When I was taught to throw anything other than a backhand, I was taught a bunch of bad things:
If I could go back, I might slap the guys who taught me this crap. Admittedly, I wouldn't call myself the best thrower I know, but I am an effective thrower. My lack of experience as a thrower in high-level games hurts me. That is improving with time, and I will get better.
Back to the point, all of these things are crap. I can think of ~ 2 good throwers who use the split finger (definitely the exception). There are occasions to throw your flick low, but for every throw? That's dumb. Pointless pivoting should be a violation. Throwing in the wind is way more complex than the above.
For each of these topics, you'll do much better if you ask questions of better players, and honestly spend some time adjusting the grips and release points to suit your own body mechanics and strengths. It took me until I made Pike to have the time to correct my grip and take the time to think through release points and the implications of having a static release point. Then I just went out with 20 discs (with or without a partner) and threw a minimum of 200 flicks every day for a couple of months. I would usually follow that up with a couple rounds of disc golf using ultimate discs. This did more for my throwing than anything else possibly could have.
They key to it wasn't the time I put in (there are a ton of mediocre throwers who put in the time), it was that I was constantly dissecting everything about what I was doing until I found a "stroke" so to speak that was not only comfortable for me, but from which I could quickly generate power. Each time I neared that, I would stop and reassess to determine if I would be able to vary my release point without drastically changing the arm/wrist motion. This is where something that Idris wrote about years ago (and I heard through Geoff Buhl) of throwing while standing on just your pivot leg. This was a revelation to my throwing motion. I discovered that with a good snap and a quick change of balance, I could throw nearly as far as I could with that ridiculous windup I used previously.
Now, I'm working to perfect that big step-out low release flick. When you combine it with a variable release point, the mark can do just about nothing save for "get lucky" from time to time.
Anyway, I'm definitely rambling, but in the words of Space Ghost on the first Danger doom album: "It's my show."
2 Core Workouts
Upper body Strength
Monday, April 30
When I was taught to throw anything other than a backhand, I was taught a bunch of bad things:
Sunday, April 29
If you're not enthralled by GSW vs Dallas...
...then I'm not sure that we can be friends.
This basketball series has everything you could want in the playoffs:
Actually, after looking at this list, if you're not an actual Mavs fan and you're not standing up and cheering for the Warriors during these games, you're a just plain in the wrong. They play exciting and defiant basketball with all of the right on-court subtleties and a great "us vs the world" mentality.
If they pull this off, I will dream of the Warriors meeting the Suns in the West Finals. I can't think of a better series to watch, since the Suns should be meeting the Spurs soon enough.
Saturday, April 28
The morning began with my ride arriving at 6am...
No, not to pick me up, but coming home from his best friend's bachelor party. I knew this would be entertaining. At 8am, I deigned to wake him up. First action on his part: Roll over and hand me the keys. Sweet, I like driving. Especially now that I no longer own a car. I start my pot of coffee for the morning (My absolute favorite variety: Light Roasted Mexican Altura Coatepec from McNulty's Tea and Coffee) and then head out for the standard pre-practice meal from Johnny L's Bagels and Deli.
As usual, as I walk in, Johnny L himself immediately starts making my usual: Ham, egg and swiss on a whole wheat bagel with salt and pepper. So much better than Dunkin' Donuts across the street. I can't fathom why you would get a sandwich there. If you're a donut fiend, you've got other problems, but I understand.
As I return to my apartment, some crazy woman is yelling at me about moving my ride's car because it is parked in the "Clergy Only" space. The Greek Orthodox Church owns our building, so I understand the space is reserved, but I don't understand the anger. I tell her that all I need to do is go inside and rouse my guest and we'll be off. I'm inside for 2-3 minutes, and by the time I return, there's a gaggle of men of the cloth telling me "You can't park your car here." I quickly decide that neither explaining that the car isn't mine nor responding like Raoul Duke with "Is this not a reasonable place to park?" will likley remedy the situation.
I rush into the car and we get on the road. Lively discussion (with a still-drunk passenger supine in the back seat under a sleeping bag) of bahelor parties and wedding fuck-ups ensues. During the ride, more importantly, I realize how good "Murder by Numbers" by The Police is. Sick, twisted, lyrical, creepy, clever and smooth. Just like the oft-underappreciated Steely Dan. I also finally placed where the riff from the Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Pretty Little Ditty" had been used: That annoyingly catchy Crazy Town song, "Butterfly!" That had been bugging me for a while.
We arrive early and cleat up. This is good. I had a bad habit of showing up just on the edge of on-time last year. A goal for this season is to get there early.
Practice consisted of drills on dump O/D, lane D, skill drills, some basic zone work, and various modified scrimmages. We broke into studs vs duds for the scrimmage, much to the joy of Brandon who was captain of the stud team at "~3 hours ago." Of course, we, the stud team, won using our superior relaxation despite the defensive focus of the scrimmage. I think this makes me 6-0 in practice on the season thus far.
We had 32 dudes at the beginning of practice, and only about 20 at the end. That was odd. Some tryouts looked pretty good. Some showed signs of actual field sense as well. I would say that it was a good practice made great by a team BBQ right after we were done! I finished stretching and walked over for some ice-cold beer followed by some brats. Tasty. Not a perfectly sensible meal choice overall, but not too shabby. Followed it with some veggies and the like in evening while watching some okay basketball.
5 hour practice
Friday, April 27
Details are not yet certain, but there is some truth to the rumors.
I could end up on the D team this year. The first question that arises in my mind is: Well, should I purposefully play bad defense so that I can go back to the O team? Hmmm... we'll keep that as a last ditch effort.
The second thing that comes to mind is the question of how I will need to change my game to play with the D team. Well, first and foremost, I'll likely have to learn how to play real defense. This could be tough because over 4 years of college the most advice that I got in terms of D was "Run harder than the guy you're covering." That doesn't seem particularly useful. I should clarify: That worked pretty well in the Metro East. I got a bunch of Ds in college! Then again, we never made it to Regionals and as soon as I started trying out with Pike, it was clear that I was completely outclassed. Fortunately, Pike was patient with me and I slowly learned to play O-team defense over four years. That is, don't turn the disc over. If you do, blame it on someone else and wait for the other team's D-team to give you the disc back.
There was a point during the regionals last year that it occurred to at least one vet on our team that my particular brand of angry spikage somehow hinted at a D-player's rage hidden underneath the O-player's shiny exterior. During the offseason, I thought about this and realized that there was, at very least, some truth to this notion and that no matter which side of the disc I played on, I should learn how to play real defense. So I've started the season with the D team.
The experience, thus far, has been both positive and negative. I'm enjoying the challenge of learning the other side of the game, but I'm still getting used to playing offense with a group that is rather tired. The spaces that open up with the D-team's O are completely different than the spaces that were open with the O-team's O. The delineation between handlers and cutters is more starkly drawn, which is awkward for me and the rhythm of the offense is completely different.
On the other hand, my "god-given" (so to speak) skill of outlasting my opponents helps me even more on the D-team than it did on the O team, and the D team seems to understand my angry outbursts better than the O team did.
At this point, as I discussed with B-Lo, I'm more concerned that I'll end up like a retelling of Flowers for Algernon and slowly regress into a grunting, knuckle-dragging, hack of a D-player. This genuinely worries me-- I don't want to be infected by the D-team. I mean, at this point I still get all of the jokes that the O team makes and can read Parinella's blog (or Al's for that matter) without feeling guilty, which are all good signs. If any of that starts to change, or I get tricked into doing something really dumb at practice, I may have to request a move back to the other side of the disc.
Leg Circuit, second part for the week
Explosive upper body work
Thursday, April 26
Regarding a couple of things...
Limited upper body circuit (to cut down on shoulder stress)
Wednesday, April 25
Did part one of a Leg Circuit ripped straight from Vern Gambetta.
I used this progression last year later in the season (July) before I got into a plyo progression. I found that it really worked well in terms of preparing me for what I was trying to accomplish next. I found that my legs were tired instead of sore during the plyo routines, which is what you're after. You don't want to be dealing with searing pain due to your muscles not being in shape, you want to be dealing with "dead legs" due to working hard.
As planned, the gains from the combination were measurable and effective.
At the same time, I felt that my timing could have been better so that I could include track workouts in the same progression. This year, I'll be doing just that.
In any case, the leg circuit for this week (done twice) is below, and I followed it with one of my favorite diabolical core workouts (also shown)
45 sec rest
20 lunges (10 each leg)
45 sec rest
20 step-ups (10 each leg)
45 sec rest
10 Jump Squats
3 minutes rest
Repeat Thrice Through.
