Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rooting For Donn Cabral

Tomorrow is the last day of June, which means it'll be the exact halfway point of 2015.

Think about what you did on New Year's Eve. That was exactly six months ago. Does it seem like that long ago?

The other day was the halfway point between Christmas 2014 and Christmas 2015. June 25th, to be exact, which was last Thursday.

When do you think you'll see your first ad for the new Christmas season? Before opening day of the NFL?

When you're a kid, you're aware of when your half-birthday is, even if it's not that big a deal. It's not like it was good for any presents or anything.

What it was big for was adding the "and a half" to your age when someone asked you how old you were. How old are you? Last week you said seven. Now you say "seven and a half."

It's a big moment.

TigerBlog thinks the slowest time of the year is the time that's about to be upon us, the Fourth of July until the start of the new school year. It's a relaxing summer respite from the busy every day week-to-week season-to-season grind of the school year.

The fastest time of the year is from Halloween to New Year's. Then it slows again a little.

Halloween to New Year's is a total sprint. Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's. One after the other.

This year, those holidays will be followed by 2016, which will feature, among other things, the next Presidential election. There's a lot at stake for the country in the next election, and yet it will deteriorate into what it always does, with an endless number of primaries, debates, ads and all the rest of it, with the long crawl until Election Day in November. It'll seem like a thousand years have gone by from the summer of 2015 until Election Day 2016.

As an aside, not to get political or anything, but going to Dartmouth for football or basketball in a Presidential election cycle is always interesting, because of the New Hampshire Primary and the importance it plays. There's always something going on at Dartmouth it seems.

Anyway, another big part of 2016 will be the Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beginning Aug. 5.

TigerBlog is rooting hard for Donn Cabral to be there again.

Cabral is the 2012 Princeton grad who won the NCAA steeplechase championship his senior year. Then he went on qualify for the Olympics in London and then reach the final, where he led for awhile before finishing eighth.

Cabral competed at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Oregon this past weekend, as did five other Princeton alums. Cabral finished second in the steeplechase, running an 8:13.37, leaving him 1.08 seconds behind Evan Jager, who was the other American in the 2012 Olympics, where he finished sixth.

TigerBlog knows next to nothing about track and field and how it works and what times mean what.

He does know this: Had Cabral run the time he just ran in Oregon in the 2012 Olympic final, he would have won gold - by more than five seconds.

Yes, this is not an apples to apples comparison. Still, Cabral is getting faster, no? His time to finish eighth in Londan was 8:25.91, or 12.54 seconds slower than he ran last weekend.

TigerBlog has talked to Cabral twice, he thinks. Once was for a feature story for the football game program, and TB still has the thank you note that Cabral sent him.

That seems to be the kind of person he is. 

He's not the most imposing physical presence. That's for sure. He doesn't overwhelm you with bravado or anything like that.

He just comes across as a nice guy, one who is very serious about what he's doing and - very, very good at it.

Plus, as TB has said many times before, watching him train on the Weaver Stadium track when he was a senior was a daily event, one that drew the attention of anyone who happened to casually glance at Cabral as he ran.

Anyway, the 2016 Olympics are not exactly around the corner. First are the World Championships in Beijing in August. Then there is still most of a year until Olympic qualifying.

TigerBlog will be rooting for him. That's for sure.

How can he not?

After all, Donn Cabral is pretty much everything that is good with Princeton Athletics. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nous Sommes Quarante Et Un

So Miss TigerBlog has become a tad obsessed with speaking French.

Of the last 12 text messages she has sent her father, nine of them have been in French. This would be fine, except TigerBlog speaks only a single word of French.


It means "cheese."

Before he gets into the whole French thing, TB wants to point out that his daughter - who recently completed her freshman year of high school - is tethered at all times to her cell phone but is only 50-50 to respond to a text of his. And if he calls? Forget it. She's 90-10 not to answer.

Why is that?

Okay, back at the French thing.

TigerBlog took Spanish in high school and German in college and had basically no natural affinity for learning foreign languages. BrotherBlog did - he could pick up pretty much anything, including Mandarin Chinese.

Pete Carril once said of one his players a long time ago that he "can speak seven languages, but when I try to tell him what to do, I sometimes think English isn't one of them."

TigerBlog Jr. took four years of French in high school. He was pretty good at it, if his grades through the years are to be believed. But he never really has spoken much of it in casual conversation around the house.

Then there's MTB. She's all French, all the time. She took a brief middle school rotation of French, Spanish and German and chose French for high school.

It was a about halfway through the year that she started with the whole French deal. Now? It's an every day thing.

It certainly has its charm.

TigerBlog will text "what are you doing?" and the answer will come back to him in French. Or he'll ask what she wants for dinner, and the answer comes back in French, to which he will respond "would you like 'fromage' with that?"

Usually, TigerBlog has to then forward it to BrotherBlog for translation. It's an arduous process, yet in some ways it's been good for family bonding.

TigerBlog asked MTB yesterday how to say "we are 41" in French, and she replied "Nous Sommes Quarante Et Un." TB will take it at her word - or words - that she is correct.

Why did TB want to know how to say "we are 41" in French? Because Princeton finished the year 41st in the Directors' Cup.

Princeton was actually 40th until TCU vaulted past the Tigers with its points in the last sport of the year, baseball. For those who don't know, the Directors' Cup measures the top athletic programs in Division I, Division II and Division III through a system that awards points based on NCAA championship participation.

Princeton had a huge spring, getting 80 points in the fall, 172 in the winter and then 300.5 in the spring. The teams contributing to the spring haul were women's lacrosse, women's open rowing, women's tennis, men's tennis, women's track and field and men's track and field.

And women's water polo. Princeton got more points in the spring from women's water polo than any other sport. The most points by any sport all year were the 80 in fencing, though that is a combined total for the men and women.

Princeton went from 77th at the end of the fall to 56th at the end of the winter to 41st in the final standings.

Princeton led all Ivy League schools and was in fact the highest ranking school from a non-power conference. Adding it up, the top 40 featured eight Pac 12 schools - including the top three, who were Stanford, UCLA and USC - eight ACC schools, six Big 12 schools, nine SEC schools and nine Big Ten schools.

Think about that. That's 40 power conference schools and then Princeton.

For everything that Princeton accomplishes athletically, there are few things that reflect the combination of what the athletic program is striving to be than having such a strong showing in the Directors' Cup. Princeton is showing how well it can compete against schools that spend tens of millions of dollars more per year on athletics and can compete without having to compromise its core values in any way.

This is the 22nd year of the Directors' Cup. Princeton has finished in the top 50 19 times.

The 2014-15 year was also the 19th time in those 22 years that Princeton has finished first in the Ivy League.

That's great stuff. It's a great way to end the year.

Being Quarante Et Un?

That's something to applaud.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Keeping Stats

TigerBlog watched the first 30 minutes of last night's NBA draft, which enabled him to see four picks.

That's 30 more minutes and four more picks he's seen of the last, oh, 10 or so NFL drafts combined, partly because the NFL hasn't figure out yet that having its draft in the heart of college lacrosse season is just killing its marketability.

Anyway, TB saw basically everything he needed to in those four picks.

The Sixers had the third pick. The Knicks had the fourth. TB's Office of Athletic Communications colleagues Craig Sachson (Sixers fan) and Ben Badua (Knicks fan) were both less than thrilled by how it played out, as the Sixers ended up with Jahlil Okafor and the Knicks took Kristaps Porzingis.

TB has no idea what will ever come of all these players. Some will pan out. Others won't. Will  Porzingis? No clue.

TigerBlog grew up rooting for the Mets, Knicks, Giants and Islanders. He still roots for the Giants. He doesn't really care about the Mets or Islanders anymore.

The Knicks? They are the hardest team in sports to root for, bar none. The owner (James Dolan) and the star player (Carmelo Anthony) are completely impossible to root for. The team hasn't won a championship since 1973.

For the most part in recent years, the Knicks have fielded teams made up of highly priced jerks. And charged really high prices to watch the jerks play - and usually lose.

So will Porzingis matter? Doesn't matter.

The best part of the 30 minutes that TigerBlog watched was by far the tribute commissioner Adam Silver paid to Harvey Pollack, the long-time statistician for the Sixers, who recently passed away at the age of 93.

Pollack, whom TB never met, is a legend. He invented a bunch of stats and put together expansive compilations of statistical analysis year after year after year.

As Silver said, he was the last remaining original employee of the NBA from its inaugural 1946-47 season.

As he listened to Silver, it dawned on TB that stat keeping is about the only remaining original task from when he started in the OAC all those years ago.

Everything else has changed through the years. Everything.

It makes TigerBlog laugh to think back to the "old" days. He tries to explain to the newer generations, like Badua, about how much different it was back then, before the internet, before the explosion of technology. Tasks that now take a few seconds took hours 20 years ago.

For all that, stat keeping remains essentially the same. Well, sort of.

When TB first started at Princeton, stats were kept by hand and then entered into a computer to get the season cumes and all that.

After a football or basketball game, TB had to use the computer of Marge DeFrank, a secretary in the department then who has long since passed away, since it was the only computer in the building that had the stat program on it. He could only use it when DeFrank wasn't around. TB remembers it being a giant pain in the butt.

Then along came computer stats. At first, they were intimidating. The first time TigerBlog had to enter stats at a basketball game on the computer was about as stressful a task as he's had here.

Actually, the first football game with computer stats featured a play where there was an interception that was run back to near the goal line, where it was fumbled into the end zone and picked up by an offensive lineman, who ran it out to the two. TigerBlog and the stat crew just looked at each other and laughed

These days computer stats are simple. At first, there was someone doing backup stats by hand. Now? Never.

