• In 1952, Gil Hodges would go hitless for four straight games to finish the regular season. He would then continue to fail to register a hit in a seven game World Series loss against the Yankees (back in those days, there were no playoffs; it was just regular season, then World Series, so that’s 11 straight games without a hit!), and then continue to extend his slump into the following spring. Hodges would go on to turn his 1953 season around, representing the NL in the mid-summer spectacle, and batting .364 in the World Series.
  • Johnny Bench, arguably one of the most prolific hitting catchers of all time, would finish the 1976 regular season with a paltry line of .234, 16 HR, 74 RBI. His 1975 and 1977 lines were .283/28/110 and .275/31/109, respectively. In the ’76 postseason, he went 12-for-23 in the batter’s box, hitting .533 in the World Series with 2 homers and 6 RBI, to help his team defeat the Yankees, while also adding a World Series MVP award to his trophy shelf.
  • More recently, and in a different sport, Marian Gaborik would arrive on Broadway to score 42 goals in the Blueshirts’ 2009-10 campaign. This was after three straight seasons (if you don’t count the season where he only played in 17 games due to injury) of scoring 30 or more goals in Minnesota. The following season, Gaborik’s production fell to nearly half that, but he would come back re-energized in 2011 to light the lamp 41 times, helping the Rangers earn the first seed in the Eastern Conference.

So what was the point of all that sportsball nonsense I typed out, up above? I’m basically telling you all, and myself, that it’s okay to go through a slump, because it happens to the best of us. The great Hank Aaron had this to say about slumps: “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” Well, keep swinging is what I decided to do, because what else am I supposed to do? Quit Magic? I didn’t qualify for the Invitational during the prior weekend, but that’s okay… I went to the Open and kept swinging. I didn’t cash the Standard Open, and didn’t get back home until 2am (yay for having to play eleven rounds of Swiss.. and the Jersey Turnpike). I would have to wake up around 6am to catch the train to Bound Brook and then walk the 2.5 miles to the convention center (in the snow, up a hill, BOTH ways) at a brisk pace if I wanted to play in the Legacy Open. I kept swinging. And after (SPOILER ALERT) my horrible 0-3 start, I was still swinging. Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided Store? Yeah, keep swinging. Let’s start with the Standard Open. Remember when I raved about non-Azorius Blue decks last week? Well, I went ahead and turned a 180 and sleeved up the most evilest shard of them all: Esper. I decided that with all of the resilient, hard-to-deal with creatures in the format, I wanted to be packing four Terminus. I also didn’t want to get rolled by Bant Hexproof, so being able to play Far // Away made the shard all the more attractive. Having access to Azorius mainstays, Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict, Azorius Charm, and Detention Sphere, also helped make a strong case for sleeving up Hallowed Fountains. I did think long and hard about Grixis, but I currently prefer the strength of Esper’s sweepers, card draw, and lifegain. I’m not going to do a match-by-match recap on this one, but I ended up starting 4-1-1, and finishing out 5-3-3. I know that doesn’t sound impressive, but I was happy, given that I had barely played Standard, this season, and I was running Hexproof decks in the few times I actually did play (and everyone knows playing Hexproof isn’t playing real Magic). My draws were also very winnable, and I know I probably could’ve tanked a little bit less during the course of some of my matches; that comes with practice. I like my chances if I keep swinging with Esper. I streamed some Esper on my Twitch channel, last night, and I’ll probably be streaming some more Esper, leading up to the PTQ in Saddlebrook on 8/10 (gotta grind those PWPs so I can have byes for DC). For reference, here’s what I’m currently working with on MODO. espercontrolsmall There are a couple experimental slots, like Gideon, where I normally have Sorin #2, and Quicken, which hasn’t really impressed me, so far. The sideboard is very different from what I played in the Open, as I later counted seven or eight cards that were never brought in once, over the course of eleven rounds. Oh, SCG also did this cool Gold Rush thing where they took seven copies of every mythic ever printed and put them all into little envelopes. All participants got one, and I think they were also giving them away as side event prizes. Here’s what I got (click the picture): IMG_0815 Legacy on Sunday did not go well. Let’s just leave it at that? No? Fine, fine. After playing in eleven rounds of Standard in the largest Open, ever, I got four hours of sleep and then came back to do it again the next day! Except this time, I also had to walk over two miles from the train. As 10am loomed precariously close, I saw this sign, like a beacon of hope!IMG_0817       IMG_0818 And this lovely building is where we played Magic. Unfortunately, there was no Reading Terminal Market to be found near this venue. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind getting to go to one of these things without really traveling (and without having to spend money on a hotel and other travel-related expenses), but I’d much rather be in a real city over Middle-of-Nowhere, New Jersey. I got another Mythic Madness envelope! Could it be better than last time? IMG_0819   The person next to me opened a ‘Goyf, and the other person next to me opened Elspeth, Knight Errant. IMG_0823 This was Gaetano, my round one opponent. He was playing Shardless BUG. While it is certainly a winnable matchup, it is hard. I do recall some situations I could have played differently (i.e. better). At one point, I played a second Counterbalance two turns before TWO Ancestral Visions were coming off suspend, because I knew he probably had one Decay, but I did not expect him to have two. He had one Abrupt Decay… and a Golgari Charm, for which I neglected to trigger Counterbalance, because I somehow Jedi-mind-tricked myself into thinking it was Abrupt Decay. It wouldn’t have mattered, because, I later saw that there was no two-drop in my top three cards, but still, a poor play is not excusable just because it didn’t happen to cost you anything. There was another situation in game one where my board was four lands, Rest In Peace, and Top; my top three cards were two lands and a blank. He had a Liliana getting close to ultimate, which he upticked on my turn, in attempt to strip my only card. I cast my only spell, Enlightened Tutor, to find Helm of Obedience. The following turn, I played it, but did not activate it, because I did not have a fifth land. He was able to Brainstorm into Abrupt Decay for my Rest in Peace on his turn. Had I been willing to shuffle away my Top, I could have drawn one of the two lands on top of my library, then been able to assemble and activate my “I win” combo on the following turn. While my play could have been tighter, this was a fun and interactive matchup. Some spectators commented that it was highly entertaining to watch. Despite the loss and the misplays, this was one of the more enjoyable matches that I had played over the weekend.IMG_0825

