Wow, this was an exciting Club Nationals and I was 1,500 miles away. I had some friends there in Sarasota feeding me information and given the results and the energy, I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there. I know that there will be lots of talk about how teams won or lost, but I just wanted to contribute some thoughts.
First off, ahh, Furious, you broke my heart. Eshk, maybe it was the new jerseys. Couldn't really get a good look at what they were sporting from the UvTv footage, but my sources say they looked cool. I suppose it’s a nice switch from their usual white. I don't think there is anything I can say about their performance considering I have no idea what it takes to win at such a high level for so long. Maybe it was CUC, ECC, Labor Day, Sectionals, Regionals, and Nationals all happening within 2.5 months. This team is stellar but this team is also getting older. Mike Grant turned 30 this summer, Lugsdin is 38, Shank and Savage are both 33. They have been at the top for nearly a decade and most of their talent could easily qualify for masters (34). Not to say that Furious is out of it forever, but they need to get some new talent. Oscar is an absolute gem considering his game experience and the fact that he is only 24(?). However, at this level, Furious has to reload and pull talent the way the likes of Sockeye, Boston, Chain, and Bravo are doing. I have spoken with folks close to Furious and it seems like this has been a problem for a long time and I think it just finally caught up with them. I will say that they did battle back and win all other games earning them 9th place. I think that they will need to get more kids like Sean Boyle, Oscar, Morgan, etc... if they are going to get back to the top in the future.
Bravo Johnny Bravo. I know they lost in a close game, but this team made a HUGE leap into their ultimate future. If you look at Bravo's performance over the last few years they have been sooo close to making the finals and now they have done it. I think that Bravo now is what sockeye was 5 years ago. You have a rich crop of young talent that is getting experience at every series tournament. With additions like Popiel and a farm system like Mama Bird, it is only a matter of time before this team wins titles. I really think that playing a team like Sockeye in the finals is really a tough draw. Had Jam beat Sockeye in semis Bravo would have easily won nationals. However, this was the first time Bravo was ever in the finals at nationals. This was Sockeye's 4th trip in a row. I can't even imagine what kind of pressure that was and I think a 15-13 game is really admirable given the circumstances. If you look at Cal in 2004, it’s a similar story. You have a team that truly dominated all year but had never made the finals, at least not recently, and they couldn't handle a fired up and charged Mama Bird and they got rolled. However, in this instance, it was a 15-13 game, not 15-7. I think Bravo is only gonna get better and they have all the pieces to win it all in 2008. I also think that their win against Jam 15-9 in power pools is their biggest win of the season. Bravo comes in under seeded at 3rd (wow, underseeded at 3rd?!? But its true) and takes down the 1 seed as effectively as they had anyone else all weekend. Good for them. I also think however that it’s a curse to not be challenged until the finals. Before the finals Bravo had not played a close game taking out the likes of GOAT, Jam, Boston, Condors, all of them by at least 4. At no point was their offense really put to the test. Their defense always earned them the breaks they needed to win. However, when you get paired with a perfect team like Sockeye, not only does your D need to get you breaks, but your offense has to be perfect and that just didn't happen. If Bravo had faced a loss or even a double game point situation they would have the motivation to make the changes they needed in their offense, but like Furious last year, they just had no real challenge until it was too late. This is not the end though, be afraid Seattle.
Phew, Sockeye, way to make it exciting. Here you have a team that could have made worlds every year in between 2004 and now. They won it all in 2004, made the finals against Furious in 2005, losing, but they still woulda made World's. They win it all last year, so they would have been in, but in 2007, pulses were raised. You have a late season loss to Furious resulting in a 2 seed at nationals and you have to play a RED HOT and peaking Bravo not to mention an elite and experienced San Francisco Jam. I suppose it was lucky Furious wasn't at their best, because I cannot imagine how Sockeye could persevere through another challenge. They did however, This team is at dynasty status. I think they should be mentioned with DoG and NYNY. They might only have 3 titles but talent is more distributed now than it was in the 90s. There are better athletes, more youngsters and more teams. Sockeye is second to none and I am really glad to see them make it to Vancouver. They are the best team and I am proud to have them represent the USA next year. I was however kind of looking forward to writing of a Bravo/Sockeye upset that would have put Bravo in Vancouver instead of the Fish. That would have been a money blog entry, but alas, the Seattle boys are clutch and Sam O'Brien is a lucky (albeit extremely talented) SOB. Good luck next year.
Jam, way to battle back. This team really showed that they are not out of it. They deserve to be at the top. It goes to show you that at this level, it’s not all about personnel. You can't just throw together the best in the game and expect to win. You have to have a team dynamic and Jam has now earned that, either that or it’s all Damien Scott. I am sure disappointment is a total understatement when talking about Justice League, but as bad as Kevin Cissna, and Idris, and Bart must have felt, they must feel considerably better now then a year ago. They have completely redeemed themselves and have set the tone for their program in the future. Recruiting, reputation, all of that is now taken care of and this program will be the elite for years to come. My only criticism, the jerseys, come on, really? Could they have been any uglier.
