I just got back from a week-long trip to one of my company’s call centers, where we got to sit with service representatives and listen-in on their calls with irate/disinterested customers. It was highly interesting yet disappointing in the sense that I never got one of my most burning questions answered: why is it when I call in to these centers and give all of my account numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden names, and streets I grew up on to the automated voice-response (VR) system—supposedly to save
time—the first thing the human does (when I eventually get a hold of him/her) is ask me all of the same crap
all over again?? I brought this up with the head of the VR team, and he sounded eerily like Donnie Walsh: long-winded and vague to the point of useless. At one point he actually used the words, “we’re always evaluating the situation and looking to improve all the time.” The only GM-speak he didn’t
use was, “we’ll wait until the off-season before we make any decisions.” And now I’m disgusted with myself for just accepting his non-answer and not pushing him further. I basically went into “Chad Ford” mode, ate it, and thanked him.
While on the road, I wasn’t totally off the grid, though. If you go to mysportsradio.com and download episode #189 of the NBA Roundball Roundtable, that’s me calling in with the “Quick Take of the Day.” Listen to the podcast and with about 9 minutes left, you’ll hear me dog one of their hosts for earlier selecting the Utah Jazz as his “x-factor/wild card” of the Utah-Houston series. Yes, you read that right: in a 2-team series, the guy picked one of the teams as his wild card. That was the main point of my call: you can’t pick an entire team as a “wild card.” Yes, technically, the opposing team is a wild card, but it’s not very insightful to point that out; I think even Rick Bonnell would have come up with something more helpful. It’d be like doing a report on D-Day, and instead of listing the weather or the message-decoders as some of the key turning points, you just write that the entire Allied invading force was the x-factor.
On the heels of Rick Bonnell’s recent piss-poor efforts with the Charlotte Observer, this was the second time in a row I’ve had to call on NBA analysts to “step their game up.” And having just listened to the BS Report podcast with Chris Connelly, I might have to go for the three-peat. If you listen to it, about midway through, it amazingly sounds like Bill Simmons is hearing the story of Chris Paul scoring 60+ in a high school game in honor of his grandfather for the first time. I can’t fathom how this could be, considering Mike Tirico launches into this anecdote on just about every third Chris Paul assist.
And screw it, as long as I’m cranky from jet-lag, society in general needs to step their game up. Remember a few weeks ago when it looked like the Mavs had turned their season around in that weekend game against Phoenix? I remember reading in the recap that Jason Kidd “joked” with reporters about “a Jason Terry sighting” (because Terry had played his first good game in a while–get it? Ha-ha). I’m sorry, but that line “having a such-and-such sighting” can’t be considered a joke anymore; it’s a played-out phrase. Same with calling someone “Rain Man,” because he’s got a good memory or is good with numbers (as NBC commentator Brian Williams “joked” about Chris Matthews in a New York Magazine article a couple weeks back).
In fact, no more mediocre movie titles in the lexicon at all. That means no more “it’s like Groundhog Day” and “it was really a Perfect Storm.” See some new movies and come up with something else, America. You don’t see the Brits walking around and saying Luol Deng’s career has been a real “Chariots of Fire-like story” or Spaniards constantly comparing Pau Gasol’s performance to “that scene in Pan’s Labyrinth.” Really, it’s embarrassing how unimaginative and lazily uncreative we’ve gotten. I blame this failure on our public school system, by the way. Not only can’t we compete with foreigners in basic academic skills, but now our humor-levels have really fallen behind too—I wouldn’t be surprised to find that we’re just the 15th-funniest among industrialized nations.
Anyway, the business trip seemed to have happened at the perfect time, as it doesn’t look like the Bobcats did anything noteworthy in the past week, right? Oh wait, yeah they did. I haven’t exactly kept my opinion of Sam Vincent’s coaching prowess to myself, but I was hardly expecting the team to go out and hire Larry Brown(!). That’s like complaining to your boss about the office’s sub-par coffee machine, and then he responds by converting a vacant cubicle into a free Starbucks booth. I’m not sure if I can think of a single greater upgrade in coaching…ever, actually. Maybe when Pat Riley took over for John McCleod as coach of the Knicks in 1991? But even McCleod had experience and success with Phoenix before the Knicks. We, on the other hand, went from a rookie coach who was clearly in over his head to Larry freakin’ Brown.
And to think, I’d have just been happy with a coach who realized that Raymond Felton shouldn’t be the shooting guard! In fact, if they’d announced someone like Rick Carlisle as the new coach, I would have practically been fighting back tears of joy. So let’s just say that it’s fortunate I wasn’t listening in on one of the service center calls when I got the news about LB, otherwise my screams of ecstasy might have caused the VR system to declare global thermal-nuclear war.