Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Boston Corporate League 2006: part deux

Played in my third game of the season last night, and the first one where I didn't bring the kids. Naturally, this led to a long night, but more on that later. I quite possibly set a personal record in terms of total turnovers in one game. I had to consult with a teammate to try and get an accurate count, and I think we settled on 8. I'm sure Jim will chime in with a rememory about some game in East Podunk, but I'll stick with this one for now.

What was scary was how many of my turnovers were on throws under 10 yards. The disc definitely felt uncomfortable on my short throws to the extent that I wasn't really sure what was going to happen half the time. The long throws were far more effective and controllable than the short ones. My one caveat is that I was playing with significant achilles and calf issues on my left foot, enough that I didn't do much in the way of sprinting or sudden direction changes.

As is our wont, we came out in zone in a significant upwind/downwind game. The zone was very effective for the first half, even though they did have some players. Their bigger issues were having quality poppers. My calf issues actually led me to volunteer to playing exclusively point as it is much easier to control when you have to run or not (no chasing after bad throws etc.). It's been a long time since I played point, but I have to admit, 1) it was fun, and 2) I was very effective, resulting in at least 2 direct turnovers plus 2 or 3 more when it was ultimately a result of my marking. I may have to explore that some more if DoG O plays zone this fall. My zone positions have always been more of an issue of finding spots for all the other players, then I will fill in the rest, because I can play most of the spots reasonably effectively except for deep deep.

The other team finally got their act in gear for the second half (we took half 8-6) and scored on roughly 5 straight zone possessions. In my infinite wisdom, I made the team switch to man flick, and the other team started turning it over again. We ultimately won the game 15-13 or so, but it was pretty exciting and unreasonably close. At this point SwillMillGrill is undefeated on the season in actual games played (one loss by forfeit). Unfortunately the team may not even be able to get enough people for the tournament (I'll be at ECC), but that's not why this team plays anyway. It is for the Mill and Grill of the regular season.

Since I was kidless, I took advantage by doing the full post game mill of guns, drinks, grilling provided by Russ Robar, and then frisbee golf into the wee hours. There were five of us playing golf, and I won going away (at lesat -4 on the next lowest guy) except for some bogus rule change on the last hole where they said who wins the hole wins the game. Naturally I was the only guy to go over the wrong fence while the others ended up in a 4-way tie for 'first'. But we know who really one.

Other highlights:

* Tyler leaving after the first 9 holes, so everyone pelted his car with their discs as he drove away. Naturally he responded by slowly driving over some of them.
* Phineas playing the entire game in 2 left cleats. Apparently they looked similar enough that he had brought the wrong set from home.
* "One of the best shows ever was Guns and Roses opening for Aerosmith"
* "I would never pay for Chicago and Huey Lewis and the News"
* After we finally finished golf, and people were getting ready to leave, Russ immediately says gun and grill (breaking out the grill again!). Naturally, I was done, so I got into my car and pulled away, only to swing right around and pull in next to the grill to officially finish off the festivities.
* The long retelling of the origin of faaiiiiii (to be heard these days after a timeout is called).
* Offering the Tufts police a burger because after the second grilling we had one left, and Sack stepping up to negotiate with the Tufts cops… "okay but be done in 20 minutes"

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Boston Showcase 2006

So, it sounds like this event was a success. Just not on a personal level. Yes, my team lost. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of developing the game, and I thought this was a great opportunity to showcase ultimate, and it sounds like the clinics ahead of time were pretty popular. They were hoping for a minimum of 200 people overall, and ended with over 300. So in that respect, the event was a success. But I hate losing. It doesn't matter who I'm playing, with what team, whether we are even supposed to have a prayer or not. Doesn't matter. I HATE losing. My ultra-competitive nature is probably the only thing that enables me to still play 'elite' ultimate despite what some would consider to be physical liabilities.

