Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Wagoner and Mr. Walton:

Please retire Code Blue today. Do it for his own good, for the good of his unborn progeny, and for the good of the sport.

Do it because the last thing any of us wants to witness is you putting him down in the middle of the arena after he hurts himself so badly that nothing can be done for him.

Do it because it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

J.B. Mauney

Hard on the heels of our Tulsa adventure, we trundled over to Livingston for the Touring Pro event on July 28. Concisely called “Murdoch's Presents The Northwest Dickies PBR Touring Pro Division,” the event took place at the Livingston fairgrounds, which is a far cry indeed from the BOK Center. But after all the noise and fanfare of the BFTS, a Touring Pro event outdoors, with the most spectacular view of Paradise Valley you could ask for, was a real treat, particularly considering that in Tulsa, we barely dared stick our heads outside at midday for fear of suffering heat stroke. We dragged some friends along with us, and we all had a good time.

I will spare you the details of the cowboys and the bulls and the rides and the wrecks, which at the time seemed less than awesome and by now is old news. What I want to talk about happened during the opening ceremonies, when a helicopter landed in the middle of the arena (just barely, I might add, clearing the power lines to the south), and out popped a handful of the top riders.

And suddenly, there he was, not 15 feet from where I was sitting—J.B. Mauney in the flesh! You might think that this picture is blurry because my hands were shaking, and I would not deny that.

I have never gone out of my way to meet the riders at the events because, after all, I’m there to see the bulls, not the boys, and it seems hypocritical of me to shake their hands and chat them up, knowing full well that I really want to see every last one of them hit the dirt—safely, of course. But I’m telling you truly, this kid has a lean and hungry look to him that does not bode well for his competition.

Mauney has been riding hot and cold for most of the season. Given the intense scrutiny he’s under, and the blatantly hostile treatment he’s gotten and continues to get from a lot of fans, it’s no wonder to me he is by his own admission “fighting my head.” It would be miracle if he weren't.

I don’t know whether Mauney will be able to salvage this season and win the world championship—there’s too much season left and too many balls in the air to predict who will take home the buckle this year. But if he is fortunate enough to avoid serious injury, he will one day be the PBR’s World Champion. You didn’t hear it here first, but you’re hearing it here now.