The Baker

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

It has been chronicled here often that I as many are a huge favorite of the baker format in bowling. While it can resemble more the brutality of roller derbythan the grace of synchronized swimming I have always enjoyed watching the area high school and collegiate teams come together to claim victories using this format. It is the epitome of the concept of team.

The adults took to the lanes at Astro Lanes this past weekend in a slated event for the Vic Sockrider Travel League and while my mind has not changed regarding the format. Like many I love seeing the scores rolled by the great individuals that were present this was an interesting switch.

Interestingly the top two teams on this day were teams, influenced but not dominated by individuals who have excelled at this format in their high school and college days.

The Coldwater A team finished first followed closely by Wapakoneta, with Westgate and New Bremen third and fourth. Staying true to the team format for the purpose of today, individual names will not be used as today was all about the teams.

It will also give me the opportunity to share some comments that were made using those same guidelines as some of the best of the best in our area begin the process of developing a taste for the format that you may see rising in our community. What is rumored is that the Vic Sockrider Travel League will utilize this event again next season.

For those that may still be new to the Baker Game concept here it is! You have five person teams – bowler number one rolls the first and sixth frames, bowler two has frames two and seven, the third position gets frames three and eight, number four gets the fourth and ninth and the anchor person gets frames five and the tenth.

Interestingly enough I have seen many matches where teams may have the best two even three bowlers between two teams and not win the match or the event. It is often about the unity of the team and the rhythm that they can develop.

The original design of the Sunday event was for there to be qualifying rounds held in each of the houses, giving as many individuals as possible to be a part of the ‘league’ if for even a day. It was the brainchild of Brian Vanmeter of Astro and a good one at that.

The majority of the houses ran pre-qualifiers in house to offset the cost of the entry and seemingly it was really well received. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in the house entries next season and if Vanmeter and JJ Miller have their way there will be 16 finalists at Wapak and not 10 next season.

I will do my best to promote.

As for the comments – there was at least one individual that felt the format was boring. It is not the first time that I have heard that comment. I have not heard it often but when I do it is generally by those that prefer to see the all out effort of the great individuals who are in competition.

The opposite end of the spectrum was also heard. One team said that they loved it and were having a lot of fun. This team was kind of hard to judge as they seem to always have a great deal of fun. They could be cleaning a kennel and would find a way to turn it into a fun time.

I adhere more to a comment by a competitor and again one of the two names that I will mention, Brian Vanmeter who considers it exciting. Then again Vanmeter and I have been down a few high school and college roads together and have seen the end result of the matches of youth who have not always had a predisposition for individual play, which has been heavily endorsed in our adult bowling world.

As I said it is a format where one needs to yet develop a taste. It is here to stay. Coldwater has a league that uses the format. 20th has a league where one game is rolled each evening using the baker game. Wapak at the least is considering how to use it in league format … It is here to stay.

“You bring your best and I will bring mine!” — “He/She are pretty good but they are one house bowlers!”

As I watched the play on Sunday these two quotes came quickly to mind. It is such a different era than when I grew into the sport. It is difficult to say what brought about the change. The most common held answer to this I trust is the search for competition and the desire to roll against the best.

Individuals commonly in this era will move from house to house to compete. I really do not get a sense of disrespect for their ‘home’ proprietor but there is still a great deal of movement.

When I walked into Astro on Sunday I was tempted to ask tournament director Miller for a scorecard. Consistent with my no names direction of today, I again was perplexed by who I saw bowling for what centers. There was a sub or two which felt a little odd, in keeping with the original format, but things happen and subs are often needed and there was nothing in the rules to go against it.

What was really strange, from a mix of a good, bad and indifferent point of view was how many individuals were rolling from different houses from what one might expect.

Clearly and please note perhaps appropriately the time has come where the my best has taken off on its own to beat the best of the different houses. Several bowlers still have a home house but there is some migrating going on.

Interestingly enough the squads from Coldwater and Wapak seemed to home-raised and in place. Was it a factor – Who knows? But the times they are a changing.

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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