Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Do So Many Love to Hate Chris Barnes?

Why do so many people seem to dislike Chris Barnes and slam him every chance they get? Now I admit that I've been paying more attention to these things since I started writing this blog, but I don't recall such widespread animosity and ridicule toward Barnes prior to this year. While I don't remember him ever receiving the adulation accorded to such stellar contemporaries as PDW, Norm Duke, and Walter Ray, I also don't recall him being the butt of so much scorn and derision as he has been this year.

Here are some illustrative recent comments from the PBA website of what I'm talking about:

"I seen in Chris Barnes again why I cant stand the guy. It is a shame all that talent in one jerk. Your big mouth and bad attitude never fails."

"What a crybaby Chris. Your actions today degrade the sport since you are to be a role model and spokesperson for the PBA."

"Barnes is an a**hole."

"As for the display of arrogance from Chris Barnes in the Brad Angelo match, you are nothing short of a cry baby Chris. This is what is wrong with thePBA. There are so many guys out there like Parker, Scroggy, Walter Ray, Norm, Pete....and others that have so much class and make the PBA what it is. Your attitude only hurts a very frail organization."

"although i do appreciate and respect barnes ability to bowl, he certaintly does make it easy for one to root against him. especially knowing that he banked alot of coin with a couple of lucky brooklyns himself."

"You can't help but like the way they zoom in on Barnes' pouty face. They do it every time. It's hilarious."

Of course, these comments refer to the way Barnes reacted to a Brad Angelo crossover strike in their match yesterday. Angelo carried the strike and threw up his arms in mock pride and Barnes made some snide remarks about Brooklyns and "real strikes" afterward. But it's important to note that Barnes and Angelo amicably smiled at one another and shook hands afterward, and Barnes graciously congratulated his victor. And I seriously doubt that if PDW, Norm Duke, or Walter Ray reacted the way Barnes did to Angelo's lucky strike, they would receive the same almost universal condemnation that Barnes has. I suspect that most people would have praised Weber for his "smack talk." So, why do they blast Barnes for it?

Moreover, the ridicule I've seen leveled at Barnes this year seems to go well beyond what happened yesterday. It seems to me as though everything he does is criticized or worse. If he loses a match on TV or in one of his "Chris Barnes Challenges," it's because he "choked" or is "overrated." If he wins, it's because he "got lucky" or beat up on an inferior opponent. He can't win either way. Why is that?

It's tempting to say that people are simply jealous of a guy with so much obvious talent and skill, a guy whom those in the know have repeatedly called the best bowler on tour and in the world for the past several years. Yet, did people get jealous of PDW, Norm Duke, or Walter Ray when they received the same kind of praise? Guys like Randy Pedersen keep calling Walter Ray the best bowler who ever lived. Do people slam Walter the way they do Chris?

Another possible answer is that people get down on those who don't live up to their lofty reputation. Bowling experts keep saying how good Barnes is, but he keeps losing on TV. Never mind that he's run into some buzzsaws on TV lately--think Kelly Kulick's 265 in the TOC, Walter Ray's 290 in the Masters, and Angelo's 256 yesterday. This means that three of his most recent opponents on TV shot a combined series of 811 against him. No matter how good you are, it's pretty hard to beat that.

Granted, Barnes, despite the fact that he's bowled better on TV and in qualifying and match play than many seem willing to acknowledge, hasn't lived up to his reputation and challenged for Player of the Year this season the way he normally does. But the same can be said of Norm Duke and Wes Malott. They too have had what everyone would consider to be off seasons, but they aren't being lampooned and reviled the way Barnes is. Why is that?

I'm guessing that there's something about Barnes' personality that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. People perceive him as arrogant, smirky, and cold. So they slam him for every slip of the tongue, every misfire on the lanes, every expression of displeasure on his face, and every loss of a match that he "should" have won.

Now I don't suppose that Barnes feels all that bothered by any of this. He probably pays it no mind. He's not out there to be liked; he's out to win. But for some reason, I hate to see a guy as talented and skillful and Chris Barnes fail to receive his due for being as talented and skillful as he is. I hate to see a great player like Barnes not only not get the respect he deserves, but be slammed unfairly at every turn.

So, I'm paying him some respect here and not jumping on the Barnes Hate Train. I'm still saying that Chris Barnes is a great bowler, and, by every indication I've seen, a loving and devoted husband and father, and a true and honorable professional who's a credit to bowling and to the PBA. Furthermore, I predict that "HE'LL BE BACK" to silence his growing legion of naysayers. Well, maybe not "silence" all of them. You can't silence irrational animus. But you CAN hang in there and show your more reasonable detractors that you deserve your reputation for being one of the best bowlers of this or any era.


  1. Well, Steve, you are no alone. I think that Barnes is a great bowler and deserves a lot more respect than he receives. I have seen many bowlers who react that way when a opponent gets a brooklyn strike or a lucky strike.

