Wednesday, November 7

Nationals, Day 3 (Pt 1)

This day definitely started better than the last.

The Palm Bay Club early in the am is a nice place to be. Start the coffee up and take a little stroll around the way. The area is just secluded enough that you don't see many people. And of those you do, approximately 97.46% play ultimate. Then you have the opportunity to detrmine how social you are.

As you catch eyes with all of the ultimate players in the morning, how do you acknowledge them? Stare them down? Give a little nod? Smile? Say "Good morning" softly? Start a conversation? Shout something silly? I, of course, am too busy thinking these things to pick an option ("And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/Before the taking of a toast and tea.") and end up doing parts of every option I've considered. This ends with something like a half-wave/half-smile combined with a knowing grunt/cough that varies in volume. Not so slick, slick.

Get back into the condo and get to makin' breakfast. Omelet it is! Coffee is ready to go (I can tell by the heavenly smell!) and I've got the ipod on. I'd rather have speakers, but this'll do. Actually it better tunes out the awesome snoring power of the teammate sleeping on the fold-out couch. I think he's sleeping there in part because I refused to sleep in the same room on the grounds the only two outcomes over the first night is that I would get no sleep at all or he would wake up in a pool of his own blood. It really is a sound to be-hear.

Everyone gets up well in time today and since there will be no traffic (Hooray Saturday!) there is no real rush to get to the fields. Oh yeah, and we're playing in the shitbox. Not that I'm not still excited to be here, but it always take a bit of wind from your sails. Just a bit. In my mind, the important game today is the first one. Win that and you're 13/14. Lose that and you're 15/16. I mean... One guarantees that you finish ahead of two teams while the other guarantees you finish ahead of one team. Once you start falling down the ladder, I find that this is a good motivator for me. Or at least, the best motivator I've got to tell myself that these are big games. I get up more for big games. Maybe that's a virtue, maybe that's a fault, but that's who I am and I don't think I want to change it.

Get to the fields and take ultimate's version of "The walk of shame" to the furthest fields from anything. I mean, you can drive over and park closer to these fields, but then in your haste to get to the beer garden later, you might leave the car there. And still... the drive makes you feel even more isolated from the ultimate world. At least with the walk, you can run into some people you know and remember what it feels like to be warming up for the quarters on the big stage instead of shitbox games on the off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway stage.

My body is killing me today. My feet are aching and covered in blisters (this is what happens when you can't really run around in cleats for 3 weeks before the biggest 3-day tourney of the year), my throwing shoulder is feeling a little fatigued, and there's still the quad thing that never fully went away. And of course the usual mystery bruises and scrapes. Oh, but there's a really interesting injury too. My hands. My hands are swollen and bruised from clapping too much and too aggressively. That's odd. I don't think that has happened before, but it, uh, really hurts to catch, clap or slap fives. Not good times. This is what happens when you move to the D team from the O team. You become dumb enough to hurt yourself clapping. Damn.

Game time.

vs Doublewide, 9-13
We had some little tiffs with them when we were in Austin for Livelogic, but nothing crazy. I got to talk to Max a bit in those games which was cool. I've definitely played against a bunch of these guys outside of club ultimate (Goofball tourneys, somewhere else? I don't know.) and was a little surprised to see them down here. At some point, the frustration of both teams for being in this spot got the better of Max and Schmucker who had a little tussle. This led to the wonderful moment when your captains pull you apart, have little team meetings and tell everyone to stop being dicks. I'm never really sure if that is the right time to say something goofy or not. It might be. Regardless, we got over it and finished the game out. I think we took the lead early in this game and then managed to let it slip away late in the first half or early in the second half. I got my first actual D of the tourney at some point in this one. I mean, I had other teams throw the disc to me, or my guy threw it away with some help from the mark, but this was an actual block, which I don't remember happening before this. Handlers are irritating to cover. They played better than us and won it as our team kinda fell apart as the game went on.

