TAR 19 : Alien vs Predator
Mika Immonen vs Shane Van Boening
|^ clicky click for TAR site ^||Seriously, we need this match up the way I need a sportsmanship adjustment — for the WORSE! Hahahaha! Ahem.
But, yeah, it’s finally been spawned: two of the greatest players of the current era will be duking it out October 12-14, 2010, at Amsterdam Billiards on Mr. Immonen’s home-away-from-home turf, the fruitiest city of all, Le Grand Pomme (la ville de New York).
It’s the standard $10,000 entry fee (I was hoping they’d pull a Hatch vs Appleton and do $20,000), winner-take-all, 10-ball, race to 100 format we have all grown to know and love (except when it’s played on Table 6 at Hard Times in Bellflower).
As usual, if you’re not there to sweat the action in person, TAR will be streaming the match over the internet. Pay-per-view prices are $25 for all three days, $20 for two days, and $15 for the final day.
Visit www.theactionreport.com for all the itty bitty details.
a carr for brogs
If you have a quality, somewhat frequently updated blog (once a month) you’d like me to include on my blog list, send me the link and a 100 x 100 pixel icon. If you do not send me an icon, and are included in my list, one shall be made for you… muahahaha! That was an evil laugh. I don’t know any other kind of laugh.
re: disappearance of procrastination aids
All those interesting articles, websites, and random useless facts I used to collect for y’all are now posted to my Twitter instead of on each blog post. It’s more convenient for you and me. You can go to my Twitter page or just take a peek at my 10 most recent tweets in the sidebar up there to the right.
By the end of this year, I will have spent at least 30 days in Las Vegas, almost all of it exclusively for pool.
2010 APA National Team Championships
And now, for our feature presentation…
This will be an attempt at a day-by-day narrative and I’m also going to get all trigger-happy with quotations and proverbs and stuff that I didn’t think up but make me sound smart when I include them. I’m also going to get Twitter-happy and put tweets (I always cringe when using that term) where chronologically appropriate.
20 | Friday
Sometime in the wee small hours of Friday night/Saturday morning, we pulled into Vegas and the 2010 APA National Team Championships which was already underway.
The APA (American Poolplayers Association) is one of the major pool leagues in the United States (and they have presence in Canada and Japan as well). In this league, players are rated according to their skill levels. If two players of differing skill levels match up, the higher-rated player will give the lower-rated player a handicap. Eight-ball players are rated from 2 to 7 and nine-ball players are rated from 1-9. The higher numbers indicate higher skill levels.
As with any system that includes handicapping, there are people who will try to game the system by “sandbagging”, or keeping their skills artificially low. This is a crappy side of the league. We have plenty of time for craptasticness later. Let’s look, instead, at a positive side of the league: patches.
The league gives out patches for accomplishments ranging from break-and-runs to team wins to qualifying for a high-level regional or national tournament. They are very much like Boy Scout merit badges and many players choose to display them proudly. Here is just one of many, many examples of patch peacockery you will see at the national level. You may click on the images if you would like to see a more detailed version.
This gentleman’s jacket may look familiar to you as a slightly different, extremely patchless version of it was once featured in an episode of Seinfeld, as seen on the right.
The first thing the vehicle full of Asians and I did at this ungodly hour was rush to the mini-tournament room to sign up for tournaments. We’re sick like that — but so is everyone else at this event.
I previously mentioned that I had been raised (via a polite letter) to the maximum skill level (7) for eight-ball shortly prior to this event. Eight-ball on the small table is my favorite game, but I knew that I was not yet good enough to win or cash in the high-level eight-ball mini-tournaments which I was now relegated to. As a result, I had decided to play mostly nine-ball mini-tournaments.
The earliest mini I could get into was for 10:30 p.m. later that day (it was now Saturday), meaning I could get plenty of sleep, some food, and coffee before starting on my quest for glory. Good stuff.
21 | Saturday
Time to try to get into mini tournaments.
