John Janawicz

JJ’s Blog - 2012 PABCON Championships

Friday August 17th - Travel Day

The adventure to Las Vegas started with the alarm going off at 2am.  I have a 6:40 am flight and it’s a one hour drive to Orlando International Airport, hence the early trip to the airport.  I’ve got a short 45 minute connection in Memphis, so hopefully we won’t be late leaving Orlando.  I got to the airport with no issues but the flight was a few minutes late and they said we were taking a route near Chattanooga because of storms to the south of Memphis which was going to add a few more minutes to the trip. 

We were about 20 minutes late in Memphis but fortunately I made it.  The flight to Vegas was good but since I had a tight connection I was worried my luggage wouldn’t make it.  Fortunately it did make it.  I was going to rent a car for the day since we didn’t have any team functions set and pick up some chocolate and cupcakes for the team.  Also it worked out good since the room wasn’t ready to check into yet.  My good friend Diandra Asbaty came with me and we started out with lunch at Spago at Caesars’ Palace.  We then took a walk to the Palazzo to check out a cupcake place that is home of the World’s Most Expensive Cupcake at $750.  Needless to say we didn’t get any, but we settled on a couple of their regular ones, haha. 

After that we went back to Caesars to shop a little bit where Diandra bought a purse and I picked up more chocolate at Max Brenner’s.  We then went to Crystals at City Center where I did a little shopping and bought a shirt and then we headed to Mad Hatter Cupcakes to pick up some cupcakes for the Team.  This is a unique place in that the cupcake is already made and they put the filling and frosting as you order it.  Basically they customize it however you like.  I got a dozen for the Team the next day.

I dropped Diandra off back at Sunset Station and then went back to drop off the car and then hitched a ride with the shuttle driver who was taking Shannon Pluhowsky back to the hotel.  After getting back to the hotel I went to the room where my roommate for the week Steve Smith was already there.  Steve and I went to In-N-Out and had a burger and then went back to the room.  I was out not too long after getting back to the room since my day started out pretty early.

Saturday August 18th - Unofficial Practice Day

I woke up at 6:30am (which is seriously sleeping in compared to waking up at 5am in Eastern Time Zone) and went with Steve to go to the breakfast buffet but the buffet didn’t open until 8am.  Went back to the room and watched some TV until 8am rolled around and then did breakfast and then went to the bowl for practice with the Team at 10am. 

Practice went pretty well.  I had to spend some time opening up my thumbholes since my hand always seems to blow up when I come to Vegas.  I threw it pretty well and felt pretty good.  After practice Steve, Marshall Kent and I walked over for a burger at Carl’s Jr.  After killing a little time there I went back to the room and ended out taking an unplanned nap, haha!  At 6pm, a bunch of us went to Mimi’s Café to have a little bite to eat.  Afterward I then went to another dinner celebrating Leanne Hulsenberg’s birthday at a Japanese steakhouse.  After meeting more than my allotted 500 calories for dinner I headed back to the room and crashed.  A pretty low key day, but after getting up a little early I was feeling pretty pooped.  Need to make sure I head to the gym tomorrow morning to get back on the fitness trail.

Sunday August 19th - Official Practice Day

I woke up on my own at about 5:30am but didn’t get out of bed until about 6:00am.  I decided to go to the gym since it’s been since Thursday since I last went.  I normally go to the gym about 5 days a week when I’m home, so it’s about time to get back on it.  I never like to do anything heavy when I have to bowl so it just consisted of about 15 minutes of cardio, some pull-ups, a lot of abdominal work and stretching.  After about an hour in the gym I went back to the room, showered and got with Steve and went and had some breakfast.  We have official practice at 10am so I wanted to make sure I go there early to get ready because I feel my hand blowing up again so I need to allow some extra time to open up some thumbholes. 

Practice session went very well.  The patterns that will be used will be the 34’ WTBA Stockholm and the 44’ WTBA London.  Though they’ve changed these patterns slightly at the beginning of the year, they still maintain a lot of the same characteristics that they’ve had in the past.  In my opinion they are both on the easier side of the WTBA patterns, though not the easiest. 

On the short I had a good look with both of the urethane balls I brought, so I decided to check them both in.  The Storm Natural flares a couple of inches while the 1992 Ebonite Nitro doesn’t flare at all.  I feel the pattern is short enough and there is enough friction in the surface to where I think my long pattern balls will work if I need them.  Since the volumes are higher on all of the WTBA patterns this year, I feel you can get away with stronger covers, especially when the oil moves down the lane from all of the urethane balls. 

The long pattern played a little shorter than I had expected.  I had a good look there as well.  It was a little tougher for me to play closer to the track as the ball wanted to pick up a roll a little earlier than I had anticipated but I did have nice ball reaction around 22 swinging out to the 12-13-14 zone down the lane.  Over the course of the hour and a half of practice the lanes held up pretty well in my opinion.  I got into a good rhythm physically so I have no complaints.  I decided to check in my Ebonite Maxim for spares along with the Storm IQ Tour, Ebonite Innovate and Columbia Omen.  In WTBA Zone Championship competition you are only allowed to check in six bowling balls, so you have to be pretty good at making some guesses as to what you think you’re going to see. 

I had lunch at Panda Express with Steve and my good friend Vernon Peterson who came out for the weekend and then went in to watch the girls practice.  At 3:25pm we had the opening ceremonies which lasted about 45 minutes and then we went back to the room.  At 6:00pm Steve and I met Stefanie Nation, Josie Earnest, Liz Johnson and USBC’s Matt Lawson to walk to dinner at Tony Roma’s.  After that we came back to the hotel and relaxed.  The girls bowl at 8am tomorrow so I want to make sure that I get plenty of rest as we start bowling for medals tomorrow at 1pm.

Monday August 20th - Singles Event

We bowled in the afternoon, so I was able to sleep in even though I was still up at 5:30am.  I went to the gym to do a workout with Steve and then we went to the breakfast buffet at 7:30am.  We watched the girls bowl for a couple of games, went back to shower and then had Subway before we bowled. 

We were bowling on the short pattern for the Singles which was the 34’ WTBA Stockholm pattern.  I figured scores would be pretty high and that I’d need to have at least 1370 to be even close for a medal. Practice session went ok, didn’t hit the pocket too much because I think that Natural I was using flared too much.  I knew it was wrong when my first two frames went Greek Church/Miss the headpin.  I switched to my other urethane ball the Nitroand moved a little more right and moved my eyes left to where I was a little more on top of it and then I reeled off a 7-bagger to pull a 247 out of it. 

I shot 248 the next game and then 227 in game three so I was at +122 for 3.  That was putting me about 4th place.  I moved to the next pair and keep inching right and taking some hand out of it because the oil was getting pretty thick down the lane with all of the urethane balls plowing it down.  The non-flaring Nitro was able to keep me on top of the dry without the ball over-hooking if I got it a little right quick.  I shot 235 in game to put me +157. 

In game 5 I started to lose ball reaction.  The ball went a little long in the first frame for a 2-4-5 and I slid by wrapping the 2 around the 4.  The next 4 frames went strike, stone-8, ring-10, 4-9.  I now had 75 in the 5th and was in trouble.  I felt like I needed to get the ball to go through the pins better to I decided to move 2 left and use more grip pressure.  I reeled off a 5-bagger but in the 11th frame I came in light and left a paralyzer 5-pin.  Needless to say I was a little naked after bowling a really good game with the exception of the first frame for only 214 - that put me at +171 and in about 7th place going into the last game. 

I knew I needed at least 260 the last game to have any kind of chance at a medal because the scores were too high, even though I hadn’t looked at the scoreboard until the middle of game 5.  I debated whether to throw resin the last game, but it didn’t look real good on my fill shot shooting the 5-pin.  I decided I needed to stay with the stronger hand, but on that 5-pin it obviously didn’t go through the pins real well so I needed to do something to help it slow down -  I decided I’d move another board left and soften the speed.

I started the game with a double and I knew right there by watching how the ball went through the pins that it was the right look.  It was just a matter of me just getting it off of my hand after that.  The next thing I knew I had the front 9!  I had been inching a ½ a board about every 3 frames and I knew that I need to keep the hand pretty strong so I inched another ½ a board in the tenth and I threw it where I needed to but I missed it a pinch at the bottom and left fortunately only a 2-pin.  I covered the spare and then tried to catch it a little more on the fill ball and left a 6-pin.  I didn’t know where I was at because I finished about 3 frames ahead of a few of the people in front of me but I later found out that I won!

 

I was behind the leader Marcelo Suartz by 71 pins going into the last game but he only shot 181 the last game.  I had a great feeling of relief and joy considering I wasn’t even near a medal 20 minutes ago.  You always have to believe in yourself and never give up. 

I was quite elated to say the least, but I was starving so I went with my roommate Steve Smith and Patrick Allen to Romano’s Macaroni Grill for an enjoyable dinner and then called it a night because I had to bowl early tomorrow in the Doubles with Steve at 8am.

 

 

 

Tuesday August 21st - Doubles Event

The alarm went off at 5:30am but actually I was up about an hour earlier.  I had a hard time sleeping for some reason.  I don’t know if it was the excitement of the Gold Medal yesterday or what but I was awake at 4:30am even though I didn’t get out of bed until the alarm went off.  Showered and had breakfast with Steve at 6:30am as we had to bowl at 8am. 

The Doubles was going to be on the Long pattern and I had a good look on it in the practice session but it wasn’t quite as good for the Doubles.  I struggled shooting 167 the first game where I felt I was too far right.  Then I switched balls and went farther in and shot 232.  Then we went to the next pair and it was different enough where I lost my look and shot 179 with a late double.  Tommy Jones came up to me and said that he thought I was too far left and needed to go straight through the fronts a little more and get more up the back of it and/or use more ball speed to keep it on-line.  I think in retrospect that was the problem.  I think I was a little too slow ball speed-wise and I moved left and used a weaker ball because of it.  Steve was a little right of me but his ball speed was higher and he was bowling great.  It’s frustrating when you don’t see the picture and you’re scoring terrible because of it while everyone else is striking.  I’m still mad at myself as I type this for not seeing the picture soon enough.

