... but sometimes people do. Or maybe they don't understand physics. Or maybe they're just delusional. Or in denial. Or maybe all of the above.
Yeah, we had a bit of controversy on a shot yesterday at the annual 8-ball "cities" tournament, which is the local team qualifier for APA Team Nationals in August. As expected in tournaments like this, it was an extremely competitive environment and tensions ran high from time to time.
The shot in question is approximated in the diagram below. The opposing team's player was shooting stripes, and his object ball was on or near the rail as shown. My player's 3-ball and the cue ball were more or less as shown. A key point was: the cue ball had to completely pass the 3-ball in order to hit the object ball. Due to the ball positions, there was no possibility of a simultaneous hit (which would have been a legal hit).
The shooter denied it. "No, it was a good hit, I hit my ball first."
My player replied, "Then how did you move the three?"
"I put a lot of draw on the shot, and it came back and hit the three afterwards."
The opposing captain jumped in with a (very weak) argument "He made the shot, how could he have made the shot if he hit the three first?"
I jumped in with "look where the three ended up, how could it possibly get there if he drew back into it after a good hit??"
A neutral bystander (high SL player) from a team at an adjacent table jumped in, saying "I saw it, it was a bad hit."
General chaos broke out for a minute or two... but it was quickly apparent that the shooter and his captain were not going to budge from their completely delusional stand that it was a good hit. Given that we didn't get someone to watch the hit, we had to fall back on the 'unwatched disputes go to the shooter' rule. Interestingly enough, I heard this very same captain reminding his players about the rule during the previous round (they happened to be playing at the table next to us). Apparently, he's a big believer in the rule.
Don't get me wrong, it's a decent rule to settle things when all else fails... but I also believe in being honest about the hit in the first place. Or at least being open-minded about evidence that counters what you think you saw. There is NO frigging way that the 3-ball could have been deflected forward to the middle of the end rail with a legal hit. Period. End of story. I don't care how much draw or what kind of English was used.
In hindsight, sure, we should have gotten someone to watch the hit. But hindsight is 20/20. This was not exactly an immediately obvious "hit watch" situation where the balls were frozen together or something. The shooter was also in the middle of a run and shooting at a fairly good clip, so the decision to get a hit watch would have had to have been a quick one. And calling for a hit watch would have been disruptive to the shooter's rhythm which I hate to do unless necessary... but so be it.
Because of this incident and particularly due to the attitudes displayed during and even well after the incident, I'm going to be a lot more careful (and quicker) about calling for hit watches when dealing with this player and/or captain in the future.
And why not? It's what they want. It's what they demand. They were very clear to us that it was our fault for not calling a hit watch. And it's tough to dispute that, but there's also fine balance between calling a hit watch when necessary and overdoing it. For me, the fine balance has been permanently tipped towards the cautious side when dealing with either member of this duo in the future. Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me.
There's two sides to the "you should have called a hit watch" coin as well. The best sportsmen will suggest to their opponent that it might be a good idea to get a hit watch. Think about it - being the shooter, they're in the best position to make the suggestion anyway... they have the best picture of the shot, and they know how they intend to approach it. The opponent often doesn't know what the shooter is going to do until he's down on the shot. This is particularly true in a non-rotation type game such as 8-ball. So while it's the opponent's responsibility to get the hit watch, it behooves the shooter to approach the whole situation in a reasonable and sportsmanship-like manner unless he wants to get shocked out of his stance in the middle of his practice strokes by his opponent exclaiming that he wants a hit watch.
Given the nature of this particular situation, I wrestled in my mind whether I should name names. It's generally been my policy to avoid doing so, particularly when dealing with negative situations. The focus of this blog is more about situations, technique, equipment, rules, my experiences, etc... and not individual people (unless I'm giving them kudos or something)... so I decided to focus more on the situation than the actual people involved because I'm sure there are people like this in just about every league across the country (and beyond).
While thinking about this, however, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen one of the names (the shooter) mentioned somewhere before... and sure enough, it turns out that he's a blogosphere veteran. Figure the odds of that one, eh? Small world.
It also turns out that the team in question went on to qualify for Nationals, so I'll congratulate them on that. They are a decent team, and my only hope is that they represent Las Vegas well... both in performance and sportsmanship. I'll add that this particular situation was not the determining factor in the outcome of the match between our teams. Although the bad call enabled the shooter to win the game in question, he was already well behind in the match, clearly out-gunned, and lost his match in the end anyway.
Kudos goes to my player for putting the incident behind him and continuing to kick butt despite the BS and spot of an extra game.
6 days ago