Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Get Your Bowling Fix

Do you miss the PBA telecasts on ESPN? Are you going through televised bowling withdrawal? Well, you can always go back and watch YouTube's archives of bowling telecasts, many of which you can view in embedded videos on this blog if they're from the past couple of years. Or you can subscribe to PBA Xtra Frame and watch live match play of senior and some regional Tour events over the spring and summer, as well as access the archives that go back ten or so years.

However, if you don't want to pay for any subscriptions and you'd like to watch bowlers at the USBC Open in Reno and other upcoming events this spring and summer, you can always check out Bowl.com for their live streaming of numerous bowling competitions, and you can also access their growing archives of past events including the recently concluded Queens match play and Senior Queens finals, Men's Team USA competition, and so forth.

Bowl.com has posted a schedule of upcoming events they'll be covering live over the next few months including tonight's live coverage of Carolyn Dorin-Ballard's team competing in the USBC Open at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno. So whether you're willing to pay for it or you want it for free, your bowling fix is literally just a mouse click or two away.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Walter Ray Anticipates Better Things to Come

"I have basically felt that most of my struggles this year were related to me. I think I started doing some things that weren't quite right so I have been working on improving my timing and push away to create a better swing. With the changes I have had to make to my game hopefully I can improve upon what I'm working on and have a successful Senior Tour season."

Jason Thomas Praises Dan MacLelland

Jason Thomas has just posted an article on pba.com, Dan MacLelland is Breakthrough Star of 10-11 Season. Here is a choice quote:
"MacLelland possesses one of the strongest strike balls on Tour, a sick, vertical backswing with perfect balance, and his ability to compete on difficult conditions (he qualified 5th for the U.S. Open telecast, which is considered the toughest condition on the Tour) made him a threat any given week. He also can roll the big scores as well, once shooting a "low 6" (that would be a perfect 600 series) for a 2-game sweeper at the South Point in Las Vegas during a megabuck amateur event prior to his debut on Tour."

Video of 2011 USBC Queens Championship Telecast

I was talking with a friend last night who said he wishes he'd recorded Wednesday's ESPN2 telecast of the USBC Queens Championship so he wouldn't have had to watch all the commercials that littered the two hour program. I didn't notice more commercials than usual, but maybe that's because I wasn't noticing the commercials at all. When the commercials came on, I focused my attention on other things.

Nevertheless, it's not a bad idea to record a bowling telecast if you don't absolutely, positively have to see it live and don't care whether you know in advance who won the matches, or you want to watch it again later. And if, by chance, you don't have a DVR or, if you're really old-fashioned, a VCR, or your DVR is full, or if you forgot to program your recording device, there's always YouTube. Usually, some kind soul who loves elite bowling as much as I do will upload video of the telecast to YouTube within a day or two, and someone did that with the 2011 USBC Queens Championship, which I am happy to share with you below.









Chris Barnes' Outstanding Bowling Commentary

Chris Barnes is one of the greatest bowlers in history. He's also showing himself to be an outstanding bowling commentator. Wednesday night, he was the commentator on ESPN2's telecast of the USBC Queens Championship, and he was excellent, just as he was in last year's Queens and Women's U.S. Open telecasts and as he always is when he sits in on PBA Xtra Frame and USBC webcasts.

The man clearly knows the ins and outs of bowling, has an exceptionally keen eye for what's happening on the lanes, and he has a virtually flawless way of articulating what he knows and sees so that we, the fans, can know and see it too.

When I watch a bowling match, I don't need someone to tell me that so-and-so left the 10 pin or got a strike or spare. I can see that with my own eyes. I want to know WHY the 10 pin stood after what appeared to be a perfect pocket hit, or why so-and-so's ball is carrying strikes while her opponent's ball isn't.

Chris Barnes gives you that information. He talks about how minor variations in release, ball speed, and entry angle can spell the difference between a strike and a pocket 7-10. He can insightfully analyze a bowler's style and strategy in fine detail, and he can tell you what went wrong on an errant shot and what adjustments in equipment, release, alignment, ball speed, or body mechanics the bowler needs to make to get to the pocket and carry. And he manages to do it in a way that keeps me interested and informed without overloading me with information that is too abstruse to understand.

I look forward to any bowling telecast or webcast that features Chris Barnes' commentary, and I hope there will be many more of them. Fortunately, he'll be joining yesterday's Queens play-by-play announcer Dave LaMont next month to cover the finals of the USBC Intercollegiate Championships. The tournament actually concluded last Sunday, April 24, but ESPN2 will be airing it on May 15 at 6 p.m. EDT.

I'll be watching.

What do you think of Chris Barnes' bowling commentary, and who are your favorite bowling commentators of all time?

Below is video of Chris Barnes' commentary for the entire telecast of the 2010 USBC Queens Championship.








Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to Bowl Like the Pros Commercial

Missy Parkin Bounces Back to Win 2011 USBC Queens Championship


Last year, Missy Bellinder needed only a mark in the tenth frame of her match with Kelly Kulick to advance to the third match of the USBC Queens Championship. She got up, threw what looked like a great shot, and left a pocket 7-10 split for a 212 to 220 loss. Kulick went on to win the next two matches and add the Queens title to her miraculous year of accomplishments.

Since then, Missy got married, worked hard on her game, and came back this year more determined than ever to win. Now Missy Parkin, she decisively beat two time U.S. Open champion and former Queens champion Kim Terrell-Kearney 235-172 and then defeated top seeded Elysia Current 214-189 to earn the championship, the tiara, and the $20,000 first prize.

The hard throwing right-hander had this to say about her victory in a USBC press relase posted on Bowl.com:

"After last year's show, I was pretty devastated, and for a while after that, every time I left the 7-10, I got angrier and angrier. But today, I definitely had a different mindset. I told myself I needed to throw 10 good shots every game, and that's all I could do. That was my plan all week, and it worked out well."

Congratulations to Missy Parkin on her 2011 Queens title. I have the feeling she's going to be a force to be reckoned with at the U.S. Open in Texas in June.

For all the results of this year's and last year's Queens tournament, click on here. Below is video of a brief interview with Parkin about her victory. And when video of the televised finals becomes available, I'll be posting it to this blog, so be sure to check back for it.

