Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Little Political

TigerBlog forgot to mention one thing about his ride to the University of Maryland the other day.

The security around the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, home this week to the Democratic National Convention, was incredible. And this was before the convention ever began.

TigerBlog has avoided talking about politics in the eight years he's been doing this. And he'll continue to stay away from the subject, at least as it relates to specific candidates and positions.

What he will say is that the entire political landscape is fascinating. And it's fairly reflective of where American society is right now.

Let's face it. If you like Donald Trump, then you loved his speech last week. If you don't like Donald Trump, you hated it. And there's no objectivity. TigerBlog doesn't know anyone who said "hey, I don't like the guy, but that was a great speech" or "hey, I love that guy, but his speech wasn't good."

The same will be true of Mrs. Clinton's speech later this week.

Another issue is that there is almost no middle ground for analysis either. These days, people seem to like to seek out information that reinforces their existing beliefs rather than challenging them or at the very least finding something impartial about the issue that might then offer insight.

This, TigerBlog thinks, is one of the main reasons why this country is so polarized. Complex issues are simplified into "right" and "wrong," and there really is very little in the way of neutral discussion. It becomes "I am right" and "you are wrong." It's actually sort of childish. With the explosion of information out there, especially Twitter, and the 24-hour cable news talk programming, this will continue to grow.

TigerBlog loves to read both sides of an issue to see this dynamic in action. Mr. Trump's speech is a perfect example. It got either an A+ or an F, depending on who was doing the grading.

TigerBlog has met two U.S. Presidents. No doubt they remember the experience just as vividly as TB does.

Both times it was because of Princeton Athletics.

The first was at Commencement in 1996, when Bill Clinton, then running for reelection, spoke here. TigerBlog's job that day was to be a liaison to the national press corps, which mostly meant taking Wolf Blitzer to the U Store.

TB got to meet President Clinton after the speech, when he met with the men's lacrosse team and women's rugby team after their national championships. That was in front of Prospect House.

For some reason, none of the other five men's lacrosse teams that won the NCAA championship were invited to meet the President. The 1996 team wouldn't have been either had the President not been on this campus.

The second time TB met the President was in the White House, when TB was there with the women's lacrosse team. This was in the fall of 2003, when all of the spring NCAA championship teams were invited to meet President George W. Bush.

After a very long wait, the teams were ushered into a large room, and TB was the furthest away from the front entrance of any one involved in the proceedings. The Secret Service then instructed everyone not to reach for the President unless he extended his hand first.

After a few minutes, the door next to TB opened - TB didn't even realize it was a door - and President Bush walked out. TB was the first person there, and the President offered his hand. TigerBlog reached out to shake his hand while possibly also saying "don't shoot" at the same time.

As TigerBlog thinks back on his time at Princeton, the opportunity to meet two sitting U.S. Presidents is way up there.

In fact, Princeton Athletics has enabled him to meet congressmen, senators and governors, including the current governor of New Jersey, with whom TB had his picture taken at the baseball regional in Louisiana. Governor Christie, whose son Andrew was the senior catcher for the Tigers, looks pretty happy to be in the picture with TB.

On both occasions where he met the President, TigerBlog was as impressed or even more impressed by the extent of the security. And the manner in which the Secret Service officers conducted themselves.

When President Clinton was at Princeton, the security presence was everywhere, with officers who were at once heavily armed and unbelievably polite. It was quite a combination.

If you wanted to cross over from one side of a walkway to another and in doing so would go from one restricted area to another, the Secret Service person assigned would not let you go under any circumstance and would apologize profusely for not being able to let you go, all while holding a gun.

That's sort of intimidating. And it sort of changes the dynamic quickly. It's no longer "should I walk across the path." It becomes "will I get shot if I do so?" 

The Secret Service people were dressed in business suits with earpieces, just like on TV. This, though, doesn't even mention all of the people who were there who were Secret Service agents but weren't dressed like them. You know. The ones who piled out of the limo early that morning dressed like a gardener, a back-packer, anything to blend into the background. That's another one of TB's most vivid memories of that day, seeing the limo turn off Washington onto Prospect at about 6 am, as seven people got out and dispersed into anonymity.

The White House? That was inspections and pressure chambers and searches and everything else you can imagine.

As for I-95 by the Wells Fargo Center, well, there's quite a perimeter set up there.

If you know the stretch of road, then trucks are not permitted anywhere between the Philadelphia Airport and the Ben Franklin Bridge. There are police cars everywhere on the highway. Lanes are closed. Exits are blocked with dump trucks.

By the arena itself there is a big wall, and a bunch of temporary structures that TB assumes are entry points.

Again, TigerBlog was impressed with the security, both what could be seen and what was there but couldn't be seen.

So that's enough politics for one day.

Maybe TB should stick to something less controversial. Like the weather.

It's hot out.

But who could possibly like winter better? 

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Sunday At The University Of Maryland

As a small follow-up to Friday's discussion of summer jobs, TigerBlog would like to mention Matthew, the official best friend of TigerBlog Jr.

Matthew is spending his first college summer unloading trucks at a local Dicks Sporting Goods store. His hours? He starts at 4 am and goes until noon. Those are tough hours.

TigerBlog was in that very same Dicks Sporting Goods store Saturday afternoon. He had to take Miss TigerBlog to get new turf shoes.

It was pretty hard for TB to stand there among rows and rows of shoes and boxes as MTB tried on basically every pair of turf shoes in the store, especially since he knew exactly which ones they were going to end up buying anyway. MTB took her sweet time - and tried on countless shoes - before she came around to the ones that TB knew they'd get from the start.

