Friday, July 22, 2016

Employment History

TigerBlog once wrote about trying to figure out exactly when he had spent more time on the Princeton campus than the Penn campus.

This is what he came up with:

Of course, that stretch includes basically every hour of every day. Maybe subtract out a month or two for time not actually on the campus, so that leaves 33 months. With 30.4 days per month, that comes to 1,003 days or 24,076.8 hours.
If TB was at Princeton for eight hours a day, five days a week, or 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, plus an additional, say, six hours on a game day 40 times a year, well, then that adds up to 2,240 hours a year. Divide that into 24,076.8 and that comes to 10 years and nine months, so it's been awhile.
As an aside, that could be the dullest two paragraph stretch in TigerBlog history.

For some reason, that made TB laugh when he stumbled on it yesterday afternoon.

That was back on Dec. 14, 2011.

TigerBlog tries not to repeat himself. Perhaps he should add a statute of limitations. Seriously, who would remember something he wrote five years ago?

 The whole thing about when he reached the point of being on Princeton's campus more than Penn's started when TB was thinking about summer jobs he'd had in college.

Actually, before his freshman year, he had a brief run as a delivery person for an envelope company based in Rahway, N.J., basically across the street from the prison there. TigerBlog would drive to the company office, get the samples he had to deliver in New York City, get a list of other companies where had to pick up other things to bring back to the company and then get on the train.

And then the subway. It was up to him to figure out where to go first and to plan his day. He just had to be back to the company in Rahway by a certain time. That was a fun job for an 18-year-old.

A year later, he worked for a company that did, well, he's not quite sure what it did. Something about business ventures in Central America and South America. TB's job was to do basic office tasks, and it was there that he first used a word processor. He remembers being amazed that he could actually type in the address labels to send a book to 100 different people in South America and then have them print out all perfectly neat and all.

The company was located in Manhattan, at the corner of 68th and Park Avenue. This was not cheap real estate. There was a hot dog cart on the corner of this plush neighborhood, and TigerBlog would get a hot dog with sauerkraut and a Yoo-Hoo every afternoon. Today? He wouldn't eat a hot dog off a cart in Manhattan if you gave him $1,000.

His next summer was spent as a vendor at Veterans' Stadium in Philadelphia. The Phillies went all the way to the World Series that summer, losing to the Baltimore Orioles. TigerBlog was there for the postseason. And for about 60 regular season games.

The 1983 Orioles, by the way, had the American League MVP (Cal Ripken) and the runner-up (Eddie Murray). That can't be something that has happened a lot. Don't tell any of the other vendors from that summer, but TigerBlog was actually rooting for the Orioles in the World Series.

TigerBlog loved Veterans' Stadium, which puts him in the minority. It was a cookie-cutter stadium of the 1970s, but it was a great place to see a game. And to drag two trays of beer or soda or a steaming hot vat of hot dogs up to the 600 and 700 levels on days and nights like the ones that are currently around here.

The vendor job was certainly unique. First of all, you'd work however many days in a row the Phillies were home and then not at all when they were on the road. Then, you'd have to get there around 4 or so for a 7:30 game (TB thinks the games started at 7:30 then) so you could sign in and pick what you were going to sell and from what location in the stadium (there were four for vendors, two upstairs and two downstairs) that night.

You also had to bring cash with you and buy whatever it was you were going to sell. You kept the difference. If you sold soda, it cost $24 for a tray and they cost $1.75 each. If you sold all 24 in the tray, you'd make $42, or $18 per tray. If you hustled, you could sell maybe eight trays in a night. And get really, really sticky from the soda being all over you. 

By the next summer, he was already in the newspaper business, trying to figure out why exactly he was covering Little League baseball. That was more than 30 years ago.

And those were his four summers before each year of college. He thought about this as TigerBlog Jr. has been spending his summer on Princeton's campus.

TBJ has been a counselor at the Dillon Gym day camp, the one he attended as a camper for eight years (in the junior and senior programs) and where he was once a CIT. There are a few current counselors who were campers and then part of the CIT program.

He also spent this past week at the Princeton boys' lacrosse camp and prospect day, as a coach. TB wondered how many people have attended that camp and then gone on to coach at it.

TBJ's favorite time of each year when he was a kid (you mean he's not a kid anymore? When did that happen?) was the time he'd spend in the dorms at Princeton lacrosse camp. It was his first time on his own, in a college dorm, and to say he loved it would be a major understatement.

The first time he went to the camp was when he was 8. The first time he stayed over in the dorms was when he was 10. Now he's nearly 20.

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Anyway, who knows what next summer will hold for TBJ. His father guesses lacrosse will be involved.

And for you? Well, it's a summer weekend. Enjoy it. Do something fun. The first Princeton athletic event is five weeks from today.

The rest of your summer, like TBJ's childhood, will be gone in a flash.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guest TigerBlog - Jim Barlow Is Not Talking About Lacrosse

TigerBlog has an open invitation to anyone who has something to say - even if it isn't about lacrosse. Jim Barlow, the head coach of men's soccer at Princeton, has repeatedly taken TB up on this offer.

This time, Jim gives an update on soccer around the world, from Princeton to the international realm. Don't worry. TB will be back with more lacrosse stuff soon enough.

TB readers may not have picked up on this, but I think TB likes lacrosse. A couple of months ago, after what I perceived to be too many blogs about lacrosse, I gave TB a bit of a hard time about the lack of soccer blogs.

