Monday, March 22, 2010

Chris Barnes' Next and Final Opponent in the Chris Barnes Challenge

This week's Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship in West Babylon, New York will carry the final "Chris Barnes Challenge" of the season. And, judging from the way things have been going for poor Chris this season, he may be glad for that. He's 2-2 on the season, but the two matches he won were against less-than-stellar amateurs, and the matches he lost were against pretty solid but not spectacularly good players, with the second of those losses, which took place just two days ago, being an unmitigated disaster. But next Saturday, he'll be putting up the $5ooo maximum of his own money to take on what is very possibly a star-in-the-making in young Anthony Pepe.

Pepe (please see video below) is the New York left-hander who qualified first in the recent Brunswick Euro Challenge before losing his single-elimination 3-game match in the Round of 32. This is what Tommy Scherer of the This is Bowling Philosophy recently had to say about Mr. Pepe:

"Pepe is a lefty from Queens in New York. Early 20's, good all around talent. Excellent ability to post up shots and play all parts of the lane (a unique talent amongst lefties). Shy personality, doesn't say much but his game does a lot of talking for him. Bowled many junior events with him in the early part of the decade in the northeast. He has the potential to be a tremendous player, just needs more reps at the higher levels. Already a top-5, top-10 local talent in the highly competitive Long Island/Metro NY area."

It sounds to me like Chris Barnes may have his hands more than full for the second consecutive week and that he'd better go see Fred Borden or Mark Baker for some solid coaching before the match.

By the way, this match will be contested with regular equipment and not with the special plastic balls the players will be restricted to using during the tournament.


  1. Having only recently returned to bowling and watching PBA, I haven't the background to know if Barnes has recently been on a "bad luck" streak.

    FWIW, my impression is that Barnes has had an incredible run of "bad luck" when it comes to TV matches, over the last 2 or 3 years. If my impression is correct, then I can understand why Barnes is showing signs of stress. I doubt that there are many humans that could deal with that for 2 or 3 years, without fraying around the edges a bit.

    His recent win, getting the triple crown, should have silenced his critics. But, if that was simply a pause in the continuation of his "bad luck" streak, then the pressures that he is dealing with would be enormous.

    He's had a wonderful career, in spite of recent problems and I expect that he'll continue to add trophies to his collection, for many years to come. But, I wouldn't want to be in his position right now. I know that I don't have the strength of character that he has displayed.

    I don't excuse bad behavior and if he's behaving inappropriately now ( I haven't seen it, but haven't seen a lot of his recent performances ) then he needs to fix that. I hope that he can find resolution to all of his problems.


  2. Barnes has had a pretty good abbreviated season this year and, along with Bill O'Neill, will be representing the USA in the Pan Am Games this summer.

    I doubt that any amount of success on Chris' part would silence his critics. Well, maybe if he won every tournament in sight for the next couple of years he might. But unless he does that or changes traits of his personality that seem to rub a lot of people the wrong way, he's never going to be overtly embraced by the bowling public, although he will still be grudgingly, secretly respected by them and feared by his competitors for years to come.

    I still think he's one of the top three bowlers in the world, and I also think he's an excellent bowling commentator on TV and would probably make a great coach, given his tremendous wealth of experience and obvious knowledge of the game.

  3. I agree with your comments completely. I enjoy watching him bowl, win or lose. My impression is that he often over-analyzes the situation ("trying too hard" was the term we used to use for that), causing many of his bad breaks. I also have the impression that he's his own worst critic.

    Even so, he garners much more than his fair share of hate mail on the youtube videos that feature him. That has puzzled me greatly, but your comments have shed some light on that. Thanks for your thoughts.


  4. Kerry, I think you're absolutely right. He sometimes lets his head get in the way of his body. He's obviously extremely knowledgeable about the game and extremely prone to thinking it to death. There may come a time, especially for guys like Chris, when you have to just put all that on hold and "let 'er fly."

    I also think you're right that he's too self-critical. It's interesting to contemplate the issue of just how self-critical one needs to be to motivate oneself to perform at one's very best; yet, it seems to me that no elite player bowling for a living makes mistakes on purpose. There's a biomechanical and/or psychological reason behind every mistake, and rather than jump all over yourself for making that mistake, you'd be better served by trying to figure out why you made the mistake and how you can avoid repeating it.