Volume 2, Issue 35, The 87th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
The PBA has had a couple of clouds hanging over its head for the last few months--namely the PBA's financial woes with the proposed salvation/buyout by former Microsoft guru Chris Peters and the rumored pending suspension of Pete Weber. While the buyout received a lot of publicity even in papers as large as the Wall Street Journal, the suspension was only whispered by fans as gossip without any concrete proof. Pete made telecasts, and the commentators mentioned nothing, and in the round-by-round stories, Pete sounded like his smug self.
On February 29th, the rumor became reality. In a press release sent to the media folks and posted on the PBA website, the title confirmed it all: Pete Weber Suspended by PBA Tour. For those who don't follow the rumor mill, late last year Pete was given a code of ethics violation at the tournament in Bay City, MI. I've heard various stories from players and fans alike, beginning the day of the incident. All the stories seem to revolve around a fan during a pro am, but since the PBA never mentioned what happened, when it happened, there was no "official" story. It really doesn't matter what the particulars in the incident were, since the PBA found cause to suspend him for the incident, as Pete was on probation for a prior incident.
But we live in a free society, and even PBA players have rights, and Mr. Weber was given the opportunity to appeal. Commissioner Mark Gerberich upheld the suspension, and Pete appealed to the Board of Directors. As irony would have it, while this appeal played out, Pete had a great swing. He won title number 25, and came close to tying his Daddy's stats with title 26 only to finish second. After the Touring Players Championship, Pete dropped his appeal. Pretty convenient since the rest of the touring players already have an 18-week hiatus and only a few tour stops are slated for later in the year. And no one can keep him from bowling in the Masters since it's an ABC event, and I'm not sure whether he's eligible for the U.S. Open or not.
No one is denying the ability of Pete the bowler, least of all, me. People without talent do not amass 25 titles and $2 million in earnings. What I take issue with is Pete the person. Baseball has Darryl Strawberry and they had Steve Howe. Hockey has Marty McSorley, and the NFL is quickly becoming the National Felons League. Bowling already has image problems, financial problems, you name it. And now we have the Pete problem. Pete was already on probation, and he only receives a 10-month suspension. Where's the punishment in that? Take out the over four-month hiatus between PBA swings, and it's more like a six-month suspension.
In our society of explaining away everyone's behavior problems because of their childhood, I've heard one too many people blame Pete's behavior on his father. Hello? Pete is a nearly 40-year-old man. The statute of limitations to blame Daddy for his personal demons ended LONG ago. While I'm sure it's difficult to grow up in the shadow of greatness, having a Hall of Famer as your father also has its perks. And no matter how hard it is, Pete has two choices, to bowl as a professional or not. There are plenty of players who carry around their own burdens, and they don't have numerous conduct violations.
It's also an insult to every other player when people say, "but what would the PBA be without Pete?" Did the NBA actually miss Dennis Rodman? Now that he's back, I think not. The talent on the PBA is so deep, and the friendliness of the players never ceases to amaze me. Why should the PBA or its players worry about a Pete-less tour? There are other players to promote, and other players for hopefuls to emulate. There are even players with intensity that can create a fan base without controversy. The Pro Ams are the best marketing device the PBA has, and risking another outburst would just be foolish.
But come January 2001, Pete Weber will be back competing. He'll be on probation for 18 months, but as he's proven before, probation doesn't apparently mean much. Hopefully when the new ownership comes in, they'll be less afraid of what a Weber-less PBA is like, and more concerned for the integrity and reputation of the other 3,000 members of the PBA.