Previously, on I Can See Clearly Now Because I’ve Almost Broken Even, my team had some disagreements with the opposing team during the first match and I took over scorekeeping duties. In a highly unusual twist, I was able to draw up a truce (my team was amazed I had diplomacy skills) and the match continued.
Our player had won the first match by a lopsided score because he had played the best pool of his life.
The score was now 1-0, my team leading, in a race to 3.
Get your chips and dip and let’s march on.
The opposing team was on edge since the first match score was so lopsided. They had no idea it was my teammate’s best match of his life. They, understandably, thought we were sandbagging. This served to put them in a crappy mood and their thinly veiled accusations, direct accusations, and stage whispers about sandbagging put my team on edge.
Edgy or not, we had to proceed. The two players in the second match were evenly matched and traded games back and forth. During this match, I chatted a bit with the other scorekeeper. She and her fiancee owned a bar and this team played out of that bar. They worked a lot and didn’t go on vacation much so when their team won a spot to the national championships, they were pleasantly surprised and she said it was the first time in several years they were able to go somewhere across the country.
During this match, we had no problems with scorekeeping. When my teammate played a defensive shot, I would verbally point out and mark down on my scoresheet that it was a defensive shot. Before marking down any defensive shots for the opposing player, I would ask the scorekeeper first if it was a defensive shot to confirm before marking it down on the sheet. This system of open communication seemed to relax the tension between the two teams.
Their player won the second match and now the score was 1-1.
The scorekeeper had to play next so scoring duties were taken over by the highest rated player on their team, a SL7, who had been napping during the match, controversies and all. He looked at my name badge on my sleeve and said, “Oh, so you’re the seven.”
Dude. WTF. What the HELL is it with APA players and the dang numbers?! Blargh.
This new scorekeeper was very interested in my pool history and didn’t seem to focus much on scorekeeping. I finally told him that I would not be playing in this team match and that he should probably pay attention to the match we were scoring. The two players playing were both SL3s and generally, lower-rated players take longer to play individual games so their races are shorter. Between the two of them, the first one to win two games would win. They each took their time considering shots. My eyes glazed over a little.
“I know you.”
“Huh?” I was roused from my existence as a glazed donut. “What?”
“I said, ‘I know you’. I know who you are.”
“Well, yeah. You read my nametag.”
“No, no, I seen you play before. You that girl that played on TV.”
“Err… no. I haven’t played on TV. There are a lot of Asian champs on ESPN, but I’m not one of them.”
“No, you that girl that plays for money, lots of money.”
“Really. And what about it?”
“Well, I’m a seven, but I ain’t no seven that gonna bet thousands. You must be a really good player.”
“Nope, I’m so f—ing average you wouldn’t believe. And it wasn’t a smart move since last time I checked, I lost.”
“S—, you bet thousands!”
This kind of s— amused and annoyed me at the same time. I decided I needed to clarify some things for this guy. “You know, when shitty players bet a lot of money, it doesn’t make them better players. It only makes them shitty players that bet a lot of money. That’s all.”
This guy then told me he had made a lot of money gambling in the practice rooms at this tournament (not supposed to gamble at this tournament, by the way — APA is very much against gambling). He told me if I hung out with him, he’d be able to get me into a lot of games and I would be able to make a lot of money, especially since I was a girl and all. Nice.
The first game in this match was almost over. My teammate had a difficult eight-ball to shoot while her opponent had just three balls left. If my teammate missed the eight, the other girl would most likely run out. However, the eight-ball was at a sharp angle into the side and a scratch (and thereby loss of game) was a very big possibility.
I decided to kill two birds with one stone: I told the other scorekeeper we should pay attention to the game since it was almost over and by doing so, I hoped he would stop talking about all the money a potential gambling partnership between us could make.
