Friday, October 30, 2015

Ivy Title Time

The Office of Athletic Communications will be relocating from its current perch on the Jadwin Gym balcony to E level, downstairs, next to the wrestling room.

TigerBlog has a great view out of his window of Weaver Track and Princeton Stadium. He's thinking of taking a nice panoramic picture of it and then hanging it on the wall of his new office, from which the outside will no longer be readily available.

Besides daylight, TigerBlog will also miss his neighbors in what used to be the mailroom. Chessie Jackson, the volunteer assistant women's basketball coach, shares that office with Mike Henderson, the director of track and field operations.

The two were sort of thrown together, and it seemed like it took them awhile until either one spoke to the other. At some point, it became apparent to TigerBlog - and he assumes the two of them - that they had something in common: a dry sense of humor. With some healthy sarcasm mixed in.

So now, the room next door is usually good for a laugh or two, if only for another two weeks or so, before TB moves downstairs.

Henderson will duck his head into TB's office a few times a day with something clever and understated. You can't really ask for more out of a neighbor.

It was actually two days ago that Henderson came in with a picture and a text message. The message said: "Think there's a place for it on TigerBlog or anything like that?"

Now this would get TB's attention regardless of who sent it. The fact that it came from none other than Donn Cabral was ever better.

TigerBlog has only talked to Cabral twice, but he is a huge fan. How could he not be?

Cabral is a former NCAA champion and Olympic finalist in the steeplechase. He hopes to repeat the second of those next year in Rio, where he will be looking to improve on his eighth-place finish in the London Olympics of 2012.

TigerBlog could see Cabral's workouts on the track in the spring when he was here, and they were nearly as impressive as watching him run. TB's favorite moment of seeing Cabral compete in person was at the 2010 Heps cross country championships, where Cabral destroyed the field and seemed completely unfazed by having run the treacherous Van Cortlandt Park course as he soared to the finish.

So if Donn Cabral wants a picture on TigerBlog, he has a good chance of getting it. And here it is:

The picture is of four Princetonians at the World Championships in Beijing last summer. Along with Cabral, there is Craig Masback ’77, Amadeus Mason ’89 and Carrie Dimoff ’05.

There will be at least two Ivy League championships awarded this weekend, and as many as four. And two others could go a long way towards being decided, though cannot mathematically be clinched. Those two would be football and men's soccer, where Harvard and Dartmouth are tied for first and meet in both in Cambridge.

The two Ivy titles that will definitely be decided are the men's and women's cross country championships, which will be returning to Van Cortlandt Park for the first time since Cabral won there in 2010. TigerBlog will be there too, as Heps cross country could be his favorite annual Ivy League event that doesn't have the word "lacrosse" in it.

The men's race is at 11, and the women's race is at noon. In the reconfigured world of Van Cortlandt, the men will race eight kilometers instead of five miles and the women will go 6K instead of 5K.

Princeton is the highest ranked among the women's teams in the league. Both races figure to be competitive.

Is that not enough insight for you? Click HERE for the men's preview and HERE for the women's preview.

The other two Ivy titles that could be decided this weekend are in field hockey and women's soccer, and in both, Princeton is the team that could be doing the deciding.

Princeton hosts Cornell at noon in field hockey and women's soccer at 1 (and football at 3:30 and men's soccer at 4). Admission to the two soccer games and field hockey game is free.

The field hockey field and soccer field are right next to each other, so you can see both title chases within an easy walk.

It's simple for both, but even simpler for women's soccer.

Princeton, after its 2-1 win over Harvard last weekend, is 5-0-0 in the league in women's soccer, with games against Cornell and Penn remaining. Other than Harvard, who is now 4-1-0, every other team in the league has been mathematically eliminated.

Should Princeton beat either Cornell or Penn, it would be headed to the NCAA tournament with the Ivy League's automatic bid, and it would be assured of no worse than a tie for the league championship. The same would apply if Harvard were to lose either of its final two games, to Dartmouth or Yale.

Of course, there are ties in soccer, and they all factor in to different possible outcomes. For instance, two Princeton ties and two Harvard wins, and Harvard would win the championship and automatic bid.

But Princeton won't have to worry about any of that with a win. Or a Harvard loss.

As in women's soccer,Princeton is also 5-0, also with games left against Cornell and Penn, in field hockey. The big difference is that both Cornell and Penn are 4-1, and so Princeton would clinch at least a share of the league title with a win in one game but not necessarily the NCAA tournament bid. Wins in both games, or a Princeton win in one game and a loss by the team that beats Princeton in the other game, would also send the Tigers to the tournament.

Again, win and don't worry about any of that.

The Heps meet will crown the first of 33 Ivy League championships for the 2015-16 academic year. In case you lost track, Princeton has won 438 Ivy League titles all-time, by far the most of any Ivy school and nearly one-quarter of all those that have been won through the years.

Just saying.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Leftover Blog

TigerBlog was at the newspaper late one night in a summer long ago when somebody threw a no-hitter.

He can't remember the year or the pitcher or anything like. He just remembers the no-hitter, which came after the paper had been laid out but before the second edition had been finalized.

Whoever was laying out the paper that night - in the slot, it was called - didn't put the no-hitter out front, instead banishing it to the lead of the baseball wrap. This incensed TigerBlog's former colleague Harvey Yavener, who questioned whether or not the slot person knew what the "news" part of the newspaper meant.

It was a classic Yav moment.

TigerBlog thought of it as the 12th, 13th and 14th innings of Game 1 of the World Series were playing out. At what point did TigerBlog need to scrap what he'd already written and replace it with what Chris Young was doing for the Royals?