Of course, had TB said to her "these are the ones" when they got there, then she never would have agreed to buy them. Nope, TB had to amuse himself for 10 or 15 minutes while she went through all of them.

The ones she eventually chose were Nike turf shoes. TigerBlog wouldn't have been okay with any other brand other than Nike, unless they were Warrior. Those are the two brands that Princeton Athletics uses, and TB is a big believer in brand loyalty.

TB mentioned this earlier this summer, but this was another one of those "I knew I needed these for a long time but I'm only telling you about it today when I need it tomorrow" moments. The turf shoes were for field hockey camp at the University of Maryland, which began yesterday and which MTB's high school team decided to attend.

So that's how TB spent his Sunday. He drove to Maryland's campus. Dropped off MTB. Made one stop. Then drove back.

When TB and MTB arrived, the first person they saw was someone TB had never met but whose face he knew immediately. It was Dina Rizzo, the former associate head coach at Maryland who is now joining Carla Tagliente's staff at Princeton. This, of course, means, that Dina's last game at Maryland would be last fall's NCAA tournament first round game, when Princeton defeated the Terps 3-1.

TB, wearing a Princeton lacrosse shirt, walked up to Dina and introduced himself and welcomed her to Princeton. Rizzo will be coming to Princeton after the camp, and maybe TB should ask her to drive MTB home.

In all seriousness, Tagliente and Rizzo - and returning assistants Mike Pallister and David Williamson - will have only a few weeks until practice starts and a few more after that until the season begins. The Tigers start the season at home Sept. 2 against North Carolina to start a run of six home games in the first seven games of the year, including a Sept. 20 home game against those very Terps that Rizzo coached a year ago, that Princeton defeated in the NCAAs a year ago and where Tagliente and Rizzo both played.

As they drove down, MTB asked TB if he'd been to the campus before. TigerBlog told her that he'd been there a lot and in fact had seen Princeton win three NCAA men's lacrosse championships there - in 1994, 1996 and 1997. The women won there in 1994.

Perhaps the biggest win in the history of Princeton men's basketball happened on that campus, or at the very least, one of the two biggest wins Princeton ever had. Back in the 1965 East Regional final, Princeton defeated heavily favored Providence 109-69 to advance to the NCAA Final Four, the crowning achievement in the history of the program.

If you're wondering what the other biggest win was, it was the 43-41 win over UCLA in the opening round of the 1996 NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. That was the win that vaulted Pete Carril over the finish line and into the Hall of Fame.

The two biggest wins in program history. Princeton scored 109 in one and 43 in the other.

The win over Providence - powered by Bill Bradley - was in Cole Field House. As TB walked into the football stadium at Maryland, which used to be Byrd Stadium when Princeton was winning lacrosse championships there and which is now Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, he could see that just a shell remained of what was once Cole Field House. The Terps moved to the Comcast Center awhile ago, and apparently Cole Field House had outlived its usefullness.

Actually the only game TB ever saw in the building was between Maryland and Rider, not Maryland and Princeton.

TigerBlog has always liked the University of Maryland.
His cousin Roy went to dental school there. The Terps always played Duke and Carolina tough in basketball when they were in the ACC. He's always liked the campus, which is huge but doesn't quite feel that way.

He knows a few people who grew up in Maryland and had their whole families go to Maryland, only to go to much smaller schools themselves. Still, they remain as loyal to the Terps as any alums.

One of them is David Rosenfeld, a Franklin & Marshall grad, a Diplomat in a family of turtles. David spent much of his early career working in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, and TB was able to connect with him for lunch on his way back.

David has always been one of TB's favorites ever at Princeton. The word TB would use to describe David is "thoughtful," as in "kind to people" and "with a gigantic heart" but also as in "depth of thought." He's one of those people who sees the world clearly and rationally and is able to cut through the nonsense of any situation to get to the heart of the issue.

TB would have loved for David to have stayed at Princeton all these years, but he wanted to get closer to home. TB understands.

After lunch, it was back up 95. On a summer Sunday afternoon, that's not always the best ride to take.

Still, it was good to spend some time on Maryland's campus. And even better to see David.

It's been more than 20 years since TB first hired him as an intern for the OAC. He's the same today as he was then.

Thoughtful. And funny. And loyal.

And just a really good guy.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Employment History

TigerBlog once wrote about trying to figure out exactly when he had spent more time on the Princeton campus than the Penn campus.

This is what he came up with:

Of course, that stretch includes basically every hour of every day. Maybe subtract out a month or two for time not actually on the campus, so that leaves 33 months. With 30.4 days per month, that comes to 1,003 days or 24,076.8 hours.
If TB was at Princeton for eight hours a day, five days a week, or 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, plus an additional, say, six hours on a game day 40 times a year, well, then that adds up to 2,240 hours a year. Divide that into 24,076.8 and that comes to 10 years and nine months, so it's been awhile.
As an aside, that could be the dullest two paragraph stretch in TigerBlog history.

For some reason, that made TB laugh when he stumbled on it yesterday afternoon.

That was back on Dec. 14, 2011.

TigerBlog tries not to repeat himself. Perhaps he should add a statute of limitations. Seriously, who would remember something he wrote five years ago?

 The whole thing about when he reached the point of being on Princeton's campus more than Penn's started when TB was thinking about summer jobs he'd had in college.

Actually, before his freshman year, he had a brief run as a delivery person for an envelope company based in Rahway, N.J., basically across the street from the prison there. TigerBlog would drive to the company office, get the samples he had to deliver in New York City, get a list of other companies where had to pick up other things to bring back to the company and then get on the train.

