Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bowling League Secretary Displays False Scores

When I subbed in league earlier this week, a longtime acquaintance showed me a Lancaster, Pennsylvania league sheet he downloaded from League Secretary, the website that provides league and individual stats for bowling leagues nationwide. I was amazed by the averages I saw. One guy was averaging 268 for 21 games. Another was averaging 263 for 26 games. And there was plenty more where that came from.

However, these soaring averages, as spectacular as they were, were probably the least impressive thing on display. What shocked me even more were the prodigiously high series and game scores plastered across the sheet. Two guys had already bowled perfect 900 series, fifteen had bowled at least one 300 game, thirteen had bowled at least one 800 series, and the previous week's high scratch series was a paltry 878.

But, wait, it gets better! I also looked at the 268 average guy's individual season stats. In just seven weeks and 21 games of bowling, he had rolled eight 300 games. On week seven, he shot 280-300-300 for an 880 series. But that was just a warm up for his next outing, where he shot 300-300-300 for a 900 series. That's an 880 series, a 900 series, and five consecutive 300 games over two consecutive league sessions.

My first thought when looking at all of this should have been that it's impossible, that even if the top bowlers in the world were bowling league on those conditions, however easy they might be, they couldn't carry well enough to shoot scores like that. But these scores were in League Secretary, so I thought they must be legitimate, and my overriding thought was that I'd sure love to bowl a few games on those lane conditions just to see what I could do. I then proceeded to e-mail bowling friends of mine links to the League Secretary stats for this league and sit back and wait for an electronic avalanche of awed incredulity.

Instead, I got a phone call from one of those friends--Bob Brown. Bob, who incidentally shot an officially acknowledged 900 series in a tournament back in 1980, was so nonplussed by the scores that he called the bowling center supposedly hosting this incredible league and found out what was really going on. And now I know. These were scores from some kind of "bowling shuffleboard" league in which, as I understand it, players slide hockey-like pucks down a smooth table faintly resembling a mini-mini bowling lane and "knock down" electronic pins.

What I don't know is why these scores appear in League Secretary as real bowling league scores, with the 878 series listed as the top league score of the week nationwide. What's more, I wonder how many other leagues and scores appearing there may be bogus as well. It seems as though League Secretary needs to exercise a little quality control. Or is that their responsibility?

Well, at least the USBC hasn't been suckered. The guys who shot these stupefying scores aren't even listed in the member database. It seems as though these guys do only one kind of league "bowling," and it ain't what most of us call bowling.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Drug Testing PBA Champions?

Jason Belmonte asked on his Facebook page if we think elite bowlers should be drug tested. He thinks anyone who wins a PBA title should be tested in order to promote "good health to our kids" and "a clean sport to everyone." Most who have commented so far, including Malaysia's bowling champion Shalin Zulkifli, agree with Jason. But I roundly, albeit respectfully, disagree. This is what I wrote:
"Jason, if there were evidence that bowlers are using potentially dangerous performance enhancing drugs to improve their scoring, perhaps I'd support drug testing. However, I see no indication that bowlers are doing this, and it's difficult for me to even imagine what kinds of drugs would significantly enhance a bowler's performance, given the nature of the sport. Therefore, since I believe that drug testing constitutes an invasion of personal privacy justifiable only in cases where the need to ensure competitive fairness and to protect the health of the participants supersedes the right to privacy, and because I don't see evidence that some bowlers are using drugs that give them a demonstrably unfair advantage over others or imperil their health, I oppose drug testing for bowlers.
 However, if bowling were to become an Olympic sport on condition that its competitors, like all other Olympic competitors, submitted to drug testing, then I would, albeit reluctantly, support it. Otherwise, I think drug testing bowlers is a solution to a non-existent problem."
What do you think about drug testing bowlers at the elite level? Do you believe it would combat an existing problem?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A 7-10 Split of a Movie?

"Another insipid bowling movie portraying us as a bunch of uneducated, uncouth beer-drinking, clueless dolts. Just what the industry needs... NOT! They couldn't even find a few no-talent actors who could at lease LOOK like they know how to bowl. Kingpin revisited. UGH!!!!" ~ Jackie Wyckoff

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Man Wants His Ashes in a Bowling Ball Urn

Are you a hardcore bowler? Well, you're probably not as hardcore as this guy. He wants to be cremated and "buried" in a Storm bowling ball after he passes from terminal prostate cancer.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Joey Berardi Used to Bowl Two Handed

"There was this 13- or 14-year old kid who was bowling with what looked like his grandfather against two other guys. The kid really caught my attention, not only because of his age but because of his style: He was using two hands to deliver the ball. I don't know whether his thumb was in or out, but he unleashed the ball like I had never seen before. I didn't watch too long because I got involved in a match of my own, and I didn't see this kid again until a PBA event in Edison, N.J., some years later.Only this time, he was bowling the traditional way, but with a very strong ball for the time. It was Joey Berardi, who eventually became a PBA Hall of Famer. I've always wondered whether Joey would have revolutionized the game, as Mark Roth ultimately was credited with doing, if he had stuck with his two handed delivery." ~ Bill Spigner

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jason Belmonte Answers Pro Wrestler Vin Gerard's Bowling Challenge

"Vin Gerard, allow ME to introduce MYSELF. I'm Jason Belmonte, and I'm a pro bowler. And you're going to remember that name. It's gonna be like the bell ringing between your ears...the same bell as when your opponents pin you in the ring...you're gonna remember that name like a headache for the rest of your life."

I posted a video the other day of a pro wrestler challenging PBA bowlers to a bowling match. Well, Jason Belmonte has stepped up and answered the call. Do you think the match will ever take place, and what do you think will happen if and when it does? Finally, does the PBA and bowling in general gain from THIS kind of publicity, or is virtually any publicity better than none at all at this point?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bowling Video--Pro Wrestler Challenges PBA Bowlers

He's issued the challenge. Are you quaking in your bowling shoes, Sean, Jason, Mike, or Chris?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bowling Video--Musical Celebration of 2012 World Youth Championships

BPAA Director Steve Johnson and Stefanie Nation Defend 2012 U.S. Women's Open Finals Venue

Many people besides me have been talking in public forums about the U.S. Women's Open, including BPAA Executive Director Steve Johnson who unabashedly says that he's the one who takes sole responsibility for greenlighting the venue, and I'd like to direct your attention to some of these discussions.

A great discussion can be found here at mrbowling300.net. Here is one of several comments by the BPAA executive director:

The 5 ladies that made the show did not withdraw because they are elite athletes that have a competitive side that drives them to persevere and tackle any challenge that confronts them.
They are very classy and great ambassadors for our industry and I am proud of all of them. As I told them they are all champions in my eyes.


