Before anyone asks, no, Stern didn’t release a Britney Spears pinball machine (though at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if at one point they did).
On one hand, the standings are pretty much set and so the matches are starting to bear less significance. On the other, every player has some room for improvement to try to grab the highest seed possible. As stated last week there was still a faint hope of my grabbing the #1 seed for the playoffs going into this week.
I would be grouped with Billy Joiner, Melvin Jiles, and Cory Westfahl. Cory is the only other player in the group who is set to wind up in the A division playoffs. The game lineup this week would consist of Ghostbusters, Metallica, Houdini, Star Wars, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC. Guardians of the Galaxy would be on the floor but not part of league play due to problems (again).
We would start off on Houdini. I had what I felt to be a pretty decent game, running up 140K+ on ball 1 for an early lead. Cory, however, leapfrogged into first after his ball 2 posting a score of 438K+, and even Billy was able to move into what would eventually be a second place finish with 169K+. I would have to settle for third with 160K+ after a very lacking ball 3.
The next game on Star Wars wouldn’t go any better. I never really had much of a chance on this one after ball 2 was done, though I did have an early lead after ball 1 (54.9M+ to Cory’s 51.7M+ with the other two players much further back). I would sign off with 74.5M+ behind Billy’s 84.7M+, Melvin’s 239.8M+, and Cory’s 406.8M+. So far, that’s three standings points after two games. Not good.
Things would improve slightly during our game on Iron Maiden. I would stay competitive after the first two balls with 10.0M+, staring down Billy’s final score of 14.0M+. I ran up quite a few points during a couple of different multiball modes for a total of 52.4M+, though Cory was able to put up an astounding 185.2M+ to take first. That would bring me up to six standings points after three games, and now all of a sudden there’s doubt that I’m even going to be able to beat last week’s eight-pointer.
Next up would be Ghostbusters, the object of much of my scorn for anyone who has read more than one of my previous posts. Predictably, the game starts off low-scoring, with a whopping 607K+ for me after the first ball, with no players breaking the 2M mark until ball 2. I wouldn’t break the 2M mark until ball 3, and the 65.2M+ I’d sign off with would only be good for third place. At least, no matter what, I’d improve upon the dreadful eight-pointer I put up last week.
And then we wind up the night on Metallica. This is where the controversy begins.
The first game we play, there’s an irregularity where during Cory’s first ball, two balls are shot into play, which he argues cost him a ball save. According to the rules that’s supposed to be normal course of play. Being the pillar of sportsmanship I can sometimes be, I catch Cory’s ball when he steps away from the machine not realizing the ball save was active. The ruling Erich makes is to time 15 seconds after Cory resumes play to see if he would still have gotten the ball save… and it turns out Cory loses the ball right at the 15-second mark so it’s inconclusive. Erich also says technically according to the rules I should have been DQ’d for interference (not that it matters at this stage in the night), especially considering we’ve been down that road before.
We wind up, by agreement, replaying the game from the beginning, which gives the short end of the stick to Melvin who had run up 11.1M+ on the first ball. Amazingly, I would wind up posting a 24.3M+, most of it coming on the third ball during an Electric Chair Multiball which went very well, and Cory would come in last with 3.2M+. Melvin still took second place (though it’s conceivable he would have taken first had Cory just played out the first game normally). Still, thirteen standings points on the night is low enough to be one of my two lowest nights, and worse, it now means I am stuck with the fourteen-pointer from week 6 which I had hoped to drop.
The long and short of it is I can now forget about the #1 seed, and it’s still possible I may drop to, say, the #5 or #6 seed (or lower). I’m trying not to think about that possibility, though. I can still improve 12 points to a total of 117 on the season (after dropping the two lowest scores of 8 and 13).
As the scores stand now, I’m tied with both Cory and Craig Squires for the #2 seed; Craig has the tiebreaker over both of us, but I have the tiebreaker over Cory so that effectively puts me at the #3 seed. Craig can clinch a higher seed than mine by simply scoring equal or better than my week 8 performance if we both put up a 14 or higher. Cory can score one point lower than I do this coming week and still clinch a higher seed as long as that’s at least a 15. A number of the players below us are in a similar situation regarding being able to potentially clinch a higher seed than I have, whatever that may be. It gets harder to figure out due to being able to drop two weeks, though based on what I’ve been able to figure out, the odds start to massively thin out when we look at players on the bubble for A division as of this week’s scores.
Looking back, given some of the crazy things that have happened, I’m amazed that I’ve lasted for a majority of the season in one of the top two spots in the standings. I have to keep reminding myself it’s not going to matter if I choke in the playoffs. It felt really good to win B division last time, but I know it will pale in comparison to the feeling of winning A division. (Incidentally, that feeling is something which, until now, only two other players have experienced in this league, both of them known as frequent tournament winners.)