Well that was interesting.  Competition brings out weird things in people.  At the end of the night the kind of weird, semi-angry, testosterone heavy self motivation will be forgotten, and what will be remembered are some excellent finishes, including the most exciting shot and finish in BoPo history.  For another year there is no repeat champion.  For a second time in three years an expansion squad is in the Finals.  How’d we get here?

The quarters didn’t offer much excitement.  LOS crushed BEER 8-2, GOB crushed Yahtzee 9-1, and Lesiure Rolls crushed B&B 9-1 (I think).  That left the entire building watching one game – XXX Club vs BIB.  That game was 5.5-4.5 and had bowl off written all over it, but in the end the Club overcame Stevie’s top point and won, leaving the fans without the bowl off we were hoping for.

The semis were much more interesting. Lesiure Rolls jumped out to a 4-1 lead on GOB in their usual way, no one over 200, no one under 155.  They did the same thing in game 2 but GOB put up some better numbers to tie things up.  In game three Magic, top scorer in all three games, finally broke the 200 barrier for Rolls, and they grabbed 4 for a 9-6 win and a spot in the Championships.

Next door the Club jumped all over LOS early.  LOS had averaged well over 200/guy in the quarters but came off the break cold and all struggled out of the gate to a 4-1 deficit.  It looked over in game 2 – so over that Tango was shaking hands and celebrating, and Double Cheese was shaking his head and packing up his equipment.  Then Precious had his first big moment.  With the season on the line, he got the turkey in the 10th he had to have and kept things alive at 7.5-2.5.  That set up the most unbelievable finish in BoPo history.  LOS was cruising to a 5-0 game three win and a bowl off.  Everyone knew it, everyone was ready for it, all Precious had to do was mark in the 10th, then..split.  The 6-7.  Game over.  Well, except he picked it up, and Bayside has never been louder.  It was the most clutch shot we’ve ever seen, and set up our first ever Semifinal bowl off.

Big Rig and Precious both started with two opens, then a spare.  Then they both had a double, which Cheese turned into a turkey.  Cheese looked to be pulling away after a couple Big Rig opens, then he rolled a couple opens himself to open the door back up.  In the end he needed just an 8 in the 10th to win, and he got a spare to put his team in the finals.  Pretty amazing stuff.

So we’ve got the new guys in the Leisure Rolls who don’t put up big scores but grind you down and just grab points, leaving every team in their wake shaking their heads.  Then the Twin Towers and Stiffy, all of them monster scorers but a bit streaky.  (Shithawk and Motorboat do not actually play, but I will put their names on the cup if they win).  Should be a very interesting final, two new teams, a new champion, new colors going up on the wall….

See you Saturday

The sweet 16 night is always a lot of fun. There are still some underdogs who pulled off 1st round upsets, lots of different teams are alive.  Plus there are more teams wrapping up their season with post game revelry, and some winners too.  The quarterfinals is a bit different.  Teams know that if they are going to survive today they are going to have to play two matches against elite teams.  Every team here genuinely believes it could make the finals, and why norm, they’ve already won at least two playoff games.  This year’s final eight includes the top 4 seeds, the 6 seed, the 9 seed and a couple of Sunday Shootout survivors to spice things up a bit.  Tuesday only gave us one really exciting finish – expect many more tonight.

#1 Back In Black (12-2) -1 vs #9 XXX Club (9-5):  With no disrespect to their earlier opponents (the Pinups took a 4-1 lead and last week Oolie was excellent in taking top point with a 230+), this appears to be the first real test for the defending champs.  They have been able to rally from slow starts with ease, but from here on in those kind of starts could doom them.  Gutterboy came through for them last week, and Skippy Strikes has actually been a consistent roller with the 2nd best playoff average.  Eventually Stevie will start dominating again, despite his slow starts.  GB’s Mom, Skittles and T-Square (in week 1) have all had some above average games for themselves too.  Maybe they’ve been letting their guard down a little these first two matches.  They won’t do that against the Club.

T-Club is looking to make it’s 2nd Finals in 3 years.  They have had a much more difficult path to get here, being tied at 5 all with the Linguists then Saucy Posse.  They have had enough to get by and are now pretty well playoff tested.  They’ve done it even with regular season leader Tango scuffling.  Herk-A-Leez was a game 1 hero with a 215 average.  His longtime running partner Roadhouse picked up the slack in round 2 with a 600 series of his own.  The big difference maker has been their free agent signing Big Rig.  He seems to have finally found the right ball and shot combo and has been a dominant in the playoffs.  He also is the only lefty on his side of the bracket.

