Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cheating D Hacks

Sorry to be redundant. So I was out last night to wish Jit good luck on his third “I’m leaving Boston for good” move, and found myself surrounded by a bunch of D guys, including the PuP who I have to throw under the bus in order to save the game. Only through guile and sacrificing a wounded passerby was I able to escape with my life.

They made some points about how players can act in good faith and still initiate contact some of the time and how there are cheating offensive players who step into the mark. (On the latter point, I believe that some of this tendency has come about in response to the increasingly aggressive marking.) Ok, fine. But how much is too much? And what to do about it?

Some randomly-ordered thoughts on the subject:
  • I said that if you’re called for more than about a foul a game, that’s being too aggressive in taking your chances. I’m not sure if a player can judge whether he’s playing at that level, plus I wouldn’t want a player to think he has a foul to give. Instead, perhaps I would recommend that you play the game as if you’re already in foul trouble (but not necessarily that you’re out on your next foul). This would eliminate a lot of the pivoting fouls and generally most of the cheap fouls.
  • Almost any hand-to-body contact is cheating, whether it’s a deliberate contact or just willful negligence. Hand-to-hand and occasionally hand-to-arm may be legitimate efforts.
  • It just turns my stomach to see someone on rsd say that “everyone plays this way” and that you have to foul to prevent a huck.
  • The worst part about all of this is that if everyone does it, then there’s no advantage to be gained, and in fact the game itself is a lot worse for it. Players’ inability to be honest without a gun to their head is ruining the game, resulting in boring hackfests that reward thuggery over talent.

PS. I was going to call this post "Paging Diogenes" but didn't want to confuse Idris.


Idris said...

appreciate it... yes. it wouldn't have made any sense... until i looked it up... and oh boy are you clever!

bring on the refs. or bring on something. max # of fouls per game, etc. once i see "pick-up [insert any sport]" at the olympics or on espn i'll be a believer in the longevity of what we have in place.

but right now there is a place for people who make up what they lack in skill in over agressive play or bending the rules. Too many people have teammates who they say "damn, glad he's on my team".

Two ways to over come this are changes in the rules, or a dramatic increase in the base skill level that makes these types of people what they are... small time.

No other sport it seams is so resistant to changes that help the flow of the game. We'll nickle and dime about seconds to pick up the disc, when your roster has to be in, time between pulls, exactly how many time outs you get during OT. [flow of the game is most important when the disc is in play IMHO.. many current changes to help the flow, make it fan friendly, etc... have to do with when the disc is not in play. which changes the play individuals/teams, not at all.]

while other sports meet every year to figure out what needs to be done to improve the game. Seems ultimate is always just clarifying the current rules.

The type of play that makes ultimate so un-fun to watch much of the time would have been "ruled" out of the game long ago in any other sport.

-The Dunsman

cash27 said...

Idris, hitting the nail on the head again. Idris for UPA President! :)

It would seem that for most other sports that the rules people are not, in general, players themselves. They are usually outside people, such as former players or owners.

Idris will like this example. Take for instance the Pistons/Lakers finals in 2004. Mark Cuban kept stats on the finals and reviewed film from those games. In doing so, he noted that everytime Kobe had the ball he would receive a "push" from the on-ball defender which would throw Kobe off-balance long enough for the double team to take effect.

By having video tape, stats, etc, Cuban was able to present a case to the leaugue for implementing changes to the rules. The changes he presented was to allow the defender to only use is forearm on the player, but no more hand contact, or an automatic foul. This change, I think, improved teh flow of the game and other factors that Idris mentioned above.

Are we to that point yet? I think we are getting there (albeit very slowly). What I mean by that, is Ultivillage is taping more and more, the fouls etc, will become much more apparent. Which will hopefully provide some substantiation for rules changes in the same way that Mark Cuban took tape to get some rules changes.


parinella said...

I'm almost desperate from looking for a solution. Perhaps $ is right that the ultivillage clips and increased video will point out to the masses just how cheap the game can be, prompting a revolt. (Maybe someone should request that a new CotD be a sequence of fouls.)