Paula Vidad Defeats Defending Champion Char Hammel to Claim USBC Senior Queens Title

Paula Vidad lost to Char Hammel at a crucial point in match play in last year's USBC Senior Queens Championship. Hammel proceeded to win the title. This year, Vidad defeated Hammel 649-542 enroute to a perfect 6-0 match play record and then faced her in the final match for the championship that was live-streamed on Bowl.com/Ustream.

Since the senior tournament employed a true double-elimination format, Hammel, who had already lost once, needed to beat Vidad twice to claim the title. Undefeated Vidad needed to beat Hamel just once. Vidad was only ten pins ahead of Hammel going into the final game, but she finished with a 269 to Hammel's 202 to pull away to a record setting final 715 series to Hammel's 638 set and take the title, tiara, and $5,000 first place prize.

After the match, the 51-year-old Vidad had this to say about her victory:

"This is the most prestigious event there is for us, and I'm so excited right now. I've always wanted to win a USBC title in my career, and this is amazing. You can win at the city and state level, but to do it on a national level is what you dream of doing."

You can read the USBC press release about the 2011 Senior Queens Championship here, and below is, from top to bottom, video of Vidad's entire championship match with Hammel and of her interview after winning the title.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walter Ray Williams Jr. Faces Stiff Competition on the PBA Senior Tour

When Walter Ray Williams Jr. went out on the Senior Tour last season after leading the regular Tour in all the major statistical categories and earning his record-setting seventh PBA Tour Player of the Year award at age 50, a lot of people were predicting that he'd tear up the Senior Tour. "If guys like Tom Baker, who haven't been a presence on the regular Tour for over a decade, are doing very well on the Senior Tour and Walter Ray is still more than holding his own with the youngsters, what chance do the other seniors have against his awesome game?" was what a lot of people, including Xtra Frame's Jeff Mark, were thinking.

Well, it turns out that one thing that's stopped Walter Ray from dominating his fellow seniors as totally as people predicted is the quality of his competition on the Senior Tour. There are a lot of guys out there who can flat out bowl. And yesterday, Harry "The Legend" Sullins was one of them, defeating Walter Ray in the title match of the PBA Senior Sun Bowl in The Villages, Florida 248-239 after Walter Ray destroyed 2008-2009 Senior Bowler of the Year Ron Mohr in the semifinal match 270-199. This was the second time Sullins defeated Walter Ray in a PBA title match. The first time was 25 years ago in 1986 when Sullins beat Walter Ray for a regular Tour title. Walter Ray went on to win his first Player of the Year award that year.

None of this is to say that Walter Ray hasn't prospered on the Senior Tour. He won the very first tournament he entered, was last season's Rookie of the Year, made the semifinals of the first Senior Tour tournament of this season last week before losing the final match yesterday, is leading in average after two tournaments this season by a whopping margin, and seems to be a virtual cinch to make match play and cash high in every tournament he enters. And, if the truth be told, he probably outbowled Sullins in the title match yesterday but just couldn't carry as well as his opponent.

Still, he's won, by my count, only one of the several senior tournaments he's entered over two seasons, and he's likely to face stiff competition from the likes of Ron Mohr, Tom Baker, last year's Player of the Year Wayne Webb (when he recovers from knee surgery), Johnny Petraglia, Mark Williams, Harry Sullins, and Steve Ferraro in every tournament he enters.

The PBA Senior Tour may be for "old" guys, but those "old" guys can still bowl. And for those of you who miss the action of the regular Tour while it's on hiatus, you can subscribe to PBA Xtra Frame and watch the Senior Tour action live along with listening to expert commentary from the likes of "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark and a panoply of bowling greats.

You can read more about yesterday's action in the PBA Senior Sun Bowl here. Below is video of a 1991 regular Tour match between Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Harry Sullins.


Preview of Tonight's USBC Queens Televised Finals


"I'm just taking everything in as it happens and trying to enjoy being out here and competing. When I'm not in a bowling center, I try not to think about bowling or talk about bowling. Tonight, I'm going to relax and enjoy the moment and just wait for the lights to go on tomorrow."
--Elysia Current

Tonight, ESPN2 will televise the match play finals of the USBC Queens Championship live from the Oncenter Convention Center in Syracuse, NY at 7 PM EDT. Former college bowling standout Elysia Current, who knocked Sacramento favorite and past Queens champion Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg out of the competition, went undefeated yesterday in double-elimination match play and will be the top seed in tonight's stepladder finals, needing to win only one match to claim the coveted Queens tiara and a $20,000 check.

I watched Bowl.com's live streaming of the competition most of yesterday and the day before, and I have to say that Elysia looks like she has an excellent chance of winning tonight. She has a sound, cleanly efficient style and throws a powerful ball that seems tailor-made for the lane conditions in the Convention Center.

The first match of the star-studded finals pits Cathy Dorin-Lizzi, who handed her sister Carolyn Dorin-Ballard her first defeat yesterday, against three-time Queens titlist Wendy Macpherson. The winner will take on Kim Terrell-Kearney. The winner of that match will go up against Missy (Bellinder) Parkin. And the winner of that match will advance to take on Elysia Current for the championship.

Last year's champion, Kelly Kulick, got knocked out relatively early in yesterday's match play competition.

You can click here to see how the bowlers who made it to match play fared in the brackets, here to read Bowl.com's preview story on the finals tonight, and here to watch match play action from Monday and Tuesday in the Bowl.com/Ustream archives. Finally, below is a video preview of tonight's finalists and matches.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Modern Bowling Lingo

"The guys today have much better lingo than we ever had. The first time I ever heard after a player answered the question, “How’d you bowl this week?” with “I threw it good, I just didn’t match up.” I went, “What the (bleep) does that mean!” In our era there were two answers: “I bowled good.” or “I bowled bad.” End of story. Some weeks our carry was better than others, but when I bowled well in my nine years on Tour, I always made the finals, period. Now, I may have spent the next 24 games shuffling between 21st and 24th, but at least I’d bowled well enough to earn some extended play. But now I know the real reason I wasn’t able to make the show those weeks: I didn’t match up! Silly me, back then I just thought I’d forgotten how to bowl between Thursday night and Friday morning! So score another one for today’s player – “Not matching up” is a much smarter way to look at it - at least from the standpoint of psychological preservation. It also would have saved me quite a few fine slips!"