And then the subway. It was up to him to figure out where to go first and to plan his day. He just had to be back to the company in Rahway by a certain time. That was a fun job for an 18-year-old.

A year later, he worked for a company that did, well, he's not quite sure what it did. Something about business ventures in Central America and South America. TB's job was to do basic office tasks, and it was there that he first used a word processor. He remembers being amazed that he could actually type in the address labels to send a book to 100 different people in South America and then have them print out all perfectly neat and all.

The company was located in Manhattan, at the corner of 68th and Park Avenue. This was not cheap real estate. There was a hot dog cart on the corner of this plush neighborhood, and TigerBlog would get a hot dog with sauerkraut and a Yoo-Hoo every afternoon. Today? He wouldn't eat a hot dog off a cart in Manhattan if you gave him $1,000.

His next summer was spent as a vendor at Veterans' Stadium in Philadelphia. The Phillies went all the way to the World Series that summer, losing to the Baltimore Orioles. TigerBlog was there for the postseason. And for about 60 regular season games.

The 1983 Orioles, by the way, had the American League MVP (Cal Ripken) and the runner-up (Eddie Murray). That can't be something that has happened a lot. Don't tell any of the other vendors from that summer, but TigerBlog was actually rooting for the Orioles in the World Series.

TigerBlog loved Veterans' Stadium, which puts him in the minority. It was a cookie-cutter stadium of the 1970s, but it was a great place to see a game. And to drag two trays of beer or soda or a steaming hot vat of hot dogs up to the 600 and 700 levels on days and nights like the ones that are currently around here.

The vendor job was certainly unique. First of all, you'd work however many days in a row the Phillies were home and then not at all when they were on the road. Then, you'd have to get there around 4 or so for a 7:30 game (TB thinks the games started at 7:30 then) so you could sign in and pick what you were going to sell and from what location in the stadium (there were four for vendors, two upstairs and two downstairs) that night.

You also had to bring cash with you and buy whatever it was you were going to sell. You kept the difference. If you sold soda, it cost $24 for a tray and they cost $1.75 each. If you sold all 24 in the tray, you'd make $42, or $18 per tray. If you hustled, you could sell maybe eight trays in a night. And get really, really sticky from the soda being all over you. 

By the next summer, he was already in the newspaper business, trying to figure out why exactly he was covering Little League baseball. That was more than 30 years ago.

And those were his four summers before each year of college. He thought about this as TigerBlog Jr. has been spending his summer on Princeton's campus.

TBJ has been a counselor at the Dillon Gym day camp, the one he attended as a camper for eight years (in the junior and senior programs) and where he was once a CIT. There are a few current counselors who were campers and then part of the CIT program.

He also spent this past week at the Princeton boys' lacrosse camp and prospect day, as a coach. TB wondered how many people have attended that camp and then gone on to coach at it.

TBJ's favorite time of each year when he was a kid (you mean he's not a kid anymore? When did that happen?) was the time he'd spend in the dorms at Princeton lacrosse camp. It was his first time on his own, in a college dorm, and to say he loved it would be a major understatement.

The first time he went to the camp was when he was 8. The first time he stayed over in the dorms was when he was 10. Now he's nearly 20.

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Anyway, who knows what next summer will hold for TBJ. His father guesses lacrosse will be involved.

And for you? Well, it's a summer weekend. Enjoy it. Do something fun. The first Princeton athletic event is five weeks from today.

The rest of your summer, like TBJ's childhood, will be gone in a flash.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guest TigerBlog - Jim Barlow Is Not Talking About Lacrosse

TigerBlog has an open invitation to anyone who has something to say - even if it isn't about lacrosse. Jim Barlow, the head coach of men's soccer at Princeton, has repeatedly taken TB up on this offer.


This time, Jim gives an update on soccer around the world, from Princeton to the international realm. Don't worry. TB will be back with more lacrosse stuff soon enough.

TB readers may not have picked up on this, but I think TB likes lacrosse. A couple of months ago, after what I perceived to be too many blogs about lacrosse, I gave TB a bit of a hard time about the lack of soccer blogs.

He responded to my ribbing with an open invitation to guest blog about soccer, and so, after much procrastinating, here I am, with a long-overdue, rambling update on all things soccer (actually, this will be more all things men's soccer in an attempt to entice Sean Driscoll to also make a guest TB appearance).

It has been a busy summer of soccer, starting with arguably the biggest upset in sports history when Leicester City won the English Premier League. It was incredible to see Leicester defy the odds -- some had them over 5,000:1 -- with a starting 11, according to The Daily Mail, making just 24.4 million pounds (Manchester City's starters, by comparison, earned 308.8 million).

For a team that barely avoided relegation a year ago, was predicted for relegation in 2016 and played in England's third-tier league just seven years ago, this was truly an unprecedented triumph. Leicester was a breath of fresh air, an overachieving team that was so much greater than the sum of its individual players. Organized, competitive, stingy in defense and explosive in attack, they humbled European giants Manchester City, United, Aresenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. It was great to see.

Next up were the Copa America Centenario (played in the USA) and the European Championships (since I'm not a big Real Madrid fan, I will skip mentioning the Champions League Final).

Chile repeated as Copa America champions, defeating Argentina in penalties in the final for the second year in a row, while Portugal outlasted France in the European Championship in extra time. Both tournaments had some great matches and some terrible ones.

