With more new faces than old, the 2009 league looks wide open. That said, team captains have picked Off Constantly to repeat in the preseason power poll. Several captains did not respond by press time and may therefore have very short writeups (plus I ran out of ideas – 26 is a lot of teams)
Six days til opening night!!!!!
Derelicte My Balls
In the seminal case of N.W.A. v. The Police, Derelicte My Balls’ bowler EZ-E voiced his concern with what he believed to be the intrusive glare of the media with some uncharacteristic bravado. “Shining a light in my face and for what? Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt. I kick ass!” NWA v.The Police at 4:09. Part of the crush of attention may be due to Ez-E’s self proclaimed ability to ‘kick ass’, he did after all bring home one of only 12 Bowler of the Week trophies in 2008 (out of nowhere – his average was 113.9), but it has more to do with the fact that last year’s 2nd place regular season finishers lost no critical parts of their team, and have brought in a much-hyped rookie in Muskrat. There is also the inescapable spotlight that can’t help but be on a team captained by the league’s co-founder, Bubbles.
Herbie (134.5) and his balls are back, Silver Fox is ever more silver, and the team was able to solve it’s multiple-Betty disorder with one Sparkles. This team is not only a strong contender for the crown, they are widely considered the frontrunner for postgame champions. Last year, only K. Hungus rivalled their participation, and with Bubbles now viewing bowling night as her “trip to the big city”, her postgame-game will only get stronger.
Big Ern’s squad walked into the 2008 BowlPortland season with a sneering swagger. He walked out humbled – well, as much as Big Ern can ‘do’ humble. “This league is still garbage, we’ll take on anyone, anytime!” Vowing to improve on their 7th place finish, Big Ern unceremoniously dumped several players from his roster. He put the injury prone Chunk into jazzercise classes. But still, he was haunted by last year’s failure in his sleep. “You could hear the chants. Faintly at first, but then they grew louder. It was so hot, so sweaty, but the people kept coming, kept crowding around us. Then silence. The crowd parts, I don’t see why at first, but then, all of a sudden, it becomes clear. The BowlPortland Trophy! It’s coming our way! Oh my god, its being carried by none other than Rod Stewart! He’s singing Broken Arrow! This is the best day of my life. I hold the trophy, feel the cold metal pressed against my hands. I look at it… I read it… wait a minute. This says 4th place. They gave us a trophy for 4th place? This isn’t a dream. It’s a nightmare; one that my team has vowed to prevent from becoming a reality.”
The team may have a limited window, as Big Ern sees grander things for himself (professional bowling announcer), Rickety Cricket is fighting his urge to leave the circuit and design man-purses, Bird could pull a Ricky Williams any second and seek enlightenment, and Chunk isn’t getting any younger. Still, they plan to burst through that window like the house was on fire.
“The newbies won’t be able to handle the pressure. We’ve got the experience, and we’ve had a year of waiting for vengeance. Playa’ please, we’ve been spooning our bowling balls at night since last April. We wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Throughout history, when one kingdom sought a bond with another, there would be an arranged marriage between royal families. So what to make then, of Binga’s captain Danny Diesel’s union with Off Constantly’s Knuffi? Add to that the fact that Diesel openly admits that he has been dreaming of euthanizing people and you have a psychodrama too complex for a BowlPortland scribe to untangle.
Binga’s has garnered a lot of respect from opposing coaches, finishing second in the preseason poll, and they claim they have the juice to back up such lofty projections. “Honestly I’ve been bowling with some team members lately and don’t see us finishing outside of the top 3… I’d say that the bingas wingas are destined for glory this upcoming season, be on the look out!”
Well, if rankings hold to form, and Binga’s meets OC in the finals, and it comes down to one roll from Knuffi, will the Diesel choose love or pride? Stay tuned.
Miss Moxie’s squad comes into the league wide-eyed and eager. Their knowledge of BP 2008 is limited -“We know nothing. Nothing at all” -but they are full of hope as they step into the great unknown. Perhaps it’s because they watch a lot of uplifting sports movies, and expect to follow in the same vein. “We will start out not doing so well…then we will invest in a coach who will make us bowl non-stop for 3 days (extreme bowl-o-rama). He’ll most likely make us run the tire running drill too, which we won’t quite understand. All this will happen while ‘eye of the tiger’ plays on repeat in the background. We’ll make a massive comeback, but it will most likely be too late and we’ll end up somewhere in the middle. Still, our confidence will improve and while we won’t be the champions we’ll be happy with our success after a sappy conversation in the locker room… er, bathroom. whatever.”
