Thursday, May 31

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

The last basketball game of the regular season was canceled.

So Julie and I went to see the new Deppirate flick. Better than the second, worse than the first. Keith Richards shows up for a little screen time. Looked just like Keith Richards normally does. It was heroic and sad at times. Solid, overall, but nothing to write home about.

GUILDENSTERN: And a syllogism: One, he has never known anything like it. Two, he has never known anything to write home about. Three, it is nothing to write home about... Home... What's the first thing you remember?

ROSENCRANTZ: Oh, let's see... The first thing that comes into my head, you mean?

GUIL: No -- the first thing that you remember.

ROS: Ah. (Pause.) No, it's no good, it's gone. It was a long time ago.

GUIL (patient but edged): You don't get my meaning. What is my meaning.
What is the first thing after all the things you've forgotten?

ROS: Oh I see. (Pause.) I've forgotten the question.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is such a fantastic play by Tom Stoppard (who was the reason that Shakespeare in Love was actually pretty good and also was a writer for Brazil and Empire of the Sun, which are both good but very different. While Brazil is the superior film, the John Williams score for Empire of the Sun is excellent). The notion of taking two characters who have no depth and delving, in depth, into that exact lack of depth without providing any depth for the characters is very absurd and right up my alley. The beauty is that it is absurd within the context of something (Hamlet) to which we ascribe normalcy due its presence in our literary canon. It soon becomes clear that Hamlet is anything but normal. Oh, if you don't make the obvious connection, read/see Beckett's Waiting for Godot right after Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

That reminds me, one of the fantastic things about going to NYU was the proximity to all sorts of fantastic things that didn't exist elsewhere. A prime example of it was a completely unexpected production of Waiting for Godot put on at the Classic Stage Company featuring John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub and Doc, er, I mean Christopher Lloyd. You can check out the NY Times review if you're into that sort of thing, but the fascination that I've always had with that play combined with three actors who I actually recognized playing three of the four roles in the play was incredible. It was a great production by my admittedly limited standards (as I was a college freshman living 3 blocks from the theatre at the time), but more importantly, I was pulled into a different world that I didn't really know existed until that point. Ha! Reminds me of getting pulled into ultimate way back when...

Ouch, I just recognized that horrible pun. My apologies.
Workout Total:
10 min core workout
20 min stretching

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Wednesday, May 30

Back to the Leg Circuit

Finally finished the final leg circuit!

Very pleased about the end of that torture. I didn't reach my goal of 7:20, but I did improve to 7:31 from 7:42 on Monday. That being said, one Dono came in at 6:25 which is a terrifying notion. He's concerned that he did them wrong. I'm far more concerned that he did them right.

I think I'll be sufficiently recovered by this weekend for LiveLogic in Austin, TX. That being said, I don't think that I realized we would only be taking 15 guys down for this one when I planned the leg circuit to finish this week. Ah well. Should be lots of PT for everyone one way or the other. The heat doesn't worry me as much as it seems to worry everyone else.

The thing that worries me is playing Bravo in our 5th consecutive game of the day. I feel that the 5th consecutive game in a day is going to be a killer no matter the heat. Why we're facing the top-seeded team in a showcase game after 4 other games is unbeknownst to me. If we're going to succeed over the course of 5 games, we will need to conserve energy by not wasting energy on offense or defense and avoid long drawn-out/tight games/points. Not historically our strong suit. Perhaps we'll turn the corner this weekend.
Workout Total:
7:31 Leg Circuit
10 min shoulder work
10 min wobble board
10 minute upper body explosive strength
30 min stretching

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Tuesday, May 29

High Intensity Endurance

This was a previously used workout that is just a killer.

-2 minutes of burpees
-2 minutes of rest
-Pushups (8 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
-Bodyweight Squats (8 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)

It isn't anything particularly complex, but it is utterly intense for the duration (12 minutes). It isn't particularly draining for your legs or your arms, but rather for your body as a whole. You start with explosive movements (burpees) and move to non-explosive, though related, movements (pushups/squats). It is a full-body workout that can be done quickly anywhere. You're not really in danger of hurting yourself unless you have terrible form. If you're sufficiently strong, it doesn't inspire the same lasting fatigue/soreness as a strength workout. Instead, it inspires a passing exhaustion.

Also, it hits upon a key feature of my preferred method of training. Short bursts of high-intensity work replace any/all endurance training. This increases cardiovascular strength and endurance without sacrificing explosiveness or speed. Training your body to produce maximal force (explosive or non-explosive) when fatigued is better than training your body to produce sub-maximal force when fatigued. If you train your body to produce maximal force while fatigued, it should be pretty easy to produce sub-maximal force when fatigued. Short rests and high intensity training are the way to go for me.
Workout Total
12 Min Interval
10 Min Core
10 Min Wobble
30 Min Stretching

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Monday, May 28

Final Leg Circuit Week

The final week of the 6-week progression is pretty brutal.

It looks like this

5 times through, no rest.

20 squats
20 lunges (10 each leg)
20 step-ups (10 each leg)
10 squat jumps

I did it this morning. It took me 7:42 to complete. I think I can do waaaay better than that. My goal for the next time (Wednesday) is sub-7:20. A couple of teammates pulled in at an identical 7:42 and Tim Johnson beat me by a second. Let me tell you, this workout is almost criminally intense. Followed it up with a quick upper body strength workout and a core workout. It was definitely difficult to push through those with the level of leg exhaustion I was feeling.

Gotta push through. Gotta do better. Every workout is a chance to be stronger, faster, quicker, more explosive, more skilled, more experienced. A chance to be better the next time I step on the field. I love being able to improve.
Workout total:
7:42 Leg Circuit
15 Minutes Upper Body Strength
15 Minutes Core

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Sunday, May 27

Hot Hot Boring Stadium Action (pt 5)

I love watching ultimate in stadiums.

The perspective is so much better. The spacing on the field and team strategies are so much easier to digest. We arrived in time to snag some sweet seats high up on the 50 yard line.

The Women's final started about 3 beers later. I think. It was pretty clear that Stanford was going to win based solely on the fact that they were willing to rip it to deep receivers while UCSB continually settled for turning the disc over while working it up. You've got to take deep shots in ultimate regardless of whether they are completed at a high rate. The fear needs to be put into the defense or you can just say goodnight. Stanford seemed to have a deeper roster of tall receivers who came up with the disc when the throw was errant, but even when the looks were not completed, they never shied away from launching the disc to a streaking receiver. Or even receivers who didn't know they were open until they caught the disc. This game was really fan unfriendly. Tactically uninteresting as well. Stanford was clearly the better team.

Then there was a 75 hour break until the men's final. Some people ran in a straight line on the field during that time, but I was nowhere near caring.

As the men's final got started, we were hoping to see a classic battle that remained close throughout, but it was not to be. So we drank more. At least those of us who would not be driving. Like the rest of the tournament, Wisconsin was straight up better than Colorado. More players, hungrier cutters, better throwers, better team support, more clearly defined strategy. They won on all counts. I don't know what, exactly, they do up there in Madison, but they seem to rip out the hearts of the hopeful and replace it with something stronger. Something full of fire. The other teams never really match that intensity and this feeds back into the Hodag belief that they want it waaaay more than you and that they will, as a result, get it. Color me impressed. The Hodag brainwashing technique seems to have supplanted the CUT brainwashing technique. Stanford, as discussed here, we won't talk about.

Both games were snooze-worthy, yet exciting in the sense of each being a coronation of a new champ.

So that was Nationals. I didn't take game-notes from this weekend, so my recaps are spotty at best. I did take notes on players who I figure I'll see in the future as well as on general ultimate tactics and strategies. Some of the latter may make it into the blog, the former will not.

Now we just have to get back to the greater New York metropolitan area...

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Waffle House (Interlude 2)

Is it really 7:00 am?

Wow. I think I watched the first 2 minutes of the game last night. Then this morning came. Oddly, my usually sleepy roommates were ready to go as early as I was. This can mean only one thing: Return to the Waffle House.

Hell yes.

We tried to rally some other alums and assorted people we knew at the tournament, but to no avail. Apparently, instead of falling asleep in the early early evening and waking up int he early morning, they went out last night. Apparently. While trying to contact them, we realized that there was still beer in the fridge. We cracked 'em open and starting singing a couple bars of Roadhouse Blues. I can't imagine why.

When we return to the same Waffle House, the wait staff greets Paul with a hearty hello. He greets them enthusiastically. Seeming very happy to be remembered. About 10 minutes later it occurs to him that they just say hello to everyone when they walk in and that he had done nothing particularly memorable the morning before. Ouch.

This was the morning that I made a huge discovery. I thought about it last time we visited, but I didn't actually formulate the question for the waitress. This time, I came through. When it was my turn, I, like everyone else, ordered the All-Star Special. The key difference is that I managed to order the chocolate-chip pecan waffle. Unwilling to settle for either pecan or chocolate chip in my death-waffle, I explained to the waitress that I wanted both. She seemed a little surprised, but as she worked it out in her head, she knew it was the right choice. I could tell. Perfect. Let me tell you, that was the best fucking waffle I have ever eaten. Why? because with the cheap waffle-batter, chocolate chips, pecans and butter it tasted like a heavenly pastry of cardiac arrest. Wow. I was definitely set for breakfast.

