The Coffin Draggers are your 2010 AZDD Champions.
The dictionary defines ‘champion’ as:
1. fighter or warrior
2. one who has defeated all opponents in a competition or series of competitions, so as to hold first place.
That team is full of fighters that were led by a group of seasoned warriors. They handed each team a defeat this season, they took down the team that no one else had, and their reward is that they get to cuddle with that bad-ass League Trophy for the next year.
The Coffin Draggers put down a Championship-worthy effort and the memory of that bout won’t stay with us for seasons to come without the fight the Schoolyard Scrappers came with.
Before the Draggers sealed their eventual victory in the late jams of the bout, we were watching a see-saw battle on the track. There were 2 lead changes in the first half. After the Draggers got up by 27 points late in the 3rd quarter, the Scrappers began to mount a comeback that brought them within 4 with about 10 minutes left in the 4th.
We’ve seen the Scrappers come from behind to win a game twice this season so I, as well as their fans, knew that the game wasn’t over until it was over.
The score found itself at 77-73 for the Draggers three jams in to the 4th quarter. The Scrappers were riding a 27-4 scoring streak that cut into the commanding 73-46 lead the Draggers were sitting on in the 3rd. Most impressively, the Scrapper staged that comeback in only 4 jams. Yes, they scored 27 points in 4 jams. One of which was a Scrapper Power Jam.
As I’m watching this happen, I’m thinking that I’m about to witness another Draggers’ meltdown late in a bout. However, the Scrappers comeback was short lived. The Draggers pulled themselves back together. That 4 point spread the Scrappers reduced the lead to was the closest they got. After that the Draggers went on a 19-1 scoring run re-aligning their defense and letting their Jammers do the rest.
The score was at 96-74 with 2 minutes left. Absent a miracle, the Draggers had a vice grip on the Championship.
Ultimately, that’s how the story ends. The Scrappers only put up 7 points in the remaining 2 jams of the bout and the final score was Coffin Draggers 96 – Schoolyard Scrappers 81.
I don’t normally make predictions on bouts, at least not in a public forum like I did in my last entry “There Can Only Be One,” but I let a couple fly in that blog. I did it as somewhat of a personal experiment to test just how in tune I am to this game, the league’s teams, and their skaters.
I kinda frightened myself.
After analyzing (which is really a fancy way of saying, “I sat and thought for a while”) the regular season these two teams had, I broke each team’s key to victory down to couple main points. For the most part, I believe each one played a role in the outcome of the game.
Again, there are any number of reason the game played out the way it did. Man, there are soooo many variables, but it really came down to the team that made the least mistakes. I posed the question:
Which team will execute their game plan with less flaws?
Answer: The Coffin Draggers.
As a spectator, its difficult to tell if and when a strategic or mental mistake is made on the track. Both teams were playing visible schemes. I could tell a lot of preparation went into this bout by the Scrappers and Draggers; each brought out a few things that I hadn’t seen all season. The place where mistakes are most visible is on the penalty stats sheet.
The Draggers had the the lower count on major penalty points. My assertion was that if they were able to keep their penalties to a minimum, they would win that bout. They stayed out of the penalty box more frequently than the Scrappers. Most importantly, they stayed out of the box late in the bout. The Scrappers had 27 major penalty points and the Draggers had 22.
At first glance that may or may not seem like a huge difference, but the biggest difference was that the Scrappers had 19 major penalties that were straight-up major penalties and 8 came by accumulation of minor penalties. Conversely, the Draggers had 12 out-right majors and 10 that came by accumulation of minors.
So, while the Draggers had almost as many out-right major penalties as accumulation majors, the Scrappers had twice as many majors as they did accumulation majors. The more people you have sitting in the box, the more uncontested ghost points you’re likely to give up. Those ghost points make a world of a difference.
Scoring-wise the Draggers dominated the bout winning the first three quarters. They outscored the Scrapper 19-14 in the 1st, 27-17 in the 2nd, and 27-24 in the 3rd. The only quarter they lost was the 4th, 23-26, but since they won each of the first three quarters healthily, it had no significance. The only deficit they faced the entire night was in the 2nd quarter when the score was 27- 31 for the Scrappers. After that they finished the half on a violent tear going on a 19-0 scoring run. Their defense came alive at the sight or falling behind on the scoreboard. The Scrappers didn’t score in 5 consecutive jams in the jams that ended the half.
On the other side of the coin, I thought that if the Scrappers went out and just played their usual game, they were sure to win. I don’t think that was the case last Saturday. Several things were very out of the ordinary for this team that finished a flawless 4-0 in the regular season.
