Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fall Ahead

TigerBlog was looking back a year, to see what he was writing about at this time in 2011, and he stumbled upon one post of a year ago after the Women's World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and Brazil.

If you don't remember, that was the miraculous comeback that the U.S. had, one that was somewhat overshadowed by the Brazilian woman named Erika who had the most egregious flop of all time, one that ended when she jumped off a stretcher to sprint back into the game.

TB's point from that game was that he loved the job that English announcer Ian Darke did, just as he loved Darke in the 2010 World Cup and in the just-completed European championships.

The Spanish looked tremendous throughout the tournament, and they completely took apart an Italian team that had been playing really, really well. TB's affection for international soccer was already at an all-time high, and it has skyrocketed since he went to the Costa Rica-El Salvador World Cup qualifier last month.

Darke's commentary is perfect, with excitement, complete knowledge, a willingness to criticize when necessary and some humor, all tied together with the British accent. He is the rarest of announcers who can actually make the game more enjoyable simply because of his commentary.

TB has been following Darke on Twitter, and he's exceptional there too.

In a world where too many writers/announcers try to make themselves bigger than the events they cover, Darke is able to use his Tweets to give a good feel of what it's like to be part of the event without making it seem like he's the most super cool person on the planet.

For instance, he presented a great account of the amount of travel he did back and forth from the Ukraine and Poland. On one occasion, he said something like he was now on a nodding basis with the Ukrainian customs officials and assumed he'd be invited to their Christmas party.

TB said he was going to try to do a podcast with Darke last year, talk about his style, what he knows about American college sports, see if he has any Princeton connections, but he never did. Maybe this year.

Meanwhile, "this year," or the 2012-13 athletic year, begins next month, sort of, as the first Princeton athletic events will be on Aug. 31. Schedules for almost all of Princeton's fall teams are now on the webpage, and it will seem like 10 minutes from now that the teams are back on campus.

If today is July 3, then Aug. 31 is a mere 59 days away. By contrast, Princeton's game against Virginia in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament was 50 days ago, and it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that Chris LaPierre broke TigerBlog's heart.

Princeton will have three ESPNU games in the fall, and in one of the great parts of the arrangement, ESPN has again chosen to showcase a solid variety of Princeton teams.

There will again be men's water polo, this time against Cal.

The men's soccer team will take on Creighton in October in a game against an opponent that reached the NCAA Final Four a year ago.

And the football team gets another chance on a Friday night, this time against Georgetown in the season opener. Nice weather would be nice, especially after last year, when five home games featured rain three times and snow once.

The field hockey team will be primed with the return of its four players who went through the Olympic experience.

There will be 12 soccer games played on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium in the first 24 days after the season begins. Princeton Athletics will go from zero to 60 in no time.

The Fourth of July is a huge milestone in the summer. There are still vacations to take, pools to swim in, barbeques to grill and all the rest of it

It's just that fall is looming out there.

The posting of the schedules made that crystal clear to TigerBlog.

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