Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bowl For Jacob

Valley Family Asking You to Bowl for Jacob

You can make a donation to the Jacob Shields Donation Fund at a Wells Fargo Bank, or mail your donations to Bowling for Jacob, PO Box 274, Brownsboro, AL 35741.

"Bowling for Jacob" will be Saturday, December 10th from 10:00am to 1:00pm at Plamor Lanes in Huntsville. There will be a raffle and a silent auction.  You can email for more information.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

State Record (Again)

Congratulations to Donald "DC" Chatman. DC tied the state high series record  at Bama Lanes in Montgomery on September 21, 2011. He bowled games of 300, 300 and 279 for an 879 series. He tied Ron Ware, who had the exact 3 game set, on June 8 at Plamor Lanes in Huntsville.

Witnesses say the lone 10 pin in the fourth frame of the last game was leaning, but failed to fall preventing the perfect series.

Ben Thames of Enterprise had an 878 series in June 2003.  Now, we have had two 879 series in a matter of months.  That is incredible and amazing that one (or two) could perform under that kind of pressure knowing how history will be written with your name on such an incredible accomplishment.

Congratulations DC.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stop the insanity of the 'celebrity' hall of fame

Yes, it is that time of year where you, the bowling fan, can vote for the next inductee to the Celebrity Bowling Hall of Fame. I thought this was some kind of fad. But it does not seem to go away. Why are we doing this? Why do we care? Have the nominees really deserved a nomination? Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers are nominated because they have a party or charity fundraiser in a bowling center. Let's face it, if they could play golf, their fundraiser would be on the links! In previous years we have seen sports stars nominated because they could at least average 180 in a league. Is it a coincidence that when the PBA televised the Chris Paul invitational with his sports and music buddies bowling, we no longer see this group on the ballot? Once they showed their bowling prowess on national television, the public was no longer fooled by this silliness.

If we want to keep this thing a little serious, then Jeff Bridges and Bill Murray should be included for their iconic characters in bowling-related movies. If Lady Gaga is on the ballot, why not Tim Matheson or Michael J. Fox? Even if their movies bombed, the bowling theme shows more relevance than Lady Gaga's one time in a bowling center.

Kill the Celebrity Bowling Hall of Fame. We all know why Kim Khardashian is nominated. She was the 'celebrity' that opened one of the high end bowling lounges. This one event put her on this list? Maybe it was the dress.

Monday, July 4, 2011

PBA Team Shootout Review

Well, the yearly summer PBA Shootout is now completed. It was definitely more interesting than previous years being outside while Batman and Bugs Bunny cheered the bowlers. I almost missed this years event as I was not that excited about the shootout as previous years. I thought it may be more of the same.

Did the PBA change more than just the venue? It was almost scripted like a WWE pay-per-view event. First, the good thing was the move to an inside venue. I only like to sweat when I run, bike, or cut the yard. Bowling is not an outside activity during a hot Midwestern summer. If you believe the Democrats, global warming makes bowling very uncomfortable. Of course, the new PBA jerseys could be worn by Lance Armstrong and crew during a bicycle road race. Just change the Ebonite logo with a Trek one.

Of course, it was not a bowling alley, nor a bowling center, but a bowling lounge. What is a bowling lounge? It is a more expensive place to eat, drink, and bowl. Awesome ambiance, but still more expensive. I was expecting to see $5 soft drinks, $10 beers, and $12 wines on the tables with the bowlers. I'm sure Jason's water bottle was at least a $3 drink. Another thing about bowling lounges? They seem to attract the 'beautiful people.' Kim Khardashian has been publicized at a bowling lounge. Is this the second bowling tournament where I have seen an attractive blonde woman sitting directly in the camera's line of view? I guess I lost my concentration as I have not heard any announcement or close-up identifying her as a PBA wife or girlfriend. I'm betting she did not have to pay for her ticket to the show.

An advantage of tape delay show is more time to edit. We have heard about 'Bottlegate' for a couple of weeks now. The old saying is that any publicity is good publicity. The new PBA encouraged Pete Weber's antics. It put some life into the telecasts. Any competitor is focused on what he has to do. So, no one is encouraging you should distract your opponents. Well, that seems to be ok for free throw shots or field goal kicks. However, I don't see another PGA golfer sneezing in Phil Mickelson's backswing. ESPN and the PBA had plenty of extra camera angles, background video and commentary ready to go as soon as Sean Rash expressed his frustration. I'm not blaming either bowler, just noting that everyone was ready to exploit the event quickly. There would not have been as much analysis of this if this event was televised life.

