Friday, June 28, 2013

Okay Smart Guy

The air conditioning stopped working in TigerBlog's car about three weeks ago.

TB called Ron, who is sort of the unofficial fixer of all OAC car problems, and he said TB should play with the dials for awhile, going back and forth from cold to hot, AC to defroster to heater and such.

So TB did that, and after about an hour of this, the AC started to work again.

It went from that point until Tuesday without incident, when it suddenly stopped working again. And so TB did the same trick, and again it worked. Until the next day, when it stopped again.

This time it gave out during a thunderstorm, while TB was driving three 16 year olds back from a lacrosse practice. To say that it created a rather unpleasant environment in the car is something of an understatement.

So, even though it started working again, TB took his car off to Ron this morning. At first Ron said he couldn't take it today because he had just gotten back from vacation, until TB pointed out that it's 90 degrees ever day around here and he really couldn't handle not have AC for an hour at a time on a hit-and-miss basis.

There was a time, of course, when cars didn't have air conditioning at all. In fact, according to Wikipedia at least, the first car air conditioners weren't readily available until the 1950s, and around 20% of cars in the 1960s had air conditioning in them.

This is not the 1960s though, and TB has come to rely on air conditioning. His fear today is hearing these words: "it can't be fixed." Coming in a close second is: "it can be fixed but it'll be expensive."

Anyway, TB had to get a ride in with a co-worker, and by the time they got to Jadwin Gym, they encountered something that TB has never seen before. Every single space in Lot 21 (the big one next to Jadwin) was taken.

Football camp is going on, which accounts for how many cars were in the parking lot, and out on the grass.

It doesn't account for how many of them drove past the two huge sandwich board signs at Lot 21, the small one in the front where athletic department people park. Those signs have a giant "NO" on them, as in no parking here if you don't have an athletics hang tag. And yet every spot was taken, which means that a handful of people saw those signs, said "this doesn't apply to me" and drove right in.

As a result, it took a few laps around the parking lot to see if someone was leaving, and finally it was Tyler Cordell, the women's basketball operations director, who left, giving up a prime parking spot.

TB wasn't prepared for such a crowded parking lot on a Friday morning in the summer. Usually the lot would be empty on such a day.

The extra time in the parking lot got TB thinking more about today's subject, which ostensibly is about how Peter Callahan was named a CoSIDA first-team Academic All-America in track and field.

Callahan, of course, was the one whose finishing kick gave Princeton wins in the distance medley relay at the NCAA championships and Heps, in dramatically stunning fashion.

As an aside, only CoSIDA, which is the national sports information directors' association, can use the term Academic All-America.

As another aside, TB knew a guy at Penn who used to say he had a 3.9 GPA, give or take a point. He actually had a 2.9 GPA.

Anyway, Callahan was Princeton's first first-team Academic All-America in a long time, as in all the way back to 2000, when both Susan Rea (soccer/softball) and Josh Sims (lacrosse) were honored.

When TB saw this, his first thought was Landis Stankievech, the Rhodes Scholar hockey player who had a nearly perfect GPA, wasn't a first-team Academic All-America? And he wasn't. He was third team.

TB's second thought is the same as it always is in these situations.

Do you want to publicize that this is something that hasn't happened in awhile?

On the one hand, it's impressive when someone does something here that hasn't been done in that long, given the quality of athletes and students who are here. On the other, it points out that it's been awhile.

This goes beyond an individual award like Callahans.

What about something like a team that hasn't won a championship in a long time? Or another team that hasn't matched an accomplishment in more than a decade?

Or even a stat.

The men's lacrosse team this year, for instance, had its highest scoring team in 10 years. Is it good to point that out or bad to say that it's been that long since the team up numbers like this?

TB has always wrestled with that, perhaps more than he should. Accomplishments, after all, are accomplishments, and something like how like it's been since such an accomplishment has been achieved adds historical significance to it.

TB just doesn't want to shortchange the teams and athletes who came in between such accomplishments.

Does it make the athletic program look bad that it hasn't had a first-team Academic All-America in 13 years?

That's the actual question here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Behind The Wheel

TigerBlog's car went past the 143,600-mile mark yesterday, and TB estimates that he's driven probably 143,500 of those miles.

His previous car - actually a minivan - retired with 155,000 or so on it. Before that, he never had a car reach 100,000, though he had three get to 90,000.

Add all that together, plus all the miles on all of the other cars he's had, and all the times he drove Princeton's cars, and he figures he's over the 1,000,000-mile mark. That would be more than 40 trips around the Earth at its equator.

TigerBlog Jr.'s career odometer sat at zero yesterday as TB let him take the keys yesterday morning.

An hour earlier, TBJ had passed his written test, which gave him a learner's permit. During the next six months he has to do at least 65 hours of driving, of which 10 have to be at night and five have to be in bad weather.

Then he can take his road test, and after that, presumably, be in charge of driving Miss TigerBlog wherever she has to go.

TB remembers the first time he was behind the wheel, a long, long time ago. His grandparents on his mother's side operated a driving school in Queens, and his grandfather taught TB to drive in one of those cars that has a break on the passenger's side as well.

What really stands out to TB from the first time he drove was that when he let go of the brake, the car moved without having to hit the gas. He found that somewhat startling.

Anyway, TB took TBJ to a big parking lot at a community park, one that had only two cars in it at the time. They belonged to parents with little kids who were on the playground there.

TB gave TBJ the keys and a brief tutorial on how it all worked. Then TBJ put the car in drive, went forward a bit and then slammed on the brakes, not realizing that in the braking world, a little goes a long way.

For 30 minutes, the two drove around the parking lot, making right turns and left turns, going to imaginary stop signs, getting the basics down.

There were a few times when he cut the turn too sharply, which would have meant wiping out someone's mailbox had it been on an actual road. For the most part, though, he was doing fine.

From there it was time to try the actual road. His first attempt was to make a right turn out of the park and then go about a half mile down the road to the middle school, where he made a right turn into that parking lot.

In all, he would drive for about two hours yesterday, and he would take out not a single mailbox or parked car, though he did have a tendency to drift towards the curb, something that needs to be corrected.

In all, it was a petrifying experience for TigerBlog.

As a parent, life becomes a series of milestones by your children, from learning to roll over and walk and talk to the first day of school to the first day of middle school to the first day of high school and on and on. Each time they take that big next step, it sends you back to the time when they were babies, and when they were helpless, and when they couldn't make a move without you.

It didn't seem that long ago that TBJ was a baby. And there he was yesterday, behind the wheel of a car.

It's moments like that that make a parent feel old. Turning 30 or 40 or even 50? Nah. Seeing your child in the driver's seat? Yup.

TB knows something that's going to make him feel way older than anything his own kids do, though.

One of these days, the child of a a Princeton athlete who competed here when TB was covering him or her will also come to Princeton as an athlete, and TB will feel ancient at that moment.

If it's already happened, he can't think of who it is.

TB first started covering Princeton athletics for real in 1989-90. If someone graduated that year, they'd be 45 or 46 right now. If they had a child at 28 then that child would be 18 now, and graduating high school.

When TB looks at it that way, then the floodgates of next generation Princeton athletes should be coming up relatively quickly.

If he goes by when he first started working here a few years later, well, then that backs up the timetable just a bit.

Either way, the day is coming.

There are all kinds of Princeton athletes whose parents (and even grandparents and great-grandparents) competed here. TB remembers receiving a letter - not an email but an actual letter - pointing out that a Princeton woman was a fourth-generation coxswain in her family, though the name and years escape TB.

There have been numerous Princeton lacrosse players whose fathers played here, but they were all before TB's time.

No, the day is coming when the son of a player TB saw play shows up on Princeton's lacrosse team, or the son or daughter of another Princeton athlete shows up on the roster of another team.

And on that day, TB will shake his head and say "wow."

And he'll really feel old.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is That A School Record?

TigerBlog is pretty sure that no other Princeton men’s basketball player will ever score 58 points in a game, something that Bill Bradley did in the 1965 NCAA third-place game against Wichita State.

Considering that in the 65 years prior to that and 48 years since no one else has reached 40, let alone 50, let alone 58 points in a game, Bradley’s record seems pretty safe.

Then again, so does his 2,503 career points, another school record that no one before or since has even remotely approached. In fact, the last two seasons have produced the No. 2 (Ian Hummer) and No. 3 (Douglas Davis) scorers in program history. No other player in Princeton history has ever scored more than Hummer except Bradley, and Hummer still finished 878 points away from the record.

TB has always viewed the numbers Bradley put up as the most unbreakable in all of Princeton Athletics.

