Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An open letter to Pepe and Diesel

Dear Pepe and Diesel,

Psssst.. Come on back. It’s okay. I’ll even make the first move. Things will be good again, I swear. Ever since I took over the reigns at McKale Center in Tucson, the Arizona basketball team has become infinitely more likeable – by being everything Arizona is not.

Sure, we don’t have that freakishly gifted athlete that we can call on in the clutch to go up and slam home a put-back, sweeping the crowd off its feet, forcing our opponent to call a time out and letting our pep band belt out a couple verses of “Moondance.”

And, okay, we’re not particularly all that exciting to watch. Our offensive style is more UCLA and Washington State than it is Kentucky in the mid-90s or the Wildcats you’re used to. Aesthetics-wise, we’re a better fit for the Big East or Big Ten. But, you see, this is the way the Pac-10 is going, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing – we’re playing in arguably the best or second-best conference in all of college basketball right now. We plan on winning it again soon.

And, I know, our uniforms look different now. Our shorts look weird, they’re lacking trim and the ‘CATS’ is placed far too high up the sides, and our jerseys have an unnecessary and distracting stripe down the back sides, but just look past all that for a moment.

Because, you know what? I think, despite the lack of high-flying, fast-break basketball that made Arizona so appealing in the first place, you’re going to love us again. It may not happen overnight, and you may find some of our games ugly and choppy, but we’d love to have you on board again.

I know you’re tired of the Purdues and Seton Halls beating your more talented teams, and so am I. Perhaps more worryingly, you’re tired of us having too many assholes that are difficult to root for, like Marcus Williams and Chris Rodgers, and not enough true student-athletes to be proud of. And I know you may have had poor relations with Shakes and found him to be too under-achieving at times and too hasty towards the fans and media.

But I’m working on all of that, trust me. I really am. You think Chase Budinger will get a big head and pull a classic Arizona ‘phenom that doesn’t achieve all of his potential,’ like Williams or Hassan Adams? That’s not going to happen. I tell him every day that, with hard work, someday he’ll perhaps have the opportunity to be a good player in Europe. Jerryd Bayless is one of my favorite players to coach, but until he handles the ball better, he’s headed there too.

Plus, I don’t appeal to the crowd and all their “We want Bagga!” chanting. Hell, I’m dumbfounded as to why Daniel Dillon got a near-standing ovation when he entered the game last week! I’m going to make these kids earn their playing time and you can be damn well sure that they’ll play hard – or else I’ll threaten to cancel their Christmas, like I did last week.

The biggest difference between me and Shakes is our personalities, which is perhaps my biggest selling point to you. Face it, fellas, I’m you. I watch basketball, make funny and outrageous statements and have a few drinks – when was the last time you saw Shakes in the same local establishment you frequented? My weekly radio show has become a must-listen to simply because I don’t hold anything back. When asked if watching 17-18 basketball game films every day helps me become a better coach, I interrupted the interviewer and told him you’d be an “absolute psychopath!” if you didn’t. During a recent press conference, a media member’s phone rang, and I (semi-) jokingly fined him $500 or pro-rated it to his pay. When was the last time Shakes did any of that?

Finally, I think what I’m doing here is pretty significant. Already this season, we’ve battled against two teams that have far superior size and talent to us – Kansas and Texas A&M – and we beat A&M in one of the best environments I’ve seen at McKale in years. We went to Chicago and beat Illinois using our toughness, something Sean Singletary has been poking fun at us about for years. (An aside, Who the fuck is Sean Singletary anyway?)

Saturday night, we’re taking on a very, very talented team in Memphis – think A&M, but better. I’d appreciate it if you tuned in and checked us out. We may not win, but we may not lose, either. There’s a new king in town, and you’d have to be a complete moron like Laval Lucas-Perry if you didn’t see this thing out with me.


Kevin O’Neill


Anonymous said...

NAILED it, B, without even repeating some tired take about New Yorkers being politically incorrect — can you BELIEVE some Mets fans from time to time say offensive things, while possibly drunk at a fan-fest? Usually, New Yorkers are the epitome of class and taste. Scandal!

If Pepe or Diesel ever take indefinite personal leave to deal with family issues not related to their health (I think I got that right), might I suggest we add a new GWNA to this mix? It might cut down on some (most? all) of the childish sniping, but it might still be worth it.

Diesel said...

O'Neill had me at hello, actually. I've watched all but two of the games this season. I hope your ghostwriter sticks around; we promise not to work him on Saturdays.

