Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pushing Denna

Miss TigerBlog had a school event last night. National Honor Society inductions, to be exact.

TB would tell his daughter afterwards that he was proud of her but that it was a really dull ceremony.

First of all, he had to sit way, way up top in the auditorium, which is divided into three tiers. He was in the upper one, completely out of sight of anything other than the stage, whereas the inductees were in the first few rows of the orchestra section.

Also, the microphone at the podium barely worked, so it was next to impossible to hear the speakers.

So from where TB was sitting, he couldn't see or hear the ceremony. What did he do?

He watched the Navy-Holy Cross Patriot League men's lacrosse quarterfinal game on his phone. Or at least the second half. If you're wondering, Holy Cross won 11-7.

TB is reasonably sure that his own parents did not do the same when he was inducted into the NHS all those years ago. Maybe MTB can pull off the double that TB did not: National Honor Society in high school, Phi Beta Kappa in college.

TigerBlog always loves to watch Navy teams play. It takes someone very special to go to a service academy to compete and be a student, and those athletes - and everyone there, actually - sacrifice a lot of what most people expect of their college experiences.

The game last night was played on Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. If you've ever been there, or seen a game there on TV or video, you know that the list of battles that the Navy and Marines have fought throughout their history are denoted on the walls around the field.

TB has been to games there. It's an incredibly poignant setting, knowing how many people who have played there sacrificed much more than their college experience. You can't help but be touched by it.

Speaking of being touched by athletes, TB has been meaning to mention the story from the Boston Marathon last week that hits home for Princeton Athletics.

This story is about the incredible effort of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter, who for 26.2 miles and more than four hours pushed Princeton alum Denna Laing in her wheelchair throughout the entire course. It looked impossibly hard to do, and yet there he was, mile after mile, running and pushing Denna.

This was an amazingly inspirational moment, courtesy of two extraordinary people.

Bobby Carpenter was the first American-born hockey player ever to be a first-round NHL draft pick. TigerBlog remembers that.

He also had a near-career-ending knee injury that was described in an NBC Sports piece as "dropping fine china on a cement floor and then trying to put it back together." Carpenter came back from that to play nearly another decade, winning a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1994-95. He'd play 18 seasons in the NHL.

Denna Laing, as you remember, played hockey at Princeton and then in the professional women's outdoor league, where she suffered a spinal cord injury in the Women's Winter Classic 16 months ago.

Since then, she has shared with the world the remarkable story of her drive to walk again, and the way her injury has not dampened her spirits, not to mention her smile. Any time TB has seen her profiled since, he has done nothing but marvel at her zeal. Her drive makes him shake his head in wonderment.

Her rehab regimen has allowed her to regain use of her shoulders, arms and hands,which came in handy during the marathon, as she was waving and waving and waving to the crowds who cheered them on.

The connection was Laing's father, who had played hockey with Carpenter when they were younger. Laing and Carpenter didn't train together, and in fact the Marathon last week was only the third time he ran and pushed her. Before that, he trained by pushing a chair with sandbags on it, simulating Denna's weight.

Carpenter ran the Marathon a year ago, in a time of 3:46. This time, pushing Denna for the 26.2 miles, their time was 4:30. Can you imagine doing that for 4:30?

Hey, can you imagine the sight of the two of them as they reached the finish? Incredible.

The day after Denna's injury, Princeton's Mike Condon played one of the biggest games of his career in the Winter Classic, beating the Boston Bruins as the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens. During the 2015-16 season, Condon was the primary starter for Montreal, as regular starter Carey Price missed basically the entire season, and Condon played very well, especially considering he was basically being thrown to the wolves.

This year, Condon has been on the Ottawa Senators, except for one game early in the season for the Penguins. Condon has started much of the season as Ottawa's usual starter, Craig Anderson, had been out caring for his wife during her battle with cancer.

Condon had a really good year for the Senators, and he has done a lot to establish himself as a legitimate NHL goalie. For now, though, he is Anderson's backup for the playoffs.

Ottawa defeated Boston in the first round in six games, all of which were played by Anderson. Maybe Condon will get in at some point.

Next up for Ottawa is the Rangers, who knocked off Montreal, also in six games. TB will be rooting for Ottawa, just as he did in the first round. He's never been a fan of the Bruins or the Rangers, and it would be great to see Condon get a Stanley Cup ring so early in his career.

Condon is very easy to root for, an underdog who is trying to make his way, and who is a Princeton alum to boot.

And then there's Denna Laing. And Bobby Carpenter.

What can TB say about them, other than just wow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dynamic Dogs And Duos

As TigerBlog has said before, in a perfect world, he will spend his retirement years out walking his dog.

He doesn't have a dog now. He will have one eventually.

His first experience with a dog was when he was a kid and his family had a toy poodle named Louis. Technically, he was Louis XVI. His parents were Napolean and Josephine, and he had a brother named Robespierre.

Had he been born a decade or so later, he could have been Jean Valjean or Marius.

Napolean and Josephine were known as Nappy and Josie to TigerBlog's Aunt Frannie, one of those remarkable people you meet in your life who stay with you long, long after they're gone. TB's Aunt Frannie survived cancer and a heart attack to live probably into her 80s, as TB remembers it.

Frannie was the wife of TB's maternal grandmother's brother Maurice. She was one of those perpetually upbeat people who always loved to have young TB in her house, which was outside of Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, TB is pretty sure.

And apparently she had a thing for French history.

Louis lived until he was 12, done in eventually by diabetes, possibly from his life-long habit of licking ice cream bowls clean pretty much every night (unlike the real Louis XVI, who was guillotined at the age of 38, done in by those pesky revolutionaries). MotherBlog, a nurse, gave the dog an insulin injection every morning for the last six months of his life, but eventually Louis didn't like getting the needle.

As dogs go, he was a good one. You could let him out in the front of the house without a leash, and he'd never even consider running away. Why would he? He had it pretty soft.

He ate a lot more people food than dog food in his life. He had a lot of ice cream. He would spend summers with MotherBlog's parents in the quaint doggie vacation hamlet of Queens. He would jump up and down and bark in his high-pitched little voice when anyone would come into the house and then show his ferocity as a guard dog by going over to the person - family member or stranger - and rolling onto his back in a gesture that said "you can take anything you want if you play with me first."

TigerBlog's next dog won't be a toy poodle. He would definitely be okay with a French bulldog. You know. Like Trevor Tierney's.

When last we left Cannon, Trevor's Frenchie, he was eagerly and excitedly learning to skateboard. TB referenced it Friday.

Then there was this follow-up:




How great is that?

First of all, John Mack, what kind of attitude is that? Pressuring the dog to skateboard? Trevor's right. Canon could use a little inspiration. He looks determined on that skateboard. In fact, John, the father of two young boys, could learn from how Trevor has inspired the dog.

For those of you who don't know who John Mack is, he's one of those old-guard alums, okay, an alum from the Class of 2000. He was also a 10-time Heptagonal track and field champion.

His best time in the 400 was around 46 seconds (as opposed to 10.18 seconds for the 100, TB is pretty sure about this one). TB once had this actual conversation with him, a few years ago:
TB: At one point, you could run 400 meters in 46 seconds. If you went to the starting line today, how far would you get in 46 seconds?
John Mack: I'd be 100 yards down the track clutching my hamstring.

Anyway, "grandpa," in Trevor's tweet, would be Trevor's father Bill Tierney, who coached Princeton to six NCAA men's lacrosse championships and then coached Denver to another one. Trevor was the first-team All-America goalie on Princeton's 2001 NCAA champion, and he played a huge role in getting Princeton its 1998 title as well.

TigerBlog sent a tweet out yesterday on the @tigerlacrosse feed asking about Princeton men's lacrosse teammates who had at least 60 points in the same season. It's happened twice, this current year and one other time before.

Who was it?

The answer was David Tickner (66) and Wick Sollers (68), back in 1976. This year, it's Michael Sowers (70) and Gavin McBride (61).

TigerBlog, by the way, has now referred to Sollers as "Sowers" twice. He apologizes for those two, and for the next time he does it.

Tickner and Sollers also have the record for most points by a Princeton duo in one year, with 134. Sowers and McBride need three to tie.

McBride, actually, happens to be leading Division I in goals scored, with 46. At his current pace and with two more games (at Cornell Saturday, against Brown in the opening game of the Ivy League tournament), he would tie Jesse Hubbard's 21-year-old program record of 53 goals in a season.

He also may have just set the record for "most goals scored in a game that clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament but did not earn league Player of the Week honors," after his seven-goal effort against Harvard Saturday.

As for Sowers, at his current pace, he would have 81 points after the next two games. The program season record is 78, set by Mike MacDonald in 2015.

And if you really want to look ahead, after 13 games of his career, Sowers is 28.3 percent of the way to Kevin Lowe's career record of 247 points.

As TB mentioned, unlike most years, the Ivy League tournament field is set. Nothing that happens this weekend can change the matchups or location, though there is still some drama, as a Princeton win over Cornell and a Yale loss to Harvard would give the Tigers a share of the championship.

The Ivy League tournament will be Princeton vs. Brown and Yale vs. Penn, at Yale, a week from Friday.

By then, who knows how good Trevor Tierney's dog will be at skateboarding. And who knows if TB's future dog will be a skateboarder.

But he will be the dog that the nice old guy is always out walking. At least in a perfect world.

In a cold and lonely world?

TigerBlog would have a cat.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

TigerBlog was the leaving the men's lacrosse game Saturday afternoon - walking towards Lot 23, past the field hockey field, soccer fields and tennis courts - when he heard a commotion from where the softball team was playing.

Had someone just hit a game-winning bomb?

TigerBlog couldn't be sure. Then he heard a familiar sound, though one he'd never heard from softball before. It was the Princeton band.

From the distance, he recognized the song immediately. Even if he hadn't, what happened next would certainly have reminded him.

