Friday, April 28, 2017

Connor Fletcher, And The Rest Of The Weekend

TigerBlog actually has a CD player in his car. This is good, because he still has one CD.

It's actually a four-disc set of a live performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. TB listens to it over and over, usually, except for when he needs a break.

That happened yesterday, when he popped out the CD. When he did, the radio came on, a classic rock station, and here is what TB heard:
"From your front porch to my front seat. The door's open but the ride ain't free. And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoke ..."

Yup, it was The Boss again. This time, it was the studio version of "Thunder Road."

If you're a long-time reader, you know that "Thunder Road" is one of TB's two favorite songs of all time. The other? "Born to Run," of course.

He has no idea how many times he's heard the two songs. It's in the thousands. Lots of thousands.

TB wishes he could go back to when he first heard those two songs and remember what he thought. He thinks that about a lot of things.

He doesn't have to wonder about what he thought when he first saw Connor Fletcher play lacrosse.

Here is the scouting report on Fletcher, a Cornell freshman:

"Great natural athlete. Hard shot. Very good stick. Sees the field very well. Has a high lacrosse IQ."

Is that from the Princeton's men's lacrosse handout, in advance of the game tomorrow in Ithaca? Nah.

That was TB's report on Connor, back when TB had to do a review of each player he coached on the Lower Bucks Lacrosse 5th/6th grade team. This was back in 2009, by the way. Don't ask TB why he still has it on his computer. Don't ask him why he still has the stats from that season too.

TigerBlog actually first coached Connor Fletcher when Connor was in third grade and TigerBlog Jr. was in fourth. Connor's father Dan - an orthopedic surgeon, he was Dr. Dan to all of LBL - and TigerBlog coached a team together, which TBJ wanted to call the Lizards, after the Major League Lacrosse franchise.

In that season, TB put Connor on defense for the big games. It was Connor who wiped out Michael Major in a huge in-house LBL game that year; Michael now plays for St. Joe's.

In fact, the 5th/6th grade team that Connor and TBJ played on actually had seven players who would go on to play college lacrosse, one who would play college football and one who would be a college swimmer.

Connor, one of TB's favorite kids from Day 1, would go from Lower Bucks Lacrosse to Princeton Day School for high school. He would also go from being an average size third-grader to a giant, as he stands 6-3 and weighs in at 225.

In any other year, Connor would be in the running for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, with his 22 goals and nine assists, which rank him second on the Big Red in scoring. In fact, Princeton's last three Ivy Rookies of the Year averaged 33 points as freshmen, which leaves Connor two short of matching that in tomorrow's game.

This, though, is not any other year for Ivy League freshmen men's lacrosse players, not with Princeton's Michael Sowers (70 points, the Ivy League record for a freshman) and Cornell's Jeff Teat (60 points, third-best by an Ivy freshman).

The men's lacrosse game is a matchup of the two historic powers of Ivy League lacrosse. Between them, they've won 56 league championships; no other team has more than 10.

This weekend is an interesting one for Princeton Athletics. It's the end of the regular season for a few sports, three of whom have intriguing games this weekend but have their eyes firmly on the huge events of the coming weeks.

There's also postseason for women's water polo, who starts the CWPA playoffs at the University of Indiana as the second seed, taking on seventh-seeded Bucknell today. The top seed is Michigan.

Keep in mind, the end of this season will mark the end of the legendary career of Ashleigh Johnson, and the games this weekend begin a run of elimination games.

Both lacrosse teams are still hoping to get a share of the Ivy League championship - and yet both are firmly focused on the upcoming Ivy League and NCAA tournaments.

No matter what happens in the game at Cornell, the men's lacrosse team will be the No. 2 seed and play No. 3 Brown in the Ivy League tournament at Yale next Friday. Yale will be the top seed, and Penn will be the four.

The Tigers could get a share of the Ivy title, with a win over Cornell and a Yale loss to Harvard.

As for the women, they are home against Columbia at 1 tomorrow. A win in that game assures Princeton of at least a share of the Ivy League championship.

Right now the Tigers are tied with Cornell and Penn at 5-1 in the league. Each has a win and loss against the other, and each would get at least a share with a win tomorrow, when Penn plays Yale and Cornell plays Harvard. Princeton, Cornell and Penn are all in the Ivy League tournament, as is Harvard.

The question is where will the tournament be. The answer is Cornell if the Big Red win, Princeton if the Tigers win and Cornell and Penn both lose and Penn if Penn wins and Cornell loses.

Going further, a Cornell win assures that it'll be Princeton-Penn in the first round. If you're wondering why, by the way, Cornell would win head to head against Penn with its win over the Quakers and in the event of a three-way tie with its better goal-differential in the games between the three. Princeton would get the top seed with a two-tie with only Cornell, whom the Tigers beat a week ago.

Also, having said all that, all three teams are pretty much locks for the NCAA tournament.

The softball team ends the regular season this weekend too, with four games against Cornell. Princeton is assured the South Division championship and the spot in the Ivy League championship series that goes with it.

On the line this weekend are: 1) where the series will be and 2) who the opponent will be. Princeton would clinch the host role with two wins in four games this weekend, regardless of anything else.

As for the opponent, it'll be either Harvard, Dartmouth or Yale, and there could even be a three-way tie in the North Division, depending on how this weekend goes.

There is also rowing this weekend, with the heavyweights and women's open at home.

And of course there is the Penn Relays, which began yesterday and run through tomorrow in Philadelphia. Hey, the same is true of the NFL draft.

Did anyone else notice that?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Public Address

A crowd of 5,545 came to Jadwin Gym for a men's basketball game on the night of Dec. 9, 1999.

