Friday, November 20, 2009

Three Things To Take TB's Mind Off Ireland-France

TigerBlog is still annoyed by what happened in the Ireland-France World Cup play-off.

Ireland ranks third or fourth on TB's list of favorite countries in the world, and as such he was rooting hard for the Irish to make it into the 32-team field. TB was in Ireland during the 2008 European championships, an event Ireland did not qualify for, and every local he spoke with was optimistic about the chances for being in South Africa in 2010.

So how does France simply in good conscience go to the World Cup knowing that it blatantly cheated to get there? What should FIFA do?

And what does this have to do with today's three subjects? Nothing.

Subject No. 1 - The Princeton field hockey team plays in the NCAA Final Four for the fifth time in program history when it takes on undefeated and top-seeded Maryland at 2 p.m. at Wake Forest. The Final Four is the Tigers and the ACC, as Virginia and North Carolina meet in the second semifinal; the championship game is Sunday at noon.

Princeton lost in overtime to Maryland during the regular season 3-2 after the Tigers had leads of 1-0 and 2-1.

By TigerBlog's count, Princeton has had eight teams compete in NCAA Final Four events: men's basketball, women's soccer, men's soccer, women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse, field hockey, men's water polo and men's volleyball. Of those eight, all but men's basketball have done so in the last 16 years.

This doesn't count teams that compete in NCAA championships in sports that don't have a team Final Four concept or teams like squash that are not NCAA sports.

As for the rest of the Ivy League, TigerBlog isn't doing all the research, but he is pretty sure that no school has as many teams that have reached the Final Four. The sport that has the highest percentage of league teams having reached the Final Four has to be men's lacrosse, where Princeton, Cornell, Yale, Penn and Brown have all done so. Of course, Princeton has done it 10 times, which TB believes equals the others combined.

Subject No. 2 - The men's soccer team fell 1-0 to Bucknell Thursday night in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on rainy Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. The game was delayed for 30 minutes with 24:47 to play by lightning; Bucknell scored shortly after that.

TigerBlog's prediction that the game would be decided 1-0 and that the goal would be scored when he wasn't looking came true: He was walking down the stairs from the press box to the concourse when the Bison scored.

It's a tough way for the season to end, but Princeton men's soccer had itself a great year. Perhaps no team at Princeton has it tougher, as the Tigers' regular regional opponents are always in or around the Top 25 and then the league itself is perhaps stronger nationally than in any other sport. Congrats to Jim Barlow and the team for getting to the tournament with a 4-0-1 run to end the regular season.

There are two other things to talk about regarding soccer. First, the crowd in the rain was still a strong one, with a great number of students in attendance. It goes to marketing rule No. 1 - you can market all you want; people either want to go to the game or they don't.

The other issue is that leading scorer Antoine Hoppenot did not play in the game due to the fact that he picked up his fifth yellow card in the season finale and therefore had to sit the next game. Issues like this always put people in sports information in a tough position: You want to be as forthcoming as possible, but at the same time, coaches will often want you to withhold information that might impact the other team's preparation for the game.

It's an issue that TigerBlog has dealt with his entire time here at HQ, and to be honest, he's still not sure what the right course of action is.

Subject No. 3 - The football season ends tomorrow in Hanover as Princeton takes on Dartmouth. For years, Princeton and Penn would open their seasons at Dartmouth or Cornell and then end the year at home against the other and then flip-flop the next year. It wasn't until 1991 that Princeton began to open with Cornell every year and finish with Dartmouth, regardless of home or away (the point was to avoid bad weather in Ithaca or Hanover in November).

Through the years, Princeton has played at Dartmouth on mostly pleasant days, and tomorrow is supposed to be fine as well.

Princeton and Dartmouth for years played for the Governor's Trophy, a mostly forgotten award that has been somewhat replaced by the Sawhorse Dollar, a 1917 dollar bill with a sawhorse on the back. It was the result of a friendly wager between a Princeton alum, Tad LaFountain, and a Dartmouth alum, T.J. Rodgers, who is the founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductors. When Princeton won and Rodgers owed LaFountain $1, he paid off with the 1917 Sawhorse Dollar.

LaFountain then donated it to the winner of each year's game annually.

Two postcripts to the Sawhorse Dollar story. First, it is the "Sawhorse Dollar," not the "sawbuck," which is a term for $10. Second, TigerBlog does not condone gambling in any way.


Anonymous said...

It's instructive that, coincidentally, yesterday both Major League Baseball and FIFA announced that there would be no further moves toward allowing the use of video replay to improve officating. MLB and FIFA are the two most anachronistic, least imaginative, worst run sports federations in the world.

Ireland has officially asked for a rematch against the French. But soccer, with its faked injuries and faked penalties almost institutionalized into the culture of the sport, is the least "honorable" sport there is.

And the French are among the least honorable people on the planet. The French minister of sport has already come out in defense of Thierry Henry. In defense? You've got to be kidding me. Cheese-eating surrender monkeys, indeed. The French will stonewall until they pack their bags for South Africa.

Princeton OAC said...

TigerBlog probably wouldn't have gone as far as the anonymous poster. FIFA has announced that the result is final, and France will be going to the World Cup. As for what should have been done, the match should not have been replayed; it should have been resumed from the point of Henry's infraction, with Ireland ahead 1-0 and with a free kick.