March 27, 2013

Week 28 Recap

Game 1: 236
Game 2: 257
Game 3: 237
Series: 730
Week Avg: 243
Season Avg: 200

Coming into the night my magic number, the avg+1, was 669. That was all that stood between me and my goal: a 200 average. My high series for the season was a 649, so I had some work to do.

I can't recall ever being as focused as I was Monday night. All but two balls were right on their marks. I was able to play my new favorite line, standing with my left foot on the 24 1/2 board and throwing over the 8 board, and the strikes came in bunches. All ten of my leaves were single pins, including three 10-pins and two 7-pins, but I managed to make them all.

One big factor was making quick small adjustments to keep the strikes coming. I was able to read when the ball was slightly high or light and move up or back on the approach a few inches to compensate without sacrificing a nasty leave or split.

Coming into the last game I knew I needed a 207 for my second ever 700 series. By the tenth frame I needed a mark in the tenth to hit 207 and to win the game for our team who in general was simply being out bowled. I responded with a turkey.

On the drive home I started to think of what this week meant for me. I established a new career high series and threw my first ever clean series. For the season I beat my high series by 81 pins and high game by a single pin. My 730 is currently the second highest series in the league, so hopefully that can stand or I can beat it in the few weeks remaining. And I finally hit that 200 average mark! Think I can get it up to 205?

And now for an update on my damaged ball. When I walked into the center on Monday I was greeted by the manager. The gashes in my ball were too deep to be repaired by the pro shop and so they sent it out to be fixed. It should be back this week and I can go test it out. If it is not to my satisfaction the center will pay for a new ball. Considering the ball is about two years old I'm ok with this arrangement. Frankly it probably would have been more cost efficient to just declare the thing totaled and pay for a new one.

Things are definitely looking up: I'm consistently bowling better than I ever have and my arsenal should be complete by the end of the week. Its perfect timing because we have the U.S. Steel tournament coming up on April 6th. I'm also excited because my dad is bringing his ball with him when my folks visit for Easter. This will be the first we've bowled together in a few years and I can't wait to show him how far I've come.

I'll be riding this high all week, but come Monday night its back to business.

March 22, 2013

Week 27 Recap

Game 1: 196
Game 2: 226
Game 3: 223
Series: 645
Week Avg: 215
Season Avg: 199

After dropping all available points last week we fell from being tied for second to sixth in the standings. We needed a big night and we were bowling against the fourth place team. One back week for any of the top teams could result in a big drop; we just need to be sure that isn't us from now on. We were one man short this week and our opposition had a vacancy and absent bowler, so the night promised to go much more quickly.

I checked on the status of my damaged ball before practice, hoping it would be ready to go. However, when I asked about it at the front desk they picked my ball up and put it on the counter, damage and all. It hadn't even made the trip to the pro shop yet. They said the pro shop is very busy right now, but I don't think this is a very busy time for them. I yelled at the manager working for a bit, tried to guilt him into getting this done, but who knows what will happen. I'm going to give them a call Friday afternoon to check on the status.

As for the actual bowling Monday night, the lanes were freshly oiled and reacting like they did about a month ago when I was doing really well.  I played my usual line and was doing alright. Mainly single pin spares, a lot of 10-pins, but I also mixed in a few strikes. It a was pretty unremarkable 196. The fact that I can refer to a clean game as unremarkable has me excited. Unfortunately the team effort wasn't so hot and we dropped the first game by about 60 pins.

I was moving up and back most of the first game trying to carry the corners. I had found a good line at the end of the game, but then started running high in the second game. I moved my mark further inside, playing around the 10 board instead of the 8 and it worked great. I had a four bagger beginning in the third frame and was striking with some consistency. My only open of the night came in the eighth frame when I missed my mark a board left while shooting at the 7-pin. I shook it off and finished the game with a 226. The team won its first game in what felt like an eternity, but we had to win big in the last game to get the extra point for high total pinfall.

I started the last game with a turkey and three nine count spares. I followed that up with two more strikes and a spare in the ninth frame before filling the tenth frame. It was a big game and my 223 was enough to give us the win and the high total pinfall point we needed.

