This is the first year since 2011 that I won't be at Nationals watching as much Scandal as is reasonable.
2010 was the last year I played at Nationals. In fact, starting in 2000, I have attended:
6 Nationals as a player (2003, 04, 05, 07, 09, 10)
3 Nationals as a fan (2012, 13, 14)
1 Nationals (2000) as a volunteer
10 of 15 Club Nationals.
My record as a fan of Scandal (2 titles, 1 semis loss) is waaaaay better than my record as a player for Pike and PoNY (1 semis loss 04, 1 quarters loss 05, 1 prequarters loss, the rest in the ye olde shit-box, as we used to call it back in the day under the old power-pool format).
Point is, it feels weird to be not-traveling to Frisco, TX this year. It also feels quite sad to know that whatever happens to Scandal (the only team of any sport in the world of whom I am an actual fan) in this go-round that I will not ever ever ever get to see it. The most important tournament of the year, the highest level of tournament play in the world, and the only team I truly care for exist in a black box for four days in 2015. 2015 a year in which over 90% of the players in attendance brought a video camera along. So, I'll have to rely on the coverage provided by the ultimate world.
Then again, I've not seen more than a few games of top-16 (give or take) club ultimate this season. I coached a classic flight team in 2015 (and will be coaching them again in 2016) and as a result, I was at tournaments with my team on weekends. At those tournaments, we played a total of one team which made it to nationals: Patrol. More than this, the players on my team while at those tournaments had little to no opportunity to see top-level club ultimate. Mind you, my team was in no small part comprised of AUDL and MLU players who played alongside players from Truck Stop (the undisputed regional power at this point) during those seasons.
Since that season ended, the players not on Truck Stop have been quarantined from the players on Truck Stop. And Temper. And, for most of the season, Patrol As a result, the players, teams, coaches, et cetera at the level just below that are hard-pressed to know anything about the teams or players outside of their region. This lack of interaction between levels is a concern not only for the players as players, but the cultivation of players as eventual fans and spectators.
So, as a result of the journey I've taken this season (MLU work, coaching club, not traveling to watch Scandal) I've never really seen the top tier club teams of any level play at all over 2015. I will be an uninformed yet knowledgeable observer subject to the whims of the programmers that be. This is a state I'm accustomed to for NFL, UEFA, NBA, and more... but never really for ultimate. I've always been present at the site wearing one dapper hat or another.
This year? I'll be looking for tweets while watching games. I don't wear hats indoors. I'll be navigating the real world's intrusion into the best 4 days of ultimate in the ultimate world. I wonder how I'll hold up?
Thursday, October 1
This is the first year since 2011 that I won't be at Nationals watching as much Scandal as is reasonable.
Thursday, May 7
But the knowing... the knowing that it is time to burn out or fade away.
I think it would have been different if I had been paid a ton of money to play ultimate.
Then again, it is unclear if that would've been a good thing.
It certainly wouldn't have led me here.
Was I ever Tim Duncan? Not a chance. But I was that me. That positive avatar of my self. Then these words from afar by someone else writing about someone else doing something else for some other reasons echoes in my mind:
"Now it’s a mental thing. When you know it’s time to go, it’s not about the games, the locker rooms, the camaraderie, the charter planes and the salaries anymore. All of that stuff makes you want to keep playing, actually.
But preparing to play — that’s the culprit.
It’s the mental burden that saps you. You start missing your freedom. You have to eat a certain way, sleep a certain way, prepare a certain way. You learn to dread those mornings after back-to-backs. You hate those early wakeup calls, hate being at the gym for hours by yourself, hate working on things that you already learned a million years ago. You already peaked, and you know it, so it’s all about killing yourself so you can be 70 percent as good as you once were. You have young dudes coming at you left and right, always looking to prove themselves, doing anything possible to put themselves on the map against you."
Thursday, April 16
The more I see:
This is my favorite clip from MLU's 2014 season.
It starts with the PHL's Dave Brandolph splitting of the double.
