BTW, if you’re wondering why it’s taking me forever to write about the New York event, it’s because I was still reeling from the blatant cheating on Sunday, which you’ll hear about in the next installment. I seriously thought that might be my last PBR event.
SEND IN YOUR OPINIONS ON THE NEW EVENT FORMATS!
Out of 40 riders, now only the top 10 will be in the short go. And then the cut comes, and then there are also the 15/15 events.
On the one hand, the format changes save wear and tear on a few more asses (human and bovine). On the other hand, it probably means the usual suspects will collect the most points and money all season, making the gap between them and the other riders wider and wider, with very little chance for the non-top 15 to catch up.
With the old format, we’d have a much more unpredictable race to the Finals─ more exciting. Isn’t that how Renato Nunes was able to catch up after being out for a while, and take the title in 2010? Wouldn’t it help J.B., by evening out his uneven days? What if Ben Jones didn’t make his first two rides, but delivered a spectacular one in the short go─ which can’t happen if he doesn’t make those two rides? In the Truth Booth, he was uncharacteristically calm about not making the Short Go, but how long do you think that’s going to last?
I’m sure the Powers-That-Be think this elimination process makes events more exciting. Reality check: It puts more pressure on riders, and makes the newer, less experienced guys spend the same amount of travel money for even less of a shot at winning anything.
There are probably lots of other pros and cons, but I’ll leave it to you readers to speak your minds.
THE MIRACULOUS (if you’re there in person):
No Erin! No shoutin’ hillbilly! No Hummer Bummer! No theme song!
Another headache-inducing shirt, Ty. Somebody please tell him you can’t wear patterns on TV! Not even on the big screen in Madison Square Garden!
Renato Nunes tossing his hat from the back of Very Smart Remedy, who, according to either Clint Adkins or Brandon Bates, has a 93% buckoff rate…but there’s no way to check this stat on the PBR website, because you won’t find the bull when you search.
THE BAD: Renato was woefully underscored at 83.25.
For a change, the Best-Dressed Fan on Saturday night was not a little boy in a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy outfit. It was Sheralee Fiore, the New York State Barrel Racing Champion.
The new PBR helmet, as demonstrated by Kody Lostroh, is made of carbon fiber. Better for when their brains get joggled.
TY AT THE MIC:
“You gotta know when you’re being tough and when you’re kidding yourself.”
“It’s insanely scary every time you do it.” (And he’s not talking about using the loo after 5,000 women have already been there.)
“He just walks around like a robot.” Uh, what he meant to say is, Mike Lee’s one of the most focused riders, and doesn’t get emotional (or he stuffs it back down) on the job.
“It compounds on you.” If he had left off the “com,” we’d know what he meant about making mistakes on the back of a bull.
OOPS: Two seconds before the disaster: “I can’t imagine a more perfect match for Pistol than Carrillo Cartel.” (Someone said Pistol previously rode CC twice, for 90-point scores. The PBR website says he did it once.)
There’s a new Cody in town: Campbell, wearing a wild cosmic shirt─ now that’s fashion-forward!
Hummer says “Sha-mown,” Clint (or was it Brandon?) says “Sha-moon.” (Shamoun is unridden in 14 outs on the BFTS.) Guess who’s right about how to pronounce Little Hummer’s new name? Some Dad you are, Craig.
TEE HEE MOMENTS:
“I’ve seen better hands on a snake,” said Clint or Brandon (honestly, how are we supposed to tell them apart?) at Flint’s failure to catch his own hat they tossed to him.
Hatless Flint caught in a rear-view close-up on the jumbo screen, his bald spot revealed. “What is that, ladies?” he coached. “Sexyyy.”
AND THE OSCAR FOR THE BEST PERFORMANCE BY A BULL GOES TO…
I don’t know WTF the four-legged athletes did on Friday night after the show, but they were a freakin’ hoot Saturday and Sunday. Some of the funniest moments all weekend were down to the bulls’ hatred of hats─ not hats with cowboys under them, just hats lying around. Nothing seemed to piss them off more than a hat dirt napping.
After Chris Shivers rode Incognito, the bull revenged himself on Chris’s prone hat. After Valdiron scored 86.50 on Anonymous, the bull lowered his head and pawed aggressively, warning Flint’s straw number that had flown across his path. The audience cheered, so he stepped it up (Anonymous, not Flint). Ryan McConnel’s bull, Another One (which he didn’t ride) didn’t just threaten Flint’s chapeau─ he actually charged and mashed it up. Dusty Ephrom’s bull Hobo (ridden for 83.75) didn’t bother with the headgear, just went gunning for Flint. Sometimes I feel like that, too.
