Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Power of Rod Compelled Us

Last night at Floyd, Love Touch and I (The Balltrap) had an amazing run. We were on the court together for over three hours, maybe closer to four. The scene was livelier than usual, with movie stars, reality-TV stars, cheering and jeering Australians, Coffee Flats Terrors, and cute guys that we have crushes on who finally beat us at around 1 am.

It all started in an uncrowded bar early in the evening, with Love Touch and Hot Legs beating Sweet Lil Rock 'n Roller and Reason to Believe. Then Gladrags stepped in and he and Hot Legs beat some random people. Then I joined up with Hot Legs and we beat a couple who had never played before. The woman made some uncannily good shots; the guy was relatively obnoxious--for example, at one point he yelled loudly to distract me while I was taking a shot. Boccelism superstars Brian and Ezra were coaching these two. I hear from my sources that they were telling them to go short on us because we can't play the short game. After taking care of these novices, Hot Legs and I faced Brian and Ezra and turned their own advice against them, beating them both long and short. It was a tough, hard-fought victory, but it felt good to exorcise some demons from that 7-0, 7-1 summer season final, the much closer spring season playoff match that we almost took, and many beatings on regular nights at the bar.

Then it was time for Love Touch to step back on the court, taking over for the possibly inebriated Hot Legs. Everything is starting to blur for me now, because we played so many damn times. All I know is, after LT and I won our first game together, Brian and Ezra were back on the court already, having signed up two spots down from where they first signed up. So there we were again against this formidable enemy that has caused us so much grief, wondering if twice in one night was too much to hope for. The final score was either 7-3 or 7-4. We closed it out with three simultaneous points and sent them packing for the night.

LT and I were both on fire at various times. She made some incredible shots that bailed me out when I was playing shitty, so we balanced out well.

By this point, unusual things were happening around the court. For one, I came this close to titling this post "Brokebocce Mountain": Hot Legs was not the only HL in attendance, as Heath Ledger was there with some friends. Beth and I were referring to this whole group of people who seemed to be with him, but I'm not sure if they all were, as "the Australians." I only know for sure that this one other dude we played against was an Aussie. I didn't hear anybody else talk.

Heath told me that he was there to research a role for a movie based on a true story. Giuseppe Frappatoli was a bocce champion in 1920s Italy who lost his rolling arm in an agricultural accident, then his wealthy and beautiful fiancee left him because she didn't want a one-armed husband. With a grueling course of training overseen by a grizzled old mentor named Silvio Bertucci, he learned to use his other arm, fell in love with a sweet, poor, one-eyed girl, and won a bocce gold medal in the 1928 Olympics (it was an exhibition sport).

OK, I made all that up. I didn't talk to Heath, but Love Touch was excited to be told by him that she has a "delicate touch." Her nickname fits! I was hoping we would get to play against him, but apparently it was taking too long to get to where he was on the list, so he went home. Hopefully he will be back another time as he seemed like a nice guy. While I was trying maybe too conspicuously to not look directly at him, I did catch him clapping for me and LT out of the corner of my eye, and that was exciting.

"The Australians," clustered around the court at the back of the bar, were definitely in our corner against the Lisms. And they seemed to be rooting for us to do well for maybe one or two games after that. But then our winning ways grew tiresome and they turned against us. I don't even know if it was the same bunch of people who were there when Heath Ledger was there, but by midnight people were booing us. By then, we were ready to go, but I was trying to hold out to play some Terrors, though that didn't end up happening. The most important thing was that it felt good to be playing well since the reason we were there was to practice, with our last match on Saturday and the playoffs in another week.

This morning, as I was contemplating our transformation from heroes to villains in the eyes of the crowd, I thought of a strategy for next time: if we've won two or three in a row, maybe ask the next two people on the list if it's OK for us to take a break from the court, let them play each other, and then step back on to play the winner. Some people might not go for that but it might be worth a try. Or maybe the answer is for Erik and Dani to build a bocce court in the back yard of their store. We could get heat lamps out there for the winter and have all Terrors-IYWMB action, all the time. I would totally chip in for construction and maintenance costs.