Fortunately I saw it quickly enough to where I shot 716 the last three.  The last game we made a run and I had the front 7 but I cut one off a pinch for a 3-6-10 and then I chopped it.  Steve punched out from the 4th frame for 245 and I went flat-10 in the tenth for 245 as well.  The good news was we snuck into a Silver medal but we lost the Gold by only 28 pins.  I was feeling that 270+ game just like yesterday but I couldn’t milk two more frames of it.  It was ok though because our teammates Bill O’Neill and Tommy Jones won the Gold and there is no shame finishing behind them.  Steve bowled great as he was +283 alone for 6. 

We went and grabbed some dinner with Josie and Stef at Buffalo Wild Wings across the street and called it a night.  We had to bowl Trios at 9am so I wanted to get some sleep.

Wednesday August 22nd - Trios Event

I had trouble sleeping so I decided to head to the gym for a workout at 5:30am.  After an hour workout and a shower, Steve and I went to breakfast at 7 and then headed down for the Trios.  It was going to be me, Steve and Patrick Allen.  I was really looking forward to it. 

The day started off great as we were leading after 2 games with +203 but then we went to 5-6 and the left lane hooked a lot more and after a few splits we only shot 612.  Thank goodness PA shot 258 that game.  We bounced back with 686 in game 4 but then in game five, transition was starting to affect Patrick.  The righties were getting pretty deep and we were starting to torch his lay-down area.  He was bowling unbelievable up to that point as he was +180 after 4 games himself and the fourth game he went strike, stone 9, strike, stone 8, strike, ringing 7 and then off the sheet for 240.  PA started to struggle and neither Steve nor I were able to help him much either as we were struggling with the transition as well.  We shot 636 and 614 the last two to miss a medal by 40 pins.  Not the best of days as we finished 5th and our other Trios team of Tommy, Bill and Marshall Kent finished 2nd. 

Afterward it was me, Stef, Steve, Josie, PA, Liz, Diandra and Matt Lawson for dinner at the Italian restaurant at Sunset Station.  Salmon and sautéed spinach it was for me.  It was a well needed change after some of the chocolate I had that afternoon, haha!  It was kind of a long day so I went back to the room, checked a little e-mail and then was out by 10pm.  We had to bowl at 8am and breakfast was at 6:30am so I wanted to make sure I got some sleep.

Thursday August 23rd - The Big Daddy, Team Event

I woke up a little before the alarm went off at 5:30am and then after shower and breakfast headed down to the bowl.  It was now the first day of Team event, the granddaddy of them all. 

We were bowling on the short pattern today which was my best pattern by far.  I had the trusty Blue Nitro ready to go.  We were bowling well as a team and I had a really good look the first game.  I actually started the game with the front 9 but going into the tenth frame I did something that I’ve never done in my life.  I was trying to play around 5-6 at the arrows and get it to like 4-5 down the lane and I threw it in the gutter on the front 9!  Doh!  What made it worse was I left a 4 pin on the fill ball so I shot 258 the first game.  It wasn’t as much the embarrassment that bothered me but the fact that I cost the team a potential 42 more pins that first game.  We ended out shooting 1119 the first game which put us in 3rd. 

We went to the next pair and the pair seemed the same as I started with the front 3 but then I got it a little right and it went 2-4-8-10.  After getting 2 I threw a double and then went 4-6-7-9.  I didn’t think I threw it that bad even though that lane was hooking a little more.  I then went back on the right lane and went 2-4-8-10 again.  At this point I didn’t know if I needed to throw resin and hook it but at the same time no one on the team was really crushing them with resin either so that made it even tougher to decide.

I decided to stay with the Nitro in the ninth and then left a 4-pin and converted.  I tried my Omen in the tenth but threw a bad shot and left the 1-2-8 and I went to hook at the spare and managed to leave the 8 after making the 1-2 on the left.  Stay hot!  A three-bagger and a double for 169…..nice job.  Needless to say I was a little livid at that point.  We shot 1014 despite my sub-par performance but we lost ground to the field. 

We went to the next pair and I talked with Tommy and Bill on what I felt like I needed to do.  I watched Rolando Sebelen from the Dominican Republic shoot 260 on that pair hitting up on a Black Hammer and thought I might be able to do the same while getting slower.  I tried that in the first frame and went 3-6-10 so that wasn’t a good idea.  I made the spare and then I switched to and IQ Tour and threw it terrible for a Brooklyn 5-pin but made that spare.  Steve had suggested trying that Innovate again since that’s what I used near the end of the Trios and lineage-wise they were getting to about the same point.  I did that and managed to string a three-bagger and then came in light for a 4-pin on a shot that I missed a little at the bottom.

We were all starting to string strikes so we were feeling the momentum start to swing.  We ended out shooting a huge 1184 the last game and I managed to punch out for 258.  That put us in first by 45 pins going into the long pattern on Friday.  It was nice to shoot a big game to help the Team the last game but at the same time I also felt a little bad because I left so many pins on the table those 14 frames in the middle.  I have to say I don’t remember having that many strikes for 685 ever, haha!  I’ll be bowling with the pacer team tomorrow on the long which frankly I think is the right call.  The other guys definitely had a much better look on the long than I had this week and I’m sure they’ll do great as this is definitely their “money” pattern.

We went back to the room and changed clothes and went to Pizza Hut with Steve and his wife Christine who just flew in last night.  After consuming way more than my 500 calorie allotment for lunch, I went back to the room to check some e-mail and then went to watch the girls finish out their team event.  They shot 1185 and 1132 to finish out but they’re only leading Mexico by 14 pins.  Mexico is bowling quite well.  Liz shot 785 on the short to help power the team which was 100 pins better than the highest guy on our team.  Great bowling Liz!

We then carpooled after bowling to eat at Claim Jumper with the Team and some of their spouses and friends.  It was a really good way to end the night with about 20 of us enjoying a good meal.  After that, it was off to bed.  The girls bowl in the morning followed by the guys in the afternoon.

Friday August 24th - Team Event Day 2

We bowled in the afternoon, so I had some time to relax and watch the girls in the afternoon.  We were bowling on the long pattern today and I was going to be the one bowling with the pacer team.  My look on the long wasn’t quite as good as the other guys so I understood the decision, though I was excited to bowl because I bowled much better on it in the Trios. 

Lucas Wiseman came up to me and said that since I was bowling on the pacer team that I was destined to shoot 750.  Little did he know he was going to be correct.  I started out great with a 258 game with a smash 7-pin in the middle.  I managed to back it up with a 248 in game 2 and a 246 in game 3 for a 752 series.  It was actually a well-bowled set which consisted of no open frames.  I was quite a few pins short of the all-events medals but I knew that if I popped out a big set that all things were possible.  I ended out missing the bronze medal in all-events by 3 pins.  Oh well, I gave it a good run by punching out from the 7th frame of the last game.

As far as the Team event, we were pretty close after one but we shot a huge 1243 game in game 2.  That gave us the lead by about 170 going into the last game which we managed to win.  Yay, 2ndgold medal for me this tournament to go along with the silver medal I got in Doubles with Steve Smith.  It was a good day.  We ended out celebrating at the Sonoma Cellar Steakhouse at Sunset Station as a group where I had a nice meal of Sea Bass and Truffle Mac and Cheese.  Nice way to end the night.  Off to bed as the Masters starts at 8am tomorrow.

Saturday August 25th - The Masters

After the 6:30am breakfast it was off to the bowl for the Masters portion of the tournament.  The top 24 bowled 6 more games and then cut to the top 8 for 7 games of match play with 20 bonus pins for a win.  All pin fall carried over so I was in a good position to make it being in 4th. 

The lanes were pretty much the same as they had been but they were a little tighter down the lane which isn’t unusual for a multiple re-oil tournament in its 6th day.  Somehow I was making them a lot tougher than they really were shooting 185 and 178 the first two games opening in bowl 10thframes.  It was a real comedy of errors.  I was too slow on the left lane the first game and split twice and then I went to the next game and had the left lane figured out and then lost the right lane where I split twice and slipped and hit my ankle and threw it in the gutter in the 2nd frame.  It was just an all-around disaster.  After spotting the field 100 pins the first two games I finally got back on track and finished the block about +86, which was good considering I was -37 after two.  That left me in fifth going into the round robin.

The round robin was kind of an up and down experience.  I won my first two games shooting 245 and 225 but then I lost my next 3.  Had a 279 game shot at my 246, nice draw ha-ha.  I won against George Lambert IV in game 6 so my last game was against my teammate Tommy Jones.  I had a good look starting out three-bagger, spare, spare, double but Tommy started with the front 6.  I spared in the 8th frame but I was starting to lose my look as I thought I threw it really well in that frame for a 2-5.  Tommy opened in the 8th and 9th so I had a chance to lock him out if I punched out.  Mind you I didn’t know what I needed to get to the top 4, but I knew I needed to keep striking.  I threw a horrible shot in the 9th for a 2-4-10, but made the split.  I got up in the tenth and after coming in light I decided to stay in the same spot and just make a better shot but dead-yanked it left for a 3-6-10 spare.  I still didn’t know what I needed but I knew I had to get all I could, but I chopped the spare to finish with 209.  Tommy marked in the tenth to finish in the 220’s.  I found out later I needed to beat Tommy for the bonus pins and/or strike on the first ball in the tenth and fill twenty.  I ended out missing the medal round by 14 pins finishing in 5th place. 