As the mechanism for stat keeping has evolved, the whole concept of the stats themselves has not. A basket is still a basket. A goal is still a goal.

There is still too much discrepancy from place to place on assists in all sports. And there are still too many people - many coaches included - who don't know the rules of keeping stats. Hey, there are a lot of people in athletic communications who don't know the rules too.

TigerBlog, for instance, had no idea that in women's lacrosse, no ground ball is given without a change of possession, except on a missed shot.

TigerBlog has seen countless examples of bad stat keeping in his time. It tortures him. There are NCAA manuals online, and they have official rules in them. TigerBlog himself helped write the rules for men's lacrosse.

In general, though, most people who keep stats in college athletics are well-informed and well-intentioned. And they produce final stats that can be trusted, which is the most important thing.

When the action gets going in a game, it's easy to panic as the official statistician. And to miss things. Over the course of a season, this all evens itself out.

TigerBlog has had players ask him about stats, ask them to be changed. Unless it's a score or penalty that was given to the wrong person, they can't be changed.

Being a statistician is different now than when TB started and certainly when Harvey Pollack started. When he first put pencil to paper, there's no way he imagined computers and live stats and people who followed the stats on their smart phones.

But stats? They're not just numbers. They're a way of comparing eras, of having continuity from generation to generation, of establishing unquestionable greatness for teams and individuals.

It's the responsibility of the stat keeper to make sure those numbers are accurate. It's challenging and rewarding when done right.

And, even after all these years and all of these changes in the business, those little numbers are still one of TigerBlog's very favorite parts of the job.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nice Working With You, Mike

Back when TigerBlog used to read a newspaper every morning, he used to love to check out the "Transactions" section of the sports section.

He had his routine down. Comics. Jumbles. Sports. Letters to the editor. The usual.

Now he gets the comics and jumbles online. And sports news. Letters to the editor have been replaced by comments under stories, online as well.

Oh well. Those were the days.

Anyway, the "Transactions" section was always fun. There was almost always something that had a local connection.

Maybe it was another Ivy school that hired a coach. Maybe it was a former Princeton athlete or coach who was hired someplace else. Maybe it was someone who played against Princeton.

And of course there were the NFL cutdown days. Those really were the mother lode for "Transactions" days.

And then there were the days when Princeton had a transaction. Those were stressful, making sure that it was actually in the paper. TigerBlog could never remember if he was supposed to send it to the AP office in Newark or Trenton or if they received it or if anyone could confirm it.

Anyway, the transactions still exist, but it's not the same online.

Were Princeton's Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux not such a good sport, then it would be possible that today's "Transactions" would include this: Princeton - Announced field hockey assistant coach Mike Pallister has been fired.

Fortunately for Mike, he's still in good standing with Mollie, even after beating her in the championship match of the Dillon Gym ping-pong tournament yesterday.

The championship was the second straight for Pallister, who won last year's inaugural tournament. Pallister, at about 6-7, covers the table fairly effortlessly, and he is somewhat intimidating with his backward baseball hat and all.

Mollie was a two-sport athlete at Princeton, All-Ivy in soccer and hockey. She is competitive, that's for sure. She wants to win.

The Dillon tournament last year was limited to only those people who actually worked in Dillon. Mollie's office is in Jadwin, but she was given as exemption into the tournament, as was her assistant Kim Meszaros, who didn't make it out of Round 1.

Mollie had a huge win in the quarterfinals, defeating last year's runner-up, men's soccer assistant Steve Totten. Pallister reached the finals by defeating men's soccer coach Jim Barlow in the semifinals.

TigerBlog figures one of these years is Barlow's year.

So the final came down to Pallister and Marcoux. It's not easy playing against the boss, right? On the other hand, Mollie isn't the kind who would respect anyone who let her win just because she's the AD.

Pallister and Totten went the distance last year in a best-of-five. This time, Pallister swept the championship match.

TigerBlog is a decent ping-pong player, though Barlow wiped him out in a ping-pong Friendly last year. He's not sure who the best player in Jadwin is.

He does have an idea, though.

How about Dillon vs. Jadwin. You know, like how it's done in squash. Nine players, ranked 1-9, playing their counterpart in that position from the other building.

That would draw ratings, no? Or at least interest in the department.

Hmmm. Where would TB start on this? He supposes he has to see if there's a ping-pong table in Jadwin.

In the meantime, things like the recently completed Dillon tournament are a pretty nice piece of the Princeton Department of Athletics fabric. Princeton Athletics features 38 teams, all with their own challenges and struggles on a day-to-day basis.

Plus there are administrators, staff members, everyone else who makes up the entire department, all with their own needs and requirements in their jobs.

But still, when you work in college athletics, you do so largely because you like being part of something bigger than just your own personal area.

That's what the tournament is all about. It's all Princeton Athletics.

That spirit is one of the best parts of working here.

Congratulations to Mike Pallister.

And rest easy, Mollie won't take it personally.

Besides, she will get her revenge when Jadwin beats Dillon. Of course, Dillon would have a big edge with Pallister, Barlow and Totten at the top of the lineup.

Jadwin would either have to steal a match up there and hope to have better depth, or else have Mollie move the soccer or field hockey offices over here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Most Fascinating Fact

As part of a Father's Day gift, TigerBlog received pictures of his two kids from the recently completed high school lacrosse season.

He also got a giant card with a monkey on it. Like, giant. Like nearly three feet tall. 

When he went to put one of the pictures in a frame in his office, he used one that had an older picture showing. When he took the frame off, he saw that there were two others underneath.

He does this all the time. He suspects most people do.

It's actually sort of fun to find which pictures are underneath. It was sort of like Throwback Thursday, only without Twitter and on a Tuesday.

Anyway, this picture was the one of TigerBlog Jr., which TB put over one of TBJ from when he played in a tournament in fourth grade or so. Underneath that was one of TBJ as a Princeton basketball ball boy.

And underneath that? A picture of Kyle Wente as he posted up in a Princeton basketball game. Well, not just any post up. And not just any game.

Wente, who stands about 6-4, is posting up Nick Collison as Princeton hosts Kansas at Jadwin Gym. Collison stands 6-10, and he looks basically the same now, as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Princeton played a home-and-home against Kansas, playing in Lawrence in the 1999-2000 season and then back at Jadwin two years later. Kansas won both, though they were both reasonably competitive.

And, as TigerBlog remembered back - and looked up some info - from those two games, he stumbled upon an incredibly fascinating fact. At least to him. TB has learned that some of the facts he finds fascinating aren't always thought of as fascinating by everyone else.

Like how the career record for points in a career in men's lacrosse was exactly the same at TBJ's high school, Princeton University and Denver prior to the Pioneers' trip to the most recent Final Four. Before that, the record was 247 at all three.

Anyway, don't digress. This isn't about lacrosse. Basketball. Basketball.

Not shockingly, Kansas was loaded then. In fact, the team that played Princeton at Jadwin started Collison, Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich, who became longtime NBA players, as well as Aaron Miles, who played briefly in the NBA and still plays in Europe.

By the way, does anyone know who the fifth Kansas starter was in that game? Jeff Boschee. The name familiar?

Wayne Simien, who won an NBA title with the Miami Heat, came off the bench. TigerBlog guesses there haven't been too many games in Jadwin where one team brought a future NBA champion off the bench.

He does know the last time a future NBA player came off the bench in a game at Jadwin. That would be Jeremy Lin, who didn't start the 2007 game at Jadwin for Harvard. The Crimson started three guards in that game, and none of them were Lin, who played 19 minutes and scored two points.

Meanwhile, back at Princeton-Kansas.

The teams played in the legendary and spectacular Allen Field House (picture the Palestra doubled in size) in Lawrence on Dec. 22, 1999. Here's what TigerBlog remembers about that game:

* you know you got up early when you wake up at home, go to the airport, fly to Kansas City, rent a car, drive an hour to Lawrence and get to the hotel there in time for the breakfast buffet. That's what TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy did

* Roy Williams was the Kansas coach back then. He agreed to do a pregame interview with McCarthy but misunderstood the Kansas SID, who said he had to talk to two people. Williams thought that the two people from a local TV station were the two he had to talk to, but really he had two separate interviews, that one and then with McCarthy. TB and McCarthy thought Williams would explode on the SID guy, but instead he apologized for the misunderstanding. Then McCarthy had to change the batteries on his recorder, causing Williams to have to wait. And what did he do? Put his arm around McCarthy and said "it's okay Tom, we've all been there."

* the brownies in the media room were made by one of the women who worked in the Kansas athletic department, a very grandmotherly looking woman. They were the best brownies TB has ever had.

* oh, and Chris Young was unstoppable. Young led everyone with 20 points on 8 for 12 shooting, but it wasn't enough as Princeton lost 82-67.

Then, two seasons later, was the game at Jadwin, with attendance listed as 6,861.

Princeton lost that one 78-62 after trailing 35-29 when Ed Persia dropped in a three-pointer at the first half buzzer.

Princeton had four players in double figures in the game. Mike Bechtold, Andre Logan and Judson Wallace had 10 each.

The Tiger leader that night? Hint, he's still playing professionally.

Answer - Will Venable. The Padres outfielder had 11 points in 23 minutes in that one.

And the fascinating fact?

Princeton played Kansas in basketball 14 and 16 years ago. Princeton's leading scorer in each game is still an active Major League Baseball player.

Now that's fascinating.

Not like the lacrosse thing, but fascinating.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

See The World

TigerBlog has heard his father talk about his Army days ever since he was a kid.

