Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Visiting the 'evil' empire

With my kids off of school for the last two weeks of the month, my parents graciously volunteered to take care of them this week so I drove down to Rye (NY) from Boston with kids in tow, and planned to spend a few days down here before going back on Wednesday. Well, it so happened this also coincided with the Ultimate History book signing in New York City at the Shades of Green Pub last night from 7-10. Clearly I had to go...

I drove into the city and made my way down to 125 E. 15th street amidst almost no traffic, despite the impending NYC transit strike. Parking was easy, and I soon found myself walking into the entrance of the pub around 7:20. From there it was a descent into the land of the enemy. Of course, this would be a lot more poignant if NY was actually sporting a competitive team right now, but regardless. This was my first look at the actual published version of the book, and let me say the book looks pretty sweet, and I can't wait to take a look at the DVD. They even went so far as to make sure the actual cover of the book (not just the book jacket) had the same cover art and not just a monocolor material, so that when you inevitably tear the book jacket, you will be able to remove it and still have the sweet cover art.

After I did a quick lap doing the meet and greet with old friends (and enemies), they did a quick presentation, with Rob (Nob) Rauch saying a few words before introducing Adam Zagoria, who proceeded to do a reading from the very beginning talking about the origins of the game. He then handed the 'mike' over to Tony Leonardo, who said some more words, then did a topical reading about the NYNY team/era. And there was much rejoicing... Oh yeah, Andy Borinstein said a few words also, but I can't remember where he was chronologically. After that, we got back to eating, drinking, and catching up.

What was sort of cool for me was that I felt like I was a bridge between the much older players and the young guns. There were a lot of people there that were already towards the end of their career when I started playing back in '85, including Sass Peters, Sauce, etc. who I played against a bunch while at Princeton. There were also a bunch of NYNY players old and new. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch, but just to try and list some of the 'luminaries' that were there: Dave Blau, Nob Rauch, Skip Kuhn, Andy Sheeman, Matt Jefferson, Ron Papenak, Eric Cochrane, Aram, Mike Nevins, Kevin Cande, Paul Shields all from NYNY, and then others such as Andy Borinstein, Linwood Lewis, Ronnie Drenger, Sass Peters, Sauce, Conrad (from Purchase), Ken Silver, Bill Baer, Neil Perchuk, etc. I think I was the only player from that era still playing open, which felt pretty weird. Remember that I had also played New York and Westchester Summer League with a lot of these guys back in the mid-80's, including playing on a team with the venerable John Gewirtz himself (and Teens back when those two first started...).

I ended up buying 3 of the books for my family and getting them signed by Tony and Adam. Because I didn't have anyplace to keep them secure, I didn't buy them until the very end. Once I finally got them (getting 3 of the last 4, so just in time), Tony showed me his copy that he had gotten signed by a bunch of the original Columbia high school crew, which made me regret not having done something similar for a copy of mine, which would have been to go around to a bunch of the NYNY guys and have them sign my copy, like a yearbook. I think that would have been pretty cool and of course very risky... Oh well. But I highly recommend the book from what little I've seen (doesn't hurt having my name in it a few times), but I was disappointed that I didn't make it into any of the pictures. I was razzing Tony about that, and even he acknowledged that he was surprised he hadn't seen me in any of the pictures that they were even considering. There was one picture that I saw of Boston players hanging out, and I was sure I was going to be in that one, because it was a bunch of my teammates that I often hung out with, and I wasn't even in that picture. AaauuuughhhhhHH! (of Charlie Brown fame) Oh well. At least I make a cameo in Ultivillage disc 4 from what I hear. I guess I'll have to buy it.

But I did make it out of NY alive, and spent a few enjoyable hours catching up with the old NY players, including quite a bit of time talking to Tony, Matty J., and Aram.


Blogger LittleOrphanAnnie44 said...

A good topic to blog on is the subject of New York's decline. What exactly happened to this evil empire after the summer of 1994? Any chance this is addressed in the book? (Written by none other than two NYNY wannabees, Adam and Tony).

Since the Count and Parinella love to play with numbers, here are a few:

NYNY won six (in seven years) UPA titles from ’87 to ’93.
DoG won six straight from ’94 to ’99. But nevermind that.

Comparing the post-championship years of New York and Boston:

After the breakup of NYNY, Kenny Dobyns’ Cojones made the semis in ’94 and ’95. (While Jon Gewirtz and Seattle Sockeye made the finals in '95, '96 and '97). In ’96, New York split again into Blood and Randall’s Island. A New York team would not reach the semis again until WSL All-Stars did it in ’98. It has been downhill ever since, finishing 13th in ’02 and failing to qualify these last three years, ’03-’05.

Death or Glory, on the other hand, has remained consistently competitive. After last winning it all in ’99, DoG made semis in ’00, ’01, ’02, slipping to quarters in ’03 and ’04, returning to the semis in ’05.

So can anyone (Jim, Alex, Luke?) explain this? Although Boston’s championship years are behind them, they have continued to do justice to the DoG moniker. New York, however, hasn’t recovered since Kenny D and Jonny G decided they had enough of each other.

8:59 PM, December 20, 2005  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Without doing a full analysis, I think I can boil it down to a few things. And this has been reinforced after catching up with a bunch of the NY guys last night. They NYNY team was always on the verge of breaking up. Those guys hated each other, and they fed off of it. When the strong personalities finally left, there was no way they were going to stay together.

