Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vicodin, beer, and bowling!!!

Who would have thunk it? One quick stick-and-almost-faceplant-at-the-line moment at the High Roller has gone from a minor knee ache to a full-blown I-think-there-may-be-something-wrong-with-my-knee issue. I get extra credit for using hyphens in case you were wondering.

Less than one month to go before Nationals, and I have knee pain. Like I needed an extra hurdle to jump. Now for a Monday night recap....

I showed up early to throw some practice shots and check the level of pain in my knee (it's my right knee, which is my slide foot). The verdict was not favorable. It feels OK when I move side to side, but unfortunately I don't have to sidestep and break a tackle in order to throw a bowling ball. However, I must stay solid at the line and stay down while I'm throwing the ball. That is not possible in my current physical condition. As soon as I start to slide, the pressure below my kneecap gets very intense. I can just barely stay down long enough to throw the ball, then I have to step out of the shot. I have never been the poster boy for good form, but lately I have felt very, very solid at the line, keeping my head still and staying in the shot. Anyway, I know that I am not going to make it through three games on my own. So I pop two Advil and get ready to see Dr. Bud Light for some medicine. Then Steve offers one of his precious Vicodin to me. I am very hesitant to take any kind of pain pills. I have an addictive personality, and I do not want to turn into Dr. House, popping pills at regular intervals. So I normally suck it up and deal with pain. So I politely said no thank you, I'll be fine. After the third frame of the first game, I reconsidered the offer and he graciously went to his truck to get my fix. To make a long story short, I took the pill, continued drinking beer, and shot 218, 190, 183. My knee pain was gone, but I still couldn't knock them all down. That pissed me off. I should have went without the drugs to bowl like that.

So after that display of bowling greatness, I decide to bowl pot games. Genius! Ken just shot 812, Alan was crushing the pocket in league, and I am loaded for bear. Fast forward two hours...I have $80 less dollars in my pocket, the right handers beat my brains in, but my knee held up through the shitty bowling. Actually, I bowled pretty good. But 220 does not win pot games. At the end of the last game, the Vicodin started to wear off. I knew I had had an icepack in my near future.
And guess what I learned about Vicodin? It shuts down the pain receptors that send the message of "Ouch". It also shuts down the receptors that say "you should stop having more beer, that's enough". So I woke up this morning with a swollen knee and a pounding headache. I didn't even have that many beers, but there is some sort of exponential equation in the relationship between painkillers and beer. If I would have taken a Vicodin and won $200 or shot 300 I would feel a lot better right now. But all I did was donate money and buy a headache. What a waste!

Back to the knee--it's been bothering me since I stuck at the line during the High Roller. I wrenched it pretty good, and I've been icing it a lot to keep the pain at a minimum. The knee brace I wear now during bowling has been good enough to keep everthing in place. Saturday afternoon I helped Kelli's dad install some French doors at their house. Something bad happened inside my knee while I was kicking on the frame to move it into place, or when I was kneeling down to shim the threshold, or some other random event. I don't recall any specific action to cause pain, but when we were done it hurt below my kneecap toward the outside of the knee. Now it hurts a lot. I don't want to see a doctor about it. It seems like a waste of money right now. They will either say that I have inflamed something-or-other and I need to ice it (which I'm already doing now), or they will say that I need to stop bowling (which is not an option until after league is over), or they will say that I need surgery (which I can't afford). All those options added together means that I will continue to score Vicodin off my buddy Steve every Monday, drink NO beer when I take them, and deal with this like a big boy. Maybe it will magically heal in the next few days. You never know......

Friday, February 20, 2009

Brain's full, time to empty

It's been a few weeks now since the High Roller, and I have been throwing the ball pretty good lately. I have subbed twice on Thursday nights and done OK. Monday nights are going well, although I sucked at winning my points last week. Our whole team has really been in a points slump the past few weeks. We bowled against the first place team and struggled to a 7-25 finish against them. That was disappointing. We had a perfect chance at gaining ground, and instead we took it in the hindquarters. Every week 'til the end of league is position round, so it should help to intensify the league night. I need all the help I can get to focus during league.

My biggest problem lately is making good, repetitive shots. I'm not missing by much, and it doesn't translate in league because the condition isn't that tough. But that same small miss on a tournament condition will be costly. While I was bowling last night I relaized that I change my footwork a little bit from shot-to-shot, which is what has been causing these minor misses and inconsistency. Specifically, it is my first two steps that vary. I will be targeting this during practice to get these steps even and consistent. It is throwing off my timing and making me get to the line differently.

The nerdiness justs keeps getting deeper...
I have been studying up on how to read lane charts and graphs. I am learning how to process all this info to get an idea on how to approach the conditions. It is part science, part artform because you cannot use the info to find a guaranteed specific spot to play. However, it does give you a general idea of how the lane should react in certain areas, and where certain OB areas should be. I used to think that it's better to hit the lanes open-minded with no pre-conceived notions about where to play, but that is being a little bit naive. Why not gather as much info as possible and use it to your advantage, right? I can now see these charts and make decisions on where to throw a few balls in practice and see the types of reactions I get. It's better than grabbing "x" ball and randomly picking a spot to start. Now I can make more educated "guesses" and try not to be completely clueless.

One more thing. I have been working on a different release that gets my backswing higher, my hand more free, and my ball speed up. It definitely creates more revs, speed, and power. I thought it might be something I could develop. But after a few days, my elbow started flaring up again. The tendonitis monster is not something I want to mess around with again after two years of being relatively pain-free. I have decided to stick with my current game, keep fine-tuning it and working on the details.

Not as much yucks and ha-has this time. Sorry to disappoint. I'll see about working on that, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This story needs an ending

I'm sure everyone has heard by now...Keith finished tied for 6th place in the High Roller and won $3,600.00. The guy who beat him advanced to the final match to bowl against the winner of the 50+ division, the 40-49 division, and the 39 & under division. He finished last. The winner was the 50+ champ, which happened last year also. I guess that's proof that you don't have to put a ton of revs and speed on the ball to beat your opponent.

