AUDL Championship Weekend Preview

HEADER-champDallas, Seattle, Toronto and host, Madison will take to the air in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) Championship weekend.   This will be the fifth championship in the league’s history.  Here’s a look at the four teams that will play this weekend at Breese Stevens Field:

Madison Radicals (15-0) are the host team looking for their first title.  They were runner-up finishers in 2013 and 2015.   The Radicals are the Number One seed in the final four.  Madison has won 31 consecutive games at home. Madison is quick to build a lead on their opponents with their defensive pressure. Matt Weber, Seth Meyer, and Kevin Pettit-Scantling are key players to watch in generating turnovers at the beginning of the game and providing the Radicals with an immediate boost of momentum. The Radicals will play Seattle at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Toronto Rush (13-2) survived an overtime thriller in the East Division final against the DC Breeze.  They are 1-1 in the finals, winning the 2013 championship over Madison.  Toronto is one of the deepest teams in the league.   Mark Lloyd, Isaiah Masek-Kelly, and Cam Harris are the playmakers for the Rush although they have had lower numbers this season.  Toronto will meet Dallas in the first semifinal game on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Dallas Roughnecks (15-0) are the newcomers to the championship in their first season of play in the AUDL.  The Roughnecks’ roster includes five players who competed for Team USA in the World Ultimate Championships in London this summer.  Dallas enters Championship Weekend V with the most potent offense in the league—and perhaps the best offense in AUDL history—but their defense is the focal point for the team’s energy. Dan Emmons and the Larberg brothers (Dillon and Christian) are tough for opponents to stop.   Their quick restarts off of opponents’ turnovers are quick and difficult to defend.  The Roughnecks will play Toronto on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Seattle Cascades (11-5) are the underdogs coming into the finals having swept two California foes in the division semifinals and finals to represent the West in Madison.  The Cascades’ offense is dynamic when the disc is moving between all their parts, constantly shifting the opponent’s defensive alignment and disguising the Cascades’ point of attack striking with precision. Mark Burton and Donnie Clark have emerged as maybe the most dangerous downfield offensive tandem in the league.  The Cascades will face Madison in the semifinals.

The championship weekend will be televised on ESPN3 and streamed on Facebook Live.

Past AUDL Championship Results:

  • 2012 Philadelphia Spinners 29, Indianapolis Alleycats 22
  • 2013 Toronto Rush 16, Madison Radicals 14
  • 2014 San Jose Spiders 28, Toronto Rush 18
  • 2015 San Jose Spiders 17, Madison Radicals 15

 

 

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Friday Flashback:  1996 Summer Olympics

On September 18, 1990 Atlanta, Georgia celebrated when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected the city to host the 1996 Olympic Games.  I remember the announcement on television and celebrated when Atlanta was picked to be the host.  It was an incredible event for the State of Georgia and the first time in history that the Olympic Games had been held in the Southern United States.  On July 19, 1996 the games were officially opened by President Bill Clinton.  Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch and received a replacement gold medal for his boxing victory in the 1960 Summer Olympics.

Almost 200 nations participated in the games.  The United States topped the medal count with 101 overall medals and 44 gold medals.  The United States women’s gymnastics team won their first gold medal.  Shannon Miller won the gold medal on the balance beam event.  The most memorable performance was when Kerri Strug vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot.

In track and field, Donovan Bailey of Canada won the men’s 100 meter to set a new world record of 9.84 seconds.  He also was the anchor in his team’s gold medal-winning 4 x 100 meter relay.  

The U.S. Women’s soccer team won the first gold medal in women’s soccer.

Although Atlanta was the central base for the Olympic Games, several other Southern cities also had a chance to get a part in the Olympic Games.  Columbus, Georgia hosted softball at Golden Park, Lake Lanier was home to Canoeing (sprint) and Rowing events, and Savannah, Georgia was home to sailing events.

One of the more forgettable images from the Olympics was Izzy, a futuristic character which you would have a hard time describing.  Izzy wasn’t very popular and was pretty much a marketing disaster.

At the closing ceremony, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch ruffled a few feathers by simply saying “Well done, Atlanta” when he had traditionally commented after each games that the host had hosted the best Olympics ever.  Most Atlanta and Georgia residents took that as a slight to their hosting of the games.


Perhaps one reason to the perceived slight was that the games were marred by a bombing on July 27 which killed one person and wounded 111 others.  It was later determined that Eric Robert Ruudolph had committed the attack in protest of abortions.  Initially it was believed that security guard Richard Jewell had been guilty of the bombing but was later cleared.

Several structures built for the games have been converted for use today.   Centennial Olympic Stadium became Turner Field and the home of the Atlanta Braves.  Olympic Village now serves as housing for Georgia State University and Georgia Tech.  The Omni was replaced by Philips Arena.  Centennial Olympic Park continues as a lasting memorial of the games that made Atlanta golden during the summer of 1996.