When the training montage is playing, pay close attention to the screen, for this team is bringing an unprecedented number of bowlers – 9! As other teams wear down, The Hypers will just roll out wave after wave of fresh arms. Miss Moxie admits that not all of her players have great skills (“I recruited in finger painting classes and adult ed hip-hop classes”), but there is a lot to be said for sheer quantity – and for a captain in Miss Moxie who plans to lead by example. “I had a dream that I bowled a turkey. Then I ate it. With stuffing and cranberry sauce. It was delicious.” Her fascinating, ravenous example.
The Nihilist shifted back in his chair, drawing from his pipe as he pondered the question. A smile begin to come accross his face, and he leaned forward, placed his elbows on his knees, exhaled an exquisite smoke ring and said sonorously “I believe the phrase that best describes us is…sexual carpentry”.
For a new team, the Gutterballs have quickly made a mark, most notably when two corporate sponsors fought over the team. (The Nihilist took the Solomonic approach, and they have agreed to be ‘shared’.) He further shared his opinions in a fascinating interview.
BP: How did you decide to take on the responsibility of being a captain?
The Nihilist: Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
BP: Interesting. Have you told your players that this season is about soul searching?
The Nihilist: Don’t believe your friends when they ask you to be honest with them. All they really want is to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves.
BP: Hmm. Well, do you feel you know your strengths as a captain?
The Nihilist: At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.
BP: OK. Do you feel you have a good grasp of the rules?
The Nihilist: Integrity has no need for rules.
BP: Great – any final thoughts?
The Nihilist: The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.
If the Sweet Rolls were a convict, they’d have LOVE tattooed on one set of knuckles and HATE on the other, but HATE would be in smaller letters, with a heart after it, and they’d probably hold that hand behind their back when you talked to them. It’s just enough of an edge to keep them competitive, but nowhere near enough to interfere with the overwhelmingly positive nature of the squad. Team captain Sugar (nee Shenner Lee) has opened up a new venue for her loving ways by starting her own team. If she’s the “LOVE” fist, teammate Frenchie, who she brought with her from last year’s team for a competitive edge, is the little “HATE” fist – the edge, the bitter to the team’s sweet. “In terms of congeniality and sweetness, we’ll definitely be number one!” Sugar beamed. “Our dreams have been gory and violent” added Frenchie.
Joining this strange dichotomy are several newcomers: Baby Ruth, Sugar Daddy, Candyman and Honey. Sticky sweet. At this point it is unclear how the new rollers break down in terms of the fists. I would venture to say they lean LOVE (though two are attorneys, so one never knows). The Sweet Rolls goals are modest “25th place – we won’t finish last!” Here’s betting that after you play them, you’ll hope they finish higher. You may even want to marry them.
- Interesting subplot: Sweet Rolls are wearing the same colors as Off Constantly, and the champs are fuming. Sweet Rolls has no intention of backing down but would be willing to “hug it out”
Purple Haze’s 2008 season was defined by three things: zero votes in the preseason poll, The Dude’s white Dexter shoes, and an inspiring run in the playoffs. This year the shoes are gone, and they got some votes, so the focus is on building on last year’s playoff run. The team lost BowlPortland’s youngest player, but acquired some seasoned talent in the signings of Hendrix, plus couple Arnie and Tootsie (who are commuting from Bath, helping bridge BowlPortland’s route to the midcoast).
The Dude sets a mellow tone – “we don’t have the killer instinct of an Off Constantly” – and collects veterans like a numismatist collects kroner – “we don’t have the youth and experience of a BEER or a Derelicte”- but thinks his calmer, wiser squad will be just fine. “I predict a top 10 finish…let’s say 9th“. The team does open up against arch-rival BEER, and is the third ranked team amongst the sibling captained trio of BEER, DMB and Haze. But they feel confident their regimen of going to bed early and less procreating will pay off. “We want to win, and win our way. OC may have won last year, but they were like Drago in Rocky IV – arrogant, ruthless, and full of roids- we want to show that a mellower style can prevail, so we feel we are not only playing for our own success, but for a better world for tomorrow’s bowlers”. Peace out, Haze.