I like the ball manufacturer staff team competition. However, with the shape of the economy, the pros on these teams look like the Yankees, Red Sox, and the Twins. One or two teams are loaded while the other groups are 'smaller market' teams. The Ebonite team is like the Brunswick team of the 90's. Remember, they had all the big names back then. Parker Bohn was one of them and is still on the team. This is rare. The few examples are Dick Weber with AMF, Johnny Petraglia and Parker Bohn with Brunswick. This is like your favorite baseball player staying with his team for his whole career. Looking at the teams, obviously Ebonite and Storm are your big players. Looking at the inventory at your pro shop, these are the two brands you will see. Around Alabama, Brunswick and 900Global products are less likely to be stocked. If I want to be on Brunswick's staff, I need to win a televised tournament with a Brunswick ball and then I can be on the Team Shootout the next summer. 900Global's best player is a senior bowler. Being a smaller company, it is not likely to have a large staff. Is Robert Smith still an exempt bowler? It is also not likely to renew bowlers with larger contracts. From Walter Ray's site:

“The company I represented last year did not offer to renew my contract at the end of the season,” Williams said. “I had heard some really good things about Track equipment last season and the equipment coming out of Ebonite International. You want to go to a company with good equipment so you can be competitive.”
With the prize money professional bowling offers today, a serious pro needs a ball contract. Since Walter is with Track, you couldn't find him on the Ebonite team. Ebonite could literally have it's own Team Shootout event with the pros representing each of the four brands; Ebonite, Columbia, Track, and Hammer. Walter, most likely, had conflicts with the short PBA Senior tour.

Watching 900Global winning was good for the event. Having Ebonite dominate the points events and then losing the tournament is like the seasons of the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, and Kentucky Wildcats. Unless you are a big fan of these teams, it is fun to root against them.

But, with 900Global running the table and winning for the upset still seems like a scripted WWE event. If these are 'exhibition' summer events, maybe scripting them would make them just as entertaining as this year's Team Shootout. If the final would have been Team Storm versus Team Ebonite as was the highly probable outcome, I may not have been around to watch it, as my interest would have been lost a long time before.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New State Record

Congratulations to Ron Ware. Ron set a new state high series record during the Super Classic League at Plamor Lanes on June 8, 2011. He bowled games of 300, 300 and 279 for an 879 series. He broke the 2003 record set almost exactly 8 years ago by Ben Thames of Enterprise by 1 pin.

To beat 879 will be a tough feat. There are only a few ways to do it.
1. Throw 36 strikes in a row for a 900 series.
2. Throw 35 strikes in a row for 890-899
Or the less obvious ways,
3. Throw 24 strikes or 25 strikes in a row, then a spare, then strike out for a 890 or 880 series.
Or reverse this order
4. Spare, then 35 strikes in a row, or strike, spare, and 34 strikes in a row.

Congratulations Ron.

Monday, May 16, 2011


When I get to the host city of the USBC Open (or previously, the ABC Nationals), I like to watch earlier squads to gather information as to where I can or should play the lanes. Now, you can read the Internet for other bowlers' experiences or insights. One source of information has always been USBC Hall of Famer Jeff Richgels. He has posted on his blog his information, sources and practice methods for his team on how they attack their team pair.

If you have been following, there have been higher scores and numerous honor scores. The top teams are, once again, scoring high. Even Jeff has posted his insight while practicing on the Open lane condition in his home house.
One thing to emphasize about this year is that it's more about getting to the pocket "correctly" to carry well, rather than just finding the pocket, as it usually is at the Open Championships.
Getting to the pocket is not an issue this year? The Open is not a tournament to let your guard down and lose focus on your goal. The pessimist in me knows a bad set or sets this year will be more disappointing than in year's past. I will now block all this Internet information and do my normal routine. I will watch similar bowlers to my style while I am there and see how they are doing. I will make my adjustments to the lanes as they are playing. Tougher conditions dictate that I play more conservative. Easier house conditions usually require more aggressive style, such as more speed or more back-end reaction. I will keep a tough condition mentality and try not to lose that focus after my first double. I hope it will be the start of many strings. But only focus, concentration, and good shots make that happen, even if it was on a house shot.

