Friday, July 3, 2015

Eight Weeks To Go

For TigerBlog, the first few days of July always take him back to his days at sleepaway camp.

TigerBlog spent six summers at camp, the first five at one called Camp Toledo and then, after a year off, his last one at one called Camp Echo. Both were in the Catskills.

TigerBlog first went to camp when he was six. As he recalls, his parents were headed to a three-week vacation the next year - to Japan and other stops in the region - the following year, and they wanted to see if TB would be okay at a sleepaway camp.

When he was six, he headed off for eight weeks - and he loved it.

As he said, the first few days of July always meant heading to camp. He remembers leaving on 7/1/71 for one of those summers away. They also ran until the end of August, and BrotherBlog's birthday always seemed to come right before the end.

It was fun being a kid at camp back then. There were sports and swimming and boating. And shows and arts and crafts. And bunk inspections and pizza parties for the ones who had the cleanest bunks. And weekly trips to go bowling and roller skating.

And Color War - a three-day competition between the Blue team and the Gold team - at the end of the summers at Toledo and the Olympics - a similar competition, but between three teams named after countries - at Echo.

And girls. TigerBlog had a serious crush on a girl at Camp Echo named Randee. Not Randy or Randi but Randee. Hot.

Anyway, the first few days of July always take TigerBlog back to his camp days. He hasn't seen or heard from anyone he went to those camps with - not even Randee - in decades. He probably wouldn't know any of them - even Randee - if he stumbled over them today.

But he remembers loving his time away each summer. He has nothing but great memories of his years there.

Why wouldn't he? Those were days of great innocence, his Wonder Years days and experiences.

Today is July 3. For most people - including the staff at Princeton University - today is a day off from work. 

As an aside, if you're looking for something interesting to read about Princeton University and July 4, 1783, click HERE. It's worth it. 

Anyway, there are still summer camps like the ones he went to, TB supposes, and they're probably just getting started for another year.

As July gets underway this year, it dawns on TigerBlog that it means that the following statement is also true: The 2015-16 athletic year for Princeton Athletics begins next month.

Technically, that is correct. It's July, and the first athletic event of the new year will be in August.

Of course, such a sentiment is enough to bring eye rolls from the staff at Princeton, who is just recovering from the long 2014-15 academic year. Hey, they are very long years, and the time off in the summer is precious.

There's a lot of summer between now and the start of the new athletic year, beginning with the Fourth of July holiday weekend. There are still the bulk of summer camps at Princeton to be had as well.
TigerBlog has said this before, but he's had a great idea for a camp at Princeton. Dorm camp.

Kids come to Princeton to stay in the dorms and eat in the dining halls. They have to deposit all of their electronics in a bin when they arrive. The rules - do whatever you want, but you cannot cross any street. The entire purpose of the camp would be to encourage socialization, old fashioned socialization, like TB had at his two camps.

Great idea, no?

The first athletic event of next year is Aug. 28, with a women's soccer game against Howard. It will be the first game for new head coach Sean Driscoll.

That's still 56 days away. Or eight weeks from today.

When he says it that way, it seems like it's just around the corner.

But it isn't. It's a whole summer at sleepaway camp from now.

In the meantime, enjoy the Fourth of July weekend. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Second Of July

If John Adams had his way, then today would be Independence Day.

The United States would be celebrating the Second of July with barbeques and fireworks. The Fourth of July? That would be a footnote in history.

More than any other day on the calendar, July 2nd has really been cheated. Maybe Dec. 26. Had Mary been overdue by a day, Dec. 26 would have really hit it big. And it's not like one of those holidays like Thanksgiving or Memorial Day, where a bunch of different dates get to take turns being the holiday host.

Jan. 1? Now there's a big winner. New Year's Day.

Why not Sept. 1? Doesn't that feel more like the start of a new year?

Really, though, no date can match July 2nd. Nobody gives July 2nd a thought. Everything is about the Fourth of July.

How many people out there know that decision to declare that the 13 colonies would from now on be known as the United States of America was actually approved unanimously by the Continental Congress on July 2?

The actual document known as the Declaration of Independence was approved two days later and then read publicly. Had 2015 technology existed then, it would have been posted on a website and then linked to in a tweet.

Instead, back then, it was printed and distributed and read in public. TigerBlog, a history major in college, never knew that the Continental Congress printed 200 versions of the document - one of them is now apparently in the Firestone Library.

At least that's what it says on Wikipedia. So it must be true.

TigerBlog did learn a long time ago that the actual day that the U.S. declared independence from Great Britain was July 2, 1776. Not July 4th.

Had TB been around with the Continental Congress - you know, like Bugs Bunny was - he would have sided with John Adams, who advocated for July 2nd as the day American independence was celebrated. He lost that battle, obviously.

