Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Live commentary on Masters final

There is a 20 minute highlight up on ultitv.com. I thought I would provide commentary while watching. For the most part, I typed as I watched, but paused it three or four times.

Here we go:
Preview. First game all tournament we’re wearing the white shirts. I tried to get cute during the flip negotiations and I ended up losing. Can’t remember if we won the disc flip or not, but we ended up choosing to pull a bunch. Interesting camera shot, far away. Wind is coming toward the camera and from the right maybe 30 degrees.

0-0, receiving. Swing, swing. Nice catch by me, funny high release, followed by another high release by Mooney, foul on the catch. Good effort by Coop just to get fouled. Could easily have been blocked cleanly. Hammer for the goal, Alex to Alec.
1-0, somehow that point got skipped, only one of the game. Amazing how in a 20 minute highlight, virtually every pass is shown.
1-1 We’re on O again, Alex sails the i/o over Alec’s head. Maybe I have a chance to get it but I’m not ready for it, turnover. Ahh, block by Alec, slow walkup. I cut off Mooney for the first pass, quick high release. Another foul somewhere. High release, another foul on Coop’s guy. Lots of short stuff. Alex looking hammer, swing, oh, throw that Mooney. Jeez, look that off, and throw THAT? Well, it’s a goal, ok.
2-1, us, pulling upwind They moved it up the line, huck it, too far (out the back). Ah, a long throw from us. Jeez, the airbounce under the defender’s arm for the goal. Must talk to thrower later.
3-1, downwind. Junk? No, just man, no wait, maybe junk. Ok, junk, as no one is covering the thrower. Trapped on the line, pivot dude. Ooh, nice catch on the crossfield hammer. Nice catch for the goal.
3-2, receiving upwind. Hey, we’re on the line. No offsides today. Paul, fake swing, back the other way. Greff again to me. Standing, standing, ooh, yuk, nice catch by Coop. Jim to Coop for the goal, my only (plus) fantasy point of the game.
4-2, pulling. Two passes, in the middle. Nothing to comment on, diving block or maybe a drop. Ooh, good long cut, but not thrown, then why throw that next one? Ok, it’s caught, that’s good. I was standing behind this one saying “NOOOO”..
5-2, pull. I can’t see them, they’re so small. Zone, thrown into the ground. Quick pickup and score. That’s gotta hurt.
6-2, pull. Another junk or zone. Probably zone, as the marker is chasing the Frisbee. Ok, transition, anvert up the field, another, (is that really your choice?). And another for the goal. Don’t really like that pass.
6-3, receiving. Look at us hold that line. Greff, swing to Moon, throw me the damn disc, I’m open. Swing back, hammer to Marshall. He looks like Lyn. I had a tough time figuring out who that was at first. A huck, ah, a change in camera view, finally, so you can actually recognize people. Ooh, toasted on the other end, fine catch for the break.
6-4, receiving. I break across the stack, must have been a pick in there. Durn. Interesting play to watch, I was focusing on Coop on the in-and-out cut, and Boardman poaches from 10-15 yards away. I spot him, follow his path back to where he was and then see Bickford all the way across the field and try to hit him. As he catches the disc OB, there is no one within 15 yards of him. I hadn’t even considered that I might throw it out there. The throw was carried a little by the wind. Smart play on the transition (how did he get over there after being the poacher? Where was everyone else?) ooh, should have been a veteran travel call on the huck, his foot was at least an inch from the line.
6-5, receiving. Mostly same line in still. Alex wants to huck but can’t. Simon swing to Mooney to Marshall. I have almost no trouble recognizing anyone even with the small screen. Mannerisms are pretty distinct. Another foul. Another jam it in the corner for the goal.
7-5, important one for them. Another camera switch. Huck up the line. Goal.
7-6, important now for us. After being in control, we need to take it to half. Good pull, play up the line. Cut of death, which was open all weekend. Crossfield swill hammer, nice catch by Mooney. Nice throw for the goal, Alex to Alec. That’s halftime.
8-6, pulling. Zone. Transition. Drop? No, point block by Stewart. Medium length huck from Seeger, Cameros runs it down for the goal.
9-6, pulling. Another transition point, I think. Fast break for them. Probably is a goal, yup, lots of open space.
9-7, receiving. Oh, c’mon, throw that. One of you guys huck it to me, even if I’m not that open. Great, up the line, the old “39” offense (as in “don’t bother using the other 39 yards of the field”).
10-7, pulling. Huck, little guy on defense, Turtle doesn’t see Fassina coming up behind. A “man on” call from his teammates would have helped. That’s about the only thing I want to hear from the sideline (or “nobody”, just as important). That’s worth a point a tournament. Jeez, Damon, we yelled at/questioned him all weekend on that backhand flip to the forehand side, he maintained it’s the right throw. Hmm, questionable choice on the goal throw, but a foul, and then a nice catch for the bookend by Fassina. Starting to pull away.
11-7, pulling. Man. Yup, could see that huck coming, no one near, goal.
11-8, receive. Can’t see, too small. Pass, camera switch. Funny, I can recognize myself just from the stomach catch. Another great “39” offense. Five straight passes up the line, cut of death for another goal by Alex, tying a career high.
12-8, looks junky. Downfield quick, goal.
12-9. receive. Just keep it going, guys. Alex fakes the huck. Swing, swing. Huck from Mooney, Simon wide open for the goal. He’s 10 yards in, but the defender has him check his feet, it looks like.
13-9, zone. Seeger and John Bar on the point. Oh, Lenny with the block. He was our best middle middle way back. Gary, pivot or do something that lets us know you’re not afraid. Ok, goal, stupid looking spike. Why now?
14-9, another huck to Turtle, blocked again by Fassina. Turn it over, D, the O wants to win this game. Sigh. Ok, not great movement, but everything is being caught. Ok, good movement there, about 15 passes later, goal!!!!!! Hugs,. Replay, the old chainsaw, even if none of the guys involved know what that call means.
Ooh, nice touch, putting the elimination chart on the screen.
Looks like we had only 3 turnovers in the game, unless there were some at 1-0 that the camera missed. Like I said, virtually every pass was shown, too. That would mean the O was 8/11 (two breaks), and the D 7/7. Their O would then have been 7/14, and their D 2/3. Vaguely reminiscent of the 1995 final, I guess, with the O playing well but not historically so, the D getting no more than an average number of turnovers, but the D not turning it over once they got it. I mentioned this somewhere, probably talking to the UPA reporter, that when we did well, it was because the D scored when they had it. It was always mentally difficult watching the D get it 2, 3 times in a point and give it back each time, not to mention that you actually get the break when they do score.


In case anyone is still reading, let's do a Q&A. Phone lines are open. Questions with 1-2 paragraph length answers preferred.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mixed vs Masters

Someone suggested jokingly that we should have played off against the Mixed champs to see who the real B Division champ was.

I'm fairly certain we would beat a mixed team. But we can ask what the strategies would be for such a game for both teams. And it doesn't even have to be mixed versus men, it just has to have three distinct classes of players. 4 studs on team A, 7 good but far worse players on team B, and 3 decent but far worse than good players on Team A. (This level of disparity can also happen in more recreational play, but one possible solution there would be to completely ignore the worst group of players.) This is what the case would be if you took an all-star team of players from Open and Women's Nationals and played off against an all-star team from Masters Nationals. To generalize, let's just say that the top Mixed and Masters players could play in Open and Women's but wouldn't be anywhere close to as dominant, and the benchwarmers at O/W Nats would be starters in mixed. I think that's a fair assessment of the talent level, although I'm not sure it's completely relevant.

Strategically, it seems fairly obvious. The "mixed" team would want to iso the big 4 as much as possible, just as any team wants to iso its best players, but has the added burden that there will be deep help. They'd probably need to run some kind of spread offense but would need to split its men. For defense against this, perhaps a version of the Clam, or maybe the old Tea Cup we used back in summer league 15 years ago. In that, we'd cover the other team's top 5 players and let the other two roam, nominally playing the equivalent of middle middle and deep deep. For this, maybe you'd cover just 4 and have one of the other three play something like 3 in the Clam or covering whichever of the women was closest to the disc.

When the "masters" team has the disc, I'd be tempted to run a homey with whoever is being covered by the women. Defensively, if this tactic wasn't being used, perhaps a clam with one woman as 4 (weakside downfield) and the others up front (or maybe move one of them to 5). Or maybe a zone. You would probably want to encourage the other team to huck it because you'd win most 50/50 shots. But the old team should be smart and really take a look at where all the defense is before hucking it.

All would mark extra aggressively against the less skilled players and sag off a little on the better ones.

I don't know whether you'd have any additional strategies for upwind/downwind or if you have large variations within each group. (Maybe you'd put your fastest woman up front in the clam.) Or whether you'd prefer to have women handlers or deeps, other things being equal.

Lastly, this will never happen because neither team could stand the embarrassment of losing to the other. Perhaps if someone were to make this the semi-pro league, they'd do it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

where da blogs

Where is everyone? I was hoping to see recaps from AJ, Idris, Hh, and have had to make do instead with summaries from the lesser divisions (Timmy, the 15/16 game). C'mon, men, sack up and let us know what happened. Are there other blogs out there from people who were at Nationals, even as spectators? Feel free to post links in the comments.

And where is that Masters video on ultitv? The other divisions had the misfortune of having their finals on a windier day and so didn't appear as aesthetically pleasing as they could have. Even allowing for that, though, the games didn't seem that crisp on video (I had a morning flight and so didn't go to the fields on Sunday). Lots of athletic plays from the men.

Teams today seem to rely more on the athleticism of the receiver as a catcher, while we used to rely on their athleticism as cutters. Sure, use it as a cushion, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor.

For spending all that time at the fields at Nationals, there seems precious little time to see folks. There are always several people I see only in passing one day and never again, even people in my division. Thank heavens for the beer tent or I might not see anyone.

The immediate post-season is always difficult, even in a year like this one where we won and we didn't have the all-consuming schedule. It takes several days for my body to get back to normal, and there are still some lingering sore spots.

I would really have liked to have played one more game with our team against one of the Open teams at Nationals, just to see. Maybe we'll be able to get a full squad out next spring in preparation for Worlds. We had pretty spotty attendance this year other than at Regionals and Nationals.

