Friday, July 25, 2014

Thoughts On Another Summer Friday

Well, it's the next Friday in the summer. Another blink of an eye come and gone, another week closer to the start of the 2014-15 athletic year.

Those numbers now read six weeks from today until the first games of the new year and eight weeks from tomorrow until opening day of the football season.

The lead story on as TigerBlog writes this is the announcement of the 2014-15 men's hockey schedule. Opening day for that sport will be Oct. 31, Halloween. That is a little more than three months away. That's about the same amount of time between opening day for hockey and opening day for lacrosse.

On and on it will go.

Speaking of hockey, Princeton will be playing the Russian Red Stars (TB has no idea who they are, but they have "Russian" in their name so they must be good at hockey) in an exhibition game on Jan. 3, followed by a game six days later against the defending NCAA champ. Off the top of your head, can you name the defending NCAA hockey champ?

TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs to mull that over. In the meantime, the big story in college sports this week was the comment by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby that essentially said "cheating pays" in college sports.

Again, TigerBlog has the same reaction. There are two separate and completely unequal worlds of college sports: World 1 is big-time football and men's basketball; World 2 and everything else. The everything else comprises 95% of the athletes and loses a ton of money; the first two are a small piece of athletes and billions of dollars.

There will always be coaches and programs in World 2 that skirt the rules. The majority of the rule-breaking is going to come from World 1.

And why? That's the easiest question ever. It's the money. When coaches are being paid that much and there is so much at stake financially for these institutions, what do you think is going to happen, especially when you factor in how competitive your average big-time coach is.

TB always laughs when people say the NCAA should make tougher rules or simplify its rule book, as if the governing body of college sports can unilaterally make up regulations. It can't. They come from the member schools.

Have you ever read the rulebook? It's long, bulky and in many ways weird. Read it for five minutes, and you won't be able to prevent yourself from wondering who in the world came up with some of this stuff.

The answer is that these rules came about because there were simple rules that someone figured out a way around. So they had to be tightened up here and there, except then someone else figured another loophole. And so on and so on.

The NCAA enforcement office shot back that it was in fact on top of the cheating in college sports and that most cheaters are eventually caught. Maybe that's true. Maybe that's not.

The problem is that college athletics has all kinds of issues these days, and those issues are calling into question the very future of what college athletics will be and what they will look like. And it's World 1 that is causing 99% of the problems.

TB isn't as bleak on the future of college athletics as some are. Maybe that's because he spends his time in World 2, where the coaches are just as competitive but the money isn't as prevalent, which makes it all somewhat purer.

Plus, TB figures that it'll all work itself out in some way, and that 100 years from now, the Alabama-Auburn football game will still be huge and Princeton will still be playing Harvard, Penn and the rest in a bunch of sports.

Maybe he's wrong about that. He has a hunch he isn't.

Meanwhile, back at the trivia question, the defending NCAA men's hockey champ is Union.

And it's still a Friday in the summer. The last Friday in July, for that matter.

What do you have this weekend? Hopefully it's something good.

Two weeks ago, TigerBlog suggested it was too nice out for people to be at work, so they should all tell their bosses that TB said it would be okay to take the afternoon off. The weather is actually nicer around here today than it was then, if that's possible.

The summer is made for days like this, weekends like this one coming up. Make sure you're spending it outside. Go the beach. Or at least the pool. Have a BBQ. Get up early and go out to breakfast and then take a long walk. Go to an outdoor concert.

Six months from now will be the last Friday in January, which means Jan. 30 (even though it's only the 25th of July). On that night, Princeton will be at Yale in men's hockey. Yale won the NCAA title the year before Union.

TB's sense is it'll be much colder that weekend than it will be this one. Cold. Maybe snowy. Windy for sure. It'll be a weekend to bundle up and all that, and to think about how summer is out there somewhere in the distance, somewhere far off at that point.

So enjoy it while it's here.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Taking Requests

TigerBlog used to love to listen to Saturday Night Oldies on the radio.

That's when oldies were oldies. As in doo-wop and early rock ’n roll and that kind of stuff.

Now when he turns on an "oldies" station, what does he hear? Soft rock from the ’70s and ’80s. Disco. The Beatles and Stones. That kind of thing.

That's not oldies. That's Top 40 from when TB was a kid.

And since TB is hardly old, then the music from when he was a kid can't be oldies, right?

TigerBlog's favorite music is termed "classic rock." Well, that and show tunes. He even likes a lot of the same indie rock that TigerBlog Jr. does. He has to draw the line at the music Miss TigerBlog likes, whatever it's called. Just put on FM 106.1 around here and listen for awhile and you'll hear it.

TB is for the most part fine with the music that plays on the oldies stations, even if it's not really oldies.

The 1970s were an interesting - and great - time for music. Within a few weeks, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released "Darkness on the Edge of Town," the Village People released "Macho Man," REO Speedwagon released "You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish," Van Halen released "Van Halen" - which has "Runnin' With the Devil" and "You Really Got Me" on it - Barry Manilow released "Even Now," Jimmy Buffet released "Son Of A Son Of A Sailer" and Andy Gibb released "Shadow Dancing."

