Friday, July 31, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast

TigerBlog remembers clearly when Ahmed El-Nokali had his first big game as a freshman on the Princeton basketball team and as such was brought to Jadwin Gym's Zanfrini Room for the postgame press conference.

The format then had the players requested come in and sit at various spots in the room, and the reporters were invited to talk to them informally, as if in a locker room setting. As El-Nokali sat at his spot, the first question asked of him was this: "So, what are you kid, Egyptian?" It certainly ranks in the Top 5 of questions TB has heard reporters ask.

As for John Mack, he strolled into TigerBlog HQ one day and asked if he could be a student-worker. The TB staff knew him as a top runner on the men's track team (eventually a 10-time Heptagonal champion and Roper Trophy winner; TigerBlog remembers watching him run in a qualifying heat at indoor Heps at Dartmouth prior to a basketball game and seeing two of the other four runners collide, leaving Mack to win by about 100 meters in a 400-meter race against the other two), and he became first a valuable addition to the office before spending four years working in the department. Today he is an Associate Athletic Director at Northwestern.

Mack emailed TB a few pictures from his recent wedding, including one of Mack with El-Nokali. It made TigerBlog think back to when the two were Princeton athletes, a time that doesn't seem all that long ago, let alone 10 years.

TigerBlog was 20 years old the first time he covered an event for the Trenton Times, a high school football game between Pennington and Academy of the New Church (Pennington won 22-0 after leading 6-0 at the half). After the game, TB interviewed a few players, high school kids who were two years younger than he was.

The first group of Princeton athletes that TB got to know well were the Kit Mueller-Matt Eastwick-Matt Henshon-George Leftwich basketball group, the Keith Elias football group and the Justin Tortolani-Scott Bacigalupo-Kevin Lowe lacrosse group. TB is only slightly older than they are, but it was still wild to see them at Reunions with wives and kids and thinning hair and the like.

When TB first started here and was writing player bios, they were for athletes born about 10 years after he was. It wasn't until the Class of 2003 that TB ran into athletes born after he'd graduated high school. TB really started to feel old when he was writing bios for players born after he'd graduated college.

This past year was also tough, when TigerBlog realized that he was talking to lacrosse players born after he'd first started covering games here.

What it really speaks to is the idea that the athletic experience at Princeton is a quick one for the athletes, four years that zoom by in what seems like minutes. TigerBlog has written any number of features about senior athletes across all sports, and it seems like they all start out saying the same thing: "I can't believe how fast four years has gone."

They've come and gone, thousands of Princeton athletes since the first time TB started chronicling their efforts. They leave here and go in whatever direction they choose, stopping along the path to get married, have kids, check in every now and then and show up at Reunions.

In their place is always the next generation, a group that gets younger and younger. The ones who leave and come back only five years have seen the entire roster turned over. TB has heard hundreds of "I don't know any of these players" comments through the years.

In the end, they're all Princeton athletes, participants in one of 38 sports. They do their share to sustain the excellence of the program, and they move on. Quicker than they think.

It's how a great tradition is sustained.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Known Winner

There is something exciting about the unknown. From centuries ago, when new lands were being discovered, to modern times and our quest to explore the solar system, there is something truly fascinating about knowing the unknown.

When Curtis Jordan ended his brilliant career as the Princeton heavyweight crew coach, Princeton director of athletics Gary Walters had the opportunity to play Lewis & Clark. He boarded his own NASA shuttle and launched into the unknown world of potential replacements. The ever-expanding sport of rowing has talented candidates from coast to coast.

It was undoubtedly an exciting mission. But when Walters concluded his national search, he made the right decision. In the sea of unknowns, there was that one special known.

Greg Hughes is the new Princeton heavyweight coach.

Personally, TB couldn’t be happier for Hughes, a colleague he has worked with since 2002 and a man who has taught him more about the sport than anybody else. Hughes is a good man who has assisted TB on several projects, ranging from media guides to online videos, and he’s done it with patience, knowledge and the coolest, deepest voice east of James Earl Jones.

Professionally, thought, TB also thinks this move is the absolute right one. The coaching credentials are there, and you can learn them by clicking on the above link and reading the introductory press release on But there is more than just a list of championships that make this the right decision (although it’s an impressive list).

Hughes has a way of connecting with his rowers that keeps them motivated. It’s one thing to improve from one season to the next. Hughes took a program in 2006 and made it better in 2007. Then he did it again in 2008. And then he took it that one final step further in 2009, when he built one of the premier lightweight crews in Princeton history. He never let the team think it reached its peak, and he never took a shot at it when his rowers took a step back.

Go back to the 2008 IRA national championships. After finishing second at the EARC championship weeks earlier, Princeton had a national title in sight. His rowers took the charge and went after Cornell for about 1500 meters. They could have settled into a nice pace and cruised to a medal of some sort, but Hughes loves the sport and the competition — and clearly he imparted that on his rowers. The potential winning pace proved to be too much for that squad, and Princeton ended up getting passed by three boats and missed the medal stand altogether.

Afterwards, this was what Hughes said:

I have never been more proud of a crew. They took control of the national championship race early and they turned it into pure guts race for the win. Much congratulations goes to Cornell on an outstanding season. They beat our best and I think that our best was very good.

Furthermore, Hughes seeked TB out to make sure that quote was added to the story. He wanted to make sure he congratulated both Cornell and his own team for the race. Why?

Hughes loves the sport. He loves rowing at the highest level, and if another team’s best defeats his best, he’s the first one there to offer congratulations. If that sounds familiar, it should; as one TB reader pointed out, Curtis Jordan did the same thing after California topped Princeton for the 2006 national championship.

Class follows class.

Besides his obvious ability to coach the sport, Hughes is also a perfect fit in this age of technology. He has been out in front in the use of social networking to help promote the program; from the web site to creating his own Twitter page, Hughes has a unique understanding of how to best use all possible avenues to help promote both the program and the sport. When the athletic department was discussing all of the new technological changes for the coming year, Hughes could actually use his own experiences to talk about the exciting possibilities out there.

Hughes is a former national champion rower for Princeton. He coached a Princeton team to a national champion, and he was the freshman heavyweight coach for the eventual EARC and Henley champion heavyweight Class of 2006. He represents everything that is good about the Princeton rowing tradition, and TB suspects the Princeton rowing alumni will be thrilled with this decision.

Put TB first on that list.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Welcome Back

TigerBlog has a folder on his computer entitled “,” which holds 462 pictures from the Princeton men’s lacrosse team’s trip to Spain and Ireland in June 2008.

The pictures were taken with Raymond’s camera throughout the trip. Here’s one of Raymond with a man driving a horse-and-buggy outside Dublin. Here’s one Raymond at the Dublin Zoo. Here’s one where he’s with five people, including three total strangers, on the beach in La Manga, Spain.

On and on they go. The one with the red jacket he borrowed from the bicycle rental guy at Phoenix Park in Dublin. The one with the team of little kids in Cartagena, Spain. The one with the four women from Germany outside Dublin Castle. The one with the guy cooking the chickens at the flea market in Spain.

And, of course, the endless permutations of Raymond with Princeton players, along various parts of the trip.

The 462 pictures – tour guide Jeremy Meccage called it a “Zag Tours record – show more than just stops along the way. They show a great deal about Greg Raymond, who is returning to Princeton to join the staff of head coach Chris Bates, with whom Raymond coached last year at Drexel after spending the three years before that here with Bill Tierney and David Metzbower.

The team he returns to will have 26 players on it whom he has already coached and 14 of whom he helped recruit but has not yet coached. As a defensive coach, he will work with a group that will include senior Jeremy Hirsch and junior Long Ellis and of course the dynamic sophomore trio of goalie Tyler Fiorito, defenseman Chad Wiedmaier and longstick midfielder John Cunningham.

TigerBlog has met few people with the natural charisma that Greg Raymond has. It’s obvious from the time you meet him, and it becomes more obvious as you see him interact with people in any number of situations. It’s part of the reason that he made such an impact on the Princeton program during his first tenure, which began just after he graduated from Johns Hopkins after helping the Blue Jays to the 2005 NCAA title.

To walk around Europe with him was to see his overwhelming natural leadership, his sense of humor, his work ethic, his pure likeability.

When Bates was hired last month, practically everyone Tigerblog spoke to had the same reaction: “That must mean Greg Raymond is coming back.”

He is. Princeton lacrosse is lucky to have him again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finding Life's Dining Halls

FatherBlog had just finished dropping off TigerBlog on his first day at the University of West Philadelphia. As he was preparing to leave, he asked TB if he knew where the dining hall was. When TB said he did not, FatherBlog responded with this:

"When you get hungry enough, you'll figure it out."

It's more than a quarter-century later, and those remain the nine sagest words TB has ever heard FatherBlog utter. They were words that TigerBlog remembered well when he dropped off TigerBlog Jr. at the Princeton lacrosse camp earlier this month to begin a three-night stay in the dorms.

TigerBlog lived on campus at the University of West Philadelphia for two summers, and the difference between then and the regular school year wasn't that dramatic. There were summer classes for students looking to either catch up or get ahead (TB had three rules for making his college schedule: no labs, no classes before 10 a.m. and no summer classes), and there was always an large group of students around.

Summer on the Princeton campus is much different. Aside from some students doing research and athletes who have stayed around to work and work out, there are almost no students here. Or at least college students.

Instead, each week offers a different mob of students on campus and new sub-division of student-athletes. Summers at Princeton is a time for camps, camps and more camps.

