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The Official 2020 PBA Playoff Preview Blog (ROUND ONE)

Come one. Come all. Come gather round as I fulfill my civic duty of notifying the general public that we have PBA Playoffs TONIGHT at 7pm Central (8pm Eastern) on Fox. If you're like big pin action, subtle yet strong fist pumps and nerve racking circumstances, then this is your kind of event. The 24 best bowlers in the universe have descended upon suburban Washington D.C. to crown one playoff champion to walk away with $100,000 cash. Understandably, I'm jacked up. Sue me for being on site and sucking up the vibes. 

Maybe you've followed along. Maybe you haven't. Either way I'm in DC this weekend with the heart of a lion doing content with my PBA boys. Specifically we're talking about the 2020 playoff finals that brings the best guys from over the last year for a single elimination tournament for the ages. Think FedEx Cup for golf except with a lot cooler guys vying for the prize. It's basically the same concept. There's power rankings for an entire season and the guys get seeded 1-24 with the top 8 seeds getting a bye. If you can't follow the format maybe get your head checked. We're keeping it honest and simple, just how I love it. 

That said, we got some monster matchups headed your way and I'd be a sucker to not at least give you some information. I dare you to tune in and tell me this isn't awesome. I dare you to tell me bowling sucks. You'd sound like a fucking moron. Maybe you already do. 

Whatever the case, I'm here to get the ball rolling and give bowling it's proper shine. This is the most common man sport in the world and here's how you can watch. 

Watch tonight (Saturday 10/10) 8pm Eastern on Fox

The first 4 matches go tonight on Fox with the next 4 matches next week. We'll catch up on the matches as they come up so let's start with tonight. You're in for an absolute fucking treat. 

Match 1 - Butters vs. TJ 

Jakob Butturff (Butters) and Tommy Jones (TJ) do battle first and it's going to be a slugfest. Butters is the funky lefty with a power hook that would make Chris Sale blush. He consistently registers some of the highest rev (spin) rates on tour next to the Ice Man Jesper Svensson. Some times it looks like he's riding the gutter 75% of the way down the lane before blowing up the pocket. He's a Vegas boy who loves to take risks. Think Jay Cutler with a healthy receiving corps. 

Opposite Butters is living Hall Of Famer Tommy Jones with his 20 titles and nearly $2 million in career earnings. He cranks it big like Butters but has the experience to give him a slight edge on Touch n Feel. Honestly a matchup like this is so even if can come down to lane topography or a flat 10-pin. Probably the tightest match to predict based on styles alone. Personally I like TJ to come out hot and leave it to Butters to bounce back from the pressure. This one is honestly too close to even predict. Call it a coin flip. 

Match 2 - Norm Duke vs. Frankie 

Emerging superstar Francois Lavoie (Frankie) vs. Living Legend Norm Duke. Imagine Babe Ruth still playing baseball. That's how it feels with Norm Duke's sustained success. Your grandpa was cheering for Norm in the 80's and now you get a chance in 2020. Don't fucking waste it. Norm Duke is all class and worth every word in his expansive yet informative Wikipedia page detailing his career dominance in the most widely participated sport in the United States. 

Norm comes into the field as the #24 seed as he continues to show up on tour year after year. And when he's not in the field, you can find him in the broadcast booth. I simply can't oversell how cool it is that he's in the field this weekend. HIs game is exactly what you'd expect: slow, steady and never wavers.

Opposite norm tonight is arguably my favorite bowler in the world (from a technical standpoint). Think Kyle Hendricks but on the lanes. He doesn't throw that hard. Doesn't have the most amazing break on his balls. But he competes, and he's focused, and he consistently executes under pressure. He's got 2 US Opens under his belt and is one title away from being a lock for the HOF. And he's done it at 27 years old. Think of what you've accomplished by that age and chances are it's not 2 US Opens and 4 overall major titles. Honestly he might be the easiest person to cheer for on tour based on his demeanor and style. I'm not saying he's my coolest friend but I have a new coolest friend and his name is Francois Lavoie. I call him Frankie. 

Ultimately it's hard to take Norm's age over Frankie's beauty. Maybe it's close for a bit but you have to like Frankie come the 10th. 

Match 3 - Dick Allen vs. Dom Barrett

Both Bald. Both names start with D. As such I'm calling this one the Battle of The Bald D's. Sounds like baldies. Tip your bartender later tonight for that joke. 

Elsewhere, it's important to note we're talking about two of the richest characters on the PBA. Dick used to go by Ritchie until he had some kids and then realized that dad's are a lot cooler if they go by Dick. Find a cooler origin story to going by the name Dick. I'll wait. 

And while I wait, let me tell you something. Dick Allen would be hustling on a bowling alley whether there was a PBA tour or not. Think the movie Kingpin with more class and polish but double the will to take your lunch money because he's a better bowler. That's Dick Allen. If Miller Lite doesn't sponsor him in 2021 then I'm going to be pretty upset. He's that kind of guy and that kind of sweet dude. Natural bowler that goes by touch and feel. You want Dick Allen in your foxhole. 

Then there's Dom Barrett. One of coolest, smoothest, showmen in the game. Owner of 8 titles with 2 majors. At 35 he's already a lock for the Hall of Fame. When we talk big matchups this weekend, we talk about the Bald D's doing battle. Dom comes with a massive rev rate and huge power. He's one of the hardest working bowlers in the game so when it comes down to the last ball, you like his preparation. 

End of the day though it's just one game. One match. 10 frames. This could be over as soon as it starts for a number of variables outsider their control. Maybe one guy plays like shit. Maybe one guy plays his ass off. Either way, the fact Dick and Dom go head-to-head in the 1st round is like Ravens vs. Titans in 6 inches of snow. Buckle up and get ready for a fight. 

Match 4 - Marshall Kent vs. Chris Via

Cold blooded. That's the easiest way to describe these killers. Marshall has a mustache that would make your girl slide into some DM's. Chris Via is a proven champion with a 2-handed rev rate that would make your girl slide into some more DM's. Nobody gets out of this one alive. The focus and intensity from these 2 is more in line with ER doctors surgically removing a bullet from an erupting jugular. No pressure. No nonsense. All precision. 

It's also a matchup of the 2 vs. 1. How many hands you use on a bowling ball has become extremely hot and this one is where the two philosophies meet. Marshall with the one hand power that generates a huge POP when his thumb rips from the ball. Chris Via with the 2-handed slider that hits the pocket with TNT. You could have a marching band surrounding these guys while they play and it wouldn't matter. Horse blinders like you read about. 

Personally I'm a two handed guy so I have to lean Via, especially with a Don Carter 39 foot oil pattern and both guys using resin balls. If either used urethane then you'd maybe think harder but all things equal, I have to lean towards my style. Even if Marshall Kent has the momentum on his side. Like I said at the start, sue me. 

In Conclusion:

These are the 4 matches on tonight on FOX. There's another 4 next weekend that are equally diabolical and worth your time. For now I'm going to sign off so I can get back to following the pin action. 

Before I go, thank you to the PBA for having me out this weekend. Thank you to the stoolies that helped get me here. I'll be releasing several videos later this month in conjunction with some custom merch & equipment for all my bowling guys. This is the very beginning of Barstool Bowling and I couldn't be more delighted to bring you the noise.