He responded to my ribbing with an open invitation to guest blog about soccer, and so, after much procrastinating, here I am, with a long-overdue, rambling update on all things soccer (actually, this will be more all things men's soccer in an attempt to entice Sean Driscoll to also make a guest TB appearance).

It has been a busy summer of soccer, starting with arguably the biggest upset in sports history when Leicester City won the English Premier League. It was incredible to see Leicester defy the odds -- some had them over 5,000:1 -- with a starting 11, according to The Daily Mail, making just 24.4 million pounds (Manchester City's starters, by comparison, earned 308.8 million).

For a team that barely avoided relegation a year ago, was predicted for relegation in 2016 and played in England's third-tier league just seven years ago, this was truly an unprecedented triumph. Leicester was a breath of fresh air, an overachieving team that was so much greater than the sum of its individual players. Organized, competitive, stingy in defense and explosive in attack, they humbled European giants Manchester City, United, Aresenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. It was great to see.

Next up were the Copa America Centenario (played in the USA) and the European Championships (since I'm not a big Real Madrid fan, I will skip mentioning the Champions League Final).

Chile repeated as Copa America champions, defeating Argentina in penalties in the final for the second year in a row, while Portugal outlasted France in the European Championship in extra time. Both tournaments had some great matches and some terrible ones.

In the Copa America, you can make the case that the two best teams met in the final, in a rematch of their opening round game (which Argentina won 2-1). In the Euros, favorites Germany and Spain fell in the knockout stages (to France and Italy, respectively), leaving a defensive-minded Portugal staving off waves of French attacks in the final, then stealing the victory on a long-range shot by Eder in extra time. In the Euros, so many goals were scored very late in games, or in extra time.

A colleague of mine theorized that by that time in games, goals were created because "the coaching started to wear off." In other words, tactics, especially defensive tactics, dominated much of the competition, with teams remaining hyper-organized defensively and refusing to commit too many numbers to attack. As games wore on and legs started to tire, players reverted back to their instincts, throwing caution to the wind and attacking, resulting in some wild endings.

The darling of the tournament was Iceland, who won over the support of much of the world with its incredible run to the quarterfinals, tying Portugal and beating England on the way. After qualifying ahead of Holland for the Euros, Iceland - with a registered soccer-player total similar to the state of Rhode Island - borrowed a page from Leicester's recent history and proved that on any given day, anything is possible.

As we prepare for the 2016 college season, I hope our players bring the commitment, desire, and fearlessness that we all observed in Leicester and Iceland this summer.

Speaking of college soccer, some Princeton Soccer alumni remain in the world and US Soccer headlines.

On the international front, former Princeton coach Bob Bradley '80 guided French Ligue 2's Le Havre to a fourth place finish in 2016. With three teams earning promotion, Le Havre missed out on the third spot by the narrowest of margins. Le Havre finished tied in points with third place Metz, and on the final day of the season, Le Havre won 5-0 (while Metz lost 1-0), thus making up a six-goal deficit to finish tied in goal difference. The second tie-breaker was goals for, and Metz finished ahead of Le Havre in that category. One more goal on the final day would have earned Le Havre promotion, and the team hit the post three times that afternoon. After a couple of months off, Le Havre is preparing to make another run at promotion in 2016-17.

On the domestic front, Jesse Marsch '96 is in his second season as head coach for the New York Red Bulls, and, after winning the Supporters' Shield with the best record in MLS last season, Jesse currently has the team in third place in the Eastern Conference. Former Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Cameron Porter '16, was traded last week from the Montreal Impact to Sporting Kansas City. As Cam returns to action after a devastating knee injury, we wish him all the best in his new city.

Two other Ivy League Players of the Year, Antoine Hoppenot '13 and Thomas Sanner '16, have also been busy. Antoine is currently playing for FC Cincinnati in the USL, while Thomas recently began his professional career with the MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps.

Finally, it is an important time for men's college soccer, as numerous proposals will go before the NCAA that could significantly change the college soccer landscape.

In an effort to decrease time demands in the fall on student athletes, space games out in a more reasonable way, increase class/study time, allow athletes to enjoy other aspects of campus life, and create a better NCAA championship, college soccer coaches are proposing an academic-year season model, spreading the soccer season out over the fall and spring rather than cramming everything into the three-month fall semester.

Recently, the NCAA conducted a time-demand survey, and Division I men's soccer had by far the highest percentage of participants with 92% of coaches and 80% of student athletes participating. On the question, "Do you wish to support reducing the amount of competition by 10%," 97% of coaches and 90% of players said NO.

On the question, "Do you support the same number of competitions spread out over a lengthened season," 92% of coaches and 81% of athletes said YES. Finally, when asked whether they are in favor of a two-semester model, 90% of coaches and 70% of players said YES.

In our current system, too many games are crammed into too short a season, resulting in numerous health and well-being issues. Spreading the season out over the fall and the spring would reduce the number of mid-week contests, allow players an additional day off during the week, give coaches the chance to really develop players, and give the students more time during the week, especially in the fall, to pursue other activities on campus.

There are a number of obstacles/hurdles to overcome for this legislation to become a reality, but it will be interesting to see if it gains momentum over the coming months. Stay tuned.

I'm sure TB thinks that is enough soccer talk for one day. Thanks to TB for giving me the soap box for a little while. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and please visit Myslik Field in Roberts Stadium for some matches this fall!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Rowing Stones

The opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics are two weeks from Friday.

