Thursday, January 29, 2009

Provin' Up

Goodness, cowgirls and cowboys, here it is Thursday already, and obviously I’ve not been around the Stockyard much. Yes, it’s true, I’ve been lolling around on my satin chaise longue at my palatial estate in St. Croix, eating imported chocolates and watching Mexican soap operas and ordering my personal staff of thousands to do my bidding, all the while neglecting my duties as one humble chronicler of the PBR. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

So what’s happened in the meantime? Roll the highlights reel, please.

• Kasey Hayes proved that he did some growing up in the past couple of weeks, taking his medicine and apologizing on national television for throwing his helmet at Blind Date in Sacramento. J.W. Hart then proved that’s he is hands-down the most brilliant and sensitive commentator ever paid to warm a seat in the PBR broadcasting booth by remarking that the apology sounded “rehearsed,” which I think he meant as an insult because of course if he, J.W., had ever been called upon to make a public apology, he would have just winged it and it would have come out so much better. Good going, Kasey. Do me a favor and tell people like J.W. to just go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.
• Pandora’s Box, Avalanche, Blizzard, and Nervous Waters all proved they still have the goods, and Commotion, Silver Wings, and Jacob’s Pet all proved they’ve earned their spots in the BFTS, and a whole bunch of other bulls proved they need to mosey on down to Burger King and put us all out of our misery.
• The judges proved once again that the work they do is strange and wondrous, and pretty much incomprehensible to anybody who hasn’t ingested a whole lot of Jack Daniels, and possibly a whole lot of crack, well in advance of the event. How else to explain who gets a reride and who doesn’t? How else to explain the one judge who consistently marks everybody, man or bull, at least a point lower than the rest of the judges do? Did he just get up on the wrong side of the chute that day?
• Brendon Clark proved he can ride with a torn groin and manage to not pass out or throw up on Leah Garcia after the ride, and I proved that his toughness made absolutely no impression on me. Likewise Kody Lohstroh, who for some reason leaves me cold. Frankly I wouldn’t even notice if they both took off for Adelaide, never to return.
• Little Ryan Dirteater proved that he belongs on the BFTS tour, winning the event nearly four points ahead of J.B. Mauney, and Chris Shivers proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks, tying the first night with Dirteater while wearing his spiffy new helmet. Welcome to the winner’s circle, Ryan! Good to see you back there, Chris!
• Tom Teague proved he believes Bones is the greatest bull on tour at the moment, challenging Guilherme Marchi to a $20,000 shoot-out in Winston-Salem next week, and Marchi proved he has guts by immediately accepting the challenge. J.W. then proved that he apparently doesn’t know of any left-handed riders besides the old-timers who were riding when he was on tour. Hart stated that Marchi won’t ride Bones because the Brazilian is right-handed, and he then went on to predict that Kody Lohstroh, J.B. Mauney, or Wiley Petersen will ride Bones first, because they’re all southpaws. Or maybe it’s just because those are the only people he bothers to pay any attention to.
• Twelve riders proved they need to sharpen up their bull-riding skills by getting cut from the BFTS after Dallas. Those listed as being cut include Harve Stewart, Reese Cates, Pistol Robinson, Clayton Williams, L.J. Jenkins, Vince Northrop, Clayton Foltyn, Dustin Hall, Aaron Roy, Colby Yates, D.J. Domangue, and Ednei Caminhas. The latter won’t leave the tour, however, being grandfathered in by virtue of his world championship in 2001, and Brian Canter, who hasn’t ridden squat since he got hurt in California last summer, also managed to avoid getting the heave-ho because of his winnings on the Challenger circuit. I hereby volunteer to help Stewart, Hall, Williams, Northrup, Foltyn, and Caminhas pack up their bull ropes, and I’ll even put them in limos headed for the little bull-rider’s retirement home. The jury’s still out on the rest. Certainly I think Reese Cates and Aaron Roy have the talent and tenacity to make it back to the big leagues.
• Finally, my loyal readers proved that they are probably the smartest and funniest bunch of bull-riding fans on the planet by skewering Mr. Flint Rasmussen for calling those who aren’t buying the products manufactured by the PBR’s sponsors “stupid.” Flint’s entreating us to support the sponsors reminds me of a similar situation several years ago, a few days right after the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, when our former president sent us out into the streets to defy the terrorists by going shopping. At least some portion of the economic trouble we presently find ourselves in has been brought on by our national disinclination to live within our means, and I’m pretty sure that asking us to buy more stuff we probably don’t need and most likely can’t afford isn’t going to help anymore than it did the first time around. So, no thanks, Flint. And you better think twice about calling people “stupid.” In the end, one way or another, it’s the PBR fans who pay your salary. I think it’s safe to say that if we quit showing up, the lights will quit coming on. I also think it’s safe to say we all know who has truly proven himself stupid this week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Had No Idea