Gettin’ too old for this sh*t.
7:40 AM Aug 21st
I was up at 6:55 a.m.
Here’s a quick primer on how mini-tournaments work:
Each mini-tournament has anywhere from 8 to 32 participants (up to 64, if it’s a doubles event) and all play to their handicap. Most have 16. Entry fees range from $10 to $50 per person. There are a variety of tournaments, and almost all are arranged in groupings of skill level. Most tournaments have players close in skill level. For example, the very first mini-tournament I ever played in was a Ladies-Only 8-ball 5-6-7 event. That meant only ladies with skill levels of 5, 6, or 7,could play. If you did not meet those requirements, you could not play. The very last tournaments of the day (they start at 8:00 a.m. and run all the way to 1:00 a.m.) are generally “Any Skill Level” tournaments wherein anyone can play, and each player plays according to their handicap.
Over the course of this entire event, there will be about 500 total mini-tournaments, and the schedule for all of them is published in the event program.
You must pre-register and pre-pay your entry for events and you can only register for events that will occur within the next 24 hours. You can’t play in all of them, obviously, and if you enter in more than one and those tournaments are scheduled close together, you may have to forfeit out of one to play in the other. To remedy this situation, you are allowed to sell your spot (for the same amount you paid) to someone else 15 minutes prior to the start of the event.
This was why I was completely awake after minimal sleep. I was going to go wait by the tournament registration desk to see if I could possibly buy an event from someone looking to sell their spot. There was a good chance I wouldn’t have to wait all the way until 10:30 that evening to play in an event.
Never in a million years could I wake up on time to go to work — but I’ll wake up before the alarm goes off if pool is involved.
There’s a dude named Paul Newman in the Seniors 8-Ball.
Hee hee hee!
10:26 AM Aug 21st
The area in front of the registration desk is not unlike the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. People mill about, watching carefully to see if anyone is approaching holding small, receipt-sized slips of paper. The seller of his/her event approaches the podium and hands the slip over to one of the tournament officials who then announces, “I have an event for sale,” and then proceeds to announce the particulars of the event being sold. Prospective buyers yell, “SOLD!” and the announcer is the one who ultimately determines who the buyer is, even when dozens of people yell for the event, just like at an auction. Sometimes, the seller never makes it to the podium as the buyers will approach anyone with a slip of paper first in hopes that it is something they want and they won’t have to fight for it.
As you can imagine, the loudest people are often the ones who get the events.
I, in spite of my limitless amounts of assholity, dislike yelling. I very much dislike being loud.
This, of course, meant that my inside-voice squeaks of, “Here!” and “Sold!” were never heard. Well, they were heard. And then promptly laughed at.
A guy in a red and black shirt approached the podium with an event to sell. He was in a hurry. The announcer looked at his slip of paper and said, “I have an event for sale. It’s at 9:30, 6s and 7s 8-Ball, and it’s a $50 mini.” All the eager players that had pressed in collectively deflated and returned to looking bored. A minute went by and the announcer and seller looked around. No one was interested.
I bought it, if only because I didn’t have to jump up and down and yell and limbo under a burning hoop while juggling goslings.
The seller had a team match to play in and otherwise would have forfeited the mini tournament and the entry fee paid. My chances of winning this mini tournament were very slim — but I couldn’t resist. It was eight-ball. Why the hell not.
My first match was against a player from Louisiana I knew. I started off too slow and never caught up. Adios $40 (the seller had given me a discount because he didn’t have change — by the way, dude, I still got your $10 if you want it), it was nice knowing you.
Saw team shirt that had drawings of all the players.
The drawings looked like police suspect sketches.
7:04 PM Aug 21st
I lolled about for a few more hours and realized that it was extremely not in my nature to be loud enough to compete for mini-tournaments. I philosophically decided to go another route. I took a nap.
I got up in time for my 10:30 p.m. mini tournament. I had a little something to eat, a little something to drink, hit a few balls to warm up, felt good, felt like I was going to win, and then promptly lost my first-round match due to playing like s—.
