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So, last night we had a playoff match since we didn’t finish 1st in our division.  We finished 2nd, and had to play the 5th place team.  We gave them 5 on 12 (they only had to win 7, we had to win 12).  Bar table 8-ball.  I’ll try to summarize the bulk of the evening, I know I can get a little wordy sometimes.  Each round is a random draw of 5 players per team.  Being the lowest ranked player, I never play the 1st round; which I’ve come to accept over the course of this session.  Now, the weirdest thing happened during that first round.  ALL FIVE of our guys couldn’t get out.  We lost the first give games.  So, now they need 2 and we still need 12.  We have actually come back to win from similar deficits before, so while it was quite a shock, we weren’t terribly scared. After hearing we lost the first 5, I assumed I wouldn’t get to play at all (based on the history of the decision), but as it turns out, I did.  I drew 4th in the next round. 

I lost the lag, but that’s not usually a big deal, since so many people do that side-break trying to snap the 8 and just create a giant cluster on one side of the table instead.  After a few shots, the guy misses and I start picking apart the layout.  I have just one frozen cluster, but there’s an great break-out ball available and a pretty easy path to it.  I start working my way through it when I get a coach from the captain who suggests instead of trying the full rack, just play a safe off the frozen ball, leaving my opponent hooked. (see below)

He suggested I play a stun-through shot on the 3, hiding behind the 8 ball.  Although I felt confident in getting position off the 5 to play the 7 in the side to break out the 3, I decided to follow his advice.  Afterall, he’s a better player, and smarter with the bar-box 8ball than I am.  It’s “the safe bet”.  I do, the shot works, my opponent kicks at something, leaves me with an open table and I get out.

We lose one game that round, meaning they need 1, we need 8.  On to the 3rd round.  I get drawn again to my surprise, I play first.  The guy gets the lag on me by less than a dime, *shrug*.  Again, side-break, massive cluster.  I play about 4 safeties in a row, each time opening a ball up and hooking him.  My last frozen ball, I open, but misjudged the CB’s path and it found gravity in the side pocket somehow.  Oh well.  We take our turns going back and forth, making some balls, and finally he gets a good opportunity from my over-cutting a ball up the rail and scratching again. 🙁 With BIH, he has 3 balls on the table.  He manages, somehow, to hook himself all the way up table on one of my balls.  He tries to tie up another one of my balls with his, but overhits it and leaves it up, giving me ball in hand.  I go to work, finish off the last 4, but end a little short on the the 8ball, leaving me with the show below.  Now, remember, this is a heavy, magnetic red-DOT cueball.  This ball scratches if you just hit to make the 8.  Slow rolling is a disaster, I’ve seen it all night on this table. Not to mention the times I have personally scratched on this shot.  I knew I had to hit it with enough draw to stun up to the end rail.  Well, my nerves got the best of me and I overhit it a bit.  Didn’t scratch, but got too close to the side pocket for comfort.

Now, everyone else is congratulating me, joking about how I made them nervous, I got away with one, etc… The captain, however, says “You never fucking hit that ball that hard.”  Okay, yeah, I over hit it.  I went over to him shortly afterwards and admitted I hit it too hard, but he goes on this mini rant about “what the hell have you to been learning” and how “the CB traveled 7 feet after making the ball, that’s just stupid”, this that and the other.  I’m getting a verbal pounding as if I had just lost the season hill-hill game.  I didn’t lose, I won.  People overhit balls all the time, including him, yet *I’m* getting bitched at; not the reliable top players on our team that are losing. I finally said “Sorry for winning.” and walked off.  I nearly broke down my sticks, packed up and quit all together.  But, that would be an emotional tantrum of a decision.  Which is dumb.  I might have made a mistake for coming up short on the 8, then another hitting it too hard, but I won the game – a game we desperately needed.  I know he’s extra pissed because the usual “guaranteed” winners aren’t delivering. (we have 3 of the top 5 players in the *league* on our team)  I know he’s not going to bitch at the other guys, and I know I’m the FNG and shit rolls downhill; but damn.  Give me a freakin’ break.

That is not the way to encourage your teammates.

Anyway, we win the next 3, but our highest ranked player played a tricky position to get to the 8 and came up short, tried one hell of a back-cut bank, but left it.  The opponent ran his 6 balls and sank the 8 to win the match.  No championships for us.

I finished this session with 10 wins and 7 losses during the regular session.  2-0 in the playoffs, which don’t count towards our records.  I’ll be moved up in rank next session to a 5 based on this record.  We’re also moving divisions to what should be a tougher division so we don’t have to give the world away to these teams.  We gave this one team TEN games on the wire going to 15 a few weeks back.  That’s ridiculous. I’m going to have to really be careful about my playing because although I’m a 5 in a weak division now, the 5’s in the other division should be stronger than me.  Even though I have the knowledge, I’m going to need to work on my game to stay a 5, and contribute to the team as a 5.  That is… if I stay.