Wednesday, August 31, 2011


When TigerBlog was making the teams for the 3rd/4th grade division of Lower Bucks Lacrosse awhile back, he asked TigerBlog Jr. if he knew a kid from his elementary school named Matthew Anderson.

TBJ said he did, that Matthew was in his class, and so TB put Matthew on TBJ's team. It was Matthew's introduction to lacrosse.

Little did TB know at the time that Matthew would came back in a few years with size 14 sneakers and top the six-foot tall mark by the time he was 12 or 13. Back then, as TB tried to divide up teams fairly equally, he was just an unknown fourth grader who got placed on TBJ's team.

It seems like yesterday.

Today is Matthew's first day of high school. TBJ, who is going to a different high school (one that requires a jacket and tie each day, started yesterday.

Actually, TBJ was supposed to start with a freshman picnic Sunday afternoon and then school Monday, except Hurricane Irene had other ideas. Is that an ominous sign, to have the first day of high school wiped out by a hurricane?

In addition to being lacrosse teammates since fourth grade, Matthew and TBJ were Princeton basketball ballboys the last five years or so. Matthew and his family have been to a ton of Princeton athetic events through the years, as have any number of TBJ's other friends and teammates.

Back when TBJ first decided to play lacrosse, the coaches and equipment staff here did a nice thing and helped get him the right equipment. As he became more serious about it, they continued to support him in many ways.

A year ago, then-assistant coach Stephen Brundage would work out with him, shooting on him several times before Princeton practices.

And now, with the arrival of ninth grade, all of that changes.

TBJ, Matthew and the rest of the group are now "PSAs," or "Prospective Student Athletes."

It's not because of their athletic ability or participation. It's because of their grade.

The NCAA rulebook checks in at 426 pages, which is actually down from the 500 it used to be before some streamlining occurred.

If you've never perused this book, it's a treat. Every conceivable situation is addressed, and there are rules for almost everything.

And if you want to be critical of the NCAA because of the overregulation, check out what's been going on lately all over the country, from USC to North Carolina to Miami and Ohio State and others.

If the rules weren't so tightly controlled, imagine how out-of-control it all might get.

The rules are hyper-specific about what is allowed in regards to dealing with prospects, who are defined as anyone who has started ninth grade.

These rules apply to everyone in high school, athlete or non-athlete. It doesn't matter if you're a soccer player; the rules regarding contact with the baseball coach or any other coach apply. This is the same if you play no sport in high school at all.

The rules talk about what is permitted and not permitted mostly in terms of recruiting, whether or not a player will eventually be recruited or not.

There are rules about when a coach can talk to a prospect, email a prospect or meet with a prospect. There are rules about coming to events on campus. There are rules about working with coaches. There are rules about everything.

For instance, the sessions that TBJ had with Brundage are no longer permissible. Neither is it possible for him to get equipment from the Princeton coaches.

Rules about coaches' being able to speak to TBJ are more relaxed because of pre-existing relationships, but TigerBlog doesn't want to do anything to cause any problems for any of the Princeton coaches or for TBJ or his friends and their families when they come to games here.

Rules compliance can often be viewed as a pain by everyone except the compliance officers themselves, many of whom are lawyers, by the way, including Princeton's two current ones - Anthony Archbald and Kelly Widener.

Still, the rules are there for a reason.

Yes, it would be great if the rules could go from 426 pages to 10 pages and largely read "don't pay the athletes; make sure they're all going to school; recruit with integrity."

As recent headlines suggest, that wouldn't quite work, of course.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rolling A Seven

There are two questions that TigerBlog has asked and been asked about, oh, a million times in the last three days:

1) Did the power go out?
2) Was there water in the basement?

Usually, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, if No. 1 was yes, then that meant the sump pump stopped working and No. 2 was a yes. And a big mess.

TigerBlog was lucky in that he was in a no power/no water group, which probably was something of a rarity.

In fact, there was no rhyme or reason to any of it, really.

Princeton University, for instance, apparently never lost power. Neither did some of the surrounding towns, like Hopewell.

Still others in Princeton are still without power. One part of a town might have been dark; the other might have never lost the lights.

TB does not envy the water-in-the-basement people, and he's been one of those people many times in the past.

Yesterday, TB heard some talk on the radio that the local politicians - such as Governors Chris Christie from New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo from New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg from New York City - had misrepresented how bad the storm was going to be in an effort to look tough and in charge and that the biggest economic impact is going to be the lost revenue from closing down business in the storm's path. To that TB says: "What if they did nothing and more people were killed? Then what? It's about time someone in charge acted like it. It was refreshing to see."

Anyway, the power is still out all over the storm-affected area, though it continues to come back on in more and more places. And curbsides are starting to be dominated by things that used to be in basements.

TB lost his power around midnight Saturday.

Like everyone else without power, the big question was how long would everything in the fridge stay good or would it all have to be thrown away? TB usually errs on the side of caution in that regard, resulting in a complete emptying of the contents.

Of particular sadness was the need to get rid of the rapidly melting ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, though not before TB tried his best to eat as many as possible.

The good part of having no power was the fact that the kids couldn't do anything involving electronics, and so they were outside amusing themselves.

The down part was that when it got dark, it got very, very dark.

Through a little creativity, TB was able to get himself in front of a working television Sunday afternoon at 3 to watch the only sporting event of the weekend that really interested him, the Major League Lacrosse championship game.

The game matched the Boston Cannons against the Hamilton Nationals. TB's main interest was to watch Princeton alum Ryan Boyle, who was playing for the Cannons.

There were six teams in the MLL when it first began 11 years ago - the Cannons, the Long Island Lizards, the Bridgeport Barrage, the Baltimore Bayhawks, the New Jersey Pride and the Rochester Rattlers.

Now, 11 years later, the Barrage and Pride no longer exist, the Bayhawks have moved around the area a few times before settling in Annapolis, the original Rattlers went to Toronto and then Hamilton and the new Rattlers used to be the Chicago Machine.

Teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco were briefly part of the league, while the Denver Outlaws were part of the western expansion and have remained as probably the most stable franchise in the league.

Next year, teams will join the league in Charlotte and Columbus, with two more to follow the following year and additional expansion still possible beyond.

It's TB's opinion that Major League Lacrosse will be bigger than Major League Baseball within 50 years, and hey, come see TB then if he's wrong.

The Cannons ended up winning the game 10-9, after a 14-13 win over the Bayhawks in the semifinals, played just as Irene was getting close. In that game, Boyle fed Max Quinzani (from Duke) for the game-winner with 1.2 seconds to go on a play that was more desperation than anything else.

Still, there had to be something calming for the Cannons to know that Boyle had the ball in the final 10 seconds when a play needed to be made. And, just when it looked all the world like overtime was coming, the ball was in the net.

For the weekend, Boyle had two goals and four assists; he will become the league's career leader in assists next season.

For Boyle, it was his fourth Major League Lacrosse championship, after having won three with the Barrage. He also has won two World Championships and one NCAA title, giving him a total of seven for those three categories.

Matt Striebel, a 2001 Princeton grad, had been on Boyle's team for each of the first six of those championships, but his streak ended when he played with the Rattlers this year.

TigerBlog was wondering if there's anyone out there who can beat Boyle's records of four MLL championships and seven between the NCAA, World Championships and MLL.

He thought of Syracuse's Roy Colsey, who won two NCAA titles, three MLL titles and TB assumed a few world titles, but it turns out Colsey was only on the U.S. team in 2006, when Canada won.

No other Princeton player has won seven. Kevin Lowe and Trevor Tierney, as far as TB can figure, are the only ones other than Boyle and Striebel to have at least one of each of the three major championships.

Since no college team has won more than twice over a four-year period since Princeton won three straight from 1996-98, it would take any other player five more championships to equal Boyle. Because the U.S. lost in 2006 and didn't use MLL players in 2002, only five players have won multiple world championships since 1998 - Boyle, Striebel, Brian Dougherty, Ryan McClay and Keven Cassesse.

The three non-Princetonians on that list didn't win NCAA titles. Dougherty has won three MLL titles.

Unless TB is wrong, it looks like he's right about Boyle.

It looks like Boyle is the ultimate winner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

TigerBlog can't remember when the forecast first mentioned that a hurricane was coming up the East Coast, with Princeton very much in its path.

Maybe it was Wednesday. Tuesday? Something like that.

Anyway, from that point forward, it seemed like all discussions centered around the storm that was on the way.

And that was just conversations with actual people. The news? That was all-hurricane, all-the-time.

Except that nobody could tell TigerBlog exactly what it was that he wanted to know, which was simply this: When was it supposed to start in Princeton? And, for that matter, how bad was it going to be?

That's all. He didn't need to know about the history of hurricanes in this area. He didn't need to see endless live pictures of either jam-packed roads as people tried to get away from coastal areas or empty roads heading the other direction.

One of the cool sights that TB saw was a completely empty boardwalk in Atlantic City, something even more fascinating considering it was the last Friday night before Labor Day.

Of course, the TV people were out in force out in the storm, dressed in their rain-resistant outfits.

TigerBlog heard from Governor Christie and Mayor Bloomberg more than he needed to, though he respected both for trying to stay ahead of things.

He saw special weather bulletins, interactive maps, forecasts, projections. He heard worst-case scenarios, including one discussion that questioned the possibility that the storm would knock over buildings in New York City.

Then there was the supermarket, which was swamped.

TB has never understood the phenomenon of heading straight to the supermarket when there is the threat of a snowstorm, as if all ability to get the store will be eliminated for weeks after that. In TB's lifetime, he can only remember two storms that prevented him from getting to the supermarket for more than 24 hours after the flakes stopped falling.

