Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Play

It rears its ugly head again. I was talking to Tully about it on Facebook (where he also posted it) and he said he put it up there because he was sick and tired of all the C1 talk and blah blah blah so he wanted to shake things up. Reasonable I guess.

For those of you who feel you are missing out you can find the discussion here. Hopefully I grabbed the google groups link properly. I also covered this play ad nauseum over here during my early blogging days. I first caught up with the latest rendition of this thread about 8 comments in. I called Jim who of course had already noticed and we reflected on the whole fracas again. I debated whether to join in with a response on rsd, but I've been there and done that, even posting to Eurodisc back in the day after I started getting slammed there (I'm sure someone can dig up a link to that discussion) even to the point that I heard on the grapevine that Anders was all offended that I had posted something in 'his' backyard. Oh well. You can't make everyone happy.

I guess the reason I'm even addressing this at all is not to defend myself per se, although I don't have to, regardless of snide comments from types like Wagenwheel, who are advocates of refs of course and are more than happy to use this as a soapbox. I will start with observers and maybe move to refs. At nationals, we had some ok observers and some not so ok observers. One thing that I see has been evolving with observers, and I don't know if they are told to do this, or maybe the 11th edition is favoring the D more (I think it does), but they are definitely allowing significantly more contact than they did say 5 years ago. There are different kinds of contact, as in contact when going up, contact on a layout bid around a guy, etc. I'm not going to put my two cents in there about gradations in the rules and what is/is not a foul, especially now that I'm on the D squad:)

The only observation I wanted to make is that I KNOW I was fouled on that play. The back of my left hand stung from the contact he made. I don't know whether he got the disc, but I know he got my hand. Now for an observer (or ref) to have made that call, they would have to have been in one of very FEW spots to be able to see that contact, which clearly had an effect on my ability to catch the disc. And it was a leading dump to me, which means Anders was coming into my space to make the play. So first perspective is the active observer. I feel like observers are also really pushing themselves to make calls these days regardless of whether they really know what happened. Given that, and the same ideas regarding positioning and the ability to see that play, if this had happened this year at nationals, I imagine I would have been overruled unless someone was right there (and maybe even then). And if it was referees, who would have to instantiate the call (I can see myself turning to the ref like in soccer and pantomiming the contact, etc.), forget it. And SUCKED to have a double-game point Worlds final turn on a call. It sucked for the Swedes, and it would have sucked for the US if I had been overruled by an observer and they scored to win. After that play there wasn't going to be any good outcome to that game.

So keep that in mind during the referee/observer discussions. The field is MUCH larger than a basketball courts, the kinds of fouls that can occur are much wider than during a soccer match, and the action moves around the field far more quickly (and continuously) than football. So until ultimate is ready to have 6+ highly trained referees for ALL games, not just the finals or big games, I would stay away from that concept as long as I can.

As an aside, having played with observers for many years now, it was a little weird at Worlds not having them even as an option. DoG has NEVER asked for observers. I'm sure there are those who will say it was because we were too good and didn't need them, and once we started to fade we got chippy just like everyone else. Who knows. We didn't ask for them this year, and were a little offended when Troubled Past asked for them for our game, but whatever. But back to Worlds, I didn't notice any games that we played (or that I saw) where a team was able to take advantage of the fact that no one was there to overrule a call, but the potential was there for the rules to be abused to win.

Just my thoughts (a la Match). And now I will post this without doing any editing.

Sorry, I cheated. I had to add this after the fact. I appreciated Jacob's comment regarding his view of the play, I only had an issue with his first line :) 'Alex D AKA "The Count" may not have been the friendliest guy out there'. Actually, I feel I am quite convivial, even before my Masters days. Now I will agree that I am fanatically intense and competitive on the field, so I will guess it stems from there. This nationals was interesting because I was in much more of a leadership role including subbing both lines and running the D. I only lost it once majorly when the O was in a 6 or 8 turnover hell point with RIDICULOUS turnovers. I screamed in frustration while the point was going on, and Jim was right next to me and said shutup. I quickly acknowledged my mistake and moved on. But I was definitely a lot mellower, at least verbally, because of my expanded role.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nationals 2008

So, other than padding my ultimate history book appendix statistics, what did I accomplish at Nationals this year? Hmmmm. Well, now that the tournament is actually over, I can talk about some changes that occurred.