The bulls maximized their face time, even without the chute boys’ trick of keeping the exit gate closed so the big hunks have to take a “victory lap” before they can knock off work. Aaron Roy’s Wedgie (tee hee) whirled him off, then dillydallied in the ring. (How often do you get to use that word?) He went after anyone standing near a rail, and had to be roped out of town. Ty Pozzobon’s bull Exotic Justin (I really don’t want to think about who or why someone came up with that name) missed his cue and had to think for a bit before he decided to leave the chute. The cartoon bubble over his head said, “Uh, now what was my motivation again? And is my hair all right?”
Wicked Cool pulled some (need I say what kind of? Craig would) moves on Guilherme Marchi: he quit bucking, surprising Marchi, then slid him out the back door. As I recall, the rule says that if a bull’s momentum stops, you get a re-ride. You can fill in the blank here as to why that did not ensue.
Cody Campbell’s bull Rusty Waters exhibited a bizarre technique that seemed to catch on among his compadres: with each spin, he dunked his head so far down to the dirt that his cheek scraped the ground. Deja Blue Emu and LaGrange had their own modified versions, whipping around in a high-speed spin and dipping their heads on every rotation.
Some of the big guys were pretty damn boisterous in the chute, too. Cut Loose (who supposedly has an 88% buckoff rate, unverifiable on the PBR website because the bull isn’t there) was leaping up, sitting down, and generally bugging Austin Meier, who had to re-set, but still ended up with a goose-egg.
Now that’s bucking: Hou-chie! Hot stuff. Whitewater Trouble blew up high and blasted L.J. Jenkins off his back, in spite of L.J. doing everything right. Real kicky: Rock Star, who unseated Douglas Ferreira. Cool Spot’s big pogo entrance: leap, fast left, leap, right turn, and sayonara, Caleb Sanderson.
Air Jack, Reese Cates’ little Saturday night bull, started out with a big kick, then petered out, leaving him with 84.50─ a better score than Renato’s ride on the much tougher Very Smart Remedy. (Are we surprised?) Little Shyster wasn’t exactly kicking high, but J.B. (unsurprisingly) received an 86.50. Where’s the Whiskey’s hind legs barely left the ground while he spun around very fast. Who Dat wasn’t rank enough for the Saturday Short Go; he wasn’t doing much kicking after his entrance; I guess he knew Mike Lee was on his back, so he might as well give up. Hail Damage was a relative creampuff, and Blue Canyon lost steam in his back end.
THE FLINT SHOW, WHICH ENCOMPASSES ALL CATEGORIES:
Biggest moment: Flint in Michael Jackson wig, sunglasses, and costume (“I went shopping”), dancing Jackson’s signature routines perfectly. Almost as good: his Elvis moves in honor of Presley’s birthday. His “Jail House Rock” rocked!
Next best: his imitation of a New Yorker seeing her first cowboy. She’s speeding along in the patented, intense Manhattanite way, head down, frowning, texting on her iPhone. Suddenly her head pops up, and without missing a beat she reverses direction to trail the Wranglers. I was howling; I’ve done that a buncha times. But they weren’t cowboys. Well, so far, anyway.
Flint somehow scored a free pizza on Saturday night: “I took it down the street and gave it to the guy with the sign that said, ‘Why lie? Will work for weed’─ right next to the guy painted gold.”
Last year, Fan of the Night brought a sign outlined in Christmas lights that said, “Black women ♥ Flint.” This year her sign said, “Give Flint a raise.” The woman knows how to get noticed! (I wonder how much Flint pays?)
Climbing up on a John Deere tractor to sing that same old gunslinger song.
Pointing out that Rick Patterson, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Spire Capital, which bought the PBR, violated a Garden security rule, climbing over a row of new chairs by stepping on a seat. But I got that sinking feeling when Flint called him “the man who owns the PBR.”
Flint standing on a barrel, singing a Keith Urban song while rotating his rear. Icky.