No expansion team has been as discussed as this Teutonic bunch. Captain Uli has been all over the Smack-talk boards, going so far as to take shots at Varipapa, The Dirty Half Dozen’s man-god. “Was ist den los? If they are offended by that, I shudder to think of how they’d react to our S & M films involving latex, intricate knotwork and Scheisse”. This is the kind of talk that will get your team noticed. They also have picked up a lot of preseason consideration for their bowling, though Uli is a bit more circumspect than some of the voters. “I would never betray my team’s confidence with anything outside of the top 10 – humility never being an advantage in athletic pursuits. But I would likewise never expect too much of a bunch of rookies who will more than likely knock down more ounces of High Life than pins on any given night.”
As part of preparation, Uli has asked his crüe for discipline, even in their sleep. “No romantic consummations in your dreams, it is too draining” he implored. His team seems ready and able to obey – they are an efficient bowling machine; they are precision German engineering. But they also have a limited window. “In five years, our team will have matching beerguts and sunglasses, as well as V.I.P. status at Yankee Lane’s attached Ladies’/Gentleman’s Club.” They will try to strike while the iron is hot.
Three Fingered Willies
Dirk McLucky boldly stepped forward to captain this year’s melting pot team. He put on an air of confidence in his ability to mold a group of strangers into a cohesive bowling unit, but his dreams have betrayed his anxiety. “I have a recurring dream of being naked at work. I’ll be at work, carrying on a conversation with a co-worker, butt-ass naked, but no one else seems to notice. I certainly am aware of it and keep trying to subtly cover up my nakedness while simultaneously trying not to draw attention to said nakedness. Awkward to say the least.” In a sense he is going in ‘naked’ – he has no idea what he has for a team.
Into the void strides The Pin Whisperer, more legend than man. Last year he opened up the season as Bowler of the Week, then spent the rest of the season struggling under the hype and expectations, chasing past glory. After a tumultuous offseason that involved his being traded from BEER, he’s coming in confident, buoyed by the arrival of trainer and fiancée, Schizo. Also on the team is a man who apparently has all the confidence in the world, believing he can even single-handedly change the name of a neighborhood. That man is The Munj.
It is a fascinating mix of young and old. If Big Papa K plays the role of steadying father figure they could contend.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gutter
Some teams talk a lot. Others think actions speak louder than words. Some teams boast. Others are self-deprecating. Some teams are themed, some teams are a loose collection of individuals. I.C.B.I.N.G. is a quiet, self-deprecating collective. The team has had a lot of turbulence coming together, as Guttercup left the league after Hungus mistakenly threw away her check. Either that, or because she saw that this team was being thrown to the wolves in their first season by being placed in the Group of Death. Team captain Peanut Gutter was far less intimidated by the grouping. “To be the best, you have to beat the best,” he chuckled. “I had a dream about the season, and I woke up laughing. That’s how easy things will be for us”.
Some scouts are concerned about the fact that each player except Monkey Butter has the word ‘Gutter” in their name (Peanut Gutter, Gutterface, Princess Gutterball, Gutter Ball and Gutterfinger), but league sources say that is merely an attempt to throw up a smokescreen. Peanut Gutter seemed to brush off any projections or analysis with his final statement before leaving the podium at media day. “Look, we’ll finish somewhere between 1 and 26, and in five years, the same. We plan to do some drinking and some bowling. Hell, it beats playing boot at USM. If I’m going to puke on Tuesdays, I’d rather it be from alcohol than from exercise.”
Strikes of Hazzard
Just two good old boys, never meanin’ no harm…
Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law�
Since the day they was born.�
Straightenin’ the curves, flattenin’ the hills…�
Someday the mountain might get ’em but the law never will.
Makin’ their way, the only way they know how…�
That’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.�
Just two good ol’ boys, wouldn’t change if they could,
Fightin’ the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods
Chupacabra had a tough 2008. His team finished near the bottom of the standings, and then the women on his team left for greener pastures. He put on a brave face, but admitted in an episode of Real Sports that it has been hard on him: “I got into heroin. I came this close to ODing on speedballs”. Well, this year he hopes to author a heartwarming redemption tale. He has brought in enough new talent that he thinks he could finish in the top ten. Uncle Buck and Bones have been rocks for him since the intervention.
With new players, new colors, and a new team name, anything is possible. We’re proud of you Chupacabra. You can do it!