Once again, we asked if we could purchase alcohol at this hour in the great state of Ohio. The answer was a resounding "Yes. But not the hard stuff." Awesome. Back to the BP and then back to the hotel to, uh... clean up. What followed was about 2 hours of hanging out in what would have been a completely inexplicable scene at that time on a Sunday morning to anyone we didn't know. I feel that the appropriate answer would have been "Well, what took you so long?" Reasonable minds may disagree.

On to the fields!

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Saturday, May 26

Shade to Hotel (pt 4)

Owww. My shoulder hurts.

Why is that guy screaming? Where's my chair? Where the hell am I? Whose cooler is this? Whose disc is this?

Hmmm... Perhaps sitting up would help. OW. Turn the sun down and stop talking. Is this... could it be... a hangover at 4pm? Not a good sign. Luckily, someone has taken my chair and left beer, ice and a disc in its stead. Not exactly the best manners, but I think it'll soothe my nerves.

One beer down.

Okay. Now, establish your bearings. Wisconsin just played there. They look like they'll be playing there again. This is a different team. Who are they playing? Stanford? Ouch. I don't think that this bodes well for Stanford.

On the other field? Who is that? Colorado and Florida? That should be a good game, right? I need a new spot. This one is too crowded. Too much bad crazy. Aha! A space at the far end of the fields! Still at a higher altitude, but not nearly as college-kid crazy. Time to mosey. With some beer. Niiiiiiice.

Okay. Now, this is a good spot to sit, methinks. I wonder where everyone is? Ah well. Time to hunker down and watch some ultimate with my trusty iPod. Well, Stanford simply doesn't seem to have the firepower to run with the big guns from up nort. This is getting ugly, yet I cannot look away. It really is something to watch a team dominate like this against Nationals-level opponents. The baby blue deep game is crushing another opponent.

Colorado v Florida is a little further away, and I can't see the score, so I don't know what is going on. I would say something here, but I don't remember anything specific other than Colorado winning.

Games end and I get a call from the rest of the car-group. We'll be trying to leave sometime reasonably soon to go shower. It'll be good to wash off 2 days of dirt. Plans are uncertain, but there is a Utah/SanAn game this evening, and we'd all like to catch that. There is talk of party and going "out" (whatever that means) as well. Group decides to head for the showers and then let the rest of it sort itself out.

A tip for the sommeliers amongst us: Beer pairs perfectly with a hot shower.

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Saturday at Nationals to Shade (pt 3)

We pulled up to the fields before every player on every team.

I think we got out of the car at ~7:00am, but I can't be sure. I'm basing this on the prequarters starting at 8:30 and having exactly zero representatives from any team at the field site. Of course, that didn't mean that there weren't ultimate-types there. We saw some ladies and a gentleman or two in sleeping bags near the field. That was unexpected.

The first thing we did was get the disc and the wiffle ball/bat out of the trunk and toss/play wiffleball. We had some time and sleep was no longer in the plans. Players and teams slowly began trickling in, each group looking a little less lost than the previous. Finally, The Bus rolled up.

It was always incongruous rolling up to tournaments at places like Susquehanna or Rutgers in a full-on charter bus, but here it seemed completely normal. Many teams had flown to get here while the Violet Femmes had hopped on the bus, courtesy of NYU's club sports budget. I should back up for a second. NYU rolls up in a bus because no one has a car on campus (duh) and the club sports budget reflects this. They are also NYU vans that can be used for a weekend, but with the size of an ultimate team (let alone adding the men and the women together, like for most tournaments) the bus almost always makes more sense.

In any case, we said hello to some of the ladies, not wanting to mess with their game faces (I wanted to link to the Youtube clip of Bob Knight's "game face" routine here, but it has been removed. That sucks because it is one of my all-time favorite flip-outs.) and then asked the coaches, Zac and Ken, where the fields were. They told us and we collected our assorted items and strolled on over with some of us lurching more than others.

Leading up to game time, we kept tossing for a while, ensured proper fire safety of the surrounding area, scouted the opponents (Stanford) and caught up with some of the other alums in attendance. Notably absent was any presence from the NYU men's team. For shame.

Thoughts on this pregame time include the apparent lack of intensity from all teams in attendance. Perhaps this is just because I'm comparing it to club nationals where there is nothing but an "eyes on the prize" mentality early in the morning. Here, while the teams were certainly getting ready to compete, there was more an air of friendly competition. There was more tossing and stretching than drills and active warmups. That's just me though, perhaps I was missing something. Perhaps it was because I was one or two steps removed from the action.

To the game! NYU vs Stanford in the prequarters!

Recollections of this game are fading due to time, but NYU stayed tight in the first half. Mia was (as always) unleashing hucks to wide-open space whenever the opportunity was presented. The throws hung (and stayed in bounds) such that the majority of them were in good position to be caught, but the Stanford players continually made it difficult for the NYU receivers to make the play. The mark seemed to have little effect on Mia, but the quality and depth of the downfield Stanford defenders seemed to hurt NYU as a whole. Stanford took half at 8-7.

The biggest difference makers for Stanford were Christina Contreras and Megan Andrews. Contreras played a number of different roles on O and D, but was seen coming down with the hucks that Stanford would put up and putting on a difficult mark (she's tall!) in their zone D. Megan's difference-making was more subtle as her steady shifty-lefty handling continually kept the Stanford O running. Again, one of her biggest advantages was her height. So goes ultimate.

Coming out of half, it looked pretty grim for NYU as Stanford seemed to make some downfield adjustments while forcing Mia outside of her comfort zone in terms of release points. I think they played more zone here as well, though I could be wrong. Despite NYU never really giving up, this game was in the bag. 15-8 Stanford. Ew. Nobody likes Stanford. Just ask Jamie.

We then checked out the finishes of the Men's prequarters and headed over to watch the NYU team play some consolation against Dartmouth. In the first half, NYU looked dominant. I didn't stay for the full second half, but it looks like Dartmouth made a run later in the game, NYU still won 15-11. Hooray for consolation!

I went over to the other fields and set myself up to watch Wisconsin vs Oregon on my right, Florida vs Carleton on my far right and Colorado vs Georgia on my left. I couldn't see Texas v Stanford save for a couple plays here and there.

Let's start with Hodags/Ego. Well, Wisconsin was straight up better than Oregon. I doubt there was a single question about it for any part of the game. Every time I paid attention to the game it felt like "Hodag block. Pause. Pick up the disc and huck to a completely uncovered receiver. Goal." This game was fun to watch because the 'Sconsin players play fearlessly and for glory. The 'Gon players played well and didn't give in, but you sensed that they knew what they were up against. 15-9.

The CUT/Florida game seemed over early as Florida's deep game was firing on all cylinders. But at some point, there seemed to be a rash of CUT-centric cheering. I stopped to pay attention and the game looked the same except that whenever Florida's deep strikes fell harmlessly to the ground, CUT would work up the field in blatant defiance of the endless stream of 6'2" and up players for Florida. In the words of an unidentified spectator "Florida is the only team that looks like they could play Division 1 anything." They're certainly taller than Pike. Just another sign that players like me are on the way out. As the game got tight, Florida eventually pulled it together for a 16-14 victory.

The Mamabird/Jojah matchup sounded good on paper, but most spectators agreed that the Colorado team was deeper than Georgia. Well, yeah... fair enough, but that Tunnell is a baller. I got to catch glimpses of this game, including a couple of nice rips, but the crowd was in the way because I was sitting down.

I really should have gotten over to see the Bloodthirsty/TUFF game (what with NYC's own Will Chen and Highland Park's own Ezra Schiff at Stanford), but it was far away. Stanford won and some stuff happened. Also, as referenced earlier, no one likes Stanford anyway.

These last two games illustrate why it is so damned difficult to be a spectator of ultimate. There were four meaningful games to watch at one time at the top college tourney of the year and I couldn't watch them all. A gigantic ultimate stadium with room for four fields at once is clearly the only solution.

At this point, I fell asleep in the shade. I was tired and there was about an hour before the next round started...

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Waffle House (Interlude)

There's really nothing like a Waffle House in the morning on a roadtrip.

The combination of bacon, coffee, assorted things frying in fat, sausage and waffle batter isn't exactly a subtle olfactory hue, but it was what we had been craving for approximately a week. This is exactly the sort of food that I don't eat, normally, but the context was perfect. Rolling into a Waffle House in middle America after a savage, poorly-directed tear from the confines of the greater NYC area with a car full of scruffy-looking ultimate players reeking of patchouli.


I can't remember what everyone had, but I personally made a discovery that has changed my world. Waffle House now has chocolate chip waffles! As if I needed something else that is completely bad for me located in one place! They anticipated my need and filled it before I knew that I even had that need! Capitalism rules. I'm sure that I had ~4 or 5 cups of some unflinchingly week coffee, some eggs, a bit of toast and a chocolate chip waffle. My hashbrowns were given to the less fortunate at our table. As interesting as that is, more interesting yet were the following things:

  • The waitress told us a story about a customer who, the night before, was "So drunk he could hardly talk. Then he asked if he could pee in my hat. Then he ordered a salad!"
  • There is a Waffle House March. It is conspicuously absent from the Waffle House music page.
  • Asking a waitress at a Waffle House if you can buy beer across the street at a gas station at 7:30am will, in fact, result in an odd conversation.
Let's go back to the first item for a second here. It is not unusual for patrons of the House to be stutteringly hammered. I would wager it is not unheard of, in the right circles, for these same inebriated idiots to ask to pee in a hat. But to order a salad? At fucking Waffle House? There better be meat and waffle in that salad, or we'll ride you out on a rail. Or whatever that expression is. Honestly, the waitress seemed just as shocked as I was that there was a salad on the menu.