This time, in the face of the looming hurricane, TigerBlog read a few stories about what people should stock up on in case they were trapped, perhaps by flooding. Bottled water. Canned food. Things that wouldn't spoil in case power was lost.

TB went with all the essentials, as well as extra Yoo-hoo, just in case.

The one item that was sold out everywhere around here was D batteries, the ones that are used in most flashlights. Oh well.

Still, for all of that, TigerBlog only really wanted to know when it was going to start raining and how bad it was going to be.

The answers turned out to be late Saturday afternoon and very, though to be honest, TB thought it was going to be worse - and that's with most of the area still without power.

TB heard Gov. Christie on Sunday morning as he was questioned about whether or not he had overreacted to the coming storm, which left TB incredulous, what with more than 10 inches of rain dumped on parts of the state (about six in Princeton).

This turned out to be, by the way, the rainiest August in the history of this area, this despite the fact that it did not rain at all in the first 10 days of the month.

Now that the storm has moved away, the coming forecast couldn't be better for the cleanup effort. Every day for the next week will be sunny, with high temperatures in the upper 70s or low 80s.

The breaking sunshine ended a wild week in Princeton, one that included an earthquake and hurricane.

This coming week will also be wild, what with the start of the Princeton Athletic year.

The men's and women's soccer teams will be flying off to start their years, with the men in two games in South Carolina (against College of Charleston and Furman) and the women's team in California (against Cal State-Northridge and Long Beach State).

The field hockey and women's volleyball teams open on the road, though closer to home, as the field hockey team starts 2011 minus four key players who are training for the Olympics with games at Bucknell and American while Sabrina King's debut as head coach for the women's volleyball will be at a tournament at Hofstra.

Additionally, the women's basketball team will be on the road as well - all the way to France and Senegal - as the two-time defending Ivy League champion women make a preseason trip.

If the hurricane had come a few days later, it would have messed with all of those travel plans. Instead, at least Irene was kind enough to get out of the way so that Princeton's 2011-12 athletic year could start in peace.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Like A Hurricane

Bob Dylan and Neil Young both sang about hurricanes, though in vastly different contexts.

Dylan sang about the "story of the Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame, for something that he'd never done." His song was about Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a middleweight boxer who was falsely imprisoned for a triple homicide from 1967-85. Now 74, Carter has spent his time since being freed - along with a man named John Artis - working to clear other innocent people from jail.

As for Young, well, his song starts out similarly, in a "crowded, hazy bar," though it goes in a completely different direction. Young is singing about a woman, one who apparently is a bit cold to him.

As he points out, "you are like a hurricane; there's calm in your eye. And I'm getting blown away, somewhere safer where the feeling stays. I want to love you but I'm getting blown away."

Bob Dylan and Neil Young are very similar performers. They are both better songwriters than singers, but their weakness as vocalists actually led both to distinctly unique sounds. That, coupled with the power of their lyrics and guitars, makes both among the greatest ever in American music.

Neither song really applies to what is currently bearing down on Princeton, and that is Hurricane Irene.

In fact, the map of the projected path of the Hurricane appears to go right over Jadwin Gym sometime Sunday night. Apparently, more than 10 inches of rain are forecast for a 48-hour period, with winds approaching 90-100 miles per hour.

TigerBlog heard one weather expert on the radio saying that the models for this hurricane season suggest that this won't be the Northeast's only brush with a major storm this fall.

The hurricane will follow a few days after an earthquake hit this area, with reverberations from the epicenter in Virginia felt clearly in Princeton and all over the Northeast.

Since the news of Irene has broken, the requisite number of "what's next, a tornado?" comments have been flying around.

The coming storm means that this is unlikely to be a beach or pool or barbeque weekend. This is the last weekend of August, the last before Labor Day weekend, for many kids the last before school starts.

For most people, the weekend is just that - a weekend. The work week goes Monday through Friday, leaving Saturday and Sunday for some forms of recreation and fun.

In the world of college athletics, it doesn't quite work that way.

In fact, at Princeton, this is the last weekend of sorts until after Memorial Day, with a few exceptions mixed in.

Beginning next weekend, there are almost no weekends in the academic year that won't have a Princeton sporting event. Whether home or on the road, any number of staff members in any number of departments have to work.

It's the nature of the business. Nobody has a right to complain, since, as TB often says about any number of things, it's the same principle as people who buy houses near airports and then complain about the noise.

It's a weird adjustment going from working six or seven days a week during the school year to having weekends off all summer and then back to working on the weekends.

During the academic year, the work week builds to the games on Saturday, and being at the games is one of the best parts of working in college sports.

Still, other than a few weekends in December around the holidays and the two weekends during first semester exams in January, every weekend is booked between the beginning of September into June.

TigerBlog has never known anything different, with his career having been first in newspapers and now in college athletics.

TB has seen so many people who have left the business because of the hours, because of the need to work on weekends.

It's never bothered TigerBlog, perhaps because social likes aren't quite, uh, standard-issue.

In fact, when TB looks back on the weekends of his life, it's the games that stand out more than anything else.

Of course, maybe he'd like to have looked back on the last weekend of the summer of 2011 as a time spent outdoors, in the water somewhere. The water from the pool or the ocean, that is, not the water from Irene.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Drives You Crazy?

TigerBlog saw the ball fly majestically off the bat, easily clearing the fence and touching off a wild celebration.

Montana had just defeated California 1-0 in seven innings in what was essentially the United States semifinal for the Little League World Series. The 1-0 pitch that TB saw leave the yard was the only one of the game that he saw, since he only saw it on the highlights.

TB hates the Little League World Series. Well, not the event itself. He hates what ESPN has done to it, with every game on one of the networks and with even the regionals now televised.

It's too much, too over the top, too formulaic (kids playing for the love of the game rather than spoiled professionals playing only for money). The obligatory shots of parents in the crowd long ago lost all meaning.

The way that 12-year-olds can be deified by Brent Musburger is just silly. The way some of the kids now stand at home plate and watch home runs before going into their trot is just ridiculous.

The pressure of 40,000 or so fans watching middle school kids is somewhat frightening, especially for what TB figures has to be the mental ramifications of those who perform at less than their best in the face of it.

And then TB watched the clip of the kid from Montana, and for a brief moment, he began to change his mind a bit.

The ball was crushed, for starters. The batter - Ben Askelson - ran around the bases with a big smile on his face, but he did nothing to show up the kids from California.

The camera briefly found a California player who was tearing up, but instead it then focused on the handshake line between the teams, during which several California players appeared to stop and congratulate Askelson. TB thought perhaps the players had gotten to know each other a bit during their time in Williamsport.

It was a wonderful moment, the boy who had just won the dramatic game and the kids who lost, handling it with great poise and sportsmanship.

And then, just like that, the moment was ruined, as Askelson was whisked away for an on-field ESPN interview, one that TB didn't listen to.

TB understands it, of course. ESPN is paying big money for the tournament, as nearly one-quarter of Little League Baseball's income comes from the TV rights. The network is going to maximize exposure and revenues, which means playing games late at night, televising more, etc.

It's just that there's something about it that rubs TB the wrong way.

On the other hand, Ben Askelson and the California kids did at least get TB to reconsider.

The Little League World Series used to mean one game, the final between the U.S. champ and the international champ, on ABC's Wide World of Sports.

These days, the tournament means the end of summer and the start of a new school year.

The first college football games of the season are one week away, with the Thursday before Labor Day schedule of 26 games and then a whole bunch of others for the rest of the weekend.

The first college athletic events actually happened last weekend, including a 7-0 win for Arizona State women's soccer over Northern Arizona in former Princeton assistant coach Scott Champ's first game with the Sun Devils.

Princeton has its first events in eight days, when the field hockey and both soccer teams play.

Another way to tell that the end of the summer is near is that yesterday was the annual athletic department retreat, one that opens discussion for nearly everything that goes into allowing Princeton to field teams and compete.

In an effort to stimulate discussion, Director of Athletics Gary Walters asked a cross-section of staff members, coaches and others from the University a series of questions, including this one:

"What drives you crazy about this place?"

There were all kinds of different answers, ranging from the humorous to the serious.

TB's response? Basically that in the current environment of the country, where so many people are struggling and out of work and with so much uncertainty, nothing really drives him crazy. Oh sure, there are things he'd change, but in general, he's appreciative of the opportunity he has here.

Now, if the question had been what drives you crazy in general, then TB might have said the Little League World Series.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


TigerBlog's office sits under the balcony stands of Jadwin Gym.

Through the years, Princeton athletes have been running those stairs as part of conditioning and training, and they have run directly over TB's head many times. Each time, as the group comes to the point of the stairs that is right above TB, the ceiling seems to shake a bit, though it's probably more than noise of the feet slamming on the concrete a few inches away more than anything.

It was that feeling that TB had yesterday around 1:50 or so, when he was on C level in the early stages of a meeting to talk about enhancing Princeton football attendance and gameday experience.

This time, though, it wasn't runners or basketballs bouncing on the main floor or anything else.

It was an earthquake.

As everyone knows by now, an earthquake registering either at or just below 6.0 on the Richter Scale hit in Virginia and was felt throughout the Northeast, including in Jadwin Gym.

Or, TB should say, depending on where you were standing in Jadwin. One person, for instance, who was in the mail room at the time said he never felt a thing, while people on both sides of him clearly felt it.

According to the site that knows all, an earthquake of a 6.0 magnitude is strong enough to shake people up but not strong enough to do any real damage. Apparently, that's what happened.