The most unbreakable record in sports is usually considered to be Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, set back in 1941. TB has always sort of figured that DiMaggio’s record is approachable, if for no other reason than it will only take someone 57 games to do it, and yet in the 72 years since, nobody has.

As an aside, if you’re so young that you’re removed from the legend of Joe DiMaggio, ask a parent or grandparent. In addition to his on-field performance, which incluces more career home runs than strikeouts, DiMaggio was viewed as the perfect role model for every kid who ever got a baseball glove.

What other athlete has ever inspired a lyric like he did, as Simon and Garfunkel said: “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Anyway, to TB, Cy Young’s record of 511 career wins is actually the most unbreakable, since nobody is even going to make 511 career starts anymore, let alone with 511 games.

Most Princeton records are easy to find. They’re right there in the record book.

Of course, they require faith. Princeton’s record for goals in a men’s lacrosse game is 10, set by William Griffiths against Rutgers in 1951. At least that’s what the record book says. It was a little before TB’s time.

Then there are the records that are a little tougher to figure.

These records are limited to swimming and track and field and are more about what constitutes a Princeton record than the records themselves.

Greta Feldman ran a 2:03.something in the 800 (TB can’t find the exact time, but whatever it was it qualified for her the U.S.A. nationals) as part of the American milers series in Indianapolis two weeks ago.

Feldman’s time would have broken the Princeton record. Except Feldman graduated earlier this month.

So is it a record? Is the summer season now a continuation of the Princeton track and field season?

And hey, she was wearing her Princeton uniform when she did it. So is it a school record?

Or is it not, because she is a graduate?

TB isn’t sure.

He does know that there is no common thinking on the subject nationally. Some schools would recognize the record; others wouldn’t.

Track and Field News, which is basically the bible of the sport, says that collegians should be credited with records until August after they graduate. The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association says just the opposite, that the athletes’ career ends at the NCAA championships.

TB would say that a school record should only count in an actual Princeton University competition and that the opportunity to set a school record ends with the end of the athletes' eligibility, which ends with the last competition senior year.

Then again, what if this had been a year ago?

What if Feldman had set this record at the Olympic Trials last summer, prior to her senior year? Would that be a school record?

The same is true for swimming.

When is a school record a school record?

Suppose, say, Tom Schreiber was playing in a summer league and went out and scored 11 goals in a game. Would that be a school record? No way.

So why would it be so different in the two individual sports?

TB isn't sure what the right answer is here. Is it from the start to the conclusion of eligibility? Should any event during the period of eligibility count, regardless of what the competition was?

Then there's the added factor of not knowing through the years what the policy has been or who made it. Does the existing list of records include events that were outside of Princeton competition? There's no way to tell in some cases.

Feldman's time puts her in the national conversation as she looks ahead to the 2016 Summer Olympics, and that was the goal all along.

A Princeton record?

She might have been a few weeks late for that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's Your Address?

TigerBlog remembers his first experience with a GPS.

It was during the 2007 NCAA men's lacrosse Final Four, which was held in Baltimore. John Cornell, one of only two people ever to hold the title "director of publications" at Princeton athletics, had left here to live in Annapolis, and he was in a car that TB was driving on the way to the Outback Steakhouse.

TB is pretty sure he had an Outback Special, and there was probably a Bloomin' Onion involved. As TB looks out over the bananas on his desk and thinks about the grapes in the fridge, well, those clearly were the good old days.

Anyway, it was the Outback in Glen Burnie, outside Baltimore, and TB isn't sure if Cornell had the GPS on his phone or as an actual GPS.

What TB does remember is being completely fascinated by the whole concept of the GPS.

How in the world did the GPS know exactly where TB's car was? And how did it know how to get to the Outback? And how did the GPS now exactly how much further it was down the road to the restaurant?

TB is also pretty sure that once he started to grasp the concept that it was all being controlled by satellites in space, his first thought was that the government would know where he was eating dinner. Ah, but this is a non-politcal blog.

Anyway, the GPS has quickly gone from being something out of science fiction to being a part of mainstream, everyday life.

Mapquest used to be the way to find an unfamiliar destination, and TB still uses the site for a general reference. The GPS, which TB resisted getting for as long as possible, is now the staple.

It's really a weird dynamic, one of complete faith in some modern technology, without any questions asked of the technology itself.

TB wishes he could go back to when he was a kid, sit his room with his manual typewriter and black-and-white TV that had no remote and only a few channels with an antenna on the roof, and have someone lay out for him where technology was going to be in a few short decades.

TB surmises that those born in, say, 1558 didn't have that much of a difference in what was going on by the time it was 1600.

The last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century saw huge jumps in transportation, communication, medicine and so many other areas, and that is nothing compared to what has happened in the last 60 years, or even two or three years for that matter.

As for a GPS, TB is amazed at how he simply goes wherever it tells him to, making this turn or that turn without giving it a thought.

This past weekend, TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog were playing on fields about 30 minutes apart. TB went back and forth, and he found himself confronted with another oddity - the GPS took him one way from the first field to the second and then another direction from the second field back to the first.

Or people who came from basically the same area had their GPSs take them a different way.

Princeton Athletics has its own GPS-related issue to deal with, and that's the fact that none of the facilities has an actual street address.

For years, TB would tell people that if they wanted to mail something to Jadwin, the address was "Washington & Faculty Roads, Princeton, NJ 08544." That doesn't quite work with a GPS.

Neither does P.O. Box 71, Princeton, NJ, which is another mailing address for the athletic department.

Eventually, TB started estimating where on Faculty Road Jadwin would be, and he's pretty sure 1400 Faculty Road gets you here, unless on your particular GPS there is no 1400 Faculty Road.

Back when 609.258.3568 was the main number for the OAC, there were all kinds of "press here" options for the caller, including one for directions. That number hasn't been part of this office in a long time though.

There are directions on the webpage to the athletic facilities, and there are coordinates that can be entered into some GPSs. TB isn't sure if that's even an option for any new GPSs, now that he thinks about it.

He'll have to check his out later.

Phone calls asking for directions to facilities are rare, so people must be finding their way. And TB assumes they're using a GPS to do so.

Enter the address. Blindly follow.

What is coming next?

Monday, June 24, 2013

13 More

Princeton University won 12 Ivy League championships in the 2012-13 academic year.

It's won 13 more since the year ended.

How is that possible, you might ask? Well, TigerBlog will get to that in a minute.

First, there's the little matter of 14 foods no one should ever eat. Or at least that's what the title of the article that TB's friend Todd emailed him this morning.

TB of late has been watching what he's been eating, and he's learned a great deal about food consumption during that time. Mostly, eating poorly is a bad habit, one that is breakable.

In fact, it doesn't really take that long to get past a, say, 1,000-M&M a week habit and get into a say, 14-banana a week habit.

What TB also has noticed is that he - and he can't speak for all of humanity here - gets into the routine of eating the same foods over and over again. Should it come out that bananas are bad for people, well, then TB is in some degree of trouble. The same goes for baked potatoes. And Corn Flakes.

So what foods shouldn't people eat?

Well, some of it is common sense, like the heading of "anything at McDonald's." Some of the other entries aren't as obvious, like corn, non-organic strawberries and sprouts.

And bread? When TB was a kid, he never would have imagined that bread could ever be on the avoid list.

And diet soda? Too many artificial sweeteners, which, as it turns out, is its own category as well.

Eating well + regular exercise = better health. It's not very tricky - except when what constitutes eating right is constantly evolving. Perhaps one day M&Ms will be on top of the list of what everyone should eat.

For now, that isn't the case, so it isn't worth worrying about.

Let's get back, then, to the 13 Ivy titles that Princeton has "won" since May.

Actually, they were Ivy League championships that Princeton won through the years, except they weren't reflected on the spreadsheet that TB was using.

TB has an excel spreadsheet, in fact, that lists Ivy champions through the years, from the start of official Ivy play back in 1956-57.

TB has no idea where the original list came from. All he knows is that he's been adding to it every year since he's been here, which could come across as throwing his predecessors under the bus, unless TB wants to add that he probably could have checked over all of the lists of winners at some point in the last 20 years.

Fortunately, someone else from the OAC (Kristy McNeil) did just that. TB isn't quite sure what started her on the project; perhaps it was just one of those things that can get done in the summer when there are no events, though TB never thought to do it himself.

The result are two lists that Kristy compiled and put on

The first is Ivy League championships won sport-by-sport.

The other is Ivy League championships won year-by-year.

In the course of her research, Kristy found out that Princeton has actually won 13 more Ivy titles than were previously listed, bringing the total number of all-time Ivy League championships Princeton has won to 430.

