Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Open Finals Thoughts

I suppose in my write up I didn't actually say much about the Open final. It aired at like 6am for some folks so potentially a lot of you didn't actually see the game. Here are some thoughts.

Ironside is a really young team relative to Jam. Guys like Doug Moore, Forch, Rosenthal, and McCarthy were fairly established with DoG and guys like Seigs and C-Mo have been there for awhile as well, despite only being 25 or so, but a lot of Ironside's talent is still really new.

Will Neff anchors their D-line and Jasper was a fundamental component of their offense. Kurt Gibson was not in attendance and despite rumors I've heard, I really do not know the answer to why he wasn't there. In any event, Ironside's performance in the finals did not resemble the patient and conservative Boston ultimate I was expecting. Recently Jeff Graham has established himself as a dominat deep threat for Forch and they really went for the throat down wind.

However, despite connecting on a few occasions, it was just a matter of time before Jeff could not make a play and it came on this huck. Forch had already launched two huge backhand bombs and third time was not a charm. Jam scooped up the turn and I think this was when they took another break and led 13-10 or so.

In any event, this sequence seemed to sum up the Finals. Boston seemed to exhibit their youth and while that gets you amazing plays, it also brings bitter consequences. Jam, alternatively, relied on endless chemistry between their established roster. Recently, in this game, O-line and D-line assignments have become really popular. However, Jam did not rely on such set lines. Jeff Eastham is a great defender but at times he played O. Bart Watson is one of their best handlers but at times he plays defense. Likewise, Steets is a great cutter because of his vertical presence and size, but he also will find himself in zone D situations and man defense. Namkung and Husak bounce a round a little bit and of any team at Nationals, Jam was probably the most inconsistent when it came to O/D-line assignments, in my opinion.

With this in mind, they seemed to really rely on cohesion. Every player on the team knows everyone else and in conditions as unpredictable as Sarasota with very high winds, they were seamless. The wind almost seemed like an 8th defender and they handled it very well. In addition, I want to say that this team could have beaten anyone Sunday, but I believe that Jam got a lucky draw in Boston. Coming into the Finals, Jam was clearly the front runner when it came to experience. Only two of Boston's players had played in a game of this magnitude and many had come and gone since their last semifinals appearance so Finals was definitely a new experience, even for veterans like Forseter.

However, Jam has been there in semis almost every year of this millennium. Guys like Watson, Damien Scott, Idris, Jon Zalisk, Safdie, and Dan Hodges were all there in 2004 when they made Finals last (lost on Universe to Sockeye) and it is no surprise that they were ready for the Finals. They were more or less the Boston Celtics of Ultimate this year and the drop off in Sockeye and Furious was like the Pistons and the Spurs crumbling. This was Jam's time to shine. They have such a ridiculously talented roster and like Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, they just needed the stars to align to give them a shot at a ring. I'm not saying they couldn't take out Sockeye, Furious or Bravo consistently but I definitely think Jam benefited from shifts in power. It's kind of like Obama's election today. He is a fantastic candidate (and Jam is a great team) but the republicans (Sockeye and Furious) digging themselves a ditch doesn't hurt.

I mean come on, they lose to Boston in Pool Play 15-12 and Sockeye gets ahead and wins out 15-13 in power pools. In pool play, Jam's experience was not enough because there was little pressure on Ironside. The depth of their roster was good coming into the third game of the day on Thursday but with only 1 game to play, the pressure must have been tough for a young Ironside team. I think Boston's best days are ahead of them however. Guys like Stubbs and Brent Anderson need time with Boston as do a slew of their other stalwarts like Trey Katzenbach and Dan Patiestas. They will continue to improve in the near future and with the recent visibility of GOAT, Boston has a legitimate regional challenge that is not in their own state. Toronto's improvement is the best thing for Boston in the sense that it will keep their fires lit. The Canadians are nipping at their heels and they play a totally different ball game.

As for Jam's performance against Sockeye, I think Seattle's intensity coupled with experience in Sarasota put them at a distinct advantage. They have the athletes to challenge Jam's O-line and their defensive efficiency (when focused) was enough to collect the breaks to keep victory out of Jam's hands. Sockeye's D-line is almost as experienced as their O-line and if they are on, they can score as effectively as anyone else. But they had their own demons with Bravo so Jam didn't have to face them.

