Monday, September 16, 2013

S. Goes to Oakland, Part II

And here it is, the conclusion of S.'s adventures in Oakland.

Saturday started off more auspiciously than Friday, thankfully.  There were actually two whole concession stands open!  (There is only a tinge of sarcasm in that statement.  As a vegetarian, having the pizza stand open was an improvement in choice over the “cheeseburger with no burger” I ended up with on Friday).  This boded well for the attendance.

Guilherme Marchi
The crowd was still intimate enough that we were able to hit the sponsor booths without it being too insane. I have to admit that I was ridiculously keen to do this, because Guilherme Marchi was at the Monster Energy Drink booth, and while I don’t drink energy drinks, I have somehow missed meeting Guilherme Marchi other than in a drive-by at the rail, and I didn't want to let this opportunity pass. Besides being a great bull rider and appearing to be humble and kind, he certainly has a million watt smile.  (They don't call him "Hollywood" for nothing.)  I'm happy he's making a charge up the standings late in the season, and I managed not to turn into a giant idiot while talking to him, so there is that, too.

I had previously been somewhat surprised to see that Silvano Alves was doing a signing at the Wrangler booth.  I get the impression he doesn't do them often, but I could be incorrect on that, as I don't attend that many events.  I recall getting a picture with him at the 2010 finals, and while he was very polite, he seemed really bewildered as to why anyone would want to talk to him or get a picture with him.  I suspect his improving English has helped him feel more comfortable meeting fans in America, because he seemed quite relaxed here. 
Silvano Alves

After meeting these two, we ended up being herded by Chad Berger.  It was pretty funny—he was verbally prodding us down the line and forcefully (but with good nature) shoving Cooper Tires promo materials at us.  I was with some people who have been to an event or two but aren't die-hards who would recognize a stock contractor at a glance, but when I explained who he was, they exclaimed, “I was wondering what the deal was. Now it makes sense!”  We got a good laugh out of it.

Having cruised the few other booths to be found and entering contests (I'll let you know if I win a welding machine, because that could be interesting, and/or terrifying) and buying RRF raffle tickets, we met up with another quite amusing fan in one of the club access bars, and then headed into the event.  As the concession booths had indicated, attendance was indeed much improved, which was a relief.  I’m not sure this will help Oakland make it on the schedule ever again, but it really helps the atmosphere of an event.

Another one down
What didn't help the event at all was the really small amount of rides.  There were only 13 rides on Friday and a measly 8 on Saturday.  The crowd tends to lose momentum when cowboy after cowboy gets turfed, and many weren't even interesting buck offs or because the bulls were outstanding; the cowboys just seemed tired and dispirited, and certainly were riding (or not, mostly) that way. 

There were a number of on-the-edge of re-ride bulls that ended up not becoming re-rides.  I’m not sure if this was a batch of judges who aren't big on re-rides or what, but a number of cowboys got dinged in points that way, including, surprisingly, J.B. Mauney.  I was convinced that if he stuck on, he’d get an upper 80s score and be in the championship round, but his bull under-performed and with only one 70-something score counting toward the event, Muaney was done for the weekend.  The whole thing seemed a bit odd, but I guess every bull rider has moments that go his way and moments that don't, and hopefully it evens out in the end.

Flint and the Contra Costa FD shirt
Anyway, so it fell to Flint and the in-arena announcers to try to keep the crowd positive through the long stretches of chute preparation, and the very short stretches of chutes cracking and cowboys hitting the dirt in seconds.  I’m not sure Flint twerking was exactly what we needed, though.  I do appreciate Flint’s dancing, generally, but I’m not terribly interested in seeing anyone twerking, let alone Flint.

There was a nice moment, however, with the guy who later ended up being the Fan of the Night.  First he got the t-shirt that Flint had gotten covered in dirt, atmosphere and bull snot.  He was such a good sport about it that he took off his shirt to put the dirty one on immediately, and gave his shirt to Flint, who wore it for a bit.  The original shirt?  It was for the Contra Costa Fire Department, as the guy is a firefighter.  I really hope he had a good weekend and enjoyed his belt buckle and snotty shirt, because he would go home and presumably nearly immediately end up embroiled in the Morgan fire that spread over much of Mount Diablo and threatened the outer areas of the Contra Costa city, Clayton, for several days.  (The fire is thankfully now contained.)

Joao Ricardo Vieira and Smackdown
We were also subjected to a film reel of the "Sexiest Cowboy" photoshoot.  While the problems I have with this “contest” are myriad (Who chose the finalists?  Based upon what? Why only Americans and Brendon Clark?  Just a few to start), the photoshoot looked hilariously cheesy.  Pensive cowboys leaning against weathered wood or with rusty cargo train cars in the distance; how innovative.  And then the guys, with varying levels of self-consciousness, declaring things like, "I am the sexiest cowboy alive."  Yeah.  I can't wait to see how this all turns out.

Anyway, we laboriously  made our way toward the championship round, and again, the cowboys continued the downward trend.  Joao Ricardo Vieira started well on Smackdown and gave us some short-lived excitement, but Smackdown showed he still has it and won the contest of wills this time.