When TB called TigerBlog Jr. to ask him about the earthquake, TBJ said he never felt it and only wanted to talk about the injury that Terrell Thomas suffered in the Giants' preseason game Monday night.

TigerBlog's friend Todd pointed out that an earthquake in Virginia that was felt as far away as it was had to have generated an extraordinary amount of energy, and he likened it to dropping a pebble into water and having a wave from that drop felt 500 miles away.

Other people TB talked to or heard on the radio talked about being scared, shaken up, dizzy and such. Following the earthquake, TB had three or four people tell him that they thought the earthquake was actually some practical joke that Gary Walters was playing on them.

For TB, it was his first earthquake experience, and it was over rather quickly. He could see how that could be a rather frightening sensation if it lasted more than a few seconds.

As far as natural disasters go, this might not be the only one of the week.

Hurricane Irene might be headed this way, and one report has the eye passing over Cape May Sunday evening.

TB joked that the fact that the earthquake struck during the first meeting of the 2010-11 academic year might not be a good sign.

After the quake, the grassy island outside of DeNunzio Pool was host to a barbeque for freshman football players and their families.

As TB was getting ready to leave, he saw the line of freshman football players as they trudged towards the tent, in much the same way that he's seen freshmen soccer, field hockey, water polo and volleyball players come by to get headshots taken or walk to and from practice.

It's something that always amazes TB.

A year ago, they were spread out all over the country - and in some cases, the world - getting ready for senior year of high school. A few days ago, they were home packing, waiting to walk into a whole new experience.

And now they're walking around, in groups of two or three or four, with people that they don't really know that well now but will very, very shortly.

TB remembers his first few days of college, hanging out with the random people on his floor.

For the athletes, though, there is the inherent advantage of immediately having a group of people that are all by definition on your side.

Still, there was some uncertainty.

For instance, TB was approached by a couple, the parents, TB supposed, of a freshman football player.

"Get a lot of earthquakes around here?" they asked TB.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Kim Kardashian

As far as TigerBlog can figure, there's never been anyone in American pop culture quite like the Kim Kardashian.

Oh sure, the whole group of them seems to be a bit, uh, narcissistic, and TB can't imagine the utter self-absorption that goes along with mundane, every day tasks, such as picking out the right outfit to go to the store, a process that probably takes hours.

Still, the leader is 30-year-old Kim Kardashian, who has achieved extraordinary, unthinkable levels of fame and fortune for having - well - for having big boobs and no shame. And for coming along at a time in America when she could fully exploit both.

Look at Lindsay Lohan, for a moment. While she is her own kind of train-wreck, at least she's been in movies, some of which were actually successful. And no, she's not particularly talented in anyway, but at least she was in a real movie.

There are some others who have no real talent but have the right look, and at least they had an album or were in a sitcom or something.

Not Kim Kardashian.

What? The same is true of the cast of Jersey Shore or any number of other reality shows? Yes, it is, to a certain extent.

Nobody, though, represents fame for the sake of fame like Kim Kardashian.

Her last name first became famous when her late father was part of the dream team of lawyers that got O.J. Simpson an acquittal in his double-murder trial. There are some people, by the way, who believe that he might have actually been guilty.

Then there was the, um, home movie that Kim starred in that launched her onto the national pop culture stage. Since then, she has built on that start to became a cultural phenomenon.

TigerBlog, for one, can't really understand what the lure is in watching a show that follows her family through its everyday life. Why do people watch this? What do they care?

Whatever the answer is, it goes a long way to explaining where American culture is in 2011. There's an escapism factor, a glamor factor, a voyeuristic factor, combined with an envy of those who found their way to easy money and fame.

What there isn't is a value in hard work and genuine talent, but hey, whatever.

Anyway, as some of you might have heard, Kim got married this past weekend, to an NBA player named Kris Humphries.

TigerBlog was fascinated by all of the comments he read under the various stories he saw about the wedding. Most of the comments said they'd be divorced soon, how could he marry a tramp like her, how was this news, etc. And yet, they all read the story.

The TV network that does the regular Kardashian show will be doing a four-hour wedding special in October. TB will watch none of it, but enough others will that it earned Kim $15 million. There was also another $2 million for wedding photos for a magazine, as well as unbelievably expensive things like cakes and invitations and gowns that were given for free.

TB thought, for some reason, that Humphries went to Colorado, but it turned out he went to Minnesota. It was Jay Humphries, who apparently isn't related, who went to Colorado before playing in the NBA.

When TB saw that Kris Humphries went to Minnesota, he wondered if he had played against Princeton several years ago. TB couldn't remember the exact year that Princeton played at Minnesota, though he did remember several things about the game:

1) TB thought about going to see his friend Larry Zucker, who lives in Eden Prairie
2) TB instead watched it on TV and heard the TV color commentator, when told that Princeton had a 16-day break for exams coming up, said something along the lines of "that's a little too much commitment to academics."

The game actually was played on Jan. 10, 2004, and Minnesota defeated Princeton 57-53.

Humphries was the leading scorer in the game, with 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting fro the field and 7 of 8 shooting from the line. He also had eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 31 minutes. The only other Golden Gopher that TB heard of was Stan Gaines, who transferred to Seton Hall.

Princeton's starting five?

Andre (not Andrew) Logan, Judson Wallace, Scott Greenman, Ed Persia and Will Venable.

Logan led Princeton with 16, while Wallace had 13.

Venable had seven points, six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. Venable, of course, is now an outfielder for the San Diego Padres.

Humphries went from Minnesota to be the 14th pick in the draft, chosen by the Jazz. He has bounced around, going from Utah to Toronto to Dallas and now to New Jersey, though his contract was up at the end of last season.

He has averaged 5.6 points per game for his career, though he did average 10.0 for the Nets last year, a career-high.

And now he's married to the most famous person in American pop culture.

Good luck to the happy couple.

And to America.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some Assembly Required

As anyone who has kids knows, getting the present to go from the pile of parts inside the box to the picture outside the box isn't always easy.

TigerBlog's best skill isn't putting stuff together. He can iron. He can fold clothes. He can do the dishes. He can type fast.

Putting stuff together? Not his best thing.

Not that he hasn't tried, somewhat successfully in fact, to assemble all kinds of items through the years.

Of course, there were some nightmares along the way, such as the "8 in 1" climbing thing where two of the plastic pieces simply would not fit together. This was back when TigerBlog Jr. was maybe a year or two at most, and finally it was up to three OAC interns to figure it out, a process that ended when Jenn Garrett slammed the pieces together so hard that they simply stuck to whatever it was that was holding them in place.

As an aside, TBJ eventually used the climber as his first lacrosse goal, pelting the plastic with tennis balls.

Matt Ciciarelli, one of the interns in the "8 in 1" nightmare, volunteered to take the lead in assembling the driveway basketball hoop, something that took roughly an entire day. As Matt got most of the way through, the project stopped because the package was missing two of the pieces necessary.

As Matt kept working, TB went back to the store to get the missing pieces, which were replaced by having the kid who worked in the stockroom take them out of an unopened basketball hoop package. TigerBlog was left to wonder if every person who bought the hoop was missing the same two pieces, as each successive box was opened to fill in the missing ones for the previous person.

As an aside, the hoop is still there and working just fine.

TigerBlog had flashbacks to all of that when the OAC futon arrived late last week.

TB carried the two packages from the lobby to his office and unpacked the one that had the frame in it. This would prove to be his greatest contribution to assembly.

Realizing that this was going to be something of a challenge, TB went to the business office to enlist help, with the basic question of "do either of you have 15 minutes and the ability put stuff together" posed to Jon Kurian and Ryan Yurko.

Kurian barely looked up from his computer while saying he had plenty of the first and none of the second. Yurko, on the other hand, seemed somewhat excited to be involved.

TigerBlog, by the way, would have bet everything he owns that he would have gotten those two responses.

Anyway, it took about a half-hour before Yurko had the entire futon up and running. This included the time it took to take about half of it apart when he realized that he'd used the wrong bolts in the wrong place earlier on, something he did without a single curse.

Having a new futon sitting in an office after at least two decades without a single decorative change certainly creates a buzz for those who walk by. A few came in to sit down, and most liked it, though one suggested it was too low to the ground.

Eventually, women's volleyball coach Sabrina King walked by on her way to a meeting down the hall, only to find that the person she was waiting to see had stepped away.

So, Sabrina came in and sat down on the futon. Unlike people who used to come in and sit down on the old maroon chairs, the futon people actually seem to be taking a break from what they're doing and relaxing.

In Sabrina's case, it was the opportunity to slow down for a minute before the start of her first practice as the head coach of the Tiger program, which she has been part of for 11 of the last 14 years.

She was a player for four years, and her teams won three Ivy League titles in that time. She graduated in 2001 after being named Ivy League Player of the Year.

She also was an assistant coach for seven years, winning two more Ivy titles, giving her five with the program.

After living in California for two years, King is back now, this time as the head coach for a Princeton team that got off to a strong start in the league last year before finishing in a tie for third.

TigerBlog can't think of too many examples of someone who made the progression from Princeton player to Princeton assistant coach to Princeton head coach.

Joe Scott and John Thompson did it in men's basketball. Charlie Caldwell did so in football, although it was awhile ago. Of those three, only Thompson did so without ever coaching anywhere else in between, and he left to go to Georgetown after coaching at Princeton. Former men's hockey coach Len Quesnelle did so as well.

Current head men's rowing coaches Greg Hughes (heavyweight) and Marty Crotty (lightweights) are part of the club. There are probably others, though TB can't think of them off the top of his head.

