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The 11th Frame: Tony Franklin offers great perspective on 900 after firing 876 (free for non-subscribers)

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 11:00 am

In only about 48 hours earlier this month, bowlers in Michigan and Pennsylvania fired 900 series, as I wrote up here and here.

Predictably, the scores were greeted with much scorn on social media, most of it directed at how “easy” the sport has become and toward those deemed responsible for it, and not at the two bowlers themselves.

A smaller number of people correctly pointed out what an astounding feat it is to carry 36 strikes in a row, however soft the lane condition is.

It is true that when it comes to the typical league house shot, bowling is a lot easier than what most sportsman (and sportswoman) would prefer to compete on. But it’s ONLY LEAGUE, which to me is little more than recreation and much more a social occasion than competition, although I understand some leagues feature a lot of action. 

But the bigger point is how astounding it is to carry 36 strikes in a row — I think way too many people lose sight of that.

I’ve noted before that when I rolled consecutive 300s in league in October 1985 I was the 22nd person with certified consecutive 300s. There now are more certified 900s than that!

And I had more than my share of strike strings when I was younger and better: 28, 26 and 24, with a personal PBA high of 20. My high series is 867 and that didn’t even feature a 300 game!

But the most I ever started a session with was 15 before a solid 8-pin stopped me. (The consecutive 300s followed a 221 start.)

Just how astounding a 900 is was driven home to me on Sunday when I crossed with lefty Mike Dole, one of the country’s top non-PBA members and a lefty known for striking a ton, in the Madison Area Scratch Tour tournament at Spartan Bowl in McFarland.

As I wrote up here, I started calling for 900 after Dole opened with a 300 and a turkey in the second game. It took another four frames for my catting power to take effect as he had the first 18 before leaving a 7-pin, which he missed. Dole then struck out for 267, followed with 289 for 856, and finished with a 278 for 1,134.

It was one of the biggest striking displays I’ve seen in person and yet didn’t seriously threaten 900.

Then on Wednesday I received my weekly email copy of The Bowling News, the paper based in the Dallas area that is published by Tony and Genie Franklin.

Tony’s column was about the 876 he fired recently and he used his huge series to bring solid perspective to 900.

“36 consecutive strikes seems like an impossible task; I really don’t see how this has happened 29 times,” Tony wrote. “It’s not that hard to hit the pocket 36 times in a row on a league shot, but to carry 36 in a row, well, that’s another story. Last week in the Lousy Bowlerz league at Strikz in Frisco, I got a little taste of what all that feels like.”

The Bowling News website is here. And you can read Tony’s column on page 2 of this issue.

There undoubtedly will be more 900s, though they're likely to occur only slightly more frequently than a blue moon.

I have a limited amount of energy to devote to wrongs in bowling and 900s in league don't merit any of it; I'd rather spend it on important things like impactful rules that aren't enforced so they can be changed or the one 900 that should be certified.