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:
- 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.)
- 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%.
- 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.