Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It's APA playoff season, and I must say I've had a couple of good weeks! I love it when things come together and seem to peak towards the end of a season.

As I think I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm on three APA teams: 9-ball on Monday nights, 8-ball on Wednesday nights, and Masters on Sunday. All three teams made the playoffs. OK, it wasn't exactly a big deal in Masters since there are only four Masters teams in the division so we all made the playoffs. And speaking of Masters, we didn't fare all that well - despite hanging at or near the top of the rankings during the majority of the season, we took a bit of a tumble toward the end and ended up in 3rd.

Monday night was a different story. My 9-ball team has really come into its own... it feels like family, and we really work together well. In the first week of playoffs, I found myself in fairly good shape in the 'cleanup' position... the last match. I didn't have to actually win the match for us to win overall, but I did have to score a non-trivial number of points. The heat was on, and it was mine to lose! I started out a little shaky to be honest, and found myself in a rapidly deepening hole. I was able to pull things together in time, though, and mounted a nice comeback to score the needed number of points - yeah! - on to the next round of playoffs, playing for first!

Our captain chose to lead off with me in the championship match. We were playing a very familiar team, one who had beaten us just a few weeks prior. My opponent was a solid one who I've played before. I don't recall the outcome of the previous matches (this was before the point I started keeping track)... but my sense was that we were pretty well matched. And we seemed to be during the first rack... we both jockeyed a bit for position and got our feet under us, shaking off the jitters inherent during the first game of a championship match. I was slightly ahead after the first rack, sunk the 9-ball and set up for the break. I had a nice solid break, sinking three balls... and darn near ran the rack. I wasn't able to get very good shape on the 8-ball, so I played it on the safe side and left him a tough shot. He missed, and I completed the run out... taking all 10 points on that rack! I kept rolling fairly well, and ended up with a 17-3 victory to start us off. Our next two players also won by good margins which left us in decent position to put it away in the 4th match. They put up a SL 5 player, and we decided to put up a SL 3 player since she'd have to sink fewer balls for the same number of points. Like my match in the previous week... she didn't have to win, only had to sink enough balls to get the points. Difference was, this was in the 4th match instead of the 5th match of the night - we had the luxury of a very comfortable margin to work with! Our 3 played very well and darn near made it - she fell only ONE ball short. That left our cleanup player, a SL 6, with only one match point to make - 9 balls, not even a full rack. It was academic at that point, and we rolled to an easy victory to take first place in the division.

Wednesday night 8-ball didn't go quite as well. We lost the first week, so we ended up playing for third in the second week of playoffs. Week two started out UGLY. Our best two players went up first... and both lost to solid players with slightly lower SLs and therefore a bit of a handicap advantage. So we were down 2-0 and things were looking very grim. It was the other team's turn to put up a player, and they put up their highest ranked player... a 6... hoping to polish us off in three straight matches. Our captain gave me the call because, frankly, I was about all we had left who had much of a chance against this guy since we already burned our heavy hitters. I'm happy to report that I was having a GOOD night and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 5-3 race - I was on the hill! He managed to battle back a bit to win a couple of very close games before I won 3-2. We were still in it - clawing to stay alive! We put up a solid SL 3 and they matched him with a SL 4. The momentum was on our side though, and we took the fourth match to tie things up at 2-2. There was trouble on the opposing bench at this point though... their aggregate SL was at 19 and all they had left in the house was a SL 5 so they had to forfeit the last game due to the 23 rule! We won the match to claim 3rd in the division!!

Epilogue: Thinking out loud here - somewhere bouncing around in the back of my mind is a clarification about the APA 23 rule specifically stating that a team needs to show the ability to field players adding up to 23. I remember a comment stating something along the lines of "you can't just win your first three games if you don't have the players present to round out the roster" or something to that effect. I'll see if I can remember where I saw that and dig it up.

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