King's first season begins Sept. 2 with a tournament at Hofstra; the Ivy season opens at home Sept. 23 against Penn.

In the meantime, King is now in her first preseason as the Tiger head coach, trying to assemble a championship program of her own - without printed directions or pictures to guide her.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lessons From JT3

By now, you've probably read about and seen the video from the brawl that ended Georgetown's game in China yesterday.

It was an ugly scene, one that apparently had been brewing for much of the game, during which the ultra-physical Chinese players were being called for fouls at about one-quarter the rate as the Hoyas (foul shots were 57-15).

The brawl started with the score tied at 64-64 midway through the fourth quarter (international rules). It looked from all accounts like Georgetown didn't start it or escalate it and simply got to the point where it had to defend itself.

TigerBlog, in the interest of full disclosure, is a huge fan of Hoyas' coach John Thompson, who as everyone knows coached Princeton to three Ivy League championships and two NCAA tournaments in four seasons here. He was also an assistant coach under Pete Carril and Bill Carmody and before that a forward for the Tigers before graduating in 1988.

TB still refers to landing outside the men's basketball office the way Thompson did when he would call TB and ask him to come upstairs, to the "Class of '88 Lounge," which at the time meant sitting on the concrete stairs and which now has two actual chairs.

Thompson has taken Georgetown to one Final Four and has won a bunch of Big East titles, regular-season and tournament. He is clearly one of the best coaches in the country.

There aren't too many higher quality people out there as well.

So, with that disclosure, TB put the blame squarely at the feet of the Chinese team and the officials. In fact, by all indications, Thompson did a miraculous job of getting his team - and entire travel party - off the court, into the lockerroom, on the bus and back to the hotel.

Even with that, though, it was definitely not a moment that Thompson could have wanted to have happen, and he certainly can't be happy with the publicity that it got.

TB saw one story that quoted Mex Carey, the men's basketball contact for Georgetown athletic communications, and he imagined Mex as he possibly tried to be a peacemaker, only to get in the middle of the brawl like Jeff van Gundy did when he coached the Knicks that time against the Heat. Fortunately, Mex and the rest of the Hoyas were able to get off the court and away from danger before anything really tragic happened.

One of TB's first thoughts was about what Georgetown put on its website and how it handled the situation. After all, this was meant to be nothing more than a goodwill trip, an educational look at another country and culture - one that is huge on the world stage today to boot - and an opportunity to get some work in on the court.

And then, all of the sudden, it became international news.

Georgetown put up two statements from Coach Thompson and left it at that, rather than an in-depth recounting of the situation.

In fact, it was something of a no-win situation for the Hoyas. The statements speak for themselves, but it's also easy to dismiss them as the kind of words that everyone offers up after an incident occurs.

At the same time, any attempt to deflect blame away from Georgetown onto the home team would have been disastrous, because it would have 1) looked petty and 2) would have been received harshly in a society that doesn't quite have a reputation for self-deprecation.

In this case, though, the coach's words were perfect.

Thompson's quotes diffuse the entire situation from international flash point between rival cultures to a merely unfortunate outcome of a basketball game.

They don't blame the Chinese, but at the same time, they're not the standard-issue words of apology that get thrown away way too often. In fact, they're not apologetic at all for any of Georgetown's actions, only an expression of regret that it happened in the first place.

There will be those who are critical of Georgtown, because the "Hoya Paranoia" reputation that this John Thompson's father embraced when he was the coach will never fully go away.

Still, anywhere TB looked yesterday, he saw comments that were blaming Georgetown as much as the Chinese.

Today, almost all of the comments are praising Thompson and the Hoyas.

That's a direct result of what Thompson had to say and how he handled everything.

Of course, TB isn't surprised, not with what he's seen from Thompson from his earliest days as a coach at Princeton.

In fact TB's main thought through the whole thing was that Thompson, as good a coach as he is, is in the wrong profession.

Right city, wrong profession.

The highest levels of the U.S. government could use a guy like him.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy New Year

As TigerBlog looks out the giant windows in front of Jadwin Gym out towards the football stadium, he can see all of the following at the same time:
* sunshine
* rain
* blue sky
* gray clouds
* black clouds

Oh, and two people just walked by with umbrellas open.

The sun that is peeking through is causing the wet sidewalks and grass to glisten. The wall around the football stadium has turned a darker brown, the color it gets after it's been rained on for awhile.

According to Accuweather, it's currently 69 degrees with showers, except the little raindrops are coming out of a smiling sun on the website. That's about what's going on here now.

It's rained a lot around here this week. There were more than 11 inches of rain in a two-day period this past Sunday/Monday, which made for more than one flooded basement in the area.

It rained again Tuesday before being beautiful out yesterday. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be rainy, with a chance for 1-2 more inches of rain.

TB feels badly for his OAC colleague who long ago chose this week for his vacation in Ocean City. Earlier, he sent an email that started this way:
"You know what makes a beach vacation great? Flooding."

The OAC consists of three rooms on the balcony of Jadwin (it used to be four, with a large back room that was eliminated in favor of "OAC South," a branch office located on C level).

When TB first started working here, he was in the room furthest away from the mailroom. Then he moved over one, which would be the middle one now. For about 10 years, he's been in his current spot, next to the mail room.

TigerBlog used to have two desks in his office, but he's settled on one now. The other one has been moved into the hall, and TB wonders if he's supposed to call someone to come get it or if it'll eventually disappear on its own. He has the same four maroon chairs that were here when he first started working here a long time ago, though he'll be adding something new to his office when it gets delivered: a futon.

He's not sure where he's going to put the futon yet. It might be time for a complete rearranging of the office.

In fact, TB is a pretty good creature of habit. For instance, there are pictures of George Leftwich and Chris Marquardt playing basketball for Princeton in games from 1990 (Leftwich in the NCAA tournament against Arkansas) and Marquardt (against Loyola Marymount in 1991) that have been on TB's top shelf since Kurt Kehl put them there, probably shortly after the games were played. There are two roladexes filled with phone numbers, neither of which were TB's and neither of which TB has looked at in years.

Behind TB's desk, there's the same book case that Kurt had when this was his office - and most of the same books in it.

The futon and perhaps some realignment of the office could be considered a New Year's resolution of sorts.

After all, today is New Year's Day.

Sort of.

Today is the day that fall athletes begin to report and practices start for some fall sports, particularly men's and women's soccer, field hockey and men's water polo. Women's volleyball reports Sunday, and football begins Tuesday.

The start dates for all sports are governed by very strict Ivy League and NCAA rules, and those rules are as wildly debated as anything.

There are all kinds of factors involved in figuring out when teams can begin, and they involve issues like start of classes, costs, first competition dates and so on.

Today, though, none of that matters.

As the first soccer players, field hockey players and water polo players begin the first practices, it is New Year's Day for the 2011-12 academic year.

Princeton's 15 Ivy titles in 2010-11? They don't mean much right now. The streaks of winning the Ivy League's unofficial all-sports points championship (25 straight years) and having at least one team or individual national champion (40 straight years) are back in play.

The athletic year here is a long haul, with 38 varsity teams and 1,000 athletes. Competitions begin two weeks from tomorrow and don't end for more than nine months.

Between now and the senior-athlete banquet - and actually beyond - there will be nearly 700 competitions and any number of storylines to go with them.

Had someone told TB a year ago at this time that there'd be five men and five women who won the Roper and von Kienbusch Awards, he wouldn't have gotten more than five or six correct.

Each year tells its own story, has its own special moments and tough defeats. Sitting here today, watching it rain, stop, rain harder, clear up, rain again and so forth, TB has no idea what those moments will be.

It's why being part of college athletics never gets old. No matter what's happened, the next year is always going to be unique.

That's why today is so special. The first day of the new year.

New Year's Day, 2011-12.

The athletes are back. Let the games begin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Parm

TigerBlog thinks Colin Cowherd, who does an ESPN radio show during the mid-day, is pretty funny.

TB heard him yesterday as he talked about how men and women take different approaches to things like food and clothes. He mentioned that he's done a show ("SportsNation") on TV with a woman whose name TB didn't get and that in all the years they've been on together, she's "never worn the same outfit twice, while I wear the same sport coat three times a week."

He mentioned that women are mortified when they're wearing the same thing as someone else at an event, whereas men say things like "hey, we're wearing the same thing, cool."

He talked about how when he goes out to dinner, his wife is always telling him to order something different and how she agonizes as she looks at the menu. Then, when it comes time, he orders the same thing always: "chicken parm. And I look around the restaurant, and every guy is eating chicken parm."

Cowherd did this in the context of talking about how men are creatures of habit and how it was a habit to watch Tiger Woods on the final day of a major golf tournament. Now that Tiger isn't the force he used to be, men have moved on to a different habit, and that's why nobody is watching golf anymore.

He might have mentioned that when one player becomes bigger than the sport itself, as Woods did, and then that player comes crashing down in the manner in which Woods did, then the sport has a hard time building itself back up.

As an aside, Harvey Yavener, longtime Trenton Times writer, said that Class of 1952 Stadium, with its proximity to the trees and the nickname of the home team, should be nicknamed "Tiger Woods."

TigerBlog used to root for Tiger Woods in the same way he'd root for Michael Jordan, because of the sheer greatness of his performance.

He wouldn't go out of his way to watch the last round of a major tournament the way he would, say, a big NFL game, but he would make it a point to see if Woods could notch another one (tournament, not bimbo - who knew at the time?).

Like many, TB no longer watches much golf, if any. It's much different than the post-Jordan basketball era or anything else that TB can think of, the way a sport dropped off the map so drastically because of one athlete's downfall.