Boston, way to really revamp while still keeping your competition at an impeccable level. Folks, if you want to start your own team, take notes. You have a team like Justice League, which basically did the same thing last year, only did not make it out of NW regionals when there were 4 bids. Boston however, not only in the face of intense competition in New England (and believe me the gap between regional champ and 3rd place is A LOT closer than anywhere else I have played), you also have to play against your former team mates. Forch, Sam Rosenthal, and Danny Clark had to make it to nationals when BVH and Bailey were suited up with other teams. They didn’t have to play each other in the finals at regionals but they sure as hell had to face them at Boston Invite not to mention know that during the series their former best was now trying to take their bid to nationals. But they did it. They looked opposition in the face, they totally revamped and recruited a whole new team with non-Boston Open players in Teddy, Goldstein, Gibson, and Jasper. Not to mention the fact that they still won NE regionals AGAIN. Forch still lead his team to greatness despite immense pressure from every angle (myself included). Hats off and you truly are one of the best programs this game has ever seen.
GOAT, holy crap, who ever thought this team was going to make semis? I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. There is this Canadian team that is making a run at the finals and it’s NOT Furious? They AREN’T from the northwest? How is this possible? Take a team that no one knows about, they have been there before, but 55-4 going into nationals? They won Boston Invite? Who are these guys? I think Hassell did a great job taking this team to a new level and I am so glad that the North East is opening up its talent pool. I think Boston is a great team but come on, they have won the region like 12 years in a row. A sectionals streak that long, fine, but regionals? It is nice to know that Boston has a challenge and these guys are only gonna get better. A turfed game winner will not happen next year. Forch’s layout D may get them the disc back on double game point, but only if GOAT gives up 4 breaks again. This team should strike fear in the hearts of Boston, but that will only make them better. That will give Boston the fire and the motivation to revamp and keep themselves honest. Its not Metal where you have a team of pseudo-Boston wannabes, you have a new program that plays in a different country that doesn’t play your brand of disc. It’s good for all parties and I am really proud of GOAT and am sooo glad they have off-centered jerseys, cuz my club team does to and GOAT is the reason why.
Sub Zero, yikes, boy was I wrong about this team. I hope folks see Sub Zero’s results and realize how good Wisconsin really is. Ok, they were a 5 seed and were expected to make quarters, but come on, how many national champs USED to play for Sub Zero. Nord, Chase, Sam O’Brien, and I am sure there are more. Plus you lose a player like Goldstein and your whole program is basically Madison college kids. They came off a national championship, but I have always thought that a club team cannot win if all their talent and experience comes from college kids. That was Bravo’s problem in years past. You have JV and Chicken and Richter all in their early 20s leading a team against players that have been playing since they were in Junior High. I think Sub Zero really showed themselves to be a young yet legit organization. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to recruit players to go to Minnesota but they do it or at least win with what they have. I am impressed and these guys, if they keep it up, are really gonna make/keep a name for themselves.
Chain, way to snap out of it. I have been watching Chain really closely this year because I had really high expectations. They were a semis team last year and they picked up ZIpp. How is that not a recipe for success? However, all year they had forgettable performances. They got owned at ECC, they were a 13 seed, they didn’t even win their region. They lost out to Double Wide who wasn’t even at nationals last year. I don’t know how but they got it done. Hammond and Simpson and Dylan all played their cards right and almost made it back to semis despite criticism (at least from me). Good work.
Condors, I liked seeing their results this year. I know that they didn’t exactly dominate but they did well. They have nothing to regret and they have really showed that they are not down and out. After 2005 and 2006 I was really wondering what it was gonna take to get these guys to win again. I feel like ultimate teams move in cycles and I hope Furious takes a lesson from Santa Barbara. The Condors were 1-5 in pool pay over the last 2 years yet they managed to go 2-1 this year. I suppose Jimmy Chu is quite the pick up, must be the Ninja Leggings he wears. I think this team will be able to recruit the best from a great UCSB team and hold on to talent that they have lost to co-ed and other teams.
Truck Stop. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know anything about this team. I know they are from DC but they did have a HUGE win that will never be forgotten in ultimate. They come out on Thursday and take down Furious in pool play as the 12 seed (3rd in their pool). Since 2002 (cuz that’s as far back as I could find) Furious is undefeated in pool play, that’s 15 straight wins on Thursday. I suppose that sort of win really propels a team and it did to the quarters play-in where they actually won, something that has not happened since 2005. Good for them and hopefully they can build the personnel to challenge Ring for that regional championship.
I should also give props to Shazaam, I think their dominance was only questioned twice this year. A loss to Brass at Labor Day and a pool play loss to Rival. However, much like Stanford Bloodthirsty did in 2002 when they lost to Davis in pool play at Davis, Bestock and the rest of the Seattle crew came back with a vengeance and macheted their way through bracket play. I also find it interesting that Bestock went from a national champ open player to a national champ co-ed player. I don’t know many folks that have done that. Jimmy went from Shazaam to Sockeye but I find this reverse migration interesting.
I also have to give it up for Parinella and the DoG guys. I find it really cool that after their exodus from Boston they immediately showed that they are still really really good with stellar, composed play in every game, 4 of which were within 2 points. I also think that its funny that they ditched the team name “Big Ego” and just went back to their roots with “DoG”. I am really glad I got the chance to play against this team, and sorry Parinella, I am also glad Korber tossed that world’s greatest to Linneman and we won at WMO.