The guys who finally beat us last night were at Floyd about a month ago on another Love Touch-Balltrap "reign of Rodness" night. We beat them twice that time. They had never played before, and their instinct was to roll/throw really hard every time. Last night they showed some serious improvement and newly learned subtlety. They shellacked us 7-3. They were crediting us with teaching them how to play and being their mentors, so I likened it to when Darth Vader strikes down Obi Wan Kenobi, with the important exception that Darth Vader is evil, and they are good guys.

This Saturday, Excessive Force better be ready for a focused and finely tuned Rod squad.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Tough Match

Match 7 of this fine Fall Season was an interesting one. Almost a little too interesting. The Beeyotcces took a 4-1 lead in the first game. Team Rod came roaring back on the stength of the strong play of Young Turk to take a 5-4 lead. Unfortunately, we couldn't close it out and two straight wallballs led to a 3 point frame and a 7-5 Game 1 defeat.

Game 2 saw the Beeyotcces take a 3-0 lead. Team Rod began to get worried. I mean, the Beeyotcces couldn't even field a whole team and had to recruit a soccer fan at the bar to play with them and we were losing? However, it turned out that the ringer they stumbled upon is known in parts of TN as a skeeball champion.

And apparently, skeeball skills translate well to the bocce court.

Oh well, no matter.

Team Rod is too damn strong. We went on a run of dominance and the Beeyotcces didn't know what hit them. 7 straight points and Game 2 was ours 7-3. Reason to Believe, Sweet Little Rock and Roller, Young Turk, and yours truly all rolled really really well.

In Game 3, I stayed with the same team from Game 2. We took a quick 5-0 lead and I thought that would be it. But the Beeyotcces have a lot of heart. They came back to tie the game at 5. What was happening?

Fortunately, we found it within us to scratch out two more points, one at a time, and we won 7-5.

It was one of the most tense matches we've played all season. We felt good to be able to notch another victory against such strong competition. The Beeyotcces rolled really well. We were pretty good. We all made a few mistakes here and there but when push came to shove, Team Rod emerged victorious again.

RVP: Sweet Little Rock and Roller
Although Young Turk and, dare I say it, Hot Legs, could have easily taken the 12 inches of Rod as well.

Moment where it all began to turn around: When Reason to Believe busted out the Rod on his cellphone.

Record: 6-1

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Young Turk

Athlete Name: Sujan
Nickname: Young Turk
Age: 30
Birthplace: Queens, NY

Began playing bocce: Our team captain was unceremoniously dumped
from the Coffee Flats Terrors after being part of their championship
season and then started a new team with the other two “untouchables.”

Training regiment: kimchi, bloody marys, dancing (poorly)

What got you into the sport: I wanted to lose weight and get into
the shape.

Where do you find the inspiration: My teammates and Keith Hernandez.

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: Making shots / Slowing down the game.

What do you look for in a set of balls: Roundness.

What is your overall bocce philosophy: Don’t roll on an empty stomach.

Greatest Bocce Moment: Making it to the finals of Summer ’06.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sweet Little Rock and Roller

Athlete Name: Sarah
Nickname: Sweet little rock and roller
Age: 27

Birthplace: New Jersey

Began playing bocce: I just couldn't stand NOT playing

Training regiment: 1 beer

What got you into the sport: Reason to Believe made me believe

Where do you find the inspiration: Rod

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: turn-on: kissing the pallino, turn-off: long warm-up regimens.

What do you look for in a set of balls: the evil eye

What is your overall bocce philosophy: go with your heart

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reason to Believe

Athlete Name: Reason to Believe
Nickname: Reason
Age: old enough to know better
Birthplace: in a Hospital

Began playing bocce: When I was just a pup

Training regiment: $2 Schlitz

What got you into the sport: $2 Schlitz

Where do you find the inspiration: $2 Schlitz

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: $2 Schlitz / slow deliberate bocce play

What do you look for in a set of balls: good veins

What is your overall bocce philosophy: Go with your heart

Greatest Bocce Moment: TBD

Famous Quote: How do you expect to run with wolves, when you spend all day playing with pups?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Balltrap

Athlete Name: Jim
Nickname: Balltrap
Age: 36
Birthplace: Pittsfield, MA

Began playing bocce: 2005

Training regiment: Rolling grapefruits across my kitchen floor nightly.

What got you into the sport: I was in jail, and The Rock came along and
formed a bocce team for especially troubled inmates. I had no choice
but to join.