And as for Bravo, I know for a fact that Jam is not seen as much of a challenge. They owned Jam last year and in their only contest in '08 they won 13-8. I think Bravo took too much weight off their shoulders after beating Sockeye in Quarters and Jam was pissed off enough to get their intensity level up, probably more so than the Finals. In watching Bravo beat out such a dominant adversary it is not surprising that they looked past Jam.

In any event, Jam's chemistry produced one of the best offensive threats in Sarasota and they handled the wind so amazingly well. On Saturday they rolled Revolver 15-9 in Quarters and after that game I really began to see that Jam knew what the hell they were doing. When they went up 6-2 on Bravo I thought to myself, they might just win this whole thing. I over estimated Boston's poise going into the Finals, but looking back I definitely realize that Jam was playing the best Ultimate of anyone on Saturday and Sunday.

Congratulations to San Francisco. Of anyone at Nationals they deserved a title more than anyone. Few teams have put in the years that guys like Idris have and it was nice to witness their glory. I was talking to Husak at the party and we brought up the fact that he and Namkung were the only male worlds players to win Nationals and gold. Congrats again.

just some more of my thoughts

match diesel

Sarasota Recap

Phew…what a weekend. I am so exhausted. It was really cool going to a tournament as an employee because 1) the trip was free and 2) I was not entirely responsible for everything. At Centex, Worlds, and College Nationals, I was on my own and I sort of just did what I wanted. However, taking orders from Rob was pretty sweet because I wasn’t nearly as stressed out as I usually get.

However, that isn’t to say the weekend was a cakewalk. I feel like so few people really understand what it takes to put together media. It’s like trying to run a tournament. It is so much behind the scenes work and for the most part, the viewers/participants have no concept of how hard it is. What sucks is that ultimate players are so smart (or at least they think they are) and they are skeptical as hell and have a tough time with blind faith. 

I was talking with Will Deaver during the women’s final and he was telling me about how he couldn’t understand why people think of the UPA as a big bad wolf. He was very quick to point out how small time it really is and he seemed comically frustrated when people thought he was anything more than a regular guy/player just like everyone else.

Anyway, I get the feeling he, and I and a lot of other folks in the business, would appreciate a little more faith. We’re not out to screw people over or hoard money. We’re not out to satisfy crazy selfish egos (well maybe I am a little bit) and it would be nice if folks just appreciated the work and kept the bitching to a minimum. I tend to poke fun at religion sometimes but on some occasions it is nice when there aren’t any questions and people just accept what they don’t understand.

Back to the tournament. 

Pool play was sweet because things went pretty close to what I predicted. Aside from Sockeye losing to Doublewide I was pretty close to perfect. I figured Chain would upset SubZero and they did and I was hoping Bodhi would take it to the Condors and they did.

I didn’t get to watch nearly as much disc as I would have liked but I did catch the Jam vs Bodhi game and it was really interesting in the sense that it is so obvious when teams are confident and when they are not. Athletic ability and fundamentals are nice, but the only way you win is if you really believe you will. That is why Furious has been so successful. Guys like MG and Lugsdin are certain they will win and then they go out and do it. I feel so bad for my SD buddies who can’t seem to get past the Condors, and in watching elite teams I am coming to understand how important it is to be unafraid.

As for Bodhi, they were just intimidated. They started out OK but Jam took advantage of their inexperience and things like hand blocks and dropped passes showed up. They did make a few big plays however, and I remember seeing Alex Kapinos make a great sky grab for a goal once or twice. I was talking with Miles after their game and I was telling him that I was glad that they took some deep shots late in the game because at the very least getting a huge sky over a guy like Bart Watson or Brandon Steets is something you’re always going to keep with you and those kinds of plays are how you get the confidence to beat established teams. 