When Kasey Hayes threw his helmet at Blind Date in Sacramento last Sunday, he set off a firestorm of cussin’, discussin’, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about whether his punishment fit the crime. Let me state at the outset that I think he deserved everything he got, because 1) I don’t think temper tantrums have any place in professional sports, and nobody is going to change my mind about that, so don’t even try; 2) any bull rider who assaults a bull is endangering another athlete, so he should treated exactly as if he had taken a swing at another rider; and 3) he also has taken the chance of enraging the animal and thus putting himself, the bull fighters, and anybody else unfortunate enough to be loitering around the chutes, in danger, which is absolutely unconscionable and must not be tolerated.

I don’t intend to get into arguments about whether any portion of the penalty was overly harsh. Yes, $7,500 is a lot of money, as it should be--a fine is supposed to hurt. Yes, he will be humiliated to some extent when he makes a public apology, as he should be. If it were up to me, he'd have to go to the contractor's ranch and apologize to him, and then go out to the pasture and apologize to Blind Date and hope the bull accepts it without hooking him in the butt. In particular, I’m not worried that poor little Kasey is being overburdened because he has to go to anger management classes. I’m not swayed by the fact that others, including J.B. Mauney, have shown us their fannies regularly for years, punching inanimate objects and throwing their bull ropes at cameramen. Furthermore, I don’t buy the argument that the locker room is a “private area” that should be off limits to cameras. The point is, it’s NOT off limits, the riders know that, and they should just deal with it. If they want to go outside and beat the crap out their trucks, I’m fine with that, and if the cameraman follows them outside to film that, they are free to deal with it to the extent they think the law will allow. Be forewarned, boys, that the law generally takes a dim view of people punching each other out under circumstances except outright self-defense.

Three things, though, have emerged from all this that I was astonished to learn. First of all, I was frankly amazed to find that the PBR apparently has a Conduct Committee. I have to wonder if they meet regularly or if they’re just called into action as events dictate, and I also have to wonder what kinds of situations they’d rule on. Apparently they aren’t on call to deal with routine infantile behavior in the arena, or cowboys crawling drunkenly back to their hotel rooms, but what if one of the cowboys gets pulled over for DUI, or knocks up a minor, or gets busted for running a dog fighting ring? Where is the line here?

Second, I had no idea that anybody who has achieved the age of 24 and the status of professional bull rider is still a “kid,” the term was repeatedly used in the PBR press releases and in Ty Murray’s blog about Hayes. By the time I was 24, I was married and running a household and nobody other than my grandmother would have called me a "kid." Certainly I sense an implication that a lot of these boys are just sowing their wild oats and thus their bad behavior should be tolerated, but I don’t accept that. I don’t consider anybody who’s 24 a kid anymore and I certainly don’t think calling him “a pretty good kid” negates in the slightest the seriousness of Hayes’ offense.

Finally, I had no idea that anybody at the PBR could manage to find on such short notice such a genuinely unflattering picture of Hayes as the one that ran with the original press release. I have to take my hat off to them on that one. It is, to paraphrase the inestimable Justin McKee, as ugly as a celebrity’s mug shot. Hayes looks like a hatchet murderer, though I have to confess that I pretty much think anybody with any facial hair looks like a hatchet murderer. (Probably a hangover from a long, bad marriage to a bearded man.) But I have to believe the choice of that photograph was deliberate. I do wonder how much anger lay behind it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fractured Logic

When I was watching the PBR events in Baltimore and New York, I could feel my blood pressure rising when Ty Murray and J.W. Hart took umbrage with the way Guilherme Marchi picked his bulls in the bull draft, both last year and so far this season. Murray and Hart said in so many words that if Marchi continues to chose bulls he KNEW he could ride and other riders just pick the rankest bulls left, Marchi will be left in the dust by season’s end. I could hardly believe my ears.

