Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Good Week for Boston

Photo by Boston Red Sox
Joy In Mudville
Everything went right for the Boston Red Sox. At home, cozy, beautiful, historic Fenway Park, the Red Sox clinched the 2013 World Series with a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Fenway, and the people of Boston, haven't seen their beloved Red Sox celebrate a championship at home since 1918. The Red Sox have had a painful, heart-breaking history, blamed on the Curse of the Bambino, but just completed their third championship season in nine years.

The Red Sox, after finishing dead last in their division last year, went out and made a lot of smart moves to build a contender for this year. They cleared cap space, fired Bobby Valentine, and picked up valuable players like Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes and Mike Napoli. The aggression of the Red Sox front office signified that they weren't going to lose 93 games in 2013-14. Completely turning the team around, the offseason moves laid the groundwork for a World Series winning season.

Now onto quidditch. When all the dust cleared at Turtle Cup III, it was Emerson College and Tufts University on opposite sidelines, waiting to play each other in the finals. Both teams could've stayed in Boston this past weekend and played. However, both teams, eager for new competition, signed up to travel to College Park. They wanted a new challenge.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Both Emerson and Tufts made bracket play at World Cup VI, but it seems like these teams have the mindset that their finishes at World Cup VI are not good enough for this year. Traveling to Turtle Cup is the kind of move, that like the big Red Sox-Dodgers trade and the signings of Victorino, Gomes and Napoli, shows that the team is not happy with staying at their current level. The Red Sox weren't going lose 93 games again in 2013 and Emerson and Tufts are looking to really be taken seriously on the national level. Right now, besides the Lost Boys, the Boston teams look like they have the best shot at beating a Southwest powerhouse.

The Red Sox 2013 World Series victory was extremely unlikely. Boston's win percentage in 2012, .426, was the lowest of any team that went on to win the World Series the next year. A first year manager and several players that appeared to be on the decline only added to the preseason skepticism of the Red Sox. Writes Grantland's Jonah Keri, "[The Red Sox World Series victory] was in some ways more unlikely than the one bagged nine years ago, the one that erased 86 years of misery."
Photo by Boston Red Sox
Emerson also  faced challenges at Turtle Cup III. With a long distance to travel, little sleep, many missing players, an early loss to NYDC and a health emergency, those following closely would be likely to pick Maryland or NYDC to win Turtle Cup. Yet somehow, Emerson pulled it off. David Foxx turned in a Big Papi-esque performance with clutch goals and defensive stops. Tufts, with a lot of new faces, achieved more than they could have asked for. Made of the Victorinos, Napolis, Elsburys and Pedroias of quidditch, Tufts played with great chemistry and team-first mentality.

Photo by Dani Palmer
I'm sure that right now, the Red Sox are pretty happy that they made so many bold moves over the off season. Rewarded with a World Series title, the city of Boston will remember this season for a long time. By the end of the season, Emerson and Tufts are going to be really glad they went to Turtle Cup. While it is extremely unlikely, perhaps more unlikely as the Red Sox championship in 2013, you shouldn't count Emerson or Tufts out of championship contention yet.


How Fah Could Bawston Go?
As I was beginning to write this article, I saw the facebook thread about regional all-star teams hypothetically competing to host the World Cup. I began to think more narrowly than regions. I thought about city all-star teams. Quietly, the city of Boston has had the most active quidditch scene all season. Beginning with the large MQC/SNEQC Invitational on September 28th, weekly competition has occurred throughout October, with the all-Boston final at Turtle Cup III happening most recently. BU and Emerson float around 6-10 in most rankings and Tufts and QC Boston have gone in and out of the top 20. While each team has a lack of depth compared to the Southwest and West powerhouses, I believe star players like David Foxx, Max Havlin and Kedzie Teller are just as good as any players in quidditch right now. If the most talented players on BU, Emerson, Tufts and QC Boston played on a city all star team, Boston would be really good.
Eliminate variables having to do with team chemistry. Assume that everyone is able to make the event. All players play for the city that they currently play quidditch in for their team. Multi-city community teams are split by which city each part of the team practices in. Rosters are determined fairly.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Before I get crazy, let's assume Boston has to beat cities in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic first. Beginning by defeating smaller city teams, many of them composed of primarily one team, Boston would start to face better competition against Rochester, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Still, those cities really only have one middle tier team. The real challenges would come from New York and Washington.