It is amazing the difference a week makes. I tried playing further inside last week with no luck; I couldn't carry the corners. This week playing further inside was the solution to not carrying the corners. Discovering the adjustment was a happy accident, the result of missing my mark left one frame. I suppose an attribute of a good bowler is being able to learn from your mistakes.

This big week leaves me less than a pin away from a 200 average. I have plenty of time left to surpass that goal, but also enough time to mess it up.  All I know is on Tuesday mornings I am already wishing it were Monday evening.

I really wish it were Monday.

March 13, 2013

Week 26 Recap

Game 1: 203
Game 2: 182
Game 3: 209
Series: 594
Week Avg: 198
Season Avg: 198

This week we were bowling against the team we were deadlocked with for second place. I threw two frames of practice, but that was all I needed to tell me to put the C-System away and move down the bag to the Python to throw my preferred line.

I stayed clean through the first game, but strikes were harder to come by. There was little room for error and I left a lot of corner pins. I struck my first ball in the tenth frame and then a light hit left the 2-4-5. My ball got stuck in the return and after about five minutes of waiting it finally came back . . . damaged. I don't know what it was caught on, but it ground flat spots all over the ball surface, some in the track. I should have taken a photo, but I wasn't thinking clearly. My rage got in the way. Now I was forced to use the C-System for the rest of the night, but it started alright by picking up the spare for a 203 game.

I spent most of the second game playing with different lines, trying to find the right balance of oil and entry angle to carry all ten pins. I struck twice, but primarily had single pin leaves for spares. I was still clean until the first ball in the tenth frame. I left the 6-10 and dumped the ball in the gutter just short of the pins. It was a 182 game, but it didn't really reflect on how good I thought I was doing.

In the third game I had a Dutch 200 going until the ninth frame when I was finally able to double. When I wasn't throwing a strike on the right lane I was leaving single pins on the left. An opponent said I had a German ball (it kept getting Nein! Nein! Nein!). I switched it up in the tenth frame and threw a spare and a strike to finish out with a 209 and hit my exact average for the night.  The team did not fare as well and we lost all available points.

As for the Python, I left it with the bowling center.  They have a sister center with a pro shop and their guy is supposed to look at it. Hopefully the ball just needs to be resurfaced, but there was a whole lot of powder on the ball and throughout the ball return (so much so that my other ball came back with streaks of it for about two frames, which just made me more mad) so who knows if it is even salvageable at this point. I should hear back soon with the diagnosis and they said it would probably be ready by next Monday. With the season winding down and a tournament at the beginning of April, not to mention my goal of a 200 average hanging in the balance, I need my full arsenal ready to go.

I had a very quiet one open night. It was a pretty consistent effort, despite everything that happened. I was happy with how I kept my cool when it came time to bowl. There was a time when an incident like that would have really ruined my night. I tried to stay optimistic: the Python should look like new once its returned.

Lately the lanes have been breaking down a bit quicker and the break point has gotten shorter, so I need to learn how to throw further inside or get the ball further out on the lane. I like the reaction I get from the C-System and want to keep with it, but I'll need to be more versatile. Its a good quality to have anyway and I think playing different lines will be a big part of my summer practice sessions.

March 8, 2013

Week 25 Recap

Game 1: 212
Game 2: 212
Game 3: 205
Series: 629
Week Avg: 209
Season Avg: 198

We knew it was going to be a long night as soon as we got to the lanes. We were bowling against the slowest team in the league. Two of their four bowlers take an excruciating amount of time on the approach before each shot. Luckily their fifth bowler is a vacancy which helps ease this situation; however, for the last few weeks they have been using a pacer in the fifth spot. A pacer for this team would need to give time back to everyone to even things out. They're that slow. We were also giving up 106 ppg handicap, so my teammates were a little down to start the evening.

I started the night with a turkey and was in the pocket on every shot. I left only single pin spares until my very last ball in the tenth when the ball hung out for a six count, but the game was already out of reach by then. I was content with a clean 212 to start the night.

