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We had 8 players including 5 guys, 3 girls. We also had a double-header. Good times.
Kyle and I decided to run in and out for each other so he started and I was going to come in after about 6 minutes. It was a back and forth game as each team would build a 5 - 6 point lead, the other would go on a little run. Close game all the way. I was rebounding well, got fouled and badly missed the first free throw. Next one was money. Missed an easy put-back lay in. And when I say missed...well, I actually forgot how to shoot. Literally. Like, how to grip the ball, what motion to was ugly. Then I did it again. On the bright side...I was getting easy looks off strong positioning and excellent rebounding. On the dark side...I could not shoot to save my life.

Ironically, at one point Kyle and I were on the court at the same time. I had the ball out top, flipped it to him on the left wing and cut to the basket. He passed back slightly behind me, I caught the ball in traffic and avoided 2 defenders to put in the toughest shot I took all game and it went in pretty as you please. Easy shots I can't make, but give me a difficulty 8.5 and I am all over it...

My next shot was a desperation 3 against the buzzer at the end of the first half. Airball. I suppose I could say it was time and a hand in the face...but the truth is, the ball was not in shooting position. It was as if I shot-putted it. I was embarrassed. But we were tied at the half.

Second half was more of the same. With 32 seconds left we had built a 5 point lead. They got the ball up court in 4 seconds, got a wide open trey and drained it. We got the ball in to Kyle. I was pretty happy with that. He is our best foul shooter. He was dribbling up court...and got picked clean. I have not seen that happen to him in years. So inside of about 10 seconds they had tied the game. We had last shot, though. With time expiring Kyle got hammered in the lane. I was pretty happy knowing he would hit at least one of the two and probably both...except they called nothing. Overtime.

In OT we built a small lead, they came back, but we pulled it out by 4 to break our losing streak at 9. Woo-hoo!

Game 2 we did not do so good on our substitutions, but we would not need to. We were clearly the better team and were scoring almost at will. They struggled from the field early and we built a 15 point lead. This was uncharted territory for us. They got it back to about 8, we built it to about 17.

I was worthless on offense, though defensively I was doing well on the boards.

Then, with Kyle, Nick and I on the bench they went on a huge run, got back within 6. Suddenly we could not find the rim and they could not miss. It was looking ugly. We built it back to 8, they got it to 6, we got a couple stops, and then with the 6 point lead and the ball Nick found Christina who hit the tough lay-up to give us the 8 point lead and they basically threw in the towel. Boo-yeah, 2 games won!

It feels good to win again. it feels bad to have suddenly gone from one of the better players on the team to clearly the worst. Very discouraging. I am getting more out of shape, having a harder time finding the hoop...might be time to pack it in. We will see what the next couple games bring.

Starving Crazed Weasels League

What with Kevin & Cassie having a kid, then Kenneth & Stanica getting jealous so following their lead, we had not played in a while. Finally got it going again.

Started with Emily to my left, Kevin to her left, Cassie to his left, Josh to her left, Mark to his left, and Kenneth to my right. Not where I wanted to be...

Emily normally plays a solid game but when she is at the table I am at she becomes more aggressive because she is, by her own admission, "super competitive" with me. That means she makes out of character plays around me. That is tough for me because so much of my game relies on reading people as far as what is in character or out of character. When someone plays their own game I usually have a fair idea if I am ahead or behind. But when they play out of character it throws me off.

Kenneth is also tough for me for two reasons; first, I sometimes do the over-competitive thing with him and make dumb plays, second because he switches his game every time we play. One time he will be a rock, another he will be wild and all over the place. Sometimes he plays a conservative game, other times he pushes hard, verging on the maniac. He has a couple twitches which pretty much let me know how his hand strength is, but the nature of his game means I play fewer hands until I know how he is playing since he often will make non-standard raises at strange times. Also, he is a good player, so having him on my right is not where I want him...

Anyhow, on the way out there I wasn't "feeling" it and told Emily I would probably be the first player out. Early on I played pretty non-descript. Won a couple small pots, got out of a couple, then Mark mentioned he had, bizarrely enough, a late-night job interview. So we knew he wasn't going to play long and I stayed in a couple pots knowing he would be playing looser than normal. And got rivered. Twice. Now I was short-stack. Not in trouble...yet...about 1200 chips, blinds just 50-100. After that, Mark had to leave so we just pulled his chips.