This game they call nine-ball — I don’t seem to be very good at it.
If at first you don’t succeed… try, try again, right?
I had another mini-tournament lined up, for 12:01 a.m., meaning it was actually…
22 | Sunday
…Sunday now, and I was still hell-bent on winning… something.
This was a SL6-only nine-ball mini, meaning all players were the same skill level and thus, there would be no handicaps. I hoped this slight distinction would mean better results than my last crash-and-burn a couple of hours ago.
The pool gods demanded to differ and I lost, again, in the first round.
I was frustrated and baffled but the results didn’t lie — I was a terrible nine-ball player. The only course of action left to me was to go to sleep — because I had another mini tournament.
At 8:00 a.m.
I’m sick like that.
Actually, it’s not a sickness here — rather, it’s the norm to play pool a minimum of 18 hours a day.
The 8:00 a.m. tournament was somewhat kinder to me than previous ones. I had begun to figure out the speed of the tables and rails (which was ass-funky, by the way) as well as some of the strategy required to play APA-style nine-ball.
Let’s freshen some of you up with Eau de APA 9-Ball, in case you’ve never smelled something quite this interesting.
In APA nine-ball, two players compete until one person reaches a score determined by their respective skill level. The scoring is recorded by awarding a single point for potting the balls numbered 1 through 8 and two points for the 9 ball. For example, if Player A breaks and makes two balls on the break (not including the 9 ball), that player would have 2 points for the rack and continue shooting. If the player “runs the table” (makes all the balls without missing), they score 10 points for the rack (the maximum) as they would have scored 8 points for the balls 1 through 8 and then 2 for the 9 ball.
The match ends when a player reaches the number required for their respective skill level. The table below lists the number of balls needed for a player of each skill level to win their match.
Points needed to win match
The lowest skill level in APA nine-ball is a “1” while the highest skill level is a “9”.
Using the table above, you can see that if Player A is rated a “2” and plays Player B who is rated a “6”, then Player A wins if he scores 19 points before Player B scores 46 points. Conversely, for Player B to win the match, he must score 46 points before Player A scores 19 points.
I jacked that info above from the American Poolplayers Association entry at Wikipedia(!!). Wikipedia?! I don’t know why, but that made me ROR (Raff Out Roud).
Let me also mention that, for the mini-tournaments, the races were abbreviated. For example, instead of SL5s going to 38 points, they went to 33.
So, unlike regular nine-ball where generally only the nine-ball counts for anything, in APA nine-ball, ALL the balls count. Every. Single. Red-headed. Step-child. Of. A. Ball. This system does make sense if you’re determining who is the better player by who can run more balls. This also means you can’t f— around for the first eight balls in the rack and wait for your opponent to dog the nine.
Now that I had somewhat figured this stuff out, I was playing better. In this 8:00 a.m. event, I finally finished in the (bottom) money and received the staggering sum of $40. Of course, I was still far in the hole for the entire event, but at least I wasn’t Chilean-miner in the hole and I could make it all back by taking $20 baby steps. When you’ve been losing a long time (as I have — all year, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing), even miniscule victories are enough to boost your spirits and give you hope.
I was determined to place higher than third in my next mini tournament, which was just around the corner at 2:30 p.m. I had a small lunch, some tea, and wandered the tournament room where the Masters event was just beginning its first rounds and people were filling up the free spaces to watch the best of the APA best play.
After an unbearable wait, the bell tolled 2:30 p.m. and I was ready to play.
I’m one of those people that, after I’ve figured out something new about my style of play or the game itself (or I just *think* I figured something out), I immediately want to play in order to put the knowledge to the test. By immediately, I mean bouncing off the walls impatient. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” annoying-kid impatient. Part of this impatience is an extreme optimism due to the possibility of improvement.