They were drawn, no doubt, as much by the promise of the new public address announcer, Bill Bromberg, as they were by the opponent, TCU. Princeton, by the way, would win in OT, 77-72, with double figure performances by three Tigers - TB will give you a few paragraphs to consider who they might have been.

As for Bromberg, that was Game No. 1 at Princeton. The men's lacrosse game against Harvard last weekend was Game No. 475 for Bromberg as a Princeton PA announcer.

He has at least one more this season to do, the women's lacrosse game Saturday against Columbia, which will take him to 476 for his Princeton career.

TigerBlog wishes he knew if this was some sort of record. He does know that next year, at some point during basketball season, Bromberg will reach 500 games as a PA announcer. That's a lot.

Bromberg came to Princeton from the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team, and he was also doing Seton Hall basketball as well. The three Princeton players in double figures in his first game, by the way, were pretty good ones - Chris Young, Mason Rocca and Spencer Gloger. Interestingly, for wildly varied reasons, none of those three ever reached 1,000 career points at Princeton.

Meanwhile, back at Bromberg, he has done almost every men's basketball game since that first one more than 17 years ago. He added women's basketball and men's lacrosse in 2003 and women's lacrosse a year later.

He has been behind the mic for some of the coldest, most miserable nights you'd ever imagine for early-season lacrosse games. He has done doubleheaders in lacrosse and basketball, and he's done both sports on the same day in crossover seasons.

In fact, he's done at least one tripleheader, with men's lacrosse at noon, women's lacrosse at 3 and men's basketball at 6. That was back in 2014.

He's been the PA announcer for four men's basketball coaches, three men's lacrosse coaches, two women's basketball coaches and one women's lacrosse coach, not to mention several hundred athletes and even a few random football and hockey games.

Bromberg is not TigerBlog's favorite PA announcer of all time. Nope. TB is.

That game against TCU was the second home game of the 1999 season. The first was against Monmouth. TB is pretty sure he was the PA announcer for that game.

TigerBlog, in his time here, has been the PA announcer to various extents for men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's basketball, both soccers and both hockeys. Mostly, he has spent the last 12 seasons as the football PA announcer here.

TB likes to do the PA at games. He likes doing radio also. Hey, maybe he just likes the sound of his own voice. You should hear him sing.

That, of course, is not the point.

TB's point is that he knows he's been the PA announcer for a lot of Princeton games. If he adds them all up, though, the total number probably doesn't come to 200. It probably doesn't even come to 150.

So what's the record for most games done as a PA announcer here? TB wishes there was a way to look it up.

He doesn't really know the history of PA announcers around here, other than that Jeb Stuart's father was the football voice at Palmer Stadium for a long time. Still, TB can't imagine anyone has come close to the number of games that Bromberg has done.

For one thing, there were no women's sports for a long time. He's done games of men and women.

Maybe he has a little too much, uh, personality for TB, who likes to be an unobtrusive complement to the games. Bromberg's whole "by rule" thing after the first media timeout of the second half isn't quite TB's taste, but hey, it works for him.

And, as TB has said before, Bromberg is great at improvising during the promotions during the game, especially the ones at basketball that involve kids.

What Bromberg is as a PA announcer is "welcoming." Everything he does says "hey, thanks for coming, have fun, enjoy the game, come back again." That's just his personality. He's just at his core a good guy, a friendly guy, a loyal guy.

At some point, Bill will hang up his mic. Replacing him will not be easy, when the time comes.

Do you know how hard is would be to find someone to do all four of those sports? TigerBlog doesn't even have to send Bill the schedule each year. He just goes to the webpage and then lets TB know if there is a game or two he can't make.

And then he shows up. Time changes? Bad weather? Odd start times? Doesn't matter.

He's always there, no need to remind him.

TB spoke to Bill the other day. He thanked TB again for the opportunity to work here, as he always does.

He also mentioned the announcement he'd made during the men's lacrosse game the other day, when Michael Sowers broke the Ivy League freshman scoring record. Bill was really happy with it - not because of anything to do with him but instead because of the loud ovation the crowd gave to Sowers.

Then he mentioned that Sowers seems like such a nice kid. He says that all the time about Princeton's athletes. If you asked him who his favorite Princeton athlete of all time is, he'd probably give you 100 names and still be going strong.

Mention his name to most of those athletes and they probably won't be able to tell you who he is, but that's okay. He has no ego problem. The games aren't about him.

He just happens to be a big part of them, and has been for nearly 20 years, and closing in on a remarkable 500 games.

The game against TCU in 1999?

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pushing Denna

Miss TigerBlog had a school event last night. National Honor Society inductions, to be exact.

TB would tell his daughter afterwards that he was proud of her but that it was a really dull ceremony.

First of all, he had to sit way, way up top in the auditorium, which is divided into three tiers. He was in the upper one, completely out of sight of anything other than the stage, whereas the inductees were in the first few rows of the orchestra section.

Also, the microphone at the podium barely worked, so it was next to impossible to hear the speakers.

So from where TB was sitting, he couldn't see or hear the ceremony. What did he do?

He watched the Navy-Holy Cross Patriot League men's lacrosse quarterfinal game on his phone. Or at least the second half. If you're wondering, Holy Cross won 11-7.

TB is reasonably sure that his own parents did not do the same when he was inducted into the NHS all those years ago. Maybe MTB can pull off the double that TB did not: National Honor Society in high school, Phi Beta Kappa in college.

TigerBlog always loves to watch Navy teams play. It takes someone very special to go to a service academy to compete and be a student, and those athletes - and everyone there, actually - sacrifice a lot of what most people expect of their college experiences.

