Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is a rebuttal post.

I am going to make various points regarding several arguments Match has made about: our sport in comparison to basketball/football from his latest MSSUI article, decision makers and people of influence in our sport, and the validity and importance of the Callahan award from another MSSUI article he wrote. It will be difficult, because as I re-read the two MSSUI articles and his comments on my blog here, I found few cogent arguments and many contradictions, false assumptions, and non sequiturs.

Let's begin with "One and Done," an article entertaining only because at its end I wasn't sure if it had been written by Match, or Jim Carrey on the set of his box-office bomb The Number 23. Like the Lincoln-Kennedy assassination coincidences, Match declares a conclusion and then sets about desperately looking for signs of 'proof.' And of course, he finds them. Let's examine a little more closely what he found.

He begins similarly to our RSD MI5 spammer, "the similarities are endless and the more I think about the two sports the closer they get." Then he proceeds to make comments that do nothing to further his argument.

Unlike football or soccer the better team cannot be decided in one game and one mistake (on offense) in football or soccer is not the end of the world.

Peyton can throw a pick and the Colts can still win, Ronaldo can miss a shot and Manchester United can still win. Offensive production is not assumed the way it is in Ultimate and Basketball. The game start to finish matters more in those two sports and a single match is a good indication of who is better.
Match, you say nothing here. One offensive mistake in football or soccer is not the end of the world: agreed. Guess what? Same in Ultimate and basketball! Breaks and turnovers happen. Peyton can throw a pick, Ronaldo can miss a shot, Parker can overthrow a receiver and Nord can spike a disc outside the goal — and victory is still possible. You've done nothing here to differentiate the sports from each other. You go on:
This isn't to say that a game can't come down to single play, but the impact of that single play losses [sic] its significance if you look at the game as a whole. Take football, a kicker could miss the game winning field goal, but what about a stalled drive in the 2nd quarter or a pick in the red zone in the 3rd?

Getting a big lead early is nice, but your offense must still grind it out over the course of the whole game. Maybe you don't get 5 more breaks in the second half, but you still have to score. Football and soccer don't work that way. If you go up 21-0 or 3-0 early, you don't have to score anymore if your defense does their job.
Again, you're chasing your own tail. Everything you write in that first paragraph about football applies to Ultimate, and basketball. Your D gets scored on and the game ends, but what about your poor resets that helped your Offense get broken earlier? You miss the last second shot to tie in basketball, but you were out-rebounded all game. No one play, in any of these sports, determines the game's outcome. Who wins and loses is a lengthy sum of small mistakes and breaks. And I barely even understand your second paragraph. How is that an argument for or against series play? If you got broken 5 times in one half, I guarantee you by the end of the game I've pretty much seen enough to know which team is better.

A series to determine the champs? Sounds interesting, I'm listening. But your article does nothing to convince me one is inherently better than the other, and for all your comments devolving competition down into nothing but winning, you sure sound eager to discredit a championship earned on "one and done." At least, when you have "objectively" determined the best didn't win.

Let's take a look at your own objectivity, Match. We should, because it seems central to your arguments in your article "What Would Hank Think," as poorly conceived as "One and Done" but unforgivingly fraught with 'theory of mind' assumptions about who Henry Callahan would vote for based on your goals.

You claim boldly, "As for being objective, I think I am objective because I have no emotional investment in who wins or loses." You follow that up with comments such as:
My frustration over single matches started with Brown/Colorado in 2005. In Corvallis, Colorado was the better team. Yes they lost 14-15, but come on.

Yes Zipp was awesome, but Brown capitalized on luck...Yes Brown was better then, but had they played a series, Colorado wins Nationals.

Gibson was easily the best player but people did not like his publicized attitude, especially towards his teammates.

Same thing with the Sockeye/Furious George Final in 2006. Sockeye gets a world's greatest and the unbelievable Skip play? Those two plays were pure luck and they completely erased a great offensive game by Furious, and Sockeye won 15-13.
That sure seems like you are emotionally invested. If you weren't, you'd take the outcomes as that: the outcome. Instead, here you are bemoaning all the times the 'better team' lost. You are not allowing the score to determine it, you're going back and giving your opinion on who you think should have won or lost. Doesn't sound too objective to me. (For that matter, I objectively think that Wisconsin '06 beats Florida '06 7 of 10 games. Oooh, see what I did? I said something was objective so that made it so! Just because I think I know what I'm talking about!)