And by Ivy League titles, that means championships won since 1956-57, which is reflected on the year-by-year list. The sport-by-sport list is a little trickier, since some teams competed for league championships before the formal creation of the Ivy League while others didn't.

The first Ivy League championship that Princeton won was in men's squash, back in that first year of 1956-57. Princeton then won three spring titles - men's lacrosse, men's lightweight rowing, men's tennis.

The first officially recognized Ivy women's championship was in basketball in 1974-75, when the champ was determined by a tournament and there was no round robin, let alone double round robin.

Anyway, the 430 number should be the accurate one.

And hey, it was a pretty good week last week. It's not easy to win 13 more Ivy titles, especially when not a single game was played.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Director Of Athletics Erin McDermott

TigerBlog has been part of job interviews for all kinds of positions here.

There are certain common questions and answers, most notably the "where do you see yourself in 10 years, 20 years, etc?"

The answer is always the same. The end goal is always to become an athletic director.

Not everyone reaches that far, of course. Not everyone can.

In his time at Princeton, TigerBlog has worked with seven people who have left and become an athletic director. Actually, there are six ADs and one conference commissioner.

Amy Campbell and George VanderZwaag were on the staff at Princeton when TB first started there. Campbell would become the longtime AD at Bryn Mawr before returning to work in Nassau Hall; VanderZwaag left and became the AD at Rochester, where he still is.

After that was Jim Fiore, now the AD at Stony Brook. And Jim McLaughlin, the AD at Union.

Jamie Zaninovich went from Princeton to become the commissioner of the West Coast Conference - and one of TB's favorite tweeters. Mike Cross is now the AD at Bradley in the Missouri Valley Conference.

To that group of six you can now add the name of Erin McDermott, who was announced yesterday as the Director of Athletics at the University of Chicago.

McDermott is the Deputy Athletic Director at Princeton, where she has worked for the last 13 years. There is very little that goes on in Princeton's athletic department that Erin hasn't had a role in during her tenure here.

Erin arrived at Princeton in an interim position, as an athletic administrative newbie. She leaves next month, 13 years later, as a veteran with a list of accomplishments at Princeton that could fill several pages of a resume.

Her work here took her way beyond Princeton's athletic facilities, and she spent much of her time on the other side of campus - or way off campus, working in various NCAA capacities.

The climb from an interim position to an AD at a major Division III school requires a level of ambition, but Erin never looked at working at Princeton as a prerequisite to moving up. When she looks back at her career, she will, TB supposes, think back to her time here with great fondness.

Princeton's first goal, as a department, is to provide the best possible experience for the student-athletes, and this was always No. 1A with Erin.

No. 1B? That was a strict, unflinching adherence to the highest ethical standards.

Because of that combination, TB can see why she was such a natural fit for Chicago.

As an aside, the University of Chicago is featured in the movie "Adventures in Babysitting," a rather underrated comedy starring Elisabeth Shue. During one key scene, she and the three kids for whom she is babysitting stumble onto a fraternity part on the Chicago campus, where none other than Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are playing.

Anyway, Chicago's athletic program used to be as big-time as big-time gets. The Maroons, as they are known, were founding members of the Big 10 conference, and the school owns seven Big 10 football championships, all of which came under the direction of head coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.

One of those seven came in 1922, when Chicago was the No. 1 team in the country before hosting the team that would eventually win the national championship that year. That team? Princeton, and its famous "Team of Destiny."

Princeton would knock off Chicago 21-18 in one of the most famous games in Princeton program history, and one of the most significant in college football history, insomuch as it was the first football game ever broadcast on radio.

Chicago left the Big 10 in 1946 after making a similar institutional decision as the one that led to the formation of the Ivy League several years later, though Chicago took the more drastic step to leave Division I.

Today, Chicago has 19 varsity teams (TB asked McDermott if the first thing she would be doing would be adding men's lacrosse), as well as more than 40 club teams and a huge intramural program.

And now it will be led by Erin McDermott.

She's a natural for the school, a liberal arts college that views athletics in the context of competition combined with its educational value and life lessons that its participants learn during their time there.

The school gets someone who will bring laughter and humor to the department every day, all while she sets extremely high standards for those who will represent that department, for those who work there and those who compete there.

Princeton says goodbye to one of the most loyal, hard-working and accomplished members of its campus.

TB wishes her the best.

He has no doubt she'll be an overwhelming success.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

RIP, Tony Soprano

TigerBlog was on an elevator last night when a man he'd never seen before got on and announced that Tony Soprano had died.

The news was stunning.

Tony Soprano was really actor James Gandolfini, who died yesterday in Italy at the age of 51, apparently of a heart attack.

Until "Homeland" came along, TB's belief was that "The Sopranos" was the best TV show of all time, or at least the best drama.

In fact, it's TB's belief that "The Sopranos," which currently airs at 8 every weeknight on one of the HBO channels, is the best show on TV right now.

TB has seen every episode a million times, both when they aired originally and now are being repeated on HBO and when they ran in syndication on A&E, with all of the cursing edited out in somewhat creative ways.

TB was watching one of the episodes the other day, the one from Season 5 where Tony's cousin Tony Blundetto is released from prison. It ends with Tony Soprano as he stares at himself in the mirror, wearing his boxers and no shirt.

It's a fairly stunning moment, one that captures the grittiness of the show - and a character who in many ways changed television - perfectly.

Gandolfini was chosen for the part of Tony over two others, Steven Van Zandt, who would play Silvio Dante (and who is sort of famous for something else) and Michael Rispoli, who played Jackie Aprile, the boss whose death from cancer opened the door for Tony.

"The Sopranos" was a unquestionable great show, largely because it wasn't just about mob violence.

No, this was a show about everyday life, with all of the same issues of family, paying bills, going to therapy and ultimately getting ahead and achieving all the trappings of success. And then, just when it seemed like they were just another North Jersey family, the realities of what they did for a living would come crashing back down, leaving the viewers to wonder what it said about their own values that they liked this guy so much.

It was a great ensemble cast, with great writing, great storylines and great risk-taking, such as when it went out on a limb by killing off one of its best characters after Season 2.

Mostly, it was about challenging those who watched it to figure out why they were okay with everything that was going on, which on a weekly basis included extortion, drug-use, infidelity, murder and all of it. Those subjects weren't there to be gratuitous but instead to serve as a reminder of who we were really dealing with here each week and what they were really all about.

It was brilliant, creative and original. And it never would have worked without Gandolfini.

His presence all by itself elevated the show. And it was precisely because of his physical stature - huge, not exactly classically handsome - that he was so much more powerful on the screen and so much more believable as a mob boss.

And that's why the scene where he looks at himself in the mirror is so telling. He is so physically imperfect, and yet at the same time he loves what he says looking back at him.

Its the core of what the whole show is about. He loves what's looking back at him - and nobody in his life is going to be able to say anything to him to convince him otherwise. He is completely flawed as a human being but doesn't see himself that way. He indulges his every whim and takes what he wants, not caring who gets hurt along the way, even if it's someone he loves, or is supposed to love.

Gandolfini's performance was epic, so much so that it made it harder for fans of the show to envision him in any other role.

It also blurred the line between actor and character, so much so that it felt as if Tony Soprano had died yesterday. TB, by the way, doesn't buy into the idea that Tony is killed off at the end of the series, when the screen fades to make it seem like the cable went out.

In fact it was James Gandolfini who died yesterday, a man, not a character, one who died at just 51. If it was a heart attack, it's possible that the giant stature that he saw in the mirror in that episode of "The Sopranos" ultimately is what cut his life so sadly short.

Gandolfini was a New Jersey guy, one who grew up in Bergen County and attended Rutgers, from which he graduated in 1983.

TigerBlog spent some time Googling to see if there was any connection between Gandolfini and Princeton University. He didn't find any.

He has no memory of a time when Princeton University is mentioned during the series, let alone Princeton Athletics. Meadow, Tony's daughter, attends Columbia, but even through there there is no reference to Princeton that TB remembers.

But hey, maybe Meadow made a road trip down to Central Jersey for a Princeton-Columbia football game, and maybe Tony went as well.

Or maybe the real James Gandolfini, while he was a Rutgers student, came to watch Princeton-Rutgers basketball or some other event.

It's all speculation now anyway, after Gandolfini's death yesterday.

It was actually two deaths, that of an actor and the character his performance made so real that it's almost impossible not to think of Tony Soprano as a real person.

TigerBlog has seen very few TV characters where that was the case. Actually, he can't think of any others off the top of his head.

