MUCK IT UP!: "EATING HUMBLE PIE!"
by Muckety Muck, ARRG Bout Co-Announcer - Photos by Bob Dunnell
The following opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. They are not the opinions of the Arch Rival Roller Girls.
This coming weekend, this derby yapper gets to place another candle on the top layer of his annual birthday cake. But instead of offering warm fuzzies, perhaps you should be genuinely concerned for the Muckster.
For starters, my cake will now sport enough waxed wicks to break fire codes in numerous municipalities. In fact, one could suggest that it would be much, much safer to bake two separate confections, distribute the candles evenly and minimize the risk of the celebrant torching himself.
More importantly for this birthday boy, a year older does not necessarily mean that he became wiser.
In fact, most recently, I became fully aware that I’m not as smart as I think I am sometimes.
First a little background. Back in March of this year, my good friend Inspector Muffin, the voice of the Ohio Roller Girls, christened his self-created website that contains previews, recaps and features involving his respective league. It also contains personal reflections from his journeys in the derby world.
In its initial launch, he asked for feedback from his announcing brothers and was open to any constructive ideas that would give his website, as they would say in the social media world, “traction.”
I suggested that maybe it would be “kewl” if a constant group of derby announcers would make weekly predictions on sanctioned bouts in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). This concept wasn’t new. A website called “Roller Derby Inside Track” had done something similar in the past, but they had discontinued the feature in 2011.
In the “RDIT” picks, the panelists had just solely picked winners. I suggested to the Inspector that in this newly-created version of the “Chatterbox Pick ‘Ems,” the forecasters should go in-depth as to why certain favorites were chosen, thus, giving the selections more weight.
To get the ball rolling, and since it was my hair-brained scheme, I gladly raised my hand to Muffin and said I’d volunteer in the weekly soothsaying. Canadian derby announcer Captain Lou El Bammo and Ohio-based voice Kent the Politician were recruited to complete the “core four” of panelists. A weekly guest picker would also be added to the mix to provide a little outside flavor.
And away we went. I perused the offerings and made picks. Some were certainly easier than others. It’s been an enriching experience overall. I now have to analytically look at leagues based in cities as massive as New York City, New York (population 8.245 million) and as miniscule as Bemidji, Minnesota (population 12,073.)
I look at bouts with a critical eye and use my head instead of my heart when casting decisions.
By researching leagues internationally in 2013, I figured that this fortune-telling contest would personally become a part of my overall derby…eh…edumucation. Not bad for a guy who was on academic probation his freshman year of college for foregoing textbooks and, instead, improving his skill set in the game of “Quarters.”
Locally when it came to picks involving the Arch Rival Roller Girls’ All-Stars travel squad, I nailed wins over playoff perennials Kansas City in April and Ohio in May, thus, adding to my winning percentage.
But a mid-May misfire of choosing ARRG over a much-stronger Naptown team made me take a step back and question…was I putting my personal league affiliation in front of a critical decision?
This was riding heavily on my mind as the “Pick ‘Ems” panel approached Midwest Brewhaha 2013 in late May. In an unprecedented move, the panelists decided to pick favorites in all twenty WFTDA-sanctioned bouts that were being held that weekend. Yep, all twenty.
The ARRG All-Stars had two bouts lined up at Brewhaha in Milwaukee. The first, against a struggling Pikes Peak squad, provided to be a no-brainer for all involved. Arch easily over PPDG voted all five Amazing Kreskins.
The second match-up involving your locals was much more difficult. Arch Rival, currently ranked #13 internationally in the WFTDA, versus #16 Detroit. I had seen personally how Motown went on a push at the 2012 North Central region playoff and finish fifth, which were three positions higher than what the St. Louisians had finished at the same event. Plus, Detroit kept the differential tighter earlier this season against Naptown than what Arch Rival had posted in mid-May.
I internally struggled and changed my winner of the Arch Rival vs. Detroit bout approximately fifteen times prior to ballot submission, all based on critical analysis.
But then, in a stroke of elderly foolishness, I thought to myself, “What if I went against the grain and purposely chose against Arch Rival in order to give the league a little extra incentive for victory?”
In my mind, a vote for Detroit would certainly give Inspector Muffin’s website the “traction” he sought…and perhaps gave a little “oomph” to ARRG.
To add to my pre-meditated scheme, I intentionally picked Detroit as a “team to watch” at Brewhaha, especially in its match-up against Arch Rival.
A selection from my writings that week on the website contained the following projection:
“Sunday’s revenge match against Arch Rival is pivotal, so much so that I’m nervously picking them to win. Yeah, when the Muckster picks against his home league, you know someone’s out to make a statement. I sense that Detroit sends a strong message at Brewhaha: ”We are most certainly back…now Honey Suckit!””