Our flight on Sunday morning was at 8:20am. We got up around 6:00 for showers and packing up our stuff. When we left the hotel it was around 7:00. We kind of misjudged the time to get to the airport, drop off the rental car, and get to the check-in. We were going to be cutting it close. At 8:00 we were standing in the baggage check line. We can still make it. When we checked our bags, they couldn't guarantee that they would be on our flight because we were so late. Whatever, get me to the plane. Then I had to stop and pay a bag fee for it being over 50 pounds. Now it's 8:10am. No big deal, the airport in Vegas isn't very big, right? Well guess where our gate was...that's right, the farthest gate away from check-in. We get to the security check, and my bag gets held up. The guard checks it manually and finds my micro-Leatherman in one of the pouches. Because it has a 1" blade I cannot take it on the plane. So I tell him to throw it away, I gotta go. When we finally got to the gate we were the last ones there. Keith hands over his boarding pass, I grab my envelope that the baggage check lady gave me, and there is no boarding pass in it. The baggage lady didn't print one out for me, she just gave me the bag-fee receipt. I am destined to miss this flight. The gate person tells me to go the gate check-in desk and get one. They already had it printed out and ready for me. Cool. Now I have my laptop briefcase, my jacket, my flight envelope, and my boarding pass shuffling around from hand to hand. I head back to the gate, hand the person my boarding pa....where is my boarding pass? I just had it in my hands! I look through the envelope, nope. Briefcase? Nope. Now I am frustrated beyond belief. I looked back at the counter, and there it is, lying on the ground where I dropped it as I came around the corner. Unbelievable. We made the flight, and I was ready to go home.
By the way, our bags did not make our flight. Fortunately there was another flight 20 minutes behind ours. After some lunch at Love Field, we picked up our bags, loaded up my truck, and headed home. This was definitely an adventure that Keith and I will be able to remember for years to come. I had a great time, and even though I only won a total of $200 in brackets and side pots (and spent WAY more than that), I plan to go again next year. It was an awesome learning experience, and although my results weren't what I planned, I gained a ton of knowledge that I can use for upcoming tournaments.

Well kids, that's my High Roller adventure. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Now it's time to start getting ready for Nationals in mid-March. I will continue to post my thoughts and observations as I try to beat my personal best all-events score of 1957, which I shot last year. Stay tuned......

Saturday, February 7, 2009

keith 9/ 9th split thru nose 3-6-7-10 open we are done hecantwin it. SHIT!!!!!!

opponent 7th 6 pin /. Keith is down 59. 8th lite shaker x

keith 6th high 4-7-9 got 2 open. 7th brooklyn 5 pin /.

opponent 5th threw like crap x. 6th brooklyn x.

opponent brooklyn x trip 5 pin 4th flush. Keith 4th ball change in 3rd high 4 pin /. 5th big stick and tug 3-6-9 /.

keith 2nd lite 2-7 chop 2 pin open. 3rd lite 2-5 /

opponent high trip 6 x 2nd brooklyn 2-8 /.

Keith 1st Brooklyn x

1 left to finals. If be wins this game it's 10k!!! Bowling a bad lefty. Throws it like crap

missed right got 3-6-9 for 176 win by two. OH My God my stomach hurts!!!! He won again!!!!!!

keith 10th miss head pin left 1-3-6-9

opponent 9th x. 10th Brooklyn 5 pin/ fill ball 7for 174.

keith 8th runaway brooklyn 3-6 tug and barely spare. 9th ball change to widow. Brooklyn x. Almost done!!!!

Opponent 7th light 2 pin /. 8th x.

keith 6th made move missed head pin right washout 6 ct. Open. Got 3. Up by 24 in the 6th. 7th tug Brooklyn 5 pin /.

Opponent 5th light 2 pin / he's not good. 6th miss head pin right again 1-2-8 miss right whiff open

keith 4th Brooklyn carry 5 tv flush for double go keith!!!!

oppon 4th lite x 5th misshead pin right 1-2-4 tug 2-4 only open

keith 2nd fast 8...4-7 / 3rd moved in light 2-4 hook at spare almost missed left but got it

They are going 2 frames each so I will post that way opponent 6/ miss head pin right

1st keith tug Brooklyn 6-10 / opponent tug 3 pin /

here we go!!

still waiting

holy shit, keith drew ted pritts... just kidding, even better, HE DREW A BYE!!!!! Round 4, here we come!!!!

we drew a bye. Oh my god that's free money!!! I need a tums, badly!!!

got 2. 181 shut out opponent. Opponent struck 2 + 9 for 178. We are moving on.

shit keith thru nose 4-6-7, 6 slid over to 5 spot but was knocked down by rack.

9th oopon runaway brook 5-6 chop 5 for open keith light shaker carry!!!!!!!

8th smash awesome. Opponent x. My tummy hurts.

that was huge keith is+5. I have bad acid reflux. I'd rather be throwing these shots

7th opponent lite 2-5-8 keith high flush 4 pin tiny tug. Opponent chopped 2-5. Keith /.

keith is up 5 after 5. 6th keith real light tripped 2-8 left 10. Opponent x, keith missed 10 big left.

5th keith tug skid 4 pin opponent light 5-8 keith / opponent /

4th keith right up 3 flush opponent light 2-10 1 open. He looks great!

3rd opponent bucket keith flush opponent /. Keith is playing right up 4 looks awesome

This pair is slick! 2nd frame change balls high flush 4 pin / opponent x. Opponent sux by the way

1st miss head pin right 6 ct 3 opponent x

okhave charger back to center

I am running to roombattery is dyin shit

2nd ball 8 opponent / 8 for 209 keith miised sparenfor 211. We made it!!!!!!!

