Stone needs to be rolled out of ESPN booth
January 9, 2008
Special Web-only column from Post-Tribune staff writer Steve T. Gorches
Can we stop the insanity already?
Even Randy Pedersen sounds as if he's annoyed at the moronic quips of broadcast partner Rob Stone.
Maybe the former standout on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) turned ESPN analyst has just becoming immune to the stupidity.
The second half of the PBA season began on Sunday with the future holder of the all-time PBA titles record (we can hope, can't we?), Tommy Jones, winning his 11th title over Patrick Allen in the ConstructionJobs.com Championship at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada.
(Is it just me or are the names of these PBA tournaments getting ridiculous? I'm waiting for a dose of college football injected into the PBA name game with the Poulin-Weedeater Classic as a tourney name.)
Part of the weirdness on the telecast was Allen, a 10-time titlist himself, missing a 5-pin.
Yes, a pro bowler, one who is eligible for the hall of fame with his 10 titles and young enough that he should accomplish enough to make the hall one day, missed the easiest spare of them all for league bowlers.
Even my 13-year-old son had to exclaim in disbelief, "Oh my god, he missed a freakin' 5-pin! How do you miss a 5-pin?"
At least Allen, who admits to being a verbal masochist when judging his own game, laughed at his mistake.
But back to the moronic portion of the PBA this season.
That would be Stone.
Just curious, whose decision was it to choose this guy to sit next to Pedersen on the Sunday telecasts?
If it was the PBA, it should have known better than to choose a bowling neophyte. Oh, for the days of Mike Durbin and Earl Anthony announcing PBA events. Heck, I'd take Marshall Holman or Denny Schreiner.
If it was ESPN, it should have done more research on the demographic. Most bowlers want a fellow bowler analyzing their TV shows or writing their newspaper stories or ranting in their bowling editorial columns.
They don't want people who admit they don't know much about the sport and will learn as they go along. That's what Stone has said on multiple occasions.
What was wrong with Dave Ryan? It was so great when Ryan filled in for Stone earlier this season (including at Stardust Bowl II for the Lake County Indiana Classic).
Stone missed some time to be with his wife as the birth of twins approached.
Ryan would admit he wasn't a bowling genius, but he knew enough to not sound stupid and look to Pedersen for knowledge when needed.
Instead we're relegated to more nonsense and lack of bowling knowledge.
Would CBS, NBC or ESPN hire John McEnroe analyze professional golf? Would they have Deion Sanders announcing tennis? So why is Stone, who was previously a soccer announcer for ESPN, doing bowling?
And please Stone, I've had just about enough of those "hambone" references.
For those who haven't caught a PBA show this season, Stone announced in the first event (or maybe it was the second â€¦ his tenure has been so forgettable that I can't quite recall) that he wanted to create his own nickname for when four strikes in a row were rolled.
That happens quite often on most telecasts since these are the best bowlers in the world (though one of them missed a "freakin' 5-pin"). So the annoyance level gets real high.
Last I checked, most bowlers call it a "four-bagger." I used to hear some guys call it a "slam" referring to the baseball term grand slam.
But it's not a hambone. In fact, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) says a hambone is not four in a row and I have proof.
Back when my son was in the bantam division of youth leagues, he received a patch from the Young American Bowling Alliance (the governing body of youth bowling before the USBC merger) with a pig (get it ... a pig has a hambone ... funny stuff), two "Xs" on it and the word "hambone."
That would be two Xs and not four, Mr. Stone.
Now most league bowlers call two strikes a double, as do most computerized scoring systems with cute graphics after those two strikes. But if the former YABA, now part of the USBC, sent out patches to the youth bowlers of America saying it's a hambone, then Stone needs to oblige the governing body.
Who is he to argue with the USBC? Trust me, I've tried and it usually gets nowhere.
Steve T. Gorches has won five United States Bowling Congress national writing awards the last two years, including three this year. Contact him at 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.