Should Bowlers Hate to Lose in Order to Win?

Yesterday, I was watching live streaming on Bowl.com of match play of the USBC Queens Championship. Former PBA star and current Ebonite ball rep Del Ballard Jr was sitting in as a commentator on the action, and at one point he made a remark that was my bowling quote of the day: "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser." I asked you readers if you agree with this.

Several people promptly commented.

TSnide wrote:
"It's a silly adage, and Del was neither the first nor the last to repeat it. It is generally used to defend poor sportsmanship, but sometimes just when someone is unhappy about having lost and questioned why they take it so much to heart. Used in either context, it has no basis in reality. Not knowing in what context Del used it, I would certainly withhold judgment."

Jef wrote:

"Those are good points in the comment above, and without context it's hard to judge Ballard's use of the statement.

Judging on the statement itself though, literally, it's true, and therefore a pointless statement. Obviously, a good loser is a loser. But if I'm a loser, wouldn't I rather be a good loser than a bad loser? I say yes.

I respect the competitive nature of the comment, but have never agreed with it in the past and won't now."

TSnide responded by writing:

"Well said. A reciprocal version of the statement might be something like, "Show me a bad loser, and I'll show you a loser who's also a jerk."

Or something like that. I'd rather be a good loser, but I can't say I always have been, especially in my younger years!"

Finally, Kerry summed it up very nicely when he wrote:

"There's a huge difference between having a loser's attitude (ie the expectation and acceptance of losing before the fact) and being a good loser."

I kind of touched upon this issue in a previous post. I agree with all the commenters, but I'm also not sure Del Ballard Jr wouldn't either. I'm not certain exactly what he was saying, but I took him to mean that if you want to be a champion at bowling's elite level, you better care enough about winning that you really, really hate to lose. This doesn't mean that you act like a jerk if you do lose, but you also don't get all smiley faced and effusively gracious with the guy who just beat you and just casually brush it off as another day at the office. It bothers you. And it should bother you. And when you have your next practice session, you take your unpleasantly vivid memory of your defeat and use it to force yourself to work harder to improve your game so that you'll perform better the next time money's on the line. And each time you step back up on the approach in the heat of competition, you use your hatred of losing to strengthen your resolve to bear down, execute, and win. You don't bowl with indifference. Not if you don't want to be a loser on the lanes.

How do you understand Ballard Jr's quote, and how do you think one should feel and act when he loses a bowling match?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Del Ballard Jr's Opinion of Good Losers

"You show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."
--Del Ballard Jr.

Do you agree?

Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Leanne Barrette Impressive at the End of USBC Qualifying

Carolyn Dorin-Ballard led the USBC Queens qualifying and went into match play seeded first, followed by Shannon Pluhowsky, Wendy Macpherson, Stefanie Nation, and Carol Gianotti. Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg rose from 35th to 6th place with a monster block of 204-299-256-236-234.

You can check out the final qualifying results here.

Dorin-Ballard and Nation Leading USBC Queens Qualifying After Second Qualifying Round

Carolyn Dorin-Ballard is leading after the second round of USBC Queens qualifying action in Syracuse, NY, Stefanie Nation is in third place, last year's champion, Kelly Kulick, is in ninth place, and local Sacramento favorite Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg is hanging in at 35th place.

The top 80 placers in the beginning field of 206 will return to bowl 5 more games of qualifying today, and then the field will be winnowed to the top 64 who will then compete in double-elimination match play until the players are determined for the televised finals that will be shown live on ESPN2 on Wednesday, April 27 at 7 p.m EDT.

You can read the Bowl.com story and check the current results here, watch live streaming of the action here, and below is a USBC video showing Stefanie Nation and Dorin-Ballard competing this year and talking about their first two qualifying rounds.

Mark Baker Compares the Great Bowlers of the 80's With Those of Today

Mark Baker bowled on the PBA Tour in the 1980's and is now one of the most respected coaches in the game. He recently wrote a column on pba.com, Comparing the Greats of My Era to Today. He begins by writing:

"The most common question I’m asked when I’m out among bowling fans is to compare the players of my era (1982-1990) to today’s players. So I thought with the next two blogs (this week’s will be Part 1 and the next Part 2) I’d give it a shot. "
He says that there were many more tour stops in the 80's than there are today and more players to beat out in each tournament, but that:

"the best players of today would have had absolutely no problem competing in the '80’s. Conversely, the superstars of my group would have been just fine today…actually, a few of them (Walter, Voss, Duke and Pete) were able to succeed in both eras."
He goes on to say that today's players have to and do know a lot more about equipment and other technical aspects of bowling than players used to. To highlight this point, he writes that more new balls probably come out each year now than came out in ten years in the 80's, that most of today's players utilize many more ball layouts than they used to and carry many more balls around with them, and that they have a more specialized bowling vocabulary and a far more sophisticated understanding of bowling.

Finally, Baker writes that one of the biggest differences between today's players and those of the 80's is that today's players are much more businesslike or even "robotic" in their approach to the game than players used to be. Players in the 80's used to be much more demonstrative when they bowled well or poorly, running out strikes even in qualifying and berating themselves and physically reacting much more strongly than they do today. One example he cites of running out strikes involves the great Steve Cook:

"When Steve Cook got it going (which was a lot) and you were within three pairs to his left (his favorite run-out zone) and you bowled before he was done, you literally took your life in your own hands! Cook was a seriously large human being who took striking and winning very seriously. Just ask Norm Duke. One time at the U.S. Open, I was bowling Norm and he was on the approach three lanes over from Cook. Steve ran one out, slapped his hands (which sounded like one of Zeus’ thunderbolts hitting the Acropolis), then pirouetted in front of Duke (probably sparing Norm’s life), picked him up by the side of his arms and set him back down in the settee. Norm looked at me and sheepishly asked, “Can I bowl now?”"
I look forward to reading Baker's second installment of his series comparing and contrasting the players of the 80's with those of today.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bowling Bad Breaks Video, Part 2

More abominably bad breaks and miserable miscues.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bowling Bad Breaks Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video is worth a whole lot more. Enjoy, unless you're one of the victims of these abominably bad breaks or miserable miscues.

