...that i send you this email/survey today.
it is my first truly visible act as captain, and i'm sure that i've made some tiny but telling error that will inform you about me and what will come of this coming season that you will latch onto, much as i would have, and mock me about for years to come.
so it goes. mocker to mockee. straddling the line like the colossus?
Friday, December 21
...that i send you this email/survey today.
Saturday, December 15
I feel like I played two ultimate seasons this year.
The first started in February and Ran through December. I went to Hawaii, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Philly (at least twice), Fredericksburg, and maybe more? I was often late. I was never really playing that hard. I was very intoxicated. I got lost and couldn't find my fields. I yapped incessantly to everyone about anything. Including summer league, I won a tournament (Bell Crack, bitches!), played in 3 other finals, won a spirit award, won 2 B brackets, saw Nada Mooger not win Kaimana, won an MVP, dressed up in a suit and tight pants during play, missed a flight, drove all night, never finished lower than 9th in a tournament, generally acted like a goof and had fun no matter how we finished.
The second started in about April and went through October. It consisted of a lot of practices, trips to Delaware, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Maryland, a couple NJ tourneys, Fredericksburg and Sarasota. I was rarely late, though it happened more this year than in the past. I was always playing at least 85-90%, depending on the situation. Though it was often at as close to 100% as I could manage. I was sometimes intoxicated after something. I won two tournaments, made it to the finals in one other, won a spirit award, won five consolation brackets (Including the awesome 7-1 Regionals comeback), saw Sockeye do it again, dressed rather normally, missed no flights, drove a lot of mornings, finished as low at 15th, generally acted rather seriously and had fun for more of the time than I didn't.
Now... it has recently occurred to me to compare these two. As you might have guessed, the first is the non-Pike season of 07, and the second is the Pike season of of 08. (I was thinking about trying to figure out my season record, but I would need more time to do that) I was spurred to compare the two by someone I had dinner with up at a friend's place (that dry-aged steak was fantastic, Jeff) when she asked about why I didn't try as hard to win in all of the games I play. (She had just played with me at Turkey Bowl) and I didn't have an answer.
It was a question that, up until about 04, that no one would have dreamt of asking me. That was back when I would have done nearly anything to win in any game at any time at any tournament. Why? I was so used to losing with NYU that I had to get it out of my damn system. I had to win games to feel like a not-terrible player. This need led to fights with some of my fun-tourney teammates and to me not enjoying myself at that sort of tournament. I didn't wanna party, i wanted to win. That is all. Nothing else was relevant. And we won a decent amount of games. A lot of them by a point or two because we were playing a lot harder than our opponents. It was always the same core group of NYU almus who loved playing and wanted to pretend that we were good in college by winning against players who, like EVERYONE else, beat us in college.
But of late, when I play at tournaments like that (especially this year's performances at Fools' Fest, Ultimax, Mars, Mosh and Turkey Bowl), I take it so lightly that I'm clearly not attempting to do anything other than something ridiculous. Goofing off, drinking as soon as I get to the fields. Sometimes earlier. Consistently attempting the hardest throw that I think I can complete and never really playing defense except to look for a cheap block. I'm not bad, I just play with abandon.
Now, why? To prove that I can have fun, I think. To myself and to others. And I can. now, why else? no real answer at all.
so as I start thinking about my season and determining which of the two sounds like more fun to me, I still don't really have an answer. I like both of them. I love the fun and carefree feel around the first one. The constant uplifting emotion of enjoying the moment and the day adn all of that. the second is full of such investment and reward. Giving myself to something, to a team, so fully is fun. To work so hard on the fine, detailed points of my game and to work to become a cohesive team. I love all of that too! Why do I have do choose?
I would say two pivotal tournaments for me in these senses both occurred at the same fields. Everyone's favorite, John Lee Pratt Park in Fredericksburg, VA. These fields have been used for Fools' Fest and Regionals as long as I've been going to either. And likely before that. They're not great fields, but they're not terrible and it is isolated enough to feel like a separate world, but close enough to stuff (locally and regionally) that it isn't a trek to get there or to find somewhere to get what you forgot. The first tourney there was Fools' Fest (recounted more in-depth here). I played with the Spirit-Award Winning, 30-person strong, mixed runners-up Tight-Ass Country Club. Between Bailey, myself, and some other acutely nonchalant players we ensured that no point would go by without something exciting happening. I think we even lost once or twice on the first day. I guess I could check the files. We had fun though.
The second trip there was for Regionals (recounted more in-depth here). I was all on my serious "face-ripping" game and, while I was trying perhaps to take a bit too much on my shoulders, I was playing well until I went down with an injury. Then I was sour and sulked a bit for ht rest of the day. I did my best to cheer and pay attention, but I was so worried about the next day that I couldn't focus. Same at dinner. The next day, I knew I had a little bit in me, but that I wouldn't be able to play multiple games. So I tried to be the best cheerleader I could be. And I watched the team and the way they responded to different plays and players and celebrations and all of that. I started to see what got us fired up. Then when I got to the game-to-go, I knew what to do. I had to be relentlessly positive, but within the framework of team-level dedication and serious play. A tough balancing act, for sure, but one that paid off. As I worked to keep the team up and believing, we made a phenomenal comeback as all the breaks that went against us early, went for us late. Sometimes you just need to keep believing that it will happen for it to actually happen. If you stop believing, you won't try as hard and it might not happen!
At that point, in that moment and every time I reflect on it, I realize that the key is locked in that moment. Being tied to your teammates and focused solely on that game. While trying so hard and having so much fun the whole time. No yelling, only cheering. Contagious enthusiasm mixed with a strong will to win. Fools' Fest mixed with Regionals.
And that pattern continued at Nationals, until the last game when I soured on life for a while. (Which happens from time to time and has to do with a lot more than just ultimate.) But the experience happened there too. In fits and spurts. The D team would make a run here or there and the feeling would come back. Working as a unit, firing on all cylinders and being all smiles, even coming off of the field after failure and talking about what to do next point. That joy. Keeping yo' head up against all odds, as they say.
now, why would I do anything different at Mosh, Turkey Bowl and Ultimax? I still needed to get away from Pike and kick back at those tourneys. The season ended on a real down note for me personally, and I needed to know that ultimate wasn't always like that. now? I've got to figure out a way to merge it all together. I want to have fun no matter the outcome, but I want to win every game. I want to smile all the time, but I want to demand more from my teammates and have them demand more from me. I want to smile with my teammates. I want to smile at and joke with my opponents while I destroy them.
I want to breathe in the tense of competition and breathe out the joy born of truly enjoying the moment. I want to love both-- to get more basic: I want to love more moments in my life.
In 2008, my goal is dual: Smile before-n-after every point and play every point to win.
Sure, it is cheeee-z, but I think it is exactly where I need to go. I have 2 other things to work on fro 08, but I'm not going into that now.
Wednesday, December 12
So, now I’m one of the co-captains of Pike.
The team nominated and voted and all of that and now the captains are me and Tim Johnson.
This will, no doubt, change the nature of this blog. In some ways it’ll let me talk about new stuff, in other ways, it might could restrict the sort of thing that I used to talk about freely. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll play it by ear, but I’d be surprised if this doesn’t change what is written here. Not that I’m ever truly lucid here anyway.
It will also change the nature of me, Pike, Tim Johnson, and any number of other things that I haven’t yet considered. Though for now, I won’t get into that.
If you’re interested in how I feel about it, I’m ecstatic. Truly. I find that when I’m in a position of leadership, I hold myself to a much higher standard and I play better, harder and have more fun. I plan to work to make Pike better every day.
If you or anyone you know is interested in trying out for Pike 08, let me (or Tim Johnson) know!
Oh yeah… I might write a bit about Ultimax. I might not. That was a crazy trip.
Thursday, December 6
Friday, November 30
I guess I should write something about Turkey Bowl…
But I’m not sure I’m up to the task. My memory of that tournament is hazy.
We got up pretty early to get picked up just over the border in NY. No real problems there. Bought some coffee and some beer. The woman behind the counter expressed some degree of alarm about the beer, but we worked through it together. Upon arrival, it was pretty cold and windy. But once you get your hands used to it, you’re fine.
First game was against someone with yellow jerseys who were grousing about getting the game started on time. We scored the first three points. I don’t think it was close. I did have what turned out to be a pretty gratuitous bid on this one. I, for some reason, thought that my defender was going to make a play on a disc that was thrown to me, but actually closer to him, so I bid to cut it off as early as possible, but he didn’t even react to the pass. I looked foolish.
Second game was against assman’s team. I think I had met him before. During the 25 minute point we argued about a couple of calls, drank some rum and stood around. I had to sit out for about 40 minutes after that one. Forget it. Marathon points are done for me until Pike starts back up. That was a terrible experience. We ended up winning this one after a comeback of sorts.
Third game was against the Smartwhores, which is a bunch of coed Swarthmore alums and some other people from NYC. And Alex de Frondeville for some reason. There was a dizzy-bat shotgun for pull involving Alex “The Count” de Frondeville, John “The Uncertainty Principle” Patterson, Julie “clap, clap” Sussman “clap, clap,” and a fourth party whom I cannot remember. As expected, The Count defeated The Uncertainty Principle handily in the shotgun, though he did give back a little ground in the dizzy-bat section. Unknown Person did her best to give the lead back to a rallying clap clap, but managed to just cross the finish line in time.
