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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