That's about it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

1 of N, N >= 3

Vancouver, baby! Worlds, here we come.

I have to admit, this turned out to be really fun and exciting and even emotional. Back last year when I knew I would be “getting the band back together”, I really didn’t even care about the results too much beyond simply wanting to make sure we didn’t embarrass ourselves. I regretted a bit that it was so many years after our peak and that we had probably missed our chance to win the division owing to our advanced age (average 40, only 6 of 31 under 37). But somewhere along the way, the magic returned, people remembered how to play, and it was just like old times.

My first venture into Masters still felt like Nationals, although with four of six teams making quarters, pool play didn’t have the same urgency to it. The most notable difference had nothing to do with the division, but was the weather. Only for a brief time on Friday was it hot and sunny, and for the first time since 1996 in Plano, we got rain. I guess the relative coolness prevented us from losing people to cramps and injuries, as we managed to finish the tournament with all of our players available (although with 31, playing time was tight for some). Equally impressive is that almost all of the vintage DoGs (average age 42) who were not presently hurt (at least five of them who may have been there if not) played.

I don’t think I changed my view of the division that much. Although 8 games in 3 days is a lot, more than the others play, I think the final is just fine happening on Saturday so the “real” divisions can have their finals on Sunday. I wouldn’t have minded moving up the final 30 or 60 minutes even though that would have meant there’d be less of a showcase due to the overlap with the Open semis (oh, and the other divs, too). The field wasn’t populated with 250 pound old men, nor was it just a contest between 33 year olds. The play wasn’t perfect, but then again, neither was it so in the other divs. Pool play was much more civil, for sure. There was almost no ho stack, and not an excess of hucking (or hoping). And once the games got going, and got close, it was just like it always was.

I was very happy with how I played. In contrast to every other tournament, I felt good from the get-go (partly due to taking a Wednesday jog with a Fartlek component to get my legs loose), and except for the start of our last two pool play games, never felt anything but. I did tire by the final, but that was the eighth game of playing virtually every O point in the tournament, 80% of those as The Man. I even got my most D time at Nationals since 2002 (1/6th of a point). I felt like I was as fast as last year, maybe even faster, although it would be hard to come up with a valid reason that would be so, what with my relaxed training and practice schedule. (I will provide one, though: I played in just as many tournaments this year, and about 50% more points. This was my old style of training, playing a lot of ultimate and demanding a lot from myself at those tournaments. Nothing trains you for ultimate quite like tournaments.) I caught about half a dozen hucks, most of them from Alex on opportunity cuts off of flow. These are my favorite, because it’s all about timing and recognition and I feel smarter than everyone else. Sometimes these will come when my defender flashes off ever so briefly to poach on an in-cut, but usually I will just be playing, with my defender fronting me from the middle of the stack, and the play will just develop such that I find myself with no help defender behind me and my man still fronting me, unaware of the change. I take a step in, then go as hard as I can deep for half a dozen steps before glancing up to see if the disc is up. Another reason I like this cut better than bolting deep in the four person play is that I am more confident that the disc will be thrown because I have already assessed the mark. In the finals, I found myself making what I thought was good long cuts several times off the called play only to find the marker preventing the toss.

As in each of the previous 17 Nationals we attended, Alex was convinced that we had the much tougher pool. This time, he turned out to be correct, as all four of the teams from Pool A won their quarterfinals games. These four teams had been awfully close in pool play, with only a meaningless last round game between us and Surly being decided by more than two points. In the other pool, Old and In The Way cruised through Day 1 outscoring their opponents 45-22 (including 2nd seed and 2006 runner-up BIGS), setting themselves up as the early favorite in the tournament.

We started off with Ironwood from Arizona, a nice break-in for us. We had “only” 27 at that point, which was still our largest roster of the year, and it gave us a chance to get everyone acclimated to the tournament. About a third to half of the team had, shall we say, significantly less experience at Nationals than Mooney, who made his record-extending 23rd appearance at the Show. Two had last played in the UPA Series in about 1996, and one fellow had played at College Nationals twice in the ‘80s. And at least half didn’t play in the series at all last year (and only four made it to Nationals, three in Open). So it was good to get our legs going, try out some D’s, and made some mistakes without it costing us. DoG, 15-6. The 3 and 4 seeds, meanwhile, had a 17-16 battle right next to us.

Next up was Mileage from Texas. We knew they had a couple tall receivers who could threaten us but otherwise we felt pretty confident, if for no other reason than we didn’t recognize most of them. I guess five of the teams had cores that were players we recognized from Open (us, Double Happiness, Rage, Boulder, and Sub Zero) plus Above and Beyond, which had a smattering of post-NYNY New Yorkers abetted by more than a few “young” guys. I had told Jeff Brown, our fretful defensive stopper, that if one of them was killing us I wanted a shot if I was feeling well. He said to remind him if it came up. I did end up covering one of them after a turnover and despite being outpositioned, felt confident that I was going to sky him on a floater. I didn’t. As for the game, I already have forgotten the ebb and flow, but I think that we established a pattern of taking a 3 goal lead then letting them back into it before pulling it out at the end.

Next up, our old friends from the Bay Area, Troubled Past. A lot of people thought of this as a finals preview. It was great to see a lot of old friends. I was in Japan with four of them (O’Dowd, Masa, Switzer, and Lippy) back in 1994 as part of a series of clinics that the Japanese federation sponsored to improve the game there. I told Masa that with their successes at Worlds last year, perhaps they will be coming over here now to give clinics. (I should probably write about that trip sometime.) The team also featured Billy and the Worm, two fellow Short Fat Guys who we tried to recruit for our team before they lied to us and blew us off, and a handful of other vets. Following the pattern of the previous game, we got up 3 before giving it back. Ten yards away from the win, I had a Forch moment at 14-13, dropping a short swing pass when I got stuck between pancaking and rim-catching. Instead of ending it and getting an extra half-hour for heckling and the beer garden, we had to play another five points. Double game point featured an exciting play, with receiving stud Alec Ewald misplaying a huck in the end zone, then burying his head in his hands (I had to laugh at that one even with what it meant), before Bickford got the block and we converted for the win. The game was remarkably low-key and friendly despite the history and the significance (I suppose that is a difference from Open Nationals).

This pretty much clinched the pool for us, requiring only that we win one of the games on Friday, and also provided a good setting for the World Series game that night. We had 11 rooms at one of the condos on the Bayside, right next to the Palm Bay Club, where we ventured over for some hot-tubbing. We got a little bit lucky finding that place as we didn’t make the reservation until the Thursday after Regionals, but the rate was good and we had all of us together, plus we didn’t have to worry about drunken yahoos on the beach.

Friday’s first game was against Boneyard from Raleigh, who would have to beat us and 2-1 Mileage to make quarters. Finally during this game the sun came out, and I applied sunblock for the only time of the weekend. We wanted to open up the rotation again after two consecutive tight games. Alex wanted to get his calf massaged by the Boston Ultimate trainer (a friend of ours who has played summer league with us) and figured he could only do it during a game, so he ran over there partway through the first half and delegated the offensive subbing to me. For the next 20 minutes, I had lines ready, switching players in and out depending on whether they were in on the D point, but the D kept scoring. I finally managed to call a line moments before Alex got back, and we scored. With nothing left to prove, I returned the reins, and we cruised to victory and locked up first place.

This set up a trap game for us against Surly, who was also locked into their position.(there could have been a three-way tie for 3rd, but Surly would have taken the second spot on head-to-head). Even though it shouldn’t matter, a loss in that game can have a carryover effect to the next round. So we started off this one treating it normally, and only after they pulled their top players and we opened up a good lead did we relax a bit. The 15-8 final score was meaningless for prediction (but good for the RRI!).

After an extra half hour break, we played our quarterfinal against Philly’s OLDSAG. No matter how big your roster is, if another team’s is bigger, you can make fun of them, and Philly’s 37 man outfit provided us some chuckles as well as 1000 post-game handshakes. There were intermittent sprinkles in the first half to go with a steady quartering wind (I wonder if they can rotate the fields 45 degrees next year so the games will be a straight cross-wind instead). The game was chippier than any of our pool play games, probably because something was finally at stake. Several calls that had opponents groaning, although I’m hard-pressed to remember any of them now except for some point blocks. We broke early to take the lead, but we were broken at 5-5 to give it back, despite an actual layout block by me. They scored upwind against our O to take half 8-6. (Technical note: if it’s an upwind/downwind game more than an offense/defense game, then the upwind break to take half only counts as half a break since there is no ensuing downwinder. Normally, if you lose the half, you have to outbreak the other team in order to win. This game, at the time, was fairly close to the crossover point between O/D and upwind/downwind, so I knew that if the D could score upwind just once, we’d be in good position, though not completely “on serve” at that point. We’d still need a downwind D break, either immediately after the upwinder or after an upwind O score.) The rain continued in the second half, and lightning soon flashed in the distance. I waited for the horn suspending play, but it did not come for several minutes, during which we managed to get our upwinder and downwinder to take the outright lead. I was happy to avoid the horn, since I figured our chances of breaking were greater in bad weather.

So, the first lightning delay at Club Nationals since I have been around. 30 minutes, plus another 17 minutes to warm up, 16 minutes more to soft cap, then an unfortunate 24 minutes to hard cap if necessary. We began trading after play resumed, and it began to look like we might trade out to the cap (we hoped, rather than gakking at double game point). But at 14-13, fate smiled on us. We got a block about 20 yards out, with two defenders bashing into each other hard enough to require injury subs. “Mooney, Greff, you’re in!” shouted Jeff Brown. But then we learned there was a foul called on the throw. “Mooney, Greff, you’re out!” Two defensive-minded replacements went in. Play continued but was sloppy, and we struggled to keep the disc moving. After a turnover near our goal line, one of our guys pulled up lame with an aching hamstring. I found myself called in, only to hear, “Jim, we need a D handler.” So I turned around, a little confused, and starting walking off, only to learn that I was supposed to fill that bill. “Eh, how hard can it be?” I reasoned. “Sure, I’ll stay near the disc.” I was surprised to see that our opponents turned down the opportunity to put in a fresh defender when the point had already lasted 5-10 minutes. I happily dodged and weaved the disc up the field. At one point, I had the disc about 20 yards out from the goal and saw a poach in the end zone but knew it would take a hell of a throw to get it there. By the time I figured out how I had to throw it, my senses had come back and I looked instead for another 10 yard pass, and a few passes later, we had the goal and the win. The game and that point in particular are as fun a one as I can remember being part of in some time, probably since the 2002 semi.

