Tuesday, September 30, 2008
and awaaay we go!
After work on Tuesday, my better half and I set off on a little road trip.
As you all know by now, I can’t drive (no license, never got one, and yes, I will get one in the future — eventually), but I am lucky enough to have someone that does, and does it very well.
Here is a map of where we are going, traveling from south to north.
Point A (start) : 1 World Way, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Point B (finish) : 1501 NW 40th Place, Lincoln City, OR 97367
By car, Google Maps says the trip is 979 miles and should take my extremely patient other (and better) half about 15 hours and 32 minutes of driving.
Interestingly enough, Google Maps also offers another option (in beta mode) — walking. If I were to do this journey on foot, it would be 1,060 miles and should take me about 14 days and 11 hours.
If I were to old-school it and take Greyhound, it would be about a 1,036 mile trip and take anywhere between 21 and 23 hours. And that’s just from Los Angeles to Portland, OR. There’s another 2 to 3 hours from Portland to Lincoln City.
Before we took off, we found ourselves stalked by a large and terrible insect…
My better half told me he and his brother once raised a few thousand of these critters and some of them got loose in their house…
It’s all about the I-5 when you’re heading north in California. It’s about two hours into our drip and the weather is just dandy. I did check weather reports before I left and it predicted rain in Lincoln City for all days of the event. Boo. But, until then… blue skies…
…and black nights, nine hours later and still on the I-5…
…but I’m not complaining, because I don’t have to take one of these:
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
caffeine, por favor
Thirty minutes after midnight, we cross the state line. Just before 6:00 a.m., and 15 hours and 56 minutes after starting, we pull into the parking lot of the Chinook Winds Casino Hotel.
We’re both ridiculously tired (him more than me, since I got about four hours of shuteye), but not too tired to appreciate dawn over the ocean.
The players’ meeting isn’t until 2:00 p.m. (sweet!) so we both go chase down Mr. Sandman until then.
At the players’ meeting, it was nice to see old friends and acquaintances. I snagged a seat at the NYChicks table, which included the lovely misses Ga-Young “Little Devil Girl” Kim, Xiao-Ting Pan, Caroline “CaPao!” Pao, and Supadra “Insert Cute Nickname Incorporating ‘Super’ Here” Boonpasook.
If you like pool and you like Asian girls, and you like Asian girls that play great pool — well, I guess I should have sent you a postcard that said, “You dogged it… wish you were here.”
Oh, lunch was included with the meeting, hence the food in the photograph. Bummer was, I has a nice bowl of cereal before I got there so I couldn’t fully appreciate the buffet. I did eat one of those berry-custard desserts in the champagne glasses and let me tell you, just thinking back on that dessert makes my teeth jump up and run. I had a spoonful of that super-sweet custard and I had to stop, for fear that I would either go into diabetic shock, turn into a pile of sugar, or become a slightly less bitter person.
Somewhere in the transition between lunch and meeting, Ms. Kim and Line Kjorsvik decided a romp in the surf would be fun. There must be something very appealing about 45-degree seawater that I don’t know about. Here is Ms. Kim getting a warm after her escapade in the ocean, dress pants still rolled up and feet still freshly scrubbed by the ocean. 🙂
The meeting concluded at around 5:30 p.m., so that the top-16 WPBA professionals could participate in the Pro-Am charity event. There were eight tables in the arena, and as you can see, a good time was had by all.
Let me take this moment to apologize in advance for the lack of photographs of this event. There was, of course, a no-flash policy in the tournament room, and I wasn’t able to get any good shots. However, you can check out photographs of the tournament participants at the WPBA website taken by the extremely nice, efficient, and helpful Anne Craig of the WPBA office.
Before I turned in for the night, I checked the tournament chart and saw that I played at 6:00 p.m. the next day.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
it’s raining now, dammit
I was hoping that the forecast would be wrong, but it was unfortunately extremely right. There was cold, there was rain, and there was also an annoying biting fly that kept attacking me during the night. It was a very bold insect and tough to kill. The bastard.
Since I didn’t play until the 6:00 p.m. round, I had a lot of time to kill, even though I woke up late, at around noon. My better half and I puttered around Lincoln City, and discovered that this city has a great love for — pancakes. There were tons of places that were either specifically pancake houses or advertised that they also had pancakes. We did the Lincoln City thing and had pancakes for lunch (with eggs and bacon, of course).