Having this event in Reno and on the streets was 100% my call. Don't blame the BPAA blame me.
How many people are talking about the Queens event a few weeks ago? How many people are talking about the 2010 Womens US Open and the pattern they bowled on? The answer is simple, no one.


This industry has to wake up and do some things differently. Did we purposely put dust on the lanes and turn a wind machine on? Not a chance. We staged a major event under one of the greatest icons that shouts Americana in a city that has invested millions into our sport.


Your classifying this as a disaster is your opinion but as you stated unlike our great athletes you would have refused to bowl. If they would have followed your lead and quit, we would have had a disaster but fortunately their professionalism and willingness to do what is best for our sport kept them focused on capturing the championship.  


It has been 1 week since the event and people are talking about it which is about 6 days longer than most events get discussed For those that are talking good or bad about the event, thank you for doing so.


Steve johnson
Executive director of the bpaa



And here is an eloquent critique of the finals from a forum member:


What bowler -- professional or amateur -- in the entire world, in the entire history of bowling, have you ever known or heard of who practices or has ever trained for bowling on a mountain of dust and debris on the bowling lanes?

No one does this.  No one ever has done this.  And no one ever will do this.

What the BPAA brought was a complete disaster.  It was not bowling.

To say that it was "fair" because all contestants faced the same conditions is disingenuous.  You could have removed the lanes and set the pins on the pavement on 3rd Street.  It would have been "fair" because all the bowlers would have faced the same conditions.  But at what point does it cross the line and no longer be a test of BOWLING?

The wind alone was enough of a distraction.  The women's hair was blowing in their faces.  In what bowling center anywhere in the world has that ever been an issue even once?

How does a player train for or prepare for what they faced on the telecast last night?

I know you worked for the BPAA during the tournament, so I recognize that you have a stake in the public's perception of this event.  But I'm telling you as someone who has been bowling since 1957, THIS WAS NOT BOWLING, and it most certainly was NOT FAIR TO THE CONTESTANTS.

It was a gimmick, and it cheapened the event.

Oh, it made it a spectacle, alright.  I know that's what the BPAA was going for.  But at what cost?  How did it promote bowling?  How did it promote women's bowling?

Let me tell what I would do if I was in a tournament and made the TV show, only to find that the lanes were covered in a mountain of dust.  I would have withdrawn.  I would have withdrawn right there on national television and let the whole world know that I was not about to stand for this, the money be damned.

The BPAA is a laughingstock as it is already.  They have had their way with bowling for the past thirty years, and look where it's gotten the sport.  What was once easily the most popular recreational sport in the nation is now an afterthought.  And it's largely because the BPAA has dictated the terms on which bowling's rules are formed.  While the old ABC used to govern the sport with an iron fist (and the game flourished), the minute the BPAA got the power to force the USBC to back down and let the proprietors decide what's best for the sport, it's no longer a top tier sport in America.

That's no coincidence.

I am not a fan of the BPAA, as you can clearly see.  They have done more damage to the sport of bowling than any other agency in the industry.  And this latest event is just another example of a governing body run amok.

I feel sorry for the women that they had to put up with it.  If I'd been in their shoes, I'd have walked off the telecast in protest without a second of hesitation.

It was simply not a test of any skill for which any professional bowler has ever in their life trained.

How can you possibly call that bowling?



And below is an interview that Kegel's Gus Falgien conducted with Stefanie Nation and BPAA Executive Director Steve Johnson.





Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Final Thoughts on 2012 U.S. Women's Open Fiasco, With Complete Video

                                                 (Photo from examiner.com)


Well, the telecast has aired, and now I can openly congratulate Kelly Kulick for winning her third U.S. Women's Open without spoiling the suspense for any of my readers. I can also offer some concluding comments about the whole messy business after having seen it, or at least most of it, with my own eyes.

I say "at least most of it," because one of my gripes, shared by many, is that ESPN2 cut out several frames of the competition in order to squeeze two hours worth of bowling action into 90 minutes. I seem to recall that last year's telecast was two hours and didn't edit out any frames, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

However, now that I've watched the telecast (and you can too below if you haven't seen it already or you want to see it again), what more is there to say that I haven't said already? Quite a lot, actually, but I'll try to keep it relatively brief.

First of all, I confess to being pleasantly surprised that things didn't turn out worse than they appeared to. I half expected to see a swirling dust storm all but blocking out our view of the action at times and sending papers and other debris flying past the bowlers and landing on the lanes and having to be removed between shots. And I more than half expected to see the ladies throwing balls that hooked off the lanes even though they were plastic, losing their footing on the dusty approaches, and looking really flustered at times. Instead, I saw consummate poise and professionalism from all the competitors as they as gracefully as humanly possible posted hapless shot after shot and made the best of a terrible situation and scored amazingly well under the circumstances. I have nothing but unbounded respect and admiration for how well Lynda, Shannon, Stefanie, Missy, and Kelly handled it all and how gracious the runners-up were afterward.

Second, I want to repeat what I've said before. I think Dave LaMont and Chris Barnes are the best announcing team in bowling today, and I'd love to see them doing ESPN's PBA telecasts together (Randy Pedersen could be there too) when Chris doesn't make the finals. They too made the best of a bad situation with that telecast.

Now, with due praise delivered, it's time to get to the criticism. I begin by asking, What were they thinking when they decided to hold the finals in a dusty wind tunnel? Don't tell me they had no way of knowing what the weather would be like when they planned things. Reno is a windy place all year round and any respectable meteorologist could have told them that if only they'd asked. Or perhaps they did ask but didn't care when they got the answer. Perhaps they were so busy falling all over themselves shouting, "They can bowl outside by the Reno Arch. How cool is THAT?!" that they didn't give the integrity of the bowlers and the competition a second thought.

I'm guessing they were thinking that bowling outside in that venue would inject a WOW factor that would put women's bowling on the map and draw more onlookers to the actual event as well as more viewers to the telecast. But is there any good reason or evidence to suggest that it would or did? How many extra viewers do they think the telecast actually drew because of where it took place, especially when the telecast was aired almost a week after the fact and everybody knew the outcome? Why do they keep showing these ballyhooed events a week or so late?. Yes, I've heard from someone who should know that showing these events live doesn't seem to affect the ratings any, but I'm not sure how they came to that definitive conclusion. I can't help but think that last year's finals in Cowboys Stadium with its one million dollar offer for a perfect game in the final match would have drawn more viewers had they been shown live.

