Friday, April 29, 2005

Worlds 2002 showing sparks of life

We are almost 3 years from our last national championship. During that time, the team had changed significantly. Most of the team held on to try and win another one in 2000, but after we lost, the old guard started leaving, including Greff, Moonee, Jeff Brown, Coop, Brian Jameros, Bob Lobel, and Bim, making way for ducklings. Another semifinal loss to the Condors later, the World Club Championships were taking place in Oahu, Hawaii and it is difficult to find a prettier location. We brought a full squad to try and defend our World Championship from St. Andrews. And I am finally coming to my last Worlds recap, which any of you that have read the others are probably thrilled with. After this, the edgy commentary on all things ultimate, political and otherwise (?!?!?) begins...

11. 2002 - Club World Championships - Hawaii, USA - DoG

39 Open teams descended upon Hawaii to try and take the title of best Club team in the World from us (Yeah St. Andrews! Let's start drinking!). Given the distance from Europe, a surprisinging number of teams made it from two ponds over. The games took place at a brand new facility, the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park just outside Honolulu.

After the usual easy pool games the first few days, the tournament got down to business. We blew through Seattle 17-9, and then crushed a dispirited Finnish team starring Ville, another international DoG recruit, 17-4. On Wednesday, another easy game against the Japanese Bombers, 17-3, before our first test match against Jam, in an important game for them. They had to win by 3 to make it out of the pool after a loss to Sockeye earlier in the day. After a 9-9 tie, we ultimately finished in the win column 15-12 in a beautiful sunset (and sight-bothering low sun) to knock them out of the winners bracket.

More importantly, that morning, after we beat the Bombers, we had some extra time to go over and catch the end of the Sockeye-Jam game. When we got to the field, Jam was up 14-9. In a SUPERB heckling moment, Jam proceeded to fritter away that lead and ultimately lose 15-14, with a NUMBER of MTP (multi-turnover points), which, of course, provided even more heckling opportunities. It really doesn't get any better than that, and it seems to happen often with JAM.

Meanwhile, over in lodging land, we had rented a very cool 3 floor house on the shore in Haleiwa on the North Shore for the entire team complete with a volleyball field, hot tub, ping pong table, and beautiful sunsets. Unfortunately, the young guys tried to schedule/organize a little too much, but hey, you go with the horses that brung ya. After some fast and furious 2 on 2 volleyball games the first day we were there, no one played volleyball the rest of the week... The ping pong table did see some consistent usage throughout. For the most part, I held court.

The following day, after a warmup game against Mephisto, the quarterfinals started with a game against Johnny Bravo, who was busy recovering from their final round loss to Bonzi. They started out psyched, but quickly petered out in a 16-10 loss. Meanwhile, Furious George barely scraped by Sub-Zero 17-16 to set up the semifinal matchups Condors/Sockeye and Furious/DoG.

Our semifinal was a big-time callfest. I guess Furious was getting ready for their fall season (and eventual National Championship). There had to be at least 60 calls in this game, including one slapping incident where Johnny G called Seeger a bitch and Seeger slapped him. Fun all around. More importantly, we pulled out the victory 13-10 (including a sweet lane poach D by yours truly), setting up a finals matchup against the Condors, who had smoked Seattle 17-9.

The finals is where it got ugly, and I'm not only talking about the play on the field. Not quite a call-fest, but... We stormed to an 8-4 lead after taking advantage of early Condor miscues. After the Condors scored off the pull, everything began to unravel. First Forch forced a bad finesse forehad to try and take half. The Condors scored that point, and the next one before we finally took half 9-7. However, the momentum had shifted, and they slowly chipped away, before eventually winning 14-12 at the cap. Other terrible miscues included not being able to score after they turned it over on their upwind goal line. Another stake in the heart.

I did want to make a few observations about the fans. This is also after reviewing the Eurodisc archives regarding my contested foul call in the 2000 finals against Sweden. The behavior of the fans (and announcer) was rather atrocious during the entire game. Any time there was a call, valid or not, the spectators immediately started yowling, booing, etc. This ended up having an impact on the game. With the Condors going downwind, James Studarus threw a beautiful inside out forehand around Lyn Debevoise for a goal, who promptly called a travel. The crowd started booing, and worse, James started playing up the crowd, similar to what Anders had done in 2000. Well, once the disc was checked back in, he threw the same throw, and travelled at LEAST as far as the first throw, and we have crystal clear video footage of both travels. Unfortunately, the atmosphere had been poisoned such that it would have been very difficult to make the same call twice in a row.

Another example occurred on the last point of the game. I fouled Steve Dugan on a reception on the goal line. I thought about it for a moment, then said no contest. However, the disc went back to the thrower because there was a travel on the throw. The crowd thought that I contested the foul and started booing again. It seems like it would be beneficial, especially in a situation like that where the stands are a good distance from the field, to have somebody signalling things to the 'press box' as it were. Wow, we could develop our own set of signals a la NFL.

And if popularizing the sport is going to make important games have announcers, hopefully they won't be as bad as these. Saying stupid things like "Who wants to see a tie?" when the Condors were down one and receiving, or not saying anything between points until 20 seconds before the pull, as the teams were setting up their calls.

And finally, in the most important game of the tournament, the observers screwed up the time cap and showed ZERO flexibility. After we scored to make it 12-12, the horn sounded to signify that the cap was on. The scorers immediately announced game to 14, which was completely against the rules that had been established for the week, which was that the next point started IMMEDIATELY after a goal was scored (which is the only sane way to do the time cap to prevent overt between point lollygagging). As the game was tied at 12s, the game should have gone to 15 (on the presumption that at least ONE team was going to reach 13 and then add 2 points to it...). We argued for awhile, and then played the next point so that the game could continue while we argued. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they did NOT change their call and make the cap 15. Unfathomable. In retrospect, I feel like we should have done a sit down strike. Not to say that we would have come back and won the game, but it definitely would have changed the complexion. When we turned over going downwind at 13-12, the Condors called 2 timeouts before scoring. They might have behaved a little differently if the game was to 15. All in all, it was a terrible end to an otherwise fun tournament.

Just as a postscript, we took our vengeance on the Condors at nationals, beating them in the quarterfinals to end their two year streak atop the frisbee world and postpone anyone beating our record streak for at least another 6 years. And then, of course, there was the Furious George semifinal, another in a long litany of Best Games Ever that we have participated in, that Jim has covered in some depth in other posts. As he says, when you turn it over 3 times in a game, you expect to win...

* Not having a hat for the very sunny and hot tournament, so buying a hat in a supermarket on the first day and starting the legend of the fire hat (anything to make me look fast).
* Passing through different micro-climates on the way to the fields.
* Trying to view the Arizona Memorial and quickly realizing that apparently that is the only reason people visit Honolulu and that we had NO chance with the humongous line.
* Climbing Diamond Head with John Bar (?!?).
* Being the only guy diving off of a very high rock on a North Shore (everyone else was jumping. Wimps.)
* Golfing 9 holes between games with Jim and Bim. Unfortunately I lost to Bim, shooting a 59 to his 56. Jim shot 36 of course. Taking a 13 on the first hole really hurt me... However, I DID beat Bim in the match play, 3 and 2.
* Wife showing up at the end of the week and travelling to the Big Island and Maui.
* Volcanoes National Park, Akaka Falls, Haleakala sunrise, Rainbow falls, body surfing, windsurfing on the North Shore.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Worlds 2000, US versus Sweden, round II

For those of you who have been following these threads hoping to learn something about about 'the call' in the 2000 finals, we're almost there. Unfortunately, there won't be anything really refreshing or new, and there will be no 'unburdening' of my conscience (because there is no burden), but read on if you're interested in my perspective.