After the Bodhi game I headed over to the Doublewide/Sockeye game and I witnessed the tail end of the upset. I want to say that Doublewide was the better team, but it just looked like Sockeye was over confident. They were careless on offense and when/if they generated a turn on D they weren’t careful enough to turn it into a break. Doublewide however executed their game beautifully and for a team that needs a few confidence jolts, they definitely did well for themselves.

However, just like the Delaware vs Florida upset, Doublewide didn’t follow up their performance with anything spectacular. Folks, if you ever upset a team huge, you have to come out and at least score in the follow up game or you’ll get killed on point differential and that is what happened to Doublewide.

Anyway, Doublewide still got stuck in the lower pools (just like Chewbacca Defense, the Austin mixed team) and had to eek their way out to get into the quarters play in.

The other thing worth mentioning about pool play was Bravo. They did not look like they were ready to win Nationals. They seemed really impatient in the sense that they just wanted to be in the Finals already and couldn’t be bothered with the 7 games leading up to them. SubZero almost beat them late in the day and for a team that was a Finals frontrunner, they really did not resemble the team they were a year ago.

Now Power Pools were nuts. The second day of competition totally screwed up my bracket and things were as crazy in Sarasota as they appeared on the score reporter. I only watched the Sockeye vs Jam game because I haven’t seen much of Jam and I wanted to know more about them. They hung with Sockeye for a while but Sockeye’s depth on defense was insane. They are like the next level up from Wisconsin. They bring so much pressure and considering that Friday was by far the windiest day, Jam just could not maintain the composure to score 15 goals. As a side note, Jim Parinella walked by and asked me about the game and he said “Ok match, in 25 words or less”. I loved it.

As for Bravo, I only heard things second hand and Bret Matzuka from Ring who was telling me they just couldn’t play in the wind and that doesn’t surprise me. Bravo’s strength has always been their size. Popes, Big Jim, Beau, all their guys are massive and they love to use them. However, when you have 30 mph wind, it gets hard for guys like Parker to hit their targets with the required precision.

The other interesting game in Power Pools was Ironside vs Sockeye and despite the fact that I was hoping Boston could get the upset, they seemed very ok with losing. They were in the game close but towards the end Sockeye just outlasted them. It was funny, Goldstein had a drop late in the game but after he realized that Sockeye now had to play Bravo in Quarters and Ironside had an easier game against Ring, I heard he said something to the tune of, “Best drop I have ever had”.

So with Bravo’s two losses they faced Doublewide in the play in game and Texas never had a chance. I wanted to see them in quarters but that kind of opponent in pre-quarters is just unfair and Bravo rolled. The other play in game between GOAT and SubZero was pretty sweet though. I got some well-deserved criticism awhile back for not knowing enough about Toronto and I was glad to have the opportunity to pay close attention to them in. 

Inian Morrthy played a phenomenal tournament and he was amazing for GOAT. His deep cuts were spectacular and with a guy like John Hassell on the field, he was catching goals left and right. As for Hassell, I was talking with some folks about John and the consensus seemed to be that his poise on the field is staggering. On offense, he just seems so comfortable to the point where he appears NOT be trying when he cuts. I wish GOAT had a bit more of that confidence top to bottom however, because like I said before, if they want to win, they have to know they can first. They had a line in the tournament pamphlet that said “They win Canadian Nationals when Furious doesn’t show up” and that kind of thinking is exactly what will keep them second to Furious.

SubZero had moments of brilliance however and they kept the game interesting. I was amazed to see Muffin playing because I figured he’d be out for the season, but there he was launching his famous “Sonic Boom”. It was just unfortunate that it wasn’t caught more often. Another player I couldn’t help but feel bad for was Grant Lindsley. This kid, like Stubbs, has had a hell of a summer with appearances at College Nationals, Worlds and Club Nationals. However because he has the Paidea and Chain background, not to mention the talent to compete with anyone, there is a lot of expectation on him and I don’t think he handles the pressure well yet. I’ve seen him go deep many times for SubZero and many times he just couldn’t make the catch. I’m not sure I see him as a great deep threat because he is so small, but if he wants to succeed he is going to have to exhibit a lot more composure down field. I think putting him center stage on Sub’s O-line was a mistake, especially when you have an experienced cutter like Jim Foster who does have the composure to get it done in that sort of situation. In my opinion it comes down to experience and from watching guys like Heijmen snatch goals with such authority, it looks like Grant still has a ways to go.

