Friday, June 10, 2011

Last Lap

It's hard to imagine too many plans in sports history - military history is filled with them - that went as poorly as the one the Yankees had for Joba Chamberlain.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Chamberlain went from unhittable eighth-inning set-up man behind Mariano Rivera to an average starter to an okay set-up man to a candidate for Tommy John surgery. Those Joba Rules that were meant to protect his golden arm?

Yeah, they didn't work out so well.

The Yankees babied Chamberlain every step of the way, and what was the result? The power pitcher suffered a torn ligament in his elbow and now needs reconstructive surgery.

Who knows? Maybe if they'd just left him alone all these years, he'd be wiping out batters before Rivera closed things out, just like he did back when he was unhittable as a rookie, all the while grooming himself to take over for Rivera one day.

Surely the Yankees could have used him last night, when the Red Sox blasted C.C. Sabathia in the seventh inning en route to an 8-3 win and a second-straight sweep of a three-game series with New York.

TB read about Chamberlain in this morning's actual newspaper, though he'd first seen the story yesterday afternoon in a "breaking news" alert in the New York Post online edition. TB gets about 99 percent of his information online - and this from a longtime newspaper veteran.

The local paper is still good for high school sports, which TB started out covering nearly 30 years ago.

In today's paper, there was a story about a local runner at the New Jersey Meet of Champions who was ahead of state-record pace in the 3,200-meter run when lightning struck, cancelling the race with two laps to go.

It was a decision that caused some controversy, as the race was pushed back to Monday night.

TigerBlog's first thought was to ask Princeton's track and field coaches if they could remember races that were interrupted like that, especially long distance races that had already completed 80% of the laps.

Then TB realized they were all at the NCAA championships, so it would have to wait.

The men's 4x400 relay was pushed back from last night to this morning at the NCAA track and field championships for the same reason that the high school race was interrupted, lightning. Princeton's team of Mike Eddy, Russell Dinkins, Austin Hollimon and Tom Hopkins was to run last night in Des Moines, only to have it pushed back to 11 local time (noon Eastern).

Princeton still has the 4x400, as well as some distance runners left to compete at the championships, which will be the final athletic event for Princeton in the 2010-11 academic year.

Donn Cabral and Ashley Higginson, who finished second and third a year ago, will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final tomorrow. Cabral and Mark Amirault will run in the 5,000 meters for the men, and Alex Banfich will run in the same event for the women.

If it seems like a long time since, oh, the Heps cross country championships, it has been. That's how the college track season is for distance runners.

Princeton's contingent in Iowa was a large one, going 10 deep.

Winning an NCAA title would be a great way to end the academic year, but none of Princeton's people is a favorite.

Still, it's been a ridiculous year for track and field here.

The men and women both won the cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field championships, a "double-triple" that only 10 schools have ever achieved in NCAA history - none of which was from the Ivy League.

Princeton won 15 Ivy League titles this academic year, breaking the old record of 14 by one (obviously).

Without the track and field programs, that record wouldn't have come close to being broken.

For all of the great things that Princeton athletics accomplished in 2010-11 - including a dramatic win in the Ivy men's basketball playoff game, the first perfect league season in men's soccer, a surprising title in baseball, dominance from sports like field hockey, women's basketball and swimming - it's hard to top what the track and field programs did.

The remaining races are a victory lap for those who are running them - regardless of where they finish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exciting news ---looking forward to next year