Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Year...

...another Fury Championship. I think Chelsea Putnam said it best during the mixed finals broadcast "Matty Sang, you are the best coach in ultimate". Truer words have never been spoken. For those like me that have heard about DoG's 6-peat for years but weren't around for it, insert Fury. Two years ago they lost one of the best individuals in the ultimate community, Gwen Ambler, and they haven't missed a beat. It may have been taken a 12 point comeback but the streak was still alive. Winning with new faces, a better test of a championship caliber team there is not. Congrats across the board.

I was texting back and forth with my cousin Alex about Revolver and he seemed to think their performance was the most dominant in Club Nationals history. Now he is definitely a NW homer, and you can't blame him, but despite the hyperbole, there is some truth to his statement. Coming into this tournament the expectations on Revolver were probably the most a team has felt since Sockeye back in 2007. Three years ago the Fish were trying to repeat AND earn the chance to represent the USA and they delivered, albeit with two nail biters in semis and finals.

As for Revolver, everyone knew they were the team to beat. Some made a big deal out of Ironside's undefeated streak but every time it was brought up I thought to myself, "Really? What are you 12?" Within the US or not, they got whipped right in the middle of the season. Way to go ESPN/Favre and harp on a topic no one wants to talk about. You could totally see it on Will Neff's face during his post game interview that the streak was more of a liability than anything else. They may have been the 1 seed but the focus, talent, and experience of Revolver was as good as billed.

Going into the tournament I was curious to know if Revolver would underperform the way Bravo did in 2008 when they were easy favorites to win it all in a double peak year. However, after SF's win over Chain there was no doubt in my mind. ATL may have been in a down year, but when you avenge a crushing loss with a 15-6 power pool win, you are sending a message, to them and any 7 who dare stand 70 yards away. That game also reminded me of Bravo in 2008 when they avenged their Finals loss to Sockeye 15-14 in quarters, but in Revolver's case it was a stepping stone to Sunday glory and not Saturday exhaustion.

Revolver did face some stiff opposition in Doublewide and I think Austin should be very proud of their semifinal performance. They have had a few good seasons now and the youthful rejuvenation of Brodie et al seems to be just what the doctor ordered. Historically, DW seems to be in the same category as Furious and Ring in that they are a talented team, but struggle in the free agent department. Not in 2010 however. Hopefully the pipeline can stay alive.

And then there were two. I don't know what it is, but Ironside has really struggled in these games. In 2008 Ironside was easily the better team on paper going into the finals, especially considering their youth, Jam's lack thereof, and a pool play win over SF, but it didn't matter. Confidence was the limiting factor then and it was the limiting factor yesterday. Boston seemed gun shy against Revolver and the Bay Area capitalized. It seems a lack of depth in the NE is Ironside's downfall. I mean come on, you win your region with 4 victories? The closest of which was a 15-10 semifinal win over PoNY? Revolver has had to go through Sockeye, Furious, Jam, Rhino, etc.. since Day 1 so it is no wonder they brought swagger in buckets.

Ironside's D-line was legit though. Colin Mahoney made an amazing layout catch block on Beau late in the game and with a play like that, you could really tell the D-line came to win. Unfortunately the O-line did not. Oh well, much like Bravo in 2007, you were simply going up against a more focused, talented, and experienced opponent.

Wow, I gotta tell ya, it was surreal seeing my CT buddies suit up on Sunday. Korber, Kendra, KG, Napoleon, Mazur, Kravitzes, X, etc.. I am so proud of all of you guys. First year in existence and you put together one of the most impressive seasons in any division and when faced with some major gut checks (i.e. two losses, one in pool play) you grind it out and make the finals.

Unfortunately, the buck stopped there and Polar Bears Ctrl C'd and V'd their Thursday success. Knowing 808 and the LPC crew a little bit, this win was not a surprise. For several years the 925 has been quite close and while this may have been their first year as Polar Bears, a Div III championship and some major college noise say otherwise. I have seen few teams as close as this group and when it comes to success in this game, especially on offense, a tight knit bunch is clutch. All season D5 dominated which basically means their D-line dominated. Going into the series CT knew their O-line was their weak spot and Polar Bears' zone D exposed them big time.

Plus PBs had this blur of a female named An-Chi Tsou. Holy crap! Could anyone stop this girl? It definitely says a lot when a woman busts out in a mixed game. I've always thought mixed is all about your females and when most say "its basically 4 on 4", this game was refreshing. Plus rather than hearing "(insert name) Smith", we got "(pause) An-Chi (pause) Tsou?" Hilarious Chelsea. Robot's play was also very impressive but not unexpected. Since almost my first day as a squid, I have known about this guy and his final goal was just another in a slew of spectacular plays I've seen out of him. He reminds me a lot of Kurt Gibson in that he has superb body control and makes exceedingly awkward, but athletic, plays as if they were nothing. Korber is easily the best player I have ever played with/against and to poster him like that at such a big moment was....I got nothing. Congratulations!

D5 wasn't without their own superstars however and Justin Segool really played well. I remember at tryouts being much more impressed with Brandon Redding, but Segool really asserted himself as D5's premier deep threat. Regrettably, the highlight reel plays that I'm sure D5 is used to seeing out of Korber, Morrone, Rafe, DJX, etc.. just weren't there yesterday. I remember the second point of the game, a long one where D5 couldn't punch in the upwind break despite two hucks to the endzone, being a moment of fear for me. In that instance, it just seemed like the big plays weren't coming and when your O-line is weak, small ball is not an option you want to have to rely on.

In the end D5 had a successful season by anyone's standards and I'm sure those that had their doubts in May/June about playing Mixed in New Haven were fully confident in their decision yesterday, even in defeat.

Closing Thoughts
In watching the feed I quickly realized why I decided to ease off on the whole journalism gig. While ultimate is exciting to watch and follow, the only word I can come up with to describe the way it is packaged is "unprofessional". From the sombreros to the neon green sunglasses, the game just looks hokie. No wonder no one takes us seriously. I also agree with most of the RSD criticism about the commentary and would just like to add that the lack of focus was really irritating. Getting the score wrong over and over, talking about high fives, bold/incorrect decisions over and over, come on. My girlfriend (not a frisbee person) overheard the broadcast and consistently was puzzled by the dialog. I subject her to quite a bit of ESPN and even she can tell the difference.

I am conflicted when criticizing the job UV does though. I've been there in the editing sessions and I know how hard they work. However, this is not the first year UV has done this, its the 3rd and its also not the first time some of the commentators have done this. However, rather than improve year to year, things seem stagnant. I fear for UV's grip when/if CBS comes into Sarasota because they could easily take Rob's gig. In all honesty, they do a way better job and if you claim they have more resources, I suggest charging for access to nationals video footage. Rob did it with UVTV.

I also miss Tom Styles. His voice over the WUGC Finals was incredible. No offense to the current commentators, but the first hurdle in broadcasting is having a good voice. Tom has one, the current crew does not. You can call foul, but its just like sports, if you're fat, slow, short, and/or clumsy, you probably don't belong on the field.

just my thoughts

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