December 20, 2012

Week 16 Recap

Game 1: 183
Game 2: 185
Game 3: 209
Series: 577
Week Avg: 192
Season Avg: 194

As I write this, it occurs to me that this is a pretty important day for me. Firstly, its my 4th wedding anniversary. But more appropriate for my readers, this is my 100th post of Bowling in the Burgh. I basically started this blog as a way of forcing myself to review my weekly league night performance so that I could determine the flaws in my game, as well as providing a forum for tips and advice for the average league bowler. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine something as complex as the Sandbagger Prevention League or receiving nearly 7,000 page views from 10 different countries in about a year and a half.  Thank you to everyone who reads the blog.

This week we bowled on my least favorite pair of lanes. Not only do I average 14 pins under average on this pair, but it also happens to be the set right next to the open bowlers. I had to play a little further right than usual this week, but overall I felt pretty confident in my line. The left lane seemed to be a little drier than the right, so any adjustments on one lane would not carry over to the other.

I had three opens all night, one in each game. I left a 4-6 split on a pocket hit late in the first game and missed an easy 10-pin early in the second. During the third game I had left the 1-2-4-10 in the fourth frame and managed to convert, but when the ball hung out again on the first ball of the tenth frame leaving the 1-2-10 I couldn't convert.  If I make one of these opens I hit my average for the night. At least I didn't see the 8-10 this week, so that's a plus.

The past two weeks have felt like a struggle, but I'm really not throwing a bad ball and my scores really haven't suffered. I left a lot of 4-pins this week from high pocket hits, so it is really just a matter of an inch or two for that pin to fall for a strike. Once again I think I should have started out with the C-System until I could break in my preferred line. If practice shows this same oil pattern in Week 16 I think I will give it a shot.

Since our league night falls on Christmas and New Year's Eves we are off until January 7th, which feels like an eternity. I will be out of town until after New Year's, so unfortunately I can't take advantage of the extended break to get in some practice.

If you miss me during the holidays, check out the SPL page, which I have updated to include scores for weeks 11-14.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays.

December 14, 2012

Week 15 Recap

Game 1: 177
Game 2: 214
Game 3: 182
Series: 573
Week Avg: 191
Season Avg: 194

This week was a little less dramatic than the last. My knee still has a bruised lump, but I'll live.

There really isn't too much to report from this week.  I had five opens all night, four splits and one whiffed 4-pin. I was in the pocket a lot the first game, but my entry angle was too shallow to carry.  There was more oil than usual and it took me some time to adjust. I moved right a board toward the end of the first game and had a pretty good line working for a while. In the third game I moved my body and mark right a couple boards to try to get some of the carry back, but really didn't strike with any consistency after the second game.

During the first game I wanted to switch balls to something a bit stronger, but my team was always within striking distance of taking the lead and I didn't want to risk opening a few frames until I found a new line. It was a strategic move, or non-move as it were, and one that I shouldn't have to worry about once I become more familiar with the C-System.  I really need to get in some practice time with the new ball so that I can better understand its reaction in comparison to the Python, but I don't foresee any substantial practice until this summer.

After four weeks of good bowling, I just felt a little off this week.  My release was never quite right, though maybe it was just an illusion because the ball didn't react the same on the heavier oil. I was also frequently off balance at the point of release, missing my mark more often and either hunching over or pointing toward the 7-pin at the foul line. The entire night felt like one big struggle, but when it was all over I was only 10 pins under average.

We've got one more night of bowling this coming Monday before taking a two week hiatus for the holidays. I'm looking forward to one more big series, but I think I am looking forward to the break even more. Not counting my surgery recovery time, this will be the longest I have been away from the bowling alley since the end of April. A little time off every now and then can be good for you, especially for your mental game.

Let's just hope I don't go mental during those two bowlingless weeks.

December 7, 2012

Week 14 Recap/Rant

Game 1: 178
Game 2: 213
Game 3: 216
Series: 607
Week Avg: 202
Season Avg: 194

I'm going to forego my usual in depth recap because I have a bone to pick with the bowling center that hosts my league. I had another decent night with no glaring problems. I struck the first five in a row the last game, but then started coming in high and lost the ability to strike. Over the last four weeks I've averaged 207 in league play, so I'm pretty happy with my performance.

So on to the rant . . .

I have previously discussed some issues I had with our bowling center, Paradise Island Bowl. During week 6 they placed a group with three small children on the lane right next to our's. On previous occasions they have turned away league bowlers from pre-bowling, even though the entire 32 lane center was empty, because they were expecting birthday parties and open bowling an hour later.

This week we were bowling on lanes 1 and 2, which are the closest to the doors, bar, and the first to be oiled. Lane 1 is also right against the wall, making it difficult for left handed bowlers and righties shooting at the 10-pin. This pair of lanes is notorious for having a sticky approach and every week during practice someone has to get an employee to come down and clean it.