By now we had smashed through NY, NY's record 5 consecutive national championships. In the fall of 1999, fresh off the World Championship victory in St. Andrews, we beat all comers in San Diego with our huge squad of 25 to win our 6th straight. This included a 4 turnover final (17-12) against the Condors, 1 more than our 3 turnover final against Seattle in 95 (21-10).

We were fortunate that they didn't move the 'Olympic' World Championships to once every 4 years until after 2000, which meant that as National Champions in 99, DoG was going to represent the US a third straight time in 2000 (after 96 and 98).

10. 2000 - WFDF World Championships - Heilbronn, Germany - Team USA (DoG)

After the debauchery and loose play as complete underdogs in St. Andrews, Heilbron was a little different. We were now representing the US as the #1 seed at the tournament. We brought almost our entire squad to Worlds. Canada was on the rise, and Sweden was still right up there on the international scene. Heilbron was also very different from England. I don't know how much this had to do with the tournament site, Germans in general, or what. As Jim described in one of his summaries, with the Germanic insistence on conformity and precision to the exclusion of common sense, Hogan's Heroes seemed a lot more plausible.

The tournament site was not quite as convenient as St. Andrews. The fields were scattered about the complex, with no more than 2 fields right next to each other, so it was hard to catch a lot of games. Furthermore, on the first two days, we had 9am and 5-6PM games, which, while allowing sightseeing and other game watching, was mentally taxing. Fortunately, none of these early games were particularly challenging.

One thing that was pretty cool was the 'feature' game, which was played in the stadium every night at 6:30. Our feature game was against the Germans, with the stands replete with hometown fans. Fortunately, we came through 15-9.

Our first challenge was day 4, when we played the Canadians in the morning, prevailing 15-13 in an offensive battle. Next up was the Japanese team, and we never got it going, ultimately losing 15-12. We played Sweden the next day in pool play after both teams had qualified for the semis. They rested a few of their studs, and we ended up winning 15-11 in a straightforward game. This set up semifinals matchups US/Germany and Sweden/Canada. Despite the urgings of thousands of hometown fans (or not), we beat the Germans 15-10. Over in the other bracket, Sweden was a 15-13 victor, setting up a rematch of the 1996 Worlds final.

After 'storming' out to an early 3-1 deficit, the offense did not turn over the disc for the next 12 possessions/points. Normally, you would expect a game like this to be well out of reach, and yet the defense only scored 3 during that entire run, resulting in our receiving the pull at 16-15 in a game to 17. What was even more shocking was that most of this was while running the Brown offense, which we had barely played all season, much less that tournament. Game-point Fortunat (need to remember not to put him in...) promptly underthrew a long forehand to Parinella which was D'ed by Stefan of all people (played with DoG in 1999). Sweden forced a throw to my guy for the goal and I looked pretty stupid awkwardly jumping to try and to block it. 16-16. Over the next few points, the offensive juggernaut of the previous 12 points disappeared as we made turnover after turnover. Fortunately, Sweden did not fare any better, but we had at least 2 or 3 more turnovers before the final point of the game, when we received at 18-18, double game point.

After a few passes, Jim Parinella was trapped on the forehand sideline about a 3rd of the way up the field and I was 5 yards away waiting for the dump and being covered by our old friend Anders Jerhamre. At stall 6, Jim looked at me, I cut dump, and he threw an unassertive backhand. As I reached to pancake it, Anders was also lunging for the disc and slapped the back of my left hand. I promptly called foul, and he started cursing me out and jumping up and down, as I was pointing to the back of my hand that he smacked. After the obligatory argument, he started walking away and egging on the crowd, after which I immediately told him to fuck himself and gave him the finger, I was so pissed. I knew that my tournament was ruined, win or lose. If we won, that call would forever tarnish the victory, and if we lost, I would never hear the end of it either.

We immediately called timeout, and while the play was being called, I told the team I was going to be out of the play on the far side of the field, trying to prevent Anders from getting involved in the D and making a big play. After a few passes we finally scored on a marginal pass and won the World Championships. While the rest of my team celebrated, I was unable to enjoy the victory at all, and still have no real enjoyment of that title.

I still resent the whole situation. I made a call because I thought was fouled, and was totally vilified. I was also pissed at my team because we couldn't close out the victory in the flow of the game. In discussions over email with Anders a year or so later (after being attacked by Anders for posting on Euro disc in his 'backyard' after I had seen some inaccurate posts about the call), he said he didn't think there was any contact (plus some less gentle commentary). I know I felt the contact. I have to admit, if there had been referees, and they had ruled against me, I would have lost my shit. And if they had agreed with me, there still would have been complaints. And unfortunately, the video coverage wasn't good enough to validate my call. And polling people who were right there, some thought I was fouled, others thought that he had gotten the disc.

During the post-game circle, Anders gave a dignified team speech, and then started cursing in Swedish (unless he was saying nice game?!?!). And to clinch it, after the teams were leaving the field, #5 on the Swedish team who was one of their more asshole players was looking at me over his shoulder at me as he is leaving the field. Finally, he stops and comes back towards me. I walk towards him, he reaches out to shake my hand, and then gives me his shirt, and says something really obnoxious that I don't remember. Well, let me tell you, I still proudly wear that shirt today. That dude was involved in more bad calls and arguments than anyone on their team, and this was about the only positive thing I took away from the game.

At least we won. It would have sucked after all that to have still lost the game. Then you had dicks like the drunk guy that came up to me at the party that night and started confronting me about how could I make such a bad call, because Anders couldn't possibly be wrong. Wonderful.

For some more commentary, I found a couple of Eurodisc posts, including one in which I defended the call, or rather, pointed out that I called a foul, not strip, which would have justifiably been a terrible call.

* Playing Russia and going up big (and trying to bagel them), up Jordan made the first turnover and then was immediately scored on.
* The tent city next to the fields that we played Russia on.
* Multiple beer gardens next to the fields. The Germans definitely had the right idea there.
* No ice in all of Germany. Poor Lenny. Remember, we were sporting a bunch of old guys who lived on post game ice. After walking into every restaurant we could drive to, we eventually had to empty the hotel that Mr. Haskell was staying at.
* Jordan's dad coming to Worlds.
* My wife flying in Friday morning, taking the train to Heilbron, and then asking directions and finding me watching the Canada/Sweden semifinal, walking up with her rolling suitcase. VERY impressive.
* The hotel we stayed at had a bar, but didn't open it for the first 3 nights, losing a buttload of money. Duh!
* Lenny literally leaving his cleats on the field after the finals. He has never played again.
* Doing a trade immediately after the finals while we were still on the field with a French player. I guess my game jersey now had some notoriety with it, because I was able to leverage it into a jersey AND a nice warmup jacket.
* The night after the final, Jim Parinella streaking across the field in the buff (didn't see this, but heard about it, and figured it was worth mentioning).
* The trophy was this huge bell in a wooden structure, weighing at least 70 pounds. It was eventually checked on a plane back to the states. I believe it is still with Lyn Debevoise.
* Conceiving my twins the night before the finals.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Worlds 99 who'da thunk?

So, I have been commanded to make these 'posts' more interesting. This one may be a good place to start. As I stated in the beginning, I wanted to try and capture all of the worlds that I have attended, mostly for my benefit, and if somebody wants to waste a few minutes reliving with me (probably poorly, or drily as one person has described it), then so be it.

