Sunday, April 4, 2010

A New and Improved Pete Weber Wins His 35th Title and Gives Walter Ray an Easter Gift

"That's right...there you go, Rob."
--Pete Weber, shouting to ESPN bowling announcer Rob Stone while giving him a crotch-chopping hambone salute

I feel like I just won my first title. I don’t know what to say. It’s been three years since I won. I thought I was never going to win again.”
--Pete Weber

This isn't the article I was expecting to write today. After watching Mike Scroggins run away from the rest of the pack yesterday, I was expecting him to win on the same Dick Weber oil pattern today that he dominated yesterday and for me to be grudgingly congratulating him not only on his title but also on winning Player of the Year. I say "grudgingly congratulating" because I really wanted Walter Ray Williams Jr., to win that seventh PoY award, but I was all but convinced that he had a proverbial snowball's chance in Hades of doing it.

And so, after Scroggins won the PoY award this afternoon, I was going to write that it really doesn't matter all that much who wins it. It's just a hollow and superfluous label pinned on someone determined by an imperfect scoring system to be worthy of it. It doesn't definitively tell us who the Player of the Year really is or that such a label is even meaningful except in cases where someone has performed vastly better than anyone else. And in that rare case, we don't need a points system and Player of the Year award to tell us who we already know the best performer of the year has been.

But now that Pete Weber is the newly minted Marathon Open champion and 35 time national titlist and Walter Ray Williams Jr. has been crowned this year's PBA Player of the Year, I have to change everything. I'm compelled to beamingly congratulate Walter Ray on winning his double record setting PoY award and Pete Weber for giving us a marvelous, lingering glimpse of the old Pete Weber, minus the overbearing obnoxiousness of the past, en route to winning his first national title in three, long years of drought in impressive fashion and being so touchingly open with his emotions and so pleasingly gracious in victory.

When Pete Weber is at the top of his game, I can't think of anyone more magnificent to watch on the lanes. That patented, gracefully swooping approach and follow-through, that marvelous slow, hooking ball to the pins that magically carries pocket hits of every variety is one of the bowling wonders of the world. And let me tell you, as good as he looks on TV, his style looks even more beautiful in person. Even when he's not scoring well, as he wasn't the last time I saw him in person in that right-handed debacle at Serra Bowl nine or ten years ago, he still looks great doing it. Go see him in person while and if you have the chance.

But something that stood out about Pete today aside from his always gorgeous style was his attitude. It was a perfect and joyful blend of swagger and humility, of laserlike determination to win and profound acceptance of the fact that he might not, of colorful crotch-chops and shout-outs and cordiality and respect for his opponents. And his exultant tears at the end and effusive words of gratitude to everyone who made his victory possible were genuine and moving. It seems that an older Pete Weber has lost none of his competitive fire, but that his fire has been transformed by trials and setbacks in the crucible of life experience to forge an emerging maturity and wisdom that lifts one of the most, if not the most, charismatic and exciting bowlers on the planet to new heights of greatness.

If this season of the PBA Lumber Liquidators Tour had to come to an end today, at least it ended on an exciting and very satisfying note. Congratulations, Pete. Congratulations Walter.


4 comments:

  1. What a great show but didn't DVR the end of the show---know of any video links other than xtra frame?

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  2. Sandy--
    YouTube may have some or all of it by later today or tomorrow. PBA Xtra Frame should have it in a few days. And ESPN Classic might carry it soon as well. Next season, don't forget to program your DVR to also record the show that follows bowling.

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  3. Great post, Steve. I don't think it's possible to sum up Pete Weber better than you did here:

    "It seems that an older Pete Weber has lost none of his competitive fire, but that his fire has been transformed by trials and setbacks in the crucible of life experience to forge an emerging maturity and wisdom that lifts one of the most, if not the most, charismatic and exciting bowlers on the planet to new heights of greatness."

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  4. Thanks, Jef. That's how he really did come across to me yesterday and how I still see it in hindsight, even though some continue to criticize him for being immature with some of his antics. I agree with a commenter that crotch-chops and shout- outs done in the right way and at the right time with authentic passion in the moment are perfectly fine and exciting.

    Jason Thomas commented that it would be "over the top" to compare PDW's performance on Easter Sunday to the supernatural event celebrated that day, but I replied that I'm not so sure it IS so over the top. It almost seemed as though a resurrection of sorts DID take place yesterday, and I'm glad I could watch it.

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