It wasn't until two days ago - Father's Day - that TB actually thought to ask his dad what it was he actually did in the Army. The resulting conversation was pretty fascinating.

FatherBlog had the good fortune of being in the Army from 1956-58. It was basically the midpoint between the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In fact, if you go from Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) through the end of American combat in Vietnam in 1973, then you have basically a 32-year stretch. During those 32 years, America was at war in 16 of those years, or obviously half.

It was FatherBlog's good fortune to be in the peaceful half.

TigerBlog had two uncles who were in the combat half, one in World War II and one in Korea. They both survived, and neither speak of word of the experience to the day they died.

As for FatherBlog, he was a kid from Brooklyn who found himself on a plane to Colorado for basic training and then a boat to Germany for a 16-month deployment. The year was 1956, which was also when the Soviet Union put down an uprising in Hungary.

As FatherBlog said Sunday, there was talk of sending U.S. troops into the situation. Instead, the U.S. sat that one out.

The result was that when FatherBlog went home to Brooklyn in 1958, he was able to give the Army back a rifle that "was perfectly clean, brand-new, never used." The bullets he was given? He never even loaded the weapon.

He was in the supply division for the engineers, possibly because he knew how to type. He was there with three other privates - one from Louisiana, one from Pennsylvania and one from Wisconsin - all of whom shared one room in a barracks.

He hated the food. Especially creamed chipped beef on toast. 

Mostly, he spent his time in an office typing up requisitions for supplies that may or may not have existed. He also got into the car business, buying cars and then flipping them to soldiers for small profits.

And traveling.

With little to actually do, he found himself with a lot of free time. And with a commanding officer who was amenable to giving him weekend passes, he was able to see most of Western Europe, as the Iron Curtain was still preventing him from getting to the East.

In fact, he told one story about driving from Germany through Belgium and towards Dunkirk, the site of the famous coastal evacuation during World War II of British troops.

TigerBlog was struck by the image of a young American soldier on a scenic, serene drive, one that 15 years earlier or so had been a torturous march in the other direction for thousands of young American soldiers, many of whom would not make it all the way through the war's end.

The trip to Colorado for basic training was the first time FatherBlog had ever been on an airplane. He said that his lifelong love of travel had been formed when he and some friends drove around much of the U.S., but his experience in the Army certainly advanced it.

Since then, he has been everywhere, from China and Japan to Australia and New Zealand to countless trips to the South of France and Brazil, as well as all over Europe. Curiously, he has had very little interest in traveling around this country.

He spoke the other day about an experience when he visited Normandy and participated in the folding of the U.S. flag after it was taken down for the day. That was, he said, incredibly moving.

One of the best parts of the Princeton Athletic experience is the ability for the athletes to make one international trip in their four years, as NCAA rules allow. TigerBlog, who is as happy at the Jersey Shore as anywhere else, has made two such trips with men's lacrosse, to Spain and Ireland in 2008 and Costa Rica in 2012.

There are currently two foreign trips underway, with rowers at Henley and the men's and women's track and field teams in Cuba.

To TigerBlog, the trip to Cuba is exactly what these trips should be about. It's an opportunity to go to country where few if any of the Princetonians would ever go, with the opportunity to experience the educational side of that experience coupled with a chance to compete in two meets.

Coming soon will be a trip by the men's golf team to Ireland and England, and the men's squash team is off to Italy as well. The fencing team is headed to South Korea.

Off the top of his head, here's a list of some of the other countries to which Princeton teams have traveled: Australia, Malta, Senegal, France, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Nicaragua, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany.

There are definitely a bunch of others. TB can't think of them off the top of his head. Well, Canada, but that counts too.

The trips are great for team bonding, extra practice and competition, sightseeing, culture, education, all of it.

Come to Princeton. See the world.

Monday, June 22, 2015

103 Episodes, 47 Days

TigerBlog read someplace yesterday that Americans spend nearly $9 billion a year more on Mother's Day than on Father's Day.

So what do we make out of this?

Well, in fairness, the mothers are a tad bit more, uh, inconvenienced by the whole childbirth process. Still, is that worth $9 billion more?

Anyway, TigerBlog hopes all the dads out there had a great day yesterday, even if their kids got them gifts on the cheap, at least compared to the mothers.

Mother's Day and Father's Day are big days for the Braverman family, even if they are fictional. For those who don't know, the Bravermans are the family about whom the show "Parenthood" centers.

There were six seasons of "Parenthood," for a total of 103 episodes. TigerBlog recently finished watching all 103.

It's a great show, especially for someone who can relate to families, raising children and all those "grown-up" type issues. It's not exactly hip stuff. It's just a fairly old-fashioned family show, and it succeeds on every level it tries. It's one of the best TV shows he's ever seen.

Perhaps more than any other show TigerBlog has ever seen, "Parenthood" came up with situation after situation that forced him to think deeply about what he would do if faced with the same circumstances or who in the family was right and who in the family was wrong, with no real black or white answers.

It also had some great supporting characters, which is the mark of any great show. The best were Max, the son with Asbergers, and weirdly enough, Ray Romano, who went from sitcom star on "Everybody Loves Raymond" to Hank the photographer, a character who is 180 degrees away from Ray Barone.

The best ending to a series finale that TigerBlog has ever seen was for "Newhart," the show in which Bob Newhart plays an innkeeper in Vermont. This is not to be confused with "The Bob Newhart Show," in which he played a psychiatrist in Chicago.

Or was it to be confused? If you ever saw the last episode, you know what TB is talking about. If you didn't, let's just say that it is the most creative ending to a TV show anyone has ever come up with.

Most final episodes of shows fall flat, because they put too much pressure on themselves to resolve everything for the viewer. Plus they struggle to be artificially dramatic, instead of letting it all play itself out.

"Parenthood," though, hit a major home run with its final episode. It was pretty much perfect. It tied up every loose end and presented it flawlessly and emotionally. It was great.

There's one little problem, as TB sees it. Or maybe not a problem. He'll leave that up to you to decide.

TigerBlog wrote about "Parenthood" back on May 18, when he finished watching Season 1, which was 13 episodes long. He finished the show Saturday, which means he watched the final 90 episodes in 33 days.

He can't remember exactly when he started watching, but it was probably two weeks or so earlier. That would mean 103 episodes in 47 days.

At least he watched it on Netflix, which didn't have commercials, which meant that each episode was 43 or 44 minutes. At least for the first five seasons. Then he got to Season 6, which isn't out on Netflix yet.

He could watch it on demand, which meant either paying $25 to have the season without commercials or watch for free but with commercials. It was a tough choice. He watched Episode 1 of Season 6 with commercials and then forked over the $25.

Anyway, maybe he overdid on the whole "Parenthood" thing. On the other hand, it did keep him from starting Season 3 of "Orange Is the New Black," which is only 13 episodes. How long could that possibly take?

So now he's put away "Breaking Bad" and "Parenthood" pretty rapidly. He can't imagine that he ever watched a show one week at a time, one year at a time.

Once again, that was 103 episodes in 47 days. That's not unhealthy or anything?

It's been a little more than a week since the end of the NCAA track and field championships, which were the last athletic events of the 2014-15 season. The last actual game of the Princeton athletic year was back on May 16 (during Season 1), when the women's lacrosse team lost 7-3 to Duke in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The first event of the 2015-16 athletic year will be on August 28, when the women's soccer team hosts Howard in what will be Sean Driscoll's first game as Tiger head coach.

May 16. That was 36 days ago. August 28? That's 67 days from today.

That means it'll be 103 days between games for Princeton Athletics. If you go by the last event, the track championships, then it'll be 76 days between events.

Summer actually started for real this weekend.

At Princeton, the first two-thirds of summer are camp season. They've already started, actually, and they transform the campus from college athletes to those who dream about being college athletes.

Anyway, there's a long way to go until a new athletic year begins.

TigerBlog probably can knock off two more TV series between now and then.

Friday, June 19, 2015

And The Answer Is ...

So yes, the answer to yesterday's question was the men's basketball game at the Palestra between Princeton and Penn back in 1999.

You know the one. Princeton scored first on a Brian Earl three-pointer. Then Penn scored 29 straight. Then Penn led 33-9 at the half. Then it got to be 40-13 with 15 minutes left.

Then Princeton won, 50-49.

It was a wild game, obviously. TigerBlog has heard from many people who say they saw the score during the first half and turned it off, missing the epic comeback.

TigerBlog will never forget the atmosphere in the building that night. While it was going well for Penn, the Quaker faithful sensed the moment and rose to a level of harshness that TigerBlog has never seen there on any other night. And then? It was eerie, a palpable uneasiness that gave way to a feeling that it would still be okay because the hole was just too deep to a "what just happened" incredulity at the end.

Princeton improved to 7-0 in the league with the win. Penn fell to 6-1. Historical context? None. Penn ended up running the table the rest of the way. Princeton lost to Harvard and Yale. Penn won the league and went to the NCAA tournament, though Princeton did make a nice run to the NIT quarterfinals.

The answer was too obvious for it to have been any other game.

TigerBlog did forget the Princeton-Rutgers men's lacrosse from 2011, a game that was completely insane and yet had no historical context, a game that was referenced in a comment yesterday. It definitely fit on the list TB had yesterday.

So that was fun. At some point in the near future, TB will tackle Question No. 2 - Happiest moments you've experienced due to Princeton sports.

He's not sure where to start on that one. He'll figure it out though.

Changing the subject, TigerBlog found himself at the Phillies-Orioles game yesterday. He was invited by two Princeton Office of Athletic alums, longtime pals David Rosenfeld and Manish Mehta.