So, at this point, we have now won consecutive 5 national championships and the team is definitely starting to show its age. We held off the Condors twice at Nationals 98 (where did they come from?) to win in our closest final yet. When we left Minnesota in 98, we had just been iced by the young guys from the 2nd Boston team after the miserable performance at worlds (and an appropriately labelled Best Game Ever for the Northeast Regional Betty Bowl). The spring is now over, and we are starting the dance again trying to pick up some yute's to fill out the team and renew the team. Having represented the US in the 'Olympics' of ultimate 2 straight times, the team is far less excited about going to Scotland for the Club Worlds as just another team in the hoi polloi. However, there are still enough players that eat, sleep, and breathe Ultimate that not going is not an option. However, they only number 8. So we decide to pick up a bunch of the young guys again, and some other randoms, and head off to Scotland for Worlds. At this point, it is no longer a tryout for the young guys, we are just waiting on them to decide, but figuring that they will make the right move.

I'm flying out Friday evening to get to the tournament in historic St. Andrews by Saturday afternoon and I am one of the last people to leave Boston. Friday afternoon, I'm talking to Jeff "Dick" Brown, who has just gotten off the phone with one of his Tufts proteges. The word on the street is that the young guys have decided to blow off joining us yet again and that the new team is already planning their practices, roster, etc. I am, of course, stunned at the news, and wondering what the hell it is going to be like for the next week playing with a bunch of people that have iced us yet again. Do I bring it up, and how? So naturally, I focus on the most defenseless member of their bunch, Justin Safdie. During the opening ceremonies Saturday night, we are all in this large meeting room/gymnasium listening to someone speechify, music, etc., when I sidle up to Justin and ask him "So, what are you guys going to call yourselves". He IMMEDIATELY knows what I'm talking about, and gives that little embarrassed whine of his. Mission accomplished. The week is now shot, and we are going to be going through the motions. At the same time, the pressure is off, and we can just focus on having a good time, and we'll worry about the fall when we get back.

9. 1999 - Club World Championships - St. Andrews, England - DoG

The US has sent some reasonably full squads to this version of Club Worlds. Ring, Condors, NY, JAM, Houndz and others are here at what is effectively full strength for a tournament of this caliber, which makes our presence all the more amusing, as we are playing with 8 DoGs, 5 Dark Horse players, and 3 other pickups (Seth, Casey and Ben), who we are also considering for the fall. Not exactly a worlds shattering team. While we have played against each other quite a bit, except for the previous Worlds in Minnesota we really do not have a tremendous amount of on-field experience as teammates. But after the events of the first night, everybody knows the score, and we are going to have fun even if we suck eggs, godammit!

The tournament starts with an easy beginner pool, even for our skeleton squad. Easy victories on Sunday over Cynics and Flying Angels has us thinking maybe we will make it out of our pool. Monday victories over Ultimatum and Catch 22 have us thinking maybe the quarterfinals? Meanwhile, the abuse of the backstabbers by the current DoG players continues unabated. I'm loving these early games. I'm even able to get in for some defensive points. Finally, on Tuesday we have our first real game against our good friend Anders Jerhamre's club team from Sweden, Carnegie. While mostly close, we win 15-12. I feel like I should be remembering whether it was an ugly game, but I will let others remember for me.

Meanwhile, all the excitement is happening in the other pools. Liquidisc is smashing their 28th seed, Skogshyddans has upset Condors, NY (WSL all-stars) are continuing their dominance from the prior year's semifinals appearance at Nationals, Jam has beaten their 10 seed to move into the quarterfinals.

During the entire week, playing with a Condoresque subbing philosophy because of numbers, we have been winning all our games. This has been a return to the days of early DoG, playing very junky D's, waiting for the other team to make a mistake, then playing flawless offense, BUT also big-play O. We are completing a very high percentage of our long throws, and putting it up early and often.

Thursday afternoon begins the elimination round with a quarterfinal matchup against Ring of Fire. Is this when we will finally wake up and realize that we aren't really that good, that we just happened to have an easy schedule or some other reason to get that far? Well, begorrah, we beat Ring 15-12 and moved on to the semifinals against the Condors, who have beaten NY handily. Clearly it is time for the gravy train to crash, because the Condors have brought most of their squad that lost to DoG by a combined 4 points in two games at Nationals the previous year and have they got a serious axe to grind. In a stunning victory (we were all a stunned at how easy it was), we beat them 15-10. Naysayers will point to Steve Dugan's broken hand/wrist as a factor, but whatever. Comparing lineups, and time playing together as a team, and it is no contest. They should have smoked our ass. This whole tournament was one of those unforgettable events, where everything came together in just the right way. I'm sure I speak for the rest of my teammates in saying that we will never forget this entire experience.

Oh yeah, and we beat the 28th seed, Liquidisc in the finals 20-18. This ==iwas a barnburner of a game. They have the man who never misses (and I'm not sure he did this game, and does anyone get the Steve Perry reference, or am I the only science fiction nerd), and Juha Jalovaara. There is a pretty large crowd for the finals, including the silver inflatable alien being punched around like a beach ball in the stands, and my wife has shown up to witness a shocking World Championship victory. This game is like all the others, with no expectations going in, and yet with the team playing the umpteenth consecutive game of it's life. When all is said and done, we have emerged as Club World Champions. Oh, life was sweet then. And, for those who remember post finals, all I have to say is, de de duh tse duh tse duh tse duh tse duh tse duh tse duh tse duh tse de de duh tse duh tse ... (just picture heads bobbing to the beat).

And the thing that probably capped off the week was that on the Saturday after winning the finals, when we walked into the dining hall of our dorm, all the players there gave us a standing ovation. That basically capped off a dream week.

And the upshot of this victory is that the Boston young guys changed their tune, felt the Boston zeitgeist, and decided to join DoG after all. This involved revoking all their combined plans in such a way that their good friend Pepper from Yale has still never spoken to any of them since that moment. But most importantly is that they contributed to DoG winning the record 6th Naitonal Championship that fall against an overmatched Condors squad (again), with only 4 turnovers in a 17-12 finals victory. And stupid Parinella had to write on his nationals videotape all the way back in 1994, '1 of 6'. Stupid Ruthian curse.

* So, as part of the mutual flagellation during the week, the mildly combative team has decided to make this local bar, the Firkin, it's own. We proceed to dominate the one pool table and get regularly drunk there every night of the tournament. It is only after the tournament while my wife and I are travelling through Scotland that we find out that our intimate neighborhood bar is actually a chain. Fortunately, the one in St. Andrews was by far the best.
* Driving on the left. After about a day, it became natural to look right, left, right coming to an intersection. The worry that I would not readapt quickly upon the return to the US was premature.
* Kibitzing Jimmy P and Jordan playing golf on the Old Course. They were playing with cousin of (name not coming to mind right now), and some random Princeton dude, and let me tell you, I have never been so embarrassed to have gone to Princeton as watching this guy actually make it through a day. I think there are 5 of us following them around through the first 5 holes making bets and rochams on who is going to win each hole. Excellent fun.
* The St. Andrews putting green. Competition grew fast and furious between the various groups on this very challenging 18 hole putting green. Money passed many hands.
* Takahisa Honda and Jordan in the tiny shirt contest. When we first got to the rooms, the shirt meister broke out this toddler equivalent team jersey that Jordan modeled for the crowd.
* Pausing mid-game to watch the almost total solar eclipse. Of course, we were in the middle of a bye, so it was less of a burden.
* Jim and Jordan missing the Japan game to play a round at Carnoustie, aptly named Carnage at Carnoustie.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Worlds 98 in our face

So, in 1998 we have won 4 consecutive National Championships, the most recent one at the now-perennial Sarasota Polo Club site, and are knocking on the doorstep of NY's record 5 in a row. We're feeling pretty full of ourselves when we head out to Minnesota for the World Championships to represent the US for the 2nd time. There was some 2nd-tier Boston team that thought they were nipping at our heels, called RoQ or Snapple or Dork House or something, so we decided to bury them by absorbing what appeared to be their best players, and invited them to Worlds to try out.

