The Big Lebowski vs. The Pin Pals: Who Wins a Fictional Bowling Game?

By Mike Cardillo

The other day I had an idea for a Tweet: who would win in a fictional bowling contest, The Dude’s crew from The Big Lebowski or the Pin Pals of Simpsons fame? The tweet would have gotten, maybe, three favorites which I could then cash in for 0.000000000000000001 of a cent. Yay! Then I realized I write for a “blog” and this is the sort of harebrained quasi-sports, quasi-pop culture idea that made Bill Simmons famous at Page 2. You know, back when Simmons wrote stuff people liked to print out and read on the toilet before he became yet another opinion that people on the Internet are willing to fight to the death over. 

Anyways without any further ado, The Big Lebowski vs. the Pin Pals … 


Team 7 (The Dudes)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but does The Dude’s bowling team have a name? Donnie wears random bowling shirts from various teams throughout the movie. I find it difficult to believe that an ex-hippie burnout/Metallica roadie and paranoid Vietnam Vet would ever be able to agree on a name, hence the league office likely assigned them the generic “Team 7” name that I’m bestowing upon them for the purposes of this post. If I missed the minor detail as to their name I apologize in advance.

Bowler No. 1: The Dude — We know this much about The Dude, he loves bowling enough to listen to audio tapes of former competitions. When he gets knocked out at Malibu garden parties, he dreams of a Valhalla Alley in the sky. Yes, marijuana is involved here but that’s besides the point since we’re not the NFL. What we don’t know is how good The Dude is when it comes to actually throwing rocks. Do we ever see him roll a ball in the movie? Let’s guess The Dude is an adequate bowler. He might not flirt with 300s, but he’s okay enough to average around 175 or so. Plus he’d be an excellent teammate who never got mad at you, although you’d always be on the hook for the post game oat sodas. If you wouldn’t want The Dude on your bowling team why are you even reading this post, man?

Bowler No. 2: Walter Sobchak — If it comes to throwing bowling balls into the solar plexus of German synth pop bands turned nihilists, well, Walter is your man. As for the bowling itself? Like his personality Sobchak blows hot and cold so you never know what you’re going to get. If Cynthia’s dog is taken care of and his laundry is clean, he could put up a 250. If the slightest little iota is out of order, he might not break 100. Walter’s best trait is that he knows the rules of bowling inside and out, making him an asset on your team and likely the most-hated man in the league otherwise — even moreso than the Jesus. You’re not getting away with a line violation on his watch.

Bowler No. 3: Donnie — Donnie is a bowler and a surfer. We actually see that he’s good at bowling, throwing all but one strike throughout the movie. Too bad he died.

Pin Pals

To keep this an even 3-on-3 affair, we’re going to exclude both Otto and Mr. Burns. In theory we could have assigned Roy Munson to The Dudes but that might be too much pop culture flotsam for one post — even in Simmons’ heyday.

Bowler No. 1: Homer Simpson — At some point in Simpsons history, Homer does role a perfect 300 game and becomes a local celebrity. Homer tends to be terrible at just about everything but is actually pretty good at bowling. His rhyming skills with Styx lyrics are an added bonus for team morale.

Bowler No. 2: Moe Szyslak — Another head case. One perceived slight from the opponents and Moe’s self-loathing takes over. Question to ponder: would you consider Homer and Moe friends by its usual definition? I’m not so sure. There are certainly codependent on each other, but friends? Moe as presented throughout most of the show is incapable of friendship.

Bowler No. 3: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon — By all accounts Apu is a solid bowler. Given his love of Cheap Trick, his scores likely fluctuate with how much air guitar he can play during the games based on the bowling alley PA system. As we know (or blindly assume), most bowling alleys don’t play anything post-1989 unless it’s Cosmic Bowling or something wacky on Saturday nights.

The Breakdown:

Let’s work under the premise that Homer and Donnie cancel each other out as the best rollers on each team. Donnie gets the slight nod here because unless he starts quoting Lennon (or Lenin) he’ll be in his element, rolling strikes and doing his thing. Homer is pretty good too, but all it would take is something shiny in the next lane — or the smell of alley hot dogs — to distract him.

Moe and Walter are too unpredictable and volatile to expect a reasonable performance in each game. They likely void each other out because they don’t look like the type of bowlers who model their games on consistency — nor do I think either competitor is all that good at bowling, either. They’re more likely to end up pulling weapons on each other and fighting to the death more than rolling a strike.

That means this all-important challenge comes down to The Dude vs. Apu.

For my money, I’m going with Apu. The Dude might get bummed out by an Eagles song or forget his hair clip. The Dude doesn’t seem too hung up on competition, either. With Apu you’re going to get a solid round each time.

The Result:

The Pin Pals are a slightly better fictional bowling team than The Dudes. Some random person on the Internet has spoken. Lobster harmonicas and White Russians for everybody!