Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bocce Newsletter Column


Names have been changed to protect the privacy and whatever. For best effect, please read the following the most poshest British accent you can muster. Possible a voice that could do colour commentary for both the British Open and Wimbledon.







On a dreary day that washed the verve from our great city, lovers of sport held their breath. Before the day was over, blood would be shed, tears wept, and not a small part of Canadian history would be made; for on that downtrodden, rain-spattered August 10th, four warriors of athletic endeavour would clash on the field of sport. It was the 2nd round of Enrolment Services and Student Development & Services staff Bocce Tournament, and the game, was on.

That day, fighting for their tournament lives, were bocce veterans Stan Smith and Mary Jones versus upstarts and virtual unknowns Sam Emery (representing the UK) and Larry Spielman. While Smith was known to be still nursing a blown rotator cuff from the 06' All Euro Cup, Jones had improved significantly, placing in the money in several satellite tournaments and very well in early heat qualifiers. All eyes were on Smith, however, as Vegas odds put him at 10-1 odds of him bolting at the last minute. In addition to his tragic rotator injury, there are rumours of doping with 'Cappuccino', a highly addictive neurochemically unbalancing enhancer. He had been skittish of late, ducking all scheduled interviews with the press corps. Jones, ever the consumate professional, refused to entertain speculation that her long time bocce compatriot was anything but top fighting shape.

Their virtual unknown opponents were last minute wild cards whose pedigrees were far suspect, particularly when put up to the uncompromising light of the venerable Smith-Jones. Emery had cut his teeth in the no-holds barred bocce fields of Essex and had spent a number of years terrorizing the North Vancouver Bocce Clubs with his aggressive style, decidedly British puns, and a ruthless eye for measuring pallino distances. Spielman was far worse. Many speculated that his purported early years in the novice bocce fields of Maple Ridge were exaggerations at best, and more likely outright fabrications. He, like Smith, was haunted by accusations of addiction to 'Diet Coke', a drug that, while related to Jones's 'Cappuccino', was used only by less savoury players.

The thousands strong audience were in for a suprise as the golden pair of Jones and Smith was broken, Smith was absent from the field. Initial responses from his PR firm alluded to him having the flu, which was starkly retracted with a more broad statment regarding conflicting engagements. Jones had to hold the field against the two brazen players who, in this commentors opinion, were not fit to mow the lawn.

In a show of dazzingly athleticism, Jones took the early lead, beating out the rag-tag duo to the score of 2-0. The audience surged behind her early lead, and as if to put the last nails in the short bocce career of Emery-Spielman, Smith mounted the field. The game was all but over. Spielman, showing his uncultured and, dare I say, barbaric misunderstanding of the chivalrous sport of bocce, was heard to call the pallino 'that white ball thinger'. Emery looked lost, and stumbled across the field, his throws lacking that early promise of talent, however unrefined it may have been.

To the surprise of many, and to the chagrin of bocce lovers everywhere, the Emery-Spielman duo plowed ahead, showing their unlikely skill in the distasteful 'short game'. Leading at one point 12-6.

Jones and Smith buckled down, dug deep, and found the champion duo that so dazzled the world in the 2003 India-Asia Finals during the fabled 'Uproar In Bangalore'. Smith, coming out of what many saw as a caffeinenated stupour, strategized with Jones to play the more honourable -and as a happy circumstance, their opponent's weakness- 'long game' . They clawed their way back, kicking the Emery-Spielman duo for every rung they dared ascend. It was a grueling battle, where the bocce balls were often measured in tenths of a millimetre. Natural obstacles featured well in this match, notably where the Emery-Spielman team benefited from an unlikely series of lucky bounces, while the more talented, and far more deserving Jones-Smith suffered set back after setback through no fault of their own.

In the end, the poorer team caught too many lucky breaks and sent the real champions, Jones-Smith, back to the training fields of BC. It was sad and upsetting day for bocce purist everywhere, a day not soon forgotten by this commentator.

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