In the Copa America, you can make the case that the two best teams met in the final, in a rematch of their opening round game (which Argentina won 2-1). In the Euros, favorites Germany and Spain fell in the knockout stages (to France and Italy, respectively), leaving a defensive-minded Portugal staving off waves of French attacks in the final, then stealing the victory on a long-range shot by Eder in extra time. In the Euros, so many goals were scored very late in games, or in extra time.

A colleague of mine theorized that by that time in games, goals were created because "the coaching started to wear off." In other words, tactics, especially defensive tactics, dominated much of the competition, with teams remaining hyper-organized defensively and refusing to commit too many numbers to attack. As games wore on and legs started to tire, players reverted back to their instincts, throwing caution to the wind and attacking, resulting in some wild endings.

The darling of the tournament was Iceland, who won over the support of much of the world with its incredible run to the quarterfinals, tying Portugal and beating England on the way. After qualifying ahead of Holland for the Euros, Iceland - with a registered soccer-player total similar to the state of Rhode Island - borrowed a page from Leicester's recent history and proved that on any given day, anything is possible.

As we prepare for the 2016 college season, I hope our players bring the commitment, desire, and fearlessness that we all observed in Leicester and Iceland this summer.

Speaking of college soccer, some Princeton Soccer alumni remain in the world and US Soccer headlines.

On the international front, former Princeton coach Bob Bradley '80 guided French Ligue 2's Le Havre to a fourth place finish in 2016. With three teams earning promotion, Le Havre missed out on the third spot by the narrowest of margins. Le Havre finished tied in points with third place Metz, and on the final day of the season, Le Havre won 5-0 (while Metz lost 1-0), thus making up a six-goal deficit to finish tied in goal difference. The second tie-breaker was goals for, and Metz finished ahead of Le Havre in that category. One more goal on the final day would have earned Le Havre promotion, and the team hit the post three times that afternoon. After a couple of months off, Le Havre is preparing to make another run at promotion in 2016-17.

On the domestic front, Jesse Marsch '96 is in his second season as head coach for the New York Red Bulls, and, after winning the Supporters' Shield with the best record in MLS last season, Jesse currently has the team in third place in the Eastern Conference. Former Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Cameron Porter '16, was traded last week from the Montreal Impact to Sporting Kansas City. As Cam returns to action after a devastating knee injury, we wish him all the best in his new city.

Two other Ivy League Players of the Year, Antoine Hoppenot '13 and Thomas Sanner '16, have also been busy. Antoine is currently playing for FC Cincinnati in the USL, while Thomas recently began his professional career with the MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps.

Finally, it is an important time for men's college soccer, as numerous proposals will go before the NCAA that could significantly change the college soccer landscape.

In an effort to decrease time demands in the fall on student athletes, space games out in a more reasonable way, increase class/study time, allow athletes to enjoy other aspects of campus life, and create a better NCAA championship, college soccer coaches are proposing an academic-year season model, spreading the soccer season out over the fall and spring rather than cramming everything into the three-month fall semester.

Recently, the NCAA conducted a time-demand survey, and Division I men's soccer had by far the highest percentage of participants with 92% of coaches and 80% of student athletes participating. On the question, "Do you wish to support reducing the amount of competition by 10%," 97% of coaches and 90% of players said NO.

On the question, "Do you support the same number of competitions spread out over a lengthened season," 92% of coaches and 81% of athletes said YES. Finally, when asked whether they are in favor of a two-semester model, 90% of coaches and 70% of players said YES.

In our current system, too many games are crammed into too short a season, resulting in numerous health and well-being issues. Spreading the season out over the fall and the spring would reduce the number of mid-week contests, allow players an additional day off during the week, give coaches the chance to really develop players, and give the students more time during the week, especially in the fall, to pursue other activities on campus.

There are a number of obstacles/hurdles to overcome for this legislation to become a reality, but it will be interesting to see if it gains momentum over the coming months. Stay tuned.

I'm sure TB thinks that is enough soccer talk for one day. Thanks to TB for giving me the soap box for a little while. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and please visit Myslik Field in Roberts Stadium for some matches this fall!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Rowing Stones

The opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics are two weeks from Friday.

The first Olympics that TigerBlog can really remember clearly were the 1972 Summer Olympics. Those were the ones in what was then West Germany, with the murder of these 11 members of the Israeli delegation:

David Berger (weightlifting)
Ze'ev Friedman (weightlifting)
Yossef Gutfreund (wrestling referee)
Eliezer Halfin (wrestling)
Yossef Romano (weightlifting)
Amitzur Shapira (track and field coach)
Kehat Shorr (shooting coach)
Mark Slavin (wrestling)
Andre Spitzer (fencing coach)
Yakov Springer (weightlifting referee)
Moshe Weinberg (wrestling coach)

The day that the Israelis were taken hostage is really the first day of any Olympics that TB can remember. That, and Mark Spitz - himself Jewish - and the seven gold medals (with seven world records) he won in Munich.

At first, TigerBlog thought that the TV announcers said that terrorists had attacked the Australian contingent, which made little sense. He quickly realized they said Israeli.

He doesn't remember watching the 1968 Olympics on TV. He does remember watching the Mets win the 1969 World Series and the Jets win Super Bowl III a few months earlier. Those are his first sports-on-TV memories.

His most vivid memory of 1976 actually was the amazing downhill run of Franz Klammer of Austria in the Winter Games, which back then were in the same year as the Summer Games.

In 1980, there was the Summer Olympic boycott by the United States. If you don't remember it, the Games in 1980 were in Moscow, which the U.S. boycotted as a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

If you were an American athlete who was primed to compete in 1980, the boycott came at a really bad time. Here you were, ready to have what likely would have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and it was yanked away by politics.

