Monday, April 4, 2011

Bowling's Bottlegate Between Jason Belmonte and Brad Angelo Continues

Summary of Matches

Congratulations to Jack Jurek, Jason Belmonte, and Chris Barnes for their victories in their regional championships of the 2011 Dick Weber Playoffs that were televised yesterday. Jurek bowled 221 to Wes Malott's 206 and Bill O'Neill's 178 to win the Midwest region. Belmonte shot 211 to Brad Angelo's 201, and Dino Castillo's 160 to win the Southwest region. And Chris Barnes rolled 217 to Lonnie Waliczek's 201 and Lenny Boresch Jr's 177 to take the West/Northwest region. All three bowlers will now advance to the next round where Steve Jaros will take on Randy Weiss, Dick Allen will bowl Jack Jurek, and Chris Barnes will bowl against Jason Belmonte in semifinal matches to be televised next Sunday.

Yesterday's scores were lower and the bowlers seemed to struggle more than in the previously televised regional matches because, as Chris Barnes explained, the front part of the right lane especially was burnt and hooking a lot while the backends of both lanes were tight. Barnes addressed the challenge by using a weaker ball to get as cleanly as possible through the front part of the lane while still getting enough hook and hitting hard enough on the back end to carry, albeit barely, strikes. Other bowlers had trouble keeping their balls from hooking early and either missing the pocket left or rolling out into the pocket to leave flat 10's.

You can watch all three matches below.

Bottlegate Crinkles and Pops On

There's been much ado in this blog, the PBA website, and other blogs and media sources about what is now being called the "Bottlegate" incident between Jason Belmonte and Brad Angelo where Angelo complained to Jason about Jason's distracting him with a noisy water bottle. You can find my previous take on all of this here and here as well as watch the incident here. However, it seems that there's more to say that may be worth saying about it all.

Angelo Podcast Interview

Above180 featured a recent podcast interview with Brad Angelo that you can listen to here. Of course, he was asked about the "Bottlegate" incident, and here is some of what he had to say:

Well, over this last week I’ve gotten a few phone calls about that, and a lot of people kind of saw what I felt, and so I went on yesterday to see the clip, and I don’t know...I don’t really know what to say about it. I don’t want to throw Jason under the bus or anything like that, but it was a little peculiar that he had picked up the water bottle when I stepped back up on the approach, and then he was very quiet, and then right during the silence of me walking to the foul line that he had, I guess, squeezed it loud enough for me to hear it again. I mean even when I’m explaining it, it sounds a little goofy and it sounds a little petty, but when you’re bowling on TV and every person in the crowd is silent and sometimes you can barely even hear Rob Stone or Randy Peterson that are way down at the other end of the it’s pretty quiet, and then to have that happen at that point in the match, it was just frustrating at that time when it happened, and I guess that’s all I really have to say about it.”

Belmonte Interview

On PBA Xtra Frame's post-telecast show, "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark asked Belmonte about the incident and this is how Belmo described it:

“We had a chat at the end of it. There was a slight pop in a watter bottle that I was holding that caught him in one of the frames, and it was completely accidental. And we had a chat, and had a hug at the end of it, and everything’s fine. I think it got blown up out of proportion, and the way that I am, I just felt miserable at the time because you only get ten shots on TV, and to have one of those shots catch you or put you off...I know the feeling, and so I just felt really bad. But he was a gentleman and just basically said it was no problem, no hard feelings, and he ultimately said he had a chance to win the match, so no hard feelings...”

You can watch the entire interview by clicking on here.

One Person's Unflattering Take on Angelo

Kerry, a regular and thoughtful reader of this blog, saw something while watching yesterday's entire match between Belmo and Angelo that I hadn't noticed. This is how he describes it:

Yesterday, I watched and, for the most part, enjoyed all 3 matches in the telecast. Today, I've been reviewing this match on youtube.

My initial impression of Angelo was fortified by his behavior in the total context of the match. Being blunt, Angelo was determined to be a jerk from the start, and he certainly fulfilled that objective.

Angelo had a teenage "fan club" dressed in green shirts, carrying signs designed to show that Angelo was spoiling for a fight. One sign said, That's BAD Brad Angelo, another Pimpin' Brad Angelo, and other signs with That Ain't Brooklyn, to remind folks of his conflict with Barnes. At least twice, I observed Angelo look in the direction of the fan club and give a thumbs up. Clearly he was enjoying the juvenile adulation.

Angelo made a bad shot in the 5th, going through the nose, but only leaving 2. On the way back, he gave a dirty look to Belmonte. Belmonte's water bottle was on the table and he was standing behind the ball return, so Angelo was off base there. If he heard anything, it was LONG before he started his approach.

Angelo picked up his spare and then showed his true colors. Belmonte was on the left lane, the other side of the ball return. While Jason was preparing for his split conversion, Angelo started messing with the balls on the ball return, banging them together and directly in Belmonte's peripheral vision and very close to him. You can barely hear the sound of the balls in the video clip, so Belmonte certainly could hear them. Why did Angelo do that? Then, Angelo goes back to his seat and immediately starts squeezing his water bottle on the table. Clearly, he's seeing what kind of noises the bottle makes.

Now, here's Angelo, who's just made a terrible first shot in the 5th, but his focus on the water bottle instead on his game. That's way out there, IMO. I can't imagine any pro making a bad shot and then not trying to figure out how to fix it. At this point, it's clear that Angelo is fixated on Belmonte and the water bottles. Then, they go to commercial break.

Why didn't Angelo talk to Belmonte during the perfect opportunity afforded by the commercial break? I think he intended to throw the fit on camera hoping to rattle Belmonte and throw him off of his game. At that point, Dino was pretty much out of contention, so Angelo could win the match if Belmonte flubbed another frame or 2.

Jason Thomas wasn't very observant. If he wanted to show gamesmanship, he picked the wrong player. Belmonte wasn't the bad guy here. Watching the entire match gives you the proper perspective and information. Belmonte tried several times to talk to Angelo, but Angelo rebuffed him. Belmonte is a true gentleman and sportsman and was visibly upset over the incident. Fortunately, it didn't affect his game.

The really funny thing was that if Angelo had concentrated on being a "GOOD" bowler instead of a "BAD" man, he could have won the match.

At this point, I don't ever want to watch Angelo again. I don't enjoy that kind of behavior at all.

Now I have to say that I watched the match again today, and I can't say that I saw all of what Kerry did. But what about you? Do you think Belmonte tried to distract Angelo, or that Angelo overreacted or even tried to distract Belmonte in retaliation? Finally, do you think people, myself included, have made too big a deal out of this whole "Bottlegate" thing and that it's time to talk about more substantive matters?

PBA publicist Jason Thomas wrote a column today about how much he now admires Brad Angelo. I'll have a few words to say about this tomorrow, and that should pretty much lay all of this to rest so far as I'm concerned.

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