B.E.E.R.’s Impossible Journey

(Oh, and thanks Natro…Hooray BEER!)

As we sipped victory beer from the chalice last evening, I was reminded that when we were facing elimination in the first round of the playoffs, I had made a promise.  “Win the title, and you all get a bottle of Crown”.  What a coachable bunch.  That rally from a 6-4 hole to a 9-6 win in the first round was the springboard for the most unlikely championship run in BowlPortland history.

After that first round scare, B.E.E.R. did something in the second round it hadn’t done all season – dominate.  All year long this team played to competition, making every game close win or lose.  But with the lesson learned, B.E.E.R. advanced past the Incredibowls in two games and waited for the Urban Achievers in the quarters.  That was a rematch of 2009 when the Achievers overcame a hostile crowd and sent B.E.E.R. packing.   Not this year.  In game one, Filthy put up a 200 and Hungus a 182, but it all came down to Cheddar in the tenth frame of game one.  A 15 would make it 3-2, a 21 would make it 4-1.  Mr. Clutch put up a 28 and B.E.E.R. was on it’s way.  Cheddar put up a 210 in game 2 to keep it going, and then, with B.E.E.R. on the verge of blowing a 7-3 lead, Cheddar put the team on his shoulders and picked up top point to advance us to the Semis.  That’s the background.  Now the story.

Entering Friday’s semis, B.E.E.R. was a loose bunch.  “No one expected us to be here” shouted Filthy, and he was correct.  After an incredibly tense win over UA, B.E.E.R. was downright giddy playing in the semis, up against a very friendly rival.  Unfortunately, Livin’ On A Spare took advantage of that ‘happy to be here’ mentality, and jumped to a 5-0 lead.

Shithawk 186  Hungus 159 – Natro 178 Cheddar 142 – Precious 166 Filthy 130 – Coco 139 Bishop 112 – LOS 669 BEER 543

Ouch.  Livin’ On A Spare was rightfully thinking about Finals matchups, but B.E.E.R. was not about to go away.  Four B.E.E.R. players had recently gone with the BoPo travel team to Vermont, and our iron will was forged in the crucible of that playoff-type test.  This time, it would be Filthy’s turn to be the hero on a night of many heroes.

Filthy 208 Natro 166 – Hungus 180 Precious 149 – Cheddar 167 Shithawk 141 – Fern 146 Alley-Leujah 97 – BEER 701 LOS 553

Just like that, a tie game.  That’s when B.E.E.R. faced a crucial character moment.  A true team plays all its parts, and “Hacksaw” Tom Richards was ready on the bench.  Hungus waffled.  Hacksaw waffled.  Filthy threw a scissors to Hacksaw’s rock, and it was settled.  Welcome to the semis Hacksaw.  He certainly didn’t disappoint.  Hacksaw opened with a turkey, and the roars from the crowd were so deafening, Hungus’ turkey went under the radar.  By frame six, with Hacksaw and Hungus both sitting on five strikes and Cheddar not far off the pace, LOS knew that the stars were shining on this B.E.E.R. squad and joined the cheering section as B.E.E.R. poured it on.  With the game already decided, Cheddar found something to shoot for in the 10th frame anyhow.  An 18 would tie the BoPo team score record.  He posted a 19.  5-0 B.E.E.R., and a 10-5 win.

Hungus 243 Natro 155 – Hacksaw 218 Coco 153 – Cheddar 178 Precious 133 – Fern 129 Shithawk 128 – BEER 768 LOS 569

B.E.E.R. 10 Livin’ On A Spare 5

Onto the finals.  While B.E.E.R. basked in the moment, Binga’s was taking care of business against old foe Off Constantly.  Jamaican Jerk’s 264 was sealing the deal, and B.E.E.R. began finals preparations (read: bourbon and more beer drinking).  While the large crowd definitely had a pro-B.E.E.R. lean, there wasn’t a whole lot of hope for the upset.  After all, Binga’s had made it through 2009 with no losses, and was one win away from two years and two titles without a loss.  B.E.E.R. looked like a sacrificial lamb.  But there was one thing giving us a glimmer of hope.  We were the only team to have given Binga’s a run for their money in the regular season, having a 5-5 game before getting run over.  Then thee was the Sweet 16, when Binga’s looked vulnerable, falling down 5-0 to the upstart Sweet Rolls before roaring back.  So, while the crowd may not have had a lot of faith, B.E.E.R. did, and they would feed off the energy of the fans.

