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The greatest faces in sport today take up the non-recreational sport... of bowling.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN

Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg & Norm Duke
Packager: ESPN Original Entertainment
Strike Miami; Miami, FL
Tuesdays at 8pm ET on ESPN

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"Episode 1" - April 12

We see very buff athletes in many sports who win million and millions of dollars - but can they bowl? As we have seen, usually not. I am Gordon Pepper, and I CAN bowl. I have a 185 average and have won 15 league titles, as well as a Team Tournament of Champions event, placed third in that same event as a defending champion and have won a Match Play award. Can these people bowl?

We'll soon see as we join Mike Greenberg and Norm Duke in beautiful Miami. We see that these athletes may not be the greatest of bowlers. How do we know this? Let;s take a look at norm Duke's Keys to success...

1. Hit the Headpin. Duh.
2. Focus on the Score. Duh.
3. Make their score higher than their opponents. Duh.

Here's the format. We have 16 athletes competing. 4 at a time will compete in each preliminary. The top scores from each match will advance. The highest losing score will also get in as a Wildcard. The 5 people will then be cut to 3, where we will then have our championship. We are also joined by Mike Golic (Greenberg's partner on their ESPN radio show), who is with our first 4 competitors...

We start the action at...Game 2? Wha? Well, apparently, ESPN doesn't want to show us game 1, so heres's what we have so far...

Paul Mara (NHL) - 142
Alana Beard (WNBA) - 116
Willis McGahee (NFL) - 126
Ephraim Salaam (NFL) - 122

Mara only has a 20 pin lead, so anything can happen. We start game 2 now...

Frame 1 - Beard, on his first shot, puts the ball right in the gutter. On her second shot, she gets 7, which isn't going to help her chances to win. Also not helping her chances - Mara, who buries it in the pocket for a strike. McGahee needs a mark (spare or strike) to follow suit, and the strike will do just that. Salaam also needs to get a mark, and he's off to a good start with an 8 (leaving the makeable 3-5 combination). He converts the pins for the spare, and the guys all are even.

Mara - 142 (on X), McGahee - 126 (on X), Salaam - 122 (on /) Beard - 123 (On -)

Let's quickly go over terminology. An X is a strike. A / is a spare. A - is an open. An open is bad, because you can't get any more bonuses in that frame. With a spare, you get a bonus of your next ball. With a strike, you get the bonus of your next 2 balls, so you really want to throw a lot of consecutive strikes to increase your score rapidly.

Frame 2 - Beard gets an 8 on her first shot, and leaves a very easy 1-3. She really needs to make this spare, but she's wide right and is in serious trouble of just being a footnote in this match. Mara clears the corner pins for a 6, leaving the center 1-2-3-5 bucket. He misses it completely, which leaves the door open for both McGahee and Salaam. McGahee walks right through the door with a double (2 straight strikes), while Salaam nails the 2 pin - and see it come all the way around for a strike. Someone check the lanes.

McGahee - 126 (on XX), Mara - 164 (on -), Salaam - 142 (on X), Beard - 123 (On -)

Frame 3 - Beard gets another gutterball and a 1. In th words of Salaam, 'we've lost her'. That you have, as she is pretty much done. Mara leaves a 1-3, and with another miss (wide left), he is falling apart. Can McGahee get 3 strikes in a row? No, but he gets a 6, which is decent count. He makes the 1-3-5-6 and will be in control if Salaam falters. Salaam doesn't falter, however, and with the double is breathing right down McGahee's neck.

McGahee - 172 (on /), Salaam - 142 (on XX), Mara - 172 (on -), Beard - 124 (On -)

Frame 4 - Beard (who cares about Beard now?) continues to gutter on the first ball, though she finally gets a spare on the second ball. Mara leaves an awful 4-7-8 combo (which most league bowlers can't pick up) and misses all 3 of them. McGahee leaves a solid 7 pin on his first shot, and he really needs it to stay ahead of Salaam. He misses it, and Salaam can now take the lead with a strike. Instead, he leaves an ugly 7-8 split, which is makeable if you are a league bowler, but not in this case, as he only gets the 7.

