Thursday, March 31, 2005

Following the lines of my heroes Fox News, this blog aims to be fair and balanced. So, let's hear the tales of when you or your team got the better of me. Matt Greff and I used to joke that we ought to set up a website,, to keep track of all those who made me look foolish.

Greatest meaningless victories

It's funny, I've been part of some big victories, but sometimes it's the little ones that I remember most fondly. I can remember one ten-pull in practice where not only did we go 10 for 10 against the zone, but we were deliberately making it harder for ourselves one or two points by doing the dump-swing. Why this might rank as one of my fondest memories, I just don't know.

Anyway, today's list:
1. 1998 Corporate League finals, Tech over Brownian Motion, as reported on rsd. Brown had 7 players who had just competed the week before at the real Worlds, versus our measly 4, plus half our team was drunk.
2 and 2a. Earth Atomizer over "Titanic" at Wellesley, 1990. We beat them once in a scrimmage to 21, then again a few weeks later in a seeding game. It was too dark at Regionals to play the 2-3 game, so we did it the following week and beat them for the #2 spot. In one sense it wasn't meaningless, but the mean old seeding folks at the UPA rendered it so by putting us 9th out of 12 and giving us the #1 and #2 seeds to start the tournament.
3. 1986 Pittsburgh Summer League, Throbbers over Jerkbrains. Except for the drunk part, this is similar to #1. One team was a working-class team, the other an elite bunch of club-playin' snobs (somehow, I am making myself out to be a symbol of the oppressed Everyman; don't worry, I see the hypocrisy). Jumpin' Joe Enck videotaped the game. We took stats that year, too, and I did a writeup on each game, complete with "Throbber Notes."
4. 1998 Hingham, Tea Party over Elwood Hound. We had DoG practice at the site (Milton Academy, home of the recent oral sex scandal) first so some of us could double-dip that day.

I'm sure I could sneak in an O crushing the D (but which one, there were so many) scrimmage or another summer league game or a Turkey Bowl victory, but I'll let you pick your favorite Jim Parinella victory.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Best catches

Here's a list of some of the catches I've made that I remember best. Looking through them, I see only one "sky" and another three that could be categorized as "athletic," while the others are "skilled." A list of my actual "best" catches wouldn't agree with this, but here they are, in chronological order:
1. Mars tournament, 1984. I took off deep after a turnover, and Todd Williams' huck drifted off, giving my defender a shot at it. We both laid out for it, and I got underneath him for the catch. About 3 years later, I brought this catch up to Todd, and both he and his brother Lance remembered it.
2. Ohio Sectionals, 1988?. I leapt in stride to catch a pass and saw that I was going to land on the sideline, so I threw my back foot down to establish contact inbounds. I've made literally hundreds of catches like that since then, but it's the first time I can remember being worried about footwork.
3 & 4. Ow-My-Knee, 1994. The first probably wouldn't have turned a head. It was a simple comeback cut and a 10 yard pass, but it was a bullet at my shins on a rainy day. I was surprised that I could even get my hands down in time, and was absolutely shocked that it didn't spin out or fly right through. The second was a full-extension trailing-edge chest-high layout catch in the endzone in the finals, after which I slid 5 yards to the feet of Somerville Youth's Alec Ewald and Mike Jaffe, who immediately bowed and yelled, "We are not worthy!"
5. Hingham, 1998. Jordan threw a high-stall count scoober towards the middle of the field, right to the legendary Bob Lobel, but I outjumped him from behind and got my arm in there to pluck it away. The Tea Party beat a stacked team that included Bob, Forch, and Kenny D.
6. Worlds finals, 1999. While traveling, Alex hucked a curving, non-floating backhand to me. I continued tracking it all the way to the sideline, then while keeping my left foot down, reached up a few feet out of bounds to catch it. It barely drew a murmur from the crowd, but verily, this may have been my best catch ever. It was kinda like the scissor-kick shown on page 40, Figure 4.12, but the disc was coming in over my shoulder, and I had to reach high and catch the trailing edge while running.
7. Nationals pool play, 2002. There was a strong crosswind, and Johnny Bravo was playing zone. I was in the correct popper position (page 140), standing 3-5 yards behind and to the side of the middle middle. I saw Alex go for a bladey hammer, and knew that it would be pushed by the wind, and began moving even before it left his hand. Sure enough, it went about 10 feet to the right (my right) of where I had been, and I barely got my hand under it in time. In another sense, _this_ was my best catch ever, since if you took the average player at Nationals, put him in my shoes, and told him that a hammer was coming, that pass would be caught less than 1% of the time (assuming you did it in parallel; I assume that after seeing the same pass 10 times, some people would begin diving as he was throwing).
8. Nationals quarters, 2004. During our 7-goal turnover-free run to start the game against Furious, I am contacted yet again by my defender Mike Enns while cutting back to a thrown disc, and stumble badly. I manage to push myself up and reach behind me in front of him to snare the disc. I'm not sure if I would have called a foul, since I might have thought that I tripped myself up, since I'm just not used to having anyone close enough to foul me on a reception. But it was really cool, and for awhile was part of a magical game. It looked as if that game was going to make the famed 2002 semifinal look like a swillfest, but then we had a turn, and then another, and they chipped away and won it. Rats. M----- f----- rats.