Back then, there was a certain Olympic ideal of amateurism and purity and all of those things. Politics wasn't supposed to be a part of it.

One of the athletes who never got his chance was a rower named Gregg Stone. Now, all these years later, his daughter Gevvie is going to Rio as a singles sculler, for the second straight Olympiad.

Not that it's exactly clear cut.

If you've been following these Olympics at all, you've heard about the potential problems that are on the horizon. None of these issues are bigger than the threat of the Zika virus, especially for women.

Gevvie Stone is a Princeton grad, Class of 2007. She barely missed out on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and then finished seventh in her event in 2012.

Now, for 2016, she's earned a return trip.

The question for athletes, especially women's rowers, is whether or not she should accept it. Yes, it's her last chance to win an Olympic medal. But at what cost?

The issues in Rio - Zika, security, among others - has put athletes in a terrible position. In 1980, there was no choice. The U.S. didn't go, so you didn't go if you were a U.S. Olympian.

This time, it's a personal choice. Do you want to accept the potential risks to be able to reach your life's dream?

Gevvie Stone has decided to go. And she has done an incredible job of explaining why.

If you haven't already read her piece in The Players' Tribune, then you definitely need to read it. You can do so HERE.

Here's a sample:
When people ask me if I’ve thought about skipping this year’s Olympics, I think of the whole journey — the commitment, the hard work, the sacrifices and the opportunities that I have let pass — and I tell them no. Not once. I’ve got too much invested in this. I’ve heard about all the problems in Brazil right now (about the Zika virus, about the polluted bay in which I’ll be competing, about the crime and poverty in Rio de Janeiro, and about the political unrest that is roiling the whole country). Both U.S. Rowing and the USOC have been great about keeping our team informed about what is going on. I don’t take any of the concerns lightly. At all. I’m a doctor, and I try to be very rational about everything. But how can I be completely rational about a once-in-a-lifetime (or in my case, a twice-in-a-lifetime) opportunity like the Olympics?

TigerBlog has never met Gevvie Stone. He knows her name and has followed her career, but he never met her.

After reading the piece, he feels like he knows her well.

For one thing, he didn't realize she was a doctor. Also, he didn't realize her family history in rowing.

Mostly, though, she does such a great job of putting words together and of explaining her decisions. And you can feel through her writing how passionately she feels about her sport and the opportunity, even while the doctor in her is talking about practicality and precautions. She even mentions using hand sanitizer on the handles of her oars.

Her first race is on Day 1 of the Games.

She is one of 13 Olympians from Princeton. They each have their own decisions to make and their own stories to tell.

Gevvie Stone told hers in a very public way.

And she did so perfectly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Kind Of Car Was It? A Blue One.

TigerBlog was at a stoplight the other day when a blue sedan pulled up next to him.

It looked like any other sedan - until TigerBlog noticed the word "Maserati" across the back of it. Yeah, it was a Maserati, an elite Italian car.
TigerBlog went to Maserati's website. Judging by what he saw of the car, he thinks it lists for $76,000. And that's the low-end model. There are others that approach $90,000.

Here's TigerBlog's question - how many people can tell a Maserati by sight without seeing any identifiable markings? How many people know what any given car looks like and what makes one car different from another?

Could TB take, say, a Toyota and put the "Maserati" lettering across the back and pass it off as a $76,000 automobile? How many people would say "no, that's a Toyota?"

TB assumes that the value of the car is in the way it rides? But how great can the ride be to be worth that much? Does it come with a driver? A valet? No. You still have to drive it yourself.

Perhaps you're just paying for the name?

Maybe TB would feel differently if he drove one, but he'd be way too nervous about scratching it - or worse.

TB owns two cars. For eight months of the year, he can use either one. The rest of the year he drives one and TigerBlog Jr. drives the other. Miss TigerBlog will be able to get her permit in a few weeks, so she's going to want the other car when she gets her license. TBJ wants to take the car back to school with him, while MTB will want to be able to drive herself to school, so that battle is coming soon to TB's world.

The car that TBJ drives is a Honda CR-V. It is closing in on 198,000 miles. TigerBlog's car is a Nissan Rogue. It is closing in on 75,000 miles.

About the only complaint TB has about his car is that the seats come up close to but not exactly touching the console, so things like pens, cookies and phones can fall into the opening. And then it's a nightmare to try to get them back. 

Before the CR-V, TigerBlog had a Toyota Sienna minivan, which had 155,000 miles when he traded it in on the CR-V. It was TB's understanding that his old minivan was sent to the Caribbean to be a taxi - that's not a bad retirement.

And in fairness, TB bought all of these cars before his former and now current boss became the Ford Family Director of Athletics. And he did own two Ford's before that, both of which were Tauruses, which, now that he thinks about it, is what the Maserati looked like.

When TB went to goprincetontigers.com yesterday, he saw that, here in the middle of July, two of the top stories were about men's basketball.

One is about T.J. Bray.

As a longtime basketball player in Europe, T.J. Bray must have been given a car at some point. Even though Bray is a veteran of the Italian leagues, TB doubts it was a Maserati.

Bray recently moved from the Italian second league to the top league in Germany. Bray, who graduated in 2014, spent two seasons in Italy.

If you look at the assist leaders in Princeton men's basketball history, you'll notice Billy Ryan is first, Kit Mueller is second and T.J. Bray is third. Bray also had 1,024 points and was a total fan favorite at Jadwin Gym.

The complete story about Bray's move to Germany is HERE.

Another fan favorite at Jadwin is current Tiger Devin Cannady, who also was on the front page of the website yesterday.

