Thursday, June 24, 2010

All In A Day's Work

The Princeton-Penn Ivy League men's basketball playoff game in 1996 was played on a Saturday night, followed the next day by the NCAA selection show.

The day after that, a Monday, was a pretty busy one for TigerBlog, who did the NCAA tournament guide while handling a ton of media requests to talk to Pete Carril, who had announced his retirement after the win over Penn. On top of all the basketball stuff, TB also had a men's lacrosse game coming up at Virginia that weekend, though he did get considerable help with that sport from then-student Nate Ewell.

When TigerBlog thinks back to his time here, he can think of a lot of late nights, a lot of time-consuming projects, a lot of days with little or no free time.

One of TB's favorite things about the newspaper business is that, with very few exceptions, you can never be more than one day behind in work. Here in the world of athletic communications, projects can bunch up if you're not careful, and you can find yourself struggling to get everything done.

FatherBlog, well into his 70s, continues to work every day. He summed up his philosophy this way: "You can always play golf; you can't always work."

TB isn't 100% sure what that means, though he's pretty sure FatherBlog has never once swung a golf club. Still, the main point is that it has something to do with work ethic.

As long as TB can remember, FB has stressed the importance of getting up each morning and going to work. MotherBlog's philosophy towards staying home from school when sick was this: "Go to school; it'll take your mind off being sick" and "ignore it and it'll go away." And she was a nurse.

There are people who work harder in the world, way harder, than people in athletic communications. Still, we do produce a huge quantity of work - and we then make it public, for all the world to see.

TB has never bought into the idea that working more hours is necessarily a good thing. In fact, it's often a bad thing, an indication of bad time management or lack of focus.

For the people who work here at HQ, there are no time clocks. TB's rule is this: Get your work done. In fact, if this were a rigid shop with defined times to be here and times to leave, with a set amount of time for lunch, then TB is pretty sure we'd get a fraction of the work done that we do.

Still, when TB looks back on his years here, he knows that he - and the others in the OAC - have put in an effort that they can be proud of, and the record is a strong one.

And that's why TB doesn't feel too badly about days like yesterday, when aside from writing about web traffic and updating some lacrosse bios, he didn't exactly get a lot done.

How could he, considering what was going on on his old TV. TigerBlog, as he faces his computer, sits with his back to a very, very beat-up TV set, one that he's pretty sure dates to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The remote has long since vanished, so TB has to - gasp - walk over to the TV to change the channel.

Anyway, for the last two weeks, World Cup soccer has basically played all day, though TB has hardly noticed it most of the time. This was not the case yesterday.

And put it this way: When the U.S. soccer team scores after the 90th minute to advance out of the group stage and that might not have been the biggest sports story from the old TV, well, that's quite a day.

Let's go back to the beginning. The U.S. game against Algeria started at 10, the same time as England-Slovenia. The U.S. needed a win to advance for sure or a tie to advance if Slovenia tied or beat England, but it became obvious early on when England scored that the U.S. wasn't going to be getting any help.

Then came another disallowed goal, for another apparently bad call. When is the World Cup going to realize it has a huge problem with its officials, who 1) seem to be taken in by some of the worst acting ever, 2) give out yellow cards (and even red cards) for little or nothing and then see some key players knocked out of the next game for no reason at all and 3) disallow goals as if they're waving off a basket due to continuation.

Soccer needs to use replay to confirm goals and to confirm (or change after the fact) yellow cards (or lose the rule where a second yellow card knocks you out of the next game), and no World Cup red card should be given without checking replay first as well. If you think that this would be a logistical problem, ask Australia how it worked out for the Socceroos without replay.

Anyway, as everyone knows, the U.S. finally broke through on Landon Donovan's goal in the 91st minute, giving the Americans first place in the group and knocking out Slovenia in what had to be an unreal heartbreak for that country.

And then SportsCenter came on, and it mentioned something about a marathon tennis match. Marathon? They hadn't seen anything yet.

It quickly became apparent to the world that what John Isner and Nicolas Mahut were doing at Wimbledon was pretty wild. So TB left the TV on to see what would happen there.

Except the only things that kept happening were this: Isner and Mahut kept holding serve, and everyone who walked by the door ducked in to see if it was still going on.

The tennis match continued on and on, until it was time for the next World Cup games. TB was rooting for Germany to either win or lose and therefore avoid the Americans in the Round of 16, and that's what ended up happening.

TigerBlog Jr. had a summer lacrosse game last night, so TB had to pick him up from camp a little early. As such, he left at halftime of the second soccer games. Nearly an hour passed before TB was able to get back to the TV, just in time to see Germany finish off Ghana - but not eliminate the African nation, as Australia beat Serbia but not by enough.

For the U.S. team, the draw isn't easy, but it could be way worse. If TB has it right, it's a Sweet 16 match with Ghana, with the winner to play the winner of Uruguay-South Korea for a semifinal berth.

And the tennis match? Well, it was still going, eventually reaching 59-59 in the fifth set before darkness came. TigerBlog doesn't quite get it. Are these two the greatest servers in history? Neither can come up with a break?

59-59? It took more than seven hours to play that fifth set, and it wasn't even completed. The two have to come back today.

Let's just say that Isner and Mahut worked a little harder than TB did yesterday.

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