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PBA League’s plan to reconfigure rosters a disappointing move

Chris Barnes was the franchise player for the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters the past two years.
Chris Barnes was the franchise player for the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters the past two years.
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

So the Professional Bowlers Assn. League decided to shake things up for its third season.

After completing its second season in 2014, the league seemed in need of some pizzazz, or as it was put in a previous column, some Showtime.

The matches simply were too dull to watch for two hours on ESPN, even with some impressive talent such as Jason Belmonte and Pete Weber.

On Thursday, the PBA announced it would revamp the rosters of all eight of its teams. Well, “revamp” probably isn’t the right word. Each team will throw its entire 2014 roster back into a pool and a draft will take place Oct. 31 to determine the makeup of all the 2015 squads.

So the eight teams presumably will field teams without any returning players.

And that’s very disappointing.

Of all the changes the PBA League could have made, this was the absolute worst.

What you lose is a sense of continuity for teams – fans knowing that Belmonte bowls for the Los Angeles X and Chris Barnes (shown in photo) for the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters.

They’ve been the franchise players for their respective teams the first two seasons of the league.

Many bowling fans have been befuddled by the makeup of the eight teams, two of which reside in Los Angeles (Silver Lake Atom Splitters and Los Angeles X).

The 10 players from the two L.A. teams, for instance, have little or no ties to the City of Angels, except for their membership on a local pro bowling team. Belmonte was born in Australia and lives there and that’s par for the course. Barnes was born in Topeka, Kan., and lives in Double Oak, Tex.

Still, Barnes has popped up in L.A. and has helped build ties in this area. He staged one extensive bowling clinic last year at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana and his students left mesmerized by his teachings.

The Atom Splitters needed Barnes to stay on their team.

If nothing else, fans could start identifying Barnes with the Atom Splitters, just like they could identify Belmonte with the X.

It’s understandable that the PBA might not want such powerful bowlers to have an endless reign on one team. Both the Atom Splitters and X advanced to the league’s championship match in an all-L.A. affair and that’s probably not the dream matchup that ESPN wanted.

L.A. isn’t known for being a hotbed of bowling so a matchup of our local teams in the finals probably didn’t ignite ESPN’s ratings. But it was fun to see from the L.A. standpoint. L.A. still has the potential to emerge as a big player on the bowling scene, but many have given up on that possibility.

As for the teams’ rosters undergoing wholesale changes, PBA writer Bill Vint explained it this way:

“It was the PBAL plan from the beginning to revamp rosters on a regular basis. The first two years did, in fact, provide some continuity with ‘franchise players’ kept in place.

“Moving ahead, the idea is to retain team names and managers [to] provide some of the continuity. There may be rules in the future to allow teams to retain one or two players . . . but a key part of the idea is to provide incentive for players to want to hold onto their spots and /or for new players to have a chance to participate.

“It was never the intent to lock in players – Belmo, [Sean] Rash, Barnes . . . into ‘guaranteed’ slots on teams . . . They need to continue to prove their worth.”

Looking ahead to the draft, Belmonte seems like a sure-fire first pick. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the X had the first selection? (A random draw will determine the draft order.) And wouldn’t it be interesting if the Atom Splitters had the second pick?

Unless the new rules prevent this from happening, both L.A. teams conceivably could wind up again with their 2013-2014 franchise players.

OK, it’s a long shot.

But one can hope.

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