1st ball flush opponent 8

He's first up

9th opponent 9/ keith almost 4-9 trippedn9 /. He is tied to the 10th. Shit. He is bowling great. Opponent sucks.

8th keith flush opponent brooklyn 9/

chopped itn

6th opponent 9/ keith flush 7th keith baby split opponent 8/

After 5 frames he is down 1 I hope my phone has enough life

5th opponent flush keith flush

4th flush opponent flush

3rd 3-6-10 thru nose spare opp. Strike

2nd dead flush opponent 8/

1st dead flush right up 4 perfect opponent 8/

here we go kids game on!

trying different shots, he looks good

practice started his first ball was dead flush 2nd too

almost starting practice...

they are behind schedule. About 20 more minutes to start.

The adventure is over for LeftySmurf

Sorry folks, but my internet connection has failed me. I just spent 20 minutes writing a long post, but the connection is weak, and it wouldn't send it. I am not doing that again. I bowled two squads this morning, missed both cuts, and now my adventure is over. I will post a better blog later.

Keith bowls at 5pm. I will post one-liners after each frame of his matches in case anyone wants to folow along play-by-play.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

sweeper results

Since Keith is the alpha dog of this trip, I will recap him first. He was using the sweeper as a "practice session" to throw a few balls on a few different lines. His score was 155-181 for 336 total, but it was more of a learning experience for him.

I drew 1 & 2 for the sweeper, which sucks. I started with the Fury where I played in my qualifying squad, but they were freshly oiled and it wasn't there. I had the Virtual Gravity shined up before the squad and tried it at 17-12, but the ball wouldn't finish very strong, and I ended up fighting my way to a 173 game. That ball reaction wasn't terrible, so when we move lanes, I tired that shot first. The ball skidded and left the 3-6-7-9. I was pretty focused, and I knew I could hit it, so I made the adjustment, hooked the shot, and spared that MF'er. Then I faded a 3-pin, spared, and decided that it was time to quit screwing around. I changed balls to my Attitude Shift, moved 1 board off of where I was playing the Fury, and ripped the rack. Then I proceeded to strike in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, blew the rack in the 7th frame to leave a 10 pin/spare, and struck out to shoot 258. Sound the trumpets, I have finally found the right ball/line combination!! I finished with 431, didn't win a dime, but I had the 3rd high game on the squad. Actually I tied for third with a guy on my pair who also shot 258. No more exciting news and I'm starving, so Bye-bye. It's time for some vittles.

By the way, thanks to everyone who is following along. I hope I'm not boring everyone with more bowling and less smart-ass. Our schedule is just so busy that I really don't have time to do much more than post the best play-by-play I can and shut down the computer to get back to the bowling center. I will be much mo betta soon. Buh-bye.

Close, but no cigar

I just finished the 4pm squad. I shot 206-200 for 406 total. The cut was 433, and the free re-entry cut was 413. I missed by 7 pins, again. I was right in the pocket for most of both games, but the shot was really tight, and I just couldn't get a string of strikes going I had a 4-6 split in the first game, and the second game I drove one throught the beak for a 4 count split, leaving the 2-4-6-7-8-10. I was on a 3-bagger, so that cost me big time.

So far I have bowled games of 181, 182, 179, 225, 183, 172, 200, 193, 206, 206, and 200. I am one frustrated lefthander right now. I have money for one more qualifier. Keith and I talked about it, and I have decided to wait until Saturday to give it my last shot. That will give me a day off to relax and get my mind off bowling for a while. So I will post once more with the results from tonight's sweeper at 7pm, then you boys and girls will have to find another senseless blog to follow for a day.

Still trying to qualify

Well here's how the morning went...I bowled the 10am squad. I decided to play straight up 3-4 again and be more aggressive, but in practice I also tried playing a deep shot around 17-18 out to 12-13 as a backup plan. I started the match well, but was not hitting the ball consistently. Here's the breakdown: strike, through the nose leaving the 2-4-7-10, got three. Then I mixed in spares with two more stikes, including one in the 9th to set up the 10th. I wanted to be aggressive with the shot, and I tugged it. I left the 2-7 baby split, then chopped off the 2 pin to open in the 10th for a 172 game. I had 144 in the 8th with the strike in the 9th. If I convert that spare and strike in the fill ball I shoot 184. Oh well. So we move down to 37-38. Keith talks me into moving deep. The up-the-gutter line has been too touchy, so it's time to hit the eject button. I need a big game with a bunch of strikes, so I moved in to play 17 to 12. I start out strike, blowout 7-10 split, double, spare, then threw the next 4 strikes to set up the 10th frame. I wanted to be aggressive with the shot, and I did. I pushed the f-er left and skidded past the head pin, leaving the 1-3-6. So I moved 5 & 2 left, threw the ball clean, it hit a freaking slick spot, skiided long, then hooked up late to chop the 1-3 off the 6 for another open in the 10th and a 200 finish for 372 total. That sucked big time!

I had a great line so I reentered for the noon squad. I started off in the same spot, but it wasn't finishing well. I chose to move left and play 12 to 10, a lot more direct with the Fury. Had a pretty consistent reaction, but couldn't string any strikes together. I left a washout in the 4th frame for an open, but the rest of the game was clean. Ripped the rack on the first shot in the 10th, then a blowout 7-pin for 193. Moved to lanes 19-20, decided to stay with that line. I threw the first 4 strikes, then started pushing the ball to throw spares in the 5th-9th frame. I get up in the 10th needing to strikeout badly. First ball in the 10th, dead flush. I am on it. Second ball, smash 10-pin. AAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Spared it to end with 206 and 399 total. When they announced the cut I was pissed...412 made the cut, and 406 made the free re-entry. All I needed was that damn 10-pin to fall. This is starting to piss me off.

We had some lunch and went back to the room to relax for a while. I am going to bowl the 4pm squad. The good news is that this will be my 4th paid sqaud, so I get a free Storm HyRoad bowling ball. Yay!! If I make the cut I bowl one game at 5:30 for $1,000, then at 6pm to make it to Saturday. We also bowl tonight in a 3-game sweeper, so my post may only be a header from my phone. That's all for now kids.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

OH MY GOD!!!!!! Keith made it!!!!!