The U.S. and Great Britain fought a war for independence, followed by another war - the War of 1812 - which was sort of a second war of independence. Then the two countries put aside their differences and have been best buddies ever since.

It's sort of like Rocky and Apollo Creed, no? Fought twice and then teamed up.

Of course, the two remain major rivals to this day in one area - athletics.

They came close to having a huge matchup in the sports realm until the English women dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 game to Japan in the Women's World Cup semifinal. The deciding goal came in the final minute of stoppage time on an own goal.

TigerBlog felt sort of bad for No. 6 on England, who knocked it into her own goal. That was brutal.

Instead, it'll be the U.S. and Japan, in a rematch of the 2011 final.

Meanwhile, back at U.S.-English sports, the movie "A Yank In Oxford" - and later a remake "Oxford Blues" - tracks the exploits of a cocky American at a stodgy British college, where he redeems himself as a rower. In the case of the remake, the cocky American is Rob Lowe.

There are a bunch of Yanks at Oxford, or Oxfordshire, the home of the Henley Royal Regatta.

The regatta dates to 1839, which was 25 years before Princeton played Williams in baseball in its first-ever intercollegiate event. It has been held every year since, with the exception of the years of World War I and World War II.

If you want to know everything you need to know about Henley and Princeton's history in the event, then you'll want to read the piece that TigerBlog's colleague Craig Sachson put together.

You can click HERE to read it. TB promises you it's more than worth it.

In case you missed that link, try this one.

And to what American event did Princeton's heavyweight men's coach compare Henley?

The Kentucky Derby. As Sachson said, it's "athletic event meets social function."

It's top-flight rowing, that's for sure. And, until he read Sachson's story, TB didn't realize that the format was one-on-one single elimination, like a tournament, rather than heats and finals.

In addition to the preview story, Sachson is all over the rowing, complete with video. Just keep going to goprincetontigers.com for his updates.

The event began yesterday, and it continues through Sunday.

In other words, the racing in England continues on the anniversary of American independence.

Which, as we all know, was 239 years ago today, the Second of July.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On To The Final

Yesterday, TigerBlog was talking about rooting for Donn Cabral.

Today, he's renewing his earlier statement that he's rooting for Jill Ellis.

And hey, if he has to root for the U.S. women's national soccer team, so be it.

Ellis is the head coach for the United States, and she has her team in the championship match at the Women's World Cup. The U.S. will take on the winner of tonight's England-Japan semifinal match in Sunday's final, after the Americans defeated the top-ranked team in the world, Germany, 2-0 in the semifinals last night.

Should the English win, then Ellis would be coaching the United States team against her native country.

Today's quick quiz - what country won the most recent Women's World Cup? If you guessed the U.S.A., you'd be wrong.

The answer is Japan.

Can you name the last three Women's World Cup winners? Japan, Germany (2007) and Germany (2003).

The first time the U.S. won was in 1991. The last time the U.S. won was in 1999, which was the first Women's World Cup, the one where Brandy Chastain knocked in the winning PK and then had her rather famous celebration.

The other Women's World Cup, in 1995, was won by Norway.

In other words, the U.S. isn't a lock to win every time there is one of these tournaments. The casual fan might think so, but that's not the case.

Of course, it's not like there isn't pressure on the U.S. to win each time out. Far from it. Had Ellis' team not won yesterday, even against the No. 1-ranked team in the world, there would have been a sense of failure around the team.

The Americans haven't accomplished their goal yet. The 2011 team reached the championship match against Japan and lost in PKs. Having that happen again would leave an empty taste this time as well.

So Ellis has to deal with the win-it-all expectations every time her team steps on the field. And then there's the whole balancing act that is being the U.S. coach, with all of the personalities and stars and newcomers and everything else.

Just handling a mega-star like Abby Wambach in the tail end of her career is challenge enough. Now factor that across the entire U.S. roster.

The best player, if no the biggest star, for the Americans now is Carli Lloyd.

TigerBlog was Princeton's women's soccer contact in 2004, when Ellis coached UCLA against Princeton in the Final Four, and is 2003, when the Tigers took on Rutgers on the first Tuesday in October.

TB remembers the game pretty well. Princeton was ranked 23rd nationally, and Rutgers was always a national power.

Rutgers had a really strong defense, one that had allowed one goal in 700 minutes prior to the game. TigerBlog didn't remember that part; he saw that when he read the recap of the game he'd written all those years ago.

Princeton led 2-0 after scoring two late first-half goals. TB did remember that.

He didn't remember who scored them, though it turned out to be Rochelle Willis and Emily Behncke.

The other thing he remembers about that game is that Rutgers came back to tie it 2-2. And he also remembered who scored both goals.

