#17 Gutterballs (-7) vs #16 Happy Hands: A few weeks ago a trash-talker named anonymous started a firestorm. Sticking up for his teammates against a perceived slight, he came out swinging, with shots landing everywhere. Almost immediately legions of smack board regulars took shots. Then after it seemed dead, Walter came along with a verbal kick to the ribs. After a few more days of silence, Wedgehead revealed himself as Anonymous, graciously apologizing and moving on. Turns out he is the master motivator, and this will go down as one of BoPo’s most ingenious maneuvers. The rest of his team exploded against TDYOB, burying them 14-1 in the crossover round. The Dr. could only stand by and watch (and jump in Big Ed’s arms for some semi-awkward humping after they both closed games with turkeys to tie each other). Suddenly, Gutterballs seem dangerous. Anonymous, you are a genius.
Happy Hands has had a pretty typical season for their franchise. They are a very self-contained unit. they made a run at the Thursday B crown for the first half of the season before hitting a rough patch in the schedule. Marv Gomez had a big year for the pink-clad stars, but Mittens Woodmore and Jasper L. Pond seemed to take steps back. Sasha will need to deliver the goods herself to survive this first round game, and get some magic from Mookie Oak. I suggest taking a page from Anonymous’ playbook – get some distractions going and try to advance in the confusion.
#1 Walkaways (-15) vs #32 Goldilocks and the 5 Spares: The Walkaways will have their writeups soon enough. They are the super-team, constructed to win in the playoffs and get a title for some talented, title-hungry veterans. They finished with all five of their bowlers in the top 25 of Thursday. They finished the season with smackdowns of two other potential title contenders. They are primed and confident.
The Spares had the most dramatic game of play-in week. They edged a shorthanded ICBING 10-5 to get this date with Goliath. La Striking Senorita and Great Gay Bear made the cutthroat decision to play Lt. Striker in all three games, keeping some folks on the bench. It worked, and you can’t argue with results. Maybe Oolie could, he argues with anything. Anyway, Great Gay Bear himself opened game one of the playoffs with a hambone. The team put up a very respectable 586 in game one, so they didn’t win by mistake. Now they have the chance, however slim, to play for glory. Congrats on reaching the tourney, Spares.
#9 Still Livin On A Spare (-11) vs #24 Splits Happen: L.O.S. is one of the sleeper teams heading into the tourney. They were a little underseeded given Mr. Stiffy’s rolling lefty for the first half of the season. They lost their big three games, but routed everyone else, and come screaming into the playoffs with a combined score of 29-1 in their last two games. They have the potential to beat anyone when they are all rolling their best. The aforementioned Mr. Stiffy has been a revelation since going back to his right hand, and Precious has started to return to form. You know Alley-Lujah and Shithawk are going to give you steady performances. When Double Cheese and Speedboat join the fun, this team is a title threat. That said, it’s hard to get everyone hot at the same time. They kind of have the look of last year’s BEER team – just enough talent that if they catch fire they could have a magical run.
Splits Happen has shown a marked improvement in their second season. Izzy Moxie trimmed the roster to a more manageable number, and the result shave been positive, with a four win season and lots of respectable losses. At their best, Woody is putting up 150s and Xander is flirting with 200. At their worst, well, we all have our bad days. They have a very tough draw here for a first round game, but should they go down they have a nice base to continue to build on if Izzy and Wilbur keep the squad together.
#8 Roll Another (-7) vs #25 Lovernauts: This will be a fascinating clash in personalities. Roll Another are hard to get to know. They are some of the least recognizable four year veterans around, preferring to keep to themselves, have a little roll, and go about their business. On the other hand you know when you’ve just played the Lovernauts. Your hips are sore from so much booty shaking, and your face hurts from smiling. They show you a good time, so to speak. Their grey jerseys stand in ironic contrast to their colorful personalities. How will all this play out in a bowling match?
Uncle Buck has been a steady hand for Roll Another, and Smutty was an all-star. Her match up with fellow all-star Rinni will be fun to watch, and Satchel could hang with Buck if the oil is just right. This game could be competitive – I at least see the Lovernauts forcing a third game. If they do lose, their dance off into the sunset will be worth the price of admission.
#4 No-Eye-Deer (-3) vs #29 Pinups: Much has already been written about the collapse of the Pinups. Big Ern has taken a lot of heat. Bulj has been surprisingly quiet. Chunk is not walking through that door. All that said, they beat the Lesbowlians and sort of won the play-in lottery with the 29th seed. They have the veterans to give the 4 seed a real scare. Bulj Temptingly has been a clutch performer in the past, Silky Pete has never shied away from the big stage, and Beaujolais has shown flashes of Cheddar’s tutelage. Interesting.
No-Eye-Deer didn’t ask for the attention of a high seed. They just played who was on their schedule and won their division. Now they have the bullseye of a 4-seed on their collective back. Shifter Pawl has been their leader all year, with the rest of the team being all over the place. Donzarelli and Hello Kritty have definitely been putting in the requisite lane time. Deez Nutz is a seasoned veteran offering a steadying influence for his band of rookies. They have the talent to make this one a blowout, but they are playing their first ever playoff game against a 4th year team.
