Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mike Machuga Criticizes Jason Belmonte After USBC Masters

Jason Belmonte is my favorite bowler without question. I'm tremendously impressed with his physical game and with his mental strength to make the right moves and perform almost flawlessly in pressure packed matches. What's more, as his remarkable USBC Masters victory Sunday attests, he appears to be getting better and better, and I have little doubt that within another year or two he will have risen to the indisputable top of the sport in the eyes of virtually all knowledgeable bowlers and bowling fans.

And not only does he have an amazing physical game, but, from my vantage point as a viewer and reader of bowling media, Belmo has always seemed like one of the most personable people and gracious sportsmen on tour. Yes, I remember the "Bottlegate" brouhahas involving Brad Angelo and Sean Rash, but I could never believe that Belmo was deliberately trying to throw off his opponents by crinkling his water bottles. I chalked up these incidents to nervous habit under the immense pressure of televised competition.

But now there's a new scandal of sorts involving Belmo. Mike Machuga writes about it today in his bowling blog. It concerns a nailbiting match Machuga had with Belmo last week in the Masters in which Machuga had to double in the tenth if he were to hand Belmo his first defeat of the double elimination tournament.

Machuga writes that Belmo kept talking loudly to himself while he, Machuga, was going through his pre-shot routine and finally he chastised Belmo for it, Belmo stormed (no pun intended) away in anger, and, after winning the match following Machuga's failure to strike on his second ball, Belmo approached him to talk about what had happened, yet, instead of apologizing for his distracting actions, he merely berated himself for perpetrating them. I took the gist of Machuga's complaint to be that Belmo keeps doing these kinds of things in competition and then comes across as curiously self-centered in how he responds to criticism over it.

As I say, Jason Belmonte is my favorite bowler, and I never tire of singing his praises on this blog and to my friends and fellow bowlers. So many people seem to be looking for reasons not to give this great bowler his due--for example, he's not American, or the two-handed, thumbless game is not "real bowling"--that my heart sinks when I hear people calling him a "cheater" and a "jerk," and I still don't believe for a single moment that he's either.

But I hope he finds a better way to stand up to the pressure of competition than to do things that so blatantly distract his fellow bowlers at their most vulnerable moments. Until he does that, it looks like he'll be under a cloud, and it's a cloud to which he doesn't seem impervious. I believe that he feels quite bothered by these criticisms and disparagements--bothered all the way to the bank to cash his championship checks.



8 comments:

  1. I was told about an instance where Belmonte "accidentally" let his chair slam back into position, I assume Brunswick Framworx seating, just as his opponent happened to be needing to punch out in the tenth and was on the approach for the first one. After getting the first one, Belmonte than "accidentally" dropped a ball into his tote on the floor while opponent was throwing the 2nd in tenth. Then by some crazy coincidence, happened to pick up the tote and drop it on the floor during the 3rd. As told by opponent and verified by other PBA bowlers that witnessed it. I can't fathom an explanation for these situations occurring involving Belmonte except that they are bush league attempts to distract. Why is he the only guy that constantly has to defend himself against they kind of stories? Maybe its because he is the only guy that is bush league enough to do them.

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  2. Ben, it's difficult for me to know how to respond to unattributed hearsay. However, I can offer an alternative explanation to your question "Why is he the only guy that constantly has to defend himself against they kind of stories?" Perhaps it's because he's a "foreigner" beginning to dominate the tour with his unorthodox style, envious people are looking for reasons to downplay and disparage his growing success, and the "Bottlegate" incidents, which might have been accidental even if they exhibited carelessness on Belmo's part, have primed people to see what they expect to see in Belmo's actions whether it's really there or not.

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  3. Steve is without a doubt right about what he is saying. Most of the guys on tour are looking for reasons to dis-like Belmonte. He was given a exemption on the tour. Not many of the bowlers were happy about that. He is a two hander and not from this country the bowlers didnt want him there. What happens?? he becomes the most dominate player on tour so half the guys out there are just looking for reasons to give him shit. He is one of the nicest guys i've ever had a conversation with and I have watched him bowl many times he displays a lot of class when he bowls

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  4. there have been too many incidents. The latest is his repeatedly leaving his oily towel on Weber's ball. Belmonte is a cheater.

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  5. I agree ....too many incidents involving this guy

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  6. Well, Machuga choked again against Belmo in the 2017 Masters. What was it this time Mike? Was Belmo blinking too much? While you whined over the years, Jason has been winning major after major. Forget 2 hands, he's just a smarter, better bowler. You left the tour, he entered the Hall of Fame.

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  7. That seems a little harsh. While I was no fan of Machuga's complaints about two-handed bowling and Belmo's alleged efforts to distract him, I think he bowled a fine match against Belmo and would have won had he carried that ten-pin on a good, clutch shot. Nevertheless, Belmo, absent that missed seven-pin against Machuga and a couple of other missed single pin spares in match play, bowled superbly to win the top seed. I'm writing this a day before the televised final.

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  8. I've heard Belmo wears bright colors so it distracts his opponents out of the corner of their eyes. What other ways does this so called two handed cheater use to distract his opponents?

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