That's right. Carli Lloyd. She scored one goal seven minutes into the second half and then the tying goal with seven minutes left in the second half, turning a huge Princeton win into a less-than-satisfying tie.

As TB re-read the story he wrote about the game, he saw that there was a quote from then-head coach Julie Shackford, whose best friend is Jill Ellis.

Here's what Shackford had to say: "Carli Lloyd is a great player. She knows where to put the ball."

She certainly did against Germany last night, when she scored the first U.S. goal on a penalty kick.

Lloyd is the leading U.S. scorer with three goals in this World Cup. Megan Rapinoe has two, and no other American has more than one.

So yes, it seems that Shackford was right about her.

And now the U.S. has one game to go to win the Women's World Cup.

If the Americans get there, Jill Ellis better get the credit she deserves. This isn't just about rolling the balls out there and rolling to the championship.

Nope, this would be the first time in 16 years that America would have won.

It takes a special coach to pull that off.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rooting For Donn Cabral

Tomorrow is the last day of June, which means it'll be the exact halfway point of 2015.

Think about what you did on New Year's Eve. That was exactly six months ago. Does it seem like that long ago?

The other day was the halfway point between Christmas 2014 and Christmas 2015. June 25th, to be exact, which was last Thursday.

When do you think you'll see your first ad for the new Christmas season? Before opening day of the NFL?

When you're a kid, you're aware of when your half-birthday is, even if it's not that big a deal. It's not like it was good for any presents or anything.

What it was big for was adding the "and a half" to your age when someone asked you how old you were. How old are you? Last week you said seven. Now you say "seven and a half."

It's a big moment.

TigerBlog thinks the slowest time of the year is the time that's about to be upon us, the Fourth of July until the start of the new school year. It's a relaxing summer respite from the busy every day week-to-week season-to-season grind of the school year.

The fastest time of the year is from Halloween to New Year's. Then it slows again a little.

Halloween to New Year's is a total sprint. Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's. One after the other.

This year, those holidays will be followed by 2016, which will feature, among other things, the next Presidential election. There's a lot at stake for the country in the next election, and yet it will deteriorate into what it always does, with an endless number of primaries, debates, ads and all the rest of it, with the long crawl until Election Day in November. It'll seem like a thousand years have gone by from the summer of 2015 until Election Day 2016.

As an aside, not to get political or anything, but going to Dartmouth for football or basketball in a Presidential election cycle is always interesting, because of the New Hampshire Primary and the importance it plays. There's always something going on at Dartmouth it seems.

Anyway, another big part of 2016 will be the Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beginning Aug. 5.

TigerBlog is rooting hard for Donn Cabral to be there again.

Cabral is the 2012 Princeton grad who won the NCAA steeplechase championship his senior year. Then he went on qualify for the Olympics in London and then reach the final, where he led for awhile before finishing eighth.

Cabral competed at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Oregon this past weekend, as did five other Princeton alums. Cabral finished second in the steeplechase, running an 8:13.37, leaving him 1.08 seconds behind Evan Jager, who was the other American in the 2012 Olympics, where he finished sixth.

TigerBlog knows next to nothing about track and field and how it works and what times mean what.

He does know this: Had Cabral run the time he just ran in Oregon in the 2012 Olympic final, he would have won gold - by more than five seconds.

Yes, this is not an apples to apples comparison. Still, Cabral is getting faster, no? His time to finish eighth in Londan was 8:25.91, or 12.54 seconds slower than he ran last weekend.

TigerBlog has talked to Cabral twice, he thinks. Once was for a feature story for the football game program, and TB still has the thank you note that Cabral sent him.

That seems to be the kind of person he is. 

He's not the most imposing physical presence. That's for sure. He doesn't overwhelm you with bravado or anything like that.

He just comes across as a nice guy, one who is very serious about what he's doing and - very, very good at it.

Plus, as TB has said many times before, watching him train on the Weaver Stadium track when he was a senior was a daily event, one that drew the attention of anyone who happened to casually glance at Cabral as he ran.

Anyway, the 2016 Olympics are not exactly around the corner. First are the World Championships in Beijing in August. Then there is still most of a year until Olympic qualifying.

TigerBlog will be rooting for him. That's for sure.

How can he not?

After all, Donn Cabral is pretty much everything that is good with Princeton Athletics. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nous Sommes Quarante Et Un

So Miss TigerBlog has become a tad obsessed with speaking French.

Of the last 12 text messages she has sent her father, nine of them have been in French. This would be fine, except TigerBlog speaks only a single word of French.

Fromage.

It means "cheese."

Before he gets into the whole French thing, TB wants to point out that his daughter - who recently completed her freshman year of high school - is tethered at all times to her cell phone but is only 50-50 to respond to a text of his. And if he calls? Forget it. She's 90-10 not to answer.