What if Young got a no-decision? Or a loss? Did that merit a new blog?

Either way, TB knew he had no choice once Young did what he did, which was throw three hitless innings and get the win. And so it was back to the newspaper days, which meant a little late night - actually early morning - rewriting.

It was actually sort of fun. TB rewrote while watching Young on the postgame set of the MLB Network, where he was what he is - humble and calm.

So yeah, TB didn't get much sleep after Game 1. That's okay. Besides, he had this blog left over that he was going to have run yesterday, but he'll just go with it today instead:

TigerBlog was all in on watching Rutgers-Ohio State last Saturday night.

He thought the Scarlet Knights would play the No. 1 ranked Buckeyes somewhat closer than they did. He figured it wouldn't be a nailbiter, but thought Rutgers could hang in.

The game started at 8 and was the feature game on ABC. Or ESPN on ABC, as it's officially known.

By 8:40 or so, he was over on PBS. Why? Two reasons.

First, because it was apparent that Rutgers wasn't going to hang with Ohio State. And second?

Because "On The Waterfront" was on. Does he need a better reason?

TigerBlog isn't sure how many times he's seen "On The Waterfront," but it's enough to know that the most famous scene is seared into his brain as much as any other he's even seen.

You know the scene, right? Marlon Brando, a former boxer, and his brother, played by Rod Steiger, are in the back of a car, being driven to where Brando is going to be knocked off unless Steiger can convince him not to testify against Lee J. Cobb, who had Eva Marie Saint's brother thrown off a roof. Brando and Saint have since fallen in love, as a side plot.

Steiger fails to convince Brando to keep his mouth shut, largely because Karl Malden, the local priest, has gotten inside his head. Realizing that he's going to have to take the hit, literally, for his brother, Steiger changes the subject and tries to get nostalgic about his brother's boxing career.

This really pisses Brando off. Instead of reminiscing, he reminds Steiger that he was on his way to a "title shot outdoors in a ballpark" but instead, because Steiger and Cobb made him throw a fight, he ended up with "a one-way ticket to Palookaville." And then he goes for the jugular, putting it all on Steiger.

And when his brother, in a way of justifying it all, reminds Brando that he had put some bets down for him and that "he saw some money," Brando utters as famous a line as has ever been uttered in the history of American movies:

"You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contenduh. I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum. Which is what I am. Let's face Charlie. It was you."

Chills. Total awe that something can be done so perfectly. Ah, that's when movies were movies.

TigerBlog remembers an episode of "Happy Days" where Richie, Potsie and Ralph got into a fight, and Fonzie explains that the girls will love that they looked all beaten up, like Brando did at the end of "On The Waterfront." He's pretty sure that was before he had seen the movie, but yeah, Brando gets a little beaten up at the end.

Other than the iconic scene, TB's favorites are when Malden goes into the bar and talks Brando out of shooting Cobb and when Brando finally confronts Steiger at the end, calling him "nothing."

"On The Waterfront" is one of the greatest movies ever. It won eight Academy Awards in 1954, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Brando and Best Supporting Actress for the then-17-year-old Saint.

TigerBlog stayed with the movie until the end. Then he went back to the Rutgers game, which was long decided by then.

Princeton and Rutgers played in the first football game ever, back on Nov. 6, 1869. For much of the next 100-plus years, Princeton football was far superior to its neighbor 20 miles to the north.

Even now, Princeton has won 803 games all-time, while Rutgers has won 644.

Rutgers, though, made a decision to go in a vastly different direction than Princeton when it came to football, pursuing the highest level while Princeton has stayed true to the Ivy League. Now Rutgers finds itself in the Big Ten, and you can't get much more big-time than that.

The Rutgers-Ohio State game drew 53,111 fans to High Point Solutions Stadium. The Scarlet Knights average 48,722 through five games at home, which is nothing compared to the road, where they average 71,945 after trips to Indiana and Penn State.

And hey, Temple and Notre Dame have sold out Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, for Saturday night. 

Princeton and Rutgers are two of the nine pre-colonial colleges in the U.S. The others are six of the other seven Ivy schools and William & Mary.

The Ivy school not on the list is Cornell, which is at Princeton in football, both soccers and field hockey Saturday.

Remember that 71,945 average for Rutgers away games? The eight Ivy League teams combined average 67,918. That's the average attendance of the eight schools added together. Divide that by eight, and it comes to 8,490.

To which TigerBlog says: So what.

There's a reason Ivy League football and Big Ten football are different animals. Actually, there are a lot of reasons.

They don't need to be rehashed here.

The point is that Ivy League football isn't trying to be what Big Ten football is. Ivy League football is highly competitive. It's devoid of a lot of the ills that plague the Power Five conferences.

It provides a great game-day atmosphere. And it features players who are fully integrated into the academic missions of the schools they represent.

As TigerBlog has said on many occasions, other than Reunions, he can't think of anything that brings more people to Princeton's campus than football.

Princeton is 4-2. Cornell is 0-6. Princeton is looking to snap a two-game losing streak, and a win means a non-losing season is assured with three weeks to play.

Will the stadium be sold out? No. But that's okay.

It'll still be a great atmosphere for a game.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Winning Pitcher Chris Young

This was a few days before Chris Young became the winning pitcher in an epic Game 1 of the World Series.

Scott Bradley was on the treadmill in the Princeton Varsity Club weightroom, which is where he usually is these days. TigerBlog was on the exercise bike a few feet away.

This was last Friday, to be exact. The Kansas City Royals hadn't yet clinched the American League pennant, but Bradley, Princeton's baseball coach, was making plans to go to the first two games of the World Series.