This week, Princeton is hosting camps in girls' soccer, boys' and girls' squash, girls' rowing, girls' hockey and probably others. In the last three weeks alone, there have been camps for boys' basketball, girls' basketball, football, fencing, girls' lacrosse, field hockey, cross country and others.

Camps here range from day camps for mostly younger kids to serious, high-level high school players and teams at elite sessions.

The camp scene is fascinating. They start with check-in, where kids carry something light while their parents get loaded down like pack mules on the way to the dorms. Then it's three or four days of non-stop activity in the sport, only to have the scene of parents as they schlep the stuff back down the stairs to check-out.

TigerBlog thinks that something called "Dorm Camp" would be a big hit. Bring your kids to Princeton and let them stay in the dorms, eat in the dining halls and do whatever they want all day, as long as they don't leave the main part of the campus. This would be a winner on many fronts, from providing kids the chance to live on campus for a few days to forcing them to figure out something to do all day.

As for the sports themselves, when you have kids in the 11-15 year old range, it's hard to project how good they're going to be in any particular sport yet. For starters, you don't know how big they're going to get. In TigerBlog Jr.'s age group, the same kids who were the best athletes at age six and seven are still the best athletes. Will that continue as they become teenagers? Will those kids still want to be athletes at all, or have they played too much too soon and will run into the inevitable burnout.

Then there are the parents, many of whom equate "travel team" with "college scholarship." TB Jr. just finished playing for his summer lacrosse team, an outstanding collection of 21 players from all over southeast Pennsylvania. If they're lucky, one of those 21 will be a Division I player in six years or so. Certainly the odds are stacked against them, as they are against all of the kids who come to the summer camps here.

TigerBlog Jr. learned a great deal at the lacrosse camp about playing his favorite sport. At the same time, TB often tells TB Jr. that he has a better chance of playing the saxophone in college than he does of playing lacrosse.

In other words, as good as the camps here are and no matter how solid the instruction on the field is, probably the best thing any of the kids who come here each summer learn is how to find their own way to the dining halls.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who Needs Tickets?

The solitary bird seemed to be taking its time as it swept panoramically around nearly empty Princeton Stadium on a lazy summer morning. Once it circled the upper reaches of the facility, then again, then again, all three times with hardly a flap of its wings.

The only other sign of life was down on the field, where a distant figure ran sprints. Up and back, up and back, distances varying, the pattern interrupted only by the breaks for rest and water.

In other words, the place was empty, except for a bird and someone working out. TigerBlog observed the scene from the press box level of Princeton Stadium, and he was struck by the July solitude of a venue built to hold tens of thousands of fans on autumn Saturdays.

TB also was struck again by how nice a stadium it is. Maybe it's because TigerBlog HQ looks out into the stadium, but it's easy to take for granted that Princeton has such an attractive football stadium.

Tickets for Princeton's 2009 home schedule have gone on sale,
which is a little insane in TB's mind, as it doesn't seem possible that the 2009-10 athletic year is not that far away.

Princeton's home schedule consists of the Citadel, Columbia, Colgate, Cornell and Yale. The Colgate game is a Thursday night ESPNU event.

TigerBlog has long been impressed with the Trenton Thunder and the ability of the Yankees' Double-A farm team (dubbed "the Local Nine" by Trenton Times columnist Mark Eckel) to get people into the building along the Delaware River. TB lived a few blocks from that site in the late 1980s (off Lalor Street), and he was amazed that someone thought it'd be a good idea to build a stadium there.

The Thunder, nevertheless, have been a marketing and attendance success story since Day 1, or more accurately Day 100, as the first few weeks at Waterfront Park were a little shaky. TB remembers two great headlines after a game had to be postponed due to issues with the playing surface: "Field of Seams" in the Trentonian and "Nice Day Brings No Rain, No Thunder" in the Trenton Times (okay, TB wrote that one).

Still, TB and Eckel have had endless conversations about the fact that you could probably stand outside of Waterfront Park before a game and ask the fans walking in who was playing or to name three players on the Thunder and the overwhelming number wouldn't be able to do it. Further, it's likely that if you stood outside after the game, details such as who won and what the score was would escape most who were in attendance.

In other words, the fan experience, and not the game itself, is what the Thunder is selling. TB has often thought there are great lessons to be learned from that here at Princeton, though not quite to the same extent (the Thunder exists a for-profit operation, so overwhelming the crowd with corporate sponsorship is part of it).

Princeton Athletics, though, is definitely selling the fan experience here, especially for people with young children. There have been countless attempts to jam the words "football," "family" and "fun" into marketing slogans, but the reality is that that's what games at Princeton Stadium are all about.

The affordability of ticket prices (lets face it, you can't possibly find less expensive college football tickets anywhere near here), the activities for kids, the Tiger and cheerleaders, the message board and the rest are all geared towards making it a GameDay, rather than just a game.

It is TigerBlog's opinion that Princeton football attendance has flourished largely through those efforts. Yes, Princeton Stadium is not sold out week in and week out, but the number of people who routinely attend games here is in TigerBlog's mind astonishing in comparison to other events, athletic and non-athletic, on campus.

So buy your tickets and get out here. You're missing out on a great time if you don't.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chasing Perfection

Yesterday the spotlight of the sports world shined on Mark Buehrle, the Chicago White Sox pitcher that tossed the 18th perfect game in Major League Baseball history. Watching the highlights of Buehrle’s outing, and the incredible catch Dewayne Wise made in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the perfect game/no-hitter/shutout got TigerBlog thinking of the near perfect game, near no-hitter and actually no-hitter he has seen on the Princeton baseball beat for the past seven seasons.

To start with, there have been 13 no-hitters in Princeton baseball history. The first came in 1875 when Mac Mann did it in a win over Yale, in what is believed to be the first no-hitter in baseball history, professional or amateur. Since then, Princeton has averaged about one no-hitter a decade. None of the 13 no-hitters though was a perfect game.

That brings us to April 4, 2004 at Yale Field. Ross Ohlendorf was on the mound in the opening seven-inning game of the doubleheader. After striking out two and retiring the side in order in the bottom of the first inning, Ryan Reich gave Ohlendorf a run to work with when he homered in the top of the second inning.

Ohlendorf cruised from there, setting down the Bulldogs in order through six innings and carried the perfect game into the final at bat with the Tigers still leading 1-0. Of the 18 outs he recorded, he had eight strikeouts and nine fly outs, with only one out coming by way of a ground ball. It was somewhere in the fifth when TB went to find the Yale photographer and asked him to be ready in the event of that it was going to be a perfect game.

His bid for a perfect game and no-hitter ended in the top of the seventh when the leadoff batter hit a bloop single to right field. A sac bunt and a single up the middle evened the score. Ohlendorf had gotten off his game plan and wound up hitting the next batter and walking another to load the bases with one out. He struck out the next batter to reach two outs, but as he stared in for the pitch catcher Tim Lahey was calling, the Yale runner on third base broke down the line and wound up stealing home to give the Bulldogs the win.

It was an amazing finish. The game lasted an hour and 59 minutes for an hour and 55 minutes everyone was thinking that they could be watching a perfect game in the making. That didn’t happen, but for those, especially the Yale fans, they got to see a game end in a way that few games end.

The second close call came on June 3, 2006 in Fayetteville, Ark. Christian Staehely pitched in and out of trouble all day, but found himself with a no-hitter entering the eighth inning. Princeton was facing Arkansas in an NCAA tournament elimination game and both pitchers were on from the start. Scoreless in the sixth, Spencer Lucian made a full speed running catch to rob a Razorback of extra-bases, if not a home run. Lucian then gave Staehely and the Tigers a lead in the seventh when he belted a two-run homer in the seventh.

Staehely took the mound in the top of the eighth inning and walked the first two batters on 3-2 pitches. TB swears the fourth ball to the first batter was a strike, but regardless, Arkansas had two on and no outs. The next batter laid down a sac bunt down the third base line and the throw went to third in attempt to get the lead runner. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the runner beat the throw and the bases were now loaded with no outs. Staehely hasn’t allowed a hit to this point, but the next batter cleared the bases with a double, ending the no-hit bid. The Arkansas fans gave Staehely a standing ovation following the hit as he was relieved.

After those two near misses, and another one where Brad Gemberling didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning in a nine-inning two-hitter, TB finally saw his first no-hitter.

That game came on April 27, 2008 and to be honest, was anything from perfect. Steven Miller took the mound and after getting the first two batters in the top of the first inning out, he walked a batter and then had another reach on a fielding error that went through the wickets of Princeton’s third baseman. So with two on and two outs, Brian Kaufman came out and crushed a pitch down the right field line that cleared the fence. Kaufman and the two runners trotted around the bases, TB put three runs and a hit on the scoreboard, but then Scott Bradley emerged from the dugout to argue that ball was foul. It was a very short discussion; the umps conferred, and overruled the home run. TB had to take the runs and hit off the scoreboard and add a strike to Kaufman. Cornell’s coach then came out to argue, but the call stood. Kaufman would eventually walk to fill the bases and Miller would hit a batter and walk another to plate a run.

Miller would go to walk six batters and hit three in the seven-inning game, but at no point did he give up a hit. The Tigers would add a run in the fourth inning on Micah Kaplan’s RBI-single and Spencer Lucian’s two-run homer in the sixth would give Princeton a 3-2 lead. In the seventh, Miller set down the Big Red in order for the no-hitter.