Around the corner from Roberts Stadium came a bunch of soccer players in blue shirts. They were from Seton Hall, there to play the Princeton men's soccer team in a spring game.

As they walked, they sang - loudly. "Sweet CAH-ROH-LINE. duh-duh-duh. Good times never seemed so good ..."

The sight of Seton Hall's men's soccer team with its rendition of "Sweet Caroline" as the Princeton band performed at softball? That's not quite what TB was expecting to hear.

A few minutes earlier, he had been finishing up his story on the men's team's 12-9 win over Harvard, one that locked up the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament. After that, he watched the overtime of the Princeton-Cornell women's game.

It was quite a weekend for a few of Princeton's women's teams. One of them won an Ivy League championship for the first time since 2005. Another won a divisional title and took a huge step towards hosting the league championship series. The third didn't win anything, but came really close to not having a chance to win its own title; as for hosting, well, that's a bit complicated at this time.

TigerBlog will start with the softball team. As the band played on, Princeton was salting away a second-straight South Division title, first with a big comeback win over Columbia (it was the Lions who actually hit two bombs before the Tigers rallied from 5-2 down with four in the seventh to win Game 1) and then with a Penn loss in Ithaca against Cornell.

Princeton enters its final four games of the regular season with an Ivy record of 13-3, five games up on Columbia. With the division now won, the next question is whether or not Princeton will host the Ivy League championship series.

The North Division has not yet been settled, and in fact three teams are still mathematically alive. What matters most to Princeton is whether or not it can have the best league record, which determines the host team.

Dartmouth is currently 10-6, followed by Harvard at 9-6 and Yale at 8-8. Dartmouth and Harvard will play four games this coming weekend, and Yale will play Brown four times. Harvard still has one game to make up against Brown.

The North Division is complicated. Princeton's math is simpler - if the Tigers win two of four against Cornell, then they will host. They can even if they lose all four, depending on what happens with the North teams.

The softball team will play for an Ivy title, hopefully at home. The women's golf team did something this weekend that TigerBlog can't imagine has happened too often, if ever, before.

The Tigers won an Ivy League championship in Florida.

The Ivy League women's golf championships were held in Orlando. Why? TB has no idea.

What he does know is that Princeton came within one stroke of the Ivy record for a three-round championship with its 891. The Tigers completely took the drama out of this championship early on and cruised to a 31-stroke victory.

Princeton had the individual champion, as Amber Wang shot a two-over 218, beating her teammate and runner-up Alison Chang by three shots. Hana Ku was two more strokes back, tied for third.

Lastly, there was the women's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Princeton had lost to Penn 18-12 Wednesday night, leaving Cornell as the only unbeaten team in Ivy League women's lacrosse prior to the game against Princeton. A Big Red win would have meant the Ivy tournament was in Ithaca and that Princeton would not be able to get even a piece of the league championship.

On the other hand, a Princeton win would throw things into a bit of chaos, as Penn has only one loss (to Cornell) and Harvard has only two losses, with a game against Cornell still to play.

Princeton led 6-3 at halftime and 7-3 early in the second. Cornell led 11-9 as the second half reached its final minutes.

Much like its last game on Schoellkopf Field, Princeton made the end of regulation wildly dramatic. Last year it was the NCAA tournament game against UMass, when Olivia Hompe tied it with one second left.

This time, against Cornell, Hompe had all kinds of time to spare before she tied it - 2.9 seconds to be exact. Colby Chanenchuk then won it in the second OT.

As a result, Princeton, Penn and Cornell are all tied heading into the final weekend of the regular season. A win in that final game (Princeton hosts Columbia, Penn hosts Yale in addition to Cornell-Harvard) guarantees any of the three at least a share of the championship.

Those three, plus Harvard, will be the four teams in the Ivy tournament. There can actually be a four-way tie for the title if Harvard wins and Penn and Princeton both lose.

Should it finish in a three-way tie with Princeton, Cornell and Penn all at 6-1, then, TB believes, Cornell would host the tournament, based on goal-differential in the head-to-head matchups.

And that was the weekend for those three teams: One Ivy title, one division title and one "needed-to-win-it-to-still-have-a-shot-at-a-title."

Coming tomorrow - more about Trevor Tierney's French bulldog.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Canon The Frenchie

What was the best part of your week?

While TigerBlog can't say that the best part of his week has been Trevor Tierney's dog, whom he's never met, Canon - that's his name - was way up there. And Canon is a Frenchie, apparently, which is a French bulldog. 

The whole interaction was done though Twitter. Trevor, by the way, is the oldest child of Bill and Helen Tierney, and he was the All-America goalie for the Princeton men's lacrosse team's 2001 NCAA championship, the only one of the six that Bill won at Princeton with both of his sons - Trevor and Brendan - on the team.

Trevor, by the way, was one of TigerBlog Jr.'s earliest heroes. When TBJ first started to play goalie in second grade, he did so with one of Trevor's old sticks.

This has nothing to do with that, though. And this story is just tremendous.

It all started with one tweet that Trevor commented on. This one:

That was followed by this:



And then this:



And finally by this:



Forget all of the ugly discourse that's out there. This is why Twitter was invented. Well, that and to get updated scores of college athletic events.

It's a big weekend for the Princeton men's lacrosse team. The Tigers host Harvard tomorrow at 1 in the final home game of the season, hoping to get a win to seal a spot in the Ivy League tournament.

In addition to the game itself, Princeton will be honoring three teams at halftime - the 1967 team, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Ivy League championship, the 1992 team, which 25 years ago won the first of those six NCAA titles, and the 1997 team, which went 15-0 en route to its NCAA title.

By the way, if you haven't read THIS feature story on Zach Currier, it's well worth it, if TigerBlog says so himself.

The game tomorrow will be final one on Sherrerd Field for the 11 current Tigers seniors. The Ivy tournament will be at Yale, regardless of what happens this weekend or next weekend. Princeton can still get a share of the league title by winning tomorrow and next weekend at Cornell and having Yale lose to Harvard next weekend. On the other hand, there are still three scenarios (out of 64) in which Princeton would not make the tournament.

If you're looking for a subplot, Michael Sowers needs two points to tie Rob Pannell's record for points in a season by an Ivy League freshman. Sowers has 65; Pannell had 67 for Cornell in 2009. Sowers has a bunch of other possible milestones in front of him as well.

It's a typically busy spring weekend, beyond the men's lacrosse game. For starters, there will definitely be two Ivy League titles won this weekend, in men's and women's golf. The Ivy League championships begin today and run through Sunday, with the men in Greenwich, Conn., and the women in, of all places, Orlando, Fla.

If you went to goprincetontigers.com yesterday evening, you saw something you won't see too many other places - and that's that the top four stories on the page were the four rowing previews.

The baseball team is playing to try to turn around last weekend's four-game sweep by Penn. If Princeton can sweep Columbia and get some help from Cornell against Penn, then the Tigers could be right back into the Gehrig Division race.

As for the softball team, the Tigers will now play today and tomorrow, instead of tomorrow and Sunday, against Columbia. Princeton is three games up on the Lions in the South Division, and the Tigers could clinch the division championship with an entire weekend to go - or could get swept and be behind Columbia.

The women's lacrosse team will look to bounce back - quickly - from its first Ivy League loss, against Penn Tuesday night. The Tigers have no time to dwell on that, since the next challenge is a trip to Cornell.

Right now, Cornell is in first place, unbeaten in the league. Princeton, Harvard and Penn all have one loss, and Harvard still has to play Penn and Cornell. Should Cornell beat Princeton, the Ivy League tournament would be in Ithaca. If Princeton wins, then the whole thing gets pretty complicated.

There's also home men's tennis tomorrow against Harvard and Sunday against Dartmouth. And there's home track and field with the Larry Ellis Invitational.

TigerBlog told the story about how Larry Ellis, then Princeton's coach, told one of his athletes that to run a certain time, he had to "run faster." It's one of TB's favorite stories.

TB has no idea what the actual time that the runner said he wanted to run, so he made one up and went with 10.18. It sounded like a good track time. Turned out it was better than TB thought.

At least that's what it said in an email TB received yesterday pointing out to him that it couldn't have been a 10.18, because the Ivy record for the 100 is 10.29 and has stood for more than 30 years.

In fact, it was set in 1983 by Doug Harris of Penn. TB was there at the time, but he didn't know Doug. Nor did he realize that 10.18 would have demolished the record.

Good to know people are paying attention at least.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Keeps You Up At 3 AM?

TigerBlog found himself stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge shortly before midnight Tuesday night.

He had been at the University of Hartford to see Sacred Heart-Hartford men's lacrosse.

As an aside, TigerBlog is rooting for a Princeton-Sacred Heart rematch in the EIVA championship match. The semifinals are tonight at Penn State, where Sacred Heart takes on St. Francis and then Princeton takes on the host team.

Anyway, TB went to the game at Hartford Tuesday, for a few reasons. First, you know, it's a men's lacrosse game. Second, he'd never been to the University of Hartford, so he figured he'd check it out. Third, the University of Hartford is near Rein's Deli, so TB went over there before the game and went with the roast beef/turkey/salami/Russian Dressing/cole slaw sandwich instead of the whitefish salad/lox/onion/tomato he'd had there three days earlier.

That was on the ride back from Dartmouth Saturday. Yeah, TB has done a lot of driving lately.

The game Tuesday was at 7, so he knew it was going to be a late night. What he wasn't counting on was a dead stop on the bridge, where there were two lanes closed for construction. On the plus side, it was much worse on the other side, heading into the city.

As TigerBlog has said before, it's never too cold for ice cream, too hot for soup or too late for traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

Because of the traffic, it was well after 1:00 AM when his head finally hit the pillow. It was worth it though.

TigerBlog woke up at some point, but he had no idea what time it was. His choices were to look or not look, and he never really knows what to do in that situation.

As it turned it out, it was exactly 3:00 AM. What is it they say? What keeps you up at 3 AM?

