Thursday, June 30, 2011

Link to U.S. Women's Open Results For Those Who Have to Know Now

I'm not going to post the results here now, because I don't want to spoil it for those who'd rather wait until the delayed airing of the show Saturday to find out. But for those impatient souls, like me, who want to know NOW, click here to find out who did what in the U.S. Women's Open stepladder finals tonight at Cowboys Stadium.

Bowling's Enthusiasm Problem

Last night I bowled my sport league in the house in which Leanne and Gary Hulsenberg bowl league and have their pro shop. Given the fact that Leanne is seeded second in tonight's stepladder finals of the biggest women's bowling tournament in history, I kind of thought I might hear the place buzzing with excitement. After all, most of the people present at that time were pretty serious bowlers or solid bowling fans, and many of them knew Leanne and Gary well, were customers of theirs, or were even friends of theirs. Yet, I heard nary a word about Leanne most of the evening.

Finally, I said something about Leanne making the finals to a guy who, I think, helped Leanne and Gary get their pro shop up and running, and he responded with a very matter-of-fact and underwhelming, "Yeah, she bowled pretty well."

"Pretty well?" I said silently to myself. "She bowled fantastically well against some of the best freakin' female bowlers on the planet and is just two matches away from the biggest title in women's bowling, to be won on the grandest stage, Dallas Cowboys Stadium, in bowling history, and all you can say, in an indifferent monotone, is that she's bowled "pretty well""?

He then followed that up with a quip from a PBA star friend of his about the U.S. Women's Open shot this year being "," thereby, if inadvertently, devaluing Leanne's accomplishment by suggesting that she performed it on easy conditions.

And so we have illustrated here what may be one of the biggest reasons why elite bowling and even bowling in general seem as though they may be in an inexorable death spiral: hardly anybody seems to give a sh*t. I say "seems to," because maybe, deep down, a lot of people are as excited as I am that Leanne is in the finals and about elite bowling in general, but, for some perverse reason, they don't dare let it show because it wouldn't look "cool."

Then again, maybe they really just don't give a damn, like the commentators on who were ho-hum about a high school senior holding his own with the PBA's best in the recent Team USA tryouts for the upcoming Pan Am games. Or the scratch level junior bowlers in my "PBA Experience" league a few summers back who were too busy playing on their smartphones to watch Leanne Barrette when she threw the ball. Or the guys in my scratch league who don't know who won the PBA tournament of the week before or who's doing well on tour. Or the fans who virtually ignore Walter Ray Williams Jr. when he walks into a bowling center before a big tournament.

Am I being silly, or does bowling have a serious under-enthusiasm problem? ESPN's much maligned bowling announcer Rob Stone once sat in with the guys of PBA Xtra Frame and talked about how bowling fans need to get more solidly behind the players and show more enthusiasm, and how PBA telecasts need to rise above the somber occasions of yesteryear. I am now more and more convinced that he was right, just as I am equally convinced that his advice will continue to be ignored and even ridiculed by "bowling fans" throughout the land until the PBA has gone the way of the PWBA and all you'll be able to see in what few bowling centers remain open amidst a mass extinction of bowling centers far and wide is kiddie birthday parties and adolescent rock n' bowl.

In the meantime, I'll continue to unabashedly celebrate the sport of bowling here in this blog and brim with enthusiasm for tonight's U.S. Women's Open finals, even if I wont' be able to watch it live.

2011 U.S. Women's Open Finalists Reflect on Upcoming Finals

"I am so excited. I kind of struggled last night and struggled a little bit today physically, and so I kept looking up at the scoreboard and thinking 'How am I still in the running when I'm throwing it this bad?' So, I'm really excited to be in the show, to go bowl in the Cowboy Stadium in front of all my home crowd and just have a great time."
--Lynda Barnes

"I actually get a chance in helping to break those down and hopefully get to break them down the way that I want them. 'Advantage' is a way that YOU look at it. I'm looking at bowling the first match as an advantage."
--Shannon O'Keefe

"We've bowled at some big stadiums but nothing like this. So, it's going to be an absolutely exciting, exciting day. I'd love to make it to the final match and see what goes from there. You know it's going to be a great show regardless."
--Liz Johnson

"Very seldom have I won being in the top position. I don't look at that as a plus or as a negative. But, considering as well as I've bowled this week, I'm just going to take that as a positive, see how the lanes play...I'll have the practice pair to warm up and I'll have a few minutes before the show starts for me. So, if I get lined up quick enough, I'll be alright."
--Kelly Kulick

"It's an even playing field. There's no advantage to anyone, I think, going in there."
--Shannon O'Keefe

"This venue is new to all of us, so we're all on equal playing ground. I'm just going to try to go out there, see what the lanes are doing...hopefully they're going to be similar to what they were like all week long. If I have the same look over there like I did now, I'm going to be tough to beat."
--Kelly Kulick

"It would be icing on the cake. I've always bowled well in the U.S. Open, so it would be a dream come true."
--Leanne Hulsenberg

A Critic Alleges Unfair Favoritism in Elite Women's Bowling

Someone who claims to have participated in this week's U.S. Women's Open posted an anonymous comment to one of my recent blogposts about the Open that I want to share with you, because I think it raises a very important issue.