It's been a central tenet of the Standing Rules Committee and the UPA, for that matter, that the Official Rules of Ultimate follow rather than lead. Rules changes come from the bottom up. The players, not the UPA, own the sport and so are the ones in charge of the rules.

And that's the way it's going to stay, even if the NUA or MUL takes off.

Regarding flow of the game, someone needs to go through videos of a bunch of entire games and determine how much time is spent on each of the following areas: between points, pulls, stoppages due to fouls and violations, stoppages after turnovers, and actual play. We can make an estimate right now for a 15-13 game that takes two hours. 2 minutes between points, 5 minutes for halftime is 57 minutes. About 28 turnovers with an average of 10 seconds is 5 minutes. 40 calls taking 30 seconds apiece is 20 minutes. 28 pulls at 10 seconds apiece is 5 minutes (which means we could save as much time by eliminating pulls as by eliminating the post-turnover walkup). That leaves 33 minutes of actual play. Does that mesh with an independent estimate of actual play? There may be 250 passes in a game, each taking 10 seconds, so that would be about 41 minutes, so it's a decent estimate.

But college kids with time, go ahead and watch Stacked and do the stat-keeping and report it here.

dan anderson said...

Jim, have you noticed an increase in hand-checking & holding from your defenders when you're trying to cut? It never used to happen to me, but this year it seemed like I played against a number of defenders who would stick out one arm to try & contain my cuts, or they'd just put a hand on me so they could watch the disc & know when I was cutting away. I'm a small squirrel-cutting handler, so even a slight hand check can help the defender stay close enough to stop the dump, and oh-by-the-way it's not legal.

Do you think this is a trend, or is my situation unusual? Most of my teammates haven't noticed this sort of behavior, but they are downfield cutters & their long cuts are less likely to be stopped with a little arm action.

cash27 said...

A montage of fouls...genius.

I forget exactly what the estimate is, but for Football a few stats people claimed that there is only actually about 15 minutes or actual play.

As for placing a hand on the offensive player, I don't have an issue with that. I know I do it from playing basketball and trying to triangulate myself and know if the person I'm guarding has moved.

As for sticking out an arm to stop a cut, definitely a foul.

Eric said...

The biggest problem is that most ultimate players don't know the rules. Sure they know the basics (travelling, picks, heavy contact). But I still have not played with one person who knows the rule book from cover to cover. So in high pressure situations I never expect any ultimate player to make a good call and then make a rational argument. Ultimate players usually start the sport very late in life and are immediately thrown into these disorganized teams and tournaments and are immediately exposed to all the rule confusion that goes on. Seeing that there is a lot of rule confusion, most players will start to cheat by throwing an arm or whatever else to gain an advantage and they don't care because they know that there is no penalty except a foul call and also know that no one else on the field knows the rules well enough to completely convince the player to stop what he is doing wrong. So unless the vast majority of ultimate players actually know what to do in the event of a foul call or violation then I cannot expect rule changes to take place based on your arguments that it starts with the players. From the bottom up.

cash27 said...

Jim, went ahead and put in a request to Rob through RSD...we'll see what happens.

Even money that I show up on the montage :) I just really like the word montage.


Whopper said...

I recently taped some women's games (played to 13) that took about an hour and a half to two hours on a windy day; I stopped the camera during most fouls, timeouts, halftimes, and downtime between pulls, and ended up using no more than 40 minutes of tape on any particular game. There were probably fewer fouls called than there would be in an open game, but it's still revealing as to how much time the game takes and how much time we're actually playing...in this case it came out to at least 2:1 if not 3:1.

Also, I would echo Eric's sentiment about the rules; especially at the lower levels those who know the rules are often afraid to enforce them for fear of looking like jerks; this seems to me to be a combination of the rules being out of touch with the players and the players being out of touch with the rules...

Anonymous said...