Another thing that I couldn’t help notice about Wisconsin is how they organize their Carleton/Wisconsin talent. I think I remember it as Shane, Muffin, and Lokke on the D line and Kanner and Lindsley for O, which makes sense. The intensity of Wisconsin’s defense is quite the asset and the poise and commitment to fundamentals that Carleton seems to emulate is valuable on offense. Jack Marsh, Foster and Heijmen play on Sub’s O-line, but I get the feeling they are a bit different from the testosterone heavy Hodag norm. In addition to being really nice guys, Heijmen, Foster, and Jack seem a bit more even keel and that is valuable. I think if SubZero wants to succeed in the future, they are going to have to work on harnessing their intensity because the brute force that gets them championships in College will not work in Club. Teams are not going to be intimidated by raw intensity and unless you can match their level of execution, they’ll cut you to ribbons.

Quarters was pretty awesome and the Bravo vs Sockeye game was every bit as exciting as one would hope. Bravo came to Nationals to play this game, it was just too bad it wasn’t a day later. The game started off on serve and despite Skip Sewell’s dominate defense on Will Deaver, Sockeye could not get the breaks they needed in the first half. At one point Skip’s intensity got the better of him and Sockeye got slapped with a 3rd TMF and had to start in their own endzone. This was weird to see. I mean come on, Will Deaver vs Skip Sewell, the UPA vs Cultimate and you get a TMF in the game you play against one another?! A better set of circumstances doesn’t exist for a writer like myself.

In the end I think the key to Bravo’s success was a lack of focus on Sockeye’s part. I think Seattle was really frustrated that they had to play Bravo this early in the tournament and I don’t think they were prepared. They made poor mistakes on offense and couldn’t score on D. I will say that Nate Castine is a straight up baller though. He seems to have the confidence on D that a guy like Grant Lindsley needs to develop and he played great. It looks like Sockeye always puts Nate on the other team’s best player and he does a great job. He took out Mike Grant for a little while in the gold medal game and he was on Forch and Beau this weekend.

Unfortunately for Sockeye, Beau is Beau. He took over in the Sockeye game and without Chase or Seth, Sockeye really didn’t have an answer. Despite trying to match his speed with a fast guy like Nate or his height with a tall guy like Thomas Sebby, they just couldn’t take him out of the game. The fact that this game was at 9am also helped Bravo because there was little or no wind that early in the day and Bravo got to use the weapons they are so comfortable with. This was easily may favorite game of the weekend and it was really nice to see Beau run up and down the field the way he did back in ’04. As an aside, I think Nord broke his wrist making a layout grab so he was unavailable to cover Beau.

However, despite Bravo finally getting past Sockeye, they really did not get up for semis. I think Bravo knew they were good enough to beat anyone, but having their focus change to a team like Jam or Ironside once they got past Sockeye was a challenge. They usually do very well against Jam and I think that hurt them in semis. They got what they wanted in quarters but Jam was dying to make it out of semis and Bravo phoned it in. San Francisco took an early 6-2 lead and Bravo just couldn’t make up the difference. Despite looking 50, Just Safdie played a great tournament and all of Jam’s talent played to their abilities. Watson, Damien, Gabe, Husak, Cascino, Steets, etc.. were all superb and they were not going to lose. I was talking with Alex Hughes from Furious and he was telling me that when you have all start talent like that, the game all depends on your best players to be one and for everyone else to stay out of the way. He was telling me that if Mike Grant, Lugsdin, Oscar, Kirk and Mauro have a good game, Furious will win, if not, they lose and the same was true for Jam. I was a bit skeptical that they would handle the wind well because I’ve always thought Bart pulls out the flick blade a bit too much but he played very conservatively both in this game and the finals and his ability to navigate through the elements was awesome to watch.

I wanted to watch more of the other semis but I had to go commentate the Masters Final. From what I saw early, it looked like this game was going to come down to the wire with Boston and Atlanta tied at 7s and 8s but after I left, Ironside pulled away. I really like hyping up the Forch/Zip matchup and at one point they argued over a foul call and I thought it was cute. Anyway, Boston seemed to have the composure in the wind to get past Chain and they advanced to the finals for the first time in a decade.