#13 Nuts (-9) vs #20 Shambles: Beware the Nuts. They may have a #13 beside their name, but they are rolling like a title contender. Their season turned around when Bustah returned from injury and perfected his hook ball. The rest of the team, rather than just jumping on his giant back, followed suit and upped their own games. Now they are pretty much a lock for a 600. They have every intention of reaching the quarters and going after presumed opponent Off Constantly. They have a boatload of confidence right now. Their fate should come down to Peanut and Sugar Nut. Peanut has had a 100 pin range in her scores, so hard to predict. They need to be careful not to look too far ahead, but if they focus they should get through week one.
Shambles has gotten a lot of attention for its imminent collapse. A few weeks ago Gutter Slut went on the trashtalk board trolling for a new team, acknowledging that this team is going to implode in the off-season. This is their chance to implode gloriously, like a black hole. Gutter Slut is playing for a new contract so he should be on fire, and Col. Angus has potential. Captain Slow Roll will need to bring her a-game, and get a little magic from Thunder Road. Big Red will wage the psychological battle on the Nuts. This could get interesting in Shambles can survive game one.
#21 Young & Bowled (-5) vs #12 D-GUTS: Yeah, the 21 is favored over the 12. But Y&B is no ordinary 21 seed. They sport two top-10 caliber bowlers in The Truth and Pistol Pete. They have veterans up and down the lineup, and a rookie all-star in Lucky. They look great on paper. However, they got 21st for a reason too. Every game they looked like a good pick, but folded inexplicably against big time competition. It has confounded Captain Lou Dawg, but done nothing to lower his confidence. High on Kentucky adrenaline, he is plotting his 2nd round upset of Off Constantly.
That kind of cockiness could be the key to a D-GUTS surprise. They’ve grown used to teams playing over their heads against them, so a team overlooking them would be a welcome treat. Capt. Collection leads the team in average, and leads off games, which is unusual. Smashed Pumpkin is only a half pin behind him in average. They will likely roll three games apiece. Shippy Lite is playoff tested, bowling six games in this team’s Media League Title run. Bowler XXX and Old Thumper will need to find a big game or two between them. This team is playoff proven. They can’t be entirely dismissed, but they certainly got a tough draw.
#5 Off Constantly (-11) vs #28 Three Livers: Bernie will remind you that Three Livers is one of a very small collection of teams that has ever beaten Off Constantly. It was years ago, but the memory lingers. Of course, those were the days of HANK! 3 L does have Wilma back from her visionquest, and apparently her spirit animal showed her the secret of the strike. She rolled 192-198 last time out. She’ll need to do it again, and Bernie needs to follow suit. They will tell you they don’t care what happens, and they certainly will have a good time regardless of outcome, but they’d love to put a little scare into the Team in Black.
OC faces a pretty harrowing road to a title. They may have to beat 3L, Y&B, Nuts and Walkaways just to get to the championship game. They aren’t the least bit worried about it. They are a little like the Pittsburgh Steelers, confident that they are the greatest team win or lose. Of course, they haven’t done much losing – just once all year. They also have a solid win over the top seed, so they fear noone. They are not a team that typically takes anyone for granted, they like to beat up on everyone. They will probably appreciate the added motivation of revenge in this one.
#2 Team Micaela (-13) vs #31 My Balls: This game will likely be a blowout. My Balls have underperformed all year, and Team Micaela beat up on the lower ranked teams. My Balls did have their best week when it counted in last week’s play-in game. Bubbles broke 170 twice, and Barry was with her every roll of the way. They’ll need to repeat that, and get something big from Ma and Easy E to get any points in this one.
Team Micaela is still an enigma. They beat up everyone their supposed to by 14-1 and 15-0 scores, but have wilted under the pressure of their only two competitive matchups, most recently getting shellacked by 14-1 by the Walkaways. So, hard to know what will happen when they reach the quarterfinals. They are loaded with talent, so there is little doubt they will pull this one off. Maybe it will be the spark they need to get their heads back on straight and get to the championship game. Micaela would like nothing more than a pink and black banner hanging from the rafters.
#15 White Whale (-1) vs #18 TDYOB: Wow, what a contrast in styles. White Whale plays with a quiet confidence, a subtle stylishness, a solid, stoic hand on the tiller in Capt. Ahab. TDYOB plays with a crazy braggadocio, avoid subtlety, and are led by a the high-voltage antics of Dr. Thunder. What will happen when these styles clash? Your guess is as good as mine. That’s why it’s a one point spread.
TDYOB has a negligible 12 pin advantage in team average. White Whale has playoff experience, reaching the finals in 2008 and 2009 as DHD. They both have one all-star woman. In short I think this is the game of the first round. Any effort by the Dr. to wage trash warfare will be completely dismissed – White Whale is too well captained. Harlyn P and Ishmael form a potent one two lineup which should generally split top two with TDYOB, leaving this game to be decided by the 3’s and 4’s. Ahab and Fern have a ton of playoff wins between them, and that’s why if forced to choose I’m picking the Whale.
