Game 1: 202
Game 2: 202
Game 3: 200
Week Avg: 201
Season Avg: 196
A teammate gave me a heads up when I arrived that a bus load of high school students had been bowling on our league's lanes about a half hour prior to our start time. This meant that the lanes would not be freshly oiled before the start of our session and that there could be some interesting burn on the pattern to start the night. I decided to start with my stronger ball and if I needed to work down my arsenal I could with some ease.
To start the first game I stood and shot one board left of where I had seen my success in recent weeks. For the most part it was pretty successful and my only open was an errant shot that left a split. I had an uneventful 202 and we took the team win, but things were about to get pretty intense.
To start the second game the ball became a little more unpredictable and I had a harder time maintaining a consistent line to the pocket. I left an 8-10 split and after a few attempts to adjust back to a strike I switched down to the Python and spent a couple frames fine tuning my new line. While finding the line I left another 8-10, but was able to string a few strikes coming into the tenth frame. I was the last to bowl and I needed to throw two strikes just to give us a shot at the team victory. This was the most nervous I had felt in a long time, but I was able to put it out of my mind to throw a perfect first strike. I calmed down a little before my next ball, but the butterflies came back quickly as I missed my mark two boards to the left. Luckily heavy center oil held the ball close to the headpin and carried a Brooklyn strike. On my last ball I needed one pin to tie and two pins to win. Visions of televised PBA gutter balls came pouring into my mind as I waited for my ball to return. But I was confident that I could keep it on the lane, and a pocket hit left only the 9-pin and secured another win for our first place team.
Much of the third game stayed true to the others: many good shots and one bad one that resulted in a split and open. I actually felt more comfortable this game, but as I finished the ninth frame my stomach started to churn again. There was a very real possibility that the winner of this game would once again depend on my tenth frame performance. I was fortunate that our fourth bowler had an excellent 29-pin tenth frame, but I still needed to strike on my first ball. I was a little more relaxed this time because everyone was amused at how close the last two games had been. I struck on my first ball and needed just nine pins to take the game. As I held the ball on the approach, the last thing I told myself was "Just don't split." I should have listened to me because a bad shot left the 6-7-10 split and there was an audible buzz of whispers over my shoulder before I turned from the foul line. I wasn't worried, though. I had been shooting at the 6- and 10-pins all night and hadn't missed a single one. I didn't have to make the split, I just needed those two pins. As soon as the ball hit the return I picked it up, got in position and took my shot. Just after my third step I heard a yell from behind the seating area and I remember thinking just before my release that it didn't bother me. Unfortunately I missed my mark to the right. I imagine that my face turned white for a moment because I thought the ball was going in the gutter, but it managed to hang on enough to take out the 10-pin and leave us in a tie for the third game. I guess the yell worked, but I also didn't help matters by rushing that final shot instead of taking that extra deep breath the situation required.
My wife was livid and promptly proclaimed the yell "an asshole move" to anyone within earshot. It is a pretty laid back mixed league, so none of us really expected it. What I really didn't expect was who did the actual yelling. It was a pacer for the opposing team. That's right, a pacer. Which means he isn't a member of our league, his scores had no bearing on the game's outcome, and he had no long term interest in the result. I shrugged it off because frankly if people feel that they need to be loud to throw me off my game that means that I am doing my job and bowling well. What irritated me, though, is that he walked right up to me afterward, shook my hand, and said with a big smile on his face "I really wanted you to miss that shot." I think I agree with my wife on this one. Sportsmanship: Get Some. Needless to say I'd really like to see this team again before the season is through. And I hope they bring their pacer with them.
Anyway, even though my scores weren't anything spectacular I was still over average for the night. I have a current streak of five 200+ games in a row and nine out of the last ten. What made me happiest about the evening was the ball change. I think at most I maybe waited one or two frames longer than I should have, but overall the transition was seamless and I don't feel that my score suffered because of it.
For now I think my team is still at the top of the standings which is pretty exciting. I can't wait for next week, bowling has been pretty exciting lately. I love bowling anchor.