Monday, October 20, 2008

Life is Messy

Friends and colleagues, we have arrived at the precipice and now we are looking over the edge and asking ourselves, where did the season go? It seems only yesterday I was bitching about how the PBR had cancelled the Cincinnati event at the last minute— remember that? It was nearly a year ago now! How time flies when you’re having fun!

But we’ve weathered it, all 33 BFTS events, a few Challenger events, the Team Shoot-out, and the Grudge Match, and in two weeks, we will all be glued to the tube, watching the finals in Vegas. If my circumstances were a little different, I’d probably be grateful for the break, since once Vegas starts up there will be no let-up, but I’ve worked at least part of every weekend for the past month, so I’m actually a little bummed that I’ll have no PBR action on my first full weekend off. Maybe I better look for another little job to fill in all the empty hours.

I always get a kick out of the Mohegan Sun Invitational, because it’s at that totally insane Indian casino up in Connecticut, and the interior shots of the crazy waterfalls and so forth cheer me right up. And generally speaking, I was okay with the way the event panned out, since the only competitor who gained any ground on Guilherme was Valdiron. But I would be cheating myself (and my loyal readers) if I didn’t offer up some acerbic observations on the event in particular and the sport in general. I have to warn you that most of what follows is based strictly on my personal prejudices, and of course you are welcome to disagree loudly in the comments field if you feel so moved. Of course, if you want to agree or just “jine in,” as they say where I grew up, you are equally welcome.

Cowboys who came back too soon

There are three riders in particular who have come back from pretty serious injuries recently, and every one of them should have just skipped this event (and quite possibly a few earlier ones) and tried to heal up for the finals. They include Brian Canter (head laceration and broken jaw) and Travis Briscoe (broken leg), neither of whom has ridden worth a damn since returning, and Beau Hill, who is riding with broken ribs and makes me want to mainline morphine every time I watch him climb aboard. I suppose I can’t really understand the pressure on these boys to ride, and of course I know nothing about their financial solvency (or lack thereof), but I find it hard to believe that the chance to win some money will make up for a punctured lung and a long hospital stay in Las Vegas. Canter in particular looks to me like he’s lost all confidence, and why wouldn’t he? He was lucky to get out of that wreck alive and unless he is totally absent upstairs, he has to have thought about that at least once in a while during his extended convalescence. My thanks, by the way, to reader Sheila (Flash of Blue), who pointed out after Hill got hurt that he, too, is a member of the class of 2005.

Cowboys who need to consider a different line of work

In this category, we find various and sundry individuals at various and sundry points in the careers, but did that ever stop me? I hereby recommend that Ned Cross, Matt Bohon, and Jared Farley all take some time off and reassess their options. None of them has ridden squat lately, and frankly it’s a miracle to me that any of them are going to the finals. I’d throw Luke Snyder in that pile, as well, but he’s riding about 50 percent of the time, so it must be my imagination that every time he gets on, I see him flying through the air well before the whistle. I know he won Rookie of the Year about a million years ago, and I know he’s got that Titanium Man thing going, but enough is enough. Bohon in particular looks like he needs to go back to Cole Camp and think about what he might like to do with the rest of his life. Today.

Cowboys who need to retire

In the enough is truly enough category, I put Brian Herman and Ross Coleman, who have both ridden well and badly throughout the season and who just seem to be to be taking up oxygen. Both of them seem like nice enough guys, but I’m ready for some new blood.

Another cowboy who should hang it up is Mike Lee. I’ve never been able to get any sense of Mike’s personality and I gather I’m not alone in that, since even a lot of the other riders seem to find him an enigma, but I really think he’s suffered so many head injuries that the next one could cause him permanent harm, assuming that hasn’t already happened. You have a wife and twin baby boys, Mike, and career winnings of better than $2.5 million. If you won’t give it up for your own sake, do it for them. And for us. None of us likes seeing you lying on the ground while Tandy tries to get you to tell him what your babies’ names are.

And Ednei Caminhas really has to go. He just barely managed to qualify for the finals this weekend, and he practically said himself that it was because he screwed around all season long and then got caught up short when he realized he might not get to go to Vegas. I’d say the fire is gone. Unless you’re planning to sign up for some motivational course during the off-season, make this the last trip, Ednei. It’s time to go home.

Cowboys who need help
If Mike Lee doesn’t retire (and of course he won’t, because he was raised up by a maniac who practically forced him into the sport), then Dr. Tandy or somebody who cares about him should really insist that he go see an expert on head injuries and get the straight skinny on what his status is. I’m not a doctor (though my family is riddled with doctors like some are riddled with cancer), so this is based strictly on my observations, but I don’t think Mike is the same guy I saw the first few years I watched the PBR.

Another dude who needs serious professional help is J.B. Mauney, whose antics after he fails to ride are wearing thin. This weekend, Ty Murray went on and on about how he loves to see that kind of passion, but I say that anybody who throws a temper tantrum before he even gets out of the arena either needs a spanking, like your mamma used to give you when you acted up in the grocery store, or some counseling. People who hit inanimate objects sometimes do hit other people and animals, you know. At this point, the best we can hope for is that he’ll break a toe or a hand instead of cold-cocking some innocent bystander or cowboy who has the poor judgment to mouth off at him. The facts of life tell us that everybody falls off his bull sometimes. Cool your jets, J.B., and show us you can act like a mature individual who takes the bad in stride. If you can’t do it on your own, go talk to somebody who can show you how to cope.