This should be a great game.  Tango and Herk could crush Stevie’s resolve with a barrage of Brooklyns, or the veterans of BIB could return to form and just be too much to handle.  I can’t bet against the defending champs at this point, but it’s really close…

#4 L.O.S. (11-3) -3 vs #22 B.E.E.R. (7-8):  The only time these teams met in the playoffs was a BEER win in the 2010 semis.  Of course back then Natro played for LOS and Double Cheese was just a menu item.  Logically that match should have zero impact on this one four years later in a totally different league and venue, but LOS has a long memory, and what they do with that memory could determine this one.  If they are feeling confident then there is probably no other loss they’d rather avenge more, no other franchise they’d prefer to knock out, and this is their opportunity.  Conversely they could remember being heavy favorites and losing then, and then having a string of  tough playoff losses, and get tight.  I tend to think they have gotten past that this year, primarily by rallying late to pull away from Incredibowls in the first round.  Once they survived that they were able to loosen up a bit.  Precious and Cheese also just reached the 2v2 finals with a win yesterday.  They should be confident.  Even if they do tense up they can turn to Mr. Stiffy who has been the best bowler in the playoffs thus far.  Ally -Lujah has had a decent playoff average and Shithawk has played a big role by drawing opponents attention away from his teammates with his Smack Boarding – will they reward him with a game?

Being loose will not be a problem for BEER.  They are playing with house money right now after going only 4-8 in the regular season.  They have nothing to lose at this point, and have been bowling and drinking accordingly.  In the first round Tom Richards and Queen Bee were the unexpected leaders.  Last week it was Natro.  Filthy and Hungus have been steady.  Patterns suggest that tonight it’s Slow Roll’s turn.  BEER will start TR tonight again, as no team has more nightmares about him than LOS (well, maybe Binga’s).  He is a tone setter and starts the BEER party when he rolls a few strikes.  BEER are all veterans who have been here many times – if they can survive to force a game three then they grab the upper hand.  Surviving the opening games to get there could be a tall order.

Ultimately it looks like the year that The Twin Towers finally live up to their billing, thanks in large part to their little buddy Mr. Stiffy.

#2 Lesiure Rolls (11-3) -1 vs #26 Bowled & The Beautiful (6-9):  The Rolls have had some great fortune in their first year in the league.  They watched from the stands as LOS lost in week 12 handing them the Thursday A crown.  That has given them a relatively soft path to the quarters, though Granola played them tight.  They’ve been able to get here even though none of them has been bowling at their peak level.  They also saw the team that on paper was their toughest opponent in the bracket get upset in round 1.  Well, now they are a win away from the semis, and no one really remembers how you got to the top once you’re there.  The real tests will start tonight, but they have momentum and confidence and fully expect to be playing on Saturday.

The team that knocked off the bracket favorites – B&B.  Not only did they upset SOD in round one, they needed only two games to do it.  Then they handled the Nutz Tuesday and all of the sudden find themselves rubbing elbows with the league elite.  They won’t be intimidated by the company – in fact they seem so surprised and happy to be here that they couldn’t possibly be playing any looser.  They have a shot against the rolls.  Saw was on fire last round and needs to keep that up, and Dr. Pheelgood has been putting in serious practice time.  Bo Julius can hang with the amazingly consistent Space Cadet.  Billy James and Mr. Mayor need to play their best games – they have shown the ability.

The Rolls win by grinding opponents down – doing just enough to grab points up and down the line.  There is no #1, but also no #4, they are solid across the board.  That consistency should hand them the narrow victory.

#6 Guns of Brighton (10-4) -1 vs #3 Yahtzee (12-2):  Ok, I probably shouldn’t read too much into the first two rounds.  I picked a Yahtzee BIB final in the initial writeup and really should probably stick with it, but my gut’s telling me this one is an upset.  Yahtzee hasn’t needed to do much to advance so far, and put up a couple of very low 600′s last round in their win.  Obviously that’s all they had to do, but can they turn it back on now that they’ll need it?  Sparkles has at times been the most dominating player in the league, but he has not had his best performances in the playoff format.  Cheddar is pretty much a lock for a 580-610 series so they have that going for them.  Pauly is more likely than anyone to have a line that looks like 115-245-200, but unlike 2v2 this isn’t cumulative so opponents can really take advantage of that 115.  Bowldemort is 89th out of 90 in playoff average and may not see the court.  Lala and Babe are solid but neither has had a truly big night.  This is a really good team, a very close team, but an interesting amalgam.  Who steps up to calm things if Cheddar gets frustrated?

GOB’s biggest obstacle is always GOB.  They beat up on themselves all the time, and instead of being able to rally as a group their psyche seems to fall to the lowest common denominator of whoever is unhappiest.  Lucky for them they are all in a good place at the right time, and that makes them very dangerous.  E-Minor has gotten over his midseason slump (not coincidentally tied to his mid-season grumpiness) and has looked like the guy that led the league in average for the first month, putting up monster scores with the left side of the lane all to himself.  Jon Moon has been a constant playoff scorer.  iHand is captaining wisely and should be pretty happy with himself for the match.  Hootie and Seatown have both had some huge games and will need to grab all their points tonight.  That leaves the professional – Mr. Pickles.  He wants a semis battle with Capt. Insanal so bad he can taste it, and he will throw everything he’s got at Yahtzee.  I think it will be just enough.

This should be an instant classic.  Two great teams that could easily have met in the finals.  Only one can win.  I’m going with the team that has looked rejuvenated in the playoffs.