Side note: We used to bowl the same dates and squads as Jeff Richgels teams. Well, both groups moved to different dates. While they took our money most every year, I do remember those guys congratulating me as I bowled a perfect game in team event in 2007. I also enjoyed bowling with some of them during the Bowlers Journal squads. As current and former professional bowlers, they are a pleasure to bowl with and against. They are a credit to our sport. However, I am glad we no longer bowl on the same USBC Open squads!

May 21 update: Too prophetic. This team is now leading the USBC Open team event with a record 1281 team game.

You know the feeling when you strike every shot in practice, and then cannot strike once the competition begins? I'm starting to get that feeling before I am even on the plane to Reno.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Storm Damage throughout the State

AlabamaBowling.Com is headquartered in Huntsville, Al. On April 27, one of the worst outbreak of tornadoes and thunderstorms hit in the state in recorded history. Power has been out across north Alabama as many regional utility companies have lost their feed to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

While the servers are not located in the state, I am. Updates to the web site may be slower while power and internet access is restored across the state. Many bowling centers are also out of power, so many leagues and tournaments are postponed or canceled.

If you have any updates on damage to bowling centers or tournament, please comment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is the Internet changing the free market?

For those not subscribing to Bowlers Journal, the February 2011 issue featured an article concerning changes that Ebonite is implementing in selling its bowling balls to web based retailers.

How does that affect us, the common consumer? Those great discounts some web shoppers were getting may be gone. Some large Internet based pro shop retailers were selling Ebonite products for less than your local pro shop could purchase the same ball. It may not be a short term problem for the consumer as you could find great deals on the Internet. It does lead to a long term problem as less pro shops can make a profit to survive. It also leads to a long term problem for Ebonite if the retail value of their merchandise is artificially devalued. While the Internet retailers slowly grow market share, it comes to the expense of one of their product suppliers. If Ebonite cannot make as much money creating the product, there will be less choices in the market place and less product to sell. Less supply creates higher prices.

This is not a problem exclusive to the bowling ball industry. The article mentions other industries changing its resale policy. Ebonite is now treating the top three retailers as a 'national house account' similar to how Ebonite treats Kmart and Dick's Sporting Goods. There is no longer a distributor or middleman involved between manufacturer and retailer. Ebonite sells directly to these retailers and subjects them to its pricing policies. Ebonite imposes a minimum suggested retail price for its products.

The article mentioned a similar situation with airlines and dropping certain travel web sites from ticket booking web sites. I have also noticed the Internet retail boom affecting running shoe prices and supply. As an avid runner, I usually buy a new pair of running shoes every six months. I would always purchase 'last year's model' of shoe from running shoe web sites. They were always on clearance price. A $100 pair of quality running shoes could be purchased for $40. I did this for two or three years. As I mentioned how Ebonite was worried about their products being devalued in the market, running shoes were not a $100 product to me. Running shoes were worth no more than $40. The running shoe industry fixed this problem a different way. They didn't flood the market with too much product. Then, six to eight months later, they come out with the latest 'improved' new model, and once again, flood the market with product. Thus, retailers were stuck with a large inventory of 'old' product which they sold at wholesale price or lower.

While your favorite pro shop still exists, pick up the February issue of Bowlers Journal and read this article. Steep discounts with bowling balls bought on the Internet may be coming to an end. My favorite running shoe manufacturer now makes only enough product to supply the demand for its maximum value price. This is the first law of economics. Now, I cannot get running shoes for $40. My short term loss for great deals may be a long term victory to keep my favorite running shoe manufacturer viable.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome Back PBA to ABC

Sure, times have changed since the Professional Bowlers Association was last on the ABC network. For one, Disney now owns both ABC and ESPN. So, it seems very easy for the PBA to be on ABC if it is the big brother of ESPN. The show seemed much like an ESPN telecast except for one huge difference; HIGH DEFINITION.