As far as women go, it would be nice to see more parity. Not to take anything away from Fury or Riot, they are fantastic teams, but not many folks want to keep seeing a NW/NW final. Fury is amazing though. I remember when I was an undergrad with Alicia White and she was UCSD Psycho’s go to woman. I never thought I would see her get this far. I suppose I just didn’t know what I was around at the time. Good work.
I would love to write more about more teams, I just don’t have the information. Great work all around to teams like Slow White, AMP, Barrio, Lady Godiva, Machine, Rival, you all played very well in your respective divisions and I am really glad I know some players out there on these teams, great job and enjoy the winter break.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Wow, this was an exciting Club Nationals and I was 1,500 miles away. I had some friends there in Sarasota feeding me information and given the results and the energy, I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there. I know that there will be lots of talk about how teams won or lost, but I just wanted to contribute some thoughts.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Now that the seeds and pools are set I thought I would give my thoughts on what I think is gonna go down this weekend in sarasota.
Here you have the 1,8,9, and 16 seeds. I think Jam will take this pool nicely. they will have their first game against Ring, which I think will be their toughest. I think Ring's fire and intensity will be nice in the first half but Jam is too deep and will take the game in the ball park of 15-11. Next Jam will face Van Buren Boys in an expected blowout 15-6. The score might be closer because Jam might take it easy in the 2nd half but they will be control for the whole game. Goat will play VBB first and take that game. Goat is a good, tall team that I think will work out well for them. The A2-A3 (GOAT vs Ring) will be the game of pool play. You will have Ring who has been here before and GOAT, a squad that has yet to win a big game in a series tourney. I think Ring will take them out in a potential double game point game. Wish I could be there. In the last games of pool play Jam should take Goat out easily after a tough game against Ring (even if Goat wins, they will be wayyy gased to beat the 1 seed) and a fired up Ring will take out the 16th seed.
Jam 1, Ring 2, GOAT 3, VBB 4
Sockeye will take this pool. They will have tough games against a smart boston team and rhino, who they play a lot, but they should take both. They should then take down Pike relatively easily. Boston is the question mark. I am going to try and make some friends of enemies and say they take down Pike AND Rhino. Boston/Rhino willl be a good game but I think Boston's experience will be the X factor. The athleticism and talent of both teams should be around the same (good college kids on both squads with big time college experience and SOME good club experience). I think Forch will have a great game and that will get the rest of the team up. Dusty and Goldstein will run great offensive units but I think the unknowns on boston will be more confident that Rhino's and Boston will win a close one. Despite the loss, Rhino will come out and beat Pike and Sockeye will take out a tired Boston.
Sockeye 1, Boston 2, Rhino 3, VBB 4
I for one don't like seeing this pool. I really wish Condors and Bravo were not playing eachother on the first day. With a region like the southwest and with a pool of teams that are so close in ability, pitting these two regional rivals against eahother really sucks. They might get a chance to play against eachother in power pools or bracket play anyway, but on thursday? I don't like that. I am sure the Condors are cool with it because you can't seed them higher and if you put them as the 7 seed they would have to play Sockeye and I think they would rather play Bravo than Sockeye. Anyway, Bravo is ready (at least for pool play) and sweeps easy. Condors will FINALLY do well in pool play at nationals after a performance hiatus and take out DW and Machine. Condors/DW will be a great game but the experience of the condors will work out well for them and the lack of experience for DW will work against them, I mean Labor Day was their toughest tourney. Machine has some good players but they will have a tough time lining up against any of these squads.
Bravo 1, Condors 2, DW 3, Machine 4
Furious doesn't lose in pool play and I don't seem them losing to anyone. They should be able to take out a college player heavy 2 seed in Sub-Zero and no one else in the pool should pose a problem. I find this pool interesting because if I were to look at this pool after last year's nationals results, I would be shocked. Chain the 4 seed?!?! They were in semis last year and who is Truck Stop? I think Sub-Zero has played good disc this year but the wind in Florida will hurt them. Heijman, Jack, Muffin, Shane, Miller and the rest of the Wisco guys are good but they are college kids. Their grip, rip, and layout D style won't hack it at club nationals and Furious will make an example of them. I think they will have the ability to take out Chain once again considering Chain's disappointing season (considering their finish last year and Zipp as a pick up). The game to watch in this pool though will be Chain against Truck Stop. By far the only C3/C4 game worth watching. You have a DC team with a higher seed than a semis team last year. I like chain in this game. Both teams will be winless going into this game and this matchup will be for pride and I think chain will take out Truck Stop. Rob you better get footage of this and the GOAT/Ring game.
Furious 1, Subzero 2, Chain 3, Truck Stop 4
Now for power pools. With the results I have suggested, the power pools will be:
Pool E Jam (1-0), Bravo (1-0), Condos (0-1), Ring (0-1)
I think that Jam/Condors and Bravo/Ring will go as expected. Jam has a bunch of former Condors, oddly enough, and I think Namkung and the gang will have the boys from Frisco prepared against Santa Barbara. Bravo is fast and talented and they should take Ring down as they did at ECC. The Jam vs Bravo game will good though. I think Bravo will win this. I think that power pool play at nationals this year will be similar to the way it was in 2005. You will see the top seeds lose and then come back and win in bracket play. I think a young Bravo will be ready and anxious to take out Jam and be fired up lead by richter. I think the wind in Sarasota will hurt Jam because they rely on Gabe's breaks and Bart's upside down throws a bit too much and their still forming team will have trouble clicking on offense with tough Bravo defenders. As far as Condors and Ring, I think the Condors are ready to start winning at nationals and can take out Ring. This puts Ring in the quarters play in.