8. 1998 - WFDF World Championships - Minnesota, USA - Team USA (DoG)

To summarize, we continued our list of firsts, and proceeded to be the first US national team (again, Japan does not count) to NOT win the world championships. In '96 we were the first team to lose a game, and now, in '98, the first to not win.

I would say that this was the coming out party for Canada, and more importantly, Furious George. While Team Canada was a national team, most of their representatives were from Vancouver's Furious George, with a smattering of easterners. I don't think we had ever really had difficulty playing ANY canadian team at ANY tournament prior to this. Well, we met up with them in pool play, and they tore us a new one. We were completely unprepared for their combination of big plays coupled with stifling man-to-man defense. I don't remember the pool play score, but it wasn't very close. We knew this was only pool play and that it was our usual wakeup call and we would get our rematch against Canada in the finals. Little did we know. Canada promptly lost to Sweden (or Japan?) to set up the following semi-final matchups. Sweden:Japan, USA:Canada (and yes, our good friend Anders Jerhamre was still starring with Team Sweden).

So, we get all psyched up to play Team Canada, a little earlier than expected, but with 4 years of dominance under our belt, we know what it takes to win. However, the semis are basically a rehash of the pool play game. Whether it is Canada doing it to us, or us doing it to ourselves, we play a game that is foreign to most of the DoG players. Stupid turnovers, sniping on the sidelines, giving up easy goals. This is probably the most unpleasant loss with respect to sideline psyche that I have been involved with. We have a mini-surge in the second half trying to catch up, but that peters out after a goal or two, and Canada wins going away. In the other semi, Japan pulls off a surprise upset of Sweden, setting up an improbable final, while in the betty bowl, the presumed finalists end up playing out the string for the bronze medal. Both teams are emotionally crushed but end up playing reasonably well given the situation, and we pull out a close victory to grab a medal.

The immediate impact of this game is that the Boston guys from the other team end up NOT playing with us that fall because of the unpleasant experience at Worlds. They go back to play with Dark Horse, and miss an opportunity to pick up their first national championship. They were going to have to wait another year...

Not only that, this sets up the most exciting Northeast Regional Betty Bowl that I have ever seen. That year the Northeast has 3 bids to Nationals, and at regionals Sunday, DoG quickly dispatches whatever New York team has made the finals, leaving us plenty of time to catch the 2nd half of the Betty Bowl pitting Dark Horse against Portland's Red Tide, who have picked up Kenny Dobyns and Benjy Usadi, among other ringers. Dark Horse had already lost in the semis to NY at double game point (I believe they were receiving on that point. I'll leave it to somebody else to point out who the goat was). We gathered a huge crew in the corner of the endzone at the SUNY Purchase field, and proceeded to ride the hell out of Dark Horse. Kenny and Benji were wowing the sidelines with acrobatic play after another, huge cross-field hammers, etc. Poor Dark Horse couldn't stem the 'tide' and ended up losing 15-14. So they were eliminated from Nationals by a total of two points across two games. Obviously, we were parTICularly thrilled because of the personnel on Dark Horse that had iced us post Worlds. Suffice to say, we are still able to use this when necessary to enforce a little humility.

And now, Worlds memorabilia:
* For this worlds, there is nothing that REALLY stands out positively.
*The fields were cherry, having been recently been built as a soccer complex, complete with underground drainage. About the only questionable thing was that they seemed to bounce, which felt weird. Didn't make me jump any higher though.
* The South African team had this one tall blond guy who played us wearing basically a banana hammock. It was this grotesque one-piece woman's bathing suit which was also built a little like an obscene muscle shirt and it was pretty gross. No one wanted to cover him during the game.
* At one point, in the South African, we played an all opposite hand throw point. After a number of complete throws, I believe Bim floated a forehand turnover. Well, naturally, THIS was the point that was filmed by the local news station and played on TV that night!
* Back at the dorms where we were staying, watching tho old guys icing every up night (John Bar, Lenny, Jeff Brown, Bob Lobel, etc.). It was rather comedic after awhile.
* At the same time people were icing, the evening ritual was doing whatever crosswords we could get our hands on.
* My wife coming in at the end of the week and visiting the Mall of America. It really didn't seem as big as people make it out to be.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Worlds 96 and US versus Sweden, round 1

So, 1996 saw the first non-NY, NY worlds representative since 1986. This does not include the hodge-podge that went to Japan in 1994, which Paul Dixon covered over at As I had mentioned in the last post, we had won another VERY exciting and close nationals. This qualified us to represent the United States at the World Championships in Jonkoping, Sweden in the summer of '96. Even more ironic is that in '95 we had had our first foreign import, Anders Jerhamre, from Gothenburg. He was a stud for us that season, and began our love affair with the yearly foreign import (who buys US cars anyway?). Well, this added a certain spice to the entire Worlds Experience, knowing that we would be playing Anders on his home turf. Little did I know what this would presage 4 years later. That's for another post. But back to Worlds.

7. 1996 - WFDF World Championships - Jonkoping, Sweden - Team USA (DoG)

I coordinated this trip along with another two weeks in France with my girlfriend (now wife) of the time. However, she left to return to Boston while I continued on to Sweden and the tournament (or the reverse, it is all getting rather foggy). Now this tournament was very well run and had a great setup. Basically, all the teams that ponied up enough money were staying in this one main complex (as opposed to tent or gymnasium city). The meals were served there (ahh, forcemeat), and there was much carousing at the bar. Interestingly enough, the Boston women's team, Lady Godiva, had also won nationals at the right time and were representing the USA along with us. They were so cocky that they drank heavily ALL week and ended up losing to the Swedes in the finals, which at the time was quite an upset. For the mens side, our biggest game before the finals was a pool play game against Sweden. Very tight throughout the game, with Anders taking it to us, it was finally double-game point (I think), and Sweden had the disc on the far left sideline going right. Just before a long backhand was uncorked Lenny Engel called pick as his receiver cut deep. Well, that was the guy who caught the disc for the goal and the upset victory (the NY, NY guys I know were quick to point out later this was the first international loss by a US national championship team). After a VERY long argument, which should never have occurred in the first place as a pick is a pick and it was clearly called before the throw, Moonee abruptly overruled Lenny and gave the Swedes the game. Well, poor Lenny's head promptly exploded. I'm not sure I have ever seen someone so furious. I admit I thought Moonee (yes, I know it's Mooney) had no business interfering in that call, but the man does have some stature in the game, which made it that much more galling.

Well, that proved to be the wakeup call we needed, because we took it to the Swedes in the finals, winning 19-12 after taking half 11-8 or 9. The home crowd quickly became subdued (except for the chants covered below). There is nothing like taking the hometown fans out of the game. And now, for the high/low lights.