By the time they went to 100-200 I had about 1600. Picked up Queens, a couple limpers, I went all-in hoping to just pick up the limps and blinds. Kevin went into the tank from the big blind. I put him on something like a medium pair, maybe a medium Ace. If he had the Rockets or Cowboys he would have beat me into the pot, if he had Big Slick he would have called pretty quick. Thus I put him on a more troubling call since, while it would not even remove him from the chip lead, it would still be 20 - 25% of his stack. Medium pair, maybe medium ace sounded about right.

Even there, I really did not want a call. If he just folded I would be over 2K with no risk. If he called, even if I was a 3-1 favorite over a lower pair, I would be at risk. Well, he did call...and flipped up the J/9. On the one hand I am overs so it takes 2 cards minimum to beat me. However, he can win in a lot of ways. He can pair them both or trip one, he can hit a straight, he can hit a flush. And sure enough, the flop brought a 9. But he got no more help, I survived and was out of danger with over 3500 chips. Picked up a couple more pots.

Then Kenneth got taken to the cleaners when he had the Cowboys but Kevin flopped 2 pair. He ended up having only 125 chips left and a couple hands later in a multi-way pot he got in with about 5-1 on his money, or as good as he was going to get, and I got lucky, hit a queen and mercy-killed him. For small risk I actually added about 15% to my stack since it was nearly a family pot.

Now Emily and Cassie were short stacked. Emily went all in, Cassie thought it over for a bit and then called, everyone else folded. I looked down at a 6/8 off suit. Now, normally I am just going to toss this away. But I did a quick bit of math. I was getting a little better than 3-1. I had cards that were unlikely to be dominated. I put neither of them on a pair, I thought Emily probably had something like a strong Ace and Cassie maybe a couple face cards, maybe anywhere from a strong Ace to a dry a wide range, yes, but most of the hands I could hit my 6 or 8 and possibly take TWO players out. At this point it would be about 20% of my stack...but winning would about double it. I called.

Emily was weaker than I thought...Q/3 hearts, and Cassie had K/Qo. So I was wrong about Em's strength but right about being behind but not dominated. Emily was the dominated one and Cassie had a big lead. Her lead got bigger when the flop gave us an A/J/rag. The turn was a blank. But the river was an 8 and I took them both out. I also gave myself a good deal of breathing room as now I was threatening the chip lead. But was it the right call?

That is something I need to work on. Statistically, was it correct to call there? Why risk my chips to take out people who probably have me beat? I was figuring I would PROBABLY lose...and I suspect if I crunch the numbers I was probably slightly worse than a 3-1 dog so in retrospect, probably I should have folded. Sure, this time it worked out...but in the long run it was a bad call.

Anyhow, now we were down to Kevin (big stack), Josh and I. Kev and I traded the big stack a couple times, then started one of those runs. I got Josh all-in. I had 2 pair, Aces and...Queens? He hit runner runner on me to nail a flush and doubled up. I got him all-in. He rivered me and doubled up.Now he and Kevin were the big stacks.

I came back, hit a few hands, he hit a few, Kevin took a couple beatings, I doubled him up, he lost a couple big hands and Josh put him away.

I think Kevin kept track and it was 8 times I doubled Josh up. I could not put him away. River. River. river. I rivered him once or twice as well so it was not all one way. But it happened so often it had become a running joke even before Kevin went out. Finally I rivered him one last time and had the win.

For the night I played fairly well most of the time. There was one case where I knew I was beat early on but paid 2 200 chip bets hoping for the 2 outer to hit and knowing I shouldn't. But on the river I let the 500 bet chase me and was upset with myself. I was chasing the bad math opportunity for 2 reasons; 1, I planned a bluff on the river and 2) I had not seen any sort of hand in a long time so when I got pockets, even though they were only 7s, I held them when the board only brought one over. This was poor play for many reasons:

1) 2 people called my pre-flop raise. They needed SOMETHING to call my first raise of the night.
2) Yes, there was only 1 over on the board, a Queen...but TWO people showed interest. I actually even put Kenneth on the queen. So knowing I was behind I still was chasing the miracle 2-outer. If I could reasonably pull off a bluff that might be okay but with 2 callers there is too little chance of the bluff working. Besides that, when he expresses interest in a hand Kenneth is almost impossible to bluff.
3) I was chasing because I did not want to lay down a hand I had raised pre-flop and on the flop. But that is a poor reason.