My first match was close, but I managed to scuttle away with the win. That meant I was down to the elite eight in this tournament — which sounds good until I tell you there were only 16 players to begin with. Regardless, the next match would determine if I would make it to the final four and guarantee myself at least another 3rd place finish with hope that I could make it to the finals and get first (or second).
I met my opponent, a large, bug-eyed fellow at the tournament desk. As we walked over to our assigned table, I couldn’t help but notice his rather slim ankles which seemed out of place with the rest of his mass. It was a strange and irrational observation. However, I am a strange and irrational person. Or perhaps I was jealous. Anyway, as we began to assemble our cues, I got a distinct “vibe” from Mr. Buggy Retinas.
Let’s briefly touch upon the concept of “vibes” and how I approach them in a billiards environment. Although it’s a concept most of us understand, to put it down in concrete words is not that easy.
Wiktionary defines vibe (which is an abbreviation of vibration) as: “The atmosphere or aura of a person or place as communicated to and felt by others.”
The problem with vibes, of course, is that what you think you give off, and what those around you perceive, could be entirely different (kind of like perfume and/or cologne). I don’t like to talk when I play. Because of this habit, many people get an unfriendly vibe from me when I do not intend to be unfriendly, but rather, neutral. Social conventions in this day and age REQUIRE that we make small talk and chit-chat to SHOW that we are friendly. The very act of NOT being OVERTLY friendly automatically labels one as UNFRIENDLY when really, one might simply be apathetic. There’s plenty of time to talk when the dust has settled, y’know? I think people prefer that their opponent care about them one way or the other rather than not give a microscopic s—. They want to feel that they matter. At least a little.
Perception: it f—s up a lot of things.
In other cases, I *AM* giving off an unfriendly vibe and, as many will attest, there is NO mistake when I am giving off the true unfriendly vibe. Did I just tell you to STFU? Yeah, I meant that.
Since I am aware of how my vibes of apathy are mostly taken as vibes of unadulterated destruction, I try to see what environment my opponent prefers. I take into account the way my opponent carries him- or herself, how much they talk, what they talk about, whether or not they interact with spectators, and their style of play to conclude how best (in my eyes) I can make this match work for all involved. Whenever possible, I try to accomodate my opponent’s comfort level without completely surrendering my own focus. This previously unheard of warm-and-fuzziness brought to you courtesy of Old Age. If my opponent is talkative, I try my best (even with one-word monotone answers) to find a happy medium wherein they may chitter away as much as they like and I can remain as silent as possible without making them feel too weird. If my opponent is not talkative, I admit I feel relief and some joy that we may both try our best while focusing on the game and not the weather or last night’s buffet-alcohol-puke excursion.
Back to the present.
The table we had been assigned was a highly visible table. In addition to being right next to the main throughway, it was at the very end of a row of tables and right next to the tournament desk where everyone milled about. Mr. Buggy Retinas was interacting quite a bit with the spectators as we assembled our cues. I took note of his topic of conversation, his manner of speaking, and who he spoke to. This was important.
Mr. Buggy Retinas, you see–
Wait a second, I really shouldn’t call him Mr. Buggy Retinas. He can’t help it if his eyes bulge any more than I can help it that my eyes make me look like I’m asleep when I’m wide awake. All right, that’s an unfair nickname to give him in this blog, so let’s give him another.
Let’s call him — oh, I don’t know — Scott Medeiros.
That sounds like a proper name for a pear-shaped dude with convex eyes and concave ankles.
Scott Medeiros was talking loudly with — I shouldn’t say with, I should say at — a trio of gentlemen wearing the same team shirt. Scott Medeiros was doing most of the talking and he seemed to be emphasizing his own greatness as a player. The gentlemen listened, but I found it odd that they did not actively participate in the conversation. Rather, they stood and seemed merely to indulge his loudness. My initial assessment of Scott Medeiros was this: a dude who believes he is always right; if he loses, it’s rarely his own fault — more likely he will say he lost because of the equipment or something his opponent did; someone who is used to intimidating other players and getting his way by being loud and/or threatening.