One of the great things about baseball is that you never know what you’re going to see when you get to the stadium. A former employee here at TBHQ once told me that on the bus prior to a Princeton-Miami baseball game in early March, Scott Bradley told him to watch close, because this may be your chance to watch a perfect game. That game wasn’t, none of the three I listed above were, and none of the 3,935 other Princeton baseball games have been, but you never know, the next one may be.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Double Play

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we are currently working on the athletics calendar that has become an annual publication. The calendar actually started about 15 years ago as a "Sports Annual" piece that had one page about each varsity team from the year before and has since evolved first to a publication that had a different theme each year and now has extended that concept into the calendar format.

Judging by the responses we've gotten, the calendar has been everyone's favorite. In the interest of full disclosure, the calendar is called our "Unified Appeal," which serves as the primary fund-raising piece that we produce.

Having said that, this year's calendar will be focusing on a review of the decade, one that has been overwhelmingly successful for Princeton athletics. As part of the production of the calendar, the TigerBlog staff was selecting some of the top male and female athletes, and the discussion soon turned to whether some of the top two-sport athletes were better at Sport A or Sport B.

Will Venable, for instance, is a good example. Was he a better baseball player or basketball player at Princeton? He's a Major League Baseball player now, so clearly the temptation would be to say baseball. Still, judged solely on his Princeton career, it's a toss-up.

There have been some outstanding two-sport athletes at Princeton this decade, more on the women's side than the men's. Elizabeth Pillion. Julie Shaner. Theresa Sherry. Rachel Becker. Holly McGarvie.

Pillion was featured in the NCAA Hall of Champions a few years ago after the remarkable achievement of playing in the NCAA Final Four in both soccer and lacrosse. She was part of an exhibit on two-sport athletes, and as part of the exhibit, TigerBlog was asked why there are so few collegiate two-sport athletes anymore.

TB remembers a time not all that long ago when the women's lacrosse roster and field hockey roster had huge overlap. There were multiple football players who played another sport.

Now it is a huge rarity, so much so that it stands out when there is a McGarvie or a Jonathan Meyers these days. When TB was asked about it back when Pillion was featured, his response was that the reason there are so few two-sport college athletes now is that there are so few two-sport 14-year-olds.

The pressure on kids in the TigerBlog Jr. age-range to pick one sport over all the others, and the time demands placed on them, almost make playing multiple sports impossible for those a year or two away from high school, let alone college.

To be on the travel soccer team in the spring, you have to play in the fall. Or for baseball, if you want to play on the travel team in the spring and summer, you have to play fall ball as well. Hockey and basketball have become year-round commitments.

Many coaches put pressure on kids to focus on that one sport, and many parents with dreams of college scholarships go along with it. This happens, despite the fact that studies (and common sense) would suggest getting away from the primary sport in favor of another is a good idea.

Nearly 25 years ago, TigerBlog wrote about an athlete at West Windsor-Plainsboro High named Dave Arendas, who was an all-state football, basketball and baseball player who went on to play in the College World Series at North Carolina. The idea of having a player that good in three sports at the time wasn't unusual; Arendas had a few teammates who played all three as well. Today, it would be almost unheard of to see players doing that.

It makes the current two-sporters here, the ones who have gone against the current trend, even more unique and special.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Tour De France And Princeton Athletics

The Tour de France is an amazing event. You have Lance Armstrong and 100 other guys nobody can name pushing their bodies beyond any reasonable level of endurance, going up and down huge mountains and pedaling more than four, five, six hours a day. The difference between the day's winner and everyone else is often a fraction of a second.

Forgetting a minute the obvious questions about better-cycling-through-chemistry, the ability of these athletes is extraordinary. Factor in the intricacies of the team concept of cycling on that level, and it becomes an even more intriguing proposition.

Then there's the TV coverage of it here on SportsCenter. It's always the same. It starts out with a shot of some poor Belgian or somebody wiping out and then is followed by a few seconds of Armstrong's day. Then it cuts to the the winner of that day's stage, usually with the obligatory look-ma-no-hands shot across the finish line and then the celebration moment.

There can be no doubt that Armstrong is an amazing athlete. The question TigerBlog has is: How did he get into cycling?

Or, more broadly, how does anyone get into the sport they get into?

Princeton has 38 varsity teams who compete in 18 very distinct sports: soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football, track and field, cross country, wrestling, lacrosse, tennis, golf, rowing, water polo, swimming and diving, field hockey, hockey and volleyball,

Those 38 teams are composed of about 1,000 athletes, most of whom, TigerBlog supposes, began their athletic careers at the age of around four or five when their parents signed them up for youth soccer.

From that point, they began to branch out, eventually reaching the sport they play here at Princeton. How do they get there? It's a fascinating subject, especially since athletes good enough to play a particular sport on the Division I level might have a completely different road had they chosen a different sport.

Is it about opportunity more than anything else? A kid in Brooklyn or Philadelphia is much more likely to be exposed to squash than a kid from somewhere else; had Julia Beaver (now a doctor, as an aside) grown up in Texas instead of Brooklyn, would she ever have realized that she had the talent to be a three-time national squash champ? Maybe she would have been a solid college tennis player instead?

Similarly, had Ryan Boyle grown up in California in the 1990s instead of Baltimore, would have he have been a Division I-AA quarterback instead of one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time?

If opportunity isn't the biggest factor, than maybe being big (or not big) is the biggest. If you grow up to be 6-6, 290 pounds, then soccer probably isn't your game. If you grow up to be 5-8, 175 but are fast and can run forever, then maybe soccer is your game.

Or maybe it's hereditary. If your parents were both swimmers, are you going to be a swimmer too?

Or maybe it's the other kids you grow up with. If your best friend is playing Little League baseball, maybe you will too. Or if you were a good field hockey goalie but there was a better one the same age as you when you were a high school freshman, maybe you gave up field hockey for another sport.

And now interchangeable is athletic ability? Last year, there were five winners of the Roper Trophy for the outstanding male senior athlete: hockey player Lee Jubinville, lacrosse player Mark Kovler, swimmer Doug Lennox, distance runner Michael Maag and squash player Mauricio Sanchez.

Had they grown up in different circumstances, could they have simply changed sport paths? Had Kovler grown up in Mexico City and Sanchez in Washington, D.C., would Kovler have been a college squash player and Sanchez a lacrosse player?

TigerBlog remembers playing lunchtime basketball awhile ago and having women's water polo player Adele McCarthy-Beauvais (a von Kienbusch Award winner) basically dominate the game. Afterwards, TB asked her if she'd ever played basketball, and she said that she had. It turned out she was actually a star high school basketball player, and TB has no doubt she could have played here.

When TB asked why water polo and not basketball, she replied: "It just worked out that way."

Basketball. Water polo.

Either way, it has to be better than riding your bike straight up to the top of the Alps.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The moon was full last week, or at least that's how TigerBlog remembers it. When it's bright out at night, the moon doesn't appear to be all that far away, and yet there has never, ever been anything in human achievement to rival the fact that the United States of America was able to send six different pairs of astronauts to its surface and back to Earth.

The first of those landings, as everyone knows, was 40 years ago yesterday, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first and second people to walk on the moon. Extra credit goes to those of you who know that the third person was a Princeton alum, Pete Conrad (Class of 1953, TigerBlog believes). Also, by now, everyone has seen Apollo 13 and realized that it wasn't exactly a sure thing to get there without incident.

If you think you're cool or you're tough, imagine how those astronauts must be, to sit on top of all that unexploded fuel and get launched into space. If you've never seen the movie "The Right Stuff," it's a must. TB saw it in the movies and originally didn't want to go because it was a three-hour show; the three hours went by in what seemed like 20 minutes.

TigerBlog was a kid when the first moon landings happened, and in fact he's pretty sure that he remembers MotherBlog as she watched the moon landing on a tiny TV in the kitchen of our old house. It's among the first memories that TB has, along with what he believes is his first memory, MotherBlog's watching of Robert Kennedy's funeral on the same TV.

When it comes to sports, TB is pretty sure he watched the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III at his Uncle Herbie and Aunt Edie's apartment in Brooklyn, where Aunt Edie still lives, by the way, 32 years after Uncle Herbie passed away (and was buried wearing his sailor's hat that he always wore when he played pinochle in the Rockaways in the summer, another early TB memory).

As for Princeton, TB grew up not far from here, but he cannot remember ever attending a Princeton athletic event as a kid, which would make the 1984 Princeton-Penn football game the first Princeton event TB ever saw on this campus. The 1983 Princeton-Penn game, for those who don't remember, is one of the greatest games in Ivy League history, a game Penn won by stopping a two-point conversion attempt after Princeton scored on a fourth-down to make it 28-27 on a day when Derek Graham caught a 90-yard touchdown pass. Graham, on his 90-yard run, caught the ball on about the 15 on the Penn side of Franklin Field and then outraced All-Ivy sprinter Ross Armstrong (no relation to Neil, TB assumes) to the end zone. Years later, TB would write a story about the game, and Armstrong would say that he burned the shoes he was wearing that day because he was so disgusted he didn't catch Graham.

There was a time when TigerBlog could run down the scores of every lacrosse season or football season going back indefinitely. There are still times when the conversation turns to this game or that game and TB can come up with the score or the exact stat line of some of the key players.

On the other hand, TB can't even be sure the moon was full last week. It's more of a numerical memory than a conceptual one.

Perhaps it's the nature of athletic communications that those who are in it have strong memories and the ability to remember details long after games have ended. It's part of being the chroniclers of an athletic department's history.

Or maybe TigerBlog is just a bit of a whacko when it comes to stuff like that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twist Lacrosse - And Ryan Boyle

TigerBlog looked across the landscape at the Maryland State Fairgrounds and St. Paul's School in Baltimore, and everywhere he looked he saw the current state of youth sports in all its glory.

