Thursday, June 29, 2006

DoG (and I) in the news

The author was at the fields to cover a softball or baseball tournament that ended up being rained out, so he came over to the frisbee fields looking for an article and it had to involve players from northwest of Boston, which excludes almost all of DoG and Metal who seem to have a invisible force field which keeps them in Cambridge and Somerville. Regardless, this guy ran into Funboy (who lives in Arlington) at the scoreboards, interviewed him, and then Funboy pointed him my way as a fellow Arlingtonian. BTW, the Bill Russell line NEVER came from my lips. That would be more applicable to Bill 'Rodriguez' anyway.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sidebar - Christian and Catherine are 5

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Boston Invitational - Open Division - Day Two

Two in a row. No, I'm not talking about my point blocked hammers this time. Two Boston Invitational Championships in a row. I can't remember the last time that happened (I'm sure Jim can chime in pretty quickly on that). Again, with expectations of torrential downpours, Sunday's weather ended up being ideal yet again, with nasty looking clouds, but nary a speck of rain, so cool and slightly windy.

Unfortunately, the lame schedule called for a first round quarterfinal at 8:30 against Pike. Pike had surprisingly lost all 3 of their pool play games on Saturday, obviously reeling from the loss of 3 of their best players to Metal. And man, are they a short team. We were able to convert early and often, although for some reason the game ended up pretty close, with us pulling out the victory 15-13 (!) as they mounted a late run.

The semis found us matched up against Sub-Zero, who apparently were missing 6 of their top 10 players. All I know is that Timmy was missing. They were definitely not the Sub-Zero of years past that has played us almost even. We jumped to an 8-4ish halftime lead, extending it to 14-8 before they finally broke us. Interestingly enough, at 14-8 they finally pulled and played zone for the first time, whereupon we made a first pass turnover (hint hint, play zone). They then scored the next two points to make it 14-11. Also interesting was that those were first and only 3 turnovers made by the offense all game. Finally, the O put it in for 15-11. I did hear one Sub-Zero guy say on the sideline that 'I can't believe we just broke them 3 times in a row and it is 14-11.'

Finally, the finals. Over in the other side, Metal had 'upset' Clapham 15-12 in a reasonably tightly fought game. Nasser from Clapham was able to play but was unable to throw a forehand apparently, not that this was the reason they lost. Metal looks like they may have something going. This time we broke them first, pulling and jumping out to a 3-1 lead. More trading and breaks before we took half 8-7, receiving. I did throw a stall 9 rifle hammer to Forch for a goal. In the second half, the D served up another couple of breaks to make the lead a little more comfortable before the O gave one back. At one point, Paul V made a full downfield backhand huck to Zip on a called play that he caught just outside the endzone. After we scored, naturally I razzed him about not being able to put him in the goal. So, the next O point, this time going the other way, I fired a full field backhand to my receiver, Jim, who caught it literally on the line. I felt a little hypocritical about it until I was able to justify it by saying that mine was upwind...

They played a few zone points against us, and the last one they played appeared to be a little unusual, and it didn't last long enough for us to really confirm something. But Wicks also noticed from the sideline that they set up a 4-person cup with Billy Stewart on the mark. I broke it over the top, we moved it up field quickly then got bogged down briefly. What shocked me was that instead of marking the disc, Billy played man on me as the dump. I didn't get it again (didn't need to we scored in another 2 or 3 passes), but as they were walking back upfield, I asked Billy if he was playing man on me. He gave me an only somewhat strange look. I will naturally take the best possible interpretation of this, in that they were actually playing a zone and one on ME! After all, this is big ego ultiMatE.

One other sidebar. On Saturday, Fun boy handed me off to a reporter from the Boston Globe who writes for the Globe Northwest section, one of those weekly specialty inserts. And as a resident of Arlington, he pumped me full of scopolamine and got some answers to questions. Apparently the article is supposed to run in this Thursday's Globe. Bummer for all the Somerville/Cantabridgians, as they don't get that section...:)

Even better sidebar that I'm adding after the fact now that Jim reminded me. In the second half of the finals at one point 2 handlers and 4 receivers are called in by Wicks. Waiting with bated breath only to have Wicks call Jimmy P in instead of me. He immediately raises his arms in triumph. Even better, Wicks calls the lineup and makes Jim seventh man, so he is even taking my handling spot. Tom takes great enjoyment in watching the entire interplay. I ask Wicks about it before the point starts and he says he wanted Jim to get some time in at 7th man (forget about it being at my expense). He realized the incongruity and humor in it at least. And then, worst of all, Metal comes down playing zone, the ultimate indignity. However, it is somewhat satisfying the number of teams that don't play zone on us until I'm out for a point...