It goes back to penalties. The Scrappers were one of the cleanest teams this season. Correct me if I’m wrong, but, I don’t think a single Scapper stacked up 5 major penalty points (which mandates ejection from the bout) this entire season. They had two skaters that finished with 5 major penalty points Saturday night.
Further, the Scrappers only gave up 5 Power Jams this entire season for a total of 18 points. In one bout this regular season they didn’t give up a single Power Jam, which is highly uncommon and commendable. In the Championship Bout, they gave up 4 Power Jams for 29 points. Ouch.
Tara Armov was in the house on Saturday night. So appropriate! She’s a skater/trainer for the Los Angeles Derby Dolls and a member of their All-Star Team, the Ri-Ettes. She’s played a huge part in our league’s transition to the banked track format so I thought it was pretty cool that she was present for our first Banked Track Championship. She’s got mad respect from this league, and its well deserved. A lot of people were happy to see her there.
She was the Ace up the Scrappers sleeve as she filled in as their bench manager during the Championship Bout. That’s quite a person to have in your corner. She knows derby inside and out. But I think the decision made to have her on their bench could have had an adverse effect. By my observation she was involved significantly on the Scrapper bench: coaching skaters sitting on the bench, yelling directives to the Scrapper pack on the track, and participating in sidebars with the referees.
Do I think the Scrappers lost because of Tara? No way. That’s not what I’m saying. I wouldn’t dare take credit away from the Draggers, nor would I suggest that she was to blame. But here’s what I do think.
If I’m the Scrappers, and I have a winning formula I’ve brewed all season that got me a undefeated regular season and a trip to the Championship, I would shy away from adding another ingredient to the mix. It could disrupt chemistry. Especially an ingredient as potent as Tara Armov. She’s saturated with roller derby experience and influence. I would just go with business as usual and play the same game I’ve played all season with all the same personnel I’ve done it with.
I don’t think the Scrappers played their game completely that night. They committed more penalties than usual, gave up more Power Jams and Power Jam points than usual, and I think they played a hybrid of their game and the game brought by Tara Armov.
My observation of this bout came from a new angle. I’ve been in the stands as a fan, in the infield of the track as a coach, and this time around I was on the production platform as an announcer. I had the time of my life Saturday night. I lived a dream I’ve always had and more specifically, one I’ve had since discovering this sport.
I was offered the spot to announce the Championship Bout because our normal announcer, THE ALAN, was in Germany setting fires (joking aside, he was training firefighters in Germany). I jumped on it. I got to cross something off my bucket list after the bout. It looks like this now:
Announce and give play by play commentary at a major sporting event.
To take it further, at the very first Derby Dames bout I attended I remember becoming immediately intrigued by the sport and watching Jasperino announce had me green with envy. I told myself, “I want to do what that guy is doing.”
It was one of those things that you say, but you expect will never really come true. Who was I at that time? I was just a fan.
I don’t know what I did right with the man upstairs to give me this immense opportunity that at one time was a childish fantasy. I took the assignment seriously. I’ve always wanted to do sports commentary and analysis. If I had a million dollars, that’s what I would do for the rest of my life. That aspiration is part of the reason I started and keep this blog.
I rejoined forces with my former captain, Gabrihella Gauntlett, on the announcers booth and I felt like we fell right into place with one another despite the nerves I had.
It was an emotional experience. I watched the Phoenix Suns play in that building for 3 seasons, and now it was my voice that was bouncing off those walls. Surreal. I used to marvel at how the Gorilla would get the entire crowd out of their seats, and euphorically I found my voice raising the people to their feet during the last few jams of a CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Unreal. I felt like a kid.
I lived a dream. I’ll never forget it.
Thanks to the Arizona Derby Dames for the opportunity and to THE ALAN for throwing my name in the hat as a fill in. I am gratefully appreciative beyond expression.
Once again, congratulations to the 2010 AZDD LEAGUE CHAMPIONS, the Coffin Draggers. That team deserves a lot of credit. They faced adversity on and off the track this season, yet they pulled together when it mattered the most: in the playoffs. And to the winner, goes the spoils.
There’s no dispute. The Draggers fall within the definition of a Champion. But in the realm of this league, from now until someone takes that trophy from them, the definition of Coffin Dragger is ‘champion.’ For all of eternity, the Draggers can say that for a moment in time, they were better than everyone else at something. And they’ve got the hardware to prove it. Can’t imagine the feeling. I’m jealous.
The road to the 2011 Championship goes through the cemetery. After a taste of the sweetest victory that anyone who competes in sports can get, I don’t think they’re gonna be craving brains anymore. From now on, I believe the groaning we’ll hear from those zombies will sound more like, “Mmmmmm……trrooooophy!”