Why go to the Midwest when the New York Mets were the National League champ? It would be easier, Bradley said, to get to the stadium in KC than to Citi Field.

Then there was Monday. As Bradley prepared to leave, TigerBlog had a brief conversation with him on the Jadwin Gym balcony.

Young, who had pitched for Bradley at Princeton, is Kansas City's fourth starter. Royals manager Ned Yost had just announced that Young would pitch Game 4, but Bradley thought there might be a chance that he might get into Game 1 in relief, depending on the situation.

Bradley probably thought the situation was something like 4-4 in the fifth inning. You know, if the starter couldn't get to the bullpen and the Royals needed a bridge.

Or maybe 4-4 in the 12th. That was the other possibility, and that's exactly how it played out.

There was Young, brought out of the bullpen in the top of the 12th, with the score tied 4-4 after Alex Gordon's home run had tied it in the bottom of the ninth.

And now it was all on Young. Forget Game 4. This was his moment.

TigerBlog slept through innings six to nine, woke up to hear Gordon's home run, and then fell asleep again until the 11th. Then it was time for Young, and TB was wide awake.

This wasn't going to be an easy 12th for the big righthander. He would have to face the scorchingly hot Daniel Murphy, followed by Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda, all in the World Series, by the way.

So what did he do? Struck out Murphy. Struck out Cespedes. Struck out Duda.

KC loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th but couldn't score, so back came Young. At this point, it was Young for Kansas City and Bartolo Colon for the Mets, and the two veterans were probably going to be out there until one of them won and the other lost, since both bullpens were pretty much spent.

Young got another K in the 13th, though he did walk a batter. After Colon had an easy 13th, Young went 1-2-3 in the 14th, getting Curtis Granderson, David Wright and then Murphy again.

Finally, Kansas City got a run off Colon in the 14th. Game over. Winning pitcher, Chris Young.

Along the way, there was some interesting stuff on the Fox broadcast. And on Twitter. Lots of good Twitter stuff, including someone who mentioned that the World Series was now a battle between two guys who were a combined 78 years old and 600 pounds.

For starters, Alex Rodriguez, whom TigerBlog can't stand a little bit, had some great insight into why Young - who at 6-10 doesn't throw relatively hard - is so difficult for hitters. It was good stuff.

Then there was Tom Verducci as he showed up Joe Buck, who mentioned that the Mets might go to their Game 4 starter, Steven Matz. Verducci immediately shot that down, saying Matz had thrown a simulated game the day before and that New York manager Terry Collins had said he wouldn't pitch Matz in relief. How did Buck not know that?

And Harold Reynolds mentioned that he had seen Bradley before Game 1, with Young, who figured he wouldn't be the pitcher. Reynolds had been a teammate of Bradley's in Seattle. Again, really good stuff.

There was also a great graphic, mentioning this game and the 1916 World Series game that also had gone 14 innings. This game took more than five hours and used 13 total pitchers. The 1916 game? Two pitchers, 2:30.

The only pitcher TigerBlog really cared all that much about was Young, on the very short list of TB's all-time favorite Princeton athletes.

As TB watched, he couldn't help but chuckle about how he will always think of Young as a basketball player first, how great a basketball player he was at Princeton. Had he not lost his last two years of basketball after signing his first pro baseball contract, Young would probably be known now as the second-best player in program history, behind only Bill Bradley. He certainly would have vaulted past 2,000 points had he stayed healthy for those two years, and he would have obliterated the blocked shots record while also finishing in the top three or so in rebounds and assists.

From Day 1 that TigerBlog met him, he's been impressed by his demeanor, his poise, his maturity, his warmth, his genuine warmth at that. 

TigerBlog once drove to Lakewood to see him pitch in A ball for the Hickory Crawdads, on whose buses Young had finished writing his senior thesis, something that was also brought up on the Fox broadcast.
And now here he was in the World Series. TB wonders what kind of NBA player he might have been, but none of that matters anymore. He chose the baseball route, and he chose wisely.

Yes, it was late, but TB was going to stay with this one til the end. And he really, really, didn't want to see Young lose it.

As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about. Young went three hitless, not just scoreless innings.

After it was over, Young was interviewed on the Fox broadcast. He was calm and cool, just like he had been on the mound.

How long could he have gone, he was asked? As long as he had to, he replied.

After all, he said, he had waited his whole life for this chance.

And he made the most of it.

It was a great moment for him. Actually, it's one of the great moments ever for a Princeton athlete.

Chris Young, the winning pitcher in an incredible World Series game. Sounds pretty good, right?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Go Royals

When TigerBlog was a Penn freshman, he lived in a series of dorms called "The Quad."

It stretches from maybe 34th Street up to about 38th on Spruce Street, and is really a long series of interconnected dorms with different names. There are a few courtyards in the middle, including one that has stairs going up to connect the lower quad with the upper quad.

When TB was a freshman, he lived in Class of 1928 Hall. He didn't yet appreciate the importance of class years at that point.

Anyway, underneath the stairs that go up to the upper quad was a gathering area that had washing machines, study rooms and a small rec center. Included in the rec center was a ping-pong table.

One evening, TigerBlog and his friend Larry Harding went to play ping-pong. Larry's biggest claim to fame at that time was that he was from Natick, Mass., and had played high school football with Doug Flutie.

Anyway, TB and Harding played ping-pong for awhile and then went outside to find the whole place closed up and, more importantly, locked up. For some reason, it was bolted from the inside, so the two couldn't get out.

