January 1, 2018

Hi. Happy New Year and welcome to a new edition of Poodles and Velcro. We here at P&V heard a few complaints about our last calendar and this year we aim to fix those problems. If you were one of the few who had trouble with our previous daily suggestions, pay attention – this entry is tailored specifically for you. (*On the other hand, if you were, as we expected, of minimal or better intelligence, you probably already figured this out – so feel free to wait twenty-four hours and enjoy the next P&V entry.) The number one complaint we heard from a noisy subset of unsavvy was: “My poodles won’t stick to this Velcro.” Now I know within 365 days, most of you figured out the simple solution to this problem, but for those of you who couldn’t (Alex from Cincinnati, pay attention) here are the easy steps: #1) Purchase our 365 Manipulations of Physics and the Temporal World calendar. #2) Go to June 10th’s entry to learn how to combine household ingredients [Dish detergent, Bath Salts* (*the drug), and a Perpetual Motion Device* (*June 9th’s entry in P&TW)] to create a time machine. Now simply select an appropriate era to begin breeding your poodles to have smaller and smaller rings of fur. You can aim for either the “hook” or the “loop” and use the corresponding style of Velcro to match. If you were even remotely competent with your time machine, this process is already done and you may now remember completing our last calendar with little to no trouble. Thanks so much and enjoy your daily dose of Things to do with Poodles and Velcro! (Alex from Cincinnati, we apologize that you are now stuck in time and the box full of hate mail we found buried under our company’s hearth does nothing to help your particular situation. We are seriously thinking about not publishing our follow-up to P&TW – “So, You’ve Destroyed the Natural Order of Things.”)

Disc golf goal realized without even trying

For years, I’ve made it a goal to beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round, and every year I’ve fallen short. When I kill it, so does he. When he falters, I falter more. It looked like a goal I would never fulfill. (In fact, in this year’s wrap-up I gave myself credit for this because I beat James Procter, who is probably an overall better player, but I never actually battled Jere).

Well, it turns out I did beat Jere in a round. 7 years  ago!

Proof!

 

So, I guess this means I’ll need to get creative this year. Maybe I’ll beat Patrick Brown in a round? Ken Climo? Ricky Wysocki? The sky’s the limit!

Or, you know, my back. That’s probably my limit.

2017 Disc Golf RESULTS SHOW!!!!

Trigger warning: this is really long. If really long things give you fits, move right along.

That’s right my regular viewer(s), it’s time for the Disc Golf results show. I do it every year and then assess how I did overall. In 2016 I made goals so low you could belly-crawl over them and hit an impressive 9 out of 15. So this year I resolved to step my game up by making more lofty goals. This was impressive, because as you’ll remember IN THE INITIAL POST, this was my last year in the regular “pro” division before I get to play with all the old folks (the year you turn 40 you get to play “masters”, which is a significantly easier division to hit the cash line each time).

But we’re not there yet. All the tournaments have been added as official to the PDGA website (well, almost all of them, more on that later), so it’s time to start the self-reflection/self-congratulation/self-flagellation. And awaaaaaaaay we go.

1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2018. 

First off, I’m going under the assumption I will need 600 points to qualify for Masters Worlds (which will be in Kansas City and there’s a very very good chance I won’t be able to go anyway). Whatever. It turns out I did make enough points, 725 in total (not counting the one tournament which isn’t scored yet, which I’ll talk about later). Not only should that be enough, it’s 7th most in the state on NV. Should be good enough to receive (and likely ignore) one of those awesome invite letters.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

2) Break the odd-year curse by cashing in at least 1/4 of my events. 

And how. I played in 10 events and cashed in HALF of them, not counting the one I’ll get to later. And these were not flukes, well, most of them weren’t flukes. I earned them in a very strangely patterned fashion. More on that later as well.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

3) Cash at King of the Lake

This one was both surprising and also not surprising at the same time. As I chronicled in this also-lengthy write-up after the tournament, I tend to suck at KotL in odd-numbered years. This year was no different. In fact, King was probably my worst tournament of the year. I was battling a bad back, but really, I just didn’t play well. No excuses, I just sucked. There’s always next year, an even year.