TigerBlog was shocked to find out James Gandolfini was dead.

Shocked, and very much saddened.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Three For The Year

In case you forgot, Princeton trailed Harvard 34-10 with 12 minutes to go in last October's football game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

This was from TigerBlog two days later:

Princeton was outgained 415-51 in the first half, which ended 20-0 Harvard. It appeared that Princeton's chance was after its touchdown drive to start the second half and then fumble recovery on the Crimson 5, but when Princeton was held to a field goal and Harvard came right down the field to make it 27-10, TB thought it was over.
Harvard would end up with a school-record 448 yards and five touchdowns from its quarterback, Colton Chapple. One running back ran for 100 yards; three receivers had at least 100 yards, including Kyle Juszczyk, who caught 15 passes for 192 yards and three TDs.

In all, the Crimson rolled up 634 yards of offense.

He also wrote this:

As Powers Field was engulfed in a sea of orange and black humanity, the reason for the party hung over all of their heads, as if a reminder was needed. There it was anyway, lingering on the scoreboard:
Princeton 39, Harvard 34.

With the end of the 2012-13 academic year comes the need to recap it all in various ways, most immediately with the annual report.

The report is basically a summary of the year in Princeton Athletics, with a lot of facts about the number of athletes who competed - and the number of workout permits sold.

There are also sections about the on-field story of the previous academic year.

Princeton measures things like overall won-loss record of every team, record against Ivy opponents in all sports, stuff like that. It's usually pretty interesting.

TigerBlog isn't sure how closely it gets read. It's given, he assumes, to the higher-ups of the University, perhaps the Trustees. He seems to remember at one point that it was referred to as the Presidents' report, so he guesses it goes to Nassau Hall.

He can't guarantee how closely it gets read. Perhaps he should try including a page in the middle that just has the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner, as Penn legend has it one student did on a final exam and had it go unnoticed.

Anyway, the annual report got TB thinking about what the greatest games by Princeton teams in the 2012-13 academic year were. He came up with three.

The football game against Harvard is definitely one of them.

Princeton rallied from that 34-10 deficit to put up 29 points in 12 minutes and shock Harvard, who had the nation's longest winning streak at the time. Harvard went from an invincible force expected to roll to the league championship to derailed in those 12 minutes, and the Crimson would in fact not win the league.

TigerBlog had this to say as well:

The winning drive went 11 plays and covered 90 yards, without any timeouts, taking 1:44 off the clock. The touchdown was Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson from 38 yards, after Michelsen had been knocked out of the game a few plays earlier, with 13 seconds left.
Really, it was something like from a sports movie, where the underdogs need the late touchdown and the ball seems to hang in the air forever - and nobody can really believe what happened.  

That game wasn't just one of the best of the last 12 months. It's one of the best TB has ever seen, and it was the best Ivy football game TB has ever seen.

What were the other two?

Princeton 3, North Carolina 2, in the NCAA field hockey championship game.

The ACC had won each of the previous 11 NCAA field hockey titles, and Princeton won this one the hard way, beating two-time defending champ Maryland 3-2 in overtime in the semifinal and then beating Carolina in the final.

Princeton trailed twice in the final, at 1-0 and 2-1, before rallying with two goals four minutes apart midway through the second half and then holding off the Tar Heels.

And the other?

Princeton 14, Cornell 13, in the Ivy League men's lacrosse tournament semifinals.

Like the football game, this lacrosse game will not have the historical significance of the field hockey game, as Princeton fell in the final to Yale to end its season.

Still, a game that was 6-6 at the half and 7-7 at the end of the third quarter exploded in a not-to-be-believed fourth quarter. The game included an epic seven-goal, two-assist day by Mike MacDonald and ended when Kip Orban, off a pass from MacDonald, rocketed a shot into the top of the goal to end it in overtime.

There were other great games this year.

TigerBlog will go with those three. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Colllege Foootball

TigerBlog is not a great speller.

He likes to play the "Guess My Word" game every morning, which asks the player to guess a word and then keep guessing words before or after the previous one alphabetically until the word in question is guessed. TB often knows the answer but is spelling it wrong.

So for someone like TB, you'd think spell-check would be a good thing, which it usually is.

Except when it comes to the iPhone. Then it can be a nightmare.

Auto-correct, that is.

How many times has auto-correct changed something you've texted into a completely different word - and often - meaning, only you're moving too fast to realize it until after you've hit send, which means that you have to send another text message to correct the first, only auto-correct changes that one too.

It's one thing when auto-correct changes obscure or incorrect words to ones that are used all the time. But why change "food" to "good" automatically?

Or TB's biggest auto-correcting pet peeve, which is to change "were" to "we're" at the beginning of a sentence, which takes "were you at the meeting" and changes it to "we're you at the meeting."

On the other hand, TigerBlog always loves when he's typing - is it called typing when you're sending a text message on a phone? - and he has about eight letters out of place and yet auto-correct knows exactly what he meant to say.

Who came up with that? Who was able to program the phone to turn "Peubxwrib" and know that it's actually supposed to be "Princeton?"

TigerBlog wasn't at all bothered when he saw that the word "college" was spelled wrong on top of one of the dugouts at the College World Series.

Did you see this one?

It was spelled "Colllege," which three "Ls" instead of two. Actually, if you think about it, it's somewhat funny, spelling the word "college" wrong. TB saw one tweet about it that said "Most of us are going pro is something other than sports - like sign painting."

Okay, it's a bad mistake. And clearly someone - or multiple people - should have caught it.

And it clearly doesn't look good to have a gigantic misspelling on the top of a dugout at the premiere event for the sport.

Still, it happens. TB gets it.

He also wonders what the fall-out  was. He can just imagine the CYA-fest of blame deflection that took place after that.

TB remembers the time when one of Princeton's football opponents sent its preseason prospectus in the mail. TB is sure almost nobody still does the first or uses the second.

Anyway, this particular time, right there on the cover, was the name of the school and sport. Only one of them was spelled right. The other was spelled "Foootball."

TB gets that too.

TB makes all kinds of spelling mistakes. He even catches some of them.

Still, TB lives in fear of a colllege foootball-type situation.

It's particularly unnerving to send a game program to the printer. Well, actually the unnerving part is when it comes back from the printer.

TB is pretty sure one of these days he's going to see that he spelled the name of the opposing team incorrectly or, even worse, spelled Princeton incorrectly.

A college athletics website is a place for high levels of production. It's even more so at Princeton and in the rest of the Ivy League, where there are twice as many sports as at most places.

There are hundreds of articles on each month, and it's impossible not to have a spelling mistake or two get out there. It's always going to happen.

Add to that writing a blog five days a week and the potential for error increases by some major factor of 10.

Aftr alll, ther arre tooo maney wrds too spll thm write ech tme.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Traveling Man

You know how you know you got up early?

When you've been to the Philadelphia airport and back, and it's not even 6 am, that's how.

TigerBlog Jr. had to go to Alabama yesterday morning, and he left Philly on a 6 am flight. So let's do the math: flight at 6 - getting there at least 90 minutes before the flight - 45 minute drive to airport = getting up very, very early.

TBJ is competing in NFL playoffs this week, and if you guessed "NFL" stands for "National Forensics League," then you would be correct.

Oh, and it's forensics as in speech and debate, not as in "CSI."

TBJ competes in the speech part, in various events. At the national championships this week, he's in a duo event. In other competitions, he's done a solo event, including one where he had to memorize a famous speech and recite it.

In that case, his speech was Jim Valvano's inspirational speech at the ESPY's, the "don't ever give up" speech. It's more than eight minutes long.

The NFL - TB isn't sure how it gets away with calling itself the NFL - has drawn students from all 50 states to the national championships.

Obviously, most had to get there by airplane.

Because of a scheduling conflict, TBJ had to travel separately from the other competitors from his school, who all left on Saturday. Instead, he had to go by himself, for his first solo flying experience, complete with having to change planes in Orlando.

So what do you tell a 15-year-old about flying by himself?

TB gave him all the usual rules - don't carry anything for anyone, be careful with your money, get on the right plane - in the days leading up to the trip.

Then it was off to Philly. At 3:42 a.m. On Fathers' Day, no less.

By the time the car was parked in the short term lot and his bag was checked, it was 4:50. And time for him to get on the security line.

When TB saw how many people were lined up, he thought he'd entered into another dimension, one where time didn't exist. It was a flood of people, all getting on extraordinarily early flights. TB wanted to get a bullhorn and yell "does anyone here realize it's not even 5 in the morning yet?"

TB of course couldn't go through security, so he had to say goodbye there. He asked TBJ if he was nervous, and TBJ replied "about what?"

