AUDL Champions to Leave League

While all eyes have been focused on the legal trouble the Rhode Island Rampage and Connecticut Constitution faced with the league, it turns out that they won’t be the only teams parting ways with the seemingly dysfunctional AUDL.

Steve Lienert, an AUDL referee and reporter for the Philadelphia Spinners, reports that the inaugural champions of the league, are leaving the AUDL for greener pastures.

The league’s structure, and the manner in which decisions are made, has come under much scrutiny in recent months from certain owners of the league. Indianapolis co-owner Tom Held, as recently as last month, was leaning toward leaving the league and possibly starting a rival organization.

Perhaps, the Spinners’ decision to leave is a culmination of discussions between the owners to, as Held suggested, leave the messy AUDL and take a stab at professional ultimate, having learned from the difficulties the former league faced. There are unconfirmed reports, via Ultiworld, of a rival league being in the works.

The players on the Spinners weren’t involved in the discussions about whether to leave the league. Rather, Spinners Coach/GM Jeff Snader informed them of the decision last week.

We’ll know tonight, when Snader sits down for an interview with Lienert.

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Columbus Cranes for Sale

After a frustrating season, Michael Moses is officially out as owner of the Columbus Cranes, and the franchise is back up for sale.

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No Other Option: Spinners Become AUDL’s First Champions

On Sunday, the Spinners’ Michael Panna made his way across Edgely Fields, the home of the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance, receiving handshakes and congratulations.

It’s Finals Weekend for PADA, and in an alternate universe, those kind words may have been sent Panna’s way for winning the league’s coveted Black Disc.

On this day, however, Panna hasn’t come to the field to play.

After the weekend that was – traveling to Detroit to face off against the Indianapolis Alleycats in the AUDL’s inaugural championship game and then coming back to Philly after celebrating the Spinners’ victory – he’s more than content with watching.

Panna and the Spinners played one of their best games all season, dominating every offensive possession to become the AUDL’s first champion, defeating the Indianapolis Alleycats 29-22.

Coming into the game, the Alleycats hoped that MVP candidates Jonathan Helton and Cameron Brock would be able to cancel out the Spinners’ efficient offense.

Brock got his, ending the game with 7 goals, but the Spinners’ duo of Greg Owens and Sean Murray were able to do a good enough job on Helton to force him into a few poor throws, while the Spinners’ team defense prevented the Alleycats from taking deep shots.

After struggling during the first quarter, giving off a few breaks that led to Philly taking the quarter 7-4, Indy was able to find some stability on offense, with Helton finding room to complete a few hucks in a row. They kept pace with the Spinners, who went to half with an 14-11 lead.

The second quarter was the last time that Indy was able to consistently complete its deep shots, but it wasn’t the Alleycats’ offense that made the game fall out of reach.

Three weeks ago, when these two teams faced off in Indianapolis, the Spinners won a close game, winning 19-16. In that game, Indy’s defense forced 23 turnovers, thus preventing the Spinners from running away with the match.

On Saturday, Indy had no answer for the Spinners’ offensive line. Only four times (by PDN’s unofficial count) were the Alleycats able to get a turnover on the Spinners’ O-line and then turn it into a break score.

There was no Championship MVP awarded, but Philly’s Jake Herman played a phenomenal game, putting up six scores with two assists, helping the Spinners’ potent offense find the end zone.

The AUDL has its fair share of problems that they need to fix going into its second season of operation, which we will detail as we move into the league’s off-season, but Philadelphia has only been tangentially involved in those issues.

For the most part, they were a prime example of the potential that this league holds. Philadelphia led the league in attendance and put the strongest team out onto the field on a weekly basis. Mostly constructed of players from Southpaw, the Spinners already had the team chemistry that most other AUDL teams lacked.

They have written the blueprint for a successful AUDL franchise, and on Saturday, they were rewarded by receiving the league’s first championship trophy.

As for the Alleycats, if they keep the core of their team together, they will be even more competitive next season.