TigerBlog hasn't been to too many Major League Baseball games in the last few years. The last time he went to one was in 2013, when he went to see the Mariners and Twins in Seattle.

TigerBlog hasn't paid that close attention to the current Major League Baseball season, so he didn't realize the Phils had the worst record in baseball.

TB and Mehta met Rosenfeld at the game, and it was TB's fault that the three missed the first two batters of the game. By then, it was 1-0 Orioles, after Manny Machado's lead-off home run. Who knew that the O's would not score again?

The Phillies won the game 2-1, with both runs coming in the seventh on a two-run home run from Ryan Howard, which came with two outs and runner on third. The amiable man sitting next to TB (in Row 18 behind the O's dugout) was yelling at the runner on third to steal home, because he had no faith in Howard's ability to get him in. Steal home, he yelled three or four times. Then Howard drove the ball into the right field seats.

Princeton has four players on Major League rosters right now.

David Hale is pitching for the Colorado Rockies. Ross Ohlendorf is pitching for the Texas Rangers, though he just went on the disabled list with a groin injury. Will Venable is hitting .258 with five home runs and 13 RBIs for the San Diego Padres.

And then there's Chris Young, who is pitching for the Kansas City Royals. Young is off to a 6-2 start with a 1.98 ERA. He also has given up 38 hits and 16 walks in 59 innings.

It's pretty stunning to see that Young is in his 11th season in the Major Leagues and that he has thrown 1,115 Major League innings.

To TigerBlog, Young will always be a basketball player first and then a baseball player, because that's what he was at Princeton. And TigerBlog will always be left, as will tons of Princeton fans, to wonder what Young might have done had he been able to play his last two basketball seasons at Princeton, instead of having his eligibility end when he signed a pro baseball contract.

By the way, remember who scored the winning basket in the 50-49 in over Penn in 1999?

Another cliffhanger.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Question No. 1

TigerBlog interrupts where he was going to start today to mention his experience at the driver's license center yesterday.

This was incredible.

As you might remember from last week, TigerBlog needed to get his license renewed, because it was expiring soon. In fact, it would have expired today.

So TigerBlog did the part where he had to renew it online, and then he got in the mail the renewal confirmation, which then required him to go to the driver's license center to get his picture taken and his new license issued. For the record, he wore an orange "Princeton Lacrosse" for his new picture.

The incredible part was this: From the time he opened the door to the driver's license center until he was back in his car, at most three minutes elapsed. Maybe two. But no more than three.

TigerBlog was ready to wait there for an hour. Or hours. Instead, nobody was there. He went in, gave the form to the lady, sat down, clicked that he wanted to be an organ donor (MotherBlog would have insisted) and was already a registered voter, smiled and got his picture snapped. About 20 seconds later, he had his license.

That was it.

The woman who worked there asked TigerBlog if he was okay with his picture, and TB said of course. Then he asked her if more men or women are okay with their picture the first time around, and she said the overwhelming majority of men are okay with the first and almost none of the women are okay with the first. For whatever that's worth.

So that's what TigerBlog wanted to say about the driver's license center.

Up next is this comment that TB got last Friday:
Now that the academic year is over, just a word to encourage more of your feature stories which include your personal memories or historical compilations. Here are some unsolicited ideas:
Greatest games or events you've witnessed, with and without regard to historical context
Happiest moments you've experienced due to Princeton sports
Weirdest fluke plays
Most improbable comebacks
Most inspiring student-athletes

Wow, what a great comment. TigerBlog has decided that he will address all five during this summer. Let's start with the first one.

The greatest games or events he's witnessed, with and without regard to historical context. That's a huge asterisk. Historical context often defines an event, so factoring that part of it out isn't always easy. Also, because of the lack of historical context element, TB will take out any NCAA tournament game or postseason event.

Also, TigerBlog assumes the question is limited to Princeton events. At least, that's what he's going to do.

So the winner in this category is obvious, so obvious that TigerBlog will start with the runner-ups. Or is that runners-up? Anyway they're not in any order.

* Princeton 15, Syracuse 14 - men's lacrosse, 1999 regular season. Princeton defeated Syracuse in four overtimes on a goal by Josh Sims in a game that was tied at 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 13-13 and 14-14 before the Tigers won. TB remembers that game for the epic performance of Kurt Lunkenheimer, who returned after six weeks from a torn ACL.

* Princeton 2, Harvard 1 - women's soccer, 2004 regular season. There's a bit of historical context to this, sort of, because TB isn't sure if Princeton would have made its run to the NCAA Final Four that year without this win. Still, the game itself didn't determine a championship or clinch a postseason spot. Princeton hadn't had much success against Harvard in the few years prior to the game, and, as TB recalls, hadn't even scored a goal at home against the Crimson in eons. Anyway, Princeton dominated the game but trailed 1-0 into the final minute, before Emily Behncke tied it with 41 seconds to go on a perfectly placed shot, as the Tigers were throwing everything they had at Harvard. Then, after Emily Vogelzang stopped a breakaway in the OT, Diana Matheson perfectly set up Esmeralda Negron for the game-winner.

* Delaware 81, Princeton 70 - women's basketball, 2011-12 regular season. Okay, Princeton lost this one, but as events go, this was a great one. Delaware and Princeton were both undefeated, and a crowd of nearly 2,000 came to Jadwin to see the showdown, and the Blue Hens incredible Elene Delle Donne. Her line for the night: 32 points on 13 for 19 shooting, nine rebounds, five blocked shots and three assists. As TB wrote the next day, it had to be what it was like to see Bill Bradley play at Princeton. As for the Tigers, Lauren Edwards had 23 and Niveen Rasheed had 20.

* Princeton 34, Yale 31 - football, 2006. Okay, this one skirts the historical context rule, as did the women's soccer game. Princeton entered the game at the Yale Bowl on a brilliantly sunny warm November day a game back of Harvard in the league race, but Harvard would lose that day to Penn, opening the door for the Tigers to tie for first with only one week left. Yale's Mike McLeod appeared to close the door, running for 151 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone. Jeff Terrell brought Princeton back from three 14-point deficits and one 11-point deficit for the win.

* Princeton 31, Penn 30 - football, 2006. Two weeks earlier, Princeton defeated Penn 31-30 in two overtimes. This game featured one of the greatest plays in Princeton football history, when Rob Toresco, stopped short of the goal line on fourth down, flipped the ball back to Terrell, who ran it in to start the second OT. The game ended when Penn had a bad snap on the PAT after it scored on its possession and almost had its holder run it before he was stopped just short of the winning points.

* Princeton 39, Harvard 34 - football, 2012. Like the game at Yale in 2006, this was another big comeback for the Tigers, this time from a 24-point deficit in the final 12 minutes. Yup. Princeton trailed 34-10 before Connor Michelson threw for three fourth-quarter touchdowns and then, after Michelsen was hurt, Quinn Epperly came on to throw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson for the game-winning points with 13 seconds left. Ironically, had Princeton made the two-point conversion after the third touchdown to tie the game at 34-34 with 2:27 to go, Harvard probably would have won, because the Crimson would have attacked instead of trying to run out the clock. Instead, Princeton held, got the ball back and won the game.

* Post 32, Princeton 29 - sprint football, 2012. This is the closest the sprint football team has come to winning in a long time, and it was an incredible ending that left TigerBlog absolutely crushed. Princeton led 29-26 after kicking an OT field goal, and Post had the ball first and goal at the two on its possession. And then? The snap was fumbled. Had Princeton fallen on it, the game would have ended and Princeton would have won. For what seemed like an eternity, the refs unpiled the players and then excruciatingly pointed in Post's direction. One player later, Post scored.

* Princeton 14, Cornell 13 - men's lacrosse, 2013 Ivy League semifinal. Mike MacDonald had seven goals and two assists, including the game-winner on Kip Orban's overtime winner, in what was an incredible game. TigerBlog could come up with about 10 other men's lacrosse games, but he'll go with this one.

* Princeton 76, Loyola Marymount 48 - men's basketball, 1991. Princeton completed a 24-2 regular season on Selection Sunday with a massive blowout win over the team leading the nation in scoring offense. TigerBlog remembers that as the most crowded he's ever seen it. The box score lists attendance as 7,735, and TB is sure all of them were there about two hours before tip-off.

So those are some runners-up. There are probably an equal number of others that TB isn't thinking of right now. There has to be a men's soccer game or two. Or hockey.

And the winner?

C'mon, you're a Princeton fan. You have to know this. Does TB even have to tell you?

He's not going to. You tell him. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Trip To Cuba

There aren't too many movies that have ever been made that are better than "The Godfather."

Maybe none, actually.

One that comes close and in some ways surpasses "The Godfather,"though, is "The Godfather Part II."

If the original is a perfectly told story with exquisitely developed characters, then the sequel is just sheer genius, a blend of the evolution of the next generation of the family business with intermingled flashbacks to how the business started. And it tells that backstory in Italian, which makes it even better.

TigerBlog feels like he can watch the flashbacks to how Vito Corleone rose to become the godfather without understanding a word of Italian and without having to read the subtitles, just because of how well acted and presented those scenes are. It is, as TB said, genius.

In fact, after seeing both movies upwards of, well, a lot of times each, TigerBlog still isn't sure which one he likes best. For that matter, he's not sure whether he likes the flashbacks to Vito or the story of Michael's reign better.

He does know that there are a few scenes in "The Godfather Part II" that are up there with any he's ever seen in any movie.

Like when Michael tells Frank Pentageli to "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Or when he tells Senator Geary that the rules don't apply to his family.

