Tuesday, December 13, 2005

close games and semis

I'm not sure why, but I feel the urge to talk about the evolution of strategy. No reason in particular that it's on my mind, really.

Kidding, I'm kidding. Sheesh, I can't keep up with all the new blog entries coming out. What's amazing about the frisbee blog acceleration is that blogging is like so three years ago. You'd think that with a sport that prides itself on being so high tech and college-y that blogging would have hit bigtime awhile ago.

I thought I'd go over Corey's Dangerfieldesque comment about how Jim/DoG gives no respect. I'm really not sure how this post will turn out and whether he'll be right or I'll be vindicated, but that's the beauty of live Internet.

DoG in the winning years had its fair share of close games, some of them elimination games. But we won 52 games in a row over 7 years before being knocked out in the semis in 2000, something that surely passes even the most anal statistician's significance test.

With a little help from google, which has a neat Advanced Search by date function for the news groups, here are the close games year by year. I am writing this as dispassionately as can be done, and the guy writing this tonight has disassociated himself from the guy who played in those games:
1994: pool 19-16 over Boulder, 18-13 over Rhino. The Rhino game seemed closer. The Boulder game had a lot of offense on both sides, as 20 of the 35 points had no turnovers. DoG got broken 6 of 14 times by Rhino, however, at a time in the tournament when no one had any idea that Rhino would go 0-5. Looking back, and contemplating the Loser's Lament, I'll say that we had almost no chance at losing the Boulder game and a 10% chance in the Rhino game. Semis: 19-17 over Cojones in a game that merits consideration for the Best Game Ever. It was a great battle that either team could have won, even though we had handled them easily all year (6-1, counting games against the springtime We Smoke Weed). Finals 21-11 over Double Happiness. After the previous day's catharsis, Sunday victory was a foregone conclusion.
1995: pool 18-15 over Double, 19-16 over San Diego. Double game was close to a tossup. San Diego game was one of those where it shouldn't have been that close and they didn't belong with us yada yada no respect. Semis was another possible Best Game Ever win over Cojones, 21-17. Slightly higher quality than the year before because of the win, but it wasn't as historic because it was a repeat. Finals was 21-10 over Sockeye in what might be the Best Played Game Ever (3 turnovers).
Scorecard so far: 2 "no respect" close wins, 1 "just a little", 3 "great games", and 2 "we are so great" not-close games.
1996: pool 15-14 over Saucy Jack after being down 11-4. Start the excuse wagon, it's going to be a long ride. We had a first-round bye and didn't get into the game quickly, they were on a roll having scored 6 in a row to come back against Randall's Island, the game was unlikely to have any implications on where we would finish, we got some bad breaks/plays in the first half, and we were still chuckling to ourselves about Mooney getting stalled on what should have been the very first pass of the tournament. I'm not ready to call this a "no respect" win, but I can't help but think of it as a fluke, so I'm not sure how to categorize it. Semis 19-9 over Z. Finals 19-16 over Sockeye. Never tied after 2-2, although Sockeye had it to tie at 6 and 8. As close as 14-12 in the 2nd half, but then 17-12 and 19-16. Didn't really feel all that close. This could have been DoG's strongest team ever, just because we won so easily without playing our A game.
1997: pool 17-5, 17-10, 17-9 (over semifinalist Z), 15-12, 17-9, 17-6. The close game was against Double, which had failed to qualify for Nationals but got to go after Oregon's Pack of Lies decided to stay home. I think that this is probably where Idris got the term "nicest cheaters", since there were some calls of ours that they disagreed with (although I can't remember what any of them might have been or even whether I thought they were bad/ok/good calls). Not a great game, but could have gone either way. Hard to classify it, though. There is some respect for the game because of the history of having close games against Double, but everything else about the game points to it as one of those which Corey would have accused us of not having respect. (Hey, also check out this thread. Faust was thought (incorrectly, as discovered after Nationals) to have been left off the team's roster at a Sectionals he didn't attend and so there was a big brouhaha about whether he should be allowed to play. That was close to the end of the Golden Days of RSD, by the way.) Semis 17-15 against Ring, after being down 10-4. Some superficial similarities to the Saucy game before, but Ring was just playing phenomenally to earn their lead. Finals 16-10 over Sockeye. 7-0, 7-5, 16-10. Sockeye's first goal in the finals came on a Full Haskell.
1998: Pool play had that one point win over the Condors, a blowout over a Furious team that had taken it to us at Worlds and Tuneup, and some other not close games. Semis over NY (Corey played in this one so must have felt personally aggrieved). Gewirtz wrote of it: "NY gave DoG a good fight. DoG went ahead by 2 upwind goals. WSL was resilient, though, and equalized toward the end of the first half. DoG took a 1 goal lead to the intermission. DoG regained their cushion and NY fought back, but, fell short." I wrote simply, "Semis was uneventful win against NY." Leonardo wrote that it was 6-2, 8-8, 13-8, 14-12 (of this rally, he commented "WSL finally got on track (or Boston eased up in anticipation of closing the game big. It’s remarkable how much these guys really can turn it on and off)."), 17-12. Chalk one up for Corey. Perhaps part of this was that virtually everyone from the NY years and even almost all the key players from the Cojones team of 1995 were no longer with the team, and so we probably felt that any close game against them (the Regional finals were 18-16, and probably felt about the same) was just from us playing badly or uninspired. Finals was 17-15 over Condors, down 6-4 (hmm, don't remember that part), up 14-10 (_That's_ what I remember), tied 14-14 going into a strong wind, 16-14, 17-15. The Condors games were tight contests, no doubt. Way too much wind to be considered great games, though.
1999: Tight Day 2 games against Jam and Ring, both probably games with "too little respect." The offense was great that tournament, not struggling in even a single game, so perhaps that's a common thread. (The other common thread I've identified is that a close game against a team where there's a history of close wins or defeats is much more likely to be considered a good game than a close game against a team that had never beaten us in an important or semi-important game.) But to be fair, a 15-12 game with only 2 breaks isn't really as close as a 15-12 with a lot of breaks, since in the first game the losers would have had to more than double the number of breaks in order to win. Quarters may have been as close as 7-7 before finishing 15-8. Semis was a nail-biter over Furious, finals a 17-12 masterpiece over the Condors (only one break and four turnovers in that game).
2000: wow, rsd says that our first round pool play game against Sockeye was 12-12. Also beat Jam by 2, according to my web page, but all I wrote about Nationals was "Errr. DoG has now won 52 of our last 53 games at Nationals?" No recollection right now of either of those close games. Funny how that memory thing works.