A couple hands where Cassie raised and I figured her to have me beat combined with this to put me on the short stack. So this play caused me problems.

But I countered that with shrewd short stack play. I waited...and waited...I was able to check into a hand from the big blind. I hit bottom pair, went all in, everyone folded so I picked up a few chips. It was a well-timed move because it was believable and I was pretty sure from the disinterest nobody else had hit anything.

And when Josh kept beating me on the river, that fact remained...he had to come from behind. I was ahead time after time so I was getting my chips in good.

So yeah, I played well enough to win and am happy with how I played. Much more importantly...I had fun.

Texas Hold 'Em

Had not played for...well...a LONG time so decided to do so. Small crowd...11 people. I got sat next to Terry. Forgot how much I dislike sitting at the same table as him.

Was almost completely card-dead. So I was mostly just folding and watching. Danny has not changed his game, neither has Terry. Todd bluffs less but more effectively, the new guy bluffs and gambles...he likes to stay in on runner-runner flush draws, will bet if everyone checks, etc. Bill was playing a cautious game. I just wanted cards so I could snap off the new guy's bluff. He has blatant betting tells; if he is bluffing he eyes the pot, mentally counts it out and then bets that amount. If he has a strong hand he overbets the pot. Took me 3 hands to figure that out. Paid off, too.

From the big blind checked it with pocket 4s. Sadly, after over 20 minutes that was the BEST hand I had seen. Part of my theory of poker is to bluff successfully, people have to believe you catch hands at least occasionally. I was not raising the 4s because if I did and someone re-raised I was folding. Flop was ragged, 10 high. I bet. New guy and Terry both called. Turn was a 10. I bet...and he reraised a significant amount. Terry called, I folded. At the showdown Terry had the 10...he claimed he had it as well but Terry's kicker was better. He did not show so...maybe.

Finally won a hand from the big blind with A/10 when an Ace flopped. I bet it to the river against Danny and Terry. Normally with 2 callers I would be nervous but I have a great read on Danny and Terry is an eternal optimist. I put him on a low Ace. Sure enough, Danny had 2 nice connectors with long-shot draws and Terry had an A/6. So I was up about 25%.

Now I had chips and they had seen me play a hand. Picked up pocket 7s from the button. 2 limpers, I raised 3x the blinds. New guy took my 300 raise and added 750 more. Folded to me, Todd behind me. A quick calculation told me I was getting about 3-1. I had his hand narrowed to a good pair or a strong Ace and, based on a conversation he had just had where he expounded his Big Slick theory I actually weighted it pretty heavily towards the Slick. I had a decent read on him so decided to play the raise despite the poor actual odds figuring my implied odds were through the roof and, if he did not hit, I was going to semi-bluff him out of the pot...though I would figure I had the better hand.

Sadly, the flop was horrible for me mostly because it had a King. The only reason that bothered me was I figured him for the Big Slick so figured he had just left me 2 outs as the hands I put him on pre-flop that I was beating were now limited to a strong Ace. I briefly debated a raise but instead elected to check. He bet it strong enough that I believed he had it since it fit his profile of a strong hand. I folded, he showed...pocket jacks. So he had me beat beginning to end. But I was still okay with my play. When you are hitting nothing and get a chance to play a low-medium pair heads up with a bluffer for 3-1 chips...well, I will take that chance. Ironically, against nobody else at that table would I have called his initial re-raise. Sigh.

Back to card dead. Picked up a few chips here and there and at the break I was exactly where I started...3000. But the smoking had started and Terry was getting on my nerves. I thought about turning in my chips but elected to just wait and put them all in. I could justify the all-in because with blinds of 200/400 I had an M of 5. After I went through the blinds once without getting to play. 2400. Then Terry pulled one of his annoying things. I decided I was going all in next hand regardless. I was not even going to look at my cards. I was not having fun, the smoke was getting to was time to go. But then I thought better of it and looked at my cards. A/J suited. Smurf. Who is behind me? Todd, Bill, bluffer. Terry had limped, Danny had folded. Send in the chips. I smiled internally to see the disgusted flip Terry did. I knew he would be folding.

Todd called pretty fast which did not worry me. He is pretty loose and will call with goofy hands...low suited connectors, that sort of thing. Of course, there was every possibility he woke up with a real hand but those are the chances you take when you go all-in with a mediocre hand like Ajax. Bill got out of the way and bluffer went into the tank. Finally he folded since Todd had called so it was heads up. Todd had deuces. Straight race.

