Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cleanup In Aisle Six

TigerBlog is a regular at two different supermarkets, a Giant and a McCaffrey's. Through the last, oh, 20 years or so, he's become basically an expert at finding anything he needs in either store.

The McCaffrey's tries to fool you by not listing "pasta" as one of the items in that aisle on the overhead signs, though TB figured that one out years ago. The general layout is a little different between the two, so that even a veteran has to stop and remember which store is which when looking for, say, Corn Flakes or canned peas. Give the edge in meat to McCaffrey's, though the Giant does have a great stuffed flounder for fish nights.

If you're shopping for kids, then the challenge is to make the entire run in one cart and for under $300. On the plus side, TigerBlog can buy things like Double Stuffs and ice cream sandwiches and pretend they're for the kids. And, of course, no matter what you do, you have to go back midweek to get more as you start to run out.

Usually TB's trip around the supermarket takes a little less than an hour, and usually there's a stranger on basically the same route, so that you're constantly passing each other aisle by aisle. TigerBlog's last trip to was to the McCaffrey's Saturday, and the stranger he saw through each aisle was a kindly looking grandfatherly type who was wearing a baseball hat that said "Cornell" in big red letters.

It took until the aisle with bread on one side and the chips on the other until TB could see that the Cornell hat had in smaller letters the word "physicians." By the aisle with the paper towels, the old man was smiling and joking around with the standard "see you in the next aisle comments." TigerBlog looked at his hat and thought only one thing:


TB is still not over last year's men's lacrosse season, which saw Princeton go 13-1 against the rest of Division I and 0-2 against Cornell. The losses to the Big Red cost the Tigers the outright Ivy League championship (the two shared the title after Cornell lost to Brown) and a trip to the NCAA Final Four.

Cornell would reach the national final before a miraculous finish gave the championship to Syracuse in overtime. Princeton, of course, blasted Syracuse at Giants Stadium during the regular season.

The two greatest rivalries within the Ivy League historically are Princeton-Penn in men's basketball and Harvard-Yale in football. Within each sport, there are other matchups that have traditionally matched the top teams, and in the league of today, there are some good ones.

Today, though, Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse is the best one. At least according to TigerBlog.

Since Ivy League lacrosse began in 1956, Princeton and Cornell have dominated. Each has won 24 league championships, while the other five men's lacrosse schools (Columbia does not field a varsity team) have combined to win 22, and none of the other five has won more than the seven that Brown has won.

The two also remain the only Ivy schools to win an NCAA championships in the sport, something Princeton has done six times and Cornell has done three times (and came very, very close to making it four last Memorial Day).

These days, the rivalry has only gotten better. Because the Ivy League considers teams that tie for the league championship to be co-champions, Princeton and Cornell combined to win 14 championships (seven each) in the last decade.

Cornell was 107-38 in the last decade; Princeton was 104-44. From 2000-09 Cornell reached the Final Four twice and championship game once; Princeton reached the Final Four four times, reached the championship game three times and won one of its six titles.

Cornell and Princeton each had four Ivy League Players of the Year in the last decade; Princeton had four Rookies of the Year to three for Cornell.

In the interest of full disclosure, Cornell did have the edge over the second half of the decade.

TigerBlog put together the Princeton men's lacrosse team of the decade during last season, and Cornell recently come out with its own version on its website.

The lists are filled with great players on both sides. If they played, who would win? Who cares, because they're not going to play.

The 2010 teams ARE going to play, with a regular-season game May 1 in Princeton. The two could meet the following week in Princeton, Ithaca or some other destination in the first Ivy League lacrosse tournament, and, as they did last year, could meet in the NCAA tournament.

Each team is dealing with graduation losses, but they also have some great players throughout both lineups back. The one matchup to watch for the next three years is Cornell attackman Rob Pannell against Princeton defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, with goalie Tyler Fiorito behind him.

And yes, Harvard and Brown are looking for big years, Penn and Dartmouth are rebuilding
under new head coaches and Yale is redoing its facility as it looks to the future as well.

But history - recent and "ancient" - says that Princeton-Cornell is the top rivalry in Ivy League men's lacrosse, and possibly in all of Ivy League sports.

How strong is that rivalry? Strong enough to make TigerBlog look skeptically at an old man in the supermarket.


Anonymous said...

You might want to throw Harvard-Dartmouth women's basketball on your list of greatest rivalries. Since 1985-86 Dartmouth has won 13 Ivy League titles and Harvard 11. (Dartmouth has 17 all-time and Harvard 11.)

Dartmouth coach Chris Wielgus has 21 wins against Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, who has won 20 of the matchups with Wielgus.

At least one of the teams has finished first or second in the league every season for the last 24 years. Only twice in the past 15 years has neither one nor the other won the title.

Maybe this is the year Princeton joins the party.

Princeton OAC said...

That's a good one as well. TigerBlog was trying to think of what the best women's rivalry in league history has been, and that's probably it. Maybe Princeton-Harvard swimming?

Anonymous said...

The words "Ivy League" and "tournament" in the same sentence...oh, the agida!

Even this year when Princeton's only ticket to the Men's BB dance would probably be via a single elimination tournament, I'm still in favor of the 14-game tournament, and similarly the 6-game tournament in lacrosse.

If I were going to make one change to the Ivy tournament landscape, it would be allowing the football champ to compete in the 1-AA (oops, FCS) playoffs.