Sometimes when I watch PBR events—whether TV, streamed, or live—I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Scores get bigger or smaller according to the twisted whims of people no saner than the Red Queen. Bizarre things happen, I’m supposed to think they’re real; they pretend things aren’t happening that are, and vice versa. It’s like being stuck behind the Looking Glass for two hours.
Take this goofiness, for example: Gage Gay and Tanner Byrne are leading the Rookie of the Year race. (Gage Gay makes me laugh when he says he hopes to win the world title, Rookie of the Year, and the event.) On the last day of the Finals, Leah Garcia interviews him, because he’s been named Rookie of the Year, but I think it’s odd that he doesn’t look happy. There’s a Twitterstorm of confusion, because someone says J.W. Harris is Rookie of the Year; I think this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, because J.W. is a 4-time PRCA World Champion. That ain’t no rookie. Leah Garcia sends out an apology on behalf of PBR because Gage Gay isn’t Rookie of the Year (oops)—J.W. is.
Then there was this astounding declaration by Ty Murray, who gets battier every week: “The PBR’s mission is to find the word’s best bull riders every year…” Yeah, after 21 years, they’re patting themselves on the back for finally admitting that J.W. Harris exists, inviting Guytin Tsosie on tour, and bringing Neil Holmes to the Finals. Give ‘em another 21, and they’ll discover that there are women who ride bulls, and they’ll deign to allow one to tag along at a Touring Pro event.
PBR set the tone for this year’s Finals by adding a new feature, “Inside the PBR National Finals,” a half-hour pre-show hot-air balloon ride—hot air provided by Murray, Hummer, McBride, Hart, and Lambert (sounds like an accountant firm). It’s PBR’s attempt to mimic the big boys of the NFL, and consists mainly of the less-than-big boys trying not to sound scripted while they swap stupidities and change their teeny little minds every few minutes. It’s also where they start to rev up their bile ducts to spew appallingly unprofessional remarks about Silvano Alves.
- Robson Palermo, who has a 41% riding percentage, being trampled by Smooth Operator. Jesse Byrne did his best flying save, but it was too late. Uh, what were the other guys doing while Robson got his ankle sprained? (Yeah, yeah, I know: here comes the flak, because according to everyone, those boys never do anything wrong–hey, humans make mistakes, admit it.)
- Gustavo Pedredo, a Mexican invitee who’s been on the CBR circuit, had a big crash with Gangster Sign, injured his wrist, and was sent to hospital for x-rays. Out of competition.
- Ty Murray giving us the Barf Report: nice to know that Joe Baumgartner and John Lennon threw up every time they went out into the spotlight, and that Gage Gay has “actually throwed up right in the chute.” (Maybe that’s what the extra time is about? Is that why he got a re-ride? I guess you can’t get DQd for puking on your bull.) Well, I knew about John Lennon, but Joe Baumgartner?? Yikes!
SO HERE’S THE STRATEGY:
- JB Mauney stuck on More Big Bucks, for 88, a JB score “that slots him in right behind his friend Stormy Wing,” blathers Craig Hummer. “One of those textbook Mauney rides.” Translation: the bull did the same thing over and over, so it was easy for JB to get in the groove. When someone else who just happens to own a couple of gold buckles gets one of those bulls, he earns a 70 because the bull “didn’t perform up to standard.”
- Stormy Wing, on Slappy, let go of the gate on his way out of the chute, then grabbed it back again—so of course he was scored 88.50, to pass Marco Eguchi. Didn’t anyone else see that? Didn’t that move tank Valdiron once, even though de Oliveira was trying to avoid being smashed?
- Long John’s in the chute wearing head ropes; just when Valdiron’s about ready, the bull lurches forward; so of course this would be the time to put de Oliveira on the clock. They practically pushed him out the door at 11 seconds. Not a one-off incident, either. And how long was Douglas Duncan in there?
- Sitting on Johnny Bones Jones, Gay was given forever in the chute. The bull rocked not only Gay, but also the guy holding on to him, who had to be pulled back by a third guy. So Gage gets to re-set. They almost put him on the clock, then they didn’t, then they threw a re-ride flag, so Gage gets another bull, instead of being DQd for taking too long.
- Nathan Schaper’s bull, Snap Back, did nothing but spin; his hind legs were barely off the ground, but the judges turned a blind eye so they could score someone who’s not “The Brazilian.”
- Craig tipping the judges’ hand: “Douglas Duncan, with all that bonus time in the chute, still wasn’t able to convert.” So already we know that the DQ time is bendy.
NOW IT REALLY IS THE WORLD FINALS
- David Kennedy was the invitee from Australia: 3-time PBR Australia Champion.
- Fernando Henrique, Brazilian invitee: not ready for prime time. That’s okay. Give time time.
- Scott Schiffner, PBR Canada invitee, winner of 2 Calgary Stampedes, in the mix.
- Jesse Byrne bouncing up and down on an invisible trampoline as he watches bro Tanner ride. (PS: have you seen the pic of young Tanner with long hair? Adorable.)
- JW Harris going at those bulls. He’s not just riding them, he’s challenging them.
GIVE ‘EM ANOTHER FEW DECADES—THEY’LL CATCH UP
OMG—how many years have I been saying that the PRCA & PBR should communicate?! First day of Finals, Karl Stressman, PRCA Commissioner, was up there making nice with Jim Haworth. Their big dilemma: how can you bring up more competitors in the industry? DUH, let girls ride bulls in the NHSRA, boys! “So you wanna be a professional cowboy?” goes the slogan. Well, some people want to be professional cowgirls—and maybe they don’t want to race around barrels. FYI, the NHSRA doesn’t let girls ride in the bareback or saddle bronc events, either. I guess no girls who live on ranches ever get on horses that buck, no sirree; that only happens when boys get on ‘em. KMA.
REALLY? THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE
- “A rider we know who moves on momentum.”—Craig Hummer re L.J. Jenkins.
- “Triplett lands hard, but he’s able to drop the bomb on Pearl Harbor.”—The Bummer, making no friends in Hawaii as he summarizes Matt’s ridiculously wild 87.25 out on said bull.
- According to Ty, Silvano Alves “thinks he’s not as good of a bull rider as he was, and he doesn’t have the confidence he used to have.” ROTFL!!
SORRY, BUT I JUST HAD TO LAUGH
- J. Jenkins probably knows this already, but he’s been dubbed “the king of 7-plus second rides.” He’s been known to say, “I’d like to meet the guy who decided you have to ride for 8 seconds!”
- I love when Ty’s so wrong: “This bull’s going to be around to the right, right out of the gate,” he says about Gage Gay’s re-ride bull, Kiss Animalize, who clearly disagreed.
- Matt Triplett’s big clutch moment when his ride was reviewed to see if he still had the rope in his hand at the end. The crowd was all revved up; they knew it would be a high score. They let loose a huge BOOO when Matt wasn’t going to be scored, then an even bigger ROARRR when he got his 87.25. It was hard to see on the replays, but he really did have the tail of the rope in his hand at 8. Just.
- Guilherme Marchi (47% riding percentage), took Flyin’ Crazy for a fantastic ride, definitely worth more than 86 and getting stepped on. Leah tries to interview him, but he’s looking sheepish and shying away. “He’s got a rip in his jeans,” she informs us. Come on, woman, what kind of reporter are you?? Why didn’t you ask him exactly where the rip is, and could we have a close-up, please? (That one’s for the boys, so they can rag on me about my sexist double standard. That score is now 2 to 1,000.)