TigerBlog's memory of what happened next is a bit fuzzy, though he does remember having to call public safety from one of the emergency phones - the cell phone didn't exist yet - and then having to explain that they hadn't broken in, they were simply stuck there.

He also thinks he won the ping-pong match.

There was another time, back in 1990, when TB covered Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey) at Ithaca in the NCAA Division III football playoffs. As TB and another reporter wrote their stories (by the way, it was Dana O'Neil, who now writes for and whom TB fixed up with her husband, Princeton athletic trainer George O'Neil)  everyone left - and when TB and Dana went to leave, the entire complex had been chained shut. With them on the inside.

TB remembered those two stories yesterday, when his colleague Ben Badua explained that while at Harvard for field hockey Saturday, he found himself also locked inside a chained up facility.

How did he get out? He climbed over a 10-foot high chain link fence, with his computer bag draped over his back.

That's impressive, at least to TB.

Ben said that the members of the field hockey team had gone to watch the women's soccer team, who was also at Harvard Saturday. Both teams won 2-1, and both wins were huge for them.

Princeton field hockey and women's soccer both find themselves 5-0 in the Ivy League and alone in first place with two weeks to play. They are both in position to clinch at least a share of the Ivy title with a win at home Saturday against Cornell or the following week against Penn.

There are all kinds of other permutations and such about outright championships and NCAA tournament bids, and they're not the same for both teams. Suffice it to say that both are in a good position, though neither has clinched a thing yet.

Those two teams are closing in on league titles. The cross country teams compete Friday in New York City at the Ivy League Heptagonal championships, looking for their own championships.

The fall is reaching the top of the stretch. The winter seasons are starting up.

But the big, big story today in Princeton athletics is a spring sport, baseball.

Chris Young, as popular a Princeton Tiger as there has been since the day TigerBlog first started here, has reached the World Series. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday in Game 4, as his Kansas City Royals take on the New York Mets.

Before then, he could be used in relief in tonight's Game 1.

TigerBlog heard KC manager Ned Yost on the radio yesterday as he talked about his rotation. When he got to Young, he said that nothing is going to bother him, that he's had a great year and that he and his team have full confidence in him.

It's a great story, how Young has battled back from major arm, shoulder and back injuries to have back-to-back very good seasons, a year ago with Seattle and this year with Kansas City. And now here he is, in the World Series, pitching less than two months after the death of his father.

As TigerBlog has often said, Young would be the person he would choose as the most popular Princeton athlete he's seen. There is nobody who dislikes Young, and those who know him like him even more.

He is an extraordinarily nice person and has been from Day 1 that TB met him. TB can still see a very young TigerBlog Jr., up on Young's shoulders, as Young held him up to the basket on the Jadwin side court so TBJ could dunk. That's how Young is.

He's certainly enough to get TB to root for the Royals over the Mets, even if he grew up a Mets fan.

Now? He's a Chris Young fan. A big one.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Three Out Of Four

Winning a little differently since 1864.

TigerBlog likes that little slogan. It's catchy. Creative. Says a lot in a few words. Whoever came up with it should get a big, big raise.

Okay, it was TigerBlog who came up with it.

So what does it mean?

The point is that Princeton Athletics started in 1864, so right away you know that there's a ton of history there. And you know there's a lot of winning there too.

The different part? Princeton has built one of the best programs in the history of American intercollegiate athletics, with a legacy of more than 200 national championships and nearly one-quarter of all Ivy League championships won. And it's done so while also staying loyal to the University's academic standards, with participants who are equal parts students, athletes and citizens.

Let's brag for a few seconds. There are very, very, very few schools who can make the same claim. And none who have done it without athletic scholarships.

So yeah, Princeton has been winning a little differently for the last 151 years.

Part of the difference is that the entire school does not revolve around football, as is the case in much of the college athletics world. If you don't believe that, then just look at the number of conference realignments in recent years that have destroyed decades old rivalries and left much of the country geographically displaced.

And for what? Football. And the money it generates.

At many schools, the football coach is the more powerful person on the campus. Princeton head coach Bob Surace is among the nicest and funniest on Princeton's campus, but he'll be the first to tell you that he's not the most powerful.

In fact, a football coach who didn't buy into the institutional philosophy wouldn't last here.

Now, that doesn't mean that football isn't important. And nothing other than Reunions can bring the number of people to campus that a big football game can.

All of this begs this question of Princeton fans: Were you happy with how Princeton did against Harvard in Cambridge Saturday?

Princeton got huge wins in women's soccer, field hockey and men's soccer. Princeton lost 42-7 in football.

At, say, Alabama, TigerBlog would suppose that 95% or more of the fans wouldn't be happy with a weekend like that. He wonders what the percentage at Princeton would be.

Anyway, the football game was 7-7 at one point and 14-7 at the half. In the second half, Harvard wore Princeton down and pulled away.

TigerBlog wonders if an offensive lineman can win the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year. Harvard has a lot of pieces, yes, but what really separates the Crimson is its offensive line.

The big game in the Ivy League will be Friday night, when Dartmouth is at Harvard in a matchup of teams who are 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ivy League. The league appears to be those two at the top, with Columbia and Cornell winless in the league and the other four sort of bunched in the middle.

Harvard and Dartmouth went into the weekend both unbeaten in the league in men's soccer. Only one of them - the Big Green - came out of it the same way.

Princeton handed Harvard its first league loss as Jeremy Colvin, Daniel Bowkett and Thomas Sanner had goals in a 3-2 win. Harvard is home with Dartmouth Saturday, and a win there will put the Crimson back in a tie for first with the tiebreaker for the automatic NCAA bid. On the other hand, a Dartmouth win and the Big Green will be nearly impossible to catch for the NCAA bid.