I discussed this yesterday with someone very much in the bowling industry, and he said, as others have said, that they should have added the money they spent on constructing those outdoor lanes to the prize fund instead and held the finals in the ready-to-go National Bowling Stadium. That way, the finalists would have bowled on conditions at least similar to what they mastered to get them to the finals, they would still have been doing it in a great venue, and they could have used the special occasion to showcase the bowling stadium and talk about the extensive renovations planned for it that will make it an even more spectacular place for tournaments of every stripe in the years to come. Instead, they turned arguably the most prestigious women's bowling tournament on Earth into a freak show.

But, say some defenders of the format, they were all battling the same conditions, and, besides, the U.S. Open SHOULD be tough. Well, does this mean that we should move, say, the NHL Championship game to an outdoor parking lot filled with cracks and crevasses, outfit the players in antiquated field hockey gear and roller skates, and decide the championship THAT way? Or should we make the bowlers throw every shot between their legs to create that WOW factor and make it "tough" on them the way a U.S. Open should be?

Kelly Kulick averaged a blistering 240 + over qualifying and match play to achieve the top seed. Now maybe that was higher than the conditions of any U.S.Open worthy of the name should have allowed, but she should have been able to use the skills in the final match that brought her to it, and not have to resort to throwing plastic with no hand as straight as possible over 25 board and leaving 5-8-10's. The whole thing was a travesty.

As I said, and as you will see if you check out the videos below, the ladies were gracious afterward. And as I disclosed in a previous entry, some of them came to the defense of the BPAA, who sponsored and ran the tournament, because they were just grateful to get any chance to bowl for decent money anymore and were afraid that criticism could take even THAT away from them.

Well, what do you think? Do you think the BPAA will be scared away by all the criticism from sponsoring the event next year and nobody else will step up to the plate? Should we bowlers and bowling fans just keep our mouths shut, unless we have effusive praise for a bowling event and its sponsors, and just take it the way we get it and be happy that we get anything at all?

I think we can be pretty sure of one thing. If there is a U.S. Women's Open next year, and I pray that there is, the bowling ball manufacturers will probably make sure that they're held in a venue where the ladies can show off the latest, fanciest new balls on the market instead of ragged polyester equipment savaged by parking lot conditions. And hopefully the highest game of the stepladder finals will exceed 182.

You can watch the entire telecast in the first video below, followed by brief interviews with all the participants afterwards.















Monday, July 2, 2012

Shannon O'Keefe and Stefanie Nation Respond to My Comments About U.S. Women's Open Finals

People continue to express opinions on last Wednesday's controversial finals of the U.S. Women's Open. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me briefly explain that five women made the stepladder finals after progressing through several qualifying and match play rounds in Reno's National Bowling Stadium. However, rather than conduct the stepladder finals in the Stadium, the people who put on the tournament decided to hold the finals outdoors on lanes terminating at the Reno Arch. I guess they thought this would create more excitement and draw more spectators to the site of the finals as well as attract a bigger viewing audience to the televised presentation of it the following Tuesday.

No doubt they were right in their thinking. There may well have been as much excitement surrounding last Tuesday's finals as any big tournament has ever generated, and there may be more interest, at least among those who know about it, in the upcoming broadcast than there's ever been before.

The problem is, the bowling took place in a wind and sand storm that had all the competitors using plastic balls for their strike and spare shots early on and struggling like mad to make even simple spares. Consequently, there have been many criticisms directed at the people who approved and ran the tournament, and there have been defenses on their behalf.

Yet, until yesterday, I hadn't seen any of the actual finalists answer any of these criticisms. But then I posted some criticism on Dave LaMont's (the Play-by-Play TV announcer of the televised finals) Facebook wall, and, immediately thereafter, Shannon O'Keefe and Stefanie Nation responded. Here is the exchange:

Dave LaMont: A night of bowling like no other before, a major championship decided in a once in a lifetime atmosphere but with rough desert conditions in Reno. I called it "Survivor-Reno" and you can see the challenges five remarkable bowlers, Kelly Kulick, Melissa Bellinder-Parkin, Shannon O'Keefe, Stefanie Nation and Lynda Norry Barnes battle it out July 3 at 8 Eastern on ESPN2

Me: I thought even before the fact that it was ridiculous to hold the finals outdoors because of the weather conditions, and I got booted out of BowlTV's live streaming chat and unsubscribed from BowlTV for saying it aloud. But it looks like my opinion was vindicated by the ensuing debacle Wednesday night. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to seeing the finals on TV as much or more than I've ever looked forward to seeing ANY bowling telecast over the past 50 years. The problem is, I'm not sure if I and other people are looking forward to it for the right reason. We should be looking forward to seeing the best female bowlers on the planet use their best equipment, smarts, and physical skills to show what they can do against each other on conditions not altogether dissimilar to what they bowled on to earn their way into the finals. But, instead, we're looking forward to seeing a comedy of errors in which crazy wind and dust storms reduce arguably the most prestigious women's tournament of the season in the whole wide world into an unprecedented farce. :-/

Shannon O'Keefe:  Hello Steve....I understand your opinion but from one of the ladies that had this incredible opportunity I look at tho show as a blessing and a triumph! Were the conditions crazy...sure but again I'm beyond grateful we have been given the opportunities to continue women's bowling. The how was an amazing experience and one that I will NEVER forget...the atmosphere and energy of the crowd was incredible....does everyone wish scores were higher...sure but I can tell u I have never been so nervous to shoot a spare...lol! I know everyone had an opinion and they are more than entitled to it, but please from a woman who has very few opportunities to bowl, let's embrace this experience and show...I don want all the nay Sayers to ruin future opportunities for all!Stefanie Nation:  I second Shannon's comments. I do understand your perspective and agree with it to an extent, but Having said that, it truly was a challenge and certainly QUITE the experience.... The intentions of the venue were absolutely the right ones and we very well knew we could not control mother nature. People will be talking about this a while and yes, whether it be for the 'right' reasons, who knows. Press is Press. Josh Blanchard falling in the gutter on the PBA telecast got bowling all over the web. Tom Daugherty shooting 99 was chirped about for months. It's all said and done so I'm hopeful that you will watch the show and help boost ratings for our sport!


Me: Well, Shannon, your firsthand perspective of the event should certainly carry immensely more weight than mine, and I greatly appreciate reading it. I watched the live streaming all throughout the tournament and was tremendously impressed with how well you and the other finalists bowled during qualifying and match play. However, I just want to clarify that I'm not saying you ladies weren't blessed to have this opportunity over none at all, and I can well imagine that the excitement level soared to heights never before felt. But I'm just hoping that there's another U.S. Women's Open next year and that this time the powers-that-be decide to hold it in conditions that, no matter how novel and exciting, still allow you ladies to make full use of your best equipment and skills on lane conditions that are at least somewhat similar to what you bowled and excelled on all week, not just so that you'll shoot higher scores but also so that you'll be showcased at your very best as the fantastic bowlers that you are.