10 Crunches with 5 sec pause at top
20 Lying Hip Swings (10 Each Side)
20 Toe touches (10 Each Side)
10 Crunches with 5 sec pause at top
20 Opposite Extend Planks with 2 sec pause (10 Each Side)
I feel the only exercise that might need explanation is the penultimate core exercise: Start in a pushup position. Simultaneously lift your right arm so that it points straight to 2 o'clock and your left leg so that it points to 8 o'clock. Hold for 2 seconds. Repeat with left arm (10 o'clock) and right leg (4 o'clock).
Very good, if you ask me.
Tuesday, April 24
I don't even know that I thought about ultimate today.
Well, more like I'm sure I thought about ultimate, but I didn't write it down or take notes. Pretty wiped after the 3 days. Stretched out, rested and was generally lazy.
That being said, something that occurred a while back was in a question in regards to diet. I figured I'd give a snaphsot of what I've eaten in the past week:
All frying or cooking is done w/ olive oil.
B- 2 fried eggs, 1/3 of a cantaloupe, 3 cups coffee
L- Sauteed chicken breast, heaping handful of carrots, bunch of lettuce
Snacks: Celery w/ Peanut butter, 1/3 of a cantaloupe
B- 8oz Fage yogurt, 1 mango, 4 cups coffee
L- Carnitas salad from Chipotle (no rice)
D- Salad made of tuna, apples, celery, avocado and raisins
Snacks: mixed nuts, Take 5 candy bar
B- 2 fried eggs, bunch of pineapple, 3 cups coffee
L- Salad made of tuna, apples, celery, avocado and raisins
D- Chicken Breast sauteed with mushrooms, garlic, sherry-pepper hotsauce over lettuce
Snacks: Celery w/ PB, pineapple
B- 8oz Fage yogurt, 1 mango, 3 cups coffee
L- Assorted tuna/salmon sushi/sashimi
D- A couple of chunks of cheese and some turkey (stupid family's house)
Snacks: Avocado w/ cheese and salsa, last bits of pineapple
B- Ass-early something or other before the drive to Delaware. 6 cups of coffee over the drive. Some trail mix, one apple, some beef jerky.
Tournament: 1 bag of trail mix, 1 apple, many ozs of Ultima Replenisher, water, package of beef jerky.
Dinner: Much Beer, one chicken enchilada, one beef enchilada
B- 2 eggs, 2 slices of sourdough, 3 cups of coffee, fried apples. I narrowly avoided purchasing a couple of Choco Tacos for breakfast.
Tournament: 1 bag of trail mix, bag of grapes, many ozs of Ultima Replenisher, water, beef jerky,
Dinner: Ham/Cheddar omelet at Denny's, diet coke.
Snack: Some Ice Cream upon arrival home.
B- 8oz Fage yogurt, 1 mango, 5 cups of coffee
L- Chicken Vindaloo with mixed veggies instead of rice.
Snacks: 2 Apples w/ PB, 1 Raspberry Scone, 1 avocado w/ cheese and salsa
Of note: I take a multi-vitamin that I think is fantastic and some extra calcium. You may notice that I don't each much in the way of starches. Well, yeah. I can't really figure out what it is that I need from them, so I don't eat them often. I also don't drink much of anything that isn't water, coffee, beer or the aforementioned replenisher. Looking at this list, I would say that I could eat more veggies, but that I didn't do too poorly. I'm sure that I drink too much coffee, but whatever. It tastes so good.
1 hour of stretching
Monday, April 23
At the basketball game this evening I learned a couple of fun things...
The first was that in April, it is unwise to compete for three straight days giving close to maximum effort. I was dead tired. Even my teammates noticed it. My jumper was short, I didn't want to play defense and I threw it to the other team at least once.
The second was that playing in a tiny tiny gym is really hard if you're personally not all that talented going one-on-one. Especially when there is no three point line to hide behind and the other team is packing it is with a 2-3 zone featuring some truly tall guys (for rec-league ball at least).
The third is that we almost got booted out of the league for both not being professionals (the word professional is in the league name) and for being suspected of being professionals (at basketball). Odd. I guess it was the drubbing from last week that did it. We were all shocked as all of our team except for one guy definitely work in an office. The other guy... well... he might. I don't know what he'd do though. As far as I can tell he's the kind of guy who would get hired for a job by a friend and then get fired for being a goofball who didn't care who knew he wasn't doing a lick of work. And then eat a tiny bag of Skittles for dinner and play some ball.
So, anyway, in the game proper, we played a team that had beaten us pretty badly over the last season. This time around, it was about a 4-6 point lead for us through the whole game. Though we stretched it out at the end of the first half to a 10 or 12 point lead. I didn't play the second half because I felt that I was risking injury due to fatigue. As I watched from the bench and generally made snarky comments to no one in particular, I noticed that our lead was decreasing. I knew we couldn't lose this game, but how close would it get? Well, we ended it with a 2 point victory. White knuckles!
We also got whistled for 3 seconds approximately 700 times more than the other team. One of our guys asked why that was, and the ref responded with a grin: "It's clear that y'all know better. Them other boys don't."
3-0 so far. Somehow with Pike and basketball I'm 9-0 in 07. If we include practice split-squads, I think I'm 12-0. In the words of Levitan to Constanza:
"You can't win. You can't beat me. That's why I'm here and you're there. Because I'm a winner. I'll always be a winner and you'll always be a loser."
I wonder if the first person to punch me in the face will be a member of Pike or a member of the basketball team? Or possibly a darkhorse? Either way, I think it'll be exciting.
22 Minutes Basketball
Sunday, April 22
After earning yet another first round bye by finishing first in our pool...
My car got back to Pike tradition by rolling up late. Of course, the rest of the team got back to Pike tradition as well and showed up at approximately the same time. It is only April, so no worries.
Our first round matchup was against the other DC/Balmer team, HOV Violators. We watched them beat out East River Yacht Club V 2.0 aka Seven-Ten Split aka the third men's team from NYC aka the 1200th team from NYC. I meant to ask them why they would call themselves Seven-Ten Split, but I forgot. That stands out as a really bad team name even in a sport filled with really bad team names. I hope the inside joke is really really funny. We were up 8-6 at half and then went on a 7-2 run to win 15-8. We were sluggish-- that'll be important to fix. Games in the morning count just as much as games in the afternoon. Got off a great pull in this game that pinned them in the back 4 yards of the endzone. It led to a really early turnover and a quick goal. THAT will be one of my goals this year if I continue playing D. Our pulls will be devastating.
The second round was a rematch vs Medicine Men and one-line rhyme, Bill Mill. Yet again, we were down early. Not really acceptable. Now I understand why the D team hates the O team. Sitting on the sideline watching your team get broken is really painful. I had always understood the disdain that the O had for the D ("Look at those dumb motherfuckers playing D. I bet they couldn't string five words together to make a sentence, let alone run a respectable offense.") but only now am I beginning to grasp the reverse. As mentioned earlier, the last time I was on the D team was in my first club season in 03. I didn't really grasp the difference between O and D points at the time and was basically watching both teams get scored on. We pulled it together in this one to take half. 8-7, maybe? In the second half, it became clear that at least a couple of our players were completely ignoring the new marking rules as their cannon-arm handler was constantly calling fouls. I don't think this is acceptable. We've got to work on playing good, physical and LEGAL defense as the season continues. As it became apparent that they were running on fumes, we exhorted our teammates to run harder and take advantage. It paid off.We pulled away to win to the tune of 15-10 as they ran out of gas in the second half.
There was another play in this game that caused some question in my mind regarding the rules. One of their guys was cutting deep on the far sideline from me for a pretty deep put. his defender was a step underneath him, and a help defender was coming over the top (much like a cover-2 scheme). The original defender trips, falls, leading the offensive player to get tripped on the way up, step on the original defender's head, take out the help defender and not catch the disc. "Foul!" "Contest!" I think that seems about right. Can we assume that this player would have caught the disc AND landed in bounds without getting D-ed by the help defender? I think not. Can we, in good conscience, say that the play was not affected by the defender who couldn't remember how to run and jump? I think not. The concept of a "good foul-contest" arises ire in some (For example, the Med Men player who, from 50 yards away told me that the receiver had actually caught the disc before he was fouled. Oddly, i was standing right near him and did not see that at all. I could be wrong, but so could he), but it seems logical to me. If the rules are meant to "simulate what most likely would have occurred absent the infraction," and we cannot determine what would have occurred absent the infraction, what are we bound to do? What if the help defender was a behemoth who, 90% of the time, is going to get that D with or without the foul? Well, what most likely would have occurred is a D. So is that disc "uncatchable?" This reminds me when I told an guy on O that a disc was uncatchable not because of where the disc was, but because of the combination of his limited catching ability and my defensive prowess. In any case, the disc went back to the thrower, we got the turn on that point and scored. Insert small pang of guilt due to different interpretations of the play.
