Friday, October 30, 2009

Let the Games Begin

It's here, it's finally here, and I am just about beside myself with anticipation. What a season this has been! I have neglected you all shamefully, but I plan to be back with a vengeance for the finals. Yessiree!

I just went online to the PBR site and voted for what I think will be the final standings: Marchi, Mauney, Lostroh. This is doubtless a reflection of the fact that Kody Lostroh bores me six ways till Sunday, but I can't ignore how much Marchi has cut the lead in the past three weeks. Don't look back, Kody, somebody older and wiser might be gaining on you!

And J.B.? I just don't think he can make up the ground, not with the way Marchi is riding of late, but I'd never count the boy out. All in all, it's going to be a barn-burner, a nail-biter, a photo finish.

I won't burden you folks with information that you don't want, so I'll just say that the past two years, and in particular the past six months, have been perfectly awful around the Stockyard. A lot of people are way worse off than we are, for sure, and I'm thankful every day that I'm able to keep working and that people are interested in hiring me. But I only said that to be able to say this: in 2009, the PBR season, and especially its second half, may have saved my life altogether by giving me something different to think about for a few hours every weekend. I have to tip my hat to the whole outfit, and shake hands in gratitude all around.

So I am ready. I am SO ready. Got the snacks, got the drinks, got the remote control. Bring it on, boys. Let 'em buck.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Excitement and Disenchantment: A little bit of everything . . .

Friends and neighbors, the Stockyard Queen is proud to present the Divine Shannon's description of her adventures at the PBR in Ontario. You've doubtless noticed that the Stockyard is falling into disarray, mostly because I've been too busy working on the Ranch House to come down here and mend the fences. So I am very happy to be able to offer you something besides my usual lame excuses. Without further ado, here's Shannon!

“I liked it better than I thought I would!” That was the sentiment I got from each of the three members of the family after their first live PBR event. I’m not surprised—even if bull riding is something that bores you, it’s hard to imagine not having fun with the party-like atmosphere surrounding the bull rides. My daughter, Amelia, who’d put together a collection of bull pictures for the riders to sign, decided that it was worthy of one of her teaching moments in the classroom that the teacher will indulge her in when they have a few extra minutes. After taking time with her to help her write up the rules and an explanation of some of the equipment, as well as what Flint and the bull fighters do and the range of personalities in the bulls, this is what she had me write for the end of her presentation:

“But wait, I've saved the best for last! Just before the show starts, the announcer greets everyone and announces that they are at the PBR and the letters PBR get lit up in fire on the dirt and fireworks go off with a loud bang! Then, with a little bit of fog across the dirt the riders are introduced one by one and while they are walking out, fire and sparks shoot out of the ground. When the leader of the first round comes out, the fire and sparks get bigger and higher!”

And that was on the second day—I can only imagine how she’d have felt on day one when the opening is even more dazzling.

So, why is it, I was left a little disenchanted at times? Funny that I should feel that way after this weekend when the PBR sight is being flooded with comments about an article on JB Mauney being such an upstanding guy (maybe he is—I don’t know him well enough to say otherwise.) and the Team PBR forum has a debate going about the guys coming out for autographs (or not in many cases). Now, perhaps it’s because I live in Southern CA and bull riding isn’t quite as big here, but I have yet to see these guys flooded with fans to the point of not being able to escape them (which is often an excuse for them not feeling up to dealing with people), and by Sunday afternoon, I was feeling rather frustrated with the number of guys who decided to come out for the fans. Yes, I’m aware of the exemptions and the penalty, but we got a total of 20 autographs (4 of which were in the concourse/VIP section) and believe me, my kids wouldn’t let anyone go by them. I know that there weren’t 20 riders with injuries and exemptions that night. By the time I left, I wanted to write to the PBR and say “By touting yourself as a sport ‘for the fans!’ and making it a point to crow about how your riders are always out for autographs, you are setting a lot of fans up for disappointment. I’d much rather you say ‘That’s it—we’re dropping it. If you want to go out for an autograph, that would be great, but we’re not going to force you. If you want to risk your reputation with the fans, that’s your business’ ”. Seriously—I’m going to say almost half of the 20 who went out didn’t even bother to try to fake that they wanted to be there. Would a smile and a “Did you have fun?....Thanks for coming…” have been that hard to say to a child? Thankfully, I had warned the kids ahead of time of the exemptions and told them that even if the riders did come out, they may be shy or not in a good mood, but couldn’t afford the money to pay the penalty, so they were left unphased. I guess it was the mother in me who was getting her ire up.