VERDICT: FAIL

4) “Make” more than $700 in Masters

Somewhat surprisingly, I almost made $700 in pro, coming in at $575 for the year in tournament play (this doesn’t count dubs and ace pots, where I certainly would have raked in the requisite seven bills). To calculate what I would have made in Masters, I have to make several assumptions. First, I have to assume I would have played the exact same way against different competition. Second, in the “actual” tallies, there were ties and I only know how much they both received which were split pots. If I were to add myself in there, I’ll have to sort of estimate how much I would have made coming in a place ahead/behind the people whose cash I knew. Lastly, I have to assume how much the purse size would have grown with me in there. Essentially, these are wild guesses.

Anyway, how would I have done with the old farts? Welcome to my good friend, Excel Spreadsheets, Esq.

That’s right, not only would I have WON three tournaments in Masters (I’ve only ever one won pro tournament), I would have more than tripled my income. I mean, taxes-declaring stuff right there.

VERDICT: MAJOR SUCCESS

5) Play every event at the Sierra Series FINALLY.

Another answer that I can start with “not only did I…” I did finally play all seven events of the series. What’s more, due to a few regulars not playing the whole thing, I managed to “cash” in the series. Only two places actually got cash as far as I know and I came in third. But my prize there was actually something I’ve always wanted but never gotten – a metal mini-basket. It’s super sweet. I just eked out a good player around my rating who played great all year too.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

We’ll be back to our programming, my fine viewers, after a word from our sponsor.

6) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes.

I sure tried my best to fail this one. I played my first tournament at Auburn, a course I really hate and one I tend to suck at. I just barely got by without being bottom of the barrel. Then I also tried to play a blind course at sea level in east coast humidity with brand new shoes. I lost to players with 910 ratings, but I did not come in last.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

7) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.

Although this was the year I finally managed to check some of these long-standing goals of mine off the checklist, this wasn’t one. I didn’t actually play in any events with Jere (who turned Masters this year, so I imagine I will have more opportunities in future years).

However, I did manage to beat James Proctor, the 23rd highest rated player IN THE WORLD, in a round at King of the Lake. I also bested a 992-rated Masters player and 2x World Champion Jim Oates in an entire tournament. So you know, I won’t N/A this one, I’m gonna go full-out success on it. That won’t stop me from making this goal next year, methinks.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

8) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. 

Not much to say about this one other than I did it. No real close calls either, though I had enough blood blisters to shellac a walrus, if that was the sort of thing that blood blisters did.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

9) Throw two or more 1000-rated rounds. 

In a year where I alternated historic with mediocre, I managed to blaze into uncharted territory here. With only four tournaments left, I had a single 1000-rated round to my name on the year. But I managed to quadruple that number before the year was done. That’s right, somehow I churned out a record four 1000-rated rounds in 2017. I’ll get into this in greater depth in the RANDOM FACTS section at the end.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

10) At least 1 round over 1010.

I have set this goal every year since around 2012, two years after my record setting 1025-rated round at Shady Oaks. Not only had I never achieved it, I rarely came close, having only thrown one round over 1004 since then. Somehow, and believe me I’m not quite sure how, I managed to do it three times this year. I threw a pair of 1021-rated rounds as well as a 1014. I’ll be talking about these more later as well.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

11) No more than 3 rounds below 940. 

So you know that round I keep referencing that I’ll talk about in greater detail later? Well, I built up that suspense because I thought that mystery round would single-handedly decide the fate of this goal. But it won’t. I had 5 rounds that were below 940. One of them was thrown in that east coast humidity-ridden round described above, and it would have been either the worst or second worst (a ~906 rated round), but for some reason the TD never turned the report in and, as of today, November 15, it is not an official round. So it never happened. But yeah, doesn’t matter, I still blew this one. My five crappy rounds were in five different tournaments at five different courses to boot. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

VERDICT: FAIL

12) Have my rating go over 965 at some point this year during an update.