Friday, April 22, 2011

PBA Tour 2010-2011 Season's Most Memorable Moments


I just saw the PBA post to its Facebook wall the following question: "What was your favorite moment from the 2010-2011 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour?"I pondered this question for a moment and came to realize that not only did I not have a "favorite moment" from this season, but I could scarcely think of any that I'd consider particularly memorable.

By contrast, last season was chock full of indelibly memorable moments. Chief among them were Tom Smallwood coming almost literally off the GM unemployment line to win the PBA World Championship; Walter Ray Williams Jr. shooting 290 against Chris Barnes to claim the Masters title and, eventually, his seventh Player of the Year award at the age of fifty; Chris Barnes losing the hotly anticipated first Chris Barnes Challenge to a collegiate bowler; Bill O'Neill establishing himself as the game's next superstar with his stunning dominance during the televised finals of the U.S. Open; Mark Roth rising almost literally from the dead to appear at the inaugural Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship and even sit in the X'tra Frame booth with "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark and bowling announcer extraordinaire "Mike J. Laneside" for an extended session of his colorful storytelling about bowling's Golden Age and his insightful commentary about the action down on the lanes; "amateur" Brian Ziesig's sudden death victory over Jason Belmonte in the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Tournament after Belmo stuck the "atomic stone 7 pin" from hell on his one and only sudden death shot; and Pete Weber's impressive victories over Brad Angelo and Mark Scroggins to win the final tournament of the season, the Marathon Open, after a long hiatus from claiming any national titles.

And then there was my favorite moment of all, a moment that brought tears to my eyes and which ranks, in my humble estimation, as the most memorable and electrifying moment in the history of the PBA--Kelly Kulick's stunning performance in the finals of the Tournament of Champions to become the first woman ever to win not only this hallowed title but *any* PBA national Tour title.

Contrast all of this to the "most memorable" moments of this year: Mika's big miss and subsequent dejected sprawl at the U.S. Open, "Bottlegate,"Cinderella and the bleating vuvuzelas, and the Dick's wrong-footed strike against Barnes.

Well, actually, I'm being a little harsh. There were some fine moments on Tour this year, including Chris Barnes joining the rarefied ranks of Triple Crown winners, South Korea's "Dr. Gu" winning the PBA Scorpion Championship, Scott Norton stringing his first eight in his TV debut to win his first national title, Osku Palermaa winning his first PBA title, Tom Hess's emotional Masters win, Tom Daugherty's comical 100 game, Mika's 299 and title in the $1 million TOC and superb showings in all the majors, and Norm Duke's U.S. Open title.

Still, I wouldn't say that this was the year that was. I don't blame the PBA for this. It's just that the stars can't be in alignment to produce magic every season the way they were in the 2009-2010 season, and any season that has to follow such a magical one is bound to be under-appreciated.

Still, the PBA has my best wishes and hopes for next season.

Which were your most memorable and favorite moments of the 2010-2011 season?

Below is a short PBA video of 2010-2011 season highlights.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Second Thoughts About the USBC Open Championships

"Where else can you finish in 15000th place and get a check?"
--Steve Potocny

I wrote yesterday about how I'd never bowled a USBC Open and probably never would because I didn't think I was good enough to spend my money and successfully compete against the superior bowlers and monster scores populating that tournament.

Well, an old acquaintance of mine posted a comment in reply to my entry that I'd like to share with you because I think it makes some eloquent and thoughtful points:

I'm surprised to hear that you have never bowled the event, considering how much of a supporter of bowling that you are.

This was my 16th visit - the last dozen or so consecutive - and I look forward to continuing this for years to come.

There are always really high scores rolled, but many more low scores. I have contributed too many of the low ones, and only one game of which I am proud - a 287 in 2009. Note that the three basic events pay (I think) one place in 3.5 entries, so despite the 850s sometimes bowled the cash lines are normally around 570 in singles, 1125 in doubles and 2700 in team. Where else can you finish in 15000th place and get a check?

The lanes can be challenging, but I have found that every few years you will hit a pair which has a good shot. It usually depends on who bowled on the pair before you. It happened to me again this year in singles - I probably had 3-4 boards at my target area. I was disappointed that I only managed 627, although my doubles partner rolled a 680.

I think the USBC does a good job running the event. I enjoy browsing the shops and it has allowed me to visit some places that I would otherwise probably never see (Billings, Baton Rouge and Louisville come to mind). I recommend that any real fan of the game get together with some friends of similar sentiment and participate some day. Even if your scores are not quite up to your THS norm, I suspect you will enjoy the experience.

Steve Potocny

I must admit that after reading this comment, I'm having second thoughts about my decision not to bowl the Open. I'm still not going to bowl it this year, and I don't think I'd ever be willing to travel farther than Reno to bowl it. However, I now feel more determined to improve my game so that if the Open returns to Reno within the next few years, maybe I'll feel confident enough to compete in the tournament and see how I do.

In the meantime, I may mosey on over to Reno sometime this spring to check out the action and get a sense of the tournament that one can't get from merely reading about it or watching live streaming of it on the Internet. Perhaps I'll see you there.

A Modest Proposal for Next Year's Dick Weber PBA Playoffs

I've posted several entries on the televised Dick Weber PBA Playoffs that concluded last Sunday. Much of what I've had to say since Sunday has not been as complimentary as I would have liked it to be.

I criticized Dick Allen for acting like...well...a dick. I blasted the blaring "horns from hell" that marred what might otherwise have been good about the telecast. I voiced objections about the formats of the qualifying and final rounds. And I shared comments and criticisms from other people who watched Sunday.

About.com's Bowling Guide Jef Goodger has posted an excellent column (PBA Playoffs a Great Idea, But Could Be More Meaningful) that, among other things, offers suggestions about how the PBA might improve the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs to make them a better season-ending playoff event. Although I recommend that you read the entire column, here is the crux of his advice:

"Take the top 16 point leaders from the season and put them in the finals. This way, it's a true playoff...Give them all a payday and let the fans see the world's best go against the world's best for a few weeks to determine the ultimate PBA Playoffs champion."