Whereas with DoG, it started from the beginning as a group of guys that liked to play with each other and had a program. It helped that it revolved around offensive efficiency instead of rah-rah defense, which can be a little harder to sustainn because it takes a lot more energy/emotion. Thus, as people left, it was easier to bring new people into the program (and not scare them off like the intense NYNY squad). In a nutshell, that is what I think.

10:54 PM, December 20, 2005  
Blogger luke said...

I think it's great that Alex's best post... since uh, like when zaz quit posting...

deals with a trip to the bar.

I can only assume they had a hard cider on tap.

11:27 PM, December 20, 2005  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

So Luke, you measure good posts on how people reflect on the minutiae of their lives? Um, I guess it makes sense considering your posts...

Actually, they were serving a fine Magner's bottle, of which I had 2 before I moved on to the Bass drafts.

1:20 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger parinella said...

If not for the capital letters, I would have guessed the first post was written by none other than kenneth44 himself.

9:09 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

While I would be honored that Ken would choose my blog as his reentry point into the e-disc world, somehow I don't think that is the case. This post wasn't trolling enough, it didn't have enough hooks for us to expound about how great DoG was/is, blah blah blah. But maybe we should start a groundswell to try and bring Ken back into the fold. Is he still living in North Carolina even?

9:47 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger luke said...

Alex, posts rated on entertainment... now off to breakfast. Oatmeal, the one minute kind, w/ raisins cooked in, and peaches and butter added.

With coffee (Sisters Organic) and Juice (Florida's best, No-Pulp, Calcium added). Then I'll pay a few bills.

Then I'll go skiing... the skis, fischer 610's, the boots, salomon carbons, the socks...

never mind.

10:20 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger parinella said...

posting as Wicks
Maybe it wasn't that it was easier to bring new people into the program, but that the new people brought into the program were good.

Ok, numbers: players departing by season (includes one-year retirements and season-ending injuries)
1995: 6
1996: 4
1997: 3
1998: 2
1999: 4
2000: 4
2001: 7
2002: 8
2003: 1
2004: 14 (of 28)
2005: 3

I'm guessing that this is a relatively low turnover rate for the most part (2004 a big exception).

11:33 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger Semar said...

Dog developed feeder relationships with colleges. I don't think NYNY had anything like that -- and the fact that the college teams around Manhattan stink hasn't helped in recent years.

And post NYNY there seems to have been no club stability in New York. Every couple of years there's a new "premiere" team that never seems to get anywhere.

11:52 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

What is interesting is that there wasn't much turnover until the year AFTER we lost the first time, 2001, when you see 7 and then 8 leaving the team. After the successful run in 2002 (choking in the finals of worlds and almost beating Furious in the incredible semis game), we only lost 1 player and then were of course terrible the following year, leading to another huge turnover.

As for feeder relationships, the only real feeder is Brown, and that is probably really since 2002/3 when Wicks started coaching. Whether it is a successful feeder, that is another question...:)

And yes, there are no good college programs in NY (flame away)

12:14 PM, December 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Demise of NY (In no particular order):

1. Already mentioned Hatred of teammates.
2. The example that Hatred continued on with newer players, but they sucked so no one wanted to play with them despite their awful attitudes.
3. No good colleges.
4. Oppression of Influence. The NY teams now are so pressed to be good that they continually break up and reform instead of actually building something long-term.
5. Ben Pauker.
6. Recently, the growth of Pike has pulled NY area players (Bailey Russel, John Baldwin, Jude T-F, J Dono, Vinnie). Will the rumored demise of Pike strengthen NY?

6:08 PM, December 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

frenchy and t-boy are making me sick with all the O O O talk, e.g.; "Whereas with DoG, it started from the beginning as a group of guys that liked to play with each other and had a program. It helped that it revolved around offensive efficiency instead of rah-rah defense, which can be a little harder to sustainn because it takes a lot more energy/emotion. Thus, as people left, it was easier to bring new people into the program (and not scare them off like the intense NYNY squad). In a nutshell, that is what I think." The O rotation has always been small, and new guys rarely played O. It's all O mis-information. D players simply don't have the time to worry about these things because, as everyone know, Defense wins championships. The amount of energy you O guys put into defending yourselves and whining about cheating d players (Not frenchy, just t-boy) makes me wonder what you are worried about...the truth.

10:09 PM, December 24, 2005  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

I always love it when an Anonymous steps up with such strong words. I'll give you 3 numbers. 4-2, or at worst, 3-2-1. This would be the number of DoG championships attributable to the O-D-tie. I leave it to the reader to identify which year is which...

11:30 PM, December 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh you know who I am. I don't disagree with the 3-2-1 or whatever, who cares. At least you are reasonable, t-boy seems to think D has no place in the game.

9:22 AM, December 25, 2005  
Blogger Bluffton Vidalia said...

I think field-space is a big contributing factor as well. Boston has tons of fields as compared with NY. Maybe it goes as follows: more fields, more players; All things beign equal - more better players. Thus increasing the chances of a bunch of like minded players being able to schedule and execute team functions leading to victories. Additionally, Boston has more younger participants with all of the colleges and universities.

3:44 PM, December 26, 2005  

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