Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking Down Bowling's Bottlegate 2


Belmo did it on purpose. He didn't do it on purpose. Belmo's a cheater and a liar. Belmo's a good guy who made mistakes and just needs to be more careful from now on. Sean Rash is a jerk. Sean Rash is a tough competitor who doesn't take crap from anybody and gave Belmo what he deserved.
The PBA should punish Belmo and/or Rash. The PBA shouldn't punish Belmo and/or Rash. The PBA is milking these Bottlegate incidents for all they're worth. The PBA is simply sharing the news of what happened. The PBA should use these incidents to stir up interest and attract viewers to the telecasts. The PBA should say nothing about these incidents and should edit them out of the telecasts. Impressionable children and society at large will be scarred for life by seeing these incidents. Children already see much, much worse, and neither they nor society will be harmed in the least by it.

If you read the various bowling forums about Bottlegate 1 and, especially, 2, these are the diverse opinions you'll encounter about these incidents. I never cease to be fascinated by how human beings can see and judge the same events in such wildly contrasting ways.

I think I've already made my opinions regarding Bottlegate 2 pretty clear, but I wrote yesterday that I planned to post my updated "take" on the matter today with the help of the extended video the PBA released yesterday (see below), so here goes.

What I see when I look at the video

At the beginning of the video, there is some kind of "roll off" competition between Rash and Belmonte. Rash is on the approach while Belmonte takes three sips from his water bottle. Then, as Belmo puts the cap back on the bottle and begins to set it down on the floor, Rash puts his ball back on the rack but doesn't say anything. It's not clear if Rash is reacting to a bottle noise or not. I can't hear any bottle noise, but this isn't to say there isn't one. Rash has a well-publicized tendency to balk on his shots, so maybe he didn't hear anything that made him put his ball down and regroup, and maybe he did. Then he grabs his ball, throws a strike, and says not very loudly but loudly enough to be heard, "Step up to that, Bitch," as he walks back and Belmonte gets up for his shot. Belmo throws a strike and sits back down. Rash gets back up, picks up and wipes off his ball and steps up on the approach while Belmo reaches for his water bottle and can't find it at first, finally does find it, picks it up and just holds it from the bottom with one hand and from the near the top with the other, Rash turns around, Belmo apologetically says, That was...," and Rash puts his ball back on the rack while saying, "Really. Lot's of fu*king class right there," resets himself, and Belmo waits until Rash releases the ball before he picks his bottle back up and it seems to make a crinkling sound when Rash's ball is more than halfway down the lane. Rash says, "Go through it!" as his ball looks like it might go high but strikes, and then he turns around and yells, "Take that, you bottle bitch! Come on! [Bleeped inaudible] Come on! Let's go! Let's have some fun!" while he walks back and high fives his Brunswick teammates and then sits down and says, "I'm tired of it. Everyone, you do it to."

What I think about it all

I won't bore you with a long winded exposition on what I think. I'll simply say that I believe Belmo when he says he didn't purposely distract Rash, and even if he were lying, I don't think anyone could prove it, and, therefore, no one should flatly accuse him of what they can't prove, especially given the way he's conducted himself in all other respects. I think Rash was out-of-line to act the way he did but that this doesn't make him one of Keith Olbermann's "worst persons in the world." I think the PBA should fine Rash or at least strongly warn him that profanity won't be tolerated in televised events. I don't think the PBA was wrong to report on the event and even use it as promotion of its upcoming telecasts. I don't think the PBA needs to edit out the incident although it probably should and probably will be required by FCC regulations to edit out a choice word or two. I don't think airing the incident will significantly impact children who watch it or society at large. I think Bemo needs to consciously adjust his pre-shot routine so that he doesn't touch water bottles while his opponents are on the approach and in the process of making a shot in the finals of a PBA event, or he needs to use a water container that doesn't make noise. No, better just to not touch ANY water container while opponents are bowling.

You've seen the most revealing video, you've read my take on it. What do you think? Or do you think you need to see it all on TV first?


  1. Well put, Steve. I saw exactly what you saw. Before Rash's "Lots of class" line, it's pretty evident everyone in the vicinity heard the bottle. Most of the bowlers were laughing, seemingly good-heartedly as if, "Hey, we remember Bottlegate, and you just accidentally did it again--funny." Obviously Rash didn't see the humor as Belmonte didn't even get the chance to finish the apology he was clearly attempting. Either Rash had something boiling inside for a while or he simply overreacted.

    While I maintain all this hubbub over a bottle is a tad absurd, I enjoy watching both Rash and Belmonte bowl for various reasons, and maybe a little rivalry like this will be good for the PBA.

    Whatever the case, I'll admit I'm looking forward to the TV shows a lot more than last year's Manufacturer's Cup, but much of that might be I don't see the appeal of outdoor bowling of last year's event.

  2. Jef, I agree that the Bottlegate commotion IS "absurd," and, yet, there's something delightfully compelling about it all. I just hope that everything turns out well between Belmo and Rash and the other players and that we're treated to some exciting BOWLING competition over the next two weekends. I agree that holding it indoors this year is probably much better than the excessively gimmicky outdoor competitions they've had in years past. Bowling is an indoor sport, unless it's being held in Cowboy Stadium next month during the televised finals of the U.S. Women's Open.

  3. If this was the first time this happened, I would give "Bel-shmo" the benefit of the doubt. This was the second time he did this, and if you think this was an accident I have a bridge in Louisiana I want to sell you. Major Mika had another bowler "accidently" knock over a water bottle during an important shot years ago. He did not go ballistic, but after beating the guy he sarcastically said "I am sure he was just thirsty." Mike is no fool.