When both those guys were airing their opinions, I was reminded of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field, which is about two LAPD cops who in 1963 were kidnapped, disarmed, and driven out into the high desert up near Bakersfield by a pair of thieves. One robber shot and killed one of the cops, Ian James Campbell, there in the field. The other cop, Karl Hettinger, fled on foot and lived to tell the tale. The prosecution of the two suspects dragged on for years before they finally were convicted and put behind bars for good.

One result of the shootings was that the LAPD circulated a procedural memo to all its cops instructing them never to surrender their weapons under any circumstances. The obvious implication was that there was only one way to deal with armed criminals, and that was by meeting violence with violence, but the more personal implication was that, to some extent, Campbell and Hettinger had deserved what happened to them. “Both the dead man and the survivor were implicitly tried by police edict and found wanting,” Wambaugh observed. “There had to be blame placed. If you let yourself be killed, it had better be by an act of God. And He did not kill by gun. He killed by thunderbolt.”

The parallel I’m seeing here has nothing to do with the specifics of the situations, but rather with the idea that there’s only one right way to do anything, and if somebody succeeds by doing it differently, then clearly that’s a fluke and it’s only a matter of time before the gods of fair play reach down and set things right. At the very least, I think it’s fair to say I sense some chagrin among PBR types because the way the draft was supposed to play out isn’t necessarily the way it’s playing out.

It might seem obvious that the "purpose" of the draft is to help cowboys ride more bulls, but apparently, that's debatable, so what are the possibilities here? I contend that most of them, in the end, run back to the same underlying assumptions, but let’s just upend the bag over the table and see spills out.

1) Riders should use the draft as a “pathway to greatness” "like winning pole position in NASCAR," to paraphrase the divine Ty Murray. First things first: I’ve always thought this comparison was bogus, but I guess there’s no escaping it, so here goes. In NASCAR, the driver runs two timed laps on the track BY HIM/HERSELF—no other cars in sight—and the racer with the fastest time is awarded a spot on the first row, on the inside curve, which may be on the left or the right, depending on what sort of race is being run. In other words, unlike bull riding, a NASCAR driver doesn’t win pole position in head-to-head competition—s/he wins by pushing her/his foot to the floor and hoping the car won’t blow up before s/he crosses the finish line. S/he wins the RACE because of a bunch of factors, the most obvious being avoiding equipment problems, but mainly, s/he wins by racing smart. Lots of racers have won pole position and then lost the race.

Bull riders are competing against the bulls, of course, but in the end, they are competing against one another, and I expect that as in the timed trials for NASCAR, the performances of riders who go earlier in competition affect the ones who come later. But aside from anything else, you just can't compare a bull to a race car--they have minds of their own and they know what they're supposed to do out there, and it's not get the dude across the finish line. Given that element, it’s obvious to me that luck plays a bigger role in who goes first in the bull draft than who wins pole position in a NASCAR race.

But even if we set aside the comparison and consider the rest of the proposition, who could possibly argue that Marchi didn’t use the draft as a path to greatness? He won the world championship, for God's sake. How much greater does the man have to get? Just because he handled the draft differently than some people might have preferred (which to me means he handled it cleverly) doesn’t negate his accomplishment.

2) Riders should use the draft to show us who has the biggest balls.
(Yes, that sentence is ambiguous—it’s intentional.) I’ve heard over and over that “If (fill in the blank) gets to pick first, he’s going to pick (the rankest bull) in the pen.” Do we really want to reduce this sport to pinhead behavior? Do we really want to see guys pick the rankest bull because it’s expected of them? Who’s proving what to whom here? Do you have any idea how much I admired Robson Palermo for saying in Baltimore he was feeling “too fat and lazy” to attempt to ride Bones that night? Listen, if the only reason you’re a bull rider is because you’re worried you might have, er, other inadequacies, please, go catch yourself some bulls out behind your daddy’s barn and ride them where nobody has to witness your machismo posturing. Nobody wants to watch you get killed because your testosterone levels are greater than your common sense.

