Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Time to Ride

Howdy, friends and neighbors! We are swabbing out the Stockyard, preparatory to a great year of bull riding. It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life—you get the picture?

Considering everything we endured last season, it's a damned miracle I'm ready for the whole wonderful pageant to start all over again. We've had a bull doping scandal, we've had life-threatening injuries, we've had interviews by commentators and remarks by bull riders that were so dumb that we were ourselves struck dumb trying to figure out which end of the bull rope to pull on.

Right after the PBR finals, one of my loyal readers sent me a note, asking if I hadn't posted anything about the event because 1) I was too busy or 2) something had upset me and I was too pissed off about it to write yet. The answer, fortunately, was 1)—the end of the academic year is always a busy time for me, and this year seemed even more insane than usual.

Equally as fortunately, the answer was most definitely not 2). Watching the finals this year was a great experience—I could not possibly have asked for a more exciting series or a better outcome. Sure, there were at least a couple of nights when the bulls were subpar, and there were a lot of nights when the American riders were subpar, but all in all, it was a great finals.

In the interim, I have been mulling over some complaints from some of my readers that I am too prone to dwelling on the negatives about the PBR, and I have decided that 1) that's a load of bullshit and 2) I don't plan to change my ways. There's plenty to like about the PBR, but there's also plenty to gripe about, and I will never let it be said that I backed away from my obligations to help tote the load. If you want to read puffery about the PBR, there's always the PBR website. I'm sure they'll be happy to have you over there.

Which brings me to the point of this meandering post: The good, the bad, and the "haven't they learned a thing"? To wit:

1. We are starting a new season WITHOUT JUSTIN MCKEE, which is just a fucking atrocity. I have thought about this state of affairs a lot over the past year, and I concluded that the reason McKee got bounced was David Neal's fundamental ignorance about the sport—he apparently didn't get that half of the bull riding equation is the bull. We need Justin McKee back, if he'll have us. The boys in the booth just have not been able to dish out the same level of information about the bulls that Justin had at his fingertips. I do not intend to shut up about this just because a year has gone by.

2. We must pray to whatever gods we believe in that Neal has at least learned one singular fact about bull riding: From one week to the next, you can't count on any rider being in the mix. How can we forget Neal's rhapsodizing about how wonderful Brendon Clark's accent was and how he planned to involve him in the production? And the long-ass intro with Gary Allen wailing as pictures of the riders flashed before our eyes? Fast forward to the end of the season: Brendon Clark was no longer even on the tour, and a whole bunch of those guys who had been lauded to the skies at the beginning of the season were either barely hanging on, or were injured. I suppose it might have been an honest mistake—after all, the worst injuries you can suffer playing poker are probably a paper cut and/or being over-served—but on the other hand, nobody should start a new gig without doing due diligence. I see no evidence that Neal has done that to this date.

3. We are starting a new season on CBS Sports. I will be interested to see whether that move will bring in new fans to any degree, or whether we are going to learn, once and for all, that bull riding is in fact a niche sport loved only by redneck refugees from NASCAR and a handful of liberal women, which is where Turn Him Out! comes in.

4. We are finally rid of Erin Whosis, and I for one hope she didn't let the screen door hit her in the butt on the way out. I did my best to cut her some slack, I really did, but after I witnessed with my own eyes her stalking rudely away from Valdiron when her five-second standup with him in Billings was over, I was so done. And the woman's boots looked like shit, too.

5. We are starting off yet another season with the PBR PR department doing its utmost to 1) confuse us totally or 2) keep us completely in the dark. The press release about the move to CBS Sports might as well have been written in Sanskrit for all the information it imparted. We did, of course, learn that the sponsors are the real reason there even IS a PBR, which can't be news to anybody who attended a live event this past season.

What we didn't learn was that Peter Farley was very seriously hurt in Australia sometime around Christmas—it took Kris DiLorenzo posting about it on her fine blog to get the word out. I guess we should be grateful that three days after she posted, the PBR added one tiny clause to its description of Farley, and I quote: "Farley, who is recovering from a practice-pen injury in Australia, started off 2011 with back-to-back Touring Pro Division event wins in Denver and Pueblo, Colo., in January, and then picked up a third lower-level win in Winston-Salem, N.C." You can always count on the PBR to not report on stuff that people might actually want to hear about. The organization's handling of the bull-doping mess was pretty much a classic example of its head-in-the-sand approach.