That was a hard one to take since I had my fate in my own hands and threw it terrible two frames in a row and missed a spare that I normally make quite regularly.  It was a bitter pill to swallow, but like with all things in life I’ll learn from it even though it still bothers me as I type this.  Me not finishing the tenth frame allowed George Lambert IV finish 4th in which he beat Tommy (who was the #1 seed) in a one game match and then went on to beat Puerto Rico’s Frankie Colon by shooting 300 in the final.  It was fun to watch and I was very happy for George who I’ve known for many years.  Overall, it was a very good tournament for me even though it had a very bitter ending.  There’s always room for improvement and it was another good learning experience for me. 

We had the banquet at Club Madrid inside the casino and it was a good time with teammates and friends.  The lasagna was really good and I helped myself to a double portion of carrot cake ha-ha.  I headed back to the room about 12:30am and had to take the 4am shuttle and I still had to pack so it was going to be a late one to say the least.

 

I made my flight and got home safely but it was a quick turnaround since I had to fly to Hong Kong the next morning as I now have to put my Kegel hat back on to oil lanes for the ABF Asian Championships.  I want to thank Team USA and Kegel for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to be able to participate in the PABCON Championships and hopefully I’ll get to represent the USA in a tournament next year.

JJ

JJ's Blog - 2012 US Open

Saturday February 18th:

It was another crack of dawn flight to New Jersey.  The alarm went off at 2:00am.  I got in the shower and when I got back I see my phone rang three times.  Once I got some clothes on, it rang again.  It was after-hours tech support, which is part of my job.  The phone calls can come at any hour.  It was a little challenging trying to focus on fixing his problem and also trying to go over my checklists to make sure that I had everything, but fortunately I had some time and he had some patience. 

I spoke with him off and on throughout my one hour drive to the airport, and unfortunately I couldn’t get him fixed, but he had to get back home anyway and I had to check in luggage and then go through security so there wouldn’t be much I could do for the next 30 minutes anyhow.  He said he would call back in the morning if he needed more help.

I got to New Jersey with no problems and actually got in a little early at about 11:00am.  I got my rental car and I decided to go straight from there to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY.  It was about an hour and 10 minute drive.  I got there and did the valet parking because after “vulturing” around the parking lot for a few minutes I got tired of wasting time and fuel trying to find a parking space.  I spent about 3 ½ hours shopping and the only thing I bought was a pretzel dog and bottled water.  I found a polo shirt I loved, but they didn’t have my size.  Saw a really nice tuxedo but the same thing, didn’t have my size.

I then went and drove back to New Jersey and checked into the hotel room.  I was there for a while and then I met my good friend Corissa for dinner at a restaurant called Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick.  We had a great dinner and it was good to catch up with her since she moved up to New Jersey four years ago. 
By the time I got back to the room it was about 9:00pm so I was getting a little tired and decided to just call it a night.

Sunday February 19th:

I woke up in the morning and called my good friend Ron Dixon who drove up last night from Boynton Beach.  We talked about going into New York City a few weeks ago and he wanted to go this morning as well as I.  I met him at his hotel around 10:30am and then we drove over getting there a little before noon.  We spent the day shopping on Fifth Avenue and also went to Rockefeller Center and went to the “Top of the Rock”.  The roof is at the 67th floor and we got some awesome views of the Empire State Building, Central Park and the rest of the New York skyline.

We had some dessert at La Maison du Chocolat downstairs where I picked up some truffles and chocolates to bring home.  It was a great day just walking around and enjoying the city even though it was in the 40’s with the wind blowing at about 15 mph, even though that was pretty mild for how it normally is this time of year.

We had a nice steak at Smith and Wollensky and then headed back around 7pm since most all of the stores had shut down by then.  Also I needed to get back because I was supposed to pick up my roommates for the week, Marcelo Suartz and Gary Faulkner who both bowl for Webber International University who were supposed to be getting in around 11pm.  They were coming from Indianapolis where they were bowling the Hoosier Classic, but they called me shortly after 7pm and said they missed their flight because the tournament was running late.  Since Webber International finished 2nd they were bowling to the very end.

I dropped Ron off and then got back to the room about 8:30pm.  Since it was a long day of walking around, I decided to retire early.  They were both going to be flying in about 11am, so I needed to go pick them up.

Monday February 20th:

I woke up about 7am and then walked over to Panera Bread.  It was about a 10 minute walk and the 37 degree weather was pretty brisk, but I needed the exercise anyway and the colder weather definitely helped to wake me up, haha.  I headed to Newark and picked up Marcelo and Gary.  Their flight was good except for three of Gary’s bowling balls didn’t make the flight.  We got back to the hotel room and changed and the headed to the bowl for practice session.  Our practice session (since we had all C squad) was at 2pm.

The practice session went well overall for me but the fresh was really hard.  I brought a lot of old bowling balls with me since I’ve heard that the B squad (no re-oil after A squad) tends to hook quite a bit. Friends had told me that a lot of the old bowling balls come into play because of the amount of hook so I brought some old ones, like a Red Pulse, Black Ice, (2) Original Ones, 505C, a Game Changer and the old trusty Maxim for spares.  I figured if they hooked less, I could drill something there, but if they hooked a ton there wouldn’t be any old balls on the truck.

I had a pretty good look with my Original One that was drilled 4” pin down once they opened up a little bit.  I had a pretty good look going from like 20-13 but at least for me I couldn’t get anything to recover outside of 13. With the pattern being 42’, I could fall it back at a few different spots around 25.  The lanes were pretty tight overall. There was much less overall hook than I was expecting.  I think I could survive the transition with what I had, but I might need to drill a ball or two during the week, especially if the lanes tightened up which I pretty much know they will.  I might need a stronger ball for the burn than the stuff I brought since they’re pretty tight down the lane.

After practice Ron, Gary and I went back to the City.  Gary had never been to the City before.  Marcelo hadn’t either, but he had some schoolwork he had to get done.  We got to the City about 6:00pm.  The Knicks were playing the Nets at Madison Square Garden but the tickets were all sold out, especially since this was the peak of “Linsanity”.  We decided to not do the “scalper” route so we just started walking around.  We went to Times Square and took some pictures and then we went to Grand Central Station to check out the Apple Store they recently opened there and had some great cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery downstairs in the Food Court.  We then went back walking down Fifth Avenue and then we took a cab to Mulberry Street to Little Italy.  Ron was trying to find this restaurant he ate at before but he couldn’t find it.  There were a bunch of restaurants there so we ate at Lunella Ristorante Italiano and it was unbelievable.  Olive Garden and Carrabba’s will never be the same, haha!

After that meal we headed back to the car and then went back to New Jersey.  It was getting close to about 10:30pm by the time we got home.  We didn’t bowl until 6pm tomorrow, but I wanted to get some sleep so I wanted to get up early and watch a little bit of A squad so I could get another look on the fresh, since my look in practice was pretty stinky.

Tuesday February 21st:

The Big Show begins today.  I went in to watch a little bit of A squad just to see what was going on and give me a second look on what I might need to do.  After that Ron Dixon and I went to the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, NJ to look around and get some lunch.  It was about a 45 minute drive to Short Hills and we looked around for an hour or so and then got lunch at Joe’s American Grill, but I still didn’t buy any clothes.  Just bought some macaroons and some more chocolate from La Maison Du Chocolat, didn’t find anything I liked clothing-wise other than this tuxedo at Neiman Marcus.  Maybe if I bowl for the title I’ll come back for the tuxedo, haha!

We got back about 2pm and I went to watch a little bit of the burn since that’s what I’ll be bowling tomorrow.  They were starting to get kind of keep around game 6 but nothing really alarming.  Some guys were getting in front of the ball return but not near as bad as what I was expecting from the stories from previous years. 

I went back to the room for a little rest and then went with Gary and Marcelo to get a little bite to eat before the squad.  We stopped at Chipotle for a quick meal and then went to the bowl.

The day went pretty well.  I went +81 for the six games and bowled really well except for the last game where I shot 177 on 77-78.  That pair was tight and I made the mistake of trying to move right where I should’ve moved about an arrow left.  I did that but it was a little too late at that point.  At least I got a double near the end to avoid a potentially disastrous 150 game.  My best ball reaction was with that 4” pin down Original One and used that for pretty much the whole squad.  I started going about 18 at the arrows to about 13-14 down the lane and then just kind of chased it in after that.  I could see that I could maybe use another ball for the burn squad, one with a stronger coverstock than some of the relics that I brought with me.

I spoke with Mike Calderon with Ebonite and he suggested drilling an Elevate with like a 5 ½” pin with no hole.  This way I would be able to get some length with the drilling but with a stronger cover to be able to slow down in the back ends.  I went out to the truck and laid it out, filled out the specs and then headed back to the room.  It was late so Marcelo, Gary, Ron and Amleto Monacelli and his girlfriend and I went to the Omega Diner down the road for a light meal since we needed something in our stomachs after bowling for 4 hours.  After that we got back to the hotel about midnight and it was time for bed.

Wednesday February 22nd:

At 2pm we’ll be bowling on the B squad known as the “burn” squad since they won’t re-oil after A.  I woke up about 7:30am and then went to Panera Bread again for my usual Asiago Cheese Bagel, Yogurt Granola Parfait and Orange Juice.  After that I went to chill back in the room for a little while and then went with Gary and Marcelo to the bowl because I wanted to get there early not only to work out the Elevate that I just drilled but also to watch some of the end of A squad just to get an idea about how much they’ll be “burning”.  I got my ball but realized something was wrong, the finger holes were HUGE!  I didn’t understand why….until I looked at the spec sheet.  My finger hole sizes are 49/64 and my thumbhole is 59/64.  For some reason I put down 59/64 for my finger hole sizes.  Since it was about an hour before I had to bowl, there was no way to be able to plug it and there were too many people in line to be able to drill another one. 