The next game started even better with a four bagger. In the fifth frame I stuck at the foul line and quickly pulled my right arm up to gain my balance, smacking myself in the glasses (I still hit the pocket, but left the 4-pin). I shook it off and continued on my steak of strikes and nine count spares until the eighth frame when a high pocket hit left the 4-9 split for my first open of the night. I bowled well the rest of the way despite once again losing the game and had another 212.

The comments started to come about me throwing another 212 for the third game; I said I hope not. I want it to be higher than 212. Strikes were not as easy to come by this game, but I was pretty automatic in picking up my single pin leaves including at least seven 10-pins. One of our opponents joked that I had better pick it up if I wanted to get over 212, but I stayed calm and the strikes started to come. Another opponent was getting huffy that we were the last teams to finish; she is the slowest person on their team, so perhaps someone should have provided her with a mirror. In the tenth frame I left the 7-pin, which I had shot once before during the night. I missed my mark a half board left and the ball dropped in the gutter just before reaching the pin for a heartbreaking 205. I really wanted to be over 212 that game.

Overall, though, another good night. I was much more consistent with only two opens and two leaves with multiple pins. I missed my first ball mark once all night, which was an unheard of accomplishment a year ago.

I'm a pin and a half away from my goal by my count on Bowling Tracker, but because the league rounds our averages a decimal place earlier than I do they have me slightly further behind. I need to make sure its not too close at the end of the season so a 200 average is on the books.

Our team was two points out of first coming into the night, but giving up a high handicap, good bowling on our opponents' part, and some mediocre bowling on our part left us with no points. With less than ten weeks left in the season we need to pick it up if we're going to be in contention for the playoffs.

March 1, 2013

Week 24 Recap

Game 1: 201
Game 2: 185
Game 3: 238
Series: 624
Week Avg: 208
Season Avg: 198

It was tough sledding this week, or at least it felt like it. Splits appeared to come easier than strikes. Margins of error were very slim. The most accurate bowlers that could adjust well were going to score and everyone else was going to be at their mercy. We had a full team, but there was only one member of the opposition present. The pace was going to be quick and there wouldn't be much time for thinking over errant shots.

I thought I was going to fall in the latter category when I started the night with two splits in three frames. The ball ran high on me the first frame and then I put the ball too far right in the third frame to leave the 2-10. To make matters worse, I chopped a 6-10. I continued to hit high so I moved a half board left and found great success. I struck out the last five in a row to salvage a 201 and put the team ahead for the first game.

My only opens during the second game were two more splits, including another in the first frame. I wasn't getting very good carry, but luckily my spare shooting kept me in the game. I escaped with a 185, but a few of my teammates had a good game and that carried us to victory.

My only goal for the third game was to not leave a split in the first frame and I succeeded; I left and chopped another 6-10 (to be fair, I chopped the other pin this time). That was the last open I would see all night. I followed it up with nine strikes, including the last five in a row, to finish with a 238, my fourth highest game this season. The team also won the last game, earning a much needed sweep to boost our standings.

I am happy with this week's results considering it felt like an uphill battle all night. Four splits seems like a lot in one night, but at least one of my teammates had four in one game so it could always be worse. For the last two weeks the oil pattern seems to have been a little shorter than usual and the ball would break earlier on the lane. It isn't really a problem, just an observation.

Looking at my season stats to date I've also made another observation: my average in the second game is higher than my first game average. Last season my first game was the strongest, then I would slump in the second and recover in the third. This year I get exponentially better each game, averaging four pins more in the second game and fourteen more than that in the third.

This could be the result of a few different factors. The first is that I am now taking two to three frames of practice instead of about five or six frames like last year. Maybe I am not getting loose enough or a good enough read on the lane conditions in a limited amount of practice balls. Another factor might be that I am making better adjustments during the transition period when the oil breaks down, meaning I am not sacrificing scores while fishing for a new line to the pocket. A third factor could be better conditioning. After throwing four quick games during a hot summer league, three leisurely paced games doesn't tire me out as much as it once did. I almost always leave the alley more energetic than when I entered, which tends to make sleeping Monday nights a bit difficult.

It looks like part of my summer practice regimen should also include an effort to identify what is happening that first game. If I can bring my first game average up to my second or even third game average, my overall average will be all the better for it.

But for now, I'm two pins away . . . just two more pins.