Thoughts on the final rankings, and the system USAU uses, and then both the AUDL and MLU have made news in the past couple of days.
1. Final USAU College Rankings
Well the rankings are final for the college season. Stanford and the Southwest region were able to hold onto the final bid, with only one point separating Bloodthirsty from Texas A&M, and 8 points above Dartmouth. There have been talks of problems with the algorithm that is at the core of the rankings. As Adam Lerman points out, the algorithm is definitely broken even if it doesn’t provide any ‘injustices’ in the bids this season. Could it in the future? I don’t see how. Even if a team in a region that is hoping for a second bid (say the Great Lakes or Metro East this season), were to do what Tufts-B did and purposefully play teams they could bagel exclusively, how would that prepare them for Nationals?
Another point brought up through the comments on that article, is the idea of a selection committee. I assume this would mean selection merely of the bids, and hopefully not un-doing the autobids. The biggest issue I have with this idea is how are we and the teams sure that the selection panel has had a thorough viewing of each team within, say, the top 30 or 50 in the rankings? Yes due to resources like Skyd, Ultiworld and NGN, the coverage and availability of tournament games has increased. But that doesn’t mean that every game is filmed, and that any committee could get a full idea of a team. I’ve seen Harvard once on the field as my opponent, twice as a spectator, and once on film. Those were each different games, giving me different ideas of the Harvard team. To not have any committee decide the bid process without every game available – like in the NCAA sports – would not be preferred in my mind to the current algorithm process.
2. MLU does Preseason
This weekend Major League Ultimate kicked off the preseason with two games, one of which – Philadelphia Spinners vs the New York Rumble – was live streamed and is now available for viewing. The Spinners would beat the Rumble 27-14, and in the other game the Seattle Rainmakers beat the Portland Stags 19-7. The Rainmakers write-up of the (then) upcoming matchup from late last week is an interesting read, especially the quotes from Mario O’Brien on playing his Rhino-teammates. Notice a difference in the score? Tyler Kinley took to Twitter, and tweeted out that rain had an adverse effect on the offensive conversions in the game. Guess they weren’t all wearing Friction Gloves…
The Rumble v. Spinners live streamed game did have some instructional videos on the sport of ultimate, including throws, and ads. But it also had some problems staying online, and MLU commissioner Jeff Snader said on Twitter it was due to poor internet connection at the field site. Hopefully these issues are solved before the season, and more streaming, begins. Watching the game, it’s long; if one thing is going to hold full games from getting quality air time, it’ll be the length. Not that other professional sports aren’t long – but in most other sports, the downtime in between points are better utilized and adds a certain flow to the audiences viewing. Think in football, Adrian Peterson runs for a touchdown. Instantly highlights are shown and then the play is broken down, with the commentators telling us why the Vikings star was able to get that open up the middle. Then a cut to commercial before they show the highlight one last time before play resumes. You see the same thing in between innings in baseball and during TV timeouts in hockey, basketball and soccer. I think aspects like getting the calls on the field relayed, improved play by play, and other basics of televised sporting events will improve over time. It’s the flow of televising the sport that needs to be established.
Anyway, today the pre-season continues for MLU teams, as the Boston Whitecaps take on Harvard Redline; both teams are gearing up for something more. Since it looks like a Whitecaps sponsored event, I wonder if MLU rules will be used or if USAU college rules will be with sectionals and regionals approaching for Harvard.
3. MLU Jerseys Released
Also in MLU news, the team kits were revealed. Boy, do those look like soccer jerseys. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing; I think it gives off a more professional vibe, especially with sponsors included on some of the jerseys. They’ve even got ¾ sleeves, courtesy of Five Ultimate, as Skip Sewell revealed on Twitter.
Out of the bunch, I like the Boston darks, the Dogfish greys, and both of the Rainmakers jerseys most. I wonder if they’ll keep the ¾ length for fan jerseys, or if they’ll change the length up, either to a full short or long sleeve; just thinking if I’d wear a jersey like that around, though I do see the benefit of the players wearing that as Sewell pointed out.
4. Callahan Videos
Check out all the Callahan Award Videos that have so far been released on Skyd. I’m hoping that players start talking more about how they fit into the true spirit of the award soon, rather than only focusing on the sick plays. Though I am a fan of both Jay Clark’s and Bailey Zahinser’s videos. And how could you not like Adam Velk’s.
5. No Zone?
Take a moment to read Mike Mullen’s take on why Middle School ultimate players shouldn’t play zone defenses. The philosophy he follows, “making sports fun and rewarding for middle school athletes,” is key and I think should be what any sport participant gets out of their game, regardless of age, skill level, etc. If that means hemming down parts of the game at certain levels, especially if it allows the opportunity for the sport to grow as Mike states, I think that’s okay.
6. AUDL Fantasy Ultimate with ‘Unbenchable’
Announced recently was ‘Unbenchable’ a fantasy sports website that has adopted the AUDL into its different options. (Look for my team, Benchable… I’m really clever.) And my first thought is that fantasy ultimate is definitely a work in progress. At first, I was having some problems saving my team, and editing it once it saved – though those problems aren’t happening anymore.
There are some basic features of other fantasy leagues that I think could be easily adopted here, and would greatly improve the product. The first addition would be adding the AUDL schedule to the page somewhere, so that I could tell while looking at the page that only four teams are in action during week 1. The other feature would be the addition of a Twitter feed, or something, that could give me injury and roster updates before a weekend right on that screen. This is something fans should already know before going to games (for example, how are the different college series’ games going to affect the available players during the first two weeks of the season), and could improve their fantasy experience as well. I do like how scoring is kept simple at first, including the option for positive or negative for a player. Hoping this can be improved on, definitely like what I see so far.
7. AUDL Season Starting Up
And hey, speaking of the AUDL, Week 1 of the AUDL season starts this weekend. The first game, this Friday (4/12) features the Windy City Wildfire at Cincinnati Revolution, and the second the Indianapolis Alleycats at the Detroit Mechanix on Saturday (4/13). I’m hoping with the advent of fantasy, any highlights or games released, and game write-ups I’ll be more prepared to comment on the matchups each weekend in both the AUDL and MLU. For now, I’m just looking forward to the action.
Feature photo by Tino Tran (http://www.phototino.com/)