This set up a rematch against Troubled Past at 10:30 on Saturday. If we hadn’t known them before, we knew them from the 33 point outing two days prior. We had a little advantage since we had picked up Mooney, Seeger, and Lenny. The flow of the game was almost identical to the first, but the tone was quite different. Two of them in particular seemed intent on changing the game through their voices when the disc was not in play (one through incessant celebration, the other through complaining). As I said afterwards, it made it a lot less fun to play the game, but a lot more fun to win it (I said this to one of the perps and several of his teammates as I apologized for getting a little obnoxious myself, responding in kind (though to a lesser extent) whenever one of these guys got involved; they replied that they hadn’t noticed; I also chatted about it with celebration guy later over a beer at Mr. Big’s without any animosity). So, we took half by three, and it started to look like we might even pull away, but they solved us for a while and got three breaks in a row to take the lead. We got back on serve and again got into a position where it looked like we might trade out downwinders to the cap. Then DoG blinked. At 15-15, I was having a point reminiscent of the game-winner against Philly, catching every second or third pass and immediately getting off the continuation. I caught another swing, turned and threw it right to Worm. In retrospect, I think I actually intended to throw it to him, since it was the cut I was expecting, and I also saw a flash of Patagonia red moving in that direction. Luckily for me, we got it back, maybe after another set of turnovers, and punched it in. A miscommunication throwaway gave us the disc on their half of the field, and the D guys ran it in for the emotional win and a spot in the finals, back where we belong.

We had almost three hours before the final. We called Jordan, who couldn’t make it down, so our heart and soul could take part in our excitement. We celebrated a little, reminisced a little, and then began getting ready for the big game. Although DoG hadn’t been in the finals since our last win in 1999, I do think that experience helped us prepare. I wouldn’t say that I was hyperfocused and running on adrenaline, but I really paid no attention to the outside agencies at all. I heard Doug heckling Paul one point, and I vaguely remember some other Bostonians calling to me, but otherwise have absolutely no memories of the crowd or the announcers or of doing anything other than playing ultimate. The game itself was easily our most complete game. Traditionally, our best games occurred when the D was able to score most of the time they got the disc. Looking back to the famous 1995 final where we had three turnovers and won 21-10, our D actually had just an average game defensively (9 goals allowed in 20 possessions), and our O had a good but not noteworthy game itself (10 of 13), but the difference was in converting after a turn (11 of 11). And so it was in this game, although not to the same extent (don’t have the stats yet). Our O had some kinks in it at the beginning, but we were able to avoid getting broken thanks to some nice plays by Coop. Through the game, lots of people were making plays and not many were making mistakes. From the writeup, it looks like we might have only had 5 or 6 turnovers the whole game.

The O scores to make it 14, then it strikes me that I might be deprived yet again of a championship-winning goal. At game point in our first win in 1994, I tried a difficult catch on a fouled throw and biffed it. The disc returned to the thrower, swung quickly to the other side of the field, and we (not me) scored. Since then, over 9 titles, I never caught or threw the final goal. So when I realized this, seeing how we were up by 5, I was kinda hoping to get another chance. But then we got a damn D and worked it the length of the field for the title. Well, at least it was one of my teammates who scored it, I suppose.

Surly was nice enough to share beer with us after the game. We got the trophy, donated this year by Throwback, and quickly scanned it to see the record for most consecutive titles (2, by Keg Workers 2000-2001). Pictures, drinking from the cup, hanging out, etc. By the time I was ready to go to the beer tent, it was closed. Alex and I headed to Mr. Big's for some Guinness and a car bomb and to see some friends, then off to the team dinner. I remarked that for coming into this not really caring that much, it felt awfully good and I was proud of how the team came together. Everyone was in pretty good spirits. Kudos to Jeff Brown and Alex for running subs, a difficult task with that many players who hadn't played together all that much.

Now, who to pick up for Worlds next year....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To DQ or not to DQ

That is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

I dunno. It's easy to predict the UPA's decision.

It definitely sucks for the two players who won't be playing. Originally I felt worse for the captain who got dragged down, but it was probably more her fault than the omitted player, who really would never have any reason to suspect that her name wasn't on the roster.

On the other hand, the other 59 teams at Nationals presumably got it right. I spent countless hours checking and double-checking, herding the cats to see who was actually in or not and nagging them to sign up and send in their waiver and enter their birthdate and everything else. Not that I would have done anything with that time, but I'd like to have it back.

I definitely see that the UPA can't let this go with just a shrug. When they first started getting serious about requiring everyone to be a member before playing in the series, membership (and membership dues) increased by more than 10% that year after several years of close to zero growth. They have probably already spent many hours they don't have right now to deal with this when they should be preparing a tournament for the 1500 other players.

But then why does it have to be disqualification? Again, I see the UPA's view, and I can't imagine that any other sports organization would even be having this discussion. If you're not on the roster, you don't play, period. Use someone who is not on the roster, you're DQ'ed and face possible extra sanctions. Simple, right?

But still, it seems harsh, especially because this may be those two's only visit to Nationals. (Then again, players sometimes get hurt the week before or the first game of Nationals and don't play.) They could still be severely punished so that no one would want to be in that situation but still be allowed to play. For instance, have to do 40 hours of community service before being allowed to play in another UPA event. Pay "court costs", a fine to cover the UPA's time on this. Pick up trash every day. Massage Will Deaver's feet at the end of each day after fetching him a couple beers (well, maybe they would prefer to remain DQ'ed to this).

Then again, the UPA doesn't want to nor should have to listen to every sob story (and there would be a lot more if they backtracked), and soon it might become impossible to DQ those who really deserve it. "No tolerance" might be the greater good, all things considered.

So, not much new here. Not a plea to the UPA to reconsider, at least not today. I wrote a couple things to rsd this week that might be construed I think that the whole team deserves to be kicked out; I don't, I just didn't expect anything different from the UPA. This is not your father's UPA, for better and for worse.

Good luck to everyone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Masters preview

Since no one else is doing it, and there is a vast demand for it, here you go.

I got no clue, either. O'Dowd did a preview for the Newsletter. In his original version, he mentioned me and Alex, but what it got past the editor, they took us out and put in Mooney, who had been on loan to Above and Beyond the last couple years. O'Dowd will get his.

Masters was really hard to seed, since there was almost no Masters play this year outside of the series, and there was a lot of turnover from last year. Four of the Regionals winners did not play at Nationals last year (hmm, two Open winners did not, either, which has to be the most in some time). In figuring out what I would send in, I looked at how teams did in Open play this year, but that task was made more difficult by the Score Reporter not reporting what these teams RRI was in Open play. I ended up trying to find equivalents for those teams, opponents against whom they may have had close games, and tried to guess from there, but that too was error-prone. Masters teams are even less likely than Open to have full or near-full rosters at any event, sometimes even Regionals.

We played four Open tournaments this year. Clambake didn't make it to the Score Reporter. For the other three, we were listed as Big Ego Ultimate. At Sectionals, we lost by 1 point to the team that finished 4th at Open Regionals and split with the two teams that finished 5/6 (but won the pool by point differential). The most we had was 20 or so at Sectionals. We had about 15 at Clambake, about 12-13 at Boston Invite, and 8-11 at White Mountain Open. That's another thing about Masters; players tend to be available for only part of the weekend. We had at least four guys who showed up only for Saturday. Another guy showed up for our first game, disappeared for a few hours to go to his daughter's soccer game, then reappeared for part of our game before a bye (this same fellow showed up on Saturday of Clambake moments before the last point of our last game of the day). I think we have 31 at Nationals, three of whom are missing the first day (plus another 3-4 will presumably get hurt on the first day and miss the rest).

Even looking at the rosters won't necessarily help determine how strong a team is (several of you wienies are already jumping up and down saying that should have nothing to do with seeding). "Oh, this guy is great. Well, he was great. 10 years ago, when he played. Hmm, I wonder if he can still walk." At the other extreme, some teams might have a bunch of 33 year olds who either never happened to live in an ultimate mecca or perhaps were never that much as Open players but have hardly aged compared to their peers (and elders). The Senior Golf tour has had several of their top players come from the lower echelons of the regular tour or even from outside the ranks of the pro tour (Allen Doyle didn't even turn pro until 46, played on the mini-tours for a few years before turning 50, and has won more than $11M since).

So, in the end, seeds are based on previous Nationals. Our #3 seed, for instance, probably has a lot of basis in the 1994-1999 Nationals. OLDSAG didn't play last year, choosing to go to Worlds instead, and is seeded 4th. Troubled Past just formed and is #1, based mostly on winning the NW but also probably a little on Double Happiness' success in the 1990s (which is why I argued for the #1 seed based on head-to-head).

Of the 31 on our team attending Nationals, we have 15 guys who played on the championship teams of the '90s, anywhere from 10 to 13 in a given year. 6 of the 8 who played for all six champs will be there, as will 4 of the 6 who played for five of them. Last year, I told a bunch of people, "We're getting the band back together," and I wasn't sure exactly how much of a competitive team it would be, and how much of a reunion tour it would be. I held off on inviting some good players because I wanted to see whether it would be a total reunion tour (maybe not the best move).

But then partway through the year, it wasn't looking at all like a reunion tour. I think only three of old DoG attended White Mountain Open, and maybe only five for Boston Invite. We had good participation at Masters Easterns, but still not overwhelming. I built up the team with other recruits, though, and even without the vintage players, it was looking like we would be at least nominally competitive. It wasn't until the (nearly) full army showed up at Regionals that things really started to come together. Even with our random sampling of 12-20 at previous tournaments, we were holding our own against those young guns, even the ones who ran.

So, I like our chances. And they just got better, because Dick Brown is already frothing and sending out inspirational emails to the team.