A city that has tormented Boston in other sports, New York would be easy work for the Boston squad this year. The Big Apple is having a down year in quidditch as many teams are rebuilding from significant losses, especially to leadership positions. Some of the Capitalists would be back to join their former teammates, but I doubt New York would be able to match the power of David Foxx or the transition attack of Brendan Stack. New York would have good seeking from Matthew Zeltzer, Andrew Zagelbaum and some of the NY part of the NYDC Capitalists' seekers, but I think Boston would be out of snitch range..
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Washington might be more of a challenge considering how well Maryland played at Turtle Cup III. Really though, Washington would only have players from one and half elite teams (Maryland and NYDC). With the Capitalists now in the DC area and Mid Atlantic Regionals in Leesburg, growth is coming in the Washington quidditch scene. Handling the best of four top twenty teams from Boston would be very hard from a Washington team.

Messing with Texas
Boston would surpass Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast cities relatively easily, but how would they do against a city from the Southwest? Now, an all-star that included all of Texas/Southwest would be unbeatable. But, this tournament is a city tournament. So, for instance, the Austin team could draw from UT, AQ and the Austin-based Lone Star QC players. The Texas teams would basically end up being college teams with Lone Star players sprinkled in. Could the Boston all-stars beat one of these teams?

To be honest, the video from Breakfast Taco and Wolf Pack Classic of UT, Texas A&M and Lone Star hasn't been super impressive. None of those teams are at the level of World Cup VI-winning UT and all are beatable. Emerson and Tufts aren't more precise, strategic or athletic than the Texas teams, but the gap between the technicality of the Texas teams, and other top teams such as Emerson and Tufts has narrowed.

Beating is where the Bostonians could have the edge over a Texas city team. Katrina Bossoti and Aaron Wohl have been key to their respective teams' success for years, but Bossoti and Wohl, both underrated outside of the Northeast, might not even be Boston's first line. Max Havlin, BU's chaser convert, has been tearing it up since the summer at beater. Kara Levis helped build UCLA into the best beating team in the IQA and in 2013-14, she has taken her talents to Beantown to join QC Boston. The Tufts beating duo of Mike Sanders and Nora Mueller, very important to Tufts' success at Turtle Cup, would also be on the Boston all-star team. When you look at this beating corps as a whole, you see a smart, experienced and strategic group of beaters who know how to execute a gameplan.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Chances are, the chasing corps of any of the Texas teams will have more complete, total-package players. A majority of the elite chasers in quidditch, Texas chasers are fast, strong, controlled and can shoot. The Boston team would have chasers that embody two or three of those characteristics, but are not at the level of the best Texas chasers on the rest of the characteristics. Boston would have a chasing corp consisting of someone who is fast and strong, someone who is strong and can shoot and someone who is controlled and fast. As long as the Boston captains could figure out how to create an offense that used the specific skills of each chaser well, I think the Boston chasing corps could stay in snitch range of of a team of Texans.

Beat LA?!
Los Angeles would be Boston's final challenge. UCLA, USC and the Lost Boys create a trifecta of top ten quidditch teams in the city of angels. With both some of the most talented players and some of the greatest minds, the Los Angeles team would be heavily favored over the Bostonians. Like Boston, Los Angeles' chasers have different skills and don't all really fit the fast, strong, accurate Texas chaser mold.
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
Los Angeles would just be too much for Boston in the end. Drawing from the Lost Boys, Bruins and Trojans, the Los Angeles team would have crazy depth at every position. The Boston beaters would put up a fight, but based on the video that has been shared, the Lost Boys' beaters alone are absolutely amazing. Los Angeles could roll out either a giant line of quaffle players or keep it small, and still have great physicality. Maybe Boston keeps within snitch range due to great games all around from Foxx, Stack, Teller, Levis, etc. but even so, Los Angeles has Steve DiCarlo, David Demarest and August L├╝hrs to close the games. Los Angeles is the best city in quidditch right now, but Boston is second.

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