Flint’s choice for Fan of the Night was Peter, a big fat banker in a shirt and tie who, when he said what he did for a living, got booed by the fans. Flint made some lame negative comment about the Occupy Wall Street protestors. I guess he hasn’t been watching the news for the last 8 years, and missed the fact that the banks tanked this country’s economy, foreclosed on a whole lotta homes, held the government hostage for bailout money, spent it on executive pay and bonuses, refused to account for where the money went (I saw some interviews with top bank representatives─ it was shocking), didn’t want to pay it back, and are still making multimillion dollar salaries. The OWS movement is people who have been harmed by that greed: people who have lost jobs and homes and health insurance. This is the most direct way to make their voices heard. And in case he also hasn’t noticed, there are Occupy Wall Street actions in every country, because the global economy has been damaged by the actions of the 1 or 2% of the people who control 98 or 99% of the wealth. I guess he’s never heard of the American Revolution, “No taxation without representation,” or any of the history which is repeating itself. On Sunday, the banker returned wearing his fan buckle, and gave Flint a tie. Serves him right.
Flint’s interaction with children is getting progressively creepier. Unfortunately, he and a lot of audience members think it’s funny. Here’s the dialogue with the 7-year-old Best Dressed Fan, a boy in a white cowboy hat, black shirt, Wranglers, black chaps, and boots:
“What grade are you in?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
The kid nods Yes. Obviously he thinks this means a friend who is a girl. He’s not thinking sex or romance.
“Is she hot?”
The kid nods Yes. He thinks this word he hears all the time means you like the person.
“What grade is she in?”
“You know what she almost is? A cougar.”
Somebody needs to tell Flint that sexualizing children is pedophilia, whether you act on it or not. This is completely inappropriate and sexist. The child’s parent(s) obviously are clueless. Flint’s lucky he wasn’t anywhere near me; I would’ve hit him.
Guys in the rafters chanting “USA! USA!” after all the initial hot air about religion and politics and “preserving our freedom.” I’m American and it scared me; can’t imagine what the foreigners thought of this jingoism. Bull riding is an international sport; it’s not one country playing another. It has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with war. It has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with government. It’s a sport.
REAL BAD: PISTOL’S WRECK
We all love the bullfighters, they pull off a lot of miraculous saves, and I’ll take a lot of shit for saying this, but three times (Saturday and Sunday) the bullfighters were not in the right place at the right time. Colby Yates got stomped (especially his hand), Jordan Hupp took some bad shots, and Pistol Robinson suffered two broken legs— yet on the broadcast (which couldn’t get enough of Pistol’s terrible wreck) Hummer made sure to deliver the standard, “Immediately the bullfighters are on him, protecting him.” No, they were not. Telling us the opposite of what we saw live in the arena won’t make us believe you. Only Shorty had any contact with Carrillo Cartel, and that was after the bull was already stomping all over Pistol. One hoof hit Pistol’s face mask, and he took another dozen horrible shots. Harve Stewart jumped over the chute into the arena to help. That oughtta tell you something, besides the fact that Harve is brave and a great friend.
The long, awful silence while Pistol lay on the ground eventually was broken by the crowd starting to clap in rhythm, chanting, “Pis-tol! Pis-tol!” After a long time, he was taken out on the board, a bed following him. He acknowledged the crowd with a bit of a hand gesture, then was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be operated on for a broken femur in one leg and a broken tibia in the other. Cord McCoy relayed that report to friends of mine when they all ended up in the same pizzeria that night.
1) Who needs stress balls? Why doesn’t the PBR shoot tee shirts at us like they used to do? The Bimbo Brigade that tosses tee shirts at halftime can’t fling them past the first few rows, so hey─ the more money you spent on a seat, the more chance you had to take home another perk. A tee shirt, not a Bimbo. (Although I’m probably wrong there.)
2) Can’t we watch interviews on the big screens during halftime, instead of us the Ariat blimp cruising the arena, pooping out little orange wads that give you some kind of prize? This black hole before the Short Go drops the energy level way down, and unfortunately Jeremy thinks the way to get the energy back up is to blast the music.
3) The Powers-That-Be apparently think that leaving rows of empty seats just behind the mid-arena triple-digit-price-tag seats is better than letting people from less expensive seats climb down and fill them, so at least the cowboys don’t have to know that Madison Square Garden didn’t sell out. Every usher I spoke to said they’d get in trouble with their boss. Who is this ogre, and what does he threaten them with if they allow a less expensive behind in a more expensive seat?
Hey, here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be a smart move for the PBR to randomly pick seat numbers from the balcony and rafters and give those people permission to come on down? You know, win more friends? Make people who earn under $100,000 a year feel like part of the in-crowd? A good-will gesture? You’ve heard of that, right? As it was, people were leaving the arena during the short round.
