Day 1: Yay, Leah Garcia is on duty!
HIGHLIGHTS: No Erin Coscarelli.
LOWLIGHTS: Only 9 qualified rides. The world’s top 3 bucked off.
THE HYPE WE HAVE KNOWN AND COME TO HATE:
“They know pain, but they don’t know fear. They’re warriors…”
“LET’S GET OUR STORY STRAIGHT BOYS BEFORE WE GET BACK TO TOWN” (Name that Delbert McClinton tune!):
One intro says the cowboys have been on the trail for 8 months. The next intro says 10.
I LIKE IT:
The rider bios at the top of the hour. It’s good to talk about the backgrounds of the Brazilian riders; maybe now some people won’t resent their success so much.
‘BOUT DAMN TIME!
Finally, they gave some props to Austin Meier as “the only American with a realistic shot at the Finals title.” But talk about a faux pas, Marty! When you interview him, what you don’t say right in front of him is, “And he still thinks he’s in this thing.”
Austin was so sticky on Buzz Saw: textbook ride, perfect getoff on his feet─ and was awarded only 85.50! Everyone booed that score, even me, thousands of miles away.
“Your first one don’t matter if you don’t ride the rest.” –Austin’s answer when Leah asked about his successful start.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND…
JB Mauney was the only man in history going 8 for 8 last year…Last year Renato Nunes entered the Finals as #3, rode all 5 bulls, and closed the 1300-point gap. He was only the second person to win both the World Finals and World Championship in the same year. This time he knew he didn’t have a chance. Sigh.
AWWW MOMENTS: Valdiron de Oliveira walking in with his son.
Either the Blues Brothers are bull riding fans or the Feds are on the PBR’s case—suits in dark glasses and cowboy hats (that’s the undercover part) accompanied the riders into the arena.
I’M JUST ASKIN’…
Since you moved the Sky Box down onto the dirt, wouldn’t that make it the Earth Box?
P.S. Where’s Michael Gaffney?
Save yourself the airtime, guys: J.W. Hart and Justin McBride chattering away behind the chutes were saying nothing important.
CAN I QUOTE YOU ON THAT?
- Guilherme Marchi talking about Silvano Alves: “I think he’s the one who’s going to break all the records.”
- “There aren’t any confidence-building bulls here.” ─Ty.
- “That guy rides way too good…He’s gonna have to stub his toe really bad at the finals” for anyone else to win.– J.B. talking about Alves.
- “Oh yeah, that’ll get your heart going a little bit.” ─Shorty Gorham after the unridden Rango used both ends going after the bullfighters.
- After Shorty and Jesse Byrne were voted tops by the riders, Shorty called Jesse “a young stud.” Um, just exactly how would you know that, Mr. Gorham?
- Ty Murray, sympathizing about Shane Proctor’s groin injury likened that muscle to “a star pitcher having elbow trouble.” Kinda funny if you think about it.
- Tremors took a tremendous leap out of the chute, hung his leg in the gate and hit one of the cameras. “Good thing we have more than one camera,” said Ty philosophically.
- “I have the fuzzies pretty good.”—Luke Snyder. And maybe a concussion, but of course he’ll ride again.
- “I figured these last guys would dog me out.” ─Caleb Sanderson after winning the round, placing ahead of Silvano, much to his surprise.
- “Silvano doesn’t have a bad bone.” ─Valdiron de Oliveira
Call Aussie title-winner Jock Connolly an artist. At 3.3, the clock stopped for a touch, and the first review wasn’t conclusive. Ultimately a slow motion close-up showed Jock being ever so careful to keep from touching Damn Right: his wrist was just an inch above the bull, so boy, did he deserve the 86.50!
HUH?? Hummer called Pete Farley “the resident Babe Ruth.” What, with a 15% riding average?
I DID NOT KNOW THAT: Singer Moe Bandy used to be a bull rider.
- Smart move: letting us hear Clint Adkins and Brandon Bates introduce the riders. But one of ‘em called Alves “Silvanyo.” There’s no excuse for this. Bad enough it took Hummer two years to say it right─ now someone has to train the in-arena announcers. This is pathetic. Do other sports announcers get athletes’ names wrong?