 

Semis:

I don’t really spend much time on these write-ups as they are based on hypothetical match ups.  If the quarters go as a I predicted, then I think LOS’ relative youth gives them the endurance to edge BIB, and GOB gets by the Trolls for a LOS/GOB finals and a guaranteed 1st time Champion on Saturday.  Of course I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if it stays chalk and we get a BIB/Yahtzee final.

It’s always tough this time of year.  The sun is out and the six month deep freeze has finally broken.  Your instincts are telling you to get outside, but you know there is one week of left of BoPo.  Stay focused.  Everyone had a fun season, and only one team is going to end the season with a win, but as of this morning there are still 16 teams with championship dreams.  Those dreams had Jerk and Bustah and Precious and Cheese and Hungus putting in work yesterday in 70 degree weather at 4pm.  Those dreams had 1st round giant-killers Guacabowle holding a team practice on a sunny Saturday morning with the lanes almost to themselves.  Luckily Mother Nature has sent us a gray day, a bowling day, to turn our eyes and minds back to BoPo for the thrilling conclusion.  How will the season finale unfold?  What unbelievable twists are left after a 1st round that saw the losses of two top title contenders?  There are some incredibly strong match ups tonight, mixed in with the last few Cindarellas battling some of the favorites.  Four games early, four games late.  Come take it in, and be a part of it with cheers and heckling.  For tonight, all players on teams that have been eliminated already get $1 Mooseheads or $3 wine to encourage you to be a part of the night.

Early Games

#11 Binga’s (8-5) -1 vs #6 Guns of Brighton (9-4): I told Jamaican Jerk yesterday that this was a battle of heavyweights.  ”No”, he corrected, “super-heavyweights!”  Well it’s definitely a good matchup, one that looks like a quarterfinal or final four game. Both teams have had moments of looking like worldbeaters this season, and also had some slumps.  GOB roared out of the gate with Mr. Pickles 289 in Week 1 and E-Minor leading the league in average for a month (you owe me $20 Gutterboy!)  They cruised along for weeks slowly losing steam, then hit a bumpy part of the schedule late.  They closed the season with a win but looked sullen and headed nowhere.  Then the playoffs hit and it looked like they had new life.  They were loose and smiling and advanced with ease.  Binga’s knocked off Back In Black this season, but also lost to some teams it should have handled easily.  Cookie led them out of the gate early when Jerk was struggling, and then Jerk started to get his groove back -not the dominance of 2013, but still the Jerk.  The rock has been Chernobylayne, having an amazingly consistent season in the 150s.  Plus Hot Mango Mike staked his claim to a repeat win of the Sparkplug award.  How will this unfold? The talent is equal on the whole.  Jerk and Pickles is an awesome showdown.  iHand has a history of stepping up when he has to, and Tso’s rebuilt hand is as good as new.  Seatown versus Layne will be good watching too.  Jon Moon gets his first real playoff test, and Cookie is the hungriest for a championship.  How quickly will E-Minor turn on himself, and will Jerk get the best out of Mango to fire the team up?  This will be great watching if GOB gets off to a good start.  If they start slowly I see it crumbling in on them.  I’m going with Binga’s intangibles, even though Jerk seems pretty tight right from putting to much of the pressure on himself.

#22 B.E.E.R. (6-8) -3 vs #28 Guacabowle (9-4):  A week ago I did not see a scenario where B.E.E.R. could be a 2nd round favorite, but the unthinkable happened.  Guacabowle knocked off league titans Off Constantly and shook up the whole thing.  Guacabowle has had a great start to their franchise.  They are only in their third season but have already won a Team of The Year award and now have the most memorable playoff upset in league history.  They are not satisfied just getting here, either.  They have been practicing all week. Cilantro posted a 234 on Saturday, they fear no one, and they are going for it.  They remind me of 2010 B.E.E.R., upstarts who found themselves winning and advancing.  Unfortunately for them the depth of the league in 2014 is very different than 2010.  They face a B.E.E.R. team coming off a very unusual season.  They struggled to a 4-8 record and had to go to the Sunday Shootout.  They spent weeks averaging around 600, nursing injuries and muddled minds due to a terribly timed team practice.  Were there a trophy for it Hungus would be the frontrunner for worst Captaining move of the year for that idea.  That said, things have started to turn late.  Back to back wins over OC and SOD gave them some confidence (though those two teams have already been knocked out so maybe those wins are suspect).  Now they’ve won both of their playoff games 10-0.  Tom Richards rolled a 208 in the 1st round, and Queen Bee a 191.  A win tonight for a trip to the quarters and BEERs regular season struggles will seem like a long ago memory.