Why is that?

Okay, back at the French thing.

TigerBlog took Spanish in high school and German in college and had basically no natural affinity for learning foreign languages. BrotherBlog did - he could pick up pretty much anything, including Mandarin Chinese.

Pete Carril once said of one his players a long time ago that he "can speak seven languages, but when I try to tell him what to do, I sometimes think English isn't one of them."

TigerBlog Jr. took four years of French in high school. He was pretty good at it, if his grades through the years are to be believed. But he never really has spoken much of it in casual conversation around the house.

Then there's MTB. She's all French, all the time. She took a brief middle school rotation of French, Spanish and German and chose French for high school.

It was a about halfway through the year that she started with the whole French deal. Now? It's an every day thing.

It certainly has its charm.

TigerBlog will text "what are you doing?" and the answer will come back to him in French. Or he'll ask what she wants for dinner, and the answer comes back in French, to which he will respond "would you like 'fromage' with that?"

Usually, TigerBlog has to then forward it to BrotherBlog for translation. It's an arduous process, yet in some ways it's been good for family bonding.

TigerBlog asked MTB yesterday how to say "we are 41" in French, and she replied "Nous Sommes Quarante Et Un." TB will take it at her word - or words - that she is correct.

Why did TB want to know how to say "we are 41" in French? Because Princeton finished the year 41st in the Directors' Cup.

Princeton was actually 40th until TCU vaulted past the Tigers with its points in the last sport of the year, baseball. For those who don't know, the Directors' Cup measures the top athletic programs in Division I, Division II and Division III through a system that awards points based on NCAA championship participation.

Princeton had a huge spring, getting 80 points in the fall, 172 in the winter and then 300.5 in the spring. The teams contributing to the spring haul were women's lacrosse, women's open rowing, women's tennis, men's tennis, women's track and field and men's track and field.

And women's water polo. Princeton got more points in the spring from women's water polo than any other sport. The most points by any sport all year were the 80 in fencing, though that is a combined total for the men and women.

Princeton went from 77th at the end of the fall to 56th at the end of the winter to 41st in the final standings.

Princeton led all Ivy League schools and was in fact the highest ranking school from a non-power conference. Adding it up, the top 40 featured eight Pac 12 schools - including the top three, who were Stanford, UCLA and USC - eight ACC schools, six Big 12 schools, nine SEC schools and nine Big Ten schools.

Think about that. That's 40 power conference schools and then Princeton.

For everything that Princeton accomplishes athletically, there are few things that reflect the combination of what the athletic program is striving to be than having such a strong showing in the Directors' Cup. Princeton is showing how well it can compete against schools that spend tens of millions of dollars more per year on athletics and can compete without having to compromise its core values in any way.

This is the 22nd year of the Directors' Cup. Princeton has finished in the top 50 19 times.

The 2014-15 year was also the 19th time in those 22 years that Princeton has finished first in the Ivy League.

That's great stuff. It's a great way to end the year.

Being Quarante Et Un?

That's something to applaud.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Keeping Stats

TigerBlog watched the first 30 minutes of last night's NBA draft, which enabled him to see four picks.

That's 30 more minutes and four more picks he's seen of the last, oh, 10 or so NFL drafts combined, partly because the NFL hasn't figure out yet that having its draft in the heart of college lacrosse season is just killing its marketability.

Anyway, TB saw basically everything he needed to in those four picks.

The Sixers had the third pick. The Knicks had the fourth. TB's Office of Athletic Communications colleagues Craig Sachson (Sixers fan) and Ben Badua (Knicks fan) were both less than thrilled by how it played out, as the Sixers ended up with Jahlil Okafor and the Knicks took Kristaps Porzingis.

TB has no idea what will ever come of all these players. Some will pan out. Others won't. Will  Porzingis? No clue.

TigerBlog grew up rooting for the Mets, Knicks, Giants and Islanders. He still roots for the Giants. He doesn't really care about the Mets or Islanders anymore.

The Knicks? They are the hardest team in sports to root for, bar none. The owner (James Dolan) and the star player (Carmelo Anthony) are completely impossible to root for. The team hasn't won a championship since 1973.

For the most part in recent years, the Knicks have fielded teams made up of highly priced jerks. And charged really high prices to watch the jerks play - and usually lose.

So will Porzingis matter? Doesn't matter.

The best part of the 30 minutes that TigerBlog watched was by far the tribute commissioner Adam Silver paid to Harvey Pollack, the long-time statistician for the Sixers, who recently passed away at the age of 93.

Pollack, whom TB never met, is a legend. He invented a bunch of stats and put together expansive compilations of statistical analysis year after year after year.

As Silver said, he was the last remaining original employee of the NBA from its inaugural 1946-47 season.