For those outside of the loop, Honey Suckit skates for Detroit and she’s really good at what she does. In my Brewhaha dissertation, her name provided the exclamation point.
To seal the deal, a giant Detroit Derby Girls’ logo was placed in the column below my boonie-hatted mug shot, signifying a win for Motown over St. Louis.
As one would expect with an announcer picking against his home league, the Facebook feedback was swift.
“Ooohhh, you’re in trouble,” said a retired ARRG skater now living in Texas. “Seriously?” replied a current member of the All-Stars. “What the Muck?” added a teammate.
By golly, I had successfully done it! Traction, baby! Extra page views for the Inspector and raised emotions from my home league with reverse psychology. The WWE’s Vince McMahon would have been proud!
The ARRG vs. Pikes Peak bout at Brewhaha Friday went as projected. Arch Rival 441, Pikes Peak 95.
Then the Sunday Brewhaha bout against Detroit arrived, a bout I had to call online. With the grace of a flat-foot floogie with a floy floy, I keester-wrestled an uncooperative US Cellular Arena folding chair and took my spot at the announcers’ table for the web stream call on “WFTDA.tv Presents,” which was, unfortunately for me, located mere inches away from the Arch Rival bench.
From the get-go, I knew I would be hounded. One ARRG skater gave me the “thumb slash across the throat.” Another gave me the “Eye Am Watching You” gesture with two fingers.
My ARRG co-announcing partner Magilla Guerilla, who was positioned at the same table and announcing the bout in-house, scooted his chair further away from me as the glares continued. I don’t blame him at all. Figuratively, and perhaps to the league literally with my intentional vote of no confidence, I was Public Enemy #1.
I’ll take the self-inflicted heat, I thought to myself. If the skaters from the “Show-Me State” wanted to prove me and the derby universe wrong, then here was the golden opportunity to do it on a large stage.
The action was fast from the onset. Detroit posted an early 12-3 lead. A power jam for Arch Rival flipped the scoreboard to 17-12 in favor of the St. Louisians.
Thanks to Detroit penalties, Arch Rival stretched the margin to 35-15.
And then the Missourian lead widened. 53-24 Arch with 13:14 left in the period. Then 62-24 one minute later. Then 89-37. Then 99-44.
When the differential stretched to fifty points, it literally dawned upon me…this Arch Rival team needed no pre-meditated coercion at all, from myself or anyone else. My pre-Brewhaha cause of worry was being subsided, jam by jam. This squad was performing well beyond what many had projected.
Long-time ARRG veterans were showing their dominance in positional blocking. Teamwork was being executed properly. Role players were handling their designated responsibilities flawlessly. Penalties were minimal. Drawing penalties on the opposition were causing the gap to widen.
The Arch Rival onslaught continued as the bout progressed. 139-87 with 20:00 left in the second half. 167-90 midway through the frame.
While I maintained my “poker face” and remained unbiased in my web stream call by praising positive Detroit moments, I will admit that I was beaming with pride inside. To my left, Guerilla knew his home league was in the driver’s seat, yet kept it professional as well.
When the bout ended, the scoreboard displayed Arch Rival 216, Detroit 138.
It was a victory for the St. Louisians, and consequently, a setback for my prognostication percentage. It served me right. The Arch Rival win derailed my ego…because I had doubted the league I yapped for, even though I shouldn’t have.
I didn’t stick around after the bout to receive a round of “told you so’s” from the Arch Rival skaters. Guerilla and I had to take off in the Muckster’s truckster and head back home after a weary weekend in Milwaukee.
But I knew that I would inevitably get my come-uppance upon my return. One of the ARRG skaters sent me a friendly jab online.
“So happy we could make you proud,” she said. “And prove you wrong.”
My time under the life-long learning tree ends this way. For his birthday celebration this weekend, instead of cake, this Gateway City derby yapper will chomp down on a huge slice of humble pie. I have no problem with that. After all, the calories are significantly less than my preferred "7-UP Pound Cake."
But more importantly, as this grizzled grey beard turn one year older, he stumbled upon a valuable lesson.
No matter what the rationale or intention, never bet against your home league ever again.
However, there is a home bout against #10 Minnesota on August 10.
As Fred Flintstone would say,”Yyooohh, boyyy.”
NEXT WEEK IN THE ARRG NEWSCENTER: The ARRG All-Stars return to action at Midwest Sport Hockey on June 28. They'll be in a WFTDA-sanctioned bout against a squad that's projected to make the 2013 WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament. The Floridians they face have posted impressive wins and would love nothing more than to play spoiler and bust up ARRG's undefeated streak at Queeny Park. Next week, we'll preview ARRG's battle against Jacksonville!
Muckety Muck and Magilla Guerilla are bout co-announcers for the Arch Rival Roller Girls. Check back in this section on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news/information.