We then walked over to the BP and bought enough beer and ice to make the cooler feel whole again.

Destination: Fields!

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Land of Nod to Waffle House (pt 2)

As I slowly woke up in the back of the car, I knew something was wrong.

Perhaps it was just the dream I had while asleep in the back seat. We went to the wrong fields but somehow we were responsible (HA!) for bringing the NYU women's team their jerseys. We, of course, failed. That seemed like a bad omen.

As I regained a sense of my surroundings, there were definitely questions about which road to take to Wheeling, WV. That's easy! Just take the PA Turnpike until it turns into I-70. You're there! That simple! Then, some new shit came to light:

We were in Maryland.

For those of you unfamiliar with geography, Ohio is due west from Pennsylvania which is, in turn, due west from New Jersey. Take note of the conspicuous absence of Maryland in that chain. This is because Maryland is due SOUTH of Pennsylvania. To visualize a little better:

This is what our route should have looked like
This is the route we took

We only added an hour to a huge trip, so it wasn't a big deal, but it is still crazy to end up in the wrong state. JP and I had fallen asleep in the back seat to let Paul navigate for Jimmy. We should have known better. For those of you scoring at home, that would be Strike One for Paulie.

In any case, we slept far less for the remainder of the trip, eventually pulling into the Waffle House at ~6:30am. Jimmy pulled an ironman and drove the whole way while conversing with Paul. JP and I were in and out of the conversation. I can't speak for him, but I'm just that way. Sweet Sanctuary of Breakfast at last.

"Those of us that had been up all night were in no mood for coffee and donuts, we wanted strong drink."

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Friday, May 25

NJ to the Land of Nod (pt 1)

I knew the day was serious when I got the email.

Until that point, it had been a pipe dream. I figured something would go horribly wrong and our road-trip to College Nationals would never get off the ground. At the moment in which I doubted it most, an email from JP arrived in the inboxes of all roadtrippers:

I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain... I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope [Ohio] is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

Nothing makes a man feel quite as free as a well-placed Shawshank reference. The plan was to leave at 5:30 from the Jersey City apartment. The thing was that Jimmy was supposed to park his car here the night before. When I got up this morning, the car was not there. When I came home after leaving work a bit early, the car was not here. Oh well. He must've parked it in a garage in the area.

JP showed up at ~4:45. As we BSed about our summer league team and whatever else, we noticed that PTI was just about to come on. SWEET! A perfect way to waste time waiting to get picked up. As we watched the intro, we were filled with disappointment. Kornheiser was replaced by Bob Byan. Boo. Crestfallen were we. As we watched and waited, we decided that there should be an email list to sign up for that inform you when Kornheiser or Wilbon would be out. It would be a great Rage preventer.

It then dawned on us that we had no assurance that Jimmy was on his way or that we weren't in fact supposed to be waiting at Paul's place (also in Jersey City). Contact was made, and while Jimmy wanted us to go to Paul's, we refused on grounds that we would likely get lost. Eventually, after many Mitch Hedberg references, Jimmy and Paul were outside. Gametime. ~7:30? Only two hours late. Not too shabby for this crew.

Get on the highway, and get moving west. It is pretty much a straight shot to Columbus from Jersey City. We even knew which Waffle House we would be rolling into at some god-awful hour of the morning. Googlemaps led the way! Before that breakfast at the end of the rainbow, that carrot at the end of the stick, we needed sustenance. Somehow we ended up at Perkins. I blame DJ Karen Lee who, while she was not with us in person, is known for her rabid love of Perkins. Ew.

For some unconscionable reason, Jimmy ordered the Sausage, Biscuits and Gravy claiming that "If breakfast is available, you eat breakfast." As most of us neared the end of the meal, Jimmy pronounced (in total defeat) that "This is just too much sausage" and quit on the spot. I went with the chicken finger sandwich which, while it was likely the right call for this time and place, would only serve to lead me down the road to the ultimate Waffle House breakfast. More on that later.

We pulled away, leaving the poor waitress to fend for herself against the rampant sausage overpopulation problem. Riding west through Pennsylvania is a trip that works two ways: 1) go with a car of friends or 2) Don't go at all. You see nothing or note and the roads are terrible. Straight, bumpy, dull, identical at every turn, expensive and a host of other negative things. On cue, I began to nod off...
Workout Total
15 min core workout
15 min wobble board

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Summer League Draft

Westchester SL Draft was last night...

I missed the live online draftview and chat. JP and I wanted to go Mel Kiper, Jr. crossed with Chas Barkley on the events, but I had a basketball game at the time and John forgot.

By the time I got home from the game, I had been picked by Julie in the first round and our team consisted of: Me, Julie, Jimmy Bendernagel, Joey Ax, Rick Kahn, Kevin Lange and women I don't know. That was the first nine rounds. They were public. The rounds after that were done without a draftview. We hit the jackpot by getting JP in a late round and somehow ended up with John Sardo on our team too. If any of the men and women who I don't know (or whose names I don't recall because I'm a jerk) are good, we'll be a solid team. No matter what, we'll be a fun team.

It was entertaining at the tail end of the draft as I sent JP an email to call Rick and tell him to draft JP. It would be a perfect summer league team! JP then told me that it was like sitting in the green room at the NBA draft. In any case, there are some other strong teams in the league and it will be a good time. WSL is a pretty solid summer league to play in because you're forced to play reasonably intelligent ultimate as it is a veteran-heavy league. It'll be a good season to pick some things to work on for every game as well.

I think I'm actually excited about summer league. That's kinda sick.

Violet Femmes Update: Lost Round 1 15-5 to #1 seed UCLA. Sounds like they were still asleep AND playing the #1 seed. Exactly the opposite of Pike back in 04...
Other Nationals News: UDel upset Florida on the men's side. Looks like everything else for men's and women's went to seed.

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Thursday, May 24

Good Luck to the NYU Women!

You made it to the show, now the fun starts.

Sadly, the alumni support will not arrive until Saturday morning after an all-night race through Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Your own work and dedication will have to carry you through day one. I expect to hear nothing but good news!

Oh, had a basketball game today. It was kinda tough since we had margaritas at 5pm at work (we work until 6) and I was definitely not at the top of my game. Unfortunately, the other 4 guys who showed were not at the top of their games either and we were likely missing our 2 top scorers. Yup, you're reading the set-up correctly: We lost! The other team had a lefty jump-shooter (I don't think he missed but one shot on the evening) and two 6'3" dudes. It was close from time to time (especially just after my back-to-back steals for layups coming out of half) but we just didn't have the juice.

It happens. One more week and then playoffs, I think.
44 min Basketball
20 min Stretching

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Wednesday, May 23

Watched the Championship Video Again

Every time I watch it, there are more skills and concepts for me to dissect.

The differences between varieties of ho-stacks, active v non-active marks, different pressures put on throwers by different offenses, methods of breaking the mark in flow, Shank throwing ridiculous things, etc.

There are just so many different ways for a team or an individual to approach this sport. I wish I had more raw game footage instead of highlights.

Not much else today.
Workout Total:
20 Min Leg circuit
10 Min Wobble Board
30 Min Stretching

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Tuesday, May 22

Fools Fest Again?

Pics are up from Fools Fest

These are some of my favorites:
Everyone happy to be distraced by the disc so that they didn't have to look at Nic's attire
Our guys (Me) skying their girls
Our girls skying their guys pt 1
Our girls skying their guys pt2
I might actually have called a foul on this play...
Furf playing casually
Bailey's chicken legs
Me being afraid of girls
Why Coed Ultimate is Bad: Pt 1, Pt 2
This is a late bid
This is also a late bid
Something Went Horribly Wrong.
Country Club Will Whip You in Any Lawn Sport
Survivor Boat-Racing is definitely a Lawn Sport!
Milling About
That is One Tight-Ass Country Club
What, you don't think he's evel?
Only Real Competition was Ourselves (Picture during a game)
Four More Potential Fans Lost
"I Saw a Human Pyramid Once... It Was Very Unnecessary"
New High Life Ad Campaign
B-Lo and Dono both Failing
"how does that old guy in sneakers keep beating us?"
Old Guy in Sneakers part 2 and 3
Bailey Looking Stylish While Skying for my huck
Pouty Nic pt 1
Pouty Nic pt 2
TACC meets Joe Lott (before Joe was ejected from the garden party)
Nic making another heroic survivor flip-cup stand
Kazan in our team's hideous green jacket
Wow. That's one way to get a low flick off...
Seriously, how has this guy not yet hurt himself? Look at his leg/foot position!
Sorry, Eug.
Nice D Sequence: Tim's Bid, bid continued, Tim's guy showing focus, Tim's guy catching the Mac, me getting the D on the dump and me in the fetal position after the D.
Workout Total:
20 Min Wobble Board
10 Min assorted strength
30 Min Stretching

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Monday, May 21

I just noticed

That I haven't been including "Throwing" in any of my workout totals.