I think the weekend had really begun to wear on people at this point. Losing 6 in a row can do that to you. Near the end of this one, I was playing a point and we eventually got scored on. I just kinda deflated when it happened. I was suddenly acutely aware that every step I took hurt like hell-- running and changing direction, doubly so. Up to that point, I had been able to put it out of my mind and power through. But the ball of negativity that our team had become combined with the ball of pain that my body had become to take it all out of me. I felt like the only thing that could make me play another point at this point was if my life actually depended on it. I then made a decision that I began to regret in the afternoon. I decided that I wouldn't play in the next game. I rationalized it in all kinds of ways in my head at the time, but in the end, it was quite likely the wrong decision.

Hindsight, as always, is 20/20.

In the parlance of our times, "Mistakes were made." Oh wait, that's just a copout. Mistakes weren't made. Mistakes were made by ME. Step up and own your fucking mistakes at very least.

Anyway, the tourney went on...

vs The Van Buren Boys, 11-10
Not sure how this game started or went really. I watched it, and I felt like we were winning the whole way, but then when the game ended it was much closer than the 15-10 victory I was expecting. I don't know what that means, but that's how it felt.

After the game, we had a little huddle and talked for a quick minute about what else was going on, where the quarters were and all of that. Talked about the season a little bit and that sort of thing. And then something completely unexpected happened. I found out that I was nominated for the Farricker Spirit Award. Huh? I mean, I think that I play a clean, principled and fair game but if someone asked me if I would ever win a spirit award, I would say that they're nuts. I mean... I'm kind of a jerk. As this went through my head and processed a bit, I actually started to think of myself as a pretty spirited player. Even when I get a little hot under the collar, I don't cheat and act in a respectful manner. I have made mistakes, but those mistakes all involved what I feel are completely reckless and dangerous plays that put players in harm's way with no actual reward in sight. No matter how nice a person you are, if you don't let people/players know that it is not appropriate to endanger you, your teammates or friends I feel you are no longer being nice, now you're being timid. They are different.

Anyway, forget that strange, tangential rumination on spirit and what it means to me, but the fact of it is that our team decided that I should have this award. I was really honored and touched. There was something about this, for Pike, actually being the "Team First" award and that made it mean a little more to me. "Thanks, guys. Sorry I let you down in that last game there. [Insert something that would make that excusable here]." is what I wanted to say. Instead I said nothing. I'm a weird dude.

After this, we headed to the beer tent for some, uh, beer. Or did we go grab some food first? I don't know. But eventually, we found out that the open semis would not, in fact, be held near the beer garden. This was upsetting. I know that the UPA is trying to be fair and to promote all of the division and all... but really? How many people watch the open semis vs the women's and mixed semis? (I think there's another "pickup" division at Nationals, but I saw no evidence of it) I tried to look for photo evidence of this, but I got bored. A great illustration would be a picture from the top of the pavilion or grandstand or whatever that is. It isn't even close. And the only reason it is even in the same ballpark is because the beer is closer to the other divisions. Got no problem with the other divisions, all joking aside, but let's acknowledge which division draws the bigger crowd, put them on the main fields and serve the beer there. Damn!

Anyway, some parts of the tale of the semis and the night will come later.


Ian said...

dumb enough to hurt yourself clapping.... damn....

dusty.rhodes said...

Also rabid enough to hurt myself clapping and crazy enough to do it again on day 3 despite the pain.

gapoole said...

I love the Prufrock reference. It reminds me of something my poetry prof mentioned the other day. Apparently, football linemen are more often the intellectuals of the team, as opposed to QBs and WRs. The reasoning was that linemen are naturally born with their physique, learn the intricasies of their position early on, and then have time to philosophize in their free time while the other guys are memorizing plays and routes.

In Ultimate, most people seem to think that O players are the intellectuals--cf. Parinella. What's your take? It seems to me that the rabid-mindset of D line dudes lends itself to little philosophy, but I can't help but remember The Sphinx (Gone in 60 Seconds).

dusty.rhodes said...