As he listened to Silver, it dawned on TB that stat keeping is about the only remaining original task from when he started in the OAC all those years ago.

Everything else has changed through the years. Everything.

It makes TigerBlog laugh to think back to the "old" days. He tries to explain to the newer generations, like Badua, about how much different it was back then, before the internet, before the explosion of technology. Tasks that now take a few seconds took hours 20 years ago.

For all that, stat keeping remains essentially the same. Well, sort of.

When TB first started at Princeton, stats were kept by hand and then entered into a computer to get the season cumes and all that.

After a football or basketball game, TB had to use the computer of Marge DeFrank, a secretary in the department then who has long since passed away, since it was the only computer in the building that had the stat program on it. He could only use it when DeFrank wasn't around. TB remembers it being a giant pain in the butt.

Then along came computer stats. At first, they were intimidating. The first time TigerBlog had to enter stats at a basketball game on the computer was about as stressful a task as he's had here.

Actually, the first football game with computer stats featured a play where there was an interception that was run back to near the goal line, where it was fumbled into the end zone and picked up by an offensive lineman, who ran it out to the two. TigerBlog and the stat crew just looked at each other and laughed

These days computer stats are simple. At first, there was someone doing backup stats by hand. Now? Never.

As the mechanism for stat keeping has evolved, the whole concept of the stats themselves has not. A basket is still a basket. A goal is still a goal.

There is still too much discrepancy from place to place on assists in all sports. And there are still too many people - many coaches included - who don't know the rules of keeping stats. Hey, there are a lot of people in athletic communications who don't know the rules too.

TigerBlog, for instance, had no idea that in women's lacrosse, no ground ball is given without a change of possession, except on a missed shot.

TigerBlog has seen countless examples of bad stat keeping in his time. It tortures him. There are NCAA manuals online, and they have official rules in them. TigerBlog himself helped write the rules for men's lacrosse.

In general, though, most people who keep stats in college athletics are well-informed and well-intentioned. And they produce final stats that can be trusted, which is the most important thing.

When the action gets going in a game, it's easy to panic as the official statistician. And to miss things. Over the course of a season, this all evens itself out.

TigerBlog has had players ask him about stats, ask them to be changed. Unless it's a score or penalty that was given to the wrong person, they can't be changed.

Being a statistician is different now than when TB started and certainly when Harvey Pollack started. When he first put pencil to paper, there's no way he imagined computers and live stats and people who followed the stats on their smart phones.

But stats? They're not just numbers. They're a way of comparing eras, of having continuity from generation to generation, of establishing unquestionable greatness for teams and individuals.

It's the responsibility of the stat keeper to make sure those numbers are accurate. It's challenging and rewarding when done right.

And, even after all these years and all of these changes in the business, those little numbers are still one of TigerBlog's very favorite parts of the job.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nice Working With You, Mike

Back when TigerBlog used to read a newspaper every morning, he used to love to check out the "Transactions" section of the sports section.

He had his routine down. Comics. Jumbles. Sports. Letters to the editor. The usual.

Now he gets the comics and jumbles online. And sports news. Letters to the editor have been replaced by comments under stories, online as well.

Oh well. Those were the days.

Anyway, the "Transactions" section was always fun. There was almost always something that had a local connection.

Maybe it was another Ivy school that hired a coach. Maybe it was a former Princeton athlete or coach who was hired someplace else. Maybe it was someone who played against Princeton.

And of course there were the NFL cutdown days. Those really were the mother lode for "Transactions" days.

And then there were the days when Princeton had a transaction. Those were stressful, making sure that it was actually in the paper. TigerBlog could never remember if he was supposed to send it to the AP office in Newark or Trenton or if they received it or if anyone could confirm it.

Anyway, the transactions still exist, but it's not the same online.

Were Princeton's Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux not such a good sport, then it would be possible that today's "Transactions" would include this: Princeton - Announced field hockey assistant coach Mike Pallister has been fired.

Fortunately for Mike, he's still in good standing with Mollie, even after beating her in the championship match of the Dillon Gym ping-pong tournament yesterday.




The championship was the second straight for Pallister, who won last year's inaugural tournament. Pallister, at about 6-7, covers the table fairly effortlessly, and he is somewhat intimidating with his backward baseball hat and all.

Mollie was a two-sport athlete at Princeton, All-Ivy in soccer and hockey. She is competitive, that's for sure. She wants to win.

The Dillon tournament last year was limited to only those people who actually worked in Dillon. Mollie's office is in Jadwin, but she was given as exemption into the tournament, as was her assistant Kim Meszaros, who didn't make it out of Round 1.