Now, on to the finals. After Truck Stop pulled out the win against PoNY (despite a sweet late-game full-disc handblock by the aforementioned JDub), it was time for the second rematch of the day. We were again pleased to see them. This year will be a battle. Clearly both teams are missing key players and haven't practiced much, if at all, together at this point, but just like last year, I anticipate that we'll be killing each other at Regionals this year. For once, we got out to an early lead. For once, we didn't take half. Down 7-8 at half, we knew that our early season conditioning would help a bit in the second half. It definitely did. The D, exploring some new strategic wrinkles (and the re-dedication to and re-thinking of some old ones) pushed ahead to a 12-8 lead. The O team then played until a 13-10 lead. The d team scored and then pulled at 14-10, got scored on and then it took the O team two shots (14-11, 14-12) before taking the victory at 15-12. We Win! Hooray.
The every-other-year tradition of winning this tourney continues!
Thoughts from the weekend:
3 games of ultimate
Saturday, April 21
The day opened with a first round bye...
Which lead our team to drive down on Saturday morning, avoiding speed traps and crowded Wawa parking lots on the way. This, while a little taxing, is definitely my favorite way to get to this tournament. The night before is always a horrible drive anyway. Of course, the luxury to drive down in the morning was something that BAT didn't have. For the life of us, we couldn't figure out what they were doing in Delaware, but we were happy to see them as whenever you can add another nationals-level team to a tournament, you should.
Our team, as a whole, was on time for once. I actually can't think of anyone who was late this morning. Completely shocking. There's a pretty good chance that even B-Lo was cleated up and ready to go at 10am. As we started going through our warmup drills and started sweating a bit, I was struck with a bit of happiness as I then knew that another season had begun in earnest.
The first game was against GoodFellas, which looked pretty much like OldSag. If memory serves, we started on a 2 point D run to start the game and never really looked back. our teams are pretty familiar with each other due to the PADA and Rage connection. As one of our vets commented, "These guys were my captains during my first year of club ultimate." Always good to show your teacher what you've learned. The 15-5 final score was about as expected. In this game, I played my first non-practice D-points since 2003. More on this later.
The second game was against Medicine Men (from either DC or Baltimore... I can never remember which). We see this team everywhere. They were the original Danny Clark Showcase. Their team identity now, from an outsider's perspective is: "Damn. They'll throw anything at any time, won't they?" Specifically, one of their handlers, Mike Stephen, has no conscience at all. That isn't a judgment, it's just a fact. If memory serves, we were down 4-3 and then went on a run to take half 8-4. As the second half started, there were vocal exhortations to "Finish the Door" but the physical manifestation of that came up lacking. They made their own runs (even getting to the point where I'm pretty sure I played an O point) before we eked out a 15-13 victory.
The third and final game was against our old pals Truck Stop. That bastard team that sent us home from regionals last year in the game-to-go. You might even say that without them, this waste of webspace wouldn't exist. As the game opened with Pike on O, the two teams played what was most likely the ugliest point all weekend. Throwaways, turfs, drops, throwing at the other team and more. as I commented on the sideline, there is a chance that everyone on both teams deserved o be cut as a result of that debacle. I seem to remember sticking an early first-half break to them and riding that out to an 8-6 halftime lead. None of that was particularly relevant as the first half established that the matchup to watch was J Dono covering Big George. There were a number of dual layouts on in-cuts with (I think) George catching two and Dono getting one ridiculous catch block. The general consensus on the sideline was that we might actually pay to watch that matchup. That's a big conceptual step for ultimate. Not that we would pay a lot, but that we would pay anything at all.
We came out of half and immediately relinquished our lead. Way to keep it close, Pike! As the points passed, TS was up at some point and then (I think) we regained the lead. The end result was that we were tied 10-10, hard to 11. We received and scored. Sweet first day, I suppose. Always nice to gain some team-level confidence early in the season, no matter who was missing from both teams.
I hear there was a party, but to no one's surprise, I didn't attend. Unlike some people, this doesn't make me feel old, but rather it is completely normal, going back to college ultimate. There were NBA playoffs on! There was Guinness in the room! I heard some nasty rumor about a bucket of tickets to get beer and one JDub without a shirt on. Someone else described it as a "MetroEast reunion party." With that description, I'm happy I didn't go. I've got no need to be reminded that NYU sucked while I was there.
Thoughts from the first day:
3 Games of Ultimate
This is post #100! I fully expect to be feted by both friends and family. Someone plan a party for me to skip!
Friday, April 20
I'm very excited (as you may have noticed) for the Beth Coltman Memorial this weekend.
Pike seems to win this tournament every other year. And, after last year's loss to DoG in the finals (which would be a recurring theme throughout the spring), we appear to be on schedule to win again this weekend. Games against Truck Stop and Med Men will be good. Hopefully we'll get to see BAT and PoNY as well, but you never know how that will shake out.
A good number of Kaimana teammates will be playing at this one, both in coed (Amp and Puppet) and open (PoNY and Truck Stop) as well as a solid number of NYU alums roaming about. Not much to say that hasn't be said, so let the games begin!
Constant Shoulder Stretching and Rehab
Thursday, April 19
It is always interesting to have dinner with an old friend.
After we parted ways, I took some time to examine the themes of the conversation. Little stuff, his job interview, apartments in NYC, Virginia Tech, humorous stories about mutual friends and long lost pals. The usual. When it came to ultimate, he of course asked how everything was, how competitive the team was and the like. Like good friends are known to do. Or at least polite ones. I suppose a bad friend could be polite much like a good friend could be rude.
In any case, this guy was my roommate during my first truly obsessive year of ultimate. He was quite confounded as I bounded off to practice on Saturday morning as he came home from a night of whatever. This was much like when I would get up in the morning during the week as he was putting himself to bed. Not a party animal per se, but he was/is certainly a night owl. As it became apparent that my hobby was growing into an obsession, we, of course, talked about it all at some point. He was even game to come out and throw or play pickup back home (not only were we roommates sophomore year, but we went to the same junior and senior high schools) even though it was clear that I was the one caught up by the game. He just liked getting out and playing [insert game here] with friends.
Back at the present dinner: I found myself saying that "It's really a good thing that I happened upon ultimate. It's good for me to have an outlet for, well, me."
Back to the contemplation after dinner: I started thinking about why it was a good thing, exactly, that I chose to spend so much time playing ultimate, or why I was drawn to it. There were a whole bunch of thoughts concerning my somewhat obsessive nature and the need to be active and competitive in a meaningful way and that sort of thing. And then it hit me. The phrase "ultimate is like a girlfriend" suddenly meant something. (Perhaps it was fresh in my mind because of Zagoria's horrific article on sex in ultimate to which I refuse to link)
It wasn't just that you spend all of your time playing ultimate, you pour your dedication into it. Your energy. How often have you heard a team described as having great heart? Or that a someone is the heart and soul of a team? The thing is that unlike a relationship with a person, a relationship with a sport is static. People change. They become interested in different things, end up with different goals. A sport does not. The rules are defined, and the game isn't going to leave you. The rules might adjust slightly, but the end goal remains the same. In the case of ultimate, you'll always need to complete more passes in the endzone than the other team, no matter how the rest of it works out. Score more points.
The rules in relationships are not so simple. Nor are the rule changes revised by a committee of people who have studied them. Instead they change without warning or concern. People grow together, people grow apart. One of the slew of reasons that so many friends have tired of the dating scene is because they put their energy into one person, only to repeat that same exertion with someone else. To go through the same introductions all over again. To iron out the same problems again and again. With a sport or a hobby or whatever, you’re always moving forward. You don’t need to go back and do things a second time—you can build upon what has come before. Your affection and dedication are never questioned because you are the sole arbiter of the terms of your relationship. You can break it off and come back a year later. You can make it your absolute obsession. You can see other sports on the side.
Anyway, I think the analogy has run its course.
Extensive Shoulder Stretching/Rehab
Missed other workout stuff
Wednesday, April 18
We played basketball tonight against someone...
I don't remember them much because it was clear that most of them were not ballers. And by that I mean that dribbling and completing passes was difficult. We were up 26-4 at half and continued the trend until we won 57-18. One of my teammates asked about a mercy rule. But not for the other team-- for us. He was tired of it.
We play one and only on style of D: Swarm and go for the steal. Some of our guys are particularly adept at pick-pocketing the ballhandler, a couple are solid shot-alterers and then you've got me who just wants to play the passing lanes. If we double-team and/or trap somebody, I immediately leave my man and work to make the other team pass it to me. Surprisingly effective. I'm convinced that ultimate has helped with this type of D.