- Somebody up there sort of likes J.B. Mauney. He drew debut bull, Sic ‘Em Sam─ kind of a badly wrapped gift, don’t you think, Mr. Lambert? J.B. got hung up, crumpled, trampled, butted in the ass, had a bad getoff─ and still managed to score 87.25.
OH, THAT AGAIN…
Praying to “Father,” talking about protecting America, bla bla bla, an Air Force honor guard presents the flag…all the stuff that pretty much guarantees that the U.S. will never take bull riding seriously as a legitimate sport. Then “the very talented and lovely” McClymonts, who have some weird ideas of harmony, warble the national anthem. “Ram-parts” couldn’t have been more nasal if they were wearing clothespins on their noses. Maybe I blinked, but the only event at which I’ve ever heard a man sing that song was in Times Square, and red-headed rocker Travis Clark (www.whoistravisclark.com), lead singer for We the Kings (www.wethekingsmusic.com), knocked the Star Spangled Banner out of the park. Either ask him to do it again, or hold auditions, for god’s sake.
- In a frightening moment or three, Brendon Clark, substituting for injured Skeeter Kingsolver, went over Pure Smoke’s front end, Joe Baumgartner jumped in front of the bull to keep him away from Brendon, the horn hooked under Joe’s vest and tossed him around like a rag doll. Those protective vests are the best idea this side of helmets; maybe nothing can be thoroughly bull-proof, but the sight of Baumgarten being hoisted up and away makes me hope the vests can be strengthened even more.
- Dustin Elliott said his main goal is to leave the weekend with money, but Carney Man bucked him off at 6.24, then stamped on him: both hind legs came down hard on Dustin’s back, plus one hoof kicked his helmet. Elliott got up off the ground with his shirt torn and blood visible. The good news was that he “was not badly hurt” but was “bruised, with a laceration on his nose,” and okay to ride the next night. Those are all relative terms, obviously. Other people would be in the hospital.
- Luke Snyder hurtled forward over Backbender’s hump, took a horn in the face, bumped against the bull’s head and shoulders, got bucked off, then the bull stamped on his leg.
THIS IS HOW WE KNOW YOU’RE NUTS:
- Shorty Gorham’s philosophy: a wreck like Baumgartner’s is the best way to start a Finals. “You know it’s gonna happen to you sooner or later; just get it out of the way.”
- Pit Boss spun Cord McCoy off like a copter– and the guy is still smiling. It’s a little scary.
- Now I know why they call him Bad Blake: he went KA-POW! right out of the gate.
- Never saw a bull stutter-step in mid-air, but Porcupine Puncher did when the chute gate opened.
- This is how you know he’s a superstar (besides the 24 straight buckoffs he had coming into the Finals): when he’s being profiled, Bushwacker heads straight to the camera.
- Mr. Feiger may look “like a little ol’ roping steer,” as Ty said, but the bull was so vertical and had so many unorthodox moves, he could be a star if he keeps it up.
- Big Stink, one of few debut bulls here, is a pretty big, powerful bull for a newbie.
- Last year Train Wreck “pancaked” J.B. Mauney; this year he slid Silvano Alves off sideways. Sheesh!
NITWITTICISMS (What would we do without them?)
- He’s about to get his chance to dominate Vegas,” said The Bummer about Chris Shivers. What in tarnation has Craig been smoking??
- “We heard from him; we know what his quest is, to go 6 for 6.”─Hummer blathering about J.B. Mauney. What J.B. actually said in his Athlete Profile was that he doesn’t have a chance, he has nothing to lose, so he can just let it all hang out and go at ‘em.
- “He doesn’t swing for the fences, he just hits single after single…”─Hummerblather about Silvano. Umm, dude, Alves has been swinging for the fences all year. That’s how he ended up winning the Finals.
TALK ABOUT “MANNING UP”!