Along the way back, we saw the situation below:
Two people sitting in the back of a truck in the POURING rain. They had cups of coffee with them. That must be some atomic coffee to protect them from the wind, cold, and wet.
That magical time rolled around and I trotted off to play my first match.
This match would be the first time in many years that I would use a break cue. I generally use my playing cue for breaking (ivory ferrule and all…), jumping, and sel-defense. Just prior to this tournament, PoolDawg was kind enough to send me the Mezz ZZBK to test out. The Mezz ZZBK is a break cue with a laminated rosewood-and-phenolic body and a pressed (“Black Ingot”) tip. Mike Feiman of PoolDawg told me the Mezz ZZBK was the most underrated break cue on the market. For now, it looked extremely snazzy and I almost felt like a real pool player, now that I had two cues to tote around!
On the PoolDawg site, the description of the hit of the Mezz ZZBK is listed as “firm”.
That, my friends, is a “massive understatement”.
Some of you have seen my break with my playing cue, and it’s generally quite solid. When I break well, it is a product of impeccable timing, acceleration, and accuracy. My break is all about speed, not so much power. When all these mechanisms work perfectly in tandem, I break in two or three balls off a nine-ball break. It took me a LONG time to perfect my break, and even now, I have to fine-tune it in practice every so often. However, the payoff is definitely worth it, as in a race to seven, I generally expect to break in at least one nine-ball in the match.
Enter this freak of a break cue.
The first break I had with the Mezz ZZBK was ridiculously strong, and I flew the cueball (no one was hurt). I had never broken with anything but a leather tip before, and daaaamn, is there ever a HUGE difference. I could see already that I had to tone down the power I put into the break. The next break I had, I broke at three-quarter speed — and flew the cueball off the table again (still no casualties). Finally, I was able to get a fantastic break, and keep the cueball from flying , when I broke at a little less than half-speed.
That’s just sick.
Basically, all I had to do was stand there and swing my arm. I didn’t have to worry about timing or accuracy, because the speed factor was taken out of the equation. My break is based on speed, and, as with all things based on speed, the faster you go, the harder the impact — and the more difficult it is to be accurate upon impact. Since breaking successfully with the ZZBK was like shooting a firm shot, I didn’t have to worry so much about not hitting the cueball squarely.
As much as it irritates me to say so, equipment does make a difference in play, and this break cue made a huge difference in my break. Since I didn’t have to expend as much energy in breaking, I was able to save it for other important things — like making a nine-ball when it counts. 🙂
All in all, I *HIGHLY* recommend the Mezz ZZBK (dude, look, I’m using bold rainbow letters and everything!), and Mr. Feiman, you are right: it is extremely underrated and under-appreciated. Thanks for giving me my very own WMD. I can only imagine how much better my break will be with a little more practice incorporating this cue into the routine. Perhaps earplugs should be included with purchase… 🙂
As I stated above, I flew the cueball on my first two breaks because I had no idea how hard that break cue would hit. By the third break in my match, I had it under control, but the cueball was ushered into a side pocket. Total bummer, as the score was tied at 3-3 and I finally had the break working. In an alternate-break format, scratching on the break is more damaging than in a winner-break format. In a winner-break format, it is possible to recover by winning and regaining control of the break. In alternate-break, you are s— out of luck.
I watched closely as my opponent played a fine safety. I got up to look at the layout, picked what I thought was the right spot for a one-rail kick — and missed by half a diamond. Yikes! The tables were extremely fast (to me anyways) and playing on them was like poking marbles around on a glass coffee table. I already had trouble trying to maintain a semblance of speed control and now I was a tad concerned that my kicking game was also not quite there. I gave the cueball to my opponent and sat down to try and figure out what needed adjusting. As she looked at the table, I tried to remember if the faster speed meant the rails would bank tighter. I generally don’t use English when I play — would I need to use it to compensate? Arrgh.