The answer, TB supposes, is different, depending on the night. And on this night?

Among other things, it was videostreaming.

TigerBlog couldn't help but wonder how many people - parents, friends - might have gone to the Sacred Heart-Hartford game but instead opted out because it was being videostreamed.

Back when sports first began to be televised, there was concern about showing home games, or showing home games live, because of the fear that it would negatively impact attendance. That's the origin of the NFL's blackout rule, which said that games that weren't sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff wouldn't be televised in the home market.

For the most part, it was proven for years that televising games did not really keep people from attending in significant numbers, especially in baseball. 

Things are different now, though, TB suspects. Ticket prices, as well as concessions and parking at the rest - can be prohibitive at professional sports. Also, many professional events have become places you wouldn't want to take a family. Plus, advances in technology have made watching on high-definition television a much better viewing option.

Videostreaming has changed the dynamic too, even for schools like Princeton, where most events don't have tickets at all and the ones that do are very reasonably priced.

There have definitely been times where TigerBlog was going to go to a game - even Princeton games - and bailed because it was on the videostream.

In all the time that TB has been here, the best innovations - by far - have been the establishment of school athletic webpages and the Ivy League Digital Network. It's not even close for anything else, especially if you include the social media pieces with the webpages and sum them all up together as a media presence.

Think about it. There were no athletic webpages when TB started here. Their advent took the type and quantity of information being produced to a skyrocketed level and then sent it directly to the people who wanted it.

A fencing alum in Texas? Before the rise of the webpage, your access to team information was limited. In a flash, you have everything - rosters, schedules, results, everything.

The Ivy League Digital Network has taken that to another level. It used to be a big thing to have a game on television. Then there was some rudimentary videostreaming.

The ILDN has taken viewing to a new level, even allowing games to be shown on big TV screens even if they're not actually being televised.

Does this keep people away from attending games, for the ones who live close enough?

Attending a game depends on a lot of factors, even if cost isn't one of them for schools like Princeton. Weather is. Scheduling is. Game time is. Kids' activities can be. Work conflicts can be.

It's so easy to watch games online now, and the productions get better all the time. Still, there's something to be said for actually being there.

TigerBlog made the drive Tuesday instead of watching online.

It's great to have the option though.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Vanilla Chai Latte

TigerBlog has never had a cup of coffee in his entire life.

Not once. He's had sips of wine, just never a full glass of wine.

He's never had hot tea either. The closest he's come to drinking tea is Snapple, which isn't quite fancy tea.

Contrast that with BrotherBlog, who has had lots and lots and lots of both. BrotherBlog used to be on of those Seattle coffee freaks, though now he's more into tea, the non-Snapple variety.

And he goes wine tasting and things like that. TigerBlog supposes that's what he has to do in Seattle, where they don't have a college men's lacrosse team for him to go watch.

Ah, but after all of these years, TigerBlog may just have found something that could qualify as something that adults drink. It's the vanilla chai latte.

TigerBlog had his first one recently. He's had three more since.

They're delicious. It's probably because they're loaded with sugar, so maybe he should just have a milkshake instead, but hey, he sounds so grown up when he says "vanilla chai latte please."

It's great. It's like adult Yoo Hoo.

You can get yourself one and head over to Princeton this afternoon, since it's a busier than normal Wednesday in Tiger Athletics.

The first events for the Larry Ellis Invitational will take place on Weaver Track and Field Stadium. Larry Ellis was the longtime track and field coach at Princeton, (1970-92), as well as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1984.

TigerBlog knew Larry Ellis, and in fact Ellis said one of the funniest things TB has ever heard. To this day, TB has no idea if Ellis said it to be funny or didn't realize how funny it was when he said it.

TB was walking down the Jadwin mezzanine balcony, and Ellis was standing against the railing talking to one of his athletes, who asked the coach what he had to do to a run a certain time in an event. TB can't remember the time, so he'll make one up:
Athlete: Coach, what do I have to do to run a 10.18?
Ellis: Run faster.

That's either great comedy or great coaching.

TigerBlog wasn't sure when Ellis passed away, so he did a search for him. That's where he found out that he passed away in 1998, at the age of 70. It's also where he found out that Ellis coached Bob Beamon, who for a few decades held what was considered the unbreakable long jump record, when Beamon was at Jamaica High School.

In addition to the track and field events, there is also a baseball game today against Rider on Clarke Field. First pitch is at 3:30.

It was a tough weekend for the Tigers, who dropped all four to Penn in Philadelphia. Princeton is now 5-7 in the Gehrig Division, trailing the first place Quakers, who are 8-4.

Princeton will host Columbia for four this weekend, while Penn is at Cornell for four. Cornell is 6-6, followed by the Lions, who are tied with the Tigers at 5-7. If you want to have Princeton win the division, root for Cornell over Penn and then Princeton over Cornell next weekend.

The softball team, who won all four at Penn last weekend, is now three games ahead of Columbia, who is also at Princeton this weekend. Before that, the Tigers host Lehigh today in a doubleheader, beginning at 3.

Lehigh is the alma mater of Princeton head coach Lisa Van Ackeren, who is chasing her second Ivy straight Ivy title.

So those are the four events on campus today. The biggest game for Princeton is the women's lacrosse game at Penn tonight at 7.

Princeton is unbeaten in the Ivy League and heading into the four biggest days of the regular season. The game tonight is a matchup between two top 10 teams, Princeton at No. 7 and Penn at No. 10.

Then there is Saturday's game, at Cornell. That one is a matchup of two top 11 teams, as Cornell is ranked 11th.

Cornell may be ranked one spot behind Penn, but the Big Red has a 10-4 win over the Quakers on its resume. That leaves Cornell and Princeton as the only two unbeatens in the league.

Should Princeton win the game tonight, then the winner of the game in Ithaca Saturday would be the host of the Ivy League tournament. Should Penn win the game tonight, then Penn could still host the league tournament, or at the very least tie for the league title. In other words, both teams have a lot to play for tonight.

TigerBlog is pretty sure that only Princeton and Penn have ever hosted the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament. On the men's side, the tournament has been at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Brown and now this year Yale.

Anyway, that's the busy Wednesday for Princeton, with five events. It's not quite Saturday, which has 17, but a five-event Wednesday is still a good one. 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Friday Night At The Fireside

TigerBlog has stayed in some beautiful hotels in his life.

He's been able to open up the shades and look out over the ocean, or to a sweeping view of a major city, or any number of other incredible sights.

This past Friday night?

He opened up the shades of Room 205 to look out at a parking lot, one that still had snow drifts in it, and beyond that to Interstate 89. The parking lot, by the way, was mostly empty, though there were three buses parked neatly alongside each other on the far side.

The location was West Lebanon, N.H., which could only mean one hotel - the Fireside Inn.

TB supposes it was designed to give off a ski-lodge feel. And it does have a fireplace in the lobby, and some old-fashioned wood interiors. It might not be a great hotel, but it is not without its charm.

And its history.

If you're a Princeton athlete of the last quarter-century or even longer, odds are good you've stayed at the Fireside. It's been the go-to place for Princeton teams, and teams from other schools, when they've gone to play Dartmouth.

TigerBlog can't remember the first time he stayed in the hotel, and he isn't sure how many nights he's stayed there in his life. It's very possible, though, that TigerBlog has stayed in the venerable Fireside Inn more than he has in any other hotel in his life.

When TigerBlog first started covering Princeton sports, the Harvard-Dartmouth men's basketball swing meant a night in the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, right on the Charles River, and a night in the Fireside. Princeton teams long ago left the Hyatt Regency (those are really nice hotels), in favor of the hotel above the Mass Pike that has at times been a Sheraton, a Radisson and is now a Crown Plaza, TB believes. Or for the Newton Marriott.

At Brown it used to be the Comfort Inn by the Ground Round in Pawtucket, before the Courtyard by Marriott. There was a Holiday Inn at Yale, but TB only stayed there once or twice. He's stayed in the same hotel for every trip to Cornell, but most times he goes to Cornell he goes up and back the same day.

Dartmouth, though, is a little too far for that. And so it's the Fireside, every time.

TigerBlog was there Friday night, ahead of the men's lacrosse game at Dartmouth Saturday. Princeton won 16-6, after trailing 5-3 at halftime. A year ago, Princeton beat Dartmouth 7-3 after trailing 3-0 at halftime, which means that in the last two years, it's been Dartmouth 8-3 in the first half and Princeton 20-1 in the second half.

After the game, he told head coach Matt Madalon that the Tigers should just skip the first half of Princeton's game against Dartmouth next year.

It was a strange game in that Princeton executed pretty much how it wanted in the first half but just didn't convert shots that it normally did. The Tigers came into the game ranked No. 1 in the country in team shooting percentage at .373 and then shot 3 for 25 in the first half. After intermission, that sort of turned around, as the Tigers went 13 for 27.

The win did not clinch a spot in the Ivy League tournament for the Tigers. There are still two weeks of three Ivy games remaining, which means there are 64 possible outcomes for the ILT. Princeton would reach the field in 61 of the 64.

The only three scenarios in which Princeton cannot reach the tournament include losing both of the remaining games, against Harvard Saturday on Sherrerd Field and then at Cornell April 29.

By the way, TB would like to thank his friend CU'77 from laxpower.com for doing all that work. TB and CU'77 connected via email a few years ago, and he's become one of TB's favorite Big Red fans.

TigerBlog will probably have some more men's lacrosse stuff for you later in the week.

For now, he wants to go back to talking about the Fireside.

It's not a five-star hotel or anything. At various times, TB has been there late at night when it's been hopping, with dancing and music and other events.

It went through a bit a rough stretch, but it seems to have been fixed up nicely of late. It certainly looked that way Friday, when the hotel had a bit of a newer, cleaner feel to it.

Princeton men's lacrosse wasn't the only team staying there Friday night.