The occasion was the Summer Sizzle lacrosse tournament, held this past weekend in temperatures about 30 degrees cooler than the previous year's. It's an event typical of sports like lacrosse and soccer, in this case with a U11, U13, U15 and high school bracket and games spread over Saturday and Sunday.

It featured teams with catchy names like "Crease Monkeys" and "FuZe" and "T2 Storm" and "Shamrocks" and "Renegades." TigerBlog would have liked to have been part of the discussion when the people said "Let's call our team Fuse, but let's spell it with a z and then capitalize the Z.

Uniforms ran the gamut, with mostly bright, florescent colors seen everywhere. For the record, Twist, the team TigerBlog Jr. plays for, wore its unbelievable bright yellow uniforms and then defeated three Baltimore teams and a New Jersey team en route to the U13A final, where it fell to another Baltimore team, Looney's.

As an aside, TigerBlog approached one of the opposing players prior to the championship game to ask what "Looney's" stands for and was told it was a pub in Baltimore. TigerBlog then asked the U13 player for some ID.

The tournaments feature a game, a long wait, another game, another long wait, etc. The down time is as much fun for the kids as the games, with lacrosse-oriented merchandise complete usually with some big-name lacrosse types. Whatever the down sides of American youth sports are (and there was the requisite loud-mouthed coach and over-the-top parent to be seen, though they were far in the minority), there were also plusses everywhere: learning to compete, understanding there's always someone better than you, making new friendships, learning to work hard to achieve team goals.

Twist features a player named Matt Vetter, whose father's name is Brian Vetter. There is also a Major League Lacrosse player named Brian Vetter who was at the event this weekend but was no relation. The MLL Vetter showed up at one of Twist's games and yelled for the whole field to hear: "let me see you play like a Vetter." Matt, one of the top players on the team, did not disappoint. After the game, the MLL Vetter carried the 12-year-old off the field and then posed for a picture with the whole team. He exchanged email addresses with the Vetter family to send him the picture; it is likely that Matt Vetter will remember that moment forever.

Anyway, TigerBlog was walking along the Fairgrounds Saturday when he noticed Major League Lacrosse jerseys for sale. There were four, set up in a square in the display. As TB made his way around, he saw that the fourth one said "R. Boyle" on the back above its No. 14. Then he saw a younger sister of one of the players ask her mom if they could get it, because "Ryan Boyle is the cutest player in the league."

For those who don't know, Ryan Boyle is one of the best players in Princeton lacrosse history and now one of the best players in the world. He is one of the toughest Princeton athletes TigerBlog has ever seen, and he had (and still has) that unique ability to elevate the game of anyone playing with him.

Boyle also turned in what is probably the single most-impressive individual performance by a Princeton player that TigerBlog has seen when he willed the Tigers past Maryland in the 2004 NCAA quarterfinals. Boyle scored twice on total individual moves in the final 80 seconds, including tying the game with 12 seconds left, and then won it with another ridiculous move to set up Peter Trombino in overtime to send Princeton to the Final Four.

TigerBlog heard several people talk about Boyle over the weekend, referencing his eye black, his style of play and his club team (Trilogy Lacrosse). One of the Twist players pointed to a Trilogy coach and said that it was Boyle, but TB corrected him. When TB mentioned that he knew Boyle well and saw every game Boyle played at Princeton except for one, the player was almost in awe.

There was a time when a kid like that, from outside of Philadelphia, would only have been awed if TB knew Mike Schmidt or Randall Cunningham. Today, that same kid probably watches fewer than five baseball games a year but knows every big-name lacrosse star there is.

As for the jerseys, TigerBlog asked the guy selling them how many he'd sold of Boyle's, and he smiled and said business is good. He asked TB if he wanted to buy one, and TigerBlog asked him if he had any Matt Striebel's for sale.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Point, Counterpoint

The United States Basketball Writers' Association and the Football Writers' Association issued a joint statement last week imploring college athletic departments not to abandon the printing of media guides. The statement, interestingly, says that the USBWAA and FWAA agree that these guides should not be used as recruiting tools.

TigerBlog found the statement interesting. And astonishing in its lack of ability to understand the practical realities not only of the current challenges faced by college athletic departments but also the evolving world of media.

The state of budgets and reality of ongoing and looming personnel cuts has left colleges of all sizes in unprecedented need to save money wherever possible. If you want specifics, check out the Ultimate Sports Insider blog, which currently is on No. 39 in its series on athletic budget cuts.

In this new world, the easiest place to look for savings is printed materials, especially media guides. TigerBlog shudders at the thought of all the money thrown blindly into the printing of these guides through the years. With the number of guides that were never used and ultimately either thrown away or still sitting in stacks of stacks of boxes on E level of Jadwin, it would have been more practical to simply hand $5 bills to fans who came to athletic events.

Forgetting that, however, there is the bigger issue of what guides are, what their purpose is and most importantly, what are you going to do if you're not doing guides. Princeton and TigerBlog covered this topic extensively two weeks ago and won't rehash it all here.

Still, for two large groups of media members to publicly embrace the status quo, with the caveat that guides shouldn't be used for recruiting, is somewhat out of touch given the new realities of both professions. The statement mentions an inability to get online at events and references something from the basketball Final Four a few months ago (where apparently there was trouble getting internet access). This is not a justification for printing anymore. It's a justification to get a cellular internet card, a relatively inexpensive device that enabled Little Miss TigerBlog to be online in a moving car from Princeton until she got car sick somewhere before we reached the shore.

Also, TB feels that statement is wrong to suggest that media members need huge publications that don't also get used for recruiting (which is the overwhelming use of almost any guide). Media members get far more use out of game notes that change for each event than they do out of a guide. These notes are also some of the most read items on any school's site.

Even more than all of this, TigerBlog is still struck by media members who don't understand the evolution that has happened and still operate as if the relationship that existed between a sports information office in the pre-eveyone-has-their-own-Website days is the same as the one today.

The challenge for the USBWAA, the FWAA and newspapers all over the country is to figure out a way drastically increase revenues off of on-line content. Some great writing and coverage of some of America's premiere athletic loves – big-time college football and basketball – come from those two organizations and from local papers around the country. They need to devote their attention to figuring out how to make sure they still have a platform on which to do their work.

Princeton's Office of Athletic Communications was 90% a media relations office in 1994. Today, it is 90% its own media outlet. It's an outlet that produces its own multi-media content and has plans to increase those platforms over the next months.

It's an outlet with an eye to the future. It's not an outlet that can afford to throw money into outdated technologies, and it admires its fellow outlets who do likewise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jordan Rules

Another coaching legend has just left the building.

Glenn Nelson took a combined 1110 volleyball victories to the golf course. Bill Tierney took 238 lacrosse victories to Denver. And now Curtis Jordan will take 131 heavyweight wins and 186 overall Princeton crew victories into a well-earned retirement.

TigerBlog worked with Jordan for the last eight years and knows that what made him a special figure goes far beyond the numbers.

A few of TB’s favorite anecdotes about Jordan hopefully tell a little bit more about the man and what made him such a legendary success at the boathouse.

In 2006, Princeton heavyweight crew was loaded. The squad returned the majority of a boat that finished second at both Easterns and IRAs the previous year, and it included several members of the 2003 IRA freshman and Henley Temple Cup Challenge champion.

While some would look to curtail expectations for a team like that, Jordan wasn’t interested. He must have known it would be phony to his rowers to say anything else. "I worry about that around sophomores," Jordan said before the season. "Pressure is part of the game. They know what they are here to do."

He also made a point to not over-coach them. He knew what they needed, and then he got out of the way. Over the span of 12 months, that crew became the first collegiate boat to win the Head of the Charles; it went 9-0 in the regular season and won its first Eastern/Ivy League title since 2001 and it ended the year by winning the Ladies Plate Challenge at Henley, the program’s first victory for a varsity heavyweight eight.

The only blemish, if you want to call it that, was a silver medal at the IRA championships. California, the power program out west that year, went head-to-head with Princeton on a rainy Saturday morning on Cooper River for the national championship. The Golden Bears rallied in the final 500 meters to win a thriller over the Tigers.

Afterwards, Jordan didn’t bother with excuses. He didn’t talk about weather or scholarships or pressure or anything else. Instead, he talked about the team and how disappointed it was, because it came here to win. There was no edge of anger in his voice, as if the team had somehow cost him a chance at the title. He simply, honestly reflected the disappointment he knew his rowers felt, but he added mention about his pride in the amazing season.

This past season was a much different, much tougher one. A team that had talent simply never found the cohesion to form a winning boat. Perhaps a loss in the Childs Cup to Columbia put bad thoughts in their heads to early in the season, but the 2009 rowers simply never turned it around.

How did Jordan, accustomed to a career of wins and medal stands, handle it?

During a midseason interview, he acknowledged the toughness of the season, but never once called out his rowers. Instead, he talked about the pride he felt in the work ethic and resilience of this particular group. While some coaches might be hurt by a particular group like this, he hurt for them.

To TB, these two teams showed Jordan’s unique ability to honestly assess each individual team and coach or manage it effectively. He demanded excellence, and in a career that spanned more than three times as many wins as defeats, his teams were excellent far more often than not.

Congratulations to Curtis Jordan on his retirement. After overseeing the greatest years of Princeton heavyweight rowing, you leave the biggest of shoes to fill.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


David Rosenfeld, TigerBlog emeritus who now works in the communications office at the Gilman School, actually did two tours here at TigerBlog HQ. His second one went from 2003 until last year; his first started in the mid-1990s.

