Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bernaski's Dirty Little Secret (Why It Sucks to Suck)

We bowl in a handicapped leagued. Handicapping systems are intended to level the playing field, so teams lacking skill (like the Bowl Movements) can compete with teams with tremendous skill (like Laramie Lazer Wash). Yet, if you have ever taken a glance at the Bernaski League standings, you may have noticed that as the season progresses, team standings appear to sort according to team average. The teams with the best bowlers finish near the top of the league, and the worst teams, like the Bowl Movements, tend to finish near the bottom. Isn't there a contradiction here? If the handicapping system equalized all teams, regardless of skill, team average should have no effect on team standings. What's going on here?

Here's "Bernaski's dirty little secret". Our fine league is a 90% handicap league. Handicaps are calculated this way. First subtract your average from 220. Take this number and multiply it by 0.9. Remove anything after the decimal, and voila, you have your handicap. The one exception to this rule is if your average is greater than 220. In this case, your handicap is zero. The following graph shows the relationship between bowler average and handicap.

Why does this disadvantage us? Without getting bogged down in the math of it, I will simply point out that the secret is in the 90% calculation. In a 100% handicap league, all teams bowl on a truly level playing field. When the 90% deduction is used, the disadvantaged teams become more disadvantaged. But how much? Here's an example.

Let's compare our handicap with that of the best team in the league, the Fabulous Baker Boys, aka the Dell Sol Lynch Mob, aka Laramie Lazer Wash. Let's start with us. Our current averages are 150 (John), 139 (Todd), 125 (Geoff), and 147 (Joe). These correspond with handicaps of 63, 72, 85, and 65, or a total team handicap of 285. Lazer Wash's averages are 203 (Troy), 200 (Cody?), 221 (Bret), and 173 (Dell). This corresponds to a team handicap of 75. Now, what happens if both teams bowl their averages, or have a typical night of bowling.

Team: Average+Handicap=Score
Lazer Wash: 797 + 75 = 872
Bowl Movements: 561 + 285 = 846


In other words, we go into nearly every night at a disadvantage. In fact, if we want to beat Lazer Wash when they bowl an average game, we have to bowl 26 pins over our average. Put another way, each bowler has to roll 6.5 pins over our averages every game just to level the playing field. This means that we would have to average 146.75 pins per bowler per team just to compete. Here's the worst part. We can actually bowl slightly better than Lazer Wash and lose!

if I am not mistaken, our team average is the 3rd worst in the league. That we currently stand in 7th place out of 10 means that we are right where we should be according to the probabilities. Actually, if the league standings perfectly matched team averages, we should be 8th. Maybe we should be proud of ourselves.

Here's the hard part. Is this system fair? Should better bowlers be rewarded for their greater skill? This is how the current system operates. It rewards the bowling rich and punishes the bowling poor. Despite my socialist tendencies, I have to admit that it is probably a good system. In a 100% handicap system, any team could win on any night. Imagine bowling against a troop of baboons. In a 100% system, we would not be rewarded whatsoever for being more skilled than baboons (assuming we are). That bothers me. What bothers me more, though, is that in the current league, we are the troop of baboons. This system gives us strong incentive to become better bowlers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 15, 2008

Slip-Slidin' Away

After a nice respite in Tucson, I am finally able to report on our performance from one week ago.

This will be a highly abridged version of the BM Report as I am currently obsessed with transforming our archives to a relational database. This has proved to be more difficult than expected due to my extremely anal ways in the empirical realm. I figure our hundreds of followers are desperate to see the most recent box score, so here’s the scoop.

Our dream of finishing above .500 for the 1st half of the season appears increasingly out of reach without some kind of Kwanza miracle. There is something about Prairie Rose that we just cannot figure out. They beat us again, despite a balanced effort. We went 1-3 to the team recently renamed the “Eickbush Terror Train”. This pushes our record to 27-33. The only way we can surpass .500 before the turn of the year is to go at least 3-1 and 4-0 for our two prebowl sessions. I think we should all choose a religion and start praying. I’m taking Wicca.

The Movements managed to take one in a hard fought 2nd, but we needed to set new team records for pins in that game to do so. It was an interesting night by the numbers. We put up a well-rounded performance. Although three bowlers set highs for the week, once again, Johnebob dominated the stat sheet. Except for a slight increase in the Game 1 high score by John (Old record = 171, New record 174), no new individual records were set this week. What may be surprising is that a number of team records were.

