I had no idea what was about to happen, but I sure did like to write…here it is in all it’s glory from December 2007:
Bowling season is nigh. There are some holidays between now and then, and the turning of the calendar to 2008, but throughout the Portland area minds are focused on bowling. Visions of strikes dance through the childrens’ minds. Bowling shoes are suddenly at the top of every Christmas list. Seriously. I know for a fact that several teams have been practicing. Practice? Holy cow, Bubbles and I have created a monster. Preseason trash talk has been brewing – particularly hot is the week 1 Maroon-off between Spare Us and the Dirty Half Dozen. Players have been stolen, insults have been traded. 3 Livers went from lording their teal jerseys over the league, to having to wear Navy. This will be the first time they hear that teal is back on. They handled the transition well. I’ve interviewed all the Captains for our season preview, and the results were fascinating. Several teams were so confident in their ability they didn’t bother naming a top 5. Fears ranged from rabid opossums to 7-10 splits. There are brash teams, and quietly confident teams. Goofy teams and dead serious teams. The league seems to believe that Off Constantly is way ahead of the pack going into the year, but how will they handle the pressure of being such a heavy favorite? Purple Haze is so far below the radar they’ve crashed into the ground. One player that draws the ire of many is Big Ern of the Pinups. He’s got two teams focused solely on taking him down.So, here are your preseason team capsules for BowlPortland 2008. Given that there are 12 teams, I have associated each team with the symbol of the zodiac I feel best represents them $3 Gutterballs (Aries)
They say there is no “I” in team. Well, I’ll just have to take their word on that, but I have checked and there is no “I” in $3 Gutterballs, even if you spell out “three” and “dollar”. Ironic then that this team is so focused on individuals.
This team enters play with a veritable hit-list of follks they want to take down. First up, Big Ern of The Pinups. They acknowledged the strength of his squad, all but surrendering to them, but pledged to beat Big Ern personally. Next, Hungus. Angered over a perceived color slight they took aim at the BEER captain. At least they had confidence that they could indeed down BEER.
Finally, they hate that guy from law school who, during a three on three basketball game, “publicly, through his actions, admitted that he was an utter pussy; that, on top of already being recognized as a douche bag.” Their enmity toward individuals they believe wronged them is not limited to the league. The question is, can they harness that anger, and focus on the lanes.
Often, anger is just an expression of fear, and the Gutterballs have many fears. They fear wounded soldiers at the lanes. “Someone paid for those beers.”. They fear Dan Agro, the Captain of Spare Us, because of his name. And listen to Two Hole Joel’s description of Binga’s. “The fact that they will not disclose the team members frankly scares the shit out of me.”
So, this team is a raging inferno of angst. Can they contain and channel that energy? If so, the rest of the league should look out on the lanes. If not, the rest of the league should watch their backs in the parking lot.
Derelicte My Balls (Scorpio)
As if the name of this team didn’t already set an aggressive tone, they will be wearing red jerseys. “It’s a strong color, and makes me feel like dancing”, noted team Captain Bubbles. Red is also the color of passion, and Bubbles noted she has some fear that it may arouse a bit too much sexual tension in rival teams.
Like the $3 Gutterballs, this team wants to take down Big Ern, but in this case it comes in the form of a dance challenge. The challenge also extended to Off Constantly. In fact, this team desperately wants to beat Off Constantly in several different ways (drum…cymbal).
Back to bowling, this passionate squad has their sights set on “the Dirty Half Dozen for being so demanding, and the Saucy Posse for their silly rhyme”. Bubbles preaches defense, taking it to such an extreme that her favorite sports memory is being so focused on defense and rebounding in youth basketball that when confronted with a pass she just grabbed the ball and ran downcourt, dribbling be damned. In most sports, that kind of dedication to defense pays dividends. It is yet to be seen how defensive bowling pans out.
Binga’s Wingas (Capricorn)
The slingin’ wingas are the mystery team of BowlPortland. They have no fears, and refuse to single out just one team to beat. They will wear yellow as an ironic joke, for they are anything but.
There aren’t any specific players to point to as leaders – this team doesn’t even have a captain (though it does have a benevolent benefactor quietly observing his creation from the shadows). There are only three wings, and three tenders. No primadonnas, no vegetables. A series of interchangeable parts with no ego, no emotion, mercilessly focused on bowling domination.
As Two Hole Joel pointed out “that mango diesel under their balls gives them that extra oomph”. One can easily understand why it would.