Cannady, if you've been following, has been spending his summer in Tanzania, studying Swahili and immersing himself in local culture. He has been reporting on his trip on the Princeton website, and you can read about it HERE (Part I), HERE (Part II) and HERE (Part III).

Cannady is an exciting player who had a great freshman year. He's tough when toughness is needed most, and he's the kind of player you can't help but notice while the game is going on. He's one of those players where anytime he touches the ball he's capable of doing something extraordinary.

If you read his posts, you'll see he's capable of doing extraordinary things off of the court as well. And of incredible personal depth.

It's hard to imagine too many people are getting more out of their summer than Cannady.

Make sure you read his entries. They're well worth it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dream Baby Dream

TigerBlog's friend Charlie - he's from Penn, but you can still like him - used to say that he liked the song "Hey Jude" because the words were easy to remember.

You know. "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Na-na-na-na. Hey Jude."

TigerBlog is pretty sure that he read somewhere that when the Beatles wrote that sang, they put the "na na na na" part in as a place-holder, figuring they'd go back and add lyrics later, only to find out that they liked the way it sounded.

Maybe that's really how it went.

TigerBlog heard a relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band song over the weekend called "Dream Baby Dream." Perhaps you've heard it.

Anyway, each verse of the song is basically one line repeated three times. Why wouldn't there have been different lyrics in each verse, with possibly fewer verses?

What is the reason? What is the meaning?

Maybe it's because he liked the way it sounded. Or maybe it's because he couldn't think of anything else to write. Or maybe he was just being lazy. So many theories. So many complexities.

Or maybe it's simpler.

Take the line "I just want to see you smile." It's actually sung three times in a verse and then repeated two other times, for a total of nine times in the song where the Boss sings that he just wants to "see you smile."

Why?

Maybe it's simple. Maybe he just wants to see someone smile, and in doing so, all of the problems in that moment seem a little more distant, a little more solvable.

It's the same with "c'mon and open up your heart," which he sings 12 times.

Maybe with those lines, one of which is seven words and the other of which is six, he figures he's saying everything that needs to be said.

Sometimes what appears to be complex is actually simple.

So yeah, "Dream Baby Dream." It's a pretty good song.

The start of the gold medal game at the U-19 men's lacrosse World Championships Saturday night was more of a nightmare than a dream for the U.S. team.

The Americans had zoomed through the tournament, beginning with a 12-5 win over Canada and then hammering everyone, including Australia 23-1 in the semifinal.

When the tournament started, as with most international tournaments, the pre-determined final seemed to be the U.S. and Canada, which is part of the problem with international lacrosse. The game continues to grow, and more and more countries are fielding teams, but the gap to the Canadians and Americans is huge (as for the U-19 championships, the Americans had won each of the seven tournaments).

The only team that can even pretend to compete is the Iroquois team, which is loaded with Division players, but the U.S. still defeated that team 17-3 in pool play. The Canadians had a tougher time with the Iroquois but still won 12-9 in the round robin game and 14-11 in the other semifinal.

The Iroquois then beat Australia 20-8 for the bronze. If you're curious, the other placement game saw England beat Israel 10-7 for fifth, Ireland beat Germany 16-12 for seventh, China beat Scotland 15-9 for ninth, Hong Kong beat South Korea 13-4 for 11th and Mexico beat Taiwan 9-4 for 13th.

And so that left the U.S. and Canada for the gold.

The U.S. may have had a relatively easy win over Canada - the host, as the tournament was being played in British Columbia - but the Canadians had defeated the U.S. 14-13 in overtime in an exhibition game last winter.

Any thought that this game might be easy for the U.S. was erased when Canada scored the first six. And it was 8-2 Canadians at the half.

Back, though, the Americans would come, eventually tying it at 12-12 and then winning it 13-12 with 8.5 seconds to play. It would be the only lead the U.S. would have in the game.

Princeton men's lacrosse played a big role in the championship.

Austin Sims, who was an All-Ivy League midfielder for the Tigers last spring, was the U.S. team co-captain. Sims scored 23 goals last year for Princeton, and he will be the team's second-leading returning goal-scorer next year (Gavin McBride had 26).

Sims played much more of a defensive role for the U.S. team, which is what he did as a freshman at Princeton. He also played a huge leadership role, which was something that was mentioned often during the tournament.

The other Princeton player on the team hasn't yet suited up for the Tigers, and that would be incoming freshman Michael Sowers. A recent graduate of Upper Dublin High School outside of Philadelphia, Sowers had 402 career assists in high school, which is believed to be the national high school record - by 95, over the next-best total, which was the 307 that current Yale attackman Ben Reeves had.

Sowers made the All-World team on attack after having 11 goals and 11 assists in the tournament, including a goal and two assists - all in the third quarter as the U.S. made its run - in the championship game.

Sowers was the only U.S. player in double figures in both goals and assists.

Princeton men's lacrosse will be starting over this year, as Matt Madalon will begin his first full season as head coach. Obviously the return of Sims and the addition of Sowers will be huge pieces for the Tigers, especially after their international experience.

The first gold medals of the summer have been won, not in Rio, but in Canada, by the U.S. men's U-19 team. In highly dramatic fashion.

With a nightmare start that quickly turned into a dream finish.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Mid-Point

Has it really been six weeks since Princeton played UL-Lafayette in the opening game of the NCAA baseball regional?

Six weeks?

If you paid attention at all, you know that the trip to the regional was one of TigerBlog's favorite Princeton trips ever. The atmosphere at the games themselves was unlike anything TB had ever experienced, and there were parts away from the stadium that were incredible also.

