Monday, September 29

Mid Atlantic Regionals 2014 Sunday

So... now these teams should all collude, right?

I mean that, in the long run, it is now better if Scandal and Green Means Go to both finish as high as possible at Nationals, right?  If Both finish in the pro flight, then the region gets two automatic bids for next year, if my reading of the TCT guidelines is correct.  So then... should they pool resources to do as well as possible?  Should they share scouting reports and tips?  Even practice or scrimmage together? Same with Truck Stop and Temper? Same for Amp and Amp?

Spacing, Skills, Leftys.
The cross-division similarity between Scandal and Truck Stop is in that they are excellent at dictating the offensive space on the field, and then attacking it with their specific skills, both based on individual quirks and trained team-level knowledge.  They are organized and skilled and coherent.  And they each have leftys.  Never underestimate the value of sufficient lefthandedness.

As I was speaking with someone whose first polo fields these were not the phrase "I know a lasting club culture when I see one."

Scandal and Truck, Truck and Scandal.
Coaches, a game plan, top-shelf talent, dedication to improve.

DC is the place to be for Open and Women's.
It isn't close.


As for Amp, none of their games were close enough to watch.  Literally and figuratively.  I kept walking over toward their fields and either the game was over or the first people I saw who knew the score said "Amp is up at least three breaks and they just got a D."

Save for this one moment against AG.  There was a poach block on and under cut.  If AG scores, it isn't yet half.  It would have been 7-5.  Timeout.  No conversion.  Amp scores.  8-4 at half.  gap of two versus gap of four is a big difference.  Remember that, coaches, captains and leaders.

I don't know how Amp won, so I can say nothing substantive.
Then again... #IJustLosttheGame
There might be something I know about some of those Philadelphia players of a certain age back from once upon a time... but using that is speculation.

Amp is another lasting club culture.


And all these new players show up... and the young ones who had promise turn into the good, reliable club players.  Or the club players now coaches or old reliable players like Mr. Moldenhauer.


Wodatch kept DiGirolamo-ing Temper.
Of the first 4 DC O-Points, I'm reasonably certain that Wodatch caught a huck while running free to the endzone on three of them.  If I didn't know better, I'd say that Temper had never seen a player do that.  However, the previous day coming out of half, this is precisely what Temper did to Garden State Ultimate.  A quick strike of two unmolested deep cuts (like.. no defender w/in 20 yards) getting 60+ yard goals off of the pull play (either the 2nd or 3rd throw) as the other five Temper players swept across the field in harmless school-of-fish-style group cutting.  The next time down, Garden State matched up on Tyler and kept with him for the majority of the cut... until TD jumped.  The GSU defender was impotently staring up at the roof being built over his head.  Goal.

I assume that all of these teams are aware that their opponents need to make it to the other endzone to score, and of who DiGirolamo and Wodatch are.  Some sort of mesmerizing offensive structure must be eliminating all possibilities of help defense. Perhaps voodoo?  A hypnotist?

As magical as that sounds, no.  The answer is more basic.  If you're playing straight up, no-help man, you're making the game a series of one-v-one matchups.  Which plays to the offense.  TO put it another way, there should be no moment when the most dangerous deep receiver on the opposing Offensive Rotation is on an island versus a single defender.  The structure of the defense must reflect the threats present in a given offense.  There are 6 players (not counting the mark) who could be responsible for the endzone.  When zero are? Structural problem.

As for the sort of player who reshapes the field, in the games that I watched at MARegionals, those players were:  DiGirolamo, Wodatch, Green Mean's Go's Pullers, and Sandy Jorgensen of Scandal.

Each of them changes the geometry of the field.  Bending either the defense (DiGirolamo & Wodatch primarily play offense) or the offense (Pulls and Jorgensen generally play defense) or both to their benefit.  By changing the underlying equations of the game, they all pose a question to their opponents that must either be answered or circumvented.


And then Temper Truck Stopped Garden State Ultimate.
Temper looked bad at ultimate against Truck Stop.  Then they capitulated.
Garden State fought back through the backdoor registering a momentous victory over Patrol in the backdoor after losing to Temper in the front door, 15-11.

