"We're going to DC, we're going to DC!" Those were the words sung by Nan, high up on Ben's shoulders, at 9pm on Friday night. The catering gig was finished, and we were about to get in the volvo 240 with 300,000 miles on it, loaded down with a full trunk and five bikes on a bike rack made for three.
As General Manager, Nan was allowed to choose our team name. I wanted something to represent my disdain for DC and my foreigner status, so i proposed The Burning of Washington. But Nan wouldn't have any of it, and when presented with the option of naming us after her favourite train engine, Gordon, she jumped. So we became "Gordon is the Biggest and the Fastest and the Strongest..."
Things went really well (fast interstate sailing, beautiful sunrise) until we got to West Virginia. Then in the space of 20 minutes, our would-be-head coach and friend from NYC called to cancel, and the muffler fell off. Nan was instantly promoted from GM to head coach, which basically meant hanging out with the local kids on the swing set, and eating lots of candy.
Day 1 was hot, bright, and stinky. I had only slept three hours the night previous and i was way off my game. Luckily Jonny carried us through the first few games, scoring almost all the goals in our first couple of matches. We were 3-0 going into our last game of the day, against NYC's "Banned in DC", winners of the two previous tournaments they've played, who schooled us hard 5-0. I knew they would be good but this still came as a bit of a shock.
We went off for dinner with a couple friends, half-watched the habs lose the the Flyers, and then headed off to what we hoped would be an early night.
See, we had a friend book us a discounted hotel room, and got what we thought was an awesome deal at a fancy hotel. Unfortunately, that deal was probably due to the fact that the place was hosting the White House Press Corps annual dinner, complete with George W Bush, and had basically turned into the Green Zone for the night. I've never seen so many stretch limos, black and tinted SUVs, and suit-drones with earpieces all in one place. Needless to say, we couldn't drive our 1985 volvo with the homemade-artillery-looking thing mounted on the roof into the underground parking. i'm surprised they even let us within the a one-block radius. While Ben went in to find out what the hell was going on that we couldn't access the hotel, i double-parked the car and got out to ask one of the Secret Service looking people what was up. The Secret Service looking person that i chose was not in fact a member of the SS, but was the driver for Pamela Anderson. I know this only because as i was about to open my mouth to ask him what the hell was going on, a certain busty lady was walking up towards me, in the space between the two rows of double-parked cars where i was standing. "Hey wassup?" i asked. "Hey, how you doin'" she replied, and crawled into the limousine in front of our car. Strange things...
Eventually we found parking on the street in the pissing rain and made it into the hotel, grazed and gleaned from a number of the room service trolleys in the hallways, and fell asleep.
This was the real polo day. With the seeding all complete from round robins we got a bye until the teams were reduce from the original 22 to the round of 16, which gave us enough time to move the muffler from the top of the car back in place.
It was double elimination, which meant that if you lost a game you had to go to a "loser's bracket" and fight your way out. The winner of the winners' bracket would then face off against the winner of the loser's bracket for first place--a cool format that means that everyone got to play a lot of games.
We did pretty well through our first few games.
Throughout, Ben pulled off some spectactular diving goals and defensive moves and generally entertained the crowd i think. Jonny got down low to the gorund and out-dribbled everyone on the court. I felt a lot better than on Saturday and actuall converted a few opportunites, including some perfect passes from Jonny.
Our first tests came from Psycho 78 from NYC and then the Hoagie Rollers from Philly. But we still pulled off wins. This sent us to the finals of the winner's bracket, against NYC's Banned in DC.
This time it was closer, ending 3-0 after 10 short minutes--though it felt more like it should have been 2-1. Still, i was feeling beat up and willing to take defeat to go off to face the eventual winners of the loser's bracket.
Which turned out to be a rematch with the Hoagie Rollers, a team with one of the best goalies, one of the best sharpshooters, and definitely the best beard of the tournament, who were fresh from beating a team that i really didn't want to have to play against--our Wisconsin rivals Jake/Joe/Kremin (that game--with Crandall instead of Kremin--can wait for the tourney next weekend).
Our game with Philly was tight and rain-soaked, and Nan finally joined us on the bench, yelling her head off pretty much the whole time. The score went from 1-0 to 1-2 to 3-2, then Philly tied it up right before time ran out. But after a few minutes of sudden death, we self-destructed and they scored while all three of us were down. Not a great way to finish, but in a way i was happy with third place and fine with not having to face humiliation by Doug and Co from NYC again.
Many thanks to the folks in DC for showing us a good time and all the good people who showed up to play. Looking forward to seeing some of you in Madison this weekend.