#1 Back In Black (11-2) -5 vs #16 I.B.S. (11-2):  Back In Black got a little wake up call last week when the Pinups, a team whose upset chances I had rated as “nil”, jumped out to a 4-1 (almost 5-0) lead with straightballs and Brooklyns and all manner of approaches.  BIB is loaded however, and quickly rallied for the next ten points.  It was probably the best thing that could have happened to them.  They are defending champs and the number one seed and may have bought into the general air of inevitability around themselves.  I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they respond by coming down hard on I.B.S.  Wat Wat’s band of bowlers is having a dream run.  They were 0-12, now they are division champs in the Sweet 16 with the chance to take on the #1 seed.  Pretty heady stuff for the poop-mongers.  IS there a path to a win?  It seems impossible, but so did Stevie rolling a 147 and getting BIB’s only point (last) in game 1 vs the Pinups.  Oolie could have the night of his life and steal a top point or two.  Lucky could regain her Y&B form and be in the 160s, or maybe Ripper takes that role.  Anything’s possible, but this looks like the closest there is to a sure thing bet in tonight’s lineup of games.

#2 Leisure Rolls (10-3) -3 vs #15 My Balls (12-1):  It’s time to face the fact that the Rolls are here to stay.  They looked like a veteran playoff team last week weathering a fired up Granola squad shooting miles above their average by heartlessly taking each point by 10 or so pins.  It totally deflated the underdogs.  Perhaps it’s because they do in fact have a ton of playoff experience, winning an astounding 148 Casco Bay league titles. They don’t have a a top dawg, but they don’t have any weak links either.  They are a confident bunch – talking junk on the board, openly discussing possible final four opponents, wearing sweatpants in public.  They take that swagger into a match with My Balls, the Tuesday B champs with the best record in all of BoPo.  The offseason acquisition of the bricked Wej has done wonders for this team.  Wej gives them a front of the lineup bowler but in a partying package.  He has stepped up his game in the playoffs too with a 193 average in three games opening round.  Captain Barry Violet has been more of a wildcard but he is a competitive dude who should rise to the occasion.  Rambler and DC Lane will need to step up in their limited appearances.  Big Red may hold the key.  She has been in a slide, but early in the season was dominating.  If she brings that back then the upset is at least possible.

Still reading?  Let’s go to the Late Games!

#26 Bowled & Beautiful (5-9) -1 vs #24 Nutz (5-9):  Raise your hand if you had this matchup in your bracket.  Liar!  I saw all the brackets, no one had it.  Not a single prognosticator had B&B getting here, and the Nutz game was split.  Perhaps that’s because these teams got last and 2nd to last place in their respective divisions with a combined 6-18 regular season record.  Well one of them is going to the quarterfinals and will have a real look at the semis.  Crazy.  B&B’s win last week was certainly the bigger shocker – a large number of folks had SOD ticketed for the finals.  They have shown they play best in the bigger games, and from here on in each game is the biggest they’ve ever been a part of.  Billy James and Mr. Mayor haven’t been consistent, but one of them is always having a big game.  Dr. Pheelgood and Saw have stepped up in slots too.  Jenerator has a number of championships under her belt and is the steadying hand, then Bo Julius is always a threat to go off.  This team is loose and in a good place.  Nutz have a short bench, but sometimes only having four people is a big advantage as everyone gets in a rhythm.  Bustah is of course the big gun, but last week Captain Herbie led the way with a 197 average.  This game is hard to call.  If Bustah goes off no one from B&B can keep up with him, but I think the team depth of B&B works to their advantage in this one for a down to the wire win.

 

#3 Yahtzee (11-2) -5 vs #14 Young & Bowled (5-8):  Looky here, Cheddar gets a rematch with a team that knocked him out of the the tourney last time he was in it.  Of course he no longer plays for BEER and the faces have changes for Y&B (where have you gone, The Truth?) but you know he’s aware.  Y&B has been a team I’ve tried all year to bump up the rankings only to see them lose.  They had a good average but seemed to find ways to lose.  That may have changed with that playoff opener.  Pistol Pete returned to form running off five straight to close game 2 and win the match.  He has Senator ITZ, a near lock for 170+ every time, and rookie Nugget looking to bounce back from last week.  The Cleaner, Hark and Samurai are harder to bank on but each has had big games.  Of course Yahtzee pretty much always has big games.  They look to me like the favorite to win it all.  Sparkles has looked dominant, and Cheddar is Cheddar.  Pauly, their #3, rolls 230s.  Lala and Babe haven’t had to do much yet but they are capable when called upon.  If it wasn’t for Bowldemort setting a new BoPo playoff low record with a 70 I’d say these guys look unstoppable.

#4 Still L.O.S. (10-3) -1 vs #13 Strikes of Hazzard (7-6):  Get your popcorn ready!  L.O.S. survived the absence of precious and the Cheese explosion to advance past Incredibowls.  Mr. Stiffy did the heavy lifting and possesses a gaudy 235 playoff average.  Maybe he’s the number one?  Getting Precious back is a huge boost to the team’s chances, and Shithawk has found his niche as the team’s Smack Talk presence (he’s been on fire).  The focused Captain Alley was also very solid in the first round win with her 150 average. Next up, Strikes of Hazzard.  Some have called these guys the team of destiny since the Bowling Ball is kind of themed like them. Deputy will be flexing and adjusting his cowboy hat win or lose, you can bet on that.  Uncle Jesse made a run at Captain of the Year honors by holding on to Deputy in the offseason after he was linked to at least two other teams, and bringing in General Lee, a ‘yankee ringer’ who turned out to be a great BoPo fit.  This is why he brought you in, General.  Playoff match ups against powerhouses like the Twin Towers (and Stiffy).  Miz Tizdale has a history of clutch playoff rolling, and Uncle Jesse himself has big game potential.  This should be an amazing game, and a culture clash.  Hazzard is loose and likely drunk, and LOS seems to be tight and feeling pressure.  I have zero confidence in my pick but have to bet on Stiffy after his opening round.