My opponent sat back down, and I got up to the table. I was looking at another kick, this one would probably require two rails. I measured it out, and shot. The cueball’s path was closer to where I wanted it to go this time, but I still missed. I put the cueball at the head of the table, and sat back down. I had figured out that, due to the new cloth, I had to be extremely careful at what speed I hit the cueball for kicks. I also had to be very careful not to roll the ball — it had to hit with stroke to avoid skidding. But, if I hit everything with a firm stroke, then how was I going to control the cueball? Gah! Well, I hate to say it, but it looks like it’s going to to be trial-and-error and adjust-as-fast-as-you-can kind of kicking system today…
…and my opponent raked the balls to the bottom of the table.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“You had three fouls.”
“Yes you missed two kicks.”
“Oh yes, I did.”
“And you scratch on break.”
“Oh, damn, I did. Why didn’t you tell me? You know you’re supposed to tell me when I’m on two, right?”
Before I could say anything else, my opponent declared, “Let’s get Mark [Wilson], okay? He can tell you what is supposed to be.”
“Okay, but I’m pretty sure you need to tell me when I’m on two.”
Mr. Wilson came over and my opponent explained the situation to him. He said, “Did you tell her she was on two fouls? After the second one? And did she acknowledge it?”
“Well, no, but she fouled three times!”
“You have to tell her she’s on two, before she does it the third time.”
“No, NO! IT’S NOT FAIR!” She hurried over and pointed an accusing finger at me, “You, YOU KNOW you fouled three times, right? You foul on break, you miss two kicks.”
“That I did.”
“See, she KNOWS she did it. She did it! She did it!”
Mr. Wilson then spent several minutes telling her that it had nothing to do with whether or not I had fouled, but whether or not, she had TOLD me I was on two. My opponent protested over and over again that it wasn’t fair, that since I KNEW I had fouled three times, and admitted to it, that obviously she should win the game. Hell, I admitted to fouling! I was GUILTY!! It wasn’t fair. IT JUST WASN’T FAIR! She shouldn’t have to give up a game because I didn’t know I was on two fouls, it WASN’T FAIR!
Mr. Wilson said he would consult WPBA tournament director Steve Tipton concerning the situation. While he was gone, I told my opponent, “I’m sorry, but when I’m extremely focused, I generally only think about the present moment. I thought I was only on two fouls and I had forgotten about the break. But you are supposed to warn me on two fouls.”
“I never three-foul before.”
“Never? At your level? You’ve never three-fouled or attempted to three-foul? I find that hard to believe.”
“It’s not FAIR. You KNOW you fouled.”
Well, I knew where this conversation was going. I decided not to talk anymore. I really wanted to get on with the match. I was itiching to play pool. Mr. Wilson returned and spoke to my opponent. I surmised that Mr. Tipton ruled that she was to lose the game, because my opponent resumed her pouting and cries of “it’s NOT FAIR”. Suffice it to say that this behavior by a world-class player was strange, but slightly amusing.
“It’s not about that,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s the rules. You lose this game.”
“Nooooo! It’s not–“
“You know what? Forget it. Give her the damn game. Just give it to her. Let’s play pool.”
“Oh,” said Mr. Wilson. They both looked confused.
“She can have the game. Let’s go. There’s pool to play.”
He turned to my opponent, “She’s being nice and she’s giving you the game. She doesn’t have to do that. She’s a nice one, you should thank her.” He said to me, “That’s very nice of you.”
“Nice? Don’t tell anyone, now, they won’t believe it.”
The match resumed, but I had lost some of my driving steam. My opponent easily won game after game, and she also picked up a peculiar habit — she told me I was on two fouls, every time I fouled, regardless of whether or not I was on two fouls.
I never won another game, and in the very last game, the score stood 8-3, and my opponent played a great safe on me and I could see that it would require a multi-rail kick. If I missed I needed to move the one- and nine-balls apart at the very least so as to break up a combination. As I prepared to shoot, my opponent came up to me, and said, “You’re on two.” She went back to her seat.
I said, “No, I’m not on two. I’m only on one.”
“Yes, really. Why do you tell me I’m on two when I’m not on two? You only need to tell me when I’m actually on two.”
“Oh, so sorry.” I prepared to shoot again, and she said, “Oh, you’re on one.”
“Yes, I am, thank you. I can count at least that far. You only need to tell me when I’m on two.”
“I wanted to make sure you knew you fouled.”
