Thursday, August 23, 2012

Top 10 Things to happen to Derby in 2012 - For better or worse

(Editor's note: I'm going to preface this with a quick note that opinions in this blog that are entirely my own.)

WFTDA.TV charging for live video stream: Numerous complaints came about the low quality HD feed, but remember the simpler days when DNN provided fantastic coverage and only asked for donations? I do. WFTDA continues to find ways to leech off the people who helped put the organization together. If we keep cannibalizing off each other, we will kill this sport, and have no one else to blame but ourselves. The FREE audio feed keeps dropping out, and the commentary is set up for video, not audio. So for all that practice at being an announcer with a live crowd, your primary audience has to pay to see the action. Un-fucking-believable. Why would I pay 50 dollars for the video pass, and then have to fork over another 15 dollars for a DVD. Is this money going into better broadcasting, because that's where WFTDA should put there money before they pushed DNN and other web journalists out of the mix.

The end of the Gatekeepers versus New York Stock Exchange bout during Spring Roll. Behind considerably, NYSE takes exceptional liberties with the rules to manipulate gameplay into a come-from-behind win. As angry as you want to be, you still shake your head at the impossibility of come back facing New York, yet they managed to pull out a win.  The Gatekeepers got some measure of revenge against NYSE in their August 11 rematch, winning 197-141.

Gotham's win streak: Gotham's 187-84 win over Bay Area tied the WFTDA all-time sanctioned win streak at 22 on Sunday, July 22, and later broke that record with their 265-60 win over Star of Texas hostesses Texas. Gotham (hasn't/hadn't) lost a game since November 6, 2010, when they lost by 34 points to Rocky Mountain, 113-79, in the semifinal game of the 2010 WFTDA Championship Tournament. Rocky Mountain went on to beat Oly by one point, 147-146, to earn first place. Since that loss, Gotham went on to win third place against Philly at the 2010 tournament, blazing its 2011 competition, becoming the 2011 champions, and currently undefeated in 2012 season play.

Peg-Assist at ECDX - While not nearly as game-changing as Windy City's use of the Spiral Staircase last year, Rose City's little manuever to swing their jammer around to the front wowed fans and players alike. Within the next day leagues were posting links and videos of the feat, and more than a few hundred skaters were practicing it. Windy City would use the manuever against Bay Area during the Star of Texas Bowl on July 22, 2011.

Gotham's possible repeat as champions - Every other championship caliber team, save for the top two North Central teams, seem to have had a mass exodus of players. While New York has had its share of players leaving, it's hurt their competition more. Oly and Rocky took considerable hits to the roster, leaving Rose City as the West Region's gem.

The North Central tournament hosted in New York - What the fuck? I understand that leagues put in bids to host the region and championship tournament, but did no one from the North Central actually bid? Why the fuck does Niagra get to host the tournament, when they're in the East Central?

New rule set - There's been a lot of speculation over the past coming months what with WFTDA's announcement of the new rule set. A lot of fans and players are talking about the riddance of scrum starts. Least of anyone's worries: No minors.

Minnesota-Windy City Rollers skating to an uncontested tie. What the fuck. WFTDA declared that no game could end in a tie. And then they ruled that it ended in a tie. Of course, this only shakes up the North Central Region, as the two teams have jockeyed in the No. 1 and 2 slot for the past three playoffs (at least)

Oly's charter roster: Who's on it and where do they come from? There have been rumblings about Oly pulling players from other cities to come and play for the Cosa Nostra Donnas, many of which never actually practice with the team.
The recent retirement of Romina "Stella Italiana" Muse, left a hole in the roster no doubt, but compared the level of skaters Oly is pulling in, that news remained rather quiet.

Really?: This was written last year, arguably during the rise of men's derby, but it started to creep into circulation again, thanks to Facebook. I can't believe anyone would have the audacity to print this. I'd be interested to see where the writer's opinions rest a year later.

A point of frustration

A long time ago everyone was all about spreading the word about derby. But in successive attempts to email teams for stories, no one is answering.

This is a horrible way to keep a blog going, particularly when my focus is using traditional journalistic storytelling in regards to derby.

Simply: If know one is willing to talk to me, I can't tell your story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Live by the sword, die by the sword

We all fall into mental traps of our own device. Skaters do it. Refs do it. Even coaches do it.

Especially coaches do it.

We fall in love with strategy and the decision making.

In the heat of battle, coaches are called upon to devise the ultimate strategy and instill confidence in his/her players. When it works, it's brilliant. When it doesn't, you get a sinking feeling in your gut. And the you grasp on to it like a fleeting child getting sucked into a giant vortex of doom.

We recently played a team and we were down by 20 points with about three and a half minutes to go. Personally I felt like the point-spread was out of reach for the situation we were in - We had one hot jammer, and their skaters were doing a seemingly miraculous job of staying out of the box (How, I don't know, but I wake up in a cold sweat dreaming about it).

Our only opportunity to come back was to force the opposing jammer to take a bad penalty and go straight into our power-jam No offense is the best offense strategy (Slow derby). We ran into several problems:
1. We couldn't draw a penalty against the opposing jammer even when all four blockers and the jammer were combining efforts. We fell short of knocking her out of bounds and trying to draw cut and/or back blocking penalties on her.
2. Our walls fell apart. It didn't take the other team long to open up gaps and allow their jammer an easy pass.
3. We failed to chase when she did get through to try and reabsorb her into the pack.
4. Our jammers remained in the pack without trying to make it through, choosing to stay and play defense.

It's frustrating to be a coach, ask the team to implement a strategy and then it falls a part on so many levels you don't have time to fix it. We had burned our timeouts trying to keep the clock from ticking off.

After the jam expired, I called for it again. This time with a new lineup. It again failed. I'd fallen in love with something that was pulling me down into the quicksand, and I couldn't let go. The final score ended up being 119-167 I belive. We managed to score zero points in the 3-plus minutes, meanwhile our ultimate defense collapsed.

It's a hard lesson. But maybe I'll learn from it. In the end I don't blame the players, I blame myself. I couldn't let go of the powerful idea of making a key decision, which likely ended up costing us.