Yeah, baby, it starts in a week!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Well, I guess we need to buy shirts, shorts, and numbers.

First, the streaks. 12 Regional titles in a row (and 15 of 16), covering about 50 games (can't be bothered to look it up right now). 16 Nationals appearances in a row (and 18 of 19). 14th in a row with a team called "DoG". 24th straight Regionals appearance, 25th straight UPA series appearance.

The tournament went better than expected. As I mentioned on rsd, no one had bought his ticket to Sarasota prior to the tournament. There were three teams of roughly equal caliber (plus two teams that weren't as competitive) and two spots to Nationals. the format was full round robin on Saturday and modified clipped elimination on Sunday (1 plays 2 for 1st, 3 plays 4 to be eliminated, loser and winner play for 2nd spot to Nationals). It's version 5.1.2.A.chi, I think, in the handbook.

First round is at 8:30. We have 38 names on our mailing list, about 35 on the roster, and somewhere between 25 and 30 who are actually playing. We hadn't had anything close to a full team in our prior five tournaments, and as is typical of a Masters team, introductions were done at the beginning of Regionals. People are still strolling in at 8:30, or 9 for that matter (one player was at the Sox game the night before which didn't end until 1), but we still have plenty. We roll over Mt. Crushmore 15-4.

Next up is Tombstone, the #2 seed. They could easily have been the #1 seed, or the #3 seed. They are purported to be a merger of Tombstone, which won Canadian Nationals a couple months ago, and GLUM, which finished 2nd at CanNats and won the NE Region last year, finishing 5th at Nationals, but word is that they are bringing a small squad because of Canadian Thanksgiving. I develop an immediate dislike on the first point for one of their players who mauls me a couple times (not violently, just hackingly) while playing poor defense, then tapping the disc back in quickly and silently. The game is close through the first half, but we pull away. Mooney convinces Alex to withdraw a foul call, thus leading to a discussion after the game of the many, many, many times that Steve has handed the disc to the other team. (Most notable was in pool play at 1996 Worlds, where a pick call on double game point just prior to a huck was somehow overruled by Moons, and we lost right then and there. I know one player who is still livid about that. But this led directly to another story of a double game point call. At pool play at Nationals in 1998, a Condor caught a scoober very close to the line in the end zone. (Two videotapes from cameras right next to each other provided conclusive but contradictory evidence on whether he was in.) Discussion ensued, I saw Mooney saunter over to hand the game away, and I say to him, "Steve, don't say another word." He backs away, the disc eventually goes back, same pass is thrown and is OB, we move it upwind for the win. With the wind as strong as it was and the disc where it was after it was sent back, I'd have to guess that the Condors would still expect to win in excess of 95% of the time.) We stretch it out to a 5 goal win, which gives us a lot of breathing room in the event of a 3 way tie.

Next up is Above and Beyond, the other team that could have been seeded anywhere from 1-3 (their biggest claim is that they made semis at Nats last year and are the only of the three teams who played in the series last year as the same team). It's our second tough game in a row, but at least one of the three had to play back-to-back (given that none of the tough games were in the first round), and even though we were the top seed and thus in line for the favorable schedule, it wasn't really an earned first seed so we sucked it up. Similar pattern to the first game, close for the first half, then we pulled away, this time winning 15-11. A&B may have realized that point differential wasn't going to come into play if they lost, and even if they won, they would still need to win or keep it close against Tombstone in order to finish top two, so perhaps they conceded at some point. I noticed that Arnold and I were rarely on the field at the same time, which was a surprise since he so often covers me. I've come to really enjoy playing against him because it's always a battle, and though it was easier with others on me, I was disappointed.

We then had a bye, followed by a final game against Not Dead Yet, a team which plays in the local club league. I played one point only and was on the field for only about 15 seconds, which was enough for me to make the Man cut and huck the goal.

I had only two turnovers on the day, a drop on a stupid hammer and a breakmark flick to the middle of the field. (The hammer should have been the fourth straight O point goal for us that came off a hammer or blade to me, only two of them from Alex.) I went up well twice. I was embarrassingly bad at jump balls last year and possibly the year before. In my defense, it always seemed that I had to wait an excruciatingly long time for those and thus had to jump flat-footed against a young defender coming in at full speed. I once again found myself playing almost exclusively O points after playing both ways all year. But it seems like we have a fairly deep (though less star-laden, even if the names are the same) roster this year, and the tournaments are long, so I can deal. I think I will play some D points as needed at Nationals, but generally will stick to O.

So, we were set up for two shots at making Nationals. Finals are at 10:45, though we tell everyone 10:30 (but still people saunter in; having a local tournament is great and was definitely an advantage, but players try to maintain a semblance of normal life and so are more likely to skip out on parts of the weekend). And what a difference for the weather. Saturday was hot, probably in the 80s and with a lot of sun, but it's in the 50s with some wetness and more wind than the day before. We pull to start the game and are up 4-2 with several chances to add another. There is an injury after one of their turnovers, and I am called in for O. I expect to be the first cutter, but someone else goes first, unsuccessfully. I fill but the pass is behind me and it goes through my hands. A few passes later, the mark is broken and my guy catches the continuation for the goal. Well, that was an excellent 30 seconds of ultimate. Next point, I throw an open side pass several yards behind the receiver, and we are broken for the tie. I take myself out. At 7-5, receiving for the half, we become embroiled in a hell point. I have one turnover that point, a pass similar to the potential game-ender that Goat would later have in the Open finals, and another pass that was not caught (I think it was mostly a drop, but it wasn't a perfect throw), but I continue to work hard, cutting deep at least twice, and am about to cut to the end zone a third timebut see Mooney streaking that way, so I do a highly effective stand still and act like I'm about to cut, and the thrower hits Steve for the goal.

Somewhere in the first half, I have one of my trademark triple-bobble catches. The field had a lot of bare spots in the middle, and as I cut for a simple dump, I trip. I get a hand on it to keep it alive, maybe the defender hits it once or twice, but by the third or fourth contact I have in under control even though I am still on the ground, and snag it.

At halftime, especially with us receiving, they apparently decide to open up the bench in order to prep for the backdoor game. They score only twice more and we can begin our (dry, unfortunately) celebration.

It was terrific and even a little bit emotional to win with this crew. We have about a dozen of the old DoG plus several others who have been around the block, but also several players for whom this will be their first trip to Nationals, and I'm happy for them, more than I was happy for my 23 year old teammates in previous years (nothing against them personally, just that 23 year olds generally haven't been around the game long enough to truly appreciate it). And though we didn't win by less than 4, I never had the feeling that playing the games was just a formality, as was so often the case in recent years, where our typical chances of making Nationals were well over 99%.

So, one $450 plane ticket later, I am on my way to Sarasota. At some point, Alex and I realized we have to contact Joe Seidler so he can update his Hall of Records. Yeah, addendum!

Open seedings

Well, you gotta rank Boston ahead of Sockeye since Boston is 1-0 head-to-head.

Of course, I don't mean that. A team will play 30-50 games over the course of a year (more when you count the split squad teams they send to some spring tournaments), but some just want to take the results of 3, 2, or even 1 of all those games as the primary determinant of which of two teams deserves a higher seed. It's particularly silly in this example because it was a one-point pool play defeat in a tournament that Sockeye won (while Boston lost in quarters), a tournament that had 9 of the Nationals qualifiers plus Revolver and the Buzz Bullets.

Anyway, as promised, here are my seedings. I wrote a post last year about the method. The only change this year was to give bonus points also for making the semis at a top tournament like ECC or Boston Invite.

The method is to take a team's tournament RRI as shows up in the Score Reporter, give bonus points for finishing high, take a weighted average (with bigger tournaments counting as more), add bonus points for last year, and regress them to a low-Nationals-team level if they don't have enough tournaments this year.

One big problem I can't figure out is how much credit to give Jam for last year. Qualitatively, a team gets credit for both how they did and for how their Regional equivalent did, so Jam would get some credit since they won the Regional and the top finisher from the NW won Nationals, plus they're from the NW, which always seems to be worth extra points. They have the second highest rating prior to the bonus points, but three teams would jump ahead of them if they got no points.

So, without further ado, here are the results:
Team w/2006 No 2006 RRI
Sockeye 1 1 1
Bravo 2 4 4
Furious 3 11 7
SubZero 4 3 3
Jam 5 2 2
Ring 6 5 5
Boston 7 7 9
Condors 8 6 6
Chain 9 10 10
GOAT 10 9 8
Rhino 11 12 12
DWide 12 8 11
TStop 13 13 13
Machine 14 14 14
VBB 15 15 15
Pike 16 16 16

1. Furious is an interesting case. RRI by itself has them 7th, but they drop to 11th because they didn't do well in elimination games (other than Can Nats; they lost in Sectionals and came in 3rd in region). But then the bonus for last year lets them leapfrog all those teams.
2. Otherwise, there is a disappointing lack of difference from straight RRI, whose main flaw in seeding is that it overvalues close losses. It's a predictive algorithm, so it is more accurate looking forward, but doesn't properly give credit for wins and losses. I may have discussed this already, but compare Boston and GOAT at CUT and Boston Invite. GOAT has a higher RRI at CUT than Boston, even though Boston beat GOAT twice and won the tournament. Similarly, GOAT won Boston Invite and beat Boston but had only a small advantage in RRI. In both cases, the tournament winner happened to have some close games along the way while the other team had bigger victories in the other games. I think this is probably where the algorithm is most off from how I would seed teams (and it was designed to mimic that method). Two of the Regional runnerups (Chain and Condors) had higher RRIs than the champ.
3. Most teams were pretty consistent, even comparing tournaments like Sectionals and ECC. "Inconsistent" Boston actually had the 4th lowest variance, but perhaps their inconsistency is manifested within a tournament rather than from tournament to tournament. The VBB had the second highest variance, but that is due to one significantly higher performance. That touranemnt? Nope, it was Sectionals, which was more than 200 points (equivalent to a 15-11 win) higher than any other tournament.
4. Sub Zero was surprisingly high. They were helped out a lot by their dominance at Regionals, which was the highest RRI for any team at any tournament this year (2954 including the 40 point bonus for winning).