There was also Brown softball, Brown baseball and Cornell men's tennis. The Brown baseball players and Cornell tennis players - who came on a smaller bus - were already there when the Tigers arrived, and the softball team pulled into the parking lot at pretty much the same time as the Princeton bus.

One thing the Fireside is famed for is its breakfast buffet. All four teams were there Saturday morning, eating and preparing.

It was a better trip for the Princeton and Cornell men's teams than the two from Brown. Cornell would beat Dartmouth in the tennis match, but the two Brown teams would lose seven of eight in two days.

As for Cornell men's tennis, it went to Harvard Sunday and knocked off the Crimson as well. TB has no idea where the Big Red stayed in Cambridge.

TigerBlog has written before about the camaraderie of college athletics that can born on the long bus rides that the teams make. The time on those bus rides may seem insufferable, but they really are a big part of what college sports are about.

So are the nights in the hotel.

As TB said, if you've been a Princeton athlete, you know what he's talking about with the Fireside. Hey, just thinking about it probably makes you smile.

As TB also said, the place does have its charms.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mehr Eggs

When TigerBlog thinks of Easter, he thinks of pleasant 60-degree days, with bonnets and egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.

When he thinks of egg hunts gone by, he thinks of the ones he witnessed in person, the ones which usually involved serious competition, taunting, hurt feelings and maybe even a little blood every now and then. All in good fun, of course.

What little kids wouldn't do for a plastic egg with a Hershey's Kiss inside.

When TigerBlog Jr. was just learning to talk, he found himself in Easter egg hunts, often with his older and bigger cousins. He would sprint all over, gleefully picking up whatever eggs he could find, famously saying "mehr eggs" - his way of saying "more eggs" at the time - when there were none to be found.

TigerBlog once wrote this, back in 2012:
Other than the fact that it involves the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter is as close to a Jewish holiday as there is in the Christian calendar.
How so? It's not on the same day every year. It's not like Christmas, which is always Dec. 25. Or, more secularly, Thanksgiving, which is not always the same exact day but is always on the same Thursday.
Easter is like Hanukkah, which can be anywhere from late November to late December. Or the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper and always seem to come "early" or "late" but never right on time.


Of course, Easter is a holiday of great significance to Christians, and TB means no disrespect. He hopes all who celebrated had a great holiday with friends and family.

Around here, you certainly had great weather for it.

TigerBlog remembers some pretty cold Easter Sundays. Yesterday was not one of them. Yesterday was more summer than spring, with temperatures that were in the mid-80s.

Not that long ago, there used to be a season around here called "spring," but that seems to have vanished now, overwhelmed by winter on one end and summer on the other, both of which have nudged their way though most of what used to be spring's place on the calendar.

Now there can be snow on the ground on April 1 and 80-degree summer days on April 16, which is exactly what happened around here this month.

The Princeton softball team had a big weekend at Penn in the nice weather of this past weekend. The defending Ivy League champion won all four games against the Quakers and in the process took a big step towards repeating as South Division champ, though there is a long way to go.

Prior to this past weekend, the last time Princeton had swept a doubleheader at Penn was in 2006. The Tigers just did it twice in two days.

What Princeton showed it can do is win close games in its division, which is how you win championships. The Tigers won 4-2 and 3-2 Saturday and then came back to take Game 1 yesterday 4-2. Doing the math, that's 11 runs in the first three games - and then 12 more in the last game, a 12-8 Tiger win.

With the weekend's results, Princeton now finds itself at 10-2 in the league with four left against Columbia and four left against Cornell. The Tigers are now three up on Columbia, which means that even a split next weekend would leave Princeton three up on the Lions - and possibly Quakers - with four to go. Penn is now five back of the Tigers.

The softball team isn't the only Princeton women's team who had these few days in Philadelphia circled.

For the women's lacrosse team, Wednesday marks a huge trip to the Penn campus as well.

Princeton defeated Yale 17-9 Saturday behind five more goals from Olivia Hompe, the second all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's lacrosse history. Hompe now has 47 goals and 17 assists, and she is the leading scorer in the league.

The Ivy standings are fairly straightforward at this point.

There are two unbeatens - Cornell at 5-0 and Princeton at 4-0, and two one-loss teams (Penn at 3-1 and Harvard at 4-1). Columbia is in fifth at 2-3, which means that whatever other results occur, a Princeton win over Columbia in the final game of the regular season, then the top four now will be in the Ivy tournament.

Princeton would still like to host the Ivy tournament. There are all kinds of scenarios that exist to make that happen, as well as scenarios to make any of the other three the host.

Princeton has Cornell Saturday in Ithaca. Harvard still has Penn and Cornell. Obviously there are all kinds of scenarios left.

Should Princeton win the game Wednesday at Penn, then the winner of the game Saturday in Ithaca would be assured of at least a tie for the Ivy title. The winner of that game would also become the Ivy tournament host should Princeton beat Penn and Penn beat Harvard.

The Ivy League lucked out by having so many huge games in women's lacrosse happen to fall at the end of the schedule. Princeton, though, might not consider it lucky - the Tigers have to play the two other top 10 Ivy teams in a four-day stretch on the road.

It won't be easy, but hey, that's what this time of year - the time when winter and summer meet - is all about for the best teams.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ashleigh's Farewell

Back on March 3, 1965, the Princeton men's basketball team defeated Penn 81-71 at Dillon Gym.

Why mention that now? It's because that game was Bill Bradley's last game ever on this campus. Interestingly, Bradley had a season-low of only 19 points in that game.

Yes, that was his season low, 19 points. In fact, of all of the amazing accomplishments that Bradley had here, maybe the most unbelievable is that his career-low was 16 points. In other words, he never once scored fewer than 16 points in a game. Think about that.

Tonight, the women's water polo team will host Bucknell at 7 at DeNunzio Pool. It will be the last game on this campus for Princeton goalie Ashleigh Johnson.

Bradley and Johnson are the only two Princeton undergrads ever to win Olympic gold medals and then come back to compete as Tigers. The opportunity to see such internationally acclaimed athletes compete as Princeton undergrads doesn't come around often.

Johnson was a finalist for the Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete, an award that Bradley won in 1964 after he was the captain of the U.S. team at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Even though she didn't win, she is a rare treat to see play. If you've never seen Johnson play in DeNunzio, try to get there.

Johnson's home finale is the highlight of the weekend in Princeton Athletics. There are 25 events between today and Sunday, and most of them will be played on the road. For that matter, eight of those 25 will be either baseball or softball games at Penn, with doubleheaders tomorrow and Sunday.

Princeton is in the lead in division in both sports, but there is a long way to go between now and the Ivy League championships series. Princeton is the defending Ivy champ in both.

What else?

Here is TigerBlog's mid-April lacrosse prediction: Maryland will win the NCAA championship in both men's and women's lacrosse.

For the most part, TigerBlog has always been a fan of the University of Maryland's athletic teams.

It started when his cousin Roy went to dental school there in the 1970s and became a huge fan of the Terps. While people usually are more loyal to their undergraduate schools than their graduate schools, Roy never talked about rooting for the school from which he received his bachelor's degree: Brooklyn College.

When Princeton played Maryland in men's basketball at the Baltimore Arena in the 1998-99 season, TB - actually Bill Carmody - left tickets for Roy and his wife of 46 years, Gale, who is actually TB's first cousin. Their seats were right on the floor, in the first row, something that they seemed to like.

Gale is the daughter of FatherBlog's sister, and if you read what TB wrote about driving around Brooklyn the other day, Gale's mother (Edie), father (Herbie) and sister (Toby) have all passed away.

Gale, a longtime high school and middle school English teacher, and Roy live outside of Annapolis, and there aren't too many people TB knows who are happier in their lives than they are. They have their two kids (TB's second cousins Howie and Raina), their grandkids, their tennis.

One of TB's favorite moments with his cousin Roy was at BrotherBlog's wedding in Seattle, when Roy looked out across the Puget Sound from the courtyard of the place where the wedding was and said that he loved Seattle, because "they have a lot of water here." 

In addition to Roy, TigerBlog has rooted for Maryland because of all of the years that the Terps were in the ACC, playing basketball against North Carolina and especially Duke. The 2001 NCAA semifinal game that the Blue Devils won over the Terps still bothers TB.

Anyway, now you have TB's prediction of two Maryland lax titles this year. Only two schools have ever done that - Princeton in 1994 and North Carolina last year.

TigerBlog was getting ready to write his preview story for the men's lacrosse game at Dartmouth when he noticed that Princeton's men's and women's teams were both ranked really highly in Division I in scoring offense. It made him wonder if Princeton led the country in goals per game by the men's and women's teams combined.

And so he looked. The answer is no - Maryland is No. 1, and Princeton is No. 2.

Princeton's men's and women's teams average 29.55 goals per game between them. That's a lot. Maryland is at 30.29. That's a little more.

Neither Princeton's men's team or women's team (at Yale tomorrow - speaking of scoring offense, Princeton and Yale rank 1-2 in the league in goals per game) can clinch a spot in the Ivy tournament with a win this weekend, regardless of what else happens. Well, maybe the women can, because if the women win, then the worst they could finish the season is in a tie for fourth with Columbia (whom Princeton plays in two weeks) and possibly Harvard, or a three-way tie for third with those two, and then win the tiebreakers. TB isn't going to dive that deeply into that, though he can say that it would take a lot for Princeton not to reach the ILT.

He'd rather focus on the top of the standings anyway.

Right now Princeton (3-0) and Cornell (4-0) are the only teams unbeaten. Penn (2-1, a loss to Cornell) and Harvard (3-1, a loss to Princeton) have one loss each.

The schedule tells much of the story for Princeton's women. After the game at Yale tomorrow, the Tigers are at Penn Wednesday and at Cornell Saturday. By the time that Cornell games ends, there will either be a champion and host for the tournament or a three-way tie at the top. Should Princeton win at Yale and Penn, then the winner of the game at Cornell would definitely be the host - but that is getting way, way, way ahead of things.

