Beware, this week’s Hot Pot is… Potentially PREMATURE!
You can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t count your chickens before they hatch, and I probably shouldn’t be judging the LXM PRO quite yet, but people do the first two all the time, so I’ll just go ahead and knock number 3 out of the way right now. A weak excuse, but I digress.
Last year, there were a number of LXM PRO events, and some of them, like OC and Philly, really did very well. Other events, like the one in North Florida weren’t quite as positive, but the LXM leadership clearly learned a thing or two from last year, and have made improvements. First off, there seems to be a renewed focus on finding great weekends and great venues. There seems to be less emphasis on capitalizing on some “other” event, and more emphasis on the LXM PRO game BEING the event. Confidence in your own product is key, so for the LXM, this is a big step.
There are more “star” players with big names this year, more Canadians, and even more guys who just said “nope” to the MLL. The game play this year (judged only from an 8 minute highlight, which is below) seems to have an extra edge to it as well, and while a little ratchet up of the intensity meter is great, there are some pitfalls that the LXM may want to avoid.
The first one is penalties. I saw some slashes and hits in the highlight video, put together by WestSideLacrosse, that were clear penalties… in ANY game of lax. I don’t care who is playing. A lax game without penalties can happen at the youth level, or at the Master’s level, but it should never happen at the pro level. These guys just play so hard. And penalties keep us honest. I’m not asking for an international flag fest or anything, but man-up is exciting, and I just don’t get that much of a thrill from watching guys getting mugged anymore.
Some people I spoke to didn’t like the flashy, run ‘n’ gun style of play. They thought goals were either outside rips, broken plays, or garbage goals. Probably a pretty fair point. But when teams don’t practice together, how can you expect anything else? It’s actually pretty similar to an MLL game in that sense.
Overall, I enjoyed the highlights, and thought it looked like a really good lacrosse game. However, for the last of my “improvements” I’d like to see would be stick widths and pocket depths more regulated. In the highlight, players get detwigged a couple of time and the ball stays in their stick. Guys get checked, their sticks go vertical, and the ball stays in there. Guys run through double teams while getting hacked at and no problem… I’ll keep it simple: If you throw checks that land perfectly but the ball doesn’t come out, what are you going to do? My answer is to slash the living %$&# out of my opponent. In college, when I was more hot-headed, I probably would have tried to take the guys head off too. And is that REALLY what we want to be showing kids in new areas, like Orange County?
I don’t have a problem with the one handed gbs, behind the back passes and shots, or anything like that. But when the game starts to lose some of the skill in favor of athletes with pinched sticks, it’s time to take a serious look at the rules. Maybe I’m crazy (totally possible), but check out the video and look for penalties and takeaways, and then look for guys falling down or dropping their stick, but keeping the ball. The latter outpaces the former probably 3-1.
The vibe at the game was good (at least that is what a couple little birdies told me), the Pros were model lacrosse players off the field and with the fans, and lacrosse in California took yet another step in its rapid evolution. The next event goes back to the tag along style, where there is an event already, and the LXM PRO plays a game alongside or before. It’s kind of weird to play second fiddle to a High School All American game, or something like that, but when you’re trying to grow your entity, and do so in a place like lacrosse-saturated Baltimore, you take what you can get.
I’m really hoping to get to the Baltimore LXM event to check it out firsthand. I like what these guys are doing with the LXM, and of course I have my comments (when don’t I have comments?), but in the end, I honestly see the LXM benefiting the MLL. The LXM has big name players, and some of the guys, like Kyle Harrison, Shamel Bratton, Zack Greer, and Brett Hughes are more recognizable than their MLL counterparts. But what they are doing right now is spreading the gospel that is pro lacrosse, and that’s a good thing.
Down the line, I could see the MLL growing to the point that they had 3 conferences. And I could see the West Coast conference being run by the LXM guys. Or the two “exisiting” LXM teams could become MLL teams and find more permanent homes out West. Or the LXM could continue to be a roadshow and the MLL could be a sponsor, and use them for testing new potential markets. Or maybe, just maybe, the LXM will become its own viable league, with a couple teams, and we’ll get the old NBA-CBA thing going on in lacrosse. For the sake of free markets and competition, I’m not so secretly hoping for that last option. I guess I just like experimentation and different approaches.
So while I have my gripes about the lack of penalties and overly pinched heads, I’m a fan of the LXM PRO, just like I’m a fan of the MLL. I want to see more high-level lacrosse being played, and I want to see it happen in as many different and new areas as possible. I believe people will continue to flock to lacrosse after they see just one game, and I think the LXM helps with that mission. They’ve made some mistakes, but they haven’t been catastrophic, and the LXM has been able to react quickly and make changes to events only weeks or months down the line if need be. It’s been a good first year!
The true test will be this Summer and NEXT Summer, and that’s what makes this a little premature. They still have a long way to go. But from what I’ve seen, they’re on the right path.
IN OTHER NEWS:
– AED saves the life of a young lacrosse player! Be prepared. | The Post and Courier
– This announcer is single-handedly bringing the rap game back to the lax game. He can’t be serious. | Death and Taxes
– Lacrosse is booming in NYC, LA and… Fort Wayne, Indiana? Yup. | FWDailySports.com
– The MLL team in Charlotte will be called “The Hounds”. Much better than The Humidity, The Thunder, The Lax Dogs or whatever else they were considering. | Charlotte Observer
LACROSSE VIDEO OF THE WEEK:
Short, simple and straight up amazing. Glenn Morley has got stick tricks!