Good job Double J!  Alzheimer’s is closer than you think!

Knowing that I needed to do SOMETHING and that I would probably need that ball, I just started using a lot of white tape and starting cutting it in small pieces to be able to close the gaps around the tops and sides of the finger holes to hopefully try to get it to fit.  Fortunately, I actually got it to fit pretty well.  Ironically, I used that ball for a good portion of the block!  I didn’t hit them as good as some of the guys from the squad yesterday did, but I went another +79 which got me to +160 total for the two days.  I was actually kind of happy since high on our squad was only +130.

Looks like A squad started deeper than the day before (not a real surprise, haha) so it forced us deeper than the guys were yesterday.  We probably didn’t get the best deal, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Either way I’m still doing fine, since the cut after two days was around -33. 

Since I was in a good position and I was going back to the fresh, I kind of wanted another look on the fresh….something with a little stronger cover so just in case they get tighter I’ve got something that I can just let go, instead of trying to get too soft in order to get to slow down in the back of the lane.  I went back to Mike Calderon from Ebonite and he suggested drilling an Omen.  Apparently this is a much smoother ball with a very strong cover and he suggested a drilling like my One.  I laid it out on the truck, filled out another spec sheet and then headed out.

Marcelo wanted to stay back in the room and study for an upcoming exam so Gary Faulkner and I went to the Menlo Park Mall which is only about 15 minutes up the road from the bowl. We walked around for a little while, but I still didn’t find any clothes that I liked.  Not much clothing success so far, but at least I’m saving money that way, haha!  The only thing I got was some chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva.  Ron Dixon met us up there and we had some Chipotle and then headed back to the room.  We were going to bowl A squad tomorrow so I wanted to be in bed by 9:30pm since we bowl the next day at 8am.  We got back to the room around 9pm and I was out shortly afterward.  Back on the fresh tomorrow…..

Thursday February 23rd:

The alarm went off at 5am…..time for the fresh.  But first it was time for a fresh breakfast at Panera.  I’m a creature of habit…..mostly bad habit, but a creature of habit nonetheless.

I went with Marcelo to open the place at 6am but getting there at 6:05 we noticed they weren’t open, though the sign on the door “says” they’re supposed to be open at 6am.  Since Panera was denied, we went over to Starbucks instead.  I had to settle for a yogurt parfait there, which was not nearly as good as Panera’s, but was all of the cost. 

After that we went back to pick up Gary and then headed for the bowl.  I needed to go back and work out that Omen that was drilled last night and then went to do some surfaces on the stuff I thought I was going to need.

The fresh went pretty well overall.  The Omen worked ok but I only got about 5-6 frames out of it before I could see it was starting to die a slow death.  It started to become too early so I bailed out of it and then went into the Original One for a little while.  It wasn’t really much better but I was able to stay near par for the first 5 games or so.  At least I wasn’t killing myself. 

I then switched to the Elevate in game 4 as I noticed that it looked like that fall-back shot around fifth and sixth arrow was starting to develop.  Game 4 I shot a decent game, but I shot back to back 255 games in 5 and 6 to leap to +293 which ended out leading our C squad.  I just found a little groove and I actually made some really good shots and that ball hit REALLY well to say the least.  With the scoring pace that low, 510 for 2 will move you up the ladder in a hurry. 

I knew I was a lock for the casher’s cut but I really felt like I needed something after that Omen started to die.  Something with a little stronger coverstock and core than the Original One to give me something else to go to until the lane developed into the slot where I could fade it with the Elevate.  I went back to talk to Mike and see if he had any advice.  He thought to drill a regular Pursuit with the same kind of 4” pin like I had with my Original One.  I went ahead and laid that out and then headed for lunch.  I felt a lot better now that I had another option because even though I was in really good position to make the top 24, I wanted to stay near the top.

I went with lunch with Marcelo, Gary, Ron Dixon, Amleto Monacelli and his girlfriend to On The Border right down the road.  I had the Shrimp Tacos, one of my favorites there.  We had originally planned to go to New York City afterward since it was only about 2:30pm at this point, but since I was going to be bowling the casher’s cut tomorrow and the fact that I was right near the top (I ended out qualifying 7th for the day after it was all said and done) I felt like I needed to stay closer to home and focus on tomorrow.

I just kind of chilled in the room for a little while and then went with Gary over to the Mall at Short Hills.  I got some more macaroons from La Maison Du Chocolat and we ate at an Italian restaurant there called Paparazzi.  It was good, but after eating at Little Italy in New York City it’s hard to compare anything to that.  I dropped Gary off at the airport where he was going to get a rental car and then I got back to the room around 9pm.  After that it was time for bed, ready for the second stage of the US Open:  Casher’s Round.

Friday February 24th:

I got up at 5am again and was ready to go.  I got cleaned up and went to Panera where they were actually open at 6:05am.  I asked what happened yesterday and he said…..”We’re open at 6am, but it’s a long story.”
That was enough of an explanation for me. 

I got my usual Asiago cheese bagel, yogurt parfait and orange juice and then I was off to the bowl.  I wanted to work out that Pursuit and also get there early enough to refresh the surfaces on the 4 balls I thought I might be able to use. 

I used the Omen at the start but since it was the casher’s round the guys on my starting pair pretty much burned up the middle of the lane after practice which put me in the Pursuit right away.  The ball rolled great and I used it for most of the block.  They were pretty burned up by the end of the block mostly because we were all playing the lane pretty much in the same part of the lane (inside of 20, haha) and the rev rate on the squad was overall much higher.

I could see with the way the lane was developing that using a little more spin with higher tilt was better.  I can do it ok, but that’s not my A or B release so I didn’t score as high as a few guys that whacked them but it was still enough for me to stay near the top.  I’m kind of glad it ended when it did because I shot 193 and 191 my last two games.  My ball reaction was kind of fading and the Elevate didn’t work quite as well as it did when I got into that zone previously. 

Overall it was a good squad for me.  I went +65 for the block which got me to +358 for the tournament which qualified me for 6th going into the top 24.  I felt pretty good with my arsenal but I wanted to see if Mike Calderon thought there might be something else to give me another look playing inside in case the Elevate didn’t work out too well.  He suggested a Jet Black Taboo with a 5 ½” pin like the way my Elevate was laid out. This ball wasn’t really going to come into play later tonight for match play since we were back bowling on the fresh and we were only going to be bowling 8 games with 2 per pair, but maybe for the next day for the burn.

However, it could be useful playing in the track as well.  Match play is a whole other tournament and now it’s pretty imperative that you’re going to be playing the pair where the other guys are playing them.  The ball could be useful in other zones.
Gary, Marcelo, Dixon, Monacelli, his girlfriend and I then went to Chipotle to get a meal and then I went back to the room to just kind of chill out for a while.  Match play was going to start in about 3 ½ hours so I just wanted to catch up on some e-mail and just kind of rest.  I got back to the bowl about 4:30 to work out that Taboo and re-do some surfaces.

Match play went ok.  I went 4-4 but only went -10 for the block.  I was fortunate to win a couple of matches shooting 170 (those pairs were brutal, haha) but even though I didn’t score really well I only dropped to 7th.  It kind of evened out because I also was the victim of Chris Barnes’ 298 even though I bowled a pretty good 223 game though I say so myself.  He’s tough on his Team USA teammates, haha!
I was overall pretty happy but I need to bowl better tomorrow.  I think I’ve got the right strategy on the fresh but I need to just execute better.  I think my swing is still bouncing out a pinch when I’m trying to go up the lane and on this condition if you bounce one a little right off the hand on the fresh you’re missing the headpin. 

Went back to On The Border with Marcelo and then back to the hotel.  More Shrimp Tacos, mmmmmmmm.  Match play wasn’t going to start until 11am so I didn’t have to be up at O-Dark-Thirty for a change.

Saturday February 25th: 

I still got up early anyway, so I headed off to Panera at about 7:15am.  Had the usual, some things never change, haha!

I went back to shower and then headed to the bowl at about 9:30am to re-do the surfaces.  In all tournaments, there are a few games that you wish you had back.  Well in this tournament, I’d like to have the first 3 games of match play back.  I went 175, 177 and 165 and didn’t win any of the matches. Next thing you know I went from 7th to 14th in 3 games. Granted two of the matches the guys shot 220 and 230 at me, but still.  You can’t go 517 your first 3 games and expect to gain any ground of the best 24 bowlers in the US Open no matter how hard the conditions were.
 
I think I played too far right on the first pair and just didn’t execute very well.  The second match I had to move in and missed a spare early in the game.  I needed the first strike in the tenth to win the game and threw it great and left a stone 8-pin.  The third match was just as bad as the first.  I had to move back to the track and left a washout in the tenth and wrapped the headpin around the 10 to finish with 165. 

I really don’t have any excuses, just didn’t throw it real good and I paid the full penalty for that hour.  I moved in and bowled well for most of the rest of the block and got my match play record back to even and actually went +2 for the block, but the damage was done.  I was in 13th place and now about 240+ out of the show.  Need to have a really good block in the evening to make up for that. 

I was invited to lunch by Jason Belmonte and Diandra Asbaty to the Skylark Diner right up the road.  Apparently this place was featured in Guy Fiori’s Diners, Drive-Thru’s and Dives program on the Food Network and features a little higher class diner food.  It was us and about 7 others including Mike Fagan and his parents, Osku Palermaa, Martin Larsen, Alex Cavagnaro and Mikael Ahlqvist.  I had the Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Shrimp Quesadillas.  It was excellent!  It was a good way to help change my spirits since I was a little down after dropping that far in the standings. 

I went and dropped Alex and Jason back at the bowl and then went with Diandra to Cold Stone to get a pre-squad ice cream.  After Cookies and Cream in a waffle cone I was ready to head back to the bowl.