I guess what I might want to do instead is to somehow figure out a strength of field for a tournament, allocate points based on final placement, then adjust for wins and losses during the tournament (so someone who wins while going undefeated would do better than one who wins while losing twice in pool play). Sounds doable.

The remaining issue I haven't addressed yet is how to handle inconsistencies. Sockeye emerges as #1 but lost their Region. They are so far ahead of Bravo that my solution is to bring Jam in front of them for the overall #1 and leave the others in the same order. DW and Chain are also inconsistent, but in this case, their average score is right in the middle of some other teams, so the final seedings by this algorithm are:
Johnny Bravo
Furious George
Sub Zero
Ring of Fire
Boston Ultimate
Chain Lightning
Truck Stop
The Van Buren Boys

Well, even I don't believe it, but once the method was set, there is no subjectivism. GOAT and Rhino seem low, but what higher team deserves the 11 and 12 seed?

Friday, October 05, 2007


I was just checking out the other regions that had pools of 5 to see their schedules. Three of the Divs at South Regionals had 10 teams (5 per pool), and each had a different schedule. The one in the format manual is the one we used at Sectionals. Here it is:
4 v 5 2 v 3
1 v 3 2 v 4
1 v 5 3 v 4
1 v 4 2 v 5
1 v 2 3 v 5

Kinda sucks to be 3 in this format, opening with 2 and then 1. What is especially interesting is that finishing 2nd in the pool instead of 3rd can be quite beneficial, more than the difference between 1st and 2nd or 3rd and 4th. In a 5 team Masters Regionals, 1 and 2 play off for the 1st spot to Nationals while 3 plays 4, then there is a second game to go. Thus, if 1-3 are equal, the teams that finish top two have a 75% chance of advancing, while 3rd has a 50% chance. So, what might be the most pivotal game of the pool is played in the first round, then the next most pivotal games are in the 2nd round (not only 1v3 but also conceivably 2v4 if 4 is underseeded).

Speaking of opening with 2 and 1, I'm still a little ticked about the seeding and format at 1990 Nationals. We (Earth Atomizer, the little engine that could) had made Nats in 1989 ahead of Graffiti, had split with them during the year (and neither had won anything since NYNY and Boston #1 (let's see, they must have been First Time Gary that year, but let's just call them Titanic) were winning everything in the area), but they won the final game, and somehow they finagled the 3rd seed (or maybe it was because our seeding representative, Bruce Jacobson, was too nice). We were bummed because we wanted a shot at Titanic in the semis instead of NYNY, who always handled us. (As an aside, we played Titanic closer than Graffiti did, while they played NYNY closer than we did.) Anyhoo, it all went to seed until we dismantled Graffiti 19-9 in the game to go, but it was too late to play the 2/3 game, so we played it the following week and won, 21-17, to earn the #2 seed from the mighty NE. Titanic had lost by 1 in the semis at Nats in 1989, and were in year 4 of a 17 year streak of making semis. So, out of 12 teams, they seeded us....

9th. Just ahead of Titanic at 10th.

And our schedule had us playing the top seed LA in the first round, then 2nd seed (3rd overall) Windy City in the second (and final) round of the first day. Didn't seem fair. We got smoked by LA, 19-7 (this was the first year pool play games were to only 19 instead of 21), then lost a two-pointer to Windy City to end our tournament. We won our last three games after that so we could play the what-if game. We definitely would have benefitted from a different first day, but then again, maybe the next games wouldn't have gone the same way had we played them early. The Condors game in particular probably would have had a different tone. We got them on the last day after they had fallen apart. They went in seeded 3rd in the pool but played and acted badly, and actually kicked off one of their players (a captain, maybe? I hardly knew who anyone was back then, being only slightly older (25) than most of you reading this blog, and rsd did not exist yet).

Then again, it worked out ok for Titanic (better, actually). They opened with NYNY (and lost), but then got #2 seed Tsunami, who IIRC didn't have everyone there the first day because they knew they were just going to have two games they would win. Titanic won that won and made it to the finals.

Anyway, go DoG.

What happens at Clambake...

Gets blogged about here. But I won’t name any names.

Helluva party. I got there at 9:30 to a raging multi-pronged scene, left a little before 1, figuring that no good could possibly come from me staying any longer, and it was still raging. Favorite moments:

Mullets for charity. Pay $20 (to go to Special Olympics, the targeted beneficiary of the event), get a mullet by a drunk female. The best one was when the haircutter stabbed the haircuttee (the first one, I believe) in the ear and he began bleeding. It brought back the memories of my last head wound, seeing all that blood spurt out. Pretty cool.

Breast shots:
Some woman with a cleavagy shirt nestled a shot of tequila (or some other fine liquor) in her bosom and some willing payer got to drink it. Not sure how much overeagerness was allowed before the shot was ended. This of course led to body shots, and perhaps some other type of shots that can’t be blogged about.

There was a house band off in another room, plus a DJ that had lots of people on the floor.

Frisbee games:
As I drove in, I could see several sets of illuminated sticks for Cups, which seems to be the game of choice these days. A guy at work described a Frisbee game recently and wondered if it was ultimate. Nope, it was Cups.

Food and beer:
Lots of it, everywhere.

So, the breadth and depth of the party was like nothing I’ve seen at a Frisbee party. No matter where you wandered to, there was something going on, not just a bunch of dudes hanging around a keg swapping stories (although there was that, too).

So, definitely a worthwhile experience. The one eerie part was that it was really far away from everything. While I was driving up, it reminded me of an old movie called "Race with the Devil", where some campers in an RV in the middle of nowhere witness a Satanic human sacrifice, then spend the rest of the movie trying to flee.

So, the ultimate. Saturday was a bit slow. We appeared sluggish all day (or maybe I'm just projecting), and we took all of our games, each a litttle closer than it should have been. We tried working on some of our defenses, but nothing seemed to work especially well. With a full squad (and more of the veterans), perhaps some of our zones and transitions will be a bit more effective.

Sunday had a late start. First round for anyone was at 10, but as people strolled in at 10, there wasn't even a full setup at Frisbee Central. My wife's dumb old team didn't have a program and weren't sure what fields they were supposed to be on, nor was anyone else. So they just sort of wandered over to where they thought they might be and set up, but it looked like it might have been a too-narrow sliver between two other fields (it was 31 yards wide). So they moved to some other field and got started sometime around 11, about the same time as everyone else. The TD had warned that they needed to start on time as games in teh past had been capped at 4, but they just decided to push the whole schedule back, meaning that were we to make the finals, we probably wouldn't get out before dusk. Well, it was a nice day out, so I guess that's ok.

The boy and I then went inside and played some in the gym. They had an indoor track there, and the day before we had done some 55m sprints. He had a pretty good surge every time at the end, I was proud to see. This morning, we went into the batting cage and played some foot baseball and running the bases. He loves to hit the ball in our yard and run around the bases, and seems to understand the basic rules about getting tagged out and having to be on the base and foul balls. Here's a video of him about 3 months ago. His swing has continued to improve. At the beginning of the summer, I would basically have to hit his bat with the pitch in order for him to hit it, but now he does pretty well no matter where the pitch is. I haven't instilled plate discipline yet, which is not something his old man is famous for, either, but if he wants to make it to the pros, he has to learn it.

So, we played against the Pitts brothers in our first round, former teammate Darden and his much older brother James, whom we used to play against 10-15 years ago. They were nice enough to play zone against us the first point and we never looked back.

Our semis were against Harvard, who apparently hadn't entered the fall series. I recognized a few of their guys from Sectionals the previous weekend, but damned if I could tell you which team they were on. Well, I'm guessing either New Noise or Gunslingers, but I wouldn't wager a lot of money either way. So, of course, we immediately get broken to start the game, then again, then again. We finally score to make it 3-1, then come down in zone. From their end zone, they throw a looping forehand to my side. I drift back, leap for my third competitive Callahan goal, and have it bounce out of my hand and get caught. They proceed to score without turning. We continue to trade, clawing back one or two here and there, and eventually tie it at 10 and 11. But we couldn't score again, and couldn't force a turnover, and those Harvard kids get the thrill of their young frisbee lives, second only to making Nationals probably. Well, in our bid, we did promise to "provide plenty of opportunities for opponents to school one-time greats of the game who still delusionally think they're awesome."

In retrospect, we should have done something about getting beat deep so often other than trying harder or hoping it would stop. Afterwards, I mentioned how defenders need to "orbit" around the cutter as soon as he turns upfield after a comeback cut, rather than continuing to chase after and hoping to catch up if it's thrown. But perhaps after the thir or fourth huck would have been more timely. I suppose that's where Dick Brown comes in handy, to throw his handy, storm off the fields, simmer for a few minutes, and eventually tell everyone how to play better.

Of the three "I can't believe I lost to this team"
games this year, this one was the most that the other
team did to earn. Against Gunslingers at Sectionals,
it was equal part us playing badly and them playing
well, and against Colt .45 at WMO, it was mostly about
us plus one of their guys having the game of his life.

At the end of last blog entry, I discussed individual
game RRIs, but misinterpreted their meaning. A game
RRI is a sample, but of both teams. So, if we have a
single game score typical of an Open Nats team, in
reality maybe half of the difference is due to the
other team playing worse than usual. Additionally,
the winner is typically luckier (for instance, a
Harvard guy yesterday bobbled the disc twice into the
end zone and fell down and had the disc land on him
for a goal, oh, and I dropped a Callahan that ended up
being caught and they scored without turning it), so
even if the teams played identically, a second
sampling would probably result in the loser being
closer. So maybe only 1/3 of the difference in RRI
between a team's overall RRI and an individual game
RRI should be attributed to the team.

So, onto Regionals tomorrow. Three go in, two come out. (Plus two other teams.) Big games at 10:30 and 12:30 should reveal where we are. We've played the last two weekends, but against faster but less experienced players, so it will be different against Masters. Paradoxically, it might be more difficult in certain situations to get open, as simple setups just won't work as well.

Ok, gotta run. Good luck to all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sectionals 2007

Alex recounted the details of the tournament pretty well over on his blog, so I’ll just recap them here and give more impressions, which is really what all of you want to read.