I had one utterly ridiculous turnover. As the other team heaved the ball toward their bucket, I found myself underneath with good position. I jumped, tipped it to myself and jumped again to secure it. As I had made the original jump, I noticed a guy on my team on the opposite wing moving toward the open court. I assumed that he would keep going, so when I landed with the ball in my hands, I turned and fired to the open space without a second thought as we had been fast breaking all night. As it turned out, he stopped running and was coming back for the ball (he usually brings it up). I threw a 70 foot pass to absolutely no one. Immediate laughter from our team and the teams waiting to play. Something about "Leave it to the only honky on the team to mess it up."
My teammate immediately apologized and we agreed that we both blew that opportunity equally. I thought that was kind of him.
This was the basketball equivalent of a huck turnover in ultimate. I doubt that anyone else in the gym made that sinister connection.
The only other thing of note is that I seem to have injured my shoulder in some relatively minor though irritating manner. I am positive that consistent stretching and subtle strengthening over the next two days will rehab it enough to be nearly pain-free for the weekend. There's no weakness and although the pain was pretty rough when I got home, it improved rapidly with ROM exercises and vigorous stretching through the shoulder, neck and back region.
The odd thing is that there were no memorable bumps or falls or straining motions. I'm of the mind that it is a minor overuse injury and that refraining from dedicated upper-body workouts on Thursday and Friday will go a long way toward soothing my shoulder. If not, well, all of the buildup to playing in the first Pike tournament of 07 will be delayed until the NJ Invite in May. I love the early season, but the value I place on tournaments increases as the year progresses.
We shall see.
40 Minutes Basketball
Tuesday, April 17
Made a return visit to the Upper West Side Tower of Pain today...
...and, for reasons unknown to me, submitted myself to the whims of a workout with one Josh Weisstuch. I vaguely recall things like following him up and down stairs. Something about a yellow shirt and "Every stair, then every other stair, then squats..."
There was a vague threat of going up three stairs and then back down one for a while. ofrtunately that never materialized. Instead, by a post work-out math problem, we did somewhere near 112 flights of stairs in a mix of running up one step at a time, jumping up two steps at a time, hopping on one leg, hopping up two at a time on both legs and all that jazz. Yowch.
One of the thingsI noticed was that the faster we were moving our feet, the slower I was in comparison to Josh. When we were moving up multiple steps at a time (after the first set at least) I tended to gain ground on the bastard. I think this, just like the last time let me know a little about the strengths and weaknesses of our relative physical capacities. I'm a bit stronger, while he's a bit lighter on his feet (and lighter in weight, for that matter). We're not very far apart in either, we're just a bit different.
We also got to discussing the upcoming tournaments and some of the rumors surrounding NY, Boston and NJ ultimate. All of the normal nerdy ultimate things that ocme up when you're around other fools like yourself.
We also discussedt he point at which you move from seeing the throw and then making the throw to seeing the space and just putting hte disc there. The first is a moment of consciousness as a thrower, while the second is existing in the moment. It goes back, again, to the notion of having the toolkit necessary to respond appropriately to the situation in front of you. If you're an above-average club thrower, you're don't consciously think through what your marker does that lets you know which throw he's giving you, instead you throw the throw before you even realize that he's giving you the throw.
The thin line you tread a thrower here is that if you completely shut of your brain, you'll make some utterly awful decisions. You need to apply just enough of a filter to remove the worst X% of your turnovers in order to maximize your efficiency. That X represents a different number depending on a wide ranging variety of factors including, but not limited to, team strategy, role on the team, ability as a thrower and game conditions.
Anyway, It was a strong workout that left me pretty tired. It was, as always, good to get into a different training environment and completey change up the routine. I'm sure that the basketball game tonight will suffer a bit due to tired legs, but whatever. Basketball's just a hobby at this point in my life. ultimate is what I train for.
25 minutes Interval Training
Saw the schedule earlier...
Looks like we get Goodfellas (I don't know who that is) followed by Med Men (including blog visitor Bill Mill) followed by Truck Stop. Perfect. Perhaps the roster of almost 30 people will come in handy? First round bye is pretty sweet as it lets us not stay in a hotel on Friday night. Actually, I wasn't planning on doing that anyway, but I guess this makes it easier.
This tournament was the first tournament of my club open career back in 2003. It was pretty damn sweet that we won that year. I had hopes of going undefeated for the season. Winning your first career tournament like that can definitely give you an inflated ego.
Monday, April 16
The Stretching from yesterday definitely paid dividends.
This morning when I got up, I was still a little tight, but not sore at all. I was ready to rock. Started the trip to the office and bemoaned that there was no first round bye on Monday. Nor was it acceptable behavior to roll up with a nalgene full of mint julep. As I bested my first round opponent, phone calls from the weekend, I made the mistake of looking ahead to the lunch-time bye. Immediately something went wrong. I'm not sure what, but I called in a defensive specialist and we closed out the game. I don't think I did anything horrible during this exchange, but I can't be sure.
As we lined up against the second round opponent, it became clear that we had not consumed enough breakfast to power through until the break. I went on a grocery run for the team. The weather was frightful, but I managed to tough it out in my sweet Patagonia gear. I was unavoidably detained on the trip and by the time I returned, it was time for the bye! Sweet!
The bye round involved a some time in the office cafeteria looking out into the rain and enjoying an apple, an orange, celery with peanut butter and some sashimi from a sushi joint around the corner. I felt recharged.
As I headed into the third quarter of the day, I realized that the main goals for the day had been overlooked in favor of short-term success. I might sabotage the progression of the team over the course of the spring if I remained on this course! I immediately spoke with a couple of coworkers and we realigned our collective goals. This opponent was a mere formality. I'm not sure I even expended any energy fighting them off.
The last round, of course, brought the biggest challenge of the day, the number two seed in our pool: Boredom. We've both won our share of games over the years, but recently I have owned him. I've added a number of resources to my toolkit including a blog, an outline for a novel, thinking of drills and strategies and randomly sending NBA related emails to a couple of fellow hoops freaks. Considering my already strong base of generally spacing off, listening intently to music and wondering about random shit, there was no way I was letting the other guy get the best of me. Forget that. This is Dusty 07!
Once the momentum was on my side, the day was mine. 4-0. On to my standard explosive strength workout:
Depth Plyo Pushups 4x8
Knee Tucks 4x12
(45 seconds rest)
Plyo Pike Press for Height 4x8
Lunge Jumps 4x12
(45 seconds rest)
Full Body Plyo Pushups 4x8
Squat Jumps 4x12
(45 seconds rest)
Power Overs for speed 4x20
Ankle Hops 4x20
(45 seconds rest)
repeat 4 times through
10 crunches w/ 5 second pause at top
20 Lying Hip Swings
30 sec plank
30 sec right side plank
30 sec left side plank
(45 seconds rest)
repeat 3 times through
I won the workout too.
25 minutes explosive
10 minutes core
Sunday, April 15
Many complained of hamstring tightness.
Not me, so much. Lower back pain is a different story. This has been a ritual every spring since I joined Pike. After that first practice, I'm always in pain the next day, no matter how I prepare. Perhaps I should take it easier at the first practice, but, well I'm hyper-competitive. Perhaps I could ramp up the intensity and amount of time spent playing before jumping into practice. Perhaps.
In any case, today I paid the piper at the gates of dawn. Getting out of a bed was a chore. Sad for a strapping young lad of 26. Then again, if history is any indicator, for the rest of the season I'll feel great on Sunday mornings. To deal with today I did about an hour of modified stretching and yoga. Kept moving and kept stretching. This will pay dividends as early as this evening when I lay me down to sleep and, quite honestly, feels great anyway.
Ready to resume workouts tomorrow!
1 hour of yoga/stretching
1 trip around the block of long-strided walking
Saturday, April 14
Finally, Pike 07 has begun!
Unlike years past, during which I think we started as early as February, we delayed the beginning of the season until April. We decided not to travel to Terminus for the first time since I've been on the team, and I think we're going to better in the long run for it. The hunger and drive had a longer opportunity to build up, and the mind had a bit longer to contemplate the meaning of the upcoming season.
As for the practice itself, it started at 9:30am with individual warmups and then moved into some basic skill-drills. This might be the first year that we didn't have some fools who can't catch or throw a forehand show up and destroy every drill before either walking away or vomiting on the shoes of a captain. If that's not progress, I don't know what is.