The other team beat us by a bit. Not sure why. Could have been any number of factors including, but not limited to, resorting to “catching more passes in the endzone than us” as a dominant strategy. Intriguing, to say the least. Effective to, to say more.
We then had a game against someone else in the battle for a tie for 4th or 5th or something. We won that one. And then we had some Turkey Dinner and sat in the cold. For some reason. I think there was a final going on at some point, but I was not interested because it was far away from the food and I got the feeling that some of them were taking it seriously. On the other hand, that is prime heckling territory…
Eventually we went home.
Thanks to the one and only Rick Kahn for bringing that team together. Let’s do it again.
Sunday, November 25
I think one of my greatest strengths as a thrower is to be able to throw with an imperfect grip.
Not that I have a bad grip on my flick or backhand or anything, but when are situations during play for whatever reason (weather, quick grip switch, greatest attempt, whatever) and I am left with an imperfect grip, I can still complete my passes.
A great example of this was at Chesapeake this year when I picked up the disc from the ground after a stoppage and prepared to throw to someone (dono?) cutting deep, as was the play call. It was an incredibly humid, sweaty day and everyone had expressed the difficulties they were having. As I went to throw this flick, between cocking the disc back and changing the momentum to go forward, the disc began to slip out of my hand. By the time I hit the release point, it was just on the tip of my index finger. I knew it was in the wrong place, but I managed to snap my finder around a little further than I wanted to and get it to the right place. Completion.
This sort of thing happens when I get fouled on the mark and when I sometimes trip over myself while playing. Or on greatest attempts. for which I seem to have a disproportionate share of. In any case, I find this ability very useful, and I have no idea where it came from or if it is the same for everyone else.
Tuesday, November 20
If you live in the metropolitan NY area and would like to throw...
Get in touch. Email's best. Any time. Most anywhere in Manhattan with enough space. Downtown preferred. Jersey City Parking Lots are also available. Weather is not an issue save for absurd extremes.
I also posted 300 times over the year (this is 301). That's a lot. And I have, in theory, another month to increase that. Yow.
So... now what?
Well, in terms of what?
I'll be writing, but not as frequently. I still need to compile the hours I spent on the season for kicks. I'll talk about the future of Pike (yes, we have a future, contrary to some particularly poorly informed or purposefully vicious rumors that have been passed my way). I'll talk about some things that I learned this season and what I hope to work on for the next season. Offseason workouts started today. Short, but intense. 2-3 times per week. Still throwing whenever possible. I've got some new things planned for next season as a thrower already. I can still be so much better at this game! I love it. All of those ultimate thoughts (and more!) when I get to them will be put here at this spot. I'd bet that there is still a minimum of one post per week, but that could vary.
my writing in general:
Well, I recently started a non-ultimate blog because I like writing and don't yet have a clear long-term project to work on. For now, I just like picking random topics and writing about them. Or putting down some of the more interesting thoughts I've had over the day. If you want to visit it, visit it. If you don't, whatever. If you can think of someone else who would like to read it, point them at it. It'll be off-the-beaten-path at very least. It might be off-the-beaten-path CRAP, to be fair, but you know. I'll be doing it no matter how good or bad it is because I enjoy it.
What other stuff? This is a blog about ultimate. I talked about that. Tthis blog has writing. I talked about that. Not much else to cover. Well, I could write about PADA Mosh, but why bother? It was ridiculously fun. I was very intoxicated. I think I may have offended a nice young lady from Fordham. I'm sure I offended my teammates. But we all had a good time. I'll be at Turkey Bowl this weekend. That should be fun. Probably be at Ultimax in December. Thinking about Lei-Out. Definitely Kaimana (already bought the tickets). That'll be epic/awesome. Again.
Sunday, November 18
I could've sworn that when I went to sleep I was fully clothed. I mean, I'm not just wearin' what I came into the world with, but I remember having a shirt. A warm one. This shivering might not be going on if I had a damn shirt on.
What's more, there's no sign of the shirt around. Not near the bed. Speaking of which, where the hell are the covers? They too could fill the vacant position of "thing keeping me warm." I wouldn't ask for a resume or a CV or nuthin. I'd hire 'em on the spot. The interview would be easy too:
"Alright, object, one question. Are you something that could keep me warm?"
Armed with this handy question, I got up in search of an object that could give me an affirmative answer. My first thought was to find the sheets and blanket. My second was to go to the hot tub and chill out there for a while. Then, as I looked around the condo asking various objects this question (or more accurately, I was asking my conceptions of the objects that question and answering for them in my head), a familiar object answered with a firm affirmative.
Oh coffee machine, thank you for always being there for me.
Got a pot going and sat down for a moment. Running some things over in my head about the previous night, I knew that there would be tales told today. Many of them. Some might even involve me. Then again, I haven't yet pulled back the alcoholic haze to make the memories from the previous night clear. And that's a task that requires good, strong coffee. And the Total Hangover Cure.
As I drank the first glorious cup of the thick black stuff, I realized that I most certainly needed nourishment after whatever happened last night. And hell yes, we bought enough eggs. We also still had some cheese and some peppers and veggies about the house. Time for a favorite drunken beach-vacation morning favorite: Scrambled eggs with whatever other shit you've got lying around in them.
Butter up the pan, drop it all in (some cut into smaller bits) including the eggs and just keep scramblin' and adding spices/salt/pepper until it seems done. As I completed this process and downed the coffee, the rest of the condo started getting up. This is, in part, because those bitches went to sleep and never rallied. I, on the other hand, am just a morning person. Some people like sunsets. I'm one of them. But I love sunrises in a whole other way. The morning always holds so much promise. So many paths the day could take. Every morning is, for me, infinity. Just a phenomenal feeling when I stop and accept it.
As the others in the condo arose, we exchanged the usual morning things. Jamie's hand really hurt. He was wrestling Eddie Peters at some point. My feet hurt from many long dumb walks. Jamie's teenaged girlfriend had hung out with some Masters players because Jamie isn't old enough for her. Dan Yi was just a mess. Jamie had broken a bottle to get the party started in at least one room. Mio's face hurt. He had been sleeping on the cold tiles near the hot tub.
Jamie: Oh yeah, I remember you going out there.
Mio: Yeah, I was looking for something cold because I was fucked up on that Khaos.
J: We came looking for you because we didn't know what had happened.
M: Did you?
M: Wait a second.
M: You punched me in the face!
J: Oh shit! I did!
M: That was crazy.
J: You needed it.
M: That's true. I did.
So, apparently late in the evening after the wrestling and broken bottles, Mio had become overwhelmed by the Khaos. He wandered away from the group to find a cold place to lay down. He pressed his face against the cold tiles near the pool and stayed there. Jamie found him later. This was the exchange:
J: Mio, what're you doing?
[Mio rolls over and looks up at Jamie]
M: I'm laying here on the cold tiles because I feel like I'm gonna puke.
J: No you're not.
[Jamie punches Mio in the face and slaps him]
M: OW, DOG!!! You punched me in the fucking face!!
J: But you're not going to puke, right?
M: No... I don't feel like puking now. Thanks!
Unbelievable. Jamie has been involved in many face-punching incidents with the ultimate crowd. Actually, the other 2 or 3 all involved Paul, a fellow Santa Cruz alum. They didn't know each other in college (not there at the same time) but looking back, I wish that they had. Those would've been some stories to tell! Now, they just see each other, have good times and punch each other in the face. As people do.
The eggs were pretty solid, the coffee was excellent. We cleaned up the place and chatted about the evening. Then we headed to the fields to watch some ultimate. The women's final was about over when we got there. We see Fury close it out. Dan Yi establishes a strong early presence in the beer garden. They announce a bunch of stuff about the women's champion and Worlds and all of that. There was some cheering during this.
Eventually, I sat down at the pavilion or whatever that thing is called. Shade. Nice. At some point Geoff Buhl pulled up some pine as well. Another Condors fella as well. I think it might have been the tall guy (Ryan?) who used to play at Princeton. Then again, that guy may not actually be on the Condors. I'm not sure.
I settled in to watch the men's final. I won't bother with a bit by bit recap, you should just watch it for yourself on UVTV. What I will say is that the team strategies are interesting to compare, especially in the wind. That's the one thing that isn't really captured on the video. (How could it be???) The wind was gusty. It definitely affected throws, catches, decisions and large-level strategy. I was pretty sure that Sockeye would take this one despite Bravo keeping it close. Experience is a big factor, and the strategic choices that Sockeye makes seem to give them consistency from game to game. Bravo's strategic game seems to lend itself more to runs for both teams. I was definitely doubting my prediction when Bravo took half. I knew that neither team would run away with it or anything, but I thought for a moment that Boulder might win a tight one. Not to be.
It was a pretty fun game to watch, probably because it was a little messy due to the wind. Brutally efficient offense isn't near as much fun for spectators and calm conditions tend to result in that type of game.
And then there was the spirit award. Got up with all of the other individual nominees and got a little medal, some beads, a beer, a fuzzy 5ultimate spirit hat, a disc and a pin. Pretty cool. Had to smile for pictures and all as well. Karl Doege? Also a spirit winner. And Hinkle. And some others. We all looked good, of course, because, well, we're us.
Now I've got a fuzzy spirit hat.
Pawned Jamie's early-flight-takin-ass off on someone else. Then Mio disappeared. So too did Dan Yi. All of the sudden, I was on the way to the airport by myself...