The ultimate vindication, however, was when on this same point Jim got the disc on the sideline and had to throw a long hammer at stall 9 to Zip in the endzone for a turnover...

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Boston Invitational - Open Division - Day one

So, apparently because of my last post, I was expected to throw a lot of hammers this weekend. Well, that got sidetracked in the first game Saturday morning against Potomac, as I was not point blocked once, but twice on hammers in the first few points. And while the disc wasn't actually knocked backwards (ie., offensive players ended up with sort of bids on both of them), they were significantly impacted. Plus a couple of drops on somewhat difficult throws (one into a poach, another on a 3 foot cut straight at the thrower on high stall that was unexpectedly low which I still should have had) and I feel like at least one more turnover in there, it was a bad game. For most of the rest of the game, I looked off my hammer, although I finally completed one to somebody so wide open that even I couldn't look it off.

Despite my shortcomings, we won that game 15-10ish. Next game against PoNY, who had had an OK game with the Clapham team first round. We kept it closer than it had to be, winning 15-10/11. I think I finally completed another hammer in this game. The first half of the game I was feeling very cautious on ALL my throws, not just the hammer. Finally by the second half the jitters were gone.

Then a bye, boredom, and meeting Nasser(sp?) from Clapham, who actually is French. He knew my brother who played with the Invalides team in Paris, so we talked for a solid 25 minutes. That was the longest conversation that I had to sustain in French for sometime, but it was good to finally meet him, as my brother had mentioned that he was probably the best player in France. After playing against him and Clapham in the third round (they had won their first two pretty easily), I could agree with my brother. Definitely a stud player. The Clapham game was very close, as we won 15-12 with a defensive break for the final point. The offense only gave up one break the entire game, which means we only got three on them, which I thought was pretty impressive. They were definitely fun to play against. I finally started getting more confidence in the hammer in this game, throwing a number of completions. At one point, I had caught the disc maybe 10 yards outside the endzone being forced forehand. I then had at least 4 different people cut for a hammer, and I had to physically look/fake the hammer each time, to the extent that I wasn't being given ANY other options to throw. I finally threw one to (insert name here) because again it was just too open.

Finally, the meaningless crossover game against Metal, who had beaten there seed and won their pool 3-0. Their pool was definitely the pool of death, with 3 out of the 4 games in the first two rounds going to double game point. This game wasn't going to affect tomorrow's matchups, but nonetheless we didn't want to lose to our in-town rivals. Well, we sure didn't start out that way. The team played tentatively, ending up down 8-5 at the half with almost no energy on the sidelines, offense getting broken at least twice, and in ugly fashion, and the D not able to put up a good fight. We received coming out of half, and ended up trading to 11-8, including two ugly garbage catches for goals on offensive points, before we finally hit our stride. First the O scored to 11-9, then the D took advantage of a Metal mistake to get a quick score. This was the energy we needed (man we were quiet until then), and then we got two more breaks to go up 12-11. Then we traded to 13-13, with the O receiving. Metal pulls, Sammy catches, and throws to me on the forehand side as the hitch. Because of a Metal player flying down the field, I had actually cut a little harder than he expected, and he threw it well behind me, only to watch in horror as it dribbled off my hand maybe 6 yards outside our endzone. I pick up my guy, who is a dump, and only hear about the pass going up and apparently turned over. Greatly relieved, I walk to the disc in the endzone, walk it up to the line, hear them forcing 'home' (and knowing the first pass is to Jimmy P), wait a few seconds for him to clear the last poacher, and then uncork a full field long backhand that I think is going to go past him for a sec before he catches it literally on the far goal line. Fortunately he completes some squib pass to Zalisk before I have to hoof 70 yards down the field to catch up. 14-13. Defense pulls, eventually gets a break, and then we score on a long backhand huck. Game over.

Story of the day, however, was the weather. After predictions of hard rain and thunderstorms literally all day, we ended up getting the most rain during the drive out in the morning, and then a couple of short drizzles during the day, but otherwise the weather ended being PERFECT. However, as I check the forecast now, I see that it only seems that today's forecast was shifted out to tomorrow, as it seems we will get crushed then. Ugh. I hate rain. Well, more tomorrow night (or Monday...).