Of course, I could have been completely wrong. Scott Medeiros could simply have been loud due to being hard of hearing. Perhaps he had recently improved in play and was so overjoyed he had to share this development with his closest friends and I merely misconstrued his ecstatic happiness as annoying boasting. As for his intimidating manner, well, he was a portly specimen of flesh and the initial apprehension smaller animals have of larger animals is an instinct Nature has programmed in almost all of us. If I thought of him as a pear on two toothpicks, he would seem less intimidating.
All the same, I made a decision to speak as little as possible during this match. He might have been jolly old St. Nick camouflaged in cargo shorts and flip flops, but I believed being cautious was still the best route. A closed mouth attracts no foot.
We began to play.
Scott Medeiros was a highly offensive player. I played at least three good safes on him that he multi-rail kicked, and made, and then ran out. He took a big lead. I think the score was something like his 21 or 22 to my 4 or 5 at one point. Both of us needed to get to 40 points. He was obviously very, very confident and comfortable in this situation. He continued to talk loudly and animatedly with his friends and spectators. I broke my silence only once, to address his friends neutrally, “This guy a friend of yours?”
The two or three guys in red and black looked at each other for a moment before looking back at me. One of them cleared his throat and said, “He’s — he’s okay.”
I found this terse endorsement of Scott Medeiros very interesting. Meanwhile, Scott Medeiros continued to play like he didn’t care, like this match was beneath his notice, but it didn’t matter because he was playing very well and the margin between our scores was only widening. We only spoke twice. Once, when he stood right over a shot I had to reach for and instantaneously yelled “FOUL!” when I touched the ball I was shooting over, and once again when he indicated that I had forgotten to add a point to his score. And he was correct. I had missed the fact that he had shot in a 2-8 combination as I had been adding up the points when he had made that shot. I added the point to his score and we continued.
Scott Medeiros was surely guaranteed victory by now, and it showed in his play. He slacked off just a little on one rack and I managed to get some points. I buckled the F— down and began to focus. The chances of me pulling off a victory were slim — but not impossible. Slowly, I ground it out. The score was getting closer but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. All I knew was that Scott Medeiros was very close to winning so in order for me to win, I could not let him score any more points.
He broke a rack, made the one-ball, and scratched. The layout was pretty open, but the three, four, and five sat in a slightly tricky positions. Position to make these balls had to be very exact. I made the two, but got slightly out of line on the three. I would have to shoot the four-ball jacked up over the five, and I had to make sure after I cut the four (which was at a somewhat steep angle) I would still be able to have a shot on the five. I elevated my cue and prepared to shoot the four. I thought to myself, be very careful with speed, don’t let the cue ball run too far or you won’t have a shot on the five… I took some careful practice strokes. I paused, ready to deliver the final stroke when I heard, “What the f— is this? What the f— is wrong with you?”
Stunned, I stood up from the shot and turned around. Scott Medeiros, eyes looking like water balloons about to burst from his oddly small skull, had forcefully thrown the pen down on the scoresheet and thrown his hands in the air (and waved them around like he didn’t care). I was almost certain he was having a stroke. I noted the contrast between his rapidly reddening face and the extreme whites of his eyes. It reminded me of Christmas. “What?”
“What the f— is wrong with you? What the f— is this?” He motioned to the scoresheet with a rage-filled, expectant look. I didn’t know what he was referring to and my blank look served only to enrage him further. He made wide-sweeping motion with his arms towards the scoresheet. “AM I THE ONLY ONE KEEPING SCORE HERE?!”
I went over to the scoresheet to take a look. I still didn’t know what had triggered his ire since I had also been keeping score. I looked at the score sheet. He was at 33, I was at 32. “I… don’t understand.”
“YOU NEVER MARK MY POINTS.”
“YOU NEVER F—ING MARK MY POINTS.”
