Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mauney Mania

Feel free to imagine this post being read in the booming voice used for Monster Truck Rally ads.  You know, "Sunday!  Sunday!  Sunday!"  It kind of sounds like that in my head.  Only in this case, it would be. "Sunday!  Monday! Mauney! Every day!  All day!"

That's because, as we all know, the PBR crowned J.B. Mauney as its world champion last year, and they are never going to let us forget it.  Let's review the postings on the PBR website as the new season has fired up:

1/3/2014: Mauney Embarks on NYC Media Tour, which begins, "It's been 68 days since J.B. Mauney won his first world title."  The PBR is concerned for us, in case we all had traumatic amnesia events sometime between October and now. Or, December and now, since that's when the PBR had a "Throwback Thursday" that was entitled "Mauney Wins World Title." Silly me, I thought TBT were for things that happened more than one month ago.

Let's not forget that they then tweeted "#TBT: Remember when @JBMauney won his first world title?!"  Gee, PBR, it was so long ago and you never talk about it, so I was in danger of forgetting-- thanks for reminding me!   (I am not going to catalog all their tweets about J.B., because I have other things to do with  my life.) As to the 1/3 article, outside the general gushing, I have nothing against the world champ having a media tour, but I don't remember them being so excited about some of their past champions.

1/3/2014: Q&A with 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney, which is a transcript of a live Twitter chat with J.B. Mauney.  It's as inane as you are imagining.  Although it did reveal this gem:
Q: @shannonlee13: What is your next goal now that you are the World Champion?

A: @jbmauney: "To win three in a row." #PBRChat
While I'm sure Mauney would love to do that, as any cowboy would, I'm also totally sure it's the PBR's goal, too, so then an American can be the first to back-to-back-to-back threepeat champ. Since Brazilians cornered the first three-time champion (Adriano Moraes) and the first back-to-back champion (Silvano Alves), an American has to get some kind of first, right?

1/3/2014: Vieira and Pozzobon Take Round 1 in New York.  Based upon the title, you might think this article is about Vieira and Pozzobon.  You would be mostly right, but of course it has a giant video in the middle of an interview with J.B. Mauney.  Just like at all the events when someone else was the round leader or did something impressive, but the interview was with Mauney.  It's almost amusing how the PBR doesn't even try to justify it, they just do it.  We should expect it, I guess.

1/5/2014: Mauney's Hot Streak Carries into New Year -- "J.B. Mauney continues to rewrite the PBR record books," it says, glossing over Fabiano Vieira splitting the win quickly in the first paragraph so it can get back to J.B., of course with another video interview. 

1/6/2014: Alves Has Unlikely Weekend in New York, which somehow dedicates quite a few of its paragraphs to J.B. Mauney, including this stunner that gets copy-pasted into all of them:
Mauney has now won or claimed a share of four consecutive regular-season BFTS event wins and five wins all together, including the World Finals, in staging what is the greatest comeback in PBR history. 
Unbiased journalism at its best, folks  -- why wouldn't an article dedicated to dissing Silvano Alves need to add further insult by dedicating much of it to praising J.B.?  At least J.B. himself had the good grace to conclude that this uncharacteristic weekend for Alves isn't one he expects to be repeated.  

1/10/2014: Vieira: 'Every Win Has a Different Taste.'  This article purports to be about Fabiano Vieira, who split the NY win with J.B. Mauney.  But, wait for it, it's actually mostly about J.B. Mauney or what Vieira thinks about Mauney.  And in case we forgot:
Mauney has now won or claimed a share of four consecutive regular-season BFTS event wins and five wins all together, including the World Finals, in staging what is the greatest comeback in PBR history.  
Where have we seen that before?  I'm going to have to stop quoting it because it's in all of them, pretty much.

1/11/2014: Mauney Sets PBR Record for Consecutive Rides -- what else is there to say about this?  Hummer was about to blast off on the power of his own hyperventilating excitement.  But there apparently was more to say in written form.   I can't even bring myself to pull a quote.

1/13/2014: Mauney and Bushwacker Set for Showdown in OKC, which, surprisingly, actually spends a fair amount of time discussing Bushwacker.  Of course, Bushwacker isn't Brazilian and while a champion in his own right, isn't in the same standings as Mauney.