And that doesn't even count one album that outsold all of them, and most of them combined - the soundtrack from "Saturday Night Fever."

In other words, there were all kinds of competing genres, and yet they all had broad - and enduring - appeal.

For all of that, there was something special about Saturday Night Oldies. That was mostly music from the 1950s and possibly early 1960s. And that's it.

Segueing from music, TigerBlog can also take requests, as he has done often in the past. This time is a little different.

This one comes from Glenn Adams, Class of 1963, who posted this comment yesterday:
Could you please post the breakdown of the points total of the various 8 Ivy schools for all sports within the 2013-2014 school year? And could you please provide the number of Ivy Championships for each school? As the recent issue of the PAW pointed out, Princeton's laudable 27-year streak of winning the Ivy's unofficial All-Sports Championship ended this year as Harvard topped Princeton for the lead this past year. Thanks, Glenn Adams '63

TigerBlog knew this day was coming, through the years and years and decades and decades when Princeton won the Ivy League's unofficial all-sports points standings. One year, he knew, Princeton wouldn't win.

To illustrate his point, TB often referred to the final scene of the movie "Patton," one of the greatest scenes in movie history. Patton is walking triumphantly, defiantly, after the Nazis had been defeated and he had confronted the Russians, and yet as his outside projects an unassailable confidence, in his mind he is mulling over the words that "all glory is fleeting."

So what was he supposed to do when that day happened? Mention it? Ignore it? To mention it would be to publicize the end of a streak. To ignore it would be to lose some credibility for integrity.

As Adams said, for 27 straight academic years, Princeton won the unofficial Ivy all-sports points championship. That is an incredible run, year after year.

This is not an official award. The Ivy League office has never taken ownership of the award and in fact has been adamant about the fact that this something it wanted no part of, ever. At some point, TB stuck the word "unofficial" in to appease Brett Hoover, who was then the communications director at the league office.

The standings are determined by how a school finishes in each of the 33 official Ivy League sports. Eight points are awarded for first, seven for second and so on down the line. If there are ties, the points are split.

Once during the time that TigerBlog has been compiling the standings, Princeton won without having the most Ivy League championships. This past year, Princeton won six Ivy titles, finishing second to Harvard, who had 14.

As for the all-sports points standings, Harvard had 207 points to 189 for Princeton. The next-best total was 144.5.

There. TigerBlog put it out there.

Of course, maybe he'll just word it this way:

Princeton has won 27 of the last 28 Ivy League unofficial all-sports points championships.

The quest for 28 of 29 will begin shortly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Year In Review

The last athletic event of the 2013-14 athletic year was the last event of the NCAA track and field championships, which were June 14.

The triple jump, to be exact.

Using that as a starting point, there would be 83 days between the end of 2013-14 and the start of 2014-15, which would make the halfway point Day 42, or July 26, which is Saturday.

Because this is still the first half of the summer break, TigerBlog can still look back to the year that just happened, as opposed to fully ahead for the coming year. And that, of course, means the 2013-14 Year in Review.

TigerBlog loves the calendar on his phone. And the fact that it can be used instead of a watch.

Anyway, TigerBlog is always fascinated by the Year in Review, which he used to write for inclusion in a bunch of places, most notably the media guides that are no longer printed.

These days, it turns up in the annual report, a compilation of mostly statistical information with some text mixed in. It’s also in the Unified Appeal, which is sent out to Friends’ Groups and some others.

What fascinates TB about it is that at the beginning of an academic year, there is no way to know where he will be starting when it comes time to write the year in review.

A year ago, for instance, he wrote about four NCAA championships. Who would have guessed that when 2012-13 began?

This year? Where would you start?

You’re a Princeton fan. Where would you have started when it came to writing the year in review?

TigerBlog will give you a second to think about it. In the meantime, he’ll talk about what else fascinates him about his phone.

TB has never been a huge fan of wearing jewelry. He used to have a watch – actually a few – all of which he got from basketball tournaments, either the NCAA, NIT or Christmas tournaments.

His favorite was the one from the Rainbow Classic, which he got in 1998 in Hawaii. It was very colorful, like, you know, a rainbow.

Mostly he’d keep the watch in his pocket and then look at it when he wanted to know what time it was. Eventually, the need for the watch faded away as he got a cell phone.

Think about everything that a phone has wiped out. TigerBlog no longer needs a watch, a calendar, a camera, an alarm clock, a map, a GPS – even a home phone for that matter. Or a hairbrush, but that has nothing to do with his phone.

Okay, come up with what you would write about?

TigerBlog started with Julia Ratcliffe and the NCAA hammer throw championship that she won. After all, it was Princeton’s last chance to preserve a decades-long streak of having at least one team or individual national champion, something that had eluded the Tigers for the entire athletic year to that point.

And then Ratcliffe ripped off the three best throws and won the title that she was the favorite to win. And in doing so, she extended Princeton’s remarkable streak to 43 straight years.

Think about that what it takes to have a national champion for 43 straight years. And think about the pressure that Ratcliffe had knowing she was the last chance to keep that streak going.

Yes, she was a big favorite. And yes, she had a lot of margin for error. But still, that’s some unnecessary extra pressure. TB wonders how much of it she felt, if any.