The first Olympics that TigerBlog can really remember clearly were the 1972 Summer Olympics. Those were the ones in what was then West Germany, with the murder of these 11 members of the Israeli delegation:

David Berger (weightlifting)
Ze'ev Friedman (weightlifting)
Yossef Gutfreund (wrestling referee)
Eliezer Halfin (wrestling)
Yossef Romano (weightlifting)
Amitzur Shapira (track and field coach)
Kehat Shorr (shooting coach)
Mark Slavin (wrestling)
Andre Spitzer (fencing coach)
Yakov Springer (weightlifting referee)
Moshe Weinberg (wrestling coach)

The day that the Israelis were taken hostage is really the first day of any Olympics that TB can remember. That, and Mark Spitz - himself Jewish - and the seven gold medals (with seven world records) he won in Munich.

At first, TigerBlog thought that the TV announcers said that terrorists had attacked the Australian contingent, which made little sense. He quickly realized they said Israeli.

He doesn't remember watching the 1968 Olympics on TV. He does remember watching the Mets win the 1969 World Series and the Jets win Super Bowl III a few months earlier. Those are his first sports-on-TV memories.

His most vivid memory of 1976 actually was the amazing downhill run of Franz Klammer of Austria in the Winter Games, which back then were in the same year as the Summer Games.

In 1980, there was the Summer Olympic boycott by the United States. If you don't remember it, the Games in 1980 were in Moscow, which the U.S. boycotted as a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

If you were an American athlete who was primed to compete in 1980, the boycott came at a really bad time. Here you were, ready to have what likely would have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and it was yanked away by politics.

Back then, there was a certain Olympic ideal of amateurism and purity and all of those things. Politics wasn't supposed to be a part of it.

One of the athletes who never got his chance was a rower named Gregg Stone. Now, all these years later, his daughter Gevvie is going to Rio as a singles sculler, for the second straight Olympiad.

Not that it's exactly clear cut.

If you've been following these Olympics at all, you've heard about the potential problems that are on the horizon. None of these issues are bigger than the threat of the Zika virus, especially for women.

Gevvie Stone is a Princeton grad, Class of 2007. She barely missed out on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and then finished seventh in her event in 2012.

Now, for 2016, she's earned a return trip.

The question for athletes, especially women's rowers, is whether or not she should accept it. Yes, it's her last chance to win an Olympic medal. But at what cost?

The issues in Rio - Zika, security, among others - has put athletes in a terrible position. In 1980, there was no choice. The U.S. didn't go, so you didn't go if you were a U.S. Olympian.

This time, it's a personal choice. Do you want to accept the potential risks to be able to reach your life's dream?

Gevvie Stone has decided to go. And she has done an incredible job of explaining why.

If you haven't already read her piece in The Players' Tribune, then you definitely need to read it. You can do so HERE.

Here's a sample:
When people ask me if I’ve thought about skipping this year’s Olympics, I think of the whole journey — the commitment, the hard work, the sacrifices and the opportunities that I have let pass — and I tell them no. Not once. I’ve got too much invested in this. I’ve heard about all the problems in Brazil right now (about the Zika virus, about the polluted bay in which I’ll be competing, about the crime and poverty in Rio de Janeiro, and about the political unrest that is roiling the whole country). Both U.S. Rowing and the USOC have been great about keeping our team informed about what is going on. I don’t take any of the concerns lightly. At all. I’m a doctor, and I try to be very rational about everything. But how can I be completely rational about a once-in-a-lifetime (or in my case, a twice-in-a-lifetime) opportunity like the Olympics?

TigerBlog has never met Gevvie Stone. He knows her name and has followed her career, but he never met her.

After reading the piece, he feels like he knows her well.

For one thing, he didn't realize she was a doctor. Also, he didn't realize her family history in rowing.

Mostly, though, she does such a great job of putting words together and of explaining her decisions. And you can feel through her writing how passionately she feels about her sport and the opportunity, even while the doctor in her is talking about practicality and precautions. She even mentions using hand sanitizer on the handles of her oars.

Her first race is on Day 1 of the Games.

She is one of 13 Olympians from Princeton. They each have their own decisions to make and their own stories to tell.

Gevvie Stone told hers in a very public way.

And she did so perfectly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Kind Of Car Was It? A Blue One.

TigerBlog was at a stoplight the other day when a blue sedan pulled up next to him.

It looked like any other sedan - until TigerBlog noticed the word "Maserati" across the back of it. Yeah, it was a Maserati, an elite Italian car.
TigerBlog went to Maserati's website. Judging by what he saw of the car, he thinks it lists for $76,000. And that's the low-end model. There are others that approach $90,000.

Here's TigerBlog's question - how many people can tell a Maserati by sight without seeing any identifiable markings? How many people know what any given car looks like and what makes one car different from another?

Could TB take, say, a Toyota and put the "Maserati" lettering across the back and pass it off as a $76,000 automobile? How many people would say "no, that's a Toyota?"

TB assumes that the value of the car is in the way it rides? But how great can the ride be to be worth that much? Does it come with a driver? A valet? No. You still have to drive it yourself.

Perhaps you're just paying for the name?

Maybe TB would feel differently if he drove one, but he'd be way too nervous about scratching it - or worse.

TB owns two cars. For eight months of the year, he can use either one. The rest of the year he drives one and TigerBlog Jr. drives the other. Miss TigerBlog will be able to get her permit in a few weeks, so she's going to want the other car when she gets her license. TBJ wants to take the car back to school with him, while MTB will want to be able to drive herself to school, so that battle is coming soon to TB's world.