TB remembers clearly the day when David first started here and picked up the Trenton Times sports section. From the next room came the most famous question in TigerBlog HQ history: "What's HUH-TER-BUH?"

With no idea what David was talking about, TB investigated and saw that he was reading a Page 1 headline that mentioned that HTRBA had won a game the night before. "HUH-TER-BUH" actually is H-T-R-B-A, or Hamilton Township Recreational Baseball Association, a team competing in the District 12 Little League tournament.

Once David knew what HTRBA was, he was even more amazed that a daily newspaper would devote that kind of time and energy to the local Little League baseball tournament. When informed that the District 12 tournament was just the start of it, with baseball and softball tournaments ranging from 10-year-olds through 15's on the horizon, as well as extensive American Legion coverage.

TigerBlog remembers his own first experiences with the District 12 tournament, back in the summer of 1984, TB's first with the Trenton Times. Jim Gauger, the lanky sports editor, penciled TB in for District 12 coverage, and TB couldn't believe that he was actually going to be interviewing 12-year-olds after games. By the time the tournament ended with a Chambersburg win over Hopewell Valley, TB had been indoctrinated in the ways of District 12, which can often be wacky.

Don't get us wrong, of course. Here at TigerBlog HQ, the District 12 tournament ranks up there among the great annual events, along with the Spelling Bee, Cowboys-Giants games, the Mets' yearly collapse, the day Duke is eliminated in basketball and college basketball on TV during the day on the Thursdays of conference tournament and NCAA tournament time.

Still, there are all sorts of lessons to be learned from District 12 Little League coverage (starting with the inherent issues of building up 12-year-olds to a level which they may never again in their lives reach). Rich Fisher, who has written for pretty much every publication in Mercer County, once said that he'd eventually need a translator to interview the kids from Taiwan or Japan for when Nottingham made its run to the World Series; TB remembers the Trenton Times doing baseball cards for the Nottingham players that year. Baseball cards? Of 12-year-olds?

There is one issue that we'll focus on here at TigerBlog HQ today. When TB asked Gauger why we were covering Little League baseball games, Gauger flat out replied: "because the Trentonian does a great job of it."

In other words, if they do it, we have to do it. Here at Princeton, as in the rest of college athletics, we are in times of budget challenges. Decisions have to made with an eye on fiscal responsibility combined with maintaining our commitment to being the best we can be on the field and off. It's very easy in the context of those discussions not to focus on what is necessary and practical but rather to drift back to "they do it; we have to do it" mode.

TB had one of those discussions this morning, as we began to think broadly about game programs for the coming year. How big should they be? What content is necessary? What is extra? What should we do that we've always done; what should we abandon? What new content should we bring in?

The meeting inevitably made its way back to "well, what does everyone else do" mode. Trying to stay focused on the big picture and leaving behind the "Trentonian does a great job covering Little League" way of thinking is a huge challenge now in college athletics. TB believes Princeton has made a big step in the right direction with its abandonment of media guides, for instance.

Stay tuned for more focus on this issue, especially in these tough times. In the meantime, enjoy the end of the District 12 tournament tonight. It'll be Nottingham-West Windsor for the championship.

You'll be able to read all about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How Ross Ohlendorf Will Influence The World Series

TigerBlog's third-least favorite sports team is the New York Yankees, and since neither of the first two is a professional team, then the Yanks are TB's least favorite among NBA, Major League, NHL, NFL and every other professional organization out there.

Part of the reason TB doesn't like the Yankees is that their entire operating model is based on being able to outspend every other team by an enormous, overwhelming margin. Clearly, since NY hasn't won a World Series since 2000, it's not a model that guarantees success.

Few things annoy TB more than the latest sellout, who signed with the Yankees because they offered way more than everyone else, as he stands at the podium and says it was always a dream to "wear the pinstripes."

Despite this 30+ year dislike, TigerBlog thinks he's being somewhat objective when he makes this statement: If the Yankees don't win the World Series this year, it will be because they gave up on Princeton's own Ross Ohlendorf.

Major League Baseball has reached the All-Star break, which means that a pretty good body of evidence exists to discuss where the current season is going. Looking at the facts, it's obvious that the Yankees would be better with Ohlendorf in their starting rotation.

Going back a little more than a year, Ohlendorf was a bullpen member for the Yanks about to be traded to his current employer, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Going back 13 months or so, Joba Chamberlain was a lights-out, unhittable, better-not-be-trailing-after-the-seventh relief pitcher.

The Yankees of the last 15 years have always been at their scariest not when they had deep starting pitching or big home run hitters (insert your own steroid joke here) but when they had an untouchable back of the bullpen. Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time (as an aside, closer is the most overrated position of all-time, and TigerBlog maintains that it is the only position in sports where the manager/coach takes into account stats more than the good of the team in making personnel decisions), and when the Yankees were winning the World Series four times in five years, they had an army of guys in front of Rivera who were perfect setup guys (Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, etc.).

The result was that if you didn't have the lead on the Yankees after the sixth, you were finished. And the starters knew they only had to get to the sixth to win.

Chamberlain, when he came up, appeared to be as good as any of those other set-up guys. Certainly he was frightening on the mound, with his velocity and demeanor.

And then? Well, the Yankees moved Chamberlain to the rotation last June and then missed the playoffs. They traded Ohlendorf as an afterthought in the deal that brought them Xavier Nady, who got hurt and may never play again.

In typical Yankee fashion, they went out and signed hugely high-priced free agent pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for the front end of the rotation. With Chamberlain still a starter, the Yankees have relied on far less intimidating arms to set up for Rivera.

As for Ohlendorf, he found a spot in the Pirates' rotation, where he has done very well. In fact, Ohlendorf reached the break with seven wins, one fewer than Sabathia and Burnett (and had it not been for a total meltdown by the Pirate bullpen Friday night in Philly, he'd have the same eight wins that the two high priced pitchers do). Chamberlain has won four games as a starter this season.

Ohlendorf does have the highest ERA of the four pitchers, but not by much. Plus, he's pitching for the Pirates, who rank 21st in Major League Baseball in runs scored, as opposed to the Yankees, who rank first.

There is no doubt in TigerBlog's mind that Ohlendorf could have been a 10-game winner for the year for the Yankees while more importantly allowing Chamberlain to remain in the bullpen. Or, for that matter, had the Yankees put Ohlendorf in the rotation and signed only Sabathia, they could be making a more serious run at Roy Halladay right now.

Most importantly, come October in the playoffs, the Yankees could have had their dominant formula of Chamberlain to set up for Rivera. Now, that's gone, and leads in the seventh and eighth or no longer a lock.

Sometimes, seemingly minor decisions make the biggest impacts. This could be one of them for the Yankees, on the down side.

On the plus side, TigerBlog won't have to worry about how to root for Ohlendorf and against the Yankees, like he had to in the playoffs two years ago.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beach Bloggin'

With all due respect to Gary Walters and Shirley Tilghman, when you mention "The Boss" to anyone from the general Monmouth County area who grew up in the 1970s or 1980s – a demographic known as the "TigerBlog Generation" - the first thought is of Bruce Springsteen.

For those literally "sprung from cages on Highway 9," Springsteen belongs first and foremost to the Jersey Shore, a place where he began his career and where he still lives. Springsteen and the Jersey Shore are so connected that when he starts his live version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" by saying "it's all cold along the beach; the wind's whipping down the boardwalk," there is no doubt about what beaches he is talking about.

As the first of two asides, the line "sprung from cages on Highway 9" from the song "Born to Run" refers to the circle that used to be on route 9 where Freehold and Manalapan come together. Years ago, the circle was replaced by a traffic light where the Freehold Raceway Mall is; all that's left of the "cage" is the racetrack itself and Jersey Freeze, an ice cream place that has endured and from which TigerBlog heartily recommends the brownie sundae.

Aside No. 2 is that Springsteen graduated from Freehold Borough High School, where people who lived in TigerBlog's neck of the woods used to go before Manalapan High opened. TigerBlog and Springsteen ultimately had the same math teacher in high school, a woman named Mrs. Behson who taught TB all he ever wanted to know about advanced algebra and trigonometry.

Getting back to the point, those in the TigerBlog Generation are almost universally Springsteen fans, and much of the reason why is the love affair that TBers have with the Jersey Shore. Oh, of course, there are nicer beaches in the world, but there is no place that quite has the personality of the 100 mile stretch that locals refer to as "down the shore."

TigerBlog spent last week at one of the many great shore towns that has a nice beach, as well as the classic Jersey Shore boardwalk. TB spent some of that time doing an informal study of colleges that were represented on shirts/hats/shorts/etc. For the record, TB went with Princeton shirts and a Georgetown hat.

It started when TB noticed a 15-year-old or so wearing a "Princeton 2006 Ivy League Football Champion" t-shirt and a 70-year-old or so wearing a very, very, very old Princeton hat.

The overwhelming winner in the merchandising category was, not surprisingly, Penn State, which must have had a 10-1 edge over the second place school, which also was a not surprising choice, Villanova.

From there, TB saw probably a hundred different schools. There was a couple who walked hand-in-hand down the beach, he in his "Murray State" shirt and she in her "Lafayette" shirt; TB wondered where they'd met. In the wouldn't-have-thought-it BCS category, there was a man who wore his Purdue hat every day to the beach.

There were some to-be-expected schools, such as North Carolina, Boston College, Michigan, UCLA, Texas, Florida and others like that. Then there were some completely random schools.