In the flashbacks part? How about when Vito first says he's going to "make him an offer he can't refuse." Or when he tells baby Michael how much he loves him. Or when he avenges his own parent's deaths. Or when he, Clemenza and Tessio are having dinner in his small apartment.

Still, there are two moments that rise above.

One is when Michael figures out that it's Fredo who betrayed him to Johnny Ola (who was played by the same actor who would play Uncle Junior on "The Sopranos," Dominic Chianese). Michael kisses his brother, pulls away, and says "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart."

And then, there was how Hyman Roth answered Michael about who gave the order to have Pentageli killed (which didn't quite work out at first). From IMBD's quotes from the movie:

There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business! 

Ah, Moe Greene. He shouldn't have tried to bully Michael, and leave it at that.

Anyway, why bring this up? The two scenes that TigerBlog just quoted took place where?

C'mon, this is easy for you "Godfather" fans. Don't know it? TigerBlog will give you a hint.

The Princeton track and field teams are currently there.

Right, Cuba.

The scenes in "The Godfather Part II" were in the moments leading up to the revolution, which ended when Castro took power on New Year's Day in 1959. Since then, very few Americans have been able to go to the small island not far from Florida.

Princeton's track and field programs went there yesterday morning, as part of an educational venture, which made it permissible.

Actually, for the members of the Princeton travel party who were in Oregon for the NCAA championships last week, the trip to Cuba was a rather arduous one. The group left Oregon Sunday and flew to Newark through San Francisco. Then it was up first thing Monday to head to Miami, and then first thing Tuesday to Cuba. First thing, as in pre-dawn both days.

Princeton is there for more than a week.

There will be two track meets, as well as educational ad service initiatives. And sightseeing.

The story about the trip on goprincetontigers.com says that updates will be given regularly during the trip, depending on internet availability. And at on a small communist island, that's not quite a sure thing.

It's an extraordinary opportunity for the athletes, coaches and staff attending. After all, how many people get to go to Cuba, to see what goes on there first hand?

It's incredible to think about how few Americans have gone to a country that is so geographically close, especially when you consider how many flock to the other islands in the area. To do so with their teammates and to compete against athletes from Cuba - which does have a great track and field tradition - is even better.

And so that's where Princeton track and field will be for the next several days.

You know, where Michael completely scared away Fredo and where Hyman Roth stood up to Michael, largely because Michael was calling him out on something he had done.

All that, and now Princeton track and field. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rooting For Jill And Chessie

Want to know who one of the nicest people TigerBlog has ever met is?

Jill Ellis, the head coach of the U.S. women's national soccer team, the one currently competing in the Women's World Cup in Canada.

Ellis used to be the UCLA coach, and she coached against Princeton in the 2004 NCAA semifinals, back when Princeton became the only Ivy League school ever to reach the women's soccer Final Four.

When the Tigers got to Final Four in North Carolina that year, they didn't find some random coach waiting for them. Nope. Ellis happened to be the best friend of Princeton's head coach, Julie Shackford.

In fact, the two were so close that Ellis is the godmother for two of Shackford's children. The middle name for one of those two children is Jill.

TigerBlog met Ellis through Shackford, her teammate on a club team in Northern Virginia and later at William & Mary, where both were All-Americas. Then they both headed down the path of coaching.

Ellis grew up in England, near Portsmouth, the daughter of a soccer coach.

She is not exactly what you think about when you think of driven national team coaches. She's more like the really nice neighbor a few doors down, the one who is a nurse or a teacher or, the career she originally set out for, a writer.

She has a soft voice. She laughs at the end of most sentences, and she smiles through the ones where she doesn't laugh.

Anytime TigerBlog would see her or talk to her, she would ask about him and his children, and either she was genuinely interested or was great at making it seem like she was. TigerBlog will go with the first.

Much like Bob Bradley, the Princeton alum who coached the U.S. men's team in the 2010 World Cup, Ellis makes it really, really easy to root for her team. TigerBlog isn't a huge fan of the jingoism that accompanies international sports - as he says, he knows more Americans that he doesn't like than people of any other nationality. Plus, aren't Americans supposed to love to root for underdogs?

This time, TigerBlog is all in on the American women, who complete their preliminary round with a game tonight against Nigeria. Not because of anyone on the team. Because of the coach.

Back when Princeton lost to UCLA in that semifinal game, Princeton's goalkeeper was Madeleine Jackson.

TigerBlog saw the story yesterday on goprincetontigers.com about the hiring of an addition to the Princeton women's basketball staff of Chessie Jackson, who comes to Princeton from Smith College. She also scored 1,346 points at Williams as a player.

TigerBlog was reading the story when Milena Flores, who has been at Princeton since Courtney Banghart became head coach and who is a huge part of the success Banghart has had here, came walking by TB's office.

When TigerBlog mentioned the new hire, Milena said that Jackson was the sister of a former Princeton women's soccer player, one from the 2004 team. TB knew instantly that she was talking about Madeleine.

So, it's a bit of a small world, no?

Another of the 2004 Princeton women's soccer players has a connection to the current World Cup. Diana Matheson, a longtime veteran of the Canadian national team, is playing again for her national team.

Matheson is a hero of Canadian women's soccer. It was her stoppage time goal in the 2012 Olympics against France that won the Canadians the bronze medal.

TigerBlog remembers Matheson as a Princeton freshman back in 2004. Now she's 31.

TigerBlog has always rooted for Matheson, even when Canada played the U.S. team. Not this time though.

He's rooting for America. Rooting for Jill Ellis.

And come next basketball season, Chessie Jackson, whom TB would like to welcome to Princeton.

Monday, June 15, 2015

On The End Of The Streak

Any longish-time Princeton men's basketball fan remembers the 1990 game at the Palestra against Penn.

That was the night that Hassan Duncombe tipped in a missed foul shot to give the Quakers a one-point lead. While he was doing that, TigerBlog was about 25 miles away, in Glassboro, watching Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey) play Glassboro State (now Rowan).

As it would happen, that would be the last Princeton-Penn game TigerBlog would miss for awhile. It wouldn't be until 2011 that he would another one, in fact.

If he's adding right, that's a streak of 42 straight games in the rivalry. Two per year for 20 years, plus the 1996 playoff game and the first game of the 2010-11 season.

For awhile, TigerBlog though his streak would never end.

He's working on a good one now. He hasn't missed a Princeton men's lacrosse game since the game at Johns Hopkins in 2004. He missed that one to go to Dartmouth for men's basketball, as the Tigers wrapped up the Ivy League championship that night.

If he's adding this one right, then he's seen each of the last 173 games Princeton has played.

That's a good one, as he said.

Probably the most-asked question of TigerBlog these days is what is he going to do when TigerBlog Jr. is playing at Sacred Heart next year. Will he go watch him play or watch Princeton?

Hey, as far as streaks go, how about the one you're currently reading. TigerBlog hasn't missed a day here since 2008. Every business day, that is. Hasn't missed one.

Not for anything. Illness. Vacation. Surgeries. Doesn't matter.

Again, that's a good streak.

Just like his Penn-Princeton streak ended, so too will his lacrosse one and his blogging one. Someday, they will both end.

When they do, he'll be left to think back to them and marvel at the consistency over a long period of time way more than he'll be left to think that they ended.

And that is the moral of today's story.

The 2014-15 athletic year at Princeton has come and gone. There are no more events to be contested.

And so, for the first time since the 1970-71 academic year, Princeton Athletics did not have a team or individual national champion.

It was a remarkable streak, one of the most remarkable in college sports, really.

Each year, year after year, somebody would win a national championship. In many years, it was more than one.

Two years ago, for instance, there were four.

Yes, the streak included many years where non-NCAA championships continued the run. Squash. Rowing.

But so what? They were all legitimate varsity national championships.

A year ago, Julia Ratcliffe extended it to 43 straight years with her hammer throw win. She came close this year as well, finishing second. And it took an NCAA championship event record to beat her.

A year ago, Princeton also had its streak of 27 straight years of winning the Ivy League's all-sports unofficial championship end. Guess what? The sun came up on 2014-15 anyway.

And what happened? Princeton came back and won it again.

Will Princeton start a new national championship streak next year? Maybe, maybe not.

None of that really matters now.

So don't lament the end of the streak. Instead, marvel at what it took to sustain it for 43 straight years. Year after year after year.