#9 XXX Club (8-5) -3 vs #25 Saucy Posse (3-10):  Both of these teams advanced in thrilling fashion.  Both had games go down to the final frame with the entire league watching.  The Club held off a game underdog in The Linguists thanks in huge part to Herk’s magic ball.  HE found a million different ways to strike in posting a huge 215 average for the night.  Offseason signing Big Rig finally delivered on thy hype with a monster game three to seal things and looks like he has finally found the right adjustment for Bayside.  Look out.  Tango and Roadhouse didn’t even need good games.  Saucy Posse may have finally shaken their curse.  It looked like another crazy loss for them after jumping out to a 5-0 lead on TDYOB, then watching it get tied at 5 and going to the 10th frame.  After three open 10ths Hot Sauce begged Walter to step up and not let them give the win away, and he did.  Now they have a little confidence.  T-Bear did surprising well, and may be able to hang with Two Koops and Bora tonight.  Walter and Wing Sauce need to be at the top of their game.  It’s a long shot, but it could happen.

 

 

Tuesday, April 14th

 

Early Games

#1 Back In Black vs #16 I.B.S.

#21 B.E.E.R. vs #28 Guacabowle

#2 Leisure Rolls vs #15 My Balls

#6 Guns of Brighton vs #11 Bingas

 

Late Games

#9 XXX Club vs #25 Saucy Posse

#4 L.O.S. vs #13 Strikes of Hazzard

#23 Nutz vs #26 Bowled & Beautiful

#3 Yahtzee vs #14 Young & Bowled

GOB 8 ICBING 2

LOS 9 Incredibowls 1

IBS 9 Ball That 6

Nutz 9 BUI 6

Lesiure Rolls 9.5 Granola Bowlahs .5

BEER 10 Yay! 0

Y&B 8 Slaughterhouse 7 2

Saucy Posse 8 TDYOB 7

So now we have a lot of busted brackets.  Many of the submissions had SOD in the finals, and a good number had them playing OC.  If they can go down on opening night anyone can, so with that in mind here are the Thursday lines.

Early Games

#16 Irritable Bowl Syndrome (10-2) -1 vs #17 Ball That (9-3): By seed this is the closest game of the first round, though by average Ball That has a clear advantage.  That said this is the first year for Ball That and their first trip to the postseason.  I.B.S. has been here before, and they feel like this is a year of destiny for them.  They had the greatest turnaround in BoPo history from 0-12 to 10-2, and now want to extend their dream season.  The winner of this one gets a date with Back In Black and a chance for the new biggest upset in BoPo history.  I think Oolie, after perhaps being tight in game 1, will put on a retro show and handle the best shots of Samsquampch and Twinkle Toes, and Lucky will have to play her best to hold off Gutterlicious.  Ram Rod is the sleeper in this one – his pin killing is the difference in this line.

#4 L.O.S. (9-3) -3 vs #29 Incredibowls (7-5):  If anyone has their guard up after Tuesday’s upsets it’s L.O.S.  This team has had their share of playoff close calls and even losses to unheralded teams in the early rounds.  They may be a little tight given that history but I think they’ve learned from it and the Tuesday craziness may actually take some pressure off of them.  There was some speculation Precious would miss this game, and at that point I had this on serious upset watch, but now it appears he will be there.  The Incredibowls have a long franchise history of playoff success, but the franchise is hardly recognizable.  They have a new Captain, God of Thunder, trying to make this a ‘crazy, crazy night’ and ‘dance all over your face’, ‘beth’.  Then there’s rookie Spidey, who is an all-star and 1 of only 2 people (Stevie Strikes the other) with an 800 series at Bayside Bowl.  They have one holdover in Sweet Baby Lou, with BoPo playoff experience (though Spidey and GOT both have Media League titles).  If they can keep it close early LOS may have flashbacks, but I think LOS will jump on them in game 1 and advance.

#10 B.U.I. (5-7) -1 vs #23 Nutz (3-9): Well now.  With the SOD loss in the first round the winner of this one will actually be the higher seed in the sweet 16.  BUI just beat the Nutz last week, though as the Binga’s-UREA! playoff game proved sometimes that helps the team that lost.  No word yet on Snapshot’s possible return, but he has ditched the crutches.  Hexy just won a thrilling 2v2 semis match so has the playoff feel, and The Duke is capable of some big games.  Newcomer Scarbelly has been a solid fixture for these busy as well.  The Nutz have ridden the big right arm of Bustah, but have lost six straight (a streak that started when he made his Hawaii trip).  The good news for them is that the slate is clean, and if they win here they’ll at least have a chance to keep advancing.  Peanut is a rock for these guys as their only lady.  Salty, Rochambo and Herbie are the wildcard trio, all capable of big games but unpredictable.  Generally in a game this close I just go with the top player, in this case Bustah, but I feel like BUI may want it a bit more, so I’ll take them in a squeaker.