Your Callahan article was likewise full of false assumptions and contradictions. Take for example, these two comments from the article:
In watching the last few Callahan Award winners come and go from the podium, it really seems like the award is nothing short of a popularity contest.

Despite his amazing talents, Richter got the award because he was the nomination when they won it all in 2004.
You claim the award was a popularity contest, but for 4 straight years the winner played on the eventual championship team, '04-'07, and Wiggins was a finalist in '03. And Richter, winner of a popularity contest? Did you even play in San Diego? No one liked Richter in college but his teammates; everyone feared him. He won not because his team won in '04 (irrelevent: the outcome of the Callahan was decided before Nationals) but because he was dominant. Dominant. Ask your former teammates on the Squids about how popular Richter was.

You propose a a more 'objective' means of electing the "real MVP," the NUMP, of which you are a member (did you forget to mention that?). And yet, how objective is the NUMP? A quick glance at this year's members shows that of the 34 members, 22 are current players or coaches of college teams. It also shows 34 of 34 once played Ultimate for a college team. How objective is that? At least most sports writers, who you assume guard the sanctity of objectivity when selecting other sports' MVPs, never played competitive college athletics. They are people who travel and study and watch game after game after game. And even then, they cant' agree on what "most valuable" means. Look at the Hall of Fame and steroid scandal in baseball; there's no consensus on what to do because of differing opinions. Objectivity has no opinion, Match. But why do you think the NUMP would do a better job of deciding the MVP than Callahan voters? Your response:
Athletes are responsible for playing, nothing more and nothing less. It is not their job to hype the sport, or write about it, or even discuss it because frankly it detracts from your ability and there are more objective people out there who can do a better job.

The future of the MVP is the NUMP. Having a body of intelligent, objective, and focused people is a great thing for this sport and their choice for MVP is better than the Callahan.
I see, Match. Is the NUMP really the "body of intelligent, objective, and focused people" that you say it is? It sounds like there's a thorough vesting process to become a NUMP member. How does one become a member?
What’s also great about the NUMP, is that it is purely volunteer based. It’s not like people are turned away, anyone can volunteer for it.
Wait, so you're saying anyone can be on the NUMP, including people who are unintelligent, biased, unfocused, or generally don't watch more than a few tourneys a season? Make up your mind already, but do so before you start putting down the Callahan award and calling its namesake "Hank." One last quote:
What Rob or Skip or Rodney or myself have done for the game was simply because we as individuals wanted to make a difference. We did nothing special, we didn't survey people, we weren't amazing players (well, skip is), we just knew we had a good idea and we were brave enough to put in the work to see it through.
And here is where I think your true intentions lie naked for us to read, as you list yourself along with Rob, Rodney and Skip; it's not that you think players' votes shouldn't count, but that you want so desperately for your vote to count, for you to have a say, for your opinion to matter. "Please listen to me, I'm on the NUMP, I'm unbiased, I know what I'm talking about, I flew to Centex this year" is scrawled along the margins of all these writings claiming objectivity.

I'm happy to read your opinion on who you think should have won the Callahan or the Championship, but you have failed to convince me that your opinion is any more valid than a kid casting his ballot having played in 4 tourneys against many of the nominees. And in case you're wondering, this year I was at Vegas, Stanford, NW Regionals, and Natties. I'd be happy to share my opinions with you too. In fact, I think I have.

Match, this sport is at a stage where, by pure virtue of you writing a lot (and often), you get a seat at the table of discussion on a national scale. Good for you. You put in the time, as you said; you earned it. Now, do you have anything substantive to add, or is merely braying and being heard enough for you?


Anonymous said...

Match, people are turned away from the NUMP. Just ask Mike G.

Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate this post for its cogency and lucidity.

I have been extremely weary of Match's writings and the effect they have had on misconceptions of the game as well as the players in it. I feel he has taken advantage of the void that exists with no legitimate media coverage and an ultimate community that loves to read about itself. His arguments are suspect, as you point out above, and his analysis of college teams is more or less baseless, despite his attempts to claim otherwise.

