It doesn’t matter that his fingers find just the right grip on the ball. Or that he takes three careful strides on the way to a smooth throw, finishing in a classic bowler’s pose. Something is making him uneasy.
Sure enough, it sounds weird when the ball hits home, more clattering than thunderous. The pins don’t scatter like normal; two remain standing.
A technical revolution is changing the game he grew up with. Even if you don’t care about bowling, his vexation is understandable. It’s all about progress, vinyl records giving way to streaming, handwritten letters replaced by text messages, that sort of thing.
Bowling alleys across the country are ditching traditional pinsetters — the machines that sweep away and reset pins — in favor of contraptions that employ string. Think of the pins as marionettes with nylon cords attached to their heads. Those that fall are lifted out of the way, as if by levitation, then lowered back into place after each frame.
String pinsetters mean big savings, maybe salvation, for an industry losing customers to video games and other newfangled entertainment. That is why the U.S. Bowling Congress recently certified them for tournaments and league play.