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Boston Corporate League 2006

So, on Thursday night I played my first summer league game of the 2006 season. I have to admit, there is nothing like playing summer league to feel like you can still play the game. The team I play on, SwillMillGrill, is a conglomeration of various teams that have gotten too old and lost too many players to field their own teams so they have combined to become one swilly team that likes to play and party. The roster is probably somewhere between 30 and 40 players, but we're luck to field any more than 12-14 at any given game, and NEVER on time.

My kids are finally old enough that I can bring them out to a game when the weather is reasonably nice and not have to worry about them too much. It also helps when we have some extra players on the sideline. The fields were still a little messy after the deluge of rain we have had for the last 3 weeks, including 2 more days of pretty solid rain this week. So I got a little messy in the first half when I slid and sank my butt into some grass water.

Back to the validation of playing summer league... I played the entire first half (we went down 4-1) and got through about 5 or 6 points before they started focusing on me, with their sideline continually saying 'don't let him touch the disc.' At one point our guy was walking up to the line as they are saying this, so I tell my defender 'you got that?' and he laughs and says, 'yeah, now don't move'. After we went down 4-1, we started playing zone with our ragtag collection of oldsters (including 3 iron(wo)man who had to play the entire game with none of them younger than 40, well, maybe Sheila). Now our zone is nothing to write home about, and yet for some reason it continues to confound teams. I'm sure most of my loyal readers are aware that I salivate for teams to throw zone against DoG, or pretty much whatever team I'm playing with. So I am always leery of playing zone defense myself, not quite comprehending how people turn it over.

Regardless, I played one of the deeps, and we rode the zone to a 6-4 lead before taking half 8-5 and pulling downwind. During half, my son Christian says he needs to go poopoo, and I'm trying to negotiate with him to try and wait/hold it in, whatever. Jeff Zabel offers to take him to the bathroom so I can keep playing, but that's not really fair, so I take the kids to the port-a-potties at the WAY far end of the fields, trying to rush them along. As I'm watching, they stuff and score right outside the other endzone to make it 9-5, so I feel pretty good we have the game in hand. Naturally by the time the kids are done with the bathroom and we get back, it is now a 1 point game and I rush back in. We start trading and at one point are 12-11 or something close like that. Keep trading before we pull the game out 15-12 or something like that. It must have frustrated the shit out of the other team, who I'm sure felt they should have beaten us pretty thoroughly. Also, late in the second half, we switched back to man which occurred at just the right time, as we got some more quick turnovers and closed it out.

Now keep in mind we had maybe 2 or 3 people under 40, myself at 39, Tyler who is markedly younger, and maybe 1 other person right around my age (maybe...). We had a guy, Nooch, who retired in '86! Two years after I started playing. The first point he was in, we said we were forcing forehand, and he said 'What?' He ended up actually playing pretty well with solid throws.

More validation... in summer league games I break out the hammer big time, and this one was no different as I threw close to 20 hammers, a bunch for goals, a bunch that were dropped early on (and they weren't even my more difficult bladey ones that were dropped. Very frustrating). Makes me realize that I need to throw them a little more with DoG, because it is truly a weapon that can be taken advantage of. It got a little funny after awhile when I got the disc anywhere near the endzone. People would start clearing that space and then EVERYONE was looking for the hammer. The best catch of the day was probably the hammer I threw to Westy, one of the ironwomen. I caught a pass outside the downwind endzone and it was pretty crowded. She had curled in for the forehand, and then curled back out. I immediately threw one of the truly bladey ones to her, and she was actually expecting it even though she wasn't looking anywhere near me when she flared out. She turned and had maybe one second to catch the disc in stride, and she made the great stumbling catch for a huge point.

I threw anywhere from 6-9 goals, including LOTS of hammers, blades, and the nonesuch. It also helps that DoG has been doing conditioning runs already so I have a headstart going into the summer season. I definitely felt like I was running well out there. Finally, it was nice finally having a reasonably hard field to run on after two weeks of CRUDDY fields at DoG practice.

Finally, the Mill portion of the team. We play swill, we mill after the games with numerous beers, and we usually grill with a portable grill. Unfortunately we don't have our usual fields this year so we are travelling to 'away' games a little more, and this field wasn't appropriate for the grill (and far from the parking lot), so it was just the 'mill' portion with beer. Stayed at the fields for another hour milling (naturally the other team, Swingers, left long before then), then brought the kids home to get to bed at 9:30, a solid two hours after their bedtime. For once, they went straight to sleep...