* Our jerseys were referee zebra stripes. We also had yellow and red cards. Don't know if this contributed to winning the spirit of the game, but it was a lot of fun, and we were colorful.
* Big Bob Lobel riding around on one of the Swedish bikes (which were just left around everywhere, cool socialist economy).
*At one of the many long nights at the bar in the building we were staying, I got Jim Parinella to throw an early fire. We were in the ro-cham-round mode, where loser bought the next round. It was down to Jim, Bim (Jim Johnston), and myself. Well, lo and behold, the piker throws fire on the next throw and leaves himself open to a LIFETIME OF MISERY WITHOUT HAVING FIRE IN HIS BACK POCKET. He said something along thelines of 'how much longer am I oing to be able to use this?' Little did he know that he would STILL be playing ultimate 10 years later.
* Adjoining the building we were staying was an indoor water park. After one of the dinners, they opened it up to the tournament. They let us have access to the 10-meter dive platform, and it was very amusing to watch people try to jump or dive in view of the ultimate players eating dinner across the way, including John Bar killing himself in a very awkward 'fall' from the platform. They also had a huge wave pool next door. Much hilarity and wetness ensued.
* During the finals, the stands were doing a chant off. The USA junior team sparked it up and it became fast and furious U-S-A, SVE-RI-YA. It actually gave me the chills.
* The Finns REALLY drink a lot. I think it's like the national hobby. Must be the only way to get through those looooooong dark winter nights.
* They had a festival down by the lake where they also showcased the Guts Finals. Well, they had a crane doing bungee jumps, so Jordan Haskell was eventually talked/shamed into trying it. Well, no sooner does he jump then he gets TERRIFIED, and when he bounces back up, he grabs the bungee cord in his arms and hangs on for dear life until they reel him in.
* I did my first stage dive, and it was all for a good cause. One of the things that we were most proud of was not only did we win the World Championships, but we also won the Spirit of the Game award, which was the first time ever for any team (imagine NY winning that...). At the tourney ending party, when they announced that, we all filed on stage, and then went stage diving into the crowd. That was actually really scary, being held up horizontally like 8 feet off the floor (and there were NOT a huge number of people) and sort of inebriated.
* My mother showing up for the finals. She is one half Swedish, and we have some family in Stockholm, so she coordinated a trip to Sweden with the championships and came out Friday before the finals with my Swedish uncle. Naturally he was unable to cheer for the US, but was able to cheer me on at an individual level.
* Oh yeah, winning.

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Origins of DoGs no-turnover offense

Rob Barrett asked in a comment:

What or who led the switch from get it back offense to no-turnover offense?

That's been covered in a lot of places, and I think the Ultimate History book will have a nice blurb about it, based on some of the prerelease stuff I've been reading (and perhaps editing in my favor...).

In a nutshell, the no-turnover offense came from the old Earth Atomizer crew. There are those who would argue that it was the Mothers Day Philly 8 in spring of '93, but that was just the ultimate expression of the Earth Atomizer credo. Basically, no turnovers was the ONLY way that Earth was able to compete with the big boys, because if you ever compared our roster with most of the other nationals level teams, it was laughable. While other teams had used a dump before, that was more personnel related (Windy City and Mike O'Dowd). It was Earth that really codified that in a high-level offense for the first time as a position and not a player, and this interchangeable player would follow the action up the field BEHIND the thrower. If you didn't have something good to throw (to), far better to reset the count than to try something long and risky, much less short and risky.

The key with the Philly 8 is that none of the rah rah defensive personnel went to that tournament. In fact, there were only 7 Boston players and one pickup from Westchester, Neal Perchuk, who, while being the only sub, STILL had difficulty getting in the game at times. That was how efficient the team was, and how powerful the strategy was. Offensive officiency was the only way that they were going to even be competitive in the tournament, which they ended up winning over a large pre NY, NY breakup team.

After the fall of '93, everyone was disgusted with each other after falling short of our very high expectations yet again (I wasn't kidding when I said somewhere else that even down 17-10 to NY, NY in the semis, I thought we were going to win the game, not thought we might, but thought we definitely were. It was a stunning loss!).. When DaG(stupid Jordan) started that spring, there was a core of 8 players, Dennis McCarthy, Mike Kizilbash, Jim Parinella, Michael "Coop" Cooper, Jordan Haskell, Scott Goodrich, Corky, and myself. We invited other random Boston entries to the spring tournaments, Jim "Bim" Johnston, Mooney, Erik Sebesta and others. We never went to a tournament with more than 12 people until Easterns, and at Easterns we had all of 13. Having such small squads meant two things. We couldn't waste our energy playing man-to-man defense for an entire tournament, or even having very long points. This is where playing clam for the point (!) as opposed to 3 or 5 passes became a defensive staple. Basically, we had to get the early turnover, or make them throw a lot of passes while minimizing our own running, or let them score quickly so that we could get on offense. There was also a LOT of defensive switching, especially on in and out cuts. That is something that the current DoG has given up on to what I feel is its detriment. And on offense, we were priding ourselves on averaging less (fewer?) than 1 cut per pass (measured as 1 person moving faster than a walk) for long stretches. It was the 'ultimate' in efficiency.

Of course, none of this would have meant spit if we hadn't dominated all the way through Easterns, beating the other random Boston teams like Somerville Youth (Gary Lippman, Dick Brown et al), Left at the Altar (Seeger, J-ro and company), and, of course, the NY entry We Smoke Weed. This gave us the leverage we needed for the fall to completely revamp the offense and attitude of Boston. Rob, not sure if that covered what you were looking for, but if I remember it that way, then that's how it happened.

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Worlds 95 and a lesson learned

So, when I last spoke, we had just finished getting drunk at 93 worlds. Well, after that debacle, and the subsequent loss to NY in the semis that fall, Boston ultimate blew up. And springing from the ashes of that loss like a phoenix was Death and Glory (DaG!?!?!?), which thankfully switched to DoG (or) after a few tournaments. As has been rehashed ad nauseum by both Jim Parinella ( and the forthcoming Ultimate History Book (highly recommended and can be found at and those of us who care, DoG was a sea change from the previous Boston incarnations. Moving past its blue collar upbringing, DoG was the new face of Boston Ultimate, favoring a precision and no turnover offense over the 'get it back' philosophy of the previous years. DoG threw a panoply of junk/high-risk defenses that either resulted in a quick turnover or a quick goal, thereby preserving the team legs for the more important offense. In the spring of 94, DoG never had more the 13 people at any tournament, including the season ending Easterns, and swept aside all comers, only losing to the latest NY incarnation, aptly name We Smoke Weed in pool play once, the Cornell Buds (?!?!) in pool play at Mother's Day, and Amherst (!??!?!???!) in pool play at Turkey Swamp. Those ended up being the only 3 losses for DoG the entire year, with the team sporting a gaudy 60-3 record, winning all 10 tournaments it entered, and finally winning Nationals.

As you can imagine, that winter was a high time in Boston, as we celebrated pretty much everywhere, carting the trophy to all of our hangouts, similar to Lord Stanley's trophy. This included partying into the wee hours at the Beacon Hill Pub with Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel Sr., father of teammate Bob Lobel, Jr. (you thought Bob junior, was big, now you understood where he got it from). That spring, the wheels started coming off a little bit. NY, sticking with their new guise as Cojones, starting taking it to us, and we didn't beat them spring Regionals and then Easterns, setting up an exciting Worlds in Millfield England.

6. 1995 - Club World Championships - Millfield, England - Death or Glory (DoG)
Admittedly, I don't have tremendous memories of this tournament, at least the game play and competition. The lodgings were just OK, as we were a good distance from the fields, having to take buses to get there, and the rooms were just OK. Perhaps it was just the alcoholic haze for the week. We ended up playing Double Happiness in the finals and losing 20-18 or so. The lesson here was that if we didn't take the game seriously, we could lose to anybody. To add a little more background to that, Jim Parinella and I ended up getting WASTED the night before, and were exceedingly hung over for the finals. We were both essential cogs to the offense and combined for a solid 7 turnovers between the 2 of us. And despite all of this, we were possibly one (un)-contested call away from victory, or at least staying alive in the game. T-man Parinella ended up not contesting a foul call (I think it was defensive) in the endzone that gave them the goal and effectively the game, or something like that. All I know is that it became easy to point the finger at Jim...:) Not really, but it was better than taking the blame for being hungover. What was scary was how badly we played, and yet we were right there to win it at the end of the game. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of our impending dominance.