TB told him to text him when he got through security (which turned out to be at 5:30) and then from Orlando (he received a text that said "have made land in Florida.") and ultimately Birmingham (this time it was "all I've seen of Birmingham so far is baggage claim, which is taking forever.").

TB tried to remember the first time he flew by himself, and he's pretty sure it was while he was doing college radio and Penn played at the Far West Classic in Portland.

Little did TB know that it would start a lifetime of flying to watch Ivy League basketball. And little did he know that it would be even more about flying to watch the Orange and Black team, not the Red and Blue one.

TB has been to 35 states in his life, and by his count he's been to 16 of them simply to see Ivy League basketball - 14 for Princeton and two for Penn. He's flown 21 times to other states for Ivy basketball.

For awhile he wasn't sure if he should count Kentucky, because he'd been in the airport there when Princeton played at Xavier, which is in Cincinnati. If you've ever been to that city, you know everyone says the airport is in Kentucky.

Fortunately, Princeton played at Louisville in the 2002 NIT, leaving that dilemma resolved.

He's been to Birmingham, where his son is currently competing. That was back on Dec. 15, 1998, when Princeton played at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, in a game the Tigers won 69-57.

TB's biggest memory of that game is the media food, which was more like a fine dining experience.

Oh, and Princeton played great, shooting nearly 50% as a team for the game (22 for 45, including 10 for 18 in the second half) with four players in double figures. TB will now give you a few paragraphs to guess which four players.

As an aside, when he does this, he often forgets to remember to go back and give the answer, so he'll try not to do that again.

Anyway, here are the 16 states that TB has been to simply to see Ivy basketball:

Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon (Penn), Tennessee (Penn), Texas, Wisconsin.

Here are the other states he's had to fly to to see Princeton basketball, in addition to something else in that state at some other point of his life:
California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina.

Oh, and the answer: Brian Earl (18), Gabe Lewullis (13), Mason Rocca (12) and Chris Krug (10).

TBJ gets back Friday.

His flight gets into Philly at 5:30.

Traffic figures to be worse than it was getting there yesterday.

Friday, June 14, 2013

You're A Grand Ol' Flag

So it's Friday, June 14.

In recent days, TigerBlog has touched on such varied subjects as getting a little too close to a crop-duster, his close encounter with a vicious killer (and possibly poisonous) turtle and making a right turn on a red light (and possibly a left turn on a red light).

So what else is there to write about?

How about Flag Day?

TigerBlog loves the flag. Great color scheme. Great idea for the stars and stripes. It's a beautiful flag.

And today's its birthday. The Continental Congress officially adopted the flag on June 14, 1777, which was 236 years ago today.

As everyone knows, Betsy Ross made the first flag, which had 13 stars - one for each colony - in a circle. If you believe everything you see on TV, then Bugs Bunny gave her the idea for the stars when he stepped on a rake.

Of course, there are those who believe that Betsy Ross didn't actually sew the first flag, that that is just a legend and that there is no proof it's true.

So what if it is or isn't?

In all seriousness, the flag of the United States of America has been a symbol of freedom ever since it first appeared. It has flown over battlefields and battleships during fights to liberate an uncountable number of people.

The national anthem is a salute to the flag: "Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

When TigerBlog was a kid, he spent his summers as a sleepaway camp. Every morning, the flag would be raised up the pole. Every night it would be taken down. The entire camp would gather to watch both.

Back when Pete Carril was still Princeton's men's basketball coach, TigerBlog put together the 21 best quotes that he could find. Some of them were funny. Some were serious.

Some were philosophical, like the time he said "I'll take that up with God when I get there" after being asked if Kit Mueller and/or Bob Scrabis had been fouled by Alonzo Mourning at the end of the 1989 NCAA tournament game against Georgetown, which Princeton lost 50-49.

Of all the quotes, this is the one that TB settled on as the best. It came in the winter of 1991, during Desert Storm, when the trend became to put American flags on basketball uniforms.

Princeton was one of the few holdout teams who didn't, at least until the Tigers reached the NCAA tournament that year.

When asked why, here's what Carril said:

"What good is it if you wear a flag and play like a dog? What good is it if you put a yellow ribbon on your porch or flag on your lawn and cheat on your taxes? That young guy who was killed today, he can never be replaced. All the dreams and aspirations his family had for him, they're gone. How can there be any way to balance that except for every person in this country to do the best he can to honor that hero? Maybe it's far-fetched to think that someone on the front line is concerned whether our guys go to class, but I think that's part of what they're fighting for. That if our students don't do everything in their power to keep their commitments to their parents, they're letting the whole country down. This kid who died over there today, what are you doing in your left to make sure you're worthy of him."

His point was that anyone could put a flag on a uniform.

To actually honor the flag - and the people who were making the biggest sacrifices to defend that flag and what it stands for - requires commitment.

It doesn't mean everyone has to, as Colonel Jessup said, "pick up a weapon and stand a post." It's about being the best possible person you can be, so that those who are standing a post know that what they're doing is being valued, that there's a reason for it.

And that's the power of the flag.

It's a grand ol' flag.
It's worth it every now and then to take a step back and think about what it means, and how much has been done in its honor through the centuries.

So wish it a happy birthday today. It's still looking pretty good at 236.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Do you ever fall asleep on the couch when you sit down to watch TV as it gets later, only to wake up an hour later, completely groggy and unaware of what time it is?

After a few seconds, it becomes apparent that it's not morning. In fact, it's actually bedtime, except that getting off the couch and into bed seems like a completely daunting task.

What about insomnia? That's even worse.

TigerBlog hates when he has to get up for something really early and yet can't fall asleep. He looks at the clock and then calculates how much time he has before he has to get up. Then he looks back at the clock and some more time has gone off, so he recalculates.

And the worst part is that he can't remember if he's been asleep during that time or not. That's even more frustrating.

Then there's no way to know exactly how much sleep TB actually has gotten. Has he been asleep? Has he dreamed he was awake?

When TB first graduated college, he worked in the newspaper business, which meant never having to wake up early. It meant working past midnight, sleeping really late and having it start again the next day.

As a result, TB became used to getting a lot of sleep.

Then he started working here, with a more regimented schedule. Then he had kids.

If you've ever tried to navigate the world of your average baby, it didn't take you long to figure out that they aren't exactly concerned with how much rest their parents get. Not in the least.

On the bright side, once babies get old enough to sleep through the night and then grow into little kids who can get themselves to bed - and ultimately to teenagers who sleep til noon or beyond if you let them - their parents realize that they didn't need nearly the amount of sleep each night that they thought they did.

These days, TB almost never sleeps past 7 am, if that. The idea of sleeping to 10, 11 or beyond? Hilarious.

Last night was a good night for insomnia, what with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals drifting late into the third overtime. It was right at 1 a.m. Eastern time when the Blackhawks finally scored.

The most impressive performance of the night might have been Mike Emrick's, who at the age of 66 was still going strong into the third OT.

Not that TB is a huge hockey fan but he's rooting for the Blackhawks, largely because he hates the Bruins, who seem to come across as a bit smug as an organization.

The big stories in sports right now are the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup finals, World Cup qualifying and the U.S. Open golf tournament, which is being held in Ardmore, Pa. According to Mapquest, that would be 47 miles from Princeton, which means that the same gigantic rain/thunder/hail/wind/possible tornado storm that is bearing down on this area has the golf in a rain delay.

Lost in all of this right now is Major League Baseball. TB hasn't looked at the standings much this year and hasn't watched any games on TV yet.

His lone interest in baseball so far has been Will Venable, who began the year as the only Princeton grad in the Majors. Venable is hitting .228 with eight home runs, 24 RBIs, nine stolen bases, some really good defense and a .720 OPS.

Venable's team, the Padres, were supposed to be awful, but they are actually hanging in there at 32-34.

Another Princetonian, Ross Ohlendorf, returned to the Majors last night when he started for the Nationals against the Rockies in Denver. It was a great night for Ohlendorf, who apparently has reworked his wind-up.

The result was a line of six innings, two hits, one run, two walks, two strikeouts and 89 pitches. He left with a 4-1 lead that ended up being a 5-1 victory, making Ohlendorf 1-0 on the year.

It wasn't until TB read the box score that he saw that Washington has the same number of wins as San Diego, 32, though the Nats are at .500 at 32-32.

TB would have guessed that Washington was way better than that.

When he looked further, he saw that the Yankees were three games back, though they're also closer to fourth than first, which is good.

Like the Bruins, TB doesn't root for the Yankees.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

American Pharaoh

TigerBlog was in Costa Rica exactly one year ago today.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins exactly one year from today.