#6 Guns of Brighton (8-4) -1 vs #27 I.C.B.I.N.G. (9-3):  GOB enters the playoffs in a  decent spot – 8-4, the #6 seed etc. – but they don’t have a winning feel about them right now.  They seemed really down on themselves the entire last night of the season even as they were winning 12-3.  Invisible Hand really will need to breathe some life into these guys for them to make a run in the tourney.  They have all the talent they need.  Mr. Pickles is as consistent as they come, E-Minor is a really good bowler (until he misses a shot then decides he’s terrible) and Jon Moon has been a good pickup with a veteran demeanor.  The Hand has bowled better than ever and Seatown and Hootie are high end lady bowlers, Seatown actually their leading roller in the last week.  They just need to shake the doldrums. I suggest shots, and maybe some pre game reggae, but that’s just what works for BEER.  ICBING is the exact opposite.  They aren’t overly stacked with high rollers, but they treat every game like an amazing kegger.  They invented pitchers of shots at Bayside.  They will be loose, and that could really snowball for them in this one if they get off to a lead.  Clarified has been killing it in doubles, Peanut Gutter has made a 2v2 finals, Gutterball Turkey is improving at a crazy pace and Fabio is capable of a 600 series.  I wonder if they will do their rhythmic ‘Zack clap’ even though he’s playing them instead of working?  This is one to watch.

  Late Games

#14 Young & Bowled (4-8) -1 vs #19 Slaughterhouse 7 (8-4):  Hmm.  This one is interesting.  Y&B has a much higher average, but they did find a lot of ways to lose this year in spite of themselves.  Pistol Pete enters the game as the highest average roller, and Senator ITZ has had his standard solid year.  Rookie Nugget has been a strong competitor as well.  They should cruise, right?  Well Slaughterhouse 7 has a proud playoff history.  They’ve knocked off higher ranked teams, they’ve made 2 finals.  New Captain Coco Lopez has been to the finals with another team.   Fern and Riggs have also made it to the finals. Ishmael seems to rise to the occasion, too.  I like this matchup a lot, and really am only picking Y&B because they played a tougher schedule.  I wouldn’t bet on this game.

#21 B.E.E.R. (4-8) -1 vs #12 Yay-pigs? (5-7): The Yay/Slampigs have really gotten themselves worked up into a frenzy about this game.  Their game three cheer, against LOS in Week 12?  ”Fuck Beer”.  Their proposed one-time only custom playoff shirt design?  BEER, with a line through it.  They are hurling the trash talk, however uncreative.  Is it coming from a place of confidence or, like most braggadocio, from a deeper insecurity?  On Sunday, Natro and Hungus beat Probie and Jewdy in doubles playoffs by 218 pins.  While this is not doubles, and Jewdy and Probie get to bring their big brothers Yao and Bombpop to this one, the results give BEER something tangible to have some confidence about.  Yao is the key for Yay, a consistent all-star who is having a down year but could turn it around at any minute.  Yay rolled below average often, but in big games against Leisure Rolls and GOB turned it on and even posted an 800 game, something BEER has yet to do.  But BEER are veterans at this, and should have the experience to weather the insults and likely fast start from Yay.  It will be tight, and Mona Laudley could shake things up if she’s averaging 170s, but BEER has been gelling, and playing in the Sunday Shootout actually was a good experience for them.

#8 TDYOB (7-5) -1 vs #25 Saucy Posse (2-10):  Not that they ever lacked for confidence, but TDYOB’s confidence level now is sky high after knocking off the #1 team in the final week of the season.  That game wasn’t handed to them, they grabbed it in game three with a  245 from Farmer and a 220 from Munson.  Pretty heady scores.  They will get a very tough opponent in round 1.  Saucy Posse is a lot better than their 2-10 record would indicate.  They have two guys in Walter and Wing Sauce who are threats for 600 series every week.  Hot Sauce is wildly unpredictable, and their girls may have a hard time keeping up with Spooky and Sneaky Pete, but they enter this game with confidence of their own.  Dr. Thunder has his team playing well and will have to figure out how and when to reincorporate the returning Shifter Pawl.  Expect a lot of noise in this one, and probably some extended parking lot breaks.