Guilherme Marchi broke 6 ribs in that infamous wreck which I don’t want to recount here. He didn’t think he’d be at the Finals, but decided the week before that he felt good enough to go. Mud Wasp, a debut bull, was butting and banging around in the chute, not helping Marchi’s nerves any (and this is a man with 45 90-point rides), but the Brazilian bombshell (oh, come on, don’t tell me you don’t think Guilherme’s pretty) scored 86.50. Made me happy to see all that he-man chest-thumping and fist pumping (which is not something I’d normally say─ ask my friends).
“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN…”
This time Mike White was on dog-and-pony-show duty (or should I say, bull and pony), chasing bulls around, swinging his rope. But this crop of the-best-of-the-best bulls aren’t necessarily showoffs; they’re getting extra face time because after the ride (or lack thereof), the chute guys deliberately close the exit gate each time the bull gets near it, so the confused animal goes for one more lap around. To the audience, it looks like he’s hamming it up so they’ll “bring the noise;” meanwhile, the bull’s probably thinking, “WTF? I know it was around here somewhere!”
DAY 2 Valdiron de Oliveira& Rubens Barbosa tie for the round win.
- Hot Stuff trounced Jason O’Hearne; his forelegs crunched down on Jason’s middle, hind legs crunched his leg. I’d be surprised if it’s not shattered. Jason was flattened, taken out on the backboard. The aerial view of 8 guys in black hats carrying him looked so much like pallbearers with a coffin it gave me the willies. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital with Ben Jones’s wife Christy and Brendon Clark.
- Ty’s TV test-pattern shirt is making my eyes cross.
- Dustin Elliott’s injuries from last night made him miss tonight: bruised upper back, facial laceration. He told Leah he’d be back “If I can take a full breath and not hurt.”
- Jock Connolly hung up on Jack Daniels After Party; Jesse Byrne jumped in and got the rope loose. Score: high 80s. Jock took some bad shots, medical staff carried him out; he had to drop out of the round.
- That knock on the head last night made Luke Snyder bite through his tongue. Eeww!
HATIN’ IT: More of that loudmouth jerk at the opening of the show.
HIGHLIGHTS─ LOTS AN’ LOTS OF ‘EM
- Willie Wilco came flying out and Cord McCoy scored 84.25 on him. Cord’s on fire!
- Mesa Pate, owner of Cowboy Casanova, predicted a 90-point score, Rubens Barbosa obliged with a masterful 90.75 ride, and they both sure looked happy.
- The two video clips of “World’s Strongest Man” Ken Cox, forcing Whisky’s Rebel back down into the chute as the bull climbed halfway over the gate. Nowadays the bull’s head and horns are tethered to the chute to hold him there. Hummer commented to Shorty that this was the farthest he’d been standing away from the gate all night: “Did you draw straws for it?” “No, Craig─ I’m scared.” Tyler Thomson finally had to give up. This diva bull almost didn’t make it to the finals because of his bad behavior.
- Hector Cardona, invited from Mexico, scored 87 on Louisiana Purchase, landing on his feet. Gotta love the kid’s chest-thumping─ and on his way through the Hall of Legends he smiled at the camera and said Hi to his mother.
- Mike Lee’s outrageous correction to stay on his bull as it stumbled forward, for 88.25. Hummer’s comment: “Mike Lee with a veritable Matrix maneuver.” I didn’t see the movie─ you all decide if that made sense.
- Kody Lostroh, riding with a torn ACL and NCL, earned his 87.50 on Too Sexy with the kind of ride he used to make all the time. “Picture perfect” is right, Ty.
- Wow, Caleb! Sanderson says he doesn’t remember anything from the time he gets on a bull until after he gets back to the locker room, but he was totally “in the moment,” to use a stupid Method Actor phrase, reacting to Big Iron with great countermoves, not anticipating or over-correcting. 87.50.
- All the clones came to the party tonight, and Stormy Wing drew Slim’s Ghost, who put him through the wringer. “He’d rather drag to death than starve to death” was Ty’s description of Stormy hanging onto that bull like J.B. hung onto Code Blue. The clock stopped at 5.57, he challenged, and he was right─ he hadn’t touched the bull. The judges scored him only 79.50 for that display of true grit.