Match play went better as I went +59 for the block, but I couldn’t win any matches or at least not enough to make up any ground.  I ended out in 12th place with a 12-12 match play record and averaged 208.18 for the 50 games. Overall I was pretty pleased even though I’d like to have those three games in the morning back and I missed too many clusters.  I missed (4) 3-6-10’s, (1) bucket, (4) washouts, (1) 1-2-4, chopped (1) 4 off the 7, chopped (2) 2-5’s off the 4 (sweet), chopped (1) 4 off the 7 (sweeter) and chopped (1) 6-10.  Not horrible, but still I can do better than missing 14 multi-pin combination spares.  If there was any one bright spot I didn’t miss any single-pin spares for 50 games.  I was proud of that because when you’re averaging only 208 for 50 games, there were a lot of single pins, haha!

Afterward, I spent some time talking with my good friend David Eisenberg and another good friend Eric Frost who came from Massachusetts to watch me bowl match play.  Eric used to work for Kegel years ago and he came to see me the night before as well.  It was great to see him again.  Unfortunately I had to cut the visit a little short since I looked at my phone afterward and see that I had some missed calls and texts from Amleto and Marcelo.

They both went to the City in the late morning and they were trying to call me so I could pick up Marcelo at the New Brunswick Train Station at 10:55pm.  Considering it was 10:30pm, I had to go!  Amleto said Marcelo’s phone was dead so I had to make sure I was there to meet him or otherwise I’d have a hard time locating him.  I got there about 10 minutes before he arrived and fortunately he had enough battery life left to get texts.  After that we stopped by TGIFriday’s by the hotel to get a quick bite to eat and then we went back to the room.  I was flying out at 6:30am so I went back to the room and packed and got some sleep. 

Sunday February 26th:

The 3am alarm went off early since it was about 1:30am by the time I got all packed and went to bed.  Gary was going to take Marcelo to the airport so I left the hotel at 3:30am and got to the check-in counter at 4:15am.


I went to try to check in 4 bags and I knew that I was going to have to pay extra.  I knew I could get 3 bags for free since I was Diamond Medallion with Delta but when they told me it was going to be $125 for the 4th bag I said no thanks.  I wanted the bowling balls, but a few of them were old so they really weren’t worth it for me to pay that much to bring them home.  I told them I was just going to leave 3 balls with them.

I had to do some reorganizing since I had to figure out which 3 balls to leave.  During that time the lady at the ticket counter was asking me if there were other ways I could bring the balls back or if there was someone here locally that could take the balls for me.  I told her there was, but she left for Los Angeles 4 days ago and wouldn’t be back for another 4 days.  I explained to her I couldn’t put them in the other bags because then those bags would be overweight.  This issue stemmed because of the fact I drilled 4 balls this week.

After about 15 minutes of talking with the lady at the ticket counter and the skycaps on trying to find ways to bring these home, a guy in a white shirt came up to me and said that they would go ahead and check the 4th bag for me for free since I was a Diamond Medallion Frequent Flyer and loyal Delta customer for all these years. 

Sweet!  Problem solved.  I had a great tournament AND I was able to get everything home without costing me a dime in extra baggage fees.  This……was a good day!

I got back to Orlando at about noon and then headed to AMF Semoran Lanes to watch a little bit of Erik Ramos’ 10-game sweeper that I just missed.  After spending an hour or so visiting with some friends I headed to the Mall at Millenia to get some chocolate at the Godiva store and had a nice meal at Fleming’s Steakhouse off Sand Lake Road and then went home.
 
It was a great week of bowling, great time with friends and had more money on the 26th than I had on the 18th (which is always a sign of a good tournament) but it’s good to be home….and to 70 degree weather.

The gloves can go back in the closet until next winter.

JJ

JJ's Blog - 2012 USBC Masters

Sunday January 22nd

The alarm went off at 2:45am to head to the airport for a 6:45am flight to bowl the USBC Masters.  It was a particularly rough wake-up call because I went to bowl a 5-game sweeper in Jupiter (the city near West Palm Beach, not the planet) the night before and I only got home 2 hours ago.  It was ok because I knew I could sleep on the plane.

I got to the airport at 4:20am.  By the time I got to the ticket counter, checked in and cleared security it was 5:00am.  I got to the Delta Sky Club and then just hung out there until 6:10am.  We got boarded with no problem and I was off to Memphis and then straight to Vegas from there.

I arrived in Vegas at 11:30am and got my rental car.  Rental cars are pretty cheap in general in Vegas but the airport really hits you on the taxes.  I rented a mid-size car for $59 for the week….but the taxes brought it up to $130.  It was still really cheap so I really can’t complain that much.

I spent most of the day shopping since there was really nothing going on since I didn’t get in early enough to bowl the unofficial practice session or the sweeper.  I went straight from the airport to the Outlet Mall at Primm and found nothing so I went to the hotel and then checked in.  After checking in and visiting with a few friends, I headed back to the Strip to shop some more and grab a bite to eat.

I was just here like two weeks ago for the Team USA Trials so I’d already scoped out most of the stores previously, but with a lot of the Spring/Summer clothing starting to come in I thought maybe I might find something new.  I found a nice workout shirt at the Nike Store at the Forum Shops at Caesars, but that was about it.

I then walked to the Bellagio and then took the tram to City Center and shopped a little bit there but found nothing that I really liked.  I then went to the Fashion Show Mall for a little while and then walked over to the Esplanade at the Wynn and then to the Palazzo.  Found a few things I liked at the Wynn but nothing that I particularly wanted to pay full price for.

It was about 8:30pm and I went to the airport to pick up Diandra Asbaty and then we went back to the Forum Shops and had a nice sushi dinner with her and Jason Belmonte who met us there.  Afterwards, I then went back to the hotel to call it a night.

Monday January 23rd

I was bowling A squad so I had the 10am practice session.  Practice went pretty well.  I had a pretty good look between 6-10 throwing it pretty straight through the front part of the lane and with a couple of different balls.  It was a good practice session overall.  I felt physically good, no issues with the approaches and the bowling balls felt pretty good on my hand.  I grabbed some lunch with Jason Couch and Dave Wodka after the practice session and then went back to the room to chill out for a little while.

At about 3:45pm I went back to the Strip with Cody Reichenberger (one of the students at Webber International University) and we hung out there for a few hours.  He hadn’t been to the south part of the Strip before so we spent a few hours walking around bouncing from casino to casino.  I like to walk a lot in the afternoon during the down time because it’s pretty decent exercise (as opposed to just sitting in the hotel room) and also it helps get me worn out so by the time I get back to the room around 8-9pm I’m pretty tired so it’s easier to sleep.

At home I go to bed pretty early, around 9-9:30pm because I go to the gym at about 5:15am during the weekdays.  Being 3 hours behind I don’t want to be going to bed at like 6pm and getting up at 2am, so this walking around on the Strip is pretty helpful to keep me awake in getting used to the time change. Cody and I got back about 8:45pm and then it was about time to retire.  I’m going to hit the gym about 5:45am to get the body warmed up before my 9am squad tomorrow.

Tuesday January 24th

The alarm went off at 5am and after hitting the snooze button a few times.  I got up and headed to Gold’s Gym which was only about 8 minutes away.  I never do anything heavy on tournament days, mostly just some light cardio, pull ups and abdominal work.  After doing that I headed to Panera Bread for some breakfast and then back to the room for a shower and to get ready for the squad.

The practice bell went off a little after 8:45am.  I had a great look in practice playing pretty straight around 5-8 at the arrows.  I struck a lot in that zone so I was trying a few different zones to see how the lane looked in other areas.  Once the game started I was seeing transition but it was different on both lanes.  The left lane was getting tighter down the lane and the right lane was starting to hook earlier.  They started out about the same in practice but now the right lane was hooking about 3 boards more.  I was using a combination of the Red Mission on the right lane and the Encounter on the left lane but I switched to the Encounter on both lanes when the fronts on the right lane started hooking too early and needed something I could get around the corner better.

After starting with a double I threw a couple of bad shots on the left lane where I missed the headpin for 1-2-4’s and I missed one of them for a 193 start.  I moved to the next pair and the Encounter that I was throwing was definitely starting to burn up too early.  I switched to a Mission X and then threw a Double but then I threw a couple right and they hung out there for a 2-4 and then a 2-8-10.  Throw in a blower 7-10 and then next thing I knew I shot 189.

I could see the outside was starting to get a little flaky and I saw a couple of guys striking playing between 15-20 going out to like 8-10.  I tried to do that on the next pair and it worked on one lane but not as well on the other.  A couple more bad shots and some bad carry on the left lane resulted in a Dutch 200.  I didn’t bother to fill out the application for the USBC patch.

I tried to stay inside but made a couple of bad shots early in the game for splits and then never threw a double for 168.  I switched balls and then couldn’t strike…..ugh!  This was turning into a really bad block.  Since nothing else I was doing was working, I decided to go around 17-12 in game 5 with the Mission X and threw it straighter and harder.  I decided to go this route since playing out was pretty well cooked and I couldn’t get my ball to the pocket consistently or get it to go through the pins the right way from playing inside so I’d try and split the difference.

I threw a double but had a couple of bad shots that kept me from stringing any more strikes and then sent the headpin in front of the tenpin on a washout attempt.  Combine that with another open and I finished with 182 and -68 for the block.

That was one of the worst performances I’ve had in a long time.  Bad execution and bad decision-making aren’t going to get you anywhere in this tournament.  Throwing (3) doubles for 5 games didn’t help my cause either.  I think I threw more strikes in 15 minutes of practice than I did for the whole block, haha!

It’s been a long time where I bowled the last 2 games and really didn’t have any idea on the best way to play the lanes.  Nothing I did worked, and I went through all of my bowling balls.  There were people playing all over the place at the beginning:  hooking it, throwing it straight, playing out, playing in the track, playing 17, all with somewhat decent results.  Too bad I couldn’t make any of those options look good.

