Tag Archives: pickup basketball

Lunchsketball Animals

EL CAJON, CA — There was only one game of Lunchsketball this week. Technically, there were three games, but they were all played on the same day. Jorge, Gary, Gary Jr., and Erik were victors against Phil, Darin, Kerry and Jimbo. Gary Jr. did nothing but win as he continued his ruthless march to the MVP title, completing the very rare, 3-game-in-1-lunch sweep. The first game ended 50-25, and was followed by consolation games to 11 and 7, both of which were won by the team with all the Garie on it.

Gary Sr. stood out in the game by relentlessly calling Darin a weasel. As if “Trip”,  aka “Darryl”, aka “Heavy-D” needed any more nicknames, Gary was really pushing for this one to catch on, yelling things like “He’s a weasel!” and “That’s what weasels do!” during every play that involved Darin. This led to a post-game debate about whether a weasel is a rodent (it is not), and the conclusion that weasels are actually formidable predators, akin to the wolverine or the honey badger. Weasels, as it turns out, literally eat rodents for lunch.

So this means that the old “what player is which animal” article requires an update. In case you don’t remember, this was the article in which George was compared to a velociraptor (because he runs around with small arms holding invisible handbags) and Gary was likened to a snail (a declaration subsequently amended via protest, to specify that Gary was a “mutant, nitro-burning, turbo snail”). Obviously, Darin is now on the list as a weasel. This is also a good opportunity to add one that was missed, which is that Erik is an octopus, because he uses his eight sticky arms to steal basketballs.

There’s been activity on the injury report this week. First of all, Nathan, (aka “Nathan the Tall”) has been cleared by organization trainers to return to action, having recovered from knee surgery. He missed his scheduled return start last week, only because one of his co-workers, at a pharmacy of all places, called off sick. In other tall-people-with-injuries news, Phil has not been in the best health of his career. In an off the court incident, he fell off of a bicycle, and while grateful to have escaped with scrapes and bruises, he does have quite a few of those scrapes and bruises. The guy really took it on the chin. So that’s why he has a big scrape on his chin.

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Middle-Aged Mutant Dribbler Turtles

EL CAJON, CA — One of the most effective defensive strategies in Lunchsketball is the full-court press. When done properly, 10 point deficits can be erased and replaced by 10 point leads. A lot of the press success has to do with the apathy of teams with large leads. Up 20 points or so, Lunchsketball players tend to favor experiencing their lunch break as a leisurely stroll, from baseline to baseline. They are not interested in making aggressive cuts to get open for the ball. Point guards resultantly find themselves stranded, alone on the opponent’s end of the court, left to deal with ferocious, full-court defenders.

Turtle!

Turtle!

This does not work out well for point guards. It seems that in general, the typical lunch player is relatively more advanced as a one-on-one defender than as a dribbler or passer. The defender, more often than not, has a skill advantage. So the press is very effective, especially late in the game when the guys are winded. That is when a pressing team might send one of their quicker guys down court to take the ball away from an isolated AARP-eligible dribbler. When one player is left to face a defender on an open court, with no option to shoot the ball (because the basket is too far away), the player who is dribbling is a sitting duck.

Lately, those ducks have been transforming into turtles. A solution has emerged from the great tactical minds of the game; an innovative answer to the dreaded press. It is simple, and easy to remember: Turtle. In Lunchsketball, this simply means to stop dribbling, tuck one’s limbs around the basketball, press it to the bosoms and make a protective shell of the body. When a dribbling teammate is under assail, but you are too far away to help him, you yell “Turtle!” It is a simple command that pierces the clouds of panicked confusion. The dribbler then assumes Turtle position until help may arrive.

So that is your tip of the day. If you’re dribbling, and you’re alone, and you’re in trouble, remember the Turtle.

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Dream Team Hasn’t Felt Great All Year

EL CAJON, CA — They just haven’t looked like themselves. The Dream Team has clearly been missing that magical edge of theirs that once propelled them to the status of demigod legends. This year, they are off to a disastrous start, piling up three losses by the time 2015 was barely a week old.

Kerry, George, and Darin finally opened up this week, admitting that they have not felt 100% since 2014.

“I haven’t felt great all year. I’ve had spurts where one or two games I felt good, and after that, I was just pushing through it, just being the competitive guy I am and wanting to be out there for my teammates,” said LeBron James, according to Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick, and incidentally expressing the exact thoughts of Darin (aka, “Darrell”).

On Friday, George (aka Jorge, aka SwampThing, and, lately from Gary, aka “Whorge” for reasons unclear) opted to take the day off to rest.