The game last night was played on Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. If you've ever been there, or seen a game there on TV or video, you know that the list of battles that the Navy and Marines have fought throughout their history are denoted on the walls around the field.

TB has been to games there. It's an incredibly poignant setting, knowing how many people who have played there sacrificed much more than their college experience. You can't help but be touched by it.

Speaking of being touched by athletes, TB has been meaning to mention the story from the Boston Marathon last week that hits home for Princeton Athletics.

This story is about the incredible effort of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter, who for 26.2 miles and more than four hours pushed Princeton alum Denna Laing in her wheelchair throughout the entire course. It looked impossibly hard to do, and yet there he was, mile after mile, running and pushing Denna.

This was an amazingly inspirational moment, courtesy of two extraordinary people.

Bobby Carpenter was the first American-born hockey player ever to be a first-round NHL draft pick. TigerBlog remembers that.

He also had a near-career-ending knee injury that was described in an NBC Sports piece as "dropping fine china on a cement floor and then trying to put it back together." Carpenter came back from that to play nearly another decade, winning a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1994-95. He'd play 18 seasons in the NHL.

Denna Laing, as you remember, played hockey at Princeton and then in the professional women's outdoor league, where she suffered a spinal cord injury in the Women's Winter Classic 16 months ago.

Since then, she has shared with the world the remarkable story of her drive to walk again, and the way her injury has not dampened her spirits, not to mention her smile. Any time TB has seen her profiled since, he has done nothing but marvel at her zeal. Her drive makes him shake his head in wonderment.

Her rehab regimen has allowed her to regain use of her shoulders, arms and hands,which came in handy during the marathon, as she was waving and waving and waving to the crowds who cheered them on.

The connection was Laing's father, who had played hockey with Carpenter when they were younger. Laing and Carpenter didn't train together, and in fact the Marathon last week was only the third time he ran and pushed her. Before that, he trained by pushing a chair with sandbags on it, simulating Denna's weight.

Carpenter ran the Marathon a year ago, in a time of 3:46. This time, pushing Denna for the 26.2 miles, their time was 4:30. Can you imagine doing that for 4:30?

Hey, can you imagine the sight of the two of them as they reached the finish? Incredible.

The day after Denna's injury, Princeton's Mike Condon played one of the biggest games of his career in the Winter Classic, beating the Boston Bruins as the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens. During the 2015-16 season, Condon was the primary starter for Montreal, as regular starter Carey Price missed basically the entire season, and Condon played very well, especially considering he was basically being thrown to the wolves.

This year, Condon has been on the Ottawa Senators, except for one game early in the season for the Penguins. Condon has started much of the season as Ottawa's usual starter, Craig Anderson, had been out caring for his wife during her battle with cancer.

Condon had a really good year for the Senators, and he has done a lot to establish himself as a legitimate NHL goalie. For now, though, he is Anderson's backup for the playoffs.

Ottawa defeated Boston in the first round in six games, all of which were played by Anderson. Maybe Condon will get in at some point.

Next up for Ottawa is the Rangers, who knocked off Montreal, also in six games. TB will be rooting for Ottawa, just as he did in the first round. He's never been a fan of the Bruins or the Rangers, and it would be great to see Condon get a Stanley Cup ring so early in his career.

Condon is very easy to root for, an underdog who is trying to make his way, and who is a Princeton alum to boot.

And then there's Denna Laing. And Bobby Carpenter.

What can TB say about them, other than just wow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dynamic Dogs And Duos

As TigerBlog has said before, in a perfect world, he will spend his retirement years out walking his dog.

He doesn't have a dog now. He will have one eventually.

His first experience with a dog was when he was a kid and his family had a toy poodle named Louis. Technically, he was Louis XVI. His parents were Napolean and Josephine, and he had a brother named Robespierre.

Had he been born a decade or so later, he could have been Jean Valjean or Marius.

Napolean and Josephine were known as Nappy and Josie to TigerBlog's Aunt Frannie, one of those remarkable people you meet in your life who stay with you long, long after they're gone. TB's Aunt Frannie survived cancer and a heart attack to live probably into her 80s, as TB remembers it.

Frannie was the wife of TB's maternal grandmother's brother Maurice. She was one of those perpetually upbeat people who always loved to have young TB in her house, which was outside of Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, TB is pretty sure.

And apparently she had a thing for French history.

Louis lived until he was 12, done in eventually by diabetes, possibly from his life-long habit of licking ice cream bowls clean pretty much every night (unlike the real Louis XVI, who was guillotined at the age of 38, done in by those pesky revolutionaries). MotherBlog, a nurse, gave the dog an insulin injection every morning for the last six months of his life, but eventually Louis didn't like getting the needle.

As dogs go, he was a good one. You could let him out in the front of the house without a leash, and he'd never even consider running away. Why would he? He had it pretty soft.

He ate a lot more people food than dog food in his life. He had a lot of ice cream. He would spend summers with MotherBlog's parents in the quaint doggie vacation hamlet of Queens. He would jump up and down and bark in his high-pitched little voice when anyone would come into the house and then show his ferocity as a guard dog by going over to the person - family member or stranger - and rolling onto his back in a gesture that said "you can take anything you want if you play with me first."

TigerBlog's next dog won't be a toy poodle. He would definitely be okay with a French bulldog. You know. Like Trevor Tierney's.

When last we left Cannon, Trevor's Frenchie, he was eagerly and excitedly learning to skateboard. TB referenced it Friday.

Then there was this follow-up:

How great is that?

First of all, John Mack, what kind of attitude is that? Pressuring the dog to skateboard? Trevor's right. Canon could use a little inspiration. He looks determined on that skateboard. In fact, John, the father of two young boys, could learn from how Trevor has inspired the dog.

