Mosconi Cup Pre-Fight

The flight to Malta was like most any other. Miserable. When our ‘meal' was served the man beside me commented that at home he would not feed this to his dog for fear of being charged with cruelty. But we gagged it down in order to make the requisite sleep possible. After the trash was collected the lights were turned off in the cabin and we all looked forward to a doze.

This was when the infant in the first row first exploded. The screaming was horrendous and as loud as any ambulance siren. The parents found this quite entertaining and charming. They beamed as the banshee railed. My plan to duct tape a towel to his ass for a tail and put him in a cage to be taken downstairs with the rest of the beasts gradually met with more and more passenger favor as the devil seed continued to scream unrelentingly. A woman in the row ahead of me began passing out valiums to her fellow passengers, but even this could not allow sleep over the piercing screams. Finally the crew told the parents in no uncertain terms that the noise had gone on long enough and requested that the child and mother go into a bathroom until the little monster either quieted down or (better) died. The insulted mother stormed down the aisle and disappeared into one of the bathrooms.

Then the valiums hit us like ether and off I went, not to awake until the wheels touched down in Rome. A two-hour layover was spent searching for the Air Malta gate, then a brief hour flight to Malta. The Malta airport is very small and efficient. There is a passport control gate, but it was open and unmanned. In the three minutes or so it took us to get to the luggage carrier our bags were already arriving. Then through the again unmanned customs area, into a cab, and off to the Hilton.  

Malta is beautiful. The seacoast varies from tall cliffs to sunlit beaches and areas where the sea slips into natural harbors filled with boats of every kind. Each of these harbors is surrounded by restaurants, shops and hotels. The Hilton itself is a simply magnificent place. The guest rooms are large, with verandas that overlook the sea, the pools and the palm trees. The bathrooms have showers and, my favorite bathtubs that are large enough to fill with hot water and stretch out in completely, even for  six-footer. On arrival day the weather was perfect – sunny, breezy and warm. We walked about the city, stopped in bookstores and gift shops and finally had a pizza on a stone deck above one of the harbors. Beneath us on the dock children fished and artists painted the scene. Truly, Malta is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen.  

When evening came Matchroom Sport put on a welcoming get-together in one of the bars and the team captains, Nick Varner and Alex Lely, said a few words that were met with toasts and applause. Then it was back into the streets to roam the city in search of nightlife, a search that is easy enough as the whole place comes alive when the sun goes down.  

Being tired from the trip and feeling somewhat older than the dirt beneath the cobblestones, I retired early and slept for ten hours straight. When I awoke the next morning the weather had changed considerably. The wind was howling, threatening the very existence of the palm trees that were swaying fervently in an effort to uproot. The hard rain gave way to hail and then settled into a downpour that has been continuous now for the entire day. Oh, well, no matter. The Hilton contains all we need. Shops, food, bars, and two practice rooms with Brunswick GC V's for the players to practice on. All is well.  

Tonight at 8 o'clock the work begins. Stan James has the odds at pick ‘em and most everyone agrees that they have it correct. This match-up on paper is a coin flip. The winner will be determined by whichever team makes the fewer mistakes or gets the best rolls or some combination of the two.  Both teams seem supremely confident, no one is ill and all seem to be on their games. This could be the best Mosconi Cup in history as it looks like it could be very close indeed.  

AZBilliards will keep you up to date each day with these reports and I am certain there will be forum posters here as well. Stay with us as the action unfolds in Malta. And put Malta on your list of places to visit. The prices are low, the people are great, and the scenery is exotic and varied.