We started out terribly, losing a grudge match against the Gunslingers, 13-9. There were numerous rookie mistakes that game on all parts, people just a little too anxious to impress and make plays, and not enough of the seamless efficiency we were famous for. As with the rest of the weekend, we played a basic offense with a four-person play and fills. We stayed with man-to-man defense for too long that game when it wasn’t working that well. I didn’t leave that game with a good feeling about things.

Game 2 was similarly unimpressive. We got broken twice (out of four points) against a college zone D in the first half, the lowest point of the weekend and possibly my career.

I missed the third game to attend the Bolton Fair with my wife, son, and parents for about 20 minutes. There was horrible traffic management there. Coming from the east, fairgoers were forced to wait for 30-45 minutes just to park. There were three huge parking lots, but all the cars from the east (which had 75% of the cars) were shunted to the first lot. However, the parking lot traffic directors were inefficient. They would frequently stop traffic to allow a few cars from the other direction to come through, and occasionally stopped traffic for no apparent reason. There were a few cones in the lot intended to direct foot traffic, but no one enforced it and so car access to the lot was frequently restricted as a result. Only once in the 20 or so minutes I stood watching did they do something proactive, waiving about 20 cars ahead to one of the other under-utilized lots. I am reasonably confident that I could have gotten cars parked twice as fast with no more than one accident. So, instead of spending an hour there, I had just enough time to pay admission, stand in line for tickets for my son to go on rides, and watch him ride one thing. The rides were a ripoff, too, generally $3 per person for a typical carnival ride. They did have a lot of other county-fair type activities (including a Frisbee-catching dog!).

Back to the fields for a brief warmup prior to the Red Tide game. In another low point of my career, I did the math incorrectly in evaluating the tiebreak possibilities, at least twice. (It was easy enough to do that as soon as the game ended, I thought about it for two seconds and said, “Hold on, that’s not right” without even running the numbers.) We started out with a gift turnover and break, expanded our lead, and won convincingly to take 1st place in the pool.

Semis on Saturday was another grudge match, this time for us. If you remember correctly, this was the team that sent me to the hospital when we played them at Boston Invite. The offender was pointed out and acknowledged me but never bothered to mutter even a simple “sorry about that”. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I am obviously ok now, but it was a bit reckless, and I did need stitches. I think I made a joke about being entitled to kick him in the groin at some point. Again, we had our chances this game, and it would have been nice to win to get a chance against my old mates and the new kids.

So, impressions. First off, it remains weird playing in a tournament I don’t think I have a chance to win (although some part of me thought it _could_ happen). This was especially so because it was Sectionals, where I hadn’t lost a game since 1991. That was also approximately the last time where I was actually looking forward to Sectionals. That was an interesting year, by the way. I had a foot injury that fall and so didn’t practice or play much. I sat out most of Sectionals except for the game against Titanic. Our team may have beaten Harvard by just 1 goal, in fact, but we made it to the finals. I was warming up by playing football with our opponents, and Gary Lippman felt it necessary to point out how bad we were that year, and that just really pissed me off. In a game to 13, I threw three goals and caught five more. On the bad side, though, I had a critical late turnover on their goal line and we lost by 1. Rats. There were two more scares for the #1 Boston team since then. In maybe 1995, we were close late in the game against Snapple, but they gakked it away as they were wont to do. And we beat Dos Manos by only 1 in 1998 as we were working on our split stack offense the entire game. (Late in the first half, I asked an opponent the score, was told we were losing, and didn’t believe him.) So, Boston #1 continues to have the longest streak of Sectional titles in the country.

It is also weird to take pride in finishing 3rd in the Section and in losing a close game to a team that will not make Nationals (but no pride in losing badly to a team not expected to make the second day of Regionals). But it’s action, isn’t it?

I think I had four blocks on the weekend, five if you count the one where I called a foul on myself, completely surprising the offensive player. The block itself was clean but I was pretty sure I went through his body to get there. He wouldn’t have called anything, either. All but one of these were on handler cuts, and I left my feet on two of them. I was only overmatched once all weekend, by a little squirrelly guy. I had been told he was squirrelly and volunteered to take him, but I thought he was a squirrelly handler. He was instead a squirrelly receiver, so he combined actual running with his squirreling and so had me spinning. Oh, I also took out a pivoter. The lanky opponent had caught a disc near the line and I thought he may have been out, so was thinking about that a little as I jogged downfield with my guy. I think I followed in my guy’s steps, a foot or two outside the pivot foot (but six feet from the thrower’s body), only to be surprised by a rapid pivot back to the forehand side, and I bowled him over. Whoops. I should have been more alert and known that was a possibility. I apologized to the guy on the other team who yelled at me about it, to the thrower, and again later to the thrower, and now to the unwashed masses.

As typical of the past couple years, I felt better later in the weekend than at first. I played basketball last Monday but then nothing again until Saturday, which explains it a bit. I would like to get in one speed workout per week the rest of the season, and will try to break a sweat the day before Regionals. (Goals must be achievable, you know.)

Overall I felt really good, though. I was able to move quickly, went up nicely the one time I had to, got open pretty easily both downfield and near the disc. With another tournament (Clambake) this weekend, I expect to be rarin’ to go at Regionals.

I don’t think I changed my opinion of Sectionals, though, as a result of being “one of those teams we have to play because the UPA says so.” While it would have been nice to play a game against “Boston #1” where they were trying hard, not playing them didn’t significantly alter my Sectionals experience (other than it meant we lost a game we wanted to win). Boston Ultimate blanked the first two teams they played, and even shut out New Noise in the first half on Saturday, I heard. In a Section that has a handful of teams, perhaps it is necessary to the UPA for a team like Boston Ultimate to play, but here, where there were 25 teams total, there were still plenty of opportunities to play good games even without them (and for lower level teams to play someone significantly better). I guess I still don’t see the point of playing a 15-2 game, for either team.

I’m a little disappointed that we don’t have an Open RRI, just a Masters RRI. Oh, heck, let me just figure out an estimate. I looked at all of our games, pro-rated it to a game to 15, and took the RRI of the team that expected to finish with that score against that opponent. For instance, first game was a 13-4 loss to Boston Ultimate. Translate that to 15-4.6. I went to the Score Predictor for BUY and saw that the middle team that would lose 15-4.6 had an RRI of 1974. Repeat for the entire schedule. Average the scores.

Result: Average 2331. Best game was 15-7 against Phoenix at Boston Invite (2656), then 13-12 over Bro White at WMO (2598) and 13-7 over Red Tide at Sectionals (also 2598). A typical low-level Nationals team has an RRI of about that, but I don’t buy that on our best day we would be on an equal footing with them. There is, of course, the problem that each of those games is just a sample and likely not indicative of our true “best” game. Our average is right around the teams that will probably go into Regionals in the 5-9 range. Our worst performances were against Gunslingers at Sectionals (1958) and Boston Ultimate Y at WMO (1974), which puts us at the “didn’t qualify for Regionals” level. It would be kind of interesting to repeat this best-and-worst for other teams, but nah.

Workout this week: did a sprint workout in front of my house tonight. 4x100, 6x50, 8x30, 6x(backpedal fast for 5 seconds and sprint back). Started each rep on the minute, 5 minutes between sets.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The game is afoot

Big Ego Ultimate/DoG plays its first tournament since June this weekend, entering Sectionals as the #4 seed. We open with a pivotal game against the Gunslingers, who we beat by 1 at Boston Invite, and close with Red Tide, playing a couple college teams in between, then the usual format machinations on Sunday to guarantee that if the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th best teams are in one pool and all teams play consistently, the game to determine the antepenultimate spot to Regionals is fair, or something like that.

Ok, I was kidding. They don't care about the antepenultimate spot.

We're in the Score Reporter as Big Ego, but I submitted our roster as simply "DoG", although whether it stands for "Death or Glory" or "Delusions of Grandeur" has yet to be determined. As usual, our shirts our nowhere to be seen. During our heyday, I don't ever remember having team shirts at Regionals (other than the year where we didn't get new shirts and just used the ones from the year before), and at least once they showed up at Nationals (and one year at Worlds, they didn't even show up, and we played with only a light shirt). Now, we need freakin' numbers on the shorts. Is there a chance this rule is going to be revoked? Anyway, we gotta get working on that.

So how does the team look? It's hard to say. We'll have something like 20 of our 30+ at the tournament, I think, although not everyone has bothered responding to the poll. We've averaged about 10-12 of us (plus some outsiders sometimes) at the four practices we've had the last three weekends. Since we've had so few and needed to play so much, we haven't really talked a lot about what our strategy is. We will probably use our bye this weekend to do some walkthroughs and even chalktalk about things like defense against the ho stack.

We will treat this weekend as a learning experience, and also a bit of a reunion. It will be less about subbing to win than about getting familiar with each other and having some good times (although the prohibition against alcohol will inhibit that).

If we keep winning (or if we finish 2nd on Saturday), we'll get to play Boston Ultimate. Perhaps we'll ask them to play zone D in order for them to practice and us to score. Or maybe we'll just pull off the Best Win Ever and take them down.

The Masters race is wide open in the Northeast this year. There are three teams competing for two spots (plus two other teams, as well as five Grand Masters teams), and it's anyone's guess who will make it. Two Canadian Masters teams which finished 1 and 2 at their Nationals (one of which won NE Regionals last year) combined, but apparently they will be bringing a reduced team to Regionals because of Canadian Thanksgiving. Above & Beyond has made Nats three years running, losing in semis last year and finals in 2005 (although we did steal Mooney back from them). We beat A&B twice this year at Masters Easterns, but that was early June. A&B lost to Wesleyan (!) at Sectionals last weekend, but they probably had only half of their players. Of course we think that we're the best team (hence the name Big Ego Ultimate (hmm, Delusions of Grandeur also applies)), but we also know it's up for grabs.

We are also going to Clambake. I think this is only the 2nd time I've played there, and I'm really looking forward to it. From what I remember and all I hear, they throw a really good event (it's a Clambake theme). It's a bit of a shame this year that it falls on the only weekend between Sectionals and Regionals, or else it might attract more top teams from the area, but it has in the past and there is no reason that it can't again with a little bit of effort (vintage DoG went once, recent DoG went once). Great chance to bond as a team. More to come about this when it's time.