My teammate leaned over to shoot the shot and, from the angle I was sitting in, I was almost certain she would scratch in the upper left corner pocket. Since she was shooting from the foot of the table, her body blocked my view of the shot. She measured carefully, took some deliberate practice strokes and shot. I leaned to the left and watched the eight-ball head for the side pocket. However, the eight-ball didn’t drop because she had hit it paper-thin. Aww.
“Is that a foul?” This was the opposing team’s player.
“No, I hit the eight-ball.”
“Your cue ball, did it get a rail?”
“Cue ball? I don’t know. I was looking at the eight.”
I leaned to the right and saw that the cue ball was in the jaws of the upper right corner pocket. Whoa. My teammate had hit the cue ball with A LOT of draw which had stopped her from scratching in the upper left corner pocket but she had drawn the cue ball so well she had almost scratched in the upper right corner pocket. Well, at least she didn’t scratch.
“Naw, man, that’s a foul!” This was our favorite gambling gentleman, the opposing scorekeeper.
“I don’t think it’s a foul,” said my teammate.
“You didn’t get no rail! Don’t be actin’ like it ain’t no foul!”
“It’s a foul, I saw it, I saw it!”
Faster than you could say Scott Fucking Medeiros, both teams and the supporters of both teams jumped up and an all-out verbal war broke out.
I was still sitting because I was f—ing tired, had already been in one verbal fight this event, and the thought of another one only inspired me to poke around my pockets, locate a cough drop, unwrap it, pop it it my mouth, and see what the hell was about to go down.
I knew the other team’s player, the previous scorekeeper, was already primed for an accusation. I had observed her throughout this first game and while she was not shy about saying my teammate was a sandbagger, she hadn’t taken into consideration what the game had been like. For one thing, she had missed a couple of times and left my teammate easy shots. Both girls were nervous and I don’t think either of them was playing particularly well or poorly.
“Did you see that shot? DID YOU SEE THAT SHOT?!”
“No, I couldn’t see where the cue ball went because her body blocked my view when she was shooting. I could only see the eight.”
“It’s a foul, man!”
“I didn’t see it, so I couldn’t say.”
A referee was called and while he spoke to both players, the teammates and supporters on both sides were going at it. The referee eventually said, he didn’t see it, and because no referee had been called, the ruling would have to go to the shooter. This sparked new accusations of cheating, sandbagging, unfairness and such at all new levels of volume I did not know were possible.
“Man, who gonna call a referee for a shot like that?! That’s bulls— man, BULLS—!” Kenny Rogers’ cohort here did have a point — almost no one would call a referee to watch a shot that routine. It seemed very straightforward and this was certainly a very rare situation.
Then, like any good episode of Law & Order or Reno 911, NEW evidence was brought to light. A female voice yelled, “We have it on tape!” This was one of the opposing team’s friends. She had been filming parts of the match on a small digital camera while sitting in the spectator stands. She raised her camera triumphantly and yelled, “She’s a LIAR! It’s a foul and we have it on tape!” My teammate’s sister had limited knowledge of English, but she knew what had just been said and she pointed out that one of our friends had also had a camera. He had been filming from a different angle, but the camera itself was a higher-quality model and had a zoom feature. Both sides clamored for the referee to look at the replays while insults continued to fly back and forth. One of my teammates took personal affront at one of the insults and it seemed a fistfight was imminent.
The referee looked for a nearby shovel so he could dig himself an escape tunnel straight to the bar.
In the midst of it all, our player said something to the referee and the opposing player. The referee nodded and the other girl picked up the cue ball. The ruckus began to die down as all noticed some ruling had been made. My teammate came back to tell me, “I said to her, ‘I don’t think it’s a foul, but because I did not see the cue ball, you can take ball-in-hand if you think it is a foul.’ She got ball in hand. It’s okay, I want to finish the game.” She then returned to her seat by the table.
The referee looked relieved and made haste to depart. I didn’t know if it was a foul or not, but for my teammate to give up ball-in-hand to an opponent in a race to 2(?!) when she didn’t even know if she was wrong — that’s sportsmanship. Both teams sat down to continue the match but the atmosphere was no longer edgy, it was pure hostility. I looked at the table layout and chalked up a loss due to this great show of sportmanship.