First of all, probably the biggest change on a personal level was that starting at Sectionals I began to switch to the defensive squad, and by regionals that had become official. There were a whole host of reasons to begin the switch, but interestingly enough, it all started out after I showed up for the second game at Sectionals, didn't make any warmup throws (point of person pride sometimes), and then took the first out of bounds pool, got high counted on the sideline, and then threw away a cross field hammer on my first pass. After a not so pretty other turnover, I decided that I was going to switch to the defense for awhile to get my legs under me and to stop feeling responsible for 'making something happen' on offense. I also felt like I was running very well on defense (at least for masters) and conceptually this wasn't such a reach.

This got firmer going into Regionals as Jeff Brown was away at a wedding (he had run the D and D subs last year) and was almost definitely not going to nationals. I ended up running both D and O subs (for important games) and playing almost exclusively defense at Regionals, only stepping into the O when they would get scored on more than once in a row, or if they had a tough point (and got scored on). By the time nationals rolled around, it was set in stone. I was a D guy. It's not too often that 24 years into your ultimate career you finally make the move from O to D. Usually it happens the other way.

Well, as a long time member of the O, moving to the D was surprisingly liberating (I can see all the D studs out there nodding their heads knowingly). It is amazing how much less stress you have every point. While in an overall game there are a number of stressful moments, you are not expected to actually score every point and this is pretty invigorating. Of course now I would get annoyed when the O didn't score in a close game (such as the semifinals) because that was yet another point that the D would have to break and score for us to keep up, much less win the game. Well, I'll have more ruminations on this I suspect as I try and cover the tournament.

Going into the tournament, we were a shell of last years team. Of 31 from last year, we were missing 17 overall, with 6 pickups for a total of 20 players. Arnold Sanchez, Matt Tracy from A&B, Dennis McCarthy and Jordan Haskell from Earth Atomizer (Let's Go!), and Mark Agius and Scott Hastie from Tombstone. And two of those players wouldn't show until Friday, one of whom would end up being mostly injured for the tournament. So we had iron 18 for Thursday, including a big game against Troubled Past at the end of the day for first in the pool. On Thursday, I basically had a 7-8 person O rotation with 10-11 on defense, and maybe 1-2 of the d players would play some O if necessary. Thursday ended up being very easy to sub, as for whatever reason teams decided to do El Foldo to us every round, even including the expected showdown with Troubled Past. The first game was against Old Style, the #2 team from the Central, featuring yet another Earth Atomizer alumnus, John Huggett, who beat out Dennis for most years between appearances at Nationals, 18 to 14. Old Style ended up bowing out gracefully, losing to us 15-4. The next game was against Anejo, #2 from the South. This featured a first time qualifier that I had played with at Princeton back in 1984-87, Nathan Stuart, whose son played on the winning worlds junior team in Vancouver and is quite the frisbee stud, just like his father (used to be...). Shockingly, we ended up taking half 8-0 having started on D. It was enjoyable because I didn't put a single O player on the field for the entire half. I debated whether to give them a point of their own, but as their numbers were so low in the first place, what the hell. They scored 4 of their own in the second half to make the final 15-4, but two rounds in and we were still feeling fresh going into the matchup of the day.

Troubled had an easy first game followed by a close one with OLD SAG, 15-12. OLD SAG had probably 16 fewer players than last year to get them down to 25 or so and for whatever reason they were not the same team. The Troubled Past game featured the usual blah blah blah from O'Dowd and Switzer among other people. Definitely satisfying not losing to those guys regardless of who we brung. We ended up winning the game 15-8.

