Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Dick Weber Playoffs: First Week's Telecast

"Why does that happen every time? Every time I bowl, it happens every time.”
--An understandably exasperated Ryan Shafer

I didn't get to watch the PBA telecast on Sunday. Actually, it was filmed long before that but broadcast Sunday. I don't know why they can't show these events live. I don't know about you, but it's much more exciting to me to see them live and not know who wins until it happens then and there than to know it was taped weeks or even months ago and who won. But if you do a bowling blog like this one or just spend any time online, it's all-but-impossible not to know who wins ahead of the showing, and that takes away from the whole experience.

However, given the format of this year's inaugural Dick Weber PBA playoffs, I guess they couldn't show all the matches on the same day. They had eighteen players, three in each of six different regions, competing against one another to crown the champion, and that takes more matches and more time than any network commanding a decent sized audience could hope to show in one day.

In any case, having aired my mild gripes about the Dick Weber broadcast format, I have to say that I did manage to watch a recording of Sunday's telecast yesterday, and I very much enjoyed the action. It took place at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, IN on the 39' Dick Weber oil pattern. Commentator Randy Pederson explained that the relatively short oil coupled with more than the usual PBA concentration of oil in the middle of the lane allowed the bowlers to "play to their strengths," "maximize creativity" and attack the pattern from "multiple angles." In other words, it made the lanes higher scoring than we see on tougher patterns.

But higher scoring made for a very entertaining 90 minutes. In the first match, the top three finishers arbitrarily assigned to the Eastern region--Scott Norton, Tom Smallwood, and Steve Jaros bowled one match to determine who advanced to the next round. Norton, the California native, part-time attorney, only lefty among the eighteen finalists, and son of female bowling legend Virginia Norton who seems firmly on track to win Rookie of the Year honors and who won a national title earlier this year in Dublin, CA couldn't buy a strike until the sixth frame, leaving four pocket 7's, while Smallwood opened with his first five before leaving a 10 pin and Jaros with his first seven before sticking a 10 pin. Jaros went on to finish first with a 258. Smallwood stepped up in the tenth needing a strike on the first ball to win outright and left a light pocket 7. He then needed to strike on the fill ball to tie and pulled the ball slightly leaving a four pin and losing by 1 pin to Jaros while Norton finished with a distant but respectable 224.

The next match featured South region contestants Tommy Jones, "underrated" Ryan Shafer, and Randy Weiss. Weiss first shot ever on TV was a solid strike while Jones kept getting tapped. All three were in the match until near the end when snakebit Shafer went into the tenth frame with a lead only to get shafted with a pocket 7-10, Jones doubled and left a four pin for 238, and Weiss needed to strike out to win by one and did, shooting a 239.

The final match of the telecast had Central region finalists Dick Allen (formerly Ritchie Allen until he decided that he should adopt a more adult sounding name after recently becoming a father), Player of the Year shoo-in Mika Koivuniemi, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. This was Walter Ray's first television appearance of the season and last chance to extend his record 17 straight year streak of PBA national titles. When asked why he'd struggled so much this year compared to his fabulous Player of the Year season last year, he surmised that his recent hernia surgery, shortened grip to lessen the pain in the knuckles of his arthritic bowling hand, and the fact that his old body was simply "falling apart" had something to do with it.

Nevertheless, he and Allen opened with five baggers before Walter left a stinging pocket 7-10 while Mika was never in it and Allen struck five more times before sticking a ringing 10 and sparing for a 289.

Next week, the finalists from the Midwest, Southwest, and West/Northwest regions will compete, and they include such luminaries as Bill O'Neill, Chris Barnes, Wes Malott, Jason Belmonte, Brad Angelo, and Jack "The Ripper" Jurek.

If I haven't spoiled it for you by recapping Sunday's highlights, or you'd like to see the telecast again, you can watch all of it in the videos below, and you can read PBA.com's official summary of the action here.


  1. wow, thank you for sharing this video. I have seen this game already but love to see it again and again.

  2. My pleasure, Miguel. Whenever I review a televised event, I'll try to post video of it. And I like to watch them over and over too. Watching a good bowling show is like listening to a good song. Once is never enough.