"This is the way the [season] ends."
Thursday, November 15
And there we were. In the Publix. Contemplating our options for the evening.
No need to purchase food, we’ve got some leftovers since we were always waking up late. Some lamb (now marinated!) for me and some beans or some other shit for whomever bought that. Eggs for the next morning.
Of course we need beer. Lots of it. Take no chances running out. Bought a bunch of beer. Modelo Especial and Tecate I think. Maybe some other really cheap stuff to give a base. Unclear. There was still a bunch of PBR left. And then Dan Yi strikes a stroke for genius.
“Hey guys, we need hard alcohol.”
Of course we do, Dan. Of course we do. As he sets off to purchase this, Mio and Jamie share an intense realization as we are loitering near the wall of beer.
“We need something to mix this with.”At which point a bunch of Monster “Khaos” (That’s the flavor, mind you) was purchased. This was phenomenal. There are few things that will make you make terribly entertaining decisions like a bunch of alcohol plus energy drink. This is why Sparks is such a phenomenon. They capitalized on the “Gambler’s Delight” crazy for Red Bull and Vodka by making an energy drink that is already chock full of alcohol. That’s a story about PADA Mosh though. I’ll save it.
“Yeah. I don’t want OJ or anything like that either.”
“Nah. Too healthy.”
“Do you see what I see?”
“Yup. It’s perfect.”
“And TWO flavors!”
“I know. It’s like, which crime do you want to be arrested for tonight, Assault or Khaos?”
So we walked out with a bunch of vodka, beer, energy drinks and random shit to head home and cook up some food. Done.
At some point, there was meat-juice on the floor while I was cooking. No fault of mine. Jamie’s teenage girlfriend, a vegetarian, then stepped in said meat juice. That was awesome. For the record. Even though you weren’t there and I can’t tell this story in an entertaining way, I thought you should know that this is the sort of thing I find funny. “You might be an asshole if…”
There may have been some napping and the like, but not from me. It was beer o’clock and someone had already done the buyin’.
Eventually we decided to wander around and the like. I went to the hot tub for a minute. Ran into some Pikes. Stayed there. Then I went back to the room and decided that I must go directly to the beach without collecting $200 or passing Go. I took the rest of the room with me. They had their Khaos, I had my beersling.
Beersling, you say? Well, I’m not sure what exactly it is called, but imagine a cooler shaped like a snake. The length of 6 cans of beer put end to end. Slightly larger in circumference than a beer can. With a strap that goes over your shoulder. Openings on both ends. And a really effective insulator. In the colors of the Sydney Swans. Best part? It was a gift from my sister from her trip to Australia. This thing is phenomenal. Perfect for ultimate and the beach. And it just so happens that I’m at an ultimate tournament on the beach. Nice.
So we went down tot eh beach. No one was there. So we “walked around and drank some more.” Eventually we headed back to the condo. Jamie, Dan Yi, Mio and Jamie’s Teenage Girlfriend all went pool-hopping. I went back to get more beer. At this point the details get fuzzy. Things I remember specifically (In no particular order):
- Long walk to see someone.
- Incorrect spacetime.
- Back again.
- On the beach.
- 5am Free Beer on the beach.
- Rosham. The Karl Doege. A Jim Parinella.
- Some twisted game of “Guess who I am” with the boys from 5ultimate and someone who is married to someone on Bravo. There were no winners.
- Finding assholes asleep in the condo. Weaksauce.
- Waking up somewhere on the beach at some point.
- “BEERSLING, BITCH!”
- The lonely letdown.
- Boys and Girls in America.
- The beginning of Pike 2008.
One more part to retell… and it involves things other people remembered from the night before and some recollections/thoughts from the finals.
Monday, November 12
So, we got ready to heckle semis and all of that.
This meant, first and foremost, getting in comfortable clothes, checking some fire safety around the complex, running into people you know in the ultimate world and getting to the beer garden. There’s some time before it all really gets started in terms of games, but it isn’t an eternity.
All of those tasks were accomplished, and our things were in our car. As was the teapot that we had used to transport coffee to the fields as well as the coffee mugs from The Palm Bay Club that we had borrowed. This is better than everyone drinking out of the teapot. Trust me. That was on option.
It was at this point that the ridiculousness of the year struck me. Aside from the general absurdity of sports, I also play a sport that no one watches and that no one outside of the immediate community cares about. Above that, I’m pretty fucking good (not the best just yet, that’s coming as I keep working!) at it, I spend a ton of time, energy and money on it, and I travel all over the place to play. Past that, you look around at the teams and players here and you know that there is still something completely and utterly non-standard about it. Frisbees? Really? Goofy names like “Johnny Bravo” are among the best at the sport? You’re just as likely to hear a discussion about the merits of various high-level theories in [insert discipline here] as you are a discussion about the nerdiest way to heckle your teammates as you are a discussion of the disgusting workout regimen that so-and-so put together or the nuances of various dump setups on the field.
All the while, there’s this ridiculously beautiful expanse of grass on which some of the absolute best teams/players in the game have been doing battle on for the last couple of days. A battle which will only intensify over the next 1.5 days as the weaker teams are weeded out over the final two rounds of every division (And then the Pickup division is doing something else with fewer rounds). The guys you see at this level are dedicated players. In at least some sense. Physically or mentally or emotionally or tactically they are dedicated to the game. They work their asses of in some way to get there. To get to this spot in a completely absurd game that no one takes seriously.
And I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
Sure, those pangs of “I need to be playing here instead of watching” come and go, but you still need to celebrate your life, not mourn your past. So I did. And most other former-competitors did too. At some point, you think about yours season and it all makes sense now. The mistakes you made in February or March are played out in the way you and your team progressed. The strange gut feelings you had about your team have come to pass (or not) and you can understand the season with as complete a data-set as you can ever have. While having beer. While watching some high-level players. In the Florida Sun, in November, withouta real care in the world…
As we sat down to watch the semis, we were again irritated by the lack of proximity of the beer garden to the games we were going to watch. Sorry, Amp, I wished you luck, but as I told Furf before, I’m not gonna watch y’all unless you make the finals. I don’t have to play against y’all. I can learn more by watching my division. Mental notes, real notes and an idea of what other teams are doing to be as good as they are. What works? What doesn’t? What styles of play? How would my team compare? What strategies would I use to counter theirs? Is that similar to what the other teams are doing? Who are the palyers I need to know about? Who I need to prepare for when I face them?
There is no offseason, truly. Just a change in focus.
Went over to the Goat/Bravo game first. Because, well, it started first. My statement before this one was that this was a batch matchup for Goat because the two teams played a similar enough style (get the disc going downfield to your dominant players and have them make plays) that the determining factor would be athleticism. I felt that Bravo beat them in that category and said that it would be a 15-10 Bravo win. I was wrong. I twas 15-11. Shoot. The game itself was fun to watch as there was an opening salvo from Bravo to jump ahead, followed by Goat battling back into the game. Then Bravo took it after half, extending an 8-7 lead to a 15-11 victory. The soft kind, as they won on O, not D, but it still counts as a 15-11 victory. Popiel was a huge in this game. That guy ain’t bad.
The next game we were excited for as it had an ex-Pike element with Jaeger as well as an Idris element with, well Idris. Little did we know that Jegor would be covering Idris. Delightful. This left myself, J, Hollander, Walt, Buhl and Jamie to discuss on the sideline. First order of business was how much we hated Jaeger. Second order was what Jamie thought of Idris. Third order was watching the game and drinking beer. 3 for 3. That means I accomplished something today. I remember we asked for predictions, but I can’t remember them. I cast my vote clearly behind Sockeye as I felt that despite Jam’s history as a team, the advantage of being together in a system for multiple tuitle-winning years made Seattle the favorite. Recent finishes ahead of Sockeye and the victory at ECC (or Laborday?) over them did little to sway me of this thought. I was sure that it would be closer than the other semi. If only because this was the big show. The late men’s semi. The one that everyone watches. I don’t recall a blowout in this one since I’ve watched nationals, but I could be making that up. Facts just get in the way of my story.
IT was fun to watch the Idris/Jaeger matchup as you could see Jaeger working to push Idris away from the disc. It was pretty effective as Idris seemed reluctant to force the disc into his hands near the disc and content to make pretty solid deep cuts that were not thrown to. Probably because he trusts his teammates. At some point Idris got a come-from no-where block on a dump after an O-team turnover (maybe even his throw) which was quite the piece of playing defense in the style of “Identify where the other team will throw the disc and just meet it there.” Which is always fun to see.
As Sockeye pulled away, someone in the area said that it was time for Jam to make their run. And they obliged. Closing from being down 13-10 to tie the game at 15s, Jam brought the crowd back into it, just as they were getting ready to leave or just go to the beer garden full-time. Sockeye scores on O with a Kubalanza flick to a short-yardage conversion. On Jam’s O-point, there are at least 3 turnovers. One by Jam, one by Sockeye and another by Jam. Then Sockeye finishes it off with some Wiggins action and one of those tall Nordic-Carleton types catching a goal. 17-15, Sockeye. Good game.
Time to go drink more.
Wednesday, November 7
This day definitely started better than the last.
The Palm Bay Club early in the am is a nice place to be. Start the coffee up and take a little stroll around the way. The area is just secluded enough that you don't see many people. And of those you do, approximately 97.46% play ultimate. Then you have the opportunity to detrmine how social you are.