Interesting. I suppose throwing is just something I assume everyone does. I'll admit that right now, I'm not getting enough touches on the disc per week. Once Summer League starts in June and I (pretty much simultaneously) start training with other people, that'll change. Right now, I'm more concerned with establishing a strong overall fitness level.

My throwing skills are on the verge of a breakthrough. I can feel it. Usually, as the season approaches I'm working on the addition of a few new throws and/or release points to the arsenal (I am this year as well) and that sort of consumes your throwing preparation. This year just feels different. It's as though I already know how to throw the new additions, I just need to relearn them. Not sure that is easy to follow, but the difference is a little striking. I feel that instead of forcing my body to do something new and completely different, I'm just opening my mind to include throws that I've always had in my game.

Again, I'm not sure that this is entirely clear, but the end result is that my throws, despite not putting dedicated time in thus far, feel really good. With more practice and touches over the summer and through the fall, my throws will only improve. Pulls included.
Workout Total:
20 Min Leg Cricuit, w5
10 Min Upper Body Max Strength
15 Min Core Workout
10 Min Stretching

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Sunday, May 20

Bell Crack Day Two

"Woke this morning to the stinging lash."

The day started facing Harpoon in the Quarterfinals. We faced them last year in the quarterfinals. This was a pretty tight game. They may have been ahead at some point, but I'm not sure. Fellow NYU alum, Matt Leventhal, was on this team. They like to huck. Kelley Miller v Rebecca Tucker was fun for us to watch. I think they went 4 women most of the time on O. That was cool with us. It seemed like our women were more eager to play than our men. 15-12 or so, our victory.

Semis was against Smartwhores who, as you might imagine, are Swarthmore alums. Get it? Brandon, our resident Swatlum, was ready to give us all kinds of scouting information. And then all I heard was something someone else was saying. Ross was playing a few points here and there for them. Yet another player from CTY. This one was not nearly as close. College and recent college grad teams tend to give you the disc a lot. They were no exception, though they certainly didn't look bad. 15-9 or so victory.

Ah, the Finals! Time to take out some Tight Ass Country Club Members, a few Kaimana Teammates and some regular Donkey Bamp foes. The game definitely opened with evelKeven doing his thing. I think there was a "travel call, goal comes back" 3 consecutive times on the same backhand huck by Sean. On the fourth time, the goal stood. I believe all four completions were layouts by the receiver. That was silly. If I remember correctly, we broke first and they broke shortly thereafter. Half was either 8-6 or 8-7 us. We then scored the first point on O out of halftime. Nice.

Their 57 lefty handlers proved irritating to match up with both due to their general lefty-ness as well as their ability to put big flat throws to space. We made some matchup adjustments as well as some marking tweaks to minimize the damage that their throwers could inflict and tried to force their cutters to beat our downfield defenders back to the disc. Seemed effective for the most part as we increased our lead over the second half to 4 or 5. I think this was the stretch where I got kicked in the hand and knocked over on an upwind flick huck. It still got there, but the trajectory changed enough so that it was now coming down into a crowd. Boo. Disc came back after the D. No contest. Finger hurt. Didn't know Felt could get his foot out quite that far-- he's sneaky.

In any case, we ended, appropriately, on an upwinder from one woman to another. They were our best players all weekend, why change it up now? Two years of Bell Crack, two titles. Nice.

Some pics from Sunday are up.

Some favorites include:

Tucker getting a sweet D while I skip around on the field
Dono dropping the disc... and paying the price for his failure (no foul was called)
Jamie using the mini-tramp to get a D (pt 1, pt 2)
Jamie using the "I really hacked you" body language while not contesting the foul on Sean

That's all from the Deceptisomethings for 2007. Hopefully we can hang onto our Number 1 Ranking for the whole year!
Workout Total:
5 hrs of Ultimate

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Saturday, May 19

Crack Practice Bell

What the hell?

Who is that other person in the car? Where is she going?

[sinking feeling]

I think we're going to Bell Crack before practice to drop her off. Suspicions confirmed. We're gonna be ~2 hours late to a shortened practice. This explains the cryptic message that I received from Malcolm this morning. Some nonsense about distance and fields. It was garbled and I didn't hear it until it was too late. Or to re-appropriate the Big Ceas: "Alea Iacta Est." I suppose that in this case, getting in the car and going to Bell Crack to drop Yana (Iana?) the Canadian off is like crossing the Rubicon, the captains would fill in for the Roman Senate, and we're starting a civil war within Pike over the necessity of a pre-determined start time for practice. Yup, I'm gonna stand by that quote.

We definitely got lost going to the Bell Crack fields. I think I've gotten lost going there every time I've gone. Or at least I've missed a turn or something dumb. Or my ride ("Let's call him Josh W. No, that's too obvious...uhhh... let's say J. Weisstuch.") forgot his cleats. We drop her off and drive to practice, 45 minutes back the way we came.

As we arrive, we're going over zone something or other. Assorted dirty looks are give and received. Sweet. Worked on some zone D/O in vaguely breezy conditions. I think there was a short game of some kind and my team came from ahead to lose. Practice record drops to 8-2. Playing .800 ball ain't bad. Really coulda used that ninth win so that my personal baseball-style standings would include a 9-1 "L10" column.

Practice finishes with some lightish conditioning, knowing that a not-insignificant portion of the team is headed over to Bell Crack to play on various teams. Jamie and I ride over to join our evil Deceptisomething brethren. We sent 5 men (Tim, TC, evelKeven, Schmucker and Tous) over for the first game and half of the second game. When we arrived, it was 8-2 at half of the second game. Then we played two more games and had some pizza and beer. At least one point occurred during an intense 20 minute rain/wind extravaganza. No fewer than 4 people asked if they were going to make the blog for particular plays. I don't remember who they were, so BRANDON, you're out of luck.

Tangent: Every time I hear Brandon's name, I think of the scene in The Big Lebowski where the Dude wakes up in the police cruiser and sings the theme song to Branded:

He was innocent. Not a charge was true. And they say he ran awaaaaaay. BRANDED!

No I don't know why and no, I can't stop it.

4-0 on the first day, off to the Rhodes Family Compound for the evening with Julie and Jamie. Gametime tomorrow? 11am. We won't be late because Julie's got a game at 9am. Boooooo.
Workout Total:
2 hours practice
4? hours of Bell Cracking Coedness

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Friday, May 18

I Hate Stairs

Dragged myself to Josh's place for a stair workout+leg circuit.

When I arrived at ~7:10, I was moving very slowly with eyes half-opened. The week had not been kind to me. Not quite enough sleep. Too many late nights. Not eating quite as well as I liked. No matter, I'm sure Josh will provide a bit of enthusiasm.

His first words as I arrived were "WHAT? I just woke up."

I can feel the energy.

Apparently, I had just woken him from a nap. I had just slept on the crowded subway ride up to his place, but that was not useful. Falling asleep on the subway is never good. You're in public, constantly being brushed up against, constantly worried that you just missed your stop and you have the vague feeling that someone is always staring at you. This is because they are all staring at the idiot who fell asleep as they wait for something bad, though entertaining, to happen to you so that they'll have another good "New York Story" to share with the boys back home.

We started our workout with 3 rounds of 6 flights of stairs for a warmup. WE may have done something else to round it out and get the blood pumping a little harder, but I can't recall. Then we launched into the leg circuit (20 squats, 30 sec rest, 20 lunges, 30 sec rest, 20 step ups, 30 sec rest, 10 jump squats, 60 sec rest, repeat) five times through and then did assorted other groupings of stairs. Ended with "Go up 6 or 7 flights skipping as many stairs as possible." That shit was hard. I don't think I ever want to do that again. This means that this stair exercise, along with the "up three stairs and down one" are probably the perfect things for me to do. Shoot. I ended up doing some combination of 2 stairs with my left leg and 3 with my right that left me very unhappy and rather uneven. Actually, I'm just lucky I didn't fall on my face and die.

Hung out for a little while talking about PoNY and Pike, the under-appreciated art of playing the bass, tried to remember how the guitar part for "Twist" went (as well as how the original version compared to the later version), as well as listened to the Mets beat the Yanks on the radio. None of it was substantial, but neither of us really wanted to walk at the moment. Legs were doing that whole quivering thing. Yow. That'll be good tomorrow morning at practice and heading through Bell Crack.

Saw a bit of the Spurs eliminating the Suns. Boo to that. I appreciate the Spurs and all, but I really like watching Nash dominate the game in such strange ways. Ah well. Jazz-Spurs will be a good series, though it pretty much looks to be a lock that the Spurs will meet Day-twah in the Finals. Though if LeBron realizes that every ref in the league is paid to protect him and starts driving to the hoop on every play, all of Day-twah could foul out by halftime.
Workout Total:
25 Minutes Stairs
20 Minutes Leg Circuit
20 Minutes Stretching

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Played another league game today.