Maine Yacht presents a conundrum. They were brought into the league by Off Constantly. Does that mean they will just be Washington Generals to OC’s Globetrotters? Or did OC bring them in because they wanted to be pushed? Or did they realize this was the best place to drink on Tuesdays? Their arrival is a mystery, but what isn’t a mystery is that this team will treat gamenight as a wild one-day shoreleave.
Team Captain Sextant claims she has been consistently dreaming of flying, skimming just above the water. Freud thought that since fluids are involved in sexual activities, at times, water in dreams has sexual connotations. Her name is Sextant, and this team features a Boom Kin and a Boom Vang. And a Hawse Pipe. What did I say about shore leave?
They claim to see this year as part of a five year building plan leading to a title by 2014. But everyone knows sailors are hard to pin down in one place, so they may have to move faster. Their life, their love and their lady, is the sea.
AG Rollers captain The Alley likes to use the phrase “Mindf&*%” a lot. During her media day interview, it became clear that ‘mind’ was short hand for Ricky Martin. This team is all about Latin loving. Many of The Alley’s responses to questions drifted off into lyrical odes to her dream lover.
BP: Welcome to the league. You mentioned you know next to nothing about last season, so, to start do you have any questions for me?
TA: “Til I find you, feel you, breath you, touch you, taste your truth
And I… never going to stop til I get to you!”
BP (blushing): I’m flattered. But back to bowling…
TA: Let me love you for a day Let me have you for a night
Let me take you far away Into forever…
ay, ay, ay I don’t wanna let you go Let me undress your soul
Ay, ay, ay… I can take you to another world Never go
Let me take you home tonight
BP: This is awkward. Um (giggles and shifts in chair), how do you think your team will do this year?
TA: We’ll walk together Through the fire
Through the darkness To the sun
Like two raging rivers full of passion
BP: (smiles, loosens tie) OK, can we turn off the cameras?
This team remains a mystery. They were the last of the 26 teams to secure a spot in the league, and did so by dropping off a bag of one dollar bills on the Commissioner’s doorstep, with a simple note written with letters cut out from magazines: “here is the money, we bowl, no funny stuff”.
They have not been seen since. No responses to press inquiries, no appearances at the lanes, nothing. So, we will simply have to wait and see what this team is all about.
As a commissioner, Karl Hungus has a gentle touch, but as a captain, he has proven to be quietly ruthless. In the offseason he released the Pin Whisperer for “lack of commitment”. In his stead, the team signed Cheddar, an injury squad player from 2008 who fought his way to the starting lineup. Next in the purge was Tom Richards, who Hungus swore to “ruin” after Richards missed the quarterfinals, costing BEER a chance to advance. Fearing his unchecked despotism could continue, Roy G Biv and Filthy McNasty sat Karl down and plied him with Wild Turkey until he backed down and allowed Richards to stay. With Richards re-signed, his wife The Bishop came back too, and was particularly excited for the change of team colors from black and gold to red. “We’ll roll like we’re on fire!”. True that.
The team was rocked when Fern signed on to BowlWashington, making any appearances with BEER unlikely, but she has not rules out an occasional return, so opposing teams will still have to prepare accordingly. Finally, as of press time, the team is in negotiations to bring in much-hyped rookie “Bus Girl”.
This provocatively named team has garnered a lot of preseason hype, finishing 5th in the preseason poll. “We are going to prove them SO wrong” lamented team captain Trixie. We’ll assume she meant they are looking to finish much higher.
The team did not respond to any other preseason press inquiries, so we will have to wait and see what they are all about.
Young and the Bowled
There are rumors these guys have a major corporate sponsor. There are rumors they are the league’s most politically powerful unit. There are rumors that they have called the league “weak” and sit around drinking absinthe pondering what they will do with the trophy once they win. There are rumors that they lost one player to a tragic poprocks and cola accident. There are rumors they aren’t even real people.
As they have not responded to any press inquiries, we’ll assume all the rumors are true.
The SauPo are playing it cool heading into 2009. It was widely agreed to that their low playoff finish was incredibly misleading, and that they were a force to be reckoned with going forward. They have stayed quiet, which makes them scary. BowlPortland wants to shake them and scream “why won’t you say anything! Talk to me dammit” but it won’t.