Which brings me to something important when it comes to tournament play:  The number of games teams play over a weekend.

The game-to-go in the men's division was Temper's fifth on the weekend.
The game-to-go in the men's division was Garden State's seventh on the weekend.

Oh wait... let me check my math:  That was Temper's 4.5th or so game on the weekend.  They threw in the towel in the final at about halftime (It looked like they brought their O starters out for the first point of half and then never again.) while Garden State fought like hell against teams they needed to beat.  Sure, you'll say, that's the penalty for losing.  I'll respond that this is ridiculous.  My next post will cover this more in-depth via cloning technology.


In the Women's Division, Scandal was the best. It wasn't close, even though Green Means Go (After not trying to win their pool play matchup which was a 13-1 Scandal victory) made a 3/4ths of a game of it in the final.  That is, GMG can hang with Scandal.  But an upset is near-incomprehensible.  The 15-9 finals game was close at 10-8, but it got to 15-9 in a hurry.

Green Means Go was clearly the second team.
Hot Metal was clearly the third best team.

GMG was consistently aggressive in all phases of the game, the gap between their play and Scandal's is a matter of execution&skill rather than structure or strategy.  The two play different offensive sets, but both are capable of working the breakside, openside and deep.  GMG is more dependent on some of their deep shots succeeding than is Scandal, but the aggression both teams show with their D Rotation offense is remarkable.  If you throw a short turn against either of these teams and then pause to think about it for a second, you might as well start walking back to the line for the next O-point. Your moment of remorse is just the window they've been trying to open.

They both have players who are top-shelf quality.  However, Scandal has Team USA players.  Scandal is the reigning national champions who have traveled the world over the last year. Green Means Go is, simply put, green in comparison.

Woe to the team that underestimates this Philly women's team.  You will pay the price.  The women on this team play fast, play hard, and have a clear team identity.


Are Ultimate Players Orange-Green Colorblind?

The fields at the Capital Polo Club have enough space around each field to have a restraining line.  Ultimate players put their bags on inside the line.  They stand inside the line.  They put the tents and umbrellas inside the line.  They bitch and moan when you tell them to move.  They get int he way of the observers.  When there are no other games going on anywhere, spectators line up so closely that a player leaving from inbounds can layout and collide with sundry dangerous items from a spectator looking the other way to tents nailed into the ground to coolers to speakers to umbrellas.

Why Why?
Why Why Why?

Stop it.  Stop endangering your fellow travelers.  Stop making the world more dangerous with no gain.  5 steps behind the orange line... your view is nearly unchanged.  The safety of the players, however, is vastly improved.  Just do it.  How many years... how many folks laying out into stuff... how many Paul George injuries?


Best games of the weekend (in no particular order):
Garden State over Patrol in the game to go to the game to go (Incredible GSU comeback)
Scandal over Green Means Go in the final (Scandal Challenged!)
Green Means Go over Hot Metal in pool play (GMG big comeback!)
Green Means Go over Hot Metal in the game to go (PGH fought the whole way... big plays both directions... no fear from either side)

Worst games of the weekend (in no particular order):
Truck Stop over Temper in the final (White Flag Game)
Temper over Garden State in the game-to-go (Outta Gas Game)
Scandal over Green Means Go in pool play (White Flag Game)

Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other:
Temper v Patrol in the semis (Incredibly bad/ugly game which someone had to win I guess)


Had a decent time spectating this weekend, but I've had about enough ultimate in one weekend to last 2-3 months. I hope I'm more interested by the time my fall league team plays this coming weekend.
*- I have been politely corrected by Mr Miller that this is no longer the case.  I had difficulty discerning from this page as I quickly scanned earlier.  In the relevant section it states that "this rule is effective for the 2014 season." I took that to mean that the note from above was effective as I scanned.  The rule of 1 region, 1 auto bid makes more sense.  Section B.2.c.i

•  Each region will receive 1 automatic bid.
Note: Regions that finished the 2013 postseason with more than one team in the Pro Flight do not receive an additional automatic bid to 2014 Nationals for each additional Pro Flight team.
This rule is effective for the 2014 season.