1/14/2014: Mauney Serving as an Inspiration to Outlaw, in which we learn that Mauney is a shining beacon of light for young American cowboys, complete with fawning introduction and interviews with Mauney.  It does raise the question, however, can one be a mentor without knowing it?  How zen.

The flood started to slow down at this point, since Mauney bucked off a bull and so was no longer able to add to the consecutive ride streak, and didn't finish especially well.  Which is to be expected-- no one rides everything all the time.  However, something quite stunning showed up just recently.

1/20/2014: Champions to Collide in OKC 15/15 Bucking Battle, where outside of the standard gushing about Mauney, it features the interesting fact that apparently the 15/15 matches, when based on bull and rider rankings and not randomly assigned, were developed partially to force Silvano Alves into riding bulls he was unlikely to draft (bolding mine):
“He told Roy to tell me the best guy should have to get on the best bull,” Lambert recalled. “He felt like we had the draft and everything and that our No. 1 bull rider, at that time, dodged the toughest bulls.”

Lambert had known Roy – a bull rider, contractor and cutting horse trainer – for a long time, but had only met the elder Carter a few times over the years.

But he liked what he heard.

In fact, so too did the PBR Board of Directors along with the competition committee, they just felt it couldn’t be that way every time there was a 15/15 Bucking Battle.

“You (have) to mix it up a little more for the competition,” said Lambert, who explained the matchups are set like this only the first time each year and that from here on out – the next one will be in Anaheim, Calif. – the current Top 15 riders will be randomly matched with the Top 15 bulls available that weekend.... This particular way of matching riders and bulls illustrates what the 20 founders had in mind when they founded the PBR as an organization that would feature the best bull riders in the world against the best bucking bulls in the world.
This isn't exactly a surprise, but it's extraordinary (and not in a good way) that it was admitted and quoted.  The PBR seems to have been struggling with there being so few rides and fans getting bored (thus the draft) versus people apparently feeling the draft lets cowboys choose the "easy' bulls (a whole 'nother loaded topic), and in the process, utterly failing in controlling the messaging and PR about it (characteristically).

1/22/2014: Mauney vs. Bushwacker Reminiscent of Frost vs. Red Rock.  I'm kind of afraid to touch this one, to be honest, and probably the PBR should have shown a lot more caution themselves.  Let's just say that I think it's best to let "lore" develop on its own as time goes on, rather than to attempt to force it.  And having people who have active roles in PBR events being so partisan is, let's just say, not politic.

1/23/2014: By the Numbers: Mauney Riding Rankest Bulls at Dominant Rate.  I do generally like Slade Long's statistician's take on things, but at this point, I am totally fatigued by the PBR's Mauney media machine, especially when it basically concludes that he is the best there is and ever was and ever shall be.

Anyway, I  may have missed a few (I admit, my eyes started to glaze over after a bit, especially when every fourth word was "Mauney" -- only a slight exaggeration), but I'm sure the point is fairly clear: that's a lot of articles dedicated to J.B. Mauney in the span of a mere couple of weeks, and the mania is bleeding into articles that are nominally about something else.  And this is barely touching the endless commentary on the broadcasts and the numerous interviews with J.B. Mauney (passing over people who actually won rounds or the event, at times), which could have its own dedicated post.  And I am only barely getting into the apparent downplaying of Silvano Alves' accomplishments in order to pump up the legend of J.B. Mauney further, and of course the PBR's weird messaging issues.

But let me be clear on this, also.  I'm not slamming J.B. Mauney; he is a talented rider and he can't help it if the PBR is in love with him and apparently can't stop talking about him for five seconds.  But as much as I tell myself that, the PBR is making it very, very hard for me to like him at this point.  Mauney's not the only bull rider on tour.  He's not the only world champion on tour.  He's a talented guy who made a good attitude adjustment, but there are only so many times we need to hear that he's "having fun" and credits his family for his success, only so many articles we need to read about how super amazing he is or someone else thinks he is-- we get it.

Seriously, PBR, we get it.  We really get it.  You love him.  All must love him or despair.  He's simply the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious rider there ever was or ever will be.  Are you satisfied?  What else do we have to say to get some variety in coverage?