SauPo was initially angered about being left out of the Power Family division, given that there is no team more about family, but perhaps it was due to some signs that the family ties are loosening. R Sauce dropped the family name to become Walter. That will be a story worth monitoring, for this team drew it’s strength from its family cohesiveness.
Everyone’s favorite team in 2008, Three Livers will be back, but with a very different look. Gone are Maude and Hank, back are Bernie, Wilma and new captain Pearl. Taking on the impossible task of filling Hank’s shoes is Fred, who promises to be a presence on Tuesdays.
With 3L not responding to the preseason survey, we took the liberty of calling up Bernie for a few quick questions.
BP: Hi Bernie.
BP: How’s the offseason treated you?
BP: Anything you think will be different going into this season?
BP: Thanks for your time and insight, Bernie.
Dick Liquor is a troubled teenage youth from the wrong side of the tracks in Portland who finds himself on his own after he is thrown out of his own house. He finds a place to stay in the posh home of Oz and on the top team of Off Constantly, the O.C. Dick Liquor is accepted by the stern but compassionate Oz, a bowler who beat Dick in the past. But Oz’s girl, Honey Bunny, aware of Dick’s criminal history, is wary of this new house guest. Oz’s son Tron bonds with Dick Liquor quickly and shows him the ropes of the community and vice versa for Dick giving advice to Tron about life and love. Dick develops a crush on Knuffi a neighbor girl who lives down the street and has problems with her not-so-sheltered existence in dealing with her distant father Number One. Also, Knuffi’s best friend is oblivious to the crush that Tron has on her, while taking a liking to Dick Liquor. And so begins a new season for Dick, Oz and Honey Bunny, Number One, and basically everyone else in the wealthy, picturesque, secretive, turbulent community of BowlPortland.
Happy Hands Productions
Featuring some excellent woodmen, HHP returns looking for the hardware. All real. No actors.
Last year, Sasha Northfield’s bunch walked the fine line of in your face competitiveness and, well, a different sort of ‘in your face’. They look strong again in 2009, but there are two areas of concern: first, Poppy Wildwood is gone, and secondly, adult actors don’t age well. Our ‘scouting’ indicates there’s still plenty of good showings left.
Dirty Half Dozen
Back for vengeance after last year’s second place finish, DHD insisted on ‘cutting through the media filter’ and giving their answers directly to the people.
BP: What is the most important lesson you learned in year one of Bowlportland?
DHD: Never bring a knife to a gunfight.
BP: What was your most vivid dream in the last month
DHD: It was blue-black pre-dawn. The skunks that crawled the train tracks at night were trundling pungently back home. The birds were quiet. I was in the street, eating Twizzlers.
Just then, a wheezing city bus pulled up to the curb and deposited an old, rotund man, his hair disheveled, wearing an unbuttoned cardigan and voluminous pants astride his navel. In his left hand was a pair of shoes. A dark leather satchel hung heavily from his right, and he clambered down the stairs with considerable effort. The bus belched away. He looked at me for a while.
“I’m Mr. Varipapa,” he said.
“I know who you are.”
“I got some advice for you, pal.” He seemed friendly enough, though he didn’t smile.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“Don’t bowl like a chump.”
“Well, man,” I said, “I just roll what I know.”
“Oh,” he said. Then he turned and walked away, his ball clanking heavily in its leather bag. I had another Twizzler and watched the streetlights begin to blink off, one by one.
I sure showed him.
BP: Where do you see yourself finishing, from 1-26?
DHD: Whatever’s above #1, that’s us.
BP: IF you weren’t bowling, what would your team be doing this winter?
BP: Any team you really want to beat?
DHD: REMATCH, REMATCH, REMATCH
BP: Any additional comments?
DHD: The Dirty Half Dozen knows you’re all working hard to put strikes on your family.
Great Lost Spares, Urban Achievers, Incredibowls
None of these teams responded to any preseason inquiries, and all are new, so we know little about them. The Spares did not respond to preseason media inquiries. They are the spawn of last year’s ill-fated $3 Gutterballs. The Pinstigator has vowed to put last season behind her, and is pretty in pink. The Urban Achievers are a darkhorse contender, given the psychotic drive and focus of its captain J Hammer. They also feature the one Turd Ferguson. This leads to the Incredibowls, whose Turd Ferguson wannabe had to become Poops McGee. We know nothing else of this squad, except that they serve as a sort of JV for Happy Hands Productions.