For those of you who don't know who John Mack is, he's one of those old-guard alums, okay, an alum from the Class of 2000. He was also a 10-time Heptagonal track and field champion.

His best time in the 400 was around 46 seconds (as opposed to 10.18 seconds for the 100, TB is pretty sure about this one). TB once had this actual conversation with him, a few years ago:
TB: At one point, you could run 400 meters in 46 seconds. If you went to the starting line today, how far would you get in 46 seconds?
John Mack: I'd be 100 yards down the track clutching my hamstring.

Anyway, "grandpa," in Trevor's tweet, would be Trevor's father Bill Tierney, who coached Princeton to six NCAA men's lacrosse championships and then coached Denver to another one. Trevor was the first-team All-America goalie on Princeton's 2001 NCAA champion, and he played a huge role in getting Princeton its 1998 title as well.

TigerBlog sent a tweet out yesterday on the @tigerlacrosse feed asking about Princeton men's lacrosse teammates who had at least 60 points in the same season. It's happened twice, this current year and one other time before.

Who was it?

The answer was David Tickner (66) and Wick Sollers (68), back in 1976. This year, it's Michael Sowers (70) and Gavin McBride (61).

TigerBlog, by the way, has now referred to Sollers as "Sowers" twice. He apologizes for those two, and for the next time he does it.

Tickner and Sollers also have the record for most points by a Princeton duo in one year, with 134. Sowers and McBride need three to tie.

McBride, actually, happens to be leading Division I in goals scored, with 46. At his current pace and with two more games (at Cornell Saturday, against Brown in the opening game of the Ivy League tournament), he would tie Jesse Hubbard's 21-year-old program record of 53 goals in a season.

He also may have just set the record for "most goals scored in a game that clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament but did not earn league Player of the Week honors," after his seven-goal effort against Harvard Saturday.

As for Sowers, at his current pace, he would have 81 points after the next two games. The program season record is 78, set by Mike MacDonald in 2015.

And if you really want to look ahead, after 13 games of his career, Sowers is 28.3 percent of the way to Kevin Lowe's career record of 247 points.

As TB mentioned, unlike most years, the Ivy League tournament field is set. Nothing that happens this weekend can change the matchups or location, though there is still some drama, as a Princeton win over Cornell and a Yale loss to Harvard would give the Tigers a share of the championship.

The Ivy League tournament will be Princeton vs. Brown and Yale vs. Penn, at Yale, a week from Friday.

By then, who knows how good Trevor Tierney's dog will be at skateboarding. And who knows if TB's future dog will be a skateboarder.

But he will be the dog that the nice old guy is always out walking. At least in a perfect world.

In a cold and lonely world?

TigerBlog would have a cat.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

TigerBlog was the leaving the men's lacrosse game Saturday afternoon - walking towards Lot 23, past the field hockey field, soccer fields and tennis courts - when he heard a commotion from where the softball team was playing.

Had someone just hit a game-winning bomb?

TigerBlog couldn't be sure. Then he heard a familiar sound, though one he'd never heard from softball before. It was the Princeton band.

From the distance, he recognized the song immediately. Even if he hadn't, what happened next would certainly have reminded him.

Around the corner from Roberts Stadium came a bunch of soccer players in blue shirts. They were from Seton Hall, there to play the Princeton men's soccer team in a spring game.

As they walked, they sang - loudly. "Sweet CAH-ROH-LINE. duh-duh-duh. Good times never seemed so good ..."

The sight of Seton Hall's men's soccer team with its rendition of "Sweet Caroline" as the Princeton band performed at softball? That's not quite what TB was expecting to hear.

A few minutes earlier, he had been finishing up his story on the men's team's 12-9 win over Harvard, one that locked up the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament. After that, he watched the overtime of the Princeton-Cornell women's game.

It was quite a weekend for a few of Princeton's women's teams. One of them won an Ivy League championship for the first time since 2005. Another won a divisional title and took a huge step towards hosting the league championship series. The third didn't win anything, but came really close to not having a chance to win its own title; as for hosting, well, that's a bit complicated at this time.

TigerBlog will start with the softball team. As the band played on, Princeton was salting away a second-straight South Division title, first with a big comeback win over Columbia (it was the Lions who actually hit two bombs before the Tigers rallied from 5-2 down with four in the seventh to win Game 1) and then with a Penn loss in Ithaca against Cornell.

Princeton enters its final four games of the regular season with an Ivy record of 13-3, five games up on Columbia. With the division now won, the next question is whether or not Princeton will host the Ivy League championship series.

The North Division has not yet been settled, and in fact three teams are still mathematically alive. What matters most to Princeton is whether or not it can have the best league record, which determines the host team.

Dartmouth is currently 10-6, followed by Harvard at 9-6 and Yale at 8-8. Dartmouth and Harvard will play four games this coming weekend, and Yale will play Brown four times. Harvard still has one game to make up against Brown.

The North Division is complicated. Princeton's math is simpler - if the Tigers win two of four against Cornell, then they will host. They can even if they lose all four, depending on what happens with the North teams.

The softball team will play for an Ivy title, hopefully at home. The women's golf team did something this weekend that TigerBlog can't imagine has happened too often, if ever, before.

The Tigers won an Ivy League championship in Florida.

The Ivy League women's golf championships were held in Orlando. Why? TB has no idea.

What he does know is that Princeton came within one stroke of the Ivy record for a three-round championship with its 891. The Tigers completely took the drama out of this championship early on and cruised to a 31-stroke victory.

Princeton had the individual champion, as Amber Wang shot a two-over 218, beating her teammate and runner-up Alison Chang by three shots. Hana Ku was two more strokes back, tied for third.