The results followed this season's trend. We won pretty big. Maybe 15 or 20 points. They made a couple of runs and were bitching to the officials for the whole game. Blech. I can't stand that shit. That reminds me of a column on ESPN from today. It is about the pickup ballers who you hate to see but cannot escape.

If you scroll all the way down, the description of "The Playground Sheed" may seem strikingly familiar to you. Particularly relevant passage:

He isn't trying to bully or get over on you. Not consciously. He genuinely believes he's innocent. In the name of victory, he's psyched himself out, gulped some I-didn't-do-it Kool Aid of his own making. All of which makes it pointless to engage him, given that pickup basketball lacks the equivalent of a technical foul.

Why is that relevant? Go back and read it and replace "pickup basketball" with "ultimate." Yup. That about says it all.

As for hockey, I was watching the scroll at the bottom of some sports broadcast and it mentioned that Teemu Selanne had "broken his five-game pointless streak." I couldn't help but laugh. It is good to have a reminder that even professional athletes occassionally lack a raison d’ĂȘtre. Er, I mean a raison d’ĂȘtre.

Workout Total:
44 Minutes Basketball

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Wednesday, May 16

This is not 'Nam, there are Rules

The Spurs-Suns game was fantastic.

The Suns came out with a ton of energy and pushed their crowd as far as they could. Stave Nash is a true baller and leader. No doubt about it. Dagger threes, perfect dishes, even strong defensive plays.

The reffing was still questionable for a game in Phoenix with a couple of odd calls going the way of the Spurs (like that unconscionable foul on the Barbosa handoff-- just play on and stop rewarding the flopper). It isn't necessarily that the refs are intentionally doing this sort of thing, but the tendency to reward the flopping player is killing me and the game. I hated it when I played soccer, and I still can't stand it now. Players should be encouraged to play through contact, not to drop like Glass Joe in Mike Tyson's Punchout. Yeah, refs get fooled, but they're professionals.

Why take the toughness out of the game? Similarly, this "suspend someone for one game for crossing the line" smacks of a certain Sobchakian logic: "You're over the line!" What sort of example does this sort of precedent set? There are no gray areas in life? You should not ever take a step toward someone you know to help/defend them if they are attacked?

Charles Barkley said it best (close parahprase): "I had a rule when I was playing too. If I got knocked on my ass and you didn't come out on the court, I was gonna kick your ass later." You're goddamned right, Chuck. Your teammates are your family. You're supposed to jump to their defense. I'm way more concerned if you're not stepping up to my defense than if you are.

In this situation, the players involved (Diaw and Stoudemire) didn't even get to the fracas. They thought better of it/were restrained. They had no effect on what was going on. None. And now they're out? One of them is a "cheese-eatin' surrender-monkey" for crissakes!

Anyway, I'm excited for Game 6 on Friday to see if Amare can bring the one-handed thunder. The Bulls will get demolished on Thursday, btw. Someone made the mistake of waking the Pistons. Also, could someone please send the memo to LeBron that if he goes to the rim that he can foul out the entire Nets team? He'll get every single call so long as the throws himself at the basket. He's got to work on his alpha-dog status.
Workout Total:
Leg Circuit (18 min)
15 minute grip workout
15 min core
10 minute wobble board

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Tuesday, May 15

Resting Resting

Taking a day off from training today.

In looking back at the last week or so, it seems that I've been doing at on of leg-intensive stuff without quite getting enough rest. Taking today off will also prepare me a bit better for the next stretch of hard days:

  • Leg Circuit on Wednesday
  • Basketball on Thursday
  • Stairs/Leg Circuit on Friday
  • Practice/Bell Crack on Saturday
  • Bell Crack on Sunday
  • Leg Circuit on Monday
  • Lighter workout on Tuesday
  • Leg Circuit on Wednesday
  • Basketball on Thursday
  • Road Trip to Ohio on Friday
That should all work out just fine, provided I try to sleep enough. Possible complete rest day on Tuesday as well. It feels like the right stretch to push a little harder though, so who knows.
Workout Total:
30 min Stretching

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Monday, May 14

Whatever (I Had a Dream)

"I had a dream last night..."

Upon waking I wasn't sure if it had happened during the Pike Invite or not.

I was marking someone very well. Bouncing lightly on my toes, reading his weight-shifts and eyes. He faked a flick and tried to break me with a high release backhand. Not so fast. I knew it was coming. As he released the disc next to my ear, I shot my hand toward my shoulder (picture flexing your bicep) and clapped the disc between my hand and my shoulder. I stone cold caught it. I was holding the disc onto my shoulder with my hand. Fuck Yes!

Him: "Foul."
Me: "You are a fucking cheater!"

From that point, I went on a rage-fueled rant of Drunken Darling proportions. The things that I said were the worst that you could say to a person. He kept standing there
quietly repeating the word 'foul' as I berated him, his ancestry, his girlfriends and anything else about him that came to mind. The word "CHEATER" was not only a centerpiece in my thought process, but it was literally on fire. I could see it in my mind. The word kept growing bigger and burning brighter. Hotter. The Pressure increases. My Volume increases. I keep yelling and the other player keeps repeating 'foul' only softer now.

It is almost as though he's about to cave and let me win. But he doesn't. He starts crying instead. Now he's repeating the word softly and sobbing. My Rage only grows. At long last someone tells me to stop. More like I finally heard the one voice emerge out of the huge crowd of people watching this game who were all telling me to stop. I look around, Righteous Rage fully intact, and realize that the person telling me to stop is none other than evelKeven.

Shocked, I stop. I'm still chock-full-o-rage and want nothing more than to rain fire and brimstone down onto this sinner until he repents, but something clicks. Fer fucksake, if evelKeven is telling me I've gone to far, perhaps I have.

I stop and stare at the player I was marking. I recognize him. I wake up. I have the previously referenced Butthole Surfers song in my head (From Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet, of course). I can still remember his face even now as I type this. I've played against him before and I'll probably play against him again.

When next I see him, I'll not be afraid. I'll know that he'll make a horrible call, but I won't blow my gasket because I've learned that lesson. He won't back down no matter how much hot air I spew. Instead, I will walk a different path. I'll look him dead in the eyes and calmly say "contest," confident that I have already conquered my demon.

One day he too will be challenged, but I will not fill the role of demon in his morality play.
Workout Total:
15 Min Max Strength
10 Min Wobble Board
10 Min Core
5 Min Shoulder Rehab

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Sunday, May 13

Pike Invite, Day Two

After losing to BSX in the last round on Saturday, we had BSY on Sunday morning.

The weather was a touch windier/chillier and the warmups didn't make me quite as, well, warm. I think I'll need to make sure I have warmups in which to get the sweat going no matter how warm I expect it to get.

This Boston team included Batten, Funboy, Mullen, Teddy, Fortunat and more (at least I think all of them were a part of this split-- some of this might actually be me combining memories from Finals with this game). Notes are sparse, but we continued working some specific combinations in upwind and downwind zone D points. I don't remember exactly what was going on with the O team here, but we found ourselves down 4-8 at half. I had a nice sequence of throwing a downwind backhand goal against a Boston zone (Batten almost got a fantastic D on this one-- When Julie puts the pictures up, there's a good shot of this one) followed by an upwind backhand goal on the next point. Overall, this was one of the first games in which I really started to get in a groove being on the field with the D team. I actually started to anticipate the way my teammates were going to react to things. Had another goal thrown at some point (Floaty IO to Ringo) and another throw that should have been a goal was dropped. I need to regain touch on my short, downwind flicks. Game ended with an 8-15 loss.

Next round would be the semis. Since we had 6 teams, two of whom were split squads, all teams formed like Voltron for regional matchups Boston vs PoNY and Pike vs Truck Stop. I have no idea what happened in the Boston/NY game other than a Boston victory.

Our game against Truck started off with trading to 3-3. Then TS made a little run to take half 6-8. At some point during this run, I had the disc after a turn and launched a huck to what I thought was a wide-open Ringo (of all people). Turns out that "Wide-open" in this case roughly translates to "Completely Covered." I didn't see his defender at all. Bad Dusty. Of note: Someone on TS let evelKeven call subs. I found this unendingly entertaining. Then again, I'm an asshole.

Second half, our D team made a nice run to go up 15-14. I have no details as I think I spent most of the time encouraging my brother from the sideline. At 15-14, I got back in and had quite the sequence with shifty lefty Sean: I'm covering him as TS is going upwind. I luck myself into a point block. Sweet! I get downfield, cut back under, go to throw a flick and I hear that most peculiar of noises: The unmistakable thock of plastic against hand. I got worked for a point block! Sour! As I look to see who the defender is, I realize that it is Sean, and I can't help but smile and laugh. TS turfs a throw, we work it up with some dumps/swings and completions and I find myself trapped on the sideline being forced flick. I hold the disc a touch too long, look tot he dump and see that the biggest George I've ever seen is covering the dump. Not so good. Daylight in the back left corner of the endzone. Blade, goal, game: 16-14.

There are so many things to work on from this game--we're so far from our potential right now. Similarly, TS has a bunch of good players to choose from and it looks like they're hungry after Nationals last year. I'm betting that MA Regionals will be an all-out war this year.