Pool F Sockeye (1-0), Furious (1-0), Subzero (0-1), Boston (0-1)
I think Furious has Boston's number given their level of experience and superior talent. I think subzero's best can match Sockeye's best athletically, but Sockeye is wayyy to deep to lose to a bunch of college kids and I think Tim Gehret will get the better of the Hodags once again. As far as Furious/Sockeye go, I think this will be just like Regionals. I think Furious will take out Sockeye, but this will not be the last we'll hear of sockeye. Like in 2005 when Sockeye beat Furious in power pools but lost in the finals, I think Furious will try and prove that their offense is well established/prepared (unlike last year when they had no challenge until the finals) and come out fired up against Sockeye in power pools. Sockeye will try and play the mind game with Furious, one that the monkeys have won historically over the years, and set Furious up for a fall. I think Boston vs Subzero will be the perfect Experience vs Talent game. Forch will lead a verteran squad against Heijman's stellar athletes. Boston will not screw up though. Good weather would favor SZ, but the wind usually builds at nationals and Friday will not be kind to Subzero and Boston's patient game will break subzero regularly and sub zero will have to play in the quarters play in.
Pool G Goat, DW, Machine, VBB
I think GOAT will try and show that they belong in sarasota after a tough showing in pool play. I see them taking out VBB easily and the game against DW should be good. GOAT is a collection of tall burly Canadians and I think DW is more of the same with corn fed boys from Texas. I think it will be a battle between Hassell and Tank, one that I think Hassell will win putting GOAT in the play in game. Machine will take out their regional rivals in a closer game than their 11-4 one at 3 weeks ago. This will put GOAT in the quarters play in game.
Pool H Rhino, Truck Stop, Chain, Pike
I think Rhino will want some Ws after going 1-2 in pool play. This team made quaters last year and I think they will really fight to do that again. I think the Rhino/Chain game will be close because Chain will be amped after breaking seed in pool play but Rhino has a better team with talent distributed among more players. Chain's all stars will be good but their 4-7 players won't be able to keep a lid on Rhino's cagey offense and Rhino should be able to get the breaks they need to win. I think Pike's experience will help them against Truck Stop. Rhino should not have trouble with Truck Stop after a loss to Pike and Rhino will make the play in game. Chain and Pike will be a good game, these two were top 8 at national just a few years ago and I think Chain will chalk up another good win.
Quarters play in games
SubZero vs GOAT
Again, like the SubZero vs Boston game, this will be experience vs youth. I think GOAT is a really good team and will repeat their Chicago Heavyweights result over Subzero. I think Subzero will come out and take half but GOAT will creep up on them and take advantage of miscues from the huck happy muffin. I think SZ will also find themselves in a position where their intensity and layouts won't get them a win. Hopefully they will be patient, because GOAT's lessons at regionals will teach them to take advantage of mistakes and avoid them themselves, but I don't see it happening.
Rhino vs Ring
This is a game I am having a tough time with. Power Pool teams don't usually lose in play in games and if I picked GOAT to win, how can Rhino win as well? I think Ring will get into power pools based on their lucky seed (9) which allows them to play the 16 seed and an less experiesnced GOAT earning them the wins to play in power pools. Rhino on the other hand is only 1 seed below (10) and will have had to beat Chain, Pike, and Truck Stop to get this far and will have had some lessons learned against Boston. Plus Rhino can win when they need to, ahem, Revolver, plus I am sure they don't want to be the only NW team to get left out of quarters. I think the weather and the exhaustion factor will help Ring considering they are really experienced and will be able to play well tired, but if Rhino can keep a large rotation, they should be able to make it to quarters.
If things like I have laid out precipitate the quarters matchups will be as follows:
Bravo vs Goat - Good luck GOAT, you got his far but Bravo is good and should win easily
Sockeye vs Condors - The new heros will take out the old legends. Condors will make an honorable exit though with a nationals tournament they can be proud of
Furious vs Rhino - A NW regional rematch, but Furious seems to do well late in the year so I think they'll will be able to take out a battered Rhino team.
Jam vs Boston - I think Jam will assert their depth here. Boston is a good team but their no names can't compete with the loaded roster that Jam has. I think the Damien Scott vs Forch matchup will be nice and these two veteran teams will make up the best quarters game. I don't see Jam losing though
Bravo vs Sockeye
Last year these two teams met eachother and played a great 15-13 battle. I think Sockeye this year is not as dominant as they were last year and I think Bravo is only getting better. However, with that said, I think Sockeye will still win. Like a better version of SubZero, Bravo is still led by a young group of players. I think Richter is playing his best disc (and after watching some ECC footage, I am remembering why he won the callahan depsite his 2005 performance hiatus) and will lead an intense Bravo team into battle. However, Richter, Chicken, Jolian, Beau, Rabbit, Valdavia, Tripoli, these guys have played in maybe 4-5 club series' each. They will have to go against Crafts, Cram, CK, Moses, Will Henry, etc... who are playing in their 8-10th. With that in mind, I think Sockeye will/should play a more conservative game than usual to ensure that they don't give up stupid breaks. Bravo will play intense but their talent and experience are not held by the same population of players and I think they will have a tough time playing their best disc against their toughest opponent. Plus this is nationals, Sockeye is kinda good at this tourney.