“Yeah, why the F— don’t you pay attention, HUH? I’M SUPPOSED TO HAVE MORE POINTS THAT THAT! WHAT THE F— IS WRONG WITH YOU?” He had stood up now and I was seriously thinking he might hit me. He gestured again with his arms. “YOU DON’T F—ING PAY ATTENTION DO YOU?!”
I looked at the score sheet. “You’re supposed to have more points?”
“F— YEAH I’m supposed to have more points! You’ve already done this three times. I’ve already asked you THREE TIMES and you still keep f—ing up!”
Let’s discuss scoring APA matches.
In regular play, scoresheets are very detailed, with the number of innings, defensive shots, timeouts, etc. noted. For mini-tournaments, the process is much simpler. In eight-ball, you mark what games you have won. In nine-ball, you mark what balls/points you made. First one to make it to their assigned number of games or points, wins.
As you all know, I’m almost exclusively an eight-ball player. This was my second season of nine-ball and I rarely take score during league play (since I have to take the bus 38 miles to league, I try to play and leave as soon as possible so I can make it home at a decent wee hour). Thus, I’m only used to marking score after every game (8-ball), not after every ball (9-ball) pocketed.
Now, I did not recall that he had already asked me “three times” to correct the score. I only remembered the single incident involving the two-eight combination mentioned earlier. But, Scott Medeiros was not the kind to believe he was wrong.
Scott Medeiros had a valid argument. I was not used to marking score after every ball and I often had to remind myself to do it when playing nine-ball. There was no way to really determine if the score was correct, or incorrect, but there was the possibility I hadn’t kept score correctly. I’m a person who prefers to find a solution to a problem rather than waste time figuring out who to blame. Throughout Scott Medeiros’ entire rant, I had never raised my voice nor indicated anything other than complete neutrality. I was trying very, very hard to be a proper pool player.
I remembered a quote I had read earlier:
“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold—but so does a hard-boiled egg.”
Scott Medeiros had no way of knowing that I was not trying to cheat. I could, however, do my best to make things right and show him that I meant well. “Go ahead and put down whatever score you think is correct.” This was the only solution I could offer that I believed would satisfy both of us. Even if Scott Medeiros marked his score all the way to 40, thereby giving him the match, I would not argue.
Oddly enough, he did not take this offer. He did not even change the score. “You didn’t f—ing mark three or five points, that’s the whole match right there!”
Perhaps he did not hear me. “I said you could put whatever points you think I missed. I’m okay with that.”
“That’s not the f—ing point!” Now I was royally confused. I thought the whole issue was that I had missed some of the points he had scored. I had just given him carte blanc to add whatever amount of points he wanted. If that wasn’t the issue, then what was? “Are you going to f—ing pay attention from now on?”
I did not like being scolded in this manner, but, in the interest of doing my best to present women’s pool in a professional, polished manner, and in the name of
(that f—ing flag you holier-than-thous like to wave in my face from time to time)
I took it.
I breathed deeply, and said again, as evenly as I could, “Just put whatever points you think you should have.”
Scott Medeiros continued ranting. “Is it going to happen again? Is it? I don’t want to be the only f—ing person taking score, you know.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t normally play nine-ball, so I’m not used to taking score this way. In eight-ball, you just mark the games. I’m sorry if I missed some points.”
“Yeah, but I f—ing asked you NICELY THREE TIMES to fix the score!” I had offered the two things I could offer: a solution, whereby his score could be corrected, and a sincere apology (I rarely apologize for anything). I wasn’t sure what more I could do. He seemed to have something against my very presence. More people gathered.
I thought of another solution. Turning to the assembled crowd, I asked, “Will one of you take score for us?” Eyes flickered apprehensively to one another but no one seemed to want to take the job. I didn’t blame them. I sure as hell wouldn’t have volunteered. There were a few murmurs, but no one volunteered. “I’ll pay someone to take score. Please. I just want to continue this match, and I don’t trust myself to take score.” Finally, one brave gentleman took the pen and said he’d do it. Scott Medeiros was angrily muttering to himself but he didn’t seem to object. I had successfully defused the situation and I walked back to the difficult shot on the four-ball. I tried to focus and got down to shoot.