Me: Thank you too, Stefanie. You bet I'll be watching Tuesday night! I wouldn't miss it for the world! :-) And I'll be posting about it on my bowling blog as soon thereafter as I can.

Shannon O'Keefe: Agreed with stefanie and one more note...we had two practice sessions before the show started and both of those practice sessions were normal...as a matter of fact I put surface on one of my balls when we practiced from 11-1. Chris and Cathy came around and asked us right before the show started what we were planning on using and what we would switch to....however once the show started and the sun went down...the wind picked up an half way through the first match the unexpected happened...it was not malicious and we were all beyond excited for the opportunity!!! So again I understand all the opinions out there an I respect them and good or bad at least we have people talking about bowling and isn't that what all of us want!!!! 


I guess I'll let the comments above speak for themselves until after we all have a chance to watch the televised finals tomorrow night (7/3) on ESPN2 at 8PM Eastern. After that, I'm sure I'll have more to say and perhaps even be able to embed videos of the telecast in my blogpost for those who want to watch the action there.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One Man's Take on the U.S. Women's Open Finals Fiasco

I hadn't intended to write anymore about last Wednesday's Reno bowling circus until after the delayed broadcast next Tuesday. But I've been reading so many comments from people who were there or who, like bowling Hall of Fame performer and writer Jeff Richgels, weren't there but have heard loads from those who were, that I'd be remiss if I didn't share one of the more perceptive comments with you. It comes from someone on Jeff Richgels' Facebook wall responding to those who say that this wasn't the first professional bowling tournament conducted outdoors and that it will, in any case, draw more viewers than a more ordinary finals telecast would. Here is what he wrote that I think puts the event into benignly balanced perspective:

My only issue with what occurred is that this was for a major title..the summer series was a fun event with no significant pba title on the line..it was a promotional event for the tour and manufactureres..the women only have a couple of events to showcase their abilities and make a case for sponsors to take a look at them...although the intentions were good and the outcome cant be blamed on human error, it was still go down as a disaster in the eyes of some viewers...we are trying to appeal to new viewers as a sport and those potential new viewers that will stumble onto the program will see these ladies bowling for a major title using the same balls the viewer can pick up on a house rack, and shooting the same scores and conditions you run into during cosmic bowing after birthday parties. This is not the fault of the ladies, equipment, or the organizers. This is to just an unfortunate turn of events.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A U.S. Women's Open Finals That Will Live in Infamy?



You may not want to know who won the U.S. Women's Open last night under the blustery Reno sky. And if you don't, don't worry. I'm not going to tell you now, even though I think that if you're reading this blog, you're bound to find out soon enough whether you go looking for it or not. If you do want to know, I'm still not going to tell you here, but you can find out by clicking here.

However, I do want to say a few words about the finals in general. No, I didn't drive the 120 miles to Reno to see them, and they won't be airing on TV till next Tuesday evening (7/3, ESPN2, 8 PM Eastern). But I did the next best thing to seeing them. I followed the USBC's Lucas Wiseman's Twitter and Facebook updates, and what his terse tweets and posts made all too clear is that the championship finals of arguably the most prestigious women's bowling tournament in the world was predictably reduced by the gusty winds and swirling dust to a clownish farce.

Don't take my word for it. Here is some of Lucas Wiseman's rolling account of an unfolding bowling disaster:

It's rather windy out here, maybe sustained winds of 5-15 mph with occasional gusts. Temp is cooling off fast.

The wind is really picking up out here.

Lanes really hooking, players seem to be struggling a bit with the environment.

Both players are completely lost. Things are flying around, this is going to be a challenge.

The lanes are really hooking and you can visibly see dust and debris on the lane. Even spare balls are hooking a ton.

There's a discussion going on with the tournament director and the bowlers. Not sure what the issue is.

If I were bowling under these conditions, I would throw my spare ball at the headpin, try to make spares and shoot 180s.

She's throwing a plastic ball. Yes, plastic.

Nation makes a ball change and goes to plastic.

This is easily the strangest and most interesting TV finals I have ever seen. You won't want to miss it when it airs.

There have been 10 strikes out of 43 first-ball shots so far. And a few of those were Brooklyns.

Missy Parkin is also throwing a plastic ball. Looks like that is strategy the rest of the way for everyone.

The person who makes the most spares is going to win this title. Carry is not good with plastic.

Both players appear satisfied with just making spares at this point.

This is getting ugly. Four opens in a row between the two players.

Both players have gone with the fall back shot using plastic.

Kulick follows the double by leaving the 5-8-10. Figured we'd see one of those.


Of course, there were some who tried to minimize the ridiculousness of it all. One prominent guy in the bowling community opined that all televised finals are a "crap shoot" no matter what the conditions are. Others said that the BPAA executives who approved and planned the event had no way of knowing that the weather would be so inhospitable. And a lot of people said words to the effect that the conditions were the same for everybody and that real champions triumph over whatever challenges they face.

But one guy posted a very incisive and eloquent response, and I share that next after saying that I look forward to seeing the finals for myself and posting to this blog about it afterwards.

The bottom line is that the usbc [BPAA] is trying to cover up a problem with smoke and mirrors. Instead of fixing the problem, its "hey look, we are bowling outside, how cool is that?!" Now obviously anyone in the bowling industry knows it's not that easy, but it was allowed to get out of control. Challenging is one thing, but this has nothing to do with instincts or transition or adjustments. Sometimes things devolve into a flat out impossibility. "Oh they are pros, they should adjust." Not so much. Have you ever bowled on a dirt and debris covered lane? Dont think so. Yes everybody had to deal with it, but following a week of shotmaking, they were stuck with the biggest crap shoot in bowling history. They spent all that money on installing those lanes, when they had the national bowling stadium a few blocks away, just for THAT. Really feel bad for the competitors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chris Barnes Answers My Question About Bowling in the Windy Outdoors at the U.S. Women's Open

Last night during live streaming of the final round of match play of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, Chris Barnes was sitting in the booth commentating on the action, and I was able to ask him via the chat function how he thought the strong Reno wind would affect the scoring. He replied with his customarily incisive analysis. If this guy isn't the most articulately knowledgeable bowling analyst around, in addition to still being one of the best bowlers around and one of the greatest ever, I don't know who is. Here is Chris' response to my question:

"The one time we bowled the Six Flags thing in Chicago, it was very windy, and the one thing that happens is that you get a LOT of dust on the lanes, and that dust makes the lanes change REALLY quick. You won't have nearly as much heat, so you won't have as much dissipation of the oil. But there'll be a lot more friction on the surface, and what you're going to see is probably a lot of balls hitting flat down lane, because they're rolling through the gravel on the way to the head pin."

