PBR in Chicago

For lack of other televised bull riding (my cable package doesn’t include RFD-TV), here’s my take on the PBR Chicago event:

Last October, the PBR website ran a story about how Paolo Crimber would like to be a judge, now that he doesn’t compete. As far as I know, no ex-rider from any country other than the U.S. works as a PBR judge, yet if anyone knows what counts in a ride, those riders do. Miraculously, on this broadcast we were shown the judges’ names and faces: Jeff Shear, Mike Greer, Donald Owens, Lane Foltyn, and a fifth one who could’ve been Bill Pacheco or Allan Jordan—the visual flashed by pretty quickly. Guess they’re worried that if we recognize them at events, we’ll slap their faces.

A CBSSports announcer at the end of the basketball game that cut into PBR time, giving us the heads-up on what’s to come: “Defending Champion JB Mauney saddling up to make history!” Clearly this guy has never seen a bull ride. PS: Apparently it’s official: any mention of the PBR is a mention of JB.

JW Hart commenting chuteside.
Jesse Byrne taking over bullfighter-commentating while Shorty’s out sick.
Getting a gander at some of the riders’ warmup routines; 35-year-old Billy Robinson works for hours on one body part at a time. How long have we BullSisters been looking for this kind of workout? Make a video, guys!!

There’s no other description: this limestone “dirt” sucked. Bulls were hitting their hind ends on the chute, slowing down their trips, being careful not to kick too high, sometimes stalling out, and falling down on their sides, crushing riders. Special Edition fell down on his side, taking Guilherme Marchi with him; Marchi had to scramble to get out from under. Silvano Alves’s original Round 1 bull, Western Hauler, did the same, as did Delco under Matt Triplett. Or rather, Matt was under Delco. The footing was lousy, and whoever came up with this crap should be fired. There is no excuse for dangerous dirt.


  • Renato Nunes wearing his straw hat (it’s summer in Brazil). PFF. He staggered a bit after a backflip; I think he was a little dizzy. He explained that he started using this signature move after he did it in a hotel hallway and Cody Lambert liked it.
  • Pistol Robinson’s first round 86.75 on LJ tied him with Mike Lee for 2nd place. As I said last week, this is the definition of a comeback.
  • Guilherme Marchi telling us, “I just have fun ride the bulls again. I prepare myself for this year.” Score on California Kid, 83.75?? Is he now the big threat the judges have to tank? Hmm; let’s see: so far this year, his scores have been 84.50, 86.50, 85.50, 85.50, 83.75, 84.75, for an average score of slightly over 85. “Another solid mid-80s score,” proclaims The Bummer. And what did I say last week? The judges may try to keep him in the 85 zone, the way they kept Silvano in the 84 zone for most of last year.
  • Strongest Bull Of The Night selection. (This time it was Super Cooper.) Hope this becomes a permanent feature of the broadcasts. I like the bulls getting their props. Plus, maybe it’ll have an effect on that cockamamie method of choosing Bull of the Year on the basis of an appearance at the Finals.
  • Jesse at the chute explaining left-handed bulls, and showing the special knife he uses to cut the rope to free a rider from a bad hang-up.
  • About time, too: an interview with brilliant photographer Andy Watson, working his 19th PBR season. He looks like an Amish rabbi, but as Craig so ungrammatically pointed out, he has “a very unique position.” Andy explained how several cameras cover all angles, and commented on some recent shots: LJ Jenkins seemingly riding a cloud of dust, with only the bull’s head visible in mid-air; JB showing his form; a riderless airborne bull surrounded by bullfighters (who seemed to be wondering how to get him down out of the rafters). Nice: finding out that riders who retired have bought his photos of themselves on their last bulls.
  • You know they did this on purpose: little Lachlan Richardson was matched with hulky Mississippi Hippy: smallest rider, biggest bull. the setup reminded me of the Mad Max movie villain: the creepy lil’ dude sitting on the big freaky dude’s shoulders.
  • Watching Tennessee Honey work: you know a bull’s fast when the slow motion camera makes him look like he’s spinning at normal speed.
  • Fabiano’s ride on Smackdown. Yess!! Ostensibly the 89.50 was because he was a bit out of position at the end. (You know if he were JB, it would’ve been confetti time.) It was just one of those dings…
  • PFF: JDub at the backstage chute, scratching Palm Springs (who’s now 3 for 34), after he dispatched Reese Cates: “He’s really pretty friendly; he’ll let you pet him, after he calms down,” as the bull repeatedly bangs his head against the front of the gate.