As you catch eyes with all of the ultimate players in the morning, how do you acknowledge them? Stare them down? Give a little nod? Smile? Say "Good morning" softly? Start a conversation? Shout something silly? I, of course, am too busy thinking these things to pick an option ("And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/Before the taking of a toast and tea.") and end up doing parts of every option I've considered. This ends with something like a half-wave/half-smile combined with a knowing grunt/cough that varies in volume. Not so slick, slick.
Get back into the condo and get to makin' breakfast. Omelet it is! Coffee is ready to go (I can tell by the heavenly smell!) and I've got the ipod on. I'd rather have speakers, but this'll do. Actually it better tunes out the awesome snoring power of the teammate sleeping on the fold-out couch. I think he's sleeping there in part because I refused to sleep in the same room on the grounds the only two outcomes over the first night is that I would get no sleep at all or he would wake up in a pool of his own blood. It really is a sound to be-hear.
Everyone gets up well in time today and since there will be no traffic (Hooray Saturday!) there is no real rush to get to the fields. Oh yeah, and we're playing in the shitbox. Not that I'm not still excited to be here, but it always take a bit of wind from your sails. Just a bit. In my mind, the important game today is the first one. Win that and you're 13/14. Lose that and you're 15/16. I mean... One guarantees that you finish ahead of two teams while the other guarantees you finish ahead of one team. Once you start falling down the ladder, I find that this is a good motivator for me. Or at least, the best motivator I've got to tell myself that these are big games. I get up more for big games. Maybe that's a virtue, maybe that's a fault, but that's who I am and I don't think I want to change it.
Get to the fields and take ultimate's version of "The walk of shame" to the furthest fields from anything. I mean, you can drive over and park closer to these fields, but then in your haste to get to the beer garden later, you might leave the car there. And still... the drive makes you feel even more isolated from the ultimate world. At least with the walk, you can run into some people you know and remember what it feels like to be warming up for the quarters on the big stage instead of shitbox games on the off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway stage.
My body is killing me today. My feet are aching and covered in blisters (this is what happens when you can't really run around in cleats for 3 weeks before the biggest 3-day tourney of the year), my throwing shoulder is feeling a little fatigued, and there's still the quad thing that never fully went away. And of course the usual mystery bruises and scrapes. Oh, but there's a really interesting injury too. My hands. My hands are swollen and bruised from clapping too much and too aggressively. That's odd. I don't think that has happened before, but it, uh, really hurts to catch, clap or slap fives. Not good times. This is what happens when you move to the D team from the O team. You become dumb enough to hurt yourself clapping. Damn.
vs Doublewide, 9-13
We had some little tiffs with them when we were in Austin for Livelogic, but nothing crazy. I got to talk to Max a bit in those games which was cool. I've definitely played against a bunch of these guys outside of club ultimate (Goofball tourneys, somewhere else? I don't know.) and was a little surprised to see them down here. At some point, the frustration of both teams for being in this spot got the better of Max and Schmucker who had a little tussle. This led to the wonderful moment when your captains pull you apart, have little team meetings and tell everyone to stop being dicks. I'm never really sure if that is the right time to say something goofy or not. It might be. Regardless, we got over it and finished the game out. I think we took the lead early in this game and then managed to let it slip away late in the first half or early in the second half. I got my first actual D of the tourney at some point in this one. I mean, I had other teams throw the disc to me, or my guy threw it away with some help from the mark, but this was an actual block, which I don't remember happening before this. Handlers are irritating to cover. They played better than us and won it as our team kinda fell apart as the game went on.
I think the weekend had really begun to wear on people at this point. Losing 6 in a row can do that to you. Near the end of this one, I was playing a point and we eventually got scored on. I just kinda deflated when it happened. I was suddenly acutely aware that every step I took hurt like hell-- running and changing direction, doubly so. Up to that point, I had been able to put it out of my mind and power through. But the ball of negativity that our team had become combined with the ball of pain that my body had become to take it all out of me. I felt like the only thing that could make me play another point at this point was if my life actually depended on it. I then made a decision that I began to regret in the afternoon. I decided that I wouldn't play in the next game. I rationalized it in all kinds of ways in my head at the time, but in the end, it was quite likely the wrong decision.
Hindsight, as always, is 20/20.
In the parlance of our times, "Mistakes were made." Oh wait, that's just a copout. Mistakes weren't made. Mistakes were made by ME. Step up and own your fucking mistakes at very least.
Anyway, the tourney went on...
vs The Van Buren Boys, 11-10
Not sure how this game started or went really. I watched it, and I felt like we were winning the whole way, but then when the game ended it was much closer than the 15-10 victory I was expecting. I don't know what that means, but that's how it felt.
After the game, we had a little huddle and talked for a quick minute about what else was going on, where the quarters were and all of that. Talked about the season a little bit and that sort of thing. And then something completely unexpected happened. I found out that I was nominated for the Farricker Spirit Award. Huh? I mean, I think that I play a clean, principled and fair game but if someone asked me if I would ever win a spirit award, I would say that they're nuts. I mean... I'm kind of a jerk. As this went through my head and processed a bit, I actually started to think of myself as a pretty spirited player. Even when I get a little hot under the collar, I don't cheat and act in a respectful manner. I have made mistakes, but those mistakes all involved what I feel are completely reckless and dangerous plays that put players in harm's way with no actual reward in sight. No matter how nice a person you are, if you don't let people/players know that it is not appropriate to endanger you, your teammates or friends I feel you are no longer being nice, now you're being timid. They are different.
Anyway, forget that strange, tangential rumination on spirit and what it means to me, but the fact of it is that our team decided that I should have this award. I was really honored and touched. There was something about this, for Pike, actually being the "Team First" award and that made it mean a little more to me. "Thanks, guys. Sorry I let you down in that last game there. [Insert something that would make that excusable here]." is what I wanted to say. Instead I said nothing. I'm a weird dude.
After this, we headed to the beer tent for some, uh, beer. Or did we go grab some food first? I don't know. But eventually, we found out that the open semis would not, in fact, be held near the beer garden. This was upsetting. I know that the UPA is trying to be fair and to promote all of the division and all... but really? How many people watch the open semis vs the women's and mixed semis? (I think there's another "pickup" division at Nationals, but I saw no evidence of it) I tried to look for photo evidence of this, but I got bored. A great illustration would be a picture from the top of the pavilion or grandstand or whatever that is. It isn't even close. And the only reason it is even in the same ballpark is because the beer is closer to the other divisions. Got no problem with the other divisions, all joking aside, but let's acknowledge which division draws the bigger crowd, put them on the main fields and serve the beer there. Damn!
Anyway, some parts of the tale of the semis and the night will come later.
Wednesday, October 31
Got up, made coffee, realized that we were running late again.
I had managed, yet again, to sleep through my alarm. That's so strange. I rarely sleep late. Oh well, no omelet this morning. Back to Dunkin Donuts. Only this time we'll go to the other DD. That way the employees won't recognize us. Or something.
On one of these mornings, we found out that Mio would "eat anything with a pumpkin in it" and on the other, I hit a parked car with the pointy grill of the Charger (not that we had a police car, just that it illustrates the pointy nature of said grill) and was greeted by a reader from Zero. I didn't tell him that I was born in the Twin Cities because I wasn't sure if that was a good conversation piece or not. I mean... where does the conversation go from there? Does he just say "Cool?" Does he then tell me where he was born? Do I care where he was born? Would he have cared where I was born? This is why conversations with me are always strange. I'm rarely thinking about what I'm saying, but often thinking instead about why I would say it while forgetting what I actually said. I think it ended with mutual good lucks (seriously because we have no shot at playing Zero save for if we make it out of the loser-pools with one loss).
Speaking of which, I don't think that my team fully grasped how awful it is to go down to the bottom pools with one loss. It's devastating. So much has to go right for you to make it back out to the pre-Q's that your team needs the stars to align behind a full moon in order to pull it off. That is, I don't think we fought nearly hard enough in that Rhino game yesterday and I was still pissed about it this morning. That was the game. That shit counts *double.* Or, in our case, the last round on Thursday was actually just the first round of Friday, since Sockeye and Boston had already assured themselves Power-Pool berths. Ah well.
Leg felt terrible this morning. Warmups were prolonged and I had to get everything just right before I could really get any acceleration or explosion (not that I have that much of either) and that sucked. Get your painkillers going, boy, this is The Show! I got in a ton of throws though, as I knew that in order to have a shot at all, I would need to be on point as a thrower today. Live play kinda sucked, but that will happen from time to time. You just need to focus on getting your body/mind awake in those drills. Blood flowing, desire to win boiling and the like...
vs Truck Stop, 10-15
This game started off perfectly. We were going downwind on D, I got a huge pull off, and they turned the disc over in the endzone. I picked it up, walked to the line, and threw a goal. Sweeeeeeet! I don't remember exactly what happened for the rest of this game (although I did fucking get stalled in my own endzone because my brain locked the hell up like something that really gets locked up and THAT killed us) abut I think we took our first half, 8-6 or 8-7. And then Truck Stop pulled away. They capped the win with a HUGE grab from Stout over our two tallest dudes. By the way, our tallest dudes are like 6'1" or 6'2" which is far smaller than the size of that fucking Stout, who made a huge difference for that team over the season. I never thought I'd write the sentence "Truck Stop pulled away" but even more surprising is the fact that after they beat us, I wanted them to win. Call it regional pride, call it knowing when your run is over, or whatever, but that's the way it works for me.
