300 (Not About the Battle of Thermopylae)

For my money, there is no greater individual sports achievement than the 300 game in bowling. A pitcher can only get a perfect game if his fielders do a good job backing him up and the opposing batters are too slow to pick up on his pitches. A basketball player can only rack up points if his teammates get him the ball and the opposing team can't find a way to stop him. (Please forgive the gender specificity; inclusivity is unwieldy.) A golfer can have a really good round, but perfection in golf is mainly subjective, unless you somehow manage to shoot an 18.

But the 300 game is all about the individual. Twelve strikes, no room for subjective interpretation, just the bowler, the ball, and the pins. Knock all ten pins down twelve times in a row and you've achieved perfection.

And when you pull this off on live television, then it's extra cool. And that's what Horseheads, NY, native Ryan Shafer did this past Sunday on ESPN. Shafer's perfect game was only the 18th televised 300 game in the PBA's history, but the second this season (Tony Reyes had the other). Shafer's not the most exciting guy on the tour (and from the sniping I've seen from some bowling fans on the Internet [yes, I spend too much time on the computer], not one of the friendliest either), but if you grew up in Horseheads (near Elmira), you probably wouldn't be a ball of laughs either. And it doesn't take an exciting guy to make a 300 game exciting. Or maybe that's just my opinion. Then again, this is my blog, so it's as good a place as any to put forth my opinion.

Here's the home stretch of Shafer's game. The 11th strike is the one to savor.

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