It continues with the comical reaction from the Boston defender who seems to be asking for spurious travel calls to save him.
Then the nicely angled slicing pass between two unprepared Boston defenders released in slightly modified stride.
But then I noticed something else just today. When #25 (Trey Katzenbach) bounces the disc back to Brandolph, it has an IO tilt on it. This is a teachable moment.
Brandolph's momentum is taking him at a diagonal toward the lower left of the screen. He has beaten two defenders and is maintaining his advantageous leverage over the defense through quickness and speed. He's driving toward the next two Boston defenders, forcing them to decide what to do (fall back or step up) and collapsing the timeline for their ability to react to the aforementioned through pass.
Katzenbach does a great job waiting to give Brandolph time to improve his positional advantage without tarrying so long that the remainder of Boston's defense catches up. However, he throws a quite suboptimal pass to Brandolph.
The little IO backhand he throws has a short flight path which forces Brandolph to catch it at a specific moment rather than giving him the option of either catching immediately or delaying. An IO backhand which sits out in front of the receiver, and then floats in the direction Brandolph is running would be a far better option.
However, the other issue that the short IO backhand causes is that Brandolph must look further to his left than he would desire. The path of the disc starts on from the left side of his head and eventually gets to a point where he can see with both eyes. This forces his vision to adjust from keeping his head downfield to picking up the disc from the corner of his left eye. You can see this starting from frame 99 to frame 108 (controls are on the lower right of the image), give or take, as Brandolph's body is facing one direction while he is turning his head to see a thrower behind him and to the left.
The solution here would be for Katzenbach to throw either a slightly arced OI R-backhand which would sit out in front of Brandolph in the same field of vision as the direction he is running and then bank back toward him, or a flat R-backhand with a little more lead on it for Brandolph to run onto. Or, if we're really aiming for perfection: Katzenbach should keep his shoulders square to Brandolph (rather than turning away) and look to the IO L-Backhand which will sit in front of Brandolph, and then softly bank toward him.
A two-handed thrower, in this context, would have the ideal throw for the situation. A single-handed thrower has many slightly less good options.
95% of this play is perfect, and Brandolph does a fantastic job picking up the downfield state quickly enough to deliver the next pass, but his job would be made even easier by a perfect throw from Katzenbach.
Wednesday, February 4
And, as you can see below, it isn't always formatted perfectly.
If this is your first time here, you can feel free to use either the useless index or the temporal index in the column on the right, or you can just wander through some of the posts.
If this is not your first time here, well... you're probably bored with this post already.
As for the future of this space, it will always be my space for quickly/rashly typed out things or the sorts of stuff I can't very well publish under the imprimatur of another. My name is my name and your name is your name. The two do not mean the same. Except when they do.
As for the past of this space, well... it is me over time. No more, no less. This repository shall remain where I'll store this part of me and, when appropriate, update my self-image. Hopefully without a Dorian Gray feel. The times and progressions and iterations of this space have taught me a lot and the journey never ends. Until it does.
And then will my earthly remains be considered these words or just a bag of bones?
Not for me to choose.
But the words are shared here and at very least, they help me understand me.
Sunday, October 19
Well, at least my intent is to make it quick.
To start with, the ultimate has been rather strong in the games I have seen. This may be selection bias (Follow Scandal around and you'll see some good ultimating) in part, but the games have been compelling for the most. Comebacks, teams playing unafraid and the like.
That said, the spectator experience is difficult. Nothing about this complex or setup has the spectator in mind. The fields are separated by roads and fences. The field assignments change. None of the games on Thursday are particularly relevant.
This event is about the players. Later in the evening on Saturday, the players become spectators. But even then, there are often multiple semis to watch at once (Women's and Mixed) on different quality fields (seating and surface) with different quality production values. Different speaker systems, different scoreboards, different different different. That this is unavoidable is likely more true than false, but that doesn't obviate that there is an implicit value statement in the placement of the games.
