MIKA KOIVUNIEMI’S 299
Mika Koivuniemi’s 299
(by PHIL RIPPA)
In my desire to paralyze myself with writer’s block, I think of content ideas that sound amazing in my head but terrify me in execution. This is one of those ideas where I visit sports events that no one saw or they don’t talk about (usually because they are in a non-big 4 sport and people suck). You could say that they are “forgotten” *wink wink*
(I should probably put my aside in here that I have no idea what I would call said series. The site has a new name and a quasi fancy format and I need to tag things because my OCD forces me to. I mean I REALLY don’t want to say Forgotten Sports Moment of the Moment. “Maybe Amazing Sports Things That No One Saw Because Who Watches Anything But Football And Porn?”)
Back to the matter at hand – if we are going to talk about a sport no one outside of Chris Hardwick follows then we are talking bowling. Outside the hot minute The Nerdist had All-Star Bowling the last time any cared about bowling was during that awkward work outing or during that also awkward first date.
Yes you know of Pete Weber because he points at himself like Rob Van Dam and like Rob Van Dam you want to punch him in the face. (Of course RVD didn’t have a dad as good at wrestling as Weber had in bowling.) Outside of that, we know nothing. However, I think it we know two truths. 1) 300 is really good. 2) 100 or less is really bad. This magical moment had both.
The PBA Tournament of Champions is one of bowling’s majors which kinda makes sense when the name is Tournament of Champions. In 2011, Mika Koivuniemi took on Tom Daughtery in the semifinals and to say that it was a battle of extremes is an understatement.
In 2011, Koivuniemi was a Finnish wrecking machine being the first bowler to make the TV Finals of all the majors in a single season. As one can see at the start of the video, this match was no different. The video starts in the 10th frame with Major Mika (and yeah I am going with that now since retyping Koivuniemi is killing me) perfect. He was three strikes away from bowling his SECOND televised 300 game (which would have been another first). He just needed to wait for Daughtery to stop throwing up all over himself (and his wife, kids, the ABC broadcast and Bowling For Soup since a niche sport needs a niche band to perform.)
My goal on the rare occasion I go bowling is to break 100. Heck, my goal when playing Wii Bowling is to break 100. Everyone’s goal when they go bowling is to break 100. So Daughtery throwing one of the worst games in a major that anyone had ever seen was shocking. If you didn’t watch the video, Daughtery knocked down two pins to collect an ugly, ugly 8 that put him right at 100. Of course, by that point in time, he wanted to be anywhere else and wanted to be done as quickly as possible to get the hell out of the way for Mika. I have to give him credit since I probably would have soiled myself in embarrassment. Of course, I probably would have already managed to smash a bowling ball into my temple to end the suffering.
So now Major Mika is up. And the pins are going down (Yup – I have no shame.) Now, as I have said, I don’t know anything about anything but I know that Mika got away with one on his penultimate ball. I mean the announcers let you know but all you have to do is watch the Iso cam on Mika and his reaction tells you that that ball was oh so dicey.
Last ball has everything you could possibly want. Mika’s final ball crashes into the pins and the entire world suddenly sees that the 7 pin is still upright. The 10 pin bounces around and somehow skips back across the lane to ever so gently kiss the 7 just to tease everyone. Rob Stone screaming “COME ON MESSENGER! NOOOOOOO!!!!!” is the most Gus Johnson call by a non-Gus Johnson announcer ever. Mika goes down like he was shot. 299 has never been so disappointing. God I love this clip.
The good news for Major Mika is that he would go on to win the whole thing. The bad news for Daughtery is that the 299-100 score remains the biggest woodshed moment in Tour history. And if I need inspiration for the 2nd in this series, I could just use Mika’s choke job later in the year at the US Open.