And so, once again, here is the streak:

2014 - Julia Ratcliffe (women's hammer throw)
2013 - field hockey, Eliza Stone (women's sabre fencing), Peter Callahan/Russell Dinkins/Austin Hollimon/Michael Williams (men's indoor track and field distance medley relay), combined team fencing
2012 - men's squash, Donn Cabral (3,000 meter steeplechase)
2011 - Todd Harrity (squash), women's open rowing (1st varsity 8)
2010 – men’s lightweight rowing
2009 – men’s lightweight rowing, women’s squash
2008 – women’s squash
2007 – women’s squash
2006 – women’s open rowing (1st varsity 8), Yasser El Halaby (squash),
2005 – Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2004 – Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2003 – women’s lightweight rowing, women’s lacrosse, Yasser El Halaby (squash)
2002 – women’s lightweight rowing, women’s lacrosse, Tora Harris (indoor and outdoor high jump)
2001 – women’s lightweight rowing, men’s lacrosse, Soren Thompson (epee fencing), David Yik (men’s squash
2000 – women’s lightweight rowing, Eva Petchnigg (foil fencing), Julia Beaver (women’s squash), Peter Yik (men’s squash
1999 – women’s squash, women’s lightweight rowing, Julia Beaver (women’s squash), Peter Yik (men’s squash)
1998 – men’s lacrosse, men’s heavweight rowing, men’s lightweight rowing, women’s squash
1997 – men’s lacrosse, Katherine Johnson (women’s squash)
1996 – men’s lacrosse, men’s lightweight rowing, men’s heavyweight rowing, Max Pekarev (saber fencing)
1995 – women’s open rowing
1994 – men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s lightweight rowing, women’s open rowing, Harald Winkmann (epee fencing)
1993 – men’s squash, women’s open rowing
1992 – men’s lacrosse
1991 – women’s squash
1990 – women’s open rowing, men’s swimming 200-yard medley relay (Mike Ross, Ty Nelson, Leroy Kim, Erik Osborn)
1989 – men’s lightweight rowing , women’s squash, Demer Holleran (women’s squash), Jeff Stanley (men’s squash), men’s swimming 200-yard medley relay (Mike Ross, Ty Nelson, Rich Korhammer, Rob Musslewhite)
1988 – men’s lightweight rowing, Jeff Stanley (men’s squash)
1987 – Demer Holleran (women’s squash)
1986 – men’s lightweight rowing, Demer Holleran (women’s squash)
1985 – men’s heavyweight rowing
1984 – women’s squash
1983 – women’s squash
1982 – men’s squash
1981 – women’s squash, John Nimik (men’s squash)
1980 – women’s squash
1979 – women’s squash
1978 - women’s squash
1977 – men’s squash
1976 – women’s squash, Nancy Gengler (women’s squash)
1975 – women’s squash, men’s squash, Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash)
1974 – women’s squash, men’s squash, Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash)
1973 – women’s squash, Cathy Corcione (100 butterfly, 100 free), 200-yard freestyle relay (Cathy Corcione, Jane Fremon, Barb Franks, Carol Brown)
1972 – Wendy Zaharko (women’s squash), Charlie Campbell (200-yard backstroke)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hammer Time

The best part of TigerBlog's half-year in the weight room - other than big arms, of course - has been the opportunity to see Princeton's athletes as they go through their own strength and conditioning programs.

He's seen tennis players and soccer players, water polo players and basketball players, squash players and swimmers.

And track and field athletes. One of them has been Julia Ratcliffe.

When you first meet Julia Ratcliffe, you'd think she looks more like a women's soccer player or softball player than a hammer thrower.

She is, though, incredibly strong and athletic, and that has made her one of the best hammer throwers in the world.

Ratcliffe, a junior, finished second at the NCAA championships yesterday in Eugene, Ore. The winner was DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois, who set a meet record with a throw of 71.49 meters (234-6). Ratcliffe's best throw was 67.3 (220-9).

Only one other Princeton women's track and field athlete has ever had two career top 10 finishes at the NCAA championships, and that was Ashley Higginson in the steeplechase, who was third in 2010 and sixth in 2011.

Ratcliffe now has a first and second. Her championship last year is the only one in program history.

Ratcliffe is one of the most impressive athletes TigerBlog has met at Princeton.

In addition to being a national champion, she is also a top student, one who won the national coaches association scholar-athlete of the year award a year ago. She's personable and funny and easy to root for and really is, in many ways, the embodiment of everything that makes Princeton Athletics so special.

She's also a native of New Zealand, and she hopes to compete for her country in the 2016 Olympic Games. TigerBlog remembers when she first arrived at Princeton, fresh off the long plane ride from New Zealand, when she basically knew nobody on this campus.

She stopped into TigerBlog's office for about 10 minutes of so, while she waited for Peter Farrell, the women's track and field coach. After she got settled and went on her way, Farrell came by and told TigerBlog how special Ratcliffe was and how she was going to have a great career at Princeton.

How right he has been.

TigerBlog watched the women's hammer throw yesterday on ESPN3. If you haven't seen the hammer throw - and TB hasn't seen much of it - the event requires a lot of timing, quickness, balance and strength.

There were two flights for the first three throws, and the top nine advanced to get three more throws. The standings would be determined by the distance of each competitors top throw, regardless of whether or not it came on the first throw or sixth.

The favorite, as TB understood it, was Brooke Pleger of Bowling Green, who had the early lead but who then would finish third.

Ratcliffe briefly took the lead before Price bettered her by one inch. Had that been Price's best throw, then Ratclife would have lost by a single inch. Instead, Price had two more throws better than that one.

Ratcliffe wasn't the only Princeton athlete to compete yesterday. Cecilia Barowski did not advance out of the 800 heats, and Lizzie Bird finished 22nd in the steeplechase.

Steven Soerens completed his incredible two days of the decathlon.

It was Soerens who gave Princeton the deciding points in the Ivy League Heptagonal championships as the Tigers rallied past Cornell for the team title.

Because the decathlon is so grueling, there is no NCAA regional qualifying, like there is in every other event. Soerens was one of the 24 athletes who qualified directly into the NCAAs, qualifying 24th, actually.

Soerens was in the top 10 for the entire two days though. He entered the final event - the 1,500 - in sixth place.

TigerBlog actually paused episode 79 of "Parenthood" to watch Soerens in the 1,500. TB's first thought was to wonder how big Soerens is. He certainly looked bigger than the rest of the competition.

The decathlon, as everyone knows, is grueling. As TB watched the final event, he wondered what went through their collective minds as they reached the end. Relief, he supposes.

Soerens ran a 4:37.74 for the 1,500. It left him with 7,669 points, which beat Peter Hunt's 1988 school record of 7,466. 

He also maintained his sixth-place finish, which earned him first-team All-America honors.

It was a truly stunning achievement, going from the 24th seed to finishing sixth and earning first-team All-America. That's not something that happens routinely.

The final Princeton competitor was Megan Curham, who finished 12th in the 10,000. She was in the lead for much of the first third of the race of so.

With the end of Curham's race, Princeton's six athletes at the NCAA championships were also finished.

The final total was four All-Americas, first-teamers Ratcliffe and Soerens and second-teamers Curham and Sam Pons in the 10,000s.

It wasn't a bad trip to Oregon for the Tigers.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Laps

TigerBlog has a lot of thoughts on the whole Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn Jenner story, and he's probably not going to share them.

He will say that it's a fascinating statement on contemporary American society - and leave it at that. Well, maybe he will throw in one other thought, and that is that he disagrees with ESPN's decision to give Jenner the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. He definitely would have given that to Lauren Hill, the women's college basketball player who died from brain cancer at the age of 19.

Anyway, there is one piece of the story that hasn't been played up enough, TigerBlog believes. It's just how big Bruce Jenner was.

If you're too young to remember the 1976 Olympics, Jenner (the use of the last name prevents having to use a "he" or "she" pronoun) won the decathlon and the in the process became the biggest star in sports for a time. Anyone TigerBlog's age knows that Jenner landed on a the front of a box of Wheaties cereal, and in just about every other major advertising campaign that there was.

He was huge. Bigger than anyone. The "World's Greatest Athlete."

This would be no different than if LeBron James went through this in 30 or 40 years. That's how big Jenner was for awhile. 

In fact, since TigerBlog has been paying attention, the list of athletes who could match Jenner for the level of universal approval and commercial success on a national level - the ones who really transcended their sport - is not a long one. And it's actually an interesting one.

Here it is: Arnold Palmer, O.J. Simpson, Bruce Jenner, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and LeBron James. That's really it. Who is TB forgetting?

What makes it really interesting is that they haven't all gone on to sustain that level of popularity and success. Some have. Others fell a long, long way. Certainly Tiger Woods did. And O.J.? He did too, even though in the 1980s and up until 1994, he was as beloved as it got.

So TigerBlog will leave it to everyone to formulate their own opinions on Caitlyn Jenner.

Bruce Jenner, though, wasn't just some reality TV star who just showed up one day. At one point, he was the world's single biggest sports star.

By now, every Princeton fan knows that the second-best U.S. finish at the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics was by Fred Samara, the men's track and field coach at Princeton.

TigerBlog, by the way, has not talked to Samara about his former teammate.

Samara is in Oregon right now for the NCAA outdoor track and field championships. The event, which is the last of the Princeton Athletics calendar, began yesterday.

Princeton has six athletes at the famous Haywood Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Of the six, two are males, both of whom competed yesterday, with Stephen Soerens in the decathlon and Sam Pons in the 10,000.

Soerens, one of the heroes of Princeton's Ivy League Heptagonal championship, has the final five events of the decathlon today. TigerBlog didn't realize that Soerens is the first Princeton decathlete to reach the NCAA Championships since Peter Hunt in 1988 and that Hunt was Jason Garrett's roommate at Princeton. Or that Garrett is Hunt's children's godfather.

In addition, Princeton's four women athletes all compete today.

Julia Ratcliffe, the defending NCAA champion, will go for two straight in the hammer throw, which goes off at 4:30 Eastern time this afternoon.

The others are Lizzie Bird in the steeplechase semifinal, Cecilia Barowski in the 800 semifinal and Megan Curham in the 10,000.

Peter Callahan won the Roper Trophy in 2013 and now runs for New Mexico with his last year of eligibility. Callahan, if you forgot, ran three incredible anchor legs in the distance medley relay two years ago, giving Princeton the Heps title, a trip to the NCAAs and then most dramatically the NCAA championship.

Callahan ran the 1,500 semifinal last night. TigerBlog isn't quite sure what Princeton's responsibility to publicize a former athlete is, but Callahan is a grad who gave the men's track and field program here one of its best-ever accomplishments, so he's good to go in TB's book.

The track and field championships continue through Saturday, when Bird and Barowski would compete in their finals.

And then, the 2014-15 athletic year will be over at Princeton. It always ends at the track and field championships.