I will quickly get out of the way...We both made the qualifying cut to Round 2 at 5:30pm. One game format. I had a good shot. Went strike, smash 7-spare, weak 3-pin spare, made an adjustment, strike, strike, weak 3-pin spare, made one more adjustment for a through-the-nose 4-pin. Took a breath, threw the spare, and missed it right. No big deal. Made an adjustment, went weak at the pocket and left the 3-6-7 split. I made the decision to go for two instead of the spae attempt to get as many pins as possible, so I got the two. Next shot, made an adjustment, went high to leave the 2-4, with the 2 scooted over to the right a bit. So instead of throwing straight I threw a weak strike shot at it, and I missed left, the ball skidded past, and I hit the 4 pin to capture my third open in a row. I made one final adjustment in the tenth, went double smash 7-pin for a 183 game. My previous post was wrong...the cut was 194, and the re-entry number was 185+. I absolutely blew it. But that's OK because I have two extra days to try and qualify. You know why? Because KEITH MADE THE GRAND FINALS!!!

He made the first cut with a 213, which cashed him for $1,000.00. Then the last game there were 7 guys in his division who qualified, three made the last cut.

He was on his game. He was throwing the ball great, making spares, and getting some good breaks. He went strike, spare, double, spare, spare, then struck in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. He got up in the 10th only needing a spare to clinch a spot. He threw a good ball, but it checked up at the end and left the 3-4-6-10 split. Oh shit. This could cost him a spot. He adjusted his spare shot, threw it PERFECTLY, and made the spare. He slapped it off and missed the slap a bit, but mine was three times as loud from the gallery. I actually apologized to the people around me. I ran it out 2 pair to the right up on the concourse. But we weren't done...he needs a big count on the fill ball. So in memory of our dear friend Jeff Bell, he went Brooklyn to carry and shoot 225. I knew he was in, nobody was scoring well. And after the announcement was made, Keith was 2nd high qualifier and made the Grand Finals on Saturday!!!!

Since this is my blog I won't let him speak for himself, but I can't tell you how proud I am of him. He has been struggling the entire time, hurt his leg, but didn't give up. And it paid off huge for him. This is so awesome!!! OK, enough for now. We are going to eat supper, have a few libations, and I'm going to give it a run tomorrow morning. I am really, really close to making it, so tomorrow I am going back to work. Gotta go, we have some plane/hotel/car rental adjustments to be made to come back on Sunday. WOW!!!!

Round 2 keith 213 made the cut!!! Kevin 183 missed cut by 21 missed free reentry by 2,stay tuned 2

keith-high qualifier...he is in!!! We bowl now, stay tuned

high flush 4-6 in 10th for 199, 432 total, we're waiting for results.

Keith is on the 4pm squad, just shot 233, stay tuned.

Wednesday morning has come and gone, and guess what?

We hit the practice session this morning. Basically we had the same results. I had a great shot right up 3 and another one around 12-8. Keith had 3 different angles to play. We were both pretty confident. Keith decided to let me bowl the 10am squad and he would wait until noon for his squad. Since I didn't do so well yesterday I decided to go right up 3 (on lanes 17-18 byt the way) with my Dimension. I used a medium Scotch Brite pad to take the shine off it so the ball would get an earlier roll. I started off pretty solid, then the back ends faded in the 3rd frame. I was already playing very direct, so there wasn't much room to move. I kept at it, but couldn't get the ball to finish to the pocket. I got lined up a little in the 9th, but the 10th got some more skid and it finished with spare-strike for a disappointing 179 game. I had two splits that killed any momentum I had.
Game 2 we moved to 45-46. I still felt like a had a shot with this straight up line, so I chose to stick with it. The first two balls were dead flush. I commented to Keith that I was surprised that the the left and right lanes were actually playing the same for a change. Then the third frame the ball lost it's back end flip again, just like in the first game. Hmmmm. I stayed with it in the fourth frame and it happened again. I went 9 spare both times. Then my brilliant coach Keith says to move 1 board left and look closer on the lane. DAMMIT!!! That was it, why didn't I think of that before. By looking closer the ball will pick up a roll faster. Sure enough, I moved one left, pull my eyes in about 2 feet, and POW, right in the pocket to blow out a 7-pin. Another spare, but now I have confidence in the shot. Starting in the 6th I throw the next 4 strikes to set up the 10th frame. I can punch out for 246, and have a good shot at making the cut. I set up for the shot, throw a great shot and BAM, another blowout 7-pin. That was a kick to the groin. I take a breath, make the spare, and throw another great shot to rip the rack to finish with 225, and a total of 406. The cut has been around this number or a little higher every squad, so now I am chomping at the bit. It takes them 45 minutes or so to verify the scores, so we go upstairs to Friday's for an appetizer and a beer.
We headed back down so Keith could get ready for his squad. He had some major over/under, and could never get any consistent reaction. He stuck his head in his ass and missed three spares in the first game to shoot 189. Not too bad, considering the crappy ball reactions he was getting. Game two he made more adjustments and just never could get any kind of area to play in. I think he only had two opens the second game, but they were not surrounded by many strikes, and he finished with a 177, for a total of 366. Probably not enough to advance, but the free-rentries cut was 375 for my squad, so there may be a chance for him to make that. We are about to head back down there to check now. I will post later.