STUPID BEYOND BELIEF:
- The jousting exhibition during intermission, a cross-promotion with the History Channel. Jousting– yeah, there’s a sport that’s really catching on. A father and son (supposedly) were pitted against each other. The father whacked his son completely across the mid-section at full tilt, knocking him off his horse and flat on his back. Kinda like what would happen if you ran a toll booth, without a car. Okay, they’re wearing armor, but how sick is this? Does the PBR think people who love bull riding will love watching humans deliberately hurting each other with big poles?
Of course this display was accompanied by an announcer in a state of hysteria, which is supposed to make us think, Jousting is exciting! It’s so cool! Wow, we are having some fun now! That’s why the crowd’s initial enthusiasm at seeing charging horses fizzled so fast. For the millionth time boys: People shouting at us, This is exciting! This is great! This is cool! does not convince anyone.
If you must do a cross-promotion with the History Channel, work out a deal for programs about the history of bull riding, rodeo, cowboys, stock raising. Why make the utterly dumb assumption that the element of danger and physical harm is why people like bull riding, and that therefore we’ll like any activity that causes physical harm to people? This is another completely misguided attempt to reach an audience—who? Jousting fans?
THE JUST PLAIN CRAZY
1) Ryan Dirteater’s training regime: Get up at 4 a.m. (You lost me right there.) Exercise for 4 hours. Eat. Nap. Exercise for 4 hours. Ad infinitum, in 24-hour cycles.
2) Ben Jones still doesn’t wear a helmet. His jinx continues, but at least he’s not bearded like three-quarters of the PBR at the moment.
3) Explanation of the broadcast schedule, from the PBR website: “The PBR recently announced the 2012 television package that includes extensive coverage of the Built Ford Tough Series with two leading network television groups, CBS and NBC. There are 55 original broadcasts between CBS, CBS Sports Network, NBC and NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus). Thirteen of those broadcasts will air on network television and reach more than 110 million households in the U.S CBS Sports Network is also creating a special highlight program that airs a minimum of four times each week in between events for those who miss the action on the weekends. Built Ford Tough Series rounds that are not covered on television are being broadcast on PBR’s Live Center and through our partnership with YouTube. For the first time in PBR’s history, fans have access to every round of Built Ford Tough Series competition. Altogether there are more hours of coverage available to PBR fans than ever before, and all of that coverage is scheduled in consistent and convenient timeslots.”
Ya mean, a coupla people got hammered, threw darts at a list of TV channels and a calendar, and still think they’re making sense.
1) The number of times the PBR replayed Robinson’s wreck, not only in Madison Square Garden, but also on TV, is a crass, disgusting exploitation of someone’s pain. Pistol is out of work for a year, and may never walk the same way again, but the Powers-That-Be keep broadcasting that clip because it shows how exciting! and dangerous! bull riding is, and how tough! the cowboys are! No, it’s a great way to make potential new audiences think bull riding is about on a par with cage fighting. Where are your souls, folks?
2) Using Colby Yates’ awful “Wreck of the Night” as a Blue Emu ad.
3) The Cooper Tires Athlete Profile on the TV broadcast featured only American riders. Fuck Australia, Brazil, and Canada, right?
4) It’s kinda strange that the only Brazilian rider in the Short Go was Valdiron de Oliveira. Are we supposedta believe that all the other ones sucked all night? No: the ones who rode were underscored: Renato (83.25), Alves (84.50), Marco Eguche (83.75).
5) In the Short Go, Valdiron was given 89.25 for his ride on The Game Changer. I didn’t find the bull’s stats on the PBR website, but there’s a video of the ride. Cody Nance was scored 90.25 on Ridin’ Dirty (formerly Trickster). J.W. Hart predicted Valdiron’s ride would be 90.25, and in reality he was dead on─ but the judges did another of those little dings and made sure an American won the night. I’m not dissing Cody Nance; he’s doing a great job. But nobody can tell me his ride was better than Valdiron’s, whose bull was a lot tougher. These judges are math geniuses; they figured out how to jigger scores so de Oliveira didn’t do the unthinkable and win New York twice in a row. In reality, he did.
Could somebody please let a female operate that Stanley Stud Finder? This time the thing found a guy who wasn’t a sideshow freak─ but a whole lotta ham. Embarrassing.