“Thanks to what happened earlier, I think we’re both very aware of the fouls now.” I missed the kick and she easily made the one-nine combination to win the match. I shook hands with her and said, “If I’m on one foul, you don’t need to tell me it’s two. That’s a bit of a shark, you know, especially when you’re on the hill. You play too good to have to do that.” Then, I left.
A lot of people asked me why I gave her that crucial game back. My answer is this: I don’t want to win on a technicality. I want to win because I played good enough to win, not because of some text on a piece of paper. I’m not good enough to play at the professional level yet. I’m fine with that knowledge. I was told more than a few times, “Everyone else would have taken that game.” I can only answer that I’m not like everyone else. I did it in the spirit of sportsmanship and in the belief that the best way to win is to outplay your opponent.
Strangely enough, this was not the end of the silliness.
Later on, an intermediary was sent with the message from my opponent that she did what she did in the heat of battle and that she was the nicest person in the world. She was in a mild tizzy that I thought she was anything but sweetness personified. How sincere can an apology be if it’s delivered through someone else? We’re not foreign countries — we don’t need ambassadors and diplomats. She may be the sweetest person in the world, but — and this is more true for me than anyone else — there is no second chance to make a first impression.
I listened to the intermediary’s justifications and rationalizations for a while. Then I said, “I gave her that game. She won the match. What else could she possibly want from me?” It was still hinted that I should go and apologize or make an effort to be buddy-buddy. That would be a negative, sir. I didn’t do anything wrong, and if she believes she did the right thing, she wouldn’t need to send someone after me to convince me of it.
I look at it like this: two boxers are fighting and one of them is obviously dominating over the other. Towards the end, the winning boxer decides to smack the losing boxer a few good punches in balls. Ouch. The fight ends, and the winner tells the loser, “Hey dude, sorry about that punch to the family jewels — I was all worked up, you know. I wasn’t sure about the rules and stuff, and I didn’t mean it. Let me buy you a cup of tap water and we’ll call it even, yeah?”
The only way the losing boxer would accept that cup of tap water from the winner in that situation is if he had no balls in the first place.
If I’m a bitch to you in tournament play, I’ll be a bitch to you outside of tournament play, too. Life’s too short to have to put on a front. And I don’t have the brainpower to wrangle with more than one personality in public.
The funny thing is, I had already let go of that match. I wasn’t mad anymore about anything that had happened. That’s just the way pool and pool tournaments are. S— happens. I wasn’t angry at my opponent but I also did not care to be her bestest friend forever. I was indifferent. I’m okay with people not liking me and vice versa. Yet, somehow, while being lectured to about my (victorious) opponent’s hurt feelings, I felt like I was being pinned as the bad guy in this whole affair.
No good deed goes unpunished.
What’s done is done. Water under the bridge. Oysters down the hatch. Beer down the esophagus. I had another match the next day, and I was already excited about it.
Friday, October 2, 2008
Eleven in the morning found me in another match. Once again, that break cue did its job perfectly, and once again, I didn’t. Somewhere in there, I might have shot well, but I don’t remember. I do remember futzing up a 6-3 lead, to the tune of 6 straight games, to lose 9-6.
Live and learn.
When I looked at the charts later in the day to see who was eliminated, I was surprised. The other 15 players who shared the dreaded honor of going 0-2 was an impressive group. This set of players were top regional players from Canada and the United States:
2000 Amway Cup Champion
2003 J. Pechauer Northeast Regional Tour champion
2008 Regional Tour Champion
1999 and 2000 Arizona State 8-Ball and 9-Ball Champion
four-time Canadian 8-Ball champion
former New England and Northeastern Tour Player of the Year
former IPT player
winner of both the Korean and Japan Open
2007 Ladies Spirit Tour player of the year.
Daaaamn that’s a lotta talent.
I don’t compare to any of those players in skill, probably only in cooking steak. Well, I’ll take what accolades I can get… :-p
Saturday, October 4, 2008
vacation time, baby!
