Monday, October 3, 2011

Out with a Bang

If the Canadians are out next year, Furious definitely leaves on top. No they didn't win the region, but they bested their bitter rival in dramatic fashion and what better way to piece out?

For the first half of last decade, Furious was the class of the NW. Grant, Lugsdin, Shank, Nichols, Savage, Seraglia, Maley, and more comprised a team that seemed all but invincible. Three UPA titles, a world title, and any Canadian championship they wanted.

However, over the next 5 years father time hovered over Furious like an opportunistic vulture. First Shank and Nichols, then MG, Mauro, and Lugsdin. Fast forward to 2011 and the Monkey is a different beast altogether.

They weren't the only ones though. Their foes across the border went through a similar transition and what once seemed like an endless line of 6' CUTers and Callahan winners, was now a collection of youngsters and a blue eyed Great Laker.

And it seemed as if this New Look Salmon squad was the aggressor. A pair of national titles, an impressive performance in Prague. While not being the penciled in champion of yesteryear, they still were a force to be reckoned with.

As for Furious, 2007 was just the beginning. Aside from a spectacular gold medal win at home, it seemed as if Furious was headed out to pasture to join the Condors. The new junta was basically the products of Vancouver's ultimate system and what they could achieve sans Disc 4 was yet to be determined. No natties in '08 or '09 and a forgettable performance in '10. Add that to the fact that GOAT was not going away (see Colorado Cup results) and it seemed as if Furious was on it's last leg.

Given all this, there was a fair amount of uncertainty regarding who would represent Canada once the dust settled. GOAT had been on the outside for so long and considering the fact that these two Maple Leaf programs rarely play one another in meaningful games, Toronto seemed determined to not repeat their 8-15 performance of 2007. Further, considering CUPA's policy on out of province players, it is likely the best 6-8 players on either team would be on Team Canada anyway. I remember asking Morgan about this and despite admitting that a few guys were headed to Japan either way, Furious came to win.

To be honest I thought GOAT had a shot to upset Furious. They seemed to have met each other in the performance spectrum with comparable talent and series success so I figured the hungrier squad would prevail. However, that is omitting the notorious Monkey Bear Trap.

Now I do not know how intentional this is, but it seems like Furious' best weapon is playing opossum. In 2005 Seattle saw themselves as the cream of the NW crop. They were younger, faster, and more confident than Furious and were riding high after a 2004 title and a 3-0 record against Furious. Even after a semifinal surprise at Regionals, the Fish were unafraid and took out Furious in power pools at Nationals. But in the Finals, the trap was sprung. Right when Seattle thought the championship was theirs, Furious came alive and snatched their 3rd title in 4 years.

The same thing more or less happened in 2008. Furious gets whooped at Nationals in 2007 and go 0-4 to Sockeye teams coming into Worlds (not to mention a 6-15 stomping in finals of Sockeye Invite). The Fish see Japan as their biggest foe and entering Worlds, Canada seemed weak and feeble. We all know how that ended.

Fast forward 3 years and Furious is more or less in the same position as the previous one. Sockeye is 2-0 against them after Solstice, they lose to GOAT in Boulder. Hell, outside a 15-13 win over NexGen, their wasn't a lot to be confident with. One would think Furious was in the worst possible situation.

And that is exactly what they wanted GOAT thinking. "We got these guys. They are past their prime. Sure they picked up Gabe, but he has been out of the game since Worlds in Taipei. This is our time." Trap sprung!! It may not have been 15-8 in pouring rain, but Furious still got the W and will represent Canada yet again.

But surely they couldn't carry that success over to the US, right? In 2007 they looked good following Canadian Nationals with a solid performance at ECC and even a win over Sockeye at Regionals, but they would eventually sputter out finishing light years behind their legacy in Sarasota.

2008 was more of the same, but worse. After Worlds they missed Nationals for the first time this millennium and 2009 was the same story different verse. Taken a step further, considering the fact that the free agent tides had shifted a few hundred miles south to SF with Revolver being the new stud on the block, it appeared as if Furious was not only on their last leg, but approaching irrelevance. In 2010 with no Prague data and a 12th place finish at Nationals (thank you Jam for vanishing), it seemed as if Furious was just drifting on an iceberg waiting to melt.

Entering the series this year, that iceberg was down to a cube waiting to fall beneath the surface. Sure the Monkey won CUPA's, but with only 2 bids out of the NW they were going to have to get past at least Sockeye, a team that had just stomped them 15-7 at Sectionals.

Even after a first round surprise, the Fish were still in good position. I'm sure TK, Skip, and MC shrugged it off with a "No biggy, its who wins on Sunday that matters." And who could fault them? Furious beat them 15-12 on Saturday in 2007 only to get crushed 15-6 on Sunday.

Nevertheless, much like Worlds in 2008, Seattle had their sights set on a different threat (Revolver) and went punch for punch only to lose in the front door semis. Fear not say the Fish, this is where we eviscerate the Monkey like we have a million times. But over on the other fields the opossum was as fresh as Sockeye was weary. Trap sprung!!

I don't know how they do it, but much like the Jets ('10) and Giants ('07) against the Patriots, the Monkey knows when it really matters. Such discipline, to take jab after jab waiting for your spot and then WHAM, a single pulverizing uppercut. When Furious finally edged out Sockeye yesterday I couldn't help but think of Rounders, "I flopped a nut straight."

The ride may be over for Vancouver, but who cares? You will leave the better man. You won as a favorite and you won as a challenger. Your legacy will be the sting in Sockeye's mouth, not once, not twice, but thrice!! Worry not little fishies, like Wisconsin in 2006, this feeling will be your motivation. Unfortunately, Furious may not be there to satisfy your hunger.

Just my thoughts

Match Diesel, PhD

PS Thank you for not losing to Rhino, that would have made this post more of a challenge.