The PGA Championship this past weekend was golf's fourth and final major of the year, and like the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open, TB watched none of it.

The winner was someone random guy, whose name was Keegan Bradley, someone TB had never heard of.

In fact, it was Monday morning that TB-Baltimore emailed TB and mentioned how Keegan Bradley had shot a 75 at Springdale on the Princeton campus and that since TB-Baltimore once shot a 76, he was in line to win a major tournament.

And that's when TigerBlog first heard about Keegan Bradley, who it turns out was five shots down with three holes to go Sunday before he won the PGA.

Going back three years, Bradley led St. John's to the championship at the Princeton Invitational at Springdale. TB is pretty sure TB-Baltimore was the golf contact at the time, which would have meant that he wrote this:
St. John's held off Princeton and George Mason as the Princeton Invitational concluded Sunday afternoon at Springdale Golf Club as the Red Storm won by four shots.
St. John's finished at +17 as a team while Princeton and George Mason ended at +21. A pair of St. John's golfers, Keegan Bradley and Evan Beirne, tied for the individual title at -2, one shot ahead of Temple's Paul Amess.

Bradley, not that long ago, shot a 70-66-75 to tie Beirne, who went 70-68-73 for his three rounds.

Beirne, by the way, shot a 58 at the New Haven Country Club and recently turned pro himself.

TigerBlog has no way of knowing if Bradley is the only player ever to win a major championship and play at Springdale.

He does know that the connection made the accomplishment way more interesting to TigerBlog. And if he'd known it in advance, he might have watched the final round.

Only he didn't know, so he didn't watch.

Though he might have been eating chicken parm at the time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Perfect 11

The funniest person TigerBlog knows is a year older.

That makes her 11.

When it comes to a mix of perfect comedic timing, a keen sense of the absurd and enough sarcasm to make any father proud, Little Miss TigerBlog is just naturally hilarious.

Not that the ability to generate laughs is her only strong suit. No, as 11-year-olds goes, you can't ask for much more than you get from LMTB.

In addition to her sense of humor, she's also smart, friendly, athletic, courageous and hard-working. The ride at an amusement park hasn't been invented that she won't go on; when she was nine, she stood up on a stage and sang "Happy Birthday" to try out for a community theater show, simply because it was something she wanted to try.

Whereas her brother thinks it's his birthright to attend Princeton, LMTB gives a different answer when asked where she would like to go to college: Cambridge.

She looks just like her father, something that caused her late maternal grandfather to remark on the day she was born that he hopes doesn't "bite her in the ass on prom night."

LMTB, unlike her brother, wasn't born wanting to play sports. Still, she's come around to it, and she has tried five different sports to date - lacrosse, tennis, soccer, basketball and her newest ... field hockey.

TigerBlog sees the 1,000 or so student-athletes at Princeton, from 38 different teams that play 18 different sports, and wonders how they all ended up in the sports they did.

Why is one a soccer player and another a football player, while someone else runs and another plays tennis? TB has mentioned this before, and his thoughts are basically unchanged from two years ago.

Are many of these athletes interchangeable, or are skills so specific to one sport that it was only natural that each particular athlete ended up where he or she did?

If athletic ability was interchangeable, would the majority of athletes still play the sport they do because that's the sport they love, or would they trade it for another sport? And if so, why?

Little Miss TigerBlog had never picked up a field hockey stick until a few weeks ago, when TB got her one after she signed up for an introductory camp at a local high school, largely because there wasn't much else going on that week.

So what happens? It turns out that she really liked playing. And, to make it better, she did pretty well at it.

What was it about field hockey that appealed to her? Why does her brother like having lacrosse balls launched at him while trying to hit a baseball was never something he wanted to do?

As for field hockey at Princeton, Katie Reinprecht, Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Cesan and Kathleen Sharkey are all taking the year off from school to train with the U.S. national team in hopes of reaching the 2012 Olympics.

Princeton will still be looking for its 17th Ivy title in 18 years during the 2011 season. In addition, the Tiger schedule still has basically the entire Top 10 on it.

The season begins in little over two weeks, on Friday, Sept. 2, the same day that the men's and women's soccer teams and the women's volleyball team also play.

The last few weeks of August bring with them a sense that the quiet times at Princeton are almost over, and the biggest sign of that will be later this week, when the first fall athletes arrive on campus.

After that, it'll basically be non-stop until the beginning of June.

This time of year also brings with it LMTB's birthday. This year, she sent her dad a link to exactly what she wanted, which is somewhat different than TB would have done at the same age.

Like most everything else she does, it was a gesture that her dad couldn't help but laugh at. Or be proud of.

Like TB said, he couldn't ask for much more out of an 11-year-old.

Monday, August 15, 2011


TigerBlog doesn't exactly remember the Final Jeopardy question was, though he does remember it had to do with a United Nation's promotional campaign and asked for a 12-letter word that turned out to be "Biodiversity."

TB never learned about it when he was in school, probably because the term hadn't yet been invented, or at least he assumes that. This current decade has been designated the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity, something nobody can be against.

Anyway, this particular Final Jeopardy was on Day 2 of the championship round of the College Championship, which, TigerBlog didn't realize, was actually first shown back in November. Still, he didn't see it then, so this was all new to him.

The final matched a woman named Erin from Boston University against two guys, Sam from Yale and Hans from Southern Adventist (a Seventh-Day Adventist school in Collegedale, Tenn.).

Hans, TB's pick to win it all, had a terrible final round. Sam, who never uncrossed his arms through the opening round, semifinals (where he knocked off a kid named Sid from Penn) and the final, made a big comeback against Erin, who had a huge lead after the first day, and he was the only one who got "Biodiversity" correct.

In fact, he would have won the $100,000 prize had he bet it all in Final Jeopardy. Instead, he bet about half of what he had, which made no sense, since he had to try to catch Erin.

It appeared that Erin didn't realize she had won, because she seemed like she lost track of her total as well. In the end, it was Erin with the $100K, followed by Sam ($50,000) and Hans ($25,000).

The most recent College Championship was the 23rd edition, and to date, only one school has produced more than one winner. If you want to guess, TB will give you two paragraphs.

The winner has come from a Division I school 16 times in 23 years, though it is DI 8, DIII 6 in the last 14 years.

No Ivy League school has ever had the winner, though in 1993, a contestant from Grinnell College (in Iowa, TB believes) beat finalists from Harvard and Princeton to take first place.

The only school with more than one winner? Stanford.

New Jersey colleges have had two winners - one from Rutgers and one from Drew.

Watching the most recent one, TigerBlog found himself rooting for the Penn kid in the earlier rounds and against the Yale kid, possibly because of the whole arm-crossing thing.

Mostly, TB kept coming back to the same question: Should he be rooting for or against the two Ivy League kids?

As near as TB can tell, Southern Adventist doesn't offer varsity sports, so rooting for that school is never an issue.

BU dropped football a few years ago, and Princeton and BU rarely cross paths athletically, unless it's in hockey or field hockey.

The other semifinalists were Sid from Penn, as well as kids from Ohio State, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Florida State and UCLA. Of that group, TB was fine with any of them except for Ohio State.

Ah, but the Penn kid and the Yale kid?

TB rooted for Penn, as he said, because he went to Penn. This isn't something that he necessarily does in athletics, and it's something that people who ask him about it don't quite get, especially when TB confirms that he had a great experience at Penn.

There are some who believe that you root for the teams in your league when your team isn't involved because it's good for the league.

There are others who believe you never root for the teams in your league when your team isn't involved because they're your biggest rivals.

TigerBlog hasn't quite figured out the right answer here. He's somewhere in the middle, in that he'll root against the other Ivy schools to protect Princeton's historical legacies, such as, for instance, being the most recent Ivy school to win an NCAA lacrosse championship or something like that.

Other times, he's okay with the rest of the league doing well.

In a weird way, he often boils it down to the athletic communications contact, like when he used to hope that John Veneziano of Harvard got to one NCAA men's basketball tournament (didn't happen, as Johnny V bailed on Harvard awhile ago).

The whole issue is something that TB has never really worked out, and it stood out during the Jeopardy tournament.

And it's a good thing, too, because if TB had been rooting for Sam from Yale and had watched him misplay the Final Jeopardy, it would've been tougher to take.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Opening Days

The English Premier League season begins this weekend with nine matches instead of the mathematically complete 10 that originally were scheduled.

Everton at Tottenham has been postponed in the wake of the rioting that has frighteningly enveloped the area this week.

TigerBlog used to watch the top English teams play on the small black-and-white television in his room when he was a kid. From there until about two or three years ago, he could care less about English football.

Now, in large part because of the winning battle that Princeton men's soccer coach Jim Barlow fought with TB to get him to appreciate the magnitude of the EPL, and of international soccer in general.

The EPL is different than any American professional sport in ways that would be interesting to see implemented here.

As TB said earlier this year
, the concept of relegation is beyond fascinating, and it made for an unreal end to last season for the Premier League.

Then there is the idea that there are no playoffs, so that the team that wins the regular-season title simply is the league champion. The other incentive - a major one - is to finish in the top four in the league to earn a spot into the Champions League, which gives the opportunity to play for the European club championship.

The 20 teams that compete in the EPL are divided into some basic categories: the very few top teams who have a legitimate shot at winning, the ones competing for a Champions League spot, the ones who have no chance of getting to the Champions League but are too good to get relegated and the ones who have to fight to avoid relegation.

It makes being a fan of one of the team's in the middle somewhat frustrating, TB assumes.

