After three straight big wins, the Rainmakers ran into the Portland Stags and fell 20-17 at home. The result was a lot better than the Rainmakers 21-12 opening day loss to the Stags, and with Portland rocking a nearly undefeated record, I think this weekend’s loss qualifies as a good one.
Let’s start with the NBA. The Finals start this week, and ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh wrote a piece about how the three-point rule has evolved over the past 35 years, only just now being fully embraced by the league. Even legendary players and coaches who have used it to win championships, specifically Greg Popovich and Larry Bird, don’t think much of the rule. Once a tactic only used by necessity, this year saw the final four in the NBA all rank amongst the top five in the league in three point shots attempted.
Which is all to say, when watching a blowout I wish ultimate had something similar. Early leads feel insurmountable. The Rainmakers week 6 blowout of Vancouver wasn’t much fun to watch; Seattle unlocked Vancouver’s defense early with a few big hucks, and the Nighthawks seemed to have no answers. Winning was only a matter of the Rainmakers continuing to score methodically, which they did with ease.
All sports have blowouts. All sports have matches that aren’t much fun to watch accordingly. It just feels too easy to blow out a team early ultimate. It makes me long for a game changing play like a three-pointer, a two point conversion, a penalty kick or a home run that can instantly change the complexion of a match. I’m not sure what this looks like in ultimate though. There’s a soccer like simplicity to the proceedings as they stand now. It’s nice and makes the game easier to learn. Complexity for the sake of drama may not be worth it. But like with the three-pointer, it may be possible to create something that would only be used at present as a last second desperation move, but in the future could add a fun wrinkle to the game as players get more adept.
So, here’s a proposal. Turnovers where the disc hit the ground? Standard. But turnovers where the disc was caught in the air? That’s either a two-point turnover (where the ensuing goal is worth two points) or a two possession turnover (where the ensuing pull would be to the team that just scored). Is this crazy? I don’t know enough to know. I feel like it will reward defensive gambling late in games which could be fun? It might be that interceptions are too random for this to make any sense. But I’ll be talking with some stats guys soon so I can find out!
Regardless of how individual matches play out, the MLU Western Conference regular season race all but ended with the Stags win. Portland’s dominance sets up a fun narrative: can anyone beat them in the playoffs? They have a +27 goal differential (this makes me want to learn how you would calculate pythagorean records in ultimate!) which towers over every team aside from the Philadelphia Spinners. Is a finals matchup between these two teams inevitable? Or has Seattle shown they’ve closed the gap enough to give the Stags a run in a hypothetical conference championship matchup. This most recent match suggests it’s possible, although throughout the match it felt like it was consistently easier for the Stags to score. It would be a serious upset, but based on this weekend’s match it’s well within the realm of possibility.
Some more quick thoughts:
Set up the camera so that it faces the crowd. It’s eerie to hear cheering but see no fans (as was the case in the Stags/Rainmakers game). Also, it makes it feel as if games are less well attended than they are.
I like that Rainmakers cutter Andrew Lynch went with number 24. All Lynch’s playing professional sports in Seattle should have to wear 24 in honor of Beastmode… except of course with Ken Griffey Jr. soon to enter the Hall of Fame and Marshawn establishing himself as a Seahawks legend likely to end his career with the team it’s possible that neither of the city’s largest teams will have 24 up for grabs in the future.
I promised to check out an AUDL match in Seattle, and now have a date on the calendar to do so in July. Get excited everybody.