For one precious ratings update spanning just over a month, my rating was 966. Man, I don’t even really want to count this one, but I guess I did accomplish my goal.

VERDICT: SUCCESS, but an uglier color

13) Hit an ace or an eagle. 

Yes! Not only did I hit an ace, but I managed to do it during doubles when the ace pot was over $100! I gave my partner some of the winnings but still managed to take home an $80 payday, easily my largest for an ace. (Previously, I only had one pot-ace, and it was for a whopping $17.)

VERDICT: SUCCESS

14) Play more casual golf, either alone or with the boys. 

Every year I say I won’t make vague, hard-to-quantify goals, and every year I do. This is one of them. I will say I did get out with my 8 year old a few times to play doubles, something he really enjoyed. But if I were to objectively look at my year, I really didn’t practice much. Like most years, I played quite a bit in the early months, but then tailed off. While it wasn’t the stop-playing-after-King-of-the-Lake of years past, it was definitely not what I’d envisioned. Hopefully I play more next year to get my body ready for serious competition. Hopefully I don’t make this same goal next year. Stupid ambiguity.

VERDICT: FAIL

15) No missed putts within 15?.

This one is sorta objective too, but I definitely remember missing a short putt in my very first tournament and thinking “well, there goes that goal”, so apparently I didn’t do it. I’d probably guess I missed a handful of absolutely-should-have-made putts this year. My putting experienced some incredibly high highs (three of my top four putting rounds of all time were this year). But yeah, definitely missed a few dinkers.

VERDICT: FAIL

16ish? It’s an odd numbered year so I want to break my ridiculous streak of sucking in these years, both skill-wise and goal-wise.

This was an unofficial one, but it’s how I ended my blog, so I’m going to include it. This was one of my best years financially and included four of my best rounds to date (my 2nd highest rated round of ALL time, my third, my fourth, and my 8th). But the lows were pretty darn low. It may have seemed like I excelled all around, but it was a roller-coaster. I still have to say overall it was a success. The highs were just too high to ignore.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

THE END!

Well, I ended up at an impressive 12 – 4 this year, a year with low expectations. I’m pretty excited about that. It’ll be interesting to see what 2018 brings me in a new division with a whole lot on my plate off the course.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, you didn’t think this was the actual end, did you?

BONUS ROUND: THE STATS!

Because it just wouldn’t be a disc golf blog without stats. As impressive as my four high rated rounds were, they were also so statistically similar that it was kinda creepy. Each of them came in the third and final round of a tournament. Each of them were preceded by two terribly mediocre rounds. Each of them catapulted me from despair into the cash. Here’s another fun Excel spreadsheet breaking it down.

I mean, that sort of erratic consistency is almost downright amazing. What’s more, that trend, of playing badly early on and excelling later on, was pretty steady the entire year.

Round 1 average rating: 952.5, about .86 strokes below my rating per round

Round 2 average: 953.8, about .74 strokes below my rating per round

Round 3 average: 988, about 2.25 strokes above my rating per round

Howzabout individual courses? I said earlier I hated Auburn, and that’s true. Not only do I not enjoy the course, I have the numbers to back it up. 6 tournament rounds there, only one round above 951 (and even then it was only 5 points above my rating). All six rounds average about 22 points below my rating, between 2 and 3 strokes below average PER ROUND. If I ever tell you I’m signing up to play a tournament there, I give you permission to slap me.

And let’s be fair, I don’t just hate courses because I suck at them. I love Sierra College even though I suck at it. I have 12 tournament rounds there, only four of which are above my rating (for a TOTAL above rating score of 22 points). Contrast that with the 8 rounds below my rating (230 points below my rating) and you have an average of 17.3 points below my rating, nearly 2 strokes.

