While the World Series of Bowling motored on through the middle of August, it suddenly struck me that this wild ride was finally over the hump. No, no camels here…just the halfway point.
Wow, halfway! I can’t believe I’ve been in Detroit for nearly four weeks. My conversion to a Detroiter feels nearly complete. Pulling into my own driveway seems to be a fading memory. Case in point: I barely need GPS to navigate the streets and am so familiar with Thunderbowl that I could even join a league (or at least rent a locker). I frequent Tim Horton’s for their chili and coffee. I’ve visited “the Henry Ford” and cheered for the Tigers. I think the resident greens fees at the Lakes of Taylor should apply to me. I regularly shun Wal-Mart in favor of the 24-hour Meijer. And, most importantly, I have learned to appreciate summers in something less than 100+ degrees and simply accept the need for vast quantities of insect repellant.
Despite all of these examples, I still miss being home, and can’t wait to head back west to my home and family. But not until my work here is done. Luckily, missing the cut in the first three TQRs was not the end of the world. Scorpion and Shark still loomed in my future, and I started hump week by venturing up to the Turbo 2-N-1 Grips plant for some practice in their Turbo Tech training facility. This was a productive afternoon, and not only was Dave Bernhardt kind enough to install Switch Grips in a couple of balls for me, but he also showed us (Stuart Williams joined me, and I really should start charging him for all the free press in my blog) the manufacturing process for grips (it’s not the GM assembly line, but it’s still pretty cool!).
I normally don’t talk about meals, but that night was an exception. Stu offered to buy me dinner at Leonardo’s, a local Italian joint, for driving up to Chesterfield. Except that he only had $39 on him. The bill was $45, and instead of making him throw in every last penny, I tried to simplify by having him put in $25 while I put in $20. On the way home I jabbed him about how I ended up paying for my own dinner, to which he began protesting that he put in TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. We had a laugh. Then it hit me that my dinner was closer to $15, not the $20 I coughed up. So not only did I not get the dinner I was offered, but I paid more than my share! To his credit, he did buy me a future meal, but that may have cost him my vote for the Steve Nagy award… (just kidding)
The remainder of hump week got progressively better. My wife, Jen, came in on Friday and after successfully cashing in a sweeper –yes, it actually wasn’t canceled (!) – we spent the night at O’Tee’s sports bar for a karaoke adventure. I’m no American Idol wannabe, but I can do a mean rendition of Barenaked Ladies’ song, “One Week,” while Jen stole the show with Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” Clever readers may realize that “vain” rhymes with “Cain,” and Jen usually wastes no time ad-libbing my name into the end of the chorus. She smirks, I shrink in my seat. Everyone else laughs and points. It’s nice to know she loves me.
Of course I mean that in the most sarcastic way, because only a devoted spouse would volunteer to sit through 14 games of TQR bowling the next morning. I do really think my luck turned when Jen arrived, as I made the Scorpion cut Saturday morning. One out of five (I debated as to whether that or “20%” sounded better when read aloud…conclusion? Neither!) isn’t great, but at least now I had a shot at the big game on Monday.
The Round of 72 had a different feel than all of the qualifying rounds last season. I said it before, but there really is a different perspective when advancing through the TQR as opposed to being exempt and starting in the main field. TQRs are like a 7-game sprint to the finish, and one major mistake can potentially cost you the whole tournament. Regardless of the competition level being ratcheted up a few notches the next day, 14 games is more like a marathon during which pace is more important than big bursts of speed. Scores were very low on Scorpion. My +109 helped me finish in 16th place while the cut was a mere +14. I made my spares, didn’t press for pins, and came away successful.
Matchplay is a far different animal all together…especially the best 4 of 7 formats. Strategy becomes equally as important as quality of bowling, but the added dimension to the game makes it a lot of fun to play. I had faced Sean Rash at the GoRVing Classic last March, and the Round of 28 was fated to be our follow-up meeting. Our scores were so ugly that I would rather have you look them up on PBA.com than put them into print a second time. I will say, however, that in four consecutive frames in game one, two for each of us, we left the Greek Church, the 3-7-9, the 3-4-6-7-9-10 (4 through the face), and the 2-10. Enough said.
The match was won by Sean 4-1, as I didn’t break the lanes down properly and may have had a better chance to win by throwing overhand or through my legs. The same Andrew that appeared in the TQR and Round of 72 did not show up Tuesday for matchplay. If Sean and I were slated to give a spare-shooting clinic following our faceoff, they would’ve certainly slashed the price in half, or maybe even offered it for free. The sounds of “whiff” and “thud” were far more prevalent than crashing pins. I could go back and watch the instant replay on Xtra Frame, but like Andy Morton, I don’t get it for free either (Note to self: email Andy, form coalition, plead for Xtra Frame access)!
My initial reaction to losing was obviously a little anger (ok, maaaybe more than a little) and some disappointment. It’s hard to immediately look at my tournament as a success, but after some cooling down I realized that I had finally made some progress. The hard work practicing during the two weeks of downtime paid off and I started to get back on track. I was finally over the hump.
The days of the WSOB may be winding down, but the action is certainly not. Well, that is, except for the sweepers. With the super-duper World Championship – it is definitely “super” because men, women, and seniors are simultaneously competing – heading up the backstretch, there is time for one last push to end the month on a high note. I would love nothing more than to finish big in a Major and begin the long trek home with an extra-large smile on my face. Wait, where do I live again?