I believe that was the first time professional or serious bowling has been televised in HD. It was incredible. The PBA can be seen on your ESPN HD channel, but the show is not broadcast in HD. You see the same 4:3 aspect ratio in HD as you do on the standard definition channel. The picture quality was incredible. I have seen HD shows for years, and PBA bowling for decades before that. Maybe that is why the picture seemed that much more incredible as I am used to a certain quality in bowling programming. Hey, I thought the Weather Channel was cool the first time I saw it in HD. Can the PBA afford to broadcast in HD in the future? I hope so. As I have reported before, I usually drift to sleep in the middle of the show after I know who is on and what equipment they are throwing. With a superior quality product, I did stay awake this time.

I was disappointed that the commercials were the same as the ones on ESPN. Even on ABC, there seemed to be no commercial bonanza of new sponsors. Even with a large prize fund and $250,000 first prize, SportsCenter exposure, and news headlines around the country of the semi-final match, there was not any new sponsors. To me, this still does not bode well for the PBA.

Would you bowl a 100 game for millions to watch for your 15 minutes of fame? Wayne Garber did. I am positive he did not do it on purpose. He bowled a great tournament. Remember, he received $50,000 for his placement. He may have bowled a 100, but a 279 would have given him the same result; a loss to eventual winner, Mika Koivuniemi. Mika's 299 made SportsCenter's top plays of the day. Wayne also received a Commissioner's Exemption for the Earl Anthony Memorial PBA tournament. I don't think he would have received the possibility to bowl in the next tournament stop with a 200 game in the semi-final match.

UPDATE: Tom Daugherty can appreciate my post as I totally misattributed his new PBA record to former exempt player Wayne Garber. Tom can hope he can still have some sense of anonymity. I blew that completely. At least I did not say confuse him with former American Idol contestant, Chris Daughtry. Thanks to the reader who corrected me with his comment.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shouldering the Burden

For the past six months, I have been bowling in pain. I was getting used to it and adjusting my backswing and hand position to minimize the discomfort. My shoulder was hurting. After 35 years of a high backswing, the wear and tear finally caught up to me. It was ironic to note that my approach looked 'more textbook' as I lowered my backswing and held a more closed hand position to alleviate the discomfort. If I had bowled the way the game is usually taught, I would have never seen a doctor, learned shoulder stretching and strengthening exercises, taken lots of anti-inflammatory pain medication and received one cortisone shot.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Like most males of the species, I don't want to go to the doctor. I prefer to have some idea of why I need to visit so I am not surprised by a professional diagnosis. With the Internet, I can search on my symptoms, research possible causes and treatments, and determine if I need professional help. I am not a person who needs to visit the emergency room with a headache or nose bleed. WebMD listed this diagnosis:

Impingement syndrome is a common condition affecting the shoulder and is often seen in aging adults. This condition is closely related to shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tendinitis. These conditions may occur alone or in combination.

Aging adults. I do note that most of my current ailments usually have those two words in the definition. It is usually an overuse injury. For my case, it was an overuse due to bowling and an aging adult. Google Health described my condition exactly as risk factors for being over age 40 and participating in sports or exercise that involves repetitive arm motion over the head.

Road to Recovery
Just taking the summer off from bowling did not make this problem go away. I still went to the gym and did strength training. However, I did diminish any exercises that resulted in shoulder stress. When my sleep patterns were affected by shoulder pain, it was time to go to the doctor. I still have doubts that most sport orthopedic doctors know the physical tolls on a body due to bowling. I was passing a lot of simple shoulder tests. I could raise my arm over my head. I could still do push-ups and chest presses. However, it hurt to raise my arm behind me. Typical shoulder impingement areas involve failing those first tests. Demonstrating a backswing that hurt was a new symptom. Luckily, the treatment is the same. The doctor started me with a conservative treatment; physical therapy and lots of anti-inflammatory medication. Even though it did not help with the pain that much, the medicine was needed to reduce the swelling.