But hey, that's for Harvard and Dartmouth.

For Princeton, the biggest winners were field hockey and women's soccer.

The field hockey team trailed Harvard 1-0 with 13 minutes to go before Maddie Copeland scored twice in just about nine minutes to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory. Princeton lost 4-1 yesterday at No. 2 UConn in a matchup of teams who have combined for the last three NCAA tournaments.

The win over Harvard improved Princeton to 5-0 in the league. No other team is unbeaten, but Cornell and Penn are both 4-1. Those two just happen to be Princeton's two remaining opponents. A win in one of those games means no worse than a share of the 21st field hockey title in 22 years.

Wins in both mean an outright title and the automatic NCAA bid. Princeton can also get there by going 1-1 and having the team who beats the Tigers lose its other game.

And then there was women's soccer.

TigerBlog watched the last 20 minutes of Princeton-Harvard field hockey on the Ivy League Digital Network, where Princeton was wearing white and Harvard was wearing crimson. He then watched the women's soccer game, with no sound, and he thought for basically most of the game that Princeton was again in white, even though it was in orange. It was very confusing.

Once he finally figured it out, he realized that Mimi Asom and Tyler Lussi did it again, each with goals, in Princeton's 2-1 win. The Tigers and Harvard had come into the game with perfect league records.

Princeton, led by first-year head coach Sean Driscoll, has 15 points, followed by Harvard with 12. Every other team in the league has been mathematically eliminated.

The Tigers will get at least a share of the league title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a win in either of its last two games, this Saturday at home against Cornell or Nov. 7 at Penn. There are all kinds of scenarios where Harvard can catch Princeton, but none of them work unless Princeton doesn't win either of its last two.

It's a good spot to be in.

So that's your weekend in Cambridge.

Do you think it was a great one?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Princeton At Harvard Times Four

Peter Farrell is trying way too hard to convince TigerBlog that he's an actual New York Mets fan.

TB believes that Farrell, the women's track and field coach, was a Mets fan in the 1960s through the 1980s. It's just that it's interesting to TB that Farrell's love for the Mets ironically has resurfaced in 2015.

He was at it again yesterday, when he came in to TB's office with yet another piece of Mets apparel, which he no doubt had to dig out of a drawer somewhere.

Of course, if you're TigerBlog's age and older and grew up watching the Mets on Channel 9, then you remember who one of the main sponsors was. And it wasn't Dunkin' Donuts, which was on the back of Peter's shirt.

No. It was Rheingold beer. Peter sang the jingle yesterday in TB's office.

He also talked about how he taunted Senior Associate Director of Athletics, who is an Illinois native and a genuine Cubs fan. Her team got unceremoniously swept by the Mets in the National League Championship Series. TB read that the Cubs were the first team ever in a best-of-seven baseball playoff series to never have the lead at any point.

TigerBlog, being kind, told Allison that he would be the only person around here not to mention the Cubs to her.

Peter? He made a few Mets-centric comments to her. And he asked her about the absurdity of the rule that a ball that disappears in the Wrigley Field ivy is a ground-rule double.

And her response? It was perfect:

"Peter, you need to know the Ivy rules."

The Mets will play either the Royals or the Blue Jays in the World Series. Kansas City leads 3-2, with the last two games in KC. TigerBlog is rooting for the Royals, because of Chris Young.

TigerBlog read a great story on Chris in the Kansas City Star the other day, written by Andy McCollough, the beat writer for the paper. Andy used to work for the Star-Ledger and covered some Princeton stuff way back when.

You can read the story HERE.

Speaking of stories about Princeton teams, here's a really good one on the sprint football team from SB Nation. Well, HERE is where it actually is.

That's 10,000 words on Princeton sprint football. What is there to say about sprint football for that long? Read it for yourself.

That reminds TB of when he used to work at the newspaper with a guy named Ray Clark. One day TB heard Ray on the phone with someone who didn't like a story he'd written. He couldn't hear what the person on the other end was saying to Ray, but it was obvious Ray was getting annoyed. Finally, he let loose with the perfect comeback: Who read it to you?

The sprint football team has two games left, next week against Penn and the week after against Chestnut Hill. The Ivy League Heps cross country championships are also next week, as is the Capital City Classic for men's hockey at the Sun Bank Center.

That hardly means this isn't a huge weekend for Princeton, and most of it is in Cambridge.

The biggest game is the women's soccer showdown at Harvard. Princeton is 4-0-0, and Harvard is 4-0-0. Princeton probably has the tougher schedule the rest of the way after this one, but the winner of this one is in really good shape to snag the Ivy's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The 2014 Princeton-Harvard women's soccer game was a wild one, which finally ended at 5-4 Crimson.

The field hockey team is also at Harvard.

Princeton is the lone unbeaten in the league at 4-0. Cornell and Penn are both 3-1. They also happen to be Princeton's last two league opponents.

Harvard is 2-2, as is Columbia.

There have been 16 Ivy League field hockey games to date this season. Of those 16, there have been 10 one-goal games, of which six have gone to overtime.

The men's soccer team is 0-2-1 in the league. A year ago, Princeton went 4-2-1 and got a share of the championship, so anything is still possible.

It's been a frustrating start to the Ivy season for the Tigers, who are 6-2-1 out of the league against a good schedule. Princeton can get rid of a bunch of that frustration Saturday, also at Harvard, who is 3-0-0 in the league, as is Dartmouth.