Furious vs Jam
This is a tough game to call. A Jam/FG semis game is so historic. In 2004 they met in semis and Jam took out an over peaked Furious. Furious for the most part, has not changed in the last 3 years, plus Mike Grant's health is an issue. Being one of the most consistent yet dominating players in ultimate, if he isn't at his best, Furious will struggle. However, Furious is also crisp at every level, their 5-7 players are all very good and can match Jam's firepower. Jam is also a team known for choking and considering that they have gotten this far this year after not making nationals last year, they are on borrowed time. This game could easily go either way pending weather, injuries and god knows what else. I am hoping for wind, which will favor Furious, so that Gabe's breaks and Bart's scoobers will be limited. However, Damien leads a good team and the likes of Cissna, Namkung, Idris, and Steets know how to ball. I think Furious is a clutch team however. Last year they played a close final to Sockeye and got unlucky with a greatest and Skippy's hammer catch. Plus Furious seems to improve at every stage of the series and plays their best at nationals. I like a 3-peat for a the finals and I think Furious will take down Jam.
Sockeye vs Furios
So cliche I know, but if I pick every game on a game to game basis, this is where I end up. Here, you will have 2 teams that have already played eachother at nationals, with Furious taking down Sockeye. I don't see it happening again. Sockeye is just too good when they need to be. They play 2 real tournaments a year, ECC and Nationals. They may have lost in pool play to Boston at ECC, but they came back and won the tourney AGAIN. Furious beat Sockeye at regionals but I think Sockeye is the better team. Their youth, talent, and experience is unparalleled and I don't think they will lose when the stakes are this high. However, i will say that the only team that can take down Sockeye is Furious. Because these two teams play eachother so much, they go back and forth, not unlike the Yankees and the Red Sox. I would love to see my boys get another championship but I want to be objective. Sockeye is the best team in the world and I think will win another national title.
The Co-ed, womens, and masters tournaments should all be very good as well. Shazaam seems to be the team to beat and could roll through the tourney unlike any team I have ever seen. Hopefully women's won't go as predicted as last year. As far as masters goes, I think Parinella and Big Ego are making master's nationals something to watch, in addition to that double game point callahan last year. I am hoping for a Big Ego vs Above and Beyond final, a Boston/NYNY rematch for the ages). I wish I could be there.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Ok, first I want to say that I think Gaia is a great company, in theory, and has the potential to really kick ass in ultimate gear production. However, there are a ton of things about the company that I can't stand and I wish they would do something about it.
First and foremost, make the gear that your sponsored teams have, available. Before Gaia changed their website layout, you could buy Furious, JAM, Dog, team USA, team Australia, and whoever else, jerseys, beanies, head bands, discs, the works. It was a bit pricey but hey, you couldn't get it anywhere else. Now, for whatever reason, all of those goods are unavailable. I had the good fortune of having a friend at club nationals last year who managed to secure me a Furious jersey and shorts, hopefully he can do the same thing this year. However, this should not be the case. I think that people would love to be able to buy their favorite teams' Jerseys (ok, maybe its just me), and if Gaia sponsors them, why not make it available to the general public. There may be some administrative complications that I am unaware of and/or production costs that may supercede profit margins, yada yada yada, stuff I don't know about. All I gotta say is, you used to be able to buy stuff with specific teams on it and now you can't. I think that sucks.
Second, their stuff straight up sucks half the time. I got a pair of furious wristbands and a hat and I could not be more disappointed. I mean, first, the wristbands aren't elastic, come on, are you serious? They are a pain in the ass to get over your hand and then when you get them on they just slide down because you have stretched them out. I know that there are things like product development or R&D but it doesn't take a designer genius to design a wristband, come on. Their hats also suck ass as well. I mean the depth of the hat is so shallow that it doesn't sit right on a person’s head. Maybe I just have a huge melon but the thing doesn't rest on my head right. I basically have to wear it like a yarmulka, which results in a few raised eyebrows my direction, but I care not, I want to support my team. In any event, once again, I don't see why they can't just take your standard trucker hat that you can buy off any website, poach the general layout and just slap "GAIA" and whatever else on it. It doesn't seem to be all that difficult.
Third, what’s with the college/elite/standard jersey design BS? I mean come on, they have all these design layout schemes that are supposed to make your team look more legit, but it just ends up making it look like the company is trying too hard. It seems to me that Patagonia and then maybe Under Armour produce a majority of the ultimate jerseys out there and there is a reason for it. They are comfortable despite the fact that they basically all look the same, your standard T-shirt made out of that elastic sort of material. Now GAIA has gone with this mesh sort of thing, which is cool, I suppose, not my first choice, maybe its cheaper, whatever. But what the hell is with the odd seams and bizarre layout schemes. They have weird color combination patterns and what not, and I don't think the general public gets it or cares. It seems like GAIA is putting so much effort into these jersey designs but they are actually hurting themselves in the process.
