Monday, December 16, 2013

Racing to Year’s End

The year is coming to a close, which means we’re starting to see lots of “best of 2013”-type features popping up all over. Was reminded of that fact a couple of times over recent days.

Once was when watching NFL football last night and hearing the news that Peyton Manning had been named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated, a choice that seems to have been met with a chorus of shrugs by most. Manning is certainly having a fine year, although his selection seems to have more to do with a kind of “lifetime achievement” recognition than with his specific accomplishments this particular year.

I will say I like Manning a lot both as a player and as a spokesman for football and sports, generally speaking. Heard him interviewed again today and was reminded how effortlessly he seems to communicate all of the usual “player-speak” clichés while also coming off as astute, entirely self-aware, and even witty. His self-deprecating instinct also reminds us that when it comes to sportsmanship -- which may or may not be a criterion for “sportsman of the year,” I don’t know -- Manning is definitely a model.

Meanwhile, the player of the year races in poker are about to be decided, too. The World Series of Poker POY has already been locked up, of course, by Daniel Negreanu, but the last few tourneys of December will affect things in some of the magazines’ POY standings as well as the one kept by the Global Poker Index.

Saw some tweeting yesterday and again today regarding how the German phenom Ole Schemion -- who only just turned 21, I believe, but already has three years’ worth of big tourney finishes under his belt in numerous European events -- still has a chance of catching Negreanu in the 2013 GPI POY race if he were to finish 17th or better in the EPT Prague Main Event where Day 4 just finished a little while ago.

It looks like 22 players remain from the starting field of 1,007, with Schemion third in chips going into tomorrow and thus primed to pass “Kid Poker.”

Speaking of the shrugs that came following the announcement of Manning as the SI Sportsman of the Year, Allen Bari had a funny response to some of the tweets yesterday about the finale of GPI race and Schemion’s prospects for passing Negreanu: “Wonder if less than 4 people care.”

I suppose I find the GPI rankings and these other POY charts intriguing insofar as they do contribute additional storylines to tournament poker where the traditional narratives are so familiar it is somewhat welcoming to have some subplot to divert us now and then. The significance of such races can certainly be debated, though, as can the various criteria used to create the rankings which fuel them.

Anyhow, whoever wins the poker POYs that person could do a lot worse than to follow Manning’s example when it comes to humility. And to handling possible questions about mustaches, check offs, and/or horse mascots.

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