As for the finals against Boston, well, we were down 4 or 5 to 8 at half, we dropped the O point out of half, some young guy named Watson (for you Dartmouth readers) worked me over on a nice cut (I'm still learning this whole "defense" thing), I managed a D on a huck to someone else, threw two turnovers and remarked that Seigs moves *very* strangely and is kinda spastic in the Boston zone. We ended up losing 11-15 or something, so we had a better second half, but there was really nothing particularly good about this game. It looks like the Boston team is going to be very talented, drawing the obvious Twisted Metal and DoG guys as well as pulling guys from Slow White and the plethora of area colleges. I wonder what their identity will be as the season progresses? It'll be interesting to see them at Boston as they start finalizing their roster a little more. Some good players are going to be left in the lurch, for sure.
Workout Total:
8 Hours of ultimate

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Saturday, May 12

Pike Invite, Day One

As expected, the weather was beautiful.

But before that experience, Julie (the official unsponsored and sparsely thanked Pike Photographer for the weekend) and I had to get to the fields. This meant getting up at ~6:30, packing (I would have done that the night before, but I couldn't stay awake during the GS/Utah game) and brewing some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from McNulty's. Very tasty, but more wine-inflected in flavor than the previously mentioned Mexican Altura Coatepec, which has more of a chocolate/toffee flavor.

Then we got on the PATH train to go into NYC so that Malcolm could give us a lift to the Mercer County fields. While waiting for Malcolm on the ride, we tried to get some passable breakfast (I was too lazy to cook this morning and Johnny L's Bagels was not yet open) at the Dunkin' Donuts on 33rd and 6th ave only to learn that they didn't have anything that required cooking. That is, they had donuts, bagels, muffins and cookies, but no eggs, sausage, ham, bacon or cheese. What the hell kind of Dunkin' Donuts is this?

Move on, get on the road. Grab food at Dunkin Donuts on Route 1 in Jersey.

Got the fields pretty well ahead of time to get throwing and all of that. Someone conned me into leading warmups this year. I blame only myself. We did a slightly abbreviated active warmup, into some drills into extra throwing/pulling time, into Game 1:

We came out pretty strong against Truck Stop X, going up 2-0. I think I threw the second goal (an upwind flick to tryout Eddie Peters from Pitt). Sweet. Pulling downwind. I came out and soon enough, we were down 4-6. I'm not that good at math, but I think this means they went on a 6-2 run. And, by my calculations (and spotty memory) that means that TSX scored ~4 D points and 2 O points while Pike scored 2 O points. That's the pain of playing on the D team-- sometimes you watch your O team hemorrhage points. We then stopped the bleeding and went on our own 3-1 run. I'm pretty sure I threw the last goal of the half (also to Eddie) as well, but I could be wrong.

At half, I noticed that it seemed that TS had pretty much broken into E-Pig and Vault/TS05. I suppose that rumor about Boston was true, just not about Boston. We seemed to be playing against the younger, somewhat more athletic half of TS in this one. We came out in the second half going on a 2-0 run (One O point, one D point) to be up 10-7. Don't remember much at this point, but it looks like we essentially traded out (5-5) to win 15-12.

Second game was against PoNY (including Pike alum/Tight Ass Country Club member Bailey Russel and Kaimana Teammate/Upper West Side Tower of Pain owner/operator Josh Weisstuch). We opened up trading to 2-2 and then pulled ahead to a 4-2 lead. In one of the first two D points I ended up on Josh after a transition and as he started making an in-cut I thought to myself "This will be exciting!" As I was on his hip coming in, the disc was released and both Josh and I realized that the disc was sailing over our heads into the endzone for a goal. Of course, we should have known better. Bailey had the disc. I may have thrown two goals here, but I'm not sure. We focused work on some new zone D looks and trying some new combinations/positions for established players as well as getting tryouts in the game for an opportunity to shine. We maintained the 2 goal lead to take it to halftime, 8-6.

Coming out of half, we got broken immediately, then scored, were scored on and got broken again. 9-9. The rest of the game is a bit fuzzy and the notes are sparse
(Which is surprising because I remember Josh asking me if I was even playing in this game, which meant I was spending a ton of time on the sideline. Perfect for a tryout tournament), but I do recall that we continued working on varying zone looks and getting younger players matched up on strong players and seeing how they fared. We ended up with a 15-13 victory.

Of note, today's food included oranges, fresh coconut, nuts and the ever-present Ultima Replenisher. Went pretty well. Fresh coconut seems to give me a slight throat irritation though. Small price to pay for that tasty treat. On the other hand, opening those things is dangerous, as I learned the night before. I'm lucky I still have 10 fingers and 2 hands. Goddamn coconuts always trying to protect themselves. I'm working on narrowing down what combination of actual foods (NOT bars or other processed foodstuffs) works best for me during a tournament. Gotta find the right mix of protein, fat, unprocessed sugar, water and other assorted properties that work best. Pineapples, mangoes, grapes, oranges, berries, assorted nuts, beef jerky, avocados and coconuts all pass the mustard, so to speak. Apples and bananas don't seem to do as well for me. I want to stay away from breads/crackers when possible. If I need sugar to hit my bloodstream really quickly, some chocolate seems to work really well. Thus far, though I've been playing fewer points than I anticipate later in the season, all of this has worked very well.

Next game was against TSY. This seemed to be the older TS guys including evelKeven, Damon and AJ. Not sure entirely what happened in this game, but we continued working on the same things and trying players out with different combinations of players on the field. We took half at 8-5. I remember at least one thrower asking if I was within 10 feet (could have bene AJ) when I was likely within 4 feet. I think that the new disc space rule is freaking out some throwers who are used to being impregnated by the mark. During this game, like many other, the new pick rule came into play again and again. It is still really irritating. At some point this weekend, a thrower did not acknowledge the pick, threw a turnover and somehow got the disc back. Not only is the rule irritating, no one plays by all parts of it, just the parts that they can remember at the time. For the love of god, give me a ref who knows the rules instead of a group of 42 players and spectators watching the game who don't. Not sure what the final score of this game was, or how much I played in it, but we won. 15-11 maybe?

Final game was against half of Boston. BSX, I think. Team included Doug Moore, Ryan Todd, Micah Flynn and Jasper Hoitsma. I think they had ~10 dudes. Interestingly enough, I played on D point and found that our team was down 1-7. Not good. Played an O point, caught a goal, played a D point, threw a goal, played a D point, got out-positioned by Doug in zone and they walked up the field for an 3-8 halftime lead. Talk about lack of focus. This was craptacular. Jasper killed us with quick breaks, the Toddinator put up some great hucks(!), Doug kept playing smart (damn him) and it seems that at some point in the last year or so Micah learned how to throw. In the second half, I was playing an O point and, made a deep cut, started to come back under and found myself on the ground in pain. Confused, I looked for an entry wound from a stray bullet while one of the two Boston guys in red (can't remember if it was "The Flash" or the other guy) was kind enough to call a timeout. Turns out there was no stray entry wound. I had just been tripped up by one of the rolling hills on the fields of Mercer County. Aw hell. It hurt, but I was sure that I'd be fine by the next day. I walked over to the sideline, sat down and got a quick visit from my parents to check on me, and mom the doctor said I just tweaked it, nothing major. I decleated and sat out the rest of the game, which was painful both in terms of the ankle and watching us suck. 8-15 loss.

After the day, Jon Fink was kind enough to host a BBQ at his place in Philly. Jamie and I decided to attend. The food was tasty, the beer was beer, the company was Pike, the house was nice, the rain was light and the brownies had flax seeds in them. I know the last one is odd, but it is true. The brownies were no worse for the healthy addition. They still tasted like brownies.

Went back to the Rhodes family compound for the night and fell asleep watching Suns/Spurs. I think I was tired. Didn't sleep too well that night.
Workout Total:
8 hours of ultimate

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Friday, May 11

Pike Invite

Two-day Pike Invite this weekend...

It should be another good early-season matchup of multiple quality teams. It should be exciting to see how Boston looks on the weekend (though I heard an interesting rumor that they were essentially splitting into Metal and DoG for the weekend. Which actually seems more crazy than interesting). Same interest in seeing all the guys out for C-Big Potomavaultstop.

More interesting is the prospect of the pater familas coming out to spectate this weekend. Hopefully he won't sell us into slavery if we play poorly. Perhaps mom will make it out as well, we shall see. With the reasonably intense traveling for ultimate, this is one of the few occasions that we play close enough to home (in non-summer league) that the family can see their male offspring waste time playing ultimate instead of a real sport like basketball (the first sport all of us Rhodes kids learned) or soccer (the sport that us Rhodes kids spent the most time playing).

No matter the family things, we'll be getting a good look at some tryouts, getting younger players on-field experience, enjoying the beautiful weather and hating the fields.
Workout Total (Planned):
20 min Stretching
10 min Shoulder rehab
10 min Wobble Board
Watch GSW/Jazz
Watch Paul do stand-up

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Thursday, May 10

Another Game, Another Win

We took on a group of guys in their late 30s (and up) last night...

With two notable exceptions. One guy was about 6'4" 250 and the other was about 5'11" and very clearly someone who had spent years playing ball. They scored the first couple of baskets and then we were engaged and pulled away as the game progressed.