What TB can definitively say is that this is a pretty good year for Ivy women's lacrosse. While Maryland may be the national favorite, don't be shocked to see some Ivy representation in the Final Four.

As for other home events, there is rowing at home, as TB wrote about yesterday, with the men's heavyweights and the women's lightweights on Lake Carnegie.

There is home women's tennis, against Yale today and Brown tomorrow. There is home men's volleyball, against Harvard tonight and tomorrow against Sacred Heart.

And, as TB said before, the last chance to see Ashleigh Johnson at Princeton.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Staying Knechted

TigerBlog's office is still pretty barren, even after he's been down on E level for nearly a year and a half.

There are no pictures on the walls, just white paint on the ones in front of him and orange on the one behind him. There's a bookcase - mostly it has old binders from Princeton's lacrosse seasons of long ago, along with an industrial size bottle of hand sanitizer - as well as a desk and a table with three chairs around it. Nothing is fancy.

There is one item that is completely out of place, and that's one of Miss TigerBlog's old field hockey sticks. It's been sitting here for a few weeks now, and TB has noticed one curious thing about it.

Pretty much anyone who walks in here walks over to the stick, picks it up and continues talking while now swinging the stick. Or pretending to shoot an imaginary field hockey ball. Or swinging it like a baseball bat.

Eventually, someone is going to swing and put a hole in the nice white wall without realizing it. Those sticks can do some serious damage.

For a time yesterday, field hockey was the lead story on goprincetontigers.com, with the naming of Sophia Tornetta and Ryan McCarthy as captains. The field hockey team, you might recall, reached the NCAA Final Four last fall, in Year 1 under head coach Carla Tagliente.

Also on the field hockey page is a pretty good video catching up with Julia Reinprecht, who helped Princeton to the 2012 NCAA championship and who played in two Olympic Games with the U.S. national team.

You can see that video HERE.

Speaking of Olympians, TigerBlog was standing in the outer office by the door when someone turned the corner and walked by. This happens all day, as athletes, coaches, staff and others stroll by on their way from the locker rooms to the Princeton Varsity Club weight room and then back.

This time, it was Katharine Holmes, the Princeton senior who was an Olympic fencer last summer and the NCAA epee runner-up this year to her teammate Anna van Brummen. There's something pretty cool about having undergraduates who were Olympians in the building.

A little further down the front page of the webpage yesterday, past the field hockey story, there was a headline that caught TB's eye: No. 4 Heavies Seek To Break 80-Year Drought In Historic Compton Cup Rivalry Vs. No. 6 Harvard.

Hmmm. That's a long time, 80 years. If nothing else, the headline got TigerBlog to check it out. Here's what it said:
He may be the senior captain today, but Nick Mead was a sophomore when he felt a real turning point for this program — a turning point in the direction of 1V medals at both Sprints and IRAs the last two years.
"Two years ago, when we swept Harvard for the Compton Cup on Carnegie, that was a really special moment for the team," Mead said. "In my mind, that represented a turning point when we realized we could contend with the top teams in the country. To win it again last year and go back-to-back for the first time in a half century was really important. It's always on our minds how special it is to get a win against Harvard."
If they broke a half-century of tradition last year, why not raise the stakes and go for more than 80 years this weekend? Princeton has not won three straight Compton Cups since the mid-1930s, when the Tigers won the first four meetings between the two tradition-rich programs.


You can read the whole story HERE.

Speaking of rowing, the women's lightweights finished third last weekend at the Knecht Cup on Mercer Lake. Princeton will be home Saturday on Lake Carnegie against Georgetown for the Class of 2006 Cup.

The Tigers are rowing with a young boat, with three freshmen in the first varsity 8. A year ago, Princeton didn't reach the final at the Knecht Cup, while this year the team came in third.

TigerBlog went to two collegiate sporting events last weekend, the men's lacrosse game at Stony Brook and the first day of the Knecht Cup. Why? He went to see TigerBlog Jr.'s girlfriend Lauren row with the Sacred Heart open team in the first varsity 8 heats. She was the fifth seat for the Pioneers.

TigerBlog has been to rowing events before. He was at the IRA national championships in 1998, for instance, when Princeton won the lightweight and heavyweight men's championships in a matter of a few minutes. If you go to the Shea Rowing Center, you'll see a huge picture as you go up the stairs of the celebration; TigerBlog was standing about three feet out of frame (on purpose).

The Knecht Cup was a mix of party and sporting event. Everywhere you looked near the lake, there were boats, trailers that carried boats, rowers who were carrying boats to a from the water and tents with food, lots and lots of food.

It was a sea of colors, as much as anything else. There were schools from all over the country, all in their bright school colors, spread throughout the entire area.

As for the racing, there was a little watch area at about the halfway point, near where the boats went in and out of the water, from which TB could see the boats as they started and then after the finish when they rowed back.

The actual time of the races was a small part of the event. TigerBlog was really glad he went, and not just to offer support for Sacred Heart rowing. No, there was something bigger going on there for him.

Princeton has 37 varsity teams.

Each sport has its own uniqueness, all wrapped up in the orange and black, with the common thread of how important the competition and the experience are to those who represent Princeton. It's fun to see how different they can be in the specifics of how they operate, such as the difference between a basketball game and a large rowing regatta, while at the same time how similar they can be in terms of what they mean to the athletes themselves.

To those who think college sports are just what you see when you watch football and men's basketball on TV, you're really missing out.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taken On

What to write about? What to write about?

Some days it's obvious. Other days it's a struggle. TigerBlog liked that one rambling blog he did a few months ago. He'll have to do another one of those one day. Soon, probably.

There are times when TigerBlog is going through his daily life and sees things that would for great blogs. Then, when it comes time to actually write about them, he sometimes forgets.

This happened over the weekend, when he saw, well, he can't remember what he saw.

Other times, there are things that would be great to write about, but they're hard to relate back to Princeton Athletics, which is supposedly the point of all this. He can include those in his book one day.

Every now and then, someone makes a suggestion for something that might be interesting, or even volunteers to write it for TigerBlog.

And then there's yesterday, when TigerBlog experienced a first. It was came in the form of a challenge, worded this way: "Take that on, TB."

The challenger is an all-time TB favorite named Brett Hoover, who once upon a time was the communications director at the Ivy League office. He was a little before his time, since Brett would have been a natural in the social media era. That would really have played to his strengths. TigerBlog can remember many, many conversations with Brett about where athletic communications was going, what the future looked like, what was becoming obsolete.

Brett took over the communications role from Chuck Yrigoyen, another TB favorite, who is now the commissioner of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Chuck, before going to the Ivy office, had worked here in the Office of Athletic Communications. When TB was still in the newspaper business, it was Chuck who played a pretty strong role in helping with the transformation from "Penn grad" to "Princetonian."

And, as the lunchtime basketball games continue to go along in Jadwin, there still hasn't been anyone who could knock down a mid-range jump shot the way Chuck could when he got on a roll. Or, more impressively, yell "I am the worst basketball player ever" as he let the shot go when he wasn't on a roll.

Ah, those were the days.

TigerBlog hasn't seen Chuck or Brett much in the last few years, but it's always good to hear from them. And yesterday, suddenly there was an email from Brett.

TigerBlog isn't exactly sure what Brett is doing these days, but Brett is definitely into track and field. TB isn't sure how much of the Heps Track website Brett does, but he's pretty sure he's the one who started it.

Anyway, the first sentence of his email was this: "I don't know where anyone would begin with determining the most dominant athlete in Ivy League history."

Then he hit TigerBlog with a stat that 1) is ridiculous and 2) TigerBlog believes, because this isn't something that Brett would get wrong.

His premise is that any discussion of the most dominant athlete in league history has to include Princeton women's hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe. Then he made his case to back it up.

According to Brett Hoover, how many of the top hammer throws in Ivy women's history have come from Julia Ratcliffe. TigerBlog will give you a few seconds to think about it.

Keep in mind, Ratcliffe was the NCAA hammer champion as a sophomore and runner-up as a junior. She then took off last year to train for the Olympic Games, hoping to represent her home country of New Zealand. Now she's back as a senior.

Also, keep in mind that Bill Bradley still, more than 50 years later, has the 11 top scoring games in Princeton basketball history. So that's a little perspective.

Okay, so what's the answer?

How about 112.

Yup. According to Brett, Julia Ratcliffe has the 112 best hammer throws in Ivy women's history. That, friends, is nuts.

Think about that conversation:

"Hi. Only one person ever threw the hammer further than I did in the history of the Ivy League?"
"Yeah?"
"Yeah. And my best throw ranks 113th all-time in the Ivy League."

Does that make her the most dominant athlete in Ivy history? Brett offered up a few names, like Bradley, Ed Marinaro from Cornell football (and "Hill Street Blues"), Ken Dryden from Cornell hockey and Abby D'Agostino from Dartmouth track and field.

TB supposes it depends on your perspective. You can make a case that Julia Ratcliffe deserves that title. You'd certainly have 112 reasons to do so.

You can also make a case that she's not even the most dominant female athlete in her class at Princeton, if you want to say Ashleigh Johnson is. In fact, the current senior class of women's athletes at Princeton is extraordinary.

No matter what, Julia Ratcliffe is one of the greatest athletes in Ivy history. She still has the rest of this outdoor season, and then beyond that, an international career.

Also no matter what, it was good to hear from Brett. Always is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

As the youngest in his family, TigerBlog was always the one who had to ask, or had the honor to ask, the Four Questions each Passover seder.

For those who are not familiar with the holidays of TigerBlog's people, the holiday of Passover began at sundown last night, beginning its eight-day run to remember the exodus of the Jews from enslavement in Egypt through the desert, led by Moses. The story is told well in the movie "The Ten Commandments," with Moses played by Charlton Heston.

As far as Jewish holidays go, Passover, to TigerBlog, is the third most important one of the year, behind only Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. 