We finished the drilling section and took a 20 minute break before we went into some scrimmaging. The first point, which in hindsight courtesy of my brother we both should have had the good sense to stay out of, was horrible. I would bet that there were 8 turns per team before someone finally punched it in. I don't remember who scored, but we were all relieved when it happened. I'm pretty sure I had a drop in this point, though it may have been the next one. Yuck. Did get a point block, however. The new marking rules are strange.
Quickly, the level of play, if not the organization on the field, improved. It was essentially like playing pickup, but without any chumps. That's not all bad. In the end, I'm 90% sure my team won 7-6. That's right.
We then did a little work (in the same teams) on Zone O and D. Just a little primer for those unfamiliar with the standard Pike versions of these for next weekend. Nuances weren't really covered, but that's wasn't the point. Of course, my team rolled in this department. I think we may have scored all of our chances on O, while the other team struggled a little.
We finished up with another game, this one to 5, in which I managed to get a D and then throw it away as we were trying to convert. There was a poached guy in the endzone, and instead of following my first instinct and blading it to him, I tried to set a good example and deliver a nice flat throw. Instead, I just threw it right back to the other team as Heckman stuck his hand up and grabbed the low-flying toss. Never second-guess yourself while throwing. If you do, just don't throw it. I've learned this lesson a thousand times and I still occasionally pay the price. We still managed to pull out the 5-4 win in this one. I like to start the practice season undefeated. It gives me hope that this will be there year that I never lose in practice.
Finished up with a little conditioning and then a cool down. Ah... the first day in the books. It was, all things considered, a good practice with nice weather. Most of my throws were on target and the ones that were off are correctable errors, which is fine for April. I'm definitely not yet in game shape. Good thing we're bringing a ton of people to the Beth Coltman Memorial next weekend. I've got the work capacity, endurance and strength to be active for a full day, but my supporting muscle groups (specifically my lower back) were not ready for the pounding delivered by cleats + non-flat fields. I'll get over it though.
5 hours ultimate practice
Friday, April 13
I didn't know that I'd be helping JP move, but I did it anyway.
I place the blame for this squarely on Julie's shoulders. She snookered me into it with the promise of free quesadillas. There were burritos as well, but they were fish burritos. Not my favorite. As we traveled out to JPs place, I tried to get a sense of how long we'd be out there, but to no avail. Bad news, of course.
As we arrived, I waited for JP to come down and let us in as Julie suddenly thought better of parking in a bus stop because over the 5 minutes we had been there two buses rolled up. Good choice. She had to move all of 100 yards to find a new spot. Admittedly, it was around a corner. I know that it can be hard to imagine things that you can't see.
As the moving-out progressed, JP and I realized that Julie had much grander plans concerning the amount of stuff we were moving on this trip. She was pushing forward with the idea of cramming the rental car chock-full of anything she could grab, while JP and I figured that we'd just be taking a trunk's worth of stuff and maybe we'd put some stuff int he back seat as well. Not that we minded, just that the expectations were completely different.
Taking it all out went quickly as it was a second floor walk-up.
We traveled without incident to the new place up in Harlem, and while carrying the first trip of stuff, it occurred to me that this was going to be much more difficult. This building was also a walk-up. No biggie there. on the other hand it was on the fifth floor instead of the second. Booo.
We pushed through. I was definitely out of breath and unable to figure out how to open the door. I'm not sure that should have been a compound sentence because I'm not sure of the relationship between being out of breath and unable to open the door. Perhaps I'm never good at opening doors? Or, I'm always out of breath? Or there is simply no relationship at all regardless of past performance. Damn. And here I thought I would be saving time by writing a compound sentence.
The end result was that we moved most of his stuff over and on Saturday he'd be conscripting more of his friends to finish the job. No real workout today. But for a light day, I did manage to do a lot of lifting.
Planned rest day
Thursday, April 12
Did a quick workout today.
A previously mentioned one consisting of 2 minutes burpess, 2 minutes rest, 8x (20sec on, 10 sec off) for pushups and then squats. Followed it up with a core workouts consisting of crunches, lying hip swings, planks and bicycles.
Did some more ankle rehab. It is feeling pretty strong, but it is not fully recovered yet. I'm not really looking forward to using the fields this weekend at practice as they tend to be uneven. That may be sugarcoating it. The fields are bumpy, hilly and painful. Damn.
That being said, I'm definitely excited for the first practice/tryout of the year!
12 minutes Interval
10 minutes core
5 minutes ankle rehab
Wednesday, April 11
While I haven't had any strategic thoughts based on Jack McCallum's book about the 05-06 Phoenix Suns, the read was particularly fun due to sequences like this:
"I'll tell you right now," says Gentry, "nobody's tougher than that boy right there. Temeber when he got into it with Kirk Snyder, that young player from Utah last year? Here's what happened. Stackhouse tells the kid 'I'm going to kick your ass,' but the kid doesn't think anything about it. Game's over, Stackhouse, who dresses all GQ, goes to the equipment manager and asks for a warm-up suit, puts that on, goes out into the tunnel, sees Snyder, kicks his ass with a couple of punches, goes back into the locker room, returns the warm-up and puts on a nice blue suit. All in a day's work."THAT is the kind of thing I want to read about when I read these hastily produced sports books. Insane stories about the players in the league, plus solid analysis of strategies and the like. I mean, I don't even particularly like Stack, but this fleshes out the picture of him a little better. UNC alum. All-Star. Dapper Dresser. Ready to kick your ass.
Perhaps we're leading up to a book about ultimate where, instead of glossing over the insane stories surrounding the sport, we get to read about a member of Ring vs a gator, the insanity that is "recruiting" and switching teams in club open, reasons why some ultimate teams are banned due to fire alarms and the top 10 spikes that lead to fights. There are literally thousands of quality stories in the ultimate world (the above just the first that came to mind). To flesh out the book, there are a bunch of players on elite teams who will talk your ear off about their preferred on-field stratagems.
Anyway, the ultimate community could use a good "Year in the Life" book. We already have a history book and a strategy book. This is the next step.
Tuesday, April 10
So, we brought the old gang back together for a basketball game tonight...
Except that this time around, we got rid of 5 guys from last season and replaced them with ringers. Only Zac, 3 other guys and I remain from last season, and, well, we're a ton better. We were up ~20 points at half time by virtue of pressing, passing and hitting shots. Over the winter, we were lucky if we did one of those things. For a half.
This time around, we actually have 10 guys who can ball.
This should be a fun season. I won't be shooting near as much (makes everyone happy), nor will I be bringing the ball up all of the time. This means I'm free to make the passes that lead directly to buckets. That is, I get open on a cut, draw the defense and hit someone for an open look. This is much better for me and the team than me trying to break the defense down from a standstill.
I'm excited. If I play with a team like this, I've got nothing to prove because the assumption (after a few minutes) is that I'm like the rest of guys on me team-- a baller. I won't have to prove myself, and the defense will react to me like I'm a scorer. In doing so, the rest of my teammates get open and score more. The defenses are not sophisticated enough to force me to carry the offense, which means I can facilitate all game long. I can also go for my absolute favorite steal-- shooting through the passing lane up top for a breakaway.
Things are looking up here.
44 Minutes Basketball
Monday, April 9
...of the Tight Ass Country Club in their swanky attire:
Follow the link for the only pictures of the ultimate (and therefore the only ones that meet the decency requirements of my editors) that I've seen from Fools Fest thus far.
Of note for this particular blog, are some pics on the second page featuring yours truly. There are two of me wathing something else happen, and one is of me actually doing something ultimate-related. Like [pause] GETTING A D. No, that throw was not a hammer. I was using the overhand-slam defensive technique. If it were volleyball, that would have been a carry.
This is rather representative of ultimate from my perspective. Doing nothing special 2/3rds of the time and then, when given a chance, doing something cool. Awkwardly. But doing it nonetheless.
Hopefully some more photos show up. Maybe I can go back and determine who was on my team and who we played against.
35 Min Max Strength
10 Min core
Sunday, April 8
As you learn to throw, you're also taught to fake.
Often, you're taught a specific series of fakes. Similar to a kata in martial arts, you can often tell where or from whom a player learned his fakes. The basic toolkit is a great idea (backhand fake into a flick, high fake to a low) but many players become locked into these motions. Fakes learned by repetition are perfectly replicated in game situations with the same pace and to the same location.
This works wonders when your opponent isn't dissecting your game.
On the other hand, when the other team is studying video of you, when your opponents have been playing against you over and over again for years, you're doing yourself a disservice.
Yes, you've got to learn how to fake, but that doesn't mean always faking the same way. It means building up a repertoire of fakes that serve to attack the weakness of the mark. Just like when you're cutting, your job is to reinforce the defender's fear. If you can successfully take whatever sliver of an opening he's giving you, you're in complete control. If your fakes and release points are always the same, you will have difficulty doing that.