So that was where TigerBlog started. It doesn’t mean it’s the right starting point. This one is subjective.

For instance, TigerBlog would understand if you started with the football team.

Princeton, if you’ve forgotten, went 1-9, 1-9 and 5-5 under Bob Surace and his current staff prior to last season and then exploded into an offensive force that set Ivy records for points and yards in a season. Actually, Princeton set those records before its last game even began.

The Tigers also went 8-2 and earned the first Ivy League championship for the team since 2006, not to mention a second-straight bonfire for sweeping Harvard and Yale.

The next biggest team story from 2013-14 largely flew under the radar, and that was the women’s tennis team’s Ivy title, NCAA tournament win over Arizona State and then near-miss against No. 2 Alabama – all without a senior in the lineup.

Of course, you could also start with an event that wasn’t an event at all. Maybe the changing of the guard for the Ford Family Director of Athletics was the biggest story of 2013-14.

As of Sunday, it’ll be time to look ahead. A new year. A new year in review to be written in slightly less than a year’s time.

Where will TB start on that one?

Your guess is as good as his.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Small World

Here's how small the world has gotten: TigerBlog sent a text message to former Princeton men's lacrosse manager Allison Binns the other day and within minutes got a response saying "I'm in Zanzibar."

Think about that. The world is tiny. A text message from New Jersey and a response from Zanzibar. In a few seconds.

Think about how mass communication has changed. TigerBlog was telling his friend Todd yesterday about how when TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog were in nursery school, it was his job to create the phone list for when the weather was bad. If school was closed, then someone would call TigerBlog and he in turn would start the phone calling chain from there.

Now if school is closed, TB gets a voicemail, email and text before he ever wakes up. Phone lists? Hah. What are those?

Todd countered with the idea that if a typhoon were to happen somewhere in a remote area of the Pacific, it would be international news in minutes. If the same thing happened 20 years ago, how would word ever spread?

TigerBlog has sort of wondered how basic news traveled as recently as 100-150 years ago? How did word get around, for instance, that a new President had been elected? Or how did vote tallies get sent on to where they were centrally counted?

TB would say it made it easier to cheat in elections, but in some ways it seems like it's never been easier. But hey, he digresses.

Actually, he isn't digressing, since he hasn't actually gotten to the point yet.

Oh yeah. Communication.

TigerBlog was watching the final between the U.S. and Canada at the World Lacrosse Championships when the broadcast crew began to interview Bill Tierney, the former Princeton men's lacrosse coach who is currently the head coach at Denver, where the tournament was held.

In addition to talking about how the game was going, Tierney also talked about how he had played in the over-60 division in the tournament. TB knew that Tierney was going to be doing this, since he had seen Tierney the week before the World Championships and Tierney had mentioned it.

TB wanted to ask Tierney how he did, so he texted him. A few moments after the interview, Tierney responded, saying he'd scored four goals in four games, the U.S. had won and he had sore Achilles.

Canada defeated the U.S. 8-5 in the final. The game was played at an excruciatingly slow pace, but it was perfect for the Canadians, who got the lead and sat on it. The rules had stalling warnings but no shot clock, and the U.S. defense could force the Canadians out of possession until it was way too late.

As an aside, Tierney said he would be shocked if there wasn't a shot clock in men's collegelacrosse next year and that he would welcome it. TigerBlog would be okay with it, though he has to be the only one who thinks that the current rules are pretty good, with the so-called invisible shot clock after a timer-on is declared by the refs. Maybe clarify the rules to have more uniformity to when the timer on is called.

Anyway, as of now, the Canadians have won the championship for the third time. The U.S. has won eight. Nobody has won any.

Also, nobody is getting all that close to winning one. The Iroquois are the third-best team, and they only lost to the Canadians by one the first time around. They then were hammered by the U.S. in pool play and by the Canadians in the semifinals.

Australia is the fourth best team, but there's no way the Australians are beating the U.S. and Canada. Israel, for that matter, almost got the Australians, falling 9-8 in the quarterfinals.

The dominance by two countries helps keep lacrosse out of the Olympics. On the other hand, the lacrosse world is growing significantly.

Tierney mentioned that when he coached the U.S. team  in 1998 - the Americans won - there were 11 nations who competed. This time, there were 38 teams in Denver.

Among them was Uganda, who not only became the first team from Africa to play in the World Championships but also won two games. The Ugandan offensive coordinator is Princeton alum Tom Schreiber, who described his guys as "truly amazing."

Clearly they were the rock stars of the tournament. Everywhere the Ugandans went, they were met by crowds who roared their approval. And why not? This was a country that didn't have lacrosse maybe three years ago, and here they were, playing and winning games in Denver.

The ESPN coverage of the event was tremendous.

Almost all of the U.S. games were on the TV networks, and many other games were on ESPN3. TigerBlog watched a few of those games on his phone.

It's how a sport grows.

And how the world gets smaller.

Monday, July 21, 2014

RIP, James Garner

Hendley was the new man in the "X" organization, an American surrounded on all sides by the British, save for two other countrymen.

Why three Americans were put here with all of the British officers wasn't exactly clear. Still, it worked out, at least in the short run, since Hendley - the scrounger - was exactly what the British needed for their escape - their "Great Escape," as it were.