Oh yeah, when Keith started his squad I went to the results area to check my score. It's not posted yet. I asked one of the ladies with the tournament when it would be posted. She said it should be any minute, but I go up to the tournament office to look if I wanted to. After I ran a 100 yard dash to the office, the guy had just printed the listings. Another lady asked me for my name. She looked over at the sheet and scanned down...there you are. Yep, you made the cut. I promptly asked, in all the proper formality deemed necessary, "No shit?" She brilliantly volleyed back, "No shit, you made it." And the trumpets sounded!!!! I made the first cut at the High Roller in Las Vegas, Baby!!!!!! I am one excited little Smurf right now.
By the way, I tied someone for the last advancing spot. If I would have smashed another 7-pin I would have won a free re-entry, but I would be trying to qualify again right now instead of typing this most wonderful news to you guys (and gals).
I will bowl the 2nd round at 5:30pm today. We bowl one game, and they cut the top half. If I make it, I win $1,000, and immediately bowl one more game. There will be about 6-8 of us. They will take the top 3 to advance to the Grand Finals on Saturday. Keep a good though for me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So that was fun

The sweeper is over, and the lanes got weird. I had another lefty on the pair with me who was playing right up 4-5. I had scuffed up my Virtual Gravity before the sweeper started to try and get a better read on the lane early. I moved in around 16 to 7-8 and had a great shot. I had a few good breaks, a few bad breaks, then ringing 7-pin in the 10th. Skidded tight past it left into the gutter. Are you serious? I HAVE TO REMEMBER to make a mental check on my spare shots to come through the ball cleanly. So I finished with 223. Then we moved to 1-2. I went spare, split, split. Keith says, why don't you play right up 7-8? It would still keep me inside the other lefty, who was struggling on the pair, and I would be take most of the lane out of play. So I say, sure why not? So I switch balls (to the Fury), moved 17 left with my feet and 9 left with my eyes. What lefthander makes that kind of ridiculous move? That shot was dead flush. So I try it again on the right lane. Flush again. From there it became a struggle. The right lane was OK, but the left lane was hooking early. I chased it the rest of the way, had a few splits, and settled for 180. It wasn't horrible, but man, when you don't execute a good shot, you pay for it. So we move to 15-16, and the lefty in front of me throws a good shot so I decide to stick with it. Same problem--left lane is hooking early, and the right lane is losing the flip on the back end. The left lane is tough because if I tilt the ball at all it fades off the line and doesn't recover. I made a few more adjustments to try and salvage the game, but after the 6th frame there was no chance at making it big, so I threw a few different shots, one right up 12, and two others right up 3-4, just to se the reaction in those areas. Oh yeah, I finished with a 176 for a 579 series. The final game score wasn't important. I even intentionally missed one spare just to throw another ball into a strike shot line to see what it would do. Very uneventful, but I was able to play a few different lines that I will think about tonight and make a few adjustments in practice tomorrow to see if I can put all this information into some semblance of a game plan for the morning. Practice is 7:30-8:30 again. I think that I will be bowling the 10am squad, and Keith will move to the noon squad. This is like a chess game, and I just need to move my pieces into the right places to win.

Signing off for the evening, folks. I'll post tomorrow morning, probably not until after I bowl the 10am squad.

We are having a great time. The bowling so far has not been what we wanted, but it is very, very close.

I forgot to evaluate the talent for you...

There are A LOT of people bowling in this tournament who do not need to be wasting their money. There are some really bad bowlers here. One guy is throwing a backup ball about 22 mph with 5 revs, and another old black guy is throwing it off the wrong foot, and it is painful to watch. I am shocked at how many guys are here that have horrible form, bad mechanics, and don't know how to dress at all.
There are also some big names here as well. Ted Pritts is here. Also, Mike Rose Jr, Jeremy Sonnenfeld, and Jay Futrell, who are three guys who have won the all-events or singles at Nationals the past few years. But they are no match for me. You should have seen their faces when they saw me walk in. I have a pretty intimidating aura about me. They were scared shitless. I took it easy on them today. They know that my 181-182 scores were just to let them have a chance today. Tomorrow there will be no charity.

I'll be damned, Keith is a lucky SOB

So we went back down to the bowling center to check the scores from my squad. I shot 363. It only took 406 to make the cut, and 387 and up won free reentries. I am such an idiot. I also went 0-10 in brackets. Oops. Oh well, it's only $50. I am motivated to not suck tomorrow.

As we are looking at the posted scores I notice a sheet off to the side that showed high game pot results. I glanced at my squad and noticed that they drew for a ball giveaway. I forgot that it is one of the promotions for the tournament. Each squad they draw a name and that person wins a free Storm bowling ball. Well my name wasn't drawn, but I'll be damned if Keith didn't win the ball on his squad. We went up to the tournament office and he collected his ball voucher. We went next door and he was handed a brand new Storm Virtual Gravity. Lucky bastard.

We are going to relax for a while, then it's back to the lanes at 7pm!

All right, round one is over for both of us

Sorry for the delay in posting...Keith bowled the 10am squad and I decided to bump up my time and bowl the noon squad. And the results are...not so much, buddy. Keith shot 193-188 for a 381 set. It took 434 to make the cut, and 404 to win a reentry. He had major problems with over/under, and mixed in a few bad shots to keep him from getting lined up. He moved outside in the 8th frame of the 2nd game and struck, then stayed there to strike out. He was playing straight up 4-5 and had a pretty good look at it. To make matters worse he has strained a muscle in his va-jay-jay AND his taint. Now we are sitting in the room and it reeks of BenGay. The approaches are very slick, and he strained his groin first, then strained his ass muscle trying to compensate for that problem. I know he is one of my brothers, but there is a zero percent chance I am rubbing it down for him. Sucks to be him.