But the point isn't to complain about all of that. The point is to paint a picture. However fragmented and strange, the experiences I can type about are my own. One of the things that has been nagging the heck out of me since watching MARegionals has been round length. It was a debacle watching unobserved game after unobserved game at Regionals end short of 15 points as teams took extra-long halves without even realizing. I assumed that this would improve in the observed games. Well, a little bit... in that at least the halftimes weren't greater than 10 minutes. At the same time, the semifinal between Temper and Patrol ended at 12-11. The game-to-go to the game-to-go between Patrol and Garden State ended at 12-13.
Again, I've fulminated a bit on this before (though I can't find it... if you go back to last year's Nationals, there were a ridiculous number of capped games in bracket play across all divisions) but I was hoping to be proven wrong. Welp... let's just look at one of the (multiple) capped games I watched over the last 2 days. We'll look at the very fun Ring v Ironside men's semi. Why? Because I actually took some notes via twitter last night regarding points and time. Usually, if I'm going to write about a game, I record the number of throws and amount of time taken for each possession (when possible) and definitely for each point. Since I'm not really "working" at Nationals, I haven't been doing this. However, the data from the semi last night is near-complete and very basic. Just score and time. I missed two data points (clocks at 4-7 and 6-10) for which I just averaged two points together to come up with a reasonable facsimile of what occurred. Listed below are all of the points of Ring v Ironside sorted by length. Sadly, I didn't time the final interminable point... but then again, that was literally the only point of the game which was truly untimed. So... perhaps that was right? On to the numbers:
Ring Ironside 1:45:00 1 1 1:47:30 4 7 1:47:30 4 8 1:55:00 1 2 2:14:00 5 9 2:22:00 12 12 2:35:00 3 6 3:05:00 8 11 3:05:00 9 11 3:25:00 3 4 3:30:00 0 1 3:56:00 4 9 4:05:00 7 11 4:11:00 11 12 4:14:00 11 11 4:20:00 6 9 4:30:00 1 3 4:45:00 2 4 5:05:00 1 4 5:05:00 6 10 5:05:00 6 11 6:08:00 10 11 6:25:00 4 6 9:10:00 3 5 10:00:00 HALF HALF 0 0 12 13
23 or under points non-15 Division Pool Bracket Total Pool Bracket Total Men's 5 2 7 9 9 18
24 14 38 24 14 38 20.83 14.29 18.42 37.50 64.29 47.37 Women's 6 2 8 12 3 15 24 14 38 24 14 38 25.00 14.29 21.05 50.00 21.43 39.47 Mixed 9 1 10 16 4 20 24 14 38 24 14 38 37.50 7.14 26.32 66.67 28.57 52.63 Total 20 5 25 37 16 53 72 42 114 72 42 114 27.78 11.90 21.93 51.39 38.10 46.49
Monday, September 29
So... now these teams should all collude, right?*
I mean that, in the long run, it is now better if Scandal and Green Means Go to both finish as high as possible at Nationals, right? If Both finish in the pro flight, then the region gets two automatic bids for next year, if my reading of the TCT guidelines is correct. So then... should they pool resources to do as well as possible? Should they share scouting reports and tips? Even practice or scrimmage together? Same with Truck Stop and Temper? Same for Amp and Amp?
Spacing, Skills, Leftys.
The cross-division similarity between Scandal and Truck Stop is in that they are excellent at dictating the offensive space on the field, and then attacking it with their specific skills, both based on individual quirks and trained team-level knowledge. They are organized and skilled and coherent. And they each have leftys. Never underestimate the value of sufficient lefthandedness.
As I was speaking with someone whose first polo fields these were not the phrase "I know a lasting club culture when I see one."
Scandal and Truck, Truck and Scandal.
Coaches, a game plan, top-shelf talent, dedication to improve.
DC is the place to be for Open and Women's.
It isn't close.
As for Amp, none of their games were close enough to watch. Literally and figuratively. I kept walking over toward their fields and either the game was over or the first people I saw who knew the score said "Amp is up at least three breaks and they just got a D."
