Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A glorious mess.

Didn't really finish that last thought there in the previous post. A lot of new blood in the Dolls. This isn't exactly a surprise; the Dolls have welcomed some great players into the fold in the last two years, and the new crop...well, I guess we'll see. The first looks are promising.

But let me get to the Garda Belt/Atomic Bombshell game. If the first game looks like a foregone conclusion on paper (and it shouldn't, but it'll just make the win that much sweeter if the Dolls pull it off), the second bout is just a mess. But it's a glorious mess. Follow along.

- Suzie Smashbox. MNRG Derby Sensation, co-captain of the Garda Belts, co-MVP, our own Joanie Weston, the golden girl who will drink you under the table. You cannot beat the Garda Belts without finding ways to keep Ms Stutter-step from triple-slamming you. Last year, I wrote that Suzie was mostly a jammer threat - I think it's plain that she can do more than put points on the board, but it's a waste to do so. What's the answer to her in this game? Simply put, I have to say that the Bombshells have to slow her down on the initial pass. Whether that's with Dolly Blocks in the back or just a simple wedge keeping her on the inside where acceleration is difficult without nipping the inside line, that's going to be a tall order for the young ABS team.

- Other Garda Belt jammers. Ok, here's where this bout starts to be anything but a foregone conclusion. Angelfire is out for most of the season; she'll be bench-coaching. Of our Garda vets, that leaves Demora Liza, Hanna Belle Lector, and Rumblebee (without grabbing my bout archived recordings, that's who I remember well). All three have jamming greatness to them, but all three also are extremely competent blockers and pivots. Both HBL and Liza were blocker threats in regionals, and in particular Liza seemed to come alive in the front. This could be a great time for Liza to solidify that role, and for other players to step up as new jammers. But that's a big, fat unknown. And that's a hard thing to plot against. It's probable that the ABS knows who's going to be sent to the line after practicing against them for months, but setting up lines to deal with the unknown in advance is a mug's game.

- Which brings us to Garda Belt blocking. When I first joined on as sideline reporter, I asked one of the players what they like to do for training for their infamous hard hits. I was asked if I had ever seen Fight Club, and I stopped that train of thought immediately. Garda fans live and die on their girls' blocking. Their jammers don't get through by simply being fast. Players go flying when Optimiss, Citizen Pain, Inspectress, and Tiki get going.

- Garda Belt penalties. But...the hard hits come with a huge price; time after time in the fourth season, the Garda Belts crumbled in the end off of huge trips to the penalty box. If the Gardas want a shot at the Skate (and - sweet heavens - everyone's been whispering, "It's the Garda Belts' year!!!!?!"), they're going to need to rein in the penalties. Penalties create holes. Holes become opportunities for jammers to spin by a pack with a nod and a grin. You simply cannot defend a pack for long when you have one or two women cooling their blistered heels in the box. And jammer majors are even worse; that means no points for a minute. In a forty minute bout, the jammer doesn't have the luxury of being able to spend seventy seconds out of play at a time, particularly since teams have taken to stranding weaker jammers in the box by calling off the jam just before their penalty expires. That means no new jammer goes to the line, and the tired jammer must jam again. It's a hell of a thing to do, but you will see that this year. You'll probably see that in this bout.

- Atomic Bombshells v3.0. So much has changed. I have a hard time imagining the ABS without the Bonesetter, Lizzy, Marilyn, Bonnie, and Buffy...but that's what's before us. Mitzi Massacre and Misfit took on the challenge of building a brand new team. LOTS of rookies. Word is, they got several of the top picks in the rookie draft. There's no end to the players that I was impressed by in the exhibition bouts. L'Exi-cuter, Tara, and Jocelyn did their new teams especially proud in key moments of the fall bouts. So we've got a lot to look forward to, but I wonder how well they'll do in this initial bout. I also wonder how much we'll see of them, and how much the new captains will depend on their veterans.

- ABS jammers. Yeah. Think about that. Mitzi and Misfit can both jam; I'll be a little surprised if they don't take double duty, jamming and blocking. Of the last year's ABS rotation, CleoSPLATra is the last remaining jammer. She can put good points on the board, especially if she gets protection. But that's going to be the trick in this match; protection is the last thing that any jammer is going to get, orange or green. Oh, and take a moment to note Venus Thigh Trap's face as she whizzes by, hopefully as a jammer. If she looks familiar, it's because she skated under the name "Sugar Cain" (#Gen 4:8) last year.

- And when it comes to blocking, the ABS has lost several of its most noticable defensive staff. Marilyn is out. Bonnie is out (for now). Bonesetter went west. WHAT THE HELL? But don't write them off! Misfit Maiden is the match for many a fine MNRG player, Flora Flipabitch has returned, rookie of the year CTO is back for her second season playing forward blocker, and all-around Mean Girl Eve L Hazard is wearing radioactive '#U-235' again for the ABS. The list goes on; 7 0f 9, Crush, and Bad Dream. This is one hell of a blocking staff, even without some of the well-known names of the past.

This is going to be a hard-fought, defensive match. The ABS simply must keep Smashbox out of scoring position and get their new jammers through the pack. The Garda Belts have to be able to stay out of foul trouble and be aware of the entire track instead of just their immediate opponents.

I want to say that this will be a game where the cooler-headed team is going to win it all; that's what seemed to be a key to the last game. But this - like the Rockit/DD game - will be repeated later in the season. The time for cooler heads may be then. This may be the time for Derby passion to bust loose and conquer all foes. One team with great expectations for the coming season, the other with new players ready to take on the world.

The Rockits/Dagger Dolls is going to be a great game. The ABS/GB bout could well set the Roy on fire.

-Garrison Killer, MNRG sidelines reporter

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We're going to try a little something.

