure that’s possible.

CAL: You think I’m worried about Jim Calhoun?  That old bastard.  I call him Mrs. Auriemma.  He goes bat sh*t, you should try it the next time you see him.  He’ll blow an artery.  Team’s a f*cking joke.  Their best player is a junior. You know who stays in school for 3-years?  Kids who suck.

Me: Well, I gotta say, you do seem to have a way with the recruits.  Shame about that Kanter kid.  If you had that project, you’d have been a lock.

CAL:  That was MISINFORMATION!  I’ll tell you what.  That kid was the Turkish Marcus Camby, only not a bitch.  He had an edge.  I loved that kid.  I loved his family.  His mother made me a sweater out of goat hair or some such sh*t.  We had a relationship.  The NCAA can sit and spin (Coach Cal points to his junk.)

Me:  I don’t know, seems like a pretty straightforward case of you recruiting a professional player.

CAL:  There was no money.  MISINFORMATION!

Me:  All right, calm down.

(I check the time on my cellphone, confirming the game is about to break up and I’m about to make it rain dyed sugar. Sure enough, the kids are starting to meander off the basketball court.   I surreptitiously hold up my pixie sticks.)

Me:  Seriously, Cal, what the hell are you doing here?

CAL: I’m recruiting.

Me (pointing to the court): These clowns?

CAL: (shaking his head, a devious smile comes across his face):  No.

(Cal points into the distance where a group of much younger kids are on some swings.  There appears to one kid terrorizing the others.  He’s knocking kids on their butts left and right and laughing the whole time.)

CAL: I want the bully.

(Cal makes a quick beeline for his car, and I stop paying attention so I can unload my pixie sticks.  Business is pretty fast and furious.   I fold the sweaty stack of one-dollar bills into my pocket and start to head out.  I hit the sidewalk and walk toward Cal’s illegally parked Escalade.  The tailgate is open.  When I get even with the back of the car I see Coach Cal and the bully.  Cal’s got a shiny bike out of the back of his car, and he’s demonstrating the bells and whistles for the mongoloid that was wreaking havoc on the playground.  Kid’s got a smile from ear to ear.  He’s about to pedal off into a life of juvenile detention when Cal shoves a wad of bills into his coat pocket.)

CAL:  Buy something nice for Mother, and don’t forget to tell her where it’s from.

( I just shake my head and keep walking)

Watch Your Shins!

 

Fore Right!

 

I kept this pretty quiet, but I had the pleasure of shooting down to Dallas for the EA Sports party last night. Everyone knows Super Bowls are all about the galas, and every year I have to decide which party I will deign to attend. Playboy? Eh.  ESPN?  Yawn.  Franzia?  Not two years in a row.  The reason I wanted to go to the EA Party was the debut of Tiger Woods PGA Golf 2011.  Why this game?  Well, it’s the first time Augusta National had been properly digitized. The Green Jackets have really loosened up over the years.  Back in the day they wouldn’t even let the front nine on television, now any mullet with an X-box can tour every inch of Augusta National.  I don’t really get into video games like I once did, but I make exceptions.  I secured the invitation, plowed through the hors d’oeuvres, and hit up the simulator.

After a quick 52 (26 putts) on the front nine, I started moving my way through Amen Corner, striking the ball beautifully, as usual.   I finally make it to number 12, the hole everyone wants to play, and I take a moment to drink it all in.  I decide I am going to hit a big old, ozone-scraping pitching wedge down there.  Just as I’m about to take it back, I hear this god awful noise from the station behind me, and a ball shoots through my field of vision and rattles around in the curtains to the right of my simulator screen.  Everyone knows a cold shank when they see one, and I’m no stranger. I shake it off.  No need to embarrass anyone, so I just go back to my own business.  I’m getting ready to hit again, and another laser beam shoots across my bow.  I realize I’m going to have to say something, but before I turn around, the serene tranquility of digital Augusta National is broken…

STEVIE!

I turn around and see someone who looks a lot like Tiger Woods, except he’s wearing Dad jeans.  I’m trying to get a look at the telltale off-color tooth when the unmistakable figure of Steve Williams come charging through the crowd.  Bodies start bouncing around, and Tiger is standing there petulantly leaning on his 5-iron.

STEVIE:  What’s wrong?  I was talking to The Situation.

TIGER:  I’m hitting it a little right.

ME (interrupting):  A little right?  That’s like saying Jim Nantz gets a little flowery during Masters telecasts.