“She f—ing never f—ing marked my score! F—ing three points could mean everything in this match, you know? She probably wants to win that bad. What the f—!”
I stood up and turned around.
Scott Medeiros was once again telling people in the crowd the saga of How I Did Not Mark His Points.
Now, I thought I had already did everything I could to solve this situation. I watched and listened to him complain some more. In particular, I did not like the fact that he was insinuating that I was cheating in order to win. I took a deep breath. I went over to Scott Medeiros. “I thought we were okay with everything. I said you could add whatever points you wanted, and now we have someone else taking score for both of us.”
“Yeah, I’d like to be the one just sitting around ready to shoot instead of taking score but you don’t see me doing that, do you?” He was bringing up things I thought we’d already solved to satisfaction. Apparently, Scott Medeiros had an unknown dinosaur bone to pick.
“I’m sorry about that,” I said. “We already have somebody else taking score so it won’t happen again.” Scott Medeiros was very worked up about this whole thing. I tried to think about what I could possibly do to placate him, if only so we could continue to play. “I’m sorry,” I said again, and this time, I put out my hand for a handshake. This was the sincerest sort of apology I could ever offer.
He shook my hand and as he shook it, he said, “I f—ing asked you NICELY. THREE TIMES. To fix the score!”
This was a goddam f—ing nightmare with no end.
“I’m sorry,” I said again.
Scott Medeiros then proceeded to repeat his litany of grievances: what the f— was wrong with me, why the f— didn’t I pay attention, I was costing him points — valuable, valuable points that might cost him this match, etc. After each grievance, I could only say, “I’m sorry.” Of course, this did not satisfy him. I racked my brain to find another solution, but I could not. I forced myself to stay quiet and polite, which went against everything in my genetic code. This match was now extremely visible and a sizable crowd was watching. Since I came here representing my league and my league operator, I was unwilling to reflect poorly on them. My nerves were getting extremely frayed.
“Go play the f—ing game!”
“You still seem angry about this. I already tried my best to fix things, and I said I was sorry. There isn’t much I can do.”
“Yeah, you f—ing said sorry seven times already.”
“Well, you keep talking about it. I wanted to make sure things were okay.”
“AND I ACCEPTED YOUR APOLOGY. GO PLAY THE F—ING GAME.”
“Then why do you keep talking about it?”
“WILL YOU JUST GO AND PLAY THE F—ING GAME?!”
This was a low moment in my pool career. I had (possibly) wronged an APA player. I had apologized. I had searched for solutions to rectify the situation. I had shaken this asshole’s hand. All in the name of sportsmanship and fairness for this beautiful game I loved to play. And it got me absolutely NO-F*CKING-WHERE.
I returned to table.
As I lined up over the difficult shot again, I could hear Scott Medeiros complain to the crowd again. I made the four, and made the five while listening to Scott Medeiros complaining the whole time. I stood up before shooting the six. “I SAID I WAS SORRY.”
“Will you just f—ing shut up and play the game?”
My ability with words is insufficient to describe the mix of emotions I had at that moment.
Anger. Anxiety. Frustration. All the stress boiled to a point and tears forced themselves out of my eyes. I fucking HATED this game right now. I never thought I would — and I have suffered incredibly for this game. But, here, in the example set by this fucking dipshit named Scott Fucking Medeiros I saw the future of the game. It would never get any better. It could only get worse. As you play better, the game gets easier — it’s the people that get more difficult. Sportsmanship: you ain’t worth a jug of warm spit.
Scott Fucking Medeiros was perfectly fine when he held a gigantic lead in this match. But, the minute I pulled close, everything was suddenly wrong.
Fuck. This. Shit.
FUCK. THIS. GAME.