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Sunday, September 28

Mid-Atlantic Regionals 2014 Day 1

"Where are the horses?"

No horses.  I told you, frisbee."

Your shirt.  It says 'Horse' on it.
Right but for frisbee.

So, coed, the reason I didn't watch you on the first day is because you're not in bracket play.  You're in pool play.  I can't watch enough of the games to make any sense of your teams.  In women's, by watching Scandal, Green Means Go and Hot Metal, I've got decent grasp on what's going on over there.  3/7 teams.

In open, all I care about are the teams in the top 6.  I watched four of the top 6 yesterday on the same two adjacent fields, except for Truck and Medmen.  Though I'm pretty familiar with the DC/MD open players on those teams through being in the Mid-Atlantic for a long time, my MLU work, the AUDL's existence, and living in the DMV. I can look at the rosters and know pretty well what I'm getting.  I watched Patrol and GSU be exactly the teams that that I expected.  I not-watched Medmen be the team they always are.  Truck has been the team here since Ring left.  There are no others, folks.  Philly, Jersey and Pittsburgh keep switching names and blowing things up and starting again and shifting philosophies... Yet Truck Stop remains.  One of the first (and wholly sensible) UPA/USAU name changes.

Wait... did the UPA make itself change its own name because it was offensive?

Patrol could beat Temper.  GSU could be Temper.
Medmen... I don't know how they stack up against Temper, Patrol or GSU.
Dire is less known to me, but I recognize some of them for sure.

Patrol and Med Men have the decided advantage in the backdoor bracket since they've played one less game than Dire Wolf and Garden State Ultimate.

Temper, on the other hand... has the goods.  But how much do they have in stock?
This is a tournament.  Patrol made Temper look very vulnerable.
GSU did not look wholly overmatched, just situationally.
Would've liked to see that game actually played to fifteen.

Speaking of which, after twitting earlier about games in club not truly being to points, I went through and looked that scored from #MARegionals to see what sort of winning scores most teams had. Of the 66 games played across all divisions, only 38  (or 57.58%) reached their stated point total.  10 (71.43%) of Women's Games, 16 (57.14%) of Mixed Games, 10 (50.00%) of Open Games.

Division# of teams# of gamesGames toWinner FullLess-1-2-3-4-5No Score%FullUnder-1-2-3-4-5No Score

If you missed it above, the men's teams played to 15.  The thing that you will not see above is thatall rounds in all divisions were the same length.  If you're trying to reach 15 you'll probably need more time than if you're trying to reach 13.  To put it another way 13 : 15 :: 105 : (1575 / 13)

That's 121 and two thirteenths minutes, if you prefer.
121 minutes and 9.230769 seconds for the men's rounds.

It wasn't like the teams in open were even finishing *near* the end of their games though.  Most most common non-15 winning score in open was 12 (-3)  In both Women's and Mixed, the most common non-13 winning scores were a tie between 12 (-1) and 11 (-2).

So, the results are closer to intent in both women's and mixed both in terms of frequency and distance.
Oh also... no scoreboards at #MARegionals. that's... weird.  I wish Mike G was still in this region.  He'd throw a fit so the rest of us didn't have to.

The plan for Sunday is to familiarize myself with mixed in the 9am round from the polo stands. I can watch the majority of both Amp vs [Ridiculous Jersey] and Tyrannis v [Pribicko's still playing with Herschel? Why isn't Paul on this team?].  Cool.

But then I will start shifting toward field 11 and 5 (which are actually a little too far apart) to see Scandal v Green Means Go and the Truck Stop vs Temper men's final.  On the way, I hope to catch a sufficient amount of Ant Madness v American Hyperbole and Ambiguous** Gr(e/a)y v Jughandle.  I'm only one set eyes and the like, so choices must be made.  Shade, shelter and seats wins barring extenuating circumstances like a final or Scandal.

To get into styles of play for a second:

Temper v Patrol was look-away ugly for much of the game.  Trading full field untouched by the receiver hucks... turfing multiple throws... making 50/50 throws out of reasonably open looks.  They were all playing hard, but never smoothly.  Not an aesthetically pleasing moment in that game. Athletically?  Sure. But you're gonna need more than that.