#2 Leisure Rolls (9-3) -5 vs #31 Granola Bowlahs (7-5):  This is the only game of the night that looks like a blowout…on paper.  Leisure has had a stunningly successful first season and are looking to pull a Turkey Club, running all the way to the finals in their BoPo playoff debut.  That SOD loss really opened their bracket up and they will be heavy favorites all the way to the semis if they keep winning.  It’s hard to pinpoint a top bowler for these guys but they have amazing depth in Magic, Gatch, Sloppiness and Capt. Insanal.  Anyone of them may be the guy who puts up a 200, but they’ll all be right there above 170.  Then there’s Space Cadet who has been amazingly consistent and carries an excellent average.  The Bowlahs overcame a final week disappointment that sent them to the Sunday Shootout by rolling well on Sunday and advancing.  They certainly won’t fear this matchup.  Rick Vaughn has got his team really together and having a good time on the lanes.  They won’t feel any pressure and if they could keep it close early that will really pay off for them.  They have nothing to lose.  Colucci Kid, Ricky V and Razor all have had big nights, and Bijou may have adjusted to bowling while quite pregnant.  It’s a longshot but this team believes in itself and is loose, so they are still dangerous.

 

 

 

Early Games
#1 Back in Black advanced 11-4, but not before falling behind 4-1 to the Pinups and setting the tone for a wild first shift.  Guacabowle held on in the 10th for an 8-7 upset over OC that is arguably the biggest shocker in BoPo playoff history.  A few lanes over Bowled & Beautiful staked their own claim to that title with a win over SOD…in 2 games!  My Balls and Happy hands was supposed to be close, and it was, but My Balls pulled away for the win in game three.
Late Games
The favorites late had seen the carnage early and came to play.  Hazzard, Binga’s and Yahtzee all cruised to 9-1 victories leaving fans watching T-Club and the Linguists tied at 5 all.  An unbelievable run of good fortune for Herk and a big showing from free agent Big Rig eventually carried Club across the finish line.
Thursday lines will be out tomorrow sometime.  Seriously folks it is really fun to watch these games, and as we learned tonight anything can happen.  See you Thursday.  (If you’re really jonesing for playoff action there are two different 2v2 quarterfinals tomorrow – Natro/Hungus v Roadhouse/Tango at 5, Wing Sauce/Oz vs Pauly Ringwald/Sparkles at 5:45)

The Sunday Shootout is in the books.  Alas, there were no bowloffs, but we did see ‘the playoff effect’, where teams rolled 70-100 pins above their regular season average in many cases.  Regardless we now have our bracket, and the 13 day race to a title has begun!  These are the best two weeks of the bowling year, and conveniently enough start the day after that other bracket tournament has its Championship game.  Brackets are available at the front desk, $5 to enter, Diesel is the defending bracket champ.  They must be returned by Tuesday at 5:45.

On paper it looks like a repeat for Back In Black is in the works.  Stevie Strikes schooled everyone this year and Skittles, aka Karl Malone, didn’t sign as a free agent to lose, she wants a banner.  (Not to mention she expects one, already expressing concern that her 2v2 Finals match would wear her out for her BoPo championship game.  I guess you can afford to be presumptuous if you’re on BIB.)  Yahtzee looks like the favorite on the right side of the bracket. For those who missed it, Sparkles went 254-290 yesterday in 2v2 playoffs (and on lanes 1-2 for those people who complain that lanes 1 and 2 somehow impact averages).  Combine that with Cheddar and these guys look ridiculous, their only potential achilles’ heel being camaraderie, perhaps even having too much of it.

This year’s tourney field is the deepest in BoPo history and there will be some amazing match ups even in the first round, with Sweet 16 match ups that would have been championship games in years past.  That said we have two heavy favorites that appear on a collision course, so will all the other stuff just be window dressing on the way to a BIB vs Yahtzee final?  That’s why they play the games.

Get your spurs and chaps on, it’s playoff time!

Tuesday Games

For first round games, play all three games even if the result is decided in two.  For future rounds if the game is decided in two the match is over and teams leave the lanes.

‘Upset potential’ is my best guess at the chance for the lower seeded team to win.

Early

#1 Back in Black (10-2) -9 vs #32 Pinups (6-7): The Pinups pulled a minor upset on Sunday to get into the tourney – their reward, a date with defending champs and tourney favorite BIB.  Well it was a nice season.  The Pinups will be happy to be there and hope to grab a point or two.  Back In Black will cruise in this one and everyone should get plenty of playing time.  Stevie may even stay home again for this one, though TDYOB did take advantage of that  move last week.  upset potential: nil

#5 Off Constantly (8-4) -5 vs #28 Guacabowle (8-4):  O.C. had a nice rebound regular season after last year’s Sunday Shootout bid.  Of course they still went to the semis last year so the regular season doesn’t mean much to them.  They will be heavy favorites in this first round match.  Guacabowle did make a little noise a few years ago with a near 700 game in the playoffs, and they do seem to rise to the occasion.  Sparetime led the league in games played this year so he’s got the practice in but this is a bit of a reach.  upset potential: extremely low

