LOCAL TEAMS SHUFFLE INTERNALLY TO FIT NEEDS!
by Magilla Guerilla, ARRG Bout Co-Announcer
I would be remiss if I didn’t start things out today by acknowledging this time of year by reminding everyone to hug a Mayan as soon as you can. Time is running out on that deal and every little bit counts.
Listen, it can’t hurt to cover your bases is all I am saying. Oh and Merry Christmahanakwanzika and Happy New Year to everyone as well!
It feels like it has been a while since we have talked and I believe I was last trying to sort out what to expect from the “then-soon-to-be” upcoming ARRG local season. Now with two regular season events under our belts, I think it is safe to come out of hiding and offer some thoughts.
Overall, I think all of the teams have done a great job of adapting to the new rules. While we haven’t seen anything innovative in regards to these rule changes (which is bound to come), what we have seen is more of our favorite skaters out on the track.
The bouts are fast and hard hitting while being tightly contested and high scoring. All in all, a positive change as far as I can tell and I would be remiss if I didn’t also tip my cap to the referee staff for helping to implement and support this major change in a relatively seamless way.
The only other overall trend or observation on my part is the unique nature of the jammer position and how much that one position can really change an entire team. It seems so obvious, but teams have to field a reliable jammer rotation to succeed. Rookie jammers with great potential hitting the track with veteran blocker support are struggling to pay dividends this season. This is a factor for all four local teams to some extent, but with others it is a much larger impact.
Rebel Skate Alliance (0-2) is a team desperately searching for that reliable jammer rotation. It won’t get any easier as they face an M-80s team next that appears to have adapted to their significant roster changes and still has a shot at the #1 seed in the post season. Without dramatic improvements, RSA could be facing another winless regular local season.
The Rebels look to be scrambling to find the best way to use their skaters and to find chemistry in their packs. Pink Diamond has been the only reliable resource at the jammer line in their two bouts and the team has tossed out an array of other options, looking to find what they need.
Until they can produce at least one additional reliable jammer, I fear that they will continue to struggle this season.
However, this team has showed signs of life to start the second half of bouts, so I think it will be important for them to look at those moments and learn from them. They also found success with Smarty McFly as a jammer in their second bout, but to continue to use her in that role will either require her to log additional minutes on the track in a dual role as a blocker/jammer or the Rebels will need another blocker to step up and contribute as a replacement.
The bottom-line is that the roster of the Rebels from when they won the local championship two seasons ago until today is vastly different. No other team has seen that kind of turnover in such a short amount of time and it just isn’t easy to replace so many skaters and do it while the competition remains strong and then has the audacity to get stronger.
Make no mistake, the Rebels will continue to compete and skate hard. Don’t be surprised to see this team make a steady improvement with each bout as they continue to search for ways to emphasis their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. If they happen to end up as the fourth seed in the tournament, you can bet your Han Shot First t-shirt that they will be giving it their all with that one shot to play for a spot in the 2013 League Championship bout.
Looking to send those Rebels to a winless regular season are the defending champs, the M-80s (1-1).
To paraphrase the classic Mark Twain quote, “the death of the M-80s has been greatly exaggerated.” This might be the most intriguing team taking the track month after month, because they are trying to adapt to major roster shifts on the fly while doing it without missing a beat.
With so many roster changes, how are they doing it? Right now, they are relying very heavily on a core of four skaters, some of which are averaging 35-40 minutes of track time each. For comparison, most other teams might have a skater or two come close to that amount of time out on the track.
In other words, these skaters are being asked to do a lot.
The M-80s are just a handful of points away from being undefeated, so I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As long as those skaters can continue to produce effectively from start to finish and keep out of penalty trouble (I really think this is where the no minors rules are helping the M-80s), this team will be in every bout and has a great chance to repeat as League champions. The side benefit of this approach has allowed the M-80s to blend their many new additions into the mix at their own pace.
These rookies skate and contribute, but they are doing it alongside of strong support. This is valuable track time that will pay off as the season continues. In other words, we might not have even seen the best of the M-80s to this point, which is a little scary to be honest.
The M-80s and the Rebels will face each other on Saturday, January 12 at Midwest Sport Hockey and this might be a chance for both sides to experiment a little bit more with their respective rosters.
While there is an outside chance that the M-80s could end up as the #1 seed by virtue of a high scoring win, Stunt Devil loss and low scoring Smashinista victory (lots of variables), the most likely scenario would be the firecrackers ending up as a #2 or #3 seed.
Seems like a good time to try out some different combinations or even a new jammer. I think they might like to see more from Ida the Living Dead in this role. The Smashinistas seemed to have her number after a strong debut against the Stunt Devils and the M-80s get really scary if she can return to that form going forward. There are also other skaters on this team with some jamming potential so perhaps they will see time “with the star.”
The same goes for the Rebels. Yes, they want to win against the M-80s, without a doubt. However, they are still looking for the right combination of jammers and blockers that will give them the best chance for success. Win or lose in this bout and they still have a path to success down the road, regardless of the results in January. Barring practice scrimmages, this will be the last chance for the Rebels to try things out in “real speed” before the results really count.
Now, I have to say that even with my own little bit of personal bias aside; the Smashinistas (1-1) have really impressed me with their consistency and patience. Last season, this was the team most likely to freak out and take a bad penalty or give up a big jam and go into a slump. This season is completely different.
Every skater on this squad is logging at least double digit minutes on the track, so all skaters are being asked to contribute in some capacity. The loss of jammer Downtown Dallis was big, but The Educator and Brickyard have stepped up and done so in a big, big way. Complementing them has been two-way stand out Shimmy Hoffa, who has done more than hold her own as a jammer. They just appear calm, cool and confident this year and are the highest scoring team after two bouts.
Of course, they still suffered a tough loss to the M-80s the last time out, so there is room for improvement. They really played toe-to-toe with the M-80s (a team that had their number twice the season prior) and if not for giving up a handful of monster jams, they might be looking at an undefeated match-up against the Stunt Devils (2-0) on January 12.
Oh, and about those Stunt Devils? They are back to business once again as they try and repeat with another undefeated local season. Their bout against the Smashinistas is going to be a doozy and only ten points separate both teams in terms of total points scored against identical opponents.
So not only are these squads both happy to score early and often, but this bout is going to be for the #1 seed going into the playoffs. If the Stunts win, they get it. If the Smashinistas win, they put themselves in a position to get that coveted spot as well (see, at that point it becomes mathematically complicated, but the Smashinistas have to win to even be considered). You want every possible edge going into the post season, so winning this bout is big…really big.
The Stunts didn’t have much to recover from or change after last season. In fact, they reloaded a bit and added some weapons to boot. One of the quiet, yet key decisions by this team was to shift one of last season’s jammers, Morgan Le Faetal back into the packs as a blocker. The option for her to jam is still available of course, but she is an underrated, solid blocker and with the pivot panty can be an excellent option for a jammer “star pass.”
A move like this is possible because both South City Shiner and Mighty Mighty Boston have been very dangerous jammers and with the additional support of dual threat, Mayor Francis Slayer and newcomer Killer Painguin, the Stunts have a solid and deep jamming rotation. They have a strong defense once again and they execute their game with ruthless efficiency.
I can’t tell you what to expect from the Stunts and Smashinistas next month. In all honesty, I might just suggest Muckety Muck and I just shut the microphones off and enjoy the show.
Both teams have talented veteran blockers and both sides know each other very, very well. Both teams have talented jammers and both sides are well coached from the bench. Individually, both teams have almost put up 400 total points through two bouts this season.
The #1 seed in the post season is on the line. Yup, big bout folks…really big.
With one last event to go for the regular season, all four teams are looking to fine tune themselves and smooth out the rough edges prior to the post season. Hope will spring eternal for the two teams that lose in January as everyone will have a shot at the title in February.
So, while we think we might know a little more today than we did in November, don’t set anything in stone and don’t count anybody out. The undefeated team going into the last year’s Championship bout lost and the season before that an upstart newly minted team hoisted the trophy.
The only thing we ever really know about the Arch Rival Roller Girls local season is that anything is possible.
NEXT WEEK IN THE ARRG NEWSCENTER: 2012 marked numerous milestones for ARRG, both on and off the flat-track. Some historical benchmarks were achieved competitively and league awareness was catapulted into a whole new level. Oh yeah, the league even got an “Official Day” in the City of St. Louis named after them. In short, it was a busy year for ARRG and we’ll compress all the league’s activities into one whirling dervish of a column. Coming up next Monday, we’ll present the “ARRG 2012 Year in Review.”
Magilla Guerilla and Muckety Muck are Bout Co-Announcers for the Arch Rival Roller Girls. Check back in this area on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news and information.