After a fascinating season, we have reached the playoffs. For the 20 teams playing this week, it’s win or go home (well, not exactly – I will probably still have all 26 lanes available next Tuesday). Win and you’re in the Sweet 16. So some of you will be sitting with a half empty bottle of scotch, looking over at your bowling shirt wondering “what-if” while the rest of you keep going and hopefully have something to keep you distracted until winter actually gets out of here. Seven of the ten games are rematches of regular season games. Three are first time matchups. All promise to be full of drama and alcohol. I think several will be one or two point games. Here we go…
#16 Purple Haze vs #17 Three Livers
This is the closest matchup by seed, and the winner has the unenviable task of taking on Binga’s Wingas in the Sweet 16. But neither of these teams will be looking ahead when they face each other on Tuesday.
The Haze got a little confidence boost with an opening game win over Binga’s in Week 10, and have the potential to be a tough out. The Dude rolled well this year, but ceded his role as top performer to newcomer Arnie. Unfortunately you never know when Arnie will show up (literally). Lefty and I-Moan have proven maddeningly inconsistent, but the fact remains they have both proven capable of 190+ games. Lulu has been one of the league’s most improved players, and Tootsie will look to come through with one big game.
Three Livers has made a strong push to defend their Most Fun Team title despite lots of offseason roster moves. Big Hank and Maude are off in Vermont harvesting Alpaca fur or something, but replacements Ruth and Flo do not play or drink like rookies. Pearl has taken over managerial (and driver) duties, freeing up Wilma and Bernie to focus on their games (and drinking). It has paid off – Wilma finished the season as the top woman in the league, and “Charlie Ward” Bernie has been getting a playoff edge to him the last few weeks.
This should be a great matchup, it’s just a shame one of these Original 10 teams will have their season end so soon. Purple Haze showed some playoff moxie last year working with a much lower seed, so I am going to pick them in a close one, by the same score they won by in Week 6. A Three Livers loss will give them more time to work on their moves for the danceoff – not that they need it.
Purple Haze 9 Three Livers 6
#15 Saucy Posse vs #18 Die Gassenjungen
“SauPo is a 15 seed?” you’re asking yourself. Yeah, it’s a surprise for a team that many picked to win the Pacific and who were in the Power Poll as recently as week 8. SauPo sees the playoffs as an apportunity to wipe the slate clean. Led by Walter and N Sauce, the Posse can roll out some big guns at the top of the lineup, but it really comes down to the bench. Hot Sauce and Special Sauce have been all over the map, with Hot Sauce having a few more good games. Family Jewels has proven sowewhat consistent in the 100 range. Having Kathy Nash back could help a lot.
Uli leads the Gassenjungen to the playoffs in his first season as a Captain. He has admitted that he had no idea what the season would throw at him and he has learned a lot. This is a tough draw at 18. Uli finished in the top 10 and should have a great personal back and forth with Walter in this game, but his team hasn’t shown a lot of depth. Josef has had his moments, and should have a good matchup with N Sauce. After that it’s a crapshoot. Tillie, Ichtanzegern and Felty have proven to be excellent and alluring teammates, but uneven bowlers. And Dieter is as predictable as a roulette wheel.
This is a very intriguing matchup with Walter and Uli headlining, but I’m going to give the edge to the experienced Posse. They were eliminated in the first round last year and are eager to erase that sting.
Sauce Posse 9.5 Die Gassenjungen 5.5
#14 Young and the Bowled vs #19 Incredibowls
When the Incredibowls edged the YBs 8.5 to 6.5 in Week 4 it barely registered a blip on the BowlPortland radar. The Incredibowls had started kind of fast but weren’t putting up huge numbers, and the YBs had yet to win, looking like a potential bottom feeder. A lot has changed in seven weeks.