Pleasant surprises
Two riders I was really pleased with this past weekend are Robson Palermo, who is also back from an injury and riding well, and Zack Brown, the bright thread running the wrong way through the pattern and throwing everything off balance. Given how well he’d done early in the season, I’m not entirely stunned that Palermo is back in a big way, but Brown has ridden so hot and cold that it’s a pleasure to watch him when he’s hot. I hope both of them do well at the finals—it would be great if they could end their seasons the way they both started off.

Bulls to watch
Several bulls performed exceptionally well at Mohegan Sun, and since we might not see them again this season, I want to tip my hat to Catie Did it, Whiplash, Hammer Handle, Lil Wicked, and Lil Feller.

But I have to save my big salute for Sir Patrick. What a magnificent animal he is! Owned by Chad Berger, Clay Struve, and Julie Rosen, he has 59 outs on the BFTS and has been ridden only nine times—an 84.7 buck-off rate. He always has the same trip—one big lunge out of the chute with his heels about touching the ceiling, into the spin and then reversing with a sharp, whipping action, and in about 4.15 seconds, the cowboy is usually flying off the bull’s butt and Sir Patrick is ambling to the exit. I could watch him buck all day long.

And guess what—according to the PBR stats, Sir Patrick also is a member of the class of 2005. His first out in the BFTS was in Columbus, when he dumped Sean Willingham and got a bull score of 42.5. Some things never change.

The finals have been a long time coming, haven’t they? Let’s hope they are worth the wait. I could say a lot more as preamble, but for now, I’m ready to park it in front of the television and watch it all play out. See you in Vegas!


Lisa said...

Why would Ross Coleman or Mike Lee retire? They are having a really good year. Ross is 7th in points and Mike Lee 6th. They are both good at what they do and hopefully neither is close to retirement.

Stockyard Queen said...

Welcome, Lisa! Mike Lee needs to quit because he's about one concussion from permanent brain damage, if he isn't there already. Ross needs to quit because I'm tired of him taking up space. We all have our faves and he is not one of mine, never has been.

shannon said...

Welcome to the board, Lisa!

Great read, SQ, as always. I so appreciate you taking the time to write down your thoughts, most of which I agree with. The Mike Lee issue? I've been going on about him since I started watching and that was only when he had a young wife to stay healthy for. Now, he's got the babies, too. I hear that his personality has changed a lot since the beginning and I've heard it attributed to the head injuries. I just find it sad. Other, older riders (not all, but some) have learned that there's a time to step back and let yourself have the proper time to heal. I wish someone could get him to understand that.

As for the tantrums, how about Clayton Foltyn almost swearing at the camera man? I think he actually hit the camera, too, because I saw the hand come out and heard a light "thud". So unnecessary. I've always thought it was awful for cameras to follow them so far behind the chutes, but that's the way it is, so, imo, they should learn to deal with it.

I hope that all of the riders are able to heal both physically and mentally during their break.

Ronelle said...

Agreed on the Mike Lee issue, SQ and Shannon. Riding with that kind of handicap doesn't prove you're a tough guy, it only proves that you've got little or no common sense. Helmet or no, he's been hit in the head so many times that (as I've said to Shannon on many an occasion) someone should break both his legs in multiple places. As for Ross? Meh. I can take or leave him.
Tantrums? Agreed again. I understand that they feel pretty strongly about making the ride or not. But there's defiently something to be said for grace under pressure. Also? Someone should ask Shannon about her favorite "almost but not quite a temper tantrum" moment. Makes me laugh every time I think about it.

black boots said...

I'm still kind of gobsmacked about Princess McB's news, but there was so much good content on this blog, SQ, that I'd better go ahead and post before I forget!

I agree wholeheartedly about Canter. He hasn't gained any weight back and he's just not physically fit to make a big push at Finals this year. I hope he rests up, has a great break and comes back with more muscle tone. And oh yeah, a HELMET.

I kind of feel the same way about Herman. Ross Coleman is okay in my book because he took up the helmet this year and it seems like it hasn't bothered his riding one bit. I do think he's got one more year, but after that he's done. And now that Ednei has made the Finals, maybe he'll go ahead and retire? Here's hoping, because he's still in good shape and was so enthusiastic about his plans post retirement.

Mike Lee's concussions worry me most of all. His speech patterns already remind me of Muhammad Ali, and I don't need to tell anybody what kind of shape that gentleman is in (do I?) He's won a World Championship, provided for his family and can still do so if he leaves the sport now. If he suffers another concussion, can he say the same thing? I fear not.

So you can conclude from what I'm said above that I'm a HUGE advocate of helmets for all the riders. I've read all the arguements about why they shouldn't be mandatory and I just don't buy a word of it. Sure it messes with the cowboy image. Doesn't lying on the ground unconcious mess with the cowboy image, too? Do some riders claim that they can't make the adjustment and I can't possibly understand that because I've never ridden a bull? Yeah, but sorry, I don't believe that someone who rides bulls for a living, with the kind of balance and core control that they're supposed to have, can't make that kind of adjustment. Give Doc Tandy of the famously fine butt the leverage he needs, and some of these riders may solidly enjoy their health--and their families-- a lot longer.

With that said on my soapbox, viva the bulls and bring on Vegas. 'Course now I'm going to have to watch Guilherme through my fingers!