Originally published July 16, 2009 on 710 ESPN.
And now, here’s part 2 of the Brolympics recap, with Mitch and Matt leading 3 events to 2.
Event 6: Cornhole
- Best 3 games out of 5;
- Games played to 21;
- “Skunk” in effect (meaning 11-0 wins the game); and
- Must win game by 2 points.
Before you get a kink in your neck making sure of the spelling, yes, it’s called Cornhole. If you’ve never heard of cornhole, it’s similar to Baggo. And if you don’t know what Baggo is, well, I suppose it’s similar to Horseshoes. In Cornhole, two wooden, rectangular boards are positioned 27-feet apart. Each board has a hole cut out of it, and each board is elevated 12 inches off the ground at the rear of the board. Teammates stand at opposite ends, and you go head-to-head against the person on your side of the board. Each player throws four corn bags, alternating bags with his opponent, in an effort to toss them into the hole at the opposite end. If your bag lands on the board, you score a point. If your bag lands in the hole, you score three points. Additionally, bags can cancel each other out. For instance, if I miss the board three times but land one in the hole, that’s equivalent to three points. Meanwhile, if my opponent misses twice but lands two on the board, he scores two points. Since my point total is greater, I score a total of one point for the round (three points minus two points). If we score an equal number of points in a round, no one gets any points added to their total, as we call it “No blood.” So, there you go: the basic rules of Cornhole. Now I advise all of you to make a point of playing.
My cousin Matt actually owns a Baggo set, which is different from Cornhole in that the boards are closer together, the surface of the boards are different, and the bags themselves contain sand as opposed to corn. Fortunately, Matt B. has a Cornhole set, so we set up shop in the alley behind his garage. In recent years, I’d say Josh and Matt are the Kings of Cornhole, a dubious distinction at best. Over the past few months, though, I’ve had the chance to play quite a bit. In fact, Matt B. and I partnered together quite a bit, and in the span of two social events – tailgating at a Phillies game and a bachelor party – he and I went a combined 31-3. Ridiculous, right? So with that newfound confidence, I felt great going into this event.
Sure enough, Josh and I marched out to a quick two games to none lead. We were lucky in some ways, though, as Matt and I were at the same end, and Matt was off his game. And despite the fact that Josh is a better player than Mitch, Josh was off, as well, and not taking advantage of our obvious good fortune. They managed to grab the third game, but I pretty much put an end to any comeback shortly thereafter, shoring up a victory for us in game four. While Matt started slowly and improved, I stayed consistent throughout and led us to victory.
It’s written all over Cousin Josh’s (and Mitch’s) face.
By the way, did I mention we’d been drinking a bit more heavily at this point?
Cornhole Final Score: J&B over M&M, 3-1
Overall Score: J&B 3, M&M 3
Event 7: Pool
- Race to 5 (first team to 5 games wins);
- 8-Ball (must call pockets); and
- Scratch on the 8-Ball is a loss only if cue ball is also pocketed.
Mitch and I have played pool for quite some time. In fact, we both own a cue, which isn’t a sign of me being braggadocios; rather, we’re both big nerds and fans of the game. We started playing years and years ago, but perhaps played at our pinnacle (at least, Mitch did) when we were living in Chicago. We used to go to this great little bar on the North Side of Chicago called the Ten Can, which was an easy-to-miss joint right on Ashland Ave. They had free pool every day up until, I believe, 4 o’clock, not to mention free pool all day on Sundays. The Ten Cat only had two pool tables — a regulation table and a bar table — but both were in stellar condition. What’s more, never in my life have I seen better house cues. When the pool wasn’t free, they used a “ticket system,” in which you paid the bartender a buck, got one of those carnival-like tickets, wrote your name on the back, and sat it on the table rail. I think the reason I so improved in that joint is the level of competition. If you were a total slacker, you simply didn’t play there. This wasn’t the place for a guy to stand over his girlfriend and shoot, or for someone to point to the object ball and tell his partner, “Hit it here.”
Up until last summer, Mitch and I were actually playing in an APA Pool League together. Yeah, that’s right. We got out of the league and I pretty much abandoned pool for Golden Tee over the last year, but it’s kind of like riding a bike after all. Unfortunately, Josh, in his words, “sucked” at pool, so in order to take this one I’d have to single-handedly “pool” it off. Well, I didn’t.