Bluffer had folded one of my Aces but it was a weak Ace. Flop brought 2 7s and an 8. Turn was a Queen. I was down to 11 outs...thankfully, none of them hit. I would have been chip lead if it had and I was ready to leave. So yeah, I got beat by a pair of deuces...but hey, sometimes that happens.

Oddly, I feel like until I chose to go on tilt I played really, really well. I had solid reads on everyone. I got out of Terry's way when I checked in the big blind with j/5 and the flop came K/J/K. I put him on a King because of how he checked. Bluffer gave him a bunch of chips on that hand. But it was typical of the day that I knew when I was beat and got away from hands, made nice size bets when I was ahead and added to my stack...I just did not have enough fun to try and make my pile bigger.

On the other hand, my results were brutal. 8th out of 11th in a pretty weak field.

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Over the course of my life I have grown accustomed to winning, particularly at basketball. To be sure, the last couple of seasons of co-ed have had very limited success..probably dropping me to like a 95% win ratio for my life. But they have been fun. Except the last game.

I have lost a few games over the years. I have even lost a few by quite a few points. But there is one thing I had never really experienced before this last game and that was pure domination and humiliation.

The game started horrifically. By the time I came into the game we were down something like 20-4...and it wasn't that close! We were not getting good looks, we were passing terribly, our defense was porous.

For whatever reason the starters elected to go with a zone. I personally hate playing zone. I find it much more difficult to play correctly that man and so it proved yesterday. They were shredding the zone. They got so many easy, wide open looks from wherever they wanted that, just to make it somewhat of a challenge, they backed out to the NBA 3 line. That is...when we got back on defense. They were also playing a zone. The ball would go to the top. Weakside would be wide we could pass strong side into the teeth of the defense. 3 - 4 seconds later their 3-1 or 4-1 fast break would be adding a bucket. I was keeping score at one point and it was so bad that at one point as they crossed mid-court on "just" a 2 on 1 fast break...where both the 2 were closer to the goal than the defender...I was already putting their points on the board. The ref laughed and said I should wait for them to actually make the shot...but we both knew.

Kyle and I had a couple things going and we broke the zone a couple times, he got me pretty easy looks. I made a couple, then missed one. But he reinjured his ankle and that little success went away. Somehow we managed to score 16 points in the first half. I don't think I have ever been on a team that scored just 2/3 of a point per minute in gym-league level basketball...that was horrific. We were down something like 30 at the half. And wasn't that close.

Offensively I never did really contribute. I did not drive to penetrate the zone, settled for 3s which I was not hitting, and just basically was a non-factor. Not strictly true...I drove a few times but I was looking to pass because I was not hitting my shot. And I did have 6 or 8 assists if we were to keep stats. I also did a pretty good job on the defensive boards but my defense itself sucked.

Really there was only one player on the team who played well. That was Kyle C. He had the best game I have seen him play in quite a while. He was a force on offense. Of course, that term is one point he scored for about the 4th time in 5 trips and as we ran back down the floor, one of the other team said something like, "Man, he is just killing us" to which I replied, looking at an 76-39 score board, "Yeah, if you are not careful we might keep within 40".

Which we did. Mostly because they started goofing around, trying spectacular passes, stuff like that. But if they wanted they could have scored 100 and we would have been lucky to score 40.

I have been beaten on the scoreboard before, but being beaten down...that is a new experience. Did not like it much. Okay, hated it. Something has to change, there.

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We started the game slow, having a hard time even getting shots off. So I elected to take a hand in the scoring. I started with a drive trying to break down their zone. I took a pretty good bump so threw up a shot. They gave me continuation and I sunk both free throws. It was our first 2 points of the game...and we were down something like 9-2. The next possession I got the ball left of the free throw circle outside the 3 line, drove to the lower foul circle and dropped that one in. This time I got clobbered on the shot but no call. Oh well, 4 quick points. Next possession I established post position but we went the other way with the ball. That was fine...they were playing a zone and when the center defender moved to defend Christina's shot that gave me good rebounding position which I used to grab the offensive board and score. A couple possessions later I drove the left side again for the pull-up jumper. By the time I went out of the game the first time we had 8 points...and were down 19-8. We struggled to score all game long. I only took 5 more shots the rest of the game, 2 of them off offensive rebounds. I ended with 14 points for the day. So offensively I had a nice game. Defensively we were average, giving up 65. We give up between 62 and 66 points almost every game. We struggled to score again, only dropping in 46.