3) The rider who always picks the rankest bulls SHOULD win all the marbles. Sorry, I’m not buying it. If there’s one thing that we have seen play out over and over this past season, it’s that the draft has made practically no difference in who wins and loses any given event. I admit it’s likely that Marchi owed at least some of his success to the caginess with which he picked the bulls, but frankly I’m not convinced he would not have done nearly as well if the computer had done the picking. The man was on fire last year. If somebody else had chosen for him, Marchi might have ridden a few less, but he had room to ride a few less. When the season ended, he had ridden 74.8 percent of the time on 99 outs. His closest competitor, J.B. Mauney (AKA, “Wonder Boy,” till he falls off and has to punch an innocent gate into submission), rode 59.4 percent on 96 outs. To have passed Marchi, Mauney would have had to stay aboard another 15 bulls. That amounts to ALL the bull rides Mauney could have attempted in four typical events, in which a rider who qualifies for the short-go gets four tries. That's a pretty tall order, but here's the clincher--Mauney got to pick his bulls in the draft, just like Marchi did. Obviously, he didn't pick them as well.

Finally, J.W. Hart’s contention that if Marchi makes the canny pick and Mauney makes the ballsy one, Mauney will be beat Marchi in the end, is clearly based on the wishful thought that the guy with the most guts WILL win, because he DESERVES to win. I take issue with that. I say the guy who deserves to win is the one who does everything he can to help himself win. He eats right, he gets enough sleep, he watches the booze, he hits the gym, he warms up, he takes his doctor’s advice if he’s injured, he keeps his equipment in order, he keeps his life in order, AND he uses every other tool at his disposal, including the draft, to improve his situation. That’s the guy I want to see wearing the buckle next November in Vegas.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Last Worthless Evening

I may as well just come out and say it—I have absolutely no interest in rehashing much of anything about the Built Ford Tough Invitational in New York City last weekend. With the exception of tipping my hat to newcomer I’m a A Crook, paternal brother of I’m A Gangster and virtual aficionado Jaye’s new main squeeze, I’m pretty much done.

But the interesting thing about being too discouraged by the general tenure of the event to comment is that I got to see what some other PBR fans thought, and brother, am I glad I waited! Almost to a man or a woman, they were as unimpressed as I was. Pretty much immediately, the regulars weighed in here, announcing that they thought the bulls’ performances were subpar. None of us is quite mean enough to really rip on the boys unless they behave badly, but I noticed that only a few guys, like Reese Cates, Robson Palermo, and Ryan Dirteater, even got mentioned, and their riding was not always exactly the main event, so to speak.

I was no different. With only a handful of exceptions, the bulls left me cold, and that includes Copperhead Slinger, who had an uncharacteristically sluggish trip with J.B. Mauney. I mean, Wiley Petersen rode Sir Patrick, for heaven’s sake. When that happens, you know somebody is off his feed.

Nor did many of the boys impress me, and even Kody Lohstroh, Cody Campbell, Shane Proctor, and Mauney didn’t make me want to watch their rides over and over.

And the judges—what can I say about them? Three guys who plainly deserved them were denied rerides. The scoring seemed either weirdly low, or ridiculously high. And then there was the outcome. Check out CThrash13’s comments about it at 8 Second Addiction—I totally agree with him. There’s something odd going on when a newcomer and a veteran both go four for four and, surprise! The veteran, who also just happens to be the one predicted to knock Guilherme March off his pedestal at the finals, wins the event—by 1.75 points. Maybe Mauney should have won, but I’m not convinced. Of course, I have to admit that by the time the short-go rolled around, J.B. could have ridden a wooly mammoth with a cattle prod up his butt, and I would have yawned in the man's face. I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel and go watch Rachel Ray make hash of an onion. At least on that show, somebody might gotten tangled up with a chef’s knife and wind up in the emergency room.

I hope all of us—boys, bulls, judges, and fans—aren’t suffering from a big dose of ennui after last season, but if I don’t see some bulls bucking harder in the long rounds next weekend, I may have to reconsider my options. After all, the new season of 24 has begun.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wake Me Up When It's (Almost) Over

Zzzzz--zzzzz-zzzzz. Ow! Stop poking me! Can't you see I'm trying to catch 40 weeks here? Who IS that, anyway? Oh, it's my virtual friend Jaye, and what's she saying?