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Boston Invitational 2006- Masters division

So, fast forwarding to the future, I played with the Boston/DoGish entry in the Boston Invitational Masters Division this weekend at Fort Devens. Playing masters reminded me why I'm holding onto Open as long possible. Don't get me wrong, it was GREAT catching up with the old championship DoGs, but let me tell you, when I was on that team, I was one of the young guys, so you can imagine how old that makes the rest of them. Consider that of all the people that played out there this weekend, I was the 3rd or 4th youngest at 39. Makes me realize that the window for a true DoG masters team to win Masters is probably closed, unless we grab a whole bunch of random yutes to play D.

I followed the weather reports with some interest earlier in the week after it appeared that the gorgeous weather we had all week was going to disappear for the weekend. And disappear it did. After Jim was able to call around and cajole enough people to make the first game Saturday morning (after which we had a bye), Jim and I went to open DoG practice that morning instead. Pouring rain of the field trashing kind ensued, and the practice was not one of the more quality ones, as the field was pretty soft, still had some high grass, and mushy parts. It slows the whole game down (and the soft conditions make me even less nimble than usual).

Fortunately we were able to avoid the sprinting at the end of practice with the valid excuse that we were going to get far more running in the final two games of Saturday than we would in the sprints at the end. And yes we did get in a lot of running Saturday and Sunday.

The team crushed a local Boston team in the first Saturday game in our absence, then the bye, then the competition really began. We had a game against Chop Shop from Western Mass, who apparently went to Nationals last year. They were competitive, we took a largish lead and then let them come right back in the game before eking out a 15-13 victory. Meanwhile Above and Beyond had raced through their game and got to watch us struggle for most of the second half. After that game, there was serious discussion about flipping for the game and going drinking instead for the NY game, but saner heads prevailed, and we ended up deciding to play to 11. Of course right around this time, the rain came back with a vengeance and we spent the entire game either miserable on the field or huddled up on the sideline for warmth. We received, NY quickly jumps out to a 2-0 lead, we rally to 2-1, and then it is 9-1 before we trade out to 11-3. After a quick huddle on the sideline, Jim goes off to tournament central to try and rejigger the schedule for the next day so we don't have to play the 8:30 game. I find out later by email that he has failed. I am not unduly concerned as I have no intentions of making that game, but if we forfeit that game, then we will also have to play the 10:30 4/5 play-in game, so I am a little concerned about numbers.

Turns out I'm right, as at 8:40 there are 4 players, at 9AM or so they finally have 7, and Pittsburgh has generously delayed. They end up playing the game with 7.5 players (Gary Bernard shuttles back and forth between the game and coaching Lincoln/Sudbury for 2 points at a time). Amazingly enough, they go up 9-5 before losing on double game point. Marshall sent me an amusing note on the game. Did Jim tell you that we actually only lost by one? They attempted to
confirm with us that it was "universe point", but we refused to accept
the term and ended up losing on double game point.
What Marshall neglected to mention is that they actually received on double game point. Ouch!

So Jim calls me at home at 10:40AM to give me the news that there is no game until 12:30, which is most welcome at this time, especially since we are down a car and I now have to fish for a ride to the fields, and hijack Jeff 'Dick' Brown to pick me up on the way. We get to the fields about 12:15 and gear up for the semis against Chop Shop, who we barely skated by the previous day. It was mostly closer this time, as we went up two early breaks, and then traded out to half. More importantly, we weren't giving them many opportunites as we finally cleaned up the offense. This one was a little more comfortable at 15-11.

This time we got to rest and watch NY close out Pittsburgh for a few points. After their game was over, immediately went over to their huddle, and they were more than interested in starting right away as opposed to waiting for 2:30 to start. So we did...

Now THIS was the DoG that I remembered. Nothing gets the juices flowing like playing against the old NYNY players, even if there were only a few of them like the Flores brothers, EO, Arnold, etc. We again gave up an early break, wait, I gave up an early break, traded out for the rest of the half before scoring the last two to go into half up one AND receiving to start the second half. Well, we reeled off the next four points coming out of half for 6 in a row and effectively putting the game out of reach. Naturally we let them score a few to make it somewhat nervous, but the final was around 15-10/11.

FFor other tourney writeups, check here and Jim's blog. But enough of the dry game summaries and on to the highlights.

* It was incredible how mushy the fields were during Saturday morning practice. As I mentioned, it slowed my fleet self to a crawl. But what a pleasure when I got to the Devens fields. Even after the dumping, they were closely cropped, still somewhat hard (!). HUGE difference in my game as I was finally able to actually juke. And on Sunday, the fields were even better, as the couple of muddy spots had faded and the traction was great. Hopefully it keeps raining otherwise they'll be rocky again for the Invitational in a few weeks.