Lastly, the football team is at Harvard as well. As in men's soccer, the two unbeatens in Ivy football are Harvard and Dartmouth, who meet a week from today in Cambridge as well.

Princeton, Brown, Yale and Penn are all 1-1. The Tigers had been 4-0 before a 38-31 setback to Brown in Providence last weekend.

The math is obvious.

The weather in Cambridge tomorrow is supposed to be 55 and sunny, with zero chance of rain. That's a big-time forecast for what figures to be a big-time day.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back To the Future

TigerBlog saw "Back to the Future" in the movies, he's pretty sure.

He saw basically every movie that came out between 1979 and 1985. Why would he have missed that one?

He thought it was okay. Not great. It's not his kind of funny, not like "Caddyshack" or "Stripes" or "Animal House."

He never saw the sequel, so he missed the world that was created when Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd traveled 30 years into the future, arriving on Oct. 21, 2015.

That was yesterday. It seemed like it was a big deal to a lot of people, that it was Oct. 21, 2015, and that a movie 30 years ago predicted what the world would look like.

TB did see a youtube clip of "Back to the Future II" yesterday. In the futuristic world, there were cars that flew and all kinds of other science fiction-y type of things, and even Jaws 19 in the movie theater.

What was really interesting was that there was a United States Postal Service mailbox right there on the corner. TB takes that as an indication that the people who put the movie together assumed that people would still be using the U.S. Mail as the primary form of communication and therefore didn't see the internet coming.

Where was TB back then? He was in the newspaper business.

It's too bad he didn't give any thought to writing down what he thought the world would look like 30 years in the future back in 1985. On the other hand, what does he think the world will look like in 2045, 30 years from now?

TB's first thought is that he'll still be around to see it. He'll be in his 80s by then, but he likes his chances. And if he's wrong, well, then he won't realize it anyway.

What else will be going on in 2045? What will communication be like? Will the internet be obsolete, replaced by something that nobody today has even yet imagined?

This is all to metaphysical for TB right now. He has to give it more thought.

If he had to make one prediction for what life will be like in 2045, it'll be that American college sports will still exist and will be fairly similar to what it is today.

Professional sports figure to be more global, and sports in general figure to be more modern looking, in much the same way that pictures of games from 30 years ago seem dated and pictures from today seem new and fresh.

But the games? They'll still be similar. They won't be replaced by futuristic sports like Rollerball or Quiddich or whatever else would be out there. 

Back in 1985, when TigerBlog wondered what life in the mystical year of 2000 would look like, he wondered if sports would evolve to different kinds of games.

Really, though, sports are still sports, and have been for centuries now. They've changed a bit, but baseball is still baseball, basketball is still basketball. Boxing isn't nearly as big as it once was, and if TB had to guess a sport that could find itself in the same situation 30 years from now, it would be football.

He doesn't think the sport will disappear though. He thinks it'll do what it takes to make itself safer to play and will still be a huge part of the sporting psyche.

You could go back 30 years and only be a little more than halfway to where the parade of Princeton men's lacrosse captains began this past Saturday at the Hyatt Regency.

The line of captains, stretching back five decades, made for a great sight.

Of course, TigerBlog didn't actually see it. He wasn't there. He had a conflicting event, and so he missed the Friends of Princeton Men's Lacrosse Fall Celebration for the first time in a few years.

He didn't need to see it though. He knows it looked great. It's what Princeton does.

The University as a whole, and the athletic department as an extension, knows how to celebrate. Princeton knows how to celebrate the past and those who made it happen.

Anyone who has ever been to a Princeton event knows that. The sense of pride in the University and its institutions is overwhelming.

And so the fall celebration was right in the University's wheelhouse. Honor the past. Stress to those who make up the present that the program was here long before they showed up and that they are part of something bigger than just their four years here.

Each year the men's lacrosse team honors some part of its past. This year the idea was to bring all of the captains back together.

The group stretched all the way back to 1962 and Phil Allen. It extended to the announcement of the 2016 captains - Ryan Ambler, Austin deButts, Bear Goldstein and Matt O'Connor.

Princeton is often a multi-generational entity, and it wasn't lost on TigerBlog as he looked at the list of captains in attendance that two are fathers of current players, including the father of one of the current captains. Those two would be Boota deButts, Austin's dad, and Peter Cordrey, whose son Emmett is a current freshman.

The Friends of Men's Lacrosse event is always a TigerBlog favorite. As he sits there each year (other than this one), he knows that this is just one of 38 teams at Princeton that likes to do this.

TigerBlog loves the championships and the big wins and the great players that he's seen through the years here. More than that, though, he really loves this aspect of Princeton, the way the past is revered.

Maybe it's because he was a history major.

Whatever the reason, TB thinks it's an incredible part of the University. Those of you who are alums and who competed here don't know any different and might not realize just how special it is.

TigerBlog, a Penn guy, knows. And he doesn't see it changing any time soon.

Certainly not by Oct. 21, 2045.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A No-Decision

Hey, Ned Yost. Would it have killed you to let Chris Young pitch to Josh Donaldson with two out in the fifth?

Young, the 2003 Princeton grad, was the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series yesterday afternoon. This wasn't just any start. This was the pivotal game of the series, with KC up two games to one over the Toronto Blue Jays, who had won Game 3 at home Sunday night after the Royals won the first two.

As it turned out, Kansas City would win Game 4 by a 14-2 count over the Blue Jays to go up 3-1 and move within a game of a second straight World Series.

Yost, though, had no way of knowing his team had nine more runs in the tank when he had a decision to make about Young in the fifth.