Team of the Week:  Hartford Yard Goats


If you’re a minor league baseball player and you play for a team called the yard goats, you would be playing on a Double-A team in Hartford, Connecticut.  The Yard Goats are an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies in the Eastern League.  They are currently third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division with a record of 61-45.  They are nine games out of first place.

The Yard Goats were named as part of a “name-the-team” contest which drew over 6,000 submissions.  The name actually is in reference to a railroad slang term for a switch engine which moves trains around a rail yard to prepare them for another locomotive; however the team’s logo features a goat chomping on a baseball bat.

Catcher Troy Stein leads the Yard Goats with a .429 batting average.  German Marquez leads the pitching staff with a 9-5 record and has pitched in 128.2 innings this season.  

In the latest news for the team, owner Josh Solomon has threatened to move the team if the new stadium is not completed by the end of 2016.  The Yard Goats were supposed to move into Dunkin Donuts Park this season but construction delays have left the team without a home for the rest of their inaugural season in Hartford.    The franchise moved from New Britain, Connecticut to Hartford this season.

An Eternal Perspective

I recently heard a preacher give his definition of being relevant.   He said “If it’s not eternal it’s not relevant”.  That statement woke me.  Am I not thinking enough about eternal things?  Have I been much too preoccupied with material things?  The Bible tells us to lay up our treasures in heaven.  (Matthew 6:20)
What exactly does that mean?  We can’t literally put physical things there.  

It means we should have our priorities on eternal things more that temporary things.  We get so wrapped up in things of the material world.  Money, jobs and other material things.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not, when we die we aren’t going to take any of this with us.  Some believe that when we die that’s it.  Done.  Finished.  Okay we’ll see how well that works out.  I’m sorry but maybe I’m silly but I choose to believe that we are eternal creatures.  There is something there for us on the other side of death. 

So what treasures can we lay up for ourselves in heaven?   

The main thing is our relationship with God.  We will all face him one day.  Do we value our relationship with Him now or do we have to be shown proof that He even exists?   What would He have to do for you to believe?  For many years I wasted time asking and pleading for God to speak to me in an audible voice or have some sort of burning bush experience.  I never got it.

I learned two things:

  1. God isn’t going to be coerced into proving His existence
  2. God speaks in the silence

God doesn’t play “Let’s Make A Deal” to anyone.  He’s God and we’re not.  You either believe in Him or you don’t.  Sadly, For years I had gotten caught up in the emotionalism of a Pentecostal church.  I’m not saying God isn’t there, but for me He was that still small voice.  Not in the miracles and spiritual spooky things or speaking in tongues.  When we are loud, it is easy to distract ourselves from our real problems.  The quietness brings us close to God and forces us to see who we really are.  

Eternal things are the most relevant things of all.  We can ignore it but the day will come for us all.  

I think we should all live in doing the best we can and do good for others as best we can.  In a world that is selfish and impatient we should display the best example of being unselfish and patience. 

Friday Flashback:  United States Basketball League

Summertime is usually the season for baseball and soccer but in the late 1980s a new basketball league was formed as a developmental-type league.  Although the United States Basketball League (USBL) wasn’t officially aligned with the National Basketball Association (NBA), they did produce some talent that eventually became NBA stars.

Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues, Manute Bol, Mario Elie, World B. Free, Avery Johnson, Anthony Mason and Michael “Sugar” Ray Richardson all played in the USBL.  

The USBL began play in 1985 as one of the first leagues to play in the summer during the NBA’s offseason.   Atlantic City, Dodge City and Miami won the most titles with three each during the 23 seasons the league was in existence.   In the last two seasons, the league was more of a regional-type league with teams in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Some of the more interesting teams were the Nebraska Cranes, New Jersey Shore Cats, Palm Beach Stingrays and Springfield Fame (home of the Basketball Hall of Fame)

The Kansas Cagerz was the most successful team on the court with a record of 164-127.  

Gift-Wrapped Garbage

garbageYesterday when I got home from work I noticed that our trash had not been picked up as it usually is on Tuesdays.  I thought it was odd.  I checked to make sure and – yep – the trash was still in the container just as I had left it.  I called the HOA who pays for our trash pickup and they referred me to the number for the company.  When I called I was asked “Did you have everything bagged?”

Excuse me?

It’s trash.  As long as it is in the container what does it matter?

Apparently it wasn’t an issue until yesterday that ALL of my garbage wasn’t in a bag.  Since when do we have to put our garbage in a neat, bagged package?  It’s TRASH.  I’m throwing it away.  Next thing they will ask will be for you to wash it before you put it in the container!