Of course, in the end - after 50 of them were dead, 23 were returned and only three got away - it was Hendley who asked the obvious, yet almost completely unspoken question: Was it worth the price?

Hendley had guts, that's for sure. He took charge of the blind man. He stole a plane from a Nazi air base and flew it most of the way to Switzerland before he realized that he'd stolen a plane that didn't work. He survived the crash. He mourned his friend, the blind man, who couldn't see the ambush he was walking into until it was way too late, and even though, as he lie dying, all he said to Hendley was "thanks for getting me out."

The movie "The Great Escape" is one of TigerBlog's all-time favorites. It's a collection of tough guys who stand up to the Nazis and organize an incredible escape effort, only to realize that getting out of the camp and getting out of Germany were two different things.

It's also based on a true story, which means that there really were guys this tough in real life. And, in fact, there still are guys (and women) that tough, which gives TigerBlog hope for the world still.

Of all of the characters in "The Great Escape," TB's favorite has always been Hendley. Maybe it was the quiet, rational, realistic cool that Hendley had, instead of the overt bravado of some of the others.

Or maybe it was just the actor who played him, James Garner, who died over the weekend at the age of 86. When TB first heard the news, it struck him more than it does when most celebrities pass away.

For TB's money, the three coolest actors of all time are Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and James Garner. As of this weekend, all three are gone.

McQueen, MotherBlog's all-time favorite, lived to be only 50 before he died in 1980. His best role too was in "The Great Escape," where he played another American, Hilts, who is the king of the bravado cool. And the king of the cooler.

As for Garner, playing Hendley was the role TigerBlog remembers the most. It was hardly his only one.

He is most famous, probably, for playing Jim Rockford in "The Rockford Files." He was also a television star in "Maverick," and his movie credits surpass the 50 mark, including "Murphy's Romance," for which he was nominated for an Oscar, and "The Americanization of Emily," for which amazingly he was not.

TigerBlog loved Garner in "The Rockford Files" for many of the same reasons he loved him as Hendley, his quiet toughness, his ability to see everyone around him for what they were and for how grudgingly but forcefully he put up with the nuttiness around him.

For all of that, perhaps his best role came alongside Mariette Hartley in late 1970s and early 1980s Kodak commercials, where he was the henpecked husband and she was the relentless wife. There was an episode of "Barney Miller" where one of the side characters is talking about how the whole world is upside down, and to make his point, he says this: "Look at James Garner in 'The Great Escape.' Nazis couldn't build a prison big enough to hold him. And now he's gotta take lip from that snotty broad in those camera commercials. And she ain't even his wife."

Garner played off Hartley so perfectly while she did the same to him that it was impossible for the American viewer to believe they weren't actually husband and wife.

In reality, James Garner was married to the same women for 58 years, from the day in 1956 when they wed until the day he died. In fact (or at least according to Wikipedia), they had known each other for 14 days when they got married in 1956, and they never looked back.

Garner played a war hero in "The Great Escape." In real life, he was a soldier, wounded twice in the Korean War and earning two Purple Hearts. He turned to acting when he returned from the war, first in commercials, then on television and finally in movies.

He met his wife Lois at an Adlai Stevenson for President rally in 1956. Stevenson ran twice against Dwight Eisenhower and lost both times, in 1952 and again in 1956.

Stevenson was a Princeton grad, Class of 1922, which meant he graduated in the spring before the football season in which Princeton's Team of Destiny would go 9-0 and win the national championship. As part of that season, Princeton and Bill Roper defeated the University of Chicago - coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg 21-18 in Chicago in the first game ever broadcast on radio.

Does that count as enough of a reference to Princeton Athletics for today?

No? What if TigerBlog threw in that Erin McDermott, formerly the Executive Associate AD at Princeton, is now the Director of Athletics at Chicago? Is that enough?

What if threw in that John Mack, a 10-time Heptagonal champion, lives in Chicago and recently graduated from Northewestern Law School and passed the Illinois bar exam? Mack is also a former Roper Trophy winner, and the trophy is named for Bill Roper.

C'mon. That's like four paragraphs on Princeton Athletics.

Oh, here's another Princeton reference. TigerBlog didn't realize that Adlai Stevenson's father was Vice President of the United States under Grover Cleveland, who retired to Princeton and is actually buried in town.

Okay, one more. Yesterday TigerBlog was talking with a bunch of people when someone asked who the 14th President of the United States was. TigerBlog knew Lincoln was the 16th and that Buchanan preceded Lincoln. As he pieced it all together, he realized that the 14th was Franklin Pierce, and Franklin Pierce University plays sprint football now. Princeton is at Franklin Pierce on Oct. 3.

And that's all you get today. Give TB a break. It's not easy getting from James Garner to Princeton football.

And today is all about James Garner, one of TB's all-time favorites.

The world is a little less cool a place without him.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Think About Your Life, Pippin

TigerBlog and BrotherBlog share the same last name, and for that matter, the same last four letters of their first name.

Somewhere floating around in their cells, they have some genetic similarities. DNA and all that stuff.

For the most part, that's where it ends. The two have almost nothing in common, in almost any way. It's not that they don't get along. It's just that they are two completely different people.