Workout this week: played basketball Monday night. I avoided covering that one guy who cheats most of the night, but in the last game he matched up against me, then did a couple pushoffs, so I worked him hard and didn't let him get away with his lowering the shoulder or hand to the stomach when cutting. I'm sure we'll match up again. It's kinda fun in a way, and as I get better from playing, I'm sure I'll own him, but I could also just blow my top. We'll see.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

goaltimate strategy

We played some goaltimate at the start of practice last weekend and actually had to stop in between games to explain some basic strategies. Although I was surprised that we had to, I guess I shouldn’t have, as most hadn’t played before. The two key ones were:
  1. Get the disc to a power position just in front of the goal.
  2. Position yourself on defense like you’re playing basketball, not ultimate.

Now, the first of these may be partially or mostly dependent on the style of offense and defense that we play, which is largely unchanged since we won $2500 at the Inaugural Goaltimate tournament in San Diego in 1999. Atlanta had great success against us at the Goaltimate Grand tournament by setting up 5-10 yards outside the goal and extending the defense, but otherwise we’ve not really gone with any setup much different from “get it in front”, and the defense is generally “clog the front”. But perhaps this is due to offensive success at the fast break, quickly taking advantage of any defense that extends all the way out to the clear line (and fails to get the turnover). Hmm, another factor is that probably half of all goaltimate games played in the Boston area in the last 10 years have been in the snow, which acts as a great impediment to wanting to run a lot. Whatever the reason, we tend to play half-court.
For defensive positioning, we face-guard a lot when we play ultimate but that is deadly in goaltimate. Even when the defender does more triangulation, the basic position is between the thrower and the receiver. In goaltimate, the default has to be between the receiver and the point beneath the center of the arch, facing the clear line with body turned to the outside. But some were initially playing even with or in front of the receiver, allowing the receiver a clear path to the goal for a leading pass.
There was also a little bit of unawareness of feet, with at least two uncontested, not that difficult catches coming with a receiver just beyond the goal.

We played again today and though it was better, there was still a little more faceguarding than is good. We also got plenty of good experience at dealing with bad calls from the other team, and one of our games ended up with both teams declaring themselves the winner.

I suggested once or twice that we ought to play a full game (or even a point) completing following the rules, but then I thought, "what's the point?" other than to prove a point. Notable violations would include miniscule travels, saying "stall" or just "one" instead of "stalling", invasion of body space, and offsides by both teams if playing ultimate. I vacillate between being a rules lawyer and a hippie. Most of the time, I end up following the rules myself, noting others violations, and doing nothing about them other than an occasional snide remark.

Got off one good zing as a teammate was misintepreting the rules on a few occasions, as he does with the golf rulebook. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Jordan." Alex laughed, as did I, and that's all that matters.

Anyway, any comments on goaltimate strategy?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another year, another title

The Cougars rallied to win the B Division playoffs in the Sudbury Men’s Modified Fast-Pitch Softball League. We lost the first game in the series 18-14, then in the second game hung on for a 9-8 victory as the potential game-winning run took a called third strike, setting the stage for our heroics. Copying the template that won us the C league championship two years ago, we went down big (8-1), began rallying with a Parinella home run, and scored several in the last inning to win it.

[Quick rules: 10 fielders, fast-pitch but with no windmilling, no leading or stealing, “courtesy” runners allowed for gimps, everyone bats, otherwise regular rules except for the occasional 6 feet high/4 feet wide strike zone. We averaged about 10 runs per 7 inning game this year.]

The final inning was as boring as a comeback could be. Down three, we got a bunt single, two outs, a bloop, an infield single, three outs, and another single up the middle, followed by complete dejection from the bitter opposing captain, who normally pitched for the team but got relegated to catcher due to wildness in his previous outings (roughly two walks per inning in 5 games against us this year).

Our team got outhomered 35-7 this year, and even outscored 218-208 despite putting up a 12-8 record (4-1 in the playoffs). We had three blowout losses (16-1, 11-1, 16-4) and no blowout wins (biggest was 15-9).

I put up a discouraring offensive line of .412/.424/.588 (BA/OBP/SLG), not very far off from the team line of .397/.468/.518. In a high run environment like this (about 1.5 runs per inning), slugging is less important than in baseball, since each runner is more likely to score. Previous years:
2006: .535/.549/1.070
2005: .439/.455/.756
2004: (just 2 games) .667/.571/1.333
2003: .536/.567/1.000
career: .508/.523/.958, an extra base hit every 4.2 AB

This year I just could not hit the ball squarely, with just two HR, a gift 2B and 3B, and a smattering of hard-struck singles and line outs in 51 AB. I figured out the end problem (bat is hitting bottom of ball, popping it up) and the preceding cause (right shoulder too low) but could not get at fixing the root cause (too upright of a swing plane). I can't say that I tried to fix it with practice, as almost all my swings all season were in games (took a few swings in BP a couple times, made it to a cage about a week before the end of the year). It was my most frustrating season in ball since age 11 when my coach thought he had all these hot shot 12 year olds.

On the plus side, this was easily my best fielding season, aided in large part (I think) by the purchase of a new glove. I had been using a Bobby (yes, Bobby) Bonds baseball outfielder glove purchased in the '70s, and the larger softball never seemed to bounce too easily into it, leading to a fair number of imperfectly fielded grounders. But I got a new softball infielder's glove for Father's Day and immediately noticed a difference, and fielded practically every grounder cleanly the rest of the season. That combined with my strong arm and above-average range led to a high Range Factor/Zone Rating/Plus-Minus/pick your advanced fielding metric.

Just like completion percentage in ultimate, fielding percentage in baseball or softball is only telling when other things are equal, and they usually aren't. Even in a high-quality league like the majors, the variation in errors at a position is significantly smaller than the variation in number of plays made, even after correcting for opportunities. Advanced fielding metrics today calculate on a play-by-play basis, comparing the fielder in question to a league average on balls hit in that area at that speed.

The parallel to ultimate stats is that an individual's contribution to scoring goals and avoiding turnovers is only partly captured by the number and percentage of passes he completes. A guy who clogs or cuts at bad angles is every bit the turnover machine as a teammate without a forehand, yet might show up high in the throwing stats. An effective cutter could actually appear worse relative to his teammates because he always provides them an easy target while never getting to throw to himself. And at a higher level, throwing percentage is to some extent simply a choice, inversely related to the yards per throw.

So, I actually got a little belligerent at the bar afterwards when discussing fielding, as one of my teammates was listing errors as a proxy for how well the team fielded, so I countered with "plays not made" (which I actually listed as "errors"), including what would have been just a single had he cut it off before it hit the gap, and a hard-hit ball that the third baseman couldn't field, and a short fly that fell in, etc. There are many more of those in a game than errors, and even if each is only a 50/50 proposition while errors happen on balls that should be outs 95% of the time, the net number of extra outs is greater due to plays not made.

And I would be remiss if I didn't trumpet the triumph of our demographic in this game. we have two guys younger than 35, and our pitcher is 62 (but still throws hard and locates the ball well), while our opponents were probably a median age of 22, with many of the players members of the state champion high school baseball team a few years ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Alex did the play-by-play over at his blog, so I’ll skimp on some of the details.

Other than summer league, this was my first ultimate endeavor since the end of June at Boston Invite, where I left the field spewing blood. Some people were nice enough to ask me if I was ok now. Thanks. I didn’t play any differently, no lingering effects other than I have to part my hair (as much as I part it) on the other side so as to hide the scar.

The team rocked. I jokingly referred to us as the best team in the history of sports. While we do have two players who last missed the elimination round of Open Nationals in 1991, and that certainly helps, it’s not the answer, as our team generally did about as well regardless of who was in. (See my private blog for what I really think, of course.) I think the answer is that we didn’t have any black holes, at least when they play on our team. Every other team had several players who through either lack of skill or lack of good decision-making were turnover machines.

I definitely changed my defense a lot based on who had the disc. This weekend at least, I generally played honest when a truly good thrower had it and poached off to varying extents when someone else had it. This led to one amusing quip. An opponent underthrew a too-long pass and I intercepted it, and he said, “I didn’t see him,” figuring it was a poach block. What he didn’t realize was that it was my guy he threw to and I knew that he wouldn’t be able to throw it as far as would be necessary. But this also led to some missed assignments deep when the disc quickly transitioned from unskilled to skilled thrower, and I couldn’t make up the ground.

This was some great old-fashioned training for me, especially Sunday where we had maybe 7-8 guys and I played maybe 80% of the points. I thought I was going to throw up on one hell point in the finals after doing a few extra sprints on about the 8th turnover, but instead I just stopped running and watched from far away as my man caught the goal.

My junk throws, none of which were among my five worst choices of the weekend:
  1. Lefty backhand. Tall lefty Rick Kenyon threw me a high backhand and cut to the end zone a few yards away, and I had a narrow time window to throw the disc. The only throw available was a lefty backhand (or maybe a righty air bounce push pass), so I threw it. I had caught the disc with my left hand on top, standing and facing the thrower. It was an odd little throw, high count, I had just been cutting to try to give him something but couldn’t find the right spot and so just stopped about 5 yards away from him, a yard upfield. At 8, he threw it to me as my defender stood, then he cut as my defender came in to mark me. I just instinctively chose this pass, and stand by my choice. This may have been my first lefty throw in ultimate, although I have thrown 10-50 dumps that way in goaltimate. (I might have thrown some back in 1995 at the tournament after dislocating my right index finger. I knew that I practiced them but I think I went back to righty for the tournament (Tuneup). I’ve also thrown a couple two-handed passes.)
  2. Lefty backhand. Almost identical situation, although not for the goal. I had announced that I was retiring my lefty throws, since I was a perfect 1 for 1 with 1 goal thrown (not “assist”) and had nothing left to prove. But then it came up again, and the parallelism required me to throw it. Other than that, though, I didn’t need to throw this one, and should have probably just passed it up. At the point I decided to throw it, the previous throw probably increased our chances of scoring from 95% to 99%, but this one probably just changed it from 92% to 93%.
  3. Inside out banking scoober from the forehand side of my body. After the game, I led a discussion as to what my decision-making process was on that one (prompting replies of, “Oh, great, let’s talk about YOU again” and “There was a decision-making process?”). I eventually decided that it reminded me of a goaltimate situation where I caught a leading pass in front of the goal and got a give and go cut in front of me and I had to lead him into the goal (under the arch). This was also similar to my beach throw at Fools 2006, where I caught the disc just outside the goal line and stood there with a backhand grip on the forehand side, looking for a 3 yard little flip pass for the goal but got a 10-15 yard cut instead. Although the catch was contested lightly, I felt that this choice significantly decreased our chances of not scoring compared to looking it off and turning for something else. Again, though I had never thrown it before and might never throw it again, I stand by this choice.

