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Not so Ultimate Sarasota, along with 'Fringe Florida' and 2 a.m. baseball

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ultimateleapThis week’s column will feature a short story about a long game, along with a good book and some bad news. Maybe I should lead with the news.

After 12 years in Sarasota, the Ultimate National Championships will be moving to Frisco, Texas, outside of Dallas. This is too bad, because I always enjoyed covering the October event at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch.
More than 40 teams and 1,200 players compete in the championships each year.

The sport of Ultimate, as I always struggle to explain, is a lot like Frisbee football. Teams of players pass a disc downfield until one of them makes a catch in the end zone to score. Lots of long runs, great throws and diving catches.
Over the last decade, a trip to Sarasota became the Ultimate goal for clubs across the country. A Seattle team even made a documentary last year called “Chasing Sarasota.” So much for that.

Life’s a beach
In a press release earlier this year announcing the decision, the USA Ultimate organization noted the sport’s popularity in Texas. A team from Austin won the national championship last year.

Still, Frisco over Sarasota? I called USA Ultimate to ask about the reaction from players.
ultimatecatch“It’s been mixed,” said Andy Lee, a spokesman in Boulder, Colo. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive comments. ... For the most part, people don’t like change. People always liked going to Sarasota, hanging out at the beach, and the weather was always great.”

The national championships never had many teams from Florida, much less the Gulf Coast. Even so, Ultimate will be missed in Sarasota. Those 1,200 players ate at a lot of restaurants and stayed in a lot of hotels.
“What will really feel it is Siesta Key,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County. “I’ve heard from some of these people and they are not happy.”

‘Fringe Florida’
OK, enough Ultimate. Lynn Waddell has a new book out called “Fringe Florida: Travels among Mud Boggers, Furries, Ufologists, Nudists and Other Lovers of Unconventional Lifestyles.” Fun read. Not for kids. Not the usual tour of Florida.
In between strippers and swingers, Waddell describes the Redneck Yacht Club near Punta Gorda:
“The scene grows more postapocalyptic as the sinking sun casts a golden light, illuminating diesel exhaust and swirls of oil film atop the muddy water. The girls stumble out of the water looking as if they had been dipped in chocolate.”

2 a.m. baseball
One last thing. On Friday, my wife and I watched a marathon — a marathon baseball game at Tropicana Field. The Rays defeated the Orioles 5-4 in 18 innings. Six hours and 54 minutes. The winning run crossed the plate at 2:05 a.m.
We jumped up and down, tired but happy, cheering with the few thousand fans who stayed for the whole thing. This story has nothing to do with outdoor recreation, except maybe for spectator endurance. On fall weekends and pennant races, we all need to pace ourselves.

Last modified: September 27, 2013
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