Although it didn't appear that we immediately learned our lesson, because when we returned for the fall, we proceeded to lose every game against Cojones, culminating in an unbelievable pasting of 17-6 at Regionals. Yes, 17-6. The three weeks between Regionals and Nationals were VERY quiet at practice, as we were just hoping to get Nationals and not embarrass ourselves. Well, fortunately once Nationals started in Birmingham, Alabama that fall, we survived our first game against Chain, and when we beat Double Happiness in the next game (this included 12 straight points without a turnover between the two teams to end the game), we knew we were back on track. And after a game against Cojones in the semifinals that is definitely a candidate for Best Game Ever, we spanked Seattle Sockeye in the finals 21-10 to set a Nationals record for biggest margin of victory and fewest turnovers (3).

But back to Worlds in Millfield, to review the usual memorabilia...

It seems like a lot of it revolved around the Glastonbury Tor, the reputed resting spot of King Arthur's remains. This was a ruin at the top of a rather tall and narrow hill. What seemed like the whole tournament descended on it one evening. Key scenes:
* Hucking contest to see who could throw the furthest off the Tor. I think Ken Gayley threw a very impressive throw. Even weirder were the people who ran all the way down to retrieve the discs. And let me tell you, it was a LONG way down.
* Josh Faust naked layouts/sledding down the side of the Tor.
* Fields that they had actually painted the grass green, so that the pitch (nice English reference, eh?) stood out from the sere grass.
* Not remembering how I got back to my room the night before the finals.
* Hanging out with the Princeton alumni squad one night (they got a bid!). While definitely nowhere near the top xx of athletes to come out of Princeton, at least I have the distinction of being the most successful, or at least finding the right wagon to hitch up to.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Worlds 93 and prelude to empire

When last we met, Earth Atomizer was busy defeating the forces of evil at the Club Worlds in Toronto in 91. This was probably the pinnacle of Northeast Ultimate, as the northeast region ended up taking 4 out of the top 5 spots, with 1 NY, 2 Titanic, 3-4 Earth, and 5 Graffiti. However, this was the last gasp of Earth, as they ended up revamping their roster that fall, adding 9 new players and a brand new strategy (what were we thinking?), and ended up getting spanked by the new-look Graffiti in the game to go. Suffice it to say, not making Nationals after just missing semis the previous year and the worlds experience was quite a shock for Earth. The following spring, after protracted negotiations between Titanic and Earth leadership, a new team was started that was open to all to try out for. That spring saw numerous tournaments with a mix of players. The team was eventually selected during the summer, and it was the weirdest thing. ALL of the Titanic players made the team (17) while only 7 of the Earth players did. Weird, huh? Fortunately, I had hitched my cart to the right people on Earth, so I was able to slide onto the new team, which called itself the Commies, short for the Commonwealth of States that had just formed out of the shards of the old Soviet Union.

That fall was quite competitive between NY and Boston, with both teams beating each other. We were fairly confident going into Nationals, and the teams eventually got together for their predicted finals meeting. This game was a depressing debacle, as we went from a 10-8 lead to a 17-10 deficit. Weirdly enough this coincided with me getting benched for this ENTIRE run, as the Titanic leadership decided in their infinite wisdom to go back to their original 'Titanic' offensive players, who were the reason that they had merged with Earth Atomizer in the first place. After playing almost every point of the offense the entire season and nationals, they knee-jerked me right out of the game. 9 points later, I got back in at 17-10, and we promptly scored. Dennis McCarthy, who had also played a primary role on the offense that fall, was similary benched (although I think he got 1 or 2 points during the NY run). I am by no means implying that if I had played we would have won the game. We were clearly not mentally ready yet. However, this was a nail in the coffin for business as usual in Boston. The following year was a different kind of lost year. Joey Giampino, of Windy City and St. Louis Tuna fame, moved to Boston and promptly 'took over'. That was the year of 'get it back'. We could be as aggressive as we wanted, because we were going to get it back. This aggressiveness culminated in the nationals brawl against NY in the semifinals. What was wild in this game is that even when Boston was down 17-10, I could have sworn we were still going to win that game, that was how confident we were that year. Talent-wise, we clearly had their number, but the mental edge was still not there. We had tried to beat them at their own game, and failed. Thus the stage was set for rebirth/renewal in 1994. However, that is for another post.

5. 1993 - Club World Championships - Madison, Wisconsin - Big Brother
Now that we have that set up the exposition, let's scroll a few months backwards to Worlds 93, which took place in Madison, Wisconsin that year. Of all the worlds I have attended, this was by far the most scenic. We had housing at the University of Wisconsin campus, and I remember each night after the games, everybody descended onto the Memorial Union, which was the open air pub/bar which overlooked the lake with spectacular sunsets every night. I seem to remember quaffing numerous elephant beers (these bad boys had to be at least 64oz apiece). And we had great weather the whole week. The competition was pretty fierce, although I believe the European teams were shut out of the quarterfinals, although I may be wrong, and don't feel like looking it up on the WFDF site (if they even store that). Boston handled the pool play games and was looking forward to seeing who our quarterfinal opponent was going to be at the end of a long Thursday. The sun was going down, and NYNY and Vicious Cycle (Gainesville, FL), were still playing. The field gathered around to watch a pretty chippy game (not surprising given the two opponents). Vicious ended up winning the upset at cap, 14-12, setting up a quarterfinal match between, who else, NY and Boston. Well, that was an unpleasant surprise.

So, the next day we played NY in the quarterfinals. And, inevitable, the game was capped and came down to double game point. We received on offense, moved the disk down the fields, before Rob DesLauriers, who was a guest player with Boston just for the tournament, took it upon himself to throw a hero throw to Jeremy Seeger cutting long for the endzone. Seeger was being covered by Babs, who knowing he had no chance to block the disk, fouled the #&^$(*@&#^$ out of Jay, basically tackling him. Jay called foul, and it was naturally contested, so Rob got the disk back. The disk was checked in, and Rob, with no hesitation, promptly jacked it to Jay again, who was now sitting in the endzone with Babs covering him. Of course, Jay was fouled again, but this time did not call it, and NY promptly walked down the field and scored the game winner. Game, set, match, NY! Another nail in the coffin for Boston ultimate.

Memorable events from this tournament
Bob Deman, a pivotal NY player, shows up late in the week, and his first point in the game, he totals his knee. Kenny Dobyns comes and stands over him and says 'Nice tournament, Bob'.

At one point, there was a shotgun race between the mens and womens team, rather, Mooney, Cork, and myself against, Pooch, Judy Fisher, and Teens (Allie might be instead of one of them, can't remember). I don't remember what was going to happen if the men lost, but if they won, Pooch, Judy and Teens were going to have to go on dates with the 3 members of the Tea Party that were present (Mike Kizilbash, Jim Parinella and myself). After much buildup and anticipation, the men trounced the women. The women then rochambo'd to determine the selection order. Pooch won and selected Jim. Judy came in second, and in an upset choice, picked me, and there was much rejoicing and abuse heaped upon Mike. Of course, none of the dates ever occurred, but we were able to milk this for years.

NY played Portland's Rhino Slam in the semifinals, back when they were a power. Rhino went up 12-8 in a dominating performance. NY promptly pulled out the zone, and proceeded to score the next 6 points and win at the cap, 14-12. What was even more embarrassing was that there wasn't even that much wind. I remember screaming on the sideline at Rhino to stop swinging the disk. Their offense degenerated to just rapidly swinging the disk back and forth on these huge cross field swings, taking a 2 second look, and then swinging back the other way. Naturally they turned over some of these swings. They were literally deer in the headlights. It was painful to watch.

