Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now, About Those Bulls . . .

I kept hearing two themes at the PBR event in Tulsa. One went like this: “The return of . . .”—just go ahead and fill in the blank to your own satisfaction. On Saturday night, I was treated to the return of J. B. Mauney, Brian Canter, Zack Brown, and Brendon Clark. On Sunday afternoon, I was told about the return of each of those young men yet again—you get the idea. I got heartily sick of the sound of it, especially since none of those boys except Zack rode worth a damn.

The other theme was how great the bulls were. Don’t get me wrong—you all know that the bulls are the reason I love this sport so much. But although the bulls most certainly got the job done, what with only 29 qualified rides for the entire event, I was exceptionally impressed with only a handful of them.

One thing I really love about the events when the new young bulls show up is their enthusiasm. Certainly you’ll see a few who are freaked out by the bright lights and the noise, but then there are others who really bring it, who come flying out of the chute like nobody told them they were supposed to play nicely with the cowboys. Maybe the veterans like Bushwhacker, Major Payne, and Hank were giving the rookies some advice behind the chutes, because some of those adorable babies, particularly Holy Roller and King Lopez, wasted no time doing their job when the gate opened.

Still, my distinct overall impression was that the cowboys were not at their best at either event. I don’t mean to suggest they weren’t doing anything they could think of to stay aboard—I saw contortions the like of which I don’t often see—but many of the boys just seemed a little off their game. I don’t know if it was the oppressive heat they’d been wading through anytime they dared to stick their heads outside the hotel, or, as Ty Murray famously said, “Too much clubbing,” or (most likely, I think) the fact that almost all of them were all banged up to one extent or another.

In his Webcast Friday night, Dr. Freeman pointed out that the much-talked about break was, in fact, a break in “name only,” because many of the guys keep riding on the Touring Pro circuit while the BFTS is shut down. Consequently, by the time we showed up on Saturday night, Briscoe, Cross, and McConnel were all out of action with comparatively new injuries. Marchi, who had surgery on his hand a few weeks before, came to the event intending to ride and then decided against it when it became clear he wasn’t 100%.

And on Saturday night, the crowd seemed sluggish as well. About halfway through the event, Montana Barn Cat said to me, “This bunch makes the Billings event look like the Superbowl.” It was better on Sunday, when the true die-hard fans always turn out in force, but on Saturday night, I swear it seemed you could have heard a pin drop a lot of the time.

I go to the PBR to see the bulls lay waste to the cowboys, and certainly I saw plenty of that in Tulsa. I sincerely hope that what I sensed from the boys was just anomaly. There’s a lot of season left before Vegas.

1 comment:

Black Boots said...

Interesting observation about the atmosphere in Tulsa. We're in the same blast furnace-type weather and it does play with your head (and other important parts.) I don't know what the PBR can do to re-work their event schedule so we can get these cowboys and bulls at a consistent level of health (at least for me, that would even the playing field and make it more interesting) but I imagine it would be a huge struggle to get rid of the traditional run for the money at "Cowboy Christmas" time. Maybe the new CEO has some ideas.