Again, we put up our best game ever in Game 2 (679 pins) averaging nearly 170 per bowler to do so. This was obviously our highest handicapped game on record as well (965). We set new team highs for marks (77) and mark percentage (61.6%). The large number of marks can be attributed largely a huge number of spares, 45 to be exact. We very nearly broke the 50% pickup mark as a team leaving only 48 frames open as compared to 45 converted for spares. We set a new team high for single pin pickup rate, converting 2/3 of chances or 14 of 21.

December 15, 2008 Box Score

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 12, 2008

PreBowl 2: Laughlonian Boogaloo
For 12 rotations of the planet, Johnebob has drea
med of his column on the box score drenched with yellow paint. On Friday night, with the blood pumping through his veins stinking of the pale stench of Bud Light, he rolled. He rolled with passion and precision. His spare ball had the arc of a Larry Bird jumper. It was true. He averaged 172 pins, leaving only six frames open, and he single-handedly rewrote the record book. The Movements, as a team, put up quite a performance riding the hot hand of Johnebob. We smashed our previous team high series of 1,706 pins by nearly breaching the 1,800 mark with a 1,788. We set new team records for marks (71), mark percentage (57.7%), spares (38), pickup percentage (42.2%), and fewest open frames (52). We bowled remarkably consistently putting up handicapped scores of 882, 887, and 877. While it is conceivable that we lose one or even two games in this series, it is hard to imagine us doing worse than 2-2. Going 4-0 is not out of the question. We have done our part, but the final outcome is no longer ours to determine.

Two patterns over the last four rounds are worth exploring a bit further. We'll call them the Jose Slump and Rookie Jitters. It is no secret that Giuseppe has struggled over the last few weeks. Prior to the 1st of December, he led the team with a 150 average. Over the last four rounds, he has dropped a full 16.5 pins per game. This difference is highly significant (One sample t-test, t=3.27, df=11, p=0.008). Over this time period, he has bowled as high as 168 and as low as 105. It's not clear where exactly the problem lies in the interface between the man and the Qubica Bowland Buster House Ball, but it must be remedied soon. It is evident that drastic slump busting techniques must be employed. Following the guidance of Crash Davis, JD will be wearing garters to the Lanes on Monday night.

Perhaps even more striking is the Rookie Jitters phenomenon. El Jefe is having a predictably slow start, as it is his first season on the Bernaski tour. One clear pattern is his discrepancy in performance on League nights (Mondays) vs. PreBowl sessions. For the four nights on record, two of each type, the Canadian has averaged only 116 pins on League nights, while throwing down a whopping 150 average on PreBowl nights. This difference is also highly significant (Independent-sample t-test, t=3.14, df=10, p=0.01). While he would like to blame this juxtaposition on his on and off again relationship with his bowling ball, El Capitan, it is clear that he struggles with the intensity, competition, and pressure of league night while rubbing elbows with Laramie's finest bowlers. The jitters will wear off, Jefe. They always do.

Lead off

There is nothing bad that can be said about U.J.'s performance this week. Not only did he lead the team in blood alcohol content, but he also led the team in every statistical category but one, Game 2 pin count. He topped out with a 192 in Game 3 and put up a low score of 171 in the 1st. His most remarkable stats concern spares, of which he slashed 15 frames, including one dash-slash frame (gutter ball-spare). He shattered the old record of 10 by 5 and overall converted 15 of 21 opportunities. For the three game set, he left only six frames open, a record that could stand for months.

On Deck
Although U.T. put up a solid average of 156.7 pins, there was something off with his game. He had a stellar 2nd, recording his best game of the season with a 189. During the 2nd, he was easily on a 200 pace sitting on a 166 with a spare in the eighth, but T-Diddy seriously choked in the last two frames, ending with a 189. He rode the turkey to a decent final of 149 in the 3rd, a remarkably good score considering he only marked four frames in the this game. He struggled to collect spares all night, converting only 8 of 22 opportunities. While early consumption of bowling juice seemed to fuel the lead off man, for #2, it probably had a detrimental effect.