Of course, what separates the top teams from the middle and bottom is money and how much of it is spent on the elite players. In that way, it's sort of like Major League Baseball, where the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies become Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

TB hasn't quite figured out who his favorite EPL team is, because he doesn't like to root for the rich teams and there's no sense in rooting for the middle ones. He rooted for Blackpool to avoid relegation last year, but that didn't quite work out. Maybe he'll root for one of the new teams.

Closer to home, the U.S. men's national team played a 1-1 tie with Mexico earlier this week in a game played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

It was the first game for the U.S. since Jurgen Klinsmann became the head coach, replacing Princeton alum/former coach Bob Bradley. TigerBlog admits that he didn't have the same connection to the game without the Princeton connection.

Also, TB couldn't help but wonder what might have been for Bradley if the Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico - a 4-2 Mexico win in what would be Bradley's last game with the U.S. - had been played at the Linc instead of at the Rose Bowl, perhaps maybe the crowd would have been pro-U.S. rather than 80% pro-Mexico.

The EPL kicks off a 38-game schedule this weekend; the NFL regular season starts in four weeks.

The Princeton athletic year begins three weeks from today.

Three weeks. Can that possibly be correct?

It is. In fact, four Princeton teams start their seasons on Sept. 2 - none of them at home:

field hockey at Bucknell (and at American two days later)
women's soccer at Long Beach State (and Cal St.-Northridge two days later)
men's soccer at College of Charleston (and at Furman two days later)
women's volleyball in Hofstra's weekend-long tournament

Most of the rest of Division I will already have started by the time Princeton gets going; in fact, there are regular-season games next weekend.

The first home game of the 2011-12 academic year is a field hockey game against Penn State on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, TB is still trying to come to grips with the fact that the summer is winding down and that athletes will be on campus in the next few days to start preseasons.

Last Friday, TB and compliance director Anthony Archbald were talking about how there were only four weeks until the first athletic events, and both agreed that time would fly by.

One down. Three to go.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Serious Man

The AMC channel recently had a marathon of sorts that it called "Mob Week."

What was on the menu?

"The Godfather." "The Godfather Part II." "The Godfather Part III," which, as an aside, is completely underrated. "Goodfellas." "Donnie Brasco." "Scarface." "Pulp Fiction."

If TigerBlog were to write down his 100 favorite movies of all time, all seven of those would be on the list. If he were to write down his 50 favorite movies, then five of the seven would be there. If he were to write down his 25 favorite, then four would still be there. Top 10? Three. Top five? Two.

In other words, TB is a big fan of all seven, which ran in wildly random combinations for a full week. Anytime TB turned on the TV, he found himself in the middle of one of his favorite movies.

As another aside, of those seven movies, TigerBlog saw only one in the movies when it first came out, and that was "Scarface," which he actually saw in an advanced screening with a bunch of college friends when one of them - David R. Meiselman - got passes for the group because he used to review movies for the student newspaper.

For some reason, TB never saw "Goodfellas" until it made it to the video store, which is what Netflix would be if you actually had to drive to the store and rent a VHS tape for your VCR. The same was true with "Pulp Fiction."

If you took all seven movies and asked 100 people to name their favorite lines, you'd get some that most would name and then others that are in all different directions.

For instance, everyone would say "Leave the gun; take the cannolis," which Clemenza says in "The Godfather," or "One," as it was known on the Sopranos, as opposed to "Two" or "Three."

Of course, TB loves that line as well. And some of the others that would stand out:

"Go home and get your shine box."
"Say hello to my little friend."
"I'm going to go medieval on your ---."
"Never takes sides against the family again."
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
"Luca Brazi sleeps with the fishes."
"And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee."
"I'm not gonna shoot you, Frank."
"I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart."

Then there are the others that stand out to TB:

"If Paulie moved slowly, it's because Paulie didn't have to move for anyone."
"My name is Winston Wolfe. I solve problems."
"He's a rat because Sonny Black says he's a rat."
"You wanna waste my time? Okay. I call my lawyer. He's the best lawyer in Miami. He's such a good lawyer, that by tomorrow morning, you gonna be working in Alaska. So dress warm."
"You have to answer for Santino, Carlo."

The list goes on and one and on.

Mob movies - and The Sopranos - are obviously among TB's favorite.

He's also a big fan of somewhat dark comedies.

When Peter Farrell, the women's track and field and cross country coach, first mentioned the Coen Brothers movie "A Serious Man," TB had never heard of it.

Farrell came into the OAC 20 times in the last two months or so quoting from the movie, making references to it, talking about what a profound influence it had on him.

So, off TigerBlog went to get the movie and watch it.

It was, to say the least, interesting. If you haven't seen it, the main character is a physics professor who is trying to find reason and logic from his mathematical background and his Jewish faith to explain why his entire life is falling apart.

TigerBlog struggled a bit to understand the movie, and he's been kicking it around in his head since he saw it. Basically, Larry has no control over what's going on around him, and the more he tries to make sense of it, the less he can. He is getting no help from anyone around him in any area of his life, and nothing that he counted on is actually what it appeared to be.

His work is rooted in the idea that the math makes sense and therefore the rest must to, even if he can't fully grasp why. Ultimately, he learns - the very hard way - that his life is much like his physics.

TB also tried to figure out Farrell's connection to it.

After all, Farrell is a Catholic boy from Queens who ran at Notre Dame.

He is, though, himself a serious man, serious about whatever topic he wants to discuss at any particular moment. Serious, with a perfect blend of satire, sarcasm and laughter.

In many ways, he's his own dark comedy, and perhaps he would have been more suited to be a filmmaker like the Coen Brothers, maybe with his own deeply intense look at his own childhood.

Instead, he became a track and field coach.

A year ago, he contributed 20% of Princeton's 15 Ivy League titles when he coached the cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field teams to Heptagonal championships, just as Fred Samara did on the men's side for his own 20%.

Of course, the 2010-11 year is over, and 2011-12 is about to start.

One of the highlights will be the presence on the Princeton campus of the Heps cross country championships in late October, when the cross country teams try to start an unlikely repeat of last year's six-for-six success.

Unlikely? Sure, since it's only been done by 10 schools in Division I history for a total of 19 times.

Another highlight will be the continued musings of the Jadwin balcony's own serious man, Peter Farrell.

What'll be next?

Another movie? Another old story? Another fable? Another analysis of events both local and far-reaching?

TigerBlog likes to leave his door open and allow anyone to stop in.

Peter Farrell is one of the few who usually does, and it's rarely dull when Farrell takes him up on it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Francesa And Football

TigerBlog was in the car yesterday afternoon enough to hear Mike Francesa go off on WFAN about ways to shorten baseball games.

His main point was that the hitters drag the game out by leaving the batters' box between pitches, which he said should be illegal. He mentioned that he'd seen a game from the 1960 World Series recently in which the hitters never left the box.

He also made the suggestion that the rules limit the number of times a pitcher can attempt a pickoff move. He said that pitchers throw over not to shorten leads but to stall between pitches and that if anything, a better way to shorten leads is to vary the way a pitcher comes to the plate.

He also railed against the fake-to-third-throw-to-first move, one that never works, at least that's what he said.

And said and said and said. He must have hammered this point 20 different times.

So what happens? The Yankees trail the Angels 6-4 with two out and first-and-third in the ninth. Curtis Granderson (who, by the way, is the only Yankee TigerBlog likes) is the runner on first - and he gets nailed to end the game on the fake-to-third-throw-to-first move.

It couldn't have been scripted to make Francesa look worse.

In fairness to Francesa, that move almost never works. In fact, TB can't remember the last time he saw it work.

And, in fairness to Francesa, the game does drag, and his two suggestions would help.

Still, when you come across the way he does and then have it blow up in your face like that, well, most listeners probably chuckled.

Sports talk radio yesterday seemed to consist of 25% baseball and 75% football. And why wouldn't it?

The NFL lockout is over, and preseason games start this weekend. Most colleges are practicing, as are high schools, for that matter.

There is no doubt that football is the dominant sport in American athletic culture, and there are all kinds of reasons for this: the physical nature, the violence, the speed and grace, the fact that it's only once a week, the mystique that it has as being complex and requiring coaches who are nothing short of geniuses (at least that's what they want the general public to think).

TigerBlog's favorite professional sports team is the New York Giants. Other than the 1980 Miracle on Ice and a whole bunch of Princeton games, TB's favorite sporting event of all time is the Giants' Super Bowl win over the Patriots a few years ago, when the Pats were 18-0 entering the game.

One of the heroes of that run for the Giants throughout the playoffs was Plaxico Burress, who was unbelievable in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers and then caught the winning touchdown from Eli Manning in the final minute of the Super Bowl.

Of course, Plaxico has had some issues since then, and now he finds himself trying to become the next Michael Vick, coming from prison to return to football glory.

Burress signed a one-year deal with the Jets for a guarantee of $3,017,000 (the 17 part relates to his uniform number). TB read a few stories about how Burress wanted to return to the Giants but felt that the team wasn't treating him with the proper respect.

This made TB want to puke.

Burress destroyed the Giants' chances at a repeat when he shot himself in the thigh. In TB's mind, he forfeited his right ever to blame the team for anything again. Besides, "respect" doesn't always equal "guaranteed money."

TB also read about how Penn State coach Joe Paterno had to go to the hospital after being blindsided during a practice earlier this week.

And how there is a movie crew who will be filming an Army-Navy documentary later this year.

And how there have been 10 Achilles' tendon injuries in NFL practices.

And on and on and on the football news/talk/video goes.

Even the Ivy League was in on it.

Yesterday was the league's media conference call, a cost-saving measure that took the place of an actual media day.

