Unveiling the Divisions

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, there’s apparently an upstart league in town now, and they even copied my bizarre, made up scoring system. Cool. Well, thanks for the compliment, fellas.

The Big Leagues had their Captains’ party last Thursday, with a little rolling, then a lot of Shipyard – once again an excellent sponsor. We took care of lots of administrative stuff, which really doesn’t sound like much of a party, but I guess with a 14 week party staring us dead in the eyes people kept their powder dry. (Except Sasha and Tron, who held out for a while, and then Oolie, Number One and me who closed down the Snug, taking advantage of the preseason to work on all aspects of our game.) Anyway, we drew divisions and schedules, and BowlPortland is paying tribute to MJ this year with the division names. So, here are the divisions, with my instant non-thinking analysis:

Thriller Division
Huevos Rancheros (3rd season), Living on a Spare (2nd), I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gutter (2nd), Strikes of Hazzard (2nd), The Drinking Year of Bork (1st), UREA! (1st), The Who? (1st)

The only seven-team division is also the most wide-open. None of the traditional powers are here, and three of the teams are expansion squads. Living on a Spare (formerly the AG Rollers) look like early season favorites, with the duo of Coco and Natro having been on a rigorous offseason program. Huevos (formerly Derelicte My Balls) have also shown promise in both of the first two seasons, though they have flamed out in postseason play. Still, never count out a Bubbles’ led squad. I.C.B.I.N.G. has talked a good game, and they have been part of the contingent of BPers making spiritual quests to Lewiston for bowling guidance. They took TDYOB with them, and now this expansion team is in a division with its mentor, setting up an exciting game and guaranteeing a big week of trash talking. Strikes of Hazzard have made a few changes, but this year have a new Captain, with the Duke boys handing over the lead to the responsible Uncle Jesse, and actually may be showing up in time to roll, which would be an added dimension to their game. UREA! brings a crafty flair to the league, as this expansion team loiters around Artist and Craftsman’s supply. Watch out, or they will papier mache your head. They do claim to have a “pro” bowler, which could be interesting. But that might just mean they gave him some money. Finally, The Who? are one of two spinoff teams from last year’s Die Gassenjungen. All their names end with question marks. What?

PYT Division
Dirty Half Dozen (3rd), Lesbowlians (2nd), Urban Achievers (2nd), Cracked Bowl of Nuts (1st), No Pins Intended (2nd), Gutterballs (2nd), Bowlderdash (2nd), Splits Happen (1st)

The perennial bridesmaids DHD head this division, and are also the only third year team. They are a tight team with little roster turnover and a steady hand at the tiller in 2008 Captian of the Year Riggs. That experience should help them hold off a charge from last year’s surprise team, the Urban Achievers, though J.Hammer’s boys (and girls this year) won’t concede anything. Oolie has been really hitting the bowling books, and with a major roster shakeup, he and Captain Wut What (pronounced Wut Wuuuuuuuuuuuuuut) could have No Pins Intended fighting for a crown. Gutterballs have finally received a team shipment of custom balls, and team captain The Nihilist has apparently found something to believe in with the birth of a child, for he has changed his name. The Lesbowlians have been so serious about their rebuilding project that they haven’t even had time to write. Bowlderdash is a mystery squad, with Michael Bowlton taking over for the lovely and talented Miss Moxie. Cracked Bowl of Nuts could be a sleeper team this year. They have some solid veterans who left old teams and now are out for revenge. Rounding out the group, newcomers Splits Happen feature an eye-popping 11 player roster. We shall see if they can harness that, or if they are swamped by their own crush of humanity.

Off The Wall Division
Off Constantly (3rd), 3 Livers (3rd), Happy Hands Productions (3rd), Roll Another (3rd), Young and the Bowled (2nd), Great Lost Spares (2nd), Pud’s Taxi (2nd), Madbotts (1st)

Finally some familiar names. 2008 Champs OC have managed to somehow stay in tact for a third year. Three Livers is two time defending Most Fun Team in the League, which may seem like a lot of pressure, but it is nothing they can’t handle. Happy Hand Productions is waiting for that breakout season, but maybe this is the year Sasha and Jasper and crew roll to glory. Pud’s Taxi kept the league waiting, as is their style, but they are returning, armed for Pud. The Young and the Bowled have seen a makeover too. Lou Dawg and Anya Caboose will have you starry eyed, while Pistol Pete shoots you dead. Look out. Seriously, he comes into the league with quite a bowling rep. The Great Lost Spares also re-upped just before the deadline. Gone is 2009 Captain of the Year Pinstigator, but Spinella vows to continue her vibe. Roll Another continues to quietly roll along – did you even realize it was their third season? Chupacabra has these guys maintaining their low profile. Finally, the Madbotts. Yes, the Madbotts. These ladies are going to bring a style to BowlPortland that we have never seen. Can they roll, too? We shall see, but they certainly enter a challenging division.

Neverland Division
B.E.E.R. (3rd), Binga’s Ringas (3rd), Wrecking Balls (3rd), Saucy Posse (3rd), Pinups (3rd), Sweet Rolls (2nd), 3 Fingered Willies (2nd), Incredibowls (2nd)

This division is laden with old war horses. Five third year teams, no expansion teams, and the defending champs, Binga’s Ringas. They seem to be bringing back most of their squad, but they now get to live with the target on their back every night which OC was glad to hand over. The Saucy Posse is a picture of consistency, and Walter and the Sauces are always dangerous. The Wrecking Balls (formerly Purple Haze) are one of the streakiest teams in BP, capable of throwing up huge scores, follwed up by a night of losing to a cupcake. They are moving on from purple – we’ll see if that rattles The Dude. He does love purple. What about my squad, the legendary Team B.E.E.R.? It will be a struggle to stay in the top ten, but we do have Cheddar, and that’s reassuring. Oh, and if Tom Richards tries to sell you something, I’m sure it’s a great deal, take it. The Pinups have always talked the talk – this year, like every year, their hopes ride on the spaghetti shoulder of the Oft-Injured Chunk. What else is new? The Three Fingered Willies can’t catch a break. They got a tough draw again, but they a strong bond forged in the fires of bowling adversity. I think they’ll pick up a few games. The Sweet Rolls bring back their Yin and Yang of Sugar and Frenchie. I’ll let you decide who’s who. Just beware of being lured in by the sugary sweetness, as there is a fist getting ready to knock the Nerds out of your mouth when you turn around. Finally, The Incredibowls, the team I love to slight. One of the most fun teams in the league, with terrific postgame attendance and a surprise playoff run (despite being picked against every week), they return intact ready for another run.

So, my early predictions for division winners are: Living on a Spare, Dirty Half Dozen, Off Constantly, and Binga’s. No real surprises there. OC and Binga’s seem to have the easiest paths.

But that’s why we roll the balls. Anything can happen in BowlPortland.

Lastly, these five teams have a bye in Week One: Off Constantly, Young and the Bowled, Wrecking Balls, Incredibowls and Saucy Posse. Those five teams have their openers on Jan 12th. I encourage teams on byes to come out anyway, grab a beer, mingle, and at 8:30 or so you can probably get one of the lanes as the ladies league wraps up. Opening night will also have some special treats, so come check it out!

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