“I just finally listened to my body, ultimately,” James said, articulating precisely what George would have liked to have said. “I was affecting my game. And once I see my game being affected by my stubbornness, I had to just look myself in the mirror and understand I had to do something that was best for me as well. It was one of the hardest, one of the smartest, decisions I’ve made.”

For the time being, the Dream Team will need to play carefully, and concentrate on getting back to full health.

“Until we get healthy, we won’t know what we’re capable of doing,” James said, basically reading Kerry’s mind. “I don’t think we will ever be fully healthy, as far as being 100 percent, it’s impossible. I can never get my motor back to 100. As close to 100 as possible for all of us.”

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WifeBeaters Will Continue Until Morale Improves

EL CAJON, CA — Another week of Lunchsketball, and another set of victories by an immodestly dressed Gary. He is putting together a sleeveless, form-fitting winning streak. On Wednesday, G’s team even notched a rare victory* over the formidable Dream Team (Kerry, George and Darin). During interviews before the game, Gary was clear in saying that he would stick with the new uniform as long as the wins keep coming.

Nissan Stanza

Lunchsketball gets a Stanza this year

In other news, as the annual company Christmas party approaches, buzz has been building over the soon-to-be-released, Christmas 2014 edition “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” parody poem from Kerry (aka “Animal Kracker”). On Wednesday, it was leaked that there will be one complete “stanza” devoted to Lunchsketball. While details remain vague, it has been revealed that that word “Lunchsketball” will be in the poem itself, as long as Kerry can remember how to spell “Lunchsketball”.

As a final point of news, there was some controversy during Wednesday’s game, when Kerry made a particularly exhilarating and acrobatic play that resulted in a scored basket. Members of Gary’s team protested that Special K had taken an extra step, and had traveled in the process. After some discussion, the refs got it right and allowed the play to stand because, while technically Kerry may have “traveled”, the rules should obviously be loosened in a case like this for the sake of making the game more beautiful and better for the fans, and especially when the play in question involves a marque star. This decision was validated later in the week by NBA officials who allowed a similar play to stand, as shown below.

Asterisk on the win because Darin and George are each limited by soreness in a shoulder (Darin – left shoulder, George – right shoulder). The Dream Team is down one full set of shoulders, and played remarkably well, considering.

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California Dreamin’: Fan Favorites Dominate Again

Tensions are rising on G-Money’s team in the wake of an ugly loss on Friday. Gary, Gary, Adam and Michael saw a 26-17 halftime lead disintegrate, falling 50-42, the latest victim of the Dream Team with its fan-friendly, action-packed style and chemistry.

In just the latest instance of social media creeping into the sports headlines, Gary sounded off on facebook, throwing teammates Adam and Michael publicly under the proverbial bus. He chose to voice his frustrations in the comments of a week-old photo posted on Jorge’s facebook profile. Apparently still mulling over the defeat at 9:30pm on Friday, G-Money wrote “my guys could not stop him in the second half……(Adam, Michael)”.

While the Dream Team brought their now-expected razzle-dazzle, including one of Darin’s signature “spin-cycle” plays, Big G brought some style of his own to the blacktop, throwing ridiculous “off-the-heezay” passes to teammates. Another bright spot was Adam’s long-awaited return to the court, after finally clearing physician restrictions.

In the victory, Kerry (aka “Special K”) struggled shooting the ball. His first made 3-pointer came in the second half. It had a perfect trajectory and made the most satisfying crisp “swish” sound as it slapped through the net. However, he was supposed to be in-bounding the ball, and so there was no way that shot counted. As it turned out, he was trying to pass the ball to Darin, who seemed to be open under the basket.

Kerry’s defense was superb, though. Any good aggressive defender will occasionally have the unfortunate mistake of making an inadvertent below-the-belt hit, and such was the case for Kerry on one particular play. It is important to just apologize and move on, but interestingly, Kerry argued brief-ly (pun intended) that he did not initiate the contact, and that, rather, his hand was slapped by the organ in question. That argument did not “fly”, so to speak.

Finally, in the midst of California’s historic drought, the El Cajon court is plagued with puddles. This is in violation of water restrictions. Expect the City of El Cajon to mandate that Jorge play less basketball during the water shortage.

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The Harvest is Plentiful

Help Wanted

EL CAJON, CA — It is the great Lunchsketball Crisis of 2014. There are fewer than 9 active players on the entire roster at the office. Adam, Darin, Erik, Gary, George, Jim, Kerry and Matt are available basically every day. Phil is only available on 5 days out of every 2 weeks, so that’s like half a player. While hope stays alive that Tim will one day return, 2.5 percent would be a generous estimate for his day-to-day availability. This brings you up to 8.525 players.