The gist of her post is that elite women's tournaments, such as the U.S. Women's Open, unfairly favor established "pros" such as Kelly Kulick and virtually ignore "up and comers" who then sour on the game, stop entering top tournaments, and, before you know it, there are no more big women's tournaments, just like there is no more PWBA, because not enough women feel competitive enough to enter. Here are her provocative comments:

In your comment you reference the demise of the PWBA in 2003. Well let's just say that if Ebonite doesn't do a better job of running the U.S. Open tournament, this will demise as well. They had a record turn out this week with 296 bowlers, last year they had 100. If they didn't get the turn out they got this week, the tournament surely would've gone away.

Well let me say this, "professional" bowlers that are bowling in this event for one, have a GREAT advantage when competing in these types of tournaments. When you enter the tournament you're limited to 8 ball, but the "professionals have Ball Reps, that are at their beck and call to drill up balls for them at anytime during the competition, when the up and coming bowlers are limited to the 8 balls they have because the Ball Reps who should, (I would think) be there for everyone as they are trying to sell balls for their company, but the truth is they are not there for or interest talking to any one if you're not a "Pro".

These guys stand behind the pros during practice ignoring anyone else on the lanes with the "Pro", tell the where to stand and throw the ball they're using and if it's not working, they tell them that they will have another ball drilled up for them immediately. The up and coming person has the odds totally stacked against them when they're competing.

To make this an even playing field, there should only be an allowance of 8 balls for a given day,(that are weighed and serial numbers check) as I'm sure you know this is not done. If your ball or balls are not working, you need to make adjustments without help from your Professional husband or Professional Bowler Ball Rep/Reps, with you being the "Pro" should know how to make your adjustments on your own with out other professional help, as this is what the up and coming bowlers have to do when they are competing. Sounds fair to me!!!

But is this what happens ummm no!!! I bowled this week and I saw all of the "Pros" being told where to line up and what shot to shoot. With that said, I believe this is why the WPBA went away in 2003 and if they don't watch out, this will go away as well. It's obvious that the up and coming bowlers are set up to fail when this type of thing is going on, just look at who the bowlers are that continue to win these tournaments.

Take a look at how the cards are stacked against the up and coming bowler compared to the "Pro".

Up and coming Bowler
1.Pays $300-400 entry fee
2.Pays $150 per ball/8 balls
3.Pays for room and board
4.Pays for travel
5.Has to figure out lane
conditions/make adjustments
on their own/no help from
Reps you are not acknowledged
by them.

1.Sponsor pays (Ebonite, Columbia etc...)
2.Sponsor supply balls for free (Ebonite, Columbia etc...)
3.Sponsor pay for room/board (Ebonite, Columbia etc...)
4.Sponsor pay for travel (Ebonite, Columbia etc...)
5.Sponor Reps line them up, tell them what
adjustments to make when they struggle. (Ebonite, Columbia etc...)

It's obvious who the Tournament or Sponsors want to win these tournaments, and it's blatantly in your face. I guess they think the up and coming will continue to donate to the prize fund for their "Pros" to continue to win with their help. The up and coming made a statement last year and years priors (2003) hoping this year things would change but if it doesn't I'm sure this will be short lived as the women who compete in these tournaments are not STUPID!!! When you have bowlers being lined up and told where to shoot, you don't have a chance because by the time you figure out the shot or make adjustments, it's too late. But if the Pros had to figure things out on there own the field would be more equal but right now it's not.

There are other people that feel like me, the playing field should be equal. If they have sponsor, so what, but they should be restricted to the maximum amount of balls and allowed no help at all like everyone else and definitely everyone should have their balls check and weighed like they are in Nationals.(WHY AREN'T THEY)hhhmmmm!!! At Nationals a Woman Professional Bowler had a illegal ball and was told the ball couldn't be used unless she had it fixed, she refused to have it fixed and got caught trying to use it any way. I know this is a long post but, just wanted to voice my opinion. So let it be known the up and coming bowlers are talking!!!

Do you think these are valid complaints, and, if so, what, if anything, do you think can and should be done to address them?

