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PBA Fans Not Exactly Enthusiastic About Fred Smoot (Or Me)

Posted by Matt Terl on June 17, 2009 – 4:44 pm

You might remember reading somewhere — possibly here, here, here, here, here, or here — about Fred Smoot‘s desire to become a professional bowler and the PBA ‘s response to him. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, here’s the gist: Smoot is an enthusiastic bowler who expressed in great detail his desire to compete on the PBA tour.

Dan Steinberg got wind of this, wrote about it, and the next thing you know, the PBA is issuing this statement:

The PBA will give Fred Smoot entry into a PBA event and he can see where he stacks up against the best bowlers in the world. We think he might be in for a rude awakening because our pros are to bowling pins what he is to wide receivers.

Smoot would learn a lot about his game and get some tips from the best. We are sure he has a long way to go to get to the pro level but his enthusiasm for the sport can carry him far.

Good story, right? Smoot’s an entertaining, enthusiastic guy, he’ll get his chance to prove himself, and everyone wins and everybody’s happy.

Wellllll … not exactly.

Two days ago, a bit after the whole bowling fooferaw had died down, this comment showed up on one of my Fred Smoot Bowling posts:

Absolutely ludicrous!! What is the matter with this writer? You guys should be a little more worried about your team than some NFL player who dosen’t stand a chance against the PBA elite. He woulden’t average 150 on a PBA pattern. Debate it if you want on www.blogtalkradio.com Tuesday the 16th 11:00 eastern. Just search bowling and the13th frame will pop up.

Sure, it was obvious shilling for a bowling podcast, but I couldn’t see any reason not to check it out. I downloaded the podcast today and noticed one thing immediately: it was two hours long.

Now, look, I have plenty of specific interests of my own. A two hour podcast on the Redskins? Sure, I’m there. Two consecutive (language warning!) Deadspin podcasts, or three straight On The DL With Dan Levy sessions? I can do that. Two hours on, say, regional American cooking styles? Sold.

But two hours on professional bowling is way, way, way beyond my abilities. Luckily for me, Intern Jenna is absolutely fascinated by the topic, and happily listened to the entire thing. 94 minutes in, she excitedly told me that they were discussing Smoot. So at that point, I jumped back in, and … wow.

Three things stood out to me:

  • These people were REALLY into bowling.
  • People who are really into something do NOT like it when an outsider is given a ticket in to the highest level of their subculture.
  • I really need to find a way to make sure people read my last name properly before they start making fun of me. The only thing worse than being insulted by people you’ve never met is having them completely mispronounce your name while they do it.

Here’s the transcript of the relevant part of the interview as best as I could make it out.

Joe Barton, podcast host: “I read something yesterday about Fred Smoot for the Washington Redskins — he wants to be a pro bowler. I didn’t know if it’s a PBA thing like they did with the NBA last year, they’re trying to tie themselves to the NFL — which wouldn’t be a bad thing, speaking of bringing in some more dollars — but I actually went out and I watched his bowling video today — or yesterday, sorry — on the Official Redskins Blog, and, guys … I only have one thing to say: Fred Smoot had better just forget the PBA tour right now, go straight to retiring and getting himself on Dancing With The Stars. He’s not gonna average 150 on a PBA pattern, mark. my. words.”

Chris “Budder” Adam, podcast co-host: “You talk about a paint-sprayer, he throws the ball everywhere from the little short clip that we could see.”

Chris Curry, regional touring pro bowler: “Yeah, I want to be a defensive back for the Redskins, you know?”

JB: “Before you start to break this down, Curry, I have one more issue that I want to get out there, and it’s actually with the writer from this blog, this Official Redskins Blog … I guess his name is Matt Teri, the official Redskins Blog, and at the end of his article he said — this is kind of offensive to us, ’cause he said he was tired of talking about bowling?!?? You know, that’s really, really interesting, guys, coming from a guy covering the Redskins? First of all, I think he should be a little more interested in covering that piece of [crap] underachieving team that they have there in Washington. But that’s just me, I’m a Colts fan, go Peyton Manning, and let’s talk a little about Fred Smoot trying to make it on the PBA tour.”

[NOTE: Not exactly what I was trying to say with “If you’re tired of all the bowling stuff, rejoice. This is the end of it from me, I think, and OTAs resume today,” but whatever. Close enough.]

Budder: “I personally think it’s a joke, but go ahead, Curry.”

Curry: “You know, all those guys, Smoot, Chris Paul, LeBron and all those guys … you know, I wanna play in the NBA. I would love to. But just saying it is not gonna make it happen. You know, those are pipe dreams, and it’s just not gonna happen. The writer for the Redskins, he can spend more time trying to sell Jason Campbell as an NFL quarterback, because … I mean, that guy is as much of a quarterback as I am. But Smoot and those guys, it’s just not gonna happen.”

JB: “Their owner gets more press than their team does. What the hell is he even doing at their OTAs, is what I wanna know.”

Budder: “I don’t know. But personally, my opinion is that it’s a joke, and the more I kinda read about it, the more it kinda upset me. Because, you know, Fred Smoot put out there that he told everybody that he was gonna be a professional football player, and now he’s telling everybody he’s going to be a professional bowler. Well, it’s just not the case. I mean, there’s a lot more that goes into our game besides just the physical side. There’s the mental side and there’s the knowledge of it, and honestly, he doesn’t have a prayer and he doesn’t have a clue what he’s getting into.

“And the thing that I wanna throw out there too, with the PBA … I don’t mind them doing some creative marketing, whatever, to try to bring in more interest for our sport, but to throw this guy an offer, to give him an exemption for the tournament, I just think that’s ridiculous. Now that’s a slap in the face to, I think, to the other bowlers that are out there trying. If they’re gonna let, you know, a football player come in here and participate into one of the tournaments.

“Now, Chris Paul’s tournament where he had LeBron on and stuff like that, that was like a celebrity doubles, and I agreed — I thought that was awesome. But to give Fred a spot … I think that’s a joke.”

JB: “Have you ever watched Fred Smoot talk? I mean, the guy’s entertaining. I mean, I would be entertained if this dude was putting on an insurance seminar. I’d probably be laughing my [butt] off. But we’re talking about him going on the PBA tour, and for the people who take it really serious, it almost is a slap in the face. You know, I’ve never thrown a single shot on the PBA tour, and I never will throw a single shot on the PBA tour (unless somebody pays for me to go out there, by the way), so that’s a slap in MY face, and I’m not even out there bowling.

“But you know what? If because of stunts like this they actually end up getting more money for the PBA tour, that is great, and I’m all for it.

“We are actually getting very close to the end of this show. Curry, have you heard anything from anybody on the regionals or from the PBA tour about this Fred Smoot thing? And by the way, Fred Smoot AND Matt Teri, you have an open invitation to call into the 13th Frame and defend yourself, but pretty much we here and pretty much the bowling community think you guys are a joke.”

Curry: “Yeah, and I have an open invitation to Mr. Smoot if he’d like to bowl paycheck for paycheck, he can name the time and place and I’ll be more than willing to show up.

[incoherent chatter and laughter]

“I mean, I’m not out there tootin’ my horn and saying I’m gonna cover Reggie Wayne. I mean, I know my place.”

So, yes, it’s safe to say that these folks were not very happy.

I asked Smoot if he’d like to respond, and — and this may be the most shocking statement I’ve ever written in my entire life, ever — he declined. He did, however, offer one comment: “They’re right: I won’t average 150, ’cause I’ll be in the 200s.”

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