By Norman Chad
Monday, October 20, 2008
I woke up this morning with three simple goals for the day:
1. Convert at least one unsuspecting reader into a bowling-on-TV fan.
2. Introduce the Western world to the Bowler of Destiny.
3. Write an entire column without mentioning Brett Favre, Tony Romo or an ex-wife.
As the Professional Bowlers Association's 50th anniversary season begins this week -- hey, buddy, I see you putting down the sports page and reaching for the comics; get back over here!!! -- Couch Slouch is thrilled to anoint the first-ever Bowler of Destiny.
One day, his name could be on the short list of most recognizable American sporting monikers.
Babe Ruth. Tiger Woods. Rhino Page.
Yes, Rhino Page.
While I let those aromatic words sink in, let me briefly express my dismay that the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is moving from St. Louis to Arlington, Tex. I'll be blunt here: This would be like moving the Vatican from Vatican City to Graceland. There, I said it -- now we can get back to more cheerful bowling tasks.
Speaking of which, how come more of you don't watch bowling? Bowlers are regular people, like you and me, except they bowl better. They seem more human than, you know, golfers or MMA fighters. Anyway, the PBA's easy to find every Sunday on ESPN -- certainly you've heard of ESPN.
Okay, I realize some of you might have skipped down this far in the column, because I was talking about bowling earlier, so you probably missed the key paragraph, which I'm going to repeat right here to catch you up:
Babe Ruth. Tiger Woods. Rhino Page.
(Team of Destiny Update: Life is splendid, my friends. My biggest problem every week is finding a sports bar that serves Pabst Blue Ribbon and Arizona Cardinals games. You have no idea how well PBR in a can goes with a Kurt Warner touchdown pass. And nobody beats the Cardinals in University of Phoenix Stadium. Nobody. Super Bowl 43, here we come!)
In the 2007-08 season, Page was the PBA Rookie of the Year. He made a rookie-record five TV appearances, finished ninth in the player-of-the-year race, was fourth in scoring average at 223.42 and broke the rookie mark for earnings with $84,811. *
* By comparison, Bubba Watson tied for 14th this year at the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open and earned $96,100. That's a duffer who had no chance of winning, taking home $96,100 for a long weekend. My man Rhino worked all year for $84,811, minus taxes, tips and rental shoes. Forget Joe the Plumber, Joe the Bowler needs our help.
If Page, 25, lays off the liquor and the ladies -- or, as we say at the bowling alley, the booze and the broads -- I believe he might one day out-Walter-Ray-Williams-Jr. Walter Ray Williams Jr. himself. Williams, 49, has a PBA-record 44 titles, so Rhino's got a lot of spares to pick up.
Page won me over when he out-dueled insufferable superstar Pete Weber at the Pepsi Championship in February. He never led until the final frame, when Weber opened and Page responded with a game-winning strike.
Ah, but then came Page's big breakthrough.
I'll always remember where I was when Rhino Page won his first title -- on the couch.
It was the Go RVing Classic in Norwich, Conn., on March 9, 2008.
First he ended his semifinal match with six straight strikes to rally past fellow lefty Mike Scroggins, 245-235. Then, in the title match that I TiVo-ed and mounted on my trophy case, he began with five straight strikes to beat Jack Jurek, 244-220. Rhino was a first-time champion and a Bowler of Destiny.
That afternoon, he looked down the lane at those pins angrily. He had fiery eyes. He was locked in. Focused. Steadfast. Purposeful. Resolute. Indefatigable. Unyielding. Unshakable. Unwavering. Unswerving. Undaunted.
Frankly, Rhino Page reminded me of my first ex-wife the day she walked out.
(Dang. Almost made it.)Ask the Slouch
Q. Do you think the Weather Channel's Abrams and Bettes give more than passing thought to locking Cantore out of the hurricane trailer when it gets really windy? (J.E. Keck; Cedarburg, Wis.)
A. I never watch the Weather Channel and have no idea who Abrams, Bettes and Cantore are, but your question just makes me laugh.
Q. How do you explain TBS's failure to show the first 20 minutes of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series? (Don Williams; Columbia, S.C.)
A. Buck Martinez's voice tripped a circuit breaker while explaining a backdoor slider.
Q. I was born and raised in Detroit 66 years ago -- can I be forgiven if I'm a Lions fan? (Jim Lanctot; Indianapolis)
A. I can only hope the buck-and-a-quarter will help partially ease a lifetime of pain.
Q. Instead of using Cris Collinsworth, why didn't NBC have Frank Caliendo sub for John Madden? (Eric Malkin; Mayfield Heights, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!