Purple Haze (Libra)
Loose, relaxed, grinning – that’s how Purple Haze enters the season. This team is really going to enjoy itself. The Purple Peyote Eaters have no expectations, but phenomenal chemistry. Two pairs of married bowlers, a Lefty, and the youngest player in the league to boot, keeping them all hip. I sat down with their Captain, The Dude, to get his take on the upcoming season.
Hungus: Hey Dude.
Dude: Mind if I do a j?
H: No problem. Do you have any fears heading into the season?
D: I love purple, man.
H: Is that a fear?
D: Bowling balls, man. What if a truck with bowling balls spilled, and I was crushed with 16 lb bowling balls?
H: Yeah, that would hurt – nice point.
D: Well, I could handle it. I once ran really fast. Mind if I do a j?
H You already asked that.
D: I mean another one.
This team could do well.
Dirty Half Dozen (Leo)
The DHD doesn’t brook fools, and they fear clowns. They know what they want, and will do whatever it takes to get it. They saw a player they wanted who lived all the way off in Rockland, and they persuaded him to commute. They wanted a banjo player, and the lured Harlyn P from team BEER with the “alluring scent of sheer magic”. They wanted to save cash, so the brazenly ignored the deadline and found a sponsor – in North Haven. Finally, they wanted Maroon, and they took it, and are pissed that “Spare Me swiped our scheme”. Things could be dicey in the week 1 Maroon-off.
Their team captain Riggs demands perfection, and does not tolerate pain in his dojo. He does not allow the thought of losing to seep into the minds of his players, saying that there is no word for losing in his language. His predicted order of finish in BowlPortland? “Dirty Half Dozen first. What else matters after first?”
This team may leave a trail of hurt feelings on the maple, but they are single-minded and will block out the wailing of the vanquished.
Saucy Posse (Taurus)
The family. If you cross one member of the Saucy Posse, expect a knock on your door in the middle of the night, then a swift pipe to the knee, Nancy Kerrigan style. This team combines the closeness of the Mansons with the confidence of LL Cool J. They just might knock you out. Why? Because their mama said to knock you out, that’s why.
These guys are taking dead aim at Happy Hands Productions. As is said in Rushmore “get them in your sights, and take them down”. They have a track record to back up their tough talk. These guys once knocked a girl out at a lacrosse game forcing the entire state of Maine to adopt protective headgear rules for girls lacrosse. Yeah, you heard me, they knocked a girl out! As a family, always as a family.
They have a preseason plan to run the score up on everyone, Belichick style. They think they will finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Maybe there are more Sauciers than we know about. And when one of the non-family members, Frank, was called out for his non-creative name, they took it as an insult to all of them, quickly adopting Frank as one of their own.
They will wear navy shirts, and do fear that they might not look fabulous in them. However, if they don’t, you probably shouldn’t tell them. They just might knock you out.
Happy Hands Productions (Virgo)
Toucha toucha touch me, I want to feel dirrrrrty. Break out the sexy undies and Maxwell records when you see this squad on your schedule. The sexy six will use the power of seduction to throw you off your game, and while you’re watching them gently carress the bowling ball, they’ll be sexily trying to put you away on the scoreboard.
Happy Hands of course want to beat Off Constantly (like so many other teams) but know that ultimately just beating Off Constantly alone won’t be satisfying. So they have their sights set on loftier goals – they feel they can bring home the Gold Ball.
They don’t say much, but they express themselves in plenty of non-verbal ways. They don’t like clowns, fearing they can ruin the mood. But that’s about all they fear. They think they’ll look “mean” in black, and are psyched that it’s slimming.
It will be interesting to see what teams can resist the siren song of Happy Hands, they will….hey, who’s reaching in my pants?
Off Constantly (Gemini)
“The red stands for the blood we are willing to spill to acheive victory. The white stands for the clean conscience we will have while spilling this blood”. Dick Liquor’s eyes stared me down as he calmly delivered such chilling lines. The words didn’t carry the 16 year old braggadocio feel you might think, but rather the quiet focus of the criminally insane. Perhaps this is the kind of hard shell one has to build when nearly every other team in the league chooses you as the team they most want to beat.
This testosterone heavy squad is doing all the little things that makes a champion, and are considered the favorite heading into the season. They have been seen regularly at the lanes, they have been doing countless sets of 12 oz curls, and polishing up their dance moves in the mirror.
These guys live and breathe bowling. Off’s favorite athletic memory is about prior bowling conquests, specifically beating the Bourgette Bros. in junior high. Their greatest fear is the 7-10 split. It is not surprising that they live by Ricky Bobby’s mantra “you’re either first or you’re last”.