On the other end of the spectrum, how about Turtle Rock, home of one of my 1021 rated rounds? I have 17 rounds there, which does dilute the numbers a bit, but only six are below my rating. I average just over a full stroke above my rating each round there.

I’d include Zephyr Cove, but my scores are all over the map. My 23 rounds run the gamut from a 901 rated round to a 1021. Hell, this year alone I vacillated 105 points at Zephyr.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR IN MASTERS!

Nevada State Championships recap

I recently wrote about the Mountain Mayhem, which was a very bizarre tournament. Here were the summaries of the three rounds:

Round 1: My putter was stone cold and I couldn’t throw an up-shot to save my life (all three bogeys were caused by mis-executed up shots followed by missed putts). I wasn’t pissed off, but I definitely was disappointed. It was “mediocre” as I put it later that night. After one round, I was right in the middle of the pack (they were paying 6 out of 15 and I was in 7th).

Round 2: This round seemed more disappointing, though really, it was equally mediocre (both rated in the mid 950s, or roughly one stroke worse than my ‘average’ round). So yeah, Mediocre City.

Round 3: When all is said and done, I ended up shooting a 50, eight under par. It felt great, and sure enough, it was the hot round of the day (there were a couple of 51s). That round is unofficially rated a 1019, my second-highest ever. I propelled me from 9th to 5th, and in the cash.

You may wonder why I’m summarizing a tournament from two months ago, especially when the one I played yesterday was on a different course and under totally different circumstances. Well, because the results were almost exactly identical. Frighteningly so. Let’s break it down.

NEVADA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Zephyr Cove is a course I like – it’s a top half course no doubt. My historical ratings are all over the map, everything from a 1004 rated round to a 910 rated round. My back was doing okay, though I’ve been dealing with a head cold for 3 weeks and I slept poorly because of the pups. And off we go to—

Round 1: I popped a 5-hour energy drink and tried to start off strong. And I did, kinda. I was -3 with 4 holes left to go, which would have been pretty good. My putter was failing me, though, and I ended up missing 6 putts from between 20-50’. Then I hit the tricky holes 12 and 13 and bogeyed them both. That put me at a mediocre -1 for the round. (My first round at Kirkwood is unofficially rated 955. The first round at Zephyr is temporarily rated 956).

Round 2: Same course, slightly harder layout (about 1/2 a stroke harder). I was feeling quite tired so I popped another 5 hour energy drink and headed out. I started on the tough holes 2-6 and bogeyed two holes in a row again (holes 3 and 4 this time). Both drives were not horrible shots but got back kicks. Then I proceeded to stay the course, shooting 3 birdies, and having a nearly identical round. Much like the Mayhem, I had two identical rounds that featured the exact same score. (The ratings were again nearly identical: Mayhem 2nd round 957, here 962).

After two rounds at the Mayhem, I was in 9th out of 15 people, 4 strokes off the cash line and 10 off the leader. At the NV Championships, I was in 9th out of 15 people, 4 off the cash line and 8 off the leader. Spooky, isn’t it?

I started again on the tough stretch of holes, 2-6. I had a 40’ severely uphill birdie putt on 2 (easily the best drive I’ve ever thrown on that hole). Putt was on line but missed short. Parred hole 3 easily. Had a 50’ birdie putt on hole 4 (easily the best drive I’ve ever thrown there). Putt online but missed short. Parred 5 and 6 with no real problem. Then I hit birdie row. I mean, literally, I hit ‘em all. I birdied 7 (20’ putt), 8 (drop-in), 9 (20’ putt), 10 (25’ putt), and 11 (drop-in). Then I came to the difficult holes 12 and 13. On twelve I took a par and on 13 I found the first trouble of the round, hitting early wood and bouncing backwards. I spent five minutes lining up different shots (probably to my group’s dismay) and opted for a tight high hyzer line through a million trees for about 150’ to the pin. I missed my line by just a bit, wrapped around the tree I meant to cut in front of, and ended up UNDER the basket. Sick up for the  par. I parred the difficult hole 14, birdied the touchy hole 15 (35’ putt) and then got 16 too (park job). My final three holes all left me with long jump putts (~50’, ~60’, ~45’ respectively), all three of which I ran but just came up short on each.