Well, that's it. As I said at the start of this, I wrote this as dispassionately and as disassociated as I could, like I was peering into someone else's head for a documentary, and it's not always pretty. But I said I'd write it and see how it goes, and that's how it went. Tough luck, I guess.

But to go back to the original question, I think I answered it in the 1999 comments. Respect doesn't come from one close game, but from a history of them.


gwbuhl said...

I missed the D hack commenting, which prevented from introducing myself as asshole.

I read your blog, learn from it, and enjoy it. I insist that my wards at Rutgers buy your book and read it. That being said, I am unwilling to read 50 consecutive lines of reminiscing.

You started this post talking about the evolution of strategy. Did you ever get to a point about that? I'll never know.

parinella said...

It's a joke, see. Quite complex, actually, so I understand you might not get it, having done to a state and all.

It all started because the PuPs have been barking a little too loudly, thus causing me to avoid giving them any attention on this blog. One of them started a mini-thread about two teams in one city, prompting me to make my own thread about it, leading in with "I'm not sure why this is on my mind, but..."

Frequent blogreaders would have immediately recognized where I got the idea from, and also known that there are no less than 5 or 6 "whither strategy" threads going on right now. Thus I (or at least the online persona of me), as inventor and defender of everything good in ultimate, needed to talk about a subject as if I was the first one to contemplate it, and led in with a variation of "Not sure why this suddenly occurred to me, but..."