Silvano Alves with the win
I was terrified that we were going to have the first unveiling of the “sudden death” rule that Craig Hummer mentioned a few events ago but we have yet to see; I can't find anything about it on the PBR site but from memory, apparently if no one rides in the championship round, the top three have to get on another bull and whoever rides first, wins?  I don’t get it and it sounds questionable, really.  Are the stock contractors bringing extra short go caliber bulls or are they the short go re-ride bulls, and is there a new draft?  Do they go in order from top guy to third guy?  What happens if those three don't ride during the sudden death round?  Do they  have to go again? Will the PBR ever stop launching random and ill-explained rule changes in the middle of the season?  (PdV - Probably not.)  Thankfully, Silvano Alves gritted his way through an inelegant, yet 8 second ride, which avoided the first sudden death scenario and clinched the win.

I get the feeling that the PBR doesn't find Silvano very dynamic and they'd like someone else to have a turn holding the giant trophy aloft, but anyone in the top 10 is going to have to get through Silvano's slow and deliberate strategy that is backed by his very high-level of skill.  No matter what happens, I hope the ride percentages for everyone increases over what we saw in Oakland, because that was depressing. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about anything at the event.  

So there it is.  Thanks to S. for sharing her observations.  Sadly, her hopes for the riding percentages didn't come true in Springfield, but we've got a few events to go before the Finals.


Anonymous said...

My problem with the cowboys chosen for the Sexiest Cowboy contest isn’t that there aren’t any Brazilians, but that Brandon Clark is included. If the cowboy is going to represent an American cowboy then he ought to be an American citizen.

I agree the high buck off percentages don’t make for an exciting event. The 15/15 being shown on network television was a disaster in its effort to draw more interest. Who wants to watch buck off after buck off, especially at 2 or 3 seconds. At least if the ride lasts over 5 seconds the fan has a chance to become vested in the ride. The Probullstats website has an interesting blog ‘Where Technology Fails Us’ that at about half way through addresses the issue of why riding percentages are lower today compared to years ago. I believe he makes some valid points.

Shawk said...

I have many problems with the Sexiest Cowboy Contest, but it seems like they could have solved a lot of the problems if they called it something like the "Sexiest American Cowboy" with a subtitle about portraying Luke whatshisname for the Nicholas Sparks novel. And, as you say, not had Brendon Clark in there, because that just opens it up to so many questions -- Sexiest White Cowboy is not where we want to go.

I do suspect they approached many cowboys who weren't interested in participating, but I'd still be very curious to know how they arrived at this particular twelve.

I enjoy seeing high-caliber bulls, but part of the excitement is the thought that somebody might make the whistle. I suspect the PBR thought the 15/15 would have a lot more rides than it has, unfortunately.

Slade's blog is interesting, certainly. I don't know what the PBR can do about it, though. With the bull futurities and years of dedicated breeding showing great results, the bulls are only going to get better. As he points out, the solution may be in "making" better cowboys from a young age, but someone has to invest in that, and I'm not thinking the PBR will go there.

shannon said...

I agree with the the Brendan Clark, but no Brazilians issue, and have also added in a couple of places that Canadian Aaron Roy is no slouch, either. I hadn't been watching much PBR at the beginning of the year, so I had no idea of the secretive nature of how the 12 finalists were chosen, but suspect you're right about having asked a number of them and getting a lot of refusals. As for how it will turn out--popularity contest for sure, especially considering that you can vote as many times as you want (yeah, I went there...sue me *g* I couldn't decide between Jory and Douglas, who may or may not be nice guys/jerks, but, imo, had the best looking photos, so I voted for them twice each so far.)

So glad you got to meet Guilherme! I just love him--he's so nice every single time. Most of the Brazilians are sweethearts.

As I said in the last post, they're going to lose their collective minds if Silvano wins again. Part of me wants JB to finally take it, but part of me wants to see what happens if Silvano wins again (and he'd definitely deserve it for playing the game correctly, as would JB for muscling through it and surpassing him). This may just be quite and exciting finals.

Shawk said...

Out of morbid curiosity, I watched the videos for the guys and either Ross Coleman is being droll or it wasn't explained to him very clearly. Neither would surprise me.

Some of those pictures are... huh. I can't imagine the guys were really naturals at this kind of photoshoot, but why the one where Luke Snyder's lip and jaw are blurry? And don't get me started on all the flexing biceps while touching the hat shots.

I guess it also feels uncomfortably like the PBR is struggling to relate to the female fan base and this is what they came up with (although who knows if Sparks approached them or vice versa). Can you just see that board meeting? "What do women like? Uh... hot guys. Romance novels? What can we do with that?" It's not that I entirely object to good-looking guys or to goofy looks-based contests (and I don't read romance novels but obviously people do and that's fine), but the PBR's track record when it comes to female fans is not exactly amazing.

I have seen Guilherme interact with other fans and kids (he was eating breakfast and I wasn't going to interrupt him) and he was darling with them. He's always struck me as a good guy and I was so pleased to finally shake his hand.

I just hope the PBR lets whatever happens, happen. They seem to keep tinkering and tweaking, and while I'm sure there isn't always some nefarious motive, it just starts to seem unprofessional and weird. Guys trying to ride bulls shouldn't be so complicated!