Lastly, there was the women's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Princeton had lost to Penn 18-12 Wednesday night, leaving Cornell as the only unbeaten team in Ivy League women's lacrosse prior to the game against Princeton. A Big Red win would have meant the Ivy tournament was in Ithaca and that Princeton would not be able to get even a piece of the league championship.

On the other hand, a Princeton win would throw things into a bit of chaos, as Penn has only one loss (to Cornell) and Harvard has only two losses, with a game against Cornell still to play.

Princeton led 6-3 at halftime and 7-3 early in the second. Cornell led 11-9 as the second half reached its final minutes.

Much like its last game on Schoellkopf Field, Princeton made the end of regulation wildly dramatic. Last year it was the NCAA tournament game against UMass, when Olivia Hompe tied it with one second left.

This time, against Cornell, Hompe had all kinds of time to spare before she tied it - 2.9 seconds to be exact. Colby Chanenchuk then won it in the second OT.

As a result, Princeton, Penn and Cornell are all tied heading into the final weekend of the regular season. A win in that final game (Princeton hosts Columbia, Penn hosts Yale in addition to Cornell-Harvard) guarantees any of the three at least a share of the championship.

Those three, plus Harvard, will be the four teams in the Ivy tournament. There can actually be a four-way tie for the title if Harvard wins and Penn and Princeton both lose.

Should it finish in a three-way tie with Princeton, Cornell and Penn all at 6-1, then, TB believes, Cornell would host the tournament, based on goal-differential in the head-to-head matchups.

And that was the weekend for those three teams: One Ivy title, one division title and one "needed-to-win-it-to-still-have-a-shot-at-a-title."

Coming tomorrow - more about Trevor Tierney's French bulldog.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Canon The Frenchie

What was the best part of your week?

While TigerBlog can't say that the best part of his week has been Trevor Tierney's dog, whom he's never met, Canon - that's his name - was way up there. And Canon is a Frenchie, apparently, which is a French bulldog. 

The whole interaction was done though Twitter. Trevor, by the way, is the oldest child of Bill and Helen Tierney, and he was the All-America goalie for the Princeton men's lacrosse team's 2001 NCAA championship, the only one of the six that Bill won at Princeton with both of his sons - Trevor and Brendan - on the team.

Trevor, by the way, was one of TigerBlog Jr.'s earliest heroes. When TBJ first started to play goalie in second grade, he did so with one of Trevor's old sticks.

This has nothing to do with that, though. And this story is just tremendous.

It all started with one tweet that Trevor commented on. This one:

That was followed by this:

And then this:

And finally by this:

Forget all of the ugly discourse that's out there. This is why Twitter was invented. Well, that and to get updated scores of college athletic events.

It's a big weekend for the Princeton men's lacrosse team. The Tigers host Harvard tomorrow at 1 in the final home game of the season, hoping to get a win to seal a spot in the Ivy League tournament.

In addition to the game itself, Princeton will be honoring three teams at halftime - the 1967 team, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Ivy League championship, the 1992 team, which 25 years ago won the first of those six NCAA titles, and the 1997 team, which went 15-0 en route to its NCAA title.

By the way, if you haven't read THIS feature story on Zach Currier, it's well worth it, if TigerBlog says so himself.

The game tomorrow will be final one on Sherrerd Field for the 11 current Tigers seniors. The Ivy tournament will be at Yale, regardless of what happens this weekend or next weekend. Princeton can still get a share of the league title by winning tomorrow and next weekend at Cornell and having Yale lose to Harvard next weekend. On the other hand, there are still three scenarios (out of 64) in which Princeton would not make the tournament.

If you're looking for a subplot, Michael Sowers needs two points to tie Rob Pannell's record for points in a season by an Ivy League freshman. Sowers has 65; Pannell had 67 for Cornell in 2009. Sowers has a bunch of other possible milestones in front of him as well.

It's a typically busy spring weekend, beyond the men's lacrosse game. For starters, there will definitely be two Ivy League titles won this weekend, in men's and women's golf. The Ivy League championships begin today and run through Sunday, with the men in Greenwich, Conn., and the women in, of all places, Orlando, Fla.

If you went to yesterday evening, you saw something you won't see too many other places - and that's that the top four stories on the page were the four rowing previews.

The baseball team is playing to try to turn around last weekend's four-game sweep by Penn. If Princeton can sweep Columbia and get some help from Cornell against Penn, then the Tigers could be right back into the Gehrig Division race.

As for the softball team, the Tigers will now play today and tomorrow, instead of tomorrow and Sunday, against Columbia. Princeton is three games up on the Lions in the South Division, and the Tigers could clinch the division championship with an entire weekend to go - or could get swept and be behind Columbia.

The women's lacrosse team will look to bounce back - quickly - from its first Ivy League loss, against Penn Tuesday night. The Tigers have no time to dwell on that, since the next challenge is a trip to Cornell.

Right now, Cornell is in first place, unbeaten in the league. Princeton, Harvard and Penn all have one loss, and Harvard still has to play Penn and Cornell. Should Cornell beat Princeton, the Ivy League tournament would be in Ithaca. If Princeton wins, then the whole thing gets pretty complicated.

There's also home men's tennis tomorrow against Harvard and Sunday against Dartmouth. And there's home track and field with the Larry Ellis Invitational.

TigerBlog told the story about how Larry Ellis, then Princeton's coach, told one of his athletes that to run a certain time, he had to "run faster." It's one of TB's favorite stories.

TB has no idea what the actual time that the runner said he wanted to run, so he made one up and went with 10.18. It sounded like a good track time. Turned out it was better than TB thought.