The last laps of the season, as it were.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Random Memories

TigerBlog's driver's license is expiring soon.

He would have forgotten all about it had it not been for the reminder he got from the motor vehicle people.

Like the Olympics and Presidential elections, driver's license renewals come every four years. For TigerBlog, it's time.

He has his current license of course, and for some reason he also has the one that expired just about four years ago. He feels like he'll be continuing the trend of looking better in each successive photo.

His current license has him in an "NCAA Lacrosse" shirt. A maroon one. It wasn't even one from the Final Four. It was one he got for working at a quarterfinal one year.

His previous license featured TigerBlog in a "Princeton Athletics" shirt. So will his next one, he's pretty sure.

His first driver's license, by the way, didn't have a photo on it.

He remembers the day he took his driving test. He messed up the parallel parking fairly badly and still passed. He treats that as, well, license to be a poor parallel parker to this day.

Fortunately, most of the time he parks, it's in large parking lots or at strip malls.

TigerBlog thought back to his first car for some reason yesterday. His first car was a 1977 Dodge Diplomat. It was red with white vinyl seats, and the lock on the glove compartment didn't work, so it had to be jimmied to open and close it. Only TigerBlog figured out how to do it. 

Oh, and it had an eight-track player. And a big "University of Pennsylvania" sticker on the back window. 

That old car popped into his mind while he was on the Merritt Parkway, a road he spent a great deal of time on the last two days. It's a great road, except when there's construction and traffic gets backed up and then it starts to pour and all.

Anyway, TigerBlog can't remember where he's going with all this.

Oh yeah. Random thoughts.

Shortly after the whole driver's license/first car thing came and went from his head, he had another random thought. When was the first time he was on Princeton's campus?

He's pretty sure that the first time he was ever in Jadwin Gym was in early 1984, when he covered the state high school wrestling championships back when he was at the newspaper. The building was packed, he remembers.

What he doesn't remember is what he thought of Jadwin at first glance. And he definitely never dreamed that the building would be his home base for so many years.

His first football game at Princeton was the 1984 game against Penn. TigerBlog worked on the student radio station at Penn, and he called the 1984 Princeton-Penn game at Palmer Stadium.

Again, he doubts that he was thinking "some day all this will be mine" as he watched the game. 

The 1983 game, by the way, was one of the best football games he's ever seen. Penn 28, Princeton 27, as the Quakers held the Tigers on a late two-point conversion attempt. The 1984 game wasn't as good, as Penn won 27-17.

As an aside, among those who worked with TigerBlog on the Penn student station back then were Scott Graham - who has done the Phillies, NFL, college basketball and basically everything else - Jon Hock - a filmmaker who has done some of the best "30 For 30s" - and Paul Jolovitz - who is all over Philadelphia talk radio.

Oh, and a guy named Sandy who became a lawyer in St. Louis. He was actually the one in charge.

Actually, TigerBlog was probably around a bunch of people he'd come to work very closely with through the years at that 1984 football game in Palmer Stadium. Media people for sure. Chuck Yrigoyen, who was the head of athletic communications at the time.

TigerBlog was a neophyte back then, completely unaware of his surroundings. And the people.

It wasn't until 1989 that he would become a regular in these parts. By then Chuck was at the Ivy League office, but he was still close by. And, like TigerBlog, a member of the Jadwin lunchtime basketball Hall of Fame. Today he's the commissioner of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

TigerBlog has no idea why he started thinking about those things yesterday, his first car and especially his first trips to Princeton.

His wishes he could go back to those two days - the wrestling championships and the football game in Palmer Stadium - and remember exactly what he was thinking.

He can't, obviously.

All he can do is keep those memories in his head and pluck them out every now and then. And so what if started out as a Quaker. Or a kid covering high school wrestling.

They remind him of the starting point for what has become more than a quarter of a century at this great place.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Changing The Rules

If TigerBlog had been told he could change any two rules in college athletics - in game rules, not NCAA rules - he probably would have chosen:

1) fewer timeouts in men's basketball
2) timing rules in women's lacrosse

And lo and behold, guess what? The powers-that-be in those sports took TigerBlog's telepathic suggestions.

Hey, that reminds TigerBlog of one of his favorite parts of one of his favorite movies, where one character says about another character: "that's a lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in positions of importance." Can you guess the movie? TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs.

In the meantime, TB read stories in the last week about changes that were put forth by the rules committee in both women's lacrosse and men's basketball.

And guess what? Both of TigerBlog's wishes have been addressed.

The two rule changes basically are trying to solve the same problem endemic to both sports; namely, the end game in both have become very troublesome.

Let's start with men's basketball.

There are a variety of major changes coming to the college basketball next season. For instance, there will be a 30-second clock instead of a 35-second clock. The restricted area under the basket was extended from three feet to four feet.

All of the rule changes are linked to the idea that the college game was lacking in scoring and taking too long to play.

To address the second point, there will only be four team timeouts instead of five, and only three carry over to the second half. It hardly goes far enough, but it's a start.

Because there are nine media timeouts in a game and each team has four in a game, that's a total of 17 artificial stoppages of play. That's way too many - but at least it's less than the 19 of years past.

Actually, it might not be 17, because another rule change is that a team timeout called with 30 seconds of a media timeout will eliminate that timeout. That won't happen too often, but it's there.

The end of a men's basketball game takes forever, and part of the problem is that coaches will use every timeout they can get to try to control every possible situation. TigerBlog is pretty sure coaches would want twice as many timeouts, not fewer.

So, hey, three per team in the second half is better than four.

The movie from above? "Broadcast News."

Then there's women's lacrosse, whose rule changes won't be official until they receive official - and likely - approval from the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel next month.

The rules committee in women's lacrosse has recommended a 90-second shot clock. This wouldn't take effect until 2017, which TigerBlog doesn't understand, because shot clocks are mandatory in men's lacrosse next year, so shot clocks will be on all Division I lacrosse fields anyway.

Women's lacrosse in the last few years became what men's basketball was before the shot clock. Teams had improved to the point where sitting on a lead with three minutes, four minutes, 10 minutes, however many minutes remaining became easier and easier.

It made for, well, dull endings. And it did so in the biggest moments.

The breaking point was this year's NCAA semifinals and finals, where Maryland ran out the clock for huge amounts of time to sit on leads. Hey, it was a winning strategy, and the Terps are NCAA champs, but it wasn't exciting.

Worse, it wasn't exciting when the sport had its biggest audience.

The new rule change vaulted over what the men's game has had in place the last few years, which is a 30-second clock when a stall warning is issued. This past season was the first with the option of having an on-field shot clock. As TB said, next year they're mandatory.

The shot clock in women's lacrosse will completely eliminate the issue of having a team sit on the ball endlessly when the game ends. In the interest of full disclosure, Princeton did it to Stony Brook in its win over the Seawolves in the NCAA tournament.

In fact, it will create an entirely new strategic issue in women's lacrosse. What do you do when the shot clock is winding down? Go to the goal? Throw the ball behind the cage and fall back on defense?

Imagine the NCAA championship game this year, a one-goal game with three minutes to go. Instead of running out the clock, now Maryland has to figure out if it's trying to score, risking transition the other way, or run out the clock and play D.

The watchability of women's lacrosse has skyrocketed because of this.

So yeah, those are two pretty good steps forward for the two sports.

And women's basketball is going to play four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves?

TigerBlog didn't ask for that.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Triple Crown

Back when TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, there was a long-standing debate about whether or not the head shots of jockeys should be included in horse racing stories.

Any time there was a head shot of a jockey in the paper, there was one person in the sports department who would wonder why the head shot of the horse wasn't used instead.

TigerBlog has never bet on a horse race in his life. He grew up in the shadow of Freehold Raceway and yet the only time he was ever there was when it hosted a carnival.

He has no idea even how to bet on a race, or how to read the racing form.

For that matter, he's not sure why horse racing ever became a sport, per se. He understands that the horses run and people bet on them.

He doesn't get why it's considered a sport.

What is a sport? It's a physical activity with a scoring system and where a winner is declared.

One question then becomes how much physicality is required. For instance, is bowling a sport? Is it an activity?

Does horse racing fit the definition? It certainly does, except it's the horses are doing the physical part. And were it not for the gambling part, it never would have evolved to what it has become. TB supposes it's because racing results were in the newspaper and in the sports page so bettors could follow along, and from there it became "sport."

Also, do the horses know what they're doing? Are they competitive? Do they know that they won or lost?

TigerBlog has no background at all in horse psychology either. It's an interesting question though.

Not that TigerBlog is criticizing horse racing. He's just saying that he doesn't understand it or why it's such a big deal.

As you know by now, American Pharoah became the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown - and the first in 37 years - when he followed up his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by taking the Belmont Stakes fairly easily Saturday. In between Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah this year, 12 horses had won the first two and not won the Belmont, until this past Saturday.

TigerBlog saw a replay of the race, and American Pharoah is certainly a beautiful animal. And, TB supposes, he's a humble horse, the kind of horse the other horses wouldn't mind having a beer with.

TigerBlog remembers watching all three Triple Crown races in 1978, when Affirmed edged Alydar all three times. Those were epic horse races.

Maybe the most famous horse race was the 1973 Belmont, when Secretariat romped by 31 lengths to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought. Citation, in 1948, had been the last horse to win all three.

TigerBlog remembers watching the 1973 race in total amazement at how Secretariat destroyed the field. He was so big and strong and fast and moved so effortlessly.

In human terms, TigerBlog also remembers watching Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympic Games as he ran the 200 and 400. He too was big and strong and fast and running effortlessly. It was very similar to watching Secretariat.