Mike J. Laneside Interviews Leslie and Parker Bohn at Bowl Expo

Video--Games 9-15 of 2011 U.S. Women's Open Match Play

Mike J. Laneside Interviews Above 180's Tim Burg and Joey Cerar

"We're trying to help bowlers of any skill level become better bowlers."
--Joey Cerar, co-host of Above 180 bowling podcasts

Bowling Video of the Day--Doing it Bigger in Texas

"They say they do things bigger in Texas? Well, you can't do it much bigger than Cowboys Stadium."
--Matt Lawson, USBC Spokesperson

Bowling Quote of the Day--Leanne Hulsenberg's Gift to Her Husband

"It's really personally cool for me because my husband, we didn't meet each other until after I quit bowling when the tour ended, so he hasn't really seen me have any success in bowling. So, it's kind of going to be really cool for us tomorrow."
--Leanne Hulsenberg, on the eve of her bowling in the second seed of the stepladder finals of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open

Video Preview of Stepladder Finals of 2011 U.S. Women's Open

Tonight's the night. Not that you'll be able to see it tonight, for some unfathomable reason (more about that in an upcoming blogpost). But tonight's the night that Lynda Barnes, Shannon O'Keefe, Liz Johnson, Leanne Hulsenberg, and Kelly Kulick will meet on the grandest bowling stage in human history for the championship finals of the tournament jewel of women's bowling. And below is a USBC video preview of the participants and the glory and riches to be had.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leanne Who?

"i must admit to a funny story .... my sweet hubby didn't recognize you as "hulsenberg" .... kept watchin' you bowl on live streaming, totally fascinated by how good you were & the fact that he'd never heard of you!!! when i said "leanne BARRETTE", he said "duh"....... you're good under any name ....."
--Comment on Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg's Facebook page after she bowled her way into the second seed of the stepladder finals of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open

Bowling Quote of the Day--Is Bowling Only for Nutters?

"Is bowling coming back, or is it just nutters like me that do it in the closet?"
--Fox News reporter to BPAA Executive

Video Profiles of the 16 Match Play Finalists in 2011 U.S. Women's Open

Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg Seeded Second to Kelly Kulick for 2011 U.S. Women's Open Stepladder Finals

"It's great to be a part of the biggest tournament ever. I actually have a second, third, fourth, and a fifth in the Open, and I've led the Open and lost. This would be totally huge."
--Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg

Okay, I'll admit it. When Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg's husband, Gary, told me a week ago that Leanne was bowling "very, very well" and that he liked her chances at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open this year, I had my doubts. I didn't have any doubts about Leanne's bowling ability, mind you. Her 26 national titles, two PWBA Player of the Year awards, Queens title, multiple U.S. Open stepladder finals appearances, and over 100 televised bowling appearances amply proved her ability to perform masterfully at the highest level of women's bowling.

But what had me feeling a little doubtful was the fact that after the PWBA folded in 2003, Leanne's competitive fire seemed to wane somewhat. Oh, she bowled the Steve Cook Classic league at my home house, still bowled local tournaments, still performed admirably at the USBC Women's Opens, and placed seventeenth in last year's USBC Queens, fourteenth in last year's U.S. Women's Open, and thirteenth in this year's USBC Queens, but I still had the feeling that the absence of a professional tour, recent motherhood, the demands of work, and the fact that she'd be up against most of the finest female bowlers in the world, many of whom were young and hungry and superbly trained members of national teams, including Team USA, would make it difficult for Leanne to crack the top 16 into match play much less have a realistic shot at making the televised finals of the biggest tournament in the history of women's bowling.

Well, my doubts were dashed to pin dust by Leanne's remarkable showings in qualifying and match play over these past few days. She finished seventh in qualifying, rose to third after a blistering block last night in the first round of match play, and, following today's 8 games of match play, she finds herself seeded second for tomorrow night's stepladder finals. That's right, Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg needs to win only two matches tomorrow night to accomplish about the only great thing she has yet to accomplish in her storied bowling career--a U.S. Women's Open title.

The USBC's Lucas Wiseman reported during the live streaming of today's match play that when he talked to Leanne briefly this morning after it became certain that she'd make the stepladder finals, she confessed that she'd be feeling very "nervous" when it came time for her to bowl under the television lights on specially constructed lanes in the middle of Cowboy's Stadium in Texas tomorrow night. But I'm guessing that her less experienced and less accomplished opponents will be feeling just as nervous if not more so, and that she has a very good chance to win the title.

For even if she wins her first match and faces top seeded Kelly Kulick--who in one mind-bending five game stretch of match play today strung together games of 279, 278, 269, 279, and 248--in the final match, anything can happen in one game, and anyone can win. Leanne can certainly beat any female bowler on the planet, as she did this morning when she defeated Kulick in the position round to close out match play. She can do it again tomorrow night, if she gets the chance.

Unfortunately, we won't be able to watch the action until ESPN2 airs it Saturday at 6 PM Eastern. But I know I won't be able to resist finding out what happens as soon as possible after it happens.

You can watch the position round of today's match play below.

PBA Xtra Frame's Mike J. Laneside Interviews Mike Fagan at Bowl Expo

Bowling Video of the Day--Amanda Vermilyea's Comeback

Kulick Shines, Hulsenberg Rises, and Pluhowsky Falters in U.S. Women's Open

The first 8 games of match play of the U.S. Women's Open were not kind to Shannon Pluhowsky last night. After residing in first or second place throughout most of the qualifying rounds, Pluhowsky went a disastrous 1-7 and averaged only 210 in match play to drop like a rock from solid second to shaky seventh place with only 8 games of match play remaining today.