Fourth, along the same lines as 3, why does GAIA want to make everything? They have to make jerseys, and bags, and clip boards, shorts, wristbands, hats, sweatshirts, cleats, collared Ts, fleeces, nalgenes, it just goes on and on and on. Why spread yourself out so thin when obviously the things you make could be better? I hear the cleats are all right, a bit expensive but their warranty or whatever is good, fine. Great job, you got an ultimate specific cleat on the market, people actually buy them, and teams will endorse it. They may be hideous, but you succeeded there. Why reinvent the wheel? Why do you have to make all this other junk? Why devote so many resources in so many opposite directions to try and slap GAIA on everything? You want to make jerseys? Fine, make jerseys, but why make 9 different styles? Why not let a team give you a logo and have that be it? Why have elite or college or sleeveless or long shorts or short shorts or skirts? I mean I am looking at their website and they could not have more options. It's staggering and I am sure the problems that I have with the products I have purchased are equally prevalent in just about every other GAIA product. Why not just focus on 3 things, cleats, Shorts and Jerseys? Keep it to 1 maybe 2 designs for men and women. Focus on producing what customers actually want (take a few pointers from Patagonia) and then market surplus material for sponsored teams. Maybe there are GAIA enthusiasts that want to support the company, not necessarily the product (which would be un-intelligent) but I think developing a better marketing plan would be a better suggestion.
I want GAIA to succeed, I see the name on a lot of stuff that I want, but I can't get it and the stuff I can get sucks. I think GAIA should focus their efforts on what is easy and marketable, ie Furious gear (cuz I think that’s all they are sponsoring now) and try and make their current gear better. Maybe that means cutting back on product diversity (a very good idea) but come on, take a few lessons from Five Ultimate or VC. Companies that make decent stuff (sort of, those five ultimate fuzzy hats are soo ridiculous) but don't necessarily make everything. Also, the way VC has team bio information, why not carry other team merchandise in a similar fashion? Was anyone at College Nationals this past year? Did you see Hodag nation? My GOD!!! I would love to be able to have jerseys for my favorite teams. They make great gifts and plugging a company and a team is a lot better than just plugging a company.
Now maybe this is nothing but a long wish list or a bunch of requests that are wayy out of the realm of possibility, but I just think that GAIA has 1 HUGE thing going for it. They have a sizeable market (frisbee players) and a decent foot hold on team sponsorship. Why not use it to build your customer base as well as rearranging your efforts to make a few products better?
PS This might not be something anyone wants out there, but if anyone is interested in writing something and having it published here, feel free to send me articles (email@example.com). I know a few folks have asked about it and I figure if anyone has something they want to say but not necessarily want to start a full blown blog or write it on RSD, they can post it here. Please no death threats, I get enough of those at work.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
So a lot of folks think I hate boston, and truth be told, I don't like the city, but the team, wow. The finals of northeast regionals was probably the best ultimate game I have ever witnessed. The weather was crap but I have to say, this game was incredible.
The first half was all GOAT. I only know 1 goat player, John Hassell, and he played a great game but their team was so deep and well rounded. Every player had throws and puts and played solid D. It really was a pleasure to watch a "faceless army". Boston recieved and the first point was pretty sloppy, ending in a break for GOAT. Boston answers back and the two teams go back and forth until about 3s or 4s, then GOAT takes over. They get huge D after huge D and rattle off 3 breaks in a row making it 8-4 at half. The end of the first half was very spectacular and equally heartbreaking for boston. GOAT has forced yet another turnover and are about to take half. They work it down and try and hit a cutter about mid way in the endzone on the backhand (right handed) side of the field. Seigs (who is soo much fun to watch...the human caricature) makes a bid on the disc, doesn't get it but the reciever misses. He tries to make a foul call, it gets overturned, Boston disc. Boston then proceeds to work the disc up the line and Teddy Brower Jarus gets the disc and attempts a backhand bomb down the line to Kurt Gibson(?) only to have it quail across the field resulting in a huge turnover. Some one from GOAT promptly picks it up and sends an absolutely perfect put the other way to a streaking John Hassell. He makes what appears to be a late bid and snatches the disc inches from the ground just inside the endzone for a spectacular goal to take half. Momentum - GOAT.
Second half started out with Boston on D. They had cleaned up things a bit but they are still down 4, count them, 4 breaks. They get 1 break back early but are absolutely battling to stay in the game. 11-7, 12-8, the teams trade point after point. At one point the game is 13-10 and I am starting to think two things, 1) will this be the day Forch does not win NE regionals, 2) will boston/DoG go out, not by Metal or NYNY, but by GOAT, a young Canadian team with a forgetable past on foreign soil?. Despite what most people think, i don't want to see Boston lose, but I don't really care to see them win, I just want to witness something great and I did. However bad Teddy felt when he failed to do the one thing he excels at (throwing) in the first half, he doubled that feeling in the opposite direction. I don't remember who threw it, maybe Gibson, but a flick huck goes up to Forch deep and it is drifting right to left and there is a small contingent of players running it down. Forch and 2 GOAT guys go up and no one touches it but out of nowhere, Teddy slides in and snags the disc before it hits the ground for a game saving goal. Forch is slightly hurt on the play, but this is HIS house and no one pushes him around. Boston then proceeds to bring it. A break here, a break there, Boston now ties the game at 13s and the significance and stakes of this game is only eclipsed by the amount of people watching in pure wonder. Can Boston do this, can they do what they do and take the Northeast region AGAIN? Can Forch lead his team to greatness in a fashion that has become expected, almost cliche?