There was something funny about each throw preceding mine. Prior to the scoober, Simon had zipped me a short forehand that I was barely able to stab. That was definitely too hard for how short it was, so I guess I overcompensated on the next one. So, somehow an interesting event can trigger the creative part of my brain. In no case did I go into the point thinking that I was going to do something different; it just happened.

The party was sparsely-attended and ran only from about 9-11:45, while the parties I remember ran until 2 in the morning and were jam-packed. Games on Sunday back then didn’t start until noon, either. At least that’s what I remember.

It was a very long weekend. My wife and son went out of town on Thursday morning to visit her family, and I used the most of the opportunity to do some guy things. 36 holes of golf on Friday in the 90+ degree heat, ultimate all day, more golf on Saturday afternoon after downing a few beers on the sideline (not really a smart idea, really, either one), party, sleeping on a floor, more ultimate on Sunday, and a relaxed post-game celebration. Even now, I am still recovering a bit.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Boston Invite

Well, didn't add another tournament victory to the list, but had fun, nonetheless, plus I'm sporting 7 stitches in my forehead thanks to a collision.

Here are the results.

After a little to-do about format, we were seeded 10th in the lower half of the Elite division, which says something about us (we rock!) and the tournament (less rocking). This meant we had to finish in the top two of our pool in order to have a shot at the A quarters where we were hoping to take a crack at Boston Ultimate (or, as I referred to them this weekend, our farm club, although I think they are all a few years of seasoning away from being ready to play with us).

As compared to our previous Open tournament where we had 11 on Sat and 9 on Sun, this time we had 18 on the roster for Saturday and 14 for Sunday. Except that I forgot that one of them wasn't going to show up for either day (and I had just golfed with him a few days prior), one cancelled for Sunday, and two just didn't show up on Saturday, putting a crimp into my plans to make money on entry fees. And the usual assortment was late, so once again at start time on Saturday we had about 7 or 8. Our first game was against Chuck Wagon, whom we had beaten at WMO. Rough game for me, throwing away a goal on the first point on a dumb throw that had been working for me, got partially point blocked, dropped two less-than-perfect dumps, and almost certainly did something else bad. I had made a comment on George's blog about how anything more than 10 warmup throws was inefficient, so I felt compelled not to do any warmup throws at all. I learned my lesson and threw a handful of throws before our first game Sunday while waiting for my teammates on the line for the first point. Nonetheless, my mastery as a motivator must have been worth a few points as we won 15-12. By now we were up to our full squad for the day (but still missing a bunch of guys who were great players in the '90s).

Our next game was against Phoenix, whom we had played as DoG at this tournament not two years ago in a tight game. We had a tight first half, but then pulled away for a 15-8 win. This, we thought, guaranteed our spot in the pre-quarters (we were mistaken, as HOV was losing to Chuck Wagon, meaning that we were in as long as we lost by no more than 5). However, our hopes for a quarters matchup against Boston Ultimate took a hit as they lost to PoNY. There was still a chance if we lost our last game and BU beat Pike (and of course we won our pre-quarters), but it looked a lot less likely.

Our final pool play game was old-fashioned DoG. We knew we were in and we just cruised. HOV kept getting mad at themselves while we looked past our mistakes since they didn't matter, and found ourselves up and expanding the lead. (I will admit to being confused by other teams discussing point differential but it didn't dawn on me.) I sat out all but a few points in this game in order to have some legs left for the pre-quarters. Final score 15-10 and first place, giving us a matchup against Zebra Muscles.

ZM played a lot better than a team that got shellacked 15-6, 15-4, and 15-2 already (or maybe they were fresh). They didn't make the drops or simple mistakes that some of these other teams had done. Our best chance at winning this game was early, as we went up 4-2 while still squandering a few opportunities. They got a run to take half 8-6 and expanded it to 12-9. At 13-10, we got a turn near their goal line but failed to put in the upwinder, they scored the downwinder and then closed us out 15-11. We tried hard but we weren't that disappointed since it meant we did not have to play at 8:30 in a game we knew we would lose (especially so given that we probably would have had 4 players there on time).

So, we had a 10:30 game against the winner of Colt .45, who had gone winless on Saturday in lower Elite, and the Gunslingers, who had won all their games in the non-Elite section. We still struggled to get a full team there on time. The Gunslingers are a young Boston team, possibly none of whom were born when I started playing (1983). I had a good game, making several blocks (at least three, maybe more) and some good offensive plays while playing every point. We took half 8-6 but couldn't put them away, and found ourselves pulling upwind at double game point. They had a simple throwaway (either a miscommunication or a disc that stuck to the thrower's hand) in their own end. After a disputed line call on a second chance catch, we forced up a stall 9.9 pass into the end zone that found its way into our of our hands for the game-winner.

I have to admit, it's been awhile since I felt so involved with the team's successes, even if it was the B pool quarters. Even in those recent years with DoG where I was still playing almost every O point, I still felt a little bit outside the team. I expressed it once that it almost felt like there were two alternating games going, one when we received and another when we pulled, and they somehow combined the scores of those two games to determine a winner. It really is a different perspective that I had mostly forgotten, to go into a tournament with your normal team thinking that making the quarters would be a good showing, but I guess that's the reality for an awful lot of players out there.

We moved fields, again (we did not play two consecutive rounds on the same field all weekend, George), for our B pool semi against New Noise, who had barely lost to Pike in the pre-quarters the day before (but had also barely made the pre-quarters, winning a one-pointer in their last game). They were similar to Gunslingers but a couple years older and possibly having some ties to Amherst instead of/in addition to Boston. I hadn't done anything other than walk or sit from the end of the previous game until the first point had started and I found myself setting up for a cut to a long backhand from Alex off the walkup. But then I realized that even though the cut was open, there was no way that I was actually going to run that much right then, so I yelled something about how I wasn't going to cut there and instead cut back to the disc. On the next upwind point, they again pulled it out and this time I told one of the other players to get in the same place I had been and to cut deep for Alex's backhand. He tried, but his defender was backing him so much that it was impossible. After a few seconds more, I found myself at the back of the stack so I just cut deep. I saw the throw hooking so I angled toward the cone, only to find that it hadn't hooked nearly as much as I thought. Fortunately for me, the defender (mis)played the disc, not me, and it went over his head to me for the goal.

They took half, but we broke twice to start the second half. I believe that we kept trading after that. At 12-12, again going upwind, they turned it about 20 yards outside the endzone. Alex walked it up, and I cut for his hammer after making sure that the stack got away from that space. He had overthrown me in almost the identical situation the previous game, so maybe he overcompensated by hanging this one a bit. It hung long enough for a poacher to come over and clobber me in the head sometime after the disc had been tipped away. I yelled "Jesus Christ" at his carelessness and started to play defense only to see blood spurting from my head. I rotated my body to try to avoid getting blood on my shirt and lay down. I popped up again to yell at the sideline, "I'm bleeding here! Pretty bad. Someone get me something. Call for help." Someone got a towel, and the trainer came fairly quickly, so I realized I wasn't going to bleed to death. But I still needed immediate treatment and got taken away in a cart so he could clean me up a little. He drove me back to frisbee central, cleaned the wound and put some bandaids on, and told me I really needed to get stitches in the next hour or so to reduce the risk of an ugly scar. So I got them to call for a cart so I could talk to my wife. I waited, we drove over, I tried interrupting their game by calling "Injury time out" (strictly speaking, it would have been) after yet another turnover (I said, "I hope this isn't a hell point," and got the reply "It already is"), but yet they continued. After another turnover, I caught my wife's attention and yelled, "My head is cut, I'm ok, I'm going to Emerson Hospital to get it stitched", at which point the girl she was defending cut. It was incomplete, and by now several people on the field knew they might want to stop play, so they motioned to the thrower to call timeout (someone on the side even said, "yeah, we haven't used any yet"), so of course the thrower decided to keep playing. This time, however, the pass was caught for a goal and I got to repeat the information, adding that my head didn't hurt and it definitely wasn't a concussion and of course I was fine to drive. So, back into the cart to be driven across the grounds to my field, expecting the game to be over but finding that it was only 13-13. As I later found out, we traded yet again, but then turned it over twice on double-game point to lose 15-14. Once again, it was a bittersweet defeat, as the team was already pretty spent and another game might have started to see my teammates dropping like the elderly during a heat wave.

So, off to the hospital for the first time ever in 25 years of ultimate (one other time at practice I got hurt, stopped playing, and went to the doctor the next day). I gave my name at the desk, sat in the waiting room for a bit, talked to someone at the desk finally, got shunted off to another room, waited, talked to another person, and then was told to wait some more. At some point I debated acting delirious in order to be seen more quickly. I was disappointed in the wait because I had chosen the hospital in the more affluent area, figuring there would be fewer Sunday afternoon trauma cases to delay me, but it still took me about 2:30 before I finally got out of there. Anyway, at this point I decided to go clean myself up a little and finally looked in the mirror to see dried blood all over my face and even in my ear. Sweet. My wife and the boy finally show up as I'm being shown to my room (where I waited another 30 minutes). Finally, more cleaning, some anesthetic, and I get stitched up and released.

Overall, we ended up where we were seeded, just about. I think we would have had a better chance in the games we lost had they been earlier in the day, but that's part of the nature of ultimate tournaments. I don't really know what to make of our team's chances this year. I would really like them if only everyone were 38 again.

Anyway, I had a good time, and am surprisingly not sore right now. I need a couple more tournaments like this between now and September to go along with the other things I'm doing and I'll be raring to go.