Now, for my worst drops....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Going to Fools

I'm heading down to Fools for the first time since 2002. Here's my history (post-1991, when I began keeping track of my tournaments) at the tournament:
1992, 4-2, 9th place, CMU reunion
1993, 4-2, quarters loss, MIT
1994, 5-2, semis loss, MIT
1996, 5-2, semis loss, Earth Atomizer Reunion
1998, 8-0, 1st, CMU reunion
2002, 5-2, semis loss, Short Fat Guys

Some memories:
1992: I caravaned down and got sick from some hamburger at Hardee's on the NJ Turnpike (or from something else I ate, but it's easy to blame this), made it through part of the first day before getting really sick at the fields. I got the three-bean chili from the food truck at the fields, figuring it would make a nice vomit pile, and it did! Someone planted a flag in it, in fact. I couldn't even play the second day, getting sick a few more times at the hotel. I made it back for the B division play on Sunday, but could only play offense (a precursor to the years 1999-present, I guess). We beat MIT in the B finals. (I didn't go to CMU, but grew up in Pittsburgh and played a lot at CMU and with the guys who went there.)
1993 and 1994: I had applied to grad school by the time Fools came around in 1993, and had played a bunch of indoors there, so I guess I was legit. Frank Revi benches me on Sunday one of these years because I was out late drinking and he made everyone show up 90 minutes before game time, depriving me of that crucial extra hour. I'm sure the unmotivated play had nothing to do with it.
1996: While some of the younger MIT guys were watching, I got a full two-handed point block on an overhead by Mike G. He buries his head in his hands while I prance. We win a one-pointer in the quarters, and after catching the winning goal, Dennis immediately pukes. In the semis against BC, I force Jay Talerman to give us both the disc and the side in exchange for letting them wear their favorite shirts. They go up 5-0, but we battle back to have the disc to win about 10 yards out. Dennis expects the marker to foul him as he had the previous 69 passes that he had completed, but the marker jumps back and the pass sails just beyond Jordan and me, and they march down for the win. I'm not sure how we would have fared in the finals, though, as we were all old by then, and were exhausted. This is the first time that I played with Earth founder Troy Frever, who flew out for the reunion. We kept stats for the tournament, too. Maybe I'll post them sometime.
1998: Mr. Yuk trounces someone in the finals. I team up with grade-school buddy Greg Shiring, who is actually able to win an argument in a one-point quarters victory by saying, "you _think_ you know what happened, but I'm sure. Don't you think it's more likely that I'm right?" Iron Mike Klawansky has some pictures from this tournament somewhere.
2002: Short Fat Guys blows a 5 or 6 goal lead against WesWill in the semis after demolishing that team Alex was on in the quarters. Now let us never speak of this again.