However, while Pluhowsky stumbled, Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg was busy going 6-2, shooting 300 in her sixth game and 279 in her eighth, and amassing the highest match play total of the field with a 1909 scratch total for a 238 average to rise to third place.

Meanwhile, Kelly Kulick cruised along to a 6-2 record and 231 average for her eight games of match play to increase her imposing lead over the rest of the field.

The ladies will bowl eight games today to determine the field for the stepladder finals. Stay tuned for the results, click here for the details on yesterday's match play round, and check out the video below of yesterday's match play.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Video--Lynda Barnes Shoots 299 in U.S. Women's Open Qualifying

Actually, this is one of two 299's Lynda shot in her third round of qualifying yesterday. They helped propel her to near the top of the field.

Bowling Quote of the Day--PBA Credibility Crisis

"Only 4 events outside of California/Vegas? And at least 4 events with no television coverage? That can't be a good sign at all. Something's got to change or this sport is completely going to lose what bit of credibility it has left."
--Andy Siebert, commenting on the PBA's Facebook page about the just released PBA 2011-2012 Schedule

U.S. Women's Open Top 16 Qualifiers Head Into Match Play Tonight

At 8 PM Eastern, the top 16 qualifiers of the U.S. Women's Open will take to the lanes for 8 games of round-robin match play tonight, followed by 8 more games tomorrow to decide who makes the historic finals to be held in Cowboy's Stadium Thursday evening and telecast by ESPN2 this Saturday, June 2 at 6 PM Eastern.

After four rounds of qualifying (32 games), Kelly Kulick leads second place Shannon Pluhowsky by 153 pins, followed by Liz Johnson, Shannon O'Keefe, Jodi Woessner and Lynda Barnes (tie), Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg, Stefanie Nation, Lisanne Breeschoten, Rachel Perez, Tennelle Milligan, Diandra Asbaty, Helen Johnsson, Kristal Wilson, Kim Terrell Kearney, and Mai Jinge Jensen.

This year's USBC Queens winner, Missy Parkin, finished 20th, and Carolyn Dorin Ballard finished 30th. It's interesting to speculate on how these outstanding bowlers might have fared on tougher, tighter lane conditions than the score-a-thon lanes they faced this year, but it looks like Leanne Hulsenberg's husband Gary was right when he told me last Wednesday night that Leanne was primed and ready for the tournament. I would love to see Leanne and Kelly in the televised final match, and, as of right now, that's a real possibility.

Click here for a summary of the fourth and final round of qualifying and the top 32, and check below for video of today's fourth and final round of qualifying. Also don't forget that and ustream will be live streaming tonight's and tomorrow's match play rounds. That is where some of our USBC membership dues go each year, and this hardcore bowling fan thinks it's well worth it.

Preliminary Details on the PBA 2011-2012 Season

The PBA has just released its tournament schedule for the 2011-2012 season. There's no mention yet of prize funds for any of the tournaments, unlike last season when the unprecedented prize fund for the TOC was front and center news, but it appears that this coming season will supplement TV coverage with more online coverage via the PBA's excellent and ever-improving online video streaming service Xtra Frame. In fact, for the first time, some PBA Tour tournaments will be carried only by Xtra Frame.

Unfortunately, it also looks like there will be even fewer tour stops this season than last, with the majority of tournaments taking place as parts of a grand World Series of Bowling multi-event in Las Vegas in November and culminating in the fabled Tournament of Champions in Vegas in April.

I don't know what to say about any of this except that I'm glad there's still a PBA Tour, but I wonder how long it can continue to hang on for dear life.

Click here for Bill Vint's story on the 2011-2012 season.

Bowling Video of the Day--Shannon Pluhowsky at the U.S. Women's Open

Kelly Kulick is Back in the Saddle Again

After Kelly Kulick's "annus mirabilis" or year of wonders in 2010 when she won the TOC, the Queens, the U.S. Women's Open, the Malaysian Open, and a PBA regional, expectations for her may have soared to impossible heights this season, only to see her unsuccessfully defend her TOC and Queens titles. However, she did dominate her Women's Team USA teammates on all four sport patterns at last month's Pan Am trials, just as she is dominating the qualifying rounds of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.

In fact, she put on a spectacular performance yesterday by shooting games of 278, 247, 279, 258, 238, 268, 277, and 255 for a blistering 2100 series and 262.5 average for eight games.

Yes, I know the lanes aren't especially challenging for a U.S. Women's Open, but I don't care how "easy" they are, Kelly Kulick bowled great to do what she did, and she is the best female bowler on the planet. And she was already leading by an appreciable margin after 16 games, but her block yesterday rocketed her to a commanding lead over second place Shannon Pluhowski after the end of yesterday's third round and overall total of 24 games.

This morning, the top 32 qualifiers bowled 8 games to determine who made the cut to the top 16, and tonight those select bowlers will bowl 8 games of match play followed by 8 more games tomorrow to decide the top 5 for Thursday night's stepladder finals that will be televised on delay Saturday, July 2 at 6 PM Eastern on ESPN2.