And that was six weeks ago.

Princeton lost to UL-Lafayette 5-3 on that Friday and was eliminated the next day by Sam Houston State 7-2.

TigerBlog thought Sam Houston State was really good. The Bearkats put a lot of pressure on Arizona both times the teams met in the regional, and Sam Houston was eventually eliminated with a 6-5 loss. Arizona then beat UL-Lafayette twice - and then won the Super Regional and its division at the College World Series to get all the way to the championship series, only to lose in three games to Coastal Carolina.

In other words, Princeton found itself in a pretty strong regional. The host team (TigerBlog came back with two Ragin' Cajun t shirts) was ranked 17th, and even though UL-Lafayette lost twice to Arizona, it still outscored the Wildcats 14-12 counting its win the first meeting they had. And Sam Houston barely was edged by Arizona.

In the end, it was Arizona who made the big run. It could definitely have been UL-Lafayette. Sam Houston was going to be pesky no matter what.

Princeton actually led in its first game at the regional 3-2 before the home team rallied. Chad Powers was great that night, with eight strikeouts and no walks in front of an absolutely packed house.

Yup. That was six weeks ago tonight.

What's six weeks from today? The first athletic event of the 2016-17 season for Princeton.

That would be on Aug. 26, when the women's soccer team hosts Fordham. Two days later, the Tigers also host Villanova. Make sure you're there. What? You have something already planned for Aug. 28?

 The women's soccer team, by the way, should be well worth seeing.

Tyler Lussi, who is starting to put herself into the national team picture with the U-23 team, will be chasing down Esmeralda Negron's career records for goals and points, for the men's and women's programs (she is four goals and 12 points away from tying them). Sophomore Mimi Asom, the Ivy Rookie of the Year who has been with the U-20 national team, will then try to chase down whatever records that Lussi puts up.

Anyway, what does that make today?

Well, the baseball games were the last games of the 2015-16 academic year, though track and field athletes competed a week later.

But basically, that makes this weekend the mid-point between the end of the old year and the start of the new year.

It's mid-July, of course. The forecast for Princeton is summery. And it's going to stay that way for awhile. The next 15 days, apparently, will have no day that will have a high temperature lower than 86.

Hazy. Hot. Humid. Toss in some thunderstorms. This is not TB's first July in New Jersey.

Since it's a Friday in July, TigerBlog can take a paragraph or two to say that there is no part of him that understands the whole Pokemon Go thing. And there's no part of him that wants to participate in it either.

Apparently there have been some people who have actually gotten hurt playing this game. TB saw one story, for instance, from Auburn, N.Y., outside of Syracuse, where a driver playing the game smashed into a tree.

This is from a wire story:

New mobile game Pokemon Go has become an overnight sensation with U.S. fans but also played a role in armed robberies in Missouri, the discovery of a body in Wyoming and minor injuries to fans distracted by the app, officials and news media reported on Monday.
The "augmented reality" game based on the 1990s Japanese franchise surged to the top of Apple Inc's app charts over the weekend. Gamers use their mobile devices to find and capture virtual Pokemon characters such as cuddly yellow Pikachu at various real-life locations.
Five days after its release, the game now is on more Android phones than dating app Tinder, and its rate of daily active users was neck and neck with social network Twitter, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb.
Highlighting a dark side to its popularity, the game was used by four teens in Missouri to lure nearly a dozen victims into armed robberies, police and media reports said.

What else?

This is a big weekend for Austin Sims and Michael Sowers of the men's lacrosse team. They'll play in the U-19 World Championship gold medal game tomorrow.

For the most part, though, it's a quiet time for Princeton Athletics.

And the mid-point from last year to next year.

Next year will be here soon enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Doyle And Mike, And Meeting Carla

For a Wednesday in the middle of July, yesterday was a pretty busy day for TigerBlog.

He had four meetings. That's probably half of the meetings he has for the entire month.

One of those meetings was with a committee that TB has been a part of for years, one that first wrote the official stat-keeping rules for men's lacrosse and now continues to update them.

The original stat-keeping rules were written by the late, very great Doyle Smith, who was the longtime men's lacrosse contact at the University of Virginia and a graduate of Johns Hopkins. Doyle, as gentle a soul as TigerBlog has ever met, passed away in 2004 after battling Parkinson's for years.

A few years after Doyle's death, the idea arose from the NCAA to update his manual. TigerBlog was honored to be part of the group.

When TB first started doing men's lacrosse stats here, each school kept its own. This led to wild inconsistencies, especially in the area of face-offs, where both teams routinely claimed that it had won that particular draw.

Once every school started using StatCrew for in-game stats (StatCrew is a computer stats program that is used for basically every NCAA sport), there was at least a little more uniformity. What was missing was a real definition of what constituted a ground ball or a save or an assist or anything that happens in lacrosse.

The updated manual grew out of a series of conference calls over the course of the summer of 2008. The idea was to define each term and then come up with every possible situation that could occur in a lacrosse game.

For TigerBlog, it was a lot of fun.

Since then, the on-field rules have changed, which resulted in changes to stat-keeping. The call yesterday was to basically see what if anything needed to be updated.

Mostly for TigerBlog, the question isn't about what rules need to be updated. It's how does the committee and the NCAA get everyone who is responsible for stat-keeping to follow the rules. After all, the stats lead directly to things like all-league and All-America and such, so there is huge importance to them.

But there is still inconsistency. And in the world of college lacrosse stat-keeping across all three NCAA divisions, there's a lot of turnover, a lot of young intern-types, a lot of non-lacrosse people who sit down behind a computer to stat a game.