This isn't a bad thing per se. Like TB said, it's not like they don't get along. Quite the opposite.

It's just that they don't have a lot of shared interests - or beliefs or temperaments or anything else. They probably wouldn't be friends if they weren't related, but hey, they are. And they each only have one sibling, so common sense would suggest that there's no reason to let a little thing like being nearly 180 degree opposites get in the way.

The result has been a lifetime for the two of them of reaching out to his brother's world, seeing what that world is all about, figuring out what makes the other tick. This has often taken both brothers way out of their comfort zones, and there have been really rocky moments. Still, it's been way worth it, since now, all these decades later, they have reached a place of what TigerBlog would consider to be a real understanding of each other. 

And it's also been a lifetime of finding areas of commonality. Places like the Music Box Theater, for instance.

Maybe it's because their parents introduced them to Broadway theater at a very young age. Maybe it's because each sees something in a musical production that appeals to something vastly different in each brother.

Or maybe, just maybe, it is a sign that they do in fact have at least one thing that they share for exactly the same reason. It's their genetic starting point, perhaps.

They both agreed that the current tenant of the Music Box is tremendous. "Pippin" is currently playing there, and both brothers raved about it.

TigerBlog has always loved "Pippin," which is among the most-performed musicals among high schools, which was in fact TB's introduction to the show long ago.

The part of the Lead Player was originally played on Broadway by Ben Vereen. TigerBlog remembers watching the Tony Awards on TV with his brother back in 1973 and seeing how Vereen ran down the aisle and did a flip onto the stage. TB has no idea why he remembers this; he just does.

The show itself is a mostly fictionalized account of the life of someone who may or may not have been Pippin the Short, an obscure eight century monarch. It is mostly a collection of breezy songs around a not exactly hard-hitting plot, yet there is something really endearing about it. And enduring.

Vereen's Tony Award was matched 40 years later by Patina Miller, making them the only two actors of different genders to win Tony Awards for the same role. For that matter, back in TB's high school days, Tara Meany played the Lead Player, showing that it could be either a male or female.

The current Lead Player is Ciara Renee, and she was extraordinary in the role as well. So was the one who played Pippin (Kyle Dean Massey), whose bio said he was on "The Good Wife" as well. Really the entire cast was great, especially the supporting players, who could sing, dance and perform the incredible circus acts and magic tricks that were built into this production.

The real show stopper was the only big name in the show - Annie Potts, who at the age of 61 plays Pippin's seductress/grandmother. She too sang and danced and did the circus stunts, and she did them effortlessly.

TigerBlog hasn't gone to many Broadway shows in the last few decades, but he really loves to do so. There are few experiences like spilling out of a theater at 10:30 or so and seeing just how alive the entire area is, with the people, the lights, the energy. It's incredible. It's rejuvenating. It's impossible to be tired, even as the hour gets later and later.

Meanwhile, back at BrotherBlog, TB doubts that his brother sees in the theater what TB does, which is a huge correlation between what it takes to be great at theater and what it takes to be great at sports.

Gary Walters, the Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus, has talked extensively about the similarities between performing arts and athletics, even to point of suggesting that they because they are so similar, there should be academic credit given for athletics like there is for the performing arts. It's a radical view, but there is perhaps merit.

TigerBlog hasn't really given that much thought to it. What he does know is that athletics, like theater, require team efforts. They require those in starring roles, and those who have important supporting roles. There is also the need for those in the supporting roles to know that they are helping the team that way and be okay with not being in the starring roles.

The preparation for both is intense, done in private in advance of very public performances. They both take a serious toll physically and mentally, and as such, successful people in both fields need to take care of their minds and bodies at all times.

Nobody keeps score or wins or loses in theater, so the biggest different between the two comes in the area of competition. And yes, that's a huge part of what sports are all about.

Mostly, they take real, genuine talent to reach the highest level. Nobody on the stage at the Music Box could fake their way through it. They had to be the real deal. It's the same in sports. If you're not good enough, you get exposed.

TigerBlog would love it if TigerBlog Jr. would share his father's and uncle's love for musical theater. Maybe one day he'll get there. Miss TigerBlog is already all in on it, and she has loved her limited experience with seeing shows to date.

Meanwhile, it's another summer Friday here. A week ago, TigerBlog mentioned that there were eight weeks until the first games and 10 weeks until the first football game.

Now, in a blink of an eye, those numbers are seven and nine.

And if the curtain goes up in seven weeks, then rehearsals start in around five weeks. A few more blinks of the eye, and they'll be here.

Last week, TigerBlog told everyone to go enjoy the summer afternoon.

This week, his recommendation is to go see a show. Go see "Pippin." Or really any other one that's playing, like the one next door to "Pippin" - "Les Miserables." Or the one across the street, "The Elephant Man," starring Bradley Cooper.

Nah, scratch that. Go see a musical. TB isn't into plays.

When he left the theater, he was whistling, humming - "oh, it's time to start living. Time to take a little from this world we're given." It's from the interactive part of the song Potts sings.

It's what going to the theater is all about. Taking it with you when you leave.

TigerBlog gets it.

So does his brother.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yoo-Hoo, Mr. Pirate

TigerBlog was driving along I-95 the other day when he saw a fairly freakish sight.

