Thursday, December 26, 2013

Play Of The Year

Sometime yesterday afternoon, TigerBlog experienced the opposite of a Christmas miracle.

He got sick of Ralphie.

He never could have imagined it. There he was, watching Ralphie and his classmates at school, when he suddenly realized he'd had enough of "A Christmas Story."

Will this be a one-year thing, or is he done with it forever? Is there an expiration date? Are there a finite number of times TB can watch "A Christmas Story?" He's certainly never reached that number with, say, "The Godfather" or Bugs Bunny.

He is glad that the end of "It's A Wonderful Life" still had its usual effect on him, especially when Harry makes his toast at the end.

One of the highlights of TB's Christmas was the video that his colleague Craig Sachson texted him of his five-year-old daughter Maddie's reaction when she found that Santa had left her the Barbie Dreamhouse. Now that was Christmas at its best, a little girl who got exactly what she wanted - even adding in the perfect ending, when she nudges her younger brother away and reminds him that "Mason, this is for me."

Does it get better than that?

December 25th is the day that is circled on everyone's calendar. The Barbie Dreamhouses and whatever else is on the list for the nice kids - and adults - have to be under the tree by Dec. 25. Then they're torn open, wrapping paper thrown everywhere, piles of opened presents stacked around, in, oh, about 10 minutes, after weeks of preparation.

And getting the presents bought, delivered (if you're smart enough to buy them online) and wrapped - TB is an awful gift-wrapper - is only a small part of what needs to get done. There's the tree, the decorations, the food (if people are coming over), the parties, the plans and all of it.

December 25th is the deadline day.

December 26th is a little different.

Now it's all about taking down trees and ornaments, about cleaning up. It's about taking down the Christmas lights, unless you're the people who leave them up until February or even all year round.

Next up is New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and then getting back to work.

Between now and next week, there will be all kinds of Year in Reviews, Top People of the Year, etc. etc. TigerBlog saw one of them on ESPN yesterday, when it ran down the top 50 plays of the year.

The problem with choosing the top plays of a year is what the criteria is. Are you looking for the most significant plays or the best plays, regardless of their context?

Sometimes, if you're lucky, the best plays occur in the most significant moments, as was the case in 2013. It's really hard to argue against the two plays that were co-No. 1 on ESPN's list, the game-winners for Auburn football against Georgia (the long Hail Mary pass that got tipped right to the Auburn wide receiver) and then the missed field goal return against Alabama.

They were both incredible plays, and because of them, Auburn will play for the BCS championship against Florida State.

There were many other plays in the top 50 that were wild but had no context. There were others that were routine but tied together the biggest moments of the year.

What about at Princeton?

The biggest play of the year in 2013 at Princeton is probably Quinn Epperly's touchdown pass to Roman Wilson in the third overtime against Harvard. It was the biggest play because it gave Princeton a 51-48 win over the Crimson and had Princeton not won that game, it wouldn't have won a share of the Ivy League championship.

The play itself was a pretty good one. Epperly fakes like he's running and then flips it into the corner to Wilson, who pulls it down over a Harvard defender. The Ivy League Digital Network named it to the top play of the year in Ivy football.

If you're looking for a better catch, then Wilson's TD against Cornell was a bit better, with his body turned around and his ability to just get his foot inbounds. That one was part of Epperly's 29 straight completions to start the game against the Big Red and earned No. 3 on the list.

TigerBlog knows that there were any number of plays in any number of Princeton games across all sports that were probably wilder than the football ones. Hey, there were other football ones too for that matter.

Off the top of his head, TB is thinking of two men's lacrosse plays - the one where Tom Schreiber ripped the net in the Ivy final against Yale and Kip Orban's game-winner in overtime against Cornell in the Ivy semifinal.

Still, for the significance of the moment, it's hard to beat the play against Harvard in the third overtime.

TigerBlog will go with that as the Play of the Year for Princeton Athletics.

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