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The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can't win if you don't play

Thursday again, and that means the regular Thursday 8-ball tournament, in which I have come in 2nd the last several times.  

At home, warming up before the tournament, I'm hitting a few balls, and missing every shot.  I missed at least the first half dozen shots I attempted.  One shot I missed 3 times in a row, and it was a simple shot.  WTF?  What could possibly be going wrong?  Did I somehow slip into a black hole where my physics she-no-worky?  How can I be so bad?  And how can I go into the tournament shooting like this?

This leads into the whole realm of head trips, such as:
1.  It's starting to rain, and it should only get worse, and it's not going to be any fun slogging through the rain just to shoot poorly.  Why get wet and embarrass myself on the table?
2.  This recent change in the weather is exactly the sort of thing that gets people sick, and the tournament is held in a small room with poor circulation and there is no way I want to get sick AND shoot poorly.
3.  negative, negative, negative...   

But I figure what the heck, just show up, take your beating like a man, and go home early, maybe you won't get sick.  That's the best I could come up with for motivation to go shoot pool.  Certainly not a winning attitude, but I left anyway, and halfway to the car I realize I forgot to bring my iPhone... idiot!  But I'm not going to go back and get it...

The first match I played even worse than I did at home.  People were looking at me like I was from Mars and had never before played this game.  Others were simply laughing, nervously, for they know that this is not the real me.  Some probably felt pity.  I was having difficulty understanding what was happening.

Second match I played poorly at first, but I won.  Didn't deserve it.  

This is where I came to the crossroads.  One more loss and I could go home defeated.  Or, I could find the pool shooter inside, coax him to come out and play, tell him that it IS possible to win, and that he can do it if he just starts playing the way we both know he can play.  Ignore everything else, just play one shot at a time, and be smart about it.

The 3rd match was against Gunney, the guy who won the match last week, the guy who beat me in the finals and stole my immortality by getting HIS name on the plaque on the wall.  

Something welled up inside me, and I just let go and spoke my piece even though as the words were coming out of my face I was sure that this was not the right thing to do...   Think back to the movie The Hustler, where George C. Scott, in the final scene, after Fast Eddie beats the fat man, yells with a viscious spitting venom:  "I want my Money!"  

Ok, keeping the venom, now replace those words with mine, to Gunney, as he approaches the table:  "I want my Revenge!".

Not real smart, right?  I look like a bozo right off the bat saying it like that, but I'm kinda kidding, of course, but not really.  I guess you really have to know the movie to appreciate it.  I don't think Gunney got the reference.

This was a pivotal match.  First of all, because Gunney was acting sick.  The kind of sick where I just know that I'm going to get sick with the same thing he has.  He's sniffling, going through Kleenex, and generally looking like he's having difficulty paying attention, sleepy, feverish, etc.  Now, I am the kind of person who would cross the street rather than walk past someone who is sick.  And here I am stuck in the same room, playing on the same table that he is touching with his sick hands all scuzzy with sick germs from blowing his nose through tissue thin, uh, tissues.  

Somehow, I gotta get past all this and shoot some serious pool against him because there is every possibility that Gunney is sandbagging, except this week it's not his eyes like last week, it's that he's sick.  I should admit right here that Gunney is an excellent actor.  He actually looks sick, but I can not allow myself to think he is.  No pity.  He must be crushed.  I must have my revenge.  MUST.

I played smart.  Tied him up.  Got him in a chess match.  Frustrated him.  Until I had my chance, and I took it.   

Ok, now I'm back in tune.  My game is feeling good again.  All I had to do was get inside and find my game and let it free.

The rest of the matches went well, and I met up with Pat in the finals.  Imagine:  I have been in the finals for the last 4-5 tournaments, and every time I have come  in second.  That just isn't right!  A guy could think he was  jinxed.  When does a guy get to the point where he has to strap on a set and WIN?  Am I done with 2nd place?   

The first game should have gone to Pat.  He missed an 8-ball shot, and I did not return the favor.  In the second game, he broke and went as far as he could, and then I ran the rack for the win.  Pat played well. 

The lesson of today's tournament is that you can not win if you do not play.  (Isn't that the Lottery slogan?)  I almost stayed home, but went, and won.  (Veni, vidi, vici

As soon as I got home, I took no chances, and jumped in the shower to wash off all those sick Gunney germs, then a change of clothes, a nice meal, and a bit of relaxation (playing some 8-ball with Dr. Mark).  I know, it's pathetic when you celebrate winning a pool tournament by playing pool.  

But that's who I am, that's what I do.


Blogger dan said...

I totally understand celebrating a pool victory by playing more pool.

Sometimes the pool tournament was the most boring pool of the day. All that sitting around waiting and waiting.

As someone who has open and closed a pool hall without leaving except for dinner, I understand.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 4:02:00 AM  

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