The car that TBJ drives is a Honda CR-V. It is closing in on 198,000 miles. TigerBlog's car is a Nissan Rogue. It is closing in on 75,000 miles.

About the only complaint TB has about his car is that the seats come up close to but not exactly touching the console, so things like pens, cookies and phones can fall into the opening. And then it's a nightmare to try to get them back. 

Before the CR-V, TigerBlog had a Toyota Sienna minivan, which had 155,000 miles when he traded it in on the CR-V. It was TB's understanding that his old minivan was sent to the Caribbean to be a taxi - that's not a bad retirement.

And in fairness, TB bought all of these cars before his former and now current boss became the Ford Family Director of Athletics. And he did own two Ford's before that, both of which were Tauruses, which, now that he thinks about it, is what the Maserati looked like.

When TB went to yesterday, he saw that, here in the middle of July, two of the top stories were about men's basketball.

One is about T.J. Bray.

As a longtime basketball player in Europe, T.J. Bray must have been given a car at some point. Even though Bray is a veteran of the Italian leagues, TB doubts it was a Maserati.

Bray recently moved from the Italian second league to the top league in Germany. Bray, who graduated in 2014, spent two seasons in Italy.

If you look at the assist leaders in Princeton men's basketball history, you'll notice Billy Ryan is first, Kit Mueller is second and T.J. Bray is third. Bray also had 1,024 points and was a total fan favorite at Jadwin Gym.

The complete story about Bray's move to Germany is HERE.

Another fan favorite at Jadwin is current Tiger Devin Cannady, who also was on the front page of the website yesterday.

Cannady, if you've been following, has been spending his summer in Tanzania, studying Swahili and immersing himself in local culture. He has been reporting on his trip on the Princeton website, and you can read about it HERE (Part I), HERE (Part II) and HERE (Part III).

Cannady is an exciting player who had a great freshman year. He's tough when toughness is needed most, and he's the kind of player you can't help but notice while the game is going on. He's one of those players where anytime he touches the ball he's capable of doing something extraordinary.

If you read his posts, you'll see he's capable of doing extraordinary things off of the court as well. And of incredible personal depth.

It's hard to imagine too many people are getting more out of their summer than Cannady.

Make sure you read his entries. They're well worth it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dream Baby Dream

TigerBlog's friend Charlie - he's from Penn, but you can still like him - used to say that he liked the song "Hey Jude" because the words were easy to remember.

You know. "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Na-na-na-na. Hey Jude."

TigerBlog is pretty sure that he read somewhere that when the Beatles wrote that sang, they put the "na na na na" part in as a place-holder, figuring they'd go back and add lyrics later, only to find out that they liked the way it sounded.

Maybe that's really how it went.

TigerBlog heard a relatively obscure Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band song over the weekend called "Dream Baby Dream." Perhaps you've heard it.

Anyway, each verse of the song is basically one line repeated three times. Why wouldn't there have been different lyrics in each verse, with possibly fewer verses?

What is the reason? What is the meaning?

Maybe it's because he liked the way it sounded. Or maybe it's because he couldn't think of anything else to write. Or maybe he was just being lazy. So many theories. So many complexities.

Or maybe it's simpler.

Take the line "I just want to see you smile." It's actually sung three times in a verse and then repeated two other times, for a total of nine times in the song where the Boss sings that he just wants to "see you smile."


Maybe it's simple. Maybe he just wants to see someone smile, and in doing so, all of the problems in that moment seem a little more distant, a little more solvable.

It's the same with "c'mon and open up your heart," which he sings 12 times.

Maybe with those lines, one of which is seven words and the other of which is six, he figures he's saying everything that needs to be said.

Sometimes what appears to be complex is actually simple.

So yeah, "Dream Baby Dream." It's a pretty good song.

The start of the gold medal game at the U-19 men's lacrosse World Championships Saturday night was more of a nightmare than a dream for the U.S. team.

The Americans had zoomed through the tournament, beginning with a 12-5 win over Canada and then hammering everyone, including Australia 23-1 in the semifinal.

When the tournament started, as with most international tournaments, the pre-determined final seemed to be the U.S. and Canada, which is part of the problem with international lacrosse. The game continues to grow, and more and more countries are fielding teams, but the gap to the Canadians and Americans is huge (as for the U-19 championships, the Americans had won each of the seven tournaments).

The only team that can even pretend to compete is the Iroquois team, which is loaded with Division players, but the U.S. still defeated that team 17-3 in pool play. The Canadians had a tougher time with the Iroquois but still won 12-9 in the round robin game and 14-11 in the other semifinal.

The Iroquois then beat Australia 20-8 for the bronze. If you're curious, the other placement game saw England beat Israel 10-7 for fifth, Ireland beat Germany 16-12 for seventh, China beat Scotland 15-9 for ninth, Hong Kong beat South Korea 13-4 for 11th and Mexico beat Taiwan 9-4 for 13th.

And so that left the U.S. and Canada for the gold.

The U.S. may have had a relatively easy win over Canada - the host, as the tournament was being played in British Columbia - but the Canadians had defeated the U.S. 14-13 in overtime in an exhibition game last winter.

Any thought that this game might be easy for the U.S. was erased when Canada scored the first six. And it was 8-2 Canadians at the half.