Naturally the next stop was the beer tent as we caught up with persons past and present and enjoyed some free beer. After that, a race to Siesta Key to try and catch the sunset at the Palm Bay Club, but we failed. Nonetheless, the sky was gorgeous. Spent some time at the beach, then back to the room to shower and go out and pahty on Siesta Key. Making the rounds of the Daiquiri Deck and other places whose names I can't remember. Back home at a reasonable hour. Reasonably good nights sleep. Breakfast at McD's on the way to the fields to get ready for our game against OLD SAG. Unfortunately they did the same thing as they bent over to us and we beat them 15-8. All these blowouts of course were setting us up for a big loss. Our second game was against Double Black who had to beat us to make the quarterfinals. We were finally challenged (self-challenged at times) before we pulled away 15-11. While the outcome didn't seem in doubt, it was a little more challenging game.

This brought up the quarterfinals against Throwback, #2 from the NW. I was a little worried going into the game. It stayed reasonably close for the first half before we pulled away with a couple of 4-5 point defensive runs where I iced the O players again. Now you would think we would be nice and fresh for our semifinal game in the morning. Game starts at 10:30PM, etc. So I went out again that night to Siesta Key (after reaching the sunset Friday night this time) with Dennis. Suffice it to say, good times were had by all, and we were in at a reasonable hour.

Come Saturday morning, I should have known we were in trouble when I got to our field and there weren't 8 people with cleats on at 10AM for a 10:30 game (hell, there weren't 8 people). Sure enough, we started slowly on O and D, trading the first 4 points although their O scored quickly while ours struggled up the field. They finally blew open the floodgates and kept our D off the field while taking halftime 8-4 with us receiving the second half. Good halftime huddle, and we come out and score. They score, 9-5. We score, 9-6. We get a block and score on a long low backhand to Mark Agius who lays out for a huge upwinder. 9-7. We get the disc again on D and Zaz uncorks a long backhand to Arnold but it catches the wind and lets the defenders in to make the play. So potentially 9-8 goes to 10-7 and then the wheels fall off. The O continues to get broken and the game gets closed out 15-9. Crap! In this game I probably played 50/50 offense/defense as I had to keep coming on the field for the offense after they would get broken, and then I would be tired for defense if/when we scored.

This definitely did not hit me like 2000 (losing the first time after the streak) or 2002 (3 turnovers as a team in a game, you would expect to win, no?). Masters division, knowing we that had smoked and mirrored our way to that point. If you had told me going in that we were going to lose in the semis, I would have been thrilled. Of course, once you get to that point, you realize that you could win the whole thing. It didn't help that Mileage got their ass handed to them in the finals by Surly. It would have been nice to have a rematch from the previous year although I doubt the results would have been the same.

I think I will save my reflections on the various open games that I saw, including the finals, for another post. Might as well stay selfish for the moment. Of course, we weren't able to negotiate a mutual surrender so we ended up forfeiting the 3-4 game to be able to watch the open semis AND because we were a few points from completely losing the team to injury. At this point I went to frisbee central to ask when the beer tent opened, and they said 1PM. I looked at my watch and it was 1PM! Yeehah! Of course, it ended up being easier going on a beer run with Bim so that we could sit between open semi fields and watch. I hooked up my boys Dan Heijman and Shane from Sub Zero with some Poultry Days memory beers. Fortunately I heard that Dan shaved off that nasty thing he had growing on his face by Sunday. Could have hidden a rat in that thar thang. I ended up only having 2.5 beers before leaving the field, as I wanted to stay awake for the partying that night. Good thing as I ended up staying up until around 4:30 in the morning although that was pre daylights saving. The cool thing was that the bars honored the 1AM change so they all stayed open an extra hour. The hot spot was the Daiquiri Deck, as the tournament had provided free coupons for drinks. Then of course to the beach at the Palm Bay for more drinks and hanging before crashing. By the time I woke up, Dennis and Jordan (erstwhile roommates) had departed for the airport. I didn't hear a sound... I actually caught most of the finals, but that is for another entry.

Eh, at least I won the important one that qualified us for Worlds which was a blast! Prague 2010 baby!

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