Mollie had a huge win in the quarterfinals, defeating last year's runner-up, men's soccer assistant Steve Totten. Pallister reached the finals by defeating men's soccer coach Jim Barlow in the semifinals.

TigerBlog figures one of these years is Barlow's year.

So the final came down to Pallister and Marcoux. It's not easy playing against the boss, right? On the other hand, Mollie isn't the kind who would respect anyone who let her win just because she's the AD.

Pallister and Totten went the distance last year in a best-of-five. This time, Pallister swept the championship match.

TigerBlog is a decent ping-pong player, though Barlow wiped him out in a ping-pong Friendly last year. He's not sure who the best player in Jadwin is.

He does have an idea, though.

How about Dillon vs. Jadwin. You know, like how it's done in squash. Nine players, ranked 1-9, playing their counterpart in that position from the other building.

That would draw ratings, no? Or at least interest in the department.

Hmmm. Where would TB start on this? He supposes he has to see if there's a ping-pong table in Jadwin.

In the meantime, things like the recently completed Dillon tournament are a pretty nice piece of the Princeton Department of Athletics fabric. Princeton Athletics features 38 teams, all with their own challenges and struggles on a day-to-day basis.

Plus there are administrators, staff members, everyone else who makes up the entire department, all with their own needs and requirements in their jobs.

But still, when you work in college athletics, you do so largely because you like being part of something bigger than just your own personal area.

That's what the tournament is all about. It's all Princeton Athletics.

That spirit is one of the best parts of working here.

Congratulations to Mike Pallister.

And rest easy, Mollie won't take it personally.

Besides, she will get her revenge when Jadwin beats Dillon. Of course, Dillon would have a big edge with Pallister, Barlow and Totten at the top of the lineup.

Jadwin would either have to steal a match up there and hope to have better depth, or else have Mollie move the soccer or field hockey offices over here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Most Fascinating Fact

As part of a Father's Day gift, TigerBlog received pictures of his two kids from the recently completed high school lacrosse season.

He also got a giant card with a monkey on it. Like, giant. Like nearly three feet tall. 

When he went to put one of the pictures in a frame in his office, he used one that had an older picture showing. When he took the frame off, he saw that there were two others underneath.

He does this all the time. He suspects most people do.

It's actually sort of fun to find which pictures are underneath. It was sort of like Throwback Thursday, only without Twitter and on a Tuesday.

Anyway, this picture was the one of TigerBlog Jr., which TB put over one of TBJ from when he played in a tournament in fourth grade or so. Underneath that was one of TBJ as a Princeton basketball ball boy.

And underneath that? A picture of Kyle Wente as he posted up in a Princeton basketball game. Well, not just any post up. And not just any game.

Wente, who stands about 6-4, is posting up Nick Collison as Princeton hosts Kansas at Jadwin Gym. Collison stands 6-10, and he looks basically the same now, as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Princeton played a home-and-home against Kansas, playing in Lawrence in the 1999-2000 season and then back at Jadwin two years later. Kansas won both, though they were both reasonably competitive.

And, as TigerBlog remembered back - and looked up some info - from those two games, he stumbled upon an incredibly fascinating fact. At least to him. TB has learned that some of the facts he finds fascinating aren't always thought of as fascinating by everyone else.

Like how the career record for points in a career in men's lacrosse was exactly the same at TBJ's high school, Princeton University and Denver prior to the Pioneers' trip to the most recent Final Four. Before that, the record was 247 at all three.

Anyway, don't digress. This isn't about lacrosse. Basketball. Basketball.

Not shockingly, Kansas was loaded then. In fact, the team that played Princeton at Jadwin started Collison, Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich, who became longtime NBA players, as well as Aaron Miles, who played briefly in the NBA and still plays in Europe.

By the way, does anyone know who the fifth Kansas starter was in that game? Jeff Boschee. The name familiar?

Wayne Simien, who won an NBA title with the Miami Heat, came off the bench. TigerBlog guesses there haven't been too many games in Jadwin where one team brought a future NBA champion off the bench.

He does know the last time a future NBA player came off the bench in a game at Jadwin. That would be Jeremy Lin, who didn't start the 2007 game at Jadwin for Harvard. The Crimson started three guards in that game, and none of them were Lin, who played 19 minutes and scored two points.

Meanwhile, back at Princeton-Kansas.

The teams played in the legendary and spectacular Allen Field House (picture the Palestra doubled in size) in Lawrence on Dec. 22, 1999. Here's what TigerBlog remembers about that game:

* you know you got up early when you wake up at home, go to the airport, fly to Kansas City, rent a car, drive an hour to Lawrence and get to the hotel there in time for the breakfast buffet. That's what TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy did

* Roy Williams was the Kansas coach back then. He agreed to do a pregame interview with McCarthy but misunderstood the Kansas SID, who said he had to talk to two people. Williams thought that the two people from a local TV station were the two he had to talk to, but really he had two separate interviews, that one and then with McCarthy. TB and McCarthy thought Williams would explode on the SID guy, but instead he apologized for the misunderstanding. Then McCarthy had to change the batteries on his recorder, causing Williams to have to wait. And what did he do? Put his arm around McCarthy and said "it's okay Tom, we've all been there."