Click here for a wrap up of yesterday's action, and look below for video of all three squads yesterday.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bowling Quote of the Day--Del Ballard Doesn't Mind Bowling Controversy

"I don't mind a little controversy one bit. Throw it in the gutter and see how much controversy you get."
--Del Ballard, when asked about the Sean Rash-Jason Belmonte "Bottlegate" controversy

Video-U.S. Women's Open Qualifying, Round 2

Preview of My Upcoming Story on Bowling Clinic Coached by Sean Rash

I had the privilege of attending an all-day bowling clinic at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights, CA last Saturday. Coaching the clinic were Sean Rash, P.J. Haggerty, Dr. Dean Hinitz, Ric Hamlin, Nick Smith, and Debbie Haggerty.

Dr. Hinitz had much to say about optimal bowling psychology, and Sean Rash shed a lot of light on bowling at the elite professional level and on his own triumphs and struggles on the lanes.

Please stay tuned for a story that I plan to post to this blog about the highlights of the clinic. And you can read my posts on a previous clinic that I attended last year here and here.

Video of GEICO PBA Team Shootout--June 25, 26

Bowling Video of the Day--Kelly Kulick Anchors Her Team to Intercollegiate Championship

Some things never change.

2011 U.S. Women's Open Qualifying--Second Round

Left-hander Shannon Pluhowski led the U.S. Women's Open after the second round of qualifying, shooting 268, 204, 277, and 269 for her last four games Sunday to amass a 3872 pinfall total for 16 games. In second place was defending champion Kelly Kulick, followed by Liz Johnson, April Ellis, and Jacqui Reese. Sacramento area bowler Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg sat in 22nd place.

The bowlers will complete their final round of qualifying today, and the top 32 will advance to match play tomorrow. The scores have been very high, with Del Ballard predicting that it will take somewhere around +550 to make the cut.

Click here for a summary of the bowling and standings after the second round.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bowling Video of the Day--2011 U.S. Women's Open International Bowlers

2011 U.S. Women's Open Qualifying--First Round

Bowling is underway in Texas for the U.S. Women's Open, and a bowler from the Netherlands is leading after the first round. Lisanne Breeschoten averaged almost 250 for her first 8 games. Shannon Pluhowsky sits in second, Shannon O'Keefe in third, Liz Johnson in fifth, defending champion Kelly Kulick in seventh after shooting 1014 for her last 4 games, Lynda Barnes in tenth, and Sacramento favorite Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg in sixteenth.

The record field of 286 bowlers is divided into three squads, and each squad will bowl 24 games of qualifying, with 8 games each on fresh oil, on intermediate breakdown, and on "the burn" before the field is cut to the top 32 on Tuesday and the top 16 on Wednesday. The finals will take place on Thursday night in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX and, for some inscrutable reason, be telecast by ESPN2 on Saturday at 6PM Eastern. The winner will receive a record $50,000. Furthermore, if anyone shoots 300 in the title match, she will receive $1 million. I can't imagine the pressure of going into the tenth frame with all strikes, but I hope somebody does it. Unfortunately, those of us who watch the telecast will almost certainly know not only who won the tournament but also whether she shot 300, which kind of takes away the tension.

You can click here for the story and standings of the first round, and you can view yesterday's first round of qualifying action below. Moreover, you can access live streaming of all the qualifying and match play rounds on

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Xtra Frame Video of Ron Mohr-Hugh Miller Title Match

I blogged the other day about how Ron Mohr seems to be almost unbeatable on the PBA Senior Tour after winning his second consecutive tournament over the likes of Walter Ray Williams Jr., Mark Williams, Wayne Webb, and Hugh Miller.

Well, below is a video clip from PBA Xtra Frame of the last frame of the nailbiting title match between Mohr and Hugh Miller in this week's PBA Senior Northern California Senior Classic in Brentwood, CA. The clip is lower resolution, for some reason, than the actual video streaming that Xtra Frame provides its subscribers, but it still gives you a good look at Mohr's game and tremendous ability to perform under pressure, and at the quality of Xtra Frame's coverage.

GEICO PBA Team Shootout June 25-26

Today and tomorrow, ESPN will show the first installments of the GEICO Team Shootout. You can catch it today from 12-2 PM Eastern, and tomorrow from 4-6PM Eastern.

Of course, the infamous "Bottlegate 2" incident between Sean Rash and Jason Belmonte has been the talk of the bowling world here of late, but, from what I understand, the bowling action itself is exciting in its own right and well worth watching for its own sake. So, I hope you'll tune in and enjoy it.

Below is a short PBA promotional video of the event.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jason Belmonte Interviewed About Bottlegate on Above 180 Podcast

If you're interested, as I imagine that many readers of this blog are, Above 180 recently did a podcast featuring an interview with Jason Belmonte. And, as you can well imagine, "Bottlegate" was a big topic of discussion. I've taken the liberty of doing a rough transcription of key parts of the interview, but I strongly suggest that you listen to the entire interview to get the full flavor and all of the content contained therein. You can click here for the interview and read my partial transcription below.