* I got a layout D in the finals on Juano Flores just outside our endzone on a comeback cut. It was actually a legitimate layout, getting mostly horizontal with pretty good extension. I think I can count my tournament layout D's on the fingers of one hand in the 00's. There was a high layout (sort of) against Shiftyeye, I mean Luke, when he played for Sockeye at Nationals some year early 2000s. There was another one against Andy Crews of the Condors in 2002 during the quarterfinals where we ended their streak at 2 (unfortunately it was called back on a marking foul). Another one at a scrimmage against Brown on one of their main handlers after Wicks had been riding me, but I can't count non-tourneys. I have found that when I actually get a layout D, we have won the game. I theorize that it is because the other team becomes so demoralized... Naturally, Jim theorizes that it is because my team feels so desperate because I am laying out that they turn it up, or something like that.

* In the finals, pulling downwind at 14-10, talking to Dick Brown on the line, and he says he is going to get a layout D. NY works it all the way up the field, then somebody throws a hammer to the left corner of the endzone to Arnold, and Dick gets a full extension layout to block it away, though Arnold almost catches the junk. I take the disc up to the line, and 'huck' a forehand to Rob Barrett going down the line (lead-in to the next 'highlight'). After a few passes, I get it in the right corner of the endzone, very crowded in front of me. Stall 5, I see Dick cutting across the endzone left to right, so I throw a casual blade for the goal, feeling I have to validate his D, only to have the wind push it down for a turnover. He is PISSED, becausee he was ready to literally leave his cleats on the field after that catch and end his career. So when you see him continue playing somewhere and he either helps or hurts your team, blame me...

* As for that 'long forehand', I think I commented or blogged somewhere that I had learned a long forehand during nationals last year, but obviously couldn't break it out without practice. Well, I lost the technique during the offseason, and I broke out a few long forehands during the NY game that quailed miserably. Ugh.

* Dennis McCarthy, Mr. Kinesthesia, had an unfortunate Saturday. After making it out there for the 8:30AM game, on his second point he cut long and was thrown to. Apparently he had an unobstructed catch, dropped it, and then trying to catch his trash, he badly separated his shoulder, to the point that certain emotions of pain were expressed (so I'm told). This reminds me of Worlds in '93 in Madison, when Bob Deman showed up for his first game in the quarterfinals. On his first point, he did something similar (screwed up shoulder I believe) and Kenny D came over to him and congratulated him on a 'Nice tournament Bob'. And you wonder where they got that edge from...

* Late in the Saturday game against NY, probably 9-2 ish, EO throws a long downwind pass for a goal that is incomplete. Jim, standing near him, immediately excoriates him, asking why he didn't complete that pass? As you can tell, we really had no desire to be playing that game anymore.

* Jordan 'managing' the team. He was very sincere in trying to rally the troops, and run subs, and say the right things, etc. We all went along with it for awhile, then realized that the best way to defuse him was just to say 'Yes, Jordan' whenever he said or asked something, and then do whatever you were going to do anyway. It came to a head when Jordan tried to call Seeger in on offense late in the NY game, after Jay had just played a D point. After he yelled Jay like 4 times, Seeger finally lost it on him and told him 'No means no, or something to that effect. A bunch of us on the line remarked that it was a lesson we had been teaching our children, that sometimes you just had to emphasize that no means no...

* Hanging out briefly at the Devens Grill after the victory regaling ourselves with our greatness, and rochamboing for the tournament trophy, which was actually respectably large. Even though everyone wanted Jim to have the trophy, he being the person to blame/thank for putting the team together, he wanted to have the team rosham for it. 10 of us went in, and after 8 or so ties, we split up into two groups. Naturally Jim won his group and went against Simon in the finals and won the trophy anyway. Jordan, very depressed, was only consoled once Jim said he would rocham Jordan two out of three for it. Jim did his best Dennis McCarthy impression (so he was there in spirit at the end), before losing two straight to cede the trophy to Jordan.

The roster as far as I have been able to reconstruct it was

Moonee, Seeger, Jim, Alex, Jim "Bim" Johnston, Scott Goodrich, Jeff Brown, Rob Barrett, Coop, Bickford, Jordan, John Bar, and Dennis. That was the former DoGs. To fill out the roster we had Simon Verghese, Marshall Goff, Gary Bernard, James Milan, Bill Stewart, and Jackie Bourgeois (Jim's wife for those not in the know).

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