Why are we so afraid of stoppages for our game? As mentioned, football is basically at a standstill, but for some reason we all think our stoppages will destroy our game. So if not for the fans we say it is for the good of the game. But at the sametime why are we so afraid of contact? I just don't understand why so many offensive players are fearing the hack on the huck or break- it's still a free throw. We're just seeing the game evolve to be more physical and if done right it might not be bad. In the early basketball days I'm sure contact was oboslete almost- but through evolution things have changed.
So though the conservative view of 'no good fouls' is good as it keeps guys cognizant of how lame clutching and grabbing is in the lanes as a new player I find it difficult to fathom that a physical mark on the disc is the evil that you guys are making it to be. Just watching the footage from NW Regionals I thought it was pretty cool how furious Sockeye and Jam would fight through the bumps and clutches when marked hard on the disc and then only make the call when it was advantageous or make same pretty sweet throws through the foul. That in the eyes of this younger player seems like pretty sweet O with pretty physical D.
PS. To be hypocritical to some extent, the RHINO Jam game had way too many stopages.

parinella said...

Stoppages: ultimate already has a long stoppage after every point, and short stoppages after most turnovers, so the additional stoppages due to fouls and violations break the flow of the game.

The hack is generally not a free throw unless it's a touch foul because you can't get the throw off (and if you try anyway, it may be ruled that you threw it after the foul, thus a turnover). And when the O doesn't call some fouls, the D has already gained an advantage through illegal activity and calling the foul would not get back that advantage, since the receiver would no longer be open and other receivers would not be in motion.

parinella said...

Whopper, did you also stop the film between turnovers? I'd guess there were 75-100 turnovers in a game like that, so at 10 seconds/turnover that'd be 12-16 minutes extra of downtime, leaving you with about 25-30 minutes tops of action in a 90-120 minute game.

parinella said...


You must have enjoyed Team America if you like "montage." I can't watch a movie montage anymore without thinking of that.

parinella said...

Re hand-checking, generally downfield defenders don't position themselves inches from the cutter.

One weird thing I've seen an increase in is downfield defenders planting partway through a cut. It's like they realize they're going to get beat if they keep running, so instead of turnstiling, they jump and plant early enough so that it would be a dubious foul call by the cutter. If more people keep doing this, I'll be able to recognize it a little earlier and will be able to exploit it, but for now, I am caught by surprise every time.

Whopper said...

I didn't stop shooting during turnovers except for a couple really long OB turns where people had to hunt down the disc, so yeah, doing that would take even more time off.

It seems like an Open game would probably have an even higher ratio of game time to playing time, then, due to fewer turns (and a more legit deep game/faster players) but more fouls called...?

Either way, it reminds me of my ratio of "reading frisbee blogs" to "being productive"...

cash27 said...

There is one individual on our team who tries to jump/plant in front of the cutter every time. I personally can't stand it because it really is a foul (although dubious) since the defender is initiating the contact. That shouldn't be allowed either, and by calling the foul you stop the flow.

The penalties for these type of fouls really are not much of a deterent...or there would be fewer of these types of fouls. I think the same could be said of marking. Maybe penalties for fouls need to be re-evaluated?

Another concept in that regards...Basketball has regular fouls...and Flagrant...and Technical fouls. Do we need to implement that?

As far as Team America...loved it. That is part of where our cheer from last year originated. If you rember the song they played that went "America, F$%# Yeah!. Just changed it to JAM :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jim I hate to keep bringing up this issue but you continue to mention that the hack foul isn't a free throw, but if it affects the throw it should be? So as an offensive player don't you just have to be mindful of when you throw through the hack (as long as it's on the motion it would seem to be fair game)? Won't this hack simply reward offensive players who are mindful of when to make the call and throw through? Of course the easy huck is eliminated but it is just the new type of D being played, almost analogous to the neutral zone trap in hockey when it came out- which has now been destroyed by bigger ice.

parinella said...

I say that a hack foul isn't necessarily a free throw because if it's a big enough hack it will prevent the throw from getting off (or else it will be a really weak throw). This leads to the D thinking "If you're going to foul the guy, make sure you really foul him good."

wrt hockey analogies, my admittedly incomplete understanding is that the neutral zone trap was actually a lawful strategy when it came out and required good defensive skill, just as certain NBA defenses may have been legal, but when combined with increased semi-legal contact, it enabled anyone to do it and encouraged thuggery.