Of course, after our quarters loss, I think they made us play some meaningless placement games, which of course no one wanted to play. So you would start making up meaningless rules like you have to score on a huck, every throw had to be an overhead, etc. Some of the women's teams played naked, etc. Well, after we were able to get through these games, we started to drink (actually, during the games). I remember being in a prime viewing corner where you could watch the two mens semis and had a women's semis behind us. We promptly started passing around a bottle of Cuervo Gold, and quaffing LARGE amounts. I promptly fell asleep curled up in the back corner of the women's endzone, but markedly on the field. I also have a picture of Jim as he is trying to reach to steady himself on one of this videotaping platforms, and he is in the process of missing the tower and is falling over. My next memory is waking up in my room, bleary-eyed, peeking over at the other bed and seeing Jim also passed out. We wake up just as everyone is coming back from the party. Woo-hoo!
Of course, if I don't mention this, Jim will, so while I was passed out, the guys put some bagels and stuff between my legs and got a picture of Roger (Cork's dog) nuzzling the food between my legs. D'oh!

Finally, this was the first appearance of those partying dudes from Venezuela, the Yanomami. They kept playing these drums and partying at all hours. This culminated in one of the official tournament parties which took place in an indoor corral (!??! yeah midwest). They were able to get the entire party dancing to the drums in the stands surrounding the corral, swaying back and forth in unison for what seemed like hours.

And that about wraps up this report

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Friday, April 01, 2005

The late 80's early 90's pre DoG

Continuing the previous thread, I wasted my time going to the European Championships in 1989. The site was OK, in Denmark, but now the French team was in full denial. I showed up a week before the tournament, and was in no way allowed to play with the team that ended up coming in last place. Just OK to watch, now I remember how much I hate getting hurt, because it means you're watching and not playing, and nothing sucks more than that. So let's fast forward to the next tournament, 1991 Worlds in Toronto.

For some background, in 1988 I wasted a fall season playing for Wild Veal in New York city while I was trying to find a job post graduation and substituting at my old high school in the interim. That spring, I got an engineering job at General Electric in Lynn, MA, and moved up north. I think I went to one Titanic practice, then tried out for Z, and was eventually cut mid spring by Ted Munter (?!?), probably much to Dennis McCarthy's glee. So I moved on down the food chain and tried out for Earth Atomizer. I think they let me play with them because I went to all their practices and was the most psyched guy on their team, including spray painting my hair in 3 different colored stripes for Easterns in Staten Island. Woo-hoo! I think we ended up 7th or 8th at Easterns, but the key achievement was taking down Z that spring, and one of the most satisfying moments was getting a layout block, yes, you heard it, a layout block on Ted Munter on a swing pass. Hell, that was probably the last straw and contributed to their eventual breakup that summer and absorption by Earth.

In the meantime, playing summer pickup/practices at Newton North High school, I ran into this really fast guy wearing really short and goofy running shorts. After introducing myself, I found out that we worked at the same GE facility. And thus began a VERY long relationship with a Mr. James "Tiberius" Parinella. I ended up dragging him out to Earth practice and he started playing with us. I'm sure he'll chime in with some revisionist history, but at least that would mean somebody is reading this...

That fall Z disbanded and we picked up some of their low-lying fruit, including Dennis McCarthy and Mike Kizilbash. This also led to the formation of the Tea Party, whose travels are somewhat covered here.

Thus began the saga of the little engine that could, as Earth Atomizer proceeded to go to Nationals the next two seasons in front of Graffiti as the 3rd place representative from the northeast, culminating in missing the semis of nationals by 3 points in 1990. And the following summer were the first club world championships in Toronto.

4. 1991 Club World Championships - Toronto, Canada - Earth Atomizer
I pull out my trusty stats book to help prod my memory from that tournament. The biggest pitfall was that the place we were staying wasn't so close to the fields, removing some of the intimacy of the tournament. In fact, we had to have cars (booooooooo!). In the course of the week, we (Earth Atomizer) played 12 games against tough and not so tough competition. After shrugging off an early pool play loss to Philmore, 14-13, we marched (slowly) through some more close games before losing to the LA Iguanas in a VERY ugly match. We had had a pretty nasty game with them at Nationals the prior fall. Stayed close throughout most of the game before they won 15-13. Memorable event, at around 10-8, LA was playing zone, and at one point, I was cutting back through the cup, and Big (TALL blond dude, sort of an A**), looked over his shoulder, saw me cutting in, and totally dropped his shoulder into me as I was cutting through. You can imagine the argument that ensued. Well, bully for them, because they ended up out of the semifinals, whereas Earth, the plucky little outfit, ended up as a surprise entrant into the semifinals. To make the semis, we had to beat Titanic, and did so, 14-11. Another memorable event, somebody threw me a leading floater up the line into the endzone. EK (Eric Kehoe) who was covering me at the time, went up a little early and took me out as I was going up. I called foul and he didn't contest. However, when it was explained to him that under the rules for that tournament, that meant it was a goal, he immediately switched his call to contest. Again, you can imagine the argument that ensued, as I am not the person to take these things lightly. Fortunately, we still won the game. With Iguanas getting crushed by Titanic earlier in the tournament, we were expecting to come in second in the pool on the 3-way until Iguanas lost to the Santa Barbara in the final round, vaulting us to #1 in the pool. We were ecstatic, looking forward to playing Windy City in the semis for a real grudge match dating back again to Nationals the previous year, where they knocked us out of the semis in a close match. Well, NY and Windy were still playing as we were walking off the fields, so we sat at the top the hill to watch in a glorious setting sun situation. Well, lo and behold, Windy was winning the game. Memorable even. NY sets up their sideline isolation play where the entire team goes to the far sideline and the deepest person in the stack starts cutting to the same sideline as the thrower and the thrower puts it out there LONG before it is clear the cutter is even open, which they had always run to perfection. However, lo and behold, a Windy player poaches off his man, flies across the field and gets a HUGE layout block on this throw, and Windy rides this play onto victory, winning the pool and setting up Windy-Titanic and NY-Earth.

Well, it seemed our fate was sealed when Goody (Steve Goodfriend) dropped the opening pool. And it never really got better from there as New York ran away to a 21-8 victory. And, of course, Titanic beat Windy, taking the spot in the finals that should have been ours (only mostly tongue in cheek), so that we could have gotten pasted by NY in the finals instead of them. I think they lost 21-13 or so.

The international teams we played were the Winnipegans from Canada, Team Finland, the Swiss, and later in the tourney, the Swedes 19-7. Who knew that this was to be the first of many encounters with our Nordic brethren.

More memorabilia. I remember after the Philmore loss totally losing it on Duncan Berkeley. He and I had an interesting relationship at the best of times, and I forget what started this one, but it was rumored he was moving to Rochester, so of course I had to use this timely information in my rant, like 'Get the (&*#^$*&# out of here and go move to Rochester, you're not wanted here' and similarly childish stuff. If you have never really lost your temper, it is VERY cathartic and cleansing. Granted you may have to do some damage control for what you said. I think I've really lost it maybe 2 times in my life (as opposed to just arguing and yelling, which is VERY different), that time and another time with my older brother, and that one was also REALLY cathartic. You feel very lightheaded and relaxed when it is done when you let out all those repressed emotions. My arguing on the field is very different, although there are some who may disagree. That's all for now.