Anyway, there still shouldn't have been any confusion, because in paragraphs two and three, I quickly state that I'm not going to talk about strategy in this post but rather look at whether "DoG don't respect nobody" has any merit.

Anyway, the true joy for me in an article like this is in the writing of it. I got to spend an enjoyable two hours last night sifting through old rsd posts. I don't think I understood the comic genius of Kenny Dobyns in his post-championship years, but I had a bunch of chuckles and guffaws watching him bitchslap a bunch of us.

luke said...

oh, where are the dobbyns' of yesteryear....

i'm going to start developing my online book... why in the hell did i decide to teach....

ringo said...

Testosterone Man, Dobbyns, Elliot Fu, and Gerics masquerading as Phil Rowe (is that right?). Those were the good old days.

Todays' blogs, while more informative, lack a certain flair.

Also, Jim, Corey is right and you are wrong. DoG gave (and gives?) no respect. In large and small ways, DoG was all about disrespecting the other teams, albeit, as Idris has noted, in a seemingly friendly (but more likely condescending manner). That was (is?) part of the Boston charm. Don't try to rewrite history now.


Corey said...

Perhaps I was overly sensitive to it, having lived thru it in NY for so long. That’s how crazy this game is, sometimes it just eats you up inside. I’m a current world champion and Team USA member, and I’m bitching about lack of respect. But it’s how I felt. I know that I have probably earned some grudging respect (or at least my teams have) from you, but what about my old buddies from CRUD or other teams. While not all close, many games were tight and I still always felt that “Haha, got you again losers” vibe from DoG instead of a “Great game, thanks!” type feeling. TK always preaches respect for opponents, perhaps it is just a pet peeve of mine when I don’t feel it’s mutual.

Here’s a chance to earn some respect – has anyone from DoG ever admitted the Condors (pre-me) in ’98 did, in fact, beat DoG in pool play, but DoG made a bad call on game point? I believe Joe Seidler has the video to prove it. Have you guys ever made amends for this? Is there an asterisk in the DoG stat book?

And yes, old Kenny RSD posts are priceless.

parinella said...

Jude Travers-Frazier has the video to prove that he was out of bounds, taken from the pavilion. (I talked to Joe about this way back then, and I seem to recall that we agreed to disagree about whose video was right). I had a copy of it (but lost it after lending it out to one of my teammates once, probably Seeger), watched it, and agreed, although I'm sure it was so close that you can't fault anyone too much for thinking they saw something else.

But even if it was a bad call, the Condors were still about 95-99% likely to win the game, since they had it a couple yards out and there had only been about 4 upwind goals the entire game (probably none of them having had to move the full 70 yards), and we were trapped on the cone with mostly our D squad in (and me!, a mere 7 years ago). But Paul Greff threw an amazing hammer straight into the wind, a flat throw putting the disc all the way across the field. We worked it all the way up the field on the upwind side, then swung the disc back over and scored. John Bar threw a push pass that point, causing many heart attacks. (These reminisces are just for color, not addressing your point.)

Dan said...

Corey -- Don't worry! There will always be a place for you on my coed team.
Dan (Kate's friend).

Anonymous said...

But see, there is a huge disparity between respecting an opponent and letting an opponent feel or perceive respect.

Failure to respect the opponents altogether would have likely resulted in a much shorter winning streak.

- Joe's Brother

parinella said...

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.sport.disc/browse_frm/thread/8a43badf1a9d42c3/64dc2c21f4152177?lnk=st&q=rec.sport.disc&rnum=2#64dc2c21f4152177 is the thread where Jude says "There was a (and what is sure to be) highly debated call at the end of the DoG/Condor game, as Condor threw a scoober for the potentially game-winning goal.

Whether the receiver landed in or out was disputed. Result: disc went back to throwe, Condor turned it over, DoG went upwind to score and win.

I happened to have a video camera going... I will _not_ voice my opinion as to whether or not he was in, because I cannot say for sure (though I _do_ have an opinion)."

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