My way to get over a bad tournament is to jump into another (good or bad) tournament as soon as I can afford it. If I do poorly in that one, then… next tournament! Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The APA Northwest 9-Ball Challenge had been going on at the same time as the professional event. In fact, they were literally next door in the next convention room. I have a great love for barbox pool (because I can reach almost every shot), so my better half and I went to check out what was going on in there. The following sign at the tournament desk gave me a few chuckles:
I got to shoot around on a challenge table and had a lot of fun. I also met A TON of nice people. It almost made me nice, too. Almost. 😉 In addition, I met some of you folks that occasionally read this mish-mash of lazy pixels I call a blog, and that was even spiffier! If you are wondering who I am, see the following pairs of shoes:
I wore these shoes to play pool (well, not the black-and-white pair — those are just fun walking-around shoes), and you might have seen them… 😉
There had been rumblings about an open 9-ball tournament and — presto!– there actually was one! Both me and my better half decided to enter. The format was double-elimination, BCA rules, alternate break, race to 5, and it started at 1:00 p.m. It was a long, fun day, but at the end of it (around 11:30 p.m.), I had plopped into the 13th-16th place bracket and had “won” $40. Less the $25 entry fee, I netted $15. I subtracted the amount of money I spent on coins, and it turns out I actually lost money, but that’s the price of funsies. 😉
I also must have talked for hours about pool with all sorts of people who played at all different levels. I enjoyed that the most. I love discussing pool and all its facets with other people to learn their views and approaches to the game. I learned SO MUCH… but I’m not telling you any of those secrets! Hee hee hee!
After the tournament was over, I and a few others hightailed it over to the sportsbook/lounge/restaurant that had been converted into a nightclub.
Oh boy, did we live it up.
I took plenty of incriminating photographs (even though they weren’t allowed), but you, the public, will only be allowed the following 16,000 words… 😉
…and that is why, if you have never been to a WPBA tournament, I suggest you go. It’s good to support the sport, and a fun time is guaran-damn-teed!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
All good and terrible things must come to and end. I had a crappy tournament but an absolutely spec-farking-tacular trip! Words fail me when I try to describe just how much fun I had. Suffice it to say that hanging out with WPBA players (bonus if it’s at a bar) is going to be one of my main reasons for trying to get on tour (if I ever get around to it).
You ladies rock!
Some notes on the players I met…
Ewa Laurance will always be the WPBA’s first superstar, and it’s easy to see why. She’s super-nice, elegant, and somehow always makes me think of royalty.
Debbie Schjodt is sweet, funny, and drinks like a champion! Good job showing Mr. Feiman the wonders of Jagermeister!
Heather Lloyd and Morgan Steinman are some of the nicest people I have ever met in pool. They make me want to be a really, really nice person. Lucky for you blog readers, their powers of conversion only have a 20-mile radius, so I’m back to being my bitter, bitchy self. Oregon Trail for the win!
Kyoko Sone is, HANDS-DOWN, THE BEST-DRESSED chick at this tournament. She’s farking gangsta! She’s 96-pounds of pool playing excellence wrapped up in metallic black, black-patent leather, cutaway shirts, rhinestone belts, and leopard print with red lipstick. Yeah. She can wear all that and look rockstar. I can wear all that and look like a pile of old drag-queen laundry.
Kristi Carter just gets prettier all the time. How the hell? If you have the secret to eternal youth, I will trade you a cookie for it. If you want two cookies, you’ll have to steal Allison Fisher’s Cuetec for me so I can find out how it makes Ms. Fisher such a great player. If you want three cookies — you’re just being greedy.
Sarah Rousey is just playing great these days, isn’t she? I had the opportunity to watch one of her matches and it was just fantastic. Great play in all aspects. I expect you to be on ESPN soon, Ms. Rousey, and don’t forget to wear the tiara, too! 😉
…Canadians Bonnie Plowman and Joanne Ashton, who are also hilariously good fun! Just add rum.
The NYChicks make me want to go shopping. Even if it’s only window-shopping. I’d probably end up buying a lot of expensive, stylish windows…
My-Hanh Lac is a trip. Yet another essential WPBA funfest participant. Can anyone else look as good with 6″ spiked hair? (The answer is “no”, unless you are Ms. Rousey.)