To make the game in time, I had to leave a 5 year birthday party for the son of some friends of ours. They had engaged a local magician who is supposed to be really great, and Christian is in a huge magic phase, so I was really excited to see 1) the magician, and 2) how my son (and daughter) reacted. Unfortunately, I had to leave JUST as the routine started. For the infinitesimal few of you out there with kids, you understand, and for the majority of you who don't, you'll understand someday.

Now, for the details.

The actual field itself was great. An artificial turf stadium in South Boston, at the same field site (if not the stadium) where the Cuervo Championships were played in 92-93. The expected rain held off, while a stadium type wind (a minor version of 2002 Worlds Finals in Hawaii) provided unanticipated floating throws and turnovers. The teams were introduced by the announcer a player at a time, with each announced player jogging onto the field amid applause. Then instead of flipping the disc they had us 'lag' like in pool with myself and Alex Bowman from the opposing team throwing from one endzone at the same time to see who could get closest to the other endzone without crossing the line. Well, we both crossed, but mine was closer, so we blew off doing it again and we chose to pull.

The game started off great with a quick stuff and score off of a bad dump by Kelvin (our team was Cambridge and the other team was Boston) for a 1-0 lead. After trading for a few points, we finally gave the early break back, and then a couple more for good measure. After some more trading we pulled at 6-8 for half and played zone (not our first) with myself at middle middle. We got them trapped on the sideline and then I had a solid block on a throw through the middle from Kelvin. Picked up the disc, and then a quick 5 yard pass to Jeff "Dick" Brown for a score. Jeff was quick to point out to me later during the night that of the 4 or so breaks that we got the entire game, he scored 3 of them. However, the scored the next point to take half 9-7.

After a half-time show including a long distance accuracy contest throwing a frisbee through a football goal post that Paul V. won going away (I shanked my throw BIG time, much to the delight of the crowd) we started the second half receiving. Well, 3 quick points later, we were now down 12-7. After some more trading, we gave up some more points, then finally got a few back and got energized before we finally gave up the ghost 17-13. I almost got a second D on a second pass off the pull from Jasper Hoitsma who was trying to throw around me as I was running down. I reached out and got a solid mack on the rim, but he had thrown it hard enough that the receiver was still able to catch up to it in time. Not that it was the difference between winning and losing, but still frustrating.

* 'All-star' teams are tough. We had a mix of DoG and Metal plus one last-minute Slow White pickup to replace Rob Barrett who never showed. The Slow White player (Teddy Brower-Jarus?) ended up getting the team MVP award. While it was cool to play with some local Boston players I only play against (Because of the family I don't really have the time to go to pickup tournaments anymore), our team was incredibly flat. It was tough to get the team hyped up for the game since there was no real emotional trigger, other than not wanting to lose. Granted, that is ALL I ever need, but apparently it didn't suffice for much of the rest of my squad. Even the MLU had a true geographic basis that allowed for some bragging rights. It was difficult to find something to rally around.
* The teams were somewhat arbitrarily put together. We ended up being a lot more handler heavy than the other team. This was a problem at times when we were trying to get some upfield cuts, but it ended up hurting us less than expected. What really hurt us were just lame turnovers. We would be moving it fine, then somebody would throw something that just wasn't really necessary (long curving forehand to the far side of the endzone that fell short) because everyone was wide open. Granted, me getting point-blocked on the sideline on a limp high release backhand didn't help, but everyone contributed.
* They would like to have 4 teams play a round robin series next year. Assuming that DoG/Metal still exist, they should at least try to avoid intermingling the teams. It would provide for greater cohesion among the players (and playing styles) and definitely provide a little more spice for the competition. And maybe spice some outlier players to fill out the squads.
* As usual for an event like this (or just general pickup/fun ultimate), the handler lines from both Metal and DoG provided the majority of the players. Has anyone else ever noticed this? It seems like whenever there is pickup or goaltimate to be played, the offense and/or handlers (from the D) are always the ones to come out. I don't know if it is because the D is off being miserable and grouchy somewhere, or working on their mid-season game face, but it is definitely a staple of Boston pickup.
* 'Super-star thrower' Nathan Wicks scored 3 goals, all of them coincidentally when he was guarded by Jeff 'Dick' Brown which I guess means Jeff was even on the day...
* Wicks and Seigs competing in fantasy points. Seigs up 6-5 on game point Boston with Cambridge pulling. Seigs turfs a forehand which engenders a long discussion after the game about whether ALL points are doubled on game point, including negatives. After later consulting of Fantasy rules, it was deemed that it was worth -2. Wicks has already emailed me wondering when I was going to blog, so I guess I'll pump him up with a 2nd mention.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eating salt...

