Huuricane Irene Annapolis MLL Playoffs
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Hurricane Irene: Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

Earlier this week we got hit by an earthquake on the East Coast.  Well, that was interesting.  Thankfully, we didn’t experience much damage and it actually ended up being a pretty cool experience for most of us.  But now a hurricane is making its way up the East Coast, and the lax hotbeds are about to get whacked.  Maybe people are thinking that they survived an earthquake, so how bad can a hurricane be?  I guess that’s fair, but from my experience with hurricanes, I’m just not so sure.

Huuricane Irene Annapolis MLL Playoffs
Wow. That's a serious storm!

Now I’m not saying anyone should panic, and I’m definitely hoping for the best.  But let’s be realistic, disasters are always at their worst when people don’t prepare, so please make sure to do just that, especially if you live anywhere even remotely close to the Ocean on the Eastern Seaboard. Actually, it’s good to prepare if you live near the EC at all.  Hurricanes can be unpredictable, so at a bare minimum, get some non-perishable food, lots of water, a flashlight and a battery-operated radio.  I went so far as to reseal my windows, stocked up on food and water, and will even fill the bathtub with water before the storm hits, just in case.  Flooding is always a concern, so water can become unusable quickly.

When I lived in Florida, I experienced 3 hurricanes in the span of 4 months at one point.  We dealt with them all and they each presented their own challenges.  But being prepared made all the difference in the world.  Even when a window popped out of our living room, we were ready.  When part of our roof was ripped off and water came in through the ceiling, we were ready.  When there was no water or food for days, we were ready.  I’m not saying ANY of that is going to happen.  There’s a good chance it won’t.  But there is also a chance that it will.  Maybe I’m a fool, but being prepared is always better than being caught with your pants down!

Curious what the MLL is doing about the impending hurricane?  Not much, it seems!

The playoffs are still scheduled, although the second semifinal has been moved up by 20 minutes.   As of 12:30pm EST on Friday, the MLL still had a post up (from 19 hours before) that the games were still on.  This has been replicated, with the second semi-final moved up by 20 minutes to 2:40pmInside Lacrosse had been tweeting that the games are still on.  MLL Players have been pumped to go play in the soaking rain and wind that could very well come their way.  It seems a little crazy to me, but the League seems intent on getting these games in.  And it seems like they intend to do so on their existing schedule.  Wow.  Ballsy move.

You can expect the TV broadcast, and most of the tweets and facebook messages to play on the fact these are the toughest pros in the business.  That these guys are happy to brave a hurricane to play lacrosse and vie for their piece of glory.  That lacrosse players are a different breed, and that the MLL makes good on its scheduled promises.  It’s not a bad marketing pitch in the least.  And if the weather holds off a bit, and doesn’t get too gnarly, then they will look exactly like the brave, broad-chested warriors they are right now.

But if the weather turns for the worse, what is going to happen?  Again, I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I’m insanely curious to know what the back up plan is.  I definitely want to know what will happen to all the people in Naptown (especially those that traveled TO Annapolis) should the storm really hit hard.  I hope that there is a contingency plan in place, but it’s a little disconcerting to hear nothing on that front whatsoever.  20 hours of rain and winds above 60 mph can do damage no matter what.  Of course, says that isn’t going to happen.  At least not right now.

Annapolis, MD store before Irene
Some in Naptown are ready for anything.

But when have the weathermen ever been right?

They’re saying 20 mph winds on Saturday, and 30+ mph winds on Sunday.  If I were in Annapolis for the weekend, I’d be thankful if I got that type of weather.  It seems like a HUGE improvement over what we’re about to get here in NYC.  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe I”m just worried about myself, and transferring all that worry onto the MLL.  But then I think back to the fact that I have prepared for this, and I’ve been through it before.  I just hope everyone else out there isn’t relying on luck.

CNN is saying possibly 60mph winds on Saturday in Annapolis.  People are stacking sandbags like crazy.  The storm surge is expected to be 2-3 feet, all Annapolis City functions have been cancelled, but Annapolis residents have experienced that kind of flooding before.  Then again, riding out a storm like that indoors is quite different from playing a lacrosse game in a large, open, stadium.

I have to say that I’m a little surprised the league didn’t postpone Championship Weekend.  I’m sure costs and scheduled commitments played a part in the decision, and I do know the MLL has been monitoring the situation heavily.  Those are good reasons to keep the games scheduled, but one has to think beyond just getting the games in.  It does seem like they’ll play the games.  But who will be there to watch?  I’d venture most people are not going to head out to the games with the expected rain and wind.  And if people do go to the games, can anyone guarantee their safety?

For the people who bought tickets but are now unable to go, I am curious whether or not they will watch on TV.  The amounts of frustrated comments on the MLL’s website is staggering.  And these are the fans that were traveling hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles to come watch.  These are your most dedicated followers.  And they can’t watch the game live.  They might be too frustrated to watch it now on TV.  And they might not even be able to!  Power outages are predicted up and and down the East Coast, and I’ll be shocked if I will be able to watch anything on Sunday.  I don’t plan on having power then.  And there is another bad rub for the league… the East Coast, where the biggest number of lacrosse fans reside, will be experiencing a hurricane. Who is going to watch a game of lax in the middle of that (other than me, of course!)?

Ok, enough with the warnings and doom and gloom.  I’ve covered you on some of the dangers (if you didn’t think there were any), and done what I could to tell you to prep.  Now on to the actual games, I guess!

I’m curious if any of the MLL squads would consider themselves “Hurricane ready”.  Have any of these teams done really well in rain and wind this Summer?  Have any of these teams even played in heavy rain and wind?  To me, this says certain styles of play will benefit from the weather, while others will struggle.   Even though a lot of MLL players use Marc Mesh, it will only help so much.  I’ve used Marc Mesh in the rain before, and it’s definitely better than regular mesh, in that it doesn’t bag out quite as much, but it’s not quite the same as a dry stick.  So I could definitely see this hurting the outside shooters.  Guys like Drew Westervelt, Brad Ross, most of the Hamilton Nationals, Kevin Buchanan, Ben Hunt, and yes, even Paul Rabil, could be hurt by the weather.

On the other hand, a player like Rabil could also flourish if he is able to dodge efficiently, and get looks nice and close.  I’m thinking 12 yards or less.  The same can be said for other players like Brendan Mundorf, Jeremy Thompson (he’ll use mesh!), Peet Poillon and Kyle Dixon.  Feeders and ball carriers like Ryan Boyle, Mundorf, much of Chesepeake’s attack, Casey Powell and others will get a better hold on the ball, could see defenders slip more often, and may be more hesitant to pass if the water is affecting their sticks.  Look for those guys to possibly have big days.

The face off X is a muckfest no matter what.  I expect much of the same this weekend.  Denver’s Hennessy needs to have a big weekend for them to win, and he’s going up against some of the world’s absolute best.

For the goalies, I like Jesse Schwartzman.  Shooters will be putting the ball all over the place, intentionally and unintentionally.  Burke and Garrity are just so technical.  I love how they play, but in this type of weather, you need something else I think.  You need a mucker.  And to me, Jesse is that guy.  I think Scott Rodgers has the opportunity to prove how tough he truly he is this weekend, but my money is on the Schwartzmanator.  He’s back in MD, seems a little salty, and should be the man for Denver this weekend.  They may need him to be!

It’s going to be a crazy weekend.  I still can’t believe the MLL is playing these games, but they seem awfully intent on doing so, so maybe they do know something we don’t.  Either way, I’m excited to take in as much of the lax as I can.  At the same time, I would implore people who have any doubts to play it safe.  Watching a game live is never worth risking your life.

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