Back, though, the Americans would come, eventually tying it at 12-12 and then winning it 13-12 with 8.5 seconds to play. It would be the only lead the U.S. would have in the game.

Princeton men's lacrosse played a big role in the championship.

Austin Sims, who was an All-Ivy League midfielder for the Tigers last spring, was the U.S. team co-captain. Sims scored 23 goals last year for Princeton, and he will be the team's second-leading returning goal-scorer next year (Gavin McBride had 26).

Sims played much more of a defensive role for the U.S. team, which is what he did as a freshman at Princeton. He also played a huge leadership role, which was something that was mentioned often during the tournament.

The other Princeton player on the team hasn't yet suited up for the Tigers, and that would be incoming freshman Michael Sowers. A recent graduate of Upper Dublin High School outside of Philadelphia, Sowers had 402 career assists in high school, which is believed to be the national high school record - by 95, over the next-best total, which was the 307 that current Yale attackman Ben Reeves had.

Sowers made the All-World team on attack after having 11 goals and 11 assists in the tournament, including a goal and two assists - all in the third quarter as the U.S. made its run - in the championship game.

Sowers was the only U.S. player in double figures in both goals and assists.

Princeton men's lacrosse will be starting over this year, as Matt Madalon will begin his first full season as head coach. Obviously the return of Sims and the addition of Sowers will be huge pieces for the Tigers, especially after their international experience.

The first gold medals of the summer have been won, not in Rio, but in Canada, by the U.S. men's U-19 team. In highly dramatic fashion.

With a nightmare start that quickly turned into a dream finish.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Mid-Point

Has it really been six weeks since Princeton played UL-Lafayette in the opening game of the NCAA baseball regional?

Six weeks?

If you paid attention at all, you know that the trip to the regional was one of TigerBlog's favorite Princeton trips ever. The atmosphere at the games themselves was unlike anything TB had ever experienced, and there were parts away from the stadium that were incredible also.

And that was six weeks ago.

Princeton lost to UL-Lafayette 5-3 on that Friday and was eliminated the next day by Sam Houston State 7-2.

TigerBlog thought Sam Houston State was really good. The Bearkats put a lot of pressure on Arizona both times the teams met in the regional, and Sam Houston was eventually eliminated with a 6-5 loss. Arizona then beat UL-Lafayette twice - and then won the Super Regional and its division at the College World Series to get all the way to the championship series, only to lose in three games to Coastal Carolina.

In other words, Princeton found itself in a pretty strong regional. The host team (TigerBlog came back with two Ragin' Cajun t shirts) was ranked 17th, and even though UL-Lafayette lost twice to Arizona, it still outscored the Wildcats 14-12 counting its win the first meeting they had. And Sam Houston barely was edged by Arizona.

In the end, it was Arizona who made the big run. It could definitely have been UL-Lafayette. Sam Houston was going to be pesky no matter what.

Princeton actually led in its first game at the regional 3-2 before the home team rallied. Chad Powers was great that night, with eight strikeouts and no walks in front of an absolutely packed house.

Yup. That was six weeks ago tonight.

What's six weeks from today? The first athletic event of the 2016-17 season for Princeton.

That would be on Aug. 26, when the women's soccer team hosts Fordham. Two days later, the Tigers also host Villanova. Make sure you're there. What? You have something already planned for Aug. 28?

 The women's soccer team, by the way, should be well worth seeing.

Tyler Lussi, who is starting to put herself into the national team picture with the U-23 team, will be chasing down Esmeralda Negron's career records for goals and points, for the men's and women's programs (she is four goals and 12 points away from tying them). Sophomore Mimi Asom, the Ivy Rookie of the Year who has been with the U-20 national team, will then try to chase down whatever records that Lussi puts up.

Anyway, what does that make today?

Well, the baseball games were the last games of the 2015-16 academic year, though track and field athletes competed a week later.

But basically, that makes this weekend the mid-point between the end of the old year and the start of the new year.

It's mid-July, of course. The forecast for Princeton is summery. And it's going to stay that way for awhile. The next 15 days, apparently, will have no day that will have a high temperature lower than 86.

Hazy. Hot. Humid. Toss in some thunderstorms. This is not TB's first July in New Jersey.

Since it's a Friday in July, TigerBlog can take a paragraph or two to say that there is no part of him that understands the whole Pokemon Go thing. And there's no part of him that wants to participate in it either.

Apparently there have been some people who have actually gotten hurt playing this game. TB saw one story, for instance, from Auburn, N.Y., outside of Syracuse, where a driver playing the game smashed into a tree.

This is from a wire story:

New mobile game Pokemon Go has become an overnight sensation with U.S. fans but also played a role in armed robberies in Missouri, the discovery of a body in Wyoming and minor injuries to fans distracted by the app, officials and news media reported on Monday.
The "augmented reality" game based on the 1990s Japanese franchise surged to the top of Apple Inc's app charts over the weekend. Gamers use their mobile devices to find and capture virtual Pokemon characters such as cuddly yellow Pikachu at various real-life locations.
Five days after its release, the game now is on more Android phones than dating app Tinder, and its rate of daily active users was neck and neck with social network Twitter, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb.
Highlighting a dark side to its popularity, the game was used by four teens in Missouri to lure nearly a dozen victims into armed robberies, police and media reports said.

What else?

This is a big weekend for Austin Sims and Michael Sowers of the men's lacrosse team. They'll play in the U-19 World Championship gold medal game tomorrow.

For the most part, though, it's a quiet time for Princeton Athletics.