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Let's talk about frisbee

As I'm getting on in age (having recently had my 38th birthday in March) and my near-term memories start fading... I figured I would try and capture my long-term memories. Specifically, I'm going to do a little way back machine regarding the international tournaments that I've attended since I started playing frisbee, because 1), they were really cool, and 2), it provides a good opportunity for general commentary on things frisbee and things life. They won't all be summarized here, but over a number of entries. This makes me feel really old, but the tourneys that will be covered will be

1. 1986 - WFDF World Championships - Colchester, England - French National Team
2. 1988 - WFDF World Championships - Leuven, Belgium - French National Team
3. 1989 - European Championships - Veijle, Denmark - Unwilling spectator
4. 1991 - Club World Championships - Toronto, Canada - Earth Atomizer
5. 1993 - Club World Championships - Madison, Wisconsin - Big Brother
6. 1995 - Club World Championships - Millfield, England - Death or Glory (DoG)
7. 1996 - WFDF World Championships - Jonkoping, Sweden - Team USA (DoG)
8. 1998 - WFDF World Championships - Minnesota, USA - Team USA (DoG)
9. 1999 - Club World Championships - St. Andrews, England - DoG
10. 2000 - WFDF World Championships - Heilbronn, Germany - Team USA (DoG)
11. 2002 - Club World Championships - Hawaii, USA - DoG

As in all things, except for Memento, best to start from the beginning. The summer of 1986 found me spending the summer between sophomore and junior years at Princeton playing Westchester, NY summer league with all the NY, NY hacks... I had just finished playing with Team Red and winning the league championship playing alongside Linwood Lewis, Frank Valenti and company. It was actually this summer that made my career. My first two years at Princeton had been OK, but as you can imagine, even then I wasn't going to be getting on the field as a rabid defensive player, and frosh and sophs didn't really play on O when it was important. I knew Frank and Linwood from playing the New Jersey guys numerous times during the season, so when I signed up for summer league well after the draft, I got assigned to Ernie Wilvonseder's team blue. I promptly found Frank and got him to persuade Ernie to trade me for the immortal Peter Rock from Cornell. Well, with a deep cutting corp of Frank and Linwood, that was where I first found the confidence in the long game, because if you can't throw long in summer league without fear, where can you?

After the season was over, I headed over to Paris to spend a month visiting the French side of the family (I have a French passport, yes, so flame away). I showed up 3 weeks before the World Championships and practiced with the French team that was going to Worlds, and ultimately persuaded them to let me play with them.

1. 1986 WFDF World Championships - So it was off to Colchester, England. Well, let me tell you, for quantity of ultimate, that was still the best worlds that I've been to. That was the final year that you played EVERY SINGLE TEAM THERE. There were 16 teams, and we played every one during pool play, between 2 and 3 games a day, and then finals between the top two. I can't remember how we did against the San Francisco Flying Circus, but I do remember that we were tied 5-5 with Sweden, who were already at the time clearly the best team in Europe. I remember that the fields were hard as a rock, and at one point I laid out... on offense, obviously, and wrenched my shoulder pretty hard (damn! the fields were hard). That tournament was the best that the French ever placed, coming in 9th out of 16 teams. Hard to believe now, considering how low the French team fell over the next 15 years, not even making to a number of world championships in their backyard, including Germany and England. Now THAT is embarrassing. There were definitely some studs on that squad, including Michel Maisonnave, Gaby, and of course, the best athlete on the team was a chain-smoker, which was also very French. He wasn't the only that smoked, and not only cigarettes. Weird, huh? The US team ended up crushing the Swedes in the final, winning the tournament going away. The whole tournament was eye-opening for me, and on top of the summer league experience, gave me the confidence when I went back for junior year to become part of the handler core of a team that basically missed the College National semifinals by a second-half choke to Cornell during pool play.

I think I've got one more tournament summary in me...which will continue to portray the devolution of the French team. After graduation in 1988, I moved to France for 3 months to work at COFRETH doing computer programming, staying at my grandparents apartment just off the Champs Elysees, and partying and hanging out with my brother, who had already been there for 3 years. This time I was able to train with the French squad for a full two months before Worlds. But it was already obvious that the 'team' wasn't the same. There was much less teamwork, and a lot more cliques. In 1986, we were the fusion of the two best French teams, the Sun and the Hot, and everybody came together for the goal. This time the team was more selective, and for whatever reason, the chemistry wasn't there. But, I made the team, and then we were off to Belgium for Worlds.

2. 1986 WFDF World Championships - Leuven, Belgium - This was by far the BEST tourney site ever. In the middle of downtown, there was this long plaza that was literally ringed with at least 8 bars, each with it's own outdoor seating area. It was basically one big party there every night. As discussed before, this time they split the tournament into two pools of 8, with semis and finals. Not to mention, of course, the french fries. The Belgians have perfected the art, with wagons called Frituur that just sell french fries with your choice of about 30 sauces.

The field site was SMALL (seem to remember something like 2 or 4 fields), but located at the university and everyone was staying there, so the whole setting was very intimate. LOTS of drinking, lots of smoking, lots of drinking. That was the first time that I had smoked a petard, which is basically a funnel made of mixed up tobacco and ...something else. Well, Wednesday night, I had a little too much of that (never having really smoked before), and felt like crap next day and I think threw up. Well, the French thought I felt that way because I had drank too much and didn't 'respect' the team, and iced me for the first round game. That was nice clincher for my week. To top it off, at one of the parties, I remember there was this Canadian womens player that basically licked her lips at me, but I only sort of noticed, missed the moment, and didn't really figure it out until the next day and was totally kicking myself. So, the French team ended up coming in 15th out of 16 teams, and that included a 3-way tie for the spot, where we beat the Belgians, who beat the Italians, who beat us, and we ended up in the middle of the 3-way. Oh yeah, NY, NY was in my pool, and I knew a bunch of those guys from Westchester Summer League, Cribber (Dennis Warsen), Skippy (Skip Kuhn), Kenny Dobbins. So imagine my chagrin when they ended up bagling us. THAT sucked! Norway ended up upsetting the Swedes in the semis, so it was NY versus Norway in the finals. NY crushed them 19-9 or 10, but the setting was awesome, cool stadium, large crowd that was into it. I have a 3 picture sequence of Cribber going up in the endzone for a huck that is CRAZY high. The first shot shows him starting to jump as the frisbee approaches at a ridiculous height. The second one shows him teabagging his defender with his hand on the disc, with the third one with him coming down with the disc and goal. It is inconceivable that 1) somebody could think to jump for the disc at that height, and 2) actually come down with it. I need to scan and post those pictures at some point. Still an incredible memory.

The best part of the tournament was Guts though. The french also submitted a guts team, and I have to admit, there isn't a more visceral frisbee game than guts. When somebody is 12 yards away from you winging a 119 (I think) disk at you as hard as he can, and you thrust at it and grab it one-handed, you literally yell in satisfaction. We ended up in the middle of the pack there, but guts was REALLY fun. Fortunately, we didn't really understand the rules, so when we played some of the lamer teams, we didn't realize that it was the person who first touched a thrown and dropped frisbee that had to make the next throw. We would pick our own thrower in this case, so I ended up throwing a lot of throws, and THAT was also very satisfying, throwing a frisbee as hard as you can at someone.

So the basic conclusion about the French teams is that they were incredible athletes that had no concept of teamwork. It was 7 people playing on the field, but not really together. Again, what is the most shameful is that they couldn't even field a national team for worlds right next door in Germany, England, Scotland, and Germany again. This is also evinced in their lack of soccer World Cup success until very recently. They always had the best athletic specimens but weren't able to put it together as a team. Well, that about wraps up this round. Meet me again tomorrow (or so) for some follow up.

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