Volume 1, Issue 37
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
In the last few years, I've been on the receiving end of a bad instant-replay decision a couple of times. The first time was during the American League Championship Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees. Everyone remembers the twelve-year-old cherub who reached over the center field wall to grab a ball in play. The umpires ruled incorrectly as fans later saw on replay, but based on what they saw, they ruled. It had a direct impact on the outcome of the game, and some argue it changed the momentum of the series. All I remember is feeling numb and my stomach just sank. My beloved Orioles were soon out of contention. And in NY, they threw that kid a parade; my blood still boils.
The second time happened today, during the Columbia 300 Open in Austin. I flashed back to that baseball moment. The names were different, but the feeling and reactions were the same. In the title match, Parker Bohn was bowling Pete Weber (Actually, if you think about it long enough, Parker does have that clean-cut image of a Cal Ripken, and Pete Weber would make a fine New York Yankee...OK, back to bowling).
After Parker apparently stuck during his approach in the fourth frame on a single-pin conversion, Phil Ferguson, the announcer, pointed out that the replay showed that Parker had fouled. The telecast took a surreal turn when Marshall Holman seemed to downplay the "instant replay," even though the side-view angle did show what looked like a foul. I thought for a minute poor Phil was the character in "The Emperor's New Clothes" that mentioned the emperor was nude, and Marshall was trying to decide whether to ignore him or scold him.
Somehow the foul line judge didn't call it, or no one was told of the call, and obviously the foul light was not tripped, so that appeared to be the end of it. Two frames later, after a commercial break, the powers that be seemingly decided to introduce instant replay to the sport of professional bowling. The spare conversion was removed and a foul put in its place. Parker's slim lead was cut to a single pin. I don't think anyone could be happy given the turn of events, but Parker managed to maintain his composure in the frames that remained and beat Weber for his eighteenth career title. At least the ending to this story is much sweeter than for my Os.
While I am not doubting that if someone committed a foul, they should be penalized, I question how long the decision can take. The PBA website glossed over the incident, giving very little indication as to how they made the decision to go with the replay or why the foul line judge didn't call the foul to begin with. But I'm wondering: Did Pete call it? Not likely, since most PBA players don't watch their opponents bowl. Did one of the PBA officials see it? Is there a back-up foul line judge? Are on-air personalities considered tournament officials?
People have mentioned that the PGA will take the word of tattle tale fans if a player makes a mistake on the golf course. Hey that's great. In a venue as large as an 18-hole golf course, maybe that has to happen. But I question the need for instant replay when there is someone sitting there whose entire job is to watch for people crossing the foul plane no more than 21 times each bowler per match.
I'm hoping this incident will go quietly in the annuls of bowling trivia. There was a foul, and it thankfully didn't affect the outcome. And I realize how lucky the PBA Tour is to have Parker Bohn among its talent. Even when interviewed afterwards, he alluded to discussing it later with officials, but he did not slip once in maintaining a professional air. I can think of several other people who might have gone ballistic on a similar call. Some of them have been fined for comments made on or off the television broadcast, and when the outcome of a match can be at stake, you can almost understand. Almost. But if there are going to be any parades this time, it should be with Parker for prevailing through a bad situation, with enough class to let the entire issue drop.