There was a truck in front of him, far enough in front that he couldn't exactly see what was on the back of it but close enough that he could tell that it was one of those trucks that transports carnival rides. In this case, it was a pirate ship.

When TB was a kid, his favorite ride on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights was the pirate ship. It was the one that swung back and forth like a giant pendulum.

TigerBlog never loved the rides that went around and around, but he was okay with the up and down ones, like roller coasters and the pirate ship. It started out slowly and then picked up speed and height, with the added bonus that it looked out over the ocean.

Hurricane Sandy, of course, destroyed it - temporarily.

Anyway, it's been years and years - decades, actually - since TB has been on a pirate ship ride. He's fairly certain that even if he lives for 50 more years, he won't go on it again.

Still, the truck with the pirate ship did bring back some pretty good memories for TigerBlog.

And as he got closer to it, TB also started to get freaked out. See, there seemed to be a man on the back of the truck waving to the cars that went by. He was out there in the open, seemingly surfing on the bed of the truck while dodging the interstate traffic.

As he got closer, it got worse. It wasn't a real person, just a fake pirate, like a wax figure or something, one who was set up to wave to the passing cars. Except he was completely life-like, only about eight feet tall or so. Freaky. Yeah. Definitely.

As an aside, one of TigerBlog's favorite exchanges between Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam is when Sam is on a ship chasing after the rabbit, and Bugs yells "yoo-hoo, Mr. Pirate." When Sam still chases after him, Bugs says "are you still sore? What a nasty disposition." Hah. That always gets to TB.

Anyway, after TB had a few nightmares about the eight-foot-tall fake pirate, he got to thinking about the carnival world. Miss TigerBlog and her friend Wiki went to one such carnival a few weeks ago, and they had a great time - along with the hundreds of others who were jammed in.

And why wouldn't they be there? Who doesn't like a great carnival?

They're all over the country, and people like the people who run the pirate ship truck go all over the country to work at them. It becomes normal to them, TB supposes.

The nature of work is fascinating. Things that TB takes for granted in his job as standard everyday stuff is probably completely foreign to the pirate ship people, and vice versa.

TB's college friend Ed Mikus Jr. got a new job. He described it this way: "Primarily product support. We deliver tools to analyze mortgage backed securities and I focus on those bonds collateralized by commercial real estate."

TigerBlog has no idea what any of that means, other than he assumes it pays well.

As for TigerBlog's world, his job is very seasonal.

Right now, in the summer, the main staple of his job is missing. There are no games.

They'll be back soon (seven weeks from tomorrow). This is about a week shy of the midway point between the end of last year and the start of next year.

People ask TB all the time what he does in the summer without the games to worry about. Or if he has to work at all.

One of this summer's big projects is the redesign of, the official website of Princeton Athletics. It has had the same basic look for the last nine or so years, which is fine in that it works.

The athletic website is the single best thing that happened in athletic communications in TigerBlog's time here - and really for any college anywhere.

Before there was an athletic website, the ability to communicate directly to those most interested - fans, alums, recruits, donors - was essentially nonexistent. Now? It's the easiest thing in the world.

The amount of content on the website is extraordinary. The problem is that over time, the website has clearly gotten a bit crowded.

Plus, a new look is good every now and then.

The goal is to make the site less busy and easier to navigate while giving priority space where it should be given.

The new site will be live with the start of the new academic year, which leaves another seven weeks to get it done. So far, the process has gone very well, and TigerBlog thinks that Princeton will be offering a very much improved product.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer. Go to a carnival.

Head onto the pirate ship ride, even if TigerBlog won't be there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Going Camping

There are six words that Miss TigerBlog says that make her father cringe: "Do you want to play Monopoly?"

There are any number of combinations of six words that a 14-year-old girl can say to her dad that are way, way, way worse than those six, of course. Those would make TigerBlog do way more than simply cringe.

It's not that playing board games with MTB isn't fun. It's not that TB doesn't want to hang around with her, even if, as is the case with the average early-teenage girl, she treats everything her father says as the absolute dumbest thing anyone in the history of the world has ever said and is 10 times more likely to roll her eyes at her dad than she is to smile at him.

That likelihood goes way up, by the way, when one of her friends is around. There's some equation that can actually calculate that, TB assumes. Or probably at least an app. "My father is so embarrassing" or something like that. It has to be out there.

Oh, and speaking of phones, have you ever spent time around a group of early-teen girls? They all have phones, and they all are always on them. At all times. If TB is driving MTB and her friends someplace, he will glance at them every now and then and see that everyone of them is on a phone.

What makes this sort of frustrating to TB is that he can't always get MTB to respond to his text messages or answer the phone when he calls. It's not like she can use the excuse of "I wasn't on my phone," since they're all on them all the time.

Despite the standard teenage girl stuff, MTB is a great kid. She's funny. She's smart. She's hard-working. She's personable. She's tall. She has a lot of friends. She plays multiple sports (field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, track and field) and one musical instrument (the cello).

Her friend Sonali's dad is an engineering professor at TigerBlog's alma mater, and MTB has gone with her friend and her friend's dad to a bunch of seminars, classes and workshops designed to introduce kids to engineering. MTB is on the record as saying she wants to study engineering there when it comes time for college, prompting TB to explain to her that Princeton has a good engineering school too.

