Web Special / February 2005

PBA telecasts

After being a bit fried on college football, I was glad to kick back in my recliner and see the PBA GEICO Open. I look forward to the PBA on ESPN and miss it when they take time off. I understand the PBA doesn't have a yearlong schedule, but I would be perfectly happy to see the PBA Senior Tour or the return of the PWBA and have year-round professional bowling.

I think the owners of the PBA are doing a great job, and I think ESPN has improved camera angles and the overall television product. Having said that, Dave Ryan doesn't get any better. During the GEICO Open, Mika Koivuniemi left the 2-4-5, and Ryan said, "How many times have you seen Mika leave the headpin?" Randy Pedersen and his "Crocodile Randy" accent is getting a bit lame, too.

Although my wife likes the Skills Challenge, I don't. And, I don't care for those six silly questions that Pedersen asks the professionals. Who cares what exotic animal the bowler would like as a pet? I would like to see them replace the skills challenge with equipment information—what ball are they using, drilling patterns, and what they expect from their equipment on the show. Instead of the six goofy questions by Pedersen, do a segment like they did with Walter Ray Williams Jr. when they went to his house. Make it a more up-close-and-personal view of the pro.

I hope they make some changes in the telecast, but regardless, I'll watch with one finger on the mute button and another on the fast forward.

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I, like many others hope Dick Weber lives forever and he continues to travel and be our sport's ambassador. But, if and when the time comes to pass that torch, I don't think there is anyone better than Norm Duke to carry it.

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In 1972, I bowled on a league that consisted of 24, five-man teams. It was the most competitive league in my area at the time, and it was so popular that we had a team, not individual, waiting list. We couldn't have more than 24 teams because that was the size of the center. The league was extremely popular for more than 20 years. Then something happened and the league began to lose bowlers, and the decline was like a cancer reducing the most prestigious men's league to just a skeleton of what it once was. At the beginning of league season this year, the league had maybe a handful of teams consisting of three bowlers each. Last week they held a meeting and decided to open the all male league to women. They have a few now, but the league really didn't grow and it will never be what it once was.

It's really sad because the old-timers that bowled on that league back in the 70s and 80s remember the great bowlers of the era. It was a time when 200 averages were something special. The bowling center was open for 20 years before the first 300 game was rolled. Conditions weren't soft, and the competition was tough. Most of the teams had a sponsor and proudly wore their shirts and were fined if they failed to wear it.

Long before brackets, we had a bowler with a clipboard running the league "pot." Other individual pots went on between bowlers for as little as a penny a pin for the entire season.

Like the theme song from Archie Bunker, "Those Were The Days."

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Here are a few things to ponder:

See you on the lanes.