The big surprise in the Masters division was the fact that DoG had been knocked out pretty handily in semis and now the two teams facing off were relatively unknown, at least to myself. Rob asked me to do the commentary with Alex and while I think I can make just about anything entertaining, I really did not know enough about these teams. This would prove to be an additional issue in the Mixed final. For what it’s worth, people really underestimate the work load associated with putting stuff like this on and while it could easily be fixed by having more people involved, it is very hard to get people to come all the way to Florida to work on something that hasn’t been done before. To complicate matters, volunteer turnover is very high and just like anything, it gets really hard to find good help. In the end, the fact that the stream made it on the web without any glitches and there were commentators at all was a big victory. Maybe things will change in a few years, and it was nice that most of the criticisms on RSD were relatively understandable and fixable in the near future.

As for the actual Masters game, it was ok. Surly really worked the whole field well and Mileage had a tough time with the wind. In watching the game, I really noticed that having a good pivot is so important in getting through difficult wind. If you can go backhand/forehand/backhand/forehand quickly and effectively, getting a swing across the field is a lot easier. Surly managed to set up break side dumps with good pivot movement and got the disc off the downwind sideline. Mileage was not as effective with this and Surly’s zone ate them up and they cruised to victory.

By Saturday night, I was really exhausted and doing voice overs for the video highlights became increasingly difficult. I am really glad Rob gave me this opportunity and I really enjoyed the experience but when you have to watch highlight after highlight, write a script and then record it at all hours of the night, you tend to miss things. At one point I kept mixing up Jon Zalisk and Taylor Cascino for Jam and I ended up having to record a few segments 3 or 4 times which kept us up till about 1:30am for the third night in a row. Oh well, my bad. Rob didn’t seem to mind too much.

The final day of the tournament came at just the right moment. Dale, one of Rob’s editors and best friend, had worked his hands to the bone editing film footage and I was pretty beat from watching all of it day in and day out. However, Sunday was all live, no editing, just streaming and commentating. We all enjoyed the lighter work load.

As for the Finals commentary, things were a bit hectic at first. I really wanted to do the open final for obvious reasons but the UPA paid for the broadcast and they wanted Kyle Weisbrod. I was a bit put off at first but after watching he and Alex run things, I was very impressed. They worked well together and I think the sport was articulated beautifully in my opinion. I am not sure what kind of a job I would have done, but I think Kyle and Alex did the sport justice and it made me wonder if I am cut out for commentating. I am a very passionate person and I think my intensity can sometimes get the better of me. Commentating the Mixed finals was much easier because I didn’t really care who won or lost, but my knowledge of the teams was pathetic relative to what I know about teams like Ironside and Jam. But it is a double edged sword because knowing enough about the teams to do a decent job takes a ton of work and it is hard for me to research a team well when I have no interest in how they perform. Oh well, maybe I just need more practice.

As for the Mixed finals, I really wasn’t all that prepared. I didn’t know what game I was going to be doing going into Sunday and considering the fact that we don’t have the broadcasting power of FOX or ESPN, the garage-esk nature of things seemed understandable. To complicate matters, getting the information required to do a good job is really hard especially considering the fact that we don’t know who is going to be in the finals until the day before and finding said information is no easy task. I’ve spent the last 5 years researching open teams and I still struggle.

Something that really surprised me over the weekend was that one of our camera men had done work with broadcasting in the past for Ultimate and he was telling me that they had done the same sort of production for the ’92 UPA Club Ultimate Championships. I really wish things had continued to blossom. In any event, in order to really package the game well, given our infrastructure, doing things live is impossible. One of my frustrations with CSTV is despite the fact that it is put together well, it doesn’t find it’s way to viewers until weeks or even months after the event. Given the circumstances, we’re just going to have to take what we can get.