At least that's what it said in an email TB received yesterday pointing out to him that it couldn't have been a 10.18, because the Ivy record for the 100 is 10.29 and has stood for more than 30 years.

In fact, it was set in 1983 by Doug Harris of Penn. TB was there at the time, but he didn't know Doug. Nor did he realize that 10.18 would have demolished the record.

Good to know people are paying attention at least.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Keeps You Up At 3 AM?

TigerBlog found himself stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge shortly before midnight Tuesday night.

He had been at the University of Hartford to see Sacred Heart-Hartford men's lacrosse.

As an aside, TigerBlog is rooting for a Princeton-Sacred Heart rematch in the EIVA championship match. The semifinals are tonight at Penn State, where Sacred Heart takes on St. Francis and then Princeton takes on the host team.

Anyway, TB went to the game at Hartford Tuesday, for a few reasons. First, you know, it's a men's lacrosse game. Second, he'd never been to the University of Hartford, so he figured he'd check it out. Third, the University of Hartford is near Rein's Deli, so TB went over there before the game and went with the roast beef/turkey/salami/Russian Dressing/cole slaw sandwich instead of the whitefish salad/lox/onion/tomato he'd had there three days earlier.

That was on the ride back from Dartmouth Saturday. Yeah, TB has done a lot of driving lately.

The game Tuesday was at 7, so he knew it was going to be a late night. What he wasn't counting on was a dead stop on the bridge, where there were two lanes closed for construction. On the plus side, it was much worse on the other side, heading into the city.

As TigerBlog has said before, it's never too cold for ice cream, too hot for soup or too late for traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

Because of the traffic, it was well after 1:00 AM when his head finally hit the pillow. It was worth it though.

TigerBlog woke up at some point, but he had no idea what time it was. His choices were to look or not look, and he never really knows what to do in that situation.

As it turned it out, it was exactly 3:00 AM. What is it they say? What keeps you up at 3 AM?

The answer, TB supposes, is different, depending on the night. And on this night?

Among other things, it was videostreaming.

TigerBlog couldn't help but wonder how many people - parents, friends - might have gone to the Sacred Heart-Hartford game but instead opted out because it was being videostreamed.

Back when sports first began to be televised, there was concern about showing home games, or showing home games live, because of the fear that it would negatively impact attendance. That's the origin of the NFL's blackout rule, which said that games that weren't sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff wouldn't be televised in the home market.

For the most part, it was proven for years that televising games did not really keep people from attending in significant numbers, especially in baseball. 

Things are different now, though, TB suspects. Ticket prices, as well as concessions and parking at the rest - can be prohibitive at professional sports. Also, many professional events have become places you wouldn't want to take a family. Plus, advances in technology have made watching on high-definition television a much better viewing option.

Videostreaming has changed the dynamic too, even for schools like Princeton, where most events don't have tickets at all and the ones that do are very reasonably priced.

There have definitely been times where TigerBlog was going to go to a game - even Princeton games - and bailed because it was on the videostream.

In all the time that TB has been here, the best innovations - by far - have been the establishment of school athletic webpages and the Ivy League Digital Network. It's not even close for anything else, especially if you include the social media pieces with the webpages and sum them all up together as a media presence.

Think about it. There were no athletic webpages when TB started here. Their advent took the type and quantity of information being produced to a skyrocketed level and then sent it directly to the people who wanted it.

A fencing alum in Texas? Before the rise of the webpage, your access to team information was limited. In a flash, you have everything - rosters, schedules, results, everything.

The Ivy League Digital Network has taken that to another level. It used to be a big thing to have a game on television. Then there was some rudimentary videostreaming.

The ILDN has taken viewing to a new level, even allowing games to be shown on big TV screens even if they're not actually being televised.

Does this keep people away from attending games, for the ones who live close enough?

Attending a game depends on a lot of factors, even if cost isn't one of them for schools like Princeton. Weather is. Scheduling is. Game time is. Kids' activities can be. Work conflicts can be.

It's so easy to watch games online now, and the productions get better all the time. Still, there's something to be said for actually being there.

TigerBlog made the drive Tuesday instead of watching online.

It's great to have the option though.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Vanilla Chai Latte

TigerBlog has never had a cup of coffee in his entire life.

Not once. He's had sips of wine, just never a full glass of wine.

He's never had hot tea either. The closest he's come to drinking tea is Snapple, which isn't quite fancy tea.

Contrast that with BrotherBlog, who has had lots and lots and lots of both. BrotherBlog used to be on of those Seattle coffee freaks, though now he's more into tea, the non-Snapple variety.

And he goes wine tasting and things like that. TigerBlog supposes that's what he has to do in Seattle, where they don't have a college men's lacrosse team for him to go watch.

Ah, but after all of these years, TigerBlog may just have found something that could qualify as something that adults drink. It's the vanilla chai latte.

TigerBlog had his first one recently. He's had three more since.

They're delicious. It's probably because they're loaded with sugar, so maybe he should just have a milkshake instead, but hey, he sounds so grown up when he says "vanilla chai latte please."

It's great. It's like adult Yoo Hoo.

You can get yourself one and head over to Princeton this afternoon, since it's a busier than normal Wednesday in Tiger Athletics.

The first events for the Larry Ellis Invitational will take place on Weaver Track and Field Stadium. Larry Ellis was the longtime track and field coach at Princeton, (1970-92), as well as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1984.

TigerBlog knew Larry Ellis, and in fact Ellis said one of the funniest things TB has ever heard. To this day, TB has no idea if Ellis said it to be funny or didn't realize how funny it was when he said it.

TB was walking down the Jadwin mezzanine balcony, and Ellis was standing against the railing talking to one of his athletes, who asked the coach what he had to do to a run a certain time in an event. TB can't remember the time, so he'll make one up:
Athlete: Coach, what do I have to do to run a 10.18?
Ellis: Run faster.

