Alright, I'm 99.5% sure I know the answer to this but wanted to check what everyone's opinion was. (this is kind of long, sorry; I've got a TLDR version at the end)
In our league last night, we were bowling against a guy whose temper did not pair up well with the 6 pack he put down. Half way through the first game he starts, quite literally, yelling to anyone in a 4 lane radius that would look at him "I don't understand this!! We have 10 bowlers here, and 12 balls on the rack!! How is that possible?! It doesn't make sense!!"
First off, yes it is annoying when there are spare balls clogging up the rack. There is a more tactful way to address this. More importantly, this was the first time we had a bowler that forgot to grab his extra ball; the other extra ball was theirs, a lady forgot to remove it after practice and was not using it and it had been there the entire game.
So, he stays angry, and in the 10th frame of the first game when it is pretty clear we will win, he challenges me on a 10-pin spare, saying I fouled. I don't ever foul - I generally have a shoe and a half between my slide foot and the foul line when I'm posted up. He elaborates, saying that because I touched the ball return it's a foul. When I shoot 10 pins on the right lane, I almost lean against the ball return and guide my starting foot up the side of it so that as soon as I pass it I can side step without tripping over it and shoot over the gutter (don't judge me).
My understanding is that this is not a foul, and you could stand on top of the ball return and toss the ball from there if you wanted to. I think he is confused because the rules say you can't touch any part of the lane or any equipment (bumpers, ball return, etc); however, this is referring to any equipment that is beyond the foul line. As long as you are not past the line, you can touch whatever. Is this correct? We argued for a bit and it resulted in my saying "Okay my bad I'll pay more attention to it". But I didn't actually change anything and continued to shoot the same way.
Lastly, in a bit of fun karma, we were winning the second game by about 60 pins going into the 9th after spotting them 100 pins. Same angry guy assumed they had lost, got angrier, and tossed both of his shots in the 9th straight into the gutter to sandbag a bit. He bowls in their 2 spot and has a 210 average. After their last 3 bowlers strike and we manage 3 opens in the 9th, he realizes he screwed up but throws a big 4 split in his 10th once he's trying again. We ended up winning the game by 9 pins
TLDR version: Is it illegal to touch the ball return during your approach?