No One Loves Bowling This Much

What you reckon he thinks? (Getty Images for NASCAR)

What you reckon he thinks? (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 2, 2015, 10:30 a.m.

After another exhausting day of short-story writing, book reading, guitar playing, snack eating, and, most notably, football watching, I am ready to face another week.

Oh, wait. It’s already Friday. Check that. This’ll be easy*.

I’ve got a small appointment that should require no more than having my finger pricked. I might test positive for spray cheese.

Me with tires in the background.

Me with tires in the background.

No more cheap imitations of Keith Jackson yelling “AL-uh-BAM-uh!” The national college football championship no longer involves the South. This year Pickett’s Charge occurred on New Year’s, after the Southerners split their forces.

I’m not personally remorseful. I just wanted to see good games. Ohio State beat Alabama, but it was a good game. Oregon’s uniforms apparently left Florida State with sunspots for two quarters, and, then, in the second half, the Seminoles got blind.

I always use X’s and O’s to analyze big-time college football.

This morning, though, thoughts turn to other issues, this in spite of bowl games matching Pittsburgh (6-6) against Houston (7-5), Tennessee (6-6) versus Iowa (7-5), Kansas State (9-3) lining up across from UCLA (9-3), and last and alarmingly latest, Oklahoma State (6-6) facing the stern challenge of Washington (8-5).


The Sprint All-Star Race will be replayed at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7, on Fox Sports 2.

Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)

Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)

I don’t remember who won it. Time out. Jamie McMurray. Thanks, Google.

McMurray, against all odds, failed subsequently to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which is damned near all-inclusive. Is there anyone else who didn’t make it? Uh … Danica Patrick. Okay. There’s one.

I can reacquaint myself with this drama of athletic (and internal-combustion-powered) competition if I’ll only set my timer to “1/7/15, 8:00 p.m.” Maybe I’ll watch it, since Pitt isn’t playing Houston, if The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance isn’t on TCM.

Still, my thoughts drift inexplicably to NASCAR. Maybe it’s because Dan Mullen reminds me of Dale Jarrett. Or because Allen Bestwick is announcing football games now. Or because Marty Smith is waxing inspirational and waning cautionary about lead options and bubble screens.

During the coming year, there will be new cars! Oh, that’s never happened. If NASCAR makes any more attempts to save the owners money, Rick Hendrick’s going to have to take over a closed-down GM assembly plant to build racing Chevrolets, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Impala is going to roll out of the same line where once there were Achievas.

Jeff Gordon straps himself in for another year. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Jeff Gordon straps himself in for another year. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I’m going to watch from afar and pay attention to items other than what will soon be clattering out on the vast information disseminator known as Twitter. I’m ready to predict that, soon, torrents of words will start invading the ozone layer in waves like these: (1.) Is this the crucial year for Danica (she hasn’t had one yet)? (2.) Drivers praise handling of new car; (3.) This could be Junior’s year; (4.) Does Jeff Gordon have one more title in him? and (5.) Jimmie Johnson tracking seventh title.

Is there an echo? Oh, yeah. One that caroms around the canyons and ruffles the leaves for decades.

Joey Logano is a good egg, and he's got his knots down. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Joey Logano is a good egg, and he’s got his knots down. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

I also expect Kevin Harvick to suggest that he is being overlooked and, by gosh, he’s the champion and “they” had better be loaded for bear if they’re going to take it. A great story will be which team dares to load its truck for bear instead of racing. I’m not expecting it to happen, though. They talk big game.

Carl Edwards will be sure he’s going to “have a blast” at Joe Gibbs Racing, and his remarks will be colored by an offseason discovery that, in fact, Toyota, not Ford, makes the greatest production cars the world has ever known.

All eyes will be on Junior except for the ones on Smoke. A few other eyes will wander, though, ultimately, in vain and obscurity.

The Champ, and don't you forget it.  (Sean Gardner/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

The Champ, and don’t you forget it. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

By Phoenix in the fall, more people will be on probation with NASCAR than among the citizenry of Maricopa County. No one in NASCAR will have to wear orange jumpsuits and camp out in the desert. No one in NASCAR will have to do anything other than smile and say the new car is just peachy. They have a waterboard, and they know how to use it.

On Joey Logano’s twenty-fifth birthday, May 24, he will finally receive his Eagle Scout rank. An offseason trip abroad helped him with his Citizenship in the World merit badge. By the way, no one has ever won the NASCAR championship and become an Eagle Scout in the same year. Much will be made of this. Normally, one cannot become an Eagle Scout after one’s eighteenth birthday, but this is NASCAR.