I laughed to myself when I read his own name included in that short list of contributors to the game of Ultimate. I'm not really sure what he contributes to this sport besides hearsay and gossip.

-ex-college player

david said...

Yes yes mr. anonymous, damn him with accusations of hearsay and gossip! I 'chuckled to myself' when you signed yourself as an ex-college player - oh, now it all makes sense! Hey I'm an ex-college player too, and so is hector! How about that!
Oh shucks Match's reporting and sometimes by the seat of his pants conjecture is fun and entertaining. He HAS contributed a lot in this regard in the sense that people like myself who haven't watched much college ultimate know a lot more about what's happening during the season, who people are, etc. Yes sometimes we know he is, er, coloring a bit outside the lines, especially since many of his audience are intimately involved with what he is talking about. This is going to happen when you try to, er, draw a picture with the limited info out there.
His recent 'objective opinion' stuff has not been very strong... he does seem to feel the need to prop himself up every once in a while and his arguments are not very well supported when the support is 'cause I know better' but don't hold that against his contributions as far as research and reporting (in an entertaining manner).
I do pretty much agree with what Hh says here... hopefully match takes it as a challenge to improve his work.
For what it's worth, I don't think Match was saying Richter was voted for because he was popular. I'm not sure what he was saying, but not that. And Richter wasn't disliked because he was 'feared'...
Keep at it match.

dar said...

here's what i'd like to see on cable in the coming weeks:

celebrity death match hosts hector and match in the ring. and there's evena little claymation dar sitting ringside, with claymation card girls all over me, telling dirty little claymation secrets in my clay ear. i'm sporting a clay grin.

back in the ring, hector is in one corner with a typewriter, delivering poetic bashings as words on paper are slung fromt eh typewriter towards match's corner. t he paper is slicing his little clay body into pieces.

match has an ibook setup and several servers and backup servers in his corner. it looks liek a fuckin' control room at nasa and he's typing feverishly, all the while, getting cut to pieces with words that are finding their mark and hittin' home at a relentless pace. in fact, there's even a littel pile of match building up on the ring floor. lots of little piles -- fecal piles to be more honest about the apperance. match's server crashes and begins to smoke. the entire furious george roster sits ringside in the first two rows and they don't bother to help. clay mike grant is off in the tunnel with clay oscar adn cruikshank, having them thorw pieces of clay popcorn into the air to be engulfed by his clay cakehole. a small clay cyle van aulken is seen taking bets on how many kernals grant will catch in one minute.

back in the ring, match his a shell of himself trying to hang onshallow words of misfortune. hector smiles in his general direction, and match oddly takes the form of james frey and tries to justify his million little pieces and the 'objectivity' of it all. with one final touch of finger to key, the the last words have been refuted and as the sheet zips across the ring, it finds a home in match's mouf. he's literally been forced to eat his own words!!

mills lane comes to center ring, glowing with what appears to be an orange observer's jersey. hector asks for a rulign cause match can no longer talk. mills declares hector the winner and rasises his clay hand in triumph. meanwhile, all the little piles of match have begun to slide across the mat liek piles of mercury form terminator 2. they congregate int he corner adn match begins to rise once again. seeing this from a smothering of card girls and their clay breasts, dar jumps from his seat, slides under the bottom rope, snatching the typewriter from hector's corner and in one smooth motion bashes matches head. falling to the ground, dar is quick to toss the typewriter to the ground, only to have matche's head burst to pieces on the typewriter below, ala annie wilkes in misery. paul, err, dar raises his arms in triumph, unhobbled and unfazed by his brilliance. there is a small chant arising from the depths of the stadium. nearly a whisper at first, but growing in clarity, it's clear now that the fans are chanting......

(so as to not dictate the outcome of such an event, i have elected to objectively not provide an ending here. i'll leave that ending up to the readers at home. like a choose your own adventure style ending. subjectively, the guys who were supposed to win, won. they win 10 times outta 10. subjectively, that result won't change. feel free to replace mills lane with greg connelly though.)


Match said...

I suppose after my Kaimana post I realized I was going to get haters, no matter what I did.

I think this is the second time I was supposed to go head to head in a brawl with an ultimate icon. I think someone wrote about me brawling with Ben Wiggins after I made a few suspect comments about NW regionals last year.