Well, now we get to sit around and wait to play Furious. Of the teams at Nationals, they're one of the few that I haven't yet beaten. Bravo is on that list, and depending how you slice "Boston" they might be on the list as well. I was excited for this chance for two reasons. The first was listed above, and the second was that if we beat Furious, we could push them down below us in the standings. This could be extremely painful for the NW is terms of strength bids.
vs Furious, 11-15
I know I got off some more big pulls in this game, and I think it stayed close for most of the game. We moved the disc well, and capitalized, but their D team eventually overpowered our O. Constant pressure eventually made us wilt. I love matching up on Mauro, and our little tilt here was fun as always. At some point after we got a block on D and then turned it over somehow, I got matched up on Mike and he just straight up took me to the house. That still sucks. I guess he, unlike many tall dudes who can throw, just took advantage of his5 inch height advantage and basically dared his teammates *not* to throw it. I mean hell... if I saw some midget handler covering one of my best deep receivers, I'd put it up without a question too! This game ended poorly.
On the day, I was very pleased with my play, even though I could have done better. Pulls were good upwind and down (though upwind could have been deeper and could have hung longer). Throws were good. Cutting downfield and as a handler was good. Positive energy was present. Not much else to do. I believed through both games that we would win. Sadly, either not enough of my team believed with me, or I didn't believe strongly enough. If you don't believe you'll win, no matter the score, you'll never fight as hard as you can for every inch because you'll think "What's the point?" Believe that you will win gives your actions weight. It gives you a reason to push on forward in the face of almost certain defeat. Almost certain. You must latch on to that sliver of hope and use it to push yourself ahead. You must believe. I always believe.
Well, after two days, we've gotten into tussles with Rhino and Furious (though not, surprisingly, Truck Stop), lost all of our games, and generally started to fold. Nationals is a true test of your belief in yourself and your teammates. Even after you lose, you will have more games to play and those teams will still be teams that you would regularly travel to face. It isn't the boys from down the road, or the 5th place team from your region, every one of these teams fought to get to THIS tournament. They have proven themselves to be worthy competitors. I love this environment. I suppose if it is new for you, you could get a little overwhelmed, but I mean... you gotta love it, right? You've just got to, or you should retire now. This is why you play the game!!!!!
We went to watch some Pre-Q action and I started drinking pretty heavily with Jamie. Fuck this. I'll be ready to play tomorrow, but if I don't get some beer in me, the world will not be an okay place to be. Eventually, the rains came and we didn't have the patience to stay. Sorry, MA teams. My heart just wasn't in rooting for you any more. It likely would have degenerated into terribly mean-spirited heckling before long. To recap, Boston took it to Ring and Truck Stop (somewhat surprisingly) outlasted the Condors through the lightning delay. Well, instead of the top 2 MA teams making quarters, we had one MA team in quarters. At least that isn't totally embarrassing.
That night, we went to Brandon's family's place in Sarasota (or was it Bradenton?) and had a nice team time, although there were apparently more teamamtes there than I realized as the house was big enough that I didn't ever find all of them. More beer was had, and I think I passed out. I had nothing left at this point in the evening. Exhausted, beaten down and drunk. Someone, thankfully, peeled me from the spot at which I had passed out and got me into the car for a fun ride back to the Palm Bay Club... Shitbox tomorrow, boys! Maybe we'll eke out a win against someone else who is as hungover as I'll be!!!
Tuesday, October 30
Woke up late.
About 30min late. Slept straight through the alarm. That sucked.
No real matter, it just means I won't be able to take an early AM drive to get groceries so that I can cook breakfast. Instead, we'll just hop by one of the Dunkin' Donuts on the way. Yes, this means that in the space of 2 meals over ~5 hours, we had both Waffle House and Dunkin Donuts, but hey, we're just livin' the 'Merican Dream down these parts.
I remembered all of the drive from the previous trips I had made. No need for directions, I've been here before. I even visualized this drive when I visualized this day. Of course, the car I pictured had no top. And the weather was perfect, but you can't get hung up on the little stuff. We were at The Show.
Rolled up to the fields and made sure to park right next to our fields. Gotta know stuff like which field you're on before you arrive. Key in effective first-day parking. We then moseyed over to the fields while drinking in the morning. The Calm before The Storm.
Got ready and tossed a little before getting our jog on. Dynamic warmups into drills into live play. More throwing. I can feel the excitement rushing up my spine.... Game Time.
vs Boston Ultimate, 8-15
Well... We started off with them. Our D team definitely had a dumb turnover or something after generating a turn early in the first half. Not sure if I ever got the disc in my hands in the first half. Dunno. This game had little of note for me, personally. The first half was close enough (5-8, 6-8?) and then Boston turned on our O team. Or, our O Team turned on Pike. Or something. All I know is that instead of the D team feeling like we were right in it, suddenly it felt like we hadn't played at all yet. You know, D Team players need short memories because you've got to shrug off the first 6 times you get scored on so that you can fight NOT to get scored on the 7th time. The problem is, having short memories means we also forget how were playing defense after being off of the field for more than 2 points or so. We can't remember what worked and we can't quite get that focus back. Too many shiny objects. Soon we become spectators instead of players. When the D team forgets they're playing ultimate and starts watching ultimate, the game is over.
Unless you can somehow fire that engine back up. This is what veterans are for. Those guys who never lose hope and never stop fighting. Not only do they force themselves to fight, but they force their teammates to fight. Sadly, Pike doesn't have quite enough veterans in terms of The Show. I mean... of the 7 guys who were at Nationals with Pike, only 3 actually played similar on-field roles then to now, 3 played smaller (and different) roles and 1 (me) had never played a meaningful point at Nationals. Yow. Welcome to it. Good luck going forward Boston. Especially you ex-Pike boys. Glad we could give Danny a rest this round.
vs Sockeye, 4-15
Well, I thought the previous game was bad. I also thought that we got a lot of the "deer in headlights" looks out in the previous game. This was a different story. our young players were stone-cold intimidated and you could see it. This is the video effect. That, and the younger guys on our team were in High School, playing and watching ultimate when Sockeye started their rise. That didn't stop the Sockeye O team from giving us the disc the first two times they were on the field. The Pike D did not convert. the worst example of this was the first turn that we got 10-15 yards out of the endzone we were attacking and proceeded to throw away on a dump pass that, even if completed, would likely not have helped our cause. Then I don't think we got on the field again until late in the first half or early in the second half. I did like their aggressive handler motion from Gehret and O'Brien. It was pretty clear that these guys had a gameplan that they executed consistently. Generally, within the first couple of points watching a team you can tell if they are all on the same page or not. Sockeye most certainly was. Good luck for the rest of the tourney, Jaeger.
vs Rhino, 9-15
This game was much more fun. In part because Rhino plays a game where they give the other D team the disc. This meant I got to go to work throwin goals in this one. As I told the team, once we get the turn, put the disc in my hands, I'm just throwing goals. We got our first break in this game on, I threw the goal. We got our next break right afterward, and I threw another goal. We got a turn on the next point, and, dumb as I am, tried to catch a goal instead of throwing for one, and the throw was turfed. Damn. Rhino then scored. Then they broke our O back (somewhere in here) and our D got scored on. Then I don't recall exactly what happened, but they fought back to take half. In the second half, our O team got broken here and there while our D team may have gotten one break back. The fact remains that Rhino fought through *both halves* whereas Pike only fought through the first half. The second half was.... All Rhino. I finally met one of the Other Dusty's in this one. It was very odd that at some point we were both on the field, near the disc (stupid handlers) and both sidelines were shouting "Dusty this" and "dusty that" while neither of us could tell which people to listen to. We conferred later and determined that it made both of us play harder, though not necessarily smarter.
There were some big plays on the day (Big Art!!) and I thought that even though I had a couple of dumb turnovers, I played well overall. No Ds, but I threw some goals. My pulls were pretty solid, and I seem to remember ripping a good one or two against Rhino specifically. My attitude stayed positive for the whole day, in spite of our lackluster effort because I just attributed it to not being ready for the enhanced speed at Nationals vs, say Chesapeake or even Regionals. And being a little starstruck in the face of players that they had heard about for so long. Endurox up, get back home, cook up some food and get ready to see Truck Stop and Furious tomorrow morning!
Oh yeah, Truck Stop/Furious/Chain were definitely the talk of the first day. Definitely.
Monday, October 29
First, there was a mixup.
At the rental place, the night before (This was after the flights got delayed like crazy and we didn't land until about 1:30am. I hate JFK airport. Hardcore.) I walked up and said "Here is my ID and my Credit Card. I have a reservation." I then expected to presented with the keys to the car that I had reserved. The one without a top. The fast one. You know. The one on my reservation.