I was pretty frustrated so I went back to the room to change and headed to the Forum Shops at Caesars to get some lunch.  It was time to get out and clear the brain of the train-wreck squad I just bowled.

Lunch was the best part of the day so far.  After drowning my sorrows in a burger and a cookie from Max Brenners, I went back and watched a little bit of B squad to see where I went wrong and maybe give me a few clues to see how tomorrow may play, even though that’ll be pending if A squad plays them the same as we did.  That probably won’t be exactly the same, haha!

Mike J. Laneside invited me in the booth for Xtra Frame for a few minutes and gave them my spin on how the block went amongst other conversation.  It’s always good to be up there with Mike and Jason Thomas, thanks for the invite guys!

After that I went to see Mike Calderon from Ebonite to see if he had any advice for tomorrow.  He suggested drilling a Jet Black Taboo for the burn squad.  I went to the truck and laid it out and I’ll work it out in the morning.  We’ll see if it’ll strike because I’ve got a LOT of ground to make up tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a new day…..

Wednesday January 25th

I woke up about 5:30am and headed to Gold’s Gym to do a light workout.  It’s nice to be at Sunset Station because Gold’s is less than 10 minutes away and it’s a very clean one.  After the workout I went to Panera Bread to get my daily Asiago Cheese Bagel, Yogurt Parfait and Orange Juice and then went back to the hotel to shower and relax a little.

After that I went to go workout the Jet Black Taboo that was drilled on the truck last night.  I just took the high gloss off of it and hopefully it would roll well for the burn.  I watched a little bit of A squad and it looked like they started a little deeper than we did.  You could play between 6-9 pretty straight on the fresh and a few guys could make the 18-9 angle look pretty good.  I think out was better personally but after about 2 games I think you needed to hit the abort button and move inside with the masses.

I started out pretty well and didn’t miss the pocket for 216, playing a little straighter in the 22 to 14 zone.  I was using the Eruption but it wasn’t quite going through the pins right.  The new Taboo seemed a little too long at the time, at least on the first pair.  I then switched to the Taboo in game 2 and it got a little better for 221.  Not a bad start but I knew that the target score for me was get to at least +100, so I knew that I needed to start striking.  The lanes were then breaking down a little more and I figured it was time to move in a little bit more and see if I could open up the lane.

I moved in closer to 27 at the arrows out to about 12-13 down the lane and lo and behold……254-244 the next two games!  Now we’re cooking with gas!

The lanes were starting to curve and I knew the next pair was going to be hooking more.  I was concerned that the next zone I was going to have to jump might be a little too far in for this Taboo.

The next pair I moved 3 left and the first shot went 4-6-7.  Sweet……way to get a good read!

Fortunately though………I made it!  Bounced it out of the pit and took out the 6 pin like a Jet Li bicycle kick, haha!  (more on the significance of that conversion later).

I went to the other lane and moved another 2 and went ringing-10.  The ball kind of burned up.  I made the spare and moved another 3 and got it in a touch and I hit the nose and left a 3-pin.  Made that spare.

At this point I knew I needed at least 230 to even have a chance and with this ball reaction the best I was going to muster would be a 205-215 game so I knew I needed to do something drastic.  I went to something that I remembered that worked at the Team Trials a couple of weeks ago……loft.

I knew my ball roll wouldn’t be any good if I tried to go farther left and there was a little hold right in the 13-14-15 area down the lane so if I could just get it down there clean I’d be in good shape.  I also switched balls to a Mission X since that ball was a little cleaner and wouldn’t over-react off the dry…….and there was plenty of dry in the mid-lane at this stage of the day, haha!

I squared up with the loft and a little extra speed going like 23-13 and reeled off a 5-bagger.  Whew!  I got up in the 9th frame and just got it in the oil for a flat-10 and I made the spare.  I wasn’t watching the board but I had a gut feeling I needed to double in the tenth.  I moved a board left on the left lane in the 8th frame and came in light so I figured I wasn’t going to move.  The only problem was I threw it a little right and firm and I left the bucket…….just the spare I want to shoot in the tenth frame…….NOT!

Fortunately I made the bucket and made a good shot on the fill ball but flat-10’d again.  I think I milked the loft for all it was worth which gave me 232 the last game.  That put me at +99 and the cut to 77 was at +98 with one to go.  I thought for sure that I was going to miss by about 4-5 pins.

I think Criss Angel came from the Luxor to Sunset Station to work his magic because the cut ended out being……+99.  I tied with my good friend Rhino Page for the 76th and 77th spot.

Putter in the air……..three pumps with the fist” (from the Tiger Woods Nike commercial a few years back).

I went +167 for the block to get the last spot.  Considering +97 was 78th place, how big was that 4-6-7 conversion in the last game?  Oh……..the drama! Might be the first time I jumped 162 spots in 5 games in a tournament, haha!

Needless to say, I was quite ecstatic.  That was grounds for celebrating at Caesars’ Palace with my favorite Smoked Salmon Pizza from Spago and a Max Brenner cookie…..but I didn’t feel like driving and sitting down to eat, so I just went to my favorite fast-food joint in Vegas (In-N-Out) to get a burger.

I also went back to Mike Calderon from Ebonite for some advice for the cashers round and he suggested drilling another ball to give me another look since I obviously had some trouble the last time on the fresh to say the least, lol!

I went to drill an Ebonite Pursuit-S (Symmetrical) with a 4” pin down for the next day and see if that would give me a little better look than what I had when I had to move in but would pick up a roll a little earlier when the Taboo would be a little too clean.

Afterward I was invited to my friend Wendy MacPherson’s home where she was hosting a dinner for my friend Robert Lee and about 8 more people from Japan who Robert brought over to bowl the tournament.  Wendy had a friend from New York fly down who cooked some amazing food.  It was a great way to end the night spending time with them.  Thanks for the invite Wendy, I had a great time!

Thursday January 26th

I woke up again about 5:30am and did the same G.P.S. routine (Gym, Panera, Shower).  I got to the bowl about 8:30am to do surfaces and work out the Pursuit-S I drilled the night before.  Always good to get there early and beat the crowd.

I was crossing with Rick Steelsmith, Chris Barnes and Rhino Page for the cashers round.  There were 77 players and we were bowling 5 more games and then cutting to the top 63, so we were eliminating 14.  I started out pretty good with a 232 game playing pretty straight around 7-8.

We then went to the next pair and I couldn’t hit the left lane to save my life.  Struck on the right lane every time but the left lane was tighter which resulted in missing the headpin, 2-pin, 2-8, (switch balls), light 10-pin and then 4-pin.

No, I didn’t want to throw double…….not at all.

I threw the first one in the tenth and fortunately got the second in the tenth as well and struck on the fill ball for 210.  I’m so glad I got the second one in the tenth because the last thing I wanted was my SECOND Dutch 200 of the tournament.  I still didn’t fill out an application for a patch with USBC.

We moved to the next pair and I felt it was time to move in, since there were more guys starting to strike from in there.  I went to the Mission X and it looked close but I had a few bad shots during the game but fortunately I didn’t pay any penalties for it.  I didn’t have a double but had a strike working in the 9th and was going for 216 if I could double in the 10th and threw a good shot but came in light for a 7-10.

Thanks……really appreciate it.  184……..and not particularly amused.

That put me at +125 and even though I wasn’t scoreboard watching, I knew I needed a couple of good games to make it to match play.  I knew I needed to switch balls so I thought why not try that Pursuit-S?  I know I’m only going to shoot another 185 game if I stay with what I got.

I moved in a couple more boards where I was now going about 24 at the arrows to about 12 and guess what?  254-231 the last two games to get me to +210 jumping me up to 38th place for match play.

I hate it when you use the wrong ball for too long.  Very bad for your score’s health.

Well, I now made it to match play and I had to bowl Keith Odette from Hawaii for my first match.  The format from here is 3-games total pins double elimination.  I wish I could say I bowled great but I didn’t, though I didn’t bowl particularly poorly.  I missed (2) 1-2-4 combinations in the first two games.

I tried to hook at them but choppedthe 1-2 off the 4 both times.  Keith bowled very well shooting 695 at me.  I think I stayed out between the 7 and 10 zone a little too long which when I leaked it a little bit was where I missed the headpin.

I shot 631 in the losing effort.

I then bowled Kyle Barnes the next match in the losers’ bracket.  I shot a good 228 the first game to Kyle’s 195 but then transition took place and it got kind of ugly.  Kyle shot 208 the next game to my 181.  I then tried switching balls, moving left, lofted a couple of shots, it didn’t matter.

I tried switching balls and moving out between 7 and 10 in the 6th frame and struck on the first shot but then 2-8-10’d in the 7th frame.  The right lane got cliff wet-dry in the mid-lane from inside and the left lane had a bunch of hang down the lane.

Kyle was only leading by less than ten when I went up in the 8th and 9th frames and pretty much took the gas pipe.   Still not sure where to play I went back between 6-10 and left a 3-6-10 and on the spare slid by missing the 3-pin.  I then went up on the left lane in the 9th frame and left a 2-8 and then took out only the 8-pin.

Now Kyle only needed a mark in the last two frames to win, which he did just that.  I lost 594-568.  The worst part was I took the ball I tried playing outside with and I thought I’d try in the tenth frame playing inside where I was earlier and I proceeded to dead flush all three in the tenth for 159.  Now I was really nauseous after seeing that on top of missing two pretty routine spares in the 8th and 9th frames to give the match away.

Congrats to Kyle…….I can’t expect to nor deserve to win matches against the best 63 players in the tournament shooting 568 no matter how hard the pair was.  It’s funny, my tournament ended pretty much the way I started it.  Really bad, haha!