As far as being objective, I suppose I set myself up for diatribes like this, and I guess I deserve them. I will say that whenever I comment on improving the game I am simply trying to make it more consistent. With Furious and Colorado losing in the finals, I didn't mean to imply that they should have won, I simply meant that they would have had a better shot had it been a series which may or may not be a competitive approach folks want.

As for Richter, I wasn't there in 2004, and my commentary on how he got the Callahan is pretty suspect, i will admit that. However, my first trip to nationals was in 2005 when Zipp completely pwned him in the finals and I suppose I assumed things about 2004 that may or may not have been valid. However, he has proven himself to be a club all star and I have articulated that on multiple occasions.

And to close, sorry people don't like what I have to say sometimes. If you don't like it, don't read it. I'm sorry that I might be "baseline" but I don't see anyone else doing any better. I wanted to give readers an alternative to RSD and I have been as consistent as I have been wordy. Plus, I never make personal attacks, I always admit when I am wrong and I try and use all my criticism to improve my articles and give all you slackers at work something to enjoy.

Thanks David and as for anonymous criticism, WOW, you've got some balls. Too bad an asian hottie has got mine in her mouth.

Anonymous said...

please explain how you with your blog are adding anything more "substantive" than match. aren’t all blogs just people throwing their hands up saying “hey, look at me! i’m relevant!”

degs said...

please explain how you with your blog are adding anything more "substantive" than match

Dear anonymous,
Way to sack up and post your name. Match does a great job of covering the sport for many people who can't get to tournaments. No one else writes like he does (volume, mostly) about the top college teams. I think Hector was criticizing Match's op-ed style pieces.

What this blog usually provides is indeed substantive. Hector is the best/most prolific writer among the game's elite players (Idris and B. Wiggins are up there). Check the TourneyTime tag for details. The shit I tend to write about is a little nerdier, but certainly of substance. I wrote the first piece on playing at altitude, over 27,000 people looked at the players map of Boulder I made, and I regularly write on ways to improve the sport & its events. I'd say that's all substantive.

cgb said...

Hector, solid post. Match, I love reading your blog. However, some of your posts are slightly tautological. 'Player X won the popular vote for callahan because it was a popularity contest.' Generally, your stuff is really good, but the Hank Callahan and the One and Done, as hector stated, lack substance. They merely reiterated what everyone already knows: one play makes not a champion or any election determined by popular vote is a popularity contest.

One final thing that has bothered me about the comments in this blog: usually whenever someone posts as anonymous, their [sometimes valid] points are automatically discounted and a string of ad hominen attacks follow merely because it was not attributed to anyone in particular (as if the name Jim or cgb means anything to anyone anyways (yes alliteration!)). Degs, nice job engaging anonymous’ comments – unfortunately that didn’t occur much in previous entries by other commentators.

shwu said...

Match, in general I've enjoyed your posts and support what you are trying to do, but please don't conclude your rebuttals with demeaning references towards Asians, women, or Asian women. It discredits everything you said previously and, as an Asian woman, I found it needlessly crude and disrespectful. I really think you should keep doing what you're doing and use the criticism as motivation to improve your product, but refrain from the adolescent taunts and maybe you won't alienate an entire demographic for which you have a fairly public fetish.

BOFA said...

I don't think UCSD hated Richter. On the contrary, I would say we respected him more than most teams. I was captain of UCSD the year he won, and there I was writing stuff talking him up for the Callahan. See :

The next year I did get a TMF for calling him a "Bitch" or something.. but we were just being fiery.

BOFA said...

That link totally didn't work.

Take 2

gapoole said...

Shwu, I think you being an Asian woman has nothing to do with how Match's comment was crude and disrespectful. As a white male, I could tell it was neither appropriate nor germane. As for his "product," it's certainly interesting and I enjoy reading, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who hasn't realized that he's usually "coloring a bit outside the lines." It's good to see somebody calling him to the carpet, because I do appreciate a little perspective and it just doesn't exist in some of the things Match writes. Either way, though, I think his writing is going to be good for the community in the long run.

And no, Anonymous, not all blogs are out there for recognition--even the ones that aren't privatized.

morfin said...

Ugh, what a complete waste of time! I can post better shit in my sleep - let's just be clear who started covering ultimate at more intimate and objective levels than anyone before him = muffin