Sposato applied for a patent for his diamond core, which he claimed to generate 20% higher inertia than any competitor, and placed it in a ball he made under the brand name Lane #1. However, despite his insistence that his core is the most advanced on the market, Sposato has always lagged behind Pinel in terms of sales and recognition. This dynamic led to years of conflict between two grumpy men. After an argument in the online forum Bowling Exchange, Pineel was suspended for making a sharp response to Sposato’s criticism.
“Look, Mo, he speaks above everyone else and talks to people,” Sposato said. “People can’t understand what he’s talking about—physical, all these big words, and so on. So they just look at him and agree with him. But I can see through it. I know what he’s talking about. Whatever you say, I can always throw it back in his face.” (In addition to designing the Lane #1 ball, Sposato also owns a nightclub in Syracuse; last year he was on board for hosting a party that publicly defied the state’s blockade. Made the headlines.)
When MoRich turned off, Sposato was partially proven correct. The company encountered a typical entrepreneurial dilemma, especially maintaining quality control when dealing with contract factories. More fundamentally, demand has fallen. From 1996 to 2006, the number of league bowlers—people willing to spend a lot of money on one or three new balls each year—decreased by 36%. But Pineel’s ideas have also been copied by bigger competitors, who are now boldly peddling their asymmetric balls. Unlike MoRich, these companies have ways to put their products in the hands of the most influential professionals. (Get a brand approved for use on the Professional Bowling Association Tour, the top tour of the sport, and the certification fee is more than $100,000.)
Until 2011, Pinel had invested his dwindling savings in MoRich. Soon thereafter, an old friend gave him a life-saving straw. Phil Cardinale was the person who provided Pinel with his first track design opportunity more than two decades ago, and recently became the CEO of Radical Bowling, a niche ball brand owned by Brunswick Bowling. The vice presidents of Cardinale and Brunswick Bowling invited Pinel to become the technical director of Radical. In addition to designing the core of the brand, Pinel has also become the chief ambassador of Radical.his #Monday YouTube series Attracting thousands of viewers every week, he also arranges more than one hundred personal appearances every year. Despite being in his seventies, Pineel regularly drives his black 2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx for 45,000 miles per year. He would drive through Dakota in the middle of winter and walk into the alleys to talk about the core of his Radical design, the balls with names such as ridiculous, samurai legend, and conspiracy theory.
Pinel is still trying to maximize the flare potential in his designs, and this effort can be said to be outdated. The new generation of professional bowlers are stronger and more technologically advanced than their predecessors, and their ball spins have reached an unprecedented level-for those who choose the increasingly popular two-handed throwing technique, sometimes 600 spins per minute . These bowlers do not need as much hook help as in the past, so they use a more stable ball-a strategic trend that may have a trickle-down effect on league bowlers who admire the star of the sport.
In our conversation, Pineel never showed any signs that he was worried about the core future. He seems to be thankful that he still has a place in this industry, and he is happy to be able to promote the complex relationship between core design and ball sports on the road. When we were talking in mid-February, he called from Fort Myers. His upcoming trip to the South sounds cruel: stop in Florida for two more stops, and then he will head to specialty stores in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Louisville. At the end of the trip, he will help announce the release of Radical’s latest balls, Incognito Pearl and Pandemonium Solid, which promise “strong mid-range movement and substantial continuity through the pin deck.”