ARRG & OTHERS SHAKE UP COMPLEXION OF REGION TOP 10
By Muckety Muck, Derby News Network Contributing Writer – Photos by Bob Dunnell
“Even though a lot of people look at the North Central as not being competitive on a national level, I feel that within the region, the competition is just sick,” Arch Rival Roller Girls’ All-Star blocker Chewblocka, March 3, 2012.
Exhaustingly spoken while perched atop a rolling sports bag full of sweat-laden gear, that quote originated after ARRG’s hard-fought, ten-point win over current WFTDA North Central #10 Madison following a grueling battle at Midwest Sport Hockey nearly four months ago.
I’ll always remember this quote for two distinct reasons. Number one, it was the first time in my three years of derby journalism that I ever conducted an interview on bended knee. The athlete was drained physically, so I respected her right to “chill out” after battle.
And at my age, I don’t bend as well as I used to. It’s a lot easier to cut myself in half height-wise by planting a patella rather than attempting to fold a beer gut.
More importantly, Chewie’s reflections perfectly stated the status of the North Central during a time that addressed the perpetual – and potential – activity that was to be found within the region.
I like re-visiting that statement some seventeen weeks later. Little did we know at the time that her words would still ring true as of this writing.
It crystallizes the fact that 2012 has indeed been quite a sick year of derby for the nationally-chartered leagues – which include your pink-and-black clad locals – who are jostling for position within the North Central region’s top ten rankings, especially the last two months.
The primary example would be the recent controversial battle between the region’s two top leagues, current number one Windy City and second-ranked Minnesota, held at a raucous Roy Wilkes Auditorium in St. Paul, MN on June 16.
When the final whistle had blown in a topsy-turvy bout, the hard-charging rollers from the Gopher State had apparently posted a 160-155 come-from-behind upset win over the legacy league from Chicago.
At the moment, the Minnesota victory was monumental in scope. Windy City, the perennial champion of the North Central, had never lost a regulation bout within said region. Following the Minnesota win, the 24-0 Windy City record that spanned over four-plus years against region rivals had been snapped.
And the outcome of the clash between regional teams ranked first and second culminated in a potential flip-flop of positions when the next set of North Central quarterly rankings are to be released in July.
What’s important about the July set of rankings is that it sets the post-season bracket of the North Central playoffs, set for September in Niagara Falls, NY.
In short, when all was presumably said and done after sixty-minutes of breath-taking action in St. Paul two weekends ago, Minnesota had slain the Midwestern derby dragon.
Or had they?
Immediately following the bout, the officials on-site reviewed the tracking of points which revealed a scoring discrepancy. As a result, the outcome of the bout was unofficially recorded as a 155-155 tie, pending further review.
As of press time, the bout – and its scoring – was being reviewed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, who will render its inevitable finality.
With so much riding on the line, the wait for a decision is enough to make one sick…and not in a good way.
Regardless of its outcome – even if deemed by the governing body as a stalemate – there will have to be a designated number one and number two, for there has to be some sort of hierarchy established for post-season play.
Leagues within the WFTDA vote on the rankings within their respective regions. In the case of the WFTDA North Central, that’s 35 individual leagues that have a say in the matter.
The Windy City/Minnesota deadlock – as well as the results of numerous bouts played in recent months by the ARRG All-Stars as well as other North Central teams – has resulted in potential shifts of order when the July region rankings are released.
And even though the top ten only matter when it comes to post-season play, I can only imagine that a handful of the 35 individual rankings that are submitted will look exactly the same.
It’s just been that sick of a year.
And the locals are as much to blame – personally, positively so – for the disarray currently experienced within the North Central region’s top ten.
Since their March 11 loss to current WFTDA North Central #7 Ohio, the eighth-ranked ARRG All Stars have amassed a 3-0 record in the North Central, which includes an upset win over the region’s fourth-ranked team.
Perhaps the March loss to the Buckeyes, which was considered itself a sick upset at the time, was the wake-up call that the local rollers needed prior to a very crucial Spring stretch of North Central games played. It resulted in a “hungry and surly” attitude that has propelled this squad as the calendar progressed.
It began with a 115-point thumping of steadily-improving #12 Bleeding Heartland in May.
Arch Rival then surprised North Central eyes with a pair of solid wins at Midwest Brewhaha in early June. An upset win over #4 Detroit netted the franchise’s first win historically over Motown’s finest. The 127-point shakedown over #9 Cincinnati the next day continued the momentum.
