Monday, June 6, 2011

Physics Don't Lie...

... 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).

Anyway, the player on the opposing team took the shot... and my player said "That was a foul, right? You hit the three first."

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.


  1. it's really too bad. the guilty party often falls back on the "you should've called a referee" position, because they know their reasoning is indefensible. stuff like this makes me wonder about the apa. i'm just glad that i don't play leagues.

    too bad mr. sm struck again, but i'm not surprised. creature of habit and all that.

  2. I'm looking at your diagram and trying to figure out if I would have had this shot watched. At first, I was going to say "yes", but on second thought, even though a foul is a definite possibility, it seems so clear that if the three moves, its a foul, I probably wouldn't have...unless it was a team that had a history of disputing calls.

    Sorry that happened. Even if it didn't affect the outcome, its still a yucky feeling.

    BTW, where did the cue ball end up?

  3. Very good question re: the cue ball position, Ms. Minnow. I don't remember well enough to accurately place it, so I didn't.

    Generally speaking, it was in the bottom half of the table. Given that it hit at least two balls, one or more rails, and had some decent English on it; I didn't consider it to be a very good indicator of what happened since there were so many variables.

    The three, on the other hand, got hit once and slowly traveled in a straight path to its final position (shown). I considered that to be the best "smoking gun."

  4. Interesting... I would have to agree that in the given senario the hit would have to be bad, but being somewhat familiar with your history I have to wonder how accurate your diagram actually is (keeping in mind that your account of what happened is NOT neutral). But still, given your experience, time in the APA, and propensity for generally sharking - or trying to your opponent, I am in complete surprise that you failed to ask for a referee to observe the shot to protect yourself, and your player. My thought is that your recollection of the event and it's circumstances is somewhat skewed. You better than anyone I suspect well knows that in a cities-type situation where a trip to the NTC or even advancment to the next round is on the line sportsmanship has little to do with what is happening and it's outcome. I have seen you intentionally disrupt a shooters rhythm before and it didn't seem to bother you a bit. I would submit that when this actually took place you were unattentive and when the situation presented itself you were slow to react and it has finally cost you.... You know what they say about kharma...

  5. Thank you for taking the time to create an anonymous profile and comment, mysterious N person.

    I actually asked more than one person to verify the accuracy of my diagram and they all agreed it was good. I doubt there are any serious problems with it.

    You're right, I wasn't neutral... but as mentioned in my post, a neutral person did say it was a bad hit.

    The shooter AND his captain emphatically and repeatedly stated that there was heavy draw on the cue ball causing it to come BACK to hit the 3-ball after hitting the object ball, so their own comments support the general layout of the diagram as well.

    I wasn't unattentive [sic]... I definitely saw the shot and watched the 3-ball meander to its final resting place following the path shown on the diagram.

    But in any case - in the interest of being open-minded about this whole thing, I'll see if I can come up with another senario [sic] or three that might help explain how the 3-ball got to where it ended up without a foul. Sound reasonable?

  6. Can we get sphell and ghrammar checkers for the comments? I think someones second grade dropout ehducation is hittiting the ceilhing. Also, its shocking that Blogger doesnt have them in it's comment system. Oh, Id also like to suhbmit a bunch of omgs and lols, rather then just writing them out.

  7. *Yawn* so, how'd you all do in the tournament? I'd love to be able to point at the scoreboard, but you'd probably just continue to whine

  8. Yeah... well, mysterious anonymous people can't point to much of anything I guess. We were middle of the pack - did better than some, worse than others. But then I'm sure you already knew that.