Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tiger Ref

TigerBlog thought he was all finished writing about the Super Bowl, until he got an email this morning from a member of the Class of 1971.

The email pointed out that side judge Laird Hayes, the man who made the correct call on Mario Manningham's reception at midfield that set up the Giants' game-winning touchdown, was a classmate.

TB had no idea that the side judge was a Princetonian, and a baseball player on top of that.

The email TB received referenced the FoxSports.com column by Mike Pereira that called Hayes the MVP of the game and included this:
"On our biggest stage, in front of what may turn out to be the largest audience of any television program in history, Hayes faced the biggest call of his career — and he nailed it. When you stop and analyze it, we get replay after replay to dissect every close play. Hayes had only 1/26 of a second to make the right call. And he did."

Hayes made the right call, one that stood up after being dissected by the replay review. And it wasn't an easy call either, and certainly the circumstances of the moment made it tougher.

What impressed TB most about the call is that Hayes made it decisively, with none of the hesitation that is now commonplace due to the fact that officials know the replay review is lingering over their shoulders.

And even knowing that the replay review would be the ultimate authority on the call (which means that Hayes couldn't be looked at like Don Denkinger or other officials who have become infamous through a blown call in a huge spot), Hayes had to have a huge amount of satisfaction knowing that he got it right.

In many ways, making the call required the same amount of concentration as making the catch.

Of course, TB assumes that Hayes - whom TB has never met or spoken to or anything - was embarrassed by all of the accolades being thrown his way, as any good official would be.

So congratulations to Laird Hayes, who did the Princeton Class of 1971 proud at the Super Bowl Sunday.

Hayes, TB has noticed, has his own Wikipedia page, which mentions that he has a Ph.D. from UCLA and was officiating in his third Super Bowl.

As an aside, TB also noticed that several players - Manningham, Chase Blackburn for two - had their Wikipedia pages updated about their Super Bowl contributions. Who did that? Did they?

Anyway, with the Super Bowl now a memory, it was time for New York sports to move along. And who would replace the Giants in the New York sporting conscience?

Jeremy Lin, of course.

The Harvard alum has his second straight game of at least 25 points for the Knicks, this time going for 28 points and eight assists in a win over the Jazz last night. This came after Lin had 25 points against the Nets in is previous game.

Were it not for the Giant Super Bowl (which probably would have been the Saints Super Bowl had Alex Smith not had an unlikely winning drive for the 49ers in the playoffs), Lin would be the biggest story in New York sports right now.

TigerBlog remembers Lin when he played for Harvard as a great player, but at no point did TB think he was looking at an NBA player. In fact, TB thinks that if Lin can be an NBA "star," then there's a place in the league for Penn's Zack Rosen.

As a senior, Lin shot 7 for 24 in two games against Princeton, scoring 19 points with 6 for 16 shooting in a three-point Tiger win in Cambridge and then shot 1 for 8 with eight points in another three-point Princeton in Princeton.

Lin did have a 27-point game against Princeton as a junior and a 20-point game against Princeton as a sophomore. He hardly played in the two games against Princeton as a freshman, and he was 1-7 against the Tigers in his career.

And now he's an unstoppable presence in the NBA, at least for the last two games. He probably won't continue to average 26.5 points per game, but he does have a pretty good chance to become a steady contributor on a team desperate for a point guard.

TB, as a rule, isn't sure if he's should root for the Ivy League teams other than Princeton to do well nationally. In some cases, he does; in others, he vehemently doesn't.

Ivy athletes, though, are another story. He usually roots for them on the big stages, such as Ryan Fitzpatrick with the Bills and now Lin, especially since he's playing for the Knicks.

Of course, he's a bigger fan these days of the Tiger Ref.

No comments: