Final wrap-up of the 2007 USBC Masters

Bluemound Bowl, Bowling, Miller Park, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, PBA Tour, USBC Masters

Life got in the way of my posting this sooner, but I was at Miller Park for the finals.  By now, you must know that Sean Rash threw a 269 game (beating Steve Jaros' 245 game) to win the $100,000.  But here are some of my comments about the finals, and about the ESPN telecast...

  • A very disappointing turnout of 2,712 attended the finals.  While that is higher than the attendance at the previous two Masters finals (in 2005 at the US Cellular Arena and in 2006 at the State Fair Expo Center), it is much lower than the 4,303 that attended at Miller Park in 2004, and about one-third of the record 7,212 for a tournament in Detroit.  The USBC rented out Miller Park in an effort to break the record, and such a poor attendance will likely cause the entire Masters tournament to be moved to a different city.  If the tournament is moved out of Milwaukee, it would be the third time that Milwaukee would lose a pro tour stop.  It is a good thing that the pros bowl twice this season in the Chicago area.
  • As for the bowling itself, the scores were too high for the finals of a major event.  The USBC, the PBA and ESPN all get caught between a rock and a hard place.  If scores are too low, then the common bowler will say "those guys aren't that good... even I can shoot 180".  If the scores are too high, then the higher-average player can say "it's too bad that shotmaking wasn't at a premium".  On Sunday, Steve Jaros bowled an 814 series (a 271 average) and LOST.  I can get into lots and lots of technical reasons as to why the scores were too high, but this isn't the forum (this is).  Suffice to say that for a $100K prize and bowling in a major tournament should offer a challange, and that challenge wasn't there.
  • The professional bowlers are the greatest bowlers in the world.  Don't ever forget that.  I can brag about my 225 average, or my league record 847 series in the Bluemound Bowl Bob Kodel Major League, etc., etc., but in watching the pros this week, I felt very insignificant.  In the finals on Sunday, Jaros changed balls in the middle of an 814 series!  To a higher-average player, that is unheard of.  If I shoot 279 then 290 and I lose my carry, the last thing in my mind is that I need a different ball.  But Jaros made the change and struck on every ball (until he was mathematically eliminated).
  • I did have a hard time coughing up the $8 for parking.  I understand that the USBC and PBA are just renting the facility, and that the Masters is a major tournament, but I felt that I was gouged by Miller Park and the county.
  • Soon after I got home from the finals (and got back from Walgreens with a second lot of trick-or-treat candy) I watched ESPN's broadcast.  New to the announcing booth is Rob Stone, whom I've enjoyed while watching MLS games on ESPN.  He seemed to do an OK job for his first live event.  However, he did play upon the "I'm new to this and learning" angle.  Hopefully that will ease up and he will do a decent job.
  • I was disappointed in some of ESPN's camera angles.  I understand that it wasn't ESPN's job to fill Miller Park, but just about every camera angle that was not an intentional crowd shot showed about 10,000 empty seats.  The crowd was basically in three sections on both the first and second levels.  But their establishing shot was from a stationary camera in the press box behind home plate.  From that angle, there seemed like there were no fans at all.  Same with when they showed a snippet from the sausage race.  The hand-held camera caught the sausages from home plate past first base to the finish... all shot with empty seats in the background.
  • And about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's disasterous coverage... this could be (and probably should be) a post unto itself.  Early last week, I said that we'd be lucky to get puff pieces on the three previous champions (we didn't).  We barely got any real tournament info... it was like I was reading the TV Guide review of any new show.  Cursory data, a few generic quotes, and no photos.  Overall, a horrid job.  It was like Gary D'Amato was given a press pass and felt compelled to write something (while not worrying about exactly what he was writing about).  I am realistic.  I didn't expect six days of large-type, above the fold headlines.  But good grief, would a photo or two each day somewhere in the paper have been too much to ask?  Bowling has four major tournaments, and this one paid the second most and was held here!  Say what you want about the bowling vs. golf, but this tournament is the equivalent to golf's Masters.  Coverage was completely unbecoming the status that the bowling community reveres the Masters.  I would have just as soon the MJS wrote a story that said "we feel bowling is dying and isn't worth our time, effort, or real estate in the paper.  If there is a next year for the Masters in Milwaukee, I will ask editor Mark Maley to secure a press pass for me, and I (a non-journalist) will volunteer to write three stories per day:  One will be a technical review of the parts of the lane and the equipment that was successful, one will be geared for the non-bowler, and one will be geared towards other stuff going on... like size of the crowd, or matches between players of interest.  Maley can put them on WauwatosaNOW (because AMF Bowlero is in Wauwatosa) for all I care.  But the only newspaper in town really shouldn't have mailed it in this past week.

Coming later this week... blog entries that are NOT about bowling.

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