Jason was asked if there was anything more he’d like to say about the Bottlegate incidents with Brad Angelo and, more recently, Sean Rash, and Jason said:

“Going on in my career, I’m definitely not going to stop drinking water, but I’m definitely going to have to be a lot more aware of my surroundings. I was fortunate enough with Sean that when it did happen, it wasn’t in his actual approach like it was with Brad. When it happened, when I picked the bottle up off the ground and it popped in my hand there, I already knew that he was going to turn around.

What I didn’t know, I didn’t expect to see the next part of the story unfold, but I think it’s quite clear that I just can’t do that again. I can’t give anyone any reason to ever think that this was intentional. A few of my friends have said after Brad, what possessed you to even put a bottle in your hand? And I said, “Look, I drink water, and that’s what we’re given. I don’t have another bottle with me, and, at the time, I definitely wasn’t thinking it would ever happen again.” So, I guess that’s where the fault lies with me. Anything that is possible can happen, so I think from here on in, you definitely won’t be seeing me drink out of a crackly plastic bottle again. I think actually in the shows thereafter, I drink out of a glass, which, at the time, was more of a tongue in cheek, but I think it’s probably the smartest thing to do is have something in my hand that isn’t going to create any noise...”

When asked if he agreed with the PBA’s promotion of the event, kind of like Wrestlemania, but then handing out a fine to Rash, Jason said:

“I think there are two sides of the coin to that particular argument. Obviously I would hope for both Sean and I that it wasn’t publicized and it wasn’t marketed because obviously it’s probably something that, well you’d have to ask Sean, but if it was me who did what Sean did, I would definitely not want millions of people around the world to see that. And, from my point of view, I definitely don’t want people to ever assume or ever have a shadow of doubt [about] my character that I was doing something like this on purpose. So, from that point of view, I would obviously say no, I would not like this to have been promoted in the way that it has been.

But then the other side of the coin is that you have to look at it from a news point of view. I don’t think I’ve ever seen what he did happen on the PBA Tour. People want to know that stuff and...even I, between our football and cricket back home, it doesn’t matter what happens to those plays, if it’s a negative review, it gets spoken about through the media outlets. The bad thing for bowling is we’re actually our own journalists, we’re actually marketing and writing about the sport within the industry, unlike these other sports where it’s a completely outside the square entirely. Talking about it, they can say whatever they want, but, with us, we don’t have all the newspapers and TV crews and all these people coming in to write about us, so...the PBA has to do something about it. So, like I said, I wish it never did, but I understand the reasons why it was publicized...It’s very hard to say to the PBA you shouldn’t be writing about this, because it happened, and no one else is going to write about it. So, it’s a really gray area in what should have been done.

Like I said in my letter, the thing that I might have been upset about was the way in which the first incident was written and advertised, and I expressed my views pretty clearly about that as the fact that I don’t care that they want to write about it. It was some of the quotes, headlines were making the assumption that I was a villain on tour, that I was doing these things on purpose, or it was a possibility that I was doing this on purpose. And that was very hurtful, because I pour my heart into this sport, and just to see things written in a way that you know are completely false is very disheartening. So that was my gripe with it all. Not the fact that they were talking about it.

The same thing with the Angelo incident. It happened. It happened on TV. People want to know about it. We live in a world where people don’t just forget about those things. They want to know more about those kind of blow ups It’s the same in any other sport. If there are two football players on the field who are having a go at each other, I’d love to know a little bit more about it, what caused it, why they did it, but as long as the article is written honestly and in a way that didn’t imply that he was doing something on purpose, unless, of course, he was, that’s probably where I would draw my conclusion from."

Jason was asked if he’d spoken to Sean since the incident and whether there’s anything he’d like to say to him.

“He did come over to me directly after the incident. He was wishing the rest of the Storm staff good luck for the rest of the matches. He called me ‘mate’ and wanted to wish me luck. I was a bit fired up after that, and I definitely said some things I definitely shouldn’t have said because I was embarrassed because I just realized what a friend, what I thought a friend had done to me on national television. So I told him in maybe not so polite a way to go away.

That’s probably the one thing I would change is at least give him the chance to say his thing, and I didn’t give him that chance. Then again, I look back and I was so upset I really couldn’t even look at him. I was just very, very disappointed and heartbroken, because this is a guy who, you know, we’ve traveled around the world together, we eat at the same table when we’re away, we golf together, all these things, and it just kind of welled up inside, and when he did that to me it was like I don’t want to see this guy.

But, you know , like I said, looking back, I should have given him the chance to at least wish me luck for the next match and perhaps there we could have spoken about it a little bit and perhaps this wouldn’t have been so bad on a personal level. But since then, no, we haven’t had a chance to talk.

