Season Preview, Part I

Bowling season is nigh.  There are some holidays between now and then, and the turning of the calendar to 2008, but throughout the Portland area minds are focused on bowling.  Visions of strikes dance through the childrens’ minds.  Bowling shoes are suddenly at the top of every Christmas list.  Seriously.  I know for a fact that several teams have been practicing.  Practice?  Holy cow, Bubbles and I have created a monster.  Preseason trash talk has been brewing – particularly hot is the week 1 Maroon-off between Spare Us and the Dirty Half Dozen.  Players have been stolen, insults have been traded.  3 Livers went from lording their teal jerseys over the league, to having to wear Navy.  This will be the first time they hear that teal is back on.  They handled the transition well.  I’ve interviewed all the Captains for our season preview, and the results were fascinating.  Several teams were so confident in their ability they didn’t bother naming a top 5.  Fears ranged from rabid opossums to 7-10 splits.  There are brash teams, and quietly confident teams.  Goofy teams and dead serious teams.  The league seems to believe that Off Constantly is way ahead of the pack going into the year, but how will they handle the pressure of being such a heavy favorite?  Purple Haze is so far below the radar they’ve crashed into the ground.  One player that draws the ire of many is Big  Ern of the Pinups.  He’s got two teams focused solely on taking him down.So, here are your preseason team capsules for BowlPortland 2008.  Given that there are 12 teams, I have associated each team with the symbol of the zodiac I feel best represents them  $3 Gutterballs (Aries)

They say there is no “I” in team. Well, I’ll just have to take their word on that, but I have checked and there is no “I” in $3 Gutterballs, even if you spell out “three” and “dollar”. Ironic then that this team is so focused on individuals.

This team enters play with a veritable hit-list of follks they want to take down. First up, Big Ern of The Pinups. They acknowledged the strength of his squad, all but surrendering to them, but pledged to beat Big Ern personally. Next, Hungus. Angered over a perceived color slight they took aim at the BEER captain. At least they had confidence that they could indeed down BEER.

Finally, they hate that guy from law school who, during a three on three basketball game, “publicly, through his actions, admitted that he was an utter pussy; that, on top of already being recognized as a douche bag.” Their enmity toward individuals they believe wronged them is not limited to the league. The question is, can they harness that anger, and focus on the lanes.

Often, anger is just an expression of fear, and the Gutterballs have many fears. They fear wounded soldiers at the lanes. “Someone paid for those beers.”. They fear Dan Agro, the Captain of Spare Us, because of his name. And listen to Two Hole Joel’s description of Binga’s. “The fact that they will not disclose the team members frankly scares the shit out of me.”

So, this team is a raging inferno of angst. Can they contain and channel that energy?  If so, the rest of the league should look out on the lanes. If not, the rest of the league should watch their backs in the parking lot.

Derelicte My Balls (Scorpio)

As if the name of this team didn’t already set an aggressive tone, they will be wearing red jerseys. “It’s a strong color, and makes me feel like dancing”, noted team Captain Bubbles. Red is also the color of passion, and Bubbles noted she has some fear that it may arouse a bit too much sexual tension in rival teams. 

Like the $3 Gutterballs, this team wants to take down Big Ern, but in this case it comes in the form of a dance challenge. The challenge also extended to Off Constantly. In fact, this team desperately wants to beat Off Constantly in several different ways (drum…cymbal).

Back to bowling, this passionate squad has their sights set on “the Dirty Half Dozen for being so demanding, and the Saucy Posse for their silly rhyme”. Bubbles preaches defense, taking it to such an extreme that her favorite sports memory is being so focused on defense and rebounding in youth basketball that when confronted with a pass she just grabbed the ball and ran downcourt, dribbling be damned. In most sports, that kind of dedication to defense pays dividends. It is yet to be seen how defensive bowling pans out.

Binga’s Wingas (Capricorn)

The slingin’ wingas are the mystery team of BowlPortland.  They have no fears, and refuse to single out just one team to beat. They will wear yellow as an ironic joke, for they are anything but.

There aren’t any specific players to point to as leaders – this team doesn’t even have a captain (though it does have a benevolent benefactor quietly observing his creation from the shadows).  There are only three wings, and three tenders. No primadonnas, no vegetables. A series of interchangeable parts with no ego, no emotion, mercilessly focused on bowling domination.

As Two Hole Joel pointed out “that mango diesel under their balls gives them that extra oomph”. One can easily understand why it would.

Purple Haze (Libra)

Loose, relaxed, grinning – that’s how Purple Haze enters the season.  This team is really going to enjoy itself.  The Purple Peyote Eaters have no expectations, but phenomenal chemistry.  Two pairs of married bowlers, a Lefty, and the youngest player in the league to boot, keeping them all hip.  I sat down with their Captain, The Dude, to get his take on the upcoming season.

Hungus:  Hey Dude.

Dude: Mind if I do a j?

H: No problem.  Do you have any fears heading into the season?

D: I love purple, man.

H: Is that a fear?

D: Bowling balls, man.  What if a truck with bowling balls spilled, and I was crushed with 16 lb bowling balls?

H: Yeah, that would hurt – nice point.

D: Well, I could handle it.  I once ran really fast.  Mind if I do a j?

H You already asked that.

D:  I mean another one.

This team could do well.

Dirty Half Dozen (Leo)

The DHD doesn’t brook fools, and they fear clowns.  They know what they want, and will do whatever it takes to get it.  They saw a player they wanted who lived all the way off in Rockland, and they persuaded him to commute.  They wanted a banjo player, and the lured Harlyn P from team BEER with the “alluring scent of sheer magic”.  They wanted to save cash, so the brazenly ignored the deadline and found a sponsor – in North Haven.  Finally, they wanted Maroon, and they took it, and are pissed that “Spare Me swiped our scheme”.  Things could be dicey in the week 1 Maroon-off.

Their team captain Riggs demands perfection, and does not tolerate pain in his dojo.  He does not allow the thought of losing to seep into the minds of his players, saying that there is no word for losing in his language.  His predicted order of finish in BowlPortland?  “Dirty Half Dozen first.  What else matters after first?”

This team may leave a trail of hurt feelings on the maple, but they are single-minded and will block out the wailing of the vanquished. 

Saucy Posse (Taurus)

The family.  If you cross one member of the Saucy Posse, expect a knock on your door in the middle of the night, then a swift pipe to the knee, Nancy Kerrigan style.  This team combines the closeness of the Mansons with the confidence of LL Cool J.  They just might knock you out.  Why?  Because their mama said to knock you out, that’s why.

These guys are taking dead aim at Happy Hands Productions.  As is said in Rushmore “get them in your sights, and take them down”.  They have a track record to back up their tough talk.  These guys once knocked a girl out at a lacrosse game forcing the entire state of Maine to adopt protective headgear rules for girls lacrosse.  Yeah, you heard me, they knocked a girl out!  As a family, always as a family.

They have a preseason plan to run the score up on everyone, Belichick style.  They think they will finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th.  Maybe there are more Sauciers than we know about.  And when one of the non-family members, Frank, was called out for his non-creative name, they took it as an insult to all of them, quickly adopting Frank as one of their own. 

They will wear navy shirts, and do fear that they might not look fabulous in them.  However, if they don’t, you probably shouldn’t tell them.  They just might knock you out.

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