Monday, October 10, 2011

In Fourteen Hundred And Ninety Two

In fourteen-hundred-and-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Of course, he did it in Spanish-owned ships. After shopping around his idea of of sailing west to try to reach Japan and ultimately India and China and having it rejected by the monarchs of Italy, Portugal and England, Columbus finally got King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to agree to a fairly one-sided contract in Columbus' favor, because, according to Wikipedia at least, they never expected him to come back.

As TigerBlog remembers learning about it, Columbus' first journey across the ocean came out of a plan to avoid a land route to India and China and to offer an alternate voyage from sailing around Africa.

The other part of the story, as TB remembers from when he was a kid, is that Columbus also was going to prove the world wasn't flat, or at least everyone thought that it was flat and that he'd sail off the edge of the world. TB believed this for version for awhile, until he learned that ancient astronomers knew centuries before Columbus that the Earth was round.

It took Columbus five weeks to sail from Spain to what is now the Bahamas in what would be the first of four trips across the Atlantic for him. He did not "discover" the Americas, per se, since there were already people there and because the Vikings had already done so 400 years earlier, but it was Columbus who more than any other single individual brought European culture to the lands he found.

In turn, this led to the colonization of the entire region, which ultimately led to things like, oh, the establishment of the United States of America.

Today is Columbus Day, a day like Labor Day or Memorial Day where it is easy to forget its actual significance in favor of the fact that it's just another Monday holiday. It's been years since TigerBlog thought enough to reread Columbus' story and to get a better sense of why this is a national holiday.

Columbus Day always falls on this Monday, which means it always falls between the week of Princeton's last non-league football game and the start of the a six-week run through the rest of the Ivy League season.

Princeton will head to Brown with a 1-3 record, but the Tigers are 1-0 in the Ivy League.

So how will the Tigers do over the next six weeks?

TigerBlog has no idea. Usually, it's pretty obvious where the season is going by this point, or at least relatively so.

This year? Who knows?

By the way, Princeton got to 23 points in its five-point loss to Hampton the other day on one touchdown, one extra point, four field goals and two safeties. It reminded TigerBlog of the game at Harvard in 1997, when the Crimson won 14-12. Princeton had 12 points on a touchdown, extra point, field goal and safety (sort of hitting for the cycle, as it were), while Harvard's 14 came on four field goals and a safety.

Meanwhile, back at the 2011 Tigers, it's so hard to say where they are.

The loss to Lehigh wasn't bad, considering that Lehigh is around 10th in the FCS. Bucknell is a much-improved team. Princeton beat Columbia and had a real chance against a very solid Hampton team.

With a 1-3 record, Princeton now plays six Ivy teams, all of whom beat the Tigers last year. Will this year be different?

Princeton is getting big contributions from freshmen like Chuck Dibilio (21 carries, 147 yards, 1 TD against Hampton; team-best 323 rushing yards and a 6.7 yards per carry average for the year), Matt Costello (second on the team with 14 receptions) and Khamal brown (18 tackles). More than any other sport, though, it's hard to rely on freshmen in football.

Princeton is definitely improved over last year - greatly improved, for that matter. That's obvious watching the team on the field.

The question over the next six weeks will be how much the final record will reflect that.

It could be significant. It could be that the rest of the league is improved as well and that Princeton had a lot of catching up to do.

On Columbus Day, it's hard to say.


Anonymous said...

Princeton seems to be getting worse as the season continues. A 34-0 loss to Brown... Harvard next week. The AD needs to wake up and make changes or this team will most likely end up 2-8 or 3-8 at best. At 2-8 that would make our two year record under Surace at 3-17 with the longest losing streak in Princeton history under his helm.

Anonymous said...

i feel that coach Surace's recruits are most of the bright spots on the team.i cant wait to see what the next few seasons hold.he has all of the good coach qaulities but is stuck in the middle of the old staffs recruits and his being a year away.most games he has freshman and soph's playing against jr's and sr's and holding their own at that.a football person would see that,a person with an ax to grind wouldn't.