If you didn’t already know, Michell Monk of Florida has MAD dancing skills…
…speaking of dancing, I’d like to remind everyone how much fun it was to watch “That White Guy” dancing on both Friday and Saturday nights. If you were with me at the bar, you know who I’m talking about. His dancing was out of this world, as in he was flailing away like he was in space with no air or gravity. He did it all, the Robot, the Cabbage Patch, the Running Man, the Washing Machine, the Sprinkler, the Mime, and most of all, he did the Hokey Pokey with a unique flair.
Okay, back to regular life now, which means going back on the road. I had to go to work the next day, so when we left at around noon, we were really gunning it to get back by 4:00 a.m.
A stop at Carls Jr. (aka Hardee’s) allowed me to try the infamous Six-Dollar Burger. I opted to try the “protein” version which replaced the bun with lettuce. It was everything it’s cracked up to be. I was actually glad I got the protein version so that I could more fully appreciate the meat.
A sample of the gas prices up there…
Further down the ways, gas got as low as $3.25. I was more intrigued by the phone booth at this station. I haven’t seen a phone BOOTH in ages. The phone was one of the older ones, too. It wasn’t fitted out with the credit-card-swipey thing yet, and didn’t have a digital display or other technological doohickeys other than the fact that it wasn’t a rotary phone.
Fog creeping down the mountain… Fall is a lovely time, isn’t it? 🙂
When you see Mount Shasta, you know you’re almost in California. There’s always snow up there and it looks ethereal in the pink twilight.
The moon on its way down…
There is a town called “Weed”. Insert your obligatory jokes here.
Our last stop before home had to be at a 24-hour IHOP because that was all that was open. This strawberry thing is part of their new Cheese Blintzes campaign. The only way to make a pancake filled with cheese better is to put a pound of sugar in that cheese, add sweetened frozen strawberries, and then top it off with whipped cream. Hoo boy.
We tooted back into La-La Land at approxiamately 5:30 a.m.
Regular life began again at 7:00 a.m.
And all I could think about was when the next tournament would be.
the price of glory
no further markdowns or discounts taken…
It’s a general rule that you don’t play pool for the money (except for a few extremely disgustingly talented individuals) because there is no money in pool. Pool has evolved into my #1 luxury expense, and the greatest luxury I can buy for myself is a trip (and entry) to a major pool tournament.
I will now take you through a little tour of my (slimmer than Stevie Moore) wallet and you can see for yourself how much it can take to go to a WPBA event. 🙂
WPBA membership as a non-exempt (not Top-40) player … $150
Sweet! Now that I have my foot in the door, it’d be nice to drag the rest of me along, yeah?
Tournament entry fee … $500
Whew, didn’t lose too much squeezing through that door, just an arm and a leg.
Now, it’s time to figure out how to get to Lincoln City, OR. When I received the invite, it wasn’t too late to get a somewhat-decent plane ticket — a round-trip would run me between $400-$500. However, my darling better half wanted to go to the tournament, too, as he had friends playing in the event that he hadn’t seen in a long time. Two round-trip tickets would be $800+. Yikes. Other options had to be investigated.
Greyhound? Nah. I wouldn’t put anyone but myself through that. Since my better half has that holy grail which I have yet to achieve — a driver’s license — we looked into renting a car. He did understand that he would be driving the entire trip — both ways… :-p
Rental of one silver Hyundai Elantra, including insurance to cover acts of God + two tanks of gas at the rental agency price … $229
The Hyundai Elantra was a very good car for this trip. It gets GREAT mileage, and we filled the tank a total of 6 times during the round-trip, and each fill-up ranged from $35-$40. For simplicity, we’ll round up.
6 tanks of gas at $40 a pop for our plastic-and-aluminum warhorse of Korean origin … $240
When the driving is done, you gots to have a place to stay. WPBA players are required to stay at the host hotel, so there was no shopping around for a better price or camping on the beach or living out of the car. Thanks to the rather low hotel tax (you should see NYC’s hotel taxes), the cost for a room with a lovely ocean view didn’t require us to panhandle. There was, however, no wireless internet connection. That sucked. If there had been, I would have posted on here every day. Oh well, write to your local congress-person and DEMAND that the Chinook Winds Hotel and Casino put (preferably free) wireless internet in the hotel rooms.
5 nights at the Chinook Winds Casino hotel … $438
Food is necessary, but can be expensive. We expected to go out for dinner at least once, but the rest of the time, we would avoid spending too much money on vittles.
