Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mash Clash: Final Derby Bout of the Season

My father used 12-07-41 as the combination to his combination-lock attaché case because he knew he’d never forget it. (I’ve since changed it.) It’s a small example of how much the date December 7 impinged on the consciousness of those who lived through World War 2. While still much better remembered than, say, the once unforgettable April 9 (Appomattox), the 7th no longer has such a reflexive association among the 96% of the population born after that date in 1941. Nonetheless, I was pleased to commemorate the day in my own way by attending a much more good-natured bout than the one that began in Hawaii 72 years ago.

Last night, December 7, was the last bout of the roller derby season in nearby Morristown. Hosted by the Jerzey Derby Brigade, "Wreck the Halls" was a mash-up, which is a match between two ad hoc teams: Red and Green, in this case, formed by skaters from the JDB and from other NJ and PA leagues. While mash-ups typically include above-average skaters, they haven’t had much chance to practice together, so individual skills increase in importance while team strategy diminishes – not vanishes, but diminishes.

In the first jam, both jammers were from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: #81 VeroniKa Gettsburger for Green and #2 Elysium for Red (the pro forma “home” team). Green edged into an early lead, and it soon became evident that a depth of strong jammers was the reason. #911 Brass Muscles was effective at forcing her way through the pack, #8 Lil Mo Peep found and exploited holes, #17 Beast Witherspoon showed her experience, and #81 was simply outstanding. They were supported by energetic blocking by the rest of the team. Red also sported effective jammers, however, and the blocking was exceptional, notably by #VH1 LL Kill J who repeatedly slowed down #81 (no easy task) and #0hn0 Disaster Girl who did the same to #911. Blocking was rough and tumble on both sides, with Green #11 Bellakix taken down hard at one point, though she left the track on her own skates. The first half ended with a 131-77 lead for Green.

The lead was not insurmountable at the start of the second half, and Red, once again, was not without good jammers of its own. #1111 Pretty Kayotic was Red’s not-so-secret weapon who repeatedly put points on the board to keep the bout competitive. #2220 Jackie KenneDie could be very hard to stop, relative newcomer #99 Porcelain Brawl skated strongly against stiff blocking, and #3684 CaliforniKate added her experience to the mix. What Red really needed to close the point gap were a few well timed power jams (when the opposing jammer is in the penalty box) to exploit. Red didn’t get them – or at least not enough of them. Lil Mo Peep put the final points on the board for Green in the last jam. Final score was 265-149, victory to Green. MVPs were Beast Witherspoon for Green and Porcelain Brawl for Red.

So, derby season is over, but in the Spring when the baseballs start to fly the wheels will start to roll. I’ll be there to see them.

Scene from Kansas City Bomber (1972). It may be unfair to blame this movie for wrecking the original professional leagues, which (after 35 years) went out of business in 1973. After various false restarts, derby got traction again after 2000.

No comments:

Post a Comment