Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts had only two weeks from the end of his major league baseball season to prepare for his second trip to the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling, and by all reasonable measurements, it was a successful venture…and more.
Betts, a 25-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native, was an accomplished league bowler back home when he bowled his first PBA World Series in Reno in 2015, where his athletic abilities were clearly evident, as was his lack of experience in bowling at a world-class level. With very little experience bowling on different lane conditions, or working with different types of bowling ball dynamics, Betts averaged 190 for 36 games on four different animal patterns, finishing that event in 210th place out of an expanded field of 238 bowlers.
A leg injury prevented him from bowling in 2016, but he returned this year with a better idea of what to expect, and he upped his game to meet the challenge, finishing his 40-game qualifying series on four different lane oiling patterns with a 205.6 average – a 15 pins-per-game improvement – and finishing in a tie for 158th place in a 195-player field.
But the biggest surprise was bowling his first 300 game in PBA competition in the Scorpion qualifying round, which happened to be the lowest-scoring round for the entire field. Out of 1,900 games bowled in the Scorpion round, there were only three perfect games – and Betts had one of them. It created big news around the sports world, including coverage by Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, MLB.com, ESPN.com, ESPN SportsCenter, Bleacher Report, Deadspin and others.
A reporter asked him how he’d compare the 10th frame vs. coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded, two outs and needing a hit to win.
“I’m much more comfortable with the bottom of the ninth,” Betts said. “After I got the first strike in the 10th frame, I turned around and saw everyone crowded around, so I was pretty nervous. I kinda used my experience with breathing techniques I use in baseball. I never would have thought I’d need to use that in bowling, but, hey, it came in handy.”
The perfect game – and all 12 strikes were solid in the pocket – came on the heels of 157 and 169 games, which put him below the 200 average curve he was trying to achieve in the Scorpion round.
“Anytime you shoot 160, 170 there’s a little frustration but you’ve got four more games to go, so things can turn around,” Betts said. “It’s like striking out twice, and coming up for the third time. You still have a job to do. You have to focus on the task at hand, and that’s what I did.”
Betts approached his return to the PBA World Series realistically.
“I accomplished my goal, which was to (average 200) on all of the patterns,” he said. “I have to be happy with that. I didn’t come here expecting to make any cuts or any money. I set some goals I was able to reach, and I did it.”
Depending upon a number of variables, Betts hopes to return to the PBA World Series in 2018.
“I plan on it, but I obviously have to take care of career number one,” he said. “But if the opportunity presents itself, I’d like to come back.”
In the meantime, the Red Sox right fielder will be among the celebrity bowlers participating in the ninth annual State Farm® CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational presented by Go Bowling! on Friday, Dec. 1, at The Woodlands in Houston, Texas, along with Houston Rockets star Chris Paul, the event’s host; fellow Rockets’ star James Harden, former NFL star Terrell Owens (fresh off his appearance on “Dancing with the Stars”) and others to be announced. PBA players participating will be reigning PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett, PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Norm Duke, and PBA Tour titlists Bill O’Neill, Sean Rash and DJ Archer. The annual fund-raiser will air on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. EST.
Paul and PBA partner Chris Barnes won the eighth annual event, defeating Betts and his PBA partner, Tommy Jones, 187-179.
GEICO PBA WSOB IX BY THE NUMBERS: DIVERSE CHALLENGES HELP SPREAD THE WEALTH
Historically in multiple events held in the same location, a hallmark of the PBA World Series of Bowling since its beginning in 2009, there are always a handful of players who’ll claim all of the diverse lane oiling patterns play the same way. In reality, the results prove otherwise.
In the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Reno Resorts Properties and hosted by Reno’s National Bowling Stadium for a third consecutive year, the four newly-refined animal pattern stages of the tournament resulted in 101 of the 195 players cashing at least once. That’s a 51.7% (or better than 1:2 cashing ratio).
The diversity of the oiling patterns (33-foot Cheetah, 39-foot Chameleon, 42-foot Scorpion and 45-foot Shark), each with variations in the amount of oil applied across the lane as well as in distance, suggests that players who prefer to play an outside line vs. those who like to play inside, left-handers vs. right-handers, two-handers vs. hard throwers, etc., all had a chance to compete on one pattern or another. And the most adaptable players were the ones who emerged among the top 49 across 40 games, advancing to the PBA World Championship cashers’ round for another 20 games – five games each on the same four patterns.
Some of the interesting stats after the four animal pattern stages include the following:
Among the 101 cashers, 63 remain in competition in either the PBA World Championship cashers’ round or among the 16 match play finalists in the four animal pattern events.
No player advanced in all five events. Sweden’s Jesper Svensson and Australia’s Jason Belmonte cashed in all five and advanced in four event;Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., and Matt McNiel of Minneapolis cashed four times. Smallwood advanced in three, McNiel in two. Twenty-six players cashed in three of the five events.
There were three 300 games bowled in the Chameleon round, nine in the Shark round, eight in the Cheetah round and three in the Scorpion round.
At least one player from 15 of the record 27 countries represented cashed.
PAIRINGS SET FOR SCORPION MATCH PLAY ELIMINATION ROUNDS
With the completion of the 10-game Pepsi PBA Scorpion Championship presented by GoBowling.com round on Sunday at Reno’s National Bowling Stadium, pairings are set for all four animal pattern single-elimination match play rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 15-16.
Each of the animal pattern match play events will involve the top 16 players bowling best-of-five-game matches, with winners advancing to the Round of 8 for best-of-three-game matches. Bracket pairings are based on qualifying position. The four Round of 8 winners will advance to championship round matches on Saturday, Nov. 18, live streamed on ESPN3 and recorded for delayed telecast on ESPN. ESPN3 is available at no cost to anyone who subscribes to ESPN through a local cable or television affiliate.
