Friday, October 23, 2009

Acetone

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. No matter who “they” are, those anonymous people who define words and create quips and adages, they would no doubt agree that the road to insanity begins by doing different things but still obtaining the same result. This describes our last two weeks of bowling, and after Monday night, for some reason, a single word popped into my head to describe it: acetone.

Acetone is a volatile organic solvent that has a central carbon atom with three branches coming off of it. You would know it by its more familiar name “nail polish remover”. It is an apt description of our bowling for two reasons. First, volatility. We had one hell of a flip flop from Saturday to Monday night as I thought we might. We picked up an additional 252 pins. In fact, it was one of our best nights ever. Looking at our team time series down there on the right, it should be very evident that our bowling has been erratically volatile.

The second reason why acetone is a good descriptor of Monday night is that pouring acetone into an open wound would not feel good, and this is essentially what happened to us. We ran into the team of young bowlers known as Overrated, who had what was easily one of their best nights of bowling ever. You see, this team is not so different from ourselves. They have their ringer, Boyer. They also have some decent bowlers in Kenik, Fondren, and Brackenridge, but these guys are generally of our caliber... pretty sad.

Anyway, we started off the night with two 900 games. In our league, a handicapped 900 game gives you like a 90-95% chance of victory, but we lost both of them. In the third, we got our ass kicked once again. We have now been swept for two weeks in a row. We bowled well, very well, and we have nothing to show for it. It was like pouring acetone into an open wound. Three weeks ago, we were No. 1 with a greater than 90% win percentage. We have since dropped of 11 of 12 to sit at .500. Ouch.

I'm not going to dwell on this demoralizing beat down much more, but I would like to point out one odd stat of the night as I so often do. First, I took most of the leader board. Johnebob picked up a few categories including Game 2 high score, spares (12), and pickup % (54.5%). One category went to JD, 1st ball average. Joe averaged 8.83 on his first ball scores, a very respectable score. In fact, it is tied for the 6th highest of all time. What is odd is that he paired it with a series barely in the 400's, a 408 to be exact. First ball average is often a very good predictor of series scores. Based on our prior data, the most likely series score after a first ball average of 8.83 is just over 500. Instead, he went just over 400. Check out the graph below for the 108 series we have on record.

So how does one average nearly 9 pins on their first ball and only put up a 408 series? By missing a lot of spares. Joe only got 4 of his 21 spare tries. His first ball was regularly in the neighborhood of the pocket, but his second was all over the place. It's not that it mattered. Nothing could have stopped the young guns against whom we rolled, except maybe 8 shots of acetone.

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