Speaking of movies, TigerBlog also recently saw "Exodus," which is about the formation of the state of Israel after World War II. MotherBlog once made him and BrotherBlog watch the movie over three days as shown on channel 7 in New York City in what used to be called "The 4:30 Movie."

By coincidence, TigerBlog also saw "The Great Escape" that same week. In seeing both, which he's seen many times in his life, he couldn't help but smile thinking about how his mother loved Paul Newman from the first movie and Steve McQueen from the second.

As for the Four Questions, they are asked by the youngest in attendance to the person who is running the seder. The answers are then given as the ceremony unfolds, and in doing so the story of how the Jews came to be free after being slaves in Egypt is passed down from generation to generation.

TigerBlog's traditional Passover seder when he was a kid included his cousins Paul and Janet, as well as BrotherBlog. They're all older than he is, and so he was the one who got to ask the questions.

To this day, TB can remember one of the first times, or maybe the very first time, he had to ask.

The Four Questions began with "Why is this night different from all other nights?" It then asks the questions themselves, all beginning with those same words:
On all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs. Why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?
On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once. On this night why do we we dip our food twice.
On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining. On this night why do we only recline?

TigerBlog, an inquisitive child to begin with, wondered why "Why is this night different from all other nights" didn't count as its own question, and before he asked the Four Questions, asked why it wasn't called the Five Questions.

The answer to the first question (or second) is that the Jews left Egypt in such a hurry that they were unable to wait for their bread to rise. For that reason, the holiday is commemorated by eating only unleavened bread, or matzoh. 

And in modern times, for the duration of the holiday, Jews are not to eat anything leavened.

TigerBlog remembers one men's basketball banquet in the Jadwin lobby late in the holiday when he was sitting with Howard Levy and his wife Riva. All three of them ate rolls that were on the table, and then all three looked at each other with horrified looks on their faces when they realized what they'd just done.

Passover will still be observed through this weekend, which is also Good Friday and Easter. TigerBlog once went to Easter services in Zurich (the one in Switzerland), where the entire mass was done in Latin. It was pretty fascinating.

The Ivy League doesn't stop for religious observances, with the possible exception of Christmas. TigerBlog has been to games on Yom Kippur (he fasted), Rosh Hashanah, Easter, through Ramadan and basically any other religious days.

He's seen Princeton athletes of all religions do what was necessary to be respectful of their holidays while still competing for their teams. In some cases, he's seen athletes who did not compete because of a certain holiday. He's even seen football players in both uniforms in a temple next to Brown Stadium for Yom Kippur services before a game.

There will be baseball, softball and men's tennis on Easter Sunday, with the baseball and softball games the second day of doubleheaders at Penn. Those are four big games on both sides, as Princeton is a game up on Penn in the divisional races in both.

Princeton, of course, is the defending Ivy champion in both sports.

In baseball, with 12 games to go, two games separate top from bottom in the Gehrig Division. In softball, with the same 12 games to go, one game separates the top three in the South Division, as Columbia is tied with Penn, a game back of the Tigers.

Hopefully the weather cooperates. The forecast for the week is outstanding.

Oh, and BrotherBlog checked in yesterday that he was too busy to be nostalgic, which is why he was in a hurry when TB called him to say he was in Brooklyn.

Does he remember "the Five Questions?"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Belt Tightening

TigerBlog had a choice to make as he come across the Verrazano Bridge Saturday.

Should he take the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the Belt Parkway. His destination was Stony Brook University, out in Suffolk County on Long Island, and it was late afternoon, so probably either way was going to be awful.

If he went on the BQE, he'd have to deal with people heading into Manhattan at the Battery Tunnel, so he figured he'd go the other way. He listened to multiple traffic reports, and he heard nothing wrong on the Belt, a notorious road that, from the bridge he was on, runs through Brooklyn and Queens, past Kennedy Airport, and eventually to the Queens-Nassau County line.

Could it be because the people who do traffic reports just assume people should realize there's always traffic on the Belt Parkway?

Anyway, in the 30 minutes after he left the bridge, TB hadn't really gone too far. His mind wandered, and he thought about being other places, rather than going nowhere on the Belt Parkway. Eventually, he started to get anxious that he wasn't going to get to Stony Brook in time to do the radio for the men's lacrosse game, even though he'd given himself more than five hours to get there.

The "Waze" app was suggesting he leave the parkway and go through the local streets, and he figured he might as well follow that advice.

And so off he went, on the Knapp Street exit. Waze then told him to turn onto Quentin Road, and that's when TB got nostalgic.

Quentin Road was the road that his paternal grandmother had lived on, from the time TB was born until her death in 1995, well into her 90s.

Eventually, he was told to turn onto Flatlands Avenue. That's where his Uncle Herbie and Aunt Edie used to have a drug store, at the corner of Flatlands and Flatbush. They're both gone - Herbie in the 1970s, Edie three years ago, shortly after their daughter Toby, TB's first cousin.

As he drove around, he couldn't help but think back to all of the times he'd been in this area as a kid, going to one family event of another. His maternal grandparents, lived a little closer to Kennedy Airport, in Kew Gardens, and so TB had spent a lot of time on these roads, and especially on the Belt Parkway.

He called BrotherBlog, out in Seattle, but he was too busy to be nostalgic. Something about wine tasting or something like that. Sometimes you're taken back to the past; in the next moment, you're vaulted back to the present.

As for TB, the present meant getting to Stony Brook. When he first exited at Knapp Street, the Waze app said he'd arrive at Stony Brook at 5:19. Eventually that started to drift upward, all the way to 5:50.

Eventually he got back to the Belt. Traffic wasn't moving, but he was about seven miles or so ahead of where he would have been. Things opened up closer to the airport, and there was no traffic the rest of the way.

He arrived at Stony Brook right around 5:50, or just short of four hours to get there. Face-off was to be at 7, and TB didn't have a chance to stop and eat. When he got the LaValle Stadium parking lot, he saw the Princeton parents at their tailgate and figured he could grab something.

His choices? Steak. Salmon. Grilled tuna. Grilled crab cakes. Sausages. They were all on the grill.

Of course, as this is 2017, TigerBlog did what any athletic communications person would do - he took a picture of the grill and put it on Instagram and Twitter.

As for the game itself, Princeton was able to grind out a 13-11 win over Stony Brook, improving to 7-3 on the year before tomorrow's game at Lehigh and then three more Ivy League games to end the regular season. Princeton is 2-1 in the league and looking to get into the Ivy and then NCAA tournaments.

It was another big night for Gavin McBride, who had his fourth-straight five-goal game. No other Princeton player has ever done that.

Michael Sowers had three goals and an assist, tying him with Kevin Lowe for the record for points in a season by a Princeton freshman with 55. Lowe, one of the greatest college players ever and Princeton's all-time leading scorer still, had 55 points in 15 games; Sowers has 55 in 10.

The nicest goal of the night was the one that put the Tigers up 12-11 with 6:55 go go. See for yourself:


One other note from the game - Sam Gravitte did something that TigerBlog can never remember having seen before: He had a caused turnover with a short stick and he caused another turnover with a longstick.

After the game, there was the postgame reception. It included cheesesteaks and chicken cheesesteaks, with fries. Lacrosse. Somebody wins. Somebody loses. Everybody eats well.

TB took his to go. It was a long ride back, one that with only minimal traffic still took just under three hours.

For TigerBlog, it was another addition to the list of what has to be hundreds of thousands of miles that he's driven to watch Princeton Athletics. He wishes he had the exact number actually.

Now that he thinks about it, perhaps he's spent more time driving to watch Princeton play than he has actually watching the games themselves. For awhile, it certainly seemed like he spent more time on the Belt Parkway yesterday than he has watching Princeton games in his life.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. He got to the game in plenty of time. He had plenty to eat. Princeton got a win.

So what that there was a little traffic along the way. Maybe he would have rather have been someplace other than the Belt Parkway, but there was still a certain charm to it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Press 2 For Schedules Of Upcoming Events

Manish Mehta covers the New York Jets for the New York Daily News.

It's a very high-stress job, even if it has its glamorous moments. He is constantly on call, constantly on social media, constantly under pressure to beat the competition for any and all Jets' news.

Luckily for Manish, he can draw on his background of working in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications to help him through the tough times.

Manish, like TigerBlog a Penn grad, worked as an intern in the OAC in the 1990s. He wasn't quite cut out for the athletic communications life, as his invitation one day to a freelance photographer to "take this outside and settle it there" possibly indicated. TigerBlog can tell that story now because 1) it's been more than 20 years, and 2) Manish wouldn't actually have done it. TB thinks, anyway.

Very few people who have worked in this office through the years have brought more fun to the place than Manish did every day. He was always going down some interesting road or another, always smiling, always laughing, always making everyone else laugh, always .

Manish would have done a lot better here in the new world of athletic communications, which began a few years after he left with the advent of goprincetontigers.com and continued through the evolution from media relations organization (not his strength) to media relations outlet (very much his strength).

He's gone on to find his niche in life, in a world where a certain amount of daily confrontation is a good thing. It takes some courage to do what he does - be critical of NFL players in the paper or on social media and then walk into the locker room the next day. Would you want to do that? Most of the people you see on TV or hear on sports talk radio don't have the guts to do that.

Beyond that edge, Manish remains the same happy, good-natured person he's always been. It's always good to see him.

Manish recently sent a text to TB and David Rosenfeld, another OAC alum, that started this conversation:
Manish: What was the name of that phone recording system we used to have for game results
TB: The Tiger Sportsline
Manish: Yessssss!!!!!!!! I was just saying how great we were on that. I had so many parents tell me they loved that.
TB: Press 1 for scores only.
David: Sponsored by Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile, the heart of communication
Manish: Hahahahahahahah

By the way, David just wrote a great piece on his experience with the early Trenton Thunder minor league baseball teams as its official scorer for a local Baltimore sports blog. You can read it HERE.