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now. Sorry about that, but I felt the need to share it. I’m sure many of you will disagree and believe me-- you won’t be able to say anything to me that I haven’t already said to myself. There are so many gray areas to the subject that it’s a no-win argument. So, let me list highlights of the weekend:

1. The robbery had me seeing the worst of people, but the PBR was still able to make me smile in spite of my feelings about the riders giving or not giving autographs. It was a nice distraction and while I was sad that our family day was messed up, I did have a good time.
2. I got to meet Leah and Justin McKee and they were both really nice.
3. Junior Seau as a volunteer bull fighter. I’m sure they gave one too many interviews with him on the televised event, but having him there added a whole new dimension to the drama and the humor.
4. The sweet older couple gave the kids their VIP passes because they were done with them and thought that a couple of children might get a kick out of getting down to the special section and meeting the riders. Boy, did they ever! They were so excited. I got my pass and we went down and met Zack Brown and Renato (who promised the kids he’d do his best to do a back flip), then made a couple of posters before finding our seats.
5. Talking to Guilherme on night one and having him say “Yes, I am!” when I asked if was going to go back to back this year.
6. As hard as it was watching Ryan writhe in pain after breaking his jaw, seeing him stand up and walk out, and then finding out that he’ll be back sooner than suspected was a relief. He’s such a nice kid and has so much potential that it killed me to think that he may be out for the rest of the season. All I could think was “Please, not again….” (Speaking of twice in one year: I still miss Paulo Crimber). As of today, there’s an article saying that Ryan should be back by next week.
7. Shane Proctor, Ryan McConnell, Chris Shivers, Mike White, Aaron Roy and Zack Brown for noticing that they were signing a picture of a rank bull that they’d covered during their time on tour and mentioning it to Amelia. We had a hard time getting pictures of those bulls and it was sweet to have them recognize and acknowledge the effort. It was especially nice of Shane to listen to the quick version of why she wanted them to sign bull pictures and respond with “That was a good idea.”
8. Getting onto the dirt. In all honesty, it really isn’t much different than being on the other side of the fence except for the different perspective and not having to fight the bars for a picture with the riders, but it was still neat to be in the ring.
9. Watching Chris Shivers on Julio’s horse. He’s looks good up there and seeing a sense of humor (in the face of defeat) when Flint joked “Chris told me before the show that he’d be in the short go!”
10. JB Mauney taking his buck offs in stride. He really is maturing this year.
11. Finally: McKennon Wimberly. He listened intently when the kids talked to him as though he really cared about what they had to say. He answered them thoughtfully when he told Amelia that he’d probably pick Troubadour as his favorite bull and when he told Dalton, who suggested he name one of his bulls ‘Crash and Burn’, that it was a really good name and he may have to use it. He moved around the table and got down on one knee to have his picture taken with them. Then, he chatted with me, too, as though he was interested in what I had to say. At a time when I’d been losing a bit of faith in some people, I needed that. (He also came out after the event even though he didn’t have to.)

Well, this will probably be the only installment from me. I really wanted to do a much better write up, but as you can imagine, after Saturday night, I was exhausted, and between that and having to watch two young kids by myself in the arena, I wasn’t soaking in as much as I normally do. As a final thought, I’d like to say that even though I’m a Marchi fan, I’m looking forward to the Vegas rounds no matter what the outcome. All three of these riders have made it a great year and no matter who wins, it will be exciting for different reasons (a first-time winner, a back-to-back champion, or JB’s record from his rookie year to present). If they keep it up, it will be a nail biting finish and those are my favorite kind.