Where did that put me? Well, like at the Mayhem, it left me with the hot round. At the Mayhem it was a bogey-free -8. Here it was a bogey-free -7. There, the hot round by one stroke, here, the hot round by two. Then it was a 1019-rated round (my second best of all time), at Zephyr it was a 1021-rated round (my new second-best ever). Then I jumped from 9th to 5th and in the cash. Here, from 9th to 4th. I would have come from behind and won Masters at the Mayhem by 1 stroke. I would have won Masters at Zephyr by 3.

Essentially it was the same story. It felt good to crush it both times and take home a couple of shekels. Let’s hope for starting out of the gate a little stronger at my last tournament in 3 weeks.

Why I’m Rooting for the Cleveland Indians to Win It All (Then Immediately Change Their Identity)

I suppose I should start this by saying this will be a “political” post. It has nothing to do with politics, but basically anything nowadays that deals with serious matters (such as racism or feminism) is labelled as political because that’s the climate we now live in. Being a decent human has become a polarizing topic. Anyway, I digress. On to baseball.

I can’t quite say I’m a lifelong Indians fan. I was raised in the suburbs of NYC as a Mets fan and a Yankee hater (the latter being how all true baseball fans should be).

Image result for yankee hater

It would be in my later elementary school years that I started rooting for the Tribe as well. It coincided with the movie Major League, but not because of it. After all, it was rated R, and my mother made sure I would never see anything that had a possible exposed boob in it. I wouldn’t even see the un-edited version of that movie until probably the last decade.

Anyway, I latched onto the Indians for the same reason as the fans of Major League did – the team was terrible. I mean, staggeringly so. I was still predominantly a Mets fan, but I was a close second Indians fan because I guess in the 1990 I was glutton for punishment. That only grew and grew as they crept out of their misery and started playing like a true ball club. By their run in ’97, I was a full fledged Indians fan.

I watched the 1997 ALDS in my college dorm room surrounded by Yankers fans, and when the last out was made, I cheered as loud as I could then ran as hard as I could so I didn’t have to face any repercussions. I was full-blown fan.

By their surprising and somewhat miraculous run in 2007, I was more than an Indians fan first and a secondary Mets fan. I was a Tribe enthusiast. I was sick a few days after they blew a 3 game lead against the Red Sox (and even predicted at the time if they didn’t win game 5, they were going to lose the series). I was a true fan.

I remember my wife asking me a few years later how I could like a team that exploited an entire people for financial gain. How I could like THE INDIANS.

Image result for indians logo

My stance was I didn’t necessarily like the culture, the history, and certainly not the racism. I answered I liked the players. She asked this of me when Asdrubal Cabrera was a fresh-faced rookie that spurred on all sorts of romanticized dreams about a glorious future of multiple World Series rings. And that sentiment is still true today.

You got the infection smile of Lindor – Image result for francisco lindor smile

the charm and grit of Kipnis Image result for jason kipnis silly

the stoic badassery of Klubot – Image result for corey kluber

the future-is-bright-ness of Zimmer –  Image result for bradley zimmer

the Pucket-ness of Jose Ramirez – Image result for jose ramirez helmet

 

the outsider power of Encarnacion – Image result for encarnacion with parrot

My son’s favorites of Chiz and Santana, the REAL bullpen mafia (even Shaw… sometimes). Yeah, these are the players I am pulling for to end the longest drought in the Major Leagues – a 69 year span without a World Championship.

But I can longer ignore that the entire identity of the team is founded on ridiculous notion that Native Americans are in any way “Indians”. Chief Wahoo is a disgrace and needs to go, but he’s only the tip of the iceberg.

