Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Would you screw your team over for glory?

Two weeks ago, when the greats of Laramie bowling met for the Informational Meeting at the Lanes of Laramie, a bit of good fortune fell our way. We were the first to draw for team number. Troy "the briefcase" Baker tossed a small red bottle full of numbers onto our table, and one came flying out on its own. We did not choose a number. It chose us. It was #10. When the remaining eight teams drew, one number remained. This was #9. In the Bernaski League this year, one slot remains unoccupied, and we were the first team to bowl against this slot. To win a game against a vacant slot, you only have to bowl ten pins under your individual average, or 40 pins beneath your team average. This does not guarantee victory, but it makes it very likely. Because of our lucky draw, we will bowl twice unopposed this first half, something only six of nine teams will get to do.

So, in this first week, bowling against terrible ghost bowlers, we did well. In fact, we had our 2nd best night of bowling ever, even with Gingy occupying the three spot in the lineup with his 119 average. Our best pin total for three games up to this point was 1,938 pins. Last night, we recorded 1,924, or an average of 160.3 pins per bowler per game. In order to go 4-0, we only needed to average 131. In short, we kicked ass. We have come off of the starting line 4-0 sitting atop the league in 1st place.

As a team, we set a number of records. We put up 677 pins in the 1st game. We set a new record for handicapped series (2,833), in part attributable to our new handicaps, but it would have been a new record anyway. We had 85 marks vs. 43 open frames, almost a 2:1 difference. We picked up 52.9% of our spares. This is a record and only the 2nd time we have broken the 50% mark. As the graph below shows, interestingly, these two occasions are the last two times we have rolled in competition, despite being separated by 147 days. We got 21 single pin spares and set a new high mark for accuracy with 47.8%. We showed up and wore the red and black proudly.

Everyone had a good night. Johnebob crested a 150 average for the night and picked up 85.7% of his single pin chances, the high for the team (6 for 7). Daniele averaged 156.3 and tied with me for strikes with 12. Daniele's best strike occurred when he fell on his ass during his delivery, almost fouling, but still knocking down all ten. The rookie averaged 135.7, a good 16 pins over his average inherited from last year and had the 2nd highest score for Game 1 with a 165.

Now for the interesting part. I went absolutely nuts with a 596 series, averaging nearly 199 pins per game. This is far and away my best three game series ever. The highlight was a 226 in the 2nd, a new record. While it is tempting to believe that this ridiculous start to the season portends a new level of bowling prowess, I don't see it that way. Bowling was easy last night, and I don't know why. I left only two frames open, one of them involved a 4-6-7-9 split, which I damn near picked up. It was fun, but it was also bad timing. I did this when we were bowling unopposed and during one of the first three weeks in which our averages are established.

So, at the end of last season, I finished with a 147 average. I currently sit with a 198. This outlier will be haunting me for a long long time because I am certain I can't do this week after week. If I average 150 for the next two weeks, I will be coming out of the gates in Week 4 with a 166 average, something that still feels way too high. The point is that by having this outlier of a day on the first day of bowling, I may have put my team at a serious disadvantage for the first ten or so weeks of bowling.

So here's the question. Should I have sandbagged last night? Sandbagging is intentionally bowling poorly to increase your handicap. Last night, there were clear opportunities to do so. By the end of the 8th frame in each game, we knew we had the games won. I could have bowled poorly with no downside and lots of upside. The simple answer is that sandbagging is a violation of USBC Rule 17.a.3. which defines "establishing an average below the player’s ability to gain an unfair advantage in handicap or classified competition" as an unfair tactic. I did not. Instead, I chose to screw my team over for glory in competition against a vacant slot.


  1. A pretty noble deed. Though I do enjoy many forms of 'bagging', I am personally against sandbagging. Maybe next time you face the ghost team, you should order bowling juice for them as well as the Bowl Movements, and drink on their behalf?

    This should make sandbagging nearly impossible, along with normal speech and body function.

  2. You can't get enough grocery bagging.

  3. You have too much pride to sandbag. I like Kafka's idea myself.

  4. You called, it, Anon. I could never do it.


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