Monday night was no exception. My first practice ball is always off-speed, basically just one big stretching exercise, but I was even more cautious being the first person to throw on lane 2. On my fourth step I expected to slide at least a little bit, but my left foot stuck fast to the approach and I went down hard on my right knee. It was pretty similar to the fall I had three years ago, which resulted in a bruised knee and a bulging disc in my back that took 6 months and physical therapy to heal.

Well by the end of the night I had a lump on my knee the diameter of the thumb hole on my bowling ball and it has since bruised up quite nicely. Since Thursday I started having sciatic nerve pain in my right leg and some stiffness in my lower back. I've started doing my physical therapy stretches and hopefully the pain will subside quickly. I can live with the knee bruise.

So why is my fall the center's problem? Firstly, they have failed to address a chronic problem that affects league bowlers on a certain pair of lanes. If you have to clean the approach every week, interrupting practice to do so (and not providing additional practice time to make up for it, might I add), then a light bulb should go off that says "Hey, maybe we are doing something wrong here!" I don't whether they are making a mess when preparing the oil machine or what, but they need to reevaluate their procedures.

I understand that everyone in the league has to bowl on this pair at some point so it evens out in the end, but the point is we shouldn't have to deal with it. I am probably the youngest person in the league at 27, so imagine what could happen if one of the older bowlers, some of which are in their 70s, fell down instead of me.

Also, since the center clearly has no problem with putting open bowling directly next to league bowlers, why not bump our league down one pair to the right so that A) we don't have to deal with a wall right next to one of the lanes and B) we don't have to deal with the sticky approach. Let the open bowlers, many of whom probably don't slide when bowling anyway, cope with the glue trap they call an approach.

Their lack of response is just further proof that leagues do not matter to many bowling centers. Leagues are just a way for centers to make money during their slow time during the week, i.e. weekdays and weeknights.  Once the weekend rolls around its all about parties and groups open bowling. Even during league play they shoehorn open bowling onto every last lane in the center. Bowling centers have embraced their roll as a place where people go to enjoy an activity and shunned their intended use as a place where people who are serious about their sport come together to improve their skills.  I guess I can't blame them, they have a business to run, but they aren't doing the sport of bowling any favors.

Maybe its just where I bowl. I go to this center out of convenience, not because I particularly enjoy it there. All of the best bowlers in the area throw at two other centers, which are twice as far from my house, so this is the best option for me, particularly in the winter.

Does anybody else have this problem? Am I too pessimistic?

End rant.

December 4, 2012

SPL: The First 10 Weeks

The league season is a quarter of the way over already, so its time to check on the status of the great experiment we call the Sandbagger Prevention League. Thanks to the contributions of some dedicated readers I have tabulated the first 10 weeks' results and can offer the following observations for each league format.

Scratch & Divisions

So far the standings are about as expected, with the best bowlers earning the most points. There really isn't much to report here, and since the Scratch format is serving as our control group or baseline, no news is good news. Matt 1 and his 213 average leads the way as expected and Lauren has yet to earn a point with a 110 average. While the scratch format best reflects bowling ability, it is not welcoming to new participants.

Since the two division formats depend on scratch scores, their standings also reflect the bowlers' performance. Because the difference between the lowest Division A average and the highest Division B average is 15 pins it seems that the divisions will stay the same throughout the entire season even though they are reset at the beginning of each quarter. Matt 1 leads Division A and EBH leads Division B with Sam Sandbagger closing in. So far the standings do not reflect the kind of close competition I had hoped, but we still have over 20 weeks to go.

100% Handicap

This is the format used to determine the scores for Sam Sandbagger each week. His scores are higher when he bowls better bowlers and lower when he bowls against lower average opponents. Sam took a beating the first few weeks because he had to establish a low average and, consequently, a higher handicap.  After three weeks Sam began to bowl scores closer to his opponent's average, thus giving him a better chance to earn points.

Sam's sandbagging technique has put him at the top of the standings in head to head match-ups. Sam also leads the standings in a 100% handicap format in which bowlers are given 1-8 points depending on how their handicap series ranks within the entire league, despite the fact that he doesn't necessarily throw high scores each week to defeat his opponent.

As expected, this format shows how easy it is for an experienced bowler to manipulate his scores and take advantage of a high handicap to defeat opponents of all skill levels.

80% Handicap

This is the wildcard format, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It still uses a handicap system to even the odds, but the benefit is limited. So far Matt 1 is leading the way in the standings, but Sam is not too far behind him. After 10 weeks this seems to be the more competitive league, but only time will tell. Lower average bowlers are still in the running for a high finish, but the top spot isn't just given to them.


I expect the standings to really take shape in the middle third of the season and more closely resemble what the final standings will be. Sam will need to finesse his scores efficiently so that his average doesn't climb too high and ruin his handicap. It has been a challenge to get into the mind of a sandbagger so I'll need to keep on my toes, I guess I'm just too honest.

Hopefully this whole venture isn't for nothing, but we'll see what the standings show in the spring.