Garden State puts on the gas better than Patrol.  There is a sense watching them that they are on the verge of going on a run.  With Patrol it feels more like a slow charge forward on the same level.  Not so many highs or so many lows.  That is... Patrol is less likely to blow a team out, but the are less likely to be blown out also.

Dire Wolf and Medicine Men... If you make it through the back door... I'll check y'all soon.

In the women's division, the difference between watching Scandal and watching the other teams is that Scandal is making choices about which way they will play.  They can go long, play the unders, break the mark or do what is required on offense.  Not because they have to do one or the other but because it is what needs to be done for Point X or Y.  There is a fundamental flexibility that they have that the other teams wholly lack.  Depth plays a huge role in this.

Hot Metal and Green Means Go are simply more limited in their options.  AS evidenced by their head-to-head play, either team is capable of going up on the other.  But in watching that game as it progressed, one of the notable differences is that the Philly players keep pushing hard when they were down.  There was no deflation.  Once PGH went down... there was a softening around the edges of play that informed all of their lack of true belief.  Just at the end, as the game was already over in effect, PGH showed some fight.  But too little too late.

PGH or PHL can go to nationals.  If there is a fourth team with a shot, I didn't see it.

More than this, I haven't time for. Nor is there an editor.  So... up this post goes.

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Friday, September 26

Mid-Atlantic Regionals 2014 (pre)

Regionals is the most exciting tournament in club ultimate.

Nationals is the best tournament, but the drama is reduced.  Even with the advent of the Triple Crown Tour and the associated flights of play (Which all sound suspiciously like the vacuous plaudits of "Preferred Customer Status" w/in frequent flyer programs and the like), elimination play is still for teams which already made it to the best tournament in the world.  The disappointment of losing at Nationals is always tempered by being at Nationals.  It used to be that it was an even softer landing because everyone was at the beach.  In Frisco, TX... well... There isn't near as much *free* fun to be had, nor is the scenery any match for Siesta Key.  In fact, does anyone know what it is one does in Frisco?

But losing at regionals in the game-to-go?  That's the roughest stomach punch in the game.  I delivered that stomach punch it totally devastating fashion with Pike multiple times over the years I played (I haven't heard more than 5 sentences from anyone on Los since 2007&9 happened).  I even got to do it again with PoNY in my final season, when we sent Bodhi home on their shields via the raw power of a quintuple bird strike.

I was also dealt the most crushing loss of my life in a game to go.  In 2006 (as I've written about before... somewhere in this briar patch of a blog) we lost in the game-to-go to a nascent team called "Truck Stop".  Without that loss, which caused me to shed tears and break down in a way I still can't put correctly to words, this blog would never have been written, I'd likely never have pushed to be a captain a year later, and I'd have missed out on so many more experiences both within and without ultimate.  It was a life-changing experience.

Further back, these sorts of losses are the root cause of Pittsburgh joining with Jersey to form Pike in the first place.  They are the sorts of losses which caused Los to cease to be what it was.  These are the losses which shift both the landscape of club ultimate and the mental makeup of the competitors.  They cause rule changes and format tweaks.  It is simply the most exciting tournament in club ultimate.

And this year is the first year I'm truly not on any club team (2001 to Hitch to Pike to PoNY to Ellis Kim's Seatless Bicycle to Trenton Takers to 2014) so I have no idea what's going on with these teams.  And unlike last year, I'm not solely following Scandal around (and, for the record, watching Scandal work to win Nationals last year is one of the top three moments in my sporting life).  This successive series of steps away from an active playing life (No, Horse is Masters.  Masters definitely doesn't count) means that not only do I not know the teams, but I don't know much about the tournament itself.  So, naturally, I go to scorereporter in hopes that I'll be able to plan out my weekend of saturation.

While the complaints about the new scorereporter are legion (and wholly reinforced in my attempt to navigate the three separate USAU pages and one facebook page necessary to get all of the relevant info), I really don't want to rehash that here.  Suffice to say that I should be able to open that red "Club" button you force me to push in a new window, that there should be some way to view the field map and the schedule side-by-side, that there should be somewhere to view the entirety of the three schedules, and that all of the field numbers should be up now.  I'll leave the rest of the issues to folks who use this far more frequently.