#15 My Balls (11-1) -3 vs #18 Happy Hands Productions (8-4):  This is the game to watch early, not surprisingly given the closeness of the seeding.  My Balls just completed an amazing run by winning the division title in the final game of the year after being tied 5-5.  Rookie Wej (I have 1 brick, how many do you have?) has been a great signing for these guys.  He’s the energy guy allowing Captain Barry Violet to be the steely, reserved leader.  Plus Big Red is capable of some big games.  Happy Hands looked destined for Sunday until everything broke their way on the final night.  Their reward is getting a playoff game against a B team, even though My Balls are the best B team by record.  Munj and Sasha have their team right where they want to be and this is a clash with a familiar rival.  It will take some serious rolling from Cocksure and Co., but HHP has a shot in this one.  upset potential: medium

#7 Sons of Danarchy (7-5) -5 vs #26 Bowled & Beautiful (4-9):  SOD turned the brackets upside down with their final week upset of L.O.S.  They escaped the group of death, handed the Thursday A crown to Leisure Rolls and grabbed a 1st round date with Bowled & Beautiful.  SOD has always gotten by on depth but lacked a true #1, but in week 12 The Dentist filled that role and looked like he may be back from that wrist injury.  That would be huge for this team that has a real clear shot at the semis at least.  B&B bowls to their competition, exhibited clearly in their last two games.  They took a 5-0 lead on Binga’s and almost pulled that upset, then scuffled to a close win over Splits Happen in the Sunday Shootout.  They’ll be up for this one and could put a scare in SOD if they look past this game. upset potential: low to medium

Late Games

#9 XXX Club (7-5) -3 vs #24 Cunning Linguists (3-9):  The Club finished the season strong going 6-1 to close things out and finishing 5th in Tuesday A.  They signed Big Rig as a potential ringer in the offseason after the Deputy signing fell though and Samsquampch walked, but in-house options Tango and Roadhouse responded to be 1-2 on the team in average.  They are a dangerous but unpredictable squad.  The Linguists got a nice bonus when their Sunday foe forfeited and now get a shot at a team they’ve played before.  They do have some talent on the roster – La Ga, Gutterslut and Wild Card are all potential big game bowlers, and EHD is coming off a career game.  They haven’t managed to all pull it together yet in one game, but that will all be forgotten if they roll their best Tuesday.  upset potential: low to medium

#13 Strikes of Hazzard (6-6) -3 vs #20 Cape Fear (9-3): This one could be interesting.  It’s the wild and crazy Hazzard boys vs the all-business Fear.  Hazzard arrested their slide just in time to avoid a Sunday game but have looked vulnerable.  That said offseason pickup General Lee hasn’t seemed particularly interested, and that should change now that the playoffs have arrived.  Deputy has Slowinskied himself into a deep, dark place, but he can always hope for a revival.  Cape Fear rolls a short bench, and Southpaw can battle the top dogs of A.  This franchise has a history of near misses in 1st round matches vs top teams.  Don’t sleep on them.  upset potential: medium

#3 Yahtzee! (10-2) -11 vs #30 BILFs (7-6):  Did I mention Sparkles’ 254-290 back to back yesterday?  Yeah, and he finished 2nd on the team in average.  Ol’ Cheddar is back in the league and looking for another title to shake off memories of his last playoff appearance, the infamous beer on the head loss to Y&B back when he was with BEER.  He’s certainly got the pieces in place to do it.  The BILFs will try to pick away at the low points and hang around into game three.  Major Danks really needs to have his breakout game to back up team leader Old Thumper.  upset potential: extremely low

#11 Binga’s (7-5) -3 vs #22 UREA! (3-9): For those who don’t remember, UREA! already beat Binga’s once this season.  In two games.  That might not be helpful as now Binga’s will be extra focused (by Binga’s standards).  They were missing Tso in that one but still it gives UREA! hope they can pull off another win.  Binga’s started the season on fire, even beating BIB and looking like a championship contender.  They spent the 2nd half of the sea on scuffling.  Which Binga’s team will be in the playoffs?  UREA has a bad record but they have been in many of those losses to the very end.  T-$ tied for 2nd most 200+ games and Steff Infection and Knuckles are one of the better 1-2 girl punches.  Nurple is the key for these guys if they want to advance.  upset potential: medium

 

 

 

They are available at front desk, $5 to enter, must be completed by Tuesday at 5:45

 

It may feel like the first day of Spring tomorrow, but 20 teams are going to the Shootout hoping to extend their winter by a few more days with a win.  It’s playoff time at Bayside Bowl.  For the next 13 days teams will be hoping to survive and advance, and eventually maybe even hang a banner on the wall.  There’s a pretty good consolation prize for everyone else – the Bowling Ball, the best party of the year!  But no one is ready to hang up their bowling shoes just yet, the competition will be intense, legends will be made.

I’m not going to draw up any lines for the Shootout.  I want every team going in with a clean slate, no record, no line, just a chance to win and move on.  Off Constantly turned a Sunday Shootout appearance last year into a run to the semifinals.  Can someone repeat that feat, or go even further?  The Sunday Shootout will end the dreams of 10 teams (2 teams had to forfeit and they finish 44th and 43rd in the standings), but will trigger grand visions for the 10 winners.

Good luck to all, great season, see you in the playoffs and at the Finals on April 19th!