Thread: Unpaid Bill
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Old 09-24-2018, 01:08 PM
vapros vapros is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: baton rouge, la
Posts: 3,270
Default Let's bowl this week

Didn’t get to play any one pocket for a couple of weeks, so on Saturday night I played a while with the Long Arm guy. I played so miserably that I went home and put the cover on my pool table. I don’t even want to look at it this week or think about it, so I will do this post on bowling. I warned you several weeks ago that this was coming, and you can read with me – or not. Actually I’m leading up to an item on left-handers, but that requires a brief explanation first.

I have commented that home court advantage is greater in bowling than in any other sport, because of differing lane conditions. Unlike golf, the bowling ball is in contact with the lane from the time you release it until it hits the pins. All the good bowlers roll a hook ball and today the hooks are violent and spectacular, but the goal is the same. The right handers are shooting for the one-three pocket, and for lefties it is the one-two. but the route they take is dictated by the lane.

The path of the ball is friction first and then traction. The lanes are dressed with oil every day, and it is there for the friction. There will be oil for about thirty five or forty feet, and beyond that point the traction begins and the ball hooks to the left. When I was involved with the game the American Bowling Congress was all-powerful and they required that the oil was applied gutter to gutter, and the Secretary of the local association was charged with seeing to it that the proprietor was in compliance.

It’s not that way any longer. You put the oil pretty much where you want it, and if you watch a video from a PBA tournament you will probably see a representation on the screen of the oil pattern they are using this week. The machine that dresses the lanes is programmed carefully to repeat the same application each day of the tourney. They rotate a half-dozen patterns from week to week and there are minor differences, and each pattern has a name. Tell these guys which pattern they will encounter this week, and they can tell you which players are likely to be hard to beat. Each has his favorite and the successful touring pro must handle them all. The oil enables the bowler to slide the ball to the spot on the dry part of the lane where they begin to pick up traction with their 11-5 rotation and begin the hook. Maybe even 10-4.

In the qualifying rounds the lane is slick in the morning, and on the early squad scoring is more difficult due to the fresh oil, making it harder to hook the ball, although this has changed a bit. The oil is carried away by the balls, the lanes become drier as the day goes along and scores are better on the evening squad. This was much truer in the early years, and a mid-level PBA member named Don McCune, from Munster, Indiana, solved the problem by soaking his Columbia plastic ball overnight in a bucket of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). He invented the soaker, a softened ball that one could hook on the early squad. Before long, parking lots at tourney sites held many RVs with a bucket of MEK and a plastic ball underneath, a definite safety hazard. Something had to be done about that before a tragedy occurred. The PBA invented the durometer, with which they checked the hardness of the balls, and the soaker was history.

This is roughly true in the local bowling establishments also, as they dress the lanes the same every day and the bowlers who bowl there learn how to be successful under those conditions. The local star bowlers are usually lost in other establishments where different game plans are required. I have seen tournaments where bowlers averaging better than two hundred in other cities become very average performers, some embarrassing themselves with scores of thirty pins less. The differences are less today, now that dressing is more nearly uniform from one house to the next, but home court advantage continues to be very real.

All this is preamble to my brief tale about the left handers in the PBA. In the early years of the tour the lefties suffered, because there were fewer of them and thus less traffic on their side of the lane, and it took longer for the optimum scoring condition to develop. For them the morning squad lasted all day, so to speak. But they did not suffer in silence, and the PBA could not ignore their complaints forever and they began a search for an answer to a very tough question. How to make the left side of the lane change during the day exactly like the right side? To make it double-tough the righties were watching them carefully and suspiciously and it made for a ticklish situation.

I have to admit I don’t know exactly what was done to bridge the gap, but the lefties have been served and the solution must have been reasonably acceptable to both sides and parity has come to pass. Today they coexist. Early experiments though brought mixed results, and spectacular failures did happen. One group or the other was usually outraged at the results. Witness the historic PBA tour event in a western state, in which a great majority of the twenty-four finalists were left-handed. There has been no repeat of that fiasco, but the move did produce such dominant super stars as Bill Allen, Dave Davis, Johnny Petraglia and ultimately the untouchable Earl Anthony. I’m telling you, fellas, I know stuff and I see things. From Shannon Daulton to Jason Shaw to Phil Mickelson, portsiders have something extra going for them.

These strange people are artistically - if not politically - incorrect in sports. They come at us from the wrong side, and we do well to fear them.
If it ain't funny, it ain't much.

Last edited by vapros; 09-24-2018 at 06:36 PM.
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