I don’t want to say it. I can’t believe I am actually about to say it. But guys…
After some of these matches in AVP Seattle, I think I like the score freeze.
I know, I know. The concept of it is strange, totally asinine, borderline absurd. To flip the rules, after playing a match for around an hour and sometimes more, is, at its core, flat out indefensible.
How can you change the game…in the middle of the game? Worse: How can you change the game at the most critical juncture?
Golfers don’t need to birdie or eagle No. 18 to win.
NBA teams don’t need to finish on an alley-oop flourish.
The MLB doesn’t demand walk-off home runs nightly.
Yet the AVP does require that, in order to win, the winning team must earn its last point, a reversion to the anachronistic side-out scoring.
I think it bears repeating that the other, I don’t know, 100 points of the match were played under a different format.
But when I was watching Ed Ratledge and Reid Priddy play Marty Lorenz and Eric Zaun in the first round of the Seattle main draw, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the score freeze. Had the rules been “normal,” we wouldn’t have had three sets. We wouldn’t have had drama. We wouldn’t have had what became an epic third set.
We would have had a run of the mill Zaun-Lorenz win, 21-15, 21-18.
Instead, what we got was Priddy thundering one titanic serve after the next, acing their way back into the match, forcing Lorenz and Zaun out of system enough that they were able to go on a 6-2 run and win the second set, 24-22.
This produced a third, highly entertaining set. Without the score freeze, we would have never had this set.
And each one of us would have been remiss because of it.
Lorenz and Zaun jumped out to a 4-1 lead, which is typically when the Fat Lady begins warming up the golden pipes to begin singing. They maintained that lead, carrying it to 14-12, before Priddy went all indoor-Olympian-gold-medalist-with-a-howitzer-jump-serve on them.
Priddy and Ratledge went on a 4-0 run to claim a 16-14 match win that sent Zaun into a frenzy that was at once fun to watch and heart-achingly easy to empathize with. Ratledge, meanwhile, hugged virtually everyone in sight — Zaun, his former partner; volunteers; the refs. This was also hilarious and all around great to watch.
The score freeze has created a weird dynamic for me, and after talking to a few players, it seems to be a mutual assessment: As fans seeking entertainment, we love it; as players, we loathe it.
As a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal storm back to nearly extend their Austin final against Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. It almost happened.
Without the freeze, that final would have been so incredibly unremarkable and unmemorable that it would be difficult, months from now, to recall who actually played in the final.
But as a player, I couldn’t have agreed any more with Lucena, who told Dain Blanton afterwards that if that match would have gone to three, there would have been some problems.
I do not doubt that there will continue to be players voicing their displeasure with the rule. I haven’t spoken with Zaun, but I have a feeling, judging by the fury he directed at a few misfortunately placed ball blocks, that he has nothing but animosity for the freeze.
I get it. He and Lorenz dominated the first two sets – until it froze. In my mind – and I’d assume theirs, though I could be entirely wrong, as I often am – they earned the right to not have to worry about earning points to win. They had built up enough of a lead to where siding out one time would do the job.
But as a fan, I can’t lie: I was far more entertained by the match than if there had been no score freeze. (I feel like, as a volleyball player — kind of, sort of — I need to cleanse myself just after writing that.)
Was the implementation of the arcane rule worth the price tag, which goes by the name of Kerri Walsh-Jennings and a well-publicized boycott of Chicago, which provided the impetus for a lawsuit and a strange, mounting civil war?
But, seeing as the score freeze is here, and there is not much we can do about it – if Kerri can’t swing Donald Sun’s opinion, I doubt he’d listen to mine – we may as well sit back, laugh at our Facebook LiveStreams, and enjoy it.