I had my share of steals and a couple of layups. I also had my shot completely swatted by their big guy on a breakaway. He did a good job of staying far away enough that I couldn't create body contact while remaining close enough to close on me as I went up. We won by ~20 and got called "a bunch of bitches." I'm not at all sure why.

The refs were absolutely favoring the other team in their calls, and admitted as much after the game. "You were KILLING them, we had to try to keep them in it. You kept pressing throughout the game, what did you want us to do?" Well, we kept pressing because it is more fun than letting the game slow down and packing the lane while they clang jumpers.

After I got home, I did the second part of the leg circuit (same as the first) and a quick core workout. Had a salmon fillet for a nice late dinner while watching the Pistons come back and demoralize the Bulls. I hate and love the Pistons all at once. I love Billups, Rip, Prince and Sheed (Maybe Sheed most of all) but CANNOT STAND C-Webb. Such a conflict of interests watching them play.
Workout total:
44 min of basketball
20 min leg circuit
15 min core
15 min stretching
10 min shoulder rehab

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Wednesday, May 9

Never Whole

Occasionally, I am reminded of the ACL surgeries I've had...

Though the context varies my immediate reaction is usually "Well, that's in the past, so whatever." But something deeper is usually triggered. As I look down at the scars on my knees (One big one down the center of my right knee, two smaller ones on the inner part of my left knee, and those little arthroscopic holes surrounding each) a twinge of sorrow always sneaks through my emotional armor.

When you go in for ACL surgery, you're agreeing to have your body altered. Either to have something alien added or parts of your own body repurposed.

For my right knee (the one I tore playing soccer senior year of High School), the surgeon's repair of choice was the"Gold Standard" (a phrase he would unendingly repeat during discussions) of cutting out the middle third of my patellar tendon of the same knee, part of my patella and part of my tibia, drilling a hole through my femur and tibia and then assisting the bone-to-bone graft in those holes with screws. He also performed a partial meniscectomy while he was in there. My knee is still scarred and deformed. The "donor site" on my tibia is like a ditch you can see if you compare knees and easily feel with your fingers. Don't press hard though, that motherfucker still hurts. If I bang me knee on a stair I'll likely be in debilitating pain for 5-10 minutes. Oh, and a big patch of the outside of my calf is surface-numb. And I can't completely straighten my leg.

For my left knee (the one I tore playing ultimate junior year of college), the surgeon swore by replacing the ACL with the semitendinosus hamstring tendon from the same leg. The surgeon cut/pulled out one part of my hamstring on the same leg, drilled a hole in in my femur and tibia, and attached the tendon using some sort of bone-adhesive screw and loop procedure. I'm not sure which method, exactly, this surgeon preferred. While he was inside my knee, he sewed up part of my meniscus, performed a related partial
meniscectomy and widened the intercondylar notch. My knee is still scarred and deformed. One particularly notable pea-sized bit of scar tissue gives me a horrible burning sensation if I sit with my leg at approximately 85 degree angle for too long. Oh, and there is a larger portion of the outside of my calf that is surface-numb, as is a portion of the interior of my ankle. Also, my left hamstring will always be ~5-10% weaker than my right in addition to being unable to pull my knee up to my ass without assistance.

The sadness isn't due to the affect it has had on me athletically, (Even though I still can't jump as high or run as fast I am more determined than ever) but rather the what it drained from me emotionally. Rehab is fucking hard. Those first couple of days/weeks after surgery are pain pain and pain. You can't stand up for more than 15 seconds before the pain is unbearable. You can't get to the bathroom on your own. You can't do anything other than elevate, ice and push through the tears in rehab.

The sadness extends to the notion that, in some way, my body wasn't built right. In some fundamental way, I'm less than everyone else. My knees weren't sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of competition. As a result, the rest of my legs have been ravaged by surgery to compensate for my structural shortcomings. They'll never be the same, and I can never go back.

Surgery masks the larger issue and causes other problems. I'm not whole again, I'm differently put together.

The knees don't often hurt these days (save for that one fucking bitch-ass piece of scar tissue), and when they do, it isn't the troublesome sort of pain. I'm just sore from a good workout or a tough game/practice. That actually feels good, in a way.

The thing is, there is no way I'd be playing ultimate without suffering that first torn ACL. I'd still be playing volleyball. The thing is, I probably wouldn't be playing for Pike if I didn't tear that second ACL. I wouldn't feel the same need to prove myself everyday.

When I look at those scars, I almost feel the pain again.
When I look at those scars, I definitely feel the weakness again.
When I look at those scars, I know I can overcome anything.
Workout Total:
2 hours throwing in Central Park

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Tuesday, May 8

Goddamned formats

After reading all of the talk on rsd (again), tarrblog, and more...

The rematches still don't bother me.

What does bother me (as I briefly posted a while back) is the sheer number of games played in a given day. Toss aside the "two games and go home" argument. As Colin writes, you can always schedule more consolation games. The larger issue, exacerbated in a 14 team format, is playing more than 3 games per day.

By making Regionals an endurance test, are we actually selecting the best teams to compete at Nationals? (Necessary disclaimer: The Formats Committee put in tons of hard work and I love y'all for it)

I've looked through the format manual (which is surprisingly interesting, I might add... wait... I mean... I'm not an ultimate nerd, I swear!) and even just looking at the 16 team 1-4 advance formats, some ugly situations can occur. 8 games in 2 days (Most Pool play formats, and on occasion in brackets)? That's so much ultimate! In the 16.2 Pool format, one team in the game-to-go can be on their 2nd game of the day and 6th game of the weekend, while their opponent can be on their 4th game of the day and 8th of the weekend? Just because the original seeding was messed up? Note that this would also be that team's fifth consecutive elimination game as opposed to the other team's first.

Similarly, other formats can be similarly back-breaking in terms of endurance, but are often more considerate in terms of the number of games played (specifically on the same day) by two teams in the game to go.

After looking through the formats and comparing them with the Nationals format (for Club) I feel that there are a couple things that come to mind:

  • Rarely, if ever, have teams play 4 games on Sunday. If teams must play 4 games, make it on Saturday if at all possible.
  • If a team must play 4 games on Sunday, they should be playing against a team that had also played 4 games on Sunday.
  • Never have teams with a difference of 2 games played in one day play each other. (We can also call this "For the love of God, stop using the 16.2 Pool Play format.")
  • Even the regional winner should not have just one game on Sunday. In reality, there are only two teams (in each division) who will play at a tournament where there is one game on a day. Why would we want to mimic this at Regionals? Shouldn't we work to select teams that can play 3 games on day one and 3 on day two?
Complicating thoughts:
  • That damn three way tie for first. If we could determine a way to adequately (see this episode of Newsradio [also, part one and part two] for a hilarious extended rumination on adequacy) resolve this, we could get make life much easier.
  • What about the three-way tie for last? Why do we eliminate the bottom of those three teams, but not the bottom team in a three way tie for first? Sure, in the tie for first scenario, a team may have only lost to the best team at the tournament, but in the tie for last scenario, two teams get to move on but another does not. If we feel comfortable with this elimination, why do we not feel comfortable with the 3-way tie for first elimination? The point is that after 3 rounds of play in a bracket (16.2 and 16.3. 16.1 has no bracket and 16.4 is a whole different animal), you arrive at 8 teams. After 3 rounds of pool play (16.2 and 16.3), you're down to 12 because we want to avoid the 3-way tie. Why not use the more efficient format? Why pack in 4 games?
  • More games for teams that lose early. If they want more games, provide consolation games. If they want to delude themselves into thinking they can advance, why should we lead them on? I mean, if you lose two games on the first day, there is a very good chance that you should not advance.
  • The argument that came up in the aforementioned rsd thread about the relative strength of teams at Nationals vs Regionals seems like a load of crap to me. We should not base our formats on the expected relative strength of teams. Just because we expect there to be a bigger discrepancy between 1 and 16 at Regionals than at Nationals does not mean that we should play more games at Regionals.
  • If we want to make the formats independent of seeding, why do we bother seeding the teams? Why not use a random draw? Ideally, and I think everyone agrees, there would be a "regular season" of some kind that would establish seeding (this would simplify the formats as well), but there is no regular season in ultimate. So why bother seeding? Why are we trying to assign seeds that the formats are designed to make irrelevant? Either the seeds are relevant and the formats are not properly designed, or the seeds are irrelevant and it is pointless to assign them. Seems unnecessary somehow. Also, we could get rid of inevitable discussions like "Team X beat Team Y in January in an unreported scrimmage" or "Team A beat Team B but team B was missing 72 vital players" or "You can't count that tournament because we played under a foot of snow."
Anyway, I think that's it for now.
Workout Total:
10 min core
15 mintues wobble board
10 minutes shoulder rehab
15 minutes stretching

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Monday, May 7

Sundays are the Hardest Days

Well, at least when I'm not at tournament.

I wake up sore, likely planning to do a quick workout in the morning. I don't really want to do anything active past a quick workout because I'm usually exhausted. And that's good, but the desire to cram junk food into my face increases by the hour. I usually manage to eat a solid breakfast and a reasonable lunch, but by about 3pm or so, I have a hard time staying away from making impulse purchases from the uber-convenient, though generally shady, delis of Jersey City.

Ben and Jerry' s taunts me from behind the frost-covered glass. Fuck you, you damn dirty sugar-pedaling hippies!

