ANDREW'S ANGLE

by Andrew Cain December 16, 2008 19:00
Don’t worry, this won’t be another blog centering on clichés. The glass is either half empty or half full. Ok…I just had to sneak that one expression in there because it truly defines my feelings at the halfway point of the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour.   In order to explain the crossroads I have reached, let’s turn back the clock a week to my departure from snowy Buffalo.
 
After leaving the city that made waterfalls and chicken wings famous, I headed south to warmer weather. In Pittsburgh. While you may not associate Pittsburgh with “warm,” trust me, it felt like I had just left Alaska for Hawaii. Snow was on the ground, but not falling out of the sky. Bonus! As I mentioned last week, my confidence leaving Buffalo was not very high and I needed some sort of positive boost to right the ship. One benefit of criss-crossing the country by car is that you occasionally find time to bowl a regional or side tournament, which, in this case, was a monthly installment of the Pittsburgh Bowlers Tour. I finished 2nd, got my much needed boost, and even managed to temporarily put a few hundred bucks in my pocket (I say temporary because my thirsty vehicle would devour most of that on the way home).
 
With no rush to get to Baltimore, I stayed in Pittsburgh until Tuesday, practicing and recharging. During those couple of days, I stayed with my new friends, Ed and Maureen, who were gracious enough to allow me to camp out in their home (for privacy I’m leaving out their last names, but if you’re ever up at AMF Mt. Lebanon on a Monday night, stop in, say hi to Ed, and tell him Andrew wants to make sure he’s wearing his “hoo-hoo” glove). Once Tuesday arrived, I felt ready for the final stop in Baltimore. My glass didn’t feel half full…it felt like it was overflowing.
 
The jaunt to Baltimore was relatively smooth and weather-incident-free. A big kudos goes out to Pennsylvania for having highway signs warning against hovering in the left-lane if not passing. I wanted to bring a few signs home and post them myself around Phoenix, but suspected I couldn’t strap them to my roof without getting noticed. 
 
Arriving in rainy Baltimore, I spent the evening at Missy’s birthday dinner (for those who didn’t know, please flood her inbox with belated wishes at missy.bellinder@pba.com ) and soundly defeating “Buffalo” Joe Ciccone in a best 2-of-3 NBA Live challenge on Xbox (never, ever, choose the Mavs when your opponent is playing as the Spurs). All together, this was a good way to start the week and settle in for the hard work I was facing on Thursday.
 
On Wednesday, practice was excellent in the sense that I managed to get in nearly two full hours of physical work on my game. Some days it is important to just throw a few shots to get comfortable and conserve your energy, and some days it is best to throw as many shots as you can manage, to get the proper feeling and mindset. I often hear people equating more practice with better bowling, but the truth is that top players know the amount of practice necessary for the situation they face. You cannot ever compare your personal regimen to someone else and feel either overworked or inadequate; proper preparation (which includes practice) is individual.  The glass still full, I set my sights on a productive Thursday qualifying round. 
 
Game 5, front 9, I eyed a perfect game. Then that head-shaking moment fell upon me as I left a solid 9-pin and ended with 279. More importantly, however, I moved into tenth place. And that is where the fun ended…I ended the block with a 179 and 136. I had bad reaction in the 179 game, and let it creep into my mindset just enough that the errors compounded in game 7, leading to the 136. 
 
Such is life on Tour…one moment you are mounting a charge at the lead, the next you are chasing the cut. I just knocked my glass over and need to refill it. Someone please get me a napkin.
 
I wasn’t in the best of moods starting the night block, but I had to put feelings aside and concentrate on the task at hand. I fought hard and long, getting to the cut number, but not being able to close the deal. Ball reaction was not the issue; the issue was more of the minor mistakes that will always make or break a good week against the best players in the world. Frustrated (I think I have used that word every week…perhaps my New Years resolution will be to eliminate that word entirely), the only thing that brought a smile to my face is that I could head home for the holidays and sleep in my own bed while retooling my game for the next stretch.
 
One of the classic campy comedies in the past decade was a little movie simply titled, Road Trip. For those who have seen it, you may remember it as the movie where you first realized Seann William Scott could actually play a role outside of Steve Stifler (I said play, not play well). For those who haven’t seen it, all you need to know is that a few college buddies embark on an 1800 mile trip from Ithaca, New York to Austin, Texas in the short span of a weekend. Although their trip was nothing like mine (I merely wanted to forcibly inject a little pop culture this week, taking notes from Jason Thomas’ blogs), I did actually drive from Baltimore to Phoenix, by myself, starting Friday afternoon and arriving Sunday night. 2363 miles, to be exact, and I even managed to detour through Washington, DC to snap a few photos. 
 
This turned out to be a bad idea, as I quickly learned why people say DC metro traffic is some of the worst in the country. Two brief overnight stops, 8 states, and 53 hours later, excitement set in as I began seeing license plates that matched my own. This was not exactly a road trip that I will cherish in my memories, but there is certainly some satisfaction in telling people that I was in Buffalo last Sunday, Baltimore Tuesday, and Phoenix five days later. And no, I didn’t fly…that usually elicits the “huh?” look and raised eyebrows.
 
During my lengthy blacktop voyage, I encountered plenty of fog, rain, snow, tumbleweeds, construction, traffic, and accidents. I also had plenty of time to think about what I had learned during my first half on Tour and where the spring stretch would take me (aside from back across the country). 
 
After much internal debate, I concluded that the glass is half full and comes with complementary refills. As much as I want to be pessimistic sometimes (ok, often is probably more appropriate), you have to learn to be an optimist if you want to keep your job as a professional bowler. And, even though we call this the end of the first half of Tour, we actually have more than half of our tournament schedule remaining, including a couple open tournaments and majors, both of which provide huge opportunities to collect points. 
 
As a wise left-hander once told me, “It’s not over yet…don’t throw in the towel, you have plenty of time.” Not exactly the most profound statement, but one made from experience and it captured my scenario in a nutshell. Who said it? Oh, it was Parker Bohn…you may have heard of him.
 
To wrap up this edition of Andrew’s Angle, I am giving the “first” to both Jodi Woessner and Rhino Page. Both are equally deserving; Rhino for breaking away from the “sophomore slump” stigma and Jodi for rebounding from an earlier loss to Michelle Feldman in a title match. 
 
And Wes?   I promise that he will receive the award as soon as that ridiculous wrap-10 stops following him around in the tenth frame. As always, please check out www.andrewcainbowling.com, visit my sponsors, and email me any feedback at Andrew@andrewcainbowling.com. And, just in case I don’t blog until we start up in Reno, have a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year! Start making those resolutions now!
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.