On Star Trek, you know a dude is in trouble when he's making his debut appearance on the show by getting beamed down on a dangerous mission with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. In the credits, they may as well have named his character "The Sacrifical Lamb." On the PBA King of Bowling, anyone who was not Wes Malott had the unfortunate duty of filling the same role.
The fifth and final episode of the KoB series had Wes shooting for a clean sweep of the ten next-best bowlers in the world. This week's lambs were Brad Angelo and Parker Bohn III, who dueled for the right to be fed to Wes the Kracken (a nickname which, sadly, has never quite stuck but is now probably the most appropriate of Big Wes' gaggle of a.k.a.'s).
Angelo apparently didn't watch the demise of John Nolen last week, because he decided to try to play the lanes the same way. After nine frames of "army bowling" (left-right-left-right-left...) Angelo's smile said, "How in the h-e-double-hockey-stick is Wes averaging 280 on this junk?" Parker, meanwhile, looked shakier than a carnival tilt-a-whirl for four frames, going brooklyn, runaway brooklyn on the right lane on his first two attempts. But after that, he settled down and dropped an eight-bagger to move on easily, 260-187.
In the between-match interview, Parker already seemed to realize that he was toast against Wes, commenting that he'd need to bowl "much better" if he expected to have any chance to win. (Is it semantically possible to bowl "much better" than 260? The way Wes has been bowling...well, yes.) Through three frames, PBIII was Rhino-lite in his attempt at trash talk. After carrying a light mixer for an opening turkey, Bohn commented in Wes' direction, "Did you see that?" Wes answered with an "I did" that sounded eerily similar to Ivan Drago's "I must break you" retort in Rocky IV's pre-fight handshake. Then Wes struck. And struck. And struck. And struck. Twelve times to be exact. Parker, like the four challengers before him, couldn't keep up. Yes, Wes wrapped up the series with another (!) perfect 300 game, to raise his gaudy average over the five week series to an eye-popping-out-of-skull 276.6. He also eliminated any shred of a doubt as to who owns the Scorpion pattern.
Now I would be remiss if I didn't at least try to explain why the heck I think this is the case. So here goes. First off, let me start by saying that pro bowlers (especially the top 10 in the world) don't see an oiled lane like other people. Instead of seeing a flat lane, they see peaks and valleys. After a few shots, the big boys start to visualize a trough on the lane that represents the direction their bowling ball will go if it follows a certain path. The goal is to find a place on the lane where the trough is wide enough to drive a truck through, so that no matter where the ball is thrown (either right or left of the center of the trough), it always ends up hitting the pocket and giving the player a good chance to strike. On typical league or recreational conditions, this usually isn't very hard to find. On PBA patterns, however, it's usually much trickier, but there is always someone (or a group of someones) who is able to put together the right combination of ball, speed, rev rate, axis tilt, and direction to give themselves some kind of margin of error. Of course, as the oil moves and/or evaporates (and in PBA competition it moves and evaporates faster than anywhere else because of the extreme rev rates of the players), the trough changes shape, so the players then make adjustments (well, the ones who are successful, that is) to either play the "revised" trough or to attempt to create a new one.
If I haven't lost you yet (I'm kind of lost myself but that's kind of my default state of mind anyways, so whatever), the way this applies to Wes and the KoB supporting cast is that Wes was able to find a combination that made his trough relatively gigantic. The other guys, either because of ball choice, rev rate or some other factor, never were able to create as big a trough, and some (like John Nolen and Angelo) were working with troughs that were literally prosciutto-thin. Of course, we haven't even talked about pin carry, (and we won't...we'll save that for another time) but the combination of the optimum scoring environment at the Kegel Training Center and Wes' sharp angle of entry gave him an astoundingly high carry percentage to go with his massive margin of error. The result? Utter dominance. And that, my friends, is why Wes Malott is the King of Bowling.
We now have a little hiatus for televised bowling until June 21, when the PBA Geico Team Shootout airs its first episode. But I am excited to announce that the PBA has invited me to expand my role and begin contributing to the PBA.com website in a much bigger way. I'm sure the three of you who consider yourself fans (including my mom) are just thrilled. At any rate, I am (thrilled, that is) and I look forward to bringing you much more exciting and interesting things to come very soon.
Here are a few other items of note from this week's show:
- It was noted by Rob that it took Michael Wilbon, a plastic ball and a 57-pin handicap to beat Wes during his run.
- Loved Randy and Rob's "whipped cream on a fish" exchange.
- Wes' "nice sportsmanship" retort to Parker's quip about "leaving a stone 9" seemed to me like he was only half-joking.
- New lingo: "Bo Derek" = front ten strikes (i.e. a perfect ten). Can we replace hambone with this one?
- Parker's going to Disney World! But I thought you had to win before you could do that?
- Sportscenter top headline after the show: "Vick Released From Prison." Looking forward to the day when criminals and ex-cons are on the back page and athletic performances like Wes' are on the front.
- Brad Angelo and Parker Bohn III trying to look mean in the pre-match bumper didn't work for me. It was kind of like promoting a Celebrity Death Match between Elmo and a Care Bear.