Among the ones that TB remembers are: North Texas (at the Jersey Shore?), Washington (TB used to have a great U-Dub hat), Savannah State, North Carolina A&T, Colorado College (thought of Guy Gadowsky), Tulsa (it's actually a very good school) and Cleveland State.

TB saw Army and Navy, but there were more actual Marines, as well as Old Navy shirts, to be seen. There were all kinds of N.J. and Pennsylvania state schools, including multiple Elizabethtown and Kutztown sightings. There was also a woman in a Richard Stockton State shirt, and it reminded TigerBlog of covering Trenton State-Stockton State basketball at Stockton back in the day. Stockton's gym had a walkway over the top of it, which meant that people could literally stand directly above the floor and look down. Stockton was also the last place that converted to phone jacks, so anytime you went there, you needed to bring acoustic couplers to send your story in a very old-fashioned way. Former TSC sports information director Pete Manetas had the only acoustic couplers left by the time 1990 rolled around.

As for the Philadelphia Big 5, Villanova was first, followed by La Salle of all schools.

As for the Ivy League, TB saw a man wear the same Columbia shirt every day (unless he had multiple versions of the same shirt), as well as shirts from Yale, Brown, Dartmouth and Penn (though it did say Penn Vet School). TB did not see a Harvard shirt all week.

That leaves only Cornell, and though TigerBlog did not see any Cornell shirts per se, he did see Cornell men's basketball coach Steve Donahue waiting to take his daughter on the Tea Cups. Donahue said he was heading out to recruit the next day; TB wished him luck, but not too much luck, on the trail.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's a Quaint Old Ballpark...

TigerBlog took in the local double-A minor league team this week at Waterfront Park along the banks of the Delaware River, from which you can see Pennsylvania from your seat. This TigerBlogger was also once in a situation in which he parked his car in one state and walked to a major league game in another. Bonus points if you can name which stadium that is.

Anyway, this particular TigerBlogger remembers seeing the California Angels during the time when they held their spring training in Palm Springs Stadium in the late '80s-early '90s before the Halos moved camp to Tempe, Ariz., to be closer to the Cactus League competition and play in a nicer facility. As you can see from the pictures of the two facilities, there's just no comparison.

It's an arms race that mirrors what is going on in college athletics, where it's harder to tell the difference between a professional park used from April through September and a college park used for a much shorter spring season. The last time Princeton baseball played in the NCAA tournament, it played at Arkansas' stadium, which, according to Arkansas' site, has 10,500 chair-back seats and 34 luxury boxes. For college baseball.

Even the College World Series is getting in on the act, opening a brand new stadium to be used mostly just for the annual two-week tournament in June while the Kansas City Royals triple-A team, which draws less than the CWS does, will be opening their own new park. Rosenblatt Stadium, which the two currently share, will no longer stand after the 2010 season, if everything goes according to plan.

Plenty of Princeton alums have played professional baseball, and three more just got drafted last month. To make some comparisons and see if this trend of minor league parks that look like major league parks is really everywhere, TigerBlog cut the list of Princeton's all-time professional players down to those who reached at least double-A and were drafted in the 1980s or 1990s, which isn't really that long ago.

Five Tigers fit into that category:

Steve Kordish, a 1983 draftee, reached double-A with the Texas Rangers' club in Tulsa, whose ballpark is still in use.

Mark Lockenmeyer, a 1981 draftee, reached that level with the New York Mets' AA club in Jackson, Miss. That one is no longer in use.

Dan Arendas, drafted in 1986, played double-A ball with the Yankees' club near Albany, N.Y., at a field that is now in ruins.

Matthew Golden, drafted in 1994, played in double-A in Little Rock, Ark., in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The Arkansas Travelers have also moved on to bigger and better park.

Bringing it back home, Tom Hage was drafted in 1996 and played his double-A ball in the Eastern League, both in the Baltimore Orioles' system in Bowie, Md., and at Waterfront Park in Trenton for the (then) Boston Red Sox AA team. Still plenty of EL baseball played at both parks.

So, in TB's little sample, that's three of the five parks no longer in use. Four bases and a mound weren't quite enough for the clubs that once played there.

The place where those five Tigers all got their collegiate baseball training is still very much in use. Clarke Field may not have luxury boxes or thousands of chairback seats (maybe hundreds instead), but it's suited the Tigers just fine since 1965.

Some may not agree (though admirers of Fenway and Wrigley might), but there's something to be said for just a nice place to see a ballgame.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thinking Football...

There are hundreds of high school athletes in pads and helmets currently running around on Powers Field, trying to impress in the first full day of Princeton Football Camp. Watching it this morning got TigerBlog to thinking about another football camp in the not-so-distant future.

The 2009 football season is fast approaching, and camp will be a crucial stretch for a program with plenty of returning talent, but several questions to answer. As the season gets closer, both and TigerBlog will take closer looks at the upcoming season. But for now, here are some quick thoughts about key questions that will need answers at camp.

* obviously, all eyes will be on the quarterback position … can Brett Kan work himself into the expected competition between Tommy Wornham and Harrison Daniels; since all three are sophomores, this is a critical camp for the trio. The outright winner could start the next 30 games at Princeton, which hasn't happened in the Roger Hughes era.

* with four returning starters on the offensive line, TB feels that position should be a strength … however, who fills that fifth position, likely a guard spot, and how quickly will Andrew Hauser get comfortable at the center position; remember, this spread offense can get out of sorts quickly if that shotgun snap is all over the place.

* the two most intriguing skill players to watch could be Trey Peacock and Kenny Gunter (as you pretty much know what you'll get from Jordan Culbreath); is Peacock, who has All-Ivy physical skills, ready to make the jump, and how quickly can Gunter shake the rust off and become a legitimate offensive option. Both looked good in the spring game, and a Culbreath-Gunter backfield would be scary.

* what shape is John Callahan in after tearing his ACL last year? He had been an impact player since his freshman season; can he get back to that level?

* in a fairly deep group of linebackers, can and where will Jonathan Meyers fit in?

* how competitive is the second cornerback position, and does Cart Kelly have the early look of one of those Jay McCareins/JJ Artis senior years?

* is there a dangerous kickoff returner in the mix; starting around the 40 every now and then would do wonders for the offense and the field position battle.

* after years, including a two-season run of 16-4, with a terrific kicking game, where does the team stand with the kicker and punter position? In a league this close, three points and reliable punting could mean a one or two win difference.

Of course, there are more even more questions than that. But TB is interested in your opinion: outside of the obvious quarterback battle, what is the key position battle you'll keep your eye on this fall?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Next Step In Princeton Volleyball

For the first time in as long as TB has been working with volleyball (which dates back to the 20th century), the dartboard is gone from the coach's office.

Yes, a new era in Princeton volleyball has begun.

Jolie Ward steps into the unenviable position of following Princeton legend Glenn Nelson, who guided the women's program to 11 Ivy League titles and the men to a historic 1998 NCAA semifinal berth before retiring last spring.

Part of the new era includes two head coaches for the two programs, which hasn't happened since 1981. Ward will coach the women's program, and her assistant coach will also serve as the head men's coach. In TB's opinion, this move was a necessity because of the importance of both recruiting and off-season practicing. In truth, Nelson was able to work with the men's program full time in the spring because assistant coach Sabrina King was a full-time spring coach and also handled the heavy majority of recruiting duties.

Ward's bio looks good. She earned several team and league honors as a player and posted winning records in her first two stops; in one year at Manhattan, she turned a program that finished 10th the previous season into a playoff contender and missed the four-team postseason on the final day of the conference schedule.

Realistically, though, Princeton wasn't going to hire a coach without the credentials. So what did TB learn about Jolie Ward in the first 24 hours that he thought would serve her and the program best? has a two-part video chat that will run this week with Ward, where she discusses her own career, her goals for her players and her view of the overall program. In the second part, which will air tomorrow, she specifically talks about the history of the Princeton program. The first thing she did was mention Glenn Nelson.

There were two ways to go about this. One is to just begin your own legacy; the fact of the matter is, within a couple years, your incoming recruits probably won't know who the former coach was anyway. She could have talked about what she wanted the program to become and left it at that.

To specifically mention Nelson, and then to talk about how failure of either program is, in her wording, "unacceptable" because of Nelson's legacy, says more than anything else about Ward. She didn't lower the bar for herself.

And because she didn't lower it for herself, she certainly won't lower it for her players. Without question, there will be a different aura around this program. It isn't necessarily better or worse; right now, zero matches into Ward's time here, it is only different.

But by also specifically crediting Nelson for the program's success, and by challenging herself to maintain his lofty standards, TB also believes that she is inviting the volleyball alumni -- who have known only one face around this program -- to stay on board. Again, this was a smart move; maintaining the alumni base, which is especially strong in Nelson's home-away-from-home of California, will keep the strong ties of the program alive and ideally be a way to locate young talent on the opposite coast.

TB would like to believe the alumni will give Ward a chance. While Nelson was truly one-of-a-kind, his professional passions were the sport and the Princeton players who worked at it. Those will be Ward's as well, and like Nelson, she seems eager to work at bringing the highest level of volleyball to Princeton University.

It may take a couple weeks for the current players to get comfortable with a new coach after knowing only Nelson's method of doing things, but maybe that isn't so bad. With four starters leaving and only one, Sheena Donohue, with more than a year of starting experience, an uncomfortable, difficult preseason may lead to the highest level of work and position competition.

When the league season rolls around Oct. 3, we'll have a better sense of what the 2009 squad will be like. There were few around Princeton who were bigger fans of the previous regime than TB, but there are also few who are more excited and, after the last 24 hours, optimistic for the current regime.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Continuing Education After the Draft

TigerBlog encourages feedback and wants its readers to ask questions when they have them.