And although it doesn’t necessarily count for “within region” status, an upset win over South Central #4 Houston on June 9 certainly added ammunition against anyone who might have questioned ARRG’s recent activity.
In short, it’s been a really good couple of months regionally for the ladies of St. Louis, now 7-2 overall. And their wins – supplemented by the setbacks of higher-ranked squads – have added to the North Central kerfuffle.
Regardless of the WFTDA’s final decision of the June 16 bout at Roy Wilkes, Windy City and Minnesota are going to grab the region’s top two spots – once again, as voted upon by the North Central leagues – rather easily. They are the proverbial cream of the crop.
How the voting leagues rank the pair is another matter altogether, depending on each respective voting league’s point of view. The two leagues have a common opponent this year within the region, third-ranked Naptown (Indianapolis). Windy City posted an 118-point win over the Indiana rollers in March. Minnesota bested the Circle City by 35 in May.
One could make the claim outright that Windy City should get the top seed, based on triangulation. You know, the ‘ol “if A beats C more than B beats C, then A must be better than B” line of logic.
But one does have to play devil’s advocate. Should overall strength of schedule within a region play a factor…especially if B had a tougher schedule than A overall?
To clarify, Windy City has only had one additional bout against another a North Central league in 2012 – a 378-point win over a fast-plummeting #13 North Star on June 17.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has posted three dominant wins against North Central top tens in the past two months. The victories over current #4 Detroit, current # 6 Brew City and current #9 Cincinnati should be weighted accordingly.
Where does sickness begin to become benign for a current second-ranked squad hoping to grab a top seed while awaiting a decision from the WFTDA that may well be recorded officially as a tie?
And don’t think that it’s just relegated to the top two. Following losses to the two top-ranked teams, current #3 Naptown hasn’t bouted against North Central squads at all as 2012 has progressed. Their current record is 8-2 overall, but they still remain 0-2 in the region. In fact, their one lone North Central regular season bout prior to the playoffs will be an August 4 battle with the ARRG All-Stars.
But by the time that bout at Midwest Sport Hockey is played, the rankings – and proverbial post-season seedings – will have already been set. Basically, Naptown is going to be winless in the North Central when the July ballots are tabulated.
This leads us to the two teams that are gunning for the fourth-seeded slot for the Niagara Falls’ trek, ARRG and current #7 Ohio, who have amassed an eye-opening 17-1 record overall, which includes a 14-0 mark within the North Central.
But once again, one does have to put strength of schedule into play in this sick dilemma. Sure, Ohio has 14 wins against North Central squads overall, but only three of them are against teams currently in the top ten. Does the abundance of victories over weaker teams that have no chance of making the post-season push at all raise a red flag?
Let me clarify one thing before anyone makes any assumptions…I’m not a Buckeye basher. Don’t think for one moment that I’m against Ohio getting the number four seed. They have beaten ARRG head-to-head, their talent is absolutely amazing and their work ethic this season is nothing short of heroic.
After all, eighteen bouts played by the Buckeyes in the span of four months are nothing short of just plain sick.
It only seems apropos that these two teams will more than likely face each other in the first round of the North Central playoffs in a #4 vs. #5 match-up, regardless of who gets the numerical designation. I have a lot of confidence that they have both respectively played good enough derby overall the last two months to grab those two positions.
Logical voting by the other 33 North Central leagues should put the newfound rivals in those spots as well.
And if one thought the conundrums of figuring out a top five wasn’t difficult enough, wait until one attempts to project the lower half of the top ten.
The end result? Motown stumbled with a 1-2 record, which included the aforementioned loss to ARRG and a 160-point thumping by Minnesota. They did notch a 37-point win to current #6 Brewcity (Milwaukee) to save face, but was it enough stifle a fall of potentially two ranking positions?
Most likely not, considering the ARRG and Ohio surge, combined with the fact that Detroit has no more North Central bouts scheduled prior to the rankings period. A sixth spot is more than likely, thanks to its one lone North Central win overall against Brewcity.
In 2012 for the Chicago Outfit – the current North Central fifth-ranked team – the season has given them plenty of sour belches. Last year’s darlings of the post-season have encountered the pitfalls when two top-notch skaters transfer. Not to say that 2011 North Central playoff MVP Sweet Mary Pain and top-notch blocker Gaygan were ONLY the Outfit…but their absences this season hurt nonetheless. It resulted in an upset loss to #9 Cincinnati at Midwest Brewhaha.