Moving forward, that will be as important for TB's committee as the rules themselves.

After the call, TigerBlog found himself with his thoughts back two old friends, both of who are gone. Doyle, of course, was one of them. Doyle had issues communicating due to his disease, and it got way worse as time went on. Still, there have been very, very few people TigerBlog has ever met who could touch TB and reach TB with just a smile the way Doyle Smith could.

Doyle was 60 when he died. The other friend was even younger. Mike Colley, who took over for Doyle as UVa's men's lacrosse contact when Doyle could not longer do it, was part of the original committee that put together the stat manual. He would say that he gave away ground balls like they were "Halloween candy," and TB has appropriated that term many times since.

Mike was 46 when he died suddenly in 2009. It was seven years ago this week actually, and TB still remembers the stunned feeling he had when he heard the news.

Doyle Smith. Mike Colley. Good men. Good friends.

TigerBlog spent part of his day yesterday thinking back about the two of them. He also spent some of it meeting someone new, Princeton field hockey coach Carla Tagliente. It was the first time he'd met her.

Tagliente comes to Princeton from UMass, where she was the head coach for five seasons. Her first game with the Tigers is a little more than six weeks away.

Right now, she is in the process of moving to Princeton, finalizing her coaching staff, learning her team. It's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.

Is she stressed? Phased? Worried?

If she is, she hides it well. She certainly comes across as calm. And confident. And excited about the opportunity here.

She seemed interested in how things work around here, and she had some specific questions. Mostly though she just wanted to say hello, put a name with a face, put a lot of names with a lot of faces here.

And there was one familiar face. Carla worked at UMass with Cody Chrusciel, who also went from there to Princeton, in his case to be a video dude.

Now Carla is here as well.

She's made a very good first impression.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

112 Athletes, 157 Appearances - And One Robin

TigerBlog bought a new bicycle the other day.

It's about time. He was borrowing a bike for his rides with John McPhee, and it was actually a women's bike.

The difference between a men's bike and a women's bike is the bar parallel to the ground. Men's bikes have them; women's don't.

The question is why? TB presumes it has something to do with how young ladies used to wear long skirts when they rode way back when. That makes sense, right?

What doesn't make sense is the bar. If TB were to, uh, slip off the bicycle seat, he'd rather not land on that metal bar.

TB broke out his new bike (and new helmet) yesterday, for a nearly 14-mile ride with Mr. McPhee. This time it was at a park a little north of Princeton, where there is a mostly flat, fairly wide bike path.

There are also trees and benches under some of those trees, and other benches out in the sun along a ridge. It's a very calming place.

And it's a bit more peaceful than battling the traffic throughout town.

While TB and Mr. McPhee rode, they encountered maybe 10 people, and one dog, whose name turned out to be "Lincoln." And a robin in one of the trees.

The robin is a very common bird around this area, and by this area TigerBlog means North America. There's something appealing about the robin, perhaps because it seems to be such a happy, friendly bird, one that is constantly singing, one that has a soothing appearance. Certainly the one that TB saw yesterday fit that description.

There are any number of athletic teams nicknamed "Cardinals." Why aren't there any (or not that many) nicknamed "Robins?"

Unlike the ride around Princeton, the one at the park is a series of trips around what is a slightly more than two-mile loop. By the time TB had circled back around, the robin had gone to a different tree. He was probably still there, though, watching over TB, wondering to himself why he was struggling to keep up with the 85-year-old guy again.

The ride around the park is much more conducive to conversation than on the streets. At one point, the talk turned to the Olympic Track and Field trials, and TB told Mr. McPhee about how close Julie Ratcliffe had come to getting to Rio, after she threw 70.75 meters to set the New Zealand record but fell 0.25 meters (less than 10 inches) short of the Olympic qualifying standard.

On the other hand, the 70.75 was her personal best - and four more meters than she threw when she won the NCAA championship as a Princeton sophomore in 2014. And it was also the New Zealand record.

TB has a sense Ratcliffe's chance to get to the Olympics is just starting. In another four years - which includes her senior year at Princeton next year - she'll be back.

TB also mentioned Donn Cabral and how he rallied to reach the Olympics against in the steeplechase. Mr. McPhee said that a few years back he and Bryce Chase were riding, at a pretty good pace he said, when a runner came up next to them, ran with them for a few minutes and then sprinted away from them.

It was Donn Cabral.

It appears that all Olympic qualifying is over, and it would seem like Princeton will have 13 (or 14) representatives in Rio. They are:

women's soccer - Diana Matheson (Canada)
field hockey - Julia Reinprecht, Katie Reinprecht, Kat Sharkey
track and field - Donn Cabral, assistant cross country coach Robby Andrews (a UVa grad)
fencing - Kat Holmes
women's water polo - Ashleigh Johnson
rowing - Lauren Wilkinson (Canada), Glenn Ochal, Robin Prendes, Tyler Nase, Gevvie Stone, Kate Bertko

With the addition of those 13, Princeton's all-time total of Olympians is now 157 appearances by 112 athletes. In the last three Summer Games, the numbers are 29 athletes, 41 appearances.

Princetonians have won 18 gold medals, 22 silver medals and 23 bronze medals.

If you're a Princeton fan, you have to feel pretty good about the chances of success - and medals - in Rio. Basically everyone on the list above figures to make some noise while there.

The Summer Games start on Aug. 5 and run until the 21st. There will be pretty in-depth coverage on goprincetontigers.com and here.

Hey, that's only three weeks from now?

And then when it's over, there'll be less than a week until Princeton Athetics starts up again?