The YoungUns have surged into 14th place with a late season run second only to the magical Balls. Freshy Fresh burst onto the scene with a postivie energy and breathing exercises, Senator ITZ mastered Roberts’ Rules of Kicking Ass, and Special K provided the leadership to keep all 14 rollers pulling in the same direction. RR and Large Marge have been the glue of this team, and Queequeg the emotional firebrand that keeps his team motivated. It is impossible to predict who will show up for this one.
The Incredibowls have been a great addition to the league. They have brought dance and postgaming in good measure. Shank has transformed from a Silver Fox to a merciless weapon and Red Hot Hands Ryan has steadily improved after early season struggles. Boston generally leads the team in scoring, and will need to come up big to hang with the Senator. Poops and Tits have created endless amounts of joy in the league merely with their names, and Sweet Baby Lue has shown flashes of brilliance.
This game really is a tossup, but I will go with the team that is on hot streak. These teams have also drawn each other in the first round of the danceoff, so a rivalry could be budding.
Young and the Bowled 8 Incredibowls 7
#13 Great Lost Spares vs #20 Hyper-Bowl-E
Lots of eyebrows were raised when Pinstigator took her awesome name and ventured off to form her own team. She poached Spinella to give her some continuity, and then brought in Pin Fall Wizard. When forced to add a man, she signed the indefatigable Capt. Meatstick, a man pushing for a promotion to Admiral Meatstick. Her team has been wildly erratic – at one point appearing in the Power Poll, at another point putting up the lowest scores in the league. Pinstigator put the team on the right track with her awesome 204 in week 7, and ever since the Spares have steadily climbed back up the rankings, finishing in the top half.
Their opponent is Hyper-Bowl-E. Miss Moxie brought in the biggest roster to BowlPortland, and has used those numbers to overcome the loss of K-Ron to the wood nymphs. These turkey-hat sporting upstarts never know where their top score is coming from, which is good and bad. Old Man Winter, Yo Pleau and Lois Lanes have been quiet workhorses. Michael Bowlton has been an excellent show pony.
These are two women led teams, both on and off the lanes. I have a very hard time making a predicition in this one. I really want to predict an upset as Miss Moxie’s team is playing loose right now, but the Pinstigator has seen the playoffs before, and though it’s getting trite, I’m going with experience again. Newcomers can’t help but be a little awestruck at the bright lights of the playoffs.
Great Lost Spares 8 Hyper-Bowl-E 7
#12 Gutterballs vs #21 Happy Hands Productions
Twice I have begun to write this game capsule. Twice I have lost the document. What’s going on here? I feel like I should stay away from this game now. The Nihilist is – he may be out of town for his team’s playoff game. That would be a killer for some teams but Lolo, Cliff, Gigi, and Hildo have won without him before. They are quite self sufficient.
Last year’s Hands squad were frustrated not to make the finals. This year’s edition may be happy just to make it out of the first round. Sasha has yet to recapture the 2008 magic, but is doing an awesome job planning the BowlPortland Bowling Ball, Friday, April 10th, 8-midnight! Jasper has shown some signs of life lately.
I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I picked all favorites, so here’s my upset pick. I think the team has really come together in the face of the Mitten Woodmore gender-scandal. Unfortunately for whoever wins, a second round matchup with defending champs Off Constantly awaits.
HHP 8.5 Gutterballs 6.5
#11 Sweet Rolls vs #22 Strikes of Hazzard
Sugar and Frenchy took a big gamble going out on their own this season, and it seems to be paying off. The Yin and Yang of the Sweet Rolls have done solid recruiting and then led by example. Nobody, NOBODY, celebrates a strike like these guys. Honey and Baby Ruth have been soplid contributors all year as well, but the twin towers of Candyman and Sugar Daddy have been the feature story. These two have been tied in the stats all year, and have lifted each other up to the edge of the leaderboard.
The Strikes started slow, which is appropriate given that they usually are late to every game. Then they picked up some momentum with two straight wins before being smacked back down in week 9 by the Sweet Rolls. Roscoe has shed the Daisy Dukes and picked up his game, and Crazy Cooter has paced the team in their late season improvement. But there are a lot of questionmarks. Which Vance will show up? What to expect from Mizz Tizz and Mabel? Whither Boss Hogg?