Kody Lostroh and Jory Markiss didn’t fare well on Red Terror. Even Jory’s robin’s- egg-blue shirt didn’t make him look happy. Lachlan Richardson failed on Hy Test, while Stormy Wing was granted an inflated 88.25 on the same bull in Round 2.
Chase Outlaw scored 87.75 on Dynamite, to win Round 1. Silvano Alves’s Round 1 score on Gifted was 79, but a goose egg in the Championship Round on Hot Iron.
In the Championship Round, Stormy scored 87 on Thumbs Up, but no matter how hard the judges tried, they just couldn’t push him up past the #1 and #2 guys (Fabiano on Smackdown and Eguchi on Shepherd Hills Stockman).

Guess who:
Cyber Cat, who had a terrible out, banging his rear against the fence, “didn’t have a change to use his catlike reflexes.”
Fabiano Vieira “easily takes a bite out of Dracula.”
Oh no—not this again: “It didn’t take long to get off the Brazilian,” “going to the left is what gets off Aparecido.”
After LJ Jenkins and his bull raised quite a dust storm: “Cheerio looked like he’d been eating his Wheaties.” Really, dude? That’s the best you could come up with?
“Marchi continues to march through the season…”
“Instead of taking it on the chin, he shows Chin Music who’s boss.” OY!!
“It all hinges on when that gate opens.” Seriously? Did he really say this?
“We’ve had a pretty even evening.” As in, the bulls and cowboys are tied at 15 – 15.
“Nothing sweet about that trip, if you’re a Matt Triplett fan.”—after Tennessee Honey trounced Matt.

Ty Pozzobon, who for some reason wants to be called Tyrell (does he think we’d confuse him with the other Ty?), had an awful out on The Situation: someone opened the gate before he and the bull were ready. Why? Because they were overtime in the chute? What, are we picking on the Canadians now? Jesse’s summation: “Tyrell is going in the well.”

The PBR announced they’re testing a Chute Clock (see my last post about this). Cody Lambert says it’s an experiment: “We’re going to try to make it equal on everybody: they’ve got just so much time.” Supposedly they’ll make it visible, a light will go on when time is up. In theory, sounds great. Does anyone spot the flaw in the plan? Everyone gets one minute, but the judges can grant another 30 seconds twice. Guess who will get the extra 30 or 60 seconds?

We finally were told why Ben Jones wasn’t in the NYC Championship round: he sprained the pinkie on his riding hand.
Scores might as well have been sent by Pony Express. The commentators didn’t bother to tell us half of them, and they weren’t always shown on screen, either. We didn’t find out the score from Nathan Schaper’s ride on Cowboy Up (ending with Nathan being shot from the ejector seat) until after Josh Faircloth and Sean Willingham’s outs, and a commercial. Fabiano Vieira’s 85.25 on Dracula wasn’t posted until god knows when. It took a year to hear that Renato Nunes scored 83.75 on Candy. (How come Craig Hummer didn’t say, “How sweet it is!”? Do I have to do his thinking for him?)
The only advantage of the annoying one-day lag between a live event and a broadcast is that when the announcers fail in their duties, you can look up the information on the PBR website, instead of hunting all over it for a daysheet so you can figure out who rode what.

He’s an up-and-comer, folks. You can tell, because the PBR’s sending him out on PR cutie-pie duty. He spoke at a YMCA, answering kids’ questions: “Is this a dangerous sport?” Beat. “YES.”