And, Anon, feel free to patronize another site. Or create your own ... oh, that's right, you get paid to write uninteresting stories. I'm the sucker who does it for free.

Merry Christmas.

Pepe said...

I've been watching, Kev. And I like what I see. If you promise not to screw up our program the way you screwed up every other program you've coached at, and to spell "reins" properly (horse-riding metaphor, dammit! I'll lend you my new OED if you'll just ask!), we might have a future together. It'd also be nice if you'd choose your wives better than your predecessor and keep your head still.

Anonymous, I have some countersuggestions for on how to cut down the childish sniping:

1. Hire B full-time. Pro bono, of course.

2. Disable anonymous comments.

3. Find some crippled ballerinas or a perennially bad college football program and write about them incessantly. Depending on which anonymous that is. Either way, it should bore our readers into submission.

What do you think, Diesel? Shall we have a board meeting and discuss?

Ryan said...

Pepe, you're right. I'm terribly boring.

If the TGWNA think its tough coming up with something to write about once a week when they get to pick the topic, length and facts they choose to use — or ignore — they should try writing every day on a topic they have no control over and can't spin to fit their mood. It's a bear, and I can completely understand why the TGWNA can't be bothered to read such drivel unless they're pissing at Old Chicago, no matter how many local and national awards are won by the handsome, left-handed author.

Maybe if I wrote about Kevin O'Neill, things would be different, seeing as we all know you guys have been down since Day 1. (Didn't his hiring prompt the Diesel ban? I seem to remember Pepe using the term "renegade program" at the time — as a secessionist, maybe it was praise. Right?)

But if there's anything the truth-and-fact hating media have over the internet type — and its become apparent over the last few days on this blog — it's that most of the stodgy old hegemonists can handle reader comments without breaking out the get-your-own-forum take, which is the writer's equivalent of spitting in someone's face or, at best, taking one's ball and going home.

Its insulting.

Why can't commenters criticize a post they don't agree with, regardless of reasoning, without getting either banned, ripped or barked at? Its an f-ing argument blog — and the criticism is usually nothing compared to what's written in the actual posts.

Why can't an handsome anonymous poster laugh at a story that seems par for the course for a d-bag Mets fan? (An aside: the beef was less with Diesel and more with Pearlman, who — stunner — is selling a book! How about getting the fan's name, or asking him a few follow-up questions if you're so scandalized, Jeff? Is there a chance this "fan" was really just a literary device used to address this topic in Pearlman's story? I'll answer: Yes.)

While we're at it, why can't one praise B's post without having to read some sort of patronizing response from Pepe? Why is an accusation of childish sniping responded to with more childish sniping? I really hope it was facetiousness, but i doubt it.

For Two Guys Who Generally Have Pretty Thick Skin, I've noticed a definite touchiness of late. I'm sure one of you can explain the recent personal attacks, either in person, via email or on the blog, If reader comments are becoming a distraction, I suggest TGWNA take a page from the "boring" media and not read comments for a while if they're becoming a distraction. Sure beats "banning" comments — or people — like some sort of overzealous fantasy league commish.

Back to the first three words written on the first comment — and the entire reason I decided to write today:

B's post reminded me why I started reading this blog in the first place: it was a funny, clever take on a topic that we're all pretty interested in. We all have our opinions on KO's hire — and the style of play— and I was looking forward to a nice back-and-forth among my most sports-savvy friends. Instead, we all regressed to personal attacks and shit-talking, which — given the blog's recent history — isn't really surprising. But it's sad.


Diesel said...

Agh, the meta-commenting drives me fucking crazy. I'm going to ask everyone to stop, and that means I'll stop, too.

As for the O'Neill thing, it was never the hiring of the man that bothered me. And I've been fairly impressed by what I've seen; this team actually looks like it gives a shit. I also think that the transformation of Nick Wise from afterthought to team fulcrum has been nothing short of shocking, and I wouldn't be surprised if O'Neill deserves much of the credit for that as well. If Olson actually comes back next season — I know, I know — it obviously would be a disaster for the program. O'Neill definitely won't win the Pac-10 this season, and he's unlikely to make a deep run in the tourney, but the seeds are here for a Howland-like turnaround in Tucson if Livengood just lets the man have the job.

So, essentially, B did a bad job at writing a post for an "argument blog," because there's not much to argue with.

b said...

Oh, I honestly thought you two were still down on Lute and hadn't come back - my bad. In that case, my open letter from Jim Rosborough praising the good people of Sparkle Cleaners for removing pit stains would have been far more apropos.

Catfish Vegas said...

Y'all are kinda whacky, but man, ya get into it...