Chiropractor By Day, Draftaholic by Night

The Making of a Chiropractor

Have you ever been so sore that your body could barely move? It can happen after being motionless for hours, like after a transcontinental plane ride, or after excessive activity, like after playing 7 tennis matches in 2 days. The latter happened to me in Fredericksburg, VA during the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III Tournament during my junior year of college. I was a young, healthy 20 year old Molecular Biology and Psychology major, on the Pre-Med track like most of students taking the same classes. That weekend was not only the most amount of competitive tennis I had ever played in one weekend – it was against the most quality opponents I had ever faced.

A bitter defeat was in store for me in the first round of singles where I lost to a freshman from Swarthmore in a 3rd set tiebreaker. In a rage from underperforming, I channeled my energy into rattling off 3 straight matches in the back-draw to earn the title of “toilet bowl champ” or “winner of the losers.” In between singles matches I played doubles with the #1 player on our team (I was #2 at the time). We cruised our way into the 3rd round, where we were featured in an “under the lights” night-match. The crowd was pretty intense, especially those who were in favor of what ended up being the craftiest team ever from Johns-Hopkins University. We were sliced and diced into oblivion by the youngest “old-man” doubles team to play the game. Although we were stomped into oblivion by the story the scoreboard told, the match was actually pretty close, with just a few pressure points and missed opportunities along the way. Our run ended, but we were underdogs anyway. We performed at such a high level during that tournament that I always look back on it as the most inspired play of my life, especially since it was against some of the best teams in Division III tennis.

We arrived back in Grove City, PA after a grueling 8 hour bus ride late Sunday night. At my first class the next day, 9am Anatomy and Physiology, my professor quickly noticed my limited mobility and lethargic gait and decided to use it as a teaching opportunity. He did so by incorporating corrective adjustments of my spine into our anatomy lab that day. I had never been adjusted before, so I was pretty apprehensive since I didn’t know what to expect. He explained the process and taught us all the detailed anatomy biomechanics and then proceeded to move my joints in more directions than I can remember with nothing but strategic placement of his hands and carefully calculated force.

I got off the table feeling a sensation I had could not recall ever feeling before. It was a lightness, ethereal-ish feeling, like a burden had been lifted from my body, making me feel light enough to float away like a hot air balloon. It was astounding how much tension was relieved in my joints and how much more fluid my every move felt. Even that nagging, lactic acid burning soreness that was entrenched in all my overused muscles dissipated within a few hours from my treatment. From then on I knew that I wanted to join the healthcare profession that heals people with their hands, so I naturally chose to apply to chiropractic school later that month, diverging from the mainstream path of medical school where pharmacology and surgery are the primary specialty treatments taught.

The best sports/evidenced-based program happened to be Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, so I enrolled and began matriculating in the fall of 2008. San Jose is also the place where I have found, in my opinion, the best place to game in the country – Superstars, obviously. I like the community, competition, friendliness, amount of space available, and organization of events – it crushes every other store I have played at growing up on the east coast (end plug). I hope that I am able to give you all an experience like the one that I was given from my A&P professor, access to treatment that can unleash the potential of your body’s ability to heal and recover from even the most grueling tournament.

The Making of a Draftaholic

Remember your first time trying to play magic? Operative word “trying,” right? I mean, has anyone ever learned all the rules before playing? I recall being told you may only play one land per turn by my astute 6th grade classmate teaching me the game. The weird sideways arrow symbol didn’t explain itself, so we played that as long as you have enough land in play, then you can cast all spells available with said lands, (i.e. one mountain lets you cast all 4 Jackal Pup in your opening hand).

I embarked down this path of learning how to play the game during Tempest Block during recess at middle school growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania. Despite failing to learn the true complexity of the game, I was told by my friend to join a competitive tournament at a local college, Penn State Behrend. After playing the game for a few months, I figured I must be pretty good at it by now. I remember being so excited to own my first opponent because he had a ponytail (weirdo) that I targeted Skulking Ghost with Unholy Strength on turn 1. Whoops – 3 cards in the bin, lesson learned. Miraculously, I avoided tilt , beat that guy even though he played infinite Elephant Grass . I can still hear him whining, “I thought I had suicide black covered *sniffle*.” Somehow I managed to go undefeated after 6 rounds of swiss with a horrible suicide black deck, especially since Exodus and consequently Hatred was not released yet. My most notably wins were in round 5, beating Nevinryrral’s Disk / Capsize lock.dec and Recurring Nightmare / Living Death .dec along the way to a Top 8 birth. Those guys knew rules and had real decks and stuff. They were so pissed at me.

The concept of “the stack” was made clear to me after attempting to put 3 paralyzes at the same time on my opponent’s Stalking Stones – the ship sunk on that play. Another dude with a ponytail (I couldn’t believe these guys were serious) playing Gaea’s Blessing / Fireball control.dec ended my streak in the quarterfinals, but not after my most famous turn 4 kill. Turn 1 on the play: Swamp, Dark Ritual #1, Dark Ritual #2, Dauthi Horror, Unholy Strength, and the icing on the cake, Spinal Graft (I learned how to order things correctly after Round 1, you might need to go look that one up). All he needed was a fireball for 0, but he failed to ignite a spark targeting my monstrous creation. Unfortunately, he had a sideboard built just for me, (I didn’t know how to sideboard against his masterpiece) so the next two games were backbreaking for me. I concluded my inaugural tournament feeling satisfied with my effort, especially after getting a box full of packs for my efforts (I didn’t even know there was going to be a prize, value!). I had a great time competing, but without a big group of similarly aged peers to play with at school, the hobby died.

That is, until I found out about Magic Online. None of your friends play or even know that you play Magic you say? They have a computer game that will connect you to your fellow nerds for that!

And so I played Mirrodin Block, exclusively online, for one season. I was addicted, with drafts firing all the time – yeah, that’s real. Drafts are strikingly similar to potato chips advertised by Lay’s/Pringles – “Betcha can’t eat just one/Once you pop, the fuuuuun, don’t stop.” No, they did not stop. I could not resist the urge to run back draft after draft. My bank account got steamrolled despite having learned the delicate intricacies of the rules (thank you modo interface, as I bet you helped a ton of beginners learn the truth about phases, the stack, and reminding us of triggered abilities) and having a more developed cerebral cortex than when I was 12. While boasting a slightly above average win percentage, the modo house still always wins. Consequently, and painfully, I made the right play and deleted my account. It wasn’t until I randomly met Jon Sonne and his friends at a local draft in North Jersey that got back into the game during Time Spiral Block. I’ve been playing, I mean drafting, consistently since then (boo constructed).

When it comes to real magic accomplishments, I’d say I don’t have any. I’ve top 8’d one limited PTQ during Lorwyn Block – the only limited PTQ I’ve attended. I’ve had good experience playing with John Sonne’s crew in the North Jersey area before I moved out to California for Chiropractic school. I currently enjoy an FNM draft, Winchester draft of old, unopened packs, a large-set rotisserie draft, and even a pauper cube draft with my personally crafted creation of common all-stars.

I almost qualified for Worlds 2011 on rating – ended up at 2078 total (2037 limited, 1841 constructed), which today [one week before worlds] would put me in 36th place in North America, but on the cutoff date a month ago it was a little short of the goal line [top 50 in North America]. I realize now that the best way for me to accomplish something in the competitive world of magic is not by playing, but by improving the health and biomechanics of the players so that they can perform better. Hope you have fun getting drunk off drafts like I do in the immediate future.

Dr. Chris Baker, D.C. | Sports Chiropractor
Twitter:  @DrChrisBakerDC
ChannelFireball Team Chiropractor

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