And the mid-point from last year to next year.

Next year will be here soon enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Doyle And Mike, And Meeting Carla

For a Wednesday in the middle of July, yesterday was a pretty busy day for TigerBlog.

He had four meetings. That's probably half of the meetings he has for the entire month.

One of those meetings was with a committee that TB has been a part of for years, one that first wrote the official stat-keeping rules for men's lacrosse and now continues to update them.

The original stat-keeping rules were written by the late, very great Doyle Smith, who was the longtime men's lacrosse contact at the University of Virginia and a graduate of Johns Hopkins. Doyle, as gentle a soul as TigerBlog has ever met, passed away in 2004 after battling Parkinson's for years.

A few years after Doyle's death, the idea arose from the NCAA to update his manual. TigerBlog was honored to be part of the group.

When TB first started doing men's lacrosse stats here, each school kept its own. This led to wild inconsistencies, especially in the area of face-offs, where both teams routinely claimed that it had won that particular draw.

Once every school started using StatCrew for in-game stats (StatCrew is a computer stats program that is used for basically every NCAA sport), there was at least a little more uniformity. What was missing was a real definition of what constituted a ground ball or a save or an assist or anything that happens in lacrosse.

The updated manual grew out of a series of conference calls over the course of the summer of 2008. The idea was to define each term and then come up with every possible situation that could occur in a lacrosse game.

For TigerBlog, it was a lot of fun.

Since then, the on-field rules have changed, which resulted in changes to stat-keeping. The call yesterday was to basically see what if anything needed to be updated.

Mostly for TigerBlog, the question isn't about what rules need to be updated. It's how does the committee and the NCAA get everyone who is responsible for stat-keeping to follow the rules. After all, the stats lead directly to things like all-league and All-America and such, so there is huge importance to them.

But there is still inconsistency. And in the world of college lacrosse stat-keeping across all three NCAA divisions, there's a lot of turnover, a lot of young intern-types, a lot of non-lacrosse people who sit down behind a computer to stat a game.

Moving forward, that will be as important for TB's committee as the rules themselves.

After the call, TigerBlog found himself with his thoughts back two old friends, both of who are gone. Doyle, of course, was one of them. Doyle had issues communicating due to his disease, and it got way worse as time went on. Still, there have been very, very few people TigerBlog has ever met who could touch TB and reach TB with just a smile the way Doyle Smith could.

Doyle was 60 when he died. The other friend was even younger. Mike Colley, who took over for Doyle as UVa's men's lacrosse contact when Doyle could not longer do it, was part of the original committee that put together the stat manual. He would say that he gave away ground balls like they were "Halloween candy," and TB has appropriated that term many times since.

Mike was 46 when he died suddenly in 2009. It was seven years ago this week actually, and TB still remembers the stunned feeling he had when he heard the news.

Doyle Smith. Mike Colley. Good men. Good friends.

TigerBlog spent part of his day yesterday thinking back about the two of them. He also spent some of it meeting someone new, Princeton field hockey coach Carla Tagliente. It was the first time he'd met her.

Tagliente comes to Princeton from UMass, where she was the head coach for five seasons. Her first game with the Tigers is a little more than six weeks away.

Right now, she is in the process of moving to Princeton, finalizing her coaching staff, learning her team. It's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.

Is she stressed? Phased? Worried?

If she is, she hides it well. She certainly comes across as calm. And confident. And excited about the opportunity here.

She seemed interested in how things work around here, and she had some specific questions. Mostly though she just wanted to say hello, put a name with a face, put a lot of names with a lot of faces here.

And there was one familiar face. Carla worked at UMass with Cody Chrusciel, who also went from there to Princeton, in his case to be a video dude.

Now Carla is here as well.

She's made a very good first impression.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

112 Athletes, 157 Appearances - And One Robin

TigerBlog bought a new bicycle the other day.

It's about time. He was borrowing a bike for his rides with John McPhee, and it was actually a women's bike.

The difference between a men's bike and a women's bike is the bar parallel to the ground. Men's bikes have them; women's don't.

The question is why? TB presumes it has something to do with how young ladies used to wear long skirts when they rode way back when. That makes sense, right?

What doesn't make sense is the bar. If TB were to, uh, slip off the bicycle seat, he'd rather not land on that metal bar.

TB broke out his new bike (and new helmet) yesterday, for a nearly 14-mile ride with Mr. McPhee. This time it was at a park a little north of Princeton, where there is a mostly flat, fairly wide bike path.

There are also trees and benches under some of those trees, and other benches out in the sun along a ridge. It's a very calming place.

And it's a bit more peaceful than battling the traffic throughout town.

While TB and Mr. McPhee rode, they encountered maybe 10 people, and one dog, whose name turned out to be "Lincoln." And a robin in one of the trees.

The robin is a very common bird around this area, and by this area TigerBlog means North America. There's something appealing about the robin, perhaps because it seems to be such a happy, friendly bird, one that is constantly singing, one that has a soothing appearance. Certainly the one that TB saw yesterday fit that description.

There are any number of athletic teams nicknamed "Cardinals." Why aren't there any (or not that many) nicknamed "Robins?"

Unlike the ride around Princeton, the one at the park is a series of trips around what is a slightly more than two-mile loop. By the time TB had circled back around, the robin had gone to a different tree. He was probably still there, though, watching over TB, wondering to himself why he was struggling to keep up with the 85-year-old guy again.

