McMullen: Travis never really got it rolling on the lanes

December 11, 2012

The Missouri Football Tigers are not going bowling.

But the Sedalia Democrat newsroom did just that Saturday night at Shooters Lanes, and they needed another mark so I went along, too.

Among them were editor Bob Satnan, copy editor Roger Hooker and his lovely wife Mitzi, copy editor John Hansen, veterans coverage expert Latisha Koetting, reporter Emily Jarrett and sports reporter Eric Ingles.

Jarrett brought two pieces of flair, one to congratulate and one to motivate. The highest scorer of each game got to wear a medal, proclaiming them to be No. 1. The person with the lowest score received a crown, seemingly to embarrass some bowling skills into them.

ďI donít know which one is more embarrassing,Ē admitted Hansen.

I assumed that the crown would be mine to lose because Iím great at non-Wii bowling. My only saving grace was the fact that this was the first time that Mitzi had ever taken part in this particular activity. I was sure after a game or two that she would pick it up and overtake me.

Shortly after Koetting arrived, she set her sights on the bowling ball racks, trying to find the perfect finger fit and I might have even made fun of her for it. I chose based mostly on aesthetics and I would come to regret it. I assumed that a ball done up like the American flag would infuse me with a certain super patriotic bowling prowess.

My first roll was largely ineffective. And the subsequent rolls werenít much better: I couldnít support that particular ball with one hand so my technique was nothing short of awful. I went to replace it and Koetting caught me. I should have spent that time hunting for the right ball, too.

My second pick wasnít much better.

As you might have figured, the crown went to Mitzi after the first game though there was some talk about crowning someone else and giving Mitzi a beginnerís pass. For the record, Jarrett would have received the crown in the case of that exemption. Hansen got the medal and my score was 77 ó and even that was better than at least three other competitors. Not last, or not even in contention for last was a personal victory for me.

And despite her ball safari, Koetting didnít exactly light up the scoreboard. But in the second game we all quickly learned that it was an act and that all us dopes had been successfully roped. She was killing some pins.

My second game, however, was awful. Eventually I found the right ball: black speckled with gold and silver but I guess we still had to work through some issues in the ball/man relationship. My bottom was so bad that I must have blocked out the actual number. It was 50-something and it was sufficient to capture the crown. I caught a ride on the regression line, straight for the stop at Mean Boulevard.

And out of the three games that we played this was the most unfortunate to lose: thatís when they took the group photo and we had to wear the regalia of our most recent standings. Hansen wore the medal once again.

During the third game, I found all of the game I could muster. The graphical representation of my performance for the whole night would look like a large check mark. I hit my only strike ó by the end of the third game, Iím pretty sure everyone hit at least one. I might have even had three spares, though all these miraculous open frames were interspersed with gutterballs and other poorly placed balls.

My saving grace came from a lane inconsistency which was on the left edge of the gutter and bounced otherwise lost balls into a path that would knock down at least half of the pins. At least twice I looked back at the newsroom bowlers with a shrug, having given up on rolls that were clearly gutter bound ó only to hear a cheer of amusement as the ball somehow found its destination anyhow. I think two of my spares got picked up after these miraculous events.

I swore that I would start giving up on the shot earlier and more often, in the hopes that the fates of bowling would continue to reward lowered expectations.

The crown ultimately stayed from whence it came because it landed back with Jarrett after the third and final game. Hansen presented it to her before everyone was done bowling, because we didnít need all of our frames to get the best of her.

Hansen wore the medal all three times, becoming the undisputed master of Sedalia Democrat bowling.

Dead last is not so clear.