Sunday, November 30, 2008

50% Chance is Better Than No Chance!

Today we held the Charlotte End of Session meeting and Wildcard Draw. In order to screen out the teams that aren't interested in post-season play, 8-Ball Express requires one person (not the Captain, just one of possibly 8 members) from each team attend in person to be entered in the blind draw. The team drawn will play the 1st place team from their division to see who goes to the Championship. For some reason or another, we have teams that send no person to the meeting, therefore forfeiting their chances to possibly make it to our End of Session Championship and play for $10,000.
After winning her division's Wildcard Draw by default (she was the only player from 4 possible teams that were present), I overheard K.K. say the following and have to agree completely "Now, why would you play all session long, then not show for a possible 50% chance to make it to the playoffs?" I don't understand either, but congratulations for winning your team a chance to play in the post-season!

Friday, November 21, 2008

For the Love of the Game...or For the Love of God!

There are people that I've met throughout my life that are incredibly passionate about pool, playing in a Pool League or both. An 8-Ball Express member once told me "I play 5 nights a week (Sun-Thurs) and would play more if you had them." To this I responded "Well, we do have a Friday night division." and you can just imagine the look of excitement on his face. This was then quickly followed by disappointment upon the realization the division was farther than even his team was willing to travel, Rock Hill, SC. (He did say it wasn't the travel down that would be tough, but the late night trip back.) There are even players that some how manage the logistics of playing with two teams on the same night! Wow!

I am jealous when I come across people that would rather be in a pool hall than anywhere else, practicing and practicing, trying to run a rack, or rack after rack. I think it's fantastic and amazing when someone finds something in life that gives them great pleasure and joy. The reason for my jealousy is, after speaking to a few "8's" (the best of the best in our league), the only way to truly improve my game is to spend a tremendous amount of time practicing. And I know that I simply will not or cannot trade off time spent doing other things in my life. I would like to be better, but, as the passion is not there, I doubt I'll ever get beyond a "4" or "5" level. Or heck, after this session, beyond a "3".

While I enjoy the game, particularly 8 Ball Express 9-Ball, I am quite happy to have my Thursday night out and then wait 7 more days before playing again. I will practice while I'm out working and waiting on matches to finish, but I don't practice with the reverence for the game I wish I had. I must admit my passion is the social aspect of it, not so much the sound of balls clicking together followed by a clunk of one or two falling in a pocket.

But, having said all this, I do have to draw the line when I heard about one guy last night. This is a true story, apparently this guy was at his favorite watering hole/pool hall so much his wife served his divorce papers to him there. Now I'm no Dr. Phil, but this may have been an indication of excessive practice time. But hey, he may have lost one love but did manage to keep his other. So, I guess not all was lost. {Shrug}

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are 1's in the League!

1's are so bad...
  • They foul three times in the same shot! (Miss their ball, hit the wrong ball, then scratch!)
  • They wonder how they missed that shot...and so did all 12 people watching the match.
  • They think a bridge replaces a stick when you can't reach a shot. (No, you still have to use a stick too!)
  • They not only miss a straight in shot, but manage to jump a ball or two off the table in the process.
  • 1's stick's seem to make contact with everything (the light fixture over the table, their opponent's rears, a beer on the table) but miscue during their shot.

So when people ask me, are there really 1's in 8 Ball Express, I have to look them square in the eye and tell them, yes, because I used to be one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lonely Patches Club

In 8 Ball Express when you accomplish any of the following during a League match, in your next week's scoresheet you will generally find an embroidered patch as a symbol of your feat:

  • 8 Break & Run - Break a rack and make all your balls in an 8-Ball League match without missing
  • 8 or 9-Ball on the Break - Make an 8-Ball or 9-Ball while breaking
  • Membership Patch - Each year a member renews their membership

What I've always wondered is what do people do with these patches? Some members, who have been playing for years and years, must have received at least 100 patches. What happens to them? Responses I've received:

  • Put them in my desk drawer
  • Sew them onto a t-shirt
  • Coasters
  • Put them on a ring
  • Glue them to pool stick cases
  • Give to kids
  • Instant Gratification - One division, that has been playing steadily since 8 Ball Express started, told me they give them to their host bar. Then, when newer members do something deserving of a patch, they can give them a patch instantly, instead of waiting all week for their next score sheet to arrive.
  • Display in home office/pool room/living room

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Growing Pains

While I am proud to see our League grow and the addition of new faces, I am sad to say I don't know everyone like I used to. Sure, the regular members that have been with 8 Ball Express since the beginning stick out in my memory, but they are now out numbered by the fresh faces. If you are one of the people I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting or getting to know, I would love to hear about you.
Maybe it's because in my last career I spent living "Dilbert-style" in a large corporation's grey-on-grey-on-grey cubicle, couped up 29 stories from the world below. I think I've genuinely missed the public. I now try not to take for granted the opportunities I have to be around them longer than the time it takes to wait in a Starbucks' line.
If you see me out and about or at a member's meeting, even if I seem frazzled or being pulled in several directions at once, I still am genuinely interested in how you came to play pool, who taught you, where you learned and what you do for a living. Just give me a minute and I would love to get to know you. Heck, I might even blog about you!
I think of 8 Ball Express as a tapestry, becoming bolder and more interesting by the increasing diversity of it's threads, our members. As an artist is interested in each brush stroke of a painting, I am interested in each of our members and the commonality shared by everyone, billiards. I enjoy the flexibility of this job, but even more I enjoy the experiences I get out of it and the people I get to meet. So, I look forward to meeting you!

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Look At Old Complaints

I have had to recently rethink the occasional complaint that I hear when 8 Ball Express is compared to other pool leagues.

I love hearing these complaints now because, to me, it means one thing. Our product is almost interchangeable with national companies that have been in business for over 20 years. We have such a good presentation and make-up that, in our customer's minds, we offer almost the same weekly play experience that companies funded by 100's of 1,000's of members offer. The fact that we are a much smaller company with far less employees doesn't play a major part in how we are assessed. Awesome.

I guess I never thought a complaint would be the greatest compliment of all!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Random Thoughts from the Pool League

All I can do is shake my head, roll my eyes and laugh to myself. Wouldn't you? What an interesting bunch of people I get to work around.

Reason for joining a pool league - "Going out to play on a team sounds a whole lot better than I'm going out to get drunk tonight."

Trying to get a handicap lowered - "She's not a 5, she's maybe a strong 4. (10 minutes into the conversation) Well, actually, heck, she's barley even a 3. She ought to be a 2."

Suggestion for a new patch - "8 Ball Express should offer a patch called - I RACKED THE BALLS THAT GAVE SOME ONE AN 8 ON THE BREAK."

Different viewpoints on League night fun - "I just don't understand those teams that just go out to drink and have fun on League night. What a waste of money."

Strategies- "I just need a low ranking player with big boobs. We'd be unstoppable then!"