Those two facts intersected on ESPN last night, as Costa Rica played at Mexico in a World Cup qualifier. Los Ticos, as the Costa Ricans are known, tied Mexico 0-0 in a game that has them again positioned well to finish in the top three of the six teams in the group and earn a spot in the field that will be playing in Brazil.

The United States defeated Panama 2-0 last night in Seattle to stay in first place with 10 points, two ahead of the Costa Ricans and Mexicans and three up on Honduras. Panama is in fifth place with six points, and then Jamaica has two.

Mexico and Jamaica have played six of their 10 games; the other four have played five.

The top three automatically go to Brazil. The fourth place team plays New Zealand in November in a home-and-home, with the winner to advance to the World Cup.

When TB was in Costa Rica, he went to a game between the home team and El Salvador in the first round of qualifying. It was a sporting event unlike any other TB has ever seen.

The importance, the all-consuming national fervor, is unmatched by anything in this country. It's not that it's bigger than the Super Bowl; it's just different.

It is completely unifying, among everyone in the country. It is the singular focus of everyone. It is all anyone talks about.

To be in the stadium is ridiculous. There is nothing else that exists at that moment, for an entire nation.

The U.S. game was on against Game 3 of the NBA finals. In this country, the number of people who care about the NBA finals has to exceed the number of people who care about World Cup qualifying by several multiples. In the other country? No way.

TigerBlog still hasn't figured out his position on the U.S. team.

He's not really rooting against the Americans, though he is holding a grudge because of the firing of Princeton alum Bob Bradley as the U.S. head coach.

In a relatively short time, the World Cup has gone from something TB hardly paid attention to to arguably his favorite sporting event.

Bradley, who took Princeton to the 1993 NCAA men's soccer final four and whose brother Scott is Princeton's baseball coach, took the U.S. to the group championship at the World Cup three years ago but was let go shortly after that. At the time of Bradley's firing, the U.S. was ranked 18th in the world. Today, the U.S. is ranked 28th.

Ranked six spots behind the U.S. right now is Egypt, whose coach just happens to be Bob Bradley.

The Egyptians are also in a dominating position to advance to the final 10 teams in African qualifying, as Bradley's new team is running away with its group with two games to play. Should Egypt win its group - a tie in one of its last two games will probably be enough, two points will definitely clinch - it would advance to the last round of qualifying, which would be a two game, home-and-home, with the winner into the field of 32 for Brazil.

Bradley's work in Egypt isn't just about building a soccer team. Nope. Not by a long shot.

Bradley is trying to get his team to the World Cup, something that Egypt has only managed twice, in 1934 and 1990. If that wasn't hard enough to deal with, there are few places on Earth right now that have had the social and political upheaval that Egypt does.

Forgetting which end of the politics you're on, Bradley's task is an enormous one. And his story is an amazing one, with the way he and his wife Lindsay have been received by the Egyptians.

"American Pharaoh" is a documentary about Bradley and his work in Egypt. It's not the first one that TB has seen on the subject, but they all have something in common.

No, it's not just the way they show Bradley's work with the soccer team. It's the way they show Bradley the man himself.

He is so strong-willed, so commanding, so focused. He speaks with such determination, conviction and honor that TB always gets the sense that Bradley should be running a country, not a soccer team.

TB would have preferred that Bradley had never gotten fired by the U.S. team.

As its turned out, his legacy is really being made by what he's doing in Cairo - whether his team advances to the World Cup or not.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Unwanted Day Off

Miss TigerBlog had a lacrosse tournament this past weekend down in Hammonton, near Atlantic City.

If you're not familiar with Hammonton, it's famous for its blueberries, and in fact refers to itself as the "Blueberry capital of the world."

Anyway, the tournament lasted two days, and on Day 2, TigerBlog was killing time between games when he noticed a low-flying airplane that came in over the sod farm where the event was being held.

Beyond the fields were a sandy area that was being used for parking - and being that the sod was over the same sand base, the fields were remarkably dry considering how rainy it had been. After the rows of cars were, not shockingly, blueberry fields.

The plane dove towards the field and, maybe a hundred yards from the parking area and then the playing fields, began to crop dust.

TigerBlog, being the fan of chemicals released into the air a few football fields away from where he was sitting that he is, wanted of course to get a space suit and a new car, though surprisingly he chose neither of those things.

TB was surprised at just how close to the ground the plane got before it released whatever it was it was releasing and then climbing back up to a few hundred feet, circling and repeating the process. It seemed like a fairly dangerous thing to do, and certainly one that would be unforgiving for a small error.

For TigerBlog, a spelling mistake or misidentified photo is a minor problem. For the crop-dusting pilot, it seems like the ramifications would be way more serious.

MTB's first game was Saturday morning, and TB thought he woman coaching the other team looked somewhat familiar. As it turned out, she was.

As it turned out, it was Tyler Cordell, the women's basketball Director of Operations here at Princeton.

As an aside, Director of Basketball Operations is often shortened to "DOBO," in the vernacular of the day as it were. Princeton also has a Director of Track Operations, which becomes "DOTO," and his name is Michael Henderson. Princeton also has an event manager named Mike Doto, so there is Mike Doto and Mike the Doto.

Anyway, Tyler was coaching a middle school girls lacrosse team for the summer season, which TigerBlog thinks is awesome.

Somewhere between when TB wrote the first part of that sentence and was able to finish it, his phone rang. It was the Princeton emergency line, saying that the campus has been evacuated due to multiple bomb threats in unspecified locations.

The reaction to the message at first was to question whether everyone really needed to leave or not, though the person who recorded the message was very, very serious about how this was not a drill or a test.

After that, there were a few minutes of milling around, wondering what to do next. Should everyone really leave? Stay? Was this for real?

Sadly, this is the reality of the world.

TB has often thought he can hide from so much in his office, that he was free there from so many of the problems of the world. Never once, in all the time he's been in Jadwin Gym, has he ever felt unsafe.

In fact, he didn't feel all that unsafe this morning. The reality is that he doubts that there really are bombs on Princeton's campus, and he'll be surprised if he's wrong.

Surprised, but safe.

Because like everyone else at Princeton, he left.

Because in 2013, nobody can mess around with stuff like this. Not the people whose job it is to protect everyone else, and certainly not the people who are to be protected.

And what about those people, whose job it is to do the protecting? They live with this every single day, so that the rest of us don't have to worry about it - until it smacks at home.

Right now, TB is still sitting in the parking lot, which is emptying, causing a massive traffic delay. He couldn't leave if he wanted to.

Instead, he's left to sit here and wait, and face the way life is now.

And what does that mean?

It means he's finishing his blog, because he can't simply not do it, not when that's what he does every other day. And he's finishing it in the parking lot, because he, like everyone else, has to be aware that there is a chance that somebody who could care less about humanity has done something to cause as much hurt and pain as possible.

If you don't believe TB, who would have ever thought it would happen at the Boston Marathon?

And so TB doesn't get to talk today about how nice it is that Tyler Cordell is giving her time to a bunch of young girls who are just learning to play lacrosse.

Nope. Reality has gotten involved.

And TB has himself a day off. An unwanted day off at that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Making A New Friend On A Monday Morning

You know how TigerBlog knew it was raining really, really hard this morning?

Well, first, he was getting soaked in the five seconds from front door to car. Then, after he backed his car up, he noticed there was something underneath it. At first he wasn't sure what it was, and he figured it was garbage or something that had blown underneath.

Then he saw it move. And then he realized it was a turtle.

Not just any little turtle. A big nasty looking one.

Unlike geese, TB is not afraid of turtles. Or spiders, who eat the other bugs.

This turtle, though, was a bit freaky. He was sort of bigger than the average turtle, and he had a long tail sticking out the back of the shell.

TB's favorite turtle is Cecil, the one who ran against Bugs Bunny. Now Cecil had a cool shell.

Anyway, the turtle on the driveway couldn't come close to beating Bugs Bunny, or even a less accomplished athletic rabbit. Nope. The un-Cecil moved really, really slowly, exactly as you'd expect a turtle to move.

It was that kind of morning, the kind that inspired Paul Williams to write a song once that TB knows 1) you love and 2) you'd never admit to loving. In fact, TB once devoted considerable space to that particular dynamic.

Of course, it was more than just a rainy day and a Monday.

It's the first business day after the conclusion of the 2012-13 athletic year here at Princeton.

It's somewhat dreary around here right now, with the rain pouring down and the many people who aren't here today.