Incredibly, the opposing player shanked her first shot. With ball-in-hand.
My teammate made the eight, and was now on the hill.
More rumblings, more grumblings, and the opposing team called for an Observer to watch the match. Insert requisite snarling from opposing team about sandbagging here. Blah blah blah. An Observer arrived and we all happily skipped hand-in-hand down the road to perdition.
Our girl broke and the second game was on. This time though, I noticed a change in my teammate. Her attitude at the table was different. It was full of a determination I had not seen before. She hit the balls hard now, which was not her style at all, and every bit of focus showed on her face. That expression on her face wasn’t focus or determination — I was almost certain it was rage. I think her opponent felt it, too. Everyone felt it. Things got very quiet. This was VERY weird. I watched my teammate firing in balls and I knew she wasn’t thinking and although the table was fairly open by this point, I knew she would eventually run into bad position. She did not get position on the ball before the eight. It was stuck on the top rail, by the first diamond next to the upper right corner pocket. The cue ball was directly below it by a couple of inches and maybe two to three inches to the left. In addition to being a steep cut, she couldn’t reach it. She would have to use the bridge.
The cue ball needed to be on the left side of the table, preferably past the side pocket in order for her to have a shot on the eight. I knew she would probably end up hooked behind balls on the other side of the table. She usually hit these railed balls with follow, and follow would take her to the wrong side of the table. She brought out the bridge, aimed, and stabbed viciously at the cue ball. The object ball rattled into the corner pocket and the cue ball sprang back toward the left side of the table and the left side pocket. A table lean diverted its path just enough and it didn’t scratch. And she was straight in on the eight-ball.
My teammate, by stabbing downward at the cue ball in her fury, ended up drawing the cue ball — the correct shot. However, even with draw, the chances of a D-player getting EXACT position? Good golly. I don’t even know. I started laughing hysterically. It was all too surreal. She fired in the eight-ball with as much abandon as the world-class shot she had unknowingly pulled off and just like that the team was on the hill, 2-1.
The next match had our best player up against one of their lower-rated players. Our player, too, played with more focus than I had ever seen — and he’s well-known for a rapid-fire style that people often mistake for apathy. He does have a VERY strong break, however. The opposing player was intimidated by his break and I think the pressure of the situation also contributed to the cracking of resolve. Our player won the match in good time and the team won overall.
I gave the scoresheet to my team captain as she needed to sign it and double-check it for accuracy against the opposing team’s scoresheet. There were still grumblings and rumblings from the other team, but I figured it was just due to losing. No one’s ever happy about it. Their top player reminded me again that I should get together with him and go make tons of money gambling with fellow APA players. I said I would think about it and get back to him if the idea seemed appealing.
The opposing team’s captain said to my captain, “I’m walking up there with you and I’m bringing my sheet. I don’t want you reading what I wrote there.” Hmm, interesting. What could they write about? The other team captain stormed through the crowd with remarkable agility (population density was standing room only and bumper-to-bumper) and we followed in her wake.
I said to my team captain, “That last game was incredible. I’ve never seen you play like that before. That shot with the bridge was amazing!”
“I was mad. They were mean.”
“Well, you know, everyone’s on edge. It’s nationals and all. They all want to win and that makes people tense.”
“They were mean to my sister.”
“During that whole foul thing? Yeah, they said some pretty bad things. Called us sandbaggers and cheaters. But this is APA, and that’s just to be expected.”
We got to the tournament desk and the opposing team captain turned in her score sheet, shot us a look of pure evil, muttered some obscenities, and huffed back out through the crowd.
“See? She’s still being mean.”
“Aww, well, they lost. They traveled a long way to be here.”
We walked away from the desk and headed back towards the rest of the team.
“I know she wrote bad things about us on their scoresheet.”
“I’m sure they did, but it’s because they lost.”