As TigerBlog watched American Pharoah, he thought about who at Princeton came closest to running that way, at least that he's seen.

He didn't have to think long about it.

The answer is Donn Cabral.

TigerBlog remembers watching Cabral at the 2010 Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City. Cabral, as TB recalls, had a bad cold prior to the race and wasn't even 100 percent certain to be competing.

Instead, Cabral was there. TigerBlog stood right at the finish line, and when Cabral hit the final 100 yards or so, he turned it up a few levels. He was already so far out in front that there was no doubt he was going to win, but his finish was incredible.

By the time he hit the tape, it looked like he was going to take off. Actually lift off the ground.

He was like a perfectly tuned racehorse. Or like Michael Johnson.

Cabral, of course, would go on to be an eight-time All-America, a 10-time Heps champion and the NCAA steeplechase champion.

He'd also reach the 2012 Olympic Games in the steeplechase and make it to the finals, where he finished eighth.

One of the best Princeton sporting events of the last decade was when Cabral would practice - not just compete. When he would run, basically all eyes would be on him.

Anyway, that's what TigerBlog thought about when he watched American Pharaoh. Donn Cabral. Maybe not as big, but strong and fast and effortless.

Oh, and triple crowns?

Princeton track and field knows a lot about them.

The Tigers won nine of them - cross country, indoor Heps and outdoor Heps in the same year - in between Affirmed and American Pharaoh.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Public Speaking 101

TigerBlog pulled off of 95 onto Route 1 at about 6:25 this morning.

He was on his way to Jadwin Gym, where he was meeting up with TigerBlog Jr. and his buddy Matthew. Those two are doing their summer strength and conditioning programs before heading off to college lacrosse, and TB was willing to move his workout up a few hours so Matthew could get to school on time. He still has a week left.

The two of them are making TigerBlog feel good about himself, what with how much stronger he is than they are and all. Sure, they can run faster. They can run period, which makes them faster than TigerBlog.

So the edge in conditioning goes to youth. The edge in strength goes to age. Unfortunately for TB, they're on a 12-week program, and they'll zoom by him by Week 5 or so. Hey, let him enjoy it for now.

Anyway, when TigerBlog was on the ramp to Route 1, the car in front of him had a big "Dallas Cowboys" sticker on the back.

Of course, TB wanted to honk his horn and get the driver's attention and say "hey, buddy, go to the Princeton website and check out Jason Garrett's speech from the banquet last week."

Garrett's speech was a tremendous mix of humor and inspiration. TigerBlog has heard all kinds of public speakers, and by far the best are politicians and coaches.

What is the common ground about those two professions? TigerBlog supposes that it's either the need to inspire your constituents to achieve your goals (voters or players, legislation or victories) and perhaps the fact that speaking in front of groups becomes just second nature.

The other thing about those two professions in terms of public speaking is that it's easy to spot the phoniness.

The best public speaker TigerBlog has ever heard? That's easy. He's heard this person speak to a group of 25 and a group of 10,000 or so, and he blew the room away both times.

Who is it?

Dick Vitale.

As insufferable as he came to be on television, Vitale's ability to capture a room was incredible.

TigerBlog saw him speak at the Meadowlands Arena in 1997, when Princeton was playing in the Jimmy V. Classic against Wake Forest (the Tigers won 69-64; not only does TB remembers the score without having to look, he also remembers he had an awful cold that night).

He thought Gabe Lewullis led Princeton in scoring, but it was actually current assistant coach Brian Earl, who had 18. Current head coach Mitch Henderson had 14 points and nine assists with two turnovers. Both played all 40 minutes.

Two other Tigers were in double figures as well - Steve Goodrich with 17 and Lewullis with 12.

Anyway, the event was a doubleheader, and Vitale spoke between games, stood out at midcourt with a microphone in his hand.

He talked about his friendship with Jim Valvano, who had died of cancer and who was the namesake for the tournament. He talked about members of his family and other friends who had been touched by cancer.

He spoke from the heart, and he did so in such a way that made everyone there feel like he was talking directly to them. He was riveting.

And a former coach.

As for Princeton coaches, the best public speaker TB has seen is also the second-best one that he's seen. That would be Pete Carril, the former men's basketball coach.

Carril doesn't have Vitale's in-your-face charisma as a speaker. His strength was his ability to weave his personal experiences and humble beginnings into really big-picture messages, all with really subtle humor - sometimes not so subtle - and a very soft, understated delivery.

There have been other really good public speakers here. Carril is the best. TigerBlog has seen him be on so many times, but maybe his best was one nobody really remembers.

It was at one of the few Ivy League basketball media days, an actual media day. It was at the Palestra. When it was time for Carril to speak, he talked about the building and how his father had helped make the steel for the rafters. It was great.

As for Garrett, he is way, way up there. Last week was the first time TB had heard him speak in a public setting like that, and he was great.

Here are links to what he had to say. TigerBlog's favorite is the first one, "Grab the Mantle of Leadership."

“Grab the Mantle of Leadership”
“Mental Toughness and the Navy Seals”
“Best Way to Live Your Life”
“Life is about the Run”

Public speaking isn't easy. Try to hard to be funny and you fall flat. Have no message and everyone tunes you out. Most importantly, you need to know your audience, which in itself is a challenge.

TigerBlog has seen surveys that say more people are afraid of speaking in public than dying, though he's not so sure about that.

Anyway, TigerBlog gives Jason Garrett an "A" for his effort last week. Don't believe TB?

Watch for yourself.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Go Cavs

TigerBlog wants to warn you. He really has nothing to say today.

It happens. Every now and then.

Hey, let's face it. Graduation was two days ago. There is only one athletic event remaining for the academic year, and that's the NCAA track and field championships, to which Princeton will send six athletes and which does not start until a week from today.

So, yeah, there's not a whole lot of Princeton Athletics to be talked about today. Oh wait. He just thought of something. He always does.

Before he heads down that path, he does want to tell you about this interesting married couple he met yesterday. What makes them interesting is the geography of their respective childhoods.

She grew up in Miami Beach. She left in 1982 because she couldn't stand the heat and humidity.

He grew up in Fort Fairfield. That is not Fort Lauderdale.

No, that would be Fort Fairfield, Maine. It is essentially the end of America, right before Canada.

It's a town of potato fields, and a golf course, the man said, on which you can hit your tee shot in the United States and putt on that hole in Canada.

And it gets cold. Very, very cold. TigerBlog looked it up. In the winter, a typical day starts below zero and, if you're lucky, gets to 15 or so above.

Has any married couple ever grown up in more diverse climates? 

And where did they meet? Pittsburgh, of course.

So that's those two.

What else?

TigerBlog watched a rerun of "Quincy" the other day.

He wrote about "Quincy" here a long, long time ago, back in 2009. For those who don't remember, he'll summarize what he wrote about the show.

"Quincy" starred Jack Klugman as a medical examiner in Los Angeles. Every episode was basically the same. All the evidence seemed to point one way, but Quincy eventually proved that everyone else was wrong and he was right.

The problem was that the same two people - his boss and the police lieutenant - fought him at every turn because the evidence seemed to support the original theory. Nobody ever gave him the benefit of the doubt, even though he was never wrong.

The episode TigerBlog watched the other day was from 1982. TB likes watching shows from back then and seeing how long the show goes before something comes up that would never, ever happen today.

You know. Like a busy signal. Or a pay phone. Or mailing a letter.

In the episode the other day, Quincy makes a call from a phone that is mounted on a wall. Okay, maybe there are some of those left. Or some phrase or way of speaking that long ago became obsolete.

He also catches the bad guy by telling him that the cigarette (people were smoking in a bar/restaurant) he just put out would be able to identify him, and the bad guy looked at him in disbelief.

Okay, married people from wildly different climates. Old TV show. What else?

The NBA finals begin tonight. TigerBlog is rooting for the Cavaliers.

Why? Two reasons.

First, he'd love to see LeBron James bring a championship to Cleveland. The last championship that city won was in 1964, when Jim Brown led the Browns to the NFL championship. It was two seasons later that the first Super Bowl was played.

The 1964 NFL championship game was played on Dec. 27, 1964. The Super Bowl this past year was played on Feb. 1, just to let you know how times have changed.

If LeBron can pull this one off, it would be an incredible performance. These Cavaliers, especially without the out-for-the-playoffs Kevin Love and the hobbled Kyrie Irving, are not exactly a championship team, except for the presence of LeBron James. It would be awesome to see one player be so great as to carry this team all the way, especially for a city that was cheated out of four years of James' prime - two of which ended in NBA titles and all four of which ended in the finals - when he played for Miami.

The other reason TB is rooting for Cleveland is that its coach is Dave Blatt, a 1981 Princeton grad who played for Pete Carril here.

See? A Princeton connection. Perfect.

Blatt has taken a lot of, you Cleveland fans will pardon the expression, heat for sort of just being there while James actually calls all the shots. TigerBlog doesn't believe that for a second.

He didn't believe it when it was Eric Spoelstra in Miami, and he doesn't it with Blatt. It's not just standing up for the Princeton guy.

It's not easy doing what Blatt is doing. He's running his team with James' huge shadow on everything. He can't do anything without being criticized for either 1) not using James enough or 2) just letting James do everything and therefore being essentially irrelevant.

In reality, Blatt is the one who is sets the tone for the team and establishes the team culture. And doing this with a mega-superstar isn't easy, especially for a coach in his first year in the NBA and, for that matter, in America.

So yeah, Blatt has done a great job.

TigerBlog is rooting for him. He's a Princeton Tiger after all.