Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rambling Man

Some days, TigerBlog can't think of anything to say.

Others, he has so much to say he doesn't know where to start. And once he does start, who knows where the conversation will go.

Today is one of those days where he's just going to ramble. So where to start? With Bob Bradley.

Actually, let's start with Grant Wahl. Do you know who Grant is? He is probably the foremost American international soccer writer of all time. And he is a Princeton alum.

In fact, he's a former student worker in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, along with such notables as current Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan and someone who could possibly replace her one day, sprinter-turned athletic administrator-turned lawyer John Mack.

TigerBlog never thought of that before. If Mollie stays 10-15 more years, then maybe John Mack would be the right guy for the job at that point. Mark that one down.

So meanwhile, back at Grant, he covers soccer all over the world for Sports Illustrated. Way back before then, though, he worked here in the OAC, and he wrote what was an eye-openingly great story about a Princeton football running back named Bill Jordan, which ran in the Daily Princetonian and in the football game program.

Grant was buddies with Nate Ewell, another member of the OAC student-worker Hall of Fame. Nate is one of TigerBlog's favorite people, and this is one of TB's favorite stories about Nate:

Back in 1996, the men's basketball team defeated Penn in the Ivy League men's basketball playoff game at Lehigh on a Saturday. Pete Carril then announced he was retiring after the NCAA tournament. The selections that Sunday paired Princeton with UCLA, the defending national champ.

None of this should be all that unfamiliar to you if you're a Princeton fan.

Anyway, that Monday was one of the busiest days TigerBlog has had in all his time here. Everyone wanted to talk to Carril. Oh wait, that reminds TB of another story, and hey, since it's rambling day, let him tell you that one.

Speaking of great writers, do you know who Jerry Izenberg is? Jerry was the longtime columnist for the Star-Ledger, and he is the best sportswriter TB has ever read. TB hasn't seen Jerry in years, but back when TB used to see him at various events, Izenberg had this great ability to be the hard-hitting cynical rough old-fashioned sportswriter while also being a wonderful guy to be around. He always had a kind word and greeting for TB, who was somewhat awed by him, to be honest.

After the win over UCLA in Indianapolis, TigerBlog was again swamped by requests for Carril. Like, hundreds of them. Literally hundreds of phone messages. He would check his voicemail (on his work phone, nobody had cell phones yet), and by the time he cleared his messages, his voicemail would be full again.

Pete was actually really good about getting back to as many people as possible, but then it was time for practice. As Carril took the court, TigerBlog said that he had one more request for him. This is the actual conversation:
TB: There's one more writer who wants to talk to you.
Carril: I don't care who it. I'm not talking to him.
TB: It's Jerry Izenberg.
Carril: Well, I gotta talk to that guy.

Izenberg is 86. He's a few months older than John McPhee. It appears that was a good time for American writers to be born.

The last time TB and Mr. McPhee rode their bikes outside, it was a little over 40 degrees and there was a wind in their faces as they rode up the small hill in the park. Mr. McPhee always was able to get up the hill much easier than TigerBlog, who assumed that Mr. McPhee must have had a better bike than he did.

Where was TB? John McPhee. Jerry Izenberg. Pete Carril. 1996. Oh yeah. Nate.

Back on that Monday, as TB tried to finish his NCAA tournament guide and take care of the media, in the back of his mind he knew he had to do three things for men's lacrosse, whose season has just started.

Speaking of lacrosse, there's a doubleheader Saturday on Sherrerd Field, with the women against Temple at noon and the men against NJIT at 3. Opening day for both.

Back in 1996, TB knew he had to stop what he was doing with basketball for the lacrosse stuff, but he just didn't have the time. Nate then walked up to him and casually said "don't worry. I did Ivy Player of the Week nominations, wrote the release for Player of the Week and updated the notes for the Virginia game."

Ah Nate. One of the best ever.

Okay, so 1996. Nate. Grant.

TigerBlog saw on Twitter that Grant had mentioned something about Bob Bradley and being an American coach. As it turns out, Bradley had written a piece for The Players' Tribune about his experiences coaching all over the world and how he never really put so much stock in the idea that he was taking a lot of Americanized ideas with him until after he left Swansea.

You can read it HERE. It's very good.

Bradley has had quite a life. He's coached in the World Cup as the head coach for the U.S. men's national team, and won the group stage, by the way. He has coached in Egypt, Norway and France. He became the first American ever to be a head coach for an English Premier League  team, something that will always be on his resume.

Bradley's resume also includes a time as the head coach here at Princeton. Bradley, a 1980 grad, is the deepest thinker for a coach that TigerBlog has ever met, and he says that with great respect.

Bradley is also the brother of Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley. Has Princeton had any other sibling teams who have been head coaches here? TB can't think of one off the top of his head, though he's probably overlooking someone obvious.

The baseball season starts soon, and Princeton baseball and softball are the both the defending Ivy champs. TigerBlog went with the baseball team to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the NCAA regional. That was a great trip.

At about 5 yesterday afternoon, TigerBlog was in his office when there was a commotion in the outer office.

From TB's desk, he can't see around the corner into the main area. When people come in, they're usually here to see the IT guy, Bryan Fitzwater, whose office is next to TB's. When they come in, TB can usually see their shadows or hear them but not see their faces.

Yesterday TB assumed it was someone looking for Fitz. Instead, it was a Princeton baseball player, in full uniform, looking for the Zanfrini Room, which is two floors up. Seeing a baseball player in full uniform, holding a bat, was not near the top of the list of things TB would have guessed as to who was standing there.

Grant, by the way, wasn't the only one to call TB's attention to the piece that Bob Bradley wrote. Current head coach Jim Barlow, who played for Bradley and was his replacement here, emailed TB the link.

Barlow is still going strong in the Dillon ping pong tournament. So is his assistant coach, Steve Totten. Mollie is the Jadwin winner, awaiting the Dillon winner in the championship match.

And there you have it.

What did the Allman Brothers say? Oh yeah.

"Trying to make a living and doing the best I can."

That was it.

And that's it for today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rambling indeed, but quite a fun read. Classic Tigerblog!