Penn was picked to finish first; Princeton and Cornell were picked to finish tied for seventh.

Guess what? None of that matters when the games actually start.

Paul Franklin, who has been to more than one media day in his time, wrote a good piece for the Trenton Times and Star-Ledger about the Ivy coaches and their thoughts on the league's postseason ban.

As for Princeton's current state of football prowess, don't sell the Tigers short just yet.

Much like the men's lacrosse team, the football team saw any chance of success a year ago wiped out by injury. And, just like the men's lax team, this year is a great opportunity to bounce back while starting a bit under the radar.

Still, the topic in the OAC yesterday turned to the best-case scenario for Princeton, and it goes like this:

* healthy Tommy Wornham for 10 games
* decent if not spectacular skill players around him
* offensive line does enough to give him time to throw
* healthy Steven Cody goes back to being as good as any defensive player in the league
* healthy Caraun Reid
* defense bends but doesn't break
* great kickers
* Year 2 of new staff
* three straight home games to start the year

Add all that together, and no, TigerBlog isn't suggesting 9-1 or anything like that.

But Princeton could be much better than anyone thinks it will be.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Days Of Standardized Rosters

TigerBlog remembers lunches, not in boxes but in brown paper bags, lined up on trays in a room near a pro shop.

People dressed for golf and not for business grabbed the lunches as they hustled their way to the first tee.

TigerBlog, for the record, might have once or twice taken the oatmeal raisin cookie out of one bag and put a chocolate chip cookie from another in its place, before he went out to hack up the course.

The occasion was Ivy League football media day, held in Connecticut, usually at a place called Lyman Orchards but eventually at Yale's golf course.

For several years, the pattern was to have Ivy League sports information meetings on Monday and then football media day on Tuesday morning, followed by the golf outing. There would be a big sports information dinner on Monday evening.

That Monday for the meetings would have been yesterday. The football media day/golf would have been today.

Of course, both ceased several years ago, lost to budget cuts, lack of media turnout and other issues.

The football media day has been replaced by a conference call, to be held today, to coincide with the release of the Ivy League's preseason poll.

The SID meetings have been held sporadically, and when they have been, they've been moved to be in concert with the athletic directors' meetings in May.

TigerBlog has a binder that has the minutes from the sports information meetings dating back to before he started actually working here, and reading through those pages can often make for hilarity in terms of the issues that were so vehemently discussed.

Ask anyone who sat in the room back then - John Veneziano from Harvard, the late Kathy Slattery from Dartmouth, Dave Wohlheueter from Cornell, Bill Steinman from Columbia, Chuck Yrigoyen from the Ivy office, as well as a small group of others who still work in the league - about those meetings, and they'd all chuckle at you.

Slattery would start each meeting by reminding all in the room that they should keep in mind that they were working "for the good of the clan," meaning that everyone was in it together.

Then, the group would embark on a nightmarish three-hour discussion on the value of standardized rosters.

If TB lives to be 100, he'll never forget his first foray into standardized roster discussions.

It seemed like such a simple idea. Back when schools first could start emailing rosters to each other, why couldn't they simply be in the same format? TB didn't care if it was first name/last name or last name/first name. He didn't care if it was position/class or class/position, hometown/high school or high school/hometown.

In checking the SID meeting binder, TB sees that one such discussion was held 15 years and four days ago, at the Ramada Inn in Meriden, Conn. The minutes said this:
"Possibly the most venerable of Ivy SID meeting topics, the question of standardized rosters was brought up, especially in light of everyone's ability to send and receive rosters by email. In subsequent negotiations worthy of anything ever consummated in Washington or Geneva, the Ivy League SIDs agreed on a roster format acceptable (albeit grudingly) to all."

And, following that, was the format that actually remains the league rule to this day: Number, Last Name, First Name, Position, Class, Height, Weight, High School, Hometown.

Of course, almost nobody follows that today, or has for years. After awhile, TB gave up on the need for standardized rosters; these days, he simply takes whatever roster is given to him and plops it on the roster page in the game program.

Not one person has ever said to TB that the format for the two rosters doesn't match.

Of course, as TB thinks back to the ferocious battle over the roster format, which he largely stayed out while trying to figure out how people could care this much about what order this stuff should be in.

And just when the fight was over and the format was settled, Chris Humm, who is still at Brown, started a separate skirmish when he asked if it was to be AP style or postal abbreviations for states.

In all, it was a several-hour discussion on that subject.

As TB looks back through the binders, he sees issue after issue, many of which related to the emerging internet and how it could be used in sports information. There were also issues about how many post-game faxes were too many for a visiting SID to ask a home SID to send out (TigerBlog always felt that if the visiting SID asked for the fax to be sent, there was a good reason; TB also has sent fewer than 10 faxes in the last five years, as everything should be electronic these days), whether or not the Ivy League should go to a common in-game stats program and which it should be, whether there was a future for live stats (TB wondered who in their right mind would sit by a computer watching stats refresh, something he regularly does now, so he might have been wrong about that one), information sharing through things like Fax-On-Demand (the sports information office would fax a release to a central database, and then media people could dial-in and have it faxed to them, though it cost the sports information office money every time it was used) and any number of other wildly odd and now-outdated topics.

And yet they provoked such intense debate at the time.

Eventually, the number of topics dwindled to almost none, and the meetings ceased. There have been just a few in the last 10 years or so.

And football media day is now a conference call.

Still, TB can't help but think back to when an early August Monday and Tuesday were much different.

Ah, those were the days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

He Was Thinking

Whenever he goes to one of those events where everyone is wearing a name tag, TigerBlog rarely puts his on.

What is wrong with walking up to someone you don't know and, instead of glancing at a tag safety-pinned to his or her chest, actually introducing yourself?

As for the tags themselves, when someone is wearing one, the natural tendency is to look at it, even if the person wearing it is somebody TB has known for years.

TigerBlog is great with numbers. He can remember scores from games played 20 or more years ago, not to mention details, a skill that has more than once frightened people he's worked with.

When it comes to faces, it's not as clear cut. Maybe it's because TB meets so many people from the same basic demographic, such as "alums" or "administrators from other schools" or "media" that it's not easy to quickly place who is who.

Take the media category, for instance.

TB meets all kinds of media people, from local newspaper reporters to online writers to radio and TV broadcasters. Often, intros are "hi, how's it going," and it becomes very difficult to remember everyone's name when they are all herded together in some big press box.

It was worse back when TB was the football and basketball contact and there were way more media people.

When Princeton would go to, say, the NCAA men's basketball tournament in the 1990s, there'd be a huge stream of people around. TigerBlog could probably get most of the names and most of the faces, but matching them together wasn't always easy.

Then there were the media people TB would see when he'd travel to another Ivy school.

In this category, he could get a higher grade on matching the name to the face, though these were people he'd see maybe two or three times a year.

One of those faces that TB could match a name to was Dave Solomon of the New Haven Register, who was killed over the weekend in a car accident on I-91 as he returned home from the first UConn football practice of the year.

If any area still has the link to the years when the daily newspaper still was a vibrant necessity for most people, it's Connecticut, where there are so many daily papers that TB could never really keep track. There is a huge media following for UConn, and it trickles down nicely to the other colleges in the state, including Yale.

In many ways, a paper like the Register takes TB back to his days the Trenton Times.

It took TB a few years to put Solomon's name to the face, but he figured it out long ago. Solomon wasn't someone that TB knew well or saw all the time, but TB did know him to be a professional, old-style sportswriter, someone who would cover games and write columns the way TB did.

He came across as a good guy. He also came across as someone who respected Princeton while clearly wanting Yale to win, though his actions or writings would never reflect that.

Solomon was 59 at the time of his death, which made him much younger than Bus Saidt and Harvey Yavener, two Trenton Times legends who were in their primes when TB first started there. Still, TB saw a lot of those two in Solomon and Solomon's writing.

In fact, when TB read one of the many stories about Solomon, he saw that one person called him "the star of the staff" and that Solomon's car had 210,000 miles on it. Both are very Yav- and Bus-like.

Solomon passed away driving on a stretch of highway that TB has been on a bunch of times. Any trip to and from Dartmouth went through there, as did most trips to Harvard.

At no point did TB ever think that it could all end so abruptly, and yet that's how it is. What does the future hold? There's no way to say, no way to know. Yav is still going strong in his 80s; Bus and now Dave Solomon passed away much younger.

One thing TB never realized about Solomon is that he wrote a Sunday column called "I was Thinking," which is one of TB's favorite kind of columns, a bunch of different topics with a thought or two about each.

His last version of the column ran in yesterday's paper, after he had already died. His wife Judy requested it.

Had TB known about it, he would have read it every Sunday.

Now, that opportunity is gone, sadly, destroyed in a deadly accident on a Connecticut highway.

It took the life of someone who was by all accounts a good family man, a serious sportswriter and a pretty good guy.

TigerBlog didn't know him all that well. Still, that didn't stop him from being saddened by the news.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pete And Bill Stop By

The two greatest coaches in Princeton history, at least for TigerBlog's money, were in the building in the last 24 hours.

The two are Pete Carril and Bill Tierney, who coached men's basketball and men's lacrosse here for a combined 51 seasons. They overlapped for nine seasons, from Tierney's first in 1988 to Carril's last in 1996.

Both are Hall-of-Famers, Carril in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Tierney in the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

As an aside, anyone can feel free to disagree with TB's choices for the best coaches in Princeton history, and a case can be made for others. TB cannot stand when people write or say that a coach or athlete or game is "arguably among the best" in the history of a league or program or such.

Have an opinion, and stand by it.

And this is TB's opinion.

