Thursday, January 27, 2011

Home Or Away?

Being a lawyer who knows little about sports, BrotherBlog has a different reaction to “hit-and-run” than most. With that background, BB surprised TigerBlog one day, when they were watching or listening to some trivia show, possibly “Jeopardy.”

As an aside, TigerBlog was watching "Jeopardy" last night and ran the category entitled "President Tyler," going 5 for 5 on the 10th President.

Anyway, back to the original story, the question asked what pitcher had thrown the most career no-hitters, and BrotherBlog instantly said “Nolan Ryan,” which is correct. Impressed, TB asked him how he knew that, and BB said that he answers “Nolan Ryan” to any baseball trivia question.

A friend of TB’s from a long time ago once said that the answer to any random question about Nobel Prize winners is “R. Buckminster Fuller.”

Along those same lines, the answer to a question of “who said the following quip” is usually either Ben Franklin or Mark Twain.

For instance, it was Franklin who said “Some people are weather-wise; some people are otherwise.” It was Twain who said “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody every does anything about it.”

TB thought of the second one last night as he watched snow fall yet again. “What,” TB said out loud, “would you have TB do about this Mark?”

Again it snowed, this time a whole lot. TB estimates that it was nearly two feet this time, though this was probably the weirdest winter storm ever. The snow turned to rain, rain to ice and then, eventually back into snow. And oh yeah, just to make it super bizarre, there was also thunder and lightning.

Thunder and lightning? During a winter snowstorm. What in the world was that about? What even caused it?

Anyway, the result was that Princeton University is actually closed today. In all the time TB has worked at Princeton, he can’t remember more than maybe five times if that that the entire University has been shut down due to snow.

Also, like many people in the area, TB has no electricity, which means that he’s hoping his computer battery lasts long enough to finish this and not quit in mid-sentence.

And so, he might as well get to the point.

The Princeton men’s basketball team opens its Ivy season this weekend, hosting Brown tomorrow night and Yale Saturday. At the same time, the women will be on the road at the same two locations.

The women are already 1-0 on the Ivy season after defeating Penn nearly three weeks ago.

Next weekend, the men are home with Harvard and Dartmouth, while the women are on the road again.

This begs the question of which team has the advantage? Is it the men, who play four straight home games to start the league season or the women, who play four straight on the road during this crucial stretch that includes two teams (Yale and Harvard) who are already 2-0.

Which would you prefer, if you were the coach?

Of course, this assumes that home court advantage is valuable in the Ivy League. A few years ago (2003, TB believes), the Ivy League came within one game on the men’s side of having every team sweep the teams below it and get swept by the teams above it. In other words, home court meant nothing.

This year, though, TB’s sense is that home court will have value.

Back in the early 1990s, TB used to travel with the Tigers on their bus as they went on the road in men’s basketball, and he actually thought being on the road was an advantage. The team was focused completely on basketball, away from campus, completely together and all business.

Still, it’s common sense that teams would rather play at home than on the road. So which is better?

Gary Walters, Princeton’s Director of Athletics, walked by TB’s office the other day, and TB asked him that question. Without flinching, Walters said “start at home.” Then, after thinking about it for a few seconds, he said “I’m not sure, actually.”

The advantage to being at home is the opportunity to use that home court to get off to a good start, play from ahead in the league and then be a bit more seasoned before having to hit the road.

The advantage to playing on the road is knowing that if you win, you have a big edge the second time around and that if you lose, you have the home game to fall back on.

So which is better? Depends if you win or lose, TB suspects.

Still, if TB had to choose, he’d much rather open with the road games and know that the home games were still out there.

Or, even more, he’d probably use another famous quote he’s heard in the past.

“Just make shots.”

Who was that who said it? Franklin? Twain?


Bill Carmody.

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