I still say, as I wrote earlier today, that I think it was a bad idea to hold the finals outdoors in the wind, even if I'm sympathetic to the reason for doing it, but I'm eager to see if Chris' prediction comes true.

Robin Romeo Wins the 2012 U.S. Women's Open Title



Eyes are now focused on tonight's regular division stepladder finals of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open. But there was a senior division as well and some very good and famous bowlers competing in it. After the dust cleared Tuesday afternoon, former PWBA star Robin Romeo emerged the champion, despite the fact that USBC Hall of Famer Lucy Sandelin dominated the pinfall up till that point.

Click here for the USBC's story on the finals, and you can watch them below. The first video is of the entire finals, and the second is the USBC's (Matt Lawson's) video recap of the tournament.






Bowling Video--Final Qualifying Round and Match Play Rounds of 2012 U.S. Women's Open

In case you missed Monday's final round of qualifying or Round 1 of match play of the U.S. Women's Open or yesterday's second and final match play round and you want to see them, or you did see them and want to see them again, you've come to the right place. Just take a look below and let your finger do the clicking.








Bowling Quote--Kelly Kulick's Steely Determination

"I'm just going to try and put myself into a little cubby hole, bowl the pins and not worry about the outside factors. I'm going to try to adjust and adapt when I need to. Whether it's windy, calm, people are screaming or not, my goal is to find the pocket and knock down 10 pins at a time. It's going to be a great showcase. Whatever happens, it's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I get to share in that." ~ Kelly Kulick

Five of Bowling's Best Will Brave the Elements Tonight in the Finals of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open

I got myself into some trouble yesterday during BowlTV's live streaming of the final match play round of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open. I made some ill-advised remarks in the online chat window accompanying the bowling action in which I playfully questioned the intellectual capacities of those who planned and approved the holding of the televised finals outdoors in the fierce winds sure to be blustering under the Reno Arch this evening, and I got unceremoniously booted out of the chat and had my subscription to BowlTV revoked.

I concede that I could and should have expressed myself more tactfully. The powers-that-be behind this tournament are to be commended for seeking and finding a novel and exciting way to bring bowling to the public, and having Lynda Barnes, Stefanie Nation, Shannon O'Keefe, Missy Parkin, and, of course, Kelly Kulick compete in the stepladder finals of the most coveted and lucrative women's bowling tournament in the world under the semi-famous Reno Arch is nothing if not novel and exciting.

However, the point raised by my indelicate remarks is not entirely without merit. These outstanding female bowlers rose to the top of the 200 + elite player field by bowling superbly INDOORS at the National Bowling Stadium, and now you're going to put them OUTDOORS for the most important part of the tournament and force them to bowl not only against each other but against a wild wind and a whole host of other variables profoundly different from the ones they mastered to earn their way into the finals?

Well, obviously that IS what they're going to do, and I'm as eager as anyone to see what happens, even if, barring a trip to Reno to see it in in person this evening, we have to wait until next Tuesday to watch it on ESPN2 at 8PM Eastern. But is it the RIGHT thing to do? What do you think? Or do you want to wait until after you watch the tournament to weigh in?

You can read bowl.com's story on yesterday's match play and tonight's finals here, and you can view Matt Lawson's even better-than-always superlative rundown below.

Video--Walter Ray Shoots Another 300

Monday, June 25, 2012

Video--Who Do You Think You Are? Kelly Kulick Is!

It's the biggest non-surprise in bowling. But that doesn't make it any less impressive. Kelly Kulick is leading the 2012 U.S. Women's Open after the first three rounds of qualifying and will take that lead into the final six-game round of qualifying today.

Then, barring catastrophe, she'll move on to match play and, in all likelihood, be looking for redemption (and the $40,000 first prize) under the Reno Arch Wednesday evening for her loss to Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg in last year's final match in Cowboys Stadium.

And I, for one, wouldn't bet against her no matter whom she faces.

Kulick and Sandelin Lead After Qualifying Round 3 of 2012 U.S. Women's Open

After three days of qualifying, the field of 201 has been winnowed down to 50 in the regular division of the U.S. Women's Open, with Kelly Kulick regally occupying her customary spot in first place and a predictable Who's Who of female bowling talent populating most of the other positions, including defending champion Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg rising from 38th place the previous day to twelfth place yesterday. In the senior division, Lucy Sandelin continued her round-by-round dominance ending with a pinfall total that would have been good enough to land her in 28th place in the regular division, and the field of 60 has been cut to 15.

The remaining bowlers will roll six more games of qualifying before the regular field is narrowed to the top 16 and the senior field is cut to the top eight for 16 games of round-robin match play beginning this (Monday) evening. The top five in the regular division at the end of match play will meet under the famous Reno Arch Wednesday evening to battle it out stepladder fashion for the championship. It will be shown the following Tuesday on ESPN2 at 8 PM Eastern.

You can check the results of the first 18 games in both divisions and read the USBC's synopsis of the action here. Below, you can watch Sunday's qualifying round 3.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bowling Video--Lynda Barnes is Back

Lynda Barnes was flying high through the first two televised matches of last year's U.S. Women's Open bowled in the novel venue of Cowboys Stadium in Texas until Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg nipped her in the semi-final match to go on to defeat Kelly Kulick for the coveted title. Sometime after that, although I don't recall how it happened, Lynda injured her shoulder and has quietly but steadfastly worked through months of arduous rehabilitation to return to the form that's made her famous.

Well, she's back with a vengeance and occupies third place in a stellar national and international field after the first two qualifying rounds of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, and  Matt Lawson of the USBC neatly summarizes her impressive comeback in the video below.

Bowling Video--Jessica Baker Bowls 300 in 2012 U.S. Women's Open

In last year's U.S. Women's Open, over a dozen 300 games were rolled. I guess they really DO like to do everything bigger in Texas. I don't know if they all came in qualifying or if some were also rolled in match play. But only one perfect game has been rolled through the first two 6-game rounds of qualifying this year on the lower scoring conditions at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, and former Wichita State standout Jessica Baker is the one who did it last night.

