Monday, November 16, 2009

Finito: S's Adventures in Vegas, Concluded

Folks, I have managed to beat the millions (oh, all right, maybe three) who are demanding my services back long enough to post the second half of S's charming tale of the finals in Vegas. Here it is, and I for one am sad it's over, it was so much fun. But wasn't that true of the whole season? Enjoy!

Sunday -- The Main Event
Because the hotel we were staying at did not get Versus, and we were too cheap to pay $9.99 per day for the interweb and also had musical theater plans that interfered with locating a sports bar, my knowledge of what the numbers were on the final day was shaky at best. Upon arriving at the Thomas & Mack, I purchased a day schedule and found it very useful; like a big nerd, I wrote down which bull went with which guy and what the score was (and notes like "?!?!" next to the scoring for the ride where J.B. Mauney was hanging off the side of the bull for a substantial portion).

As far as the event, I have yet to see the televised coverage so I don't know what was shown and what wasn't, but I'll try to focus on things that might not have been revealed to home viewers. First of all, as I was entering the arena, I passed by the goofy commentator booth with the Ford truck grill on the front, cordoned off outside the arena. I'm not entirely sure how that worked; I'm assuming there was a live feed so the commentators could, well, comment on what was occurring. Ford can also be, er, thanked for the inflatable "thunder sticks" draped on the backs of each seat in the arena--fortunately neither I, my friend, or the people around us decided to inflate them, because they were quite unwieldy and made an unpleasant noise akin to a high speed inner-tube wreck.

My seat was up in the hinterlands, although at least in the hinterlands midway between the divided arena, so I could see all the chutes without difficulty. To my left were two Kody Lostroh fans; to my right, a couple celebrating their silver anniversary. We started the afternoon off with Not-Tim McGraw (Sean Patrick), a giant flaming $1M on the dirt, and a monstrous American flag descending from the ceiling with sparkles and rappelling army guys. We also had enforced prayer, and a surprisingly not overwrought version of the national anthem as sung by Kissy Simmons, the current Nala in The Lion King at Mandalay Bay. There was also of course a face-off between J.B. Mauney and Kody Lostroh on the bed of a Ford Truck, and a pile-up of cowboys on a slowly revolving platform. Then Flint tried to get a guy who turned out to be a cop to dance to warm up the crowd, but since the fellow was practically shooting a tazer out of his eyes while standing with unmovable folded arms, Flint moved on to someone else.

In-arena announcements that might not have made the broadcast: the white horse (I believe it was a mare, possibly named Jo) was retiring after 17 years working the arena. She also got a moment of fame when her rider jokingly roped the Ford truck that wouldn't start and thus couldn't clear the arena; they jokingly pretended to haul it (in the end it turned out that they were attempting to use the wrong set of keys, which I guess is good as it didn't look so great for the reliability of the Built Ford Tough brand at that moment). Randy Bernard announced that the World Cup will be held in Las Vegas in April, to coincide with the Country Music Awards, something that I see little to no press on, so I'm not sure what that means. The bull Avalanche retired in style by bucking off Dusty Ephrom. And finally, I'm pretty sure I heard the announcer say that Ednei Caminhas is not retiring, in style or otherwise.

There were a few confusing moments... like Say I Won't Gunner having a truly wretched out. Clayton Baethge, well, his being there at all was surprising to me as I wasn't up to date on injuries, but his hang-up in the rope was truly scary. The arena was dead silent for what seemed an age while the bullfighters circled him, and the audience cheered when he was able to walk away. The same thing happened when Cody Nance hit the ground hard and was stunned for a bit; there were a lot of cheers when he walked out of the arena under his own power. There were some very nice moments in addition to the strange and scary, like seeing Guilherme Marchi get it together and make a ride, and seeing Validron de Oliveira's smooth, smooth riding style in person (I had a forlorn hope he'd be the spoiler this year, but maybe next year).

During the "intermission," the lovely woman who won the Invasion of the Bulls custom PBR Ford truck was fun to watch. She looked so incredibly happy. This whole segment also helped me understand why I had seen a camera crew following a guy around at the Meet & Greet--he was one of the finalists. I believe that somewhere in here, Shorty Gorham won an award--he was wandering around with a giant check, anyway. I was distracted by some traditionally nasty nachos at the time and wasn't entirely paying attention; please forgive me.

And then it was back to the action.