One question that recently came in here at TB headquarters centered on the baseball players that were recently drafted, specifically the juniors, David Hale and Jack Murphy, and what their intentions will be towards signing, becoming professionals, and continuing their education.

In short, the question can be answered for Murphy. He has already signed with the team that drafted him, the Toronto Blue Jays, and has been playing for their Short Season A affiliate in the New York-Penn League in Auburn, N.Y. In signing a professional contract, he has lost his final season of college eligibility and cannot suit up for the Orange and Black next spring when the Princeton baseball season begins.

Murphy does plan to continue pursuing his degree at Princeton will is to return to campus next fall for a semester, and then complete his studies the following fall, skipping the spring semester since he will be in Spring training. Murphy would have been a member of the Class of 2010, but will now instead graduate with the Class of 2011.

That is the same route that several other Tigers have taken after being drafted and signing as a junior, including recent picks like Ross Ohlendorf, B.J. Szymanski and Thomas Pauly. If you follow baseball, you have no doubt heard about Ohlendorf’s senior thesis, which has appeared in articles on and in other places and attempts to put monetary values on the returns of baseball draft picks (How apropos?). Chris Young finished his college degree around his baseball but it took him longer as he was drafted following his sophomore year at Princeton and had four semesters of school to fit in.

The question cannot yet be answered for Hale because he has not yet signed with the Atlanta Braves. If and when he signs, he will likely be on the same plan as those listed above. If he does not sign, he will be back at Princeton in the fall.

As a note, it is standard that when a college junior is signed, the team will also pick up the final year of tuition for the player. As an example, Murphy signed his contract and received his signing bonus, plus his final year of tuition from the Blue Jays.

For two-sport athletes like Young (basketball) and Szymanski (football), once they signed a pro contract, they were immediately ineligible for their other sport. This is something that only holds true in the Ivy League. If they attended a school from another league, they would have been able to continue their collegiate careers in the other sport after signing with their baseball teams, assuming their pro team would let them. An example is Deion Sanders. Drafted by the Yankees following his junior year at Florida State, he signed and played pro baseball in the Minor Leagues for the summer, then returned to the Florida State football field for his senior season.

The Major League Baseball Draft and players signing as juniors was a hot topic on the Ivy League message board following the signing of Dartmouth’s Nick Santomauro, a 10th-round choice of the New York Mets. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. If not drafted as a high school senior, players are next eligible for drafting after they turn 21. For most players, that equates to their junior year of college. For some it is earlier (Young), but for most it is junior year.

At that point, the player is in the best bargaining position because he has the option returning to school for his senior year as a bargaining chip. There are exceptions but generally signing bonuses are worth much more for college juniors than they are for college seniors because the seniors have no bargaining power. That is why you see the college seniors all signing pretty quickly while the juniors tend to last a little longer before signing.

Adding a second sport to equation gives even more bargaining power, which is why Young got the deal he got after being drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh. He had two years of college, plus his basketball potential, on his side, which drove the asking price up. Same for Szymanski. For others, like Will Venable it pushed the price too high. After being drafted by a junior, he elected not to sign and returned to Princeton as a senior to play basketball and baseball. He was re-drafted as a senior and then signed.

Venable was a somewhat different case though as he hadn’t really played baseball through the latter years of high school and his first year of college. As he played more, his stock rose and he went from a 15th round pick as a junior to a seventh round choice as a senior.

So Merc Morris '72, thanks for checking in. TB hopes that answered your question and offered some explanation of how the process works. And to everyone else, keep the questions coming.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Would The Henley Model Work In America?

For the ninth time in University history, the Royal Henley Regatta crowned a champion from Princeton. On Sunday, the undefeated and national champion Princeton men's lightweights became international champions by topping the Brown freshman heavyweights (and four other crews) to win the Temple Challenge Cup.

For the season, Princeton went to the starting line 13 times against a grand total of 29 opponents and never once crossed the finish line second. Whether it was a dual race, a heat, a championship final or a Henley showdown, Princeton always finished first. It is an amazing feat and surely deserves its due credit. The Henley Royal Regatta web site is filled with information and photos from Sunday's championship and is worth a visit for all rowing fans, and has followed the team closely with stories and videos during this championship season.

For today, though, TigerBlog has a question to the many rowing fans out there. Is there a place for the Henley model in American collegiate rowing?

Having covered the sport for seven years, TB appreciates the importance of tradition in the sport. To alter the EARC, EAWRC or IRA national championships would probably be sacrilege to those who have grown up in the sport. A six-boat championship final, following days of heats, repechages and semifinals, certainly is an exciting and fair way to determine a champion.

But nothing in collegiate sports grips the country like March Madness. Even in a year (like 2009) when most of the games really don't live up to the hype, the overall tournament is always a success. And part of the reason why, at least in TB's opinion, is that you can put almost anything into a bracket and get people interested.

Perhaps this is worth a try in collegiate rowing now. Since you could never change the way champions are crowned, how about starting each season with an American "Henley" challenge?

You take the top 16 varsity eights from the IRA heavyweight and NCAA open women championships and the top four from both lightweight divisions and you send them to one location the next March for a season-opening competition. You could do the competition in two days, with one race in the morning and another in the afternoon (and the lightweights would only need one day). Not only could it draw some early interest to the sport, but it would add some actual drama to the third-level finals at IRAs and NCAAs; all of the sudden, the difference between fourth and fifth place is significant.

TB knows the heavyweights compete in the prestigious Copley Cup competition in San Diego early in the season, and that draws many of the national powers, so perhaps that would be the weekend to try this format. You would have all of the nation's best rowers in one spot for the only time of the year (since the open women don't go to IRAs) and could have an amazing showcase for the sport to begin each season.

To all of the rowing faithful out there, would you be interested in a little April Madness on the water?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Starting Over

The 1994 football media guide was the first publication that TigerBlog did after he came over from the Trenton Times. Right there on the first page is a picture of Princeton captain Carl Teter, or at least the person that TB thougth was Carl Teter. Only it wasn't Carl Teter; it was a different player.

In other words, TB made a huge mistake on the first page of the first media guide he ever did.

The evolution of media guides at Princeton has been pretty dramatic. They've gone from existing only for a few sports to being small guides shared by men's and women's teams to huge publications for every sport and now, ultimately, to the same scrapyard that is home to the Zip drive, fax-on-demand (or basically the entire fax machine, for that matter) and media day.

Princeton announced today the launch of a new video Website,, which will be a supplement to beginning Sept. 1. Princeton jointly announced that along with the new site, media guide production will be eliminated.

Basically, what we did here at TigerBlog HQ is ask ourselves one question: What would you do if you were starting athletic communications from scratch?

Would you have a Webpage with rosters, bios, pregame stories, postgame stories, features and all the content on


Would you make a commitment to as much video as possible, including live and on-demand streaming of games and original content that highlights the athletes off the field?

Of course.

Would you pour tens of thousands of dollars into a publication that cannot be updated during the season and is basically out-of-date by the first game of the season?

No way.

Media guides are something of a misnomer, since they aren't really designed for the media. Members of the media need basic information, such as year-by-year results, records, career-highs, player bios and a roster. That's about it. If you were putting together information solely for the media, you would have it be all facts with little in the way of design. There'd be no need for four-color covers and catchy layout inside.

The media in 2009 doesn't even need the guide. TigerBlog brought no men's lacrosse guides to both the Big City Classic at Giants Stadium or the NCAA quarterfinals at Hofstra, and not one media person asked for one. TB did bring game notes that provided all the necessary information for those specific games, and featured updated player bios throughout the season.

"Media" guides are actually recruiting guides. NCAA rules limit what coaches may send to prospective student-athletes, but one permissible item is a publication that can have color on the covers and black-and-white printing on the inside. It can be no more than 208 pages long.

The 208-page limit was a rule that was enacted to curb the "arms race" that had been going on, especially at BCS football schools, who were producing 500+ page guides whose sole intention was to show recruits that Power University had the biggest publication.

As for Princeton, it used to be that the only guides produced were one for football, one for men's basketball and one for men's hockey. That was it. The 1992 NCAA men's lacrosse championship team, for instance, did not have a media guide.

Gradually, Princeton began to do small (very, very small) tri-fold brochures for other sports, which then progressed to eight-page, 5.5x8.5 black and white publications that were shared by the same men's and women's teams (swimming, soccer, tennis, etc.).

As technology progressed, the guides became bigger and bigger. Most sports had their own guide (some, like crew, didn't want individual ones), and these guides were all 8.5x11 with four-color covers.

The big issue then became getting them done earlier and earlier. The TigerBlog HQ philosophy used to be to have them done in time for the team's first competition, but recruiting seasons for winter and spring sports kept getting earlier and earlier. What value was, say, a softball guide on March 1, if recruiting had been wrapped up by then?

TigerBlog's own personal dislike of guides began early on, when he was updated the opponents section of the football guides of the 1990s. What value was there in having letterwinners returning/lost for a game other than the opener? Who could care about the assistant coaches at other schools? Football guides list the other teams offensive and defensive schemes; is there anything sillier than having "Multiple Pro I" or "4-3" listed under "offense" and defense?"

The last guide TB did was the men's lacrosse guide of this past spring, which has a great picture of the nine seniors together in Ireland. It also has a season outlook that goes about 2,000 words and held absolutely no value once Princeton had played Canisius in its opener.

Princeton printed 400 men's lacrosse guides this past year. The season preview online had more than 1,000 page views, or 2.5 times the number of guides that were printed. There were more than 400 views of Greg Seaman's video with TigerCam in the first two days it on the site.