You can watch her final three impressive shots below, courtesy of  the USBC's Lucas Wiseman's camerawork, as he took time out from his one-man calling of the USBC's live streaming of the day's action to masterfully capture the moment.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bowling Video--Qualifying Round 2 of 2012 U.S. Women's Open

Bowling Video--Qualifying Round 1 of 2012 U.S. Women's Open

Here is Round 1 of the U.S. Women's Open from Friday, June 22, 2012 at Reno's National Bowling Stadium. I will post the other rounds as they become available.

Younger Bowlers Rise and Shine in Early Stage of U.S. Women's Open

In my previous post, I mostly pummeled the USBC, BPAA, and bowling industry in general for their lack of professionalism in covering the great sport of bowling. In this post, I want to give credit where it's amply due by sharing with you Matt Lawson's of the USBC's excellent video recap of the first day of qualifying in the U.S. Women's Open. Matt always does a tremendous job with these videos. What's more, it seems that bowling's female "young guns" are loaded for bear. Now, if only they had more venues to hone their skills even further and reap the rewards of their hard won excellence.

However, I'm still pulling for local girl Leanne to repeat.




Elite Bowling Coverage Should be Better



Reno is now hosting the 2012 BPAA U.S. Women's Open at the National Bowling Stadium. Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg is defending her championship that she won last year in the novel venue of Cowboys Stadium by defeating Kelly Kulick in the final match. This year's televised finals, albeit shown on ESPN2 six days after the fact, will be held in the even more unusual venue of outdoors under the famous Reno Arch.

As you can see from reading entries such as this, I covered last year's Open with considerable enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, I blogged a lot here about the PBA, women's tournaments, junior tournaments, international adult and junior tournaments, and bowling in general for a couple of years.

But I finally began to lose my enthusiasm not for the sport so much as for the haphazard way the bowling industry itself seems to conduct and promote it. I figured if they didn't care enough to do a better job of promoting, covering, and fostering elite level bowling in this country and, as a result, people don't care that much about the sport to follow it, why should I bother to blog about it? Why even people who call themselves bowling fans seem to suffer from a serious enthusiasm problem, and very few appear to regularly watch bowling telecasts much less read blogs such as this one, so, again, why should I spend a lot of time writing blogposts when almost no one cares enough to read them?

As an example of my displeasure with the way the bowling industry is handling their sport, I posted the following comment just a few minutes ago to the USBC's Facebook wall in connection with their coverage of this year's Open. It echoes, to a considerable degree, this blogpost of mine from a while back. A PBA representative took private issue with that blogpost. He said the bowling industry is doing all it reasonably can to promote the PBA and bowling in general. What do you think?

Elite  women's and, for that matter, men's bowling is in a sad state in this country even as it seems to be growing in popularity in other parts of the world. I agree...that the PBA seems to be hanging on by its fingernails, and there's certainly no indication that any kind of women's professional tour will be coming back. And although many will disagree with me, I think part of the reason for this is that the bowling industry has not made as concerted an attempt as it might to publicize and popularize the sport but, rather, continues on with business as depressingly usual.

I'm not sure what it would take, but maybe if they hired the best PR and advertising minds to barrage the media with compelling commercials, human interest stories, and intelligent and entertaining treatments of bowling, rather than the occasional clownish parody, in television series and movies, more participants and viewers could be brought into the fold. As it is now, bowling and bowlers "don't get no respect," and they should, if people had any idea how challenging bowling really is at the elite level.

One thing I find so disheartening is that bowling seems to get so little respect even from bowling organizations and sponsors. For instance, the BPAA, God bless 'em, is sponsoring the U.S. Women's Open, yet they don't seem to be willing or able to get the finals aired live. We have to wait several days after the fact to see them, and, of course, by then only the most hardcore bowling fan will tune in because everyone else with any interest in the results but not enough to watch a seriously delayed broadcast AFTER learning the results will already know the results and won't bother. What's more, the USBC website's coverage of the tournament seems like a confusing maze. Their videos are great, and Lucas's herculean one-man coverage is to be roundly applauded, but where the hell are the results encompassing ALL the bowlers and not just the top 49? And why can't the BPAA and/or USBC, in the interests of fan interest, provide help to Lucas and the USBC website in tracking results as they occur instead of us having to wait hours to find out how the bowlers are scoring?

If even national bowling organizations and sponsors don't respect their sport enough to give it professional level coverage, how can they expect the public at large to respect it enough to follow it and participate in it? We need a real shakeup in the bowling industry in this country, or elite level bowling here seems all but doomed!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bowling Video: Liz Johnson Tears Em Up at 2012 USBC Open Championships in Baton Rouge

No woman or man could bowl much better than Liz Johnson did the last two games of the team event at the 2012 USBC Open Championships in Baton Rouge, LA. As bowling writer, USBC hall of famer, and four-time Eagle winner Jeff Richgels commented, "One of the world's top bowlers--male or female!" Her teammates aren't bad either. You can watch every shot below.




Monday, May 14, 2012

Bowling Video--"Set 'Em Up"

Here's an entertaining  video from 1939 featuring bowling immortals Ned Day and Andy Varipapa. It's a little cheesy but still impressive considering the era in which it was produced.

Bowling Quote--Tom Smallwood's Self-Deprecating Humor

"I'm just here to spray and pray." ~ Tom Smallwood

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Better Bowling Through Publicity



I shared an article on Facebook today about people today caring more about inconsequential celebrities than they do about accomplished scientists, intellectuals, and artists. The author hypothesized that this was largely because we're now living in an "everyone-is-special-and-there-are-no-losers society. As a result, we are fearful of accomplished people because they can do stuff we cannot do, and giving them the spotlight would un-level the playing field."

One commenter offered another explanation. She said our hollow celebrity worship is the result of escapism motivated by our economic and social ills. But, then, it could be argued that accomplished people were held in much higher esteem than they are today even during times more troubled than ours. Another commenter suggested that it was because celebrities have more publicists working for them than do scientists, philosophers, and artists.

I think he may be on to something. And I think his idea may suggest at least a partial solution to making bowling more popular and profitable in this modern age. The bowling industry needs to pool its financial resources and hire the best public relations talent around to promote bowling to the general public in a concerted and determined rather than occasional and haphazard fashion.

One way they might do this is to begin spotlighting the most accomplished male and female bowlers on the planet. Doesn't this contradict the article's premise that we don't want to see accomplished people? Well, curiously, sports seems to be an exception to the rule. We revere the greatest athletes in sports because of their amazing, sometimes almost superhuman abilities and accomplishments. So why don't we do that with Belmo, Osku, Mike Fagan, Kelly Kulick, and so forth?