6. We are also starting off without Bushwhacker, who was scheduled to undergo surgery today to repair a fracture in his back right leg. Wait—let me get this straight: Pete Farley was so badly hurt that he was put into a medically induced coma, according to Dustin Elliot, but there's not one word about that on the PBR's website. On the other hand, this bull, whom I absolutely love, got an entire feature to himself. It's certainly not that I don't want to hear about injuries to the animal athletes—it's just that Pete Farley, and for that matter McKennon Wimberley, deserved equal time. Boys, pay attention—if you get hurt riding bulls on the PBR tour, it's pretty much out of sight, out of mind.

After all that, I'm sure some of you are wondering why I'm bothering to tune in next weekend. Surely you know the answer: It's the bulls, stupid. Oh, yes, and the Brazilians, who act like professionals in all seasons.

Bring it on, sez I. Open the damned gate.


shannon said...

I need the break from the PBR, but I'm looking forward to it starting again. I'll be headed to Anaheim in two weeks and while I know they need to start somewhere, I wish it came here later in the year. I prefer watching it when there's a clear threat heading towards the finals. Also, a couple of my favorites won't be there: Shane and McKennon. Thankfully, so far, most of the Brazilians and JB are healthy and ready to go.

Shawk said...

Fabiano Vieira also doesn't seem to be in the draw, but I have no clue where we'd find out what that means, if anything. Apparently if you are hurt, the PBR just doesn't want to talk about you, unless you're dating Mesa Pate and recovering, then you might get a mention now and again... but only if it's positive.

Figuring out when and where to watch the PBR this year sounds like it is going to be a headache. I realize some of it might be that VS/NBC Sports Network is trying to rival ESPN in the coming years and doesn't want to be known as the deer-shootin', bull-ridin' channel, but my head spins trying to figure out what channel I'm supposed to be watching any given weekend... or if it's YouTube or what.

I hope we lose Ermy and the Allen intro, but mostly I really hope we lose the smarmy voice-over woman. Surely no one thought she was a success? Although this is the PBR and David Neal we're talking about.

Looking forward to bull riding... hope all the changes don't make a bigger mess, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Take a look here at a recent turn in the Steroid scandal of last year. www.bcsaleing.com

Stockyard Queen said...

Will do, Anonymous.Thanks!

Stockyard Queen said...

Anonymous, I really appreciate your sending me the link--and as you doubtless know, the thread has now vanished off that board. But we really can't publicize this without some kind of confirmation from either an official or an independent source. Do you have a suggestion as to where we might get that?

Anonymous said...

I am haiving trouble finding PBR on my Dish network! Anyone have a clue? CBS Sports says they are on 152. PBR says Anaheim will be on CBS Sports. But Dish does not show PBR on 152 at all next weekend!

Stockyard Queen said...

I don't have Dish, anonymous. Does anyone else have any advice to offer?

shannon said...

I have DISH and have no idea why it's not listed. The CBS Sports Network site has PBR listed on the 15th at 6pm, EST (and they having it listed as the premiere. *eyeroll*). I'm going to email both DISH and CBS to see if they can tell me what's up.

Also: I guess I misunderstood the whole new deal thing with the networks. I thought, by using NBC, NBSSN, CBS and CBSSN, we'd still be getting at least two days of each event. I guess not! What a rip off! How did they think this would bring in new viewers?!

shannon said...

Anonymous, if you're still lurking, DISH now has the PBR listed on channel 152 at 3pm (PST) on Sunday afternoon.

nvp said...

I'm already fed up with this channel-hopping. All I can deduce from the fouled-up TV schedule is that we're not getting any bulls on Saturday, and that really hacks my hardwire. You Tube was great (albeit with the freezes, it was still better than a poke in the eye) so I don't understand why they can't use it every week when there's no network broadcasts. Anyone know how that works?

nvp said...

I'm already fed up with this channel-hopping. All I can deduce from the fouled-up TV schedule is that we're not getting any bulls on Saturday, and that really hacks my hardwire. You Tube was great (albeit with the freezes, it was still better than a poke in the eye) so I don't understand why they can't use it every week when there's no network broadcasts. Anyone know how that works?

Shawk said...

I was honestly surprised by the YouTube coverage-- I wasn't expecting interviews and features and whatnot. I would imagine that would cost the same to produce as a regular broadcast, and if there aren't advertisers, it's not going to happen.

I don't understand (or like) that we are then apparently getting some Fridays of three day events but losing some Saturdays of two day events. This doesn't seem like a good trade-off.