The eventual endpoint of this thinking is the notion that in order to best attack a defense, you must be able to read and react at a very high level. That involves two steps. First, the ability to accurately read the defender and the defense as a whole. Second, the ability to throw whichever throw is necessary from whichever release point is necessary. As you progress down this path, the notion of playing with "soft vision" comes up.
The idea is that instead of focusing on a specific occurrence or space, you work to soften your focus to include your whole field of vision. In doing so, you release yourself from tunnel vision, and allow yourself to react to everything that you can see. Your decisions, ideally, are made based on evaluating not just one cutter and the mark, but by evaluating the motion of the other players both on O and D and reading the field as a whole instead of breaking it down into parts. This is similar to the first couple of seconds of every play for a QB in football, as he must assess the movement of the defense compared to both the pre-snap read and the play call.
One of the exercises that Donovan McNabb has done in the offseason is to have a pair of glasses that open for >1 second as he is dropping back, and based on that limited information (which cannot be consciously processed) he must make a decision about where to throw the ball. By applying this same notion to a continuous real-time decision making process, you can approximate the ideal method of playing offense: Process the field and the mark subconsciously and react immediately with the correct throw/fake combination. Instead of thinking "I need to throw an IO break flick, so I should throw a backhand fake and come back for the break" the goal is to see the cutter and put the disc there by instinct.
This is not a quick progression and you MUST have the basic skills in order to reach this goal, but it should be the aim of your practice. Move beyond a basic and regimented understanding of the method of attack and become unpredictable. The concept is an adaptation of Bruce Lee's notion of not having a fighting style. When asked, he coyly responded that it is "The art of fighting without fighting."
Perhaps it would be better explained by this altered Lee quote: "When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when the opportunity presents itself, I do not [throw]. It [throws] all by itself."
Two games of HORSE
15 Minutes ankle rehab
10 minutes core work
Saturday, April 7
I've been considering the different methods of beating someone on a cut:
If you take the idea that you get to determine when the race starts as well as the distance and finish line, you can shoehorn what you determine into two categories: Space and Time. That is, you can determine the start and end of the race in terms of both when and where.
When you consider the two primary methods of cutting (from a standstill and from motion) you can determine which factor (when/where) that each relies upon.
Cutting from a standstill assumes that you have already created at least one space to cut into. You are simply waiting to spring the cut on the defender at the appropriate time. a great example of this is the front of the stack endzone offense. A player catches the disc near the center of the field, near the endzone and the guy in the front of the stack waits until the thrower is balanced and ready and then cuts hard to a cone. This is obviously similar (though not identical) to both throwing a quick break to the front of the stack at any point on the field or the "German Offense" or whatever it is where there is an ISO-ed player who sets the defender up to lose sight of either the disc or the man followed by a thrower putting the disc to space for the ISO cutter to catch.
Cutting from motion relies a more on actively creating space by not declaring your actual cut until you have created sufficient space for it. That is, by cutting in you create deep space. Same with cutting left or right-- you make more space for the other option.
I suppose the notion that I'm attempting to muddle through is that even if your defender knows where or when you will cut, you can still beat him by taking advantage of the other variable. Perhaps you need to encourage him to get on his heels and then cut. Perhaps you need to convince him that you really want to go deep when all you want is the disc in your hands.
The reverse of this is that a team, as a whole, needs to decide on which of the two will be standardized and which of the two is more often improvised upon. If you run a classic dump-swing offense, your timing should be standardized while the spaces that you cut and throw into can vary (angle of the dump/swing, depth of the deep strike and distance gained on the in-cut are easy examples). If you run a more isolation-based offense, your timing can vary, but it will likely serve you well to define the space that you want to attack (Varying the pause before the cutter, either in a lane or in more space, begins or how long a cutter gets to work his magic before you look him off are good examples).
Ideally, of course, your offensive side will have the familiarity with each other and the skill to vary the fly their plan of attack on the fly, a decision to look for a specific pattern in terms of either time or space will help provide parameters for group and individual improvisation. As the team bonds and learns together, you can move slowly from the old jazz standards to modal jams or even free jazz. Maybe your goal is a physical manifestation of Miles running the voodoo down.
Beating Jamie in Ping Pong
Shooting and playing some one on one with Jamie
15-20 minutes of ankle rehab
Friday, April 6
This is a question I've been asking friends and family recently:
What is the smallest salary that you would accept to be the 12th man on an NBA roster?
Initial responses tend to be "a little less than I make now." After some deliberation, the price goes lower and lower.
If you ask me this question, I'd choose a negative salary. I'm not sure exactly how negative I would go at this point, but it is certainly of comparable value of a year at NYU. At least in my eyes. Then again, I went to NYU because out of the 12 colleges I applied to and the 11 I was accepted at, they gave me the best financial aid package, so what do I know.
In any case, traveling around for a year, training and hanging out sounds fantastic to me. I don't care if I get in the game, I'm still in the NBA, getting a per diem and always having the best seats in the house. Sign me up!
15 minutes ankle rehab
15 minutes interval
15 minutes core
Thursday, April 5
The carnage continues...
[Quick Aside: I need the Fools pictures to be up so that I can look back and try to remember who I played.]
Fortunately, we had a first round bye.
Unfortunately, we had a first round bye.
Wow. That was a late night. And now we have to play the one seed? Cool. The game was scheduled to start at 11am. I definitely rolled up at ~11:10 and the game had not yet started. I sat down, put my cleats on, threw for a couple of minutes (I think it was at this point that evel Keven wandered over and bladed our disc into a group of people, but that may have been the day before) and then we cheered something.
After the other team took half, I asked both what the score was and who this team is. "5-2" and "I think they're Truck Stop Guys and they have women, too" were, apparently, the respective answers. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why they had taken half at 5. Someone finally informed me that we were playing to 9. Shit. Nine? I wouldn't have hucked those two early ones to nobody if I had known that. Well, that's not entirely true. I might have thought about the throws for an extra split-second though. I'm pretty sure it was a Maryland plus something team.I just can't recall right now.
After a rousing halftime speech consisting mostly of variations on the theme of "C'mon, this game is only to 9. We should just win it for spite!" we came out to start the half pulling and down 2-5. I decide that I should only play offense during the run we're about to make because we have athletic guys who play together (Read: Amp plus Tim Johnson) for D while we can run a couple of Pike guys on O while the women seem to have figured something out. I don't ask what. This is another in the long list of reasons why I would be a bad coed player. Perhaps I'll touch on my abominable abilities in coed later.
I believe I play one (possibly two) O points for the rest of the game and I think I'm in for a D point as well because no one else wants to play. I'm 95% sure we didn't get broken on O, and I'm 100% sure that if I was in for D, we got scored on. In any case, we go on a big run to win this one. Something like 7-2 for a final score of 9-7? 10-8? I don't know. It was pretty exciting for Fools Fest.
After we celebrate our win and appropriately award our Green Jacket (which had been a running gag for the weekend), we discovered that we'd be playing a rematch versus those damn Cornell kids. I believe we were again exhorted to win this game because it would be short regardless. I know we cheered "Safety School" in true Tight Ass Country Club fashion. At this point, Bailey and I have determined that we'll only be playing offense for the rest of the day. The rest of the team seems really fired up for defense. We never stayed on for more than two points, and they were usually pretty quick points. This "strategy" really took advantage of our huge roster of people who wanted to get Ds and our relatively smaller roster of people who didn't really care for that sort of thing.
I remember playing alright in this one, Batten scored on me once and skied me (but somehow subsequently lost his grip on the disc, which led to people congratulating me on getting a D) once. To be fair, he cut to the back of the endzone when he scored on me and I didn't really want to run that far, so why not let him waste his energy? I think this is the game where I got a nice D deep, only to land on my injured ankle and let go of the disc on first ground contact... which led to the guy I just got a D on catching a goal. That wasn't so good. I mean, shit, if I'm going to run all the way down there, I could at least be smart enough to get the damn D.
I recall them being up for a little bit (maybe taking half?) but in the second half, our massive sideline helped out again because we could maintain quality deep into the playing half of our team. The other half of our team was spectating while either drinking or hangover-ing. I was pretty sure we'd win this one, and we did. I think it was a 2 or 3 point win.
Then we were matched up against Saper Family Reunion in the Finals, also to 9. Except that some idiot on my team decided to play to 11. I lobbied to forfeit the final for spite, but that went over like a lead balloon: Many looks of horror and a couple of sick bastards laughing. There were apparently people excited about playing this one because the notion of winning the spirit award and the tournament seemed to appeal to our team as a whole.
I guess we should go all out then.
