Thursday, August 8, 2019

Question No. 4.2.0

When TigerBlog first started in the newspaper business, Rule No. 1 was simple

No cheering in the press box.

That sort of still stands these days, though the line is a bit blurrier than it used to be. SAT flashback: the sound of cheering in the press box is to TigerBlog as fingernails on a chalkboard are to most people.

Because of that, TigerBlog learned long, long, long ago - like more than 35 years ago - never to show emotion at games he was covering. It didn't matter if it was a national championship in lacrosse or an NCAA basketball win or anything else.

If you've ever noticed TigerBlog at a game, you've noticed that he's somewhat emotionless, no matter what is happening. This even extended to all the games his kids have played, during which he simply stood at watched from the sideline.

He has, of course, had certain reactions to certain events, such as shots that hit the pipe or miraculous catches and such. But those are of the "oooooh" variety, as opposed to the "yessss!!!!!" variety. TB is not an exclamation point kind of guy.

Also, because he's been to so many games in so many situations and seen so many victories, he doesn't really get all that nervous at any one event.

He remembers vividly, for instance, the end of the 2001 NCAA men's lacrosse championship game. Princeton was up a goal as Syracuse gave the ball to Mikey Powell out of a timeout, and Powell scored all by himself with 16 seconds left to force overtime. It looked all the world that Syracuse had the momentum during the four-minute break.

TB was confident that Princeton would win, though. It was all just part of the drama. And Princeton did win.

So the fourth question of the week is this: What are the most nervous moments you've had, in-game or otherwise?

This is not one where he has a lot to choose from, as he said.

He does have an answer though. He remember how extraordinarily nervous he was for one particular game, back in 2009.

It was a men's basketball game at Jadwin against Cornell. Princeton won 61-41, as four Tigers were in double figures. Want to guess who?

That, by the way, was the middle season of Cornell's run of three straight Ivy titles. The Big Red won that year with an 11-3 record.

And the four Tigers in double figures in that game were: Pawel Buczak (15), Dan Mavraides (12), Kareem Maddox (11) and Marcus Schroeder (10).

It was a nice win for Princeton, who would finish second in the league that year. It was hardly a major moment though.

So why was TB so nervous? It was because of something that happened before the game was ever played.

TigerBlog Jr. was 11 years old in 2009. He was already very into sports, and he was also a saxophone and bassoon player.

He and his friend Matthew - who also is a recent college graduate and who was a four-year lacrosse starter and a captain this past year at Chestnut Hill College - were ball boys for Princeton basketball for a few years. They're still best buds to this day, by the way.

Anyway, TBJ wanted to combine his two interests and play the national anthem on his saxophone before a Princeton basketball game. As it turned out, the game against Cornell was the only one on the schedule that didn't already have an anthem performer, so he got the job.

Now TBJ was hardly a concert-ready musician. But he was determined. He practiced and practiced the anthem until he felt he was ready to go - even if his rate of playing it perfectly was about 50-50.

And now he was going to stand out there, at center court, by himself, and play it before the game.

So yeah. TigerBlog was extraordinarily nervous.

TBJ was usually better at the first half of the song, so he got off to a pretty good start. There were tougher notes to get to in the second half, but he got through those fine too.

Then there was the part TB forgot to warn his son about. During the anthem, Cornell fans always yell "RED" when it gets to "the rocket's red glare." When they did so, it startled TB - but not TBJ, who remained focused all the way through the end, never missing a note.

Jeff Taylor, today a very successful documentary filmmaker, did video for Princeton back then, and he made a recording of TBJ's version of the anthem. TigerBlog has watched in many times through the years.

At one point, he zooms in on TigerBlog, who was courtside with John Sadak ready to go on the radio. You can't tell by looking at him, because he looks emotionless, but TB was really, really nervous.

The most nervous he's ever been at a Princeton game, for that matter.

No comments: