Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baca's Mailbag, part 1

This just in: NFL contemplating putting microchips in footballs. To be used to confirm with GPS precision whether the forward spot of the ball really crossed the goal line or was a first down. Where officials sometime fail let technology take over. And wouldn't you just know it, I have a Paintball parallel. Imagine a reusable projectile with built in sensors that correspond to similar sensors embedded on the players gear and equipment. When a projectile makes contact such that sensors in the projectile and the gear both signal contact the player is eliminated. The projectiles can be used over and over, say good-bye to paint cost. No broken paint at all. Which kinda sounds like Airsoft or laser tag. Okay, obviously the concept needs some work. Probably a lot of work. Moving on ...

One thing Paintball doesn't need is a rookie salary cap. But it could use some more rookies.

Don asks, "How many times can Johnny Perchak retire before we start making Brett Favre comparisons?"

Looks to me like you answered your own question, Don. Let the comparisons begin. Unfortunately for Johnny they begin ... and end with the fact both have done it more than once. Although you could say at least Johnny didn't go play for his former arch-rivals ... um, nope, scratch that too. At least Johnny didn't go to the Hall of Fame and ask for his donation back. Of course that would require a couple of highly unlikely scenarios; Johnny being as attached to his slider shorts as Brett is to his thigh pads and paintball would need a Hall of Fame. Oh. Here we go again.

Since Don started with the football comparisons I think we need to see how far we can go with that. Who is the LT (former MVP maybe on the downside of his career) of paintball or the Ochocinco? Is there an America's team; the team everybody either loves or hates? Let's hear what you got.

Papa Chad asks, "Do you feel we have hit the competitive skill ceiling?" and followed it up with, "If we have, do you think the skill ceiling should be higher?"

The short answer is no. If pro paintball had the resources of other real pro sports I think you'd be surprised by the result. How many baseball fans can tell the difference between the top two AA power hitters when team scouts already know one of them can't hit a major league quality curve ball? Or a better analogy would be the speed of the game difference between college football and the NFL. Plenty of great college players, signed for lots of money, can't make the transition. They work hard, have real skills but don't quite have it, for whatever reason. Sam is true of pro paintball.

Mike wants to know, "What have teams done differently this year to help them rise to the top? (ie Damage, Impact, Infamous). I want your opinion, not the vanilla answer of player pickups or whatever."

I was initially going to go with whatever but you took the smartass answer off the table. I can't speak to the Impact or Infamous situation--well, I could and I can but you're not going to like those answers. Damage opted to go with Santeria. You know, the whole Serpent & the Rainbow thing. We couldn't quite manage robots but figured zombies was a close second. And the only real downside to the Santeria rituals is the blood and chicken feathers. Otherwise I think the results speak for themselves.
Now for the "vanilla" answer. We've been working on this with the majority of our players for awhile now. This is our third year pro and we began with a plan. Each year we set goals and we work within the confines of the real world limitations we have to deal with. We are in the neighborhood of where we intended to be and we still have lots of room for improvement. In the case of both Impact and Infamous what you're seeing is a solid core supplemented by the "right" players. Both teams are among the league leaders in resources, organization, experience and excellent team chemistry. They made good decisions that have led to positive results. There are no guarantees but it's working out. Of course the league(s) are different too. With no Philly those players have upgraded a number of teams while leaving a Philly-sized opportunity. And top to bottom the PSP probably isn't as deep as it has been in the past at times.

In a similar vein Be Smart asks, "Recently we have seen several Pro teams make adjustments to their rosters (Ironmen adding SK to coach, Dynasty adding 2 players). . would you care to comment on how roster changes can affects a team's dynamic in mid-season?"

In a game like paintball it's a crapshoot. If things aren't working the way you wanted them to anyway a change is unlikely to make matters worse and sometimes it's the only option for making them better. In the Ironmen's case bringing in SK is a change in the working relationship of coach and players while maintaining the team's organizational structure. Change can often be good, shake things up a bit. On the flipside if things are good why take the chance? In Dynasty's situation they've taken on seasoned players who have defined roles who, on the whole, ought to be easier to integrate into the team. Even so, again there's no guarantee as we've slipped into the chemistry zone. You see it all the time in every sport. The big name all-star type teams frequently don't pan out and it's not because the players can't play. It's because, somehow, they are missing the intangible that makes them a team.

Be Smart continues, "Could you walk us thru the decision making process for picking up a player to play Pro ball? How much value does 'chemistry' factor in as opposed to skill?"

In our case we were short a roster spot. There was no pressure to fill it but it was open. In the background I knew the role I was looking to fill. As it turned out a young guy who fit the bill also fit with the team. We didn't go looking. In fact we held off making the permanent move until I was convinced he had what it took because he was so young.
In the off season the team was contacted by a lot of current and former pro players looking for an opportunity. We turned most of them down, spent some time talking with a couple of players where the timing just wasn't right and by the time pre-season practice began we had nine players we were very happy with and started to get ready for 2010. Don't get me wrong, we didn't turn players down because we thought they weren't capable--mostly because we believe more in team than we do in talent. We're a Florida team so our guys are Florida guys. (Yeah, I know J-Rab plays 7-man with us and isn't from Florida. For 7-man it's okay 'cus he's a seamless fit with the other players and we don't practice 7-man unless we can do it at the event venue.) Along the way Jason brought his little brother to drills practices. The team liked him. He fit. The chemistry was good. Instead of having one older brother to give him crap he's got 8. And that's important. But it's also important that Jacob had solid technical skills and that he has a great attitude and work ethic.
I guess the answer to chemistry versus skill is they are at least equal though if pressed I'd give the nod to chemistry. We can teach the right kind of player what they need to learn.


Don Saavedra said...

Follow up Dynasty related question: Ryan Greenspan: lost Olson Twin?

Anonymous said...

For some odd reason, anon really likes smell of paint in tournaments, the mess and comradeship that comes with the fact we play dirty.

... Not gay.