We continued the platoon ploy of O/D splits, but there was definitely some crossover. I think I played a couple D points here and there and I think Bailey did as well. I know all of the D guys played O at some point. We took an early lead, mostly on Bailey throwing hucks late in the stall count but Saper wouldn't quit with the younger MacArthur working hard and a couple of other fellas I recognize but am failing to put names to (See earlier plea for pictures). We were tied at 5-5 and somehow let them score. This is bad. You gotta take that point to half!
Coming out of half, they definitely scored first (and possibly second). We then started a little run of our own which definitely included an unexpected play on my part. As they were working it up the field, I found that my guy was mostly handling, but would go downfield if he had the chance. As the disc moved up the open side, I got the chance to see Tim Johnson make a ridiculous bid that ended with a tipped disc that the defender focused on and caught. As Tim starts the stall count, I figure that I'm going to bait a simple dump throw from a cutter who was just rattled by nearly getting D-ed by a rather large man in very tight pants. As he turns to throw the dump and I see that my man isn't moving, I know I've got him. He throws, I layout, I get the D. I sprint to the endzone and someone hucks me the goal. Minor spikage follows.
I guess that's why people play defense?
A couple of points later came the most incredible play of the weekend. The Tight Ass O had turned it over, but was holding down the fort on D. A number of dump-swing iterations occurred as the downfield cutters were blanketed. The disc stopped on the flick side of the field with one of their men. Bailey's lined up covering the dump. The thrower looks downfield for 5 seconds or so and then commits to the dump. Bailey guesses right on the jukes and as the thrower is running out of time, he throws over the dump's head to the big open space behind them. Both players track the disc as the wind picks up a little and increases the flight distance and time. While the disc carries ~25 yards, it is clear that Bailey has the inside position, but the disc is arcing so wide that the line he has chosen seems completely ludicrous. Just before the disc seems catchable, Bailey and the O player both bid. The disc is clearly caught... but... not by the dump! It is in Bailey's hand! "Bailey stole the disc!" As they come crashing down in a heap, it becomes apparent that they're about 3 inches deep in the endzone. As they sit up, Bailey tosses the disc aside and falls down. Uh-oh.
As we rush over, it is clearly a textbook concussion. He fell, his head snapped to the ground, and whatever grey matter he developed at Princeton was smashed against his skull. Ouchy. He didn't remember making a play, many of his teammates, what had happened in the earlier games, or a number of other things over the weekend. The important stuff he had down. He remembered people he had known for longer than a couple days and all that big-picture stuff. A doctor on our team was nice enough to check him out while we finished the game out.
The following D point was pretty uneventful, so far as I know. The next O point was me hucking a huge blade to Frentzel in the endzone (At least I think that's where this play fits. I could be wrong, but that happened in the second half of this game). The next D point was them scoring again to maintain the 1 point lead as the 2 point cap had already been reached. On the next O point, we turned it over, and I don't know how. What followed was a long tenure on D where I tipped a throw on the mark from MacArthur that was caught, and almost got a layout D on him, but the thrower put that disc *exactly* where it needed to be to lead him into an immediate give-go he got cleaned out on an up-line "go" by a downfield defender, but held onto the disc for a goal. The "Cut of Death" returns.
Saper wins, Country Club loses. Country Club looks tight, Saper looks dull. All in all a good run. 2-1 every day for a 6-3 record and a runner-up finish. It turns out that Caner was playing with Saper, not the other team we played. Glad we cleared that up. In fact, he was the guy Bailey was defending on the "Concussahan."
So long as the team costumes uphold a certain level of decor, I'll play with this group next year.
For the ride home, we had the pleasure of Kazan's company as we took Bailey to the Mary Washington Hospital (which we missed at least once) and waited for his CAT scan results. It added about 2 hours to the trip, most of which was spent sleeping in uncomfortable hospital chairs. Not that we could really complain, because I'd sure as hell want someone to wait for me if I was concussed. Turns out he was gonna be fine, but he definitely had a concussion (shocker) and that someone (read: Amy) would be waking him up every 2 hours or something for a while.
I ended up driving back to Jersey with a stop on the way. Completely uneventful trip other than Bailey starting to remember more things, which was good. I tell you, no matter how many times I make this drive (at least twice each way every year) I can never remember what I'm supposed to do near DC/Baltimore when 95 turns into no fewer than 6 different incarnations. Constantly Flummoxed am I.
That's all I've got for now. If I ever see some pics form this tournament, I might go back and edit these posts to include links, or just add another entry with some descriptions. Otherwise,
Three tournaments in the book:
Maui No Ka Oi: 2/24-25
Fools Fest: 3/30-4/1
Confirmed Future Dates:
Beth Coltman Memorial: 4/21-22
Pike Invite: 5/12-13
Live Logic: 6/2-3
Boston Invite: 6/23-24
Possible Future Dates:
Bell Crack: 5/19-20
Poultry Days: 6/9-10
July is too far away to consider.
17 min Interval
12 min Core
10 min Ankle Rehab (plus constant purposeful motion during the day)
Tuesday, April 3
This entry is about Fools Fest also.
But first, Happy Birthday to my father! The second Rhodes clan birthday of 2007! I think he might be 54 now. He's back in college at Muhlenberg getting certified to teach history in high school, coach women's soccer, coach high school girls' soccer and attend a class or two with my sister, Katie. Oh, she plays on the Muhlenberg women's soccer team which he coaches and he got a better grade than her in the class they had together. For the record, she's the athlete in the family, not either of her older brothers.
So, Saturday morning began with my favorite first round opponent: Complimentary Breakfast. As I lined up to take stock of my opponent, I noticed that the team was deep. Sausage, egg, english muffin and coffee had all bested me in the past. And their bench wen ton for miles with guys like yogurt, pastry and breakfast cereal there for support. Needless to say, I won. This is because after taking on Complimentary Breakfast, I got to go back to bed.
When we got to the fields, this time sans donuts, we were startled to find that our first round opponent was already there warming up in bright yellow jerseys. This was an ill omen in terms of fun. People in matching jerseys at Fools Fest are likely to run hard and drink slowly, if at all. This team did both of those things. They were just outmatched as our sideline had grown from the paltry 14 or so of Friday to somewhere near 30 drunken clowns in country club attire. At this point, we could put out multiple all-Pike men's lines, all-Amp lines, all-Germ Circus lines and more. We played "Zen Zone" (Wherever you are is where you need to be) and Men's Half of the field vs. Women's half o the field. Of particular note during this game was a sequence which was emblematic of our playing style for the weekend:
Zen Zone D called. I decide that I need to play backhand side wing, even though we don't have a cup or anything else that would necessitate a side wing. I alternated between manning up on the dump and defending the hammer. I ended up getting a D doing one of those things. I immediately threw a turnover into the endzone on some sort of floater or blade. The other team brings the disc up to the line, a couple of passes go by and I get another D. I immediately throw the disc into the endzone, this time (I think) into a crowd of people. Turnover. Third time on D. I bait a throw to the wing, sky for the D, and immediately throw a third disc into the endzone. This is a blade to Furf for a goal. Perfect Country club ultimate, if you ask me. I think I had one comparable point the next day, but this one might serve as a better illustration of our team's attitude. Or at least the attitude that Bailey and I were attempting to cultivate.
Two quick cups worth of Survivor flip cup before failing on the flip. That's unusual for me. It was time to bow out anyway. In ~6 hours I'll need to be sober so that I can do the driving in the evening. Never a need to push this envelope. Stayed to watch some other shenanigans.
END OF BYE ROUND!
This time around we were playing some people from Fredericksburg. Some of them I knew. Most of them I didn't. We, I think, were up for most of this game. I remember throwing some super-blade hucks which were fun (Frentzel made some sweet grabs) and winning the game with a thumber. Final score may have been 15-11 or so? Not sure.
After this game, we moved on to play the Cornell Alums (The Commons?) which promised to be a battle. Sideshow, Heng-Scheng, Batten, others whose names I'm forgetting. Basically, all of the Cornell men we spent time losing to in college plus a host of talented women. I was definitely still free-wheeling a bit with the throws early on. No one had told me that we needed to do well in this game to make the 8 seed. Settled down a little bit and worked the game out to a tight loss. No real surprise there as they were definitely more sober than the Tight Ass Country Club. At some point, Nic led us into determining who was too drunk to play, which helped our point total increase. No clear memories of this game other than they were definitely the best team we had faced thus far. I'm sure something notable happened. I just don't know what.
As we left the fields that afternoon, we traded Elizabeth for a player to be named later who turned out to be Ms. Amanda Davis from Rutgers. She was expecting just a ride to the hotel, but we had to go eat first. Some fellow country club members as well as a couple of interlopers had heard tales of the previous night's trek to the Mexican joint in the Yellow Building and had decided to join us.