I went to the website which lists such rules and it took a while to find them.  In addition to the “gift wrap” rule they have also banned cardboard, yard waste and electronic waste.  I guess that means I can’t dump my 60″ TV in there.

So if I get any cardboard, yard waste or electronic waste then I am stuck with it.  Perhaps I can sell it on Craigslist.

It might surprise you to know that there is a difference between “garbage” and “trash”.  Garbage is refuse which comes from the kitchen or bathroom.  Trash is the waste which comes from anywhere else except the kitchen or bathroom.  Interesting.

So your trash could be another man’s garbage depending on where it came from.  Just make sure to bag it.

 

Elevator Etiquette Refresher

It happened again this morning.  I was waiting to get off the elevator and the second the doors opened this dude nearly bowled me over to get on.  I have always heard that it was proper etiquette to wait for people to exit the elevator before you get on.  

Every weekday, there are over 120 billion elevator rides.  That’s a lot of people taking the elevator.  There are several rules of etiquette but not everyone knows what they are.

Here’s your refresher course (or initial training) on the proper rules for the elevator.

  1. Stand to the right of the elevator while waiting.  You should always let people exit before boarding.  
  2. Hold the door for someone if they are trying to board unless the elevator is full of people.  Don’t hold it to have a chat with your buddy.  If you need to converse with someone, get off the elevator.
  3. Avoid squeezing into a packed elevator.  Be mindful of personal space.
  4. Do not push the button if it has already been pushed and lit up.  This sends a message that the person who pushed it didn’t push it to your liking or that you are a control freak.
  5. Move to the back and maintain a good distance from others.  Don’t be creepy.
  6. Exit quickly.   If you are in the back, begin making your way to the doors.
  7. Guard your conversation.  Never talk about office gossip or inappropriate subjects.
  8. Respect space.  If there are one or two other people on the elevator, go to separate sides or each corner.  Definitely to do not face someone directly.
  9. Hold all backpacks, briefcases and other materials by your feet.  Remove your backpack on the elevator to avoid hitting people with the straps or bulk of the bag.
  10. Get off the phone!  No one wants to hear your phone conversation.
  11. Practice good manners and hygiene.  Never eat in the elevator and don’t apply perfume.

If you can’t remember these rules at least practice common courtesy if you are in doubt about what to do.  It should be pretty easy to do for just the few minutes you are in the elevator.

You could always take the stairs.  

Team of the Week:  Sioux Falls Storm


They are a football dynasty but most of the United States (outside of South Dakota) have no idea about the indoor football team that has just won their sixth straight title.  Their most recent title was a 55-34 win over the Spokane Empire in the United Bowl in front of over 9,000 fans at Denny Sanford Premier Center on Saturday night. The United Bowl is the title game for the Indoor Football League.

The Storm fell behind early when Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell hit J.J. Hayes on a touchdown pass to take the early 7-0 lead.  Sioux Falls scored the next 20 points – all in the second quarter – but then the Empire scored with three seconds left in the quarter as the Storm went into halftime with a 20-13 lead.

The Storm stormed out in the third quarter with a 49-yard touchdown pass on their first play when quarterback Lorenzo Brown connected with Mike Tatum.  The Storm found the end zone four more times while the Empire could only put up 21 points.  The Storm sealed the win when Korey Williams found the end zone on a two-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The Storm finished the season 17-1 and had one of the most unique title runs in the team’s history.  Before the season new league rules forced the Storm to let go of many of their veterans.  Later, a scheduling glitch forced them to wait a month between their season finale and playoff opener.  

Saturday’s title win was the team’s 10th overall title.

The Storm claimed several league awards for the 2016 season:

  • Franchise of the Year
  • Best Fan Base
  • Community Relations Award

Sioux Falls has been playing indoor football since 2000.  They have compiled a record of 225-54 during that time.  They have never had a losing season.

Awesome Sports Leagues You’ve Never Heard Of


If you are a sports fan then you are familiar with the major sports leagues such as the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) but there are other professional sports leagues that are pretty awesome.  Unfortunately, you rarely see any of their highlights on SportsCenter or your local sports news.  They all have their own appeal and worth taking a look at.

AMERICAN ULTIMATE DISC LEAGUE (AUDL)

The AUDL plays “Ultimate” frisbee rules which are rules created in 1968 by a group of students at Columbia High School in Mapelwood, New Jersey.  Ultimate is a combination of soccer, football and basketball.  The appeal of AUDL games are lots of scoring and exciting catches.  

According to various sources, players get paid about $25 per game but as a young league trying to gain ground, it probably isn’t going to make anyone rich.  Games are played on weekends from April – July.  None of the teams play in a major league stadium yet but more intimate settings for their fans.  Some games can be seen on ESPN3.  