TIGER (spinning to face me):  What’s your problem?

ME: My problem is, I’m trying to massage a little pitching wedge down into number 12 here, and I’m afraid you are going to hit me in the left ear.

TIGER:  STEVIE!

(Tiger looks around for Stevie, but he’s disappeared back into the crowd)

ME:  Look, no offense, just aim left.

(I turn back around and finally get to hit my shot.  It lands in the back fringe and checks back up nicely to the middle of the green. Should be able to make a 4 from there, no problem)

TIGER:  How’d you do that?

ME (turning back around):  Do what?

TIGER:  I have no idea where the ball is going.

ME:  I got that impression.  You’re in quite the slump.  Phil might pass you in the rankings this week.

TIGER:  I hate Phil.

ME:  Everyone hates Phil except for his bookie and all left-handed people.

TIGER (getting animated):  Oh, he signs autographs.  Big f*ckin’ deal.  I could get divorced again, and I’d still be richer than him.  He thinks he’s hot sh*t cause he flies his own planes.  Who wants to fly their own plane?  I have people do that sh*t for me.  I bet he ties his own shoes.  Man of the people.  What a bunch of…

ME: (interrupting): Tiger, you are kind of embarrassing me right now, people are looking at us.

TIGER (yelling):  He has t*ts!

ME: Right, you’re right man, settle down.  Why don’t you tell me what you are working on.

TIGER:  How should I know?  I have 45 different swings.  I can’t even knock down a 7-iron anymore.  Sean’s got me working on this quasi stack and tilt horse bleep.  I’m clueless, feels like I’m swinging a hockey stick.

ME:  Why’d you go with Foley anyway?

TIGER:  He coaches Sean O’Hair!

ME:  Sean “H2O” Hair?  That guy gives away big tournaments like he’s handing out flyers for the local gentleman’s club. Why the hell would you want to swing like him?   What would Earl say?

TIGER:  He’d probably beat my ass.

ME:  Damn straight he would.  He didn’t raise a tinkerer.  What’d you waste all that time grooving a natural swing for if you were going to grow up to be Tom f*cking Kite.  Just beat on the ball, make some putts, and you’ll be fine.

TIGER:  It’s too late for that.  I have 127 swing thoughts right now.

ME:  I’ve been there.  Can’t break an egg, swinging like that.

TIGER:  What should I do?

ME (after a moment’s contemplation):  Well, here’s the plan.  You’re going to get on your mobile phone device.  You are going to call MJ.  Then you are going to call the Chuck Wagon.  Hell, call Charles Oakley.  Call anyone (not Federer), and tell them you are going to Vegas.  Tell them it’s going to get weird.  Real weird.  Tell them to make sure all their personal affairs are in order, up to date wills, that kind of thing.  Then you excuse yourself from this fiasco, hop in the G6, and go to Vegas.  And, once you are there, you are going to burn that f*cker to the ground.  Take a camera crew.  You’ll want evidence.  When the dust clears, if you are lucky, you’ll have forgotten every bullsh*t swing thought you came across in the last 10 years.

(Tiger stands in silence for a moment, then starts nodding his head vigorously)

TIGER:  I like it.

ME:  Damn right, now hustle out of here.  I have to tap in for bogey.

(Tiger thanks me profusely, and rushes out of the party, cellphone already at his ear.  I go back to business, 3-putt number 12 and then hit a scorching hook around the corner on 13.  Eagle time!)

 

*Super Bowl Pick coming this afternoon.

 

 

Guess Who Was in Line?

What a Nervous Headset Looks Like.

Pretty wild morning.  It all started with the idea to camp out for Eagles playoff tickets.  I wasn’t going to go, but then after The Bachelor ended last night, I was so fired up that I had decided I could make it through the night.  There’s no finer two hours of television than the premiere of The Bachelor.  It is an agonizing symphony of awkwardness that makes you believe in reverse evolution.  There was a chick on the show last night that had vampire fangs, and the weirdo kept her around for the 2nd episode.  I love it when the girls cry after getting booted after knowing the guy for 20 minutes.  I guess it is pretty sad when you realize you just blew your shot to be on Dancing with the Stars.  But, enough about the Bachelor….