In the Hole
We should not allow our three hitter to roll on Monday nights. He had another solid prebowl performance. He started the set with a tight 169 in the first and ended the night with a 140.3 mean, 16 pins over his average. He was 2nd on the team in marks (17) and pickup percentage (39.1%). He recorded eight strikes, and led the charged in the 9th frame with a 15.7 average. In the 10th frame of the 2nd game, he reached his low by rolling two consecutive into the left side gutter.

Jody's slump continues. To put further perspective on how bad this has been, although Jose led the team in average for many months, as of Friday night, he has been completely erased from the record books by Johnebob. We have seen the man bowl well, like he has made a deal with the devil, sort of like the rock star guy in Oh God, You Devil. To end with a positive spin on an off night, he was 2nd on the team in single pin conversion rate at 42.9%.

December 12, 2008 Box Score

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do We Own Our Balls or Do Our Balls Own Us?

Recently, I have become concerned about my relationship with my bowling ball. At first, it was great. I hand picked it from thousands of balls on the internet, waited by the door for it to arrive, spent big bucks getting it custom drilled to fit my hand, and even named it ("the Captain"). On off nights, I would spend hours shining it with my wife's nicest dish towel.
Things went well for a few weeks. The Captain responded well to my care and rolled straight and true. I watched with glee as my average crept up and my handicap crept down. I call this time "the Honeymoon period."
As sometimes happens, the love affair between the Captain and me ended. It stopped responding to my attention and care and let me down more than once at the lanes. I was initially puzzled and hurt. What had I done that was so offensive? For weeks this went on - the awkward meetings at the lane every Monday; the Captain sitting in the corner of our office on off-nights, seemingly ignoring me. I did not know what to do.
Then it dawned on me... I cared too much. I had put the Captain on a pedestal. In an attempt to rectify the situation, I "accidentally" left the Captain in the trunk of my car for a week. It was during an especially cold spell here in Laramie. I didn't think about the ball once: no silent staring back and forth, no awkward silences, and most of all, no constant attention. The freedom was refreshing.
The next time I bowled (Wednesday afternoon), the Captain was cold to the touch from being alone for so long. But, it once again rolled straight and true. I had my best week every as a pro-am (if you consider getting an occasional free pitcher of beer as gettin' paid) and realized that I had redefined my relationship with my bowling ball. Now, I am in control. Every Monday night, I make the Captain sit outside on our porch in the cold rain and snow. We roll on my terms and the ball knows it. It was a difficult transition, but I think our future together now looks brighter than ever.
Which leads me to my original question: "do we own our balls or do our balls own us?

Near Term Goals

Rediscover the Deuce
Although it is not reflected in our massive archive of bowling data (extending back 11 days), we have, to my recollection, four or five 200 games to our credit, all of which can be attributed to Johnebob and JD. For our own mental well being and for the purposes of inflating our record books, we need to reestablish that a Movement can actually obtain a score exceeding 200 in a game of bowling. Given our current sample of bowling, the probability of a roller rolling at least a 200 in a single game is approximately 0.3% (or ~1 in 300). For the 12 games rolled any given league night, the probability of at least one of us breaking the deuce is considerably better, approximately 3.5%. Given our past history, this estimate seems a bit low and probably speaks more to a recent mini-slump than to our actual chances, which I would put a bit higher.

1,800 Pins
In three games of bowling with four bowlers, the maximum achievable unhandicapped score is 3,600 pins assuming 12 perfect games. We have yet to reach even the halfway point of 1,800 but we have gotten close (Team Record = 1,706). Rolling an 1,800 for a three game set requires that we average 150 pins per bowler per game in a single night. In terms of a handicapped pin score, given our remarkably beefy handicap of 286, we would need to average 886 handicapped pins per game. This goal is within the realm of possibility, but it is probably also near the limits of our current abilities.

50% Pickup Game
Since the start of the record keeping era, I have been surprised by how poorly we throw 2nd balls. I knew we were bad but this bad? To date, nobody has converted 50% of spare chances over a three game set. Laughlonian has come close and holds the current individual record (47.6%). We need to start converting spares. This record needs to exceed 50% ASAP. As a team, we have topped out at only 37.6%. A long term goal should be to get the team above 50%, but for now, let's just get one bowler there for one night.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 8, 2008

Crappy Holidays!
My grandmother brought a saying from the Old World to America. It went like this, “If you are going to take a crap, do it when nobody is looking.” It never really caught on in the USA, but I have interpreted it to mean that if you are going to do something shameful, do it when there is no serious consequence for your action. This aptly describes our first game. Our first game was by far our worst on record, recording only 459 pins, or an average of 114.8 per bowler. Of course, this crappy game (HCP =745 pins) was inconsequential as Overrated put up >1,000 pins during the same game. What may be surprising, however, is that our next two games included two of our three best on record. We set new team records by game for pins in both Games 2 and 3, with 586 and 622 pins, respectively. These equate to team averages of 146.5 and 155.5 pins for those games. Game 3 was our best game on record. Handicapped, it was a 909. This brings our record to 26-30, four games sub .500.

