by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
One of my standing tongue in cheek goals each bowling season is to produce a bowling average higher than Nick Punto’s batting average. It’s becoming less of a challenge, in fact, my entire Friday night league finished higher than Nick is doing this year. But in bowling, we have secretaries that compile the scores each week and compute the averages of league members. At the banquet, we may get a sheet or two with some interesting statistics, but the bottom line is one number forwarded to the USBC for the permanent record. Baseball keeps track of nearly everything a player does during the game, and guys like Bill James earn a good living just compiling the stats into media guides and books. Then Bert Blyleven reads them to us while we’re trying to watch the game. But baseball is historically popular because of the talking points that stats have to offer.
Maybe we could enhance the popularity of bowling by adding more statistics to the game. A striking average could be a start. Compile a three decimal percentage of strikes out of first shots thrown. One strike would be a single, a double would be… a double of course. A turkey would be a triple and a four bagger a home run. Then the string starts over, so if you were fortunate enough to roll a 300, you would have 3 home runs in one game. Missing the head pin would be a wild pitch, and if you missed the head pin again on the spare, it would be hitting into a double play. Any open frame would be an error, but missing single pins would be a separate stat.
It would be interesting to see if the person with the best striking average would also have the highest scoring average. Where would the bowler with the most home runs end up in the mix. It would provide fodder for conversation over a beer after bowling. The number of times you are hung in a season could be crucial when negotiating next year’s contract. (That’s when your four teammates strike and you don’t, something that’s never happened to me in the history of bowling.)
Maybe ESPN could replace Hambone Stone with Bert Blyleven, who could read the various statistics of Parker Bohn, Wes Malott, Walter Ray, etc. while we watched the Sunday show. Anything to get Bert out of the new broadcast booth at Target Field.
But most important - all of this statistical info would be printed on the back of our bowling bubble gum card.