Tuesday, February 27


I had a Pluot today. Apparently this is a cross between an apricot and a plum, but not in that order. Tasty and different. Possibly completely unnatural... but whatever.

Finished reading The Botany of Desire recently. Pretty good work by Michael Pollan on this one. I suppose there is a good reason that it was a bestseller. The sections on the apple and marijuana were both very enlightening. Of course, telling people you're reading a book on botany makes you sound like a freak. This perception only intensifies when you mention that your favorite chapter is on pot.

Lost another basketball game today. 51-47. We had to give the other team 4 free throws to start the game because two of us (myself included) couldn't manage to bring our league-provided shirts. I put out an APB for said shirt, but to no avail. As a result of that debacle, we started the game down 3 points. Could the UPA institute something similar? For every idiot who won't bother to wear the team shorts, the other team gets to attempt a 70 yard goal with no defense. I'm sure something better could be cooked up, but I don't want to at the moment.

I had the pleasure of matching up on the other team's stud. This guy was pretty solid and a good deal quicker than me. That being said, when you get bumped and bodied and boxed out for 44 straight minutes, even guys like him get tired. More than that, he got frustrated and started throwing them 'bows. I'd say I played very good defense overall. He got a couple of easy buckets because I was originally forcing him left, but he's got a quick crossover to his weak hand which helped him get to the bucket a couple of times. I had a couple of steals on him and a couple of deflections as well. Offensively, I distributed the ball well and probably picked up 6 or 7 assists to go with 9 points on 5 shots and ~5 boards. One TO on a miscommunication. Classic PG play, if you ask me.

A couple of highlights included:
- Burying a fan favorite "look down at the line and step back for a three" at the end of the first half.
- On a trip down to the offensive end against their irritating zone, I sized up one of their guards in the 2-3 and felt he was ripe for the picking. I took a jab step to the right and then crossed back left. Stayed there with a slight hesitation move, and then crossed him back to the right as he said "Ahhh, fuck..." which lead to drawing two big men and dishing for an open jumper.
- Tossing the perfect no-look alley to the big man running the floor... only to have him bring it in and dish for a jumper to someone else... no oop.
- 7 seconds left, inbound pass to me. I see the both guards in the 2-3 converge on me to try for the steal . Jump up to catch the ball, and see my man Zac (who must've scored 25 of our 47 points) out of the corner of my eye, wide open for three. Touch-pass to Zac... Shot looks perfect, hits the rim, bounces around... rims out. Fuck me. Sometimes you do it all just right, and you're just off. No worries, ever-- you get the right man the ball and he takes the right shot. The rest is just a percentage game.

This game made me think of a couple of things in ultimate:

1. Who is your floor general? Who is out on the field providing your team with leadership and giving playmakers a chance to make plays? It doesn't have to be a flashy or even a highly skilled player. It merely needs to be a player who has an understanding of the flow of the game. He needs to be able to make plays on his own, but more importantly, he needs to know who needs the disc and when. This could be the uber-reliable dump on your team who is always open and gets the disc to the next person every single time. It could be a cutter who works over and over to get the disc just before the offense loses rhythm. It could be a defender who can always man up and take the other team's best option away. It could be a thrower who has a "knack" for completing bombs to streaking receivers because he knows where each guy likes it. You need a leader on the field who takes charge of the game and molds it to meet your team's criteria for success. Find him, and you'll likely learn a lot about your team.

2. Why are ultimate players such ninnies? I really feel that there should be more contact in ultimate. More like soccer or basketball and less like checkers or backgammon. Bumping and fighting through that are part of most (all?) field sports, or even court sports (when not separated by a net, of course). What's the aversion here? What's the problem with some contact here and there? I know that the rules state that it isn't allowed, but Why?
Workout Total:
45 Minutes Cross-Training (Basketball)


Bill Mill said...

I think it's because players are often running full-tilt in opposite directions without pads, so collisions are likely to be dangerous. In basketball, you almost never reach a full sprint, and when you do, it's almost never in the opposite direction as somebody else. In soccer, you do reach a full sprint, but you're usually running at a near-stationary defender or being chased by him in the same direction.

In sports where you get to have contact *and* run at the opponent, lots of pads are required. cf lacrosse and football.

dusty.rhodes said...


I should make it clear that I do not think picks should be legal because there is extraordinarily high risk of concussion or other serious bodily harm.

The contact I'm referencing more specifically is contact on the mark (like when you're holding hte ball in basketball) or contact in the cutting lanes and on defense in general (like when you're playing defense on or off the ball in soccer/basketball).

From personal experience (multiple head wounds) and a lifetime of soccer-watching experience, the collisions in that sport can be very intense. This is particularly evident when going for a header, any time you're near a keeper or anytime you're in the box with the ball.

The issue for me is that (and this came up at Kaimana between a teammate of mine and one of our opponents) it makes defense nigh impossible. If I'm a position near someone in most sports, a certain amount of contact is assumed (Not early 90s Knicks-Heat contact of course) and tolerated as part of the game. In ultimate, you are a dirty player or a thug. Why would we set it up this way? This sort of contact is not dangerous, but actually adds a level of athleticism to the game. It is no longer *just* a game of quickness, but a game of balance and strength as well.

The rules governing contact, as currently written, (and this may speak to the subset of people that started the game) seem to favor players who shy away from contact. If you jostle for position on a floaty disc or in the cutting lane with many players, a foul will be called. This is so drastically different than every other sport that I have played that it can be very frustrating. I love that contact in other sports. This rule set seems to favor ninnies.