- “You can’t be any more out of position than that!” Ty Murray said about Luke Snyder on Chocolate Thunder. Luke was literally in the air, off the bull, but still holding the tail of the rope, for 81.75.
- Eww—the nostril cam crawled up Toy Soldier’s nose while he gave us the beady eye. Marchi said he was nervous (last night his knee got hurt in the chute), but he rode for 88, stepped off on his feet and up onto the Shark Cage to show off: a headstand into his hat. Last night it was a cartwheel.
- Robson Palermo rode Tuxedo with a torn rotator cuff in left shoulder, landed on that shoulder, and scored 87.75. Hummer was right—that is superhuman. (After his Nov. 2 surgery, Robson heads for 6 months of rehab in Brazil.) Sounds like something I could use, too. Without the surgery.
- Valdiron has ridden Speckled Ivory 3 of 4 times, for high scores, this time a 90.75 that was spectacular in slow motion. He couldn’t look happier; it’s been a while since his last pushups with Flint. To the camera he told his wife, daughter, and son he loves them.
- Pete Farley’s Mom’s gotta be proud of his terrific adjustments in response to every change Cool Spot made, earning 87.25.
- Douglas Duncan’s good-looking 88.25 ride on Over the Edge, alighting on his feet.
- Fabiano Vieira exited The Situation like he just stepped off the curb, for 86.
- No wonder we haven’t seen Crosswired in a while! He had a horn infection, and it sounds like he almost died; they removed the horn, and he’s back, with plenty of high kick─ enough to send Pistol Robinson out blinking and dazed.
- Couldn’t believe my eyes: Mr. Slim was doing a paddle turn on one hoof. Dancers, take note.
- “He’s had a career year, but he realizes: why stop there?” Hummer talking about Caleb Sanderson.
- Valdiron de Oliveira and Silvano Alves entered the arena in a DeLorean. Hummer said it’s “Back to the Future” night in the arena. No explanation followed.
- Hummer talking about Valdiron and Silvano being “desperate” to do better tonight. Excuse me, but I think when you’re in the lead you’re not all that desperate.
- Interviewer Snyder (inserting foot in mouth) asked Silvano if last night he lost the opportunity to put the championship away. Alves looked serious and told the translator (supposedly), “No, I’m not nervous about this; if I’m meant to be the champion, I will. There’s four days left, if I ride my bulls I will be the champion.”
GOTTA LOVE IT
- “Who’m I gonna pick to win the world championship? That’s easy; that’s me.”—Austin Meier
- Shorty’s crib notes strapped to his wrist, Jesse Byrne’s stylish helmet cam. Hummer suggested using “the Jesse cam to make training videos.” Not a bad idea, if you can stand the vertigo nausea factor.
- Just like Adriano Moraes, once Marchi learned some English, you couldn’t shut him up. First he did all his thank yous in English, then he did them in Portuguese, too.
- Alves and de Oliveira whooping at each other and high fiving after Silvano’s ride on Mr. Slim.
- Another “lovely young lady” with off-pitch, who thinks she can improvise on the Star Spangled Banner─ who just happens to be married to J.W. Hart.
- Josey Wales was Colby Yates’s 28th straight buckoff.
- “I know you enjoyed your time in the locker room with your buddies.”—Craig talking to Chris Shivers.
- “Caleb Anderson is still on top.” ─Guess who.
- “Caleb Sanderson has assumed the position.” Does Hummer have any idea he’s saying these things?
- “He’s either direction.”—Ty. That’s something you’d expect Hummer to say.
I’M JUST SAYIN’…THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO PLAY CRAZY 8s, JUDGES!!