Instead, we had a classic Seinfeld reenactment, as so often happens in the time I spend not playing ultimate, about taking and keeping reservations. Instead of the fast car with no top that I reserved, she offered me a 2 seater convertible of some kind. Thinking of my brother's teenage girlfriend and Dan Yi, I said "No." Like an idiot. She then offered me a Dodge Charger. I asked if that was a convertible, knowing full well that it wasn't. She said no. She did say that it went fast though. That was better, but I was not pleased and told her so. She offered to take a day off of the lower rental fee. I said "Thanks, but how does that take the top off of my car, exactly?" She said that I must hate her. DAMN! That really puts it to me doesn't it? Quite the argumentative victory. Either I hate her and am a terrible person for pursuing this further, or I stand there and tell her I don't hate *HER* but that I hate the company and get into that conversation. Fuck You, Rental Car Woman. Just let me get my aggression out by being a little sarcastic and goofy. I was smiling until this point. At this point, I glared for a second and caught myself before I launched into full-on jerk-face mode. I then just took the keys, declined the sucker-coverage and went back to sit with my brother and wait for the even later flights.
Ah well. At least the car goes fast and is cheaper. Fast is good.
The classic Florida Night Drive was perfect. We even stopped at Waffle House at 2am because we hadn't eaten since before we got on the plane so that we could sit on the runway for 2 more hours strapped into uncomfortable seats and told that "unless our eyes were yellow" getting up out of our seats to go to the bathroom or stretch "could very well cause us to miss a chance to take off." WHAT???? I'm twitching with anticipation to get to the damn tournament, I have to go to the bathroom somewhat regularly because I always drink a lot of fluids, I wanted to stretch for the whole flight while drinking a bunch of water, and now I also have a delay "Of unknown time but likely between 1 and 2 hours" in which I can do none of that? On top of it you keep telling us to put our electronic devices away? WHAT THE FUCK DID I SIGN UP FOR????
Oh yeah, at the Waffle House. first, it was the coldest Waffle House or any other dining establishment that I have ever been in. I was looking for Rocky's famous slabs of beef. I was prepared for this with extra clothes (Florida's cold when you're drunk, exhausted and thrown in the ocean at all hours of the morning!) but my carmates were not as ready. I'm a regular fucking boy scout. We sat next to some late 20 somethings who were talking about how one of them had taken gone topless and pressed her breasts against the window the last time they were here. Not that odd. Later on they start "bitchin about [their] fuckin' kids." Kids? You have kids? You're my age and smoking, drunk off your ass in a Waffle House at 2am!! And then they unanimously decided that their parents probably did the same damn thing when they were younger. I think I agree with them.
Immediately following this, the same group got into a yelling match with a "semi-homeless" dude who was buying some coffee and an egg. I don't know exactly what about but I think someone was threatened while being restrained. They may have then bailed on the check. The sem-homeless guy then turns to Dan Yi and Dan Yi looks at him and says "No no, thanks for chasing them away. We didn't like them either." (Which was completely true) Semi-homeless guy takes exception to this in some fashion and then stares at us sourly for the rest of the time he's there. This was not even the most entertaining thing that Dan Yi (who is always referred to in two names) did that evening. When we ordered, we all ordered pretty lightly. Just something to get the hunger under control without adding to much into the system. Maybe a waffle. A couple of eggs and some grits. Some hashbrowns. A Coffee (no, not for me). And that was the rest of the table. Dan Yi, of course, goes big, 'cause he sure as shit ain't goin' home, and orders the Grilled Texas Bacon Double Patty Melt Plate.
Now, when someone orders something like that, you don't know exactly what it is going to look like, but you're pretty sure that it is a serious meal commitment, not a fling. The word Texas alone should give you a hint, but to add in words like Double? Bacon? Are you shitting me? This is going to be crazy. It could be the atomic bacon-grease bomb. With hash browns. Not regular hash browns, but smothered covered and chopped (or something). And make it a double. WHAT? Wow. Dan Yi wins this round of ordering. Easily. Wayta Cowboy Up, you Sox Fanboy!
Even at this point, we don't know what this is going to look like when it comes out. I mean, we saw the picture, but you never know what the real thing is going to be like. I mean, our socially timid waitress who apologized for giving us ice in our water told us that the chef who was working tonight was "the best Waffle House has," which of course led us to a discussion about what sort of person becomes the best damn Waffle House chef anyway. It was decided that he was an honorable person. He did work with excellent style and my food was pretty good... And then Dan Yi's food came out. It was a massive grease attack. Cut in two, with a massive pile of hash browns and other stuff in between the perfectly cut halves.
Dan Yi, to his credit, ate every part of it.
You might think the story is done, but it isn't. It couldn't possibly end there. Somewhere around the point at which we were all mocking Dan Yi (whilst in complete awe of the bang with which he started his journey), some shiny cars with rims rolled up. Of course. These are exactly the kind of cars that roll up at this time of night. I grew up spending late nights at Denny's in Northeastern PA. I know the drill. What I was unprepared for was who stepped out of the car. In the words of Dan Yi "It's a fucking ho train." To which Jamie responded "I have to call Tom Pribicko." The train continued to engulf and then fill the Waffle House as we waited in line to pay for our food. The line consisting of, uh, us. Waiting for Dan Yi to pick up the whole bill so that we could pay him back. And it took forever. All the while, the look of complete shock on Dan Yi's face was worth the uncomfortable tension in the air. I think the pimps were responsible for that air, but one can't be sure.
We then walked out, got in the Dodge Charger and flew like warp-speed banshees through the night to get to our waiting beds and get at least those first 4 hours of blissful sleep before the mayhem I planned to bring to the fields with me tomorrow...
Well... That's over.
Recaps should come later.
Then I'll follow up with a year in summation post and then I'll figure out the future of this webspace.
Oh, I almost forgot, by some rampant voting error I was my team's Farricker Award Nominee. How do I know there was a voting error? I swore I saw Hinkle out there. But that could've been the hangover talking.
Seriously though? I'm honored to be nominated. Thanks, Pike.
Wednesday, October 24
But play the damn games!
I've prepared all season, I've checked everything off on my list and barring the quad thing, I've prepared just about perfectly for this season. There are things I can do better still, but I'm not at a point yet where I've accomplished them. That will wait until next season starts.
I'm not satisfied with my progress, but I'm happy about it.
Tough Games All Weekend.
I love nothing better than great competition. I can't wait to put everything I have on the line. I just can't wait.
THE SHOW THE SHOW THE SHOW
Finally, I'm going back to The Show.
The Rhodes brothers with teammate and hanger-on will be traveling and staying in style, weather be damned.
If Jamie remembers his laptop, I'll try to get some updates here between days, but that could be tough. It is certainly ancillary to my team's success as well as my enjoyment of the weekend, but we'll see. Game-specifics will be limited as there's only so much I can remember in a given day. And besides, Jamie could forget anything.
Veteran Move: Bringing the EZPass.
I can't wait to be there.
over a year of training leading up to this.
Tuesday, October 23
Maybe before I leave.
Likely not. I have a hard time predicting things I'll be a part of.
By the way, I love how rsd has more posts about Coffee Cup predictions than Nationals predictions.
I'm betting that this is because most people who have any knowledge on which to base their picks are actually playing. Not all, just most. Or that everyone is too concerned about BB material. Whatever that means.
Monday, October 22
The Show is Coming!
1000 moments to be savored in competition. 1000 moments to be remembered away from the field. Just a few days away. Just a few days. If I can make it...
The Rhodes Bros will be following the advice of our attorney, Dr. Gonzo, and "renting a very fast car with no top."
I can't wait.
Sunday, October 21
Saturday, October 20
You've got to get the team in the right headspace before a big tournament.
For each team, this is a different thing. Some need to be angry and ready to snap, some need to be overly positive, some need to feel tight and nervous, some are better relaxed. You've got to learn about your team over the season and then use the weeks leading up to a tourney to get it right.
After our quick practice today, I'm sure that we're in the right place. The practice left me with nothing but confidence about my team. We're ready to go.
Also, we learned about the creepily high SAT scores on this team. Nerd Ultimate at it's finest. The lowest is some sucker (not counting the new Writing section for comparison's sake) in the mid 1200s. And there are something like 6 or 8 in the 1500+ range. We also learned that despite this being my 5th year with Pike that I'm on the Young team if we split by age. Odd.
3.5 Hours practice
Friday, October 19
Saw Rodrigo y Gabriela this evening at The Roseland.
Good show. Happy to have gone.
They can definitely rip it up on guitar. They brought some third person out at one point. He was overmatched.
Not sure I'd see them again even though they put on a great show. Just a lot of a guitar after a while. They did mention that a new album is coming in the nearish future. I'll definitely get that.
Same as usual
Thursday, October 18
So there I was, doing my sets 10 seconds on/10 seconds off of some exercise for 10 minutes...
My mind was all over the place. I was doing my best to focus in on what I was doing, but it was tough as hell. Then it struck me. I'm going for 10 seconds over and over again. That's the same as the stall count. Suddenly, I had something to focus on.
As someone who is rarely called for a fast count, I wanted to know if I was slow when stalling. As it turns out? Nope. Max variance for the 8 minutes I counted stalls was between 1-2 seconds. Never as high as 2, usually less than one.
Good use of an otherwise pointless time for my head while my body was working. It helped me focus in as well as I always thought "Keep it up! This is just like putting on a great mark! It takes energy" while counting instead of just wondering what kind of food I would eat after I left the PT place.
Back to work. I'd rather spend all day doing rehab. Hands down.
Wednesday, October 17
A little odd, but not that strange, when you consider that I'm the source.
Simply, a three egg omelet containing Parrano Gouda and apples.