Pizza, Indian, Thai and Chinese food all beckon me from their easy-to-dial phone numbers. Hell, I can even order that shit online! Meanwhile, Dunkin Donuts (Johnny L's Bagels is closed on Sundays) tries to grab my attention with mass-produced doughy badness and sorry (but still respectable and caffeinated!) coffee.

All of these callings are enhanced by the feeling that I accomplished something at practice the day before. That I can afford to have some bad-for-me food because I worked hard as hell yesterday anddamnitI'mreallyhungry. Of course, I eat well most of the time so why not indulge?

On some Sundays I win, some Sundays I lose. I'm more likely to win if there is football to distract me all day. I'm less likely to win if there is sub-par basketball to distract me. Oddly, if it is a "Lazy Sunday" in true SNL fake-song style, it is easier to resist temptation.

This past Sunday, I lost. That fucking Ben (or was it Jerry?) roped me in with a pint of ice-cream on a sunny day. And then the Thai food came calling. I talked myself down to a seared pepper-tuna salad and an order of fried dumplings, but sticking to the original plan of having my leftover chicken w/ steamed broccoli from the previous night's dinner would have been much better.

I'll teach you yet, Sunday. Maybe not this Sunday, maybe not the next, but soon and for the rest of my life.
Workout Total:
20 min Leg Circuit (5 circuits, 30 sec between exercises, 90 seconds between circuits)
10 min core workout
shoulder work
20 min stretching

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Sunday, May 6

More Alumni Chest Pounding!

NYU at Nationals!

Hell Yes!
Which was the last team/school to meet all of the following qualifications AND make Nationals?

  • Owns Zero Fields
  • Has a combative (at best) club sports coordinator
  • Does not have a Quad
  • 95% of students do not have cars on campus
  • Most students are not from the area
  • No easily accessible summer league
  • Has minuscule (and antiquated) gym space for 50,000 students (17,000 undergrads)
  • Varsity Sports are an afterthought, let alone Club Sports
Well, I couldn't come up with one aside from NYU's women's team, the Violet Femmes. If I'm wrong, to quote Principal Skinner: "Prove me wrong, children. Prove me wrong."

I'm truly in awe of how hard this team worked to achieve their goals. As an alum, I can only dream of going back in time an finding a way to spur my team onto such heights as, well, making Regionals would have been a nice place to start.

I'm unendingly proud of the Femmes and their accomplishments. If I'm lucky, I'll make it out to Columbus for Day Two. If I'm not, I'll just have to keep calling for updates.

The only advice at this point is:

Don't settle for being 'just happy to be there.'

Fight for more, or that's all you'll be happy for.

Workout Total:
30 min Stretching
10 minutes slow lower/upper body ROM work
Shoulder rehab

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Saturday, May 5

First Cuts

After practice today, Pike made the first round of cuts for 2007.

The practice started with a long set of dynamic and active warmups which were pretty well received by the team as a whole. There was some repetition that we are working to minimize, but the general consensus seemed to be that the set of warmups, overall, was strong. Suh-weet.

Did a little break-mark drill, a lane D drill, a handler-centric throwing drill and then worked on some new offensive wrinkles for 07. Flexible Strategies. That's right, the Police show up again in this sorry no-account blog. No lyrics this time as the tune is instrumental. As you might imagine, the musical lines are, uh, flexible.

We then had Heckman break us into teams (no fun splits to report this time) so that the tryouts would get opportunities to prove themselves (returners too!) on relatively balanced teams and in roles that the team anticipates them filling. We scrimmaged thrice, with my team going 2-1 (I did play with two different teams, however) taking my record at practice to 8-1. Not too bad-- I wonder if anyone can top it thus far.

I had some (one?) throwing error when I thought I had a ton more field to throw into and then as I realized I didn't, had to redirect the force into a hanging blade instead of a rip 35 yards out the back. Nope-- it was two. That bastard Schmucker got a footblock on me in zone D. That's the first point block on me that I can remember in about 3 years in a game situation. Marking drills are a little different, I think. I asked him about it and I think I know what I need to work on to prevent that one. He says that my eyes told him where I was throwing. Assessing with hindsight, I know he's right-- I telegraphed that pass.

After practice, the captains did the unpleasant work of making some cuts and breaking the news to players individually. I do not envy them this task in any way. The cuts this year will be especially difficult as we have far more returners (~25) than last year (~10). That's 15 more guys that a new player will need to be definitively better than in order to make the team. I do not envy their odds in any way.

I'm reminded of the season that I tried out with Pike (2003). I lucked into a situation in which my contribution was not needed immediately and I was given room to develop over the next couple of years. It certainly didn't hurt that I openly addmitted to knowing very little about ultimate at the time and that I strived to learn as much as possible while being a good teammate. It was just a joy to be playing and practicing with so many dedicated players that I didn't care how little I played against other teams. I was just happy to be learning something about ultimate. Also, a number of Pittsburgh (All save for one, I think) players from the original Pike decided not to return for that season. If I had strolled into tryouts but one (significant) year later, I likely would not have made the team. I suppose it isn't *just* a test of skill to try out, but a question of timing as well.

Alumni Chest-pounding:

The NYU women are scheduled to play in the finals of ME Regionals tomorrow! Led by coaches (and fellow NYU alums) Zac Roy and Ken Chen as well as Callahan-worthy captain (and fellow escapee of the greater Scranton-Wilkes Barre area) Mia Iseman they will battle the Tim Johnson (Pike!) coached Delaware team in the finals. I would mention more players, but, well, then I'd have to explain why some were on the list and others not.
Workout Total:
5 hours of practice

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Friday, May 4

Warriors Move On!

Take that, you giganti-german!

Last night, the Warriors pushed through the Jelly Donut Mavs (that is, sugary-sweet on the outside and soft in the middle) with a classic gut-it-out performance from Baron and a "Nut up, it's the playoffs!" performance by the completely and utterly insane Stephen Jackson. The Mavs wilted under a constant barrage of momentum-changing threes highlighted by cutters slicing through the lane for quick strikes. All of this was amplified by the crushing weight of expectations and the unrelenting energy supplied by the Oakland crowd.

Honestly, the game was over once the Warriors jumped out to the early lead. There's no way that crowd was going to let them lose after that. Let me amend that-- given that Baron Davis came back into the game (no matter how solid Monta Ellis looked, he's no Baron) and was working at 70%, the game was over very early on. The combative crowd combined with the aforementioned Jelly Donut mental makeup of the Cuban constructed Mavericks sealed the deal.

It is interesting to watch Mavs games because their coach, Avery Johnson, was one of the most intense players in the league during his run. He never backed down, always pushed his teammates and willed himself to make the right plays on O and D. Perhaps the reason the Mavs are so weak between the ears is because they're relying on their coach to provide that same tenacity and toughness. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't work that way. That needs to come from a player on the floor. That player's got to push the team to new heights and never accept defeat. He's got to cajole them when the coach can't reach them. He's got to set the example to follow.

Anyway, the Mavs kept looking for someone to lead them, and no one stepped up. Stackhouse made a valiant effort (if you haven't figure it out, I'm a big Stack fan) but he's a bit long in the tooth to a put a team on his back for a full game.

Did the leg circuit tonight in anticipation of practice tomorrow. Gotta work on your day-to-day recovery time from training just like you work on everything else.
Workout Total:
Leg Circuit (20 minutes)
Core Workout (20 minutes)

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Thursday, May 3

Four on Five

The basketball game started normally, but then...

Approximately 6 minutes into the game, one of the players on the other team went up, swatted a shot, and came down awkwardly. The first thing I said was that you shouldn't jump so high unless you know how to land (or something to that effect). Turns out I'm just an asshole because he actually sprained his ankle.

Apparently, the rules of the league state that a team can/must play with four against five. I tried to explain to our team that we should just play 4v4, but that didn't go over well with either my team or the refs who insisted that we play with five. Really? We're going to play 4v5? This is like those damn summer league games where one team doesn't have enough women and as a result you play 4/2 v 4/3. I'd rather not waste my time, or at very least just play 6v6.

That being said, last year in Wudi, I'm pretty sure my team won a 6v7 game and a couple of years ago in PADA, we lost a 6v7 game on double game point. The bigger issue is that someone should just tell us beforehand so that I don't waste my time getting there and the like. Injuries are understandable, but shouldn't the team that had the consideration to show up with enough players either at the beginning of the game or to cover for an injury have the option of winning by forfeit? What happens more often than not is that the team that is down players starts to try to make reckless plays to compensate for the open space while the team with an extra player tries to play conservatively and not get injured.

This is exactly what happened at the basketball game. We played conservatively for the first half and settled for three pointers and jump shots. We led by about 8 or so at half. Half-time consisted of "They're playing a box-and-none. Get into the lane and make plays." Done.

We pressed and played our aggressive offensive/defensive style for the rest of the game and opened up a large lead, eventually cruising to a 76-57 victory. We clinched a spot in the playoffs with this victory. Sweet.

When I got home, I did some slow pushups at different angles to work ROM in the shoulder, worked with resistance bands and kept on stretching.
Workout Total:
44 minutes Basketball
10 minutes strength/rehab
20 minutes stretching

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