Somehow we have to get that figured out. This team was playing a 2-3 zone. To me, that is perfect to get post position against. Have one person in the high post, have the 2 low post players set cross-screens for each other and wheel your shooters to the corners. Now you have flooded the zone and they can either defend your post or your shooter...not both. But we did not have people setting the backscreens so that was never established. Nor did we pinpoint what was working and go to it. All day I was able to penetrate the zone almost at will. This was particularly available from the foul line extended left outside the three line. It gave them a bad angle to defend. From there I was able to creat good looks for JC, Christina and Ashley. For some reason after the first 15 minutes or so nobody passed the ball to me in that position.

And that gets to the heart of the problem. We are a talented team...but not a good team. I have a good post-up game that should do a number on most teams we have played this year. I think twice in 8 games I have gotten an entry pass when I had position. I can break down the defense with penetration but never get the ball in a good place to do that. Which is fine IF we are scoring in other ways.

Both Ashley and Christina have the height and moves to be forces in the post game. We seldom get them the ball in those positions. Kyle C is a very, very capable rebounder and good hustle guy. But we don't help him with box-outs so he and I have to both box-out AND get the rebound. He has more height, strength, and agility than i do...but I have slightly better positioning and box-out skills. We do okay on the boards but if we are not both in there then the boards turn into a disaster zone.

JC is a good hustle guy with a decent mid-range shot but we seldom get him the ball when he is open.

I set a lot of screens...but they seldom get used or if they do it is only to move around the perimeter instead of breaking towards the basket.

We could score a LOT of points by posting up Ashley, Christina, and myself or by penetrate and kick moves. We do neither. We regularly ignore the hot scorer and fail to run again plays that got us easy looks the prior time. That has to change if we are going to become the sum of our parts. If we ever do we will win a lot of games. If we don't...well, we will spend a lot more time looking up from the wrong end of a 20 point blow-out. Teamwork beats talent. We have the talent...just not the teamwork.


XBOX 360 Day 1

I had been pondering the purchase of a new gaming system for quite some time. I still have and occasionally play ye olde N64 but it is definitely last-gen technology. I have played a few games on the PSP3 over at my brothers house and understand the appeal...the graphics just abuse the N64, for example...but it is not for me. The Playstation has a particular graphics theory that...well...I understand they are superior but I just don't like them. I actually prefer the inferior N64 graphics. I admit the graphics are inferior in capability...but I prefer the look. Well, with that in mind then obviously upgrading to the PSP was out.

A couple people at work have the Nintendo Wii and they LOVE it. I have always had a certain affinity for the Nintendo so when I heard Nintendo was releasing their next-gen system I was interested. And the games look interesting. And the people who own the system absolutely love it. D & S, they talk about it almost every day...what they bowled on it last night or what golf course they played, how they shot...they love it.

I, however, have a video game theory. When I want physical exercise, I go get it. I play softball in the spring, summer and fall, basketball during the fall and winter, run a bit, work out at the gym...but I don't want to exercise when playing a video game. I explained my video game philosophy to a friend.

"When I am playing a video game I want to be laying back in a bean bag chair, so relaxed it looks like I have no bones in my body...kind of a human jellyfish look...with nothing moving except my thumbs on the controller, maybe an occasional swipe at a chip or soda, and a bit of drool running out of my mouth..."

In other words, video games should require as little effort as possible. So the Wii was not an option.

At one point I had played the XBox 260 at my friend Alan's place, some boxing game. The graphics were sweet, the control easy to comprehend...I liked it. For years now he has tried to convince me to pick one up and I have always had a good reason not to...I did not have time when I was at University, I did not have time during the wedding planning, etc., and even if I had the time the cost was just prohibitive...I could usually afford either that or to go on dates, that sort of thing. I guess we all know what wins that equation :-)

Well, now that the Goose and I are settled into life together I have a bit more time and it is not as big a stretch financially since we date differently...more nights at home instead of on the I finally pulled the trigger and picked up the 360.

After a great deal of research I decided between the Pro and the Elite. I knew the Arcade was a waste of money because to save games you need a certain amount of memory and to play some games it had to be more than the flash stick. But the 120GB of the Elite seemed like overkill since I don't really download much, I just buy the big 4 sports games, maybe a first person shooter, a racing game, and a fighting game and that is enough. So 20GB is plenty, and since we don't have the HDTV there was no point to buying the Elite for the cable or, white, I don't really care.