It's June 10. This past weekend was nine months removed from wins by the field hockey team over Richmond and women's soccer team over Temple, six months removed from tough losses by the men's basketball team (Drexel) and women's basketball team (Delaware) and three months removed from the toughest loss TB saw this year, Princeton's 16-15 loss at North Carolina in men's lacrosse.

In other words, once again, time flew. An entire academic year, come and gone.

It's how it works around here. Maybe there are a lot of other professions that are as seasonal as this one. Maybe not.

Either way, TB knows that his calendar dictates what is going on, how busy it is, how radically different his job is at any given point of the year.

And now Princeton Athletics has entered into one of its slowest times of the year.

December isn't very busy, since there aren't many events or teams that play throughout that month. Maybe that time is the slowest, with the holidays and all.

If it's not then, then it's now.

There are still things to total up before the end of the fiscal year, people who need to be paid and such, like stat crew workers and PA announcers and people who do the clock and all.

And there are other parts of the previous year that need to be wrapped up, along with things for next year that are already ongoing. And there are summer camps, lots and lots of them, that will be starting shortly.

Camp season, in fact, will stretch from this month through early August, and that will end just in time for the fall athletes to start to come in, after which time it will all start over again.

For now, though, there is the big exhale after another year has ended. From the last day of August through the first weekend in June, the 2012-13 year as seen a steady crush of teams, athletes, events.

And now it's just quiet around here.

TB is often asked if he has to work in the summer, and the answer is yes. It's just not nearly as nutty as it is during the year.


Now it's quiet. Just a rainy Monday morning, with nothing all that pressing right now.

Things slow down.

Maybe not to a crawl like they do for TB's new friend from the driveway, but slow nonetheless.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It Went Okay

Ryan Crouser had six throws in the shot put - or, correctly, six puts of the shot - at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Wednesday and went foul, foul, 20.31 meters, foul, foul, foul.

The five fouls didn't end up mattering. The 20.31 meters did, as it made Crouser the NCAA champion.

Then, the Texas sophomore - all 6-7, 240 of him - went back to his hotel, where he ran into Princeton's OAC track and field contact, Kristy McNeil, who is more than a foot shorter.

As Kristy relayed the story, she saw him in the hallway with his Texas track warmups on and asked him what event he did. When he said he was in the shot put, she asked him how he did, to which he replied something along the lines of "it went okay."

Then, when she pressed him for where he finished, he said "I won."

While Princeton hasn't had a champion at these championships, not everyone goes with a chance to win - or defines success by coming home with a victory.

Princeton has had three All-Americas so far, the first two of whom were on the same day Crouser won the shot put, as Julia Ratcliffe in the hammer and Russell Dinkins in the 800 both earned second-team honors.

Princeton's best showing so far came last night in the 10,000, when senior Michael Franklin finished fifth, a finish that made him a first-team All-America. It was also Princeton's best finish ever in the 10K at the NCAA championships.

TigerBlog will steal the next two paragraphs from McNeil's story on the race, which also has a great picture of Franklin:

This year's Ivy League champion in the 5 and 10k, Franklin entered the meet seeded 18th out of 24. He finished in front of top-seeded Girma Mecheso  (OSU) as well as Parker Stinson (Oregon) who had the third-best time in the nation entering today’s race.

Franklin was in second place for the first couple laps before he settled comfortably into a big pack. With about nine laps remaining the race starting to slow a bit and athletes started to break away from one another. Franklin found himself steady in the top 12 and with three laps to go he turned it on. He ran his fastest three laps in the final three laps clocking a 1:08.17, 1:06.73 and closed with a 1:01.62 - the second -fastest lap of any of the competitors throughout the entire race.

Princeton sent nine athletes to the championships, and eight of them have already competed.

The only one left to go is junior Imani Oliver in the women's triple jump.

Oliver, the school-record-holder in the triple jump, is not only the last Princeton athlete to compete at the NCAA championships but also the last Princeton athlete in any sport to compete in the 2012-13 academic year.

Princeton Athletics has been going strong since last Aug. 31, when the women's volleyball team, soccer teams and field hockey team opened their seasons.

One of the things that TB loves about his job is that no two years are exactly the same, and each year provides its own challenge. The 2012-13 academic year is one of the best that TB has seen around here.

Princeton won four NCAA championships this academic year, beginning with the field hockey team and continuing with fencing, an individual fencer and the indoor track and field distance medley relay team. There were some epic performances this year, and Princeton has had some of the best athletes who have ever played their sports at the school - and in some cases the best athlete ever to play his/her sport - compete this year.

As TB looks back at the 2012-13 year, another part of what he loves about Princeton couldn't be clearer.

There are some who would never want to work at a place that doesn't have BCS-level football and basketball and then a big drop-off in importance to everything else.

For TB, the diversity of sports at Princeton - and of the people who play them - is still a huge lure.

It was on display all year, with 38 sports and nearly 1,000 athletes, all leading up to today, when Oliver's last triple jump will bring the curtain down again - until it starts up again for another year, with another new set of challenges, with no guarantee for continued success.

The 2012-13 academic year?

Hey, like Ryan Crouser said, it went okay.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

No Turn On Red

TigerBlog pulled up to a traffic light the other day, and he was turning right.

There was a sign that said "No Turn On Red Weekdays 2-5." TB then looked at his clock and saw that it was 4:59.

What would you have done? Turn, or wait?

TB was debating that. He wondered if there was a police officer anywhere who would give someone a ticket for turning right at a right light one minute before it was okay to do so.

Whose clock was official anyway? Is it like when a game is on TV and everything has to be synced through the clock in the truck before the pregame countdown on the clock in the stadium can start. The cop's clock is the only one that matters?

Maybe it would become 5:00 before the light turned green. Maybe it wouldn't.

Then the guy behind TB honked at him. Didn't he see the sign? Didn't he know it wasn't exactly time to make a right turn on red?

The light turned green before the clock struck five, and TB waited to turn. That was two days ago. He's going to go back to that intersection at some point in the near future at around 4:55 and see how many people turn right on red before 5:00. He can report back on that.

Of course, there is the whole notion of coming to a complete stop before turning right on red, something that is in practicality more of a slow roll and then turn. TB is guilty of that all the time, yet something kept him from making the actual turn before the clock said it was time.

The ability to turn right on red predates when TB got his driver's license, though not by much. According to Wikipedia, it grew out of an idea to save gas during the fuel shortages in the 1970s.

Through the years TB has sometimes wondered why there would be a "No Turn On Red" sign at a certain intersection, when clearly it looks safe to turn there.

Then there's the question of whether or not it's legal to make a right on red in big cities. It's against the law in New York City, for instance, and so TB has wondered if he could turn right on red in unfamiliar cities.

And then there is the much less frequent left on red, at an intersection with two one-way streets. Is that legal?
Speaking of left turns, Peter Farrell, the Princeton women's track and field coach, was working with Miss TigerBlog before she ran for her middle school team this spring.

Her events were the 100 hurdles, the long jump and the 400, though she filled in on the 4x100 relay team one time, and it just so happened that the relay team set the school record that day.

Anyway, Farrell's advice to MTB on how to run the 400? Make four left turns and get back here as soon as you can.

With coaching like that, is it any wonder that Princeton is doing so well in the sport?

The Tigers had two All-Americas on the first day of the NCAA outdoor track and field championship. Freshman Julia Ratcliffe didn't have her best day, but she still finished 11th in the hammer and won All-America honors. Senior Russell Dinkins finished 16th in the 800, also becoming an All-America.

Dinkins ran a 1:50.7. Feel free to contrast that time with the 1:51.5 that Ed Burrowes ran for Princeton in the 1940 NCAA finals, to finish second overall.

Dinkins is back today in the 4x400, along with Austin Hollimon, Tom Hopkins and Daniel McCord.

Greta Feldman will make 16 left turns in the women's 1,500, and Heps cross country champion Chris Bendsten and Michael Franklin will run in the 10,000.

TB isn't sure how many lefts that is, but it's a lot.

There is a Day 1 photo gallery of the NCAA championships on, and it makes Oregon's Hayward Field look like the great place to watch track and field that it's made out to be.

TB's favorite picture is the one of Dinkins on the starting line, with the packed stands behind him.

Oh, and the 10,000 is 100 left turns.

TB is pretty sure at least.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pack It Up

TigerBlog hates to overpack.

It doesn't mean he can always stop himself from doing so.

Packing is always a pain. What should you take? How many times are you going to change your shirt? What if you go out for a nice dinner?

Most of the times that TB has had to pack, it's been Princeton related.

