After a long, lonely drive home from New Jersey, I have had plenty of time to relax and reflect on a solid, yet disappointing week at the Masters. There has been much talk on social media about some “situations” that occurred during the tournament. The ones that involve me are related to my match with Jason Belmonte. Here are the facts as I remember them:
Jason needed a double in the 10th frame of the 3rd game to shut me out. He failed to do so giving me the opportunity to throw a double to win the match. As most people know, I tend to take a little more time in pressure situations to gather myself before making the shot. Throughout my pre-shot routine, Jason was talking to himself, loud enough for me to hear him, as the approach is only just a few feet away. It seemed like he was done, so I attempted to get on the approach when he started again. I looked back at him to try to give him an idea that I could hear it, and he continued….. Finally, I had had enough, so I asked him, sternly, “Are you done yet?! Cuz it’s MY turn now.” He then scampered away seemingly very irritated, while mumbling something about how he can’t even use a pencil to write the scores down, and he was just “adding up the scores” (that were clearly visible on the scoring monitor above.) I had to shake-off his temper tantrum so I could actually make my first shot in the 10th. I aced that one and after getting a little jacked up, I took a little more time, again, to calm myself down and prepare for the next one to win the match. Things didn’t feel quite right and I could hear some of the construction going on for the TV set next to us, so I stepped away and started over. At this point, you could hear an ant’s footsteps in the bowling center. As I got into my approach, I was distracted by someone coughing, so I balked and had to restart, again…..Unfortunately, I was not successful, went high and left the 6-10 to let Jason win.
I have since been told that the person who coughed was a young girl that was attending her first PBA event and feels terrible about it happening. She is scared to come back to another event. I have been contacted by a person that knows her, and I plan on doing something special for her, as we (bowling in general) need to keep every fan that we have.
Shortly after the match, Jason approached me outside the locker room and asked me to go for a walk with him. We went outside and he began explaining how irate he was that he continues to put himself in those situations. After a couple minutes of listening to his rant, I asked him, “Belmo, is this an attempt at an apology?” He replied that it was and continued rambling, blah blah blah, so I told him, “Apology accepted. Good match,” shook his hand and walked away. End of story. But, in his feeble attempt at an apology, never once did he use the words “I’m sorry.” Instead, he said things like he’s so irate that he puts himself in these situations… as if this were all about him….so, if he was sorry about anything, it sure sounded to me like he was sorry only that he found himself in another version of “Bottlegate”.
Unintentional as he makes it sound, I cannot ignore the fact that this has happened in many different ways to opponents of his in the past. Crinkling water bottles, rocking in squeaky chairs, and talking behind your opponent (to no one) are not things that a professional should be doing while their opponent has a chance to perform to beat him. There is no defense in bowling and a true professional does all they can to AVOID such situations.