Picked up one old XBOX game based on the Battletech universe and a used copy of MLB27K for a baseball game. Went to set the system up. It was pretty easy, just a couple cables and we were good to go...except there was no picture. Some sound, no picture. Tried the HD cable. Fuzzy picture bifurcated bizarrely. Tried different TV inputs. No luck. Getting frustrated. Reread the installation manual. Looked for and found the switch from HD to regular tv and was done with the setup...after having turned a 2 minute set-up into 10. Pretty funny.

Wanted to start with the Mechwarrior game since the graphics would be older and therefore inferior. Found out I missed part of my research because it is NOT, in fact, backwards compatible which I was convinced it was. Oh well. I only spent 3 bucks on the game so no big loss.

Fired up the baseball game. Unfortunately, I unwisely purchased it from Game Stop and it had no manual. The swing system is hardly intuitive. Actually, no part of the game is intuitive. There is no simple press A to swing, B to, you have lots to do.

First, you use the left joystick for the "Batter's Eye" where you try to guess where the pitch will be located. If you are pretty close to correct a little ball will appear and you will get bonuses to your player stats for that swing. Then, timed as closely as possible to the start of the pitcher's windup, you pull down on the right joystick. When you want to swing you THEORETICALLY release it...but if you want to influence a ground ball you pull down on it, to influence a fly you push it forward or to aim towards left or right field you twitch it left or right...uggh.

I thought I would be clever and play one of the best teams in the league against one of the worst so I selected the Red Sox and for my opponents I selected the Diamondbacks.

The top of the first was pretty smooth. I struck out the side on 12 pitches.

Bottom half...well, that is when I discovered why he had not swung once. Because I was BATTING, not pitching. That was me that struck out. Somehow I was the Diamondbacks instead of the Red Sox.

Pitching is interesting. The catcher suggests a pitch and location. But you don't put the target ball right on his glove...each pitch has a "break factor" that you have to factor in. So you move the baseball around. When you feel the controller vibrate you are where you want to be, so then you press the appropriate pitch button and the length of time you press it determines the speed and accuracy of the pitch. The longer you press it, the faster but less accurate the pitch.

Fielding is relatively intuitive...a blue circle shows you about where the ball will land if a fly or roll if a grounder, the computer picks the "best" guy to field it...more on that later'...and throwing to bases is easy, a button for each base.

My second time at bat I at least knew I was at bat so it went much better. I got a couple swings off. By the 5th inning I already had made foul ball. I walked once or twice but as often as not could not even figure out how to swing. I played 7 innings, was down about 9-0, and had 19 strikeouts. In 7 innings.Out of 21 chances.

So I was not liking it much. I made a couple changes to the settings to make the "Batter's Eye" less important so at least all I was doing was using the right joystick. I started a new game, Red Sox against the Cardinals.

My pitching was okay. I walked one guy but then I turned a slick 5-4-3 double play. I was liking the pitching and defensive controls. Bottom half of the inning, first batter, I went yard. My first hit was a good one, a home run. I got a couple more hits including a 2 run bomb. 2nd inning was more of the same, I gave up a walk and then, experimenting with pitching controls, managed to throw 3 consecutive wild pitches to score the run. I came back to get the next three guys. I scored another 3 spot in the bottom half. Maybe I adjusted the hitting to be too easy...

Nope. Next inning I could not connect. The control is still not intuitive to me. It was so bad that at least twice I swung and my guy crossed the plate...while the pitcher was in the windup. So there are some issues with the game, though I am sure they are mostly related to my videogame incompetence which is near legendary. I had similar problems pitching where I was trying to select a pitch and instead grooved them over the heart of the plate.

Well, I built a nice lead but then my defense fell apart. One play in particular stood out in my mind. There was a Texas Leaguer over the second basemans' head. The center fielder was just a little ways from the blue circle and I thought I could make the catch. However, he did not seem to be following my commands. Sure enough, the ball bounced about 2 on-screen inches from him without him attempting to catch it. And sat there. I finally figured out they thought the right fielder should have caught I had run him AWAY from the ball. And the CPU did not switch it to the fielder closest to the ball so they got an inside the park home run on a ball that should have been caught and was never more than 2 or 3 on-screen inches from any fielder because I could not figure out how to switch to controlling the closest fielder. Good thing that wasn't frustrating...