At her best MTB has perfect comedic timing, and she also has the perfect foil in her brother. If TB had to equate them with a famous comedy duo, he'd go with Bugs and Daffy.

So it's not that he doesn't want to hang out with her. It's that playing Monopoly, TigerBlog has decided, is horrifically boring.

TigerBlog played Monopoly as a kid and then didn't play at all for decades until for some reason MTB became engrossed with the game. If TB looked on her phone, then he'd find next to the "my father is embarrassing" app another app, the Monopoly one, which enables her to play on her phone.

On a funny note, there's also a dice roller app that MTB uses because her game box no longer has its own dice in it.

There are all kinds of problems with playing Monopoly.

First, everyone seems to play by different rules. Then there's the issue of game strategy, which TB has never figured out. Buy up every property? Pass on some to build monopolies? What if you never get any?

Mostly, the problem is that the game can last forever, even long after it becomes apparent that one player is going to roll over the other.

Anyway, TB always feels like he's letting his daughter down if he says no to Monopoly. He needs to get her into a different game, maybe a good card game. Or chess and checkers. Something that doesn't take hours and hours.

Actually, TigerBlog thinks there are societal parallels to Monopoly. It used to be a fun, family-oriented game, TB supposes, and the fact that it took a long time to play was its charm. These days, everyone is too impatient and too focused on other things - like phones - to put that kind of time into something as low-tech as a board game.

TigerBlog is wrestling with this one. He doesn't want to contribute to the decline of American society, but he also doesn't want to get dragged into playing Monopoly all the time.

He doesn't have to worry about it tonight. He told MTB that he would practice field hockey with her this evening.

MTB has been playing all summer for her club team, called Mystx. She has school tryouts coming up, and she will also be heading to two camps, the first of which starts tomorrow here at Princeton.

Even by the standards of the overscheduled world of today's youth, MTB had a busy week last week. It began Thursday when she played field hockey and lacrosse and continued with more field hockey Friday and then more lacrosse over the weekend.

MTB has one bag that she uses for both sports, and she is constantly taking field hockey sticks out and putting lacrosse sticks in. TB often wonders if it's easy to keep track of the rules and subtleties of each sport, especially as she bounces back and forth between them so much.

MTB loves going to camp here, as TigerBlog Jr. used to as well.

TigerBlog thinks it's great for kids to stay in the dorms here and be exposed to a basic sample of what to expect from living at a college, even at young ages.

Princeton University hosts 64 sessions of summer camps across 18 sports, bringing a few thousand kids to this campus each summer. Each week in prime camp season there are any number of different sports represented, and TB can hear boys basketball going on behind him while he looks out across the track as another group is doing something.

In a little while, other groups will emerge to walk to lunch.

The camp life here is great. There are some day camps, but most are overnight.  The kids get to sleep in the dorms. Eat in the dining halls. Play their sport all day and night. Eat pizza. Meet other kids from around the country and in some cases the world.

It's a great experience for the kids involved. It's why the programs are so successful.

Some, like the younger group of boys playing basketball, are introductory. Others, for the high school kids, are competitive.

Either way, they're a huge part of the campus fabric in the summer.

There are way worse things for kids to be doing with their time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yeah Uganda

If you're going to be bored by the Major League Baseball All-Star game and not watch it - and recent rating trends suggest you won't unless you're older than TigerBlog - then there is a pretty good alternative.

And hey, the same goes if you need some good international competition now that the World Cup has ended.

Tonight at 7 Eastern (TigerBlog is pretty sure it's Eastern time) on ESPNU will be the pool play game between the United States and the Iroquois from the World Lacrosse Championships in Denver.

The U.S. is currently the only unbeaten team in the top division, while the Canadians and Iroquois both have one loss. The game is huge, because a win would give the U.S. the top seed and therefore a much easier route to the championship game.

The goal is to avoid the Canadians or Iroquois in the semifinals. Canada defeated the Iroquois 10-9 the other day in a game that was, uh, spirited, to say the least.

The Iroquois are about as exciting to watch as any team in sports right now. The team is led by the high-scoring Thompsons, as well as a few other big names from Syracuse. Together they run and gun, they score and they hit relentlessly. They will back away from no one ever.

The U.S. team defeated Canada 10-7 earlier in the event. The Australians are probably the fourth-best team, but there is a sizable gap from the top three to the fourth, even if the Aussies only lost 12-10 to the Iroquois.

Should the Iroquois beat the U.S., TB isn't sure what the tiebreaker would be to determine the top seed, since the top three would all have one loss and be 1-1 against each other.

Granted, TigerBlog is probably more into this tournament than the average person.

He was actually just watching Israel-Germany on ESPN3 in an elimination game in which Israel was up 8-0 in the second quarter. TB had to laugh when one of the German players flopped on a loose ball push and stayed down as replay after replay showed that nothing had happened to him.

And TB doubts that losing to Israel in the lacrosse tournament will take away some of the national joy in Germany now from winning the World Cup.

And TB isn't close to as into it as TigerBlog Jr., who has watched basically every game online, beginning with China vs. the Netherlands and Scotland vs. Thailand the other day.