The ride around the park is much more conducive to conversation than on the streets. At one point, the talk turned to the Olympic Track and Field trials, and TB told Mr. McPhee about how close Julie Ratcliffe had come to getting to Rio, after she threw 70.75 meters to set the New Zealand record but fell 0.25 meters (less than 10 inches) short of the Olympic qualifying standard.

On the other hand, the 70.75 was her personal best - and four more meters than she threw when she won the NCAA championship as a Princeton sophomore in 2014. And it was also the New Zealand record.

TB has a sense Ratcliffe's chance to get to the Olympics is just starting. In another four years - which includes her senior year at Princeton next year - she'll be back.

TB also mentioned Donn Cabral and how he rallied to reach the Olympics against in the steeplechase. Mr. McPhee said that a few years back he and Bryce Chase were riding, at a pretty good pace he said, when a runner came up next to them, ran with them for a few minutes and then sprinted away from them.

It was Donn Cabral.

It appears that all Olympic qualifying is over, and it would seem like Princeton will have 13 (or 14) representatives in Rio. They are:

women's soccer - Diana Matheson (Canada)
field hockey - Julia Reinprecht, Katie Reinprecht, Kat Sharkey
track and field - Donn Cabral, assistant cross country coach Robby Andrews (a UVa grad)
fencing - Kat Holmes
women's water polo - Ashleigh Johnson
rowing - Lauren Wilkinson (Canada), Glenn Ochal, Robin Prendes, Tyler Nase, Gevvie Stone, Kate Bertko

With the addition of those 13, Princeton's all-time total of Olympians is now 157 appearances by 112 athletes. In the last three Summer Games, the numbers are 29 athletes, 41 appearances.

Princetonians have won 18 gold medals, 22 silver medals and 23 bronze medals.

If you're a Princeton fan, you have to feel pretty good about the chances of success - and medals - in Rio. Basically everyone on the list above figures to make some noise while there.

The Summer Games start on Aug. 5 and run until the 21st. There will be pretty in-depth coverage on and here.

Hey, that's only three weeks from now?

And then when it's over, there'll be less than a week until Princeton Athetics starts up again?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On The Water

TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's driven back and forth across the Scudders Falls Bridge.

Whatever the exact number is, it's pretty high.

The Scudders Falls Bridge connects New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Interstate 95, above the Delaware River. There really aren't all falls underneath the bridge, but that's still the name.

TigerBlog learned quite a bit about the bridge he takes for granted when he looked on Wikipedia. For instance, there used to be another bridge across the Delaware in the heart of Yardley, the first town on the Pennsylvania side and a town in which TigerBlog spends a great deal of time.

The old bridge, which connected Yardley with Ewing, was destroyed in a flood in 1955. TigerBlog never knew it existed at all, even though he's been at the spot where the bridge used to be about a billion times. Apparently, this bridge touched Yardley where Afton Avenue reaches Route 32, where now there is a veterans' memorial.

Route 32 is one of TigerBlog's favorite roads. If you start out in Yardley and go up Route 32, you'll be on the shore of the Delaware the entire time.

Usually, there are ocean people, river people and lake people. TB is all three. He loves the water - especially when viewed from the shoreline.

TigerBlog loves the beach. He grew up near it, and there's something about the smell of the salt water, the wind that whips off the ocean and the sunrise or sunset over the horizon that he'll always love.

But TB also loves the Delaware.

There's a peaceful stillness about the water even as it flows downstream, easing past any observer from the shore. Unlike the beach, there are a multitude of colors, with the blue of the water, the green of the trees on both banks, the brown of the rocks.

Peaceful. Relaxing. And in many ways stunning, another example of what nature can do. It's enough to make TigerBlog lose his thought in the middle of a sentence as he just stares at the natural beauty.

Not all waterways are so peaceful. Certainly the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake in Rio won't be peaceful in the next few weeks.

Freitas Lake is the site of the Olympic rowing when the Games begin Aug. 5. Princeton will be well represented there.

Princeton rowing already had three alums who had qualified for Rio, and that number doubled over the weekend. And a seventh Princeton alum - recent alum Martin Barakso - is currently an alternate for Canada.

Gevvie Stone, who finished seventh in the single sculls at the London Games, had already qualified in that event again. Kate Bertko, who rowed in the same boat as Stone as Princeton romped to the NCAA championship in 2006, will row in the doubles.

Glenn Ochal, who won a bronze medal in the men's fours in 2012, had already qualified as well, this time in the men's eight.

Three more Princeton alums earned their spots this past weekend.

Lauren Wilkinson won a silver medal in the Canadian women's eight in 2012 in London, and she'll be back - as the stroke - searching for a gold this time, as the Canadians challenge the Americans.

Robin Prendes and Tyler Nase will make up half of the U.S. men's lightweight men's 4 without coxswain. Prendes was in the same event in London, where the U.S. finished eighth. Nase and Prendes were teammates at Princeton before Prendes graduated in 2011 and Nase two years later.

Princeton rowing has at least six Olympians for the fifth straight time. That is one of the most impressive facts about Princeton Athletics that TigerBlog knows.

Princeton won seven medals in the 2012 Olympics, and four of them came from rowers. Again, it's hard to underestimate just how good the rowing program at Princeton is and has been for decades.

As the Summer Olympics approach, Princeton knows that it will be represented in soccer, fencing, water polo, field hockey, rowing and track and field. If TigerBlog is counting correctly, there are 13 Princetonians who have already earned their trips to Rio - and that doesn't count Robby Andrews, the volunteer assistant cross country coach, who finished second in the 1,500 at the Olympic Trials.