Ah, the glorious Tiger Sportsline. Maybe you remember it? Way back when, it was the fastest way to get scores of Princeton events, and even a highlight or two.

If you dialed 609.258.3545, you'd hear the option to choose one of four mailboxes: 1 for scores only, 2 for upcoming events, 3 for highlights from men's sports, 4) highlights from women's sports. If you pressed "2," you had a really, really good chance of hearing the schedule of games from several weeks prior, as TB was in charge of updating it and rarely remembered.

In its prime, the Tiger Sportsline was a source of information, frustration, humor, consternation and every else you could think of. Why? Well, let's see. If there a bunch of events on a given day, you either had to constantly leave a new message at the end of the previous one for scores or highlights or you had to erase that message and record a new one that had all of the previous information included.

Plus, it was a very unforgiving system. If you wanted to leave a one-minute recap of some great game and you got 55 seconds of the way in but then stumbled on a word or made a mistake, you had to erase it and start over. On some nights, it could take TB longer to update the Sportsline than it does now to write a blog each day.

Anyway, in honor of mailbox two of the old Tiger Sportsline, TigerBlog will show you the absolute best way to get schedules of upcoming events:

Click HERE.

There. That's how.

It's another typically busy spring weekend for Princeton teams, with 28 events featuring, if TB has counted right, 15 teams. That's a lot of events and would have made for a really long Tiger Sportsline.

For the home schedule, there's Princeton women's lacrosse tomorrow at home against Harvard. Almost all of the attention in Ivy women's lacrosse has been given to the three top 10 teams - Princeton, Cornell and Penn - and the Tigers have to play the other two, both on the road, in a four-day stretch.

Before that, though, there is Harvard, and there is no looking past the Crimson, who are 3-0 in the league.

Also at home will be men's lightweight rowing (expected) and men's heavyweight rowing (not expected). The heavyweights had their Childs Cup races with Penn and Columbia moved from Philadelphia to Lake Carnegie.

There is also the Princeton Invitational in men's golf, home women's tennis against Cornell today and home men's tennis tomorrow against Columbia. And of course the Sam Howell Invitational track and field meet.

So that's this weekend.

Oh, and if you wanted to see something funny, you should have seen someone in the office at 11 at night mess up at the end and start over, inserting the step of throwing things all over the place and dropping some words that couldn't be used on the Sportsline in the middle.

The Tiger Sportsline is one of the many things that used to be staples of this office that long ago disappeared. Each time one of those elements of the office was abandoned - media guides, post-game faxes, fax-on-demand, mailing out release, printing photographs, on and on TB could go - it was only after a lot of thought and consideration and worry if this had been in fact the right direction to go at the time.

Their memory now is worth a smile - and a reminder of how this profession changed 180 degrees, and with it brought along so many better ways to be creative, to engage the fan base, to get the word out, to make this job much more challenging and exciting.

Change, of course, can often be a really, really good thing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cars And Boats

TigerBlog has a "new" car.

Why the quote marks? It depends on what you want to consider new. It's "new" in that TigerBlog has never owned it before. It's not new in that it has 90,000 miles on it.

It's a 2008 Ford Focus. TigerBlog remembered it as being blue when he first saw it, but it actually was white. He's not sure how he messed that up.

The Focus joins TB's two other cars, a 2008 Honda CR-V and a 2013 Nissan Rogue, which between the have just short of 400,000 miles. The third car was made necessary when Miss TigerBlog recently got her driver's license, which meant that, among other things, TB would now be able to greatly reduce the amount of time he has to listen to MTB's music.

TB likes all three cars, though they don't have all that many frills. That's okay, TB supposes.

They have more frills, though, than his first car, a 1977 Dodge Diplomat. The "new" car is nearly 10 years old, but it's still 31 years older than his first car. He should have hung on to that car; it might be a classic now.

The 1977 Dodge Diplomat was red. Of this he is sure.

The "new" car has a button on the console for satellite radio, though TB doesn't actually have satellite radio. Maybe he'll get it. The 1977 Diplomat didn't have satellite radio, but it had something cooler - an eight-track player.

The "new" car does have a cassette player. TigerBlog used to have a lot of cassettes, but now he's down to one, which is a four-disc collection from a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. It's sort of like having satellite radio anyway, since TB would probably listen almost exclusively to the E Street channel, especially when there was a concert on, or "Thunder Road."

Oh, and here's one detail that TB should have mentioned - he bought the car from TigerBlog Jr.'s girlfriend's mother. They are the only owners the car has had, and they've obviously taken care of it. TB is confident in that.

Anyway, when he went to listen to the Springsteen CD, he noticed that there was already one in the little slot. When he popped it out, he saw that it said "JT" on it in big letters. "James Taylor," TB thought.

Wrong. As he looked closer, he found out that this "JT" actually was Justin Timberlake. While he will admit that "Can't Stop The Feeling" is less objectionable than most of the songs that Miss TigerBlog likes, TB is not exactly a fan of that "JT." And the fact that he thought "James Taylor" and not "Justin Timberlake" made him feel old.

TBJ's girlfriend is a very nice young woman named Lauren. She is a rower at Sacred Heart University, with a career ambition to be a strength and conditioning coach. And her car was very clean.

As for the Princeton rowers, it's been a good start for the teams in the boathouse. The women's open boat already has defeated perennial top five team Brown, and the men's lightweights defeated defending national champion Columbia.

On top of that, men's heavyweight rower Alex Michael was featured for this week's "Achieve, Serve, Lead" series for his work with the Special Olympics.

You can read about it HERE.

And for way more, HERE. They're both worth your time.

It'll be a busy weekend for the rowers, with four teams in four different locations over two days. The only ones to row on the Princeton campus will be the men's lightweights, who are home Saturday against Delaware and Dartmouth.

Also Saturday, the men's heavyweights will be in Philadelphia, rowing against Penn and Columbia for the Childs Cup. And the women's open will be in Cambridge, where it will row against Cornell and Harvard for the Class of 1975 Cup.

The women's lightweights will be Mercer County Lake Sunday, where they will row in the Knect Cup event.

April is a very busy month for the rowers, with events each weekend. There's then a week off before the Eastern Sprints (the two men's teams and women's lightweights) and Ivy League championships (women's open), and then another two until the national championships.

Speaking of rowing, one of the best Princeton Athletics pictures that TB has ever seen is one of the boathouse. It's from the late 1990s or so, and it was taken from across the lake.

In the picture, you can see the reflection of the boathouse on the lake, making it look like there are two boathouses. If TB is correct, you can also see the reflection of the clouds off the water as well, making it look like there are clouds in the air and on the ground.

It was a color picture, reproduced in black and white on the cover of that year's rowing guide, back when guides were done. It was a really nice effect in black and white, but the color one was so much better, since it showed off all of the different blues and whites of the sky and clouds. It was almost like a painting, one that can make you actually feel the peacefulness and serenity of the scene.

TB wonders where that picture is right now. If he can find it, he'll put it here. Hopefully it's exactly how he remembers it.

Peaceful and serene.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Final Thoughts

Now that the NCAA basketball tournaments are over, TigerBlog would like to make two predictions:

1) it'll be North Carolina over Gonzaga on the men's side and
2) UConn women will lose

There. Making predictions after the fact is much easier.

TigerBlog can definitely see the future about certain things. The NCAA tournament was not one of them. On the other hand, he knew that, and so he knew his picks would be bad.

He actually was right about his main contention about the tournament - it's the only major sporting even that gets worse at it goes along. Nothing that happened this year makes him change his mind on that thought.

A year ago, Princeton football coach Bob Surace correctly predicted Villanova over North Carolina in the championship game. This time, it was ticket manager Stephanie Sutton.

And relax everyone. There was no money at stake in any of this. It was all just for fun.

Stephanie's championship game prediction was North Carolina over Gonzaga. And unlike TigerBlog just now, she actually made it before the game started.

The UConn loss on the women's side was somewhat shocking in that any time UConn loses, it's shocking. There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to UConn women: 1) it's not their fault they're so much better than everyone else and 2) UConn's dominance is bad for the sport.

The answer is that both are correct. It shouldn't be a monumental upset when the best team loses, and it's so dull when that team wins every game by 30 or more. Of course, that team has nothing to apologize for, but it just makes the women's basketball tournament that much less exciting.

If anything came out of the men's Final Four, it's that there are just too many replay reviews, being used for things that it wasn't designed to do, with the unintended consequence of having the game drag to a halt. TigerBlog's replay rules would include: 1) judgement calls could be reversed and 2) the refs make the call on the court and there can be one look at the replay; if that one look doesn't show something obvious, then the call stands and the game moves on.

As for the after-the-fact flagrant fouls called against Mississippi State's women and Gonzaga's men, those calls are ridiculous. And they had major impacts on the game and in the men's case who won the national championship. If the foul is flagrant, then by definition one of the three officials should have seen it.

Princeton was well-represented at the men's Final Four.

First, during the semifinals, it was Steven Cook, the first-team All-Ivy selection and 1,000-point scorer for the Tigers' unbeaten Ivy champs. Cook was one of the eight Allstate NABC Good Works Team. From the story on goprincetontigers.com:
Cook arrived in the Phoenix area Friday to take part in a weekend of events around the Final Four with the Good Works Team, on which he earned a place through volunteer efforts and his academic and athletic accomplishments. Cook fundraised for a Sudanese hospital and interned at an anti-poverty organization in Chicago, was the Princeton men's basketball program's first CoSIDA Academic All-America since 1998, and earned first-team 2017 All-Ivy League and Ivy League All-Tournament Team honors while leading Princeton in scoring on the way to the outright Ivy League title, the inaugural Ivy League Tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament.
Cook appeared on the court with his fellow Good Works Team members during a media timeout during the first half of the Oregon-North Carolina game Saturday night.


