More Watching, More Questions

by | May 1, 2015, 9:49am 0

Whereas last week saw the Seattle Rainmakers get trounced by the Portland Stags, this week saw them fight hard in a 22-20 loss to the Vancouver Nighthawks. And yeah, now Seattle is 0-2 and dead last in their division, but watching them play a close match gave me a much better feel for how the game is played at the pro level. It also left me with some questions. Questions and thoughts in equal measure below:

Why is there a clock in professional ultimate frisbee? This is a serious question. I know at the club level that sometimes matches are decided by a number of factors. I’m sure there’s an obvious answer, and I’m likely approaching this question with the naivete of a stoned college sophomore learning about socialism. But still, I don’t see the point of the clock.

This is mostly because late in a game there is little a team can do to stage a comeback. As Seattle attempted to overturn what was at one point a five point deficit on Sunday, there was no equivalent of onside kicks or intentionally fouling they could lean on to prolong the game. There’s not even the equivalent of a three-pointer or two point conversion The clock was dooming them. But they had already effectively doomed themselves by missing opportunities in the back half of the second quarter. So effectively they were double doomed.

I feel like I get why playing to a score is too simple. But why not sets or innings? Scoring off a turnover is referred to as a break, a clear reference to breaking serve in tennis. Losing a break is pressure in and of itself. What is the added pressure of time providing?

Not making mistakes seems as important as running an innovative offense. There was much in the Vancouver/Seattle matchup that was referred to as “bread and butter.” Both sides for the most part ran man defenses and horizontal sets. Seattle got themselves in trouble when they turned the disc over trying to stretch the field too much vertically (to be fair, they also turned those vertical opportunities into some very easy scores). But given the importance of breaks, the downside risk of not scoring and turning the disk over punishes attempting difficult throws.

“D’s” is a great stat. It sounds badass. “Racking up them D’s.” Love it.

I want advanced stats like completion percentages for different throw lengths. My understanding is that this is kind of already happening, just not for the MLU.

For the first time, I realized just how much weather can play a role in ultimate. Wind and rain matter in football (both American and soccer), but not nearly to the same degree. Do purists prefer matches contested under tougher weather conditions or when things are pristine and players can execute at the highest level?

Skippy is the official peanut butter of MLU. This seems both like a great get as a sponsor and also a little silly. I do like Skippy though, so fair play I guess? (Note: again, I’m not in the pocket of big ultimate, despite what this paragraph might look like… I just thought it was funny that a sport would have an official peanut butter.)

Rainmakers cutter Cam Bailey went full Jimmy Graham on a celebration, dunking the disc over the crossbar of football uprights. I’m incredibly grateful that he wasn’t assessed an asinine penalty. Faux moralizing is one of my least favorite things about the NFL and MLB; it was nice to see a professional league that doesn’t go for all of that.

Credit where credit is due: Brendan Wong is so good for Vancouver. Last year’s MVP was everywhere on the field, and seemed unguardable despite not looming over defenders. He seemed to pop up open all the time as if by magic. Elusive, quick and great hands. What a standout performer.

Ultimate is fairly easy to follow on tape, but it’s tough to see what offenses are being run when it’s happening way downfield. I’m watching the Rainmakers in person on Sunday, I’m excited to see how their offense operates in full.

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