That also means that nearly half of Princeton's Olympians again come from rowing. It's a testament to the coaches - Greg Hughes, Lori Dauphiny, Marty Crotty, Paul Rassam - and the system that is in place there to be successful.

They work hard together. They take enormous pride in Princeton rowing. And they achieve, year after year, Olympiad after Olympiad.

This time will be no different.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Donn Cabral, Two-Time Olympian

Donn Cabral looked like he might have been in a little bit of trouble on the final lap of the 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the Olympic Trials Friday night.

He was in fifth. The top three would advance to the Olympic Games. He had to catch two of the runners in front of him - and he was running out of time to do it. And, maybe, it looked like he was running out of energy to do it too.

TigerBlog watched on television.

In full disclosure - Cabral is TigerBlog's favorite Princeton athlete (okay, non-men's lacrosse player) of the last 10 years or so. Earlier last week, TigerBlog was talking to Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux ’91, who wasn't at Princeton when Cabral was.

TB was trying to explain the dynamic presence that Cabral had, combined with his incredible athletic success. Cabral had "talent and charisma," TigerBlog told Marcoux.

In fact, TB wrote this about Cabral more than four years ago, when Cabral was a senior at Princeton:
Cabral has become a complete rock star around here, the first since men's squash player Yasser El Halaby. Anytime Cabral was around - running or just walking into the building - everyone gave him the "there he is" look. It's the rock star treatment. He's not a big man, and in TB's limited dealings with him, he's quiet. He seems polite, respectful. And driven, very, very driven. TB doesn't remember too many athletes who have competed here who drew attention to themselves simply with the sheer impressiveness of their training the way Cabral has. It's as if he's putting on a show for the people who happen to look out on the track when he goes through his workouts. TB has stood on the balcony and watched him, along with other people in the department, and muttered only "wow" as he went lap after lap, seemingly in a dead sprint the whole time.

 So yeah, he was rooting hard for Cabral.

When it started to look iffy Friday night, TigerBlog thought back to when Cabral was a Princeton junior, at the 2010 Heps cross country championships. As TB recalled, Cabral was sick that day with sort of respiratory illness, and it wasn't even clear if he was going to run at all.

TB stood near the finish line at Van Cortlandt Park in New York that day. Heps cross country, by the way, is one of TigerBlog's favorite annual events on the Princeton Athletics calendar, and he hasn't missed one in awhile.

Back on that day in 2010, Cabral did in fact run. And he ran fast. And he won by a lot.

In fact, you can see the picture on the story from that day HERE. The runner-up is nowhere to be seen.

What really stood out to TigerBlog from that race was the way Cabral finished. As TB remembers, Cabral ran the final 100 meters or so of that race so fast and so effortlessly that he looked like a jet on a runway about to take off. It looked like he could have run that fast forever if he wanted.

And so, as the race Friday night started to reach its critical moments, TigerBlog thought back to that moment. That gear, the one that Cabral trotted out at Heps in 2010, was in there somewhere.

Cabral won the 2012 NCAA steeplechase championship and then qualified for the Olympics a few weeks later at those Trials. It seemed like that was enough for him at the time.

Then he got to the London Olympics, and lo and behold, he qualified for the final. And then at the final, he finished eighth. It was an incredible accomplishment.

Now here he was, four years later, trying to get back. And it certainly wasn't a given that he would, not when he was in sixth midway through and fifth very, very late.

Still, TigerBlog was confident.

And then Cabral got some help. Stanley Kebeney clipped the final water jump and went down, and Cabral was able to dance past him.

From there, Cabral shifted into that other gear. He went from well behind Andrew Bayer to well in front of him in a blink, and Cabral took third by more than two seconds.

He was again an Olympian.

What would have happened had Kebeney not fallen? TigerBlog has no doubt that it wouldn't have mattered. Cabral would have gone into his other gear and finished third anyway. 

By the way, Cabral is not the only one with a Princeton connection to have made the U.S. Olympic track team this weekend. Princeton volunteer assistant cross country coach Robby Andrews, a UVa grad and former roommate of Cabral's, finished second in the 1,500.

TigerBlog has met Cabral twice, sort of.

The first time was on the phone, for a story for the football game program when Cabral was a senior. Cabral sent TB a nice thank-you note after the story appeared.

The second time was outside Caldwell Field House. TB introduced himself as the person who wrote the story. They shook hands. TB thought briefly about getting an autograph or asking to get his picture taken with Cabral, but that seemed like a little much.

Cabral's fitness and training are somewhat legendary. He worked hard for four years to get back to the Olympics, and now he's going.

It's not easy to get there once. To do it twice is even more remarkable.

The steeplechase has become TB's favorite event. During the Trials coverage, one of the NBC commentators mentioned how one of the runners said that the attraction of the steeplechase is that it's not just running around the track, and maybe there's something to that.

At one point over the weekend, TigerBlog flipped on the radio to hear a version of "4th of July Asbury Park" by the Hollies. You know, the group that sang "The Air That I Breathe," which is a beautiful song, one that TigerBlog has always liked a lot.

The song "4th of July Asbury Park" is one of TB's very favorite songs by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The Hollies version? It just didn't work for him.

And then he thought about Cabral and the steeplechase.

Same song, not the same without the Boss.

Same race at the Olympics, wouldn't nearly be the same without Donn Cabral.