Below is a guest post by paintball player and frequent commenter, Brett Bagley
Upon reading Paul Richards recent article on Infamous and their outlook for 2014, I heavily disagree with his assessment of the team going into 2014. Now I’m not a Legendary coach, I have no professional coaching win’s under my belt nor do I even coach a professional team, but as a fan and a player I think I offer a different yet relevant view. Paul is a great coach and I have nothing but respect for him. Congrats on the Cup win Paul! I have been playing/following paintball competitively since 2006. I grew up in Chicago playing with and against Brad McCurley, Drew Templeton, Damian Ryan, and Zach Wake. I am very happy to see my friends come this far and I have high hopes for Infamous in 2014. I have played along with teams such as Distortion, and Cross-Eyed with an xball win in D3 with cross-eyed back in 2009. So I will dive right in and recap what Paul said then give my differing opinion on the matter.
Paul recapped the last few seasons mainly highlighting 2012 and 2013. The stats don’t lie, 2013 was a worse year than 2012, results wise for Infamous. The 2012 standings for Infamous from Dallas to the World Cup are as follows: 5th, 6th, 1st, 2nd, 5th. The average number of teams at each event in 2012 was 12 with the World Cup having 14. The 2013 standings for Infamous from Dallas to Cup are as follows: 3rd, 7th, 7th, 8th, 7th. However, this previous year had 15 teams at Dallas, 20 teams at MAO, Chicago, WCO and only 10 teams at Cup. To say Infamous is a Mid-Level team is really based on what Paul considers “Mid-Level”. It would be more accurate statistically to say Infamous is the one of lowest ranking “Top tiered teams”. The average of their 2013 finishes is 6.4 out of a larger field of, mainly, 15+ teams. Personally, I consider any team in the top 8 a top team with any team placing 9th-13th mid-level.
Now I agree with Paul on the loss of the Todd Martinez as the coach of Infamous. There is always something to be said about a successful professional player who has played with and against the people he is coaching. He has both perspectives of on field and off field temperaments and personalities, which I think is a huge benefit to all involved. I cannot speak to an explosive pit experience as I have not been in an Infamous pit nor do I know how the players talk to each other during this time; I will take Paul’s word for it. If Todd controlled this pit situation and kept it from getting out of control, my first question is why is the pit experience so hostile in the first place? Is there a way to correct this that doesn’t rely on a coach being a psychiatrist as well? The reason I say psychiatrist is if people’s egos are making the experience detrimental, that sounds like an off the field discussion/correction instead of game time quick fixes (threatening benching said player). I personally like Rusty Glaze as a coach although he is already taken by San Diego Dynasty. He is someone who doesn’t “RA RA” the team. He seems to be very to the point and specific when it comes to playing and execution. They definitely need a coach who can spend time with the new additions to the roster and fix the team dynamics.
Paul touched very briefly on the roster additions of the Bornstein brothers and Zach Wake. I personally believed there is a lot more to be said about these pick-ups and the impact they will have throughout the season. I don’t think Zach Wake gets enough credit for the good that he does. We are accustomed to hearing about his penalties and attitude on the field which is talked about in depth in “The Roster” series. Looking at Zach’s 2013 stats he finished 63rd in the league (I won’t quote specific stat’s as I don’t know how accurate for the 2 events he played with Infamous for) out of 160+ rostered professional players. Not to mention he is a long time veteran and is still young by the current average age in the pro league. With a time commitment made to him in practice he will develop into a calmer, less penalty attracting (hopefully) asset. He is a fantastic snake player who is hyper aggressive and brings back that “aggressor OTB” advantage Paul referred too. I would watch out for him this year and absolutely grab him as a fantasy draft as others will value him lower due to his history. The Bornstein brothers remind me of the mighty ducks “Bash Brothers”. The brothers being, Jason who played previously for XSV and his brother Cory, who more people might be familiar with as he has recently been with Impact and the Ironmen. Both brothers are solid players and also like Wake, are young aggressive veterans who still have room to grow. Reaffirming my opinion that Infamous has that OTB Aggression that Paul thinks they lack.
My biggest problem was the paragraph about Damian. Anybody who follows competitive paintball knows Damian Ryan is a paintball monster. I feel he has developed into the 2nd coming of early 2000’s Oliver Lang. His stats for the 2013 season are incredible and are almost evenly matched against the overall 1st place holder. With that said Damian is the MVP of Infamous for obvious reasons. He is always a top 5 player on any given day. He is a game changer/play maker/all-star/(insert religious figure name) and it blows my mind that Paul made the suggestion he did about moving him around even if only in practice and how currently he is limiting players abilities on the field/limiting players spins. Moving him in practice is taking away from his real strong ability of up the gut play and hurts Infamous in the long run by almost handicapping their biggest advantage.
My response to that is simply: adapt.
I mean how do you even have that conversation with him? Something like “Hey Damian look, even though you’re our best player, and you play the middle of the field unlike anyone else in the league which really gives us an unfair advantage, can you maybe go to the snake or you know run and hangout in the corner so other kids can have a turn on the swings.” They are professionals, they are there to win. You want to get spins and play more, do your job and earn your spins. This isn’t kindergarten. They all know how to play these spots but being more proficient than others in them is a different story. It doesn’t matter if Nicky Cuba can play the middle of the field too; He isn’t going to do a better job than Damian is right now so why change it? Just like Damian can’t play the snake as proficient as Zach Patient or Zach Wake which is why he isn’t there off the break. But if they do die out of those spots and Damian fills in, that’s where the individual “player utility” comes in. Even though Nicky Cuba isn’t going up the field as a 1 he still fills that spot and has that dynamic utility to do so because as good as Damian is; he does die, he gets shot out of his bunker, he loses battles and then Nicky takes over for him. Saying he limits player utility to me is outrageous.
Paul does mention what I think is the key problem and that is the team is not picking up and capitalizing on these break open moments that Ryan creates. That’s not Damian’s fault, that’s a team wide failure. With the addition of these younger aggressive players hopefully it’s corrected. Long story short don’t sideline your starting QB because your offense can’t get it together. Fix the offensive line or tear up contracts.
Source: SocialPaintball.com, Los Angeles Infamous: There’s More to the Story