What do you think of Mr. Goodger's suggestion?

Video of 2011 Women's NCAA Championship Finals

In Pbaforum.com, a lot of guys make fun of the collegiate women and their lack of power. But I'm guessing that those women could probably beat the proverbial pants off most of their male chauvinist mockers with their finely honed skills.

I enjoy watching women bowl at both the professional and collegiate levels. They tend to be more fundamentally sound and accurate than the guys, and their games are probably much closer to those of most amateur bowlers of both genders in terms of speed and power than are the games of the likes of Tommy Jones and Ryan Ciminelli.

The videos below are of the final, best-of-seven, Baker format match of the NCAA Championship finals between UMES (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and Vanderbilt University that was televised on ESPN last Sunday, April 17 right after the finals of the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs.





Video of Televised Dick Weber PBA Playoffs Finals

Here are the three televised games of the semifinal and final matches of the 2011 Dick Weber PBA Playoffs that took place Sunday, April 17 in Indianapolis, IN. The first match featured Chris Barnes, Randy Weiss, and Dick Allen. The players with the two highest scores advanced to the final match consisting of two games.






Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--PBA Telecasts Getting Worse

"Does anyone else find it ironic that, despite 40 years of amazing technological advances in the world of broadcast electronics, the PBA TV show today doesn't look half as good as it did 40 years ago? This decline in program quality is in stark contrast to today's football or baseball broadcasts, which do look far better than they did in earlier decades. Look at old clips of the PBA on YouTube and, faded as they may be, they still look far more professional than today's shaky, out-of-focus, bowler-blocks-your-view-of-the-pins broadcast."
--David A. Mills, commenting in pbaforum.com

Why I'm not Bowling the USBC Open Championships


I've lived in Sacramento since late 2004. Reno's National Bowling Stadium has hosted the USBC Open Championships three times since I've lived here. The National Bowling Stadium is only 131 miles away from my driveway, according to Google Maps. Yet, despite the fact that some travel thousands of miles to bowl the Open, I've never bowled "nationals," and I won't be bowling this year either. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, I'm too darn lousy a bowler to waste that much money on a tournament. If there's one thing I've learned from doing this blog, watching Xtra Frame, and from my humiliating experience this interminable season in a travel scratch league, it's that even though I never thought I was very good, I'm a lot, lot worse than I thought. The fact that I didn't bowl well in the two tournaments I've bowled at the National Stadium also doesn't light my fire to bowl the Open there this year.

And if that's not enough to keep me away, I see guys like Matt McNiel bowling monster scores there. And lest you say, "Well, he's a lefty. Maybe you can't beat the lefties at the Stadium, but you can hang with your fellow righties," I counter with, "Well what about Matt Weggen?"

Matt Weggen (see photo above) is a 31-year-old right-hander who took the singles and all-events lead at the Open this year by shooting 806 in doubles and 826 in singles yesterday, April 19. Now, how the hell can mere mortals like me compete with that and all the other 800 series, 300 games, and 2100+ all-events totals that have already been shot?

And what's with with all these astronomical scores? I don't expect the USBC Open to put out a U.S. Open oil pattern, but it's still supposed to be a "sport" condition, and people tell me it's tough. So why are all these guys I've never heard of before shooting these monstrous scores? And if they can do it, why can't I? Well, because if I can't even average 200 in a travel league on house conditions, how am I going to average 230+ on a "sport" pattern in the biggest bowling tournament on earth, no matter how loosely the term "sport" may apply to the lane conditions in Reno right now?

How about you? Are you bowling nationals this year, even if your name isn't Matt? If so, how do you feel about going up against these incredible scores?

What to Do With Old Bowling Balls

If you're like me, you've got your share and then some of old bowling balls lying around the house or garage. What should you do with them? Keep them or give them away? Restore them or use them as they are? Rich Carruba is a former PBA touring pro who produces videos for bowlingball.com and offers his expertise on those old balls you're not sure what to do with.

PBA Greats Westsound Union Music Video

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rent an Apartment With Its Own Bowling Lane


Got a lot of spare money lying around? If so, you might be interested in renting this NYC apartment:

"Bowling lanes may be a hot amenity in new high-end buildings around town, but ever thought of adding one to your apartment?A Tribeca loft owner has done just that, putting a private lane on the lower level of a massive 4,032-square-foot triplex at 49 Warren Street..."

You can read the brief article here.

Matt McNiel's Lightning Almost Strikes Twice At USBC Open Championships


Matt McNiel made bowling history last year at the Reno National Bowling Stadium when he rolled 740 in the team event, 780 in doubles, and 806 in singles to win the all-events title at the USBC Open Championships with an astounding nine-game total of 2,326.

Not only did McNiel win the coveted all-events "eagle," but he also broke the "unbreakable" all-events record of 2,321 that Ron Vokes set at the Open in Las Vegas just a year before. It was an amazing performance.

So, when the 25-year-old left-hander returned to Reno last weekend to compete in this year's Open, all eyes were upon the defending champion to see how he would do this time around. And McNiel didn't disappoint. In the team event Sunday evening, he began with a 258, followed it with a 263, and finished with a 224 to shoot 745 and lead his team to eighth place in the team standings.

After reading about this in Jeff Richgels' column yesterday, I decided to tune in Monday evening to watch Bowl.com's live streaming of McNiel's doubles and singles outings. And, again, disappointment was in short supply. McNiel led off his doubles effort with a 245, then blasted a 300, and began with a five-bagger before going a little high in the sixth frame to leave an 8 pin and finish out with a 277 for an awesome 822 series. That 822 made McNiel only the second person in history to shoot two 800 series in the USBC Open Championships.

At this point, with a 6-game total of 1567, McNiel needed to shoot 760 in singles to break his all-events record, and he needed a 691 to take the lead in all-events this year. And if he'd been able to stay on the pair on which he began the evening, he might well have been able to do the latter or even the former. But having to move to a different pair presented problems with carry that McNiel was unable to fully solve, as he shot games of 236-215-223 for a 674 series and all-events total of 2241.