I was fortunate enough to go to Game 1 of the World Series last year. And you know what I saw? A whole lot of white people. I mean, I thought I was at a Trump fundraiser it was so white. And sure, it can’t all be attributed to the Indians fan base; the Cubs had a strong presence too. And it could easily be more indicative of the socioeconomic culture rather than a true cross-section of Cleveland baseball fandom. But it was damn near pure white. The owners of the Indians are white. The past ones were white. Most of the upper-brass of the Indians are white.

THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD GET TO DECIDE WHICH BLATANTLY ETHNIC IDENTITY IS “OKAY” TO USE.

I get it, the Indians as a franchise has been around since the late 19th century, predating many many franchises. Back then, it was not considered racist to name a team the Indians (at least by white men, who were the only voices heard then, as opposed to now, when they’re only the vast majority of voices heard). Somehow it wasn’t racist even when “The Indians” were named that after a Native American player who played for the Spiders in 1899. After all, there’s “history” there. Or at least so say ‘the fans’.

When I went to purchase some schwag for my kids at the World Series, I asked if they had anything without Chief Wahoo or the word Indians on the gear. The guy looked at me and said, “C’mon, it’s history, man!” And I said, “It’s a pretty horrible history, don’t you think?” He did not. Then again, he was paid to sell merchandise with a bright-red-faced Native American sporting feathers that somehow represented a blue-collar American city’s baseball franchise.

Chief Wahoo is bad enough, and this article does a pretty good job of breaking it down, so I won’t rehash that. But seriously, look at him.

Image result for chief wahoo

It’s 2017.

Speaking of which, the Indians are the toast of the town in 2017, having just won an AL-record 21 games in a row. The name “Indians” has probably been said more this year than even last year, when they took it to extra innings in game seven of the World Series in one of the greatest games of all time. I can’t help but think that time the name “Indians” is mentioned is somehow NOT causing a systemic cringing reaction, and that’s a problem.

Which is why I want them to win it all this year. Well, I want that because I’m a fan. But here’s my dream scenario. They win it all this year as the Cleveland Indians, as a team that bases its profit on the backs of Native American exploitation. Because they’re not going to change it now, with 20 games left in the season. So let them win it. For “the old timers”. For “history”. For “fans across the world” (although in reality it’s predominantly white people from Ohio).

Then before the 2018 season, they can work out a deal with Major League Baseball (there have already been discussions between the owners and MLB) and to have them totally re-branded as the Cleveland Spiders, a name they used up until 1899.

Fun fact: the Cleveland Spiders hold a record that will never be broken – most road losses (101!).

Hell change it to the franchise name as it was just before it was changed to the Indians, the Naps (after Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie). I am all for a team that promotes healthy daytime sleeping. Don’t want to name it after a player from a century ago? Change the name to the Cleveland Pronks. Still want more recent? The Cleveland Loopstoks. (He’ll make it to the majors one day, I just know it.)

If management is going to be so obstinate as to stay the course (after all, it would be a huge financial hit because blowhard WHITE fans would likely boycott a change away from the Indians moniker), then at least follow the lead of the Chicago Blackhawks. Their mascot isn’t racist, it’s a hawk. They intentionally work WITH native tribes in terms of philanthropic outreach and even branding. They don’t seek to profit off the backs of a misnamed people, they try to grow with them. It’s an imperfect model, and ideally I’d like to see it get away from all of that, but it’s certainly better than where we’re at today.

Let’s move more to this:

Image result for cleveland block c

It celebrates a town that has not had much to celebrate before Lebron came back. It celebrates a team that has been built the proper way and is firing on all cylinders. It celebrates a team of diversity (their 40 man roster represents 7 countries, and while they’re all the US or Latin American countries, it’s a start). It does not predominantly feature white people making beaucoup bucks off a racist misnomer. Wait until after the year is done, especially (but not necessarily only if) they win the World Series. They can pump all their extra revenue into a re-branding campaign.

Go Tribe in 2017! And go Spiders in 2018!