China lost that game 19-4 but did come back to defeat Argentina 9-7 yesterday for China's first-ever win at the World Championships. And what a week Argentina is having, what with going 0-4 at the lacrosse tournament and losing the World Cup final.

Another team that won for the first time was Uganda, who defeated South Korea 10-9 in a thriller. The Ugandans trailed 9-4 at the end of the third quarter before outscoring the Koreans 6-0 in the fourth quarter.

It was 9-8 with less than a minute to go before Uganda scored with 44 seconds left to tie it. Patrick Oriana then won the face-off and scored the game-winner eight seconds later.

TigerBlog is a big fan of the Ugandan team, and not just because it's a great story. Lacrosse is very new to the country, brought there by the people at Fields of Growth. Just getting to Denver in the first place was an uncertainty almost to the end, but now the Ugandans are the first team from Africa to compete at the World Championships.

Then add to the fact that the team's offensive coordinator is Princeton alum Tom Schreiber, the three-time first-team All-America and two-time national midfielder of the year. And the winner of Princeton's Art Lane Award for contribution to sport and society and the national winner of the Senior Class Award, which recognizes the same types of contributions.

Schreiber was first connected to the Ugandan team through Fields of Growth, and he has embraced all aspects of the FOG program - the educational and economic development side, as well as the lacrosse side.

It's not surprising. That's how Schreiber is.

There haven't been too many lacrosse players, or athletes - or any students, for that matter - quite like Schreiber. He is one of the greatest players in Princeton lacrosse history, and he combines that with an almost too-good-to-be-true persona that has seen him give his time to so many different people, especially kids. 

And the Ugandans.

The team won't be advancing into the championship bracket. That doesn't matter in the slightest. 

Uganda got to Denver. That was Win No. 1.

Win No. 2 was even better.

There are three stories to these World Championships. One is the eventually winner. Two is the Iroquois and the excitement they've brought.

And three is the Ugandans. With Tom Schreiber in the middle of it.

Barring something ridiculous, he'll be at the 2018 championships as a player for the U.S. team. For now, he's there as a coach. A winning coach, for that matter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gotze Goal

How'd you like to score the game-winning goal in the World Cup final when you're 22 years old? Barely 22, at that?

TigerBlog's sense is that Mario Gotze is having a pretty good today. Why wouldn't he? Gotze - at the old age of 22 years, one month and 11 days - scored the only goal in Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina in the World Cup final.

Gotze, who plays for Bayern Munich, probably will never have to pay for anything at the Hofbrauhaus - or for a wienerschnitzel anywhere - ever again.

The goal was a beautiful one. 

It took until the 113th minute for someone to score, though at least someone finally did, so that the World Cup wasn't decided by PKs. Gotze took a cross and, without ever letting the ball hit the ground, chested it and then left-footed it cleanly into the goal.

The cross came from Andre Schurrle, who will have to be content with winning the World Cup, since he won't get 1/1000th the adulation that Gotze will, but those are the breaks.

The difference between winning and losing in any round of any championship event can be extreme, and it's even more so in the World Cup.

For starters, the final is always going to be close, perhaps out of fear of making the crucial early mistake and digging a big hole.

Yesterday's game as the 19th World Cup final. Of those 19, there have been 11 decided by one goal (or tied and decided on PKs).

In fact, the goal that Gotze scored was nothing compared to the one four years ago, which came when Spain's Andres Iniesta scored in the 116th minute of another 1-0 win.

TigerBlog is seriously invested in some of his teams. He knows that he cannot imagine what it is like to be a German or Argentine soccer fan and watch that game.

Particularly striking to TB has been the pictures of fans weeping in the stands when their team loses. The Brazilians felt it early and often in the 7-1 loss to Germany, and the highlights of the game on the ESPN story are filled with sobbing Argentines.

TigerBlog has been pretty bummed after a few losses in his time here. As he has said, he can tell you easily what the most crushing Princeton loss he has experienced was.

It came in the second round of the 1998 NCAA men's basketball tournament, at what was then the Hartford Civic Center.

Princeton was 27-1 entering the game, having dispatched easily with UNLV in the first round. Awaiting was Michigan State, the fourth seed, while Princeton was seeded fifth, something that no Ivy League team has come close to matching.

Michigan State was two years away from winning the NCAA title, but the Spartans started four of the players who would start against two years later. It was 10-0 Michigan State before the Tigers rallied to tie it late in the second half, only to have Mateen Cleaves break Princeton's - and TB's - heart.

TigerBlog still feels bad that Princeton didn't get to the Sweet 16 that year. When Cornell got there in 2010, TB thought that should have been 1998 Princeton instead.

Still, he didn't weep.

Maybe it's not what American fans do. Maybe it's just that the passion of the World Cup is so intense that an American sports fan can't relate. Maybe, as into sports as Americans are, they just don't have that level of passion.

Anyway, the 2014 World Cup is over. The next one is in 2018, in Russia.

Qualifying begins in 2016.

TigerBlog is ready now.

After all, even if lacrosse is his favorite sport and he is an American, TB knows the best sporting event in the world when he sees it.

And the World Cup is it.