Friday, November 14, 2008

Brass Tacks

Now that I have offered up my congratulations to My Main Man Guilherme Marchi, and handed out my gold star award for the best ride of the PBR World Finals, it’s time to consider the very best part of the entire seven-day event: the bulls. This was the most exciting finals I’ve ever watched, and practically all that excitement was because the bulls Cody Lambert wrangled were the best in the world.

Let’s face it—Marchi’s sizable lead going into the finals made it all but impossible for anybody to catch him. As Justin McKee observed several times, any rider coming up behind him would have had to ride EVERYTHING, and Marchi would have had to fall off EVERYTHING, for anyone else to have had a fighting chance at taking the championship away from him. As nervous as we were, we all knew in our hearts that that wasn’t going to happen, didn’t we? Renato Nunes, in second when the event started, was riding just over half his bulls. That’s a commendable stat in a sport in which anything over about 33 percent is rare, but it still means he was getting bucked off half the time. J.B. Mauney, who rode four bulls and won three go-rounds before getting dumped in round five, ended up riding about 60 percent of the time. Marchi was riding about 75 percent of the time when the finals started, and he was riding just about that when the dust settled last Thursday night. Nothing and nobody was going to beat Marchi—he would have had to beat himself, and short of an injury serious enough to knock him out of competition entirely, he was not going to be beaten. No how, no way, Copperhead Slinger notwithstanding.

As much as we love watching Guilherme ride, as much as we wanted to see him win after three seasons as the bridesmaid, what that all could have added up to is one dull World Finals. Frankly, when I watched the first round on Halloween night, I got worried that it was going to be duller than dishwater, what with the Pussy Pen in the house and boys who’d hardly ridden all year sticking like they were glued to their bulls. Thank heaven the Rank Pen showed up on Saturday and set things to rights. As a matter of fact, since I’m queen of this stockyard and I can do anything I damned well please, I am unilaterally disregarding ALL the bulls that competed that Friday night, unless, like Ricky Bobby, they bucked again later in the week and somewhat redeemed themselves. Don’t come talking to me about Cool Whip, Milk Man, Deviled Egg, and their like. I'm having none of it.

If you look, just as an example, at the results of round two, when the rank bulls fought their first engagement and kicked the stuffing out of 36 of the 50 riders, that list of 36 bulls reads like a Who’s Who of bucking bulls. At the risk of boring you senseless, I’m going to reel them off: Major Payne, Chicken on a Chain, Jacob’s Pet, Commotion, Lucky Strike, Bovine Prime, Little Mr. T, Fist Full of Dollars, Pandora’s Box, I’m a Gangster, White Magic, Say I Won’t Gunner, Unabomber, Bones, King Solomon, Full Throttle, Party Time, Show Time, Big Bucks, Hot Stuff, All In, Apache Leap, Raisin’ McCain, Camo, Fire Bird, Cactus, Voodoo Child, Avalanche, Cooper, What I Say, Bad Blood, Zorro, Silver Wings, Spit Fire, Rez Boy, and Billionaire.

There they are, the best of the best, the ones we've seen dozens of times, the ones we'd never seen before, all with blood in their eyes and fire in their bellies, and no doubt in their minds about what their job is. And they just keep bringing it, time and again, rider after rider.

The sport owes Cody Lambert a huge debt, but as great as he is at his job, I have to believe that if he weren’t there, the bulls still would be. Their greatness is unmistakable, and the only thing that could possible stop them would be somebody somewhere deciding to even up the odds and keep the difficult bulls out of the chutes. I hope never to see that, because the bulls are why I keep coming back. A handful of riders have played with my heartstrings, it’s true, but in the end, I’m gonna dance with the one that brung me.


Jaye said...

You said it all, SQ! Never in my life have I seen so many rank bulls together at one time. Seeing Guilherme win the World and watching the other riders give it their all was exciting enough, but the bulls just put it over the top. These are not stupid farm animals we're talking about either. They know their jobs, and they do it phenomonally well. What I wouldn't give to know what they're thinking when they leave the chutes. And congratulations to Bones, the best of the best this year at the Finals. Also a big hat tip to Crosswired, the Classic bull of the year.

shannon said...

When I saw the rank pen on the second night, my jaw hit the ground, then I got really excited. That was a great night.

Like jaye, I'm happy to see both Bones and Crosswired get the recognition they deserve.