When I learned Harrah’s Rincon was opening up a sports bar called the Sports Pit in late September, I decided to hit it. They offered lots of free food and drinks and two former NFL stars. And because I’m in a fantasy football league, I’m always looking for places that have big screens.
Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin was there. I brought an 8˝x10˝ for him to sign for a friend.
I told Irvin that my stepbrother had him on his fantasy team the year he had only two touchdowns. He said, “Tell him I’m sorry” and laughed. I said, “Isn’t it weird that people bring up fantasy football statistics to you?” He said, “Well, I recently got into it and have a team. So I know more about it now.”
I brought two Deion Sanders football cards for Sanders to sign. Because I write a column for Autograph Magazine, I figured I could get a column out of it.
Sanders was standing near the blackjack tables with a woman, so I didn’t bug him. I just said, “I bet you got a hard time from San Diegans because of those comments about Tomlinson and how he should’ve played in that playoff game even though he was hurt.” He replied sternly, “Yeah, but so what! It’s true, man. He should’ve played. It was the playoffs.”
I laughed nervously as he walked away. I thought about chasing him down and saying, “You’re the guy that never tackled anyone. You’re the guy that got injured when you were high stepping into the end zone.” I chickened out.
Later, when I approached Sanders to sign my football cards, I asked him what the weirdest thing was he’s ever been asked to autograph. He said, “Two football cards!” I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. I couldn’t figure it out. I saw Irvin sign eight items for one lady. I assumed these two players were paid handsomely to be here, yet Sanders didn’t seem to be enjoying himself.
I went and grabbed some food. One table had the type of food you’d see at a sports bar: hot wings, sliders, french fries... The other table included desserts, shrimp, and fancier things. I stuck with the sports grub.
Irvin went to a table where 8˝x10˝s were given out and signed more autographs. I never saw Sanders make it over there, but I did see him sign autographs while he and Irvin watched football on the big screen.
When Sanders went over to do the raffle, he seemed in better spirits. But, when I saw that he was leaving (about 30 minutes earlier than he was scheduled to), I grabbed one of the 8˝x10˝s they were giving away. I asked him to sign it. He started to and then said, “Man, you got your own card show going on here. Don’t be selling that stuff.” I’m sure he thought I was going to sell it, but I’m not sure he realizes that he’s not a Hall of Famer like Irvin. I’d probably get ten dollars for an autographed Sanders photo — tops.
I overheard a guy named Don talk about a person winning $4000 at a nearby slot machine. He said, “I sat there a few minutes earlier, but I cashed out.”
I started talking with him and his friend. Don said he used to like to go into bars and challenge people to arm-wrestling matches. He’d never lose. He showed me a muscle in his arm that looked like Popeye on steroids. He told me about sore losers that wanted to start fights. But Don is a black belt. One time he beat the crap out of a big biker who wanted to “step outside” because Don was sarcastically saying, “Uh-oh…I think I’m going to lose. It feels like you got me…oh, wait…” before slamming his arm to the table. The guy ended up a bloody mess and said, “Thanks, man, I really needed that.”
Don was having a birthday party the next day at Wings, Pizza N Things in Oceanside, where he hosts karaoke under the name DJ Don Juan. I decided to crash that party.
I ended up talking to Derek, the owner of the place. He talked about how he’s owned the restaurant for a year and that it’s been hard. But because he’s breaking even, he’s considering it a success.
When I mentioned something about the Eagles jersey on the wall, he said, “I’m from Philly. But I have that Chargers jersey. It’s Vencie Glenn, right next to it.” I told him I once bowled with Glenn in Mira Mesa.
Because there was a buy-one, get-one-free deal on the pizza, we ate a lot more than we should have.
I met Don’s wife, who wasn’t at the casino the night before. She was holding their twins, who were cute. One had blue eyes, the other had brown. Don said, “We had them December 15. Just in time for tax write-offs!”
Someone nearby told me about a couple that recently had twins, and one child was black and the other was white. I asked, “Was his name Michael Jackson?”
We saw a basketball-shooting game. My girlfriend joked that she could beat me, so we played. I smoked her.
I then noticed that if I beat the high score of 51, I could win a free pizza. I told her I probably could if she handed me the basketballs (instead of me reaching down for them). As we were trying to win, I missed my first few shots. She started giving me crap, and I said, “Hey, these balls aren’t regulation. They’re tiny.” I ended up with a score of 47.
I jokingly complained to Derek, who said, “I’ll give you free pizza. Don’t worry about it.”
The birthday cake was being cut, and I said, “I probably won’t like it. So many cakes have that whipped-cream frosting. I like butter cream.” He said, “Yeah, I’m with ya on that.”
As we were leaving, my girlfriend and I talked about coming back to watch the Super Bowl. I said, “We’ll have to see if we get invites to Super Bowl parties first.”
Just then, we saw guys standing around a trophy that was about six feet tall. We asked them about it. They were a group of pool players that meets there, and they’d won a tournament. They started to tell us all about it.
As they began telling an elaborate story about a difficult shot, I was thinking about saying, I’ll bet you that trophy that I know a guy in there that can beat any one of you at arm-wrestling.