And yes, I understand that I'm verging into Dischoops Frank territory here, but the rules as constructed *do* limit the game, in my opinion. His focus is on disc skills (also true) while mine is on multifaceted athleticism. Just because Kevin Durant is a beanpole doesn't mean he can't train to play with contact. Why not ultimate players?

Bill Mill said...

2 preliminary points:

1) Touching a player with the ball in basketball, anywhere but on the ball, is (almost always, technically) a foul. (Saturday's 52-50 Wisconsin win shows the consequences of actually calling it this way).

I think if ballplayers got to call their own fouls, the situation would be nearly identical to ultimate. At my gym, actually, that is the case - every contact is a goddam foul. Extremely frustrating - I grew up playing every day in the park, with roughly "no blood no foul" rules, and I play basketball to get the contact I wish I got in ultimate.

2) The collisions you mention on headers certainly do happen, and that type of incidental collision is both legal and common in ultimate. I lost consciousness for a moment in Chicago last year when I collided with an opponent jumping for a floater. No foul was called.

With those two points out of the way, I'll say that I think the reason ultimate has so little contact is that it's self-refereed. Basketball has contact because the refs set a tone as to what's allowed and what isn't.

The culture of ultimate has evolved such that everyone, by unspoken but nearly universal consensus, takes a literal and exact reading of the rules. Since it's unstated and largely unnoticed, I have little hope that this will ever change without referees.

dusty.rhodes said...

Good points all. I think that the most directly relevant are self-refereeing and the culture of ultimate.

I guess my reading of rules/laws for sports tends to fall into "yes, but any reasonable person understands that there is contact in sport." I have a very strong, though imperfect, understanding of the ins and outs of the rules, but they're just guidelines to how the game should proceed.

That Wisconsin game was ugly.

Basketball also has foul limits. If you call all of the fouls, there will be no players on the court. In ultimate, you can call all of the fouls and everyone gets to keep playing as if nothing happened.

Perhaps, somewhat paradoxically, having foul limits would make minor contact more acceptable. If that could be proven as true, I would bring on foul limits immediately.

I should clarify, if anyone else is reading, that I have played offense for almost all of my ultimate career. I am not a D-Hack though I am occassionally a D-Hack apologist. I just feel that sports ain't exactly sports if you can't bump and redirect. It feels too sterile.

I call ultimate in much the same way as "No Blood No Foul" with the notable corollary of "If you touch my arm/hand while I'm throwing no matter how minor, that's a foul." Just like a shooter in basketball, any minor contact can cause a drastic difference in flight path.

Bill Mill said...

I'll clarify that I'm a D player who is extremely clean on the mark (really), but feels that more contact on the field is legal than some other people do. I think that the anti-boxing out rule is silly, incomprehensible, and could always be called either way by different observers.

I also think that if I establish position in the path of where you want to go, you don't get to run me over to get there. Conversely, I don't get to use my hands to block your path - it's gotta be my body.

I think this conversation is helping me get to my real problem with contact in ultimate. In basketball, I get a feel for how the ref is calling the game, and know how hard I can go for a rebound/loose ball/steal.

In ultimate, however, going for a 50/50 disc is a complete tossup. If I know that some dude is a whiny bastard, I might not go hard against him because he's going to stop the game for 10 minutes to complain that I brushed his arm on the way by him to a layout D. That's not fair in several dimensions.

Anyway, as for personal calls, I agree on the contact during the throw provision. I also almost never call a travel because I can't be looking at people's damn feet - I need a ref to do that for me. And, finally, I will call an egregious push-off.

When boxing out, unless you elbow me in the throat (has actually happened) or pick me up and physically move me out of the way (college intramural basketball, actually happened), I'm not going to call it on you. When you call it on me, I probably will call you a whiner but not contest it.

Phew, I didn't realize I had that much in me about this issue. Maybe we should present the Dusty-Bill Mill modified ultimate rules as a blog post. We could simplify a bunch of things.

dusty.rhodes said...

Good heavens, this reminded me of something else: In basketball/soccer you can touch the other player with your body or a non-extended arm to "feel" here he is and to dissuade a particular motion in a very low-level manner. Usually this is accomplished by using a light forearm or even a hand.

If you do this in ultimate, there are players who will want to fight you and will yell until blue (one step past red) in the face about "non-contact." Perhaps you can surmise that this happened to me on more than one occassion earlier in my career. Doesn't happen now, but I feel that is a completely valid and easily countered defensive tactic in nearly any sport. Your movement isn't impeded. I can't think of a single reason why this or *ANY* type of boxing out would be illegal. Do those actions change the outcome of those plays significantly? No. Players can still cut, and the person with inside position almost always gets the disc. Do those rules change the outcome of those plays significantly? Absolutely. Instead of a clean play, the disc goes back or the count is rest.

Very frustrating for me.

I'm actually working on something about my version of the rules of ultimate and what I think it shoudl be including a different way of adding observers/refs while retainingas much player-control as possible. It could be worthwhile, it could be a crcok of shit or I could get half-way done and forget about it. We shall see.

Bill Mill said...

I think I'd settle just for people learning that "vertical space" means that I can't hold you down, not that I can't sky you cleanly from behind.

Hope you finish that rules proposal, it sounds interesting.