Neither team came out firing, perhaps feeling a little pressure.  B.E.E.R. unveiled it’s last bench player yet to get in a game, and Slow Roll handled the crazy intensity and scrutiny. After slow starts, everyone settled in a bit, and this game went into the 10th frame with a possible range of 5-0 Binga’s to 4-1 B.E.E.R.  A rested Filthy McNasty edged the Jerk, and Hungus and Cheddar both faced big tests.  Hungus needed a 17 in the tenth to grab a point.  He spared, and got 18.  Cheddar needed 16.  He spared, and got 18.  B.E.E.R. took spots 1-3, but lost 4th and overall, to take a 3-2 lead.

Filthy 178 Jerk 174 – Cheddar 161 Hot Mango Mike 155 – Hungus 157 Danny Diesel 155 – Chernobyl 138 Slow Roll 112 – Binga’s 622 B.E.E.R. 609

A 3-2 lead over Binga’s doesn’t mean much, but it did give B.E.E.R. confidence.  B.E.E.R. knew Jamaican Jerk would not be in the 170’s again.  Cheddar knew it more than most.  So far, Hungus, Hacksaw and Filthy had all had 200’s on the night.  Cheddar turned to Hungus and said “I’m going to put up a 200.  I need one.” Hungus just said yes, do that (that’s coaching!) and accepted a pitcher of Long Trail from a supportive Bustah Nut.  Hacksaw reentered the game as well.  Binga’s brought in Booth, a hero of the 2009 playoffs.  Cheddar delivered, opening with a turkey, and having some beautiful meetings of the minds with Jamaican Jerk as they rolled at the same time, a strong mutual respect between them.  One of Cheddar’s rolls even earned a “that’s sharp, Cheddar” remark.  In the end, Cheddar won his duel, edging the Jerk 206-203.  Hungus ran away with second, and Fern pulled off third, giving B.E.E.R. 7 points and moving them to within one of a title.  Then things got weird.

Cheddar 206 Jerk 203 – Hungus 191 Valley Girl Jess 157 – Fern 148 Hot Mango Mike 141 – Buffalo Booth 140 Hacksaw Tom Richards 123 – B.E.E.R. 668 Binga’s 641

For the last few frames of game two, we were the only game in town. Literally.  All the other lanes had been cleared of bowlers in preparation for “Galactic Bowl” and the only sound was a piercing high pitched whine from a broken sound system.  That and the thunderous cheers from the fans in the peanut gallery.  Well, with the BoPo title on the line, conditions got even weirder.  Yes, we went Galactic.  The lights went off, the blacklights came on, the tunes were cranked, the teenagers surrounded us.  Tough conditions.  Both teams’ scores would be affected.  In fact, B.E.E.R. didn’t close a single frame before a spare in the third.  Luckily for them, Binga’s was not running away.  The underdogs were definitely feeling, and showing, the tension.  That’s when some trickle down coaching saved the day.  Fern told Karl, Karl told Filthy, Filthy told Number One, and Number One told Cheddar…relax, you’ve got this.  He responded with two strikes that changed the tide.  The rest of the team bounced back at the sight of their leader getting his groove back.  Things looked good after 9, and in the tenth, B.E.E.R had two shots at 4th place, and two shots at 2nd.  Fern ended any drama as the second bowler in the 10th, when her 117 was good enough to clinch the last place spot and the title.  Cheddar’s 165 for second was icing on the cake.  B.E.E.R. had stunned the bowling world.

Jerk 195 Hungus 176 – Cheddar 165 Danny Diesel 157 – Valley Girl Jess 124 Filthy 118 – Fern 117 Buffalo Booth 114 – Binga’s 592 B.E.E.R. 576

B.E.E.R. 9 Binga’s Ringas 6

It was a magic moment for B.E.E.R., and a big moment for the league to show that anything is possible.  We hope to see you at the Bowling Ball tonight to help us celebarte the title and another great year, and to present all the individual trophies around the league.

Well done BowlPortland, well done B.E.E.R. !

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