That’s a no-brainer. When the ground is giving the bulls fits and they’re making cowboy mash, who the hell wants to risk that again? Better to live to ride another day, contrary to Shorty’s harebrained tweeting. It’s not just Brazilian riders who turn down re-rides and keep embarrassing scores (though some riders are offered less embarrassing scores):

  • Matt Triplett’s bull banged its hind legs coming out of the chute backward; he was offered 74.25 or a re-ride on Keep It Real. Other bulls did the same, but their riders weren’t offered re-rides. Apparently this bull “didn’t have a good day.”
  • For Rack City’s pathetic performance, Valdiron de Oliveira was offered 61 or a re-ride, setting off cheers in the crowd, but turned it down because he needed medical attention.
  • And, most telling: when Alves did take a re-ride—after a year of commentators yammering about him not taking re-rides—they didn’t bother to show or tell us his Round 2 score on LJ! 82.25.

Round 1: After slowing down, Super Cooper stopped bucking before 8 seconds were up, so Frank Newsom slapped him on the butt to make him move again. Stormy Wing was given 82.25. How is that fair? (Oh, why do I even keep using that word?) Other guys who got 60s and 70s had issues with their bulls, too, and those bulls didn’t stop dead. We know Stormy is the backup GWH.

Round 2: Hy Test went down on his side after the ride, then chased Jesse all around the Shark Cage. (The ever-daring Flint hopped up onto the fence to escape.) 88.25 was a ridiculously inflated score, which moved Stormy to the #2 slot. He and Chase Outlaw are now the JB backup, the next beneficiaries of The Fixers.  Chase’s interview with Hummer was all about JB Mauney, his role model. OY.


  • “He’s probably out there griping about something or other.”—JDub re Cody Lambert.
  • The American spun fast to the right, changed direction, tried every last trick, and finally got flustered because Robson Palermo was still on his back. The bull’s body language was priceless. Score: 86.75. “I thought Robson coulda been 88,” said JW, before making a crack about the judges.  (Yay!)
  • “If you get bucked off, you’re supposed to hang up.”—Jim Sharp’s advice to JW.
  • “We’re gettin’ bruised an’ sored up.”—Ryan Dirteater, explaining why the medical team is so important.

The first interview on Sunday’s broadcast, which may be substituted for going to church, is with JB Mauney, with JW asking him how it feels to break a Chris Shivers record.

The Goodworks commercial: the winner will receive $25,000 to send “to the charity of his choice.” What, like a woman couldn’t win the sweepstakes?


  • Bullfighters’ vests: Not a fashion statement.
  • Anybody who rides Speckled Ivory deserves more than 85.75, even Kody Lostroh.
  • Say whaa?? Douglas Duncan needed 87.50 to lead. They gave him 87 for his ride on King Lopez. King Lopez?? Duncan probably deserved a 90, but for cripes’ sake, guys: ya couldn’t squeak out that .50??
  • Hummer noticed that Marchi is “physically cut.” Tell us gals something we don’t know. Funny that Craig notices this, while Ty Murray observes, “He’s got more of an attitude.”
  • I’m not the only one who’s sick of having “JB makes history” shoved down our throats. Did we have this much hoopla when Silvano really DID make history last year?? Now the PBR is hyping JB vs. Bushwacker in Oklahoma City next weekend. We also get to listen to the hype in Spanish, on PBR’s “sister channel.” The PBR is now just a vehicle for The Star, who’s getting billing above the title. Lexie Mauney on Face Time gets broadcast time—jeez, would they do this for anyone else? This Romeo and Juliet storyline is getting just too saccharine. Thank god JB is keeping his head and not acting like a diva.
  • Hummer re Pure PBR: “The show by the fans, for the fans.” Huh?? If the fans put together the shows, guess who wouldn’t have a job anymore?
  • Betcha whoever matched up Robson Palermo with The American was hoping the bull would win so certain people could say The American got rid of The Brazilian. Well, fakeout! as we used to say; it was more like The Brazilian conquered The American (for 86.75). (Yeah, I know; them’s fightin’ words.)
  • In Round 1 Fabiano was assigned to Dracula; in Round 2, it was Dark Shadow. That’s no accident. Guess the PBR boys consider him a bloodsucking monster. Well, get out your garlic, boys, ‘cause I don’t think Fabiano’s going anywhere else soon. 83.75 was a low score for a perfect ride.
  • In Round 2, Ben Jones was matched with Dracula (are we making teeth jokes, Cody?).
  • I don’t like this, either: again JW questioned whether Alves is being lazy.
  • In the Championship Round, Shepherd Hills Stockman hipped himself, but instead the judges replayed the ride because they questioned the time. Guess they really hated the idea of giving Marco Eguchi an 89.25—and letting him win the event.