During the championship game, it was Ellen Dobrijevic's turn. The senior from the field hockey team was on the court as part of the Elite 90 team. From her story on the webpage:

The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships. Dobrijevic became the first Princeton athlete to ever win the NCAA Elite 90 Award. The Chemical and Biological Engineering major, currently carries a GPA of 3.896. The senior had a breakout season, playing in 17 games, scoring a career-high three goals for the Tigers that reached the NCAA Final Four for the seventh time in program history.

As for today, there is one Princeton athletic event - the baseball game at Monmouth. It should be sunny and close to 70 in West Long Branch, which is really close to a beach that has become one of the nicest at the Jersey Shore. If you can get away, go.

Anyway, that's that for the basketball tournaments. The hockey Final Four is this weekend.

TigerBlog will be back next week with his predictions on the outcome.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

McBride And Currier Reach 100

Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook both went over the 1,000-point mark this season for the Princeton men's basketball team.

Weisz was the 31st player in program history to reach 1,000 points. Cook was the 32nd.

Gavin McBride and Zach Currier both went over the 100-point mark this season for the men's lacrosse team. Actually they did it each of the last two weeks, McBride against Yale and Currier against Brown.

The interesting thing is that McBride was the 31st player in program history to reach 100 points. Currier was the 32nd.

So Princeton has the exact same number of men's basketball players who have reached 1,000 points as men's lacrosse players who have reached 100 points. What does that say?

Well, before TigerBlog gets into that, let him go back to the very beginning.

Do you know who invented basketball? Of course you do. James Naismith.

Here are a few questions for you: What was Naismith's nationality? What sport did he grow up playing? What sport did he use to incorporate rules for his new game, the one with the peach baskets?

The answers: Canadian. Lacrosse. Lacrosse.

Basketball traces many of its roots back to lacrosse, because of the connection Naismith had to the game. When he began to play his new sport, he drew on many of the principles of the old one.

Anyway, what does that tell us about 1,000 points versus 100 points? Nothing.

Clearly, one point in lacrosse does not equal 10 points in basketball. The leading scorers in basketball average way less than 10 times what the leading scorers in lacrosse average, and basketball plays way more games.

Cook led the men's basketball team with 13.6 points per game. Michael Sowers, the leading scorer on the men's lacrosse team, averages 5.7 points per game; nobody, not even Bill Bradley, has ever approached or will approach averaging 57 points per game.

The connection is that it's a round number that has had the same number of players who have reached it. The implication is that only the very best players in the history of the program will reach that number.

McBride and Currier are both interesting in their own ways in terms of their career scoring numbers. And they also have some correlations to the two basketball players.

After not having a point as a freshman, McBride now has had at least one in every game since, a total of 112 in all. He has become one of the most consistent scorers the program has seen in awhile, and he is among the most reliable goal scorers in all of Division I.

In fact, McBride ranks fifth in the country in goals per game and 11th in the country in points per game. He leads the country in man-up goals.

McBride has scored five goals in each of the last three games for the Tigers. If another Princeton player has ever done that, TigerBlog hasn't been able to find it. That's as in ever.

If there's a bit of a career trajectory that's similar to McBride, it's Cook, who had 99 points as a freshman and then 1,059 in the next three years.

There's a similarity between Currier and Weisz. When you think of them, you think of their all-around ability, the way they can do everything well in the game. You don't necessarily think of them as pure scorers, and yet they both put up huge offensive numbers.

Like Weisz, Currier is well-known for his ability to completely dominate a game without having to score to do so. Also like Weisz, Currier has gone over a rare career milestone for scoring.

Currier is ranked ninth in Division I in assists and fourth in Division I in ground balls. This is roughly the equivalent of being ranked ninth in Division I in interceptions and fourth in Division I in field goals made, or ninth in Division I in home runs and fourth in Division I in saves.

In other words, they don't really go together. TigerBlog wishes he could look this up somehow, but he can't imagine too many players have ever been in the top 10 in both assists and ground balls in Division I lacrosse.

Players who are among the national leaders in assists are usually X attackmen, like Sowers. Players who lead the country in ground balls are usually primarily face-off specialists. Currier takes a lot of face-offs, but he is far from a typical FOGO, as they are known (face-off, get-off).

Currier and McBride have helped Princeton to a 6-3 start to the season, including a 2-1 record in the Ivy League. The Tigers are in the midst of a turnaround season after last year's 5-8 finish that included missing out on the Ivy League tournament, something the Tigers are starting to be well-positioned to make this time around.

One of the most astonishing parts of this season has been the reversal of the games from last year against Johns Hopkins, Penn and Brown. Here were the scores:

2016
Hopkins 17, Princeton 7
Penn 20, Princeton 10
Brown 19, Princeton 8

2017
Princeton 18, Hopkins 7
Princeton 17, Penn 8
Princeton 21, Brown 11

That's minus-31 to plus-30 in one year against three teams.

Anyway, whether it's 1,000 points in men's basketball or 100 points in men's lacrosse, it's a rare accomplishment. Think of all the players who have played both sports here; only 32 from each have gotten there.

Oh, and while TB is talking about point totals, Sowers is more than halfway to 100 himself, with 51 for his career.

In just nine games, by the way.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Spring Sunday

TigerBlog was standing down the left field line at Clarke Field yesterday afternoon when he saw a rather interesting sight to his right.

There, on the stairs that lead up to the grass, was a young man who was trying to, of all things, stretch out a hammock between the two railings. TigerBlog objected to this not because it was unsafe or because he'd be blocking the only way to get from where he was up to the main spectator area.

Nope. It was because had he been successful, he would have been facing away from the field.

On the other hand, maybe that was the point. It was, after all, what really could be considered the first nice spring day of the year. Perhaps a nice nap in a hammock was the right way to be thinking.

It was a day to be outside, that's for sure. Unlike most of the previous four weeks or so, yesterday was pure springtime, with bright sunshine and a high of 62 in Princeton. 

For TigerBlog, the spring day meant women's lacrosse (against Delaware) and baseball (doubleheader against Brown).

For women's lacrosse, TigerBlog would be in the press box doing stats. Still, it wasn't hard to see that there were more people in the large crowd at Sherrerd Field who were wearing shorts and t-shirts than were wearing sweatshirts or coats - even if there was the still the last remnants of snow on the ground around the outside of the field.

Princeton and Delaware had split 12-10 games the last two years, each with a win on the other's home field. The game yesterday started out like it would be another tight one, but Princeton shifted it into another gear after halftime. End result: Princeton 16, Delaware 4.

Of course, it had been Delaware 3, Princeton 2 with 16 minutes left in the first half. Then it became the Olivia Hompe/Ellie DeGarmo show.

DeGarmo, a first-team All-America last year, made 10 saves and allowed four goals, including eight saves and two goals-against after the 3-2 Delaware lead.

Princeton, meanwhile, went on a massive run to take total control, led by Hompe, who would have a four-goal, four-assist, eight-point game. In the process, she moved into second place all-time at Princeton in career points with 225. The record of 270, held by 1999 grad Crista Samaras, is probably not going to be challenged, but getting to second is pretty impressive.

Hompe had a few amazing goals, the result of some tough catches in traffic and pretty finishes. From Day 1 she's just had a knack for finding the goal, something that is just innate for the best offensive players in any sport. 

Anyway, with that win tucked away, Princeton could look forward to a visit from Harvard this coming weekend. And TigerBlog could head off to the baseball field.

When TB last saw the baseball team play, it was in Louisiana, at the NCAA regional a year ago. This time it was the Ivy League openers against Brown, the start of what the Tigers hope will be a return to the postseason.

By the time TB got there yesterday, the Tigers had taken Game 1 3-2 in extra innings on a Connor Nolan single and then were up 3-1 in the second game, which became an 11-5 win.

Chad Powers was on the mound for Princeton, as he was in Game 1 of that NCAA regional, against host Louisiana-Lafayette. That night, pitching in front of a huge crowd that TB would best describe as the friendliest hostile fans he's ever seen, Powers had a great outing.

This time, Powers toughed it out into the seventh inning of the second game to pick up the win. He got some serious help from Nick Hernandez, who hit two home runs and drove in five and Asher Lee-Tyson, who drilled one off the scoreboard, just to the left of where TB was standing. This one went from the pitcher's hand to the scoreboard in a blink. See for yourself:




Princeton led 7-5 into the eighth, when some interesting things happened. First, there was a shot off the bat of Willy Homza with one out that looked all the world like it was gone, only to have Hernandez, the right fielder, go up and bring it back into the field, preventing the home run and holding Homza to a triple.

Hozma would stay at third, as after a ground out and walk, Ryan Smith came on in relief and got a huge strikeout to end the inning. Smith would win Game 1 and get a save in Game 2.

As for TB, he wandered up the steps at some point back towards the press box, where he saw the last two Princeton men's soccer coaches, Jim Barlow (the current head coach) and Bob Bradley, who left Princeton and has since seen the world, with stops as the U.S. men's national team coach (he won a group championship) and then Egypt, France, Norway and most recently as the first American ever to lead an English Premiere League team with a stop at Swansea.

Bradley, also the brother of Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, greeted TB with a hug. It was good to see him and Barlow together, as TB has a bunch of other times, as they talked about all things soccer and everything else.

TB has said this before, but Bob Bradley is the most cerebral coach he's ever met, and TB means that as the highest compliment. He's certainly a man who is not afraid to take on a challenge, and he still has others in front of him. It was good to see him back home, as it were, after all his travels.

As for the end of the game, TigerBlog started to walk away after Zack Belski singled in a run to make it 8-5. He was standing behind the left field fence, walking towards the parking lot, when Hernandez his his second. TB didn't have to look; the crowd reaction let him know the game was now out of reach.

Princeton will be back at it today, with two against Yale.

As for TB, he was pretty happy with his little perch down the left field line.

As he stood there, the baseball in front of him, the relief pitchers behind him, a failed attempt at setting up a hammock next to him, he could feel the sunshine on his neck.

On a day clear, warm day after so many weeks of neither of those things, it felt really good.