This team has experience and talent. They could beat you in a boat race, bowling match or dance off. They even focus like the region’s ruthless Patriots: “We most want to beat Happy Hands, because that’s who’s first on our schedule”. Eerie. The league best hope the target that will surely be on their backs proves too much to bear.
Body English, Endorsed by Rivalries (B.E.E.R.) (Cancer)
Team BEER was gearing up for the season, finalizing a practice schedule and shoe purchase, generally feeling good, when a grenade went off. Toughcat forced a trade to the Dirty Half Dozen and changed his name to Harlyn P. BEER was stunned, and were forced to look for a replacement after everyone had already been scooped up. Enter Filthy McNasty. This last minute roster addition gives BEER a needed roller and a serious attitude adjustment. This guy will laugh and tell dirty punchlines to jokes the voices in his head are telling him as he rolls ball after ball into your already crumpled, injured body.
This is not what was expected of BEER. Hungus generally sets a laidback tone, The Pin Whisperer abhors violence (but loves him some pistols), Roy G Biv sees a peaceful kaleidoscope vision of colors, and Tom Richards and the Bishop just want to get it on and chase sunsets in their sailboat. But adding Mr. McNasty to the mix has taken this team from Peaches and Herb to GWAR. Gor-Gor! Gor-Gor!
BEER has still retained some of its mellow core. They’re not really focused on beating anyone, and fear only a buzzkill. But don’t for an instant think that makes them an easy mark. Afterall, the commissioner rolls with them.
These guys wanted creamsicle orange, but part of the image makeover involved getting black and gold jerseys. The biggest question surrounding this team is whether it is comfortable in its new, bad-ass skin, or whether it battles a split personality all year.
3 Livers (Pisces)
Three Livers is a happy team, full of life. It’s hard to get fired up against them, because they seem so friendly. But the O’Jays once said “they smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place…backstabbers.” I guess what I’m saying is don’t fall for the Opie, aw shucks routine. 3 Livers will happily take advantage of your mistake.
This team has it in for the Pinups (seemingly everyone does), calling them “juvenile justice freaks”. Oh snap! They have real priorities, and like to think of themselves as more than just awesome bowlers. They fear life without love. Or so they say, could be another ruse to make you think of their smiling, innocent souls while they bury your title hopes. Mess with them, and Maude will dump your ass like a bunch of high school boys from a whitewater raft.
After much controversy 3 Livers will end up in Teal. It was hard fought, and they had to let it go before they were able to truly have it. This team has all the attributes of a sleeper, and could be a threat in March.
Spare Us (Aquarius)
Every morning, Spare Us captain Chupacabra sits at his desk, looks over his left shoulder, and catches just a glimpse of the top of Purple Haze captain The Dude’s fro. Then he takes some antacids as the rage simmers – pure bowling rage. He plays it off like it’s no big deal, but you just know he’s viewing their showdown as a chance to stick it to the man.
Chupacabra is every bit real, and he is captaining the melting pot of BowlPortland. A big melting pot, as his is the only seven person squad. They have a reputation having been banned from adult dodgeball for their vicious dominance, and refusal to give in to other teams’ attempts at capitulation. They will take the sword you surrender to them and shove it straight though your bowling bag.
Fear? Hardly. Well, maybe rabid opposums. And lameasses. And mercy rules.
It may take a few weeks for this team to get to know each other, but they have all the passion and dedication of a contender. The league knows this, and picked them to finish high in the standings.
The Pinups (Sagittarius)
Finally, Big Ern’s Pinups. These guys demand attention when they walk into the alley. Not just their hot pink jerseys, but their white hot confidence draws all eyes to them. They revel in the role of ‘bad boys” of BowlPortland.
They think they will ‘get the most ass’ in the league, with Big Ern’s only fear is “that I won’t have enough room in my car for all of my lady fans when I take home the title”. A lot of teams in BowlPortland are confident in their chances, but only the Pinups have a favorite athletic memory in the future. “My memory isn’t so much a memory, as it is a clairvoyant vision. It’s of me, holding the BowlPortland trophy above my head,” crowed Big Ern.
They love the way they look in pink – “Any time you can combine the color of my karate belt with something as sassy and cutting edge as hot pink, you know you have a winning combination. Its like a perfumed velvet dropkick to the face.”
These guys have no respect for their opponents. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that other teams were playing. Jeez, from the looks of it, I thought that this was a charity tournament to raise money for the soup kitchen.” They want you to hate them. I say, go for it.