By normal standards, this was still an outstanding effort. Yet, "normal" is hardly a word one would use to describe the extraordinary accomplishments of Matt McNiel over his previous fifteen games at the Open.

Matt McNiel is an outstanding amateur bowler with a smooth yet hard throwing lefty style somewhat reminiscent to my eye of Ryan Ciminelli's. But you can judge for yourself by checking out his performance last night in the embedded videos below. The first video is of his entire performance, and the second video is of the tenth frame of his second game of doubles where he shot 300.

As a side note, McNiel shot 299 and 800 last year at the Open but didn't receive USBC sport condition honor awards for them because he didn't have a USBC sport league membership at the time. And he still hadn't upgraded his membership when he shot his first 300 on a sport condition last Thursday night. So when he got to Reno this year, he asked one of the USBC folks if he could upgrade his membership there, they let him do it, and it's a good thing he did.

You can read Jeff Richgel's excellent profiles of McNiel last year here, and this year here, and Bowl.com's recap of McNiel's entire outing this year here.


Bowling Quote of the Day--Is it Dick or Ritchie Allen?

"What is Allen's name? He used to bowl as Ritchie Allen, but recently he said he wants to be called Dick Allen. We oblige, and he wears a shirt with "Richie Allen" on the back."
--Jef Goodger, About.com Bowling Guide

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dick Allen Lives Up to His New First Name in Season Ending Dick Weber PBA Playoff Finals


"Sometimes the villain dresses in white."
--Dick Allen

Yesterday's televised finals of the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs marked the end of the 2010-2011 PBA Tour season. I'm always sorry to see the season come to a close. But this year I'm especially sorry that it ended with the obnoxious blaring of vuvuzelas and a victory by a guy who lived up to his four-letter first name over the guy I wanted to win.

Even though I don't like his bowling style, I respect Dick Allen's bowling skill. I even respect the fact that when Randy Pedersen asked him after the match how he felt about Chris Barnes' two consecutive pocket 7-10's late in the second game, he told the truth. He said he loved it because it gave him the chance he needed to sow up the match.

What I didn't respect were his comments several weeks ago in the tournament when he crowed about ending Walter Ray's chances of extending his record string of consecutive years of winning at least one title, and his whole demeanor yesterday, including his taunting stare at Chris Barnes at one point in the match as though it were Wrestlemania instead of professional bowling, and his deliberately throwing his fill ball in the tenth frame off the wrong foot and striking after winning the first game, and then saying, "I like salt, especially in a wound."

To me, Dick Allen habitually acts like an obnoxious jerk. I don't know if he does it on purpose just to stir up himself and everyone else, or if it's just the way he is. But one thing's for sure. Whenever he bowls, I'll be rooting for the other guy (or gal).

I did chuckle at something Randy Pedersen said during the telecast. He said that Allen liked to brag about beating Chris Barnes ten years ago in a PBA regional, and that Barnes had responded by saying, "For Ritchie, that was the greatest moment of his life. For me, it was just a warm up for the next tournament." Well, I guess Allen now has a new "greatest moment" to brag about.

Random Thoughts

I wasn't thrilled with the whole format of this tournament. First of all, arbitrarily placing the bowlers in regions and then allowing only the winners of each region to progress to the final few weeks of televised play kept some of the best players out of the proceedings and made Sunday's finals a pretty lackluster affair. I've always liked to see formats which allow the proverbial cream to rise to the top, and it seems to me that round robin match play amongst the top qualifiers followed by a stepladder finals is the best way of getting the finest bowlers into the finals while still meeting the time constraints of television. On the other hand, without the format of this tournament, guys like Randy Weiss might well never have had the chance to make it to the finals and there's something to be said for giving guys like him a chance they don't ordinarily receive, and Allen and Barnes bowled well enough that they might very well have made it anyway.

A good thing about making the title match two games instead of just one is that it affords the best player that day a better chance of winning the title than if the match is decided by only one game. In one game, someone can get a good or bad break or two and win or lose more because of that than anything else, whereas two games makes it more likely that the person who actually performs better will win. But that's only if the match is decided by total pins. That's not how yesterday's title would have been decided if Allen and Barnes had won a game apiece, which they very easily could have. The match and title would then have been awarded to the guy who got the highest count on one ball in a sudden death rolloff, where, once again, a good or bad break rather than quality of performance might well have determined the outcome. So, I say if you're going to have the top two bowl a two-game match for the title, let total pins decide the winner.

One Thoughtful Commentator

A habitually thoughtful commentator had this to say in Pba.com's PBA Forum about Sunday's telecast:

"I think bowling should always be the most memorable part of a show, with individual bowling personalities behind that. But with this most recent broadcast, I almost don't remember the matches because there were so many distractions that took away from that. Here is what most comes to mind when I think of this last show from most memorable to least:

Vuvuzelas
The over-kill of shots of the purposely placed 'hotties'
Poor camera work
Allen's personality
The recap of the season
And oh yeah, there was bowling and the matches themselves

Bowling should always be the most memorable part of the show and any gimmicks come after that. It's one thing for bowlers to have personality on the show-I think that's a good thing, but the sport and the bowling itself needs to maintain decorum and a professional feel. We are already struggling with the perception people have of bowling, and this show didn't help that in my opinion."

You can read Bill Vint's Pba.com story on the telecast here. And if you missed yesterday's televised finals, I'll post videos of them in a future entry as soon as they become available online.

Matt McNeil Looks for Historic Repeat in USBC Open

Nobody has ever won the all-events title at the USBC Open Championships two years in a row, but Matt McNiel could become the first. The 25-year-old Minnesota left-hander bowled an incredible 2,326 last year to break the all-events record, shooting 780 (team), 740 (doubles), and 806 (singles). This year, he started out with a 745 in the team event last night and will bowl doubles and singles tonight.

You can watch him bowl live tonight on Bowl.com starting at 5:30 PM Pacific time, and you can read more about him here.