Obviously, we’ve both going to be in Texas for Bowl Expo, and we’re on the same staff for some companies, so I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a time when we’re going to be in the same room, so we’ll see how it goes, and, look, I’m a pretty forgiving kind of guy and it’s not like we’re going to be best mates again, but I’ll definitely like to hear his side of the story and why it was fueled so much as the way it was. You know, everyone’s got a reason for doing something, and he’s not crazy, you know. He obviously had a reason, so I’d like to know that, resolve that reason, and what happens to our friendship thereafter will probably be something that we resolve next time we talk."

It was suggested that Rash is a very competitive and emotional guy who probably just had to let things out “in the heat of the battle” instead of keeping them “bottled up inside.” What’s more, he may have felt a need to defend his friend Brad Angelo, kind of like a big brother sticking up for his little brother. Jason replied:

“Well, that’s true, but at the same time, I wasn’t doing this on national or international television with children present. Whatever anyone ever did to me on a TV show would never warrant that outburst. I would never use the language. And if some of it was premeditated, that was the other part that really kind of upset me was listening to the footage and seeing the extended version, the strike before, he tells me to “Step up to that shot” and he uses a word that you wouldn’t call a friend.

I understand the whole concept that when you’re on the lanes, no one’s your friend, but there’s a respect there for each other. And I think the best example of that is probably Pete Weber. There isn’t a guy I know who is more passionate and emotionally charged on TV than that guy, and yet I’ve never heard him, in all the years that I’ve been watching him, call another player a name. It’s always been a very emotional outburst, and whether it was directed to another player, he never actually used a curse word to call a player.

So a bit of me was thinking maybe this was slightly premeditated to, like you said, get me back for Brad. A little childish, if that was the case, and we’ll obviously have to ask Sean if that was the reason. But we had ample opportunity to discuss what happened with Brad if he was taking it on a personal level with himself or his company. We bowled all weekend. I think actually we spent a week and a half in the Middle East together prior to that showdown in Chicago. There was plenty of time then if he wanted to come up and say to me that he thought what I did against Brad was wrong or to discuss that, but there was no chat. We were friends, we went to dinner, we golfed together in Kuwait, and then, that’s probably where I’m a little bit confused.

I’m sure, if he ever does come up and talk to me about this, we can definitely find out the reason behind it, because I’m just so shocked about the reaction. I mean if it’s the fact that he just doesn’t like the bottle crinkling, then talk to me about it and say, ‘Look, you’re crinkling this bottle, everyone hates it, stop crinkling the damn bottle, get another thing, whatever.’ He could say it in so many different ways. I couldn’t believe what he had done.”

Jason was then asked if he believed that this was the result of some “built up animosity from Sean” and of the fact that he and Sean are on competing ball company staffs, and Jason replied:

“If he comes up to me that’ll be the first question I ask him. Was this a premeditated event? Was it on your mind from the beginning about somehow defending Brad’s honor in any way. That’s going to be one of the first questions that we’ll talk about.

I’m sure one of his first questions will be if I did it on purpose, and I’ll look him right in the eye and tell him I’ve been drinking water all of my entire career and this is the first time anyone’s ever said anything to me about a bottle crinkling, and, on top of that, it’s completely accidental and unintentional. That’s the part that I think I really want to stress to him and anyone else for that matter who has any doubts about what has happened.

It’s disheartening to think that someone would leave their country, their family to go and bowl against the best bowlers in the world, who has the talent to compete on their own, and then feel like I would have to purposely put people off with a simple crackle of the bottle. Like I wrote in my letter, if I’m going to put them off with a bottle, I’ll throw the bottle at their head. That’s how I’ll put them off with a bottle. That’s what just absolutely spellbounds me.

And then on top of all this, after the Angelo incident, if this was an intentional crinkle to put someone off, I would have to be the dumbest person in the world to do it again with about fifteen ESPN cameras and PBA cameras watching our every move. On top of that, it would be even dumber to do it in an event which I’m not going to earn a title from, and even dumber to do it in an event in which Brunswick and Sean were no threat to myself or Storm. There is absolutely no motive in my doing that to Sean that day.

And, like I said, the reason why I didn’t apologize to Sean was because the timing of it wasn’t horrible, it was accidental, but it wasn’t during his approach. That’s why I was apologetic to Brad, because it was in his third step, it put him off, and I felt absolutely horrible and distraught about it. But I’m not going to apologize to Sean because I feel like I haven’t done anything wrong.

What I have to do in the future is take that bottle out of my hand, giving no one the reason for anyone to imply that I’m trying to do something intentionally. So, that’s something that I’m going to have to do, and that’s where I hope it stays. I hope after everything that’s happened, and if any other guys on tour or around the world doubt me, come up to me, talk to me, look me right in the eye, and I’ll tell all.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bowling Video of the Day--Funny Sean Rash Commercial for ESPN

Bowling Quote of the Day--PBA Should Disclose Amount of Rash' Fine

"Why won't the PBA disclose the amount of his fine? It seems to me that the main reason to fine somebody is to act as a deterrent to others engaging in the same behavior. How can that deterrent be effective if the amount of the fine is unknown?"
--Comment in PBA Forum regarding the PBA's "undisclosed" fine amount of Sean Rash

Sean Rash Apologizes, Sort Of

In the wake of the PBA's announcement yesterday that Sean Rash was being fined "an undisclosed amount for conduct unbecoming a professional" over the "Bottlegate 2" incident with Jason Belmonte that has yet to be aired on TV but has made the Internet rounds, Rash today released this arguably grudging apology for his actions:

To the PBA, my fellow bowlers, and fans:

I would like to apologize for my poor choice of words used during the taping of the 2011 GEICO PBA Team Shootout which will air on ESPN over the next couple of weekends. I would like everyone to know that this is not the type of image I want to portray as a professional bowler.