"I thought tonight's second round was boring. Most of the bulls weren't up to par in my opinion."

Damn straight, Jaye. And here comes the extremely knowledgeable Shannon to weigh in: "Round 2 was boring and there were at least three reride worthy bulls that the judges let pass."

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one out here dying for a little excitement. This is the PBR, boys, not a pony ride at the county fair. I haven't been so bored since the great snoozefest that was Tulsa.

Honestly, I only woke up twice during the whole event. The first time was to appraise Leah Garcia's ruffly white blouse--I defer again to Shannon: "And yes, I was wondering what Leah was thinking. Could her top have been any tighter?" Actually, I've seen similar tops at Corral West Ranchwear, so I'm not unfamiliar with the type, but it sure looked to me like Mike White had never seen anything like it. He was having conspicuous trouble looking Leah in the eye. I'm all for girl power and "the sistuhs are doing it for themselves" and all such like, and I frankly think it wouldn't hurt those boys to be made a little uncomfortable from time to time, but this was making ME uncomfortable, and that's a pretty tall order.

Then I dozed off again, and woke up just in time to hear Dr. Tandy Freeman (whose eyes also kept slipping down to assess Leah's chest) announce that Chris Shivers will be back next week--WEARING A HELMET. This might be the best news I've gotten since I learned that Valderion is no worse for the wreck he was in last week. I've heard Chris say that he thinks wearing a helmet might actually make him more prone to neck injuries, which I very seriously doubt, but I am positive it will help protect him from broken eye sockets and noses. Welcome to the club, Chris. I bet once you get used to it, you'll be right back in the middle of it.

But other than that, I was bored stiff. This is New York City, folks! If the PBR won't bring the best to the Big Apple, then what do we have to look forward to the rest of the season? Oh, yes, we get to watch Bones tonight, and Skyhawk Cut-A-Rug, a new little bull I have high hopes for. So I guess if I can manage to wake up after round three, I might see some great bulls do their work. I better go get the espresso machine ready.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Heading to the Big Apple

Having suffered through a long, dreary week of working our tailbones clear off, we at the Stockyard are chomping at the bit for the Built Ford Tough Invitational in New York this weekend. Baltimore was great, except for the part when 24 riders qualified in the first round, which always tells the Stockyard Queen that the bulls were, er, sub par. So we will hope for ranker critters in the chutes this weekend, and meanwhile stock up on the supplies we will need to comfort us, should the action be less than we hope for. Like lots of liquor and potato chips.

Already there's been a fair amount of coverage for the New York event, starting with a story about Luke Snyder in the New York Times. I would not have chosen Snyder, but I guess that's why I work for this impossible b**** rather than the Times.

Reese Cates, who is rapidly growing on me, has a new post up on his blog on the PBR website, in which he reveals that he was going to New York early to help opening the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. We dutifully dragged ourselves over to CNN to see it, and there he was, in the company of J.B. Mauney and Randy Bernard, who, sans cowboy hat, looked a lot more like a stockbroker than the head of a sports organization involving crazed livestock. And then there are the bulls.

The CNN reporter covering the stock market, who up until now hasn't particularly bothered me, showed herself to be nearly as tiresomely New York as the Times, acting like the very notion of riding a bull was something beamed straight to her from Mars. Since clearly that's where she comes from, you'd think she'd have heard of it before, especially since Bernard and Adriano Moraes rang the opening bell there three years ago, too.

Reese also revealed he'd been asked to come by and tape a sequence for Rachel Ray's television show. There's no information up yet on Ray's website about when we can expect to see that, but I will try to keep an eye open and give you all the head's up for what might be a very entertaining show.

Apparently this is Reese's first trip to New York, in which case all the advice I can offer is, don't get out of the car and start trying to walk to Madison Square Garden, Reese. You may end up in places where a dude in a cowboy hat would not be very welcome.

And finally, here's a picture of Buck Shot, the bull held in a pen outside the Stock Exchange, of whom I've never heard. He's a nice grey Brahma bull who appears to be resting up for the bucking, though, so maybe by Sunday night, I will have his name down on the Stockyard's Wall of Stars. Let 'em buck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


It took all of 2.5 minutes of internet searching to find several references to yellow being a bad luck color for cowboys. The only explanation I could find was that " a cowboy wearing a yellow shirt got killed back at Cheyenne years ago." Not too definitive but folks from Philadelphia to Arizona mention it. A few stipulate that this is only true in the arena, which is good news because we would be seeing some mighty wet range riders if they had to forgo those yellow rain slickers. Either way, it might not matter because this superstition appears to apply only to rodeo riders and as we all know "THIS IS NOT A RODEO! THIS IS THE PBR!"