  2. Bob, I guess what some people particularly don't like about the brooklyn strike incident Sunday is that Barnes himself has ridden brooklyn strike carries of his own to very profitable victory on one or more occasions (e.g., "Rags to Riches"), but neither he nor anyone else complained about that. Nevertheless, you and I agree that the widespread negativity expressed toward him seems unfounded.

  3. Correction, not "Rags to Riches," although that's probably a more apt description of the lives of many bowlers on tour who eventually win big, but "Roll to Riches."

  4. I, for one, love when Barnes makes the show because it's always a spectacular meltdown. The guy is so mechanical and cerebral that he cannot handle the heat of the lights on Sundays. He gets in his own head and can never make clutch shots when he needs them. It's pitiful that he's regarded as the best bowler in the world - to be the best bowler in the world you gotta be able to perform on the big stage. He simply cannot. Sounds like that title is self-proclaimed with all of his peers nodding their heads and laughing on the inside.

    As for his outburst on Angelo last Sunday, a 256 with a brooklyn strike will always beat a flawlessly executed 226. Strikes don't come with asterisks.

  5. Anonymous, I appreciate your comments. I hope you appreciate my feedback.

    First, I think you deliberately or inadvertently overstate the case by a wide margin when you say that when Barnes makes the show "it's always a spectacular meltdown." The guy has won twelve titles and won many more matches than that over his hundred or so TV appearances. What's more, I don't think he exhibited any "meltdown," "spectacular" or otherwise, in his losses this season to Kulick and WRWJ. In fact, I think he bowled pretty decent games against both of them and handled his defeats graciously. And I suspect that the same could be said for many other of his losses on TV.

    Second, if Barnes does have a tendency to struggle inordinately under pressure, I wonder why anyone would "love" to see it. I personally feel sad for the guy. Yes, maybe he IS too "mechanical and cerebral" and these tendencies are holding him back from making the utmost of his obvious talent and skill. But why would anyone revel in seeing that?

    Third, I don't think Barnes has ever called himself the "best bowler in the world," so I don't get the "self-proclaimed" reference. It sounds to me as though you blame him and want to see him suffer for something he hasn't even done.

    You might reply that even if he hasn't publicly proclaimed his singular greatness, it's obvious that he suffers from a bad case of hubris and that you like to see him taken down a few notches. If so, I would only say that I see Barnes as being a suitably proud guy who knows he's good and is fiercely determined to win. But I don't know that I would go so far as to accuse him of hubris.

    I certainly agree that he blew it with the "Brooklyn" reaction, but I'm guessing that no one realizes it more acutely than he does.

    I hope he bounces back with an outstanding season next year, and I think it's a testimony to his greatness that he can have such a "bad" season and stil rank near the top in virtually every category.

  6. I think Barnes is a great person/bowler, there are always losers who get jealous over a nice person who is handsome, talented and famous.

  7. Hello, I do not agree with the previous commentator - not so simple

    1. Barnes absolutely thinks he is the best there is and that goes back to college at W-State. He was an ass then and he is an ass now. He just tries to cover it up better now - but inside he has not changed, as nobody does. In those college days he had a nickname for himself that was a Galic' word or something that translated to God. Nice huh? A lot of us saw him then as we see him now an an asshole - and dislike him accordingly, talent notwithstanding. His 13 titles says he has incredible talent, but his asshole image is there for many to see and he will never be liked in a widespread way... despite ESPN propping him up. ** His wife is as sweet and nice as she appears and is too good for him.

  8. Call me Anonymous3
    I this is old but came across this and I must somewhat agree with Anonymous date Jan 29, 2012. Let me first say I do not hate Chris Barnes but does think very highly of himself and I do enjoy seeing people with his type of attitude lose. Yes he does believe he is the best bowler on the planet and it does go back to his college days... probably before even then. He does have great talent, I will agree with that but as most people will tell you, the self bravado is not well liked. He has an open challenge of a $10K bet to anyone that thinks they can beat him. Perhaps arrogant is a better term to use. And yes, Chris has won a few titles with brooklyn hits... a couple of big ones, a $200K and one $100K winner's prize that I personally saw. As a matter of fact, if you followed him since turning pro, there was a time they called him Brooklyn Barnes due to all the brooklyn strikes he's so he is the last person to be complaining about someone getting a brooklyn strike on him. First off, every bowler that has competed at a high level will tell you they have gotten not only brooklyn strikes but some real ugly looking strikes to help them win a game... pure luck of the pin fall. Suck it up and lose gracefully... that's what SPORTSMANSHIP is about. Which brings up another thing he does that I don't care for.. his good friend Mika does the same thing. They will see what line other bowlers are using and take these scrubbed up balls and attempt to burn up that line in practice. If you ask me it's cheating and I think the PBA should put a stop to it. Hmmmm... if he's so great why does he resort to such tactics?