“We should write down how mean they were to us, too.”
“No, no, we’re better than that. We already won, we don’t have to do that. They’re just mad they lost.”
“Okay. But they were bad people.”
“They’re just mad about losing. Don’t worry about it.”
We walked/shoved through the crowd for another minute or so in silence. We were exhausted. These matches last three or four hours at a time. I was looking forward to eating dinner and sleeping. As I was dreaming of food and dreams, my captain piped up, “What’s a ‘chink’ and why did the other team call us that?”
“WHAT?” I stopped immediately.
“They said we were bunch of ‘chinks’.”
“When was this?”
“When the girl was arguing about the ball in hand. She and her sister called me a liar and then said my sister was a ‘chink’ and that we were ‘bunch of chinks’.”
“Oh HELL no. They did NOT do that.”
“I told you they were mean. They said I was a liar. But what is a ‘chink’?” I turned on my heel and headed back to the tournament desk. “Is it a bad word? Like a swear?”
“It’s a racial slur.”
“What is ‘racial slur’?” I didn’t answer and my captian struggled to keep up with me through the crowd.“Sorry, don’t get mad. I don’t understand too much English.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not mad at you.” I forged through the crowd back to the tournament desk and asked if our scoresheets had been processed yet. The lady said no. I said I needed to add some notes on the back of our scoresheet, if it was still allowed. The lady handed it back and I noted on our scoresheet’s reverse that the other team had called us “chinks”.
My Asian teammate: ”What’s a ‘chink’ and why did the other team call us that?”
11:36 PM Aug 25th
We went back to where the rest of our team waited for confirmation (announced over loudspeaker) that our match had been processed and our team would be able to move forward in the competition.
The opposing team was a short distance away and I could hear their complaints. (I saw you talking to them, Adam Fukushima — you crack me up!) Interestingly enough, *I* was the subject of their complaints as well.
Gentle reader, kindly recall that 1). I could not play for my team, 2). I didn’t do any of the coaching, and 3). I was nothing but polite to these foolios, even to the point of making excuses for their behavior to my team.
Apparently, they were declaring that I should be banned by the APA because I was some sort of “professional”. Listening some more, they determined that I was professional simply because I like to wager an amount of US dollars they would not be comfortable with on the occasional match. F—ing hilarity.
As I said before: when shitty players bet a lot of money, it doesn’t make them better players. It only makes them shitty players that bet a lot of money.
Here’s another newsflash: if you’re a shitty player, bitching about sandbagging (or calling people “chinks”) won’t improve your own game.
Our match was processed and announced, and a small cheer went up from my team and our friends. Relieved, we began to make our way out of the tournament room. I stopped to get some water and then caught up with the rest of the group outside the doors. They were jittery, fidgeting back and forth. I only saw the guys. They spotted me and one said, “Oh my God, oh my God, s—‘s gonna go down.”
“What’s going down?”
“Those women, from the other team, they followed [our captain and another teammate] into the bathroom. They said they’re going to beat them up.”
“Are you f—ing serious?!”
I ran towards the restroom and right as I reached the door, the opposing team captain ran out. I went inside to find the rest of my team.
There was no blood, but there was a lot of anger. The women from the opposing team had tailed my teammates to the restroom, threatened them verbally, told them they were a bunch of sandbaggers and that they had reported them, and they hoped we would lose.
Then, they ran away.
More fun than a barrel full of monkeys.
I was glad no one was hurt but one of the girls on my team was demanding we go after them and beat them the hell up. I said no, because verbal abuse — as crappy as it can be — will not warrant physical reprisal. We’d already beaten them. They were pissed off to hell. Really, we had the better outcome. Even if we lost the next round, all that matters is that we beat them. In the end, my best argument for peace was this: “I’m hungry. Can we go eat now?”
Everyone then remembered they were hungry and off we went to the Peppermill for our victory dinner composed entirely of minorities.
…to be continued in the Director’s Cut DVD (because making as much money as possible is fashionable)…