* the brownies in the media room were made by one of the women who worked in the Kansas athletic department, a very grandmotherly looking woman. They were the best brownies TB has ever had.

* oh, and Chris Young was unstoppable. Young led everyone with 20 points on 8 for 12 shooting, but it wasn't enough as Princeton lost 82-67.

Then, two seasons later, was the game at Jadwin, with attendance listed as 6,861.

Princeton lost that one 78-62 after trailing 35-29 when Ed Persia dropped in a three-pointer at the first half buzzer.

Princeton had four players in double figures in the game. Mike Bechtold, Andre Logan and Judson Wallace had 10 each.

The Tiger leader that night? Hint, he's still playing professionally.

Answer - Will Venable. The Padres outfielder had 11 points in 23 minutes in that one.

And the fascinating fact?

Princeton played Kansas in basketball 14 and 16 years ago. Princeton's leading scorer in each game is still an active Major League Baseball player.

Now that's fascinating.

Not like the lacrosse thing, but fascinating.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

See The World

TigerBlog has heard his father talk about his Army days ever since he was a kid.

It wasn't until two days ago - Father's Day - that TB actually thought to ask his dad what it was he actually did in the Army. The resulting conversation was pretty fascinating.

FatherBlog had the good fortune of being in the Army from 1956-58. It was basically the midpoint between the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In fact, if you go from Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) through the end of American combat in Vietnam in 1973, then you have basically a 32-year stretch. During those 32 years, America was at war in 16 of those years, or obviously half.

It was FatherBlog's good fortune to be in the peaceful half.

TigerBlog had two uncles who were in the combat half, one in World War II and one in Korea. They both survived, and neither speak of word of the experience to the day they died.

As for FatherBlog, he was a kid from Brooklyn who found himself on a plane to Colorado for basic training and then a boat to Germany for a 16-month deployment. The year was 1956, which was also when the Soviet Union put down an uprising in Hungary.

As FatherBlog said Sunday, there was talk of sending U.S. troops into the situation. Instead, the U.S. sat that one out.

The result was that when FatherBlog went home to Brooklyn in 1958, he was able to give the Army back a rifle that "was perfectly clean, brand-new, never used." The bullets he was given? He never even loaded the weapon.

He was in the supply division for the engineers, possibly because he knew how to type. He was there with three other privates - one from Louisiana, one from Pennsylvania and one from Wisconsin - all of whom shared one room in a barracks.

He hated the food. Especially creamed chipped beef on toast. 

Mostly, he spent his time in an office typing up requisitions for supplies that may or may not have existed. He also got into the car business, buying cars and then flipping them to soldiers for small profits.

And traveling.

With little to actually do, he found himself with a lot of free time. And with a commanding officer who was amenable to giving him weekend passes, he was able to see most of Western Europe, as the Iron Curtain was still preventing him from getting to the East.

In fact, he told one story about driving from Germany through Belgium and towards Dunkirk, the site of the famous coastal evacuation during World War II of British troops.

TigerBlog was struck by the image of a young American soldier on a scenic, serene drive, one that 15 years earlier or so had been a torturous march in the other direction for thousands of young American soldiers, many of whom would not make it all the way through the war's end.

The trip to Colorado for basic training was the first time FatherBlog had ever been on an airplane. He said that his lifelong love of travel had been formed when he and some friends drove around much of the U.S., but his experience in the Army certainly advanced it.

Since then, he has been everywhere, from China and Japan to Australia and New Zealand to countless trips to the South of France and Brazil, as well as all over Europe. Curiously, he has had very little interest in traveling around this country.

He spoke the other day about an experience when he visited Normandy and participated in the folding of the U.S. flag after it was taken down for the day. That was, he said, incredibly moving.

One of the best parts of the Princeton Athletic experience is the ability for the athletes to make one international trip in their four years, as NCAA rules allow. TigerBlog, who is as happy at the Jersey Shore as anywhere else, has made two such trips with men's lacrosse, to Spain and Ireland in 2008 and Costa Rica in 2012.

There are currently two foreign trips underway, with rowers at Henley and the men's and women's track and field teams in Cuba.

To TigerBlog, the trip to Cuba is exactly what these trips should be about. It's an opportunity to go to country where few if any of the Princetonians would ever go, with the opportunity to experience the educational side of that experience coupled with a chance to compete in two meets.