Because we were freshly adorned in new gear, every lady who passed by Lane 15 could not get the ZZ Top tune “Sharp Dressed Man” out of her head. Still, our new team shirts had little effect on our game as a whole. Although we had our worst week on record in terms of pins and strikes, our numbers have been more or less stagnant. This week, we recorded 1,667 pins, six fewer than Wednesday. We knocked down 30 strikes, only one fewer than Wednesday. Total marks include 65, only one shy of our high from last Monday. We recorded new team records for spares (35) and open frames (58). In other words, over the recording period, our team performance has not really changed, and our record (4-4), with the outcome of four games yet to be determined, can be largely attributed to the ebb and flow of our opponents.
Regarding our pre-Christmas prebowling, things are looking grim. Based on a very small sample of only eight games, anything over ca. 850 has a fairly good chance of victory, say 75%. Games under 850 usually result in losses. With a larger sample, much more reliable quantification of win and loss probabilities by score will be possible. Nonetheless, our PreBowl is looking increasingly like a 1-3 or 0-4. Let’s hope that the other team does not show up, literally or figuratively.

Lead off

JPL had a decent week. He put up 19 marks including 10 strikes and 9 spares. He averaged 150.7 pins, just over his current average of 149. He took the pin total for Game 3 with 184, setting a team record for highest game on record. A strong pickup percentage of 42.9% and a comparable single pin percentage of 40% (2 of 5) were very much needed.

On Deck

The Green Lady dressed up for a big night out. She had her strongest week on record, knocking down 493 pins, for an average of 164.3. She put up a team high 21 marks including 12 strikes. The Lady picked up 47.4% of her spare chances, and marked 63.6% of frames. She also took the high pin totals for Games 1 and 2 with 147 and 165, respectively.

In the Hole

Regina’s head has returned from orbit after Wednesday's prebowling clinic. He averaged 113.7 pins per game, and set a new team record for low game score of 88 in the first, a record that will likely stand for many weeks. P.E.I. did lead the team in spares with 10 but coupled that with 18 opens He also lead the team in single pin conversions with 4 of 7 or 57.1%. With Johnebob, Regina led the charge in the 9th frame with 16.3 pins.

Clean up

Daniele was damn smelly this week. JD expressed the greatest reservations about the Information Age of bowling, and it appears that his fears may have been warranted. Jo averaged 127 pins this week, a respectable pin total, but well below his team high average of 150. He recorded 13 marks with 6 strikes but struggled to pick up spares, converting only 28%. He has consistently shown why he bats cleanup by putting up strong scores in the 10th, a category he took once again this week with an average of 19.3. As we struggle without him, the team looks forward to the return of the king.

December 8, 2008 Box Score

December 4, 2008

The Adventures of Captain Canada
On a col
d snowy afternoon in Laramie, Wyoming, the team was struggling. As they dangled on the precipice of the gutter, out of nowhere, as if birthed by the chute was Captain Canada and his trusty sidekick Captain Midnight! Overall, our first attempt at prebowling was not spectacular, although it was truly not so different from our Dec. 1 performance. In all, we recorded 1,673 pins, only 33 less than Monday, the difference can be attributed to two fewer strikes (31 vs. 33). Despite a decline in a pin total from three of four bowlers, a stellar performance by the man from the Great White North mostly offset losses elsewhere. At this point, it is difficult to predict how this performance will translate to wins and losses given the limited data at hand. As our handicaps have yet to be determined for Dec. 22, I can only estimate handicapped pin totals for the night.: Game 1 = 877 pins, Games 2 & 3 = 827 pins. I can see this equating to anywhere from a 3-1 to an 0-4 night. It really depends upon the performance of the other team. We may be aided by holiday absenteeism, but that remains to be determined.

