Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Mike, Osku, and Brian Show

Congratulations to Mike Scroggins for outlasting the other finalists to win title #8 and move solidly into third place in the Player of the Year race.

Yes, I know he missed two 7-pin spares today, but he still scored well enough to stay in the hunt through the first two "eliminator" matches and then beat Brian Kretzer in the final match.

A lot of people don't seem to like or, at least, respect Mike Scroggins much as a bowler, and I confess that I used to be one of them. Aside from my longstanding aversion to lefties in general, I didn't like Scroggins' simple, low rev, down-and-in style. That, coupled with his low key personality, made him someone I wanted to see everybody else beat, especially if "everybody else" happened to be right-handed.

Of course, the contradiction inherent in this is that Walter Ray Williams is my all-time favorite bowler despite the fact that he too has a simple, low rev, predominately down-and-in style and a low key personality. And so, for that matter, do I. Go figure.

But lately I've come to appreciate just how good Scroggins is and how effective his simple keep-the-ball-in-play game can be on a variety of conditions. Besides that, everyone says he's an extremely nice guy, and that goes a long way in my book of what's important. Mike Scroggins has quietly climbed his way onto my hallowed list of favorite bowlers. I'm sure he'd be overwhelmed with pride and joy to hear that.

It sure was entertaining in the beginning watching Osku Palermaa demolish the pins. I'm smitten with the two-handed style of Belmonte and Palermaa especially. It generates obscene power, and those two guys can harness all that power in miraculous ways. I was hoping Palermaa would win so that he'd receive an exemption and bowl on tour all next season as he told Randy Pedersen he would. I'm not sure how much his mistake of bowling what he thought was a practice shot during a commercial break in the second match and having it count may have upset his concentration, but, in any case, he struggled after that except for finishing strong after it was too late to matter.

I also want to take my figurative hat off to Brian Kretzer for getting as far as he did today. Kretzer is a what you might call a journeyman player on tour. Although he was a very successful amateur bowler whose noteworthy accomplishments included winning the International Eliminator tournament in Las Vegas for $100,000 in both 1997 and 1999, the United Arab Emirates Open (the world's highest paying amateur bowling tournament) in 1999, and being Bowlers Journal's Amateur Bowler of the Year in 1999, he's never won a tour title. His big, slow hooking ball just didn't seem well suited to PBA tournament conditions. So, approximately four years ago, he began learning how to throw a much straighter shot and used it to cash in 18 out of 19 events last season and make his way onto today's televised finals and finish a very respectable second.

I respect anyone dedicated enough to his craft to make such a big change at such a relatively late stage in his career. More power to him, and may he continue to make telecasts.

In my next post, I have a proposal to make about how the majority of televised finals might best be conducted in the future.

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