On Hockey Pools

 
 
The first week of this year’s hockey pool is done.   By determination, research and skill (also known as blind luck) I am leading.  While this is no indication of future success, it makes me feel good nonetheless.

What I have found amazing over these past couple of days is the technology of it all.  Websites provide services that allow one to customize your pool in a dizzying array of ways.  Additionally, they provide real time stats.  The fact that it works so well is only blown away by the fact that it is provided for free.

What did people do before?  What poor soul had to sit down with a newspaper/many newspapers on Monday and work out everyone’s points?  Either pools were a lot simpler then, or that person didn’t get any “real” work done that day.

Having talked to a few people, it seems like the technology has not only made it easier to keep track of things, but somehow it allows people to be in a number of pools at once.  How they don’t get confused between players from one pool team to the next is beyond me–or maybe they don’t remember and have to spend a lot of time online checking and rechecking.   I guess that is what a smart phone is for, or is it?

Week one was fun.  Hopefully week two will be just as fun and just as successful.

Rethinking the Man Cave

Having watched a lot of shows on the theme of Man Cavesand talked to a lot of guys, I guess there are a lot men who want this kind of room.  I think, at some   I have had visions of pool table, hockey tables, pinball machines and a full standing Galaga machines.  Of course, I also need room for the train set. 

level, I too fall into this category.

No doubt, TV has played a lot into this stereotype.  TV shows have glorified the Man Caveand raised it to an art form.  No longer is the big screen TV and a couple of La-Z- Boys enough.  I remember when the pinnacle of a Man Cavewas a bar fridge.  Oh how times have changed.  Now, you practically have to hire a designer to get things done.  You need a theme, hidden sound systems, and fully integrated remote controls.  Start budgeting now.

What got me thinking of the Man Cavewas my latest obsession.  As anyone who ready my last post knows, I have become hooked on darts.  Darts require a dartboard and some kind of set up, or at least an inconspicuous wall to hang the dartboard on.  It kind of goes with the whole pool table set up.  At least, I think so.  Of course, I may have been conditioned to think so.

Above I mentioned all the things I would like to have in my Man Cave, but the truth is, it is unlikely to ever happen.  I just don’t have the space or the extra money to fulfill this dream.  Yes, if I stopped having hobbies and blowing my money on them, I might have the financial wherewithal to fund the Man Cave–but without the interest in hobbies, there really wouldn’t be a need for a Man Cave.  There would still be a need for a library full of books, though.

It’s Pool Time!

That’s right everyone.  It’s pool time.  No, not swimming pool time–it’s still a tad chilly for that.  I’m talking playoff hockey pools.  Players will be evaluated and scrutinized, picks will be debated, strategies will be formed and trash talk will be prepared.  Ah…. what a fantastic time it will be.

There is a wrinkle this year.  My team is in the playoffs.  That means that loyalty will compete with practicality.  When I look league wide, there are players I cannot pick (OttawaSenators for example) because I would rather lose with my guys, than win with the enemy.  I do not know how I will fare this year.

Will he play?
There are other wrinkles too.  Some fantastic players are injured.  Will they come back in time?  Will there team advance enough to see them return in future rounds?  There are so many questions, and if you consult the internet, then you’ll get too many answers.

Last year I chose first, and took Sidney Crosby.  He and some of my other picks were inspired.  Had I chosen better goalies, I would have won the whole thing.

Of course, there is a huge amount of luck in the whole endeavour.  I can only hope my luck holds out.

The Number Four Hobby I Would Take Up

If I had enough room in my basement I would love to have a true “man cave” like I see them build on those supposedly reality based TV shows.  I would love to have the bigger than big screen TV, the well decorated and stocked bar, the array of La-Z-Boy recliners for me and the buds, the deluxe table hockey game, and of course a fantastic pool table with the balls to play snooker, 8 ball and 9 ball.
I have seen Paul Newman as Fast Eddie in The Hustler many times–I even bought my father the book last Father’s Day.  I love watching those incredible shots the pool sharks make, and I would love to be good at pool.  I would love to be able to walk into a pool room, assemble my cue and beat the best in the house.  I would love to be a ranked player playing matches on television.

I have loved playing pool since I was a child.  I have ventured into pool halls of questionable character, and played at bars.  I have always dreamt of having my own table, and my own cue.  Nothing marks a person so clearly as a two or three piece cue slung over their back as they are mixing with the huddled masses of the public transportation set. 
 
Of course, there are several obstacles to these dreams.  Money and space seem to be the two biggest of them.  I could barely fit a 4X8 table in my basement (and then I would probably have to relocate both the television and the train set.  So making it a “man cave” seems to be out of the question unless I move to a bigger house, or at least a house with a bigger basement.

As far as money goes.  I think if one is going to buy a pool table they should buy a good one.  A crappy pool table with thin slate and low quality felt would quickly become old and undesirable.  If you have to replace it quickly then it really wasn’t worth the money–at least that’s how I look at it.

As far as becoming a great player.  I would need a lot of practice, and that would eat into my other hobbies.  In addition, I am probably too old to ever become great at pool–but at least I would be able to beat my friends when we went out to a bar.

About Trash Talking in the Digital Age

Perhaps I am old fashioned, but taunting people about their hockey pool picks on facebook, or by email doesn’t seem as much fun.  I know that cyber bullying is a serious problem, but I am not talking about that.  I am talking about razzing your friends, giving them the business, busting someone’s balls… you know what I mean.
If you read my previous post, you’ll know that trash talking and boasting has been the most exciting part of the hockey pool I am involved in.  Game two of the Stanley Cup Finals happened on a Saturday, which meant that I didn’t have a day to bother, pester and annoy my fellow poolies.  I guess I am going to have to join twitter if I want to make this work.

The Joys and Perils of the Hockey Pool

When the hockey playoffs are in full swing, and your team is busy improving their golf handicap, what are you supposed to do.  You can enjoy the skill, athleticism, and tenacity that makes hockey a game without equal, but you have to watch some other person’s favourite team.  You can speculate who is going to win.  You can even root against your team’s arch rival.  However, the best way to get into the playoffs is to join a hockey pool.

For the first time, I joined a charity pool with my co-workers and I must say I have been having a blast.

It started with an innocent idea and progressed to a trash talking bacchanalia.  Just picking the teams required days of study and a ream of paper’s worth of printouts.  People who had only a minor interest in hockey became grade A statisticians.   More importantly people learned how to pronounce the names of hockey players.  (It’s harder than you think)  What did we ever do before we had the internet?

Every morning has started off with trash talking about the performance of the players the night before.  I’d love to tell you it has all been high brow, high grade humour, but that wouldn’t be true and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.  Before the end of work, which basically means as soon as the morning trash talking ended,  the pre-game trash talking has begun.  As people have risen and fallen in the standings their philosophies and strategies have changed.  As they have tasted success they have boasted, and as they have tasted defeat they have developed various shrugs and wait and see poses. 

Of course, much time was spent speculating what could have been.  Players that no one suspected would even touch the puck  have become heroes.  Doubtless, many players are playing on injuries that would fell a lesser man, but their pool numbers have been less than predicted.

All in all, it has been fun.  A lot of fun.

As I write this, the final round is beginning and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s trash talking.