So, I head down to the Sports Complex last night expecting to see tens of thousands of die-hard Eagles fans lined up, but just as I am deciding which sneaky back route I want to take to the stadium, I hear on the radio that tickets are available online!  They sell tickets online?  Wild.  This changes my plans drastically.  Since I don’t have to worry about the lines, I decide to pilot my vehicle to the Turf Club instead.  It got pretty weird inside.  I plowed through an ocean of Budweiser, and hit a couple of quick trifectas live from Australia, but that’s a story for another day.  Come closing time, I just stumbled across the street to the Holiday Inn, where I requested and was given the Rich Kotite suite.

I woke up with a massive left eye headache.  I fumble around and snatch the vintage digital clock off the nightstand.  I hold it close to my working eye ball so I can see the time.  It reads 8:53 am.  This means I have 67 minutes before I have to beat the avalanche of scalpers and ticket brokers that will overrun Ticketmaster’s phone lines and website.  My game plan is to wander downstairs, nose around the continental breakfast, and then come back up to the room round ’bout 9:57.  At that point I’ll fire up the old Guy Pad and buy away.  Where is my gosh dang iPad?

It isn’t in my immediate field of vision, so I rally out of bed and walk to the bathroom.  Found my iPad!  It’s sitting in a pool of water in my ice bucket.  Come on!  I pick it up and as it drips in my feet I notice the screen is frozen.  Apparently when I got in last night I was doing YouTube searches for “hilarious kittens.”  Those are some pretty funny videos, but the bad news was I had no ticket access.  Goodbye continental breakfast.  I leave the broken Pad in the nightstand with the bible, gather up the mini shampoo bottles and get the hell out of there.

I’m still not really paying attention when I turn onto Pattison, but out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of an old guy sitting on the sidewalk in a lawn chair.  He’s wearing a coach’s headset and screaming at…well, I had no idea what he was screaming at.  He had an old school thermos next to him, one of the ones that has the lid/cup combo, and he’s just sitting there outside the locked up entrance to Lincoln Financial.  I realize he must be waiting for tickets.  This old timer is dumber than I am.  I decide it’s my duty as a fellow fan to tell this guy he has approximately 53 minutes to get to an internet machine.

I screech to a halt, jump out of the car, and hustle over.  When I’m about five steps away, I realize the guy is wearing a NY Giants jacket.  It’s frickin’ Tom Coughlin.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Before I can spit out some type of witty greeting, he cuts me off,

Coughlin:  You’re Late.

Me:  Late for what?

Coughlin:  The tickets.  I’ve been here all night.

Me:  They’re selling them online.

Coughlin:  I am in line, damnit!

Me:  No, ON LINE.

Coughlin:  I don’t believe you.  (He takes a red bean bag out of his jacket, and hits me in the chest with it.)

Me: Well you can believe whatever you want, Eli’s a decent QB, your Super Bowl win wasn’t a miracle, your players don’t hate you, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Coughlin:  If this isn’t the line, then what the hell are you doing here?

Me: What the hell are you doing here?

Coughlin:  I haven’t seen a playoff game in years, gotta stay in the loop, I’m working on a contract extension.

Me:  They’re giving you another contract?

Coughlin: You’re god damn right they are!  I coached the Jags!  When they were good!

Me:  The Jags were never good.

Coughlin: The hell we weren’t.  Consider yourself fined.

Me:  I’m surprised you aren’t still sitting in your special room with the lights off.  The boys really turned into a bunch of bitches down the stretch.

Coughlin:  I’ve only coached one bitch in my entire career.

Me: Tiki?

Coughlin:  Yep, Tiki.

(We both chuckle).

Me: So, what’s the deal with the head set?  You know you aren’t talking to anyone, right?

Coughlin:  Of course, I know.  It’s fun to wear, damnit.  You want to try it?

(I grimace)

Coughlin:  Come on you baby, put the damn thing on.  Give someone hell!

(I shrug and take the headset.  I take an Egg McMuffin wrapper from a nearby trashcan and wipe it down before putting it on.  It does feel pretty good.  I take a half-step out into traffic and get the attention of a passing driver.)

Me (yelling):  Watch where you going you bleedin’ donker jockey!

(Coughlin cracks up, and I do too. I take the headset off.)

Me:  Ok, I’ll give it to you, that was pretty amazing.

Coughlin (snatching the head set back from me):  Told you.

(Super uncomfortable pause)

Coughlin:  So, you’re telling me if I sit here all day, I’m not going to get tickets?

(I shake my head)

Coughlin:  Challenge!

(He hits me with another bean bag).