That's either great comedy or great coaching.

TigerBlog wasn't sure when Ellis passed away, so he did a search for him. That's where he found out that he passed away in 1998, at the age of 70. It's also where he found out that Ellis coached Bob Beamon, who for a few decades held what was considered the unbreakable long jump record, when Beamon was at Jamaica High School.

In addition to the track and field events, there is also a baseball game today against Rider on Clarke Field. First pitch is at 3:30.

It was a tough weekend for the Tigers, who dropped all four to Penn in Philadelphia. Princeton is now 5-7 in the Gehrig Division, trailing the first place Quakers, who are 8-4.

Princeton will host Columbia for four this weekend, while Penn is at Cornell for four. Cornell is 6-6, followed by the Lions, who are tied with the Tigers at 5-7. If you want to have Princeton win the division, root for Cornell over Penn and then Princeton over Cornell next weekend.

The softball team, who won all four at Penn last weekend, is now three games ahead of Columbia, who is also at Princeton this weekend. Before that, the Tigers host Lehigh today in a doubleheader, beginning at 3.

Lehigh is the alma mater of Princeton head coach Lisa Van Ackeren, who is chasing her second Ivy straight Ivy title.

So those are the four events on campus today. The biggest game for Princeton is the women's lacrosse game at Penn tonight at 7.

Princeton is unbeaten in the Ivy League and heading into the four biggest days of the regular season. The game tonight is a matchup between two top 10 teams, Princeton at No. 7 and Penn at No. 10.

Then there is Saturday's game, at Cornell. That one is a matchup of two top 11 teams, as Cornell is ranked 11th.

Cornell may be ranked one spot behind Penn, but the Big Red has a 10-4 win over the Quakers on its resume. That leaves Cornell and Princeton as the only two unbeatens in the league.

Should Princeton win the game tonight, then the winner of the game in Ithaca Saturday would be the host of the Ivy League tournament. Should Penn win the game tonight, then Penn could still host the league tournament, or at the very least tie for the league title. In other words, both teams have a lot to play for tonight.

TigerBlog is pretty sure that only Princeton and Penn have ever hosted the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament. On the men's side, the tournament has been at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Brown and now this year Yale.

Anyway, that's the busy Wednesday for Princeton, with five events. It's not quite Saturday, which has 17, but a five-event Wednesday is still a good one. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Friday Night At The Fireside

TigerBlog has stayed in some beautiful hotels in his life.

He's been able to open up the shades and look out over the ocean, or to a sweeping view of a major city, or any number of other incredible sights.

This past Friday night?

He opened up the shades of Room 205 to look out at a parking lot, one that still had snow drifts in it, and beyond that to Interstate 89. The parking lot, by the way, was mostly empty, though there were three buses parked neatly alongside each other on the far side.

The location was West Lebanon, N.H., which could only mean one hotel - the Fireside Inn.

TB supposes it was designed to give off a ski-lodge feel. And it does have a fireplace in the lobby, and some old-fashioned wood interiors. It might not be a great hotel, but it is not without its charm.

And its history.

If you're a Princeton athlete of the last quarter-century or even longer, odds are good you've stayed at the Fireside. It's been the go-to place for Princeton teams, and teams from other schools, when they've gone to play Dartmouth.

TigerBlog can't remember the first time he stayed in the hotel, and he isn't sure how many nights he's stayed there in his life. It's very possible, though, that TigerBlog has stayed in the venerable Fireside Inn more than he has in any other hotel in his life.

When TigerBlog first started covering Princeton sports, the Harvard-Dartmouth men's basketball swing meant a night in the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, right on the Charles River, and a night in the Fireside. Princeton teams long ago left the Hyatt Regency (those are really nice hotels), in favor of the hotel above the Mass Pike that has at times been a Sheraton, a Radisson and is now a Crown Plaza, TB believes. Or for the Newton Marriott.

At Brown it used to be the Comfort Inn by the Ground Round in Pawtucket, before the Courtyard by Marriott. There was a Holiday Inn at Yale, but TB only stayed there once or twice. He's stayed in the same hotel for every trip to Cornell, but most times he goes to Cornell he goes up and back the same day.

Dartmouth, though, is a little too far for that. And so it's the Fireside, every time.

TigerBlog was there Friday night, ahead of the men's lacrosse game at Dartmouth Saturday. Princeton won 16-6, after trailing 5-3 at halftime. A year ago, Princeton beat Dartmouth 7-3 after trailing 3-0 at halftime, which means that in the last two years, it's been Dartmouth 8-3 in the first half and Princeton 20-1 in the second half.

After the game, he told head coach Matt Madalon that the Tigers should just skip the first half of Princeton's game against Dartmouth next year.

It was a strange game in that Princeton executed pretty much how it wanted in the first half but just didn't convert shots that it normally did. The Tigers came into the game ranked No. 1 in the country in team shooting percentage at .373 and then shot 3 for 25 in the first half. After intermission, that sort of turned around, as the Tigers went 13 for 27.

The win did not clinch a spot in the Ivy League tournament for the Tigers. There are still two weeks of three Ivy games remaining, which means there are 64 possible outcomes for the ILT. Princeton would reach the field in 61 of the 64.

The only three scenarios in which Princeton cannot reach the tournament include losing both of the remaining games, against Harvard Saturday on Sherrerd Field and then at Cornell April 29.

By the way, TB would like to thank his friend CU'77 from for doing all that work. TB and CU'77 connected via email a few years ago, and he's become one of TB's favorite Big Red fans.

TigerBlog will probably have some more men's lacrosse stuff for you later in the week.