Carril and Tierney combined to go 752-347 at Princeton, winning 27 Ivy League championships between them. Their combined winning percentage is nearly 70 percent, which is especially high considering how tough it is to win consistently for three decades in the Ivy League in men's basketball and what the 25 years of Princeton lacrosse before Tierney arrived were like.

Carril went to 11 NCAA tournaments and won the 1975 NIT.

Tierney won six NCAA championships, played in eight NCAA finals and advanced to 10 NCAA Final Fours.

TigerBlog figures he saw 275 or so of the games Tierney coached here and 150 or so of
the games Carril coached here. There were more than a few times when he saw them coach on the same day.

He's seen both as they talked to their teams at practice and after games. He's seen both interact with national media, local media, student media, alums, friends, parents and any other constituency there is.

He's stood next to each after big wins and heartbreaking losses. He's heard them speak from the heart in front of huge audiences or simply to TigerBlog.

Their talks in the basketball office on the third floor of Jadwin are the stuff of legend, as Tierney went to Carril to discuss applying the basketball coach's offensive philosophies to lacrosse, especially when one player was shut off behind the net and the rest were playing 5 on 5 in front. Tierney has often credited these talks with helping him to the first of his NCAA championships, of which next season will be the 20th anniversary.

And now, here they were, both in Jadwin Gym on the same day once again.

TB couldn't help but wonder when the last time that happened was.

Carril has been with the Sacramento Kings since he left Princeton, mostly as an assistant coach. His 81-year-old mind remains a basketball gold mine.

TigerBlog remembers asking Tierney once a long time ago what motivates him, after all the success he had.

It's like the movie "Wall Street," when Bud asks Gordon how much is enough, many yachts he can waterski behind.

Tierney said something about how each year is its own motivation, own challenge, how what happened last year no longer matters once a new year begins.

His fire still burns, that's for sure.

Now the head coach at Denver, Tierney went to his 11th Final Four last year (TB has been at all 11). As the summer recruiting winds to a stop, Tierney was relaxed as he stopped by chat for awhile, but it's obvious that he can't wait to get started again, that his pursuit of another NCAA title is never far away from his thoughts.

Carril, TB often says, has become a sweet old man. Tierney, 20 years younger, isn't quite to that point yet.

Now, when Carril stops by, he is laughing, smiling, at ease. So is Tierney.

They are instantly the center of attention when they walk in Jadwin, and it's clear to TigerBlog that they are both aware of that. They say hi to old friends and meet the people who have arrived here after they left, while all eyes are clearly on them.

They are the Fonzies of Princeton athletics.

It's not often that they are around anymore, but when they are, it's always special.

Why wouldn't it be? They're the two greatest coaches Princeton has ever had.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Children At Play

The elevator door opened, and one little girl ran out. Followed by another. And then a few little boys. And then a few bigger girls and boys. And finally, a man and a woman.

"Are all these yours?" TigerBlog asked.


"How many were there?"

"Well, we have 10 in all."

How in the world, TB wondered, could any two people possibly raise 10 children? Or deal with so many who appeared to be about seven or younger?

TigerBlog likes his Title IX-compliant mix of TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog, and yet even having just the two of them when they were very young was frightening.

Multiply those two times five? No way.

TigerBlog knows very few people who have had more children than their parents did. Maybe it's because people seem to start families later than they did half a century ago, or maybe TB is wrong.

Still, it just doesn't seem like you stumble upon two many elevators from which pop a mother, father and 10 children.

Had you had one child every other year since the Pittsburgh Pirates last had a winning record, you'd have 10 of your own by now. The Pirates last had a winning record in 1992, and their 18-straight losing seasons are a record for the four major American professional sports.

TigerBlog knows very few actual Pirate fans, though there is one, a man named Matt who used to work in the OAC back when the streak was in its early years.

When TB spoke to Matt last week, he got back a rather humorous email that said something along the lines that Matt, who has two children, had not yet kissed a girl the last time the Pirates had a winning season.

TB was rooting for the Braves back in the 1992 season, when Atlanta delivered a crushing defeat in the National League Championship Series, rallying to defeat Pittsburgh in the bottom of the ninth on Francisco Cabrera's two-out single that scored David Justice and Sid Bream - who barely beat the throw from a rather skinny Barry Bonds - in one of the most famous baseball moments of the last 30 years.

Since then, the only positive thing for Major League Baseball in Pittsburgh has been the construction of PNC Park. As for the produce on the field? It's been a struggle.

This year, the Pirates reached the All-Star break with a winning record - as well as a tie for first place in the NL Central.

Since then, it's been a disaster for the Pirates, who lost 1-0 to the Cubs last night to fall below .500 at 54-55. They now sit 6.5 games back of the first-place Brewers, and TB is probably in the majority who think that by season's end, it'll be another sub-.500 season.

As an aside, TB hasn't looked at the baseball standings in awhile. He had no idea that the Tigers were four games up in the AL Central or that the Diamondbacks were so close the Giants.

TigerBlog's interest in the Pirates mostly has been generated by the presence of Ross Ohlendorf, the Princeton alum, who was in the rotation the last two years. He went 11-10 in 2009 and then 1-11 last year, though he essentially the same ERA both years.

Hey, pitching for the Pirates isn't always fun.

Of course, not pitching isn't any fun either, especially for a player who got a $2 million arbitration award off of that 1-11 season. Unfortunately, Ohlendorf has only been able to make two starts this year, both in early April, before landing on the DL.

In fact, it's been a lost season for Princeton's two pitching alums in the Majors, as Chris Young of the Mets also went on the DL in April.

Unlike Young, Ohlendorf figures to be back soon to the Pirates. He is making a second rehab start this week in Triple-A with Indianapolis.

Interestingly, Indianapolis has a population more than twice that of Pittsburgh, which TB assumes is a rarity in a Major League/Minor League relationship.

When Ohlendorf does return, it might be as a relief pitcher, at least at first. Maybe he can make a difference for the team, who could at least snap the losing record with a good finish.

The third Princetonian in the Major Leagues is Will Venable of the San Diego Padres.

Venable got off to a horrible start this year and even ended up in Triple-A. Since then, he has been much more consistent, though he has been slowed by nagging injuries.

His average, once below .200, is up to .247. And even though he has only 263 plate appearances, he does rank 13th in the NL in stolen bases with 19.

Unfortunately, the Padres aren't part of the two-team race in the NL West. On the other hand, Venable could help himself considerably moving forward with a strong finish to 2011.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eye Test

FatherBlog, many years ago, had a rule that he wouldn't get his mail on the weekends.

Whatever arrived on Saturday would still be there Monday, and why let the weekend be ruined by something that came in the mail? TigerBlog is talking about actual mail here, not email, something that was still a ways away from being invented at that point.

TB isn't sure if FB still goes by that philosophy, though he'd guess he long ago forgot about it.

As for TB, he sometimes figures he won't check his email on the weekends or at night. And, of course, he's never actually done that.

TB knows people in college athletics whose athletic directors have rules that they are always to be reachable by email or cellphone. Fortunately, it's not quite that drastic around here, though there is a level of expectation of accessibility on pretty much everyone in every profession in 2011.

As a result, TigerBlog will check his email every now and then during non-business hours. And, it's quite frustrating to get an email that sparks an immediate concern over something, only to not be able to get in touch with the sender because it's 10 at night or Sunday morning or something like that.

For whatever reason, TB didn't check his email between yesterday when he left and this morning when he arrived.

When he got here this morning, he had 52 new emails, most of which were nothing pressing. It's amazing that people don't delete emails they really need (or maybe they do) when they start deleting the dozens that they don't.

Anyway, in the email pile was one from John Sadak, the outstanding play-by-player for the men's basketball team in the winter and the voice of the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the summer. That's 140 games each summer, by the way, which keeps him fairly busy and means that TB doesn't hear too much from Sadak until the fall.

Sadak's email had a subject line of "interesting," and in this case it was a good one.

Sadak sent TB a link to a blog entry on the Ivy basketball site "The 14-Game Tournament," one that attempts to use saber-metrics to determine bests and worsts from Ivy men's baskeball over the last 15 years, as well as to attempt to predict what will happen.

The basic premise, at least as far as which team was the best in that time frame, is that there are those who believe that it was Princeton in 1998, Penn in 2002 or 2003 and Cornell in 2010.

Cornell, because it reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and because it happened recently, is usually the one that is mentioned.

Sabermetics have the cutest names, and the one at work here is called "Adj Pythag," as opposed to things like "VORP" and "WAR" and "PERA" and all the others.

"Adj Pythag" refers to Adjusted Pythagorean Win Percentage, which, like all sabermetrics, tries to come up with a mathematical formula that can be used as a predictor of results or analysis of individual or team success or lack thereof without any emotional factors.

This formula spit out that Princeton in 1998 was the best of the Ivy teams in the last 15 years.

TigerBlog's response isn't: See, that proves the point.

Nope. Instead, it is: "TB didn't need a formula to prove that."

One point of all of the sabermetrics is that traditional numbers that were used for decades to measure athletic success, especially in baseball, are really statistically flawed and don't actually tell you who stands out. Wins. RBIs. Forget them.

The problem as TB sees it is that the more everyone gets caught up in the numbers, the further away they get from what really matters.

It's the "Eye Test."

As in, believe what the eye tells you.

TigerBlog saw the Ugonna Onyekwe Penn teams, the Sweet 16 Cornell team and the late 1990s Princeton teams.

He doesn't need any statistical analysis to tell him which team was the best.

He'll take Princeton first, Penn second, Cornell third.

The eyes have it.