Where do you find the inspiration: Beer. Sometimes, bourbon.

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: Ons: Rod Stewart's sweet golden voice. Offs: Teams
that take 20 minutes to prepare for each shot. Just roll the damn ball!

What do you look for in a set of balls: It's all about good heft.

Greatest Bocce Moment: Winning the Floyd league championship last
December, in my team's first season.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Handbags and Gladrags

Athlete Name: Dave
Nickname: Handbags & Gladrags
Age: 31
Birthplace: Chocolate City

Began playing bocce: In the womb

Training regiment: Two parts seltzer to one part cranberry juice. Garnish with lime.

What got you into the sport: Great-grandfather was on the gold medal-winning Russian side at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Where do you find the inspiration: My teammates are the only inspiration I need.

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: Yes.

What do you look for in a set of balls: Good heft and not too dusty.

What is your overall bocce philosophy: Nice and easy…..nice and easy.

Greatest Bocce Moment: Making a 9-year-old cry in front of his parents.

Famous Quote: “Everything changes everything.” -- Earl Weaver

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hot Legs

Athlete Name: Dan
Nickname: Hot Legs
Age: Forever Young
Birthplace: Gasoline Alley

Began playing bocce: When The Small Faces disbanded.

Training regiment: Kick off your shoes and sit right down. Loosen off that pretty French gown.

What got you into the sport: Blonde supermodels

Where do you find the inspiration: The American Songbook

Turn-ons: A well placed ball. I love ya honey!

Turn-offs: Taking forever to roll. Just go with it. Tonight’s the night.

What do you look for in a set of balls: Nice round ones.

What is your overall bocce philosophy: The first cut is the deepest.

Greatest Bocce Moment: December 2006

Famous Quote: I'll bring the red wine. You bring the ludes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Love Touch

Athlete Name: Beth
Nickname: Love Touch
Age: 30
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand

Began playing bocce: July 10th, 2006

Training regiment: Whiskey, potatoes and listening to Van Hagar’s Dreams

What got you into the sport: My love of Jim - The Balltrap

Where do you find the inspiration: George Mitchell

Turn-ons/Turn-offs: Banking / Straight Shooting

What do you look for in a set of balls: Smooth and even texture

What is your overall bocce philosophy: Follow your heart and bank the fuck out of everything.

Greatest Bocce Moment: Once I knocked one of Boccelism’s balls away from the pallino.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gettin' Hungry

While Floyd puts together their trading cards, I'd like to take this brief lull in the season to present to you the 8 members of the team - complete with trading card info.


Athlete Name: Adam
Nickname: "Gettin' Hungry"
Age: 32
Birthplace: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

Began playing bocce when: Spring ‘06

Training regiment: Two hours practice followed by 6 White Castle cheeseburgers

What got you into the sport: There's a lot of sitting and drinking involved

Where do you find the inspiration: Teammates and fans

What do you look for in a set of balls: Smoothness, heft, symmetry

Greatest Bocce Moment: Victory against the Coffee Flats Terrors

Famous Quote: "Let's order some Grimaldi's."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rod Loves Windmills

It was time to play. Hot Legs called out "Minigolf!" "Minigolf!" But there was no answer. Was it yet another team that was too afraid to feel the full fury of Rod? It did indeed seem that way.

So Team Rod started a scrimmage against New Kids on the Bocc (they must have thought that Floyd was Union Hall). This time with nothing but pride on the line, we began the scrimmage.

We didn't get too far when cries of "Hey we're Minigolf and ready to play" began ringing out through the vaunted halls of Floyd NY. It turns out that Minigolf were sitting at the bar and didn't hear my calls for them. And so it began. Better late than never.

They were good. But Rod was better. Much better. Minigolf might be a team to be reckoned with very soon but for now, Fall '06 is proving to be all Rod, all the time.

We took the first game 7-3. In the second game, we were down 4-1 before storming back and taking it 7-4. A 4 point frame from Gettin' Hungry and yours truly was the nail in Minigolf's coffin.

RVP: After shrugging off team philosophy to poor results in the first frame of the day, Handbags And Gladrags dominated the day. The Terrors may have a player who dresses as Maverick but we have our very own renegade sans jumpsuit. An RVP kind of renegade.

Record: 5-1

We have next week off. I might start posting our individual player profiles in the meantime.