Pins & puns

Pins & puns

Chuck Pezzano

A PSYCHIATRIST ONCE NOTed, “Sports provide an exceptional opportunity for expression, in a limited way, of aggressive and sadistic impulses.” In bowling, that simply means that a bowler gets so much out of knocking the pins down, or the attempt. And why not?

Where else can you throw things at other things and not have someone throw them back?

Where else can you meet, agree, and disagree with people of every age, size, shape, and thinking?

Where else can you don all sorts of colorful outfits and outlandish gear and not worry about anyone taking a second look? And where else can you scream your head off over the supreme accomplishment of felling a pin or two?

Where else can you tell a man who owns a multimillion dollar business how to run it–and not get tossed out the door?

Where else can you busy yourself from early morning into the wee hours of the night?

Where else can a mother or grandmother beat her male relatives and have them unhappily accept it as part of the game?

Where else can some pros earn less than $1,000 in a year and still remain pros, and some amateurs earn more than $300,000 and still remain amateurs?

Where else can you win one of the millions of awards presented annually, or eventually be named to one of the more than 1,000 various bowling Halls of Fame?

So it is obvious that bowling can be an out for your aggressive urges, among its many other benefits. The mother or father belts the pins instead of the kids. The worker rolls the ball hard at the pins instead of rolling something at the boss. And some kick the rack rather than kicking the cat.

One of the most exciting pro wins ever came when Tommy Baker won the 2004 PBA World Championship. It gave the 49-year-old Buffalo native a new lease on his bowling life. He now has a five-year exemption on the regular tour, and at the end of the 2004-05 season, he’ll be eligible for the Senior tour. And the $120,000 first-place prize also makes life easier for the smooth stroker, who has been on tour for 28 years.

Joe Hutchinson–Baker’s buddy and former roommate–reminded that Baker is an expert on two kinds of rolling. More than 20 years ago, prior to a tournament, Baker and Hutch spent three hours at an amusement park, and enjoyed the roller coaster a dozen times. Baker went on to win the tournament.

Bowling is many things to ninny people. Take the example of the very frustrated and nervous person who was told how to overcome those problems: “If you bowl now, stop bowling for a while. If you don’t bowl, take it up.”

There have been more than 100 wars since 1945, and that doesn’t count any of the ones between bowling organizations.

Finland’s Osku Palermaa, who surprised many by finishing fifth in the U.S. Open, uses both hands in his approach and ball release, much like small youngsters just starting out. To those who saw the talented 20-year-old on TV, don’t try to copy his style. It could cause you unwanted ball slippage, and even back troubles. Little kids do it because they are close the ground and using two hands is their best bet to handle a big ball. Every bowler has an individual style, but Palermaa is trying to change his, even though it has been successful for him.

Automatic ball rolling machines are used for various purposes to test equipment. They can be set to deliver bowling balls at almost may speed and angle, hour after hour. Yet, even when the machine is programmed to roll the ball at the best speed and angle to produce strikes–a perfect strike line–single-pin taps remain, just as they do when a human is rolling the ball. One big difference: The machine doesn’t get mad when a pin stands now and then, it just keeps rolling the ball in the pocket.

Tom Candiotti, a major league baseball pitcher for 17 years, is also a fine bowler, with a 215 average. He spent a few minutes on the ESPN telecast of the PBA Odor-Eaters Open in Tucson and proved to be an excellent commentator, too. He praised the bowlers as true athletes and noted that though baseball pitchers have many different pitches, they don’t come close to the many shots, from so many angles, that pro bowlers have mastered. Candiotti bowled in the pro event and admitted to some extra pressure he didn’t feel in baseball.

Alex Webster, the star back and later coach of the New York Giants football team, also was a good bowler. When he rolled in a major bowling league for the first time, he said, “I’ve played football before 80,000 people, but I was never more nervous than when I bowled in that league.”

Whatever happened to the Mike-Durbin-Marshall Holman match that Bill Taylor was going to promote?

One of these years some of the self-professed experts on pro bowling might even take the time to attend a pro event.

Senior writer Chuck Pezzano is one of the top bowling writers in the country. He has won more than 60 writing awards and writes a nationally syndicated bowling column. He also is a member of the PBA and ABC Halls of Fame.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group