Chris Shivers’s trip on Cooper Tires’ Wild & Out should’ve been a no-score. The slo-mo replay showed him off the bull before 8, but he was scored—88.25, no less. Ty’s right, “He really got by with that one.” Yeah, and it’s not the first time judges ignored reality to score Chris—high. This blatant favoritism sucks. People are sentimental because a great rider is about to retire, but this disgraceful cheating doesn’t add to his reputation. And wouldn’t “the cowboy code” tell Chris he oughtta tell on himself? He’s taken illegitimate scores three times this season that I recall. In contrast, Douglas Ferreira was flung around in the chute by I’m Back, the bull wiggled and leaped wildly all over the arena, a re-ride option on the basis of that out was denied, a replay showed Ferreira off the bull before 8, but because he’s not Chris Shivers, he wasn’t scored.
AND THIS IS NOT HELPING FOREIGN RELATIONS:
Shown on the screen: “Total Domination,” a chart illustrating the fact that the Brazilians have won 19 of 29 events this season (so far).
THE HIGHLIGHT WE NEVER TIRE OF: BEN JONES
Ben said in Las Vegas he’s never ridden his first bull. His father was in the stands watching for the 1st time at the Finals. Ben said he was riding for his buddy, injured Jason O’Hearn. Ben’s bull Gypsy Boots has a bad rep: a mean streak. Shorty’s pre-ride commentary, as the bullfighters went on red alert: “Ben has a tendency when he hits the ground to go to sleep.” In the chute, every time you thought Ben was ready to go, the bull lurched forward; when they finally got out, the bull banged against the chute and ricocheted everywhere, taking big leaps. Ben rode for 86.25, jumped onto the Shark Cage to dance, then jumped back down. I think I heard him say Jason’s his best mate, he loves him as much as Christy─ I hope he said almost.
TAKE THAT, OCHOCINCO!
Justin Koon scored 85 on Deja Blue Emu, but he shoulda got more points for the extra 5 seconds he rode.
I DID NOT KNOW THAT
Silvano’s grandfather and father were bull riders.
Luke Snyder has competed in more consecutive events than anyone.
- Going into a commercial break, The Bummer announced, “We’re coming back with the top 13 in the world, which of course includes World #1 Silvano Alves.” Otherwise it would be the almost-top 13, Craig.
- “Can he answer his good friend?” (meaning, Silvano to Valdiron) “We talk about the money, but it’s the honor and the title these men are going for.” Uh, have you not been listening, Craig? All the Brazilians have talked about how important winning money is to their families.
MEAGER FASHION ALERT: Great purple shirt on Tyler Thomson.
CAN I QUOTE YOU ON THAT?
- “It’s a cowboy sport. It’s reactions, not a game plan.”─ Douglas Duncan.
- Robson talked with Leah about the Brazilians doing much better tonight: “Last night I buck off and I so mad; I make a mistake last night…last night maybe a little intimidated, but we talked and laugh and make it better today.”
- Valdiron talked about how he didn’t ride his bull last night, but tonight, “I try more hard.” He was bubbling away, and finally ended breathlessly, “I so happy now.”
I’M JUST SAYIN’…
- Didja notice, the two Fantasy Pick winners are female?
- Where’s the friggin’ translator for Marty Snyder’s interview with Valdiron de Oliveira?
”When you’re a professional, you have to give it your blood and work hard every day.”─ Guilherme Marchi
Last night J.B. Mauney sprained his tailbone (yeah, that’s the technical term). He said he wouldn’t be sitting on his back pockets tonight. Sho’ nuff, he rode Chicken on a Chain for 86. That bull still brings it. But poor J.B. backstage was bent over, head hidden in the curtains, jiggling like you do when you’re in pain and don’t wanna scream. Earlier, Leah asked how he dealt with the pain. “You gotta be a cowboy, you gotta be tough. A cowboy’s supposed to be tough, and I try to be,” was his answer, showing once again that pigheaded is not the way to steer.
Buck Wild was a loonytune in the chute; L.J. Jenkins nearly got bucked off. While the chute guys were trying to help, we heard L.J. call the bull “this motherfucker.” Yay for cable TV─ we get to hear real cowboys be real cowboys instead of the sanitized Yes Ma’am, Aw shucks squeaky-clean cartoon we’re supposed to buy.