For now, he wants to go back to talking about the Fireside.

It's not a five-star hotel or anything. At various times, TB has been there late at night when it's been hopping, with dancing and music and other events.

It went through a bit a rough stretch, but it seems to have been fixed up nicely of late. It certainly looked that way Friday, when the hotel had a bit of a newer, cleaner feel to it.

Princeton men's lacrosse wasn't the only team staying there Friday night.

There was also Brown softball, Brown baseball and Cornell men's tennis. The Brown baseball players and Cornell tennis players - who came on a smaller bus - were already there when the Tigers arrived, and the softball team pulled into the parking lot at pretty much the same time as the Princeton bus.

One thing the Fireside is famed for is its breakfast buffet. All four teams were there Saturday morning, eating and preparing.

It was a better trip for the Princeton and Cornell men's teams than the two from Brown. Cornell would beat Dartmouth in the tennis match, but the two Brown teams would lose seven of eight in two days.

As for Cornell men's tennis, it went to Harvard Sunday and knocked off the Crimson as well. TB has no idea where the Big Red stayed in Cambridge.

TigerBlog has written before about the camaraderie of college athletics that can born on the long bus rides that the teams make. The time on those bus rides may seem insufferable, but they really are a big part of what college sports are about.

So are the nights in the hotel.

As TB said, if you've been a Princeton athlete, you know what he's talking about with the Fireside. Hey, just thinking about it probably makes you smile.

As TB also said, the place does have its charms.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mehr Eggs

When TigerBlog thinks of Easter, he thinks of pleasant 60-degree days, with bonnets and egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.

When he thinks of egg hunts gone by, he thinks of the ones he witnessed in person, the ones which usually involved serious competition, taunting, hurt feelings and maybe even a little blood every now and then. All in good fun, of course.

What little kids wouldn't do for a plastic egg with a Hershey's Kiss inside.

When TigerBlog Jr. was just learning to talk, he found himself in Easter egg hunts, often with his older and bigger cousins. He would sprint all over, gleefully picking up whatever eggs he could find, famously saying "mehr eggs" - his way of saying "more eggs" at the time - when there were none to be found.

TigerBlog once wrote this, back in 2012:
Other than the fact that it involves the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter is as close to a Jewish holiday as there is in the Christian calendar.
How so? It's not on the same day every year. It's not like Christmas, which is always Dec. 25. Or, more secularly, Thanksgiving, which is not always the same exact day but is always on the same Thursday.
Easter is like Hanukkah, which can be anywhere from late November to late December. Or the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper and always seem to come "early" or "late" but never right on time.

Of course, Easter is a holiday of great significance to Christians, and TB means no disrespect. He hopes all who celebrated had a great holiday with friends and family.

Around here, you certainly had great weather for it.

TigerBlog remembers some pretty cold Easter Sundays. Yesterday was not one of them. Yesterday was more summer than spring, with temperatures that were in the mid-80s.

Not that long ago, there used to be a season around here called "spring," but that seems to have vanished now, overwhelmed by winter on one end and summer on the other, both of which have nudged their way though most of what used to be spring's place on the calendar.

Now there can be snow on the ground on April 1 and 80-degree summer days on April 16, which is exactly what happened around here this month.

The Princeton softball team had a big weekend at Penn in the nice weather of this past weekend. The defending Ivy League champion won all four games against the Quakers and in the process took a big step towards repeating as South Division champ, though there is a long way to go.

Prior to this past weekend, the last time Princeton had swept a doubleheader at Penn was in 2006. The Tigers just did it twice in two days.

What Princeton showed it can do is win close games in its division, which is how you win championships. The Tigers won 4-2 and 3-2 Saturday and then came back to take Game 1 yesterday 4-2. Doing the math, that's 11 runs in the first three games - and then 12 more in the last game, a 12-8 Tiger win.

With the weekend's results, Princeton now finds itself at 10-2 in the league with four left against Columbia and four left against Cornell. The Tigers are now three up on Columbia, which means that even a split next weekend would leave Princeton three up on the Lions - and possibly Quakers - with four to go. Penn is now five back of the Tigers.

The softball team isn't the only Princeton women's team who had these few days in Philadelphia circled.

For the women's lacrosse team, Wednesday marks a huge trip to the Penn campus as well.

Princeton defeated Yale 17-9 Saturday behind five more goals from Olivia Hompe, the second all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's lacrosse history. Hompe now has 47 goals and 17 assists, and she is the leading scorer in the league.

The Ivy standings are fairly straightforward at this point.

There are two unbeatens - Cornell at 5-0 and Princeton at 4-0, and two one-loss teams (Penn at 3-1 and Harvard at 4-1). Columbia is in fifth at 2-3, which means that whatever other results occur, a Princeton win over Columbia in the final game of the regular season, then the top four now will be in the Ivy tournament.

Princeton would still like to host the Ivy tournament. There are all kinds of scenarios that exist to make that happen, as well as scenarios to make any of the other three the host.

Princeton has Cornell Saturday in Ithaca. Harvard still has Penn and Cornell. Obviously there are all kinds of scenarios left.

Should Princeton win the game Wednesday at Penn, then the winner of the game Saturday in Ithaca would be assured of at least a tie for the Ivy title. The winner of that game would also become the Ivy tournament host should Princeton beat Penn and Penn beat Harvard.

The Ivy League lucked out by having so many huge games in women's lacrosse happen to fall at the end of the schedule. Princeton, though, might not consider it lucky - the Tigers have to play the two other top 10 Ivy teams in a four-day stretch on the road.

It won't be easy, but hey, that's what this time of year - the time when winter and summer meet - is all about for the best teams.