With any hope, this won't mess up the podcast feed. If it does, you'll likely not see this.

So. New season of home teams. Last season, I did some pre-writing at the myspace account. Since I've got some space here with the podcast blog, I'll try that out here and just do the cross-link thing.

Four teams. Five games. Seven thousand sports cliches. One Golden Skate.

The sane and the brief would take a look at the MNRG All-Star roster and simply ask for the Rockits to play the Garda Belts so we can get this over with. You can make a strong case that the teams are the most likely to reach the finals in April.

But you know...that's just a lot of nay-sayery, to quote the immortal David Sedaris (#3 on the NPR list of people to riff off the name of if Garrison Killer ever gets pulled from me for some reason - I'll let you work out #1 and #2)

But let's show the work for the case anyway. It's my party. The core of the MNRG All-Stars have been Garda Belts and Rockits this season. With Stella and Roxanne receding from sight, the Dagger Dolls had exactly two players since Regionals put on skates against some really outstanding teams in WFTDA bouts, Candi Pain and rookie breakout Wonderbroad. The Bombshells have also been loosely represented, although it's clear that Misfit Maiden is a very, very serious part of the MNRG blocking staff (Cleo and Mitzi have also been showing their work, of course). But when you see enough Rockits to almost make a full team out there with enough Green to have a good showing at the Saint Patty's day parade, it means that the Red and the Green are getting some unique experience out there. And many of those same women are the new captains of their units. Dudezilla and Harmony? Captains of the Rockits. Suzie and Citi? The same for the Belts. And that's not even counting the depth of experience in both of their rosters.

And yet. And yet. Mitzi and Misfit - new captains of the Bombshells - are also all-stars; both women had parts to play in the all-star season, not exactly warmers of the bench. And the Dolls may no longer have a strong presence in the All-Stars (for which talent is only one of the qualifications for - another is ability to be available to spend weekends away from the Cities), but there's a lot of veteran talent there.

Let's look at the matches.

First of all, we'll see the Grudge Match post-championship. The new Rockits - outfits et al - are almost exactly the same unit that last left the Roy in April. They've got one new rookie (last year they had none). Harmony, Dude, JB, Scarmen, 25 to Life, 808 (how do you like Kanye's album, Killahertz?), LXIX, Frau, Abbie...geez, they've all been playing with another all summer. Add back in Gretzky, Rizzo, Coochie, Mean, and the rest, and you've got a hard team to beat.

Harmony and JB were both playing around with new ways to start as a jammer during regionals and the KillBilly game. Watch for them to be trying these out to get a pop from the crowd. It's hard to read a home bout; there's the aspect of the game where players want to win, but there's also the question of keeping the crowd happy. I think easy money says that the closer the game, the more we'll be seeing lines filled with all-star vets, past and present. Coochie did a bang-up job during the first two exhibition bouts; I'd be surprised to not see her rotating regularly as a pivot. Also Frau, who continued to impress during the fall as a blocker and pivot. It'd be nice to Soylent jamming this year.

The Dolls - yes - have their work cut out for them. Of all of the teams, they probably have the biggest mountain to climb to arrive back at the finals. They play the champions twice this year, and - to the fans - they're probably the biggest mystery. Kim Jong Kill, Stella, Roxanne, and Scootaloo have not played at all during the first two bouts. That's three of the Doll jammers that are nowhere to be seen and a damn good specialty blocker.

Now...that doesn't mean we won't be seeing them, but that's four known quantities that are MIA. On the other hand, we _have_ seen Sparkle Ninja and Mary Tyler Roar kick some ass as jammers. No, let me correct that. MTR and the Sparkly One were all over the track in the first two bouts. Ninja had some great play, and Mary is definitely entering into marquee player-land for the Dolls.

Fact is, we're starting to depend on inspired play from many of the individual Dolls - Fixie Chic, Sweet Justice, Lydia, and Norah all come to mind from my narrated tape of the second bout; it remains to be seen how cohesive a unit they are this year. I have to say...they were damn fun to watch last year. Candi and Barbie seem to run a good ship with the Dolls; I just hope that they have enough quality jammers coming to the line this year, because I expect this bout to be won and lost by the skill of the jammers to make it through the pack without falling afoul of WFTDA 3.1 rules. We saw the All-Star contingent playing tricks on Arkansas by dinking them out into track-cutting trouble; it's absurd to think that a properly-motivated Rockit blocking pack (again, full of vets) won't test the Dagger Dolls' jammers by putting them into similar situations. This is perhaps one of the great problems of having a competent ref staff; if Spike and co want to, they come down like a hammer on penalties. Honestly, it might be a better idea to start now rather than save it for the championship bout where they will likely be pulling no punches.

Hey, look at that. It's getting late. Just like old times, I'll wait with the second rundown (ABS v Garda Belts) until later. But in short, the Rockits have all of the edges on paper. The Dolls have the staff to surprise; hope they do, because a march on the Rockits this early in the season is going to do them good when they return to this bout in a few months.

And for yet another year, the Dolls have a passel of new players.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Fourth Eskate Episode #2: MNRG All-Stars

Guests: Harmony Killerbruise, Mitzi Massacre, Citizen Pain, Frau Scientits

We talk about the MNRG travel team, the season thus far, and Eastern Regionals. Some trash is talked.

Music by Low Orbit (courtesy of Killahertz) - we are on the lookout for intro/outro music that we can put on the podcast.

As always, e-mail questions and comments to

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Fourth Eskate Episode #1: Rookies

Guests: Honeydew Felon, Spike, and Wet Spot of MNRG

Conversations ensure over rookies, boot camp, new team captains, and Wet Spot's secret origin.

E-mail suggestions, comments, and frank criticism to