There is a tradeoff between allowing the D to hack too much and giving the O free throws they don't deserve. What's the balance point? Are there other solutions?

Anonymous said...

Solution: Get rid of the disc length rule. ANY contact between the thrower and the marker is a foul on the marker.

sometallskinnykid said...

There is no way to stop the intentional foul on the thrower unless you have some sort of card system/intentional foul for bball fans. Or if captains start to bench players that do this routinely.

To the previous post, any contact is a foul on the marker is ridiculous. That is a throwing field day.

And my main reason for posting- the Pistons won the 2004 finals b/c they were the better team not b/c they were gently pushing Kobe, the most overrated player to ever play basketball.

n said...

Bunch of comments::

1. "minutes of actual play"
Here's a pretty funny analysis of tennis: http://www.bnl.gov/bera/activities/bminton/ten-bad.html
Match time: 3 hrs and 18 minutes: Ball in play: 18 minutes

1a. "did you also stop the film between turnovers": why would you exclude this? Some of the hardest sprints come right after a turnover and before the disk is in play.

2. Neutral zone strategy: was/is legal. Invented by the swedes to compete against the deeper and more skilled russians in the 70s/80s. Basically a way for the D to deny space/time and therefore kill the O flow by forcing them to adopt the N. American "dump into the corners & chase" approach, which was anathema to the USSR system. Originally it relied on speed & positioning - in that the D has to beat the O to the space.
Now that doesn't seem relevant, but what is relevant to ultimate is that the evolution of the trap involved the cheapening of the game by holding (waterskiing) and obstruction (hitting O players who don't have the disc). Even though hockey has refs, they have a hard time calling a foul when it occurs every single play (eg. they choose to pocket the whistle, unless it's egregious). The analogy being that the D fouls Jim P is talking about are the equivalent to obstruction and holding. This years rule changes haven't eliminated the trap (see Minny), but they severely penalize holding & obstruction, leading to more power plays, leading to more scoring. Tangent over - I'm going back to canada now.

n said...

"the neutral zone trap in hockey when it came out- which has now been destroyed by bigger ice" - no rink in the league has bigger ice. Just rules with new different interpretations.

Anonymous said...

Classic flagrantly intentional bump after the turn in this clip:
The defender is standing STILL beside a grounded disc and yet has so much momentum that he is "carried" into the thrower...

Anonymous said...

whah whah whah. Maybe we should change the rules to outlaw Defense. Would you like a 5 yards cushion sir? Oh, by all means, cut deep, I'll just jog here behind you so you can show it to me as you run oh so fast and catch the goal. Now that I have heard it from in person and read it, you really do believe this nonsense. wow. Maybe Ted should let you play D for a year and we'll see what you ahve to say. 2 atheletes trying hard to acheive opposite goals often collide. It is part of sports. Intention matters.

parinella said...

Is that you, Jeff?

There can be occasional contact from honest effort, but that's not what I see and complain about. I see arms reaching out for cutters (how can that possibly be the defender intending to play honestly), I see routine bumps on the mark that couldn't possibly be real attempts to establish legitimate position, and I hear "nice d" and the like on obvious bad fouls. So I agree with you that intent matters, and the intent I see is to foul, or at the very least to make a play without regard as to whether you're going to initiate significant contact.

Anonymous said...

So we can agree intent matters, lets also note that there are some O players that violate the rules (aggressive pivoting to create contact, forearms to the chest, travelling after the catch to gain better throwing angles, etc).

Anonymous said...

to finsih (stupid kids), I won't be bothering with this blog stuff anymore (24 hours is quite enough), so if you need a trustworthy and experienced defensive perspective to your blather, give me a call. Otherwise, you can continue to speculate about what happens on the other side of the disc, or worse, listen to kids with no real experience but big mouths...

parinella said...

Ok, I agree, Happy Hanukkah, see you at poker night.