In this dark moment where I was mere seconds from forfeiting this match, and with it, this game for life, someone said, “Why don’t you stop being an asshole and just let her play the game?”
In a flash, Scott Medeiros had jumped to his feet and was roaring at the crowd. In the MASSIVE exchange of words that ensued between Scott Medeiros and the crowd, I could only discern a few phrases/ideas/concepts.
- “Why you calling me an asshole? SHE’S THE ONE THAT’S WRONG!”
- “What’s me being from Jersey gotta do with any of this?!”
- “You’re only on her side because she’s a little girl. If she was a 250-pound guy, YOU’D ALL BE ON MY SIDE.”
- “I’M NOT THE ONE WHO’S WRONG! SHE’S THE ONE THAT CHEATED ME OUT OF POINTS!”
- “Just shut up already.”
- “If she was a 250-pound guy, you wouldn’t try to pull this s—.”
- “Are you from Jersey? You gotta be from Jersey.”
- “Even if she was a guy and she was wrong, you would still be an asshole.”
Scott Medeiros was soon threatening to kill everyone in the crowd.
Throughout the melee, as insults and threats went back and forth, I fixated on one thing that simultaneously saddened and angered me: Scott Medeiros had brought sexism into this game.
I understand that, as a girl, most people would say I can never really “lose” when I play a guy.
If I win, it’s spectacular because a girl is not supposed to beat a guy. If I lose, it’s not a big deal because, hell, wasn’t I supposed to lose? Seems like I got the good life all lined up, right?
Guys, I cannot tell you how many times I was told I beat a guy simply because I was a girl. “Oh, he’s got trouble playing girls.” “He went easy on you.” “He let you win.” Just like how my losses to men aren’t really losses, my wins aren’t really wins.
On a worthless coin, BOTH sides are worthless.
I missed on the six and Scott Medeiros ran out. That brought his score to 38 and within two points of winning the match.
I racked the balls. Scott Medeiros was still busily engaged in endearing himself to the crowd by calling everyone assholes, emphasizing that since I was a little girl, that’s the only reason they thought he was an asshole, telling them he was going to find them and “f— them up”, etc. At one point, he said, “F— this, I don’t need this, I forfeit. You wanna win that bad?! FINE!“
I was done indulging his theatrical drama-queen shenanigans. I said nothing to encourage or deter him. I was done. I merely waited as he started to break down his cues while arguing with the crowd. Then, he changed his mind and broke the rack, anyways. Whatever. He didn’t make a ball. As Scott Medeiros continued his love affair with public opinion, I ran the fuck out and won the match.
As I was packing up, Scott Medeiros’ face suddenly thrust itself over the spectator railing and his hand shot out in front of my face. I looked at it. He wanted a handshake. Detestable. But since my hands were covered in smeared eyeliner and snot, I figured sportsmanship was worthy of another shot and this snot otter known as Scott Medeiros should have his hand shaken.
As I shook his hand, Scott Medeiros said forcefully and angrily, “You’re the one that’s wrong, you know that, right? YOU’RE. THE. ONE. THAT’S. WRONG.”
If only we could turn Scott Medeiros’ gripes into light bulbs.
They would last forever.
Just played a guy who yelled at me once I pulled ahead close in the match.
Thanks, Scott Madeiros Medeiros of New Jersey Las Vegas.
You have made my trip exciting.
4:01 PM Aug 22nd
Our first round of team play was tonight. Still out of sorts mentally in regard to pool, I lost 0-3 in fantastic, idiot style.
I think I forgot how to play pool.
Lost 0-3 in first team match.
10:30 PM Aug 22nd
However, my team won overall, and so, we continued the long trek to $25,000 (divided eight ways and minus taxes).
The rest of this trip will be covered in Part Deux…
When s—ty things happen, we deal with it by trying to forget it. When I write my blogs, I have to relive every moment of these f—ed up times and, frankly, doing so depresses me. So, this is all you get for now. I’ll post the rest after some Happy Hour medication.