Yes, these things have been tried, but I would argue that they've been tried only to a very limited and therefore ineffectual extent. Perhaps it's time to get serious, hire the best in the publicity and advertising business to make bowling appealing to the public, and then pay to saturate the media with their creative and skillful efforts. Otherwise, bowling at all levels seems to be on a downward spiral to near-extinction in the United States, even as it appears to be gaining momentum in other parts of the world.

And, as far as elite level bowling is concerned, how long can the PBA continue to survive without a heavy infusion of fans and advertisers' dollars?

Bowling Video--Jason Couch Earns His Way to the PBA Hall of Fame



Jason Couch will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame today. As a 16-time national titlist who throws one of the most powerful balls in PBA Tour history and as the only player EVER to win three--that's right, three!--consecutive Tournament of Champions titles, he richly deserves it. Here's a video commemorating those titles and his stellar career.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bowling Video--2012 USBC Queens Match Play Rounds





Bowling Video--Diandra Asbaty Interview After Winning 2012 USBC Queens Championship

Diandra Asbaty Triumphs At 2012 USBC Queens Championship



"I'm still in shock and literally feel like I'm in a dream." ~ Diandra Asbaty

I'm not a fan of the double-elimination format employed by, among other elite bowling tournaments, the USBC Masters and USBC Queens championships. I don't like this format because it often prematurely eliminates some of the best bowlers in the tournament just because they lost their matches on a couple of pairs of lanes that favored their opponent's ball reaction at the time more than theirs or for some other reason that under-emphasized the bowler's overall level of performance throughout the tournament. I greatly favor round-robin match play as the best way to get the best or, at least, highest performing bowlers that week into the finals where they belong.

Having said that, I can't quarrel with the participants in yesterday's televised stepladder finals of the 2012 USBC Queens Championship or with the quality of their performances. Josie Earnest, who battled her way through, in the colorful words of a USBC publicist, the "Murderer's Row of staggering proportions" of Kim Terrell-Kearney, Kelly Kulick, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, and Leanne Hulsenberg to make her first nationwide telecast, bowled an admirably solid first outing of 223. The great Liz Johnson came out firing with a 268, and then Diandra Asbaty overwhelmed her own "Murderer's Row" of Johnson, Stefanie Nation, and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, shooting 233, 270, and 244 respectively, to win the coveted title and be crowned with the glittering tiara.

As much as I lamented Kelly Kulick's and Leanne Hulsenberg's eliminations, yesterday's finalists bowled well and deserved to make the finals. And, as usual, Dave Lamont and Chris Barnes did a top notch job of calling the action. I've said it before and I'll say again that I think Chris Barnes is the best color commentator in bowling today.

You can read more about the final results on the USBC website and view all of the televised matches below.

* Notice of correction: I originally reported that Dave Ryan was the announcer for this event when, in fact, it was Dave Lamont. Thank you Lani Chin for pointing this out. I've corrected the text accordingly.







Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bowling Quote--Carolyn Dorin-Ballard Aims At 2012 USBC Queens Title

"Feels really good. Actually, if anything else, it proves that if I keep working at my game and if I keep sharp and keep up with the times, I can still be competitive. And you know what? Tomorrow, everything's just bonus." ~ Carolyn Dorin-Ballard on being the top seed in the televised stepladder finals of the 2012 USBC Queens Championship

Video: Tonight's USBC Queens Finals Preview

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Video: Tom Baker's Career

Here is a USBC tribute to Tom Baker, who will be inducted into this year's USBC Hall of Fame.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Video: Dick Weber Tribute

Here is a wonderful video tribute to bowling's all-time great ambassador and one of its greatest practitioners ever.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jeff Richgel's Early Advice for the 2012 USBC Open



"The shot played tough, the carry was terrible, and I split on most shots that did not hit the pocket." ~ Pete Couture

"I think a team commitment to playing the lanes together becomes more crucial the flatter the pattern becomes." ~ Jeff Richgels

For those of you brave or foolish (or brave AND foolish) enough to bowl the USBC Open Championships this year in Baton Rouge, four-time Open champion and USBC Hall of Famer Jeff Richgels has two primary points of advice for you based on his conversations with USBC head lane man Eric Pierson and his observations of the following video.

First, expect more challenging conditions than you've encountered the past few years; and, second, it's imperative that if you want to bowl well as a team, you all need to be on the same page as to how you play the lanes. You can't start out with some guys playing straight up five and others swinging 15 and expect to carve out a forgiving shot that generates competitive scores.

Bowling great Pete Couture's team apparently went the rugged individualist route, and Couture ended up lamenting, "I think it's time to retire from bowling the USBC National tournament" after struggling to shoot 539 in the team event in which his team managed a disappointing 2964.

You can check out Richgel's informative blogpost here and watch the USBC's first official webcast of the tournament below.

Bowling Video--Pete Weber Egomania Rap

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Practicing Next to Leanne Hulsenberg



Yesterday I had the privilege of practicing next to Leanne Barrette-Huslenberg, who is gearing up for the USBC Queens tournament next month and to defend her U.S. Women's Open title in June. She told me that the televised finals of this year's Open will be held outdoors on a main street in Reno.

As I've mentioned before, Leanne, who's a 27-time national titlist and USBC Hall of Famer, is one of my favorite bowlers of all time, and I'm delighted that she and her husband Gary own a pro shop in my home house, Fireside Lanes, near Sacramento, CA. and also bowl in the venerable Steve Cook Classic scratch league there along with PBA Hall of Famer Steve Cook, P.J. Haggerty, and a host of other outstanding local bowlers.

I also have the privilege of bowling in a senior scratch league at Fireside that numbers PBA Hall of Famer Larry Laub and his USBC Hall of Fame and former U.S. Women's Open champion wife Betty Morris-Laub among its members. I really feel blessed to bowl in a house with so many great bowlers of the past and present and to even compete against some of them.

For those of you who missed the historic and exciting U.S. Women's Open last year or would like to see it again, you can read my blogpost about it and watch the embedded videos of the entire televised finals here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brian Valenta: Bowling's Lord of the Loft


Jason Belmonte and Osku Palermaa are the undisputed stars of two-handed bowling, but there's another two-hander out there who shouldn't be overlooked, even if, unlike me, you're not a big fan of the two-handed style. His name is Brian Valenta, and even though, unlike Belmonte and Palermaa, he puts his thumb in his strike ball, it doesn't noticeably diminish the awesome power he unleashes on the pins.

Since being a member of Junior Team USA, leading Lindenwood University to the Intercollegiate Team Championship in 2005, winning the Intercollegiate Singles Championship in 2006, and joining the PBA in 2008, Brian has cashed high in several Tour events, and he finished a respectable 42nd place in the recently concluded U.S. Open.