Cortland apples have been the best match so far, although most apples are unlikely to disappoint. Just a good combination of flavors/textures. If you'd like to make it a bit sweeter, a tiny bit of maple syrup makes it breakfasty-yet-not-overpoweringly-sweet. If you want more grease/protein, or another texture/more salt include some bacon. Either on the side or in the omelet. Works pretty well. Some might prefer sausage. Some people say that cucumbers taste better pickled.
Goes well with coffee, of course. Haven't tested different varieties with different apples yet, but I'm sure there's a real winner in there somewhere.
Damn. Now I wish I was eating breakfast again.
Tuesday, October 16
It's been a while, but I got about 20 minutes of sprinting/resting in today.
Also did wobble board stuff, leg raises and more. Had PT today as well. Everything is still feeling better. Stretched, massaged, iced. Feels pretty good. This is a positive turn!
20 min track
20 min strength (x2)
10 min wobble (x2)
ice, stretch, massage.
Monday, October 15
I knew the seeds would come out if I waited long enough.
That fits perfectly with my groups of:
1. Jam, Sockeye, Bravo
2. Furious, Zero
3. Condors, Boston, Ring, Goat
4. Rhino, Truckstop, Chain, Doublewide
6. Pike, VBB
But of course it does, because that is a broad brush with which to paint. That's why I did it.
Pool A should be fun with Goat and Ring together to settle their differences and determine who joins Jam with a loss in the power pool. VBB... Well, they could upset people, but it would be just that... an upset.
Pool B should be fun with the Rhino v Boston v Sockeye matchups. Pike will be faced with a strong Day 1 challenge in this pool.
Pool C has a fantastic 1v2 matchup with Bravo v 'Dors. I feel like anything could happen with Doublewide. Machine? Well, this is exactly where they belong based on their season.
Pool D with Furious, Zero, Truck Stop and Chain looks to be a killer. Chain as a 13 seed is just wild. Maybe they're not actually as good as everyone anticipated. Maybe they're planning their peak correctly. We'll also find out how far Truck Stop has come in a year's time with their new additions.
In short, there are no "easy" pools. Some interesting matchups in the initial pools, for sure. My rooting interests lie squarely with the Mid-Atlantic, of course. The rest of y'all are secondary. Only my region can break seed and earn strength bids for my region, y'know? I'm honestly very interested in how every pool shakes out, but, as I noted above, there are some that seem more interesting than others.
In other news, workouts are getting better. I'm feeling progressively more and more positive about The Show and the role I'll be able to play. Not perfect yet, but I've still got 10 days. NICE!
30 minute interval (x2)
20 minute strength (x2)
ice, stretch, massage
Sunday, October 14
Got up the this morning and almost died at the hands of Dono following Trey on the 15 minute drive.
That got my heartrate up for practice. Had beef jerky and some apples for breakfast during the car ride. It'll do.
Practice started with a mini tournament. That was a blast. I love playing mini and other dumb little disc games that are tangentially related to ultimate. My team was good but not great. We did perfect the quick double score though. That was our bread and butter.
We then had a scrimmage against Old Sag, those sectional rivals. They had a huge roster and threw a pretty solid zone (not shocking for a masters team) but we stayed ahead the whole way. I only played the first two points in this one. I knew that I could play more, but that I would be pretty sore on Monday, so I decided to forget that in attempts to get a better workout in on Monday.
Got back to watch the Patriots stomp on the Cowboys. I guess they're pretty solid, eh?
2 hours mini/warmup
2 points in scrimmage
Saturday, October 13
Practice Started at 1pm today.
This meant that Jamie, who was driving down from Providence, RI (yeah, he's pretty much a nomad at this point) actually got to sleep a couple of hours before we left in the morning. This also meant that due to my habitual early-rising that I was up for ~7 hours before practice started. Oh yeah, Jamie brought some crazy coworker that we had to drop off in Philly before practice. That was odd.
We got to the fields in time to watch Ampy-Bomb, that crazy coed team, finish up their practice. Looked like most coed ultimate-- look off your women, isolate your men in space-- only a bit faster paced. I suppose that's what Nationals-level coed means.
Practice was a bunch of game situations and some specifically focused drills. Not going into it too much though.
The quad held up pretty well until somewhere in the 4th hour of practice, then it tightened up and started restricting movement a little. I figured out what I needed to do in order to get back in the game, played a couple of points and sat back down (no need to completely push it). That was a really important lesson to learn. I need to know how to get back on the field in Sarasota if it tightens up. Sweet.
We then had a team dinner at Jeff George's place in Philly. That was sweet. I ate WAAAAAAY too much food (this is what happens when you're scrimping all the time to save up for Nationals and Kaimana) and went nearly comatose. This was after the Kentucky upset of LSU. About 4 hours later, after most of the team left, I was wide awake again. Seems about right. My clock is all kinds of off.
Stayed the night at Trey's place, a couple of blocks away, and had to listen to him mention that his trip to practice was a mere 15 minutes. Let's see... that's at best 1/8th as long as my commute. More regularly about 1/12th as long. With that in my head, I fell asleep.
4 hours practice
Friday, October 12
To everyone who:
1. Congratulated me/Pike on making Nationals.
2. Rooted/sheered for Pike to make it.
3. Advised me on quad stuff.
4. Wished me well with my injury.
5. Other nice stuff that I was rude enough not to thank people for.
I know I've forgotten to properly thank people (this is because I'm an ass) so I figured I would do so now.
In many ways, this weekend's practice is that last "real" practice. 2 days, all-out.
30 min stretching
20 min interval
20 min strength
Thursday, October 11
"I've got to admit it's getting better / A little better all the time."
Even the people at Physical Therapy agree that it is getting better faster than they anticipated. That's right, boys, I'm poised for a T.O. style Superbowl comeback. I will now clean up the involuntary vomit that came up due to T.O. killing the Iggles in the following season.
It ain't perfect yet... but I can now walk up/down stairs with no pain. Running and biking are still out for now, but I can feel it getting better. I'm still frustrated, but I can now redirect that frustration into activity and mold it into progress.
PT currently consists of ultrasound, electric stim, strength stuff, stability stuff, painful massage and icing. Aside from the ultrasound and stim, I can replicate almost all of this at home. That's pretty sweet. I'm basically doing all of this work 2-3x per day with icing/massage/stretching throughout. Then I'm doing the jump rope/upper body stuff outside of that. I'm anticipating that Friday will be a lighter day, but I simply don't have the time to wait for this to get better. I've got to do everything I can to *make* it get better. Fortunately, I pay close attention to my body, and as a result know my limits very well. I have not reached them yet.
I WILL make a difference at The Show!
20 min interval
10 min strength (x2)
15 min wobble (x2)
ice, stretch, massage
Wednesday, October 10
I don't understand all of the arguing about seeds.
There are blog entries, more blog entries, rsd arguments and more. But really, who cares? Chances are, your team will be seeding within 2 spots of where you honestly think you should be. If you're off by more than that, odds are you have an inflated sense of self.
In the end, as Parinella said somewhere, you can break the teams into (to use his term) "buckets." I'm assuming by this he meant that you can split the teams into groups in which, while the seeding my be debated, the teams in those groups belong pretty squarely below the groups ahead of them and above the groups below them. Outside of that? Weigh whatever you like, present your opinions to the TD or director or whomever does this best, and get over it. Once you get to Nationals, you'll have to beat good teams to win. That's the deal. Nothing more, nothing less. Quibbling about where you start is a waste of time and energy. You will start where you start. What you make of it is far more important.
All that being said, here are the seeding groups, as I perceive them (in no particular order within the groups):
1. Jam, Sockeye, Bravo
2. Furious, Zero
3. Condors, Boston, Ring, Goat
4. Rhino, Truckstop, Chain, Doublewide
6. Pike, VBB
All that being typed, Ring is probably the toughest one to place accurately. They could be considered ahead of Boston, but they could be behind Goat. I'm pretty sure they should be ahead of group 4 Rhino and below group 2 + the Condors... That's where my thought process breaks down.
On a different note, I've started rehabbing a bit differently. I can' really bike or run for an extended period, so I'm jumping rope like a fiend. For intervals, for speed, for endurance, for footwork. I figure if it is good enough for a fucking boxer or other fighter, it might serve me well enough to play ultimate when I don't have to worry about my brain being bashed in. I intersperse it with pushups/pullups and the like to mix it up. It is tough because most things that I do for training involve actually bending the my leg to 90 degrees or more. And that's exactly what causes pain/inflammation in my quad/itb/etc. I'm also doing a bunch of wobble board stuff, which is something I've always found useful, but now it is specifically directed at helping the current issues with my quad.
The biggest thing for my fitness right now is keeping my "cardio" up. That is, being able to do a lot of running/throwing/shuffling. I mean, so long as I maintain a certain level of explosiveness, I'll be fine in that department, but I simply cannot let my body be unprepared for the endurance portion of the Nationals experience. This is counter my general thoughts on training, but there I am rather limited right now as I try to maintain fitness in the face of needing to get my quad rest while still strengthening it and breaking up the scar tissue.
Crazy complex and intensely irritating. But, I'm starting to do as much as I can with the restrictions with which I have been saddled.
20 min interval
15 min strength
15 min wobble board
massage, stretch, ice
Tuesday, October 9
I don't know when it happened exactly...
Maybe it was the knee injury and beesting in one game at Westchester when I first joined Pike. Jude told me that I had not, in fact, been stung, but that he stabbed me with a "needle covered in bleach." While I didn't believe him, this was when I first realized he might be evil.
