Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Pool Poem: Mickey and the Wild Eight

Mickey and the Wild Eight
by Ace Toscano

Don't play with little Mickey,
That pleasant Irish lad -
He's got a charming way of talking,
But his coping skills are bad.

I bumped into him at Chalkie's
Just the other day.
He offered me the wild eight.
I shot back, "Sure, let's play."

When he fell behind three to one,
He swore the table was at fault.
So we moved from two to three
Where I continued my assault.

Determined to expose me
To all his sharking tricks,
He vacationed to the men's room
Then moved the game to table six.

If you're seeking the worst table,
Table six is it.
It's just inside the entrance
And there's no safe place to sit.

Foot traffic rumbles back and forth
Through the ever-swinging door.
And everybody stops to chat,
"Who's winning?" "What's the score?"

Down two sets and dying,
Mick's attitude got meaner.
Then he choked as I hopped up -
T'was a concession misdemeanor.

He called me on it - I owned up
And offered him the game.
But, he kept on losing,
So, of course, my sharking was to blame.

Play ended with me three sets up,
But he only paid me two.
Next time he offers the wild eight,
I'll tell the lad, "Go screw!"

© Ace Toscano 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Honest Effort

I’d been in the same fix before, too many times – playing in a 8-ball bar tournament where safes aren’t allowed and you’re expected to play some ball somewhere even if you have no reasonable chance to make it. In this instance, I was playing Barry, author of most of the rules we were playing by and the man who ran the tournament.

I actually had two possible shots, one a lot more possible than the other. The best shot I had was a kick made more difficult because I would have to spin the cue ball off the cushion in order to get it headed toward my ball which was frozen to the end rail. Making the shot even harder was another ball I would have to slide the cue ball by, plus the fact that rules would make it necessary to call rails and kisses. The other shot which may have been possible if I had been given 20 tries at it involved me hitting the edge of the object ball I could see and thereby bank it two cushions, end rail to side rail, into the side. Though it was highly unlikely that I could make this shot, it would have allowed me to send the cue ball around to the far end of the table where my opponent would be left with a difficult shot. If I missed the kick shot, I was dead. His two remaining balls were sitting along the end rail and the 8 was hanging in the side.

As I contemplated what approach to take, Barry appeared at me shoulder. “You have to try it,” he said. “Excuse me,” I said incredulously, somewhat annoyed that he had come over to break my concentration. “It’s the only shot you have,” he replied. “What’s the only shot I have?” I asked. “Kicking at the ten,” he said. “I could bank it two rails into the side,” I suggested. “Yes, you could,” he agreed. Of course, we both knew chances of that going were about nil.

So, to hell with it, I said to myself, and in the name of honesty gave the kick my best effort. I missed, left Barry an easy set up, and he ran out.

After that I won a few games and wound up playing Barry again, this time for 3rd place. The game comes down to the point where Barry has to run out or I’m going to win. He’s moving around the table pretty good when he screws up position. So, what’s he do? Rather than make an "honest effort" attempt to make a ball, he plays me safe and winds up beating me again. Man, was I pissed. First, the mother-humpin’ bastard looks over my shoulder to make sure I try some kind of hair brained shot. Then, when he gets a chance to show me what a stand-up guy he is, he cheats me.

I think I’ll be passing on those Tuesday night fiascos from now on. I hate bar pool tournaments anyway.

As for me and my game, I can honestly say I’m still getting better. I continue to work on my stroke and, when I remember, my eye-training exercises. Though I don’t have a chance, I’m thinking about playing in Rocky’s Monday Night $500-added open tournament up at Capone’s. Not that I’d have a chance against, Strickland, Morris, Saez, or any of the other sharpshooters, but there are a fair amount of chumps who enter and with a little luck I might slide into 8th place some day. Talk about your lofty ambitions. LMFAO.