One way he managed to perform so well on the hugely challenging lane conditions of the U.S. Open was to draw upon his remarkable ability to move extremely far left (we're talking NEXT-LANE far left) on the approach when he needed to and loft the ball 30 feet down the lane with freakish consistency and accuracy to crush the pocket.

It's an amazing sight to behold, and, fortunately, the short video below provides a glimpse of what I'm talking about. It comes from PBA Xtra Frame's coverage of later cashier's round play in the U.S. Open. It just so happens that Mark Roth was sitting in as guest commentator on Xtra Frame at the time, and even Roth, who isn't particularly fond of the two-handed style and has seen and done so much in bowling that he seems forbiddingly difficult to impress with any style, appeared to be almost dumbfounded by Valenta's prodigious demonstration. It should also be noted that Valenta replicated the results shown on the video several times in that game en route to a 255 score. It was stunning!

It's true that modern oil patterns, reactive resin bowling balls, and high rev releases are prompting more and more right-handed players to move far left and loft the ball over the gutter cap and that guys like Belmo, Osku, and Mike Fagan do it routinely and very well in the latter games of rounds. Yet, I must say that I've never seen anyone do it quite as impressively as Valenta. And to put an exclamation point on his loftmeister skills, the second video shows him executing a tamer but still mighty impressive version of Osku Palermaa's now legendary loft-over-the-barchair trick shot strike of a few years ago.

I know that some people don't like this modern freakshow development in the sport, and I have to admit that I too am not thrilled that lane conditions and bowling equipment are such that anyone would ever need to take such drastic measures to score well. But necessity is the mother of invention, and I can't help but marvel at the mind-boggling loftmeister skills of a Brian Valenta.

How do you feel about this? Are you similarly impressed and enthralled, or do you recoil in repugnance and horror at this wholesale desecration of the traditional bowling game?



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bowling Quote--When Does a PBA Player's Televised Conduct Become Inexcusable?



"I am tremendously impressed by Pete Weber's accomplishment in winning his record-breaking fifth U.S. Open title at the age of 49, and I don't have a major problem with his antics along the way and afterward. But for those of who say they were okay because they brought more attention to a sport dying from the lack of it, I wonder if there are limits to their 'ends justify the means' rationalization. That is, can they think of anything a player might say or do during a televised tournament that's beyond good taste or sportsmanship but falls short of felonious criminality of which they WOULDN'T approve, even if it brought more attention and money to professional bowling?


I guess I just have my reservations about this "anything that brings more attention to bowling" philosophy that I'm hearing from so many quarters in the wake of PDW's latest televised appearance. Why the next thing you know, PBA telecasts will feature scantily clad cheerleaders and blaring vevuzelas. Oh, wait...they already have." ~ Steve Curless

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Bowling on the U.S. Open Pattern Is So Difficult



Sunday's stepladder finals of the PBA U.S. Open was, in my opinion, one of the finest televised finals of any PBA tournament I've ever seen. You may wonder why, since the highest score of the day was "only" 225, and a lot of people score or even average well over that at their local bowling center.

Well, they don't do it on a legitimate U.S. Open pattern. I've bowled on an approximation of this pattern in a PBA Experience league, and I can tell you from painful personal experience that you have to bowl exceedingly well just to shoot 180. Miss your target by a board right or left, be a little fast or slow with your ball speed, or vary your release even a tiny bit, and you can end up with a three count or even a gutterball or a badly missed spare.

This is a far, far cry from bowling on a typical house pattern where you can miss your target by five or ten boards on either side or fluctuate wildly in your ball speed or release and still crush the pocket for devastating strikes or convert single pin spares practically blindfolded.

Sunday's matches were so good because Ryan Shafer, Jason Belmonte, and, especially, Mike Fagan and Pete Weber executed terrifically well under incredible pressure on supremely demanding lane conditions. And this excellent video by bowling champion, coach, and self-described "bowling geek" Jason Doust masterfully explains why the U.S. Open pattern is such a challenge.

After you watch it, I hope you'll sign up for a PBA Experience league and gain a newfound appreciation for 225 games on demanding lane conditions and for just how superbly those guys bowled last Sunday afternoon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pete Weber Wins 69th PBA U.S. Open


"Dad, I know you were watching. I know you're proud, and I'm sorry I broke your record." ~ Pete Weber

Until Sunday, February 26, 2012, nobody owned more U.S. Open titles than the late, great Don Carter and Dick Weber. Then Dick Weber's Hall of Fame son Pete stepped onstage to defeat Ryan Shafer 223-191, Jason Belmonte 225-213, and Mike Fagan 215-214 in one of the best-bowled and most intense televised stepladder finals in TV bowling history en route to an unprecedented fifth U.S. Open, ninth major, and 36th tour title that had no less than bowling luminary and writer Jeff Richgels opining that PDW may well be the best bowler of all time.

And as much as raw statistics might still award that glittering honor to Walter Ray Williams Jr. or Earl Anthony, there's no avoiding the fact that, as Richgels writes, "Pete has been at the top of bowling through more eras than either Earl or Walter Ray, starting at the end of plastic through urethane to reactive resin...You simply can't deny that Pete has stayed on top through more changes in the game than any bowler in history. And look at how much his game has changed from when he was a teenager who arguably had the most powerful game in bowling to almost a finesse player who is little more than a tweener in the current era of two-handed ultra power players. What hasn't changed is his almost unreal competitiveness and will to win that has enabled him to rise to big occasions as much as any player in history."

Richgels writes that he's still not sure who's the greatest bowler ever but that Pete Weber's phenomenal performance Sunday at the age of 49 has "changed the debate" for him. I guess I'd have to say that the same goes for me. Bad boy that PDW has been over the years and was again on Sunday, there's no denying his stupendous bowling accomplishments that rise to the level that one of his opponents Sunday, the immensely talented Jason Belmonte, characterized as "inhuman." I'd call them superhuman.

I'll have more to say about all of this and about this year's PBA U.S. Open and Sunday telecast over a series of upcoming blogposts, but I want to end this entry with videos of yesterday's wonderful matches for you to savor. It's been a long time since bowling has received the respect it deserves, and, regrettably, Sunday's finals probably won't change that a whole lot.

But it should.

For a concise summary of the entire 2012 PBA U.S. Open, be sure to check out this article on Jef's Bowling Blog, and for a more detailed summary of the televised finals, you can read Bill Vint's wrap up on the PBA website. Finally, you can watch the videos below to behold what words cannot fully convey of all three matches.