As for the Women’s final, yikes, this was a weird 2 hours. I spent the first half of the game talking with Will Deaver, which was really cool. I remember getting yelled at by Will in Columbus in 2006 for having Natty Light on the side line of a UCSD game but I’m glad that he has given me the chance to mature over the last few years. He is really a great guy and absolutely perfect for the position of Championship Director. It was really cool giving him my two cents on issues like the Ultimate Revolution and Conference 1 and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.

As for the game, when I started paying attention, Riot was already up 5-0. At first I immediately started throwing out things like double peaking issues because up until this point every team that had competed at Worlds had struggled at some point during Nationals. However, in the second half Fury’s switch to zone really proved to be the determining factor. I have heard that Matt Tsang is a good coach but I never really understood it until this game.

He really kept Fury’s spirits up and allowed them to focus on getting the job done despite being in a monstrous hole. At 11-2 or so I was really looking forward to congratulating Miranda because I like her a lot and know how much she wanted this game but as Fury kept getting closer and closer, I could feel my heart sink in my chest. I am guessing Riot had similar feelings and when I was taking down the scaffolding, I could see folks like Val Dion in tears and it really broke my heart.

In any event, one thing that struck me during all of the Finals was just how difficult it is to play in Sarasota. A lot of people want the opportunity to just make Nationals but not only is it incredibly hard to make the tournament, it is incredibly hard to compete in it. The wind is really astronomical and in watching games being played I was glad I didn’t have to suit up. I understand now how much veteran experience helps you in a tournament like this because only after years of work can one have the patience to execute in conditions that are so frustrating.

After all of the games we packed things up and headed back to the hotel for some celebratory activities. I wanted to give up alcohol for 6 months but I decided to give myself a break for the last night of competition. All of us on the UV crew as well as the employees and volunteers for the UPA worked our butts off and sitting down with a few brews was pretty understandable.

At this point we all got the chance to loosen up and the spittle really showed up. Two of the guys filming for Rob were from Savannah, GA and they were two of the more interesting characters I have come across at ultimate tournaments. One of them, William, was a player from Savannah who had played the game at a decent level for a number of years. One of his claims to fame was that Sterling and Shannon Sharpe had graced their pickup scene with a cameo and he had played ultimate with two hall of fame athletes. He also made sure to mention that each Sharpe thought Ultimate was the hardest sport they had ever played.

William’s other stand out attribute was that he had broken his finger in competition a while back and rather than leave the game, he cracked it back into place, taped it up and continued to compete. Now however, he has about a ¾ inch bulge perpendicular to his left middle finger and I was doing double and triple takes at dinner when he was showing it to me.

The other Savannah gentleman was a good ol boy in ultimate from years past. His name was JR and he had played/covered the sport back in the days of Kenny Dobyns and he was also a character. His most standout attribute was that he walked around with an eye patch and only after a few brews did I have the courage to ask him about it. Apparently he has a brain tumor of sorts in his head and he had lost most of the use of his left ear and eye. It didn’t seem to stop him however because he was as lively as any of us and I enjoyed his company.

To make matters even more hilarious, he also had participated in a play in Savannah as a pirate, big surprise, for a number of years and he decided to sport a cane for the evening’s festivities. Not only was he fully prepared to act out his lines on cue, but he also managed to manifest a blade out of his cane, a prop he had borrowed, and by this time nothing was surprising me. I loved it.

So we headed out to the infamous Siesta Key and we managed to find the bulk of the ultimate partiers at the Daiquiri Deck. I grew up in Southern California so these beach settings aren’t all that exciting for me, but it was cool to see a bunch of elite players getting blitzed. I managed to come across Damien Scott in the bathroom and I congratulated him on a much deserved National title as we both were relieving ourselves.

I also caught Gwen Ambler and despite the fact that I was pulling for Miranda I gave Gwen my congratulations. She is such a baller both on and off the field and if anyone could get away with a come from behind like that against an underdog, she can.

After many rounds of daiquiris and whiskey shots with the Barrio/Arizona guys (great to see them by the way), I wandered around the party scene to see who I could bump into. I caught up with Dan Heijmen and after I commented on his lack of bushy facial hair (he had shaved his monstrous beard after SubZero was eliminated) we ended up talking about something, not sure what it was now.