Bowling Quote of the Day--Jeff Richgels on Dick "Ritchie" Allen

"As a new dad, he might want you to call him Dick Allen now, but he'll always be Ritchie to me...And it was wonderful to see on Sunday that he continues to be the same basic guy I met long ago, whatever name he goes by...If you didn't see Allen's win in the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs on ESPN on Sunday, I'm not sure I can adequately explain in words what I mean. But if you saw the show, I know you understand. And I love it. Pro bowling — all sports! — needs more athletes who aren't afraid to openly be who they really are and say what they really think."

--Jeff Richgels

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vuvuzelas Almost Ruin Dick Weber PBA Playoffs


I guess I'll say congratulations to Dick Allen for winning the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs title today. I say "I guess," because I'm not Mr. Allen's biggest fan, and after today, I'm even less of one. However, he bowled well to make it into the finals, and he bowled well enough to win today.

But something else happened on the telecast today that I hope never happens again. In fact, if it does, I'll turn off the TV and do something else. People in the stands were blowing vuvuzelas. It sounded like a soccer match instead of a PBA telecast. One reason I don't like soccer is the fans blowing those horns from hell. I detest those horns and could not believe that some lamebrain from the PBA would say, "Hey, I've got a bright idea that will bring more fans to the telecast! We'll hand out vuvuzelas to the fans and let them go hog wild blowing them."

That guy should be fired. Well, maybe not fired, but his or her future 'bright ideas' should be regarded with extreme skepticism unless they're a whole lot brighter than the one that cursed the telecast today and almost sent me reaching for the medicine cabinet for a Bayer aspirin (one of the show's sponsors).

Here are what some commenters on Facebook had to say about those wretched horns on the PBA Facebook page:

"And people wonder why bowling isn't taken seriously..."

"you have got to be kidding me."

"It's gonna be a circus....bad idea...won't even watch it."

"Okay, I'll turn on closed captioning and turn the sound off."

"Terrible idea. But hey, we are just fans, what do we matter, right?"

"Yet another example of how the Industry has been slowly destroying itself for three decades now."

"whoever thought this was a good idea should be canned...immediately"

"Be nice everyone, the pba doesn't take criticism well. And this bad idea is just par for the course for these guys."

"What next? Pro Cosmic Bowling?"

"They were an irritant at the recent World Cup...and now this is in the PBA? What's next...turn down the lights,crank up the music,and make it 9-pin no tap?"

I'll have more to say about today's tournament and maybe a little more to say about the vuvuzelas in my next post, but I had to vent my spleen here and now about this aural outrage.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wayne Webb, One of the All Time Greats


"I always bowled well on TV, and I was known for being able to make a big shot when I needed it."
--Wayne Webb

I grew up watching PBA telecasts. I've seen almost every one of them and every top professional bowler since the mid-60's. I've never compiled my own PBA top 50 list, but if I were to do so, Wayne Webb would rank high on it. He ranked 18th on the official PBA "50 Greatest Players" list released a few years ago.

Whenever Wayne Webb stepped foot on the approach, he had my full attention. There was just something unusually charismatic and commanding about his demeanor. It was all business and brimming with equal measures of standout competence and quiet confidence.

And then there was that compact, efficient style of his that just pleased the eye. You know how some bowlers on tour have styles that you just love to watch every chance you get? David Ozio, Brian Voss, Bryon Smith, Chris Barnes, Parker Bohn, and Robert Smith are among the many who come to mind, while there are others, whom I won't name, whose styles are an eyesore. Well, Wayne Webb had and still has the kind of style you love to watch.

But that great style also generated one powerful ball. Back in the day, it was one of the most powerful balls on tour, and I heard an old-timer on PBA Xtra Frame once say that Wayne was the first or one of the first on tour to move in deep enough to loft the gutter cap. Everybody else would be struggling to play outside or shallow inside lines, and there Wayne would be firing strike after strike from deep inside with all that skill and power of his.

For awhile, he was nearly invincible. He won the Tournament of Champions and was PBA Player of the Year in 1980. Between 1980 and 1985, he won over $100,000 three times and over $90,000 twice, which was great money for the PBA back then.

But he began to struggle after that, and although he had a few more good years, particularly in 1988 and 1997, he left the Tour in the early 2000's to concentrate on running pro shops. The end of his career on the regular tour is profiled in the outstanding 2004 bowling documentary "A League of Ordinary Gentlemen."

Wayne eventually moved to the Sacramento area and opened a couple of pro shops here, and after I moved to Sacramento, he became my go-to pro shop guy. This wasn't just because he'd been such a great bowler on tour and one I'd always enjoyed and respected more than most. No, it soon became apparent that this guy had tremendous knowledge of bowling and bowling equipment, and he was willing to share it with you at length. You could learn a lot from listening to Wayne Webb.

Once, I asked him to give my wife, who was a beginning bowler, a bowling lesson, and he helped her game. Another time, I asked him for a ball recommendation. He watched me throw a few balls first. We then went into his shop, he gave me his recommendation, I took it, he fit me for the ball, laid it out and drilled it, and the first time I used it, I shot over 800 in league. I was so happy, I called him on the phone the next morning and thanked him. That ball is now several years old, but it still fits me better than any other ball I've owned, and I still use it whenever I can.

I was sorry to see him leave Sacramento to take over a bowling center in Columbus, Ohio. But I was delighted to see him do so well on the Senior Tour and enjoy so much happiness with his new family and business venture.

The reason I bring all of this up is because I've just received the April, 2011 issue of Bowlers Journal International in the mail, and one of its articles profiles Wayne. The article is titled "For Wayne Webb, Life is Fun Again. In an upcoming post, I will write about some very interesting parts of that article.