In other words, it was becoming obvious that media guides were not the way to go. The future is in multi-media and immediacy, not in stagnant publications. Multi-media, as in video (streaming of events, as well as original content that highlights the athletes), blogging (TigerBlog's readership is skyrocketing) podcasting and the written word, on the Webpage and through social networking sites. And immediacy, as in constantly updated. It is what TB often refers to as the "Inside Lacrosse" model.

This also means that there is no need to do guides and then have them available as pdfs online. Instead of downloading a bulky version of player bios that haven't changed since the season started, it's more important to be able to go to the Webpage and see an updated bio, perhaps complete with some accompanying video.

Still, it wasn't going to be an easy sell to the coaches. If TigerBlog has learned anything in 16 years here at HQ, it's that some coaches 1) do not like the concept of abandonment and 2) there is a strong, strong attitude in college sports that "we" must do it if "they" do it and that if "they" do "it" and "we" don't, then we're at a natural disadvantage. It often doesn't matter what "it" is.

Knowing that, it was actually a pleasant surprise to see how on board the coaches were when it was first presented to them in April. Yes, there were some holdouts, and those holdouts are still skeptics. is going to feature a mix of subscription-only event streaming with an army of free video content. We have endless ideas, some of which is on the youtube channel and the current Website. The new channel will take those to new levels and will provide fans with a very up close look at Princeton athletes. It will also scream to prospective athletes that Princeton is a progressive school offering a great experience.

And there you have it, the end of the media guide era and the dawn of a new era in athletic communications.

TigerBlog once left the Yale game off the football schedule on the back cover of a media guide and could do nothing about it for the entire year. On the other hand, loyal readers of TigerBlog notice a spelling mistake or two in blog entries from time to time and email to point them out, after which they are easily fixed.

That's how it should work in 2009.

We're looking forward to our new era.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rest In Peace - But Not For Awhile

Karl Malden died Wednesday at the age of 97. For those who don't remember him, he was a longtime actor who was on the TV show "The Streets of San Francisco" as the older, wise police partner of a young Michael Douglas and who won an Academy Award in 1951 for "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Malden was also extraordinarily famous for doing all of those commercials in which he scolded anyone who thought of leaving home without American Express travelers' checks. Those commercials were so good that to this day, there aren't many people who can name another brand of travelers' checks.

TigerBlog's two favorite Karl Malden performances were as the tough priest in "On The Waterfront" and as Omar Bradley, the title character's conscience in "Patton." If you've never seen "On The Waterfront," it's something of required viewing. Malden, who was nominated for an Oscar for OTW as well, has several scene-stealing moments, especially when he gets Marlon Brando to give him the gun and then sits down at the bar and barks "gimme a beer" and then looks at Brando and says "you want one too? Make it two."

As for Patton, Malden's best line was when he was ducking behind a tank during the invasion of Sicily, when a private asks who's in charge. Malden, whose character was in charge, says: "I don't know, but they oughta hang him."

Anyway, TigerBlog learned a great deal about Malden by reading his obit last night. Learned he was born Mladen George Sekulovich in Gary, Indiana, and that he hated to have to change his name when he got into acting (in fact, the character played by Fred Gwynne in "On The Waterfront" was named Mladen Sekulovich and obviously "Malden" came from the letters in "Mladen". He worked in the steel mills and left there to pursue acting during the Depression, and he had served in the Army in World War II. Said he'd gotten his famous nose, described as "bulbous," from playing football.

Malden's obit was nearly 1,000 words long, and it appeared moments after his death was announced. It's not as if Malden died and then someone said "hey, we need his obit."

In fact, there is a stockpile of obits just waiting to be used when famous people die. TigerBlog remembers the rather ghoulish project of working with Frank Litsky of the New York Times to write obituaries of famous Princetonians, to be used when they died.

That wasn't the only experience TB has had with writing obituaries of perfectly healthy high-profile Princetonians. Between all those projects, TB came up with Pete Carril's obituary, as well as others for Dick Kazmaier, Bill Bradley and several others. TB also started to write an obit for Harvey Yavener of the Trenton Times, who turns 80 this October, but he backed off on that one, figuring that when the time comes, he'll know what to say.

There's something completely freaky, by the way, about writing the obituary of someone and then seeing them shortly thereafter.

Only one of the advance obits TB has worked on, Thatcher Longstreth's, has actually been used to date. TigerBlog always thinks of those experiences when he reads an obit like Malden's, which was actually written years ago.

TB was talking to Carril yesterday in the Jadwin lobby for a few moments when Carril mentioned he was on the way back to California to work with the Sacramento Kings' summer league team. Carril was talking about the trouble he was having with his knees, that kind of stuff.

As he walked away, he said he would be gone for awhile, so TB wished him a happy birthday, which will be coming up in a few days as he turns 79.

Even though it's just a click away, hopefully his obit won't be needed for quite some time still.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Manish and Ushma - A Love Story

TigerBlog had the honor (TB supposes it was an honor, though he was scolded by the clerk for having poor penmanship) of being a witness recently at the wedding of Manish Mehta and Ushma Patel. Manish is a former intern here at TigerBlog HQ who currently writes for The Star-Ledger under the name M.A. Mehta, while Ushma works in the University's Office of Communications.

Manish and Ushma were actually married in a religious ceremony in Texas, complete with traditional Indian food for the bride and both families, though the groom apparently went with Italian take-out. As they explained it to TB, they would not have been able to be legally married in Texas unless they had gone there three days earlier to apply for the marriage license, so instead they did the legal part in a conference room at the Plainsboro municipal building, much as TB assumes Ushma always dreamed about when she was a little girl.

The judge who performed the ceremony was late, and in passing the time in the conference room, TB asked them where in Texas the ceremony was held, and Ushma replied "outside Dallas." TigerBlog asked her if it was in Highland Park, and when she said it was close to there and asked why Highland Park was mentioned, TB replied simply:

"It's Chris Young's hometown."

There was a time when TigerBlog could tell you the high school and hometown of hundreds of Princeton athletes from all over the country and the world. Within the past year, TB was watching a replay of the 1997 Princeton-Penn football game, which Penn won largely due to the performance of the soon-to-be-ruled-inelgible Mitch Marrow.

Each time a Princeton player appeared, TB kept trying to remember where he was from. Quarterback Harry Nakielny? Easy, Sayreville, N.J. But when Nakielny got hurt and John Burnham went in? Washington, D.C. (TB is pretty sure that he originally listed Burnham's high school as National Cathedral, which turned out to be an all-girl school, instead of Landon).

When Ray Canole caught a pass, TB was sure he was from Winnetka, Ill., though it turned out that he was acutally from Minooka, Ill., which is 65 miles away, according to mapquest.

Fast forward to the most recent men's lacrosse season, and TB figured he was slipping a bit when some of the players' hometowns were beginning to escape him. So, as an exercise, TB figured he'd go back to the 1997-98 men's basketball team and men's lacrose team to see how much of the roster with their hometowns he could come up with from memory (TB certifies that all of this was done from memory):

Steve Goodrich - Philadelphia
Mitch Henderson - Culver, Indiana
Gabe Lewullis - Allentown, Pa.
Brian Earl - Medford, N.J.
James Mastaglio - Garden City, N.Y.
Mason Rocca - Evanston, Ill.
Sean Gregory - New York, N.Y.
Chris Kilburn-Peterson - no idea
Darren Hite - somewhere in Southern Cal
C.J. Chapman - Aurora, Colo.
Nate Walton - San Diego, Calif.
Terence Rozier-Byrd - The Jersey Shore

Not bad. TB did forget Phil Belin, from Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., and Lance Walters, from Waxachachie, Texas. Kilburn-Peterson turned out to be from Berwyn, Pa., and Hite's actual hometown was Santa Ana.

1998 men's lacrosse
Jon Hess - Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Chris Massey - Garden City, N.Y.
Jesse Hubbard - Washington, D.C.

Josh Sims - Annapolis, Md.
Lorne Smith - Baltimore, Md.
Spencer Baugher - Manhasset, N.Y.

John Harrington - Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Kurt Lunkenheimer - somewhere on the Main Line
Christian Cook - Denver

Corey Popham - Baltimore
Trevor Tierney - Princeton

As it turns out, Popham's hometown was listed as Annapolis, but TB did remember he was a Gilman kid. As for Lunkenheimer, it proved to be Haverford.

Jeb Stuart, a charter member of TigerBlog who passed away slightly more than a year ago, always said that mind exercises and word games helped prevent Alzheimer's. Pete Carril, on the other hand, says that dementia is when you can remember trivial facts from years ago but can't remember things that just happened.

As for Princeton in general, there have been baseball players from Maine, a women's sprinter from North Dakota, a hockey player from Los Angeles, a men's lacrosse player from Montana. We've had a runner whose name WAS his hometown, Bill Burke from Burke, Va. TB is pretty sure all 50 states have been represented during his 20 years here (including former men's lacrosse manager Hartwell Harris from Winona, Mississippi), not to mention countless foreign countries as well.

One town TB can't remember having sent an athlete to Princeton is Manalapan, N.J., official hometown of TigerBlog.

When TB has forgotten every hometown but one, the last one remaining will be Downer's Grove, Illinois, and a center on the men's baskteball team from 20 years ago.

And maybe second will be the baseball/basketball player from Highland Park, Texas.

All of which brings us back to Manish and Ushma. As TB wrote on his card to them: "Here is the traditional Indian marriage salutation: Mazel Tov."