Sunday, June 28, 2009

Talk to the hand...

Wednesday July 1st was a special day. It was on that day that I finally got this (*&)(@#*$(*@# cast off my right forearm/wrist/hand. That was a large contributor to the lack of action on this blog for the last 2 months, especially during the actual frisbee season.

Back on Friday, May 29th, I was up in Revere MA right off the main drag playing in the USS showcase series in a coed game. I believe we were in the process of getting our butts kicked in the first half when I caught the disk in the near left side of the field. I had a guy covering me who had been sprinting all over the field all night, clearly trying to make an impression on someone (apparently he was trying out for Ironsides). I was being forced forehand, and Jeff Graham was breaking deep. Naturally instead of trying to force a long flick I promptly broke his mark for the long backhand and he tried to kick block me. To make a long story short, HUGE windup, hand to cleat, instant agony/numbness/swelling, and an injury sub. And a perfect long backhand that Jeff didn't come down with. Try and wring out my hand for the rest of the half, the deficit gets worse, and I think I finally go back in around 14-4 on offense. I catch a pass (awkwardly pancaked, naturally) and turn and throw a little break mark high backhand for a goal. Yeah, it hurts. We go on a run to make it semi-respectable at 14-7 before losing. Everyone heads off to the People's Republik in Cambridge for a few brew-ha-has after the game so I join them, get a bag of ice, and the swelling finally goes down and I'm feeling almost human (but still worried). When I get home, page my doctor to find out if they have office hours anywhere on Saturday. Find a walk-in clinic, show up at 9, x-rayed half hour later, guy calls me in and says "Well, I don't think we have to wait for the radiologist". The 4th (1st? The one serving the index finger) metacarpal was completely broken all the way through. Slightly offset, and the ortho guy that finally looked at it didn't think it would require surgery, but that I should be back in a week to get a new cast and more x-rays to make sure. They gave me a nice fiberglass cast, and I was off with my first broken bone since a broken left wrist at UPA nationals in DC in 1990 (I was the guy taken off in an ambulance for the old people that might remember). 4th broken bone overall, including 2 left fingers. All courtesy of frisbee.

As you can see from the cast, fortunately I had some use of my right fingers which is key given my position in the software industry. While awkward and somewhat slower, I was able to continue typing with two hands. There were other interesting experiences including learning to do my business lefty. While I was initially worried, it ended up not being too difficult. But a whole lot of new neural pathways were burned over the last 5 weeks. The week after this happened was Masters Easterns in Devens. I was going to miss Saturday as I had a wedding down on the Cape in Falmouth. We were going to drive back that night and I was planning to head out to the fields on Sunday to check out some of our tryouts. I get out to the fields Sunday morning and we have all of 12 people including me. Ugh. I was planning to maybe play one point in each game just so I could say I 'won' the tournament. I ended up playing almost every other point, although I only ever went in on defense. Remembering back in the mid-'80s when Bobby Rydell had a broken right hand at the Ultimate Affair and he played holding a tennis ball in his right hand to force him to use his left, I ended up carrying around a pair of socks in my right hand to make sure I didn't instinctively try to use it for something. I was successful in that respect. On the day, I ended up with one D on a swing pass (lefty) 3 goals caught, and one pass thrown. The offense was stalling and had this opportunity to make a 30 yard upfield catch. Finally I cut, was thrown too, caught the disc then turned around to throw a lefty backhand to Coop. It was offline but he was able to adjust. I was kicking myself afterwards because I had thrown it lefty but with the righty pivot so it had been incredibly awkward.

We only ended up playing two games, semis against Scotch from Nova Scotia. Right before the pull, the captain came over and asked us to take the game seriously because that was the only way they were going to learn and get better. Unfortunately that resulted in a bagel, 15-0, but fun was had by all nonetheless. In the post-game huddle, they chose me to drink some nasty formulation they had brought. Stupid cast...

