Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clambake 2008

Now that I've had a chance to digest the weekend, I will now spout my usual drivel that is all about me (or not). You have been warned.

I was actually out of town on business all last week, from Monday morning to late Friday night, so didn't have the chance to follow up with the team very much in trying to plan. I was in heavy requirements/design meetings all day from 8-5 with people perched on either side of me so personal email was out... :) From the VERY little that I was able to monitor, however, our numbers were clearly going to be very low on Saturday, and not much better on Sunday. I got to sleep at 1AM Saturday morning, set my alarm for 5:30, and Jim stopped by around 6:10, we switched to my nice fuel-efficient Prius for the long ride to Bowdoin. I drove, and surprisingly didn't end up needing a coffee. As we passed by North Hampton, NH, I called Dennis McCarthy at around 7AM to make sure that he was going to leave at a reasonable hour and be at the first game, as he would be our SEVENTH person. For anyone that knows Dennis, that was going to be a Herculean task. We pull into the parking lot, get a sweet parking spot, and walk out to the fields at maybe 8:45. I think we were the 4th and 5th people. At 9, we still have 5. Shockingly, a few minutes later Dennis strolls up followed by Larry David. We have 7. I thought we were playing a huge team, but they had been warming up for a game next door. Our opponents were almost as small as we were, and hadn't approached us at all to get started. Forgot to mention that the tourney had a white board with announcements where teams were looking for players. We posted 'DoG looking for two bodies for 1st round'. The unspoken implication being JUST for the first round. Well, nobody answered the call. The first team was the Bowdoin alumni team. Not too much exciting in this game. We started on offense and coasted to a 15-8 victory. Then came a 2:45 hour bye until our 1PM game. Jim, Dennis and I drove to downtown Brunswick to get some breakfast at an overpriced restaurant. We then strolled over to the Joshua Tavern to check in on the clockmakers convention. Jim and Dennis had a beer while I stuck with water. Dennis bought the beer because he refused to do #2 in the restaurant because of the proximity of the toilet to the tables, and felt he had to buy a beer to use the bar toilet... Then back to the fields.

Right before our second game, the whiteboard call was answered. A guy walks up to me and says the TD said we might be looking for players. After a quick interrogation of playing history, I said that sure, he could join us for the day. His name was also Alex, although fortunately he preferred the nickname Grin. The second team was the current Bowdoin Stoned Clowns team. They were larger, younger, and faster, and although we started on offense and playing man to man D, they quickly buzzsawed through us to go up 3-1, and we had no answer. We scored to make it 3-2, and then clamped on the mighty 2-3-2 zone. Well, after 20+ years, college kids still suck at zone offense, and it was NOT windy at all. This completely turned the game around and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We played zone almost exclusively the rest of the tourney. In this game, we ended up winning 15-8 again as they were almost helpless against the zone. Next, ANOTHER 2.5 hour bye as we had the crappy game-bye-game-bye-game schedule. Yeah #1 seed! And Grin ended up being a stud for us, including a huge saving grab on a high long backhand that cemented his spot. This time hung around the fields and watched our final round opponents play our second rounders. You know, it is the weirdest thing. So many times I will watch a team play someone else and say to myself, boy we are in trouble. How are we going to beat these guys (even happened a little in the DoG glory days, but only against the Elite teams)? I sort of felt that way watching this team. They finish off their game, and then we start our game a little early because everyone wants to get to the famed Clambake party.

Well, same thing. I think the final might have been 15-9, but they were completely incapable of handling the zone also. So we had 9 people for the second and third games, and did not have too many problems dispatching these teams. When we received, we did not set up zones for the turnover except for one REALLY long throwaway out the back of the endzone where I quickly set up a zone (and we got the stuff and score).

Quick shower at the fieldhouse, then into the car for the 50 minute ride to the party site. We get there well after dark, pull into the campsite area, and I proceed to set up my sleeping spot in the passenger seat (put the seat back, double therma-rest, sleeping bag, pillow) and then watch Jim finish putting up his tent in front of the car while my lights are on. Dennis is parked next to us. Once Jim is done, the three amigos :0 walk to the party. On the way in, grab a quick burger and other food. I will try and capture the party in snippets instead of chronologically. All told though, I did not have as good a time at this party as last year (nor did I stay up as late). The beer running out at 12:30AM was not a show-stopper, though it contributed.

* Catching up with Joey Giampino and spending quite some time shmooing with him, watching the bonfire, and then having him buy me some body shots off of one of the young women's teams that was raising money for charity. We hardly knew ye, Wendi and Marci, but you gals ran a great booth.
* Catching up with KD, although unfortunately I missed the conversation described here although Jim gave me some of the highlights in the morning.
* Being in the beer tent when the last keg was announced, then promptly filled up one beer, held it in left hand, and then kept filling other beer in right hand as they brought out the pitchers, drinking it, then refilling. Probably 3 beers in 10 minutes. So bad timing/placement for me... :)
* Not doing a single shotgun, which is SHOCKING! Guess everyone was scared of the old gunfighter...