Back in 1996, when Princeton went to Indianapolis for the NCAA basketball tournament, TB assumed the Tigers were going to lose to UCLA, so he only packed enough for a first-round exit. Instead, Princeton won - perhaps you remember that - and TB had to go to the mall next to his hotel and buy a new shirt and new underwear for the rest of that trip.

Packing for an Ivy League road trip is relatively easy, since that's a fixed amount of time, especially when it's just overnight. On the other hand, you don't want to be caught short, so there is the tendency to take more that you actually need, which leads to that moment when someone says "what are you, going for a week?"

When TB sees college basketball games on television, he often wonders how the coaches keep their suits from getting wrinkled. They make it seem so easy. TB has khaki pants in his bag that look like he rolled them up in a ball when he takes them out.

TB often vows to underpack. Of course, when he does, there's the stress of wondering how long it will all last, only to be shocked when it seems to last as many days as necessary. As TB thinks about it, that's sort of how Hanukkah got started.

When Princeton's men's lacrosse team went to Costa Rica last year, TB took his Princeton lacrosse bag, which is a fairly oversized cloth bag into which TB can fit basically everything he owns. When traveling from Point A (the capital city of San Jose) to Point B (coastal town of Samara) to Point C (coastal town of Tamarindo), there was the issue of what to do with the dirty stuff, which is left to mingle with the clean stuff, which is a bigger issue for TB than it is for most, he assumes.

Anyway, as TB was packing, he did the classic overthinking, as in "what if there's a formal dinner" or "what if it gets cold." The result? Overpacking, and a large subsection of clothes that never left the bag.

For the most part, TB uses his old Trenton Thunder duffel bag when he travels, which is the perfect size for a night or two. TB got it when he helped Tom McCarthy out at the 1996 Eastern League all-star game at Waterfront Park. It's probably time for a newer, more Princeton-centric bag.

The Princeton track and field contingent left in various stages on various flights for the NCAA championships at Eugene, Oregon, which begins today and runs through the weekend.

TB was impressed to see just how light Princeton women's track and field coach Peter Farrell was able to pack. TB brings more to work each day, or so it looked anyway.

As an aside, it's quite the contrast to what TB saw from Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes when Texas and Princeton arrived at baggage claim at the Honolulu airport in 1998. Barnes had about 10 bags - and he snapped at the team managers for getting their own before they got his.

Anyway, back in Eugene, where the weather should be sunny and warm, Princeton has sent nine athletes, which is the most Princeton has ever had in the event.

The first to compete might be the one who has the best chance of winning it all, and that's freshman hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe, who throws today and who has the second-best throw in the country this year. Russell Dinkins and Austin Hollimon, half of the NCAA indoor-champion distance medley relay team this past winter, both run today in their semifinals (Dinkins in the 800, Hollimon in the 400 hurdles).

Of Princeton's nine athletes in Oregon, seven will be competing tomorrow.

For some of them, their season began way back with the beginning of cross country. It's certainly a long grind.

The NCAA track and field championships will be the last Princeton events of the academic year.

After that, it'll be time to pack it up - until the 2013-14 season begins. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Please Hold Your Applause To The End

TigerBlog walked outside this morning and thought to himself "nice day for graduation."

TB is pretty sure he remembers it being hot and muggy for graduation at Rutgers way back when, the day his friend Corey got his diploma. At that ceremony, all of the names of the graduates were read, something that took, as TB recalls, one hour and 40 minutes.

It began, of course, with the words "please hold your applause to the end."

When it became apparent how long it was going to take to get through all the names, TB and Corey's brother Brad went to get something to eat, came back to the graduation and found that they were still on the "S's."

Corey's last name is Zucker, which put him at the end of the long roll call of grads. As each one's name was called, they'd walk across the stage, shake hands with the person handing out the diplomas and then walk off the stage at the other side.

As Corey was last, he walked out on the stage and got his diploma. Then, as the people started to applaud, he walked to the front and center of the stage and took a bow.

Hey, they were supposed to hold their applause to the end.

TB's own graduation took place at the Philadelphia Civic Center, a building that no longer there, torn down and replaced by part of the hospital at Penn. TB's biggest memory of his own graduation - which did not have every graduate's name read - was the thought that in another 10 years or so, he'd see Princeton play La Salle there in basketball.

Well, not really.

Today is graduation day at Princeton. It's the 266th Princeton commencement, and TB can't imagine that any of the 265 that preceded it will have have had better weather than the Class of 2013 gets today.

Maybe that's a sign of good luck?

The business of college athletics, at least if its priorities are straight, is about education.

That's why TB always likes to walk over to graduation and see the grads as they walk out. They're wearing a different uniform than the one that has been so familiar for the last four years, this one all black, as opposed to orange and black.

Each year, they walk away from Nassau Hall, their four years at Princeton over, their time as Princeton athletes now in the past.

They do so with huge smiles across their faces, smiles that acknowledge that what they did wasn't easy. It's not easy to be a Princeton athlete, with the demands on them physically and mentally.

It's not easy to practice, do off-season conditioning and workouts, compete, prepare mentally, be rested enough to play at their peak level - all while completing all of the academic requirements of Princeton, one of the top colleges in the world.

It's not easy.

And yet they make it look like it is just that.

The Princeton Athletics Class of 2013 won 49 Ivy League championships in four years. That total is 21 higher than the next highest school and more than five of the other schools combined.

Princeton won eight national championships in the last four years, including four NCAA titles this year - field hockey, fencing, indoor track and field distance medley relay and one individual fencer.

There were so many big games, so many big moments across the last four years.

And now? They're all memories for the Class of 2013.

They arrived here four years ago as strangers to each other. They leave here having had an amazing experience together, one that will bind them to each other for the rest of their lives.

It's quite a phenomenon that occurs here, and it's the best part of Princeton Athletics.

And it's a great day for a graduation.

It's the end of the road here for the Class of 2013.

TigerBlog gives all of them his biggest round of applause.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome Back

TigerBlog has said this before and he'll say it again.

Princeton alums are not like other alums.

Nope. Not at all.

TigerBlog is an Ivy League graduate. He went to Penn, with a bunch of people who liked Penn, had a great experience there and (with a notable exception) have remained very loyal to Penn.

It's nothing like what TB has seen from Princeton.

There is nowhere near the affection for the institution that is generated at Princeton.

For Princetonians, it's just part of the deal. You come to Princeton and are immediately made to feel like being part of your particular class is something special and unique, that the class before yours and after yours is not like yours.

It's like family, actually. You may fight with the other classes, compete with the other classes - but nobody is ever going to come between you and the other classes.

There was nothing at all like that at Penn. At Penn there was no attempt to make each individual class into something independent, something different.

TB can't even count the number of times he has answered the phone in his time at Princeton and heard the voice on the other line introduce himself/herself simply by saying a class year, as in "I'm Class of ’57." Sometimes there's a name included, but it's always followed by a class year.

There have been an equal number of times where someone has referred to a friend or introduced TB to someone by saying "so and so ’72" or something like that, or used the one word that Princetonians use that maybe nobody else ever does.


As TB said, if you're a Princetonian, it's just part of the deal. Just be aware that not everybody is like that. Actually, in TB's experience, nobody else is like that.

Maybe people from Yale and Harvard? TB isn't sure. He doubts it. Not to the extent Princetonians are.

The real proof was held this past weekend, starting Thursday night and running through the early hours Sunday, when Reunions brought nearly 25,000 people to campus.

TB has tried to explain Reunions to his college friends or to people he knows who have no connection to Princeton. It's next to impossible.

Usually it's met with comments about whether or not that particular person had gone to Homecoming or to a class reunion at his or her alma mater. Uh, no, that's nothing close.

TB went to his 25th reunion at Penn a few years ago, the 25th reunion of an Ivy League class. It wasn't even in the neighborhood of what goes on every year at Princeton.

TigerBlog can't even begin to imagine what goes into planning Reunions and executing it once it starts, how many people work full-time year-round on these three days.

The three days of Reunions bring back former athletes in huge numbers. Each team does something for them, with alumni pick-up games, barbeques and the like.

Basketball alums flock to Jadwin, and they have pickup games Friday during the day before having a big cookout as well. Each year TB sees so many familiar faces, all of whom can still play, all with this bond from having played basketball at Princeton.

And that gets multiplied out by 38 sports.

They were everywhere this weekend, each team with its own event, all of which brought back a huge turnout of alums. As it does every year.

TB often writes about how young athletes come to Princeton, where they compete for four years and while doing so make friendships that last for 40 years - or more.

The proof of that was on display all weekend.

Princeton Athletics are about wins and losses, to be sure.

It's also about those 40+ year friendships.