Friday, January 20, 2012

Chris Barnes Has No Competition in the Cheetah Challenge

Chris Barnes showed up today at Fountain Valley Bowl at 5:30 PM EST with $5000 cash in his pocket, but nobody dared to take him on. That's right, PBA Xtra Frame was all set to live stream a contest in which Barnes and one or possibly more challengers each tossed $5000 into the pot and the highest scorer for three games would walk away with all the money. Yet, not even last year's Cheetah monster and champion Eugene McCune rose to the challenge.

If you recall, McCune not only won last year's Cheetah championship but obliterated the nine-game block scoring record by averaging an unbelievable 274 along the way in match play. I've posted a short video of part of that mind-boggling performance below.

Maybe all the players, fresh off a practice round, were resting physically and psyching up mentally for tomorrow's opening of the PBA Cheetah Open and didn't want to be distracted by a preliminary match with Barnes. Yet, I'm still surprised that no one went after him. Yes, $5000 is a lot of money for most of us, and underpaid bowlers are decidedly no exception. But surely there are well-to-do sponsors out there who would have been willing to take a gamble. After all, Chris Barnes, as great as he is, has not exactly shown himself to be unbeatable here of late on any lane condition. Yes, he had an excellent year last season despite the fact that he didn't win any championships, but HE DIDN'T WIN ANY CHAMPIONSHIPS and was completely out of the running in quite a number of tournaments.

Well, even though Chris didn't get to bowl against anybody, he did throw some impressive practice balls and talk with Xtra Frame announcer Mike J. Laneside and Fountain Valley Bowl resident bowling coach extraordinaire Mark Baker about his game, his equipment, and how to handle the Cheetah pattern, and it was quite illuminating. Chris Barnes has encyclopedic knowledge of bowling and bowling equipment and is very articulate in discussing it.

Any serious bowler who wants to get better and can afford $7.95 a month or $65 a year for Xtra Frame is crazy not to subscribe and start soaking up like a thirsty sponge the incredible information offered. And if you do subscribe and miss events like what I just described, you can always catch them in the archives and go over them as many times as you wish to learn everything you can and want to learn from them.

Not only that, but this season the PBA Tour will run several national tournaments that will be carried only on Xtra Frame. In the past, it has used Xtra Frame to cover qualifying and match play rounds, leaving the finals to ESPN or, in one instance, ABC to televise. But this year, only Xtra Frame will be carrying some of the finals as well. And the Cheetah Championship beginning tomorrow at Fountain Valley Bowl will be one of those tournaments that will be carried only by Xtra Frame from start to finish. Qualifying rounds begin tomorrow at noon EST, and the scoring promises to be high on the highest scoring of all the PBA "animal" patterns.

By the way, one of the things Mark Baker revealed on today's webcast was that he's just sent a book to his publisher entitled "The Game Changer." It is his first instructional book, and he says he's proud of it. Since he is widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, bowling coaches in the world, I'm guessing that serious bowlers will want to grab a copy of his book as soon as it comes out. Baker surmises that it will be out around March 15.

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