However, a 93-82 win over #6 Brewcity this past Saturday kept them in an active status…and continued the parity found in the North Central.
The Chicago Outfit Syndicate may have a chance to grab the seventh seed, although it cannot be guaranteed due to the Brewhaha loss to #9 Cincinnati.
Speaking of the aforementioned keggers from Milwaukee, current #6 Brewcity have their own demons to battle. They have a 2-4 region record, which includes losses to Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago Outfit and Ohio. They do have a win over current #12 Bleeding Heartland, a bout that might have coincidentally had – according to rumor – a discrepancy in points that potentially netted the lower-ranked team a win.
However, the activity of Arch Rival and Ohio, combined with their losses to both Chicago Outfit and Detroit, might have pushed Brewcity back in the rankings as well, and a seed of eighth is probable for Milwaukee’s derby best.
But could it be ninth? Current #9 Cincinnati netted the upset win over the Outfit. To make matters more complex, Cincy and Brewcity did not play each other in 2012. So again, what holds more weight, Cincinnati’s 20-point win over the Outfit or Brewcity’s 11-point loss to the Outfit?
If the former scenario holds, then could Cincinnati, aided by their upset over the Outfit, jump to seventh, while Outfit and Brewcity trail at eighth and ninth?
And who’s to say that the current North Central number 10 couldn’t send them all down the slide?
The Mad Rollin’ Dolls, mentioned some 1,600 words earlier, have played inspired derby in 2012 that belies their double-digit status. Only losing by ten points to ARRG in March, Madison fell to Ohio by 26 points in June. They also thumped #13 North Star by 138 points last weekend.
Even if they are the designated tenth for the playoffs, they will be a very dangerous #10, considering that they held close this year to Houston, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, the teams currently ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in the WFTDA South Central.
Fair warning should be served to the league that potentially draws them in the first round of the Niagara Falls’ playoff…you may just get ran over by the milk truck.
So in essence, what we have potentially in the lower half of the North Central top ten is…well…”pentangulation.”
The word nets you 16 points on a Scrabble board, sans bonuses…and a Ph.D at Princeton.
In this scenario, I’ll use Detroit as “A,” Chicago Outfit as “B,” Brewcity as “C,” Cincinnati as “D” and Madison as “E.”
So, to put this running equation into play….if “A defeated C and B defeated C, but B lost to D, and A didn’t play B, D and E, but E played higher-ranked squads better than A and D did…then…
Then, this is too much dag-gummed mathematics for a guy who was on “academic probation” in his freshman year of college to comprehend!
I think I’m gonna be sick.
I only focus on the aforementioned top ten teams because – even though the rankings ballots have yet to be cast – I think those ten leagues are undoubtedly a lock for post-season play. Those squads on the bubble –such as #11 Grand Raggidy and #12 Bleeding Heartland, didn’t do enough to push themselves into the top ten fracas outright.
If I were the ruler of the derby world and had to place my North Central rankings accordingly, I’d go with this. And to point out, I’m going to rank these teams under the assumption that the WFTDA officially renders the Windy City/Minnesota match-up as a 155-155 tie.
1 Windy City – 2 Minnesota – 3 Naptown – 4 Ohio – 5 Arch Rival – 6 Detroit – 7 Cincinnati – 8 Chicago Outfit – 9 Brewcity – 10 Madison.
Don’t think that I didn’t struggle with this order. I have revised my projected top ten at least a half-dozen times in the last 48 hours. And if I hadn’t post this article immediately, I was inclined to change it again.
Once again, the real decision of who ends up where will be left up to the voting leagues of the WFTDA North Central.
And how those individual leagues will vote is anyone’s guess. It will undoubtedly be a tough decision for all involved.
Perhaps Chewblocka was right, afterall. The WFTDA North Central is sick in 2012.
And as a derby fan, I’m glad that there isn’t any cure.
NEXT WEEK IN THE ARRG NEWSCENTER: It’s travel time again. Both the ARRG All-Stars and the Saint Lunachix gear up for an important trip to the Volunteer State. The All-Stars look to post another upset against another South Central powerhouse – currently ranked third in its respective region – while the Chix look for its second straight win. Next Monday, we’ll preview ARRG’s road trip battle against the teams of the Nashville Rollergirls.
Check back in this section on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news and information.