Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moo's Friends

The World Series begins tonight. TigerBlog will make two predictions.

First - he'll go with the Cardinals in seven games. He has no idea why, other than the Cardinals seem to always win the games they need to win.

Second - TigerBlog will watch very little of it.

There was a time when the World Series was a big deal to TB.

One of his first sports-watching memories is of the 1969 World Series, which the Mets famously won against the heavily favored Orioles. That Series, by the way, ended on Oct. 16, as opposed to this one, which is starting on Oct. 23.

Also, of the five games in 1969, none lasted more than 2:33, and that was a 10-inning game. The other four went 2:13, 2:14, 2:20 and 2:23.

Contrast this with four-hour games that are regularly played now. Game 1 of the recent ALCS between the Tigers and Red Sox, for instance, took 3:56, featured nine total pitchers - and ended 1-0.

TB had this great World Series history book back when he was a kid that traced every World Series, beginning with the first one, back in 1903, between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans, the forerunner to the Red Sox. There was no World Series in 1904, and there has been one every year since except for 1994, when a strike cancelled it in a year that the Montreal Expos might have won.

For a long time TB was a pretty good authority on the history of the World Series, because of that book. And other books he read, back when kids read books about sports, something he thinks doesn't happen as much these days.

Anyway, TB hasn't watched one pitch of the baseball postseason this year, though he probably will watch at least a few innings of the World Series at some point.

He's not 100% sure why he hasn't watched the baseball playoffs.

Maybe it's because the games are interminable. Maybe it's because he views baseball completely destroyed by the PED scandals.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's only fun for him if he's rooting against the Yankees? Can that be the reason?

He knows the reason he didn't watch the Real Sports feature on the field hockey team and its relationship with Carmella Loschiavo, a seven-year old with Down's Syndrome suffering from pediatric brain tumors that are currently in remission. The field hockey team and Carmella - known as "Moo" - were paired through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

TB didn't see it because he doesn't have HBO. He has Showtime, because that's where "Homeland" is.

Still, he'd like to have seen the feature. Princeton, the defending NCAA champion, has embraced Moo in a way that creates such a special situation, where completely healthy, in their physical prime college athletes, give their time - and affection - to a little girl who hasn't been anywhere near as lucky as they have been.

Beyond winning the NCAA championship or the Ivy League title, this is one of the best parts of college athletics.

To healthy little kids who play youth sports, the college athletes they come to see might as well be Peyton Manning or LeBron James. For a sick little girl who has suffered her whole life, it's an even bigger deal.

Princeton field hockey is at Harvard this weekend. The Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the league, with games remaining against the Crimson (1-3) and then Cornell (2-2) and Penn (3-1).

In a weird scheduling quirk, Princeton hasn't been home in a long time, since Oct. 4 to be exact. That game, a win over Columbia, is Princeton's lone home game in a 36-day stretch, one that ends with games Nov. 2 against Cornell and Nov. 3 against Rider.

Should Princeton win the league, it'll be back in the NCAA tournament, where it won five games last year to win the program's first NCAA championship.

Princeton was one of the favorites to win it last year. This year, the Tigers would have to make a run as an underdog if it gets into the NCAA tournament.

To Moo, the Tigers are already big winners.

Next time you read a story about all of the negatives of college athletics, remember what Princeton field hockey is doing for a seven year old girl. One who really, really needs them.

And then think about how many other teams around the country are doing the same.

College athletics? They can be a beautiful thing.

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