Final note:  if the PBR isn't worried about causing fan fatigue, maybe they should should chew on this: their deification of Justin McBride likely hastened his departure from the sport.  Living up to the hype becomes stressful; constantly dealing with the media becomes overwhelming.  Think long and hard, PBR, before you hang everything on one guy.  Mauney is your new golden boy, but the longer you put him on your own special pedestal, the more likely it is he'll want to get off.

(In the distance, I can still hear Hummer's voice shouting, "Sunday!  Sunday!  Sunday!  Mauney!  Mauney!  Mauney!")


Anonymous said...

OMG. The post today was really nauseating, over the top! The PBR is going to do everything in its power to make/let him win agin this year. All the hype. The hype around the bull retiring today. Whistles and bells...The Electric Cowboy " all over again. I am not a JB fan but I am beginning to feel sorry for him. He has got to realize what the PBR is doing to him. What about the other 34 PBR cowboys. Are they just chopped liver?

Pearl de Vere said...

I thought it was a ridiculous fake-out that they said a world champion was going to announce his retirement. Since they apparently can't even keep a Portuguese translator, I don't know where they found a bull translator.

Mauney has held up under the bright lights pretty well so far, but he had years of being a polarizing figure to get his feet wet, I guess. He can't help the PBR's slobbering on him, but there's only so long a person can enjoy that level of hype and scrutiny.

It's too bad they can't seem to let it just be. Not all fans need the PBR to choose a favorite for them -- or even need to have one specific favorite. I'm pretty sure that's too "communist" a concept for them, though.

Anonymous said...

OMG...another post today all about the smiling "dad" JB. Too much! Just add this one to the list.

Pearl de Vere said...

If I keep editing the post with J.B. articles, it will be the post that never ends! (But this latest article is especially gratuitous.)

shannon said...

Well said and there's not much more I can add. I like the guy and I do agree that his attitude has gotten much better over the years, but it's so much like Justin all over again it's not even funny. And this:

"At least J.B. himself had the good grace to conclude that this uncharacteristic weekend for Alves isn't one he expects to be repeated."

Great point! I watched him carefully towards the end of last season and he's such a good sport that his fans could really use a lesson or two from him (and Alves!).

And because it can't be said enough: I'm so sick of "Bad to the Bone" have no idea. Or maybe you do :)

Shawk said...

I was watching the LEC this evening (they gave me a free month "preview") and Clint Adkins (or I guess it could have been Brandon Bates, but I'm pretty sure it was Adkins) was shorting out his mic while yelling about the Mauney v. Bushwacker contest. I mean, it was like J.B. was about to be the first man to land on Mars or had just cured cancer.

I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the guy. He can't possibly live up to this ridiculous level of hysterical hype, no matter how good he is.

Speaking of Justin McBride, did you see his comments about riding bulls again and that in his mind, he's riding Asteroid and Bushwacker? Well, it should be interesting, anyway....

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching online the event in OKC. JB only rode two bulls and all they could talk about was him and what it would take for him to win. What about the other 5 top contenders for the event! Never a mention of them, Also, makes me sick to watch the intro on computer with the two (this time) to three bimbos standing by Brandon and
clint with lots of cleavage showing. Exploitation at its best!

Anonymous said...

By the way, he came in 11th but you would have thought he came in 1st. Poor Nathan and the other 9 riders.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't have whacked that beehive any better! I had been wondering why and how the 15-15 marquee matchups were set for Oklahoma. The PBR will stoop to nothing to tank a Brazilian rider. Them admitting it in print is mind-boggling. Sheer vindictiveness-- and hubris on top of that!
All the JB hype is bound to have a rebound effect: the fans are already fed up with being force-fed a straight diet of Mauney, and the pressure on JB to be Superman just might send him on a losing streak. The PBR might as well just put up a permanent JB Mauney front page on their website, and a footnote that says, "and there were other riders in the event."

Pearl de Vere said...

The TV broadcast seemed to back off on the Mauney Madness a little bit after he bucked off Bushwacker, but the LEC stayed pretty firmly in the Mauney corner-- I was so tired of seeing the retrospective of the finals, I could have screamed.

I don't have great hopes they will continue to show such restraint if he starts riding better, though.

