It has been billed as “Big February” by the PBA Tour and ESPN with three straight weeks of live major bowling broadcasts.
So far it has been pretty amazing and an apparent showcase of the new young power taking over the PBA with two-handed lefty Jesper Svensson winning the Tournament of Champions and then the two-hander from the right side Sunday won the USBC Masters as Anthony Simonsen became the youngest player at age 19 to win a major.
The two shows, and I’m sure this week’s PBA Players event will as well, offered some intriguing storylines and good commentary from Mike Jakubowski, Randy Pedersen and Kimberly Pressler. Pressler has really become an effective presence on the broadcast laneside and her interviews with the losers of previous matches has provided some more interesting bullet points.
Unfortunately, it just seemed like both shows were flawed a bit — one by lane condition breakdown and the setup ESPN was given for the Masters.
It was obvious midway through the first game of the finals in the arena setting of the TOC that the right side of the left lane was going to be a problem as far as the oil pattern was concerned as the practice session had made that side of the lane a throw-and-hope situation. While there is probably no doubt Svensson would have defeated anyone on any condition that day, there was really no prayer for a righthander to shoot a great score.
The scores were great at the Masters and the action good, but ESPN’s camera platform was set up about Wes Malott head high (I believe because of a low ceiling) and with the main play-by-play camera situation on the gutter cap between the two lanes, most balls rolling down the lane were obstructed by the body of the bowler.
Most times the cameras are set up when they can’t be higher a little off the lane center, and the camera used for replays had much better angle shots of the ball and its break point.
I am able to visit with many producers and directors in my job in athletics at LSU, so I do not want to slam any of them for what was obviously a telecast flaw, but there may have been no options when either the PBA or USBC built the set.
One network director told me that in a basketball game at the Maravich Center your main play-by-play camera is as close to center as possible, thus the bowling camera being center of the pair with the tight/iso/replay camera off center.
This director saw the bowling Sunday and understood the issues and pointed out the director did try to compensate with split screens (an old ABC Pro Bowlers Tour staple of the 1980s and 1990s) and other things. The biggest question is was this a surprise to the crew or did the setup leave them no options to change?
Now where the network, PBA and USBC draws kudos in my book is the quick work (13 minutes, which live seems like an eternity) they did in match two when the power apparently went out in the production truck. The delay came in the fifth frame and the bowlers held (whether by agreement or they were mandated to) until the power was restored. I was extremely surprised at that decision, but it helped fans keep the continuity of the show.
Little things, but you know the PBA and ESPN hope for a flawless final major show this Sunday. Can two-handers and/or another young gun sweep “Big February?” It should be interesting.
By the way, for the record that is now three straight TOCs won by two-handers and four straight Masters.
Women’s state update
After play this past weekend at Circle Bowl, the Dixie Magic team from New Orleans is the scratch team leader at 2,297, but the Baton Rouge association has teams in the handicap division in first (Bowling Up A Storm, 2822), third (Karen and the Krew, 2,766) and fourth (Step Up Bowlers, 2,762).
In scratch doubles, Johanna Clark and Sandra Duffrene are the tops from New Orleans at 1,203 with Melissa Lyncker and Judy Vogel from the New Orleans association second at 1,169. It’s Baton Rouge’s Nancy Boley and Mary Piper first at 1,532 ahead of Baton Rouge’s Rose Doolittle and Geraldine Dunn at 1,419 in the handicap division.
Johanna Clark is second in scratch singles at 650, while Margaret Wick is at 782 to lead the handicap singles (from Baton Rouge). Carmen Rachel of Lafayette posted 775.
Baton Rouge bowlers are in the top three in handicap all-events with Sherri Martin first (2,323) with Piper second (2,277) and Wick 2,206 in third. In scratch all-events it is all NOLA in the first four spots with Leslie Engeron (1,898), Misty Ramil (1,835), Clark (1,808) and Lyncker (1,787).
Tournament action continues this week.
The honor roll is above and we will get to some of the special recognitions next time we get together March 1. Until then, good luck and good bowling.