I caught Idris Nolan's attention for the briefest of moments and all I had to say was "Thanks for jump starting my blogging career and congratulations" to which he sort of chuckled and tipped his glass.

I also had a few Sockeye players introduced to me, Blaine Robbins in particular. Cyle Van Auken is well aware of my WA/BC section loyalties and I think he was curious to know what would happen if I came face to face with the enemy after a few drinks. To be completely honest, I have no animosity towards individual Sockeye players what so ever. I actually have the utmost respect for them and would welcome any to go play for the Monkey. One thing I remembered from the interaction was that my first comment to Blaine was to ask what name he had on the back of his Sockeye jersey because it was not Robbins and in his sprinting up and down the field I really could not make out what the name was. He told me that it was his wife’s last name and I thought that was a truly amazing gesture. She is a lucky woman.

So after a few hours of partying, things really started to get blurry. I left the main bar briefly with the Barrio guys but my first thought was that I did not want to get left 45 minutes from my bed so I returned quickly to my UV compatriots. It was really cool to party with Shep again though, that guy is just money and David Husid is also a fun little pit bull. Brandon Palmer also asked me for some advice now that he is Arizona’s captain and I tried to muster up some words of wisdom and I think I heard something to the tune of, “I’ve haven’t heard that before, thanks” so I may or may not have done my part to help Sunburn out.

So I awoke Monday morning early with this horrible hangover, something I do not miss. I managed to get my stuff together and get on the road but getting all the way up to Tampa for my noon flight proved to be quite the challenge. I didn’t want to put gas in the rent-a-car until I was close to the airport but for anyone that has been to that part of the country will tell you, there just isn’t anywhere to stop for miles and miles. After going about 20 miles or so with the gas light on I was really afraid I was going to run out of gas in the Florida outskirts, but I managed to luck out in St Petersburg, phew.

Anyway, I caught my flight and I got home despite a few more hiccups, which included me pulling the trigger in flight. But I finally managed to embrace my girl friend, who I had missed ever so much, and we watched this show about ghost hunters with my roommate until about 11pm before we both passed out.

Closing Thoughts
Wow what a year. I don’t want to go into too much detail because this thing is already too long but I had a few things I wanted to say.

First, for anyone that has a serious interest in ultimate, please attend some of the tournaments that you follow on the score reporter. Even if you cannot compete at Nationals or Centex or whatever, witnessing some of these events in real life will have a profound impact on you and increasing one’s level of understanding is really enhanced by just being there. I know my first trip to Nationals in Corvalis changed me and I’m still picking things up 4 years later.

Secondly, I want to toss out some thanks. First to Rob and Dale. They were so much fun to work with and I am so glad that I have been able to get close to a set of professionals that have allowed me to understand and appreciate my sport. In addition, Skip Hobbie. Skip is one of my favorite people and the fact that he is buddy buddy with my little brother makes me like him even more. His career as a wild life videographer is so incredibly exciting to hear about and considering the fact that we both like to get into the same sorts of trouble, he is always fun to be around. Neva was also a cool chick to hang out with. I tend to be a bit blunt, which doesn’t score me points with most women, but she seemed to loosen up relatively quickly and we had a good time. She was also very helpful during the Mixed finals because she knew the names and pronunciations that Alex and I struggled with.

It was also really awesome to hang out with Alex Hughes from Furious all weekend. I don’t need to highlight what it meant to me to hang out with a player on my favorite team, but I’ll just say that this interaction alone made the long trip to Sarasota worth it. The best thing about it was that after the 10-15 min awkward phase where he realized just how big a Furious fan I am, we ended up tossing spittle back and forth like any other set of friends would. At one point I realized that he resembles Daniel Day Lewis a lot from “There will be Blood” so for Sunday night we kept tossing lines back and forth like “If I have a milk shake” and “I’ve abandoned my child” in as good an Oscar winner impersonation as we could muster. It was pretty cool to have this kind of interaction and considering the fact that he enjoyed my stories and I his, I look forward to more spittle sessions in the future.

So I’ve wasted enough of your time already so I will end things here. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the show. I look forward to more in the future. 

just my thoughts

match diesel