Save for this one moment against AG. There was a poach block on and under cut. If AG scores, it isn't yet half. It would have been 7-5. Timeout. No conversion. Amp scores. 8-4 at half. gap of two versus gap of four is a big difference. Remember that, coaches, captains and leaders.
I don't know how Amp won, so I can say nothing substantive.
Then again... #IJustLosttheGame
There might be something I know about some of those Philadelphia players of a certain age back from once upon a time... but using that is speculation.
Amp is another lasting club culture.
And all these new players show up... and the young ones who had promise turn into the good, reliable club players. Or the club players now coaches or old reliable players like Mr. Moldenhauer.
Wodatch kept DiGirolamo-ing Temper.
Of the first 4 DC O-Points, I'm reasonably certain that Wodatch caught a huck while running free to the endzone on three of them. If I didn't know better, I'd say that Temper had never seen a player do that. However, the previous day coming out of half, this is precisely what Temper did to Garden State Ultimate. A quick strike of two unmolested deep cuts (like.. no defender w/in 20 yards) getting 60+ yard goals off of the pull play (either the 2nd or 3rd throw) as the other five Temper players swept across the field in harmless school-of-fish-style group cutting. The next time down, Garden State matched up on Tyler and kept with him for the majority of the cut... until TD jumped. The GSU defender was impotently staring up at the roof being built over his head. Goal.
I assume that all of these teams are aware that their opponents need to make it to the other endzone to score, and of who DiGirolamo and Wodatch are. Some sort of mesmerizing offensive structure must be eliminating all possibilities of help defense. Perhaps voodoo? A hypnotist?
As magical as that sounds, no. The answer is more basic. If you're playing straight up, no-help man, you're making the game a series of one-v-one matchups. Which plays to the offense. TO put it another way, there should be no moment when the most dangerous deep receiver on the opposing Offensive Rotation is on an island versus a single defender. The structure of the defense must reflect the threats present in a given offense. There are 6 players (not counting the mark) who could be responsible for the endzone. When zero are? Structural problem.
As for the sort of player who reshapes the field, in the games that I watched at MARegionals, those players were: DiGirolamo, Wodatch, Green Mean's Go's Pullers, and Sandy Jorgensen of Scandal.
Each of them changes the geometry of the field. Bending either the defense (DiGirolamo & Wodatch primarily play offense) or the offense (Pulls and Jorgensen generally play defense) or both to their benefit. By changing the underlying equations of the game, they all pose a question to their opponents that must either be answered or circumvented.
And then Temper Truck Stopped Garden State Ultimate.
Temper looked bad at ultimate against Truck Stop. Then they capitulated.
Garden State fought back through the backdoor registering a momentous victory over Patrol in the backdoor after losing to Temper in the front door, 15-11.
Which brings me to something important when it comes to tournament play: The number of games teams play over a weekend.
The game-to-go in the men's division was Temper's fifth on the weekend.
The game-to-go in the men's division was Garden State's seventh on the weekend.
Oh wait... let me check my math: That was Temper's 4.5th or so game on the weekend. They threw in the towel in the final at about halftime (It looked like they brought their O starters out for the first point of half and then never again.) while Garden State fought like hell against teams they needed to beat. Sure, you'll say, that's the penalty for losing. I'll respond that this is ridiculous. My next post will cover this more in-depth via cloning technology.
In the Women's Division, Scandal was the best. It wasn't close, even though Green Means Go (After not trying to win their pool play matchup which was a 13-1 Scandal victory) made a 3/4ths of a game of it in the final. That is, GMG can hang with Scandal. But an upset is near-incomprehensible. The 15-9 finals game was close at 10-8, but it got to 15-9 in a hurry.
Green Means Go was clearly the second team.
Hot Metal was clearly the third best team.