How 'bout that Little Red Jacket, though? He's like a blast from the past.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the PBR does seem to overdo praising of certain riders and putting them on pedestals. It has happened before with adverse results, but apparently they didn’t learn from that. As you said, they did it with Justin McBride and most recently a couple of years ago with the Brazilians. It turned a lot of fans off of the Brazilians, through no fault of their own, and those fans unfortunately were labeled racists. However the following could have been said by many of those fans.

But let us be clear on this, also. We’re not slamming the Brazilians; they are talented riders and they can't help it if the PBR is in love with them and apparently can't stop talking about them for five seconds. But as much as we tell ourselves that, the PBR is making it very, very hard for us to like them at this point. The Brazilians are not the only bull riders on tour. They don’t have the only world champion on tour. They’re talented guys who’ve made a good lifestyle adjustment, but there are only so many times we need to hear that they are "having fun" and credit their families for their success, only so many articles we need to read about how super amazing they are or someone else thinks they are-- we get it.

Seriously, PBR, we get it. We really get it. You love them. All must love them or despair. They’re simply the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious riders there ever were or ever will be. Are you satisfied? What else do we have to say to get some variety in coverage?

Pearl de Vere said...

The PBR is capable of creating fan fatigue on any number of topics, although the only commentator I remember being particularly enamored of specific Brazilian riders is Ty Murray. However, "the Brazilians" are multiple people with different personalities, skills, stories, etc. Of course the PBR is going to talk about whoever is doing well at the time, and that includes J.B. Mauney.

However, J.B. Mauney is one guy -- the PBR has told us his story now, repeatedly, at great length, and all in a short period of time. And with articles that compare him to Lane Frost and imply that he may well be the best bull rider of all time. While this may prove to be true, the PBR apparently has not learned any lessons from their experience with Justin McBride and is pumping things up quite prematurely, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree. I do not think the PBR is very pro Brazilians. They are all JB. No more mention of the killer bees. I believe that they are anti Brazilians. Justin McBride coming back to ride is a joke. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

As I said in my post, the PBR was very pro Brazilian a COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. Everything was ‘the Brazilians’, ‘the Killer Bees’, their ‘PhDs’, their support group, etc. While the Americans, as JW said, were unmotivated. Just as there are those who now think JB is over scored and/or the Brazilians are underscored, at that time some people thought the judges were too influenced by all the Brazilian hype and over scored the Brazilians. It is all a matter of perception and conspiracy theories are all pretty amusing. It happens in all sports.

Pearl de Vere said...

There is, however, a fundamental difference between multiple stories in a short time focused on J.B. Mauney, one guy, and stories about "the Brazilians," who are a bunch of guys who happen to be from the same country. There is also a fundamental difference between writing stories about various guys from the same country who are doing well at the same time, and rushing off to interview and write numerous articles about one guy even when he's not doing anything noteworthy at the time.

Interestingly, there have been articles recently about the American "young guns" and I don't see grumbling that there are too many articles about "the Americans."

I personally don't feel the PBR is organized enough to have masterminded any kind of massive conspiracy. However, it was pretty clear that they would have loved for J.B. Mauney to win, probably because they feel like they know how to market him (which is the same way they marketed McBride). Whether the hype started bleeding into scoring, either consciously or unconsciously, there's no way to definitely say.

I can definitively say that the PBR segment on the LEC comparing Silvano Alves and J.B. Mauney last season to the Turtle and the Hare was bizarre.

Anonymous said...

OMG< I thought I was the ONLY person to believe the PBR was going to shove JB to retire just to get away from the pressure. In fact I mentioned it to someone and they bit my head off and ran off screaming and flailing.
On the LEC, you don't dare say one word against anything related to JB, even if it's nothing bad about JB himself. You'll get flailing and screaming about "JB haters!"
I swear, one more time and I'll make a parody video like the Britteny 'defender' video. "LEAVE JB ALOOOONE!!!!" *sob sob*

I love the sport, love all the riders pretty much. I think JB is a great rider but he's not the ONLY great rider. I do think that the PBR is starting to hear the "There's other riders you know" because the articles have dropped to only half JB and the other half for everything else in the PBR.

Thanks for the blog and I'm going to have to keep up with it now for sure.