Bad Luck for Bull and Bronc Riders?

Reader Black Boots wonders if yellow is not a bad luck color for bull and bronc riders. I am not sure about that, but have never heard of any particular color being bad luck for rodeoers or PBRians. It bears investigation however. I'll get right on it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Bull Diaries

The Stockyard Queen has yet to recover--she's lying on her fainting couch, fanning herself, and trying to appraise when she'll manage to hoist herself up and type a few lines about the PBR in Baltimore. In the meantime, however, she is pleased to offer up SoCal Jay's assessment, provided for your reading entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for the next installment of The Bull Diaries.

Episode 7: “What’s with the lime-green chaps?”

The Montana Barn Cat was kind enough to call us, the night before. “PBR on NBC tomorrow, Bubba. Be there or be known forevermore as a gosh-darned ‘rounder’ around here.” That’s a fate worse than a slow, painful death, to me, so we set a kitchen timer to get us to the couch on time.

“So these are the good bulls, right?” (She’s SO adorable.)

“Uh,” I replied, “yeah. But a better term would be ‘rank.’ It’s a bull-riding thing.”


“That’s right. I’m not sure exactly of the derivation, but you know how stinky, dirty laundry in our laundry basket is a bad thing?” She nodded that she did. “Well, think of these bulls as the sweat socks in the bottom of a boy’s P.E. locker, in high school. The socks have been used again and again for a month, but they haven’t been washed, right? That’s RANK laundry. Not only bad, but NASTY, eh? Well, these bulls are that bad and that nasty. They’re that kind of rank.”

It was fantastic. We hooped and we hollered and I loved the close-up views of the bulls in the pen as the cowboy got on, their eyes either glaring with anger and anticipation or almost bored with confidence. We loved the replays. (Pam: “Geez! He bucked him right into the wall!” Me: “Yeah, they’ll do that. Did you catch the stream of bull snot and slobber? Good Gawd almighty.”) It was certainly the best bull riding stuff we’ve seen on our TV, for sure. It was a fun, exciting treat.

Somewhere in there, however, Pam asked, “What’s with the lime-green chaps? Aren’t they, like, traditionally brown?” I’d noticed the same, sparkly kind of thing with other riders.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Probably just guys trying to make a flash, I guess.”

And then she said, “And when did FRINGE start with chaps, anyway? Chaps were just to stop prickly brush from hurting cowboy’s legs, right? When did the fringe thing start?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “But I know someone who does.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

What I'm Looking Forward To

And so, tomorrow night, the 2009 PBR season begins. It's been hectic as hell around the Stockyard since last August, and the last couple of months prior to the finals were so nerve-racking that having a little time away from it all may have saved my sanity. Now I'm as excited as I've ever been to see the spectacle anew.

Did I mention that I'm excited? Did I tell you why?

The bulls. One aspect of the sport that keeps me on my toes is that new bulls appear without fanfare, and I have to pay strict attention to make sure I'm seeing all the new talent. But what about old talent? I can't wait to see them again, Avalanche and Booger Butt and Bones and all the rest. What have those adorable babies been up to? I've missed them all, and the prospect of seeing rookie bulls makes my palms sweat. Bring 'em on!

The boys. With two high-profile retirements last season, there has to be some room for the rest to strut their stuff in Baltimore, right? I am dying to see how all the veterans handle themselves, and I also am poised on the edge of my seat to see my good buddy Reese Cates and the rest of the class of 2008. But there must be some up-and-comers we'll see tomorrow night, too. Come along, children, show us what you're made of.

The bulls. What, again? Yes! You all know this is why I watch the PBR. I'm so excited to see those bulls, I can hardly stand it. I'm leaving right now to lay in a supply of Jack Daniel's and tortilla chips. I wish you were all here to watch it with us!

It may not be my place, but too bad--I declare the 2009 PBR season open. Let the games begin!