GOAT has the disc and sends a bomb to a streaking GOAT cutter with Cole right behind, they both go UP......GOAT goal. Game point GOAT. Boston is now recieving. They work it up and are right outside the goal line. Gibson has the disc and cut after cut after cut is looked off. The stall count is getting high, the pressure is mounting. I can see the panic building on Kurt's face. A Boston cutter is yelling for the hammer, and Gibson grants his wish. Only (smack), the disc is hit. What otherwise would have been a perfect throw is now fluttering to the grass. But Boston would not be denied, Teddy comes out of nowhere, yet again, and reels in another game saving goal. For some (myself) Teddy would only be a co-ed allstar, but this kid is the real deal. His pulls, his layouts, his breaks, and most of all his composure, his will to win, phenomenal. Now, as almost as if this were scripted, Boston is pulling for universe point. A few throws here and there, a huck goes up to Hassell. He is streaking to the house with another GOAT cutter, and right in between these two 6 foot juggernaunts is the 5 foot nothing Fortunant Mueller. In what was probably the most clutch defensive stand I have ever seen, all three go up and out for this disc only to have Forch catch block the D. The crowd of hundreds erupts in elation, he did it, the son of a bitch did it, no fuckin way. Botson disc, double game point, will this game really end this way? It will be historic regardless, Boston makes the epic comeback or GOAT dethrowns the most storied ultimate team over the last 20 years. A time out is called. Boston resets the offense, and the disc starts moving, Boston is heading for glory and then as fast as Forch had snatched that D, BAM!!! John Hassell picks off a lazy incut from Cole. Oh fuck!! The collective concious of the Devens population sinks into depression, no way. Is this how it ends? GOAT is inches from pay dirt and they call time out.
Now this is high level club ultimate, this is not Florida/Wisconsin at Centex 2006. These teams are elite, they have players that have hundreds of games under their belt in a variety or pressure situations. The goal should almost be a formality, an end that everyone is expecting. The disc comes back in, GOAT is ready to sieze their destiny. A few swings here and there and then a simple IO flick for the goal, but the ground would catch this disc. Just over thrown is this 5 yard toss. BAM!! Boston is back in it. They may have 70 yards to go, but they are back in it. A few cuts here and there. Giora gets the disc and sends a missle to the endzone to a streaking Boston cutter. This cutter could have been Teddy or Kurt or Cole, but its not. Its not their house, its Forch's house, and of course, the little speedster from Scarsdale, is heading for his endless string of Regional titles. To no one's surprise but to all of our amazement, #8 lays out and pulls in the game winner. A pile of green and flesh forms in the endzone. Boston will not be denied. Where is Rob when you need him? If I was not there I would not have cared/believed in the power Boston has in Devens in October.
I was a witness. This game was epic. It wasn't about exciting plays either. This game was just played very well. GOAT had all the weapons and defenders to match Boston. Boston had the allstar squad but they won this game with heart and they rode the kid that has been there since 1998. I am dining on my words tonight. Boston is the real deal. I don't know about nationals, but this team is good. It was a pleasure to watch and play on the same field. Good luck at nationals.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I thought that since the series is still in full swing, i would write about some tournament performances that I think are very interesting over the last 5 years or so.
North Carolina Darkside, Stanford Invite 2004 - This was a stellar performance by UNC. They get a the bid to stanford and are slated as the 15 seed. That is bascially dead last because they give the 16th seed to the stanford qualifier winner. In any event, UNC comes out huge on saturday and beats Stanford in pool play, wow. Ends up making it all the way to the finals and falls just short of winning the tournament. They had to face off against Stanford again in the finals where they lost on double game point 16-17. They broke 13 seeds and I am sure enjoyed themselves on the west coast.
UCSB Black Tide, SW Regionals 2004 - Arguably the best UCSB team in the 21st centruy. Take down UCSD at sectionals and in semis at Regionals and have to face Colorado in the finals. Colorado had won the past 2 previous regional finals game and was going for the trifecta. This colorado team had Beau, Richter, Chicken, JV and Parker. Needless to say, Tim Henshaw, Mike Brown and the ineligble Nate Bouxsein took them down 15-11 in a stellar game that had UCSB own Colorado's hammer happy zone offense. Too bad UCSB got DQ'd and Colorado went on to win it all.
Florida, Trouble in Vegas 2006 - This tournament was the first showing that Florida was the real deal. They had previously won the Florida Winter Classic, but beating CUT in the finals and taking down Wisconsin, not to mention other college national qualifiers was their acid test. This tourney result showed that the likes of TG and Kurt Gibson were the best in the country and could potentially do the unthinkable, go to nationals for the 1st time as the #1 seed and win it all.
Stanford Bloodthirsty, Kaimana 2002 - This has been, historically, the best college ultimate team ever (maybe not anymore), but their dominance has never been more prominent than in Hawaii in February 2002. They travel to Kaimana, as usual, only this year, they bring it. They go a spectacular 7-2 making it all the way to the finals, beating eilite pick up squads like Grey Tide. One would think a flashy college squad would go down fast and quiet to some cagey experienced veterans, but these guys came to ball. However, they hit a brick wall known as Nada Mooger and fall 17-12. However, they were down 9-2 at half and fought them 10-8 in the 2nd half, not bad for a bunch of under age, barely shaving, undergrads.