McGahee - 200 (on -), Salaam - 198 (on -), Mara - 179 (on -), Beard - 134 (On /)

Frame 5 - Beard gets a nice 6 on her spare, but another open (leaving the headpin and the 8) signifies the end for her. Mara gets a strike, but he has some work to do. McGahee needs to get some more cushion and leaves an easy 1-2 combination. He picks it up and forces Salaam to mark to keep pace. Salaam gets a little 2 on his first ball, but picks up the spare to keep pace.

McGahee - 200 (on /), Salaam - 198 (on /), Mara - 179 (on X), Beard - 158 (On -)

Frame 6 - Beard. Gutter. 4. Snort. Mara gets a 7 on the first shot and desperately needs a spare to have any shot at first. He only gets 1 on the second and it's turning into a 2 person match. McGahee completely opens the door wide with a 4 on his spare ball and a 4 on his second ball. Salaam gets a strong 9 on his first ball with a stone 7 pin. A spare him gives him a nice lead - and he gets it. Salaam has a potential 14 pin lead.

Salaam - 226 (on /), McGahee - 222 (on -), Mara - 205 (on -), Beard - 162 (On -)

Frame 7 - Beard FINALLY gets a good count on the first ball (9)...and misses the 6 pin spare wide left. Mara leaves a 5-7 split and only picks up the 7. McGahee has to get back on the ball - and a strike does just that. Salaam needs a mark to keep the lead, and he answers with the strike.

Salaam - 246 (on X), McGahee - 222 (on X), Mara - 214 (on -), Beard - 171 (On -)

Frame 8 - Beard goes back to 1's and 5's for a 6 total. Mara, though sliding, gets a slide to stay alive mathematically in the match. McGahee buries the shot for a double and Salaam has to do the same. His shot is....a 4 pin. He needs that spare to keep the lead, and does, but he can't lick McGahee out, and if McGahee goes out the door and strikes out, he wins the match.

Salaam - 266 (on /), McGahee - 222 (on XX), Mara - 214 (on X), Beard - 177 (On -)

Frame 9 - Beard and Mara are both out. Bowling for pride, Beard tries the roll the ball approach and does just as well as she has been doing - crappy. She gets a 7 total. Mara leaves the 5 pin, and promptly misses it. Mara is trying to use Salaam's ball, and Salaam gives Mara an earful. McGahee needs a strike for the lead...and GETS it. Salaam HAS to mark to have any shot of staying in this one, but he leaves a 1-7-8, which is not easy. He does make it, though, and that forces McGahee to show up.

McGahee - 252 (on XXX), Salaam - 283 (on /), Mara - 242 (on -), Beard - 184 (On -)

Frame 10 - Beard finishes this off with an 8-1 for a total of 192. Mara also finishes this off...but he uses Salaam's ball to do it and Salaam is pissed. 'I never like another man touching my ball. Period.' Thank you, Ephraim. While Ephraim cleans his ball, Mara finishes with a 9 total and a 251 for the match. This is all academic if McGahee marks in the 10th. He almost throws the ball in the channel, then it curves into the 3-6 pocket and....he gets the STRIKE! He gets 8 on the second ball, but it's enough to win the match. Salaam still needs to get good count to put up a good wild card score, but he only shoots a 4 on his first ball and he's still shooting nasty looks at Mara. He only gets a 9 with no spare and a bad count on the 9th frame spare, so if Salaam doesn't make the playoffs, then Mara may get himself cross-checked into the board when Ice Hockey restarts it's season again.

McGahee - 329, Salaam - 296, Mara - 251, Beard - 193

Ephraim asks what the difference was, and he says 'Paul'. He does wish Willis a good job, but Willis thanks Paul for helping him to improve his game. Should Ephraim get to the wild card round, things could be fun for a rematch.

No rematch next week, but we will see Dave Mirra, Bubba Franks, Cobi Jones and Brandi Chastain. Join us in 7 days to see if they can bowl.

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