#10 Sweet Rolls (-5) vs #23 Bowlderdash: Michael Bowlton of Bowlderdash was 2010 Captain of the Year – BoPo’s greatest honor short of Team of the Year (congrats 2010 winners SauPo). He will need every drop of that captaining acumen to pull off this upset. They already lost 10-5 the first time they played this year. Bowlhard and Bowlton will have to keep it competitive at the top and allow for some points by the 3-4 bowlers. Carrie Okay needs to live up to her turkey potential.
Sweet Rolls have been more erratic this year. They have lost games they shouldn’t have, but usually rebound with big wins. They enter this game having lost 28 of their last 30 points, so they may be a little rattled. They have the potential to win this game and even knock off someone in the next round, but also the wildness to get upset early. Hot Tamale and Swiss Cake are the one-two punch at the top, with Frenchy always capable of putting up a big number. Candy Man hasn’t made many games, but could be a factor if he shows up. Plus, noone celebrates with the enthusiasm of Sugar. This could be a surprisingly close, interesting game.
#7 B.E.E.R. (-9) vs #26 Wrecking Balls: These two teams met in the first round last year, and the line was about the same. Then two games in BEER trailed 6-4 and almost got eliminated. Wrecking Balls will not able to sneak up on them this year, but do have the confidence built from last year’s near upset. The Dude lost Lefty, and solid roller Swing hasn’t been around much. They haven’t done much to scare anyone this season, really, but they are in the playoffs and a win would make their season.
B.E.E.R. begins its title defense with lots of questions, mostly revolving around the condition of Cheddar’s right elbow. He will definitely be inactive for this one, but the rest of the team is healthy (enough). Coco Lopez, B.E.E.R.’s new addition, has brought a high energy, dancy spark, and is peaking at the right time. TR, Filthy, Hungus and Queen Bee are battle tested. B.O.B. is pregnant with the next generation of champion. A 12-3 loss to the Walkaways has knocked B.E.E.R. off the radar screen for a while. They like that.
#3 Binga’s (-13) vs #30 Pud’s Taxi: This game might have been closer last year. These two teams are both vastly different than their 2010 namesakes. Pud’s lost a lot of their mojo, but have continued to enjoy themselves albeit a tad more quietly. Dink and Fuzzy have paced them but both averaged under 130. Maybe they’ll don the retro minty greens and make a valiant run.
Binga’s lost Diesel and Booth to the Walkaways, and added Cookie, PB & Jenny and General Tso. They have not suffered from the transition, being the only team to pull off an undefeated regular season. The newcomers have gelled seamlessly, and The Jerk, Hot mango, and Chernobyl have continued the powerful Binga’s tradition. This one is a serious mismatch.
#19 Saucy Posse (-3) vs #14 Balls of Fury: Walter and N Sauce are now the proud parents of Baby Sauce. No real sense yet of how that will affect this team in the playoffs, though I’m sure it’s the most important thing on their minds. In last week’s seeding game, Hot Sauce stood and delivered a 200 game, and another in the 190’s, leading the way with his older brother absent. Special Sauce also bowled above average, and Redonk put in his typical strong effort. Tallywagger danced – a lot. This team is hungry for a playoff win and a hot date with Binga’s in the 2nd round.
Balls Of Fury only brought three players to their seeding game, which is an alarming sign for a 14 seed. Could be the off night game – let’s hope so. Captain Bacon is the little sister of Danny Diesel, but not much else is known about this solid expansion team. They do wear bowling shirts, showing their cross sport flexibility. If they lose here, then they were a pleasant surprise. If they win, then they can really make a name for themselves.
#11 Snakes On A Lane (-7) vs #22 Incredibowls: This one is mired in controversy already, with the teams struggling over what day works for the game. Looks like it will be late Tuesday. It’s good to be King. Anyhoo, Snakes Rosie and Dr. Honniker have been popping up in many a BoPo conversation lately. They have been practicing a ton, and getting the results to show for it. I have them pulling some surprises in my brackets. They are quiet, but competent.
In their way are the Incredibowls. I put them in league with the Wrecking Balls as my candidate for 2011 “What Happened” team. The Incredibowls showed steady improvement, and are a notoriously strong playoff team. But this year they took a step back. In their defense, Boston was busy becoming a father. We’ll see if they still have any postseason tricks up their sleeves.
#6 I.B.S. (-3) vs #27 Strikes of Hazzard: Upset alert? It’s popular to bet against Oolie lately, but let’s take a closer look at this game. The Strikes are way underseeded due to a midseason slump. At their best, they reached the top 10. Uncle Jesse is a force, and occasionally gets big games from the Duke Boys. Crazy Cooter went 200 last week, and Mabel Tillingham is a budding star. They are not a bad team.
I.B.S. is stronger than they are given credit for, but are also a little erratic. Oolie is their average leader, and has been helped along by a great late season pickup in Killer Bee. Unfortunately, Killer has not kept up with his big first week, and IBS got a bit rattled in crossover action. This will be a fun one to watch, but I think the Ram Brothers will carry the day.