Here are the pairings for the Scorpion match play rounds:
PEPSI PBA SCORPION CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY GOBOWLING.COM
(A part of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour)
National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Thursday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. PST
Round of 16 (best-of-five-game single-elimination match play)
Match 1 – Arturo Quintero, Mexico, vs. Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C.
Match 2 – EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., vs. Stuart Williams, England.
Match 3 – Dom Barrett, England, vs. Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo.
Match 4 – Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, vs. BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa.
Match 5 – Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., vs. Jason Belmonte, Australia.
Match 6 – Raymond Lussier, Canada, vs. Zeke Bayt, Westerville, Ohio
Match 7 – Brian LeClair, Albany, N.Y., vs. Matt McNiel, Minneapolis.
Match 8 – Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, vs. Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan.
Round of 8 (best-of-three-game single-elimination match play, 1:30 p.m.; four winners advance to Chameleon Championship finals on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m.)
Match 1 – Quintero-Troup winner vs. Tackett-Williams winner.
Match 2 – Barrett-Sherman winner vs. Maldonado-Moore winner.
Match 3 – O’Neill-Belmonte winner vs. Lussier-Bayt winner.
Match 4 – LeClair-McNiel winner vs. Novak-Bidwell winner.
ENGLAND’S DOM BARRETT RETURNS TO HELP “THE WORLD” BID FOR TEAM TITLE
England’s Dom Barrett will be the only returning player when the USA and The World team event kicks off ESPN’s coverage of the WSOB IX, and officially launches the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season. The team match will be contested on Friday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. (PST) at the National Bowling Stadium. It will be live streamed on ESPN3 and taped for airing on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 1 p.m. EST.
Earning berths on the USA team, based on 40-game pinfall totals after the four animal pattern qualifying rounds, are Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich.; Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y.; Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C.; Matt McNiel, Minneapolis, and Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.
Earning berths on The World team are Jesper Svenssen, Sweden; Jason Belmonte, Australia; Thomas Larsen, Denmark; Barrett and Muhammad Rafiq Ismail, Malaysia.
Barrett bowled for “The World” in the 2016 best-of-two-game Baker format event – won by the USA in a one-ball sudden-death roll-off.
LANETALK CONFIRMS DOMINANCE BY ARTURO QUINTERO, THOMAS LARSEN
LaneTalk, PBA’s statistical analysis partner for WSOB IX, continues to track detailed performance data for a variety of aspects of WSOB IX. Additional stats and information can be found on LaneTalk’s page on Facebook. Among the tidbits gleaned from Arturo Quintero’s dominant round in Sunday’s Scorpion Championship 10-game round, and updated data on Cheetah leader Thomas Larsen’s performance in Saturday’s Cheetah Championship qualifying, include the following:
The field of 195 players knocked down a total of 416,522 pins in the Cheetah round (compared to 422,367 pins for the Shark 45 round and 412,799 pins for the Chameleon 39 round). The field’s composite average was 215.81.
Some of Cheetah qualifying leader Thomas Larsen’s stats vs. the field included:
An average of 255.6, 39.8 pins better than the field at large;
His strike percentage was 76.52%, just under 20% higher than the full field;
Larsen had a 98% “clean frame” average and, converted 100% of his “makeable” spares.
For Sunday’s Scorpion Championship, LaneTalk reported:
The field of 195 players knocked down a total of 401,036 pins in the Scorpion 42 round (a WSOB low total compared to 416,522 pins for the Cheetah 33 round, 422,367 pins for the Shark 45 round and 412,799 pins for the Chameleon 39 round). The field’s composite average was 211.07, the lowest scoring pace among the four animal patterns.
The high score in the Cheetah round was 300 (by three players); the low game was 71 (based on an incomplete game by a player who withdrew).
The entire field’s strike percentage was 54.84. First shots resulted in splits 8.47% of the time and non-strike shots resulted in single-pin spares 23.37% of the time.
The field had an 87.79% “clean frame” average, converting “makeable” spares 86.66% of the time.
Some of Scorpion qualifying leader Arturo Quintero’s stats vs. the field included:
An average of 242, 31 pins better than the field at large;
His strike percentage was 73.04%, about 18.2% higher than the full field;
Like previous animal pattern leaders, Quintero had a definite edge in spare conversions. He had a 95% “clean frame” average and, converted 92% of his “makeable” spares.
NEXT ON XTRA FRAME: PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CASHERS’ ROUND CONCLUDES
Xtra Frame’s extensive coverage of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties, concludes an important phase Tuesday when the final two five-game rounds of PBA World Championship qualifying take place at the National Bowling Stadium. The PBA World Championship is the final major of the 2017 season and the first major to be a part of the new 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule.
The PBA World Championship is down to a field of 49 after 40 games – 10 games each on the PBA Chameleon 39, Shark 45, Cheetah 33 and Scorpion 42 oiling patterns. All 49 players bowled another five games on the Chameleon and Shark patterns Monday and will bowl five more games on the Cheetah and Scorpion patterns Tuesday. The top five after 60 games will advance to the World Championship finals on Sunday, Nov. 19 at noon PST (live on ESPN3, taped for telecast on ESPN on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST.
Fans can follow the World Championship’s final qualifying stages through the “live scoring” feature on pba.com, and Xtra Frame subscribers can gain additional insights through pre- and post-round coverage of cashers’ round on Tuesday. The Cheetah 33 round starts at 1 p.m. The Scorpion 42 round begins at 5 p.m. PST.
Xtra Frame subscriptions are available in a variety of packages: three-day ($3.99), 30-day ($7.99) and Xtra Frame Season Ticket (a full-year’s coverage at an average cost of $1.25 per week) subscriptions are available by visiting “xtraframe.tv” and clicking on the “subscribe now” link.