Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Platitudes

"This is an important point!"
"Let's try harder out there!"
"Don't screw up!"
"C'mon!"
"@#$*&!"

Platitudes: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true. - H.L. Mencken

I've never been much for huddle talks, in part because so often they are useless. Really, what action are you going to take based on knowing it's an important point? "Gee, I'll make sure I don't drop the pull then." And why the hell should we listen to that guy right now?


And yet, there is somehow the need for people to hear someone else speak in huddles or on the line. (Admittedly, this is better than the need for them to hear themselves speak.) Thus did I find myself a few weeks ago calling the line and then trying to bark out something inane yet reassuring. I felt like I did as a parent when I first screamed "I don't want to have to stop this car!" at my kid. I have a sense of the absurd, though, and I chuckled and simply said, "Platitude #3, boys. #3." and nodded my head sagely.

I've made some improvements since then. I try to say something fundamental, technical, and simple. Give the people one of our key concepts to focus on, one that might tend to trip us up otherwise. It may be a reminder not to huck too mindlessly, or to huck if it's available, or to move up the stack if there are a couple of dumps in a row, or to get on the mark if we turn it over. The tip is that it should be something concrete, albeit small, that they can do, something more than simply "play hard."

I'm tempted to credit this for our Grand Masters championship, just to provide a segue. We outlasted Denver's "B" team Yomo Fog Oho in the finals, 14-13. Semis and quarters also count as outlasting. Our 12-9 win over Ozark Hillbillies in the quarters was noteworthy because every single point featured the O team going downwind. The only breaks (and only turnovers we forced on D) came on the last point of each half, so with an upwind/downwind game like that, only counted as half-breaks since we didn't get the ensuing downwinders. Our O gave them plenty of chances (8? 10?) that game, but they couldn't get the upwinder.

I don't think we were broken in the semi, either. Overall, the O had a pretty good weekend. Factors:
  1. The defense wasn't all that good. To be expected for a bunch of 40+ year olds, but it's also expected from 33+ year olds, and this seemed noticeably worse. Maybe the altitude had something to do with it.
  2. Altitude. Overall it made it easier to complete passes. There were exceptions, of course. We had some long overthrows that just kept going, and we had at least three passes to space on the first day that didn't curve or float enough and fell incomplete. But there were other throws that would have been
  3. It was pretty close to our regular starting O.
  4. We kept the rotation small so everyone was familiar with each other. Unfortunately, this also meant that the D was a hodgepodge. Also hurting the D was the fact that we never had a chalk talk about what to do.

One of the passes I threw that would not have been complete at sea level is worthy of its own paragraph. At about 2-2 in the final, I had the disc on the line about 20 yards out on the backhand side. William cut under and started to clear inside, and then Simon filled up the line, but William's man poached off. I looked to throw something to William (scoober was an option) but he cleared out and continued to go downfield. I then turned to the dump, but nothing was open there, so I returned my gaze downfield, found William headed to the endzone on the other side, and threw a hammer. It made it there, but it surely would have been held up enough for a block attempt if there were more air resistance.

Saturday was just a day we could have lost the tournament, not one we could have won it on. Our pool had a first round bye, then our team had an additional bye since there were an odd number of teams in each pool, so we didn't play until noon (2 pm ET). I spoke for 3 minutes and 30 seconds on offense, including 17 seconds on ho stack, which we ended up playing on every O point on Sunday. (I also wasted about 15 seconds on zone offense, which we played no more than 2 or 3 points all weekend.) We knew this first game was dangerous, as our opponents were the underseeded Denver team (our finals opponent). They were local, and they already had a game in them. Luckily we had received some warning from Randy Ricks that this team was better than seeded, and we also got a hint from their dismantling of the Philly team in their first game. It was pretty chippy on both sides the first ten points, with rules misinterpretations and some arguments. I told my team to stop being douchebags regardless of how the other team acted, not that anyone listens to me about that stuff. We pulled away, though, and the game got less chippy. We were going to give them a 2 in spirit rating, expecting a similar score from them, but then the scorekeeper came up to me and wanted to discuss the spirit score. This seemed a breach of protocol, but I listened, and upped their score to a 3.

The next two games were foregone conclusions against the two bottom teams in our pool. I was already starting to fatigue from the first tough game and the altitude and being out in the sun and standing around, and took it pretty easy these games.

This left us with another tough game against Philly, which came in thinking they could win the tournament. Due to their big loss in the first game, they had to beat us by 6 in order to advance, and the wind had picked up by this time, making it mostly upwind/downwind. Brendan was playing his heart out that game for them, but it wasn't enough, and we clinched a playoff spot, first place, and then the game.

Prior to that game, there was a 15 minute lightning delay, which of course we spent hanging out on the field. The weather there was interesting in its own right. In New England, as Marshall pointed out, if you see lightning, it's an immediate stoppage and you take cover, since it's close. But at the fields in Denver, we could see lightning 20, 30 miles in the distance making its way in our general direction, and only knew to halt play because the man and his radar system told us it was too close. On Sunday, the wind completely shifted direction from the morning to the afternoon as a storm approached (but did not hit us).

It was a lot easier to play against 40 year olds instead of 23 year olds, although this also meant I got a lot lazier at times on my cuts. otoh, it's a lot sweeter to go downtown on a 23 year old, twice in the same game on the first pass off a walkup.


2 comments:

gapoole said...

The player on the mark for both of those walkups learned that certain maxims--"permit open-side throws because your job is to not get broken," for instance--are more guidelines than imperatives.

He also found out that a player has to learn a lesson the first time, because he can't count on his teammate to.

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