As you can see from the recitation above, I was surprised that I don't remember doing too many things, but that is a minor indictment of the party as there weren't as many things to move people en masse from one location to another, like Godiva's party-wide gun last year, among other things.

The next morning saw my car the last one to leave the party site for the second year in a row. I rose groggily around 9AM to see Dennis take off and say he wasn't coming back for the games (roundly cursed him) and then realized I still had my contacts in. Took them out, and back to sleep. Oh yeah, the other key to sleeping in the car is having the eye protectors by the makers of the bucky pillow for the neck. Very comfortable and pitch black. I finally rouse around 10:30, relieve myself, then pull Jim's sunshade off his tent only to hear him groan. Well, suffice it to say, Jim wasn't feeling very well that morning, and didn't end up joining us on the playing field until half-time of the second game.

Get to the fields just before noon to find out we are playing Harvard, who won the tournament last year. We have 3 new players for the day, Tyler, Simon, and Billy Rodriguez (!) from beyond the ultimate grave. Minus Dennis and we are at 11. I ask the Harvard captain what happened and he says they have like 9 new guys. Once we start playing, this quickly becomes apparent. Zone, zone and more zone, and they fold like yesterday's laundry. Yet another long break, although not as a result of a bye, as Red Tide '98 squeaks by whoever they are playing to set up the hotly anticipated matchup between our two teams. This was a reunion teamm of the Red Tide squad that had gone to nationals in '98. They had shirts made up for the tournament that had team designs from Furious and Red Tide on the front with the score 16-14 under it, showing the Red Tide victory over Furious at nationals that year. Pretty clever I thought. Kenny D, Benjy and EO were among the returning players that had been partying at various reunion events since Friday night.

Well, I REALLY did not want to win this game, and made it very clear to my team. We started on offense and turned it over allowing them to score (I was not involved in any of it). But walking back to the line, I steepled my fingers a la Burns and said 'Haigcellent' much to the amusement of my teammates. However, it was not to be as the teams exchanged leads throughout the game with no one pulling away by more than 2 at any time. Finally, in the second half we are on serve receiving at 12-12. We turn it over, and then just outside our endzone, I end up getting a poach D in the corner and we go down and score. We eventually trade again then score to win 15-13. So I basically blame myself for winning the game and having to play the finals. The other note was that their zone offense was far more patient than the other teams. It was basically KD at pivot with Benjy and EO on each side taking HUGE swings back and forth. I was shocked at how far back KD was standing, losing yards (although gaining it back on the swing). They kept doing this until EO could uncork a long hammer somewhere. They had some good success scoring on us in the first half. To remove some of EO's options upfield, we switched to a 1-3-3 which ended up being more successful.

The club Red Tide team has beaten the other team pretty handily in their semi (they played the SECOND team from our pool, yeah A pool!). I was hoping our pool would win and then we could say that we won the pool thus the tournament but it was not to be. We agreed to play immediately after the Red Tide game was over, and at first we agreed to play to 7. They came back a little later and pushed for much more. We finally settled on a game to 9. We were down to 10 players at this point and some with nagging injuries, although the reason we wanted to play to short score was more wanting to get out of there than the injuries. We started on offense, and quickly went up a break. More breaks both ways although they never took the lead. We had chances to really pad our lead that we blew before finally winning 9-7 in a pretty sedate game. We played zone again although they were better at it. I went down with a calf (thanks to Al Michaels) with maybe 4 points left (safely in the lead of course) and Will had gone down a few points earlier with a hammy. While I had hydrated significantly on the way to the fields, after maybe 1PM I forgot to drink quite so much, and that is always the reason my calf goes. Fortunately, I was able to see Russ on Tuesday and I had stopped playing in time to prevent a major seized muscle, and I should be fine for Sectionals this weekend. And, yes, we are currently small-squadded for Sectionals also, but not quite as small as Clambake.

Which brings up a side question. For any nationals masters players reading this, do you guys have trouble fielding your main squad when you go to Sectionals? I was looking at the Sectionals results yesterday, trying to pick out all the masters teams out there and there were quite a few. I am betting that they have more success/numbers at these pre-series tournaments than we do. Although I will acknowledge that we are experiencing some Worlds burnout. Hell, Tombstone from Canada isn't even playing the series this fall.

Oh yeah, quick little celebration, then skedaddled off to my car, picking up an individual Clambake trophy on the way to bookend the Clambake trophy I have from 1996.

And that's all she wrote.

Read more!