With Norm winning this weekend and seeing social media’s reaction regarding how amazing it was to see him on TV again, it got me thinking: who were my favorites to watch on TV growing up?
It’s an interesting question because if you ask 100 people, you’ll likely get as many different answers. That’s because there isn’t really any rhyme or reason to it. We enjoy what we enjoy — or, in this case, who we enjoy. And my selections certainly are an example of that. They all have different styles, different techniques, and they all had very different careers, but, nevertheless, I enjoyed them all equally. I used to watch Live Scoring — later on XtraFrame (now FloBowling) — and follow along hoping that at least one of them made the telecast. When they didn’t, I still watched, but I was far less interested. So, without further delay, let’s begin!
Chris Barnes — this one is hardly an avant-garde selection, as he was always an incredible player. Capable of making any show, Barnes was always in contention. Thankfully for me, he made a ton of telecasts. I enjoyed watching his physical game, obviously. But it wasn’t just that. I looked forward to seeing how he was going to attack the conditions week-to-week, telecast-to-telecast.
Lonnie Waliczek — similar to Barnes, Lonnie was a technician. His versatility and bowling intelligence showed through on every show. He was remarkably skilled, but it was his bowling IQ that was his greatest asset — and potential weakness. Often times, Lonnie’s struggles on TV could be attributed to him overthinking the situation at hand. And while that may have cost him a few titles, he was still a blast to watch.
Mike Machuga — Machuga, like both players before him, was very versatile, but it was his physical game more so than anything else that got me excited to see him on TV. Machuga’s physical game was perfect. Absolutely textbook. Arguably nothing you could or would need to change. And back before XtraFrame, the only way you could see your favorite players every week was to watch them on TV, and I wanted Machuga to make every telecast. I wanted to emulate him. I wanted to see him as many times as possible to pick up on the nuances of his game. I was invested — quite selfishly, I suppose — in his career week in and week out because every show he made was a chance for me to learn.
Brad Angelo — he may not be as versatile or as fundamentally sound like the others on this list, but his unique game and unorthodox approach fascinated me. My two “favorite” things to see — though they’re on polar opposite ends — are fundamentally flawless physical games or successful players with unorthodox games. It’s easy to have success or see why someone is successful when they throw the ball amazing, but when they have unique styles or fewer textbook deliveries, it’s fascinating to see why and how they do it so consistently. And in the early 2000s, there was no one more consistent than Angelo. It seemed he made every show.
Richie (Dick) Allen — like Angelo, Allen has an unorthodox delivery that you wouldn’t necessarily teach to everyone, but yet he’s made a living out of bowling professionally and he’s only gotten better over time. His swing is steep, his hand is hard, and he has a lot of moving parts, but, yet, you can’t shut him out. He’s so intelligent and versatile that he’s going to find a way. Allen has maximized his physical game to unparalleled standards. There have been other, more unorthodox players that have won once or had a short run of success, but no one has done it for as long or as consistently as Dick Allen.