GMG was consistently aggressive in all phases of the game, the gap between their play and Scandal's is a matter of execution&skill rather than structure or strategy. The two play different offensive sets, but both are capable of working the breakside, openside and deep. GMG is more dependent on some of their deep shots succeeding than is Scandal, but the aggression both teams show with their D Rotation offense is remarkable. If you throw a short turn against either of these teams and then pause to think about it for a second, you might as well start walking back to the line for the next O-point. Your moment of remorse is just the window they've been trying to open.
They both have players who are top-shelf quality. However, Scandal has Team USA players. Scandal is the reigning national champions who have traveled the world over the last year. Green Means Go is, simply put, green in comparison.
Woe to the team that underestimates this Philly women's team. You will pay the price. The women on this team play fast, play hard, and have a clear team identity.
Are Ultimate Players Orange-Green Colorblind?
The fields at the Capital Polo Club have enough space around each field to have a restraining line. Ultimate players put their bags on inside the line. They stand inside the line. They put the tents and umbrellas inside the line. They bitch and moan when you tell them to move. They get int he way of the observers. When there are no other games going on anywhere, spectators line up so closely that a player leaving from inbounds can layout and collide with sundry dangerous items from a spectator looking the other way to tents nailed into the ground to coolers to speakers to umbrellas.
Why Why Why?
Stop it. Stop endangering your fellow travelers. Stop making the world more dangerous with no gain. 5 steps behind the orange line... your view is nearly unchanged. The safety of the players, however, is vastly improved. Just do it. How many years... how many folks laying out into stuff... how many Paul George injuries?
Best games of the weekend (in no particular order):
Garden State over Patrol in the game to go to the game to go (Incredible GSU comeback)
Scandal over Green Means Go in the final (Scandal Challenged!)
Green Means Go over Hot Metal in pool play (GMG big comeback!)
Green Means Go over Hot Metal in the game to go (PGH fought the whole way... big plays both directions... no fear from either side)
Worst games of the weekend (in no particular order):
Truck Stop over Temper in the final (White Flag Game)
Temper over Garden State in the game-to-go (Outta Gas Game)
Scandal over Green Means Go in pool play (White Flag Game)
Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other:
Temper v Patrol in the semis (Incredibly bad/ugly game which someone had to win I guess)
Had a decent time spectating this weekend, but I've had about enough ultimate in one weekend to last 2-3 months. I hope I'm more interested by the time my fall league team plays this coming weekend.
*- I have been politely corrected by Mr Miller that this is no longer the case. I had difficulty discerning from this page as I quickly scanned earlier. In the relevant section it states that "this rule is effective for the 2014 season." I took that to mean that the note from above was effective as I scanned. The rule of 1 region, 1 auto bid makes more sense. Section B.2.c.i
This rule is effective for the 2014 season.
Sunday, September 28
"Where are the horses?"
No horses. I told you, frisbee."
Your shirt. It says 'Horse' on it.
Right but for frisbee.
So, coed, the reason I didn't watch you on the first day is because you're not in bracket play. You're in pool play. I can't watch enough of the games to make any sense of your teams. In women's, by watching Scandal, Green Means Go and Hot Metal, I've got decent grasp on what's going on over there. 3/7 teams.
In open, all I care about are the teams in the top 6. I watched four of the top 6 yesterday on the same two adjacent fields, except for Truck and Medmen. Though I'm pretty familiar with the DC/MD open players on those teams through being in the Mid-Atlantic for a long time, my MLU work, the AUDL's existence, and living in the DMV. I can look at the rosters and know pretty well what I'm getting. I watched Patrol and GSU be exactly the teams that that I expected. I not-watched Medmen be the team they always are. Truck has been the team here since Ring left. There are no others, folks. Philly, Jersey and Pittsburgh keep switching names and blowing things up and starting again and shifting philosophies... Yet Truck Stop remains. One of the first (and wholly sensible) UPA/USAU name changes.
Wait... did the UPA make itself change its own name because it was offensive?
Patrol could beat Temper. GSU could be Temper.
Medmen... I don't know how they stack up against Temper, Patrol or GSU.
Dire is less known to me, but I recognize some of them for sure.
