(Side note; [Extra side note; starting a post with a side note is very unique. That's what makes this writer - in this writer's opinion - very cool. Even my mom thinks I'm cool. Right, Mom?] the blogging software has not been running smoothly. This blog was originally meant to post Friday morning, but when I couldn't get on the server, I saved it. Then later on Friday I had an even better idea for a post but still couldn't get on the server. So that one is being saved until next Friday (when you see it, you'll understand). But obviously the server is all better now. So sit back, and pretend I posted this Friday morning at 8:00 AM).
I have been bowling in the same league on Thursday nights since 1997. Originally started in the early-1990s as the Grand Classic League at Red Carpet Celebrity Lanes, the league moved to AMF West after Celebrity closed, before moving to Riviera Lanes in 1999 and becoming the 1070 Classic league.
From when we joined the league as Wholesale Tickets & Tours until now known as Brew City Tickets (located in West Allis, buy the way), we have kept three common members... my good friend, I'll call him Grap and my other good friend whom I've previously dubbed Ray Sunshine. The three of us have seen numerous teammates come and go, we've seen two different teammates quit at midseason, we've lost Grap during the 2006 season to a torn ligament in the elbow, and I missed most of last season with my own elbow surgery.
In my 11+ seasons in this league, my team has never been particularly good and though the season is broken into four quarters, our team has never won even one of the 42 previous quarters. One year, we did make the league Championship roll-off as the team with the most points that hadn't won a quarter, but that was about the limit of our success.
Three years ago, we assembled a team with two talented players... one being Pinhead and the other being Poodle. Unfortunately between mine and Scott's injuries, it never really came together.
Until this past quarter.
On Thursday, February 26th, the Club Paragon team, being three points ahead of Brew City Tickets in the standings, bowled against each other for the 3rd quarter title. Club Paragon has been previous league champions, and are consistently in the season-end Championship roll-off. It could be said that they were the clear favorites to win the quarter. Though other scenarios existed, the situation was basically that the team to win two out of three games would win.
In the first game, the lanes played pretty easily inside of second arrow, banking off the dry 8th board. Brew City Tickets took advantage of this, and with three bowlers shooting over 240 (myself, Grap and Poodle) won the first game by over 100 pins. In the second game, the lanes started to transition (some of the oil in the middle of the lanes started pushing down, making that dry board not-so-dry). Though most of the game was close, Club Paragon pulled away late and won the second game by almost the same margin.
After two games, we were tied up - both on points and total pins. 11 seasons + would come down to one last game. And just to make life more interesting, the lanes transitioned again, as by the end of the second game it was hard to find where any oil was. (Side note; I swear that on one shot of mine early in the third game, I actually saw sparks from the friction where my high performance bowling ball was in contact with bare wood. If you are a skilled bowler, you understand the reference).
Through six frames, Brew City Tickets was down about a mark, but that is where Club Paragon's experience started to take over. Though none of Club Paragon's bowlers are famous as having racked up loads of city, state or national titles, the hallmark of their team is that when the lanes get tough, they are able to maintain the pocket. So whereas my Brew City Tickets teammates and I were changing balls, trying different lines, and just trying to make better shots (and when that didn't work, we were faced with something like the 4-6-7-9 split) Club Paragon wasn't necessarily striking, but they were leaving and converting easy spares.
By the 10th frame, the match was over and Club Paragon the third quarter winners. But it really was a moral victory for our team. In past years when we would bowl some of the better teams in our league, many times we would get crushed. Hammered. Murdelated. But we hung with 'em for seven weeks and 28 or so frames. (Side note; one of the players on Club Paragon's team was previously on the Plennes, Inc. team. Don't know them? That team set a state record on February 15, 2001 that still stands - the record of the highest scratch series by a 5-person mixed team, rolling 3761. Their opponent that night? That's right. Wholesale Tickets and Tours. We won one individual point that night [my teammates never did thank me] as we lost by over 1000 total pins.)
So who says there are no great bowling stories? Imagine what a real writer might have done with this story, and how interesting of a read it would have been as you peruse the morning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel while eating your bran muffin and canteloupe. Just maybe, eight weeks from now, I can rewrite this story, but with a happier ending.