April 02, 2008

Man of the People Bowls a 37

LIKE NEARLY ALL Midwesterners, your humble correspondent grew up bowling. Although I was never any good at it -- save one brilliant exception* -- I did manage to gain a measure of competence at the game in my day. I was typically good for a score in the low 100s using my patented "throw the ball really hard" system.

Now that I am older, I haven't been bowling in years, and I daresay I've gotten a bit rusty. Plus, up here in New England, most places you go have "candlepin bowling," which is a regional variant of bowling unique to New England and the Maritime provinces of Canada. The pins are a bit different, and you get three shots per frame instead of two, and the balls are tiny. Under the rules, they can't weigh more than about 2 1/2 pounds, and they can't be more than 4.5 inches wide. Basically, it's bowling for wimps.

Well, it is, I'm sorry. Gad. Anyway, the last time I went bowling -- real, ten-pin bowling -- I scored in the low 100s and I daresay I could do it again. So what I want to know is how Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., scored a 37 when bowling in Altoona, Pa., recently. No, really. How the hell do you score a 37 at ten-pin?

I mean, think about it for a second. That's an average of 1.85 pins per throw -- or 1.76 pins if Sen Obama somehow picked up a spare on the tenth frame -- and works out to 3.7 pins per frame. I mean, that's bad. There's no polite way to put it.

From the news reports, one couldn't tell why the senator had performed so badly, other than the fact he hadn't bowled in about 30 years. But fortunately, in this day and age, we have video of Sen Obama graciously bowling badly:

Could you tell the problem in that video? I think I picked it up, and if I'm right, the senator's throwing style was once like my own. Look how Sen Obama follows through. It looks as if his "swing" is a bit slanted. He's bowling with his left arm, but it looks as if when he releases the ball, his release sends the ball to the right due to his follow-through motion. I had the exact same problem -- as a right-handed bowler, I would send the ball left into the gutter because my follow-through wasn't straight. Once I learned how to deliver a straight follow-through -- something that took repeated lessons to learn -- my game markedly improved.

As a result, I am confident Sen Obama's game will improve once he changes his throwing style, and embarks on a consistent practice regimen. As it happens, the White House has a bowling alley of its very own. Should the senator win the election in November, he'll have plenty of opportunity to practice. True, one could argue the next president will have many more important things to worry about during his tenure. But I always found bowling rather relaxing, and perhaps he would as well.

* This brilliant exception took place during my high school years, in which I went bowling at the old-school bowling alley at Western Michigan University with friends, including Simon From Jersey, who can thus vouch for this story. During one game, yours truly managed to bowl a downright amazing game -- a 227, or a 231, or something like that. For some reason, everyone had an outstanding game.

This was especially amazing since my average at the time was in the 120 to 130 range. It was also especially amazing because near the end of our play -- I can't remember if it was the same game -- one of my throws went astray. It tipped over into the gutter near the end of the lane, hit a loose metal part of the gutter, flew up out of the gutter and struck the pin display over the lane, then crashed back down onto the lane and knocked over a bunch of pins. It ruled. Understandably, we soon left afterwards, as the pin display looked a little worse for wear. And I'm not kidding -- Simon can vouch for this. Unfortunately, Simon can also vouch for the time I was shooting pool and managed to break all the lightbulbs in the lamp hanging over the table. (Don't ask).

Oddly, the pool hall is a bank now.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 2, 2008 09:27 PM | TrackBack
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