Indy shouldn’t hang their heads about losing. They simply ran into a Spinners’ team that didn’t consider losing as an option.

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Highlights from the Western Division Championship

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PDN’s MVP Ballot

Deciding who should win the MVP of any league – no matter how large is small – depends on personal preference. Some people think of the MVP as the best player (which is also arbitrary) on the league’s best team. Others think that, to be the MVP, a player must be the best statistically speaking.

Keeping in mind that this discussion is a matter of opinion, here’s my take.

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The AUDL’s Biggest Problem

The Spinners recently conducted a fantasy draft of the best club players that the world has to offer, and the list is relevant to the AUDL only because of the irrelevance of the AUDL to the list.

Out of the 70 players listed, only three currently play at the professional level: Brodie Smith of the Indy Alleycats, the Connecticut Constitution’s John Korber and the Buffalo Hunters’ Rob Dulabon.

There are many things that the AUDL needs to do in the future to make ultimate into more of a mainstream sport, from cleaning the league’s organizational structure, to putting the focus on helping the existing teams flourish rather than working to create new franchises.

But, above all, the league needs to do a better job of drawing the upper-echelon of players into the league.

The list of reasons for why this may be difficult is long and winding, from the referees that loom over the pro game, to the commercialization of a sport that so many considered to be theirs and theirs alone.

Atop this list, however, may be the fact that the AUDL is promoting its own product as having the best athletes the sport can offer, as shown in this promotional video for the championship game this Saturday.

If the league isn’t going to work to get these elite players to join, then why should they?

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Philly Books Ticket to Championship

A thousand AUDL supporters made the trip to Franklin Field on Saturday night to see the Eastern Division Championship. One of them, a Connecticut Constitution player, wore a team shirt, with his last name and the number ten on the back.

Had the Connecticut Constitution’s legal battle with the league not kept them ostracized from all league activity, this player still would have made his way to Philadelphia. But when he walked past security, he wouldn’t have needed a ticket. A Constitution jersey, rather than a t-shirt, would have been on his back.

And, perhaps, the Spinners wouldn’t have earned their ticket to the AUDL Championship in a rout, blowing out the Rhode Island Rampage by a score of 35-21.

“I think it would’ve been a lot closer,” the Constitution player said as he exited Franklin Field. “I think everyone would be going home disappointed.”

Instead, the Philly fans went home happy, and the Spinners will go to Detroit next weekend.

This one was over early on, when the Spinners showed the discipline on offense that was missing against Nexgen on Thursday night. Aided by numerous Rampage turnovers, the first quarter ended with Philadelphia up, 11-2.

While the Rampage were able to get more offense going as the game wore on, the Spinners were able to score at will, displaying the patient offensive attack that led them to their 13-2 record.

Jake Rainwater made a strong case for his MVP candidacy, scoring early and often, while being paced by captain Nick Hirannet and handler David Brandolph.

Greg Owens and Sean Murray ruled the air, with Owens skying three defenders as the buzzer ran out on the third quarter to put the Spinners up 27-13, while Murray ran down a long put in the fourth, celebrating with a back flip.

Rhode Island only brought 15 players to the game, and with 20 minutes before the first pull, only nine Rampage players had made it onto the field for warm-ups after getting caught in traffic.

Near the end of the game, when the Rampage called a timeout on the goal line despite being down an insurmountable margin, a group of hecklers in the stands began to chant, “Time to go home.”

But, for the Rampage, they’re unsure as to where that home will be next year, as the team’s owner wishes to move the franchise to Boston, despite a team already having been purchased by a different owner.

The Spinners are quite comfortable in Philadelphia, becoming Eastern Division Champions in front of their second largest crowd of the season.

Had the Constitution take the field instead of the Rampage, perhaps Saturday night wouldn’t have been so comfortable, so predetermined.

However, that’s not the case, and so, next week, the Spinners will make the long trip to Detroit to take on Brodie Smith, MVP candidate Jonathan Helton, and the Indianapolis Alleycats in the inaugural AUDL Championship.

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