Below is video of Wayne Webb's title match at age 24 with Gary Dickinson in the 1980 Tournament of Champions.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Chuck Gardner on What the PBA Needs

"Looking forward to next season, it doesn’t look like the tour will be growing at all. I am still very concerned about what is going to happen. We really need to get some money coming into the tour. At this point, it looks as if the 2012 schedule will be similar to last season, with a World Series and the other Majors. Other than that, we have not heard anything...As for me, it was a long season and I was ready for time off. Not sure how old most of you are, but I am 51 years old and have started a bucket list, just like the movie. I got to take one of the top items off of that list, spending the weekend in Augusta at the Masters. It was truly what I always dreamed it would be. Not only was it beautiful in every way, but the feeling of the power of this great event is just crazy. I will never forget this weekend. Someday, I hope bowling can create an event with the stature of the Masters and that people all over the world would hope to attend."
--Chuck Gardner, PBA Tour Rep for Brunswick bowling

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Dick Allen Knows

I know my game. I know my equipment. If I make 36 quality shots Sunday, there’s a good chance I’ll be holding the trophy. I’m not going to worry about the guy from Columbia, or the guy who throws Columbia. You know the old clich├ęs: it’ll just be me against the pins.”
--Dick "Ritchie" Allen, commenting on this coming Sunday's competition with Chris Barnes and Randy Weiss for the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs title

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dick Weber and Team Bowling Tribute


Courtesy of the PBA, here is a sterling tribute to the late, great Dick Weber and also to a time when elite team bowling was far more popular than it is today. On March 12, 1958, the fabled Budweiser team of St. Louis shot a team series of 3858 that held the record for 38 years.

Here were the members of that team along with their individual series that fateful night: Don Carter (754), Ray Bluth (834), Pat Patterson (736), Tom Hennessey (759), Dick Weber (775). Remember that this was in the era of rubber bowling balls and relatively straight lines to the pocket.

The video is narrated by the late, great Earl Anthony.

When Are Bowlers Too Competitive and Too Nice?


Jef Goodger, the bowling writer for About.com, recently posted an excellent article titled "Barnes, Belmonte Show What Bowling Can Be." Referring to the final match of last Sunday's PBA telecast, he writes: "Was it the best bowling match ever? Definitely not. But yesterday's final match-play contest between Chris Barnes and Jason Belmonte was one of the most entertaining I've seen in a long time." I agree. The final scores weren't close, but the road to those scores was paved with abundant excitement.

Jef goes on to write about how there's been a lot of talk lately about sportsmanship or the lack thereof in bowling and other sports, and how he likes to see good sportsmanship amongst the bowlers, but he also likes to see bowlers who really want to win and who effectively balance good sportsmanship with competitiveness in a way that commands our attention and fuels our excitement. He concludes by saying:

"To clarify, I'm a proponent of sportsmanship. I don't think bowlers need to be at the point of taunting each other on the lanes, as is what happens in most more popular sports like football, hockey and basketball, but that doesn't mean a bowler should have to hide his emotions. You can be competitive and a gentleman at the same time. Yesterday, we saw that out of Barnes and Belmonte. I'd like to see more of it out of more people."
Again, I agree. But how far can competitiveness go before it becomes unsportsmanlike, how far can sportsmanship go before it becomes monotonously if not sickeningly sweet and nice, and how can we tell the difference? What's more, does achieving a wholesome balance between competitiveness and sportsmanship make one the best bowler he can be, or does someone need to be more competitive than nice to be the best bowler possible?

You can read Jef Goodger's entire article here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Videos of Episode 3 of 2011 Dick Weber PBA Playoffs

As promised, below are videos of the three matches televised yesterday of the Regional Championships Round of the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs. Match one features Randy Weiss vs Steve Jaros. In match two, Dick "Ritchie" Allen takes on Jack "The Ripper" Jurek. And the final match has Chris Barnes going head-to-head with twin-grip fireballer Jason Belmonte. Following those three videos is the PBA Xtra Frame post-game show in which "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark interviews the three winners.




Chris Barnes Looks Dominant in Second to Last Week of the 2010-2011 Season


"I’ve bowled well on TV the last couple of years, but last year the four people I bowled against shot a combined 1,012 so no one gave me any breathing room. I’ve bowled pretty well, and the season before, at the end of the year, I won back-to-back titles and left a 8 pin on the money shot in the U.S. Open to win. The things that haunted me through those TV shows Mark Baker (Barnes’ coach) addressed, and I fixed them, and when I get in those situations now there’s no fear about what’s going to happen. I know what I need to execute when I’m in those situations and it’s gone pretty well since then."
--Chris Barnes


Barnes' Vindication

A year ago, I posted a blog entry (you can click here to read it) titled "Why Do So Many Love to Hate Chris Barnes?" I wrote it a day after the telecast in which Barnes showed displeasure over a Brad Angelo crossover strike and Angelo got fired up over it and defeated Barnes during the final tournament of the season.

Barnes had had a rough year. Well, at least it was rough year for Chris Barnes, even though most touring pros would have probably considered it a good to great year. And after losing more than one "Chris Barnes Challenge" to lesser opponents, not winning a Tour title all season, and making that snide remark about Angelo's "Brooklyn," it seemed that the floodgates sprang wide open for fans to criticize and mock Barnes as an overrated, arrogant jerk who "always chokes" on TV. Never mind that, as I pointed out, he was still near the top in every statistical category and that the last three opponents he faced on TV that season shot a combined score of 811 against him.

Well, after performing superbly for Team USA in the 2010 Men's World Championships, winning the first major of this season in the PBA World Championship, sitting high in all the PBA statistical categories, and putting on a remarkable performance in his match televised yesterday against Jason Belmonte in the Regional Championships Round of the inaugural Dick Weber PBA Playoffs, I don't see how anyone can mock Mr. Barnes now.

Not only did Barnes not "choke" yesterday, but he elevated his outstanding game to a dazzling level of excellence. While all five other bowlers struggled to hit the pocket consistently and carry strikes, Barnes executed beautifully, hitting the pocket every time on a pretty tricky pair of lanes and carrying ten strikes on his way to a commanding 260-199 victory over Jason Belmonte in the final match of the day.

I don't know that I've ever seen him or anyone look sharper, and I don't think anyone has a better all-around game than his. Even if Barnes wins the title next week, Mika Koivuniemi appears to have a deserved lock on Player of the Year, but Barnes' only competition for the runner-up spot would be Bill O'Neill.

Not bad at all for an "overrated, arrogant jerk who always chokes on TV."

Other Matches

Randy Weiss def. Steve Jaros 191-179.
Dick Allen def. Jack Jurek 222-198.

Jaros and Jurek, along with Belmonte, earned $7,000 each.

You can read Bill Vint's summary of yesterday's televised matches here. As of now, I can't find any video posted online of yesterday's matches, but if and when I do, I'll present it in a follow-up entry to this one.