Good Morning Umberto Wherever You Are,
Now that it’s certain the Bronco’s are playing for draft choices I’ve heard from a semi-reliable source that some of you (and you know who you are) have decided to take up ‘Bocce Ball’. While I’ve never played the game, I saw several ‘older gentlemen’ playing Bocce Ball while visiting an Army buddy in Queens, NY 30 some years ago. In thinking about this transition to actually playing a game centuries old, as opposed to watching spoiled athlete zillionaires play a game, I did a bit of research to see what was involved.
While nobody seems to know for sure the origins of the game, but the consensus is that it was introduced by the ancient Phoenicians. Initially they used wooden balls, but found them easy to chip or break given the early rough conditions of the court. This was the first known use of the term ‘ball buster.’ Today the modern bowler uses bronze which is now the ball of choice. I found it ironic that it’s played either individually or as a team. Sound familiar? The court is 27.5 meters by 4 meters and like shuffle board players continue to rotate ends after each has tossed or bowled their allotted balls.
A player attempts to either toss or bowl their balls close to a target called the ‘Jack.’ The opponent attempts to place his balls nearer the ‘Jack’ or remove balls that prevent him from doing so. The referees have a great deal of leeway in issuing penalties for bad behavior, foul language, not making the proper effort, or players coming to their own agreements. According to the gravity of the offense the referee may apply one of the following:
1. Warning to players, the team, or teams at fault
3. Annulment of one or more bowls
4. Annulment of the right to the 2nd delivery of the Jack
5. Concession of a supplementary delivery of the Jack to the opponent
6. Annulment of the end in progress
7. Award victim of foul the right to re-play the bowl
8. Stop the match
9. Exclusion of the guilty player or team
10. Declare the match lost
11. Grant points to the opposing team
12. Reduce the number of points
Bagwan who has proffered this contrivance says he’s Italian and related to Umberto Granaglia who has won 13 world championships and is considered the best example of utilizing ‘The Toss.’ Unbeknownst to me, the Bagster plays every Sunday at Mickey’s Top Sirloin Restaurant on 70th & Broadway. They play year round now that they’ve installed 2 new indoor courts. There is a ‘shrine’ to Umberto with pictures of ‘The Toss’ and several meals served bearing his name. However, before I commit to something like this I felt it was important to observe a real game. Given the rules for bad language or not putting forth the proper effort, I’m thinking any curmudgeon team would be at a serious disadvantage.
I watched our Bagwan who seemed to be holding his own and playing well. At one time he was actually the point leader in the match until one of the referees grabbed his balls to examine them. I’m not sure what the old fart was looking for, perhaps it was like a corked bat or something. He put his nose under each of his balls holding them up examining them carefully. The referee finally called for the official scale placing Baggy’s balls on it one by one. Evidently, having balls that exceed the standards or begin to sag is grounds for exclusion.
The decision was final so our ‘Holy Fucker’ put his balls in a sack and left in a huff.