Why the sport isn’t more popular:   Lack of media coverage and major sponsorship.

Future Plans:  The International Olympic Committee has recognized Ultimate with 58 countries participating in the sport which could lead it to become an Olympic sport.

MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE (MASL)

Indoor soccer has been around since the 1970s when the North American Soccer League (NASL) sponsored indoor tournaments during the offseason.  The sport really took off in the 1980s when the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) began.  Over the years, there have been various forms of the MISL until they merged with the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) in 2014.  The MASL plays a 20-game schedule that runs from November-March.  

Why the sport isn’t more popular:  Lack of media coverage; franchise instability; competition with NBA and NHL.

Future Plans:  The owner of the Baltimore Blast which won the 2015-2016 season title has created his own league and taken  some of the MASL teams with him.  The MASL is pressing forward with an expansion to El Paso as well as creation of a second division to start in 2017 or 2018.

NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE (NLL)

  • Year Began:  1987
  • Number of teams:  9
  • Website:  www.nll.com

The NLL is the indoor version of outdoor lacrosse (originally called “box lacrosse”) which is played on the same dimensions as hockey.  It is called “the fastest game on two feet”.  The NLL started in 1987 as the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League.  The game is a lot like hockey without the ice.  The game features high scoring games and lots of hitting.  The NLL plays an 18 game schedule from December to April.   All games are played on weekends except for an occasionally Friday night game.  The average salary is $19,135 and the maximum salary for a franchise player is $34,000.

The league is very popular in cities such as Buffalo and Saskatoon where they average over 11,000 per game.  Saskatoon’s Saskatchewan Rush won the NLL title this past season.

Why the sport isn’t more popular:  Franchise instability; competition with NBA and NHL.  

Future Plans:  The NLL has recently hired Nick Sakiewicz as commissioner.  Although he is not a known name, he is hoping to to find the right cities for expansion.  Instead of exposure on a television contract, he is exploring digital media and streaming NLL games.

MAJOR LEAGUE LACROSSE (MLL)

Outdoor lacrosse has been in existence since the Native Americans originated the sport in North America.  MLL was formed in 1999 and started play in the summer of 2001.  The season runs from April to August as teams play a 14-game schedule.  The league averaged 4,384 spectators per game last season.  The Denver Outlaws have led the league in attendance in nine of the past 10 seasons.  

MLL players get paid between $10,000-$25,000.   The league’s top player this season is Paul Rabil of the New York Lizards.  Rabil has a blazing 111-mph right-hand shot.  He leads the league with 23 goals this season.  

The league has some different rules from the traditional game with a two-point goal line 16 yards from each goal, a 60-second shot clock and the elimination of the restraining box.

Why the sport isn’t more popular:  Franchise instability; competition with baseball

Future Plans:  The league is hoping to expand to other markets in the near future.  Broadcasting MLL games is another vital part of the league’s future as they continue to reach out to television, radio and the Internet. 

PROFESSIONAL RUGBY ORGANIZATION (PRO Rugby)

  • Year Began:  2016
  • Number of Teams:  5
  • Website:  PRORugby.org

Next to soccer, rugby is also played worldwide.  Several countries already have pro leagues in place but the United States hasn’t had a professional league that gained any momentum.  PRO Rugby is the Professonal Rugby Organization and plays 12 regular season games over 16 weeks from April to July.  They are the first sanctioned professional rugby league in the United States.  Players make an average salary of $25,000.

PRO Rugby has five teams which began the season without nicknames but during the season fans have provided the names for the league’s first original teams:  Ohio Aviators, Sacramento Express, San Diego Breakers, Denver Stampede and San Francisco Rush.

The league is averaging about 1,500 fans per match which is good for a startup league.  

Why the sport isn’t more popular:  Relatively unknown to most sports fans; competition with baseball and soccer;  it’s not American football.

Future Plans:  Expansion to the East Coast and Canada.

None of these leagues are expected to breakup the major league sports in anyway but they each offer something to enjoy.  People are playing and getting paid to play these obscure sports.

Dallas, Madison and Toronto join Seattle in AUDL Final Four

The final four teams are set for the weekend of August 6-7 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Seattle had already wrapped up the West Division title last week during their Calfornia road trip to punch their ticket to Madision.

The Dallas Roughnecks (15-0) remained unbeaten outsourcing the Atlanta Hustle 28-21 for the South Division title.

The East Division final was quite a contest as the Toronto Rush edged the D.C. Breeze 23-21 in overtime.

The final four host Madison Radicals struggled but managed to survive and defeat the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds 20-16 to clinch the Midwest title.

Now the Final Four match ups are set.  The Dallas Roughnecks will play Toronto, the Madison Radicals will take on Seattle in the AUDL semifinal games on August 6th.