Volume 3, Issue 23, The 127th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...
For all those non-English majors out there, I'm quoting Dickens. And from the events that transpired December 9th, the U.S. Open or Opens, if you will, had all the makings of a Tale of Two Tournaments.
With everything from a PWBA boycott of the original event, a new venue for the women, the BPAA making up with the women, and then both the men and the women able to expand both fields, this year's U.S. Opens would no doubt go down in history. The PBA wisely chose not to mention the events that led up to the PWBA's breakup and makeup with the BPAA. The PBA had put up the money, so they were in a win-win situation. Oddly enough, however, the PWBA telecast scarcely mentioned the difficult decision to boycott the original event, and how the strength in unity caused an event larger than any could have imagined. Listening to the PWBA announcers, you could make the mistake of believing the events that unfolded were just a happy accident, and not the work of many people fighting many hours and risking their livelihoods in the process.
The fans clearly won with three uninterrupted hours of television coverage. The men aired first, with the women following for another 90 minutes. But instead of getting a megadose of bowling and players, the PBA chose to show only four players in three matches. At least 30 minutes was wasted with useless sideline interviews. The women didn't make any better use of their TV time. Their 90-minute telecast featured five bowlers, but instead of a four-match format, they chose a three-player shootout followed by two stepladder matches. The extra time was a dreadfully long and boring travelogue about the resort and casino. In all, only nine bowlers appeared through the three-hour block.
The PWBA came out on top with their announcing team since the PBA insisted on sticking with Jim "Why am I covering bowling?" Kelly paired with Randy Pederson. Aside from geographical errors including mentioning how close Fountain Valley is to Pasadena (90 minutes plus traffic is no Sunday drive) and the absolutely hysterical mention Walter Ray is from around here (apparently Kelly doesn't realize the state is actually a 10-12 hour drive from top to bottom and NorCal and SoCal are not close by). Note to Santa: Please send Jim Kelly an atlas....and a book on bowling. Jan Schmidt paired with the Dorin sisters, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard doing the color commentary and Cathy doing sideline interviews. The three know bowling, and it was even more obvious when late in the PWBA telecast the show switched back to Kelly and Pederson to force fans to relive the trauma of Jim Kelly again.
Participants won out with the dual venues. More bowlers at each site were able to bowl. But neither event sold out. In fact neither came close to the projected full field. And for local fans, only seeing one gender was a real loss. Having been in Phoenix last year, witnessing what amounted to a single-tour event this year was downright depressing.
The players clearly won--at least those who won money. The prize funds for both groups were significantly larger than previous events. Mika made history as the first foreign-born U.S. Open champ. Kim won the largest first place check for a women's bowling tournament.
Timewise, the fans won again. The shows even ran slightly over, into a women's college soccer match. So for now, bowling even rates with ESPN. And with a month off before the next PBA show, and nearly six months before another PWBA event, it had to be enough. So with mixed blessings, the U.S. Open was a mixed bag.