I prefer a different model for O v D at this point:

1. There are smart people on both sides.
2. There are dumb people on both sides.
2a. If there's a dumb guy on the O team, he's actually dumb.
2b. If there's a dumb guy on the D team, he's actually dumb like a fox.

And a different comparison to the NFL: There was a study (or something) that compared the lockers of O players versus D players. The large majority of O lockers were clean and organized. Everything has a place, and everything is in its place. The D lockers? The majority were absolute disaster areas. Whether the player knew where to find things or not, they were, by and large, complete messes.

D is about chaos.
O is about order.

An oft-repeated (no clue about the veracity of it) tale about how NY, NY used to separate their teams is that KD would get everyone together and say (paraphrasing) "If you do drugs, go over there. If you don't, go over there." [accompanied by pointing] Once they were split up, he told the drug team that they were on D and the non-drug team that they were on O.

I seriously feel, personally, that playing D has given me more love and passion for the game, which is weird.

By the way, don't you know that typing "Parinella" on the internet is like looking into a mirror and saying "bloody mary?" He's gonna appear now!!! We're powerless! Sitting ducks!

ben h. said...

Cool. A Dusty comment that references both Parinella and Dobyns.

I sometimes wonder if Parinella's number (88) was to double Kenny's (44). Perhaps Jim can chime in once he picks this up via Technorati.

As for Ken, Ring of Fire seriously gakked when they didn't pick him up when he left NY for NC in '99.

gapoole said...

I can see that. And by that, I mean several of the points you raise. D tries to create chaos, D raises passion because it takes a whole 'nother level of intensity, and one of the reasons I shaved my head in the summer was to step into that "dumb like a fox" role. But then I wanted to play O points, too...

I know Jim gets a heads-up, but if you think about it, isn't he the powerless one? He can't resist the mention of his name, whereas we can control when and where we drop it.

Was it Ring's fault that KD didn't join up? I got the impression that he bowed out, somehow.

Anonymous said...

so there's a part II to day 3? is there gonna be a day 4 write-up?

so ignoring this thread? too good for Open now, huh?

Tim said...

Dusty et. al.,

You hit the nail on the head by calling it "dumb like a fox." Good D players save a very select few are always out thinking the O guys who have been placed into an offensive system where they are told when to cut, where to cut, who to throw to etc. Its the creative, inventive cutters that are always more difficult to cover specifically because you can't out think them. And that's why you have those D players who fall into the "select few" category and are ravenous crazy players who just beat people by being athletic. And you put them on that creative cutter and he shuts them down.

Of course that's my opinion as a D player.

dusty.rhodes said...

Anon: Day 3 pt 2 involves "Monster KHAOS," a meeting of internet legends and The Beer Sling. That's all you need to know for now.

Ian said...

Tim is right. Intelligent defenses (i.e. all good teams at nationals) will shut down a systematic and predictable offense. That’s why I like ho-stack. It’s not supposed to be a system to follow for the duration of a whole point, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It positions each downfield cutter in a way that allows them to immediately improvise their cuts to initiate the flow, to get open in or score. However, ho-stack cutting is not easy.

Most young kids don’t get it. They just don’t have enough game-minutes under their belt to keep their head up, space the field by keeping their defender busy, react to the other O/D players’ motion, identify the spots they should cut toward, and then time their cuts (in the rhythm of flow) to get open in that selected spot. (Well, most kids don’t even recognize when their poached, or how to actually *beat* a defender to get wide open in spot once they select it either, but that’s a different topic).

Ho-stack requires intelligent throwers too. Most college kids can’t survey the field and track 4-5 cutters and their defenders at once. They get tunnel vision on 1-2 people and miss out on so many opportunities. (Well, most kids can’t actually break a mark, or throw consistent accurate passes to their selected targets either, but that’s also a different topic).