Kansas City had scored four times in the top of the first, before Young ever went out to the mound. Then he promptly got three strikeouts in the bottom of the inning.

The lead grew to 5-0 after two, even though a base-running blunder may have cost the Royals even more. Then Young gave up two in the third, making it 5-2 Kansas City. He had an easy fourth, and it was 5-2 into the bottom of the fifth.

Young got two outs and then gave up a single, which brought Donaldson - probably the American League MVP when the award is announced next month - to the plate. Donaldson had mashed a Young pitch for a ground rule double in the two-run third, and that's probably what Yost was thinking.

And so he took Young out. One more out, and Young would have gotten the win. Instead, he finished with 4 2/3 innings, three hits, two runs, two walks and four strikeouts. Then four Royals relievers allowed one hit and no runs each the rest of the way.

Oh, and the KC offense added four in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth. Final, 14-2.

So Young got a no-decision.

If this had been a regular season game, there is no way the manager would have taken him out there. In a pivotal ALCS game, with the World Series looming and the memory of Donaldson's shot two innings earlier, then Yost made the change.

Was that the right move?

It depends. Even if Donaldson had hit the ball 20 miles, it still would only have been 5-4. And TigerBlog isn't a huge fan of going to the bullpen that early unless it's necessary.

Of course, TB isn't a fan of having relievers go one inning each either for that much of a game. All it takes is one to have a bad inning to change the game in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, scoring nine runs in the final three innings changes all of that.

Now it looks all the world like Young and Kansas City are going to make it to the World Series. They need to win just one of the final three.

TigerBlog has no idea if a Princeton player has ever played in the World Series before. He's going to have to check on that, unless he's overlooking someone completely obvious.

When the Mets-Cubs game began, TigerBlog got a text from his former colleague Yariv Amir, who said that this had to be the first time that two Ivy Leaguers started league championship series games on the same day. Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks is a Dartmouth grad.

Yariv is a huge Mets fan. He's not one of the bandwagon types that are coming out of the woodwork these days.

Yariv had a partial season ticket plan during the leanest of years for the team. He and Jon Kurian from the business office are definitely not bandwagon jumpers.

TigerBlog grew up a Mets fan. He went to Shea Stadium for the first time back in 1970 or so. He hasn't been a huge Mets fan for years though.

Yariv and Kurian have been. So has Jim Barlow, the men's soccer coach. He didn't want anyone spoiling the results of Mets games that he'd DVRd, even when the Mets were far, far away from contention.

Peter Farrell, the women's track and field coach, came in the other day wearing a Mets jacket. He claims to be a longtime Mets fan, and maybe he was, back all the way to 1969.

Still, in all of the time that TigerBlog has known Farrell, he's never once mentioned the Mets. So, uh, yeah, TB believes you Peter.

Yariv, in addition to being a big Mets fan, is a former baseball contact at Princeton. So would he root for Young or New York if the World Series becomes a matchup between the two?

Yariv said the Mets. So did Kurian.

TigerBlog would have to go with Young, one of his all-time favorite Princeton athletes, back when he played basketball and baseball here. It's hard to think that he's 36 now, a veteran of more than a decade in the Major Leagues.

He would have figured out a way to get one more out.

Oh well. He didn't get the win. He may get a bigger prize though.

A chance to pitch in the World Series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

4-0-0 vs. 4-0-0

TigerBlog's colleague Andrew Borders was thinking way ahead.

What if, Andrew asked, Princeton and Harvard both finish 6-0-1 in Ivy League women's soccer? Then what?

TigerBlog believes that in that case, there would be a random draw to determine who would get the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Of course, there is a long, long way to go until that point. Well, maybe a long way.

TigerBlog will say that with three weeks to go in the regular season, it's looking very much like it'll be Princeton or Harvard with the automatic bid. Not that TB would ever count anyone out before the end, but yeah, it looks like it'll be one of those two.

Princeton and Harvard are both 4-0-0 in the league. In Ivy soccer, like the EPL, you get three points for a win and one for a tie, so Princeton and Harvard have 12 points each. Cornell is next with seven. Columbia is next with four.

In other words, should someone win the Princeton-Harvard game, then every other team other than Cornell would be eliminated. The Big Red could still win the last three to get to 16 points, meaning there's a chance that 15 wouldn't be enough. And TigerBlog will get back to the Big Red shortly.

In the meantime, Princeton and Harvard have basically run away from the field here. And the teams meet Saturday in Cambridge (start time is 1:30).

So that's a big game obviously.

Princeton has won nine straight to get to 11-3 on the year under first-year head coach Sean Driscoll. The Tigers are led by the 1-2 scoring punch of Tyler Lussi and Mimi Asom, who were honored again by the league with its weekly awards.

Lussi was the Player of the Week, something she's done three times this year and six times in her career. Both of those tie all-time league records.

Still only a junior, Lussi has 39 career goals, 11 of which have come this year. With one more, she'll become the third player in Princeton soccer history - male or female - to reach the 40-goal mark, leaving her behind only Esmeralda Negron (47) and Linda DeBoer (41).

Asom was the Rookie of the Week for the fifth time this year, already a league record. She has nine goals, leaving her three away from DeBoer's freshman record (and one from Lussi for second). In other words, if you figure Lussi has a great chance of catching Negron, then you also have to figure that Asom one day will have a shot at whatever number Lussi puts up.

Lussi and Asom rank 1-2 in the Ivy League in points and points per game. Lussi leads the league in goals and goals per game, and Asom is tied for second in goals and third in goals per game.

For that matter, Lussi is 14th in goals per game and 18th in points per game in Division I .