Up next was Grand Prix champion, Christian Calcano (#3sulfurfalls). He was also on Shardless BUG. I was able to combo him out in game one, but he took game two on the back of Garruk Relentless, and game three by stripping my hand while refueling himself off the power of Shardless Agent into Visions. As an aside, I thought it was pretty cool that when I handed him our business card, he was all like, “Oh, you write for Hipsters? Yeah, I know you guys!”
IMG_0827Charles would be my final opponent before I stopped keeping notes and taking pictures. He was on Goblins. I usually crush Goblins with Miracles, but not today. Sometimes you see none of your sweepers in back to back games and just get run over. Some hilarity in game two involved me siding in Pithing Needle for his Aether Vials. I had a Needle and he mulled to five. I figured I had this when I slammed Needle on Vial. I lost, and it turned out that he had sided them out. I never would have expected a tribal deck to side out their Vials against a Counterbalance deck, but I guess I got next leveled on that one! Yup, I’m 0-3 at this point, 1-6 in games. I would end up picking up three draws in a row after that, one of which was against a deck using Proteus Staff and Polymorph to try to cheat in Emrakul or Progenitus off of one of Mishra’s Factory, Flayer Husk, or Wind Zendikon! In the 0-3-2 bracket, you might have to play against icantaffordshowandtell.dec.

Somehow, after all that punishment, I still wasn’t done. I decided to keep swinging. I showed up at Monday Night Legacy with a weird (or really bad) version of Deathblade. My manabase was a little wonky, and I was running a 2/2 split of Bobs and Geists, when I really wanted three Geists. It was mostly built on the fly from the remains of when I had the deck assembled, and whatever pieces I could scavenge from my Miracles deck, because I decided I wanted to put Miracles on the shelf for a bit. Not for a long time. Just for a bit. Don’t worry, I can never stay away from that deck for too long! I think with all of the Abrupt Decay in the meta, it is better to either play fast combo, or play more proactive threats. An archetype I’m really digging right now, and may try in the near future, is the UWR Delver deck that Fabiano played in the Open.

That’s all I’ve got for you, this week, but I have a special (or maybe terrible, who knows) treat for you all, next week! I bought into Ral ZarekStasis on MODO, so I may try streaming a bit of that while I’m not streaming Esper. If I can shape the list into something halfway decent, I’ll share it with you, along with some video highlights.. unless it’s REALLY bad. Then, I will pretend that I never actually wanted anything to do with this idea.



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