Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Taxi Driver

To FatherBlog, there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who live or work in New York City, and hicks.

TigerBlog has never really shared his father's love of the Big Apple, and TB in fact avoids going into the City as much as possible. Still, if he could be guaranteed of being in the Cash Cab, then he'd change his position.

For those who don't know, Cash Cab is a game show on the Discovery Channel. The premise is that a cab driver picks up unsuspecting passengers, informs them that they're on a game show and then takes them to their destination while asking them general knowledge questions.

Depending on the how smart the contestants are, they can win a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars before they get to the end of their ride. Or, if you get three questions wrong, you are let off wherever the cab is at that moment.

It's a fun show, and TB watches it every now and then.

One of those times was the other day, when there were two Princeton-related questions asked, and the two questions had direct ties to two men who are quite possibly the two greatest athletes in Princeton history.

The first was this one: "What novel was narrated by a character named Nick?"

The second was this: "What former New York Knick served three terms in the U.S. Senate?"

As an aside, there really is no such thing as a "hard" question on shows like Cash Cab or Jeopardy. There are only questions you know the answer to and questions you don't.

The answer to the first one, of course, is "The Great Gatsby," written by Princeton's own F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917. Nick is Gatsby's neighbor and the cousin of Daisy Buchanan; for those who didn't pay attention in high school, Daisy doesn't exactly end up having a great effect on Gatsby, for whom it doesn't really end well.

Daisy was married to Tom Buchanan, and Nick would describe them this way:
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, leaving others to clean up the mess they had made."

For the record, TB wrote that from memory. He could probably write down at least 50% of the book from memory, from the first line:
"In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since."

... to the last line:

"and so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Fitzgerald, as mentioned above, was a 1917 graduate of Princeton, which placed him three years behind Hobey Baker. Fitzgerald was so in awe of Baker that in another of his novels, "This Side of Paradise," he named his main character Amory Blaine, after Baker's full name of Hobart Amory Hare Baker.

He also has another character in the novel, Allenby, who is Princeton's football captain: "There at the head of the white platoon marched Allenby, the football captain, slim and defiant, as if aware that this year the hopes of the college rested on him, that his hundred-and-sixty pounds were expected to dodge to victory through the heavy blue and crimson lines."

Clearly, he's talking about Hobey Baker, who played football and hockey at Princeton. TigerBlog has read (and written) a great deal about Baker, whose story is familiar as well: one of the great early college athletes, no professional sports, turned to flying, flew in World War I, died in a plane crash shortly after the war ended - possibly of his own doing.

Of everything that TB has ever seen about Baker, the best description was this, which has always stuck with TB: "Baker is the most romantic figure in the history of American college sports."

It's a great way to describe him. Romantic. As in something out of a novel, which, in the case of "This Side of Paradise," he is.

As for the other question, clearly Bill Bradley is the former Knick who went on to the U.S. Senate. Bradley scored 2,503 points in his Princeton career, playing only three varsity seasons with no three-point line. Since his graduation, the closest any player has come is Kit Mueller and his 1,546 career points, nearly 1,000 fewer.

TigerBlog grew up watching Bradley's Knicks teams, and he's still waiting for the team to win another NBA championship since the two that Bradley helped the team to in 1970 and 1973. Still, given his employer for the last 16 years, TB thinks of Princeton first when he thinks of Bradley.

Every now and then, TB stumbles across the basketball record book or any record book, and it makes him think of what Bradley did to Princeton's. It is possible that one day someone will come along and challenge some of his records, but TB would have to think it is unlikely.

As a reminder:

* Bradley is first all-time at Princeton in points and rebounds.
* Bradley had 11 games of at least 40 points; no other player in school history has ever scored at least 40 points in a game
* he still holds the record for most points scored in a Final Four game, with 58 against Wichita State in the 1965 consolation game
* he has the three highest single-season point totals and scoring average totals in school history

TB could go on and on with Bradley's records. Perhaps TB's favorite note about Bradley is that his career low, not career high but career low, was 16 points.

And there it was, the two Princeton references on the single episode of Cash Cab.

TB would have gotten both right, and who knows, maybe he would reach his destination with fewer than three strikes.

But would he take the video challenge for double of nothing? Who knows.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

While we're all aptly impressed with your Gatsby knowledge, Mr. "No Guts No Glory" has to think twice about the double or nothing video challenge? What is this world coming to?