Thursday, August 25, 2005

summer league

Maybe I'm rare among club players, but I owe a lot of my career to summer league. It's where I started, I developed a lot of my skills there, and I've used it for conditioning and competition.

I've had several stages to my summer league career:

  1. 1983-1986, Pittsburgh. Every game is important, perhaps more important than club.
  2. 1990-1993, early GE teams in the Boston Club League (ne "Corporate"). Every game is important, but it's just Corporate.
  3. 1994-1999, later GE teams and early Tech. The tournament is important.
  4. 2000-present, later Tech and SwillMillGrill. Eh, who gives a shit, except I hate to lose to crappy teams.

Pittsburgh. Ah, to be a Throbber again. About half the team was guys my age, while the other half (the "old guys") were about 25 when we started, almost all of us graduates of Baldwin High School. The link was the Williams brothers, Lance and Todd, who both played with the Pittsburgh team (Steel City Slag) which split up for the summers to form the summer league. Games were intense, and we had big rivalries with the Mars Gnu Kidds, Squirrel Hill Swine, and the hated North Side Sliders. We all really cared about the team, and in 1986, I started my ultimate writing career doing news articles like this one about each of the games, complete with a stat page. It's recognizable as my writing, some aspects of it better even, some worse. Mostly what I got from this was a love for the game and the desire to play intense ultimate.

Early GE. The Jugs (short for Juggernaut) were one of the top teams in Corporate, winning a lot of close games and being a perennial semifinalist. The early teams were pretty much Alex, Dennis, and me dominating the playt (we'd often joke before an important point with Earth or DoG that we had better "corporate league" it to make sure we scored), with the actual corporate players filling in as best they could. Maybe one or two of them had ever played outside of this team, and we had some bad luck in losing players just as soon as they began to get decent. But all of them were GE employees or good friends with GE employees. We lost in semis in 1990 and the finals in 1991 before winning it all in 1992. 1993 marked the end of the phase, as Alex was on his trip of America and Dennis was nowhere to be found. But this marked an important part of my development, as I had to be the handler for the team instead of being the cutter. With Alex back for the tournament, we again made semis, or possibly just missed.

Later GE/early Tech. By 1994 or 1995, we had picked up some friends who were club players (Lance and Shelagh) and so had a stronger team, but it wasn't the same. We made it to the finals in 1994 despite a losing record in the regular season, then won it all in 1995. Later teammate Greg Levy dislocates my finger in the semis on an attempted point block and forever ruined any chance he had at making it big in Boston ultimate. In the finals, either Dennis or I (depending on who was keeping score) set a Fantasy League single game record with about a +15. But the team was on its last legs. We stretched it out for another two years, though. In 1997, Dennis tore his ACL getting outrun on one of my hucks, we went 2-4 (Alex pretty much destroyed our chances at squeaking into the semis by point differential by turning it over like a half dozen times against our hated enemies Spawning Alewifes), and I played every single point of the weekend, making the first cut virtually every time. The following year, we abandoned our old friends and joined up with (Lincoln) Tech. Maybe it's just me, but this year marked the end of Corporate league being good. We made it through the 5/2 division in the tournament unscathed, then got really drunk the next 2 hours while waiting for the 4/3 division champ for a Unification game. That team featured 7 or 8 players who had just competed at the real World championships the week before (let's see, Forch, Safdie, Cogan, Parham, Shana, Kate Leslie, must have been someone else, oh, how could I forget Doug, who watched me catch the final goal and prance), while we just had me, Alex, Jordan, Jackie, and a bunch of onetime club players (Goliath B vs Goliath, I guess). Parham wanted us to forfeit because we were drunk, but I coaxed her into playing for a half then we would call it off if they wanted. We went up 2-0, maintained the lead through much of the game, then scored an exciting final goal (Jim throws it away, Jim gets it back, Jim catches a huck from Jordan for the best victory ever). Then we drank some more. The following year, the competition in the 5/2 div was pathetic, as we won like 15-7 in the elimination games. We had a similar break but with not as much drinking, and we lost a heartbreaker to the universally-hated Gretzky (with like all of their players being active club players).

Later Tech/SMG. And that was it, pretty much, for my meaningful summer league stories. I stopped playing very many games during the regular season, I didn't attend the tournament every year (and around this time, DoG started having practices on tournament weekend), and it just doesn't matter to me much. I'll sub out a lot at the games, work on my individual defense instead of poaching, drink during halftime. But it still bothers me when we lose games we shouldn't. We blew a big lead against a college-plus team that had no business winning the game, then got completely blown out against a high school-plus team that hadn't won a game yet but somehow still had an attitude (we were pretty wiped out by that point, being old and all, and one of us having had practice beforehand). I didn't show up for the B division games on Sunday.

Next: opinions on summer league.


Wicks said...

Yeah Gretzky!

We actually tried to get some non-club players on that team. Ben's girlfriend was supposed to play, but never showed up. Pepper's wife was going to play, but also never showed up. And then, Moses recruited Scott (who had played Brown B up until that point), and his girlfriend, who, according to Moses, didn't play much. Turns out she was one of the star players on the British national team (she was also a pretty damn good player by American ultimate standards).

Anyway, we lost two games over 2 years (by a total of 2 points), including one in the 2000 unification championship, which is probably the least discussed game involving close teammates.

The only bright side is that Lyn never won the corporate championship.

I am surprised you didn't bring up the 1996 Mighty Aphrowhitey collapse in the finals, which prompted Tross to get "Please Don't Zone Us" hats made. Too bad the other MIT guys were too uptight to wear them.

Dennis said...

Jim: "In the finals, either Dennis or I (depending on who was keeping score) set a Fantasy League single game record with about a +15."

Dennis: Right. It was Jim, if Jim is keeping score. And it was me, if anyone else was. ;-)
Where's Bim. He's the record-keeper...

parinella said...

Oh, please. Some jerkwad decided that hammer throws were worth 2x, and that game point was 2x, so I think you threw a needless hammer on game point, probably mindful of the fantasy league score, and so that group of people had you in front.
But hey, if you are happy beating a one-handed player, more power to you.

Dennis said...

JP: But hey, if you are happy beating a one-handed player, more power to you.

Dennis: Oh, that’s right, this was even after Alex and I had to win semis by ourselves because you had a hangnail. This meant I had to switch mostly to deep for the game. But that really wasn’t too hard. I just had to turn off my mind and run in long straight lines.

PS. I think it was only 2x for a game winning hammer. I think I was two down to you at cap (we were up 14-13). I point blocked Gary Lippmann -- threw the hammer for the goal to someone other than you. Bango.