Monday, March 28, 2005

tip of the week: Socks

Ok, this is an attempt to revive the old Tip of the Week. I might have to pull stuff out of the book eventually, but for now, I'll try to do new stuff.

This week's tip: don't skimp on socks at tournaments.

One approach is the Paul Greff method. Paul would just buy a new bag of basic white cotton socks for each tournament, put on a fresh pair each game, and throw out the old ones (being the icon he is, he probably could have made some money selling them off on ebay). The more budget-minded can recycle them, so why not just bring 6 or 8 pairs of socks to a tournament?

The other approach is to buy some SmartWool or other expensive high-tech socks, and use them only for tournaments. Make sure, though, that if you use the same cleats for both practice and tournaments, that you don't have thick socks for play and thin socks for practice, since your cleats won't fit right.

Another recommendation if you take this route is to bring practice cleats (and socks) to the tournament and use them to warm up. I do this at Nationals in Sarasota every year, when the morning dew will drench your feet before you even play a point.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy birthday to me

Well, folks, today is the big four-oh. Forty years ago today, my parents and two older brothers went out to eat at Pinchera's restaurant (a chicken dinner, I'm told), Mom started to feel uncomfortable during dinner, and three hours later I was born. (My oldest brother still reminds me occasionally that I interrupted their dinner.)

I was hoping to do something really stupid in the last week of my 30s as a tribute to the past decade, such as buying a sports car or having an affair (or, better yet, having an affair in my new sports car), but with work and the boy and whatnot, I just didn't get around to it.

As a motivator, here's a link to the top baseball seasons by 40 year olds:
Some of the highlights:
Davey Lopes stole 47 bases while getting caught only 4 times in 1985.
Darrel Evans finished 3rd with 34 HR in 1987 (behind a then-clean Mark McGwire).
Randy Johnson finished 2nd in the Cy Young in 2004, behind a 41 year old.

In other sports,
Jerry Rice caught 92 passes in 2002.
George Blanda was entering the final 9 years of his career.
Steve Mooney won his sixth Nationals title in 1998.

Here's a list on the AARP site for top 40+ year old athletes.

So, as I wrote on a disc at last year's Nationals,

I'll still kick your ass, kid.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"I'm sorry I was drunk"

There is a thread on rsd today that brought back the memories.
During a game, a player with the disc wants another one to cut, so he calls out that player's girlfriend's name, but two players cut. The non-boyfriend then yells, "I'm sorry, I was drunk!" Some alert reader recognized this as a bastardization of a story I told ten years ago. But my story itself was a bastardization of what really happened.

It was honest enough. Dennis calls out "Ann", but two of us were dating (different) girls named Ann (it's a common enough name, after all), and we both cut. It was only at the party that night when Dennis added the "I was drunk" part to make it a good story, and then I changed it on rsd to make it more personal. Funny thing is, the next year (this must have been the magical year of 1994), we were having fun at a spring tournament, and Dennis calls out "Hella", Scott Goodrich's wife. Remembering the laughs at the party, I cut anyway and did in fact say, "I'm sorry, I was drunk."

The other notable thing about this item is that THIS is where I started my strategy talks, and only because I was prompted to, and only in an offhand way. The original thread was started by a guy in Philly who was forwarding a request from a teammate.
"The second thing i am interested in is if there is archived material on offensive/goal line strategies - I know the subject came up about a month ago, but the responses seemed vague and generalized. It would be great if, say, big Jim Parinella of Big Bro could make a detailed posting on the subject - I am sure he could suggest drills and strategies without giving away 'team secrets.' He might even get the benefit of good feelings about him from the ;)"
Some of you might not know this now, but I burst onto rsd as the hated "Testosterone Man" who called people "thin-skinned, self-righteous whiners" and "computer geeks." This was the start of my transformation. So, Brian Canniff and John Rice (who I ran into at the YMCA in Woburn five years later), thanks.