Carl Edwards is pleased as punch to be chauffeuring a Toyota, not this Ford, now. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl Edwards is pleased as punch to be chauffeuring a Toyota, not this Ford, now. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Many insightful men and women write about NASCAR for a living. I’m watching from afar, but it just seems to me that coverage has become focused narrowly on writing whatever it is that will draw clicks, tweets, links, and other acts that require precious little gray matter.

I always believed that freedom of the press implies an ethic in which part of a writer’s job is to give people what they want, and part is to give them what they need. What do they need? That’s why there are columns and editorials and analyses and, yes, even blogs. Well, there used to be. Blogs are still strong. Hey. I got one. No, two. That’s where I draw the line. Unless someone will pay me to write a third. Then I’ll consider it.

At present, and, again, I’m watching from a distance, and forests can be distorted at least as much as trees, but it seems as if what people apparently want, according to available data, is “what happened, who did what, who snarked about it, what does Junior think? and do you think it will help Danica?”

Try something new. Maybe somebody will like something he (or she) doesn’t know already.

Or, more likely, that streak of rebellion is why I’m not around anymore.

I dare you to read a book! One of these:

*Famous last words.

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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10 Responses to No One Loves Bowling This Much

  1. racefangurl says:

    I’m in a bowling league and I’m a Joey fan. That trip abroad refers to his honeymoon, I take it?

  2. Monte says:

    A little, I guess. I was just cracking jokes.

  3. stephen hood says:

    I’ve always thought Boy Scouting should be open to girls, so I propose awarding Danica the Eagle rank well. As an Eagle Scout myself, I’d like to see Danica help improve the popularity of the BSA in much the same way as she has helped improve the popularity of NASCAR.

  4. Dave Fulton says:

    I did a double take when Allen Bestwick appeared on my big screen from a football booth. Eli Gold I should have expected, but nice guy Allen was a surprise. Can no longer remember which game I was watching.

    Speaking of bowling… back in the Fall of 1986 I was Management Supervisor of a prominent Charlotte ad agency preparing to unveil the “surprise” announcement of the Darrell Waltrip/Rick Hendrick/Waddell Wilson “Dream Team” to be sponsored by Procter & Gamble’s Tide detergent brand.

    The agency also handled the Procter & Gamble sponsorship for Crisco of Buddy Baker’s racing endeavors. The Procter & Gamble brand manager in Cincinnati for Crisco was a young Tennessean who loved bowling, but didn’t want anyone at P&G headquarters to know it. He thought they’d look down their noses. As soon as he’d get to Charlotte he’d head over to Park Lanes to indulge his first love.

    I suspect he also didn’t want his Cincinnati neighbors to know he was “involved” in stock car racing. He was very concerned with his image.

    I’d be curious to know where he wound up some 29 years later and whether he still bowls on the sly.

  5. racefangurl says:

    Jokes are just fine.

  6. John Irby says:

    Got a kick out of Marty Smith’s new ESPN gig. During the Sugar Bowl, he tweeted declarations of his new love for Urban Meyer. He went on to describe how Urban and his wife plan to adopt Ukrainian orphans, is willing to donate one of his kidneys to the National Transplant Registry and is rescuing dogs from certain death from Columbus Ohio’s local animal shelter.

    Marty is proving to be the perfect replacement for ESPN’s “Princess of the Sidelines”, Erin Andrews now that she plies her trade over at Fox Sports.

  7. Monte says:

    Marty loves to be inspirational.

  8. Scott Narek says:

    Great points…..The legitimacy is in question when that’s all they have to talk about…..
    1-Danica shouldn’t be in the top nascar series and if qualifying for it all one needs is a big dollar sponsor… See above…
    2-The drivers HAVE to say the new cars are great or risk getting a “actions detrimental to the sport” fine… Thus..I believe nothing the nascar owned press says….
    3-All the talk about Dale Jr.,Jeff and Jimmie…..Are there only four drivers in nascar..? You’d think so by what the nascar owned press says…..
    4- The arguing over which auto manufacturer is better in nascar is also stupid….. Those cars have as much in common with the cars they supposedly represent as I do with Brad Pitt….

    Thank you for writing the truth……

  9. Todd Behling says:

    It’s great to read your ‘snarkasm’ once again!

  10. Monte says:

    It’s my only gift that comes naturally.

Comments are closed.