Coming soon will be a trip by the men's golf team to Ireland and England, and the men's squash team is off to Italy as well. The fencing team is headed to South Korea.

Off the top of his head, here's a list of some of the other countries to which Princeton teams have traveled: Australia, Malta, Senegal, France, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Nicaragua, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany.

There are definitely a bunch of others. TB can't think of them off the top of his head. Well, Canada, but that counts too.

The trips are great for team bonding, extra practice and competition, sightseeing, culture, education, all of it.

Come to Princeton. See the world.

Monday, June 22, 2015

103 Episodes, 47 Days

TigerBlog read someplace yesterday that Americans spend nearly $9 billion a year more on Mother's Day than on Father's Day.

So what do we make out of this?

Well, in fairness, the mothers are a tad bit more, uh, inconvenienced by the whole childbirth process. Still, is that worth $9 billion more?

Anyway, TigerBlog hopes all the dads out there had a great day yesterday, even if their kids got them gifts on the cheap, at least compared to the mothers.

Mother's Day and Father's Day are big days for the Braverman family, even if they are fictional. For those who don't know, the Bravermans are the family about whom the show "Parenthood" centers.

There were six seasons of "Parenthood," for a total of 103 episodes. TigerBlog recently finished watching all 103.

It's a great show, especially for someone who can relate to families, raising children and all those "grown-up" type issues. It's not exactly hip stuff. It's just a fairly old-fashioned family show, and it succeeds on every level it tries. It's one of the best TV shows he's ever seen.

Perhaps more than any other show TigerBlog has ever seen, "Parenthood" came up with situation after situation that forced him to think deeply about what he would do if faced with the same circumstances or who in the family was right and who in the family was wrong, with no real black or white answers.

It also had some great supporting characters, which is the mark of any great show. The best were Max, the son with Asbergers, and weirdly enough, Ray Romano, who went from sitcom star on "Everybody Loves Raymond" to Hank the photographer, a character who is 180 degrees away from Ray Barone.

The best ending to a series finale that TigerBlog has ever seen was for "Newhart," the show in which Bob Newhart plays an innkeeper in Vermont. This is not to be confused with "The Bob Newhart Show," in which he played a psychiatrist in Chicago.

Or was it to be confused? If you ever saw the last episode, you know what TB is talking about. If you didn't, let's just say that it is the most creative ending to a TV show anyone has ever come up with.

Most final episodes of shows fall flat, because they put too much pressure on themselves to resolve everything for the viewer. Plus they struggle to be artificially dramatic, instead of letting it all play itself out.

"Parenthood," though, hit a major home run with its final episode. It was pretty much perfect. It tied up every loose end and presented it flawlessly and emotionally. It was great.

There's one little problem, as TB sees it. Or maybe not a problem. He'll leave that up to you to decide.

TigerBlog wrote about "Parenthood" back on May 18, when he finished watching Season 1, which was 13 episodes long. He finished the show Saturday, which means he watched the final 90 episodes in 33 days.

He can't remember exactly when he started watching, but it was probably two weeks or so earlier. That would mean 103 episodes in 47 days.

At least he watched it on Netflix, which didn't have commercials, which meant that each episode was 43 or 44 minutes. At least for the first five seasons. Then he got to Season 6, which isn't out on Netflix yet.

He could watch it on demand, which meant either paying $25 to have the season without commercials or watch for free but with commercials. It was a tough choice. He watched Episode 1 of Season 6 with commercials and then forked over the $25.

Anyway, maybe he overdid on the whole "Parenthood" thing. On the other hand, it did keep him from starting Season 3 of "Orange Is the New Black," which is only 13 episodes. How long could that possibly take?

So now he's put away "Breaking Bad" and "Parenthood" pretty rapidly. He can't imagine that he ever watched a show one week at a time, one year at a time.

Once again, that was 103 episodes in 47 days. That's not unhealthy or anything?

It's been a little more than a week since the end of the NCAA track and field championships, which were the last athletic events of the 2014-15 season. The last actual game of the Princeton athletic year was back on May 16 (during Season 1), when the women's lacrosse team lost 7-3 to Duke in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The first event of the 2015-16 athletic year will be on August 28, when the women's soccer team hosts Howard in what will be Sean Driscoll's first game as Tiger head coach.

May 16. That was 36 days ago. August 28? That's 67 days from today.

That means it'll be 103 days between games for Princeton Athletics. If you go by the last event, the track championships, then it'll be 76 days between events.

Summer actually started for real this weekend.

At Princeton, the first two-thirds of summer are camp season. They've already started, actually, and they transform the campus from college athletes to those who dream about being college athletes.

Anyway, there's a long way to go until a new athletic year begins.

TigerBlog probably can knock off two more TV series between now and then.