January 28, 2007

Tales of dysmal Bowling and Some Lessons Learned (BRM)

I feel like Karma bit me in the ass recently, and seeing how things are so dead around here I thought I'd share my tribulations on the bowling lanes as sort of an object lesson about the nature of competitive streakiness, at least from my perspective.

First off, I despise losing which is probably why I always idolized Pete Rose despite his personality flaws. I can recall in little league pulling a knife on a kid because he was hurting the team at third base. I think I was 11 or 12 at the time. I broke down and cried when I made the last out in an all-star game and my dad, horribly embarrassed, had to pretty much drag me away. In a college softball game I completely lost it and started swearing constantly at the opposition until the game degenerated into a mediocre brawl. The things that came out of my mouth shocked me more than it did them, I am guessing.

So now I find myself pretty much in the same boat after having a again degenerated into diabolical cussing against my foes. I was convinced they sandbagged their averages in the first half of the season in order to set themselves up for this the second half. This is a handicapped league, so you add points to your final score, depending on your current average. My team won the first half, but we have been struggling mightily ever since then.

Well, basically what happened is I went from being “in the zone” to being in the “anti-zone”. Where I could do no wrong I now could do nothing right. What seemed easy and effortless was now a mind-boggling perplexing situation that had become a psychological issue, though it probably started as a purely physical one.

So what I am getting at here, is that I think I understand better how it is for a player to suddenly lose it or to go from hot to cold back to hot and back to cold again. It sort of defies logic and can really drive you mad. Clearly what the Reds did last year, especially the fatalistic conclusion, was a puzzling type of curse that we all witnessed and began assigning blame to guys like Narron, Dunn, LaRue, Weathers, Franklin etc. That's what fans typically do: we scapegoat players for the shortcomings of our team. And the manager typically defends his guys, perhaps understanding the idiosyncracies of streakiness better than us common folk do. He knows his guys will just get more psychologically entangled if blame is assigned and ill-will is harbored for a critical miscue.

Every game is a new game and every day is a new day yet the energy all too often carries over from one segment of time to the next one.
How do you break the curse? Do you sacrifice a chicken? Do you break up your routine? Do you practice more often, until your fingers are bleeding? Do you refuse to believe it is anything more than just random bad luck and perservere with your identical routine? Those are the questions that all competitors must face when things go bad, and ultimately it is all of those things and none of those things that matter. It is what it is. I call it negative energy, and no matter how much I rage, cuss, or beat myself up it won't help. Sometimes stopping to care altogether helps, but that might be a short term solution.

I am still exploring this phenomena and I am quitting my bowling leagues because I've pretty much made a complete ass out of myself despite both my teams winning the first half. I have lost the joy and I am looking forward to baseball and watching other people deal with the agony of defeat and the thrill of the win. I need a beak.

But one thing I do pledge and one lesson I have learned: I am going to ease up on my criticism. Things always look easy from the outside. These guys are in the major leagues for a reason: they paid their dues and proved themselves worthy of a shot. Some of them will get sent down and the roster will shuffle into place, but yesterday's hero can easily be tomorrow's goat and vice versa. I am throwing all logic out the window this season. I think its all about the energy and just riding out the highs and lows while maintaining serenity and sanity even at the most gut-wrenching moments. No more will I be ridiculing or namecalling or calling for heads to roll or thinking I would be a better manager than Jerry. I have been humbled, and while I don't think my behavior or my writing has any impact on the team, I need to do what I think is right from here on out, which means easing up on my scathing rants when the wheel comes off the wagon. Maybe if we all try and do that it will have a collective impact and create some good vibes. It can't hurt, that is for sure.


6 comments to “Tales of dysmal Bowling and Some Lessons Learned (BRM)”

  1. smartelf says:

    Said Albert Camus: ‘To live as if our choices make any real difference in the long run may be the act of a fool,but to live as if they do not, that is the act of a coward.

  2. Red Hot Mama says:

    You seriously pulled a knife on a kid in little league? That’s messed up, man. Were you thinking you’d scare him into playing better? Coercing him to quit the team? Planning to take him out of the picture permanently?

    This is a dark little character trait that I may obsess on for a while, just to warn you up front.

  3. smartelf says:

    I didn’t hold it to the kids throat or anything like that, but I may have brandished it a bit… I had just bought it from my friend and that was the first and only time in my life I pulled a weapon on someone, so you don’t need to do too much character analysis on that action, I don’t think. But basically that kid’s dad was the coach and it was my belief it was hurting the team so I told him something along the lines of he better improve his play or else ask to ride the pine.
    Just win, baby… that’s my motto.

  4. KC2HMZ says:

    According to the guy who wrote the following, you have a disease, smartelf:

    “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win. There’s nothing wrong with grinding your guts to do everything you can to make it happen. There’s definitely something wrong, though, when you take it to the point where winning becomes an obsession and hazardous to your health or the well-being of your family. That’s when the urgency to win crosses over the line of sanity. That’s when winning actually becomes a disease. I’ve had to face that disease.”

    It was 1990 when those words were written. They were the fourth and fifth paragraphs, and the first sentence of the sixth paragraph, of an autobiography written by a guy named George. Or at least, his wife probably called him George. The rest of the world – or at least, the baseball world – called him Sparky. The book, written with Dan Ewald, is probably out of print, but maybe you can scrounge a copy from a fellow reds (or Tigers) fan near you and read how he dealt with the disease.

    FWIW, you and Sparky aren’t the only ones, either:


    That links to a report on ESPN about a guy who pulled a gun on a youth football coach during a game of 6- and 7-year olds because his son wasn’t getting enough playing time.


    P.S.: Don’t worry, if the Reds go in the toilet this year, I’ll write enough scathing rants for the both of us. 😉

  5. smartelf says:

    I’ve read that book by Sparky. I’ve read both of his autobiographies in fact. A geat man.

  6. smartelf says:

    Hey I just read about Brandon Phillips at the Cincinnati Enquirer, and it mentions that he is a great bowler and has bowled 300 games twice! WOW!

    Maybe we can form a bowling team, Brandon. I can average about 175 or so. I’ve bowled some tournaments as well.