Add John’s contribution, which can be found more scientifically than Tim’s. Historically, John has participated in a rough average of 1 game in each of the past 2 years, and so you know to use 1 as the numerator in calculating the Versace factor.  To find the denominator, take 365 x 4 years, add 1 to account for leap years, and then divide back by 4 again.

V = 1 / 365.25 = .002373785

This brings the total to a measly 8.52773785 players on any given day. What happened to the times when Gary would be turning people away at the door?  And thanks John, for all those stupid decimal places.

The fact is, Lunchsketball has an opening for a new player. The ideal candidate is somebody who can guard Gary, since Gary tends to hang out in the corners by the baseline and shoot open jumpers. It’s not hard to stop him, but it takes focus and discipline. No experience is required for this position. Interested applicants should submit their resumes in the comments below.

Invitational

Since about 2 months ago, Lunchsketball games have been billed as various types of “Invitationals”. See graphic below. Which has been your favorite Invitational?

Invitationals

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Uneventful Week in Lunchsketball

EL CAJON, CA — Four cancelled days of Lunchsketball meant losing the most reasonable chance for a coed game in a long while: Diana (aka “The Urbin Legend”) said “maybe tomorrow” one time too many, and was handed a harsh reminder that life is not lived on one’s own terms. She postponed her final game of Lunchsketball all the way until her last days in town, and then nature’s fury slammed the door before she could say goodbye. A Monday game of 3 vs 4 turned out to be her last chance to join the crew during this slow week for Lunchsketball.

Even Monday’s short-handed game had to be moved up to 11 o’clock in order to dodge the front of a heat wave which was to wipe out basketball the four days to follow. In a valiant gesture, Gary scrambled after the possibility of arranging a 7am game on Wednesday to accommodate Diana, but the damage of procrastination could not be undone.

Kerry, as per standard procedure, tried to weave his web of lies throughout the week, but to little effect. With temperatures rocketing, the possibility of basketball evaporated each morning faster than the sprinkler puddles on the searing pavement of the court. Kerry’s emailed plea to “cowboy up” one morning seemed half-hearted; almost as though the email itself was lethargic from the heat. It could just be that past wounds remain too fresh, but for this week, the players seemed to have learned to ignore their Pied Piper of heat stroke.

A player lost, but perhaps some lessons learned. Here’s to next week.

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Blog’s Not Dead

It’s alive! And it’s about time! There may be some weeds poking up through the comments, cobwebs hanging from the player profile links, and rodents nesting in the analytic stats, but the game goes on, and so must the blog.

Given the obscene amount of time that has passed since the last blog entry, there’s some catching up to do. For instance, you must know that Phil has started a reading discussion group that meets every other Thursday during lunch. This reduces his availability for Lunchsketball. The word is, the group is discussing magazine articles, although the time would have been well spent this week if they instead discussed the 52-26 schooling his team took Monday at the hands Kerry and associates. Proposed question to open the discussion: How much is 26 multiplied by 2?

In other news, Diana, aka “The Urbin Legend”, will be leaving the Lunchsketball neighborhood, but has announced that she intends to play in two (2) Lunchsketball games before resigning in May. Please offer encouragement to help her remember and hold this commitment.

IMG_6522

Photo by T-Ry, aka Benjamin Button. Not actually part of the documentary series

The public eagerly awaits the result of work that has been taking place for the last week, after Lunchsketball was selected as the subject of a cutting-edge,  documentary photo series. The final project is expected to be much like HBO’s Hard Knocks reality sports documentary series, except that there will be no video or audio, just photos. Otherwise, this is an all-access program that will put fans in the game, with pictures taken from everywhere on the court, and even off the court, like over by the picnic table. There are even a couple good shots inside the bathroom. The series will debut Monday in classroom 101 of building D at Mesa Community College.

And finally, saving the most exciting news for last, the March Madness championship game was played earlier this week, which of course means that the inaugural season of Saint Katherine College men’s basketball has drawn to a close. At last communication between Lunchsketball and Coach Mitchell, the Firebirds were set for a showdown in El Cajon, following the conclusion of their season. It seems appropriate to give the ‘birds a week or two so that they can rest up from the tournament; after Easter, though, it is time to start talking about this game again.

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New Player Profile: Mark

Photograph (5)ABOUT MARK: You know that it is a special kind of good day when you get the email from Mark, announcing to “all” that he is coming. Kerry probably emails Mark 100 times a year to ask if he’ll come, and Mark can only make it about 3 times. Mark used to play Lunchsketball a lot more, but his company moved their offices  away from the court, which made it difficult for him to get enough time to play. Kerry keeps asking Mark nonetheless; all that rejection is worth it for those happy few emails.