With that being said, I was pretty bummed about how it ended so I decided I was going to try and change my flight and get out tomorrow.  I was supposed to stay until Saturday night but after spending a week in Vegas at the beginning of the month for the Team USA Trials and now another week here for the Masters, I just wanted to go home.  I went and grabbed a quick bite to eat and then I went back to room afterward as I was a little tired.

Friday January 27th

I changed my flight to get out on the 12:20pm flight out.  I wanted to get some chocolate from Max Brenner’s before I left and I saw on their website that they opened at 9am on Friday.  This would be perfect as I would leave the hotel at 8:30am get to Caesars’ about 9am, then buy the chocolate and head out to the airport.

All was going well and I parked the car in valet and got to Max Brenner’s and this is what I saw (see picture).

Yep, this trip is ending just like it started.  Three weeks ago it was the cupcake drama in Los Angeles…….now this!  I knew I should’ve bought all of my edibles a couple of days ago!

Well, being in Vegas I was not to be denied.  One of my other favorite dessert-places is the Jean Philippe Patisserie at Aria.  They also have one at the Bellagio.  I headed over there as I knew they would be open.  I got some chocolates for a couple of friends (and myself of course) and then headed to the airport to catch my flight.

I had no problems getting home with plenty of time to change planes in Memphis getting back to Orlando at 10:20pm and getting back to my condo at about 12:15am.  It was a late one, but it sure is nice to sleep in your own bed!

Overall it was a good trip.  Made some money, did a little shopping, saw some old friends and ate some good food. I had more money leaving Vegas than I had going in……definitely a good trip!

JJ's Blog - 2012 Team USA Trials

Saturday December 31st

The alarm went off at 2:45 am.  It was an early one but it was easy to get up because I was heading to Los Angeles and then Las Vegas to bowl the Team USA Trials.  I’m an early-airport-guy so I like to be at the gate like 90-120 minutes before my flight.  Since my flight was at 7:30am, that would get me to the airport to about 5:00am.  I got up a little extra early just so I could go through my checklists to make sure I had everything.

I got to the airport at 5am and had a quick and painless check-in and run through security.  I sat in the Delta Sky Club for about an hour and a half and then went to the gate.  We boarded on time and everything was going as planned.  I was supposed to get to Los Angeles at 10am and was going to spend the day shopping and also going to this cupcake place in North Hollywood that makes the best cupcakes.  I wanted to share some of these with a few of my friends that were going to be bowling the tournament next week.

For those of you that don’t know me real well I have a real passion for two things:  Clothes and chocolates/cookies/pastries/any kind of sweets.

We sat at the gate until about 8am when the pilot got on and said that they were having trouble with the fuel pump and they were having the mechanics come out and look at the plane so at this time we didn’t know how long it was going to take.  Mind you, this plane just arrived from LA about 6:30am, so all they were doing was basically topping off the tank and cleaning it up and it was heading straight back to LA.

About 8:20am they were letting people de-plane but told them to check in to the gate every 10 minutes to make sure all was ok because when the plane was ready, we were leaving ASAP.  About 8:35am the pilot said we were ready to go and at 8:45am we were all boarded.  Well, 5 minutes went by, then 10 minutes, and then at 9am the pilot got back on the PA and said that the fuel pump was still not working and we were going to be re-routed because he had no idea how long this was going to take.

Next thing I knew that I was getting rerouted to Atlanta and my itinerary said I was going to get to LA about 6:40pm!

Since this was New Year’s Eve, most of the stores I wanted to shop at were going to be closed by 6 and when I called the cupcake place they were going to close around 5pm or maybe a little later depending on business and they were going to be closed on New Year’s Day, so it looked like my window for cupcakes was closing.  This had all of the makings of a really bad day.

I got to Atlanta and I got on standby for the 1:20pm flight that was going to get into LA at 3:20pm.  Fortunately, I got on!  Things were looking up all of a sudden!

I got to LA at 3pm (even better) but since I flew on standby my luggage didn’t make it.  That wasn’t a big deal since I was staying right across the street from LAX.  The lady in baggage service said my bags were on the way to Salt Lake City and then LA and they should be there tonight.  Well since I was there early, I got to the rental car place and off I went.  I left the airport at 3:30pm and I was only about 30 minutes from the cupcake store.  Since the guy I spoke to said that they were closing at 5pm, I should’ve had enough time to get a few cupcakes.

I got to the cupcake place at 4pm only to find a note on the door saying that they had already sold out of their inventory and they would be re-opening on Monday.

Happy New Year! Well isn’t that just flippin’ great!  Cupcakes…..denied!

Since I was a little peeved about that I headed to Beverly Hills to do a little clothes shopping.   It was about 25 minutes from North Hollywood to the “Hills”.  I stopped at this one store on Melrose Avenue and looked around but found nothing I liked despite the sale that was going on.  I then headed off to Rodeo Drive and got there right at 5pm.  With my good fortune continuing, I found out that all of the stores on Rodeo closed at 5pm on New Year’s Eve as well as Neiman Marcus on Wilshire Blvd., the one department store I REALLY wanted to see today.  Stay Hot!

Fortunately Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York were still open as they weren’t closing until 7pm.  I spent about a little more than an hour shopping at both stores, but still found nothing I liked.  This was turning into a really bad day.  What made it worse is Rodeo Drive is also closed on New Year’s Day.  I found that out last year as the Team Trials were basically on the same week and I flew out New Year’s Day last year just to find out Rodeo Drive was shut down.  So far, no cupcakes for me or my friends and only about 15% of the shopping done that I wanted to get done.  This day has definitely been “no bueno” so far.

Being now about 6:30pm and being quite hungry I grabbed a quick bite at the Grill on the Alley and went to go check into the room.  I first had to go back to the rental car facility because when I looked closer at my rental agreement they screwed up the coupon I was using for a free day at the end of the rental.  It just keeps getting better.

After clearing up that mess, I got to the hotel about 7:15pm and my luggage still hadn’t arrived.  Stay red hot!

The one thing that I did have to look forward to was my good friend Missy Parkin invited me to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by her friend Scott Norton at his mother’s house.  After the day I’ve had so far, I really needed something to go right considering I was denied cupcakes, didn’t do hardly any shopping and didn’t have any luggage.  I didn’t want to sit in the room and think about how the day went, so I got showered and headed to their party which was about an hour from my hotel.  I got there about 8:45pm and stayed until about 12:30am.  I had a GREAT time as we talked, played some Password and ate some really good food.  I got back to the hotel about 1:30am and lo and behold my luggage arrived!  Woo-hoo!  Things finally were looking up today.  Well actually it was already Sunday, but it was a good way to sleep on a high note.

Sunday January 1st

I headed out about 8am to the Desert Hills Premium Outlets.  It was about a 2 hour drive from LAX since the outlets were over near Palm Springs.  I got there with no problems but I spent an hour there and still found nothing I liked.  The bad part was the one store that I REALLY wanted to go see…….closed…..permanently.  So far I was 0 for 3 on the shopping establishments, however I did get a nice ice cream cone at Haagen-Dazs which helped relieve some of my retail distress.

Since I found nothing there I made the 4 ½ hour trek to Vegas since practice session was on Monday.  I was going to stop at the Outlets at Primm, NV but when I got there I figured that would be a really BAD idea.

Being New Year’s Day and around 3pm at this time, a lot of the people from LA who drove to Vegas for New Year’s Eve were heading home…….I mean…….A LOT of people were heading home.  I could see at times on the southbound lanes on I-15 there were stretches where the traffic was backed up for miles.  As I got closer to the exit for Primm where the outlets were at, I could see all the cars backed up on the road underneath the overpass and how they were backed up at the couple of gas stations on the southeastern corner of the exit ramp.  I realized this would be a bad idea if I tried to get off so I kept going.

When I passed the overpass for the exit I noticed the southbound exit ramp (as well as the other three lanes) was backed up for about a mile and a half.  It was a good call on my part since it probably would’ve taken me an extra 15 minutes to get in and probably another 20 minutes to get out, however that made me 0 for 4 on shopping.  I hope the bowling goes better because the shopping has pretty much sucked so far.

I went straight to the City Center and looked around and then went to the Fashion Show Mall and then to the Forum Shops at Caesars’ Palace.  I did find a nice shirt at the Forum Shops and a nice tie at the Fashion Show Mall.  The shirt and tie were 60% and 70% off respectively so it was a big score to end the day.  After grabbing a bite to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in the Forum Shops (Spago), I headed to Texas Station to go check into the room and call it a night.

Monday January 2nd

I woke up about 7am and spent a little time riding the stationary bike at the hotel because my right hamstring was a little tight.  I felt it the night before at the end of the day and I thought if I slept on it, it would be a little better in the morning.  Well……I was wrong.  After about 30 minutes on the bike I felt a little better, so I went out to Panera Bread and got some breakfast.  I noticed there was a cupcake store in the same plaza that Panera was in.  They opened in like 15 minutes so I stuck around and grabbed a couple.  They were pretty good.  The day was starting off pretty well.

I came back to the room about 8:30am and then took a shower.  I then left about 9:30am with Jessica Baker to go pick up Diandra Asbaty and her son Madden at the airport who was getting in about 10:30am.  I made a quick stop to the Forum Shops on the way to pick up some unbelievable chocolate chip cookies at a restaurant called Max Brenner’s that I discovered the night before and then we went to go pick up Dee.

After picking her and Madden up I then made a quick trip to my good friend David Haynes’ pro shop to pick up a case of balls I had shipped there (Thanks Dave!) and then headed back to Texas Station to get ready for the one and a half hour practice session.

The practice session went well but the 90 minutes went really quick.  Texas Station is 60 lanes and since we were bowling on 4 patterns over the next 4 days, they had all the patterns spread throughout the center in blocks of 14-16 lanes. 