  3. Thank you very much for the videos! I missed the broadcast and didn't record it, so thought I was out of luck. This is great!


  4. Kerry, I think you'll find videos of almost all of the telecasts on YouTube a day or so afterwards, but I'm happy to embed them in my posts to make them easier to access and enjoy. I'm glad you're enjoying them.

  5. I had searched for them on youtube and didn't find them. Of course, I see that they're from youtube, so obviously my searching string needs tweaking....

    Regardless, I just finished watching all of them and it was bittersweet. I got to watch some of my favorite players, lose.... That wasn't a lot of fun, especially for Tommy Jones. I've always liked him, but with the pain that he's been playing with for some time, I really wanted to see him get a payday for enduring that. Ah well, life has never been fair, so no reason to start now. :-(

    Lastly, did you catch the comments about WRW and his arthritis problems at around 6:30? He apparently got a new grip by drilling the thumb differently, pitched forward. I sure could use some relief like that too. You're getting up there in candles, are you having the same issues? I've got to figure out if this pitch thing is a standard so my ball driller can fix up my balls with this grip.

    Anyway, thanks again for the videos. Enjoyed them and the grip tip might be a goodie.


  6. Kerry, yes, I heard Walter Ray talk about this on TV. Even prior to that, I heard rather extensive discussion of it on PBA Xtra Frame. If you don't have that video service and can afford it, I strongly, strongly recommend it. It has a vast archives of televised finals and, more importantly, qualifying and match play rounds of national tour, regional, and senior tournaments stretching back several years along with other Xtra Frame goodies like pre and post telecast shows, interviews, and so forth. The commentary and analysis by the regulars and guests on Xtra Frame, including John Jowdy, Mark Baker, Chris Barnes, Johnny Petraglia, John Petraglia, Mark Roth, Stuart Williams, Del Ballard, Mo Pinel, and on and on and on is simply staggeringly incisive, interesting, and informative.

    Regarding Walter Ray, Xtra Frame's unbelievably erudite (so far as bowling is concerned) "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark has spoken at length about how Walter's grip change has caused him to throw the ball with less consistency (e.g., his elbow often flies out now as he comes around the ball too much) and with a different axis tilt that is not "reading the lanes" the same way as before and which is negating the "tricks" he's accustomed to using to fine tune his shots.

    I'm hoping that he'll get things back in order for next season and come out like a lion.

    As for me, no, I haven't been having any issues to speak of with my bowling hand, except for a sore thumb, or, for that matter, the rest of my body, but then I only average about nine games a week of bowling.

    If you're having any issues with your hand, a grip change might well be in order, especially if you have a good pro shop around. I'm blessed in Sacramento. I have Leanne Barrette and her husband Gary Hulsenberg to take care of my equipment along with several other excellent pro shops in the area. And I used to buy my equipment and have it drilled by Wayne Webb, who seemed extremely knowledgeable and capable.

  7. Thanks for the information! I've considered Xtra Frame, but didn't know exactly what was involved and am not really thrilled about watching the small videos on my computer. When I tried to look at it, they wanted to install a new version of something on my computer, before I could even see what was offered. I tend not to install stuff that I don't know for sure that I need/want.

    Your description makes it sound very tempting. I'd like to know if you can watch their videos full screen. If so, then I'd have to seriously consider it, depending on the costs. I don't really want to pay a lot of money for youtube quality and size videos though.

    About Walter Ray, I put in a question to him on his web site about the thumb hole pitch thing, asking him to clarify it for me. If he responds, I'll post what he says for the benefit of the others reading the blog.

    Regardless, I too hope that Walter Ray can resolve his current issues. I'm looking forward to watching him on the senior's tour this summer.

  8. Kerry, yes, you can watch Xtra Frame in full screen mode or even connect your computer to your TV and watch Xtra Frame that way. I won’t say that the resulting video will be TV network quality, but I think the Xtra Frame people do a wonderful job on a shoestring budget, and the comprehensive commentary is perhaps even more valuable than the video. The two together are wonderful for any hardcore bowling fan.

    I hope Walter Ray responds to your question, and, if he does, I look forward to reading his answer and sharing it here.

  9. I certainly enjoyed the way you explore your experience and knowledge of the subject! Keep up on it. Thanks for sharing the info