This brought up the finals against Old Glory, portions of OLD SAG from Philly, half of which was practicing for the Grand Master national championships in a month. DoG had beaten them during pool play 15-9 or 11 in a game that hadn't been very close. It was much closer this time around as the score remained largely tied through the first half. DoG finally pulled away in the second half and won by the same score as the pool play game, but it definitely didn't feel that comfortable. Another masters tournament victory in the books. Jim Parinella was busy winning the Cazenovia tournament in upstate NY with Ironsides at the time, so there wasn't any sort of +1 going on.

The following week I went in for a new cast and x-rays, and the bone was still lining up well so no surgery was going to required. At this time I informed my doctor about the GM nationals starting exactly six weeks after I broke my hand. We talked about when we might take the cast off, the fact that the hand would not be healed yet so would be more vulnerable to rebreaking. I was also going to be heading to France for a family wedding the weekend of July 4th and I wanted to get the cast off before then, so we scheduled the removal for Wednesday July 1st, the day before I left for France. Meanwhile I got a fancy new black cast after eschewing the pink and glow-in-the-dark ones.

Fast forward 3 weeks to the Boston Invite. I haven't even picked up a frisbee in the interim and I'm still sporting the cast. We have a small army for this tournament as it is the final tournament of the spring. My hand is feeling a little better although I wasn't initially planning on playing that much, and again only defense. I even had made up a spreadsheet to try and keep track of subs since we would have so many, having gone through permutations various lineups, man, zone, etc. That lasted a game and a half. Spreadsheets suck. I guess that is what the assistants are for. We were seeded 12th overall, 2nd in an elite pool behind Wiretap and ahead of Forge and Colt .45, who we had beaten at WMO. First game of the morning at 9AM against Colt, and this is the big one. We held seed winning 15-10. They never really threatened. It will be interesting to see where Korber goes now that he was cut from Ironsides. Meanwhile in the other game Forge had upset Wiretap to take #1 seed. Our next game was against Forge. We went up 4-2 only to completely unravel while they scored something like 5 straight. They ended up winning 15-11 but this definitely felt like a winnable game. Final round of the day against Wiretap to try and crossover against the Elite pool. If we lose, we have to play down. The game is similar to Forge. We go up early and then lose 15-11 in yet another seemingly winnable game. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight in all of this to know that we could definitely have won either of those games (although probably not both). This sets up a crossover with Chuckwagon from the Elite II pool. We go up big, maybe 5-0 before the games are all stopped on account of lightning. After waiting around for a half hour, Chuckwagon says that they want to go do a barbecue. We forcibly extract an admission of a forfeit so that we don't have to be back first thing in the morning, then it is off to Portsmouth NH for the evening.

Back in the morning for a 9:30 game with a schedule shift. To show the parity, 3 of the four elite crossovers had been won at double game point with two of the Elite teams moving up (including Forge). Pike had lost their crossover by one to Sons of Liberty. Our first game was against Pike who are 5 years from their semifinal appearance at nationals (or so). For us, this was the game of the spring season. This was replete with huge plays, defensive runs, sideline involvement, you name it. We gave Pike an early lead only to come back and take half 8-5 or 8-6 with a big defensive run. We had another defensive run in the second half and then held on to eke out the victory 15-13. While Pike is definitely not the team they were, this was a HUGE statement victory for us, letting us know that we could still play with the reasonably big boys (for at least one game). At least for this tournament I didn't have to throw lefty, although I only had at most a 10 yard backhand throw. I was maybe 4-5, with my sole turnover a low-release backhand, which sounds even more idiotic now considering that I had no oomph in my righty backhand with the cast on. I remember I tried one forehand during warmups and it immediately hooked left and almost hit someone.

So DoG closed out a reasonably successful spring, although if we had lost that Pike game I think the complexion would have been much different. I got the cast off the Wednesday after the Boston invite, left for France, came back, left for Denver for GM nationals with DoG, but that is another story...

Oh yeah, and I guess I'm against kick blocks now. If I remember correctly they don't allow them in Europe? Or maybe that was only at Paganello, where I accidentally tried one once, and after the faceful of sand that came up, I understand the restriction.


Blogger luke said...

what's it take to get you to write up masters?

and, flg, let's get idris to salvage the missing podcast...

the greatest ever. by the greatests evers.

2:42 AM, July 26, 2009  
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