As for what happened, it is important to note that I stepped off the approach twice during the match against Jason Belmonte because I could easily hear the water bottle crunching. For the first water bottle crunching, I did not acknowledge the distraction, but after the second incident, I felt that it was more than coincidental and had to call him out on his unusual gamesmanship. The fact is that Jason has been warned before about his untimely bottle crunching, and I did not appreciate that he had not learned from his past actions and was continuing this tactic against me.

While I do apologize for my choice of language, I do not apologize for my actions on calling out Belmonte. In the heat of the moment, the words came out well before I could even think about what I was going to say. I can assure you that I will most certainly call out Belmonte or any other player who tries to use these unprofessional tactics against me in the future, but I will be sure to use a better choice of words.

While I have a great deal of respect for Belmonte as a fellow competitor, the fact is that he is still my competition on the PBA Tour, and bowling is a sport with intense competition. When I step onto the lanes, friendships are set aside. This is our chosen profession and our livelihood, and at times, things get heated.

As for how things are between Jason and I, let’s just say that we will settle it on the lanes.


Sean Rash

Are you satisfied with Rash's apology? Do you think he even needed to make one?

Ron Mohr Seems Unbeatable in PBA Senior Competition

"The dream continues I guess—it’s absurd. What can you say but that I’ve been extremely fortunate this year. It’s all been so unexpected coming into this season after not having bowled competitively for seven months."
--Ron Mohr

It seems as though the only thing that will definitely stop Ron Mohr (watch a video clip of his shooting 300 in last week's Senior U.S. Open here) from winning the next PBA Senior Tour tournament is a wedding. That's right, Mohr won't be competing in the USBC Senior Masters in Columbus, Ohio in August because he'll be attending his stepson Justin's wedding instead. If not for that, you'd have to make him the solid favorite, judging by his amazing accomplishments this season.

Of the six PBA Senior Tour tournaments that have been held so far this season, Ron has placed second, third, fourth, and won three titles, including last week's PBA Senior U.S. Open in Las Vegas, and this week's PBA Senior Northern California Classic in Brentwood, CA.

He achieved the latter yesterday by defeating PBA Hall-of-Famer Mark Williams 3 games to 2 in the Round of 16, two-time regular tour titlist Kent Wagner 2 games to 1 in the Round of 8, PBA and USBC Hall-of-Famer and last year's PBA Senior Player of the Year Wayne Webb 223-195 in the Semifinal Round, and 7-time regular tour titlist Hugh Miller 223-215 in the title match.

Miller, who has been called one of the most underrated PBA bowlers ever, scorched the lanes the day before by averaging a near record 264 for the second round 8-game block on games of 238, 237, 300, 268, 279, 248, 300, and 247 and led second place Walter Ray Williams Jr. by nearly 200 pins in qualifying while Ron Mohr was sixth in qualifying. But Mohr continued to show his indomitable spirit and skills in match play all the way to yet another title and a huge, if not overwhelming, lead in the Senior Player of the Year race.

I really wonder what this guy might be able to do on the regular tour.

You can read Jerry Schneider's official recap of Mohr's victory here.

Leanne Barrete-Hulsenberg Looking Forward to 2011 U.S. Women's Open

As I was leaving the bowling center last night after my sport league, I ran into Gary Hulsenberg, husband of female professional hall-of-famer Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg. Gary and Leanne operate a pro shop at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights, CA. They're departing for Texas today so that Leanne can compete in the U.S. Women's Open.

Leanne has appeared in televised bowling competition over 100 times, has won 26 PWBA titles including the USBC Queens Championship in 1999, was twice voted PWBA Player of the Year, and is a member of the USBC Hall of Fame in the Superior Performance category, but she's never won a U.S. Women's Open.

But Gary says she's been bowling very well lately and that he and she both like her chances this year. For one thing, the U.S. Open format favors her game because it's a long tournament where the lanes will have a chance to break down and Leanne can keep moving left into her wheelhouse and open up the lane with her unusually powerful release. This gives her an edge over all but a handful of elite female bowlers who'll be competing this year.

I hope to see her in the televised finals broadcast live from Cowboys Stadium on July 2 at 6 PM Eastern, and I'd love to see one of The Strike Shop walls adorned with a bigger-than-life copy of the $50,000 first place check for winning the title.

Go, Leanne.