We played at the Appalachian Brewing Company on Cameron Street. The tables there are not only regulation size, but fast — really fast. The bar was out of chalk, but fortunately Mitch brought a batch of his own. We worked out a deal with the bartender: some chalk for them, free pool for us. Nice.
Cousin Brandon was here.
As it turned out, Matt could play a bit, and Mitch, well, was Mitch. When he’s on at pool (which he usually is), he’s dangerous. It got to be too much, as I felt like it they were getting two shots to our one, as Josh, as promised, sucked. In all fairness to him, I was off a bit myself, but with darts coming up next I knew we had to take this event. What we ended up taking instead was another hole to climb out from.
Where are your matching shirts, M & M? Losers.
Pool Final Score: M&M over J&B, 5-2
Overall Score: J&B 3, M&M 4
Event 8: Darts
- Best 3 out of 5; and
- Team Cricket.
I suck. We lost.
Darts Final Score: M&M over J&B, 3-0
Overall Score: J&B 3, M&M 5
Event 9: Beirut
- Best 3 out of 5;
- 6 cups per side shaped in a pyramid;
- Elbows can’t pass the end of the table when shooting;
- Regroup cups after every made shot;
- Teams can rebound and reshoot missed shots;
- “Rebuttal” when both teams are on last cup; and
- Overtime consists of three cups per team.
Some call it “Beer Pong,” but technically that’s incorrect. Technically. See, they now have something every year in Las Vegas called the World Series of Beer Pong, and their game is played much as we play Beirut. The reason I refuse to call Beirut by this other name, though, is that there is another form of Beer Pong entirely, involving a ping pong table, paddles, and only two beers per side. I’ve played it, and it’s actually quite fun. But nevertheless, it’s not Beirut; it’s Beer Pong.
If I had to pick a favorite at the onset, I would pick Matt and whoever he was partnered with; therefore, I would have picked Matt and Mitch to take this, simply because Matt is something of a savant when it comes to this sort of thing. In fact, I’ve joked that the epigraph on his tombstone will read as follows: “He threw things into things.”
I first played Beirut when I was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University, way back in 1993. Back then we played 10 cups per side. I was pretty good back then, but also had an unbelievable advantage, in that my partner, a guy named Eric Witte, was ridiculously tall. In fact, he easily could have played for the CMU basketball team (if he had any basketball skill, that is). When I later transferred to the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico, it was as if I single-handedly brought the game to the college. Granted, the student population was just over a thousand, but it was still hard to believe no one had played previously. In later years, both Matt and I were living in Philadelphia when we joined a Beirut league at a King of Prussia bar. We played two seasons: the first season under the moniker “BM,” the second as “Johnny Airball.” We played pretty well, actually, and made the playoffs both seasons. But even then, it was clear that Matt was ridiculously good. He has this method of positioning his shot, and just as he’s about to shoot the ping pong ball, he spins/repositions the ball with his non-shooting hand, giving it a half-turn. Matt always had a nice arc on his shot where I was always more of a gunner. And yet together, we typically played well.
On this night, though, which was actually no longer this “night,” as we were at least in the 1 am range by now, Matt and I were on opposite ends of the field, so to speak. With an official Beirut table set up in my kitchen, the game commenced: me and Josh on one side, them on the other. We knew that if we lost, the final event would be unnecessary, as we would be down 6-3. And with that pressure fully upon us, we gave it our all.
(Did I mention that we’d be been competing since 10 am and we were now sufficiently drunk?)
Over the course of the first two games, I was, well, not so good. Mitch and Matt continued to make shots, and Josh, too, carried us. And nevertheless, I don’t know that I made a single ball. It was weird: nearly every single shot I put up grazed the top of a cup at the very least, and yet I couldn’t find the range to drop one. Not one. We quickly went down two games to none, and I, of course, was dejected.
Game 3 came about, and even though they again jumped out to a lead, I could see that Mitch’s shot was getting a bit more wayward, as the day and drink had finally caught up with him. Josh continued to make shots, and at last, we both had one cup in front of us. Matt, of course, drained their last cup, leaving us with one shot, one final rebuttal to force overtime and extend the Brolympics, if only for a little while longer. And whose turn was it? Yep, you guessed it. Here I was, drunk, having not made a single shot, and it was all up to me, a la the final at-bat of a young Matthew Broderick in Max Dugan Returns. I stepped up, took a deep breath, and Swish! I hit one! I finally hit one! The rest of them instantly dubbed it “The Shot Heard Round the World,” and even though it was no walk-off like the great Bobby Thompson home run, it at least kept the match (and the Brolympics) going.
