Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

So I was lounging around Sunday evening after supper, knitting (yes, I know, I'm the most boring person on the planet) and watching the PBR. Dull as it doubtless sounds, I was thoroughly enjoying myself as the short-round riders commenced flying off their bulls. And then suddenly I had the strangest feeling: I've seen this all before.

No, I hadn't fallen down a rabbit hole. No, I wasn't having an attack of vertigo. No, I hadn't drunk too much Jack Daniels and slipped off the sofa in a heap. No--I had just seen Guilherme Marchi ride Big Tex for an astonishing 94 points, and I was jumping and hollering and embarrassing anybody within earshot. And then Kody Lostroh turned in an adequate, but hardly stellar, ride on Big North, was awarded 91.25 points for his pains, and stole the win from Marchi--by three-quarters of a point.

I started feeling like Yogi Berra when Lostroh was climbing down into the chute. I just had the most awful feeling that if he rode, he was going to get the win, regardless of what kind of ride he got. See, I was right! Again! And doesn't that make me feel special?

No, it doesn't. It made me furious. It took several days, as you can see, to get a tight enough grip on my feelings to write something even modestly coherent on the subject. My initial reaction was, "Marchi was robbed!" along with a bunch of stuff that I can't post here, for fear of offending even my most tolerant readers.

How to explain this atrocity? Some possibilities:

1) The judges just get so excited when somebody rides exceptionally well that they feel like they have to score the next guy high, too. I, for one, would like to know what's in that confetti--seems like anytime it falls, the judges lose their heads and start handing out 90+ scores like Halloween candy.

2) The judges think the guy in first place has to be "knocked out" to lose--in other words, if he rides at all, he deserves to outscore everybody else.

3) The judges were trying to impress everybody with their ability to run their calculators fast enough to figure out that three-quarters of a point would be enough to put Lostroh in the winner's circle.

Other possible explanations are, frankly, way more sinister. We talked about them all last year, when any (white, American, born-again Christian) rider who could stick for eight seconds seemed to outscore Marchi. But how anybody with any objectivity could have watched those two rides Sunday night and in good conscience have decided that Lostroh deserved a higher score escapes me. It makes me wonder, and not for the first time, what the judges are thinking. Damned if I can figure it out.


shannon said...

I'm still scratching my head over the no-reride options for Guilherme and Kody in round three. Although, I suppose that if they had received rerides and they didn't go well, we may not have seen that amazing ride that Guilherme had on Big Tex. Of course, the opposite is true in that we may have also seen Kody fall off his reride bull and not win the event. I suppose it's not something I should dwell on.

I'm not crazy with the outcome, but what I choose to take out of this past event was how fun Guilherme was when he chose Big Tex, the amazing ride and Guilherme's excitement after doing so, and his wonderful display of sportsmanship when he hopped off the cage and congratulated Kody with a grin and a high five.

As for the possibilities of what may be happening, I like #1--I think they put something in the confetti.

Stockyard Queen said...

I wish I could be that charitable, as charitable, let's be truthful, as Marchi himself was. But I absolutely hate it when I have to look for the silver lining in something like this to stop myself keep from getting furious (again). Probably the fact that the outcome was so glaringly, obviously unfair has a lot to do with my bad attitude.

Shawk said...

I think it would be interesting (although it would be difficult to do and will never happen) to have a "blind judging" experiment, as in, have the judges review a bunch of rides where the riders and bulls are made anonymous as much as possible, then see the score spread.

Although I am mostly skeptical that there is deliberate score weighting, it is obvious that judges can't help having their preferences, and when a rider (such as Lostroh) is "on top," sometimes things carried away, as we've seen in the past with riders like McBride.

shelia said...

I didn't see it, so I best keep my mouth shut or my husband will withhold my dinner and my gin!

A couple weeks ago it was, "The J.B. Mauney Show" and the Kody fans were up in arms. I'm staying away from the boards (except Ty's dancing) so I don't have to here the J.B. fans cuss at "The Kody L Show."

I'm trying to be open minded and just quietly hope Guilherme can sneak in there for back-to-back titles!

Stockyard Queen said...

I guess I think that if the judges can't keep their personal preferences out of the scoring, they shouldn't be judging. It's like that in every sport that isn't ruled strictly by the clock, isn't it? People yell bloody murder when the judging in ice skating is obviously biased, so I'm yelling, too.

Shawk said...

I used to be a foil fencer, and sometimes your judge would be someone who coached the opposing fencer. I'd like to think that at higher levels it wasn't like this, but you just never know.

I wonder if they would consider changing the scoring procedure, like add more judges and throw out the high/low score (although that would get complicated as far as bull and rider score).

Black Boots said...

I know there's no chance for total objectivity. But what if there were more judges? And a judge from at least one or more of the countries the PBR "represents." How about a judge from Brazil? Or Oz? Or Canada? If there were more of them, from all over, rotating among the events instead of the same fellas at each and every event? And for that matter, why do they even all need to be fellas? Maybe someone who's more familiar with judged sports--like figure skating or gymnastics--can enlighten me on how those judges are selected.

Stockyard Queen said...

Something is clearly screwed up when a rider gets tossed off at 7.9 on the arena clock, challenges the ride, and the stopwatch reveals that he actually rode for 8.09 seconds! That's a pretty substantial difference.

shelia said...

Hey, I like the ideas of rotating judges, selecting judges from other countries represented by the riders, and WOMEN! Seems like half the stock contractors are women by marriage and on their own, like Anna. I bet some of them could judge, even Leah! But, hey, it's still "the good ole boys" in charge!

Stockyard Queen said...

Careful! We'll get the white males riled up and they'll try to overrun our position and force us back into the kitchen! Best get your high-heeled ass-kicking boots out, ladies!