Reaching into the mailbag:

Anonymous said...
Maybe you could write an entry about eating salt. I'm curious as to the quantities, the type (iodized?) and how often you eat more while playing.

This comment came about as a result of a comment I made on George Cooke's blog entry about NUTC which take place early this week. Massachusetts was experiencing a fierce heat (and humidity) wave with temperatures in the mid-90's. George was talking about making sure that the kids were hydrated and had enough food. My comment was to make sure that they had salt also.

So, at Nationals 2003 in Sarasota, the weather was very hot and somewhat humid the first couple of days. On the afternoon of the first or second day (can't remember which), we played Johnny Bravo during the last game of the day. Partway through the second half, at one point while playing defense on one of the squirrelly handlers (naturally after a turnover, I wasn't in on D), someone on a grassy knoll shot me in the calf, or at least it felt like that. It totally seized up and I was barely able to be dragged off the field. By the end of the game, at least 2-3 more people had to take injury subs with similar issues.

That year (and every year since then), DoG has brought along our own sports massage guy, Russ Robar, who has been in the business for years, and has even done massage therapy for the Red Sox Manny Ramirez. He has been key in keeping me playing during the season through various minor tweaks and muscle strains as I saunter into my dotage. So, after the Bravo incident, he got me on the table and was feeling my calf and immediately knew I was dehydrated from the texture of my skin. I started chugging water at his behest (I hadn't been drinking much I sheepishly admitted, no pee that day) before he would even work on the calf. At the same time, he also fed me some salt kernels he had from a bottle. As he put it, the amount of water required to get my hydration up to snuff was going to require a significant amount of electrolytes at the same time. You can read about it here or here.

And if you do more research, you'll find that drinking a sports drink does NOT provide sufficient electrolytes, for instance in the excessively technical article here. Basically, you need to supplement with something like salt, or if that is too nasty for you, Tums. At this point, at Nationals I bring a big box of Tums to the fields and pound Tums all day (when I'm drinking enough water). If I don't think to drink water, then I won't think to eat Tums. One follows from the other.

Back to 2003, once I had hydrated and electrolyted sufficiently and most importantly started peeing, Russ started working on my calf. Miraculously enough, I was able to play the next day. I guarantee that if I not had somebody working me, much less with the skill that Russ had, I wouldn't have been able to walk normally for probably a week.

Naturally, something similar happened in 2004, although the tweak wasn't quite as bad, and I'm not sure I missed time. However, in 2005, when the weather was a little cooler, the same thing happened again. This time, however, it was a little windier, which also serves to dry you out. I had stupidly neglected to drink much fluid because it wasn't very hot, and this time during the Furious game, last game of the day, the same damn guy shot me in the calf during the second half. My good man Russ was there, he chastized me and fed me salt, and finally started working on me later that afternoon. And then that night, he worked on the calf for a solid hour, and miraculously I was able to play again the next morning. And I ended up having probably one of my best nationals performances in a long time, thanks to Russ.

I would say the most important thing is that you should be peeing during the day of a tournament. If you aren't, you aren't drinking enough. And if you are drinking enough that you should be peeing, then you should also be supplementing with salt or Tums or the equivalent. I can't speak to the particular kinds of salt to have, although generically I believe sea salt is far better for your health than regular iodized table salt.

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