Patrol and Med Men have the decided advantage in the backdoor bracket since they've played one less game than Dire Wolf and Garden State Ultimate.
Temper, on the other hand... has the goods. But how much do they have in stock?
This is a tournament. Patrol made Temper look very vulnerable.
GSU did not look wholly overmatched, just situationally.
Would've liked to see that game actually played to fifteen.
Speaking of which, after twitting earlier about games in club not truly being to points, I went through and looked that scored from #MARegionals to see what sort of winning scores most teams had. Of the 66 games played across all divisions, only 38 (or 57.58%) reached their stated point total. 10 (71.43%) of Women's Games, 16 (57.14%) of Mixed Games, 10 (50.00%) of Open Games.
|Division||# of teams||# of games||Games to||Winner Full||Less||-1||-2||-3||-4||-5||No Score||%Full||Under||-1||-2||-3||-4||-5||No Score|
If you missed it above, the men's teams played to 15. The thing that you will not see above is thatall rounds in all divisions were the same length. If you're trying to reach 15 you'll probably need more time than if you're trying to reach 13. To put it another way 13 : 15 :: 105 : (1575 / 13)
That's 121 and two thirteenths minutes, if you prefer.
121 minutes and 9.230769 seconds for the men's rounds.
It wasn't like the teams in open were even finishing *near* the end of their games though. Most most common non-15 winning score in open was 12 (-3) In both Women's and Mixed, the most common non-13 winning scores were a tie between 12 (-1) and 11 (-2).
So, the results are closer to intent in both women's and mixed both in terms of frequency and distance.
Oh also... no scoreboards at #MARegionals. that's... weird. I wish Mike G was still in this region. He'd throw a fit so the rest of us didn't have to.
The plan for Sunday is to familiarize myself with mixed in the 9am round from the polo stands. I can watch the majority of both Amp vs [Ridiculous Jersey] and Tyrannis v [Pribicko's still playing with Herschel? Why isn't Paul on this team?]. Cool.
But then I will start shifting toward field 11 and 5 (which are actually a little too far apart) to see Scandal v Green Means Go and the Truck Stop vs Temper men's final. On the way, I hope to catch a sufficient amount of Ant Madness v American Hyperbole and Ambiguous** Gr(e/a)y v Jughandle. I'm only one set eyes and the like, so choices must be made. Shade, shelter and seats wins barring extenuating circumstances like a final or Scandal.
To get into styles of play for a second:
Temper v Patrol was look-away ugly for much of the game. Trading full field untouched by the receiver hucks... turfing multiple throws... making 50/50 throws out of reasonably open looks. They were all playing hard, but never smoothly. Not an aesthetically pleasing moment in that game. Athletically? Sure. But you're gonna need more than that.
Garden State puts on the gas better than Patrol. There is a sense watching them that they are on the verge of going on a run. With Patrol it feels more like a slow charge forward on the same level. Not so many highs or so many lows. That is... Patrol is less likely to blow a team out, but the are less likely to be blown out also.
Dire Wolf and Medicine Men... If you make it through the back door... I'll check y'all soon.
In the women's division, the difference between watching Scandal and watching the other teams is that Scandal is making choices about which way they will play. They can go long, play the unders, break the mark or do what is required on offense. Not because they have to do one or the other but because it is what needs to be done for Point X or Y. There is a fundamental flexibility that they have that the other teams wholly lack. Depth plays a huge role in this.
Hot Metal and Green Means Go are simply more limited in their options. AS evidenced by their head-to-head play, either team is capable of going up on the other. But in watching that game as it progressed, one of the notable differences is that the Philly players keep pushing hard when they were down. There was no deflation. Once PGH went down... there was a softening around the edges of play that informed all of their lack of true belief. Just at the end, as the game was already over in effect, PGH showed some fight. But too little too late.
PGH or PHL can go to nationals. If there is a fourth team with a shot, I didn't see it.
More than this, I haven't time for. Nor is there an editor. So... up this post goes. " Read More......