Maybe it was the 1000 little ankle sprains from practicing on SHITTY FIELDS in NY/NJ/PA since 1998. David always had us sweep the field for glass and needles before practice. I got a rock lodged in my knee at a Pike practice in 04... I fortunately discovered it in the shower that evening.
Maybe it was hurting my shoulder back in 05 on a dumbass layout (for a goal!) in some pickup game. That may have been the last time I played all-out in a pickup game.
I dunno, but at some point, I started getting injured more often. I always thought hat I could play through anything (and I still think I can, actually) but I'm having more and more difficulty getting through the time between tournaments. I always thought that I was a pretty sturdy guy, but this season... I dunno.
I think there's a chance that the season is too damn long. Maybe I've had bad luck this year. Maybe Maybe...
Then again, maybe that whole "Tearing one ACL in as a junior in high school and the other as a junior in college" set me up for all of this shit. Maybe breaking my nose 5 or 6 times over my life put me here. Maybe always playing to win put me here. I just don't know, but no matter how much better this leg gets by Nationals... I'm missing out on precious fine-tuning time as a result and I don't like it.
See yesterday (this is getting old)
Posted by dusty.rhodes at 7:28 PM
At Ariel's Site.
Having watched it quickly, here are my thoughts:
Sloppy Game. Based on this evidence, neither team has a shot of beating good teams.
At 2:50-2:59, can anyone tell me what that foul call was? Or why it was upheld by the observer?
At 40:00, can anyone tell me how that *wasn't* a foul? Or why the call was overturned by the observer?
At 53:00 or so, you can see everyone on the field. If y'all just stood back 3-5 meters, you'd be able to see everything!
I think I threw 3 turns in that game. That's pretty sad.
I didn't pull as many OB as I remembered. Just one, in fact. But some of those pulls were pretty suspect near the end.
That's all for now.
Monday, October 8
Did all the usual work on the leg.
Got word from a few people on other teams that their teammates won't be making the trip to nationals.
THAT'S THE DUMBEST THING I'VE HEARD TODAY.
Unless you're a vet and just can't do it because of real life, you should get thyself to Nationals by hook or by crook. There is no reason not to go. It is a great experience and pretty much the best example of high-level ultimate in the world. The beach is awesome. It is Florida in October. There's a great time on Saturday night (unless you make finals-- in which case you have your own kind of great time). What's not to like? The younger you are, the more it will help push your game forward, or at least make you aware of where your game needs to go.
stretching, massaging, icing, strength
Sunday, October 7
Teams that I wanted to see at Nationals but didn't make it:
Puppet Regime, Madcow, PoNY.
Teams who did make it that I was rooting directly for:
Ambush, Chewbacca Defense.
Chain lost in the finals to Doublewide. Perhaps JoHammond shouldn't have made those predictions on last year's ultivillage dvd? Not that I wouldn't have done the same in his shoes.
Boston beat GOAT in the finals. Apparently, Fortch made the difference. No real surprise there.
AMP took the MA Mixed. No surprise there.
Bashing Piñatas? Really? Congrats. It'll be like a WSL reunion!
Anyway, Nationals is gonna be some pimp shit as always. I'm unendingly excited. Palm Bay Club, here I come!
That Iverson rant never gets old.
Numbers were smallish today. That sucked.
I was encouraged by my PT/Doc to make a run of it in practice this weekend to see how I felt. I was a little hesitant, but they told me to test it out without any NSAIDs to see how it all felt and then be sure to take some (as well as ice) after practice. I said okay.
Practice was in Philly again which meant I caught the 7:11 train out of Jersey City again. Too early for Johnny L's delicious bagels on Saturday. Next Saturday, however, we'll be practicing later, so I can get my bagel on. Nice!
Practice focused on game-situations and scrimmages. We worked on specific strategies and specific goals for each team. That's good stuff.
D-Team pounded the O-Team.
Got a ride back to Jersey from Jamie who's moving to Providence, RI for work. That's crazy. not much else to say on the practice front other than the leg felt good (way better than last weekend!) but not great.
4 hours of ultimate
Saturday, October 6
Yeah. I know.
Practice got bumped to Sunday for some unknown reason, so I spent today reading. Sometimes outside, sometimes inside. Drank a bunch of really fresh coffee. I stretched a ton. I did a bunch of painful leg work (I can actually feel it getting better!), cooked, watched a little college football here and there and generally had a completely relaxing day for once. After last weekend, I kinda needed it.
Oh yeah, regional tournaments are happening all over the place. Madcow con Pallaver is 5-0 on day one. Goat v Boston in NE (PoNY got pasted by Boston, apparently). Chain v Doublewide in the S (Shocker!). AMP pounds on kids to get to the finals v someone they'll beat in the MA Mixed. Puppet predictably in the backdoor after losing to Tandem in NE Mixed. Ambush finished 2nd in their pool in NE women's. Godiva v Brute in the finals. Chewbacca Defense took their pool in the S'th.
It is tough for me watching all of this from afar because I'd much rather be where the action is. Specifically when there are fellow NYU (Puppet, Ambush, Godiva, Wicked [still undergrad], Chewbacca Defense, more?) or Pike (Sockeye, Condors, Machine, PoNY, Boston, AMP, more?) alums. I need the NCAA basketball setup where I can switch between games and live-lookins while watching the scores tick along the bottom. Seriously. That's pretty much the only way to get the full feeling of what Regionals is like. 3.5* divisions! 2 weekends! Early-round upsets! Shocking comebacks! Battling through the backdoor! Finals!! Games-to-Go!!!
One day we'll have the resources to tell the story. We don't just yet. Or perhaps we're just missing the person/people to do it?
*Masters: You will be granted "full division status" when you have more than 5 teams show up for regionals and your Nationals goes for the full 4. Otherwise, I got no problem with y'all.
stretching, massaging, icing
strength work, upper body interval
Friday, October 5
Who thinks that when I watch 300 on DVD, the captions should be inked in like on a comic strip?
I'm pretty sure that's *exactly* what I wanted to watch the other day. I got 300 via Netflix and, as I often do with movies I watch at home, I watched it with captions so I could catch all of the words that I missed the first time. I'm strange like that. I like to read. This is like reading cliffnotes in a picturebook. Which was kinda the whole point of comic books in the first place.
The reader/watcher/listener could then choose their favorite way/s of experiencing the story. Visual? Textual? Aural? Mix-n-Match!
Anyway, I think this is an incredible idea and someone should do it.
In other news, the quad/itb really seemed to make a bit of a breakthrough today with some high-pressure foam roller-kinda work. Ouchy. But in a good way. I feel like an old person doing this stuff, but it works.
Is it still cool to do the ###K thing to represent thousands?
I'm not sure, but I'd bet that if I'm doing it, it simply *must* be cool.
Anyway, sometime early this morning, I had the 20,000th visitor to the blog. That's really crazy. Granted, that isn't the 20,000th unique visitor or anything, but y'know... The fact that anyone reads this is still surprising.
The other thing is that the massive upturn in # of visitors just after regionals is staggering. Easily doubling the standard "visit per day" rate.
Thursday, October 4
For this season has been the emergence of the "Blockle."
Now, the name (blog + heckle = blockle?) could be better, but the notion of heckling me about the blog seems to strike some people as a good idea. I couldn't agree with those people more. I would probably do the same, if I could think of something clever to say about someone's blog. Like, "Hey, Idris... do you like toast too? Yes, as do I. It is warm and crispy and a perfect place for jelly to lay. Now stay away from me Idris, I ain't got shit to say to you!"
Wait... that sucked. And it was a ripoff. I'm not good at this.
Anyway, the basic form of the blockle sounds something like this:
And usually follows something dumb I did on the field. Sometimes it is after I do something good as well. Either way, this adds little entertainment value to the game and is really kinda childish. I mean, yes, I've got a blog. There is a chance I will write about whatever just happened. I also might not. Hooray for pointing out facts as a heckler. That's like the guy from the sideline who yells things like "You got broken!!" in an attempt to heckle. That's pretty basic stuff. Also, every stoner and drunk on the sideline can muster this witty remark. No sign of originality.
The second level of this phenomenon is something to the tune of:
These are all at least a little better. There is a second thought implied by the first, or a pair of things working together to give a more complex type of humor. This is good. Moving toward actual quality heckling. Also, it shows some level of preparation for the heckle, or at least a working knowledge of possible heckle-worthy items.
The third level of this is more like:
Either through sheer meanness (nos. 1 and two), setup/punchline format (no.two) or predictive power (no.3) these deliver a second level of humor, not just a second level of understanding. Especially entertaining are the well-delivered two-parters. The heckles I expect next are things along the lines of "Rhodes, you magnificent bastard, *I read your blog*!!" or something else that is both referential and topical. I can't think of something that is referential and also has a set-up and punchline, but that's not my forte. I'm still the guy who thinks any quotes from The Big Lebowski, Tombstone or The Princess Bride remain the pinnacle of comedy.
So, for the rest of the season (and/or as long as I continue to write crap about this crap) by all means, bring your best blockles* to the field! Sometimes y'all are downright funny. Other times it is great fun to laugh at people who can't bring the hot sauce.
In any case, I'm loving this season and never want it to end. Ultimate is so much fun, even though I hate it.
*-Still accepting submissions for better names.
45 min throwing
icing, resting, stretching, massage
upper body interval