As we sat down and examined the menus (and chowed down on the complimentary warm tortilla chips with excellent, though slightly over-cilantroed salsa) I proffered a warning that the "Super Burrito" was a ginormous, though very tasty, undertaking. It was definitely the size of my head, though not quite as dense. Much to my surprise, Amanda decided on that very option. Wow. What confidence!
As the food arrived, I noted that the Super Burrito was indeed still very large, but it looked less intimidating. This was likely because I had been near the summit before. Still, as I enjoyed my meal, I noticed that before I was done with the first enchilada that Amanda was easily over halfway done with the Super Burrito and was showing no signs of slowing. She was definitely going to finish this.
I was wrong. Not only did she finish it, but she asked to finish off someone else's meal as well. I haven't seen anyone do something like that since Joel Wooten at nationals. This performance was of particular note because when the waitress asked for desert orders, Joel ordered a meatloaf. Unreal.
In any case, the loss from the night before returned to haunt me. Some in this position might feel humiliated, but not yours truly. I was still feeling excellent about choosing not to finish the Super Burrito the night before. It saved everyone from vomit duty.
Later on that evening, there was a party. There was basketball beforehand. Got through all of that and then took a shower and went to the party. As usual, it was winding down by the time I arrived, though the discovery that my team had won a spirit award sent me into a brief panic. This, thus far, is the only one that has gotten close to my shelf. It isn't that I'm unspirited or a cheater or anything, rather that my general attitude isn't focused on spirit. It is, however, focused on treating people fairly, expressing myself (positively and negatively) and making it clear that nothing is ever personal. I try to be as respectful as I can, but occasionally I'll briefly do the Buddy Rich and fly off the handle. I do generally get back on the handle quickly though. Sometimes you just need to let it out and more often than not I'm more frustrated with myself than my opponent.
I also discovered that we had indeed garnered the 8 seed in Division I for the first round bye plus the number on ranked team! Perfect planning and playing on our part: A team (comBOHnation) that we could lose to and not feel bad about it while getting a first round bye!
30 minutes on the Wobble board, with a focus on the ankle
10 minutes dedicated core workout
30 minutes stretching
Monday, April 2
Unlike Kaimana, the trip there was relatively uneventful.
Bailey, Wickner, Julie and I departed from NJ only slightly late and picked up one Elizabeth Lamm at BWI on the way down. Two would have been too many. I think that I had promised to call Nic when I arrived but I quite simply forgot. Fast-forward to the next morning.
We all roll up to the fields in our Country Club attire (except for Ms. Lamm as she had a "better" team to play with or something) to numerous stares and glances. It likely doesn't help that we've got 2 dozen donuts, a box of coffee, a bottle of Bailey's and a nalgene of Mint Julep. As we prepare for the first game (with Julie of Flash Taco as an interloper), Nic goes into a long speech with some key words for everyone:
Our goal is to play just well enough over the first two days that we have a first round bye on Sunday but not so well that we'll need to stay here all day on Sunday.
Our first opponent, Freakshow, doesn't seem to know what's coming. By not knowing what's coming, of course, I mean that they jump out to a lead and have players who run hard. Actual conversation on the line:
Nic: Who wants hairy mouthpiece guy?In any case, this team is definitely running on both offense and defense in addition to throwing to underneath cuts. None of these have been stressed as strategic choices we should make on our team. In fact, the prevailing wisdom is that the more hucks we throw, the easier the game will be.
Me: You do. You're the only one who has actually played defense.
Bailey: Yeah Nic, you're not drunk yet-- go play some D.
Nic: No way. Dusty, i've read your blog. I know you're in shape. He's all yours.
Me: Fuck you. He's taller than me and you know that despite my monkey arms I play short.
Nic: He's all yours man.
Me: I hate you.
Bailey: If you do a bad enough job, we won't make you cover him again.
This was a tight game the whole way, but at some point we definitely made a run to take the lead. The point at which this occurred may have been double-game point, it may not have. We won a close one, which was much more satisfying than not winning it. There were definitely some familiar faces on this team. Including the aforementioned hairy mouthpiece guy who called me a "b-team freshman college handler" at Gettysburg when I was a senior at NYU. That memory has always stuck in my craw. I don't hold it against him specifically, but it always fires me up for some reason.
The next game was right afterward on the same field, although we definitely wandered off thinking that we had a bye that round and got called back. This was against the Sperm Whales. I don't know why anyone would choose that name, exactly. The website says they're from Connecticut. I don't think that this excuses them in any way. CT is just another suburb of NYC anyway.
This team was running much harder than the first. I think I may have recognized some people on this team, but I could be wrong. Friday is a long time ago. Of course, by about half-time in this game all of our team was drinking heavily and running lightly, if at all. Yes, even lazier than the first game. I honestly can't remember much of anything about this game other than we lost and they won. Just goes to show what taking the game seriously can get you!
Then The Bye came. This is what the team had come here for! Freeeeeee BEEEeeeerrrr! Surivor Flip Cup! Joe Lott (not on our team) getting kicked out of the beer garden! General Entertaining Trivialities! Awkward Conversations! People You Recognize! People you think you may have argued in a game! Drinking Games! Excitement!
The next round was against Tastes Like Chicken. I don't remember anything other than not losing. I don't know who was on the team, what the game was like, who did what, or, well, anything. This is for a fairly obvious reason, methinks.
At some point in time during one of these two games I lost my head and went to get a D. This may have actually happened more than once, but this is the only one I remember. There was a high throw into the endzone and I was trailing my man. I knew the disc was mine as I overtook the inside position on the OI backhand. I jumped, got the D and came down on my right foot. More accurately, my right heel.
I crumpled as a pain shot through the inside of my foot and up to a spot just above my ankle. I stood up, put no weight on it and called for a sub while hopping/limping off the field. I didn't twist it in any direction, but rather I seem to have jammed it against the ground with my full weight/momentum crashing down on it. I gently felt the ankle to discovered which connective tissue had been damaged and where. When I discovered it, I tried doing a little massage on it to determine how bad the pain was. Not too bad, actually. I stood back up and did some cutting and hopping. No significant pain. I then shook my foot around a little.
Suffice to say, if I had to play soccer, I would be unable. The ligament that I injured is apparently the tibionavicular part of the deltoid ligament. This means that I've managed to injure my ankle in a way that is similar to only 15% of all ankle injuries. Twice. In fact, the first time that I played ultimate was a result of this very injury....
After 7th grade I attended CTY aka "nerd camp" due to some unusually high test scores. I played soccer every afternoon after class (Mine was writing, I think. The teacher found my writing lazy, much like me. She was right) until i sprained my ankle. Seeing as how I was a very active young man, I decided that I would play ultimate (because I wouldn't have to kick anything). A natural choice considering that everyone there played ultimate and I had often tossed with the kids on my floor.
So, I went out and impressed everyone because I took to the hammer like a fish to water. I couldn't throw a flick for some reason. Damn. All the Asian kids looked so cool with their flicks. I couldn't do it for the life of me. I wanna be cool too. So I signed up for the ultimate tournament that was starting soon with some friends (some were athletic and some weren't). I spent the next 4-5 days throwing constantly with everyone. Only throwing flicks. All of the time. I stunk. I hit everyone and everything. Squirrels, kids at basketball camp, teachers, kids at soccer camp, college kids, windows and everything in between. By the the time the weekend came, I still couldn't throw a flick 5 yards. I hadn't even figured out how to grip it yet, despite the best efforts of some friends. We went to the tournament and got destroyed.
I hated it. I may have touched a disc a handful of times prior to college.
I ended up going back into the game after a couple of points out under the agreement that I would not be required to run on defense or offense. I could if I wanted to, but it was not expected. Whichever game it was, we won it. Which was good.
We then piled into the car in search of food with Julie our scary though utterly sober driver behind the wheel. Having been to these fields twice every year (Regionals/Fools) since 2003 will certainly help us find a suitable dining establishment. Well... not so much. We drive down the miracle mile in direction A. A being either north or south. We then see a large yellow building that promises both alcohol and Mexican food. Sweet.
Margaritas were had.
A "Super Burrito" was almost consumed by me for a free meal courtesy of Elizabeth. I got to the last bite and simply decided that it wasn't worth it. That bite could not have been purchased for $15. It would not have paid for my hospital stay because my stomach would have exploded. Or at least I would have vomited. No way. I could blame the half bag of trail mix or some of the other junk food that I consumed while drinking, but that would be an excuse. In the end, I lost to the super burrito.
This seemingly minor loss would come back to haunt me the next day...
15 Minutes Ankle Rehab
15 Minutes Core