Apparently, no one. Chris Barnes not only finished first, but he also finished last. That’s right, Chris Barnes defeated the entire field...of Chris Barnes.
The PBA wanted to bring back memories of the old days of bowling. High stakes, high scores, high excitement. What they got was Chris Barnes winning his own money without having to throw a single ball.
The Xtra Frame All-In Action Sweeper was set to take place August 14 in Allen Park, Michigan, part of the PBA World Series of Bowling in Detroit and surrounding areas.
Had there been enough bowlers to field at least one match, the format would’ve featured two games of match play, with total pins deciding the winner.
When it became evident no one was going to challenge Barnes, the PBA threw in an extra $10,000 to the prize fund in a last-ditch effort to make it happen.
But it didn’t. What scared people away? Some suggestions:
- The $5,000 entry fee.
Yes, the high stakes are supposed to add to the excitement, but this may have been too high. Not many bowlers have giant wads of cash to throw around. Using—who else—Chris Barnes as an example, he made a little more than $156,000 in 2008-09, good for fifth on the PBA Tour. Professional golfer Mathias Gronberg has earned a near identical amount this PGA season. And his season isn’t over yet. Oh, and Gronberg is 194th on the PGA’s money list (as of August 9, 2009). That makes Chris Barnes wealthier (this year) than all but four bowlers and all but 194 golfers.
Professional golfers are more likely to throw down $5,000 to bowl, and they might not even break 100.
But if $5,000 was enough to scare off everyone else (including Mathias Gronberg), why wasn’t it enough to scare off Chris Barnes?
- The U.S. Open oil pattern.
Generally considered to be the toughest oil pattern in the sport, maybe some bowlers were afraid to look like commoners. The pattern is 40 feet long with equal oil on each board, gutter to gutter. What’s so scary about that? Recreational bowlers could get put on a lane with this pattern and never notice. Grab a house ball and chuck it down the middle if you’re so scared.
Plus, these are pros. They’re pros because they can handle tough oil patterns. Any number of shlubs have thrown great games on standard house patterns. The best bowlers can adjust to any oil pattern, and the U.S. Open pattern is not unbeatable.
The pattern is only used at the U.S. Open, but recent winners of that tournament—Mike Scroggins, Norm Duke, Pete Weber, and Tommy Jones (Barnes won it in 2005)—obviously aren’t deterred by the oil, so why not challenge Barnes with a nice chunk of money on the line?
- The Chris Barnes.
Turn on the TV on Sundays for bowling, and you’re likely to see Chris Barnes. This past season, he cashed in all 21 events he entered, made it to TV eight times, and won two titles. Plus, it seems like he (or pro basketball player Chris Paul) graces the cover of every issue of U.S. Bowler Magazine.
Maybe Chris Barnes himself is so intimidating, nobody wants to take him on. However, despite all Barnes’ successes, he’s always one shot away from a menacing split. In fact, in a Qubica scoring system used by many bowling centers, throwing a split rewards (punishes?) you with a video of Chris Barnes leaving a 4-6-7-9-10 split.
Why didn’t Barnes’ wife, pro bowler Lynda Barnes, challenge her husband? The Barnes family would put up $10,000, give fans the husband/wife matchup of a lifetime, and go home with $10,000 (or $20,000, including the PBA’s money). Seems like a win/win situation, if not a legal scam.Where Were the Bowlers?
They were in Detroit. All the big names are in Detroit through August for the World Series of Bowling, and this event was just one attraction to the overall extravaganza. It’s not as if the top bowlers needed to travel thousands of miles to risk thousands of dollars. They were already there...for the purpose of bowling.
When some bowlers said they didn’t like the odds, the PBA threw in an extra $10,000, making the odds a little more attractive. All someone had to do was put up five grand, wait for Chris Barnes to throw a split, and get a 400% return on investment.
Obviously, no one cared. The high-stakes days of the past are apparently still in the past, or at least contested without any fanfare.
Maybe the price was too steep. Maybe the PBA will try again with a smaller buy-in. Maybe professional bowlers are terrified of a difficult oil pattern. Maybe Chris Barnes is just too intimidating.
Let’s go with that. People are scared of Chris Barnes. He was there, ready to take on anyone. But no one showed up.
I congratulate you, Chris Barnes, winner of the 2009 Xtra Frame All-In Action Sweeper. Maybe next time, someone will step up to the challenge you’re looking for.