Oral anti-inflammatory medications -- such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen, remain the most common treatment for impingement syndrome.
You must consistently take the medication for nearly eight weeks for it to be effective. You should do this under the care of a doctor because these medications can cause stomach irritation and bleeding.
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs for a short period of time may treat the symptom of pain, but it will not treat the underlying problem and symptoms will come back. There is no specific medication for this condition and response to any given medication differs from person to person. If one anti-inflammatory medication does not help within 10 to 14 days, then another one will be given until one that provides relief is found.
I was taking ibuprofen and Meloxicam for two months. In addition, I did common stretches such as trying to reach my thumb up my back. I used resistance bands to force the hand further up my back. I used a pole or towel to raise both my arms behind my back as far as comfortable. I also did a series of light weight shoulder activities known as Hughston Excercises. I used 3 and 5 pound weights. Since the muscles being worked are smaller muscles, you will find that these weights are more than sufficient, especially if you are having rotator cuff problems. After six weeks of these exercises, I was still failing one test. Holding my arms straight out from my body palms up, the doctor would push down on my hands. It was hard to resist his force with the injured arm. Every other impingement was much better except for the bicep tendon. This is the tendon that connects the shoulder and the top of the bicep muscle. My injury was specifically diagnosed as bicipital tendonitis. I received a cortisone shot at that location.

Bowling During and After Treatment
Why are you still bowling? A question that was often asked by relatives familiar with my shoulder injury. Well, the doctor didn't tell me to quit. I was going by the adage, if it hurts to do it, don't do it. It did not hurt that bad, but did get worse the more games I bowled. I had basically cut back to bowling one league a week and one tournament a month. With no practice, that meant 3 games a week with one week-end of bowling 4-8 games. As I mentioned earlier, I was doing basic adjustments that relieved the pain. The summary was that I was bowling more correct as I should have been doing. My arm was more of a pendulum with a shorter backswing. This took a lot of stress off the shoulder. The release and follow through were not forced but more natural. Forcing the downswing and follow through adds stress to the shoulder and bicep. You would only feel this extra stress if that area was injured. Letting the weight of the ball control the pendulum swing adds no extra stress to the shoulder joint. Those shots felt good and pain-free. I was disappointed if I did not strike on those deliveries. If I executed correctly and did not wince, I thought I should have struck.

I also had to quicken the steps of my approach to add ball speed. This would also alleviate my shoulder from forcing the delivery. As my ball speed is not that great anyway, I was struggling on house shots. I had to play more inside than I would have wanted for maximum scoring potential. The tournaments in which I participated were sponsored by Bowlers Advantage Pro Shop. This series of tournaments uses the Kegel Challenge series of lane patterns. These patterns are advertised as harder than house shots but easier than sport patterns. I have had the same success this year as previous years on these patterns. The slicker patterns play to my advantage with my slower, more deliberate style. I have made the qualifying rounds about the same percentage as previous years. However, the more I advanced, the less I had to give to the match. This is no excuse. I was defeated by the better bowler when I lost. I am not sure a 100% healthy me would have won. One thing that could have helped was the mental aspect. With my injury, there was no easy shot for me. While the rest of the league is shooting their normal average and honor score ratios, I am still working hard for a good set. I don't feel that I have as much area. I also feel a bad delivery will have bad results. I am prone to leave more pocket splits this year than in the past.

The Road Back
Now, I feel good. The competitive juices are coming back. I am still a little apprehensive. One inspirational story is San Diego Padres/San Francisco Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky.

The following season, a cancerous desmoid tumor was found in Dravecky's pitching arm. He underwent surgery on October 7, 1988, removing half of the deltoid muscle in his pitching arm and freezing the humerus bone in an effort to eliminate all of the cancerous cells.[1][2] By July 1989, he was pitching in the minors, and on August 10, he made a highly publicized return to the major leagues, pitching eight innings and defeating Cincinnati 4–3.
He coauthored a book, Comeback, that chronicled his story of returning to the mound after his cancer diagnosis. The reason that I am apprehensive is that Dave's cancer came back and he broke his arm pitching during a game. His arm deteriorated and had to be amputated. Dave is now a motivational speaker after the success of his next book, When You Can't Come Back. I have this book. I think it is too early to be forced into retirement from a sport and activity that I have done for a significant majority of my life. There would be some serious emotions to handle if the decision is forced upon you. I am not ready, but am optimistic that it is not yet my time to give up the sport. I always thought my more simplistic approach would allow me to outlast and outbowl many of my competitors in the long run as we all became senior bowlers. Many of the younger bowlers apply too much stress on their bodies with their powerful deliveries. It is humbling to know that these type of injuries can plague even those who consistently exercise and stay in good shape.

There have been good signs. I have bowled a 300 game within 2 weeks of the cortisone shot, and went to the championship match of a Bowlers Advantage tournament. The good news is that I did not feel pain or sore later or the next day. I am starting to remember what I used to call 'normal.'