I understand from others that on the televised coverage there was a lame off-hand comment from Craig Hummer after a break and before the short-go saying they'd run the numbers and Kody Lostroh was the world champion no matter what happened, which seems tragically anti-climatic. I can tell you that it wasn't like that in the arena at all. Short of any enterprising math people in the crowd running the numbers themselves, I don't think anyone there knew for sure how it was going to play out. When Mauney got his ride for 93.75 points, the fans went absolutely crazy.(I loved seeing the pure joy on J.B. Mauney's face when he rode Black Pearl, I have to add.) And then as Kody Lostroh looked like he was going to ride Voodoo Child, the crowd jumped to their feet at around 7 seconds. The arena was filled with cheering in the expectation he would ride, and there was a huge gasp as he bucked off shortly thereafter, mixed with what I can only assume were the cheers of people who thought that meant that Mauney would take the title. I don't think Lostroh himself knew if he had enough points to win, as he promptly pressed the red review button. The in-arena announcer was emphasizing that if he was holding onto any part of the bull rope to 8 seconds, he'd get a score. It was tense, tense, tense as the crowd and Lostroh waited for the verdict.

The arena was filled with awkward silence while people shuffled around and wondered what was going on. Eventually the buck-off was upheld, and parts of the crowd groaned. Kody Lostroh had disappeared somewhere behind the chutes, and when the announcement finally came that he had won, the crowd made some noise but he was nowhere to be found. I'm still not sure Lostroh knew he won at that point because it seemed to take some time for him to make his way out to the random red carpeting and foliage, and then to burst into a huge smile as Randy Bernard said something like, "But no one wants to hear from me, they want to hear from your new World Champion, Kody Lostroh!"

I don't recall them announcing bull of the year, or why Bones wasn't there, but I'm sure they must have at least done the former. I don't remember much going on in regards to Cody Nance, our new Daisy Rookie of the Year. I hope he got some congratulations at the Awards Banquet, which I did not attend, nor did I attend the press conference (instead I sped out to the mile-long line for cabs). I do wonder why so little has been said about Cody Nance since, but I guess it really doesn't matter because he's quite talented, and I'm sure we will see more from him.

And while I am not a wild Kody Lostroh fan, he earned his moment in the sun and seemed genuinely thrilled. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the additional media scrutiny he will get as the World Champion. J.B. Mauney fought a good fight and has nothing to be ashamed of with his event title and with being the first man to stay on all 8 bulls during the finals. Guilherme Marchi seemed to be getting his mojo back at the end there, so I have high hopes for next season. All three guys, as far as I saw, conducted themselves with class in the face of the PBR attempts to build up some sort of rivalry mythology between them, and were truly good sportsmen.

And on that note, I will conclude this far overblown tale of my time in the tacky, tacky desert town with cowboys, musical theater and sangria, and leave you to try to figure out the signatures on the in(famous) drawing, and I will attempt to come down after a thrilling weekend.


shelia said...

Thanks, S, that was great! Again! I'm not a KL fan, but it seems like someone would have told him the results, but then, maybe he knew and he knew JB had ridden all 8 and just maybe he wanted to ride all 8, too--even if he had already won the World Championship. Maybe he wanted to win the event, too.

What do you think?

I agree that being there in person is quite confusing, especially if the race is tight.

Anyway, I loved hearing about it all first hand. And I love the signed drawing--something you'll cherish forever!

shannon said...

"And on that note, I will conclude this far overblown tale......

Ha! You were at the finals and managed to keep it to two installments. My 2 day Anaheim event was a 4 parter! But, I've always been too wordy.... *blushes*

As much as I love a civilized debate, I'm kind of glad I found a small group of fans with the same basic opinions. As with SQ's installments, all I can say is that many of your sentiments could easily be echoed by me.

Thanks for the write up, S. It was great reading!

Shawk said...

Thank you for all your kind comments, and thanks to SQ for being our lovely hostess.

Sheila, I'm really not sure. Kody definitely wasn't acting like he knew he had it in the bag. I think maybe the guys get so focused on one ride at a time that the big picture gets lost.

The trophy part has seemed anticlimactic to me both times... maybe they could have used the goofy in-arena screens to say, "Your new World Champ!" in addition to "AWESOME RIDE!" and "MAKE SOME NOISE!" However, it definitely sounds like being in the arena was much more exciting than a "by the way" comment from Craig Hummer. I think most people there really thought the title was up for grabs until the last second of the last ride.

And Shannon, sometimes what you gotta say takes four posts. The more reading, the merrier. ;)

Black Boots said...

Excellent job! Like a trip to Vegas without the souvenir of a hammering hangover. Love the comments about the opening ceremonies. PBR loves to bring the drama, don't they?

Getting pretty excited about the event this weekend. I just read on the PBR homepage that this is now the first points event of the season, so hopefully that will be an extra incentive for the riders. And three nights of bulls! Be still my heart...

Shawk said...

Thanks! And I must say that I'm pretty sure that I did far less partying than a few of the guys, judging by their large sunglasses and pained expressions.

I'm excited to see more from Thiago Paguioto this weekend, and not just because I think it's funny to hear the commentators try to say his name. But anything that brings me more bull riding is fine by me.