Stanford Superfly, College Nationals 2007 - This womens team showed 2 things at this tourney, 1) heart and 2) experience. Stanford has won like 4 college national titles in the last 6 years and this past year was probably their toughest. They come in as the #5 seed (nothing special) and in retrospect, how can a national champ come in ranked 5th? I'll tell you, the weather sucked and they were the only ones that could play in the wind. In any event, they start out OK, and go 2-1 in pool play, losing in the last round to the burning skirts. However, they claw tooth and nail to win prequarters/quarters/semis/finals. I don't know of another champion that has had to play in pre-quarters, not to mention get through quarters and semis by a combined 5 points. I am sure that the finals rematch between Stanford and UCSB was spectacular for Stanford taking them down 15-7 (after a 15-11 loss in pool play).
Wisconsin Hodags, Centex/Nationals 2007 - This team is freaking good and there is no more proof than them completely dominating at centex and nationals, a feat that has never been done. For the first 3 years of Centex, the winner was always the loser in the finals at nationals. Colorado loses 14-15 to Cal at Centex and Wins 15-7 at nationals (2004), Colorado rolls Florida 15-7 but loses to Brown at nationals (2005), Florida loses 14-15 to Wisconsin only to beat them 15-12 at nationals (2006). Wisconsin was better than the curse, better than the rest, they stand alone. I am glad I never had to play them.
UCSD Air Squids, College Nationals 2005 - After years of taking a back seat to UCSB and Colorado, UCSD finally earns its bid to nationals. Comes in ranked 9th, the best seed for a non #1 seed at natties. Takes on Georgia in the first round and shocks Dylan 15-6 (that was a fun game to watch). As per usual, we lose to UBC (Oscar and Morgan owned UCSD) 16-17. However, by some miracle of existence, UBC loses to a revamped Georgia and by differential UCSD makes it into quarters. How serendipitous? Instead of having to play Wisconsin, Colorado, or Standford in quarters, we draw the winner of Texas and Queens Kingston, Texas, which is a much better game than we could have dreamed for. manage to cruise into Semis (without a close win) and play against Colorado. We still choke though losing 15-13 to our regional rivals. If only Phelps were there. Not every team in semis is missing their all region deep/defender/etc... cuz he is abroad for a year.
Chain Lighting, Club Nationals 2006 - Not unlike UCSD of 2005, these guys went from a 10 seed all the way to semis. Great wins over Sub-Zero, Revolver and Ring, not to mention a close 14-15 loss to the eventual champs, Sockeye, in power pools. I don't think anyone had John Hammond, Dylan and Jason Simpson pegged for the semis, but they definitely earned it. Too bad they didn't have it against a more dominant Furious. Maybe Zipp will sling this late peaking team to another semis berth or maybe the finals.
Southeast Storm, Potlatch 2006 - This was 1 of 4 MLU teams at Potlatch and I think was the most surprising. After winning college nationals Kurt and TG were brought up to the big boy table to play with the club all stars. Seeing that they are truly as good as billed, and maybe in better shape, they teamed up to be the best fantasy 1, 2 punch. SE Storm shocked most, me at least, and made it to the finals where they almost won. I think most figured the NW would roll seeing that they were all FG or Socekye guys, but SE held tough and showed that the region with the best combination of warm and active weather can ball.
Mischef, Club Nationals 2006 - Coming in as the 2nd seed, expectations are always high. But after 2 close pool play games (15-12 to poodle club, 4 seed, and 16-15 to 2nd seed AMP) I didn't think Mischef could win the 8 games to win natties. Power pool was more or less the same, win 15-12 (gendors), win 15-13 (slow shite), on to quarters. A barn burner against quarter final against Tandem (15-13), a 15-13 semifinal close one (Gendors) and then another game against Slow, this time they won it all, 15-11. Thats a lot of points to play. I could not believe that Mischef kept winning these close ones. They won their first game easy (15-9) but after that they finished with a combined score of 106-89, thats an average score of 15-13. By comparison, Fury went 120-45 or an average of 15-5/6. Lots of heart/legs on that Mischef squad, they ain't gonna blink at the wire.
Ring of Fire, Club Nationals 2002 - This team came in ranked 8th and had a decent run through pool play (2-1) and power pools (1-1). They draw Bravo in quarters (who came out 2nd in power pools after a great win over Furious) and manage to win a universe point thriller 15-14. Then they have to play Sockeye who looked pretty legit after owning in power pools. For whatever reason they roll the fish 15-8 and successfully claw their way into the finals. They have to play Furious again and go down 17-12, but they brought it and I am sure they were as intense as I am long winded.
Carleton, College Nationals 2001 - They come out the 4 seed and potential national champion. However, they get shocked in the first round of pool play, 16-17 by UNC-Wilmington. However, rather than hang their heads, they kept it together and rode Nord all the way to the finals, winning most games by 5 or more. I think they are one of only a few teams to ever win college nationals without a perfect memorial day record. Never the less, they still won it all. Hopefully natties will be in Devens again while I am stuck in New Haven.
Next week will be my preview for natties. Good luck to all remaining teams in their regional tournaments.