I also could not figure out how to advance baserunners.

Overall it was a fun game, though. Ultimately I prevailed in the defensive struggle by the score of 17-14. I figured out some stuff on hitting, pitching and fielding, though none are anywhere near competent yet. And there are features that blow me away.

For example, I selected "light breeze" or something like that for you could see the wind blowing the fielder's shirts. That was fun...

Plan is to start a season knowing I will lose a LOT of games early on but will learn as I go, make a late-season run and hopefully sneak into the playoffs. Lots of Xboxing in the future...


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So we had the final game of our first season this weekend. We have had problems scoring all season so I decided I was going to come out shooting again. The last time I did that we built a 21-17 lead in the first 10 minutes before I came out. After I came out we only scored 27 points in the remaining 30-odd minutes of the game. It wasn't just my scoring...when I would penetrate the defense would collapse, giving me easy passes to open shooters. So I know I can still be effective. My game plan going in was to post up a lot, take a few drives from the foul line extended left for that pull up jumper that is all but unstoppable.

Got there, only 5 people showed up. Kyle F was in China, Ashley was not back from Seattle, JC was sick, Mason decided it was too physical and quit the team, John was we only had 5 people. Early on the pattern was set...if I dropped back on defense it killed their fast break. A couple possessions kind of illustrate it.

I posted up a few times and was able to draw the double team, kick to Kelly for the open shot, and move into prime rebounding position. She scored a few times, and twice I got the offensive board. The first time I scored pretty easily and we got back on defense, got set up. The second time I got the board, laid it up...and choked. I missed. It is not possible to get an easier shot. I just overlaid it, it came down on the far side of the basket, they got the rebound, quick outlet, we did not get back, and they scored.

That was the pattern. If I drove and kicked, if we made the basket all was well. If we missed we only were getting one person back...and other times none. So it made it unwise for me to go to the bucket even though I was able to penetrate at will and, while I was not shooting, I WAS creating open looks for my team.

That put me in a conundrum. I could provide offense OR defense...but not both. When I got back on defense against their fast break I was able to either create a turnover or at the least slow their break and give help time to arrive 1 in 3 times. Sure, 2 out of 3 times they still scored...but I created 3 or 4 turnovers, deflected a half dozen balls and they had to pull the ball back out a few times. So I was clearly a valuable asset on defense. Meanwhile, on offense Christina was just killing them. She was getting the ball on the blocks, making her move and scoring virtually at will. The few times she was stopped she was able to kick out to Kelly or to Jess for wide open mid-range jumpers. The offense was clicking just fine. I was basically standing at the top of the key or even closer to mid-court, an outlet if we needed to rotate the ball but really just in position to get back on defense.

On the one hand, it makes me happy that I am enough of a team player that it did not bother me that I surrendered my offense for the good of the team. However, there came a stretch in the second half where it mattered. We had a 7 point lead. Then they switched their defense, were double teaming Christina before she could even get the ball. We made a couple bad passes and suddenly they had a lead and we were struggling to score. But by now we are 40 minutes into the game, I have taken exactly 3 shots and am out of the offensive mind set. A couple of times I moved into the post which created open looks for the girls and they buried the shots. Still, by the end of the game we just fell short about 8 points.

Did I do the right thing? Looking back I think I did. Christina was in a groove. She was carrying the brunt of the scoring load, Kelly and Jess were chipping in just enough jumpers to keep the defense from completely concentrating on her and in that situation I was far more valuable dropping back to play defense. I think I had to play that game.

On a personal level I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to being a scorer again but that was not what we needed. At least, for most of the game it wasn't. It was only in the last 10 minutes or so that we ran out of steam offensively, otherwise we scored enough to win. For the game I played very well on defense, more or less controlled the defensive boards, and when I was in the offense did a good job of getting the ball where it needed to be. At some point next season I might play a little less defense and let someone else worry about it just to see what kind of impact I can have. For now, though, I have to be satisfied with helping keep us in the game with my defensive effort. Well, mine and Kyle C's. He was an animal on the boards as well, did a great job. Not to say the girls didn't...the other team played 4 guys, 1 girl for over half the game, we played 2 guys, 3 girls. They were taller, faster, and stronger...but we still gave them headaches all game long. Pretty proud of our effort in this one.