Friday, March 26, 2010

Xtra Frame's Roth and Belmo Show

"I never heard of a hambone."
--Mark Roth

"What do they say about Walter Ray? He can't do it without resin? Guess what. He's on the show with plastic."
--Jeff Mark

If you still don't have PBA Xtra Frame, let me tell you a little of what you missed today.

You missed seeing some great bowling. And the greatest of it all was Jason Belmonte ending the Round of 32 with a 299 game and 815 series for the last three games and then coming out of the blocks with a 300 (his third of the tournament) his first match of the Round of 32, sticking a solid 8 pin on the twelfth ball of his eighth game for a 299, and then rolling a 260 in the position round game to take the top spot for Sunday's five man stepladder final.

Belmo beat Mike Fagan for his first PBA title last year in this same house, but that was on a dual pattern where he piped a plastic ball in from the outside on the right lane's Cheetah pattern and threw reactive resin from deep inside on the left lane's Shark pattern. This time he'll be throwing the special Mark Roth plastic ball on the modified Shark pattern on both lanes, and, as awesomely as he's bowling now, he's definitely the one to beat.

Speaking a moment ago of Mark Roth, today brought a huge surprise. If you're reading this blog, you probably already knew this, but Mark Roth suffered a massive stroke last May that left him virtually speechless and almost completely paralyzed on his left side. After that, he fought to stay alive, has struggled with intensive rehabilitation, and, until recently, was going to the emergency room almost every day with one serious medical problem after another. But a few weeks before the GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship this week in West Babylon, New York, he became a man possessed with the burning desire to walk into his own tournament.

When I heard a few days ago that he was actually planning to make it to the tournament, I thought he might stand for a brief moment and then sit in a wheelchair looking frail and feeble and hardly be able to talk. Then I saw some photos of him at the tournament Wednesday and Thursday that thrilled me with how good he looked.

Still, I could never have imagined what happened today. He sat in with "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark and announcer Mike J. "Laneside" on PBA Xtra Frame for the entire Round of 16 this afternoon and talked about everything from the bowlers today and their games to the brightest moments of his fabled career to his stroke and rehabilitation. And let me tell you, his body may still be weak, but his mind is strong.

He closely followed the action on the lanes and had an uncanny knack for calling whether and which pins would be left on the first ball almost as soon as it left the bowler's hand, and he had incredible recall of some of his past matches right down to whom he bowled, what games he shot, and which pins he left standing in this frame or that.

As much as I used to watch Mark Roth bowl on TV, and I've seen virtually every televised appearance he made, I got to know him far, far better today than I ever knew him before, and I was very gratified to hear him sound so good. It was also nice when his wife Denise sat in for awhile with him and talked about how grateful she and Mark were for all the help they've received during their arduous ordeal and how happy and uplifted Mark was to attend the tournament.

Let me tell you something else. Mark Roth is a man of strong opinions, and he doesn't hold back from expressing them. For instance, he doesn't approve of the two-handed game. "That's not the game I grew up with," he stated. He also doesn't like "hambones," he thinks the PBA should put the brakes on ball technology run amok and make competition more about the bowler's skill than about whether some ball rep puts the right ball in his hand, and he thinks Chris Barnes has a great physical game but needs to work on his mental game and stop "over-thinking" what he's doing on the lanes. He also said that Carmen Salvino was the guy who inspired him most to take up bowling and to hook the ball as much as he did, even though he had no sense at the time of his dominance on tour that he was changing the game as much as we can now see that he did. He also said that he never feared anyone when he bowled and that when you do fear your opponent, you've already lost.

Mark sat there for almost 2 1/2 hours smiling and looking happy, telling wonderful bowling tales, commenting on the matches taking place and the players bowling them, bluntly expressing opinions, and answering viewers' questions. It was a great time for everyone, myself included. And if you don't have Xtra Frame yet, I strongly suggest that you get it and watch today's Round of 16 on demand.

The five bowlers in Sunday's stepladder final will be, in ascending order, Michael Machuga, Wayne Garber, Walter Ray Williams Jr, hometown favorite Brian Ziesig, and, of course, the dazzling Jason Belmonte. What a fascinating mix of styles. What a promising field. And the incomparable Mark Roth will be there to oversee it all.

Does it get any better than that?

1 comment:

  1. We are a background casting company currently in search of an expert bowler (can bowl strikes on cue) who is interested in appearing as a Photo Double for Pierce Brosnan in the Sarah Jessica Parker feature film, I Don’t Know How She Does It. The scene will be filming either Wednesday, January 26 or Thursday, January 27 in Astoria, NY. Please feel free to call me or email with any questions.