When you’ve got 13 bowling balls with you for all different patterns and you’re trying to practice on all of the patterns, it takes a little bit of time just switching bowling balls from one bag to another and then walking to one end of the house and then back to get bowling balls for another pattern and then walking back, etc.  You lose quite a few minutes of practice session just walking back and forth in a 60 lane center and switching equipment from one bag to another.

I felt pretty good on all of the patterns though.  Afterward we had orientation and then I went back to the Strip for some shopping and some food.  Tonight was back to City Center where I had a nice Mushroom Pizza at Wolfgang Puck’s Cucina at the Crystals Mall.  I found a couple of shirts I liked but they didn’t have my size, so that made me at about 2 for 7 now on shopping malls.  I’m only batting a little under .300, but not too bad.  At least that’s good on my wallet.  The tournament begins tomorrow so I headed back to the room about 9pm and was out by 10pm.

Tuesday January 3rd

Today the tournament begins.  We are going to be bowling on the 39’ Seoul pattern. This week we’re bowling on all WTBA patterns.

The pattern schedule will be as follows:
Tuesday:  39’ Seoul
Wednesday:  47’ Paris
Thursday:  34’ Stockholm
Friday:  45’ Mexico City

The Team USA Trials is also a little different this year in a couple of ways.  First, we’re only bowling 7 games a day instead of last year’s 9.  Also, this year’s champion will be determined by points and not total pinfall.  Basically if you lead the squad by total pins, you get one point.  If you’re second in total pinfall you get 2 points.  If you’re third you get three points and so on down the line. 

So, the person with the LEAST amount of points over 4 days is the Team USA Trials champion, the 2nd least amount of points is 2nd, and so on.  It’s supposed to reward the player who is the most consistent on all 4 days which is definitely a trait of a great bowler:   Versatility.  The player who is really good at one pattern but mediocre/sub-par on another will definitely stick out in this format.

The day really wasn’t a real good day.  My ball roll didn’t really match up too well and I was slow on reading a few transitions.  Texas Station has a little more early hook than the lanes at Sunset Station (which has hosted the Team USA Trials for the last 3 years).  Since my ball roll reads the fronts a lot naturally, this isn’t a real good combination for good ball motion when they break down, which started for me in game 3.  I felt like I threw the ball well overall, but being a little behind on transitions kind of hurt me.  I thought the scoring pace was going to be a little lower so I wasn’t quite as aggressive when I had to move inside the track and needed to start opening up the lane a little more.  I was trying to “trap” the ball just inside the track from games 3-5 instead of just moving deeper and really trying to open it up.  I only went +68 for 7 games which put me in 39th place for the day, especially not good considering I was +72 for the first 2 games.

I figured one point for every year that I’m old will not be acceptable for the rest of the tournament.  I was kind of depressed as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make up that many points considering this is the first time they’ve used this points system.  I went back to the Forum Shops and drowned my sorrows on another Smoked Salmon Pizza at Spago and more cookies at Max Brenner’s.  I knew though……..tomorrow was going to be new day.

Wednesday January 4th

Today we were bowling on the 47’ Paris.  I started out the first game with a pretty good line to the pocket but I think my ball was still burning up a little quick and not getting into a roll down the lanes as I never missed the pocket for 218.  I think the Rapid Fire Pearl I was using was probably flaring a little too much combined with my ball roll reading the fronts too much.  I tried switching balls to an Anarchy and that wasn’t much better ball motion-wise though I did manage to shoot 230 somehow.  I then switched to a Mission X in game 3 and since that flared a little less but still had a strong cover it got through the fronts and rolled through the pins much better. Now I was able to do some striking.

From here I was just trying to chase it left and stay ahead of the moves.  The 6th game I was getting a little too deep as I was starting to get the big wet-dry from side to side as I was shooting a 200 game which wasn’t very good with par being around 225.  I tried to move back right on the fill ball and use loft so I could keep the ball on line as I knew that if I stayed where I was at I was only going to shoot another 200 game which wasn’t going to cut it at the scoring pace that was set.  It looked like it would work based on the fill ball, I just needed to move a little farther left with the same Mission X.  Lo and behold, it worked!  268 to finish the day!

That put me at 7th place for the day which moved me up from 39th to 16th in the standings.  Things were looking up for tomorrow for the short pattern, which has either been really good or really bad for me the last few years in this tournament.

Went back to the Crystals Mall at City Center and grabbed a pizza and some chocolates to take back for later.  I then went to use Kaitlin Mayall’s ball spinner to do some ball work (Thanks Kaitlin!) and then called it a night.

Thursday January 5th

I brought two urethane balls with me to combat the short.  I figured if anything it will give me more control and get me around the pocket until I see how the scoring pace is going to be and then go from there.  It sounded like a solid game plan going in.......however……..then we started bowling, haha!

I think the combination of the early roll of the urethane balls, the early hook built into the surface and my roll which reads the fronts too much as it is…..was a bad combination.  I shot 203 the first game which wasn’t terrible but not up to pace.  I had trouble keeping it on line when I went direct but the ball had trouble cornering when I gave it some room.

After 4 frames of the next game only hitting the pocket twice with one open, I realized that urethane wasn’t cutting it.  Since the loft worked out really well the last game yesterday, I thought I’d try that again.  It made sense since it would help eliminate some of the early roll my release naturally gets since the ball won’t hook in the air, haha!

I switched to pretty strong bowling balls and between the same Mission X and Rapid Fire Pearl I used yesterday, I shot +204 the last 5 to vault me to 6th place in the standings for the day which shot me to 4th place overall.

It was a good day so it was time to back to the Strip at the Forum Shops at Caesars.  I went with my good friend Katie Thornton to have a meal at the Cheesecake Factory and more of those good cookies at Max Brenner's and walked over to the Bellagio and bought some really good pastries at the Jean Philippe Patisserie.  I brought those back to the hotel and Katie and I shared the pastries with Kaitlin Mayall and her Dad while she let me use her ball spinner again (Thanks again Kaitlin!) to prepare surfaces for the Mexico City pattern the next day.

Friday January 6th

This pattern is on paper one of the most difficult in the WTBA series.  It has the potential to be pretty ugly so I felt like I kind of needed to play smart on the fresh and not try to “swing for the fences” so to speak.  I was fortunate shooting 256 the first game out of the box.  I threw a Red Mission playing between 10-13 really straight and had a good look.  I also had the good fortune of tripping a 2-pin, a Brooklyn and a “trip 3-9” for a 5-bagger, but I took every one of them because goodness knows I might need them later.  Sadly, I was really going to need them later.

I shot 196 the next game which I was still in good shape but as we made the turn to the low end I could see that there actually was some ball reaction developing between 20 and 25.  After 4 frames of really bad ball reaction (and seeing some strikes from a fair amount of other people) I knew it was time to move inside.  I went to the Mission X and it was the right ball but it took me a few frames to get lined up and combining that with another open frame I shot 176.  I got lined up and shot 223 the next game but the next few games were a struggle.  I was slipping on the approach which was resulting in a half a game of adjusting slide soles and heels and I was also seeing that my ball roll really wasn’t right.

I’m a fair amount up the back of the ball and I see that I needed more tilt and more rotation but with a softer hand.  All the guys that were bowling well had that.  I can get more rotation, but my tilt is still low so that makes my ball read earlier which forces me farther left which is part of the problem since I’m already about 5 boards too far left to begin with.  I can get more tilt, but not with a soft enough hand.  My ball roll forces me farther left (because it rolls sooner) so I get less hold when I miss in and when I get it to the right (since it burns up earlier) it doesn’t roll through the pins the right way thus it doesn’t strike as much.  I’ve been fighting this all week, but it was magnified today on this pattern.

It was a disappointing way to finish with (2) 170 games in the last 3 games and that put me 35th for the day and 6th place overall.  From here I needed to get picked for the Team since only the top 3 spots were automatically on the Team.

Fortunately, I got picked but I realized that I needed to work on developing this softer hand with more rotation and more tilt.  That’s going to be one of the first things I’ll be working on when I get home.  We had Team USA Orientation that night and then I went to get a bite to eat afterward even though it was near 10pm at that point.  Overall, it was a week with some ups and downs but in the end it all turned out good.  Looking forward to a good year on Team USA!

Saturday January 7th

I took Diandra, her son Madden, Jessica Baker and Jazreel Tan to the airport in the morning and then it was back to the hotel to check out and then back to Los Angeles for a couple of days of R & R.  I met with Missy Parkin for lunch at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (nice call on the fish tacos at Wahoo’s!) and then went to Beverly Hills for some shopping on Rodeo.  I didn’t buy anything at either place, but it was just good to walk around and relax.  It was a reasonably low-stress day ending with a nice juicy “Double-Double” cheeseburger at In-N-Out.

Sunday January 8th

I met up with my cousin who lives in Santa Monica in the morning and we spent most of the day together with her and her boyfriend.  We did some shopping and lunch at the 3rd Street Promenade, watched the NFL playoff games at their house and then went to a few cupcake stores that were right nearby.  Los Angeles is big on cupcake stores….my kind of town.

Speaking about cupcakes, I wanted to go back to the cupcake store that I wanted to go to originally the weekend before that closed early.  I saw on their website that they were open until 8pm on Sunday.  I thought to myself……Perfect!  I’ll get there about 6pm and I’ll get some cupcakes to bring back.  I said goodbye to my cousin about 5:45pm and then got to the cupcake store in North Hollywood about 6:15pm.

I get there…….and they’re closed! There’s a sign on the door saying that they close at 6pm on Sunday, but their freaking website says they’re open until 8pm on Sunday.

Ironically, this trip ended the exact way it started.  Fortunately I bought a few cupcakes from one of the other stores in Santa Monica so I had some cupcakes to take home for my friends, but not the ones I REALLY wanted. It was then off to the airport to catch the 10:50pm red-eye flight and back to work on Monday morning.

At least the bowling part went well. :-)))