Now for my performance. I was watching Keith's squad and really getting pumped up. The practice session went really well for me. I had a great line with three different balls, and just needed to make a decision. I ended up going with the Virtual Gravity to start. I was supposed to bowl at 2pm, but I couldn't wait anymore. I changed to the noon squad so I could start kicking some ass. I drew lanes 3-4 for game one. After the first two frames I missed the head pin left and tugged the crap out of the second ball. I took a pulse check. It was beating faster than the Energizer Bunny on Bugs Bunny's mom. Take a breath, slow down. I was playing 11-12 at the arrows to around 7-8, but it was erratic, and I was too. I switched balls to the Fury and moved left 3-1. It was a little better reaction, but I kept tugging the damn ball. I ended with 181 for the first game with three splits and two strikes.
Game two we moved down to 31-32. First frame, strike. Second frame, miss the head pin left. The right lane is dead slick!! Um, did anyone tell them that I'm lefthanded and this crap isn't supposed to happen. So the left lane I'm using a Fury, and the right lane I'm using my Virtual Gravity, playing 11-2 to 7-8. Guess what folks? I had a tugfest on the left lane, and playd over/under on the right lane to finish with a 182 game, for a total of 363. I didn't stay to see what the cut was. I'll find out later. We still haven't had any lunch, so I'm signing off for now.

The bottom line is now that we are both in good spirits. We both had a case of the "First High Roller Jitters", and now we are both a little pissed off by our bad performances. I am bowling in the sweeper tonight at 7pm PST, so I will update the blog after that is done. Stay tuned, fair readers!

Practice is over...I would type more but my phone won't type in the text box.

Getting ready for practice session

We made it!!! Keith and I landed around 9:00 PST last night, jumped in our Dodge Caliber, and proceeded to the Sam's Town Casino and Hotel. The last time I was in this casino was 1991 when we bowled in the Collegiate Christmas Tournament at Showboat and Sam's Town. It was a shithole back then. The outside looks similar, but the inside has been totally remodeled. The courtyard area looks a lot like the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, TX. Our room faces the courtyard, and it's really cool-looking. Nothing exciting to report so far. We went down to the bowling center, watched a trio league bowl for 5 minutes, then grabbed some late supper around 11:00 at the TGIFriday's that is inside the casino.

I slept like crap last night. I finally fell asleep around 12:30am, and woke up about 30 times. I ended up getting out of bed at 5:45 this morning and hitting the shower. Between finding out the heater was on at 2am (it was roasting my peanuts), Keith snoring like an 18" Poulan cutting through a 40-year old oak tree, and my brain using the back of my eyelids as a projection screen, let's just say I may need a little nappy after Keith bowls at 10am. But the movie that my brain was showing was really good. I was bowling in the High Roller, and I was kicking ass. I've never proclaimed my talents as a psychic, but you never know...

I will check in after the practice session. I will definitely be using my newly-acquired wireless internet connection that cost me $29.97 for 3 days. You gotta love free enterprise!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Las Vegas, Here We Come!!!!!

Well, the day is finally here. Keith and I fly to Vegas tonight. My bags are packed and I am ready to go!

I cannot begin to describe how pumped up I am about this trip. I know it may be a little bit over-the-top to say that this is a life-long dream, but that's kind of what it is to me. I remember being 16 years old, sitting in a booth at Varsity Bowl in Denton, looking through the Bowling News and reading the full-page advertisement for the High Roller. Back then first place was $100,000.00. I remember thinking how cool it would be to be good enough to bowl for that kind of money. It was a pipe dream to be good enough to give it a try. Now, 20 years later (holy crap, that really was 20 years ago), I am giving it a try.

But my thoughts about it are a little different than I thought they would be. I'm not awestruck at the thought of entering, and the nervousness of bowling against some of the best amateur bowlers in the country really isn't getting to me like it probably should. I think what has helped me the most is being realistic about my game. I accept the fact that I while I may insert my head far, far, far into my ass from time to time, I can just as easily fire off a 260+ game with the same amount of effort. Most of this game is between the ears. And that is why I am flying to Vegas tonight. The mystique of the High Roller is no longer quite so mystique-y (I just made up that word) to me anymore. I now see it for what it is. Any hack that has the cash can sign up to bowl in it. They have no restrictions on who can enter (as long as you are an amateur). They need as many entries as possible, so they will accept anyone's money. And I have probably had other opportunities to bowl in the High Roller just so I could have the "experience". But I'm not into spending $2K on a bowling trip just for the "experience". That does not make much sense to me. I really believe I have a shot at doing well this week. All the practice sessions have gone really well. I have worked out some minor issues and have my mind set on bowling with confidence. That is the key (at least in my mind) to bowling well; confidence. You have to have the ability to trust yourself. If you miss a spare, you have to believe in yourself that you will spare the next one. If you miss ten of them, you still have to believe in yourself enough to know that you will spare the next one.

With all that being said, I know that there is a greater-than-zero chance that I may go out there and lay a big fat egg on the lane. I have bowled long enough to know that everyone bowls like crap sometimes. Even the top pros on tour have bad days. The difference is having enough self-confidence (not too be confused with over-confidence) to brush it off and keep moving forward.

Maybe I should become a Buddhist with all this "mind over matter" BS that I have incorporated into my bowling game. You think they make those robes in a size small? I would get one for Keith too, but I'm not sure they allow flip-flops. If this tournament goes well I'll be sure to check on that.

So now I will be sitting at my desk all day, not being able to concentrate on anything because I am ready to get on a plane and get this adventure started. I will start posting a lot more through the week to really drag this thing out. Now that I've already been busted as being a bowling nerd, I'm really gonna milk this for the whole week. Stay tuned, this adventure has just begun!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

5 Days Until High Roller

I can't believe it's almost time to take my shot at the High Roller. I am getting seriously pumped up about it. This is even worse than right before we bowl at Nationals each year. I want to leave now just so I'm there. I have totally caught the bowling bug, 'cause now I even have bowling dreams. You should see how awesome I am in that footage. Smooth as glass. I think a woman even threw her bra at me after one shot, then the dream took a different turn....anyways. If my wife is reading this, "Just kidding, dear." Not really. It was awesome.