Mark suffered an ankle injury (to phrase it lightly) in 2010. He emailed the group, “I am out 6 to 8 weeks. Broke my ankle.” What actually happened was that he had an accident playing basketball, and as a result his foot had become almost completely separated from the rest of his body. Kerry had a  picture of the injured ankle, and emailed it around (who wouldn’t want to see a photo of something like that?).  Mark was using crutches for about one year afterward. A few weeks following the injury, Mark vowed off basketball for life. It was a sad day.

He made his return to the court in 2012, and appears as good as new. Of all the players, Mark is by far the most dedicated to stretching. Even before the ankle disaster, Mark was careful about getting a lot of stretches in beforehand. Budget about 10 minutes of stretching from the time Mark arrives at the court before he looks at a basketball.

His signature move is one that he uses after an opponent scores on a really imprudent and aesthetically displeasing attempt (for some examples of ugly shots, please see the video, “Lunchsketball“). He will pick up the ball after it drops through the net, and then instead of in-bounding it to resume the game, he will just stand there, holding the ball in one hand, with the other arm akimbo, and make a face of disapproval and thorough disgust. And then he just keeps standing there, as long as he feels it takes for the gravity of what just happened to sink in. Before the game can continue, everyone must be brought to realize that the basket was shameful and wrong. Usually the offending player will be running back for defense, notice that everybody has stopped playing, and turn around to find himself being stared down by a frowning Mark.  Sometimes Mark says, to nobody in particular, or maybe to the basketball gods, “Really? REALLY?”, before shaking his head and starting the game again.

Mark takes long shots on the regular. Even before there was a three point line, Mark shot from what would be NBA range almost as often as from any other distance. The shot has been named after him, in fact. Today, if anybody shoots from that Mark range, Gary may say “Oh, that’s a Mark shot!” (exception: Erik calls those “big-kid threes”).

Mark is one of the game’s most tenured participants. His Lunchsketball career began well before the blog ever arrived. Here’s hoping that there will be many more Lunchsketball stories to tell about Mark.

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The Week in Lunchsketball

Main Story:

EL CAJON, CA — Time to start practicing, because the St. Katherine College men’s basketball team has unofficially accepted the invitation to join the Lunchsketball players for a game. The Firebirds will be the first basketball team to scrimmage Lunchsketball, ever. This game cannot be scheduled any earlier than March (the conclusion of the Firebirds’ season), but already a buzz of excitement is building around the Lunchsketball court.

With the game still in the distance, questions abound. Will Coach Mitchell drop the clipboard and pick up the ball? Will the 6’8″ thunderous dunker Dale Austin be healthy? Do the backboards in El Cajon even withstand thunderous dunks? How will these teams match up? The T-Birds appear to hold the height advantage – look at the St. Katherine roster. Lunchsketball, however, clearly holds an edge with experience, having a vast advantage in years and life-experiences.

One thing is for sure: it’s going to be an exciting spring in El Cajon.

Game of the Week:

In a locker room meeting prior to Friday’s game, George wondered aloud whether wearing his Penny Hardaway Team USA Jersey might spark the team. Darin’s response was one that would set the tone for the game to come: “We haven’t been playing well. We need to earn those uniforms”.

Sans officially licensed Team USA uniforms then, the Dream Team took the court on Friday for the fifth time in what has been a rocky 2014 for the fan-favorites. “We’re having a rough January. My guys have been sick”, said Kerry (aka “Animal Kracker”), to explain his team’s 0-4 start.

Matt, Erik and Adam were all too aware of their opponent’s struggles. Smelling blood, they put up a furious effort to land what might have been a devastating blow, taking a late 32-31 lead. A cornered animal is a dangerous animal though, and from that point on, the Dream Team stole the game, emerging with a much-needed 50-40 victory.

“That was hard fought”, said Erik afterward. “Thing was, we didn’t want you to win, but you guys didn’t want us to win either.”

Full Court Press:

Two games of 3 on 3 were played this week; the player shortage comes at the worst moment for commissioner Gary, currently embroiled in a scandal alleging he pushed much-needed extra players away… Darin used profanity during Friday’s game; after a turnover, he inadvertently dropped a word considered disrespectful to poops… That was the first recorded instance of Triple cussing on the court… New nick-name for Jim: “Sir Kicks-a-lot”… The Dream Team is actually 1-1 when playing as the “pure” Dream Team – in 3 losses they had an extra player, so those technically should be counted separately this year…

Player of the Week:

Congratulations Adam (aka “Whirling Dervish”)! On Friday, the Dervish hit the first 3-pointer of his Lunchsketball career. And then, with the lid off, he stepped up on knocked down a second 3-pointer moments later. And that, is how you get Player of the Week.

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