Enter VONS supermarket and their impeccably timed sale on all General Mills cereals. For $2 a box, we loaded up on the sugary fodder from childhood — two boxes of Lucky Charms, two boxes of Golden Grahams, and a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Pack two bowls, two spoons, and a gallon of milk, and we’re good to go.
Just to show we’re equal opportunity grocery store patrons, we must mention that VONS’ sworn enemy, RALPH’S was also having a badass sale of their own on Welch juice mixes, or, as Welch’s so dangerously and prophetically named them, Welch’s “Refrigerated Cocktails” (I’m trying to quit the Tropical Cherry version). That stuff is some major fruit-flavored heroin. The non-sale price of a half-gallon of that fructose-laced intoxicant is $3.50 – $4.00. However, the pool gods bestowed a price of 2-for-$5 just for us, and we got six half-gallons of cavity-promoting mouthwash. I’m telling you, that stuff is daaaamn good. Keep it away from your kids — a shot of that juice is liable to have them bouncing off the walls.
5 boxes of General Mills cereal, 6 half-gallons of Welch’s Refrigerated Cocktails … $15
While on the road, we stopped here and there for food and caffeine. We also had two nice sit-down dinners during the tournament, and we definitely threw a few dollars at the bar for drinks for our badass friends (and some for us, too).
Caffeine and entertainment … $300
As you may know, the WPBA changed its policy regarding tournament payouts a few years ago so that they no longer paid last place in the tournaments and increased the payout at the upper levels. You must win one match to receive any money. This is as it should be. Since I cooked up my own 0-2 BBQ at this tournament, I got no prize money to offset the cost of the trip.
Thus, the total cost of this trip was roughly … $1,872
Is $1,872 a lot of money?
It’s all relative.
Some of us earn that in a year, and some of us eat crispy hundred-dollar bills for breakfast with some light sweet crude and a sprinkling of D-flawless Asscher-cut diamonds. I fall somewhere between that range, and I consider $1,872 a respectable chunk of change. I would not be able to go on this trip if it weren’t for an extremely fortunate financial windfall that happened earlier this year.
I hope you now have a sense of what many women pool players across the country must spend in their quest to “get on Tour” and not all of them can s— in 7- and 9-balls on TAR like I did en route to a $3,000 sponsorship. Sometimes, a player gets a last-minute invite to a big event, and it’s a tough choice to figure whether to turn it down because you can’t afford to go or take the invite because THIS might be your breakthrough tournament, but there’ll be a lot of working overtime, ramen, and no presents at Christmas…
Billiards is in an awkward position. Although it is an extremely popular pastime, there isn’t enough mainstream money, or interest, in the sport to where someone or some organization is willing to seek out talent and develop it. At least not in America. Over the years, I have become aware of a pattern in pool: sponsors will seek out a player once they’ve made the jump to the highest professional levels, yet, it is almost impossible to get to the highest professional levels without sponsorship.
In the regional tour system for women’s pool, the overall regional tour champions (Players of the Year) generally receive a year of guaranteed invitations to play on the professional tour. However, in some cases, these invitations are unpaid, so the player still has an expense of $500 per tournament to begin with. In the 2008 year, there are seven WPBA events, so that would be $3,500 for a year on tour, NOT including expenses. I know some women turn down those guaranteed invites in order to try the qualifiers again, since winning a qualifier means that at least the $500 entry is already paid. Giving up what could be the one chance of a lifetime you needed to make it for lack of sponsorship is like running a race where you’re miles ahead of everyone else, but 10 feet from the finish, you are required to stop. You’re not tired. You’re not injured. You’re just not allowed to win.
I encourage you to help all the aspiring players you know (especially the ladies, of course). Help your local up-and-coming players and the regional qualifying tours and events. Do as much or as little as you like, but do something. You could be responsible for the next billiards star, and perhaps that player will be the one to rocket billiards into the mainstream spotlight.
Then, we ALL win.
Thanks again, you cool dudes at PoolDawg. That break cue rocks.
Congratulations, again, to Toshi Moriguchi whose daughter called and told him he was going to be a grandpappy while we were playing pool! Cheers to the next generation!