I met Keith at AMF Lewisville yesterday afternoon for practice. Not to practice meeting him, but for bowling practice. I've already met him several times, so I'm really good at that. If that was the tournament format, I would beat the crap out of everybody. OK, let me steer back on course. Sorry for the mental detour. There's no highway in my head, just a bunch of stoplights with turns in several directions.
So we practiced for about an hour. School had been cancelled for the day so there had been kids bowling open play all afternoon. That equals hook spots in the heads and not much oil overall. So instead of lining up for strikes, I focused more on playing a few different lines and hitting my target. I didn't strike much but it didn't matter because it also gave me several different spare attempts. I lined up in a specific area and threw my 4 different balls at the same line to see how each of them reacted. When bowling in a short-format tournament you have to be able to make moves/ball changes immediately, so knowing how all of your equipment reacts is extremely vital. There is no time to make small moves and take guesses.
I missed a few spares again. I need to fine-tune my shoulders being square at my target. I seem to get a little lazy from time-to-time. I know it's all a matter of focus, and I will not have any problems with that during tournament time, so it's more of a mental check I need to include before shooting any spares.
Keith threw the ball well. He has been doing that for a while now. If he can keep a high level of mental confidence in his spare game, I have a feeling that he will do well next week. His biggest weakness is getting frustrated too easily while trying to achieve perfection. He's not a big fan of watching some no-talent hack shoot decent scores while he is struggling. While it can be amusing during league sometimes watching him turn darker shades of purple while he watches someone throw it all over and still manage to string strikes, there is no place for that during tournament time. He knows that, and I know he knows that, so we should be good. Maybe it's good thing that I can barely pay attention to my own game. I rarely watch anyone else bowl. Mainly I am staring off into space thinking about what I just did and what I'm about to do. It's amazing how much concentration I have betweeen shots, and I have such problems staying focused while I'm on the approach. I guess it could be worse...I could be righthanded.

One last thing, I found out yesterday that there will be no showdown between Keith and me in the Finals. The format does not work that way. There are three divisions for qualifying; age 49 & under, age 50 & over, and 215 & under average. Keith and I are both qualifying in the 215 & under average division. That means that we can both advance to the Grand Finals on Saturday, but the format changes to single-elimination match play in each division. There will be a total of 96 people who make the Grand Finals, which I assume to mean 32 from each division. If that is correct, then it will take 5 consecutive wins to reach the final round, which isn't that bad. Then the winner of each of these three divisions will bowl one final game, and 1st-3rd will be determined by that game. So that means the best Keith and I can do is bowl each other to see which one advances to the final game. Still not a bad situation to be in, but the other way would be a better story.
Another practice round on Friday. I will try to post again Friday night to keep my ever-growing fan club riveted to the computer screen. Being delusional isn't so bad, is it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Waiting for the ice storm, and the phone ain't ringing

I know I just posted, but I just finished turning in a bid, and the phone hasn't rung with the usual "problems of the day", so I'm back to empty more crap out of my head. This is way better than playing Spider Solitaire.

Did I mention that I hated watching my team struggle last night? Man, there's nothing better than watching your opponent have to over-think and second-guess themselves while they chase a crappy shot around, but it sucks big-time to watch your own team have to deal with it. Sorry, guys, I wish I could be more helpful.

Now for brighter thoughts...this time next week Keith and I will be in the middle of our practice session at the High Roller on Vegas. I am getting seriously pumed up about this tournament!!! I have wanted to bowl in the High Roller since college, but never had the money/time/talent to consider going. This year I was able to make good side money bowling, which I tucked away into my "bowling fund", and my boss is being very generous with my vacation time. And the High Roller has a new format which has a special qualifying bracket for 215 & under averages. My average last year was 215, so I just squeaked into this bracket. I feel like the past few years I have been steadily improving, and my mental game/confidence level is at an all-time high, so I am committing the money and giving it my best shot. I am riding this wave as far as it will take me. The planets and stars and all that other astrologial crap have been lining up for me, and I do not want to look back and regret not taking advantage of it.

Part of me thinks that I should be getting nervous, but I don't feel it at all. I know there are going to be a lot of guys there that are "professional" amateurs who bowl in these high-stakes tournaments all the time. There is definitely a clear separation between my talent level and their talent level. But for whatever reason I have it in my head that I have a good shot at doing well. As I get older, I am learning how mental preparation helps overcome a lack of ability.

OK, timeout. I just went to the breakroom to get a drink and sat back down and read through what I have written so far. BORING!!!! The bottom line is this, nowadays when I shoe up against someone else, I don't feel any intimidation at all. Not that I have bowled straight up against top-tier talent, and I am definitely not top-tier, but I was thinking back to the scratch tournament I ran last month. There were some bowlers who entered that can score really high. The first game out, some guy that no one knew shot 289. I shot 226. And it didn't bother me at all. I knew I was going to catch him. And I did. And I ended up beating him. I don't want it to come across as being an ass or being cocky. I'm not trying to brag about anything, although it seems the more I try to explain it, the more it sounds like bragging. I just have an inner sense of confidence that is really cool. It's new to me, and it has made a huge difference in my approach. Even if I miss a spare, or throw a few bad shots, or have a bad game, it just gets erased and put to the side. The next shot/game/round will be better, and it's difficult to explain how it feels with sounding like a jackass. Maybe when Keith and I come back from Vegas with 1st and 2nd place checks we can both act like assheads. Nothing would be cooler than Keith and me bowling each other in the finals for $50,000. I could walk away from that match feeling good no matter who won.