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8 Responses to PBR in Chicago

  1. Kathryn Kubota says:

    Loved your take on PBR. I’ve been on Twitter saying they should fire the judges. Getting rushed is only going to get someone seriously hurt. My husband wrote to PBR years ago, when it seemed like there was a special clock for JB, saying they should be investigated for corruption. Enjoyed your writing style.


    • Thank you! So many of us have told them what we see, but the PBR is a stone wall. I’m in contact with someone who works inside the PBR who thinks the judges are biased, and he has no power to change it. A former employee I’m in contact with has plenty to say about the corruption within the organization, too. The main problem is that the sport has no overseeing body to examine the judges’ behavior and impose consequences. More and more riders are commenting on the situation with the new points system, too.

      The JB clock was so blatant, I think thousands of people noticed it. I’m so glad your husband took the initiative to contact the PBR about it.


  2. Trying to be a fan says:

    Just watched Sunday;s show. Even when JB does not win, he still is talk of the town. Instead of saying Faubiano is in first place in the world standing, they choose to say that JB is closing in. Even when Sean won last night, they still had to bring JB up in the conversation. Last word is always “JB”. Wonder what the big announcement on Thursday is? Maybe moving the PBR from Pueblo to China? Just a thought.


    • Yup, it’s official: the opening act of every PBR broadcast is now JB. Soon he will have his own show. All he’ll have to do is stand there, and four commentators will revolve around him uttering praise. I still remember when I watched my first PBR event on TV, thinking that JB Mauney must be the World Champion, because everybody was constantly talking about him. Then I found out Adriano Moraes was the World Champion, and I couldn’t understand why on earth they weren’t making a big fuss about him. Now I’m worried that they’ll take down the statue of Adriano in front of PBR headquarters and replace it with one of JB.

      Not to take away anything from Sean Willingham, because he has been riding pretty well, but the PBR boys had quite the dilemma in Duluth (ha! sounds like the title for a boxing match): Do we give it to the homeboy, like we usually do, or to The Great White Hope, which we always prefer to do? Which storyline shall we follow? They had to do some quite creative math, working with JB’s 87.50 and 91.75, and Sean’s 85 and 86.75, so when Sean needed 82.75 to lead, they gave him 88.50 to put him on top. They’ll make it up to JB next time.

      Supposedly there’s a big announcement coming about a World Champion retiring. I doubt any of the Killer Bs are gonna stop right now, so my money is on Kody Lostroh.


      • Esther says:

        Why not just be happy for Sean, he had good rides, he had good bulls, he had fair scores. Why throw cold water on his win?


      • I said “Not to take away anything from Sean Willingham, because he has been riding pretty well…” The situation was that JB had 2 scores that were higher than Sean’s two scores, so for Sean to win, he had to have a big score.
        The PBR has a history of “hometown boys” winning in their home states, and there are too many for them all to be coincidental. (New Mexico was a pretty blatant example.) Sean is still a good rider, but the judges have proven that they don’t always score by the rules; they score by the outcome they want.


      • Esther says:

        Still, it seems you are insinuating Sean couldn’t win on his own merit, that he needed help from the judges. A little checking shows that L.J. won NM in 2011, J.B. in 2012 and Joao in 2013. In the past three years no OK rider has won any of the three OK events, that’s 9 events without a home-state rider winning. In NC Shane won in 2013 and J.B in 2012, but I don’t remember those events, so I can’t comment on them.


      • It’s hard to know what would’ve happened if the judges were treating all riders equally. I doubt JB’s scores would’ve been so high, and maybe Sean’s last score wouldn’t have been so high. If this were a one-time thing, that would be different, but the judges have a pattern of overscoring their favorites, like they did with Chris Shivers late in his career.
        I didn’t look up all the other cities, but in Albuquerque, LJ Jenkins won in 2008 and 2011, and Ryan McConnel (also from New Mexico) placed 2nd behind LJ in 2011. What are the odds?


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