We went to overtime in Game 3, and we proceeded to pull out the game, thus giving them a 2-1 lead. From that point on, it all changed. We took the fourth game, too, and not only had we evened things up, but I suddenly found my shot and was hitting cups consistently. At that point, even though I knew there was one final game to go, I knew we were going to win. I did. There was just no way to mount that sort of comeback and not win. And, for once, I was right. Sometime after 2:30 in the morning our 9th event of the Brolympics came to a close, with Josh and me the victors. Don’t get me wrong; they made Game 5 interesting, as Mitch made a rebuttal to force overtime. Still, we prevailed in the end, and went to sleep down one event with one to play.
Josh and I drunkenly celebrating around 2:30 in the morning.
Beirut Final Score: J&B over M&M, 3-2
Overall Score: J&B 4, M&M 5
Event 10: Miniature Golf
- Low combined team score wins;
- Six-stroke limit per hole;
- Low combined score per hole hits first; and
- Course consists of 22 holes (weird, right?)
The final event didn’t begin until noon on Sunday. Having been up until 3:30 in the morning, I can’t say I was overly motivated to get my day started. Still, we knew it had to be done, and coming off the high of “The Shot,” well, let’s just say we were riding high (or riding drunk).
The Challenge Family Fun Center (CFFC) in Hummelstown, PA, just a stone’s throw away from Indian Echo Caverns, hosted miniature golf. (And for those of you in the area bending over backwards to get to Hershey Park, I advise you to make a quick stop at Indian Echo Caverns. It’s outrageously strange and somehow very cool.) It’s sad, really, but the four of us spent many a weekend at CFFC in high school. Typically we’d hit it up on a Friday night as an hors d’oeurve of sorts to our evening, so it seemed only right for us to return to our “home course,” so to speak, so settle the Brolympics.
Going into the event, I knew it would be pretty much even, as Mitch and I are both golfers. (Well, I don’t know if it’s fair to call myself a golfer, as I couldn’t even tell you the last time I broke 100.) What I didn’t count on, though, was the shakes. I was literally shaking due to A) a lack of sleep; B) not eating; and C) a solid hangover. Needless to say, I had to sit down several times throughout the blazing hot round, always looking for a tree to sit under to deflect some of the direct rays.
The CFFC course is a weird one, as it consists of 21 holes and a one-shot, win-a-free-game 22nd hole, which didn’t count in the official scoring. So, we had 21 holes to determine a champion, or at least to prolong the crowning of one.
I came out on absolute fire. Over the course of the first 10 holes, I believe I put up a rather ridiculous number and carded the low round on the front. I couldn’t miss. Josh, too, carried his weight, and after the front side we were up by four strokes. Things continued pretty much this way on the back, though I definitely got tight. My stroke abandoned me somewhat in favor of jabbing at the ball. Miraculously, in what was arguably my worst stroke of the day, I managed to clank my “tee shot” off of a rock to the left, have the ball kick right and off the back wall, and wind up in the hole for the only hole-in-one of the day. It was just that sort of round.
When the dust settled, Josh and I took the final event by five strokes, my 57 being the low round of the day. I didn’t win the free game at the end, but so be it. Taking the event was victory enough. And I even managed to not faint.
High Five: Cousin Josh and I square up the Brolympics.
Miniature Golf Final Score: J&B over M&M, 122-127
Final Score: J&B 5, M&M 5
A tie?! Really? After all that? Unfortunately, yes. We discussed some sort of quick tie-breaker – a video game, shuffleboard, etc. – but realized that we screwed up and should have planned for this before deciding on the events. To tack on something at the end felt wrong, and instead we decided to add an 11th event for year two. Furthermore, the idea of even moving at that point was incredibly unappealing to me, so I couldn’t have been happier to call it a draw. What’s more, it felt like ending on a high note, since Josh and I rebounded and took the last two events to square up the Brolympics.
All in all, it was an unbelievable day-and-a-half. Sure, no winner was determined, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re all winners.
Nah, who am I kidding. Tying, at anything, sucks. Well, except shoes. And flies. And rope knots. And fire hoses around your waist, a la Bruce Willis before leaping off the roof of Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard. But otherwise, no good.
Kudos, again, to all four participants, and special thanks to Matt B. Without those mimosas, the day would have been lost.
We hope to see you all next year at the 2nd Annual Brolympics. You’ve been warned.
Now have at it, you vultures!