League night results

Last night was not too much fun overall. It started when I got to the bowling center early to bowl a game or two before league to loosen up. I passed Dennis, the GM, as I was walking to the pro shop. He stopped me and said that he just wanted to let me know that there was a problem with the lane machine and they might be kind of f-ed up on the left side tonight. That's not a good thing to hear before even starting. So I decided to try playing a straighter line more outside than I normally play so I could hopefully stay out of a wet-dry situation and keep myself in-play. I've never been very good at killing the ball to play a straighter line, but based on my newly-acquired lane info, I figured it couldn' hurt. I had a really good ball reaction trying to play around 9-10 at the arrows and fade it out to 4-5.
This info is typically useless for league because they run the lanes right before league, which changes the shot that I warm up on. But when league started I figured I would give that line a try for a while to see what I could do with it. Jackpot!!!! I had a great ball reaction. Game 1: 256 with no opens. Game 2 was OK: 224, missed a 10-pin. I rushed to the line and didn't square my shoulders with the shot, WHIFF! Big dummy. Then a guy who used to be an assistant mgr at the bowling center showed up, so I talked to him for awhile which took my mind off bowling in between my shots. I had the front 6 in the third game, then fagged one by the pocket to leave a 3-pin. After that I left a 6-pin, missed it (those squared-up shoulders really are important!), blew out an 8-pin, and limped in the 10th by speeding by the pocket again to leave the 3-5-6, spare-strike for a 234 finish, and a 714 series. While I should be happy with those results, I feel like I couldn't keep my focus, and I could have scored a lot higher.

I was scoring well, but I couldn't get into it because my 4 teammates were gator-wrestling the lanes trying to find some semblance of a decent shot. All I kept seeing was hook, adjust, hook, adjust, push it through the hook, adjust. So I'm striking at will as long as I keep my frickin' head out of my ass, and they can't find anything consistent enough to get something going. I'm never sure whether I should continue to make suggestions as I see them make shots, or if I should just shut up and mind my own business. I keep imagining them thinking, "I'm busting my balls to find any kind of consistent shot, and getting nothing, and he is over there by himself not having to move, adjust, or anything!" There are lots more swear words as adjectives, but I will let the imagination fill in the blanks. Last night didn't seem to be the right time to ask anyone what they thought, so I went with the "shut up" theory. Bron finished strong with a 270 game, but everyone else had over-under, or so it seemed. I quit paying attention halfway through the third game. I didn't figure anyone wanted my advice.

We finished 11-21, which sucked big time. We were only a few points out of first place, and that bad showing dropped us to 4th or 5th place. Given the crappy conditions, we opted not to pre-bowl for next week. We will post-bowl in two weeks. Hopefully the lanes are better by then.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Post #2: Sunday's practice and more fun stuff

Well, I went to a practice sesion at AMF Lewisville this morning. First I went into my old bag to change the finger grips in my Special Agent, which rides around in the truck on the off chance that we time warp into 1995 and I come across a pair of lanes that are flying-ass dry. So I unzip the bag, grab the ball, and I'll be damned if the f-ing shell wasn't cracked! That's the third ball in the past year that has done that. Not that I ever use that ball but dammit! I'm sure that I will show up for league tomorrow and hear how the lane machine was set up wrong and all it could do was double-strip the lanes. I guess my Vis-A-Ball with the cowprint, affectionately known as CowBall by everyone, will be my new "scorched earth" ball.

So I start practicing different lines, shots, hand positions, blah, blah, blah. I feel like I spotted the ball really well. My spare game was right on, too. I missed one spare in two hours, and it was a ......7-pin. I was on lane 32 against the wall, and apparently someone last night decided to bowl with a damn drink in their hand because it was dried up all over the corner of the approach by the wall. So when that shot went into the gutter at about 9 feet, I bent down, picked up 3 or 4 pieces of kneecap that splintered off from sticking so bad, and never missed another damn spare the rest of the morning. I even spared the feared 2-7 baby split 3 of 3 times. I'm so cool. Nothing scares me. Except for Jehovah's Witnesses. Any group of young guys who all dress in slacks, white shirts, and ties and ride bikes around town kind of creeps me out. They claim to be speading the word, but I'm not sure I'm buying that story. I think I just had my first mental detour on my blog! These will probably be a common part of this blog. I tend to lose focus after a few...hey look, a butterfly!

Back to my train of thought; I recently changed my line for left-side spares after bowling in travel league a few weeks back and discovering through the magic of SpeedTracker that my spare ball velocity has increased from 20 mph to 22 mph, which was making most of my 7-pin shots slide into the gutter. Now that's all fixed up and I'm happy again.

League is tomorrow night. After we finish we are prebowling for the following Monday because three of us will be out. Keith and I will be in Vegas (Baby!), and Bron will be at his 22nd Annual JELQing Convention. I hear they give out free hand lotion, so that's good. I will update Tuesday on the results, and any goings-on that may occur during our marathon 6-gamer of fun!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You have waited so long...

After dozens and dozens of emails (actually just one) of recommendations to start up a blog, I have decided to end my friends' misery of getting random emails from me about the world of bowling and plunge headfirst into a new level of bowling nerdness. From now on, the one or two people who are actually interested in my stats, thoughts, and random worthless analysis can now check in here to see what ramblings have left my head and come into the world via this tiny slice of heaven. In my blurred and somewhat skewed train of thought, I think that the emails I have been sending to my friends to report bowling results, break down these results, and comment on said results has actually helped me process all the information I take in. I'm not sure why I can't keep it to myself, but when I type it out and re-read it for grammatical and/or spelling errors (pet peeve) I seem to soak it in better. I feel like it has helped me improve my game a lot in the past few years, so whether it actually works or not, I will stroll down this path and see where it leads.

Our Monday Nite Men's bowling team is currently in third place, only a few points behind first, so I am sure this will be a frequent topic.
I am also currently preparing for my first entry into the High Roller in Vegas, so there's another topic. If I can talk my wife into letting me take her laptop with me, I will post a "diary" of sorts about the daily adventures of Keith and me while we are there. I just realized that there will be lots of name references that some people may not be familiar with. I may or may not explain who these people are, so bear with me.
Our Monday Nite team will also be heading to Vegas in March for our 4th USBC Nationals Bowling Tournament. We are 3 for 3 cashing in the team event, so the pressure is extremely high to continue our trend. That $50-$60 each has been crucial in maintaining our status in competitive bowling.

That's all for now. I will be out for a practice session this morning (Sunday), so I will be back on here soon to report my investigative findings.