These are hybrid teams, expansion squads with veteran leaders. I’ll go with the Sweet Rolls since they just won this matchup handily a week ago.
Sweet Rolls 10 Strikes of Hazzard 5
#10 BEER vs #23 ICBING
The acronym squads faceoff in this first round game, a rematch of a resounding 13-2 BEER victory in week 6. BEER Captain Karl Hungus has got his hands full managing this one. Hacksaw Tom Richards and his lovely wife the Bishop of Bowl are scheduled to arrive at the airport only 30 minutes before gametime. With Fern monitoring AIG and Roy not pulling out of the Big City anytime soon, BEER comes in with just 4. Filthy McNasty looks to recapture his BOTW glory, and Queen Biscuit will gamely take one for the team. The big news is the resurgance of Cheddar, back amongst the league titans after a short break. Thy just need to hope TR didn’t get too soused on the plane.
ICBING has got their bulletin board material. Ever the motivator, Peanut Gutter has portrayed the delay in GutterCup’s shirt into a real slight of his team. They are going to be fired up to take it out on Hungus. GutterFace has shown the potential to put up some big numbers, and GutterBall will not be fazed by playoff pressure.
BEER has the advantage, and the regular season win, but they have a reputation for folding under pressure. If they dont get out of the gates strong, doubt could creep in. That said, I think they will hold on for a closer than expected win.
BEER 8.5 ICBING 6.5
#9 Pud’s Taxi vs #24 Lesbowlians
No team has taken on the persona of their NCAA counterpart more than Donny Osmond and the Demon Drivers. The first team to trash talk their playoff opponent, Pud’s is completely revved up to start the party. Dink has done a good job of just starting the machine and watching it run. Honey’s playoff mullet should be a sight to behold.
The Lesbowlians have certainly had their ups and downs. Trixie assembled a squad that has improved and danced weekly. The big question here is Tilt-A-Whirl. She is capable of carrying this team to an upset with a little help from the dancing Butch, Downtown, Olivasudden and Frosty.
Pud’s won the first match handily. I see this one closer but with the same final result.
Pud’s Taxi 10 Lesbowlians 5
#8 Alley Gash Rollers vs #25 Three Fingered Willies
These teams met recently, and the Rollers won big. However, the score was a bit misleading. The Rollers put together a huge tenth frame to turn what could have been a 4-1 loss into a 4-1 win. Alley’s team hasn’t been quite the same since she stopped wearing the uniform. Bunny and Crew need to put any disappointment about not winning the division behind them and focus on the task at hand. CoCo, Natro and Tekakwitha are capable of getting this team back on track.
Dirk McLucky has done a great job of forging a team out of this group of strangers. Between Schizo’s hashing, The Munj’s licking and Pin Whisperers sweet nothings, the team has shown tremendopus range. They did face the league’s toughest schedule, so they will not be intimidated.
Part of want to pick the huge upset, but I can’t do it. The Rollers will get back to business.
AG Rollers 10 Three Fingered Willies 5
#7 Pinups vs #26 Maine Yacht
On paper, this one doesn’t look close. The Pinups, out to avenge 2008’s miserable finish, have come in strong and rolled hard all year, just missing a first round bye. Big Ern’s squad has lessened the trash talk and turned their focus inward to become better bowlers. Silky Pete and Rickety Cricket have continiued a natural progression from last year, the Oft-Injured Chunk has made several appearnaces, and Sue, Bird, and Hugh Manatee have all chipped in for a nice regular season.
Maine Yacht has run into a host of difficulties, but have proven resilient. They have nothing to lose in this game, and you can bet Sextant will have her crew loose and intoxicated. A stronger than expected showing could serve as a building block for 2010. A special shout out to Hawse Pipe for consistently representing for his team when the chips were down.
Pinups 13 Maine Yacht 2