A brief note of interest… for the six games on record, there is no significant difference in average among all four bowlers (one-way ANOVA, f=0.058, p=0.981), Our averages are nearly identical (TS=143.3, JL=140.7, JD=140.0, GS=139.2). Given our long term records on the infallible Laramie Lanes hinged bulletin board, I expect that a larger sample will separate the wheat from the chaff, but over the last two rounds, we have all bowled more or less identically.

Lead off
Johnebob put up nearly 130 pins per game, well below his average, but a solid performance nonetheless. He led the team in spares with 10 and contributing an additional 4 strikes. He also dominated the 2nd frame where he put up an average of 17 pins. In all, he marked 46.7% of frames, and topped out with a 148 in the 1st game.

On Deck

Xander had a fairly standard set, averaging 134.7 per game, 1.3 pins below his current average. He put up a total of 15 marks, with one more strike than spare. He converted 50% of his single pin spares, a marked improvement over Monday. He was the king of the 1st frame, averaging 19.3 pins.

In the Hole
Canadian bacon simply dominated. Not only did he have the high pin total for all three games, but he lead in virtually all categories: marks (20), mark % (62.5%), strikes (11), and pickup percentage (45.5%). He averaged more than 10 pins for every frame and basically carried the Movements this week. If there is one soft spot, it was single pins spares. He converted only 2 of 5, but even this is an improvement over Monday.

Clean up
Jeauxsef averaged a solid 134 pins per game. He collected 15 marks, with 8 strikes. He led the team in single pin spares with 3, equating to a 50% single pin percentage. He tied with G-Spot for high pin totals for the 7th and 10th frames with an average of 15.7 and 15.3, respectively.

Dec. 3, 2008 Box Score

December 2, 2008

The State of the Turds
The Movements scored an impressive victory yesterday, going 3-1 for the third
straight week. Knocking down a total of 1706 pins, and averaging a score of 142.5 per roller per game. This is our strongest performance on record (records extend back to Dec. 1, 2008). We currently stand with a record of 25-27, only two games behind a .500 pace. Other highlights… we recorded a total of 66 marks, evenly split between strikes and spares. As a team, we recorded a 26.2% strike percentage, and a 37.1% pickup percentage, meaning that we converted spares at a slightly better rate than 1 in 3. Overall, John and Todd had equivalent nights, scoring averaging 151.7 and a152 pins per game, respectively. Joe and Geoff had off nights, but still put up solid pin totals averaging 146 and 119 pins over the three game set.

One interesting trend for the team as a whole concerns frame by frame pin counts, shown above as the team average pins per frame for the three game set. As a team, we averaged between 11.1 and 17.5 pins per frame. We appear to peak in frame 2 and steadily decline through frame 5. We peak again after the midway point in frame 6, but our scores decline regularly through the 10th. Data from subsequent weeks will be necessary to assess the reality of this pattern.

Lead off

Another strong week for the Laughlonian, who led the team in marks with 20 including 10 strikes. He knocked down 5 of 7 single pin spares, and picked up nearly half of his spare opportunities (10 of 21). John landed a total pin count of 455, slightly above his average.

On Deck

T-Dizzle carried the team as usual, recording a total of 456 pins. He recorded 17 marks including 10 strikes. T-Bone struggled to record spares this week, with a pickup percentage of only 35%, and converting only 2 of 6 single pin opportunities. Consistent scores in the 140’s and 150’s can be attributed to well timed marks, including multiple back-to-back strikes. He recorded both the high and low average score for frames, averaging 21.7 pins in the 6th and a pathetically lame 7.7 pins in the 5th.

In the Hole

El Jefe had a slightly off week, but still averaged nearly 120 pins per game. He
brought home 11 marks including four strikes. Jefe was the team leader in one category, open frames, which he dominated with a total of 19. Gee-off also struggled to pick up spares, converting only 26.9%, and leaving 6 of 8 single pin opportunities untouched.

Clean up

JD started with two strong games of 168 and 151, but finished like his panties were in a wad with a 119 in the last. Overall, a strong effort from our cleanup man, averaging 146 pins per game, and marking 18 frames with 9 strikes. Bright spots include picking up 5 of 7 single pin chances (71.4%) and a overall high pickup percentage (40.9%).

Dec. 1, 2008 Box Score