So, what I did was compress all of the useful information (to me) onto the front and back of a sheet of paper.  Yes, that's right... ONE sheet of paper.  And not even full-sized sheet: a 5.8" x 8.3" sheet.  The space saving that I used was to eliminate consolation games.  I didn't care about loser-full games when I played in them... why would I want to watch losers play now?  Aside from that, all games and field info are listed and mapped out.

I then went through and bordered in red the games I knew I'd want to watch (title games, games-to-go, and the top three women's teams playing each other).  Next, I went to outline in green the games I expected that I would want to see based on matchups or other factors (men's semis, mixed quarters, a few possible men's quarters matchups, friends on teams, whatever):

Looks like, on the whole, I'll get to see most of the games I believe I will find interesting.  Which is cool.

However, there is one thing that seems to obvious to fix:  Why are the two men's semis separated by two fields of bottom-bracket play? It isn't b/c the #2 seed (Temper) keeps their field if they win (the #7 seed, Garden State, gets that honor... or the #10 seed City Wide Special).  And while it is b/c Truck Stop gets to keep their field, it seems to me that a ridiculously easy fix would be to switch the (ostensible) 2v3 semi to field 9 which is next door to field 8 (the ostensible 1v4 semi).

The more positive side of that is that the Sunday field assignments are quite well done, as the final men's games take fields 5&6, women take fields 11&12 and mixed takes (Huh.  That's weird.  Should that be takes or take? Instinct says "takes", but...) 3&4.  5, 6, 11, & 12 form a box.  3&4 make that box into an L.  Sure... I'd prefer one three by two box comprised of fields 10, 11, 12, 4, 5, & 6... but this is fine.

The larger problem, of course, is actually knowing which games will be interesting as the tournament goes along.  There is a total inability to know these things in advance, and a limited ability to be updated as they go.  If it were covered like the NCAA Basketball Tourney with live look-ins, multiple cameras for each of multiple channels, this point would be moot.  Regionals, however, is not yet covered like that.  So... perhaps I'll be able to track down a hashtag which covers all of #MARegionals? Or will I be stuck with a hashtag for each division? Or none at all? Perhaps I'll go 'round to the fields and teach everybody to yell "HOOTIE-HOOOOOOOO" in honor of #ATLast this weekend when a game is becoming interesting? (I doubt the cops'll be rolling up... so... we won't need it for that.)

The only format question I have (aside from my usual gripes that seeding is dumb, brackets are *always* the way to go for a two-day post-season tourney, more than 5 games in a weekend should be outlawed and the like) is:  Why are there so many games in the mixed consolation bracket? They'll be playing pointless games through the 1pm round on Sunday! How are they expected see the most interesting games of the year in the Open (Champ: 11am, GtG: 1pm), Women's (Champ: 1:45pm, GtG 3:30pm) and Mixed (Champ: 1pm) divisions? Sure, that Women's game-to-go is available to everyone and gets the customary game-to-go timeslot of the weekend... but this extended loser-bracket seems ludicrous to me.

Then again, I've gotten into many conversations about my total disdain for consolation.  I always played to win in club.  That's the whole point of putting together a team.  I always loathed teams who were comfortable playing those games, or even looked forward to them.  Even when I played on bad teams... I wanted no part of those games.  The dream of winning is dead.  Don't make me wander around in a living death.  Soulless, opaque eyes robbed of all life hoping to end the pain sooner rather than later.  Playing differently b/c the whole point of my trip was already lost by my own devices.

But again... that's me.  I still think "flights" are dumb, consolation is a misnomer, last season should not affect this season, you play to win all of the points, and more.  You want to play for some other reason? Go find a rec league.  I myself have done so b/c I don't play for those same reasons any more.  I prefer to spectate these crazy bastards who are willing to run forever and give up their time, future health, future wealth, and whatever else for the chance to appease the ultimate gods.

See y'all out there.

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