Monday, August 15, 2011
Ten Poolroom Things That Make Me Grumble
To check out all of this month’s contributions, visit Samm’s site The Tip Jar.
Now, honestly speaking, I’m not one of those “give me lemons, I’ll give you lemonade” kind of guys. Give me lemon and I’ll probably throw up on your shoes. Here are ten of the many things that make me grumble:
1. Duck Hunters. These guys are all about the bling. Though they never open their mouths, it’s obvious by the careful way they put together their exquisite Wal-Mart cues and tiptoe around the table that they are working very hard to create the impression that they know what they’re doing. They scatter balls around the table making sure that most of them are within two or three inches of a pocket. Then, they proceed to whack them in with authority – bang, bang, bang. They never shoot up or down the table, only across it, limiting the length of their shots to three or four feet. If, through misfortune, they are left with a long shot, they shoot it very softly so that, after they miss, it will be close enough to the hole to bang in. Their biggest fear is missing. I call these nits duck hunters.
2. The Overcut Justification. I have a hard time holding my tongue when a player responds to a missed shot by observing, “Can you believe it? I overcut it!” Please! Do you really think overcutting is somehow more honorable than undercutting? You missed the shot. It doesn’t matter if you missed to one side of the pocket or the other. A miss is a miss.
3. The Position Excuse. Another lame reaction to a miss. “I was too worried about getting position.” Duh. That’s a great excuse for missing. Of course, if you don’t worry about getting position and, consequently, are left with a difficult shot that you also miss, then you have a different excuse. Then you can say, “I should have worried about position.” Don’t be a nit. Controlling the cue ball is a necessary component of every shot. Using it as an excuse is like a golfer saying, “I drove into the lake because I was too worried about my second shot.” It makes no sense. Don’t be a wussy.
4. Past Glory Imagined. When I was young blah blah blah… I used to blah blah blah… You’d think that, back in the day, pool rooms were lined with top-notch players. Sorry to break this to you, but they were not. Listen up, you guys. You. Make. Me. Laugh! You were never a great pool player. The way you trounce around the table, poking holes in the cloth with your stick and bumping your head against the lights attests to that fact. Even if, over the years, you lost your eye or your stroke, you couldn’t have lost all feel for the game. If you want to impress me, quit telling me fairytales about games you played or shots you used to make and start shooting.
5. Philosophical Opposition to Gambling. “Want to play a couple cheap sets? Twenty dollars a set?” I ask. “Oh, no,” says the man. “I don’t believe in gambling.” Por favor. Let’s be honest, here. You aren’t opposed to gambling; you’re opposed to losing. Take up croquet… or shuffleboard. Scratch that – even the old fogies around here play shuffleboard for money. Pool is like poker; it’s supposed to be played for money. Where do you think the term “money ball” came from?
6. Measle Cue Balls. I’m guessing they make watching pool more interesting for spectators. However, practically speaking, one of the main advantages I have over younger players is my knowledge of the game which includes what I know about english. If someone takes me aside and asks me a question about how to do this or that with the cue ball, I’ll give them an honest answer. But that’s a lot different than letting everyone in the house see what you’re putting on the cue ball. I’m nobody’s coach. I’m nobody’s teacher. If you want to learn something from me, it’s going to cost you.
7. Excuse for Missing #99. “The damn english threw that ball off line.” No, Melvin, you threw the ball off line. If you apply english to the cue ball, it’s going to throw the object ball one way or the other. That means you have to make allowance for this throw when you aim. If you miss, don’t blame the english – blame yourself. What’s so hard about saying these two words straight out, “I missed.”
8. Aiming Systems. You can tell when someone’s been spending too much time reading online spiels when they come up to you and ask “What aiming system do you use?” That’s like asking someone in the diner, “What kind of eating system do you use?” "Well, I put the food in my mouth. I chew it. Then, I swallow it.” In regards to aiming, forgetting about english and throw, there’s only one point on the object ball that directs it along your desired target line. And, considering the roundness of the cue ball, there’s only one corresponding point on it that, when delivered to the object ball’s contact point, will send it along that desired path. All other theories about aiming, with their half-ball and quarter-ball hits and ghost images, are at best, confounding, at worse, baloney.
9. Sharking. Nothing irks me more than sharking. Whether you do it out of nervousness or by design, sharking reduces you to the rank of sleaze ball. I’ve read some extensive online articles on the subject which go into minute detail. My definition is somewhat simpler: If you are not sitting perfectly still, and completely quiet, you are, to a greater or lesser degree, sharking.
10. Chum. No, I’m not referring to a buddy or a pal. I’m referring to the chopped up fish that fishermen throw overboard to attract game fish. We all know locals who enter pro tournaments when they come to their house because it gives them the opportunity to play with the likes of Johnny, Earl or Rodney. God bless them, I say. When watching one of these matches, I wish the local good luck and hope someone hangs up a nine ball for him or her so they get to win at least one game. When the tournament’s over and the pros go on their way, everything should return to normal, everyone should reassume their normal role, but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some of these local entrants forget the reality, that they were in the tournament just for kicks, and start strutting around like bona fide pool stars. Like, by entering the tournament, they’re deserving of our utmost respect. Sorry, boys, you aren’t pros, you aren’t near-pros, you aren’t even semi-pros. You are chum – just food for the big fish.