Records and stats, though, aren't the story this week. No, this time it's Harvard.

Only once since 2007 has Princeton or Harvard not been the Ivy League champion. In the last 22 years, only Princeton (twice) and Harvard (three times) have gone 7-0-0 in Ivy women's soccer.

One thing the Ivy League has never had is a tie at 6-0-1. Should Princeton and Harvard tie this Saturday, that would keep the possibility of that outcome alive.

Princeton finishes its league season with Cornell at home and Penn away. Harvard finishes with Dartmouth home and Yale away.

Oh yeah, about the Big Red? Well, give TB another minute. 

Princeton has the highest scoring offense in the league, with 2.71 goals per game. That actually ranks the Tigers sixth in Division I.

You know what Harvard has yet to do in its four league games though? Allow a goal. Harvard has four Ivy League shutouts in four outings.

And Cornell?

The Big Red is 2-1-1 in the league but 9-1-4 overall. Cornell is unbeaten outside of the league.

And more than that, Cornell has allowed only three goals in 14 goals. Three goals, 14 games. That's ridiculous. TigerBlog had to check that a few times to make sure he was seeing it right.

Of course, two of those goals came against Harvard in a 2-0 game. The other goal came in a 2-1 win over Wagner, in the 10th game of the year. In other words, Cornell did not allow a goal in its first nine games. Oh, and all four of the team's ties are 0-0.

So that's lingering out there for Princeton. But first, there's Harvard.

And that's 4-0-0 against 4-0-0.

That's a big one.

Monday, October 19, 2015

There Are Losses, And Then There Are Losses

TigerBlog didn't see much of the Michigan-Michigan State game Saturday.

He knew Michigan was leading late in the game, and that was it. After a little while, he realized that he hadn't checked the final score, and so he looked on his phone. That's where he learned that Michigan State had won.

Okay, teams win late all the time. So TB checked the play-by-play part of the app to see how they won and saw it was on a 38-yard fumble return. Then he saw it was on the final play of the game. Then he saw it was on a fumbled snap on a punt.

That's an incredible loss for Michigan. All the Wolverines had to do was get off a punt, and the game was over. Instead, someone nobody ever pays attention to, Michigan punter Blake O'Neill, dropped the snap and was swarmed a second later by the Spartans.

In that second between dropping the snap and getting swarmed, O'Neill may have tried to pick it up and punt it or something. Whatever it was, he never got the chance.

As insane, ridiculous, heartbreaking losses go, this one was up there with any of them on so many levels.

To have a really all-time heartbreak, there has to be an element of the impossible. It has to be something that absolutely nobody saw coming. The team that ends up winning has to be completely dejected right before the moment.

It can't just be a Hail Mary at the end. That happens all the time. No, it has to be something so routine like a punt.

If O'Neill got it off, then that's the game. Michigan State had nobody back, so time probably would have expired before the ball rolled dead.

Of course, because MSU sent 11 after the punt, it was no longer a routine play. Since it was a 4th-and-2 at the State 47, maybe Michigan should have gone for it. A first down and that's that. A failed play on fourth down leaves time only for a Hail Mary.

TigerBlog wondered about how the two schools played the story on their respective websites.

Michigan's first sentence of its game story was this:
The University of Michigan football team (No. 12 AP, No. 14 Coaches) saw a late lead slip away in the final seconds, falling to rival Michigan State in heartbreaking fashion, 27-23, on Saturday (Oct. 17) inside Michigan Stadium.

On Michigan State's website, you got this:
When Jalen Watts-Jackson, a back-up red-shirt freshman Spartan defensive back used primarily on special teams, scooped up U-M punter Blake O'Neill's fumble and returned it 38 yards for the game-winning touchdown as time expired, he did more than send all 112,000 partisan and non-partisan witnesses alike at Michigan Stadium into a unified state of jaw-unhinging shock. Jalen-Watts shined a light on the program's fundamental underpinnings that Dantonio put in place on day one. Sayings such as "luck is the residue of design" and "the harder I work the luckier I get" rang true. And a belief system that repeatedly carried the Spartans through dark moments to dramatic regular- and postseason wins over the years proved its worth once again. 

The main actors in the final drama had some pains to deal with when it was over. Watts-Jackson needed hip surgery for an injury on the play, or after it, if he was hurt in the celebration.

As for O'Neill, TigerBlog has no idea if he spoke or not. He didn't see any quotes from him. He did see that Michigan AD Jim Hackett had to put out a statement yesterday asking for fans to stop posting "hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments" on social media. TigerBlog saw some awful ones about O'Neill.

Princeton's 38-31 loss to Brown Saturday wasn't quite as stunning or soul-crushing as Michigan's was to Michigan State. It still was a big one for the Tigers as the Ivy League season reaches its midway point.

TigerBlog wasn't at Brown Stadium Saturday. He can say that the game was one of the best announced he's heard in awhile, especially color commentator Jack Ford, who was awesome on the American Sports Network. Often a big name like Ford is there simply for the name, but he was incredibly well-prepared and informative.

And, once again, Princeton played a game that had a final score it had never had before. As amazing as it sounds, at least to TigerBlog, Princeton had never had a 38-31 game before.

Anyway, as for the game, Princeton fell behind 7-0 when Brown ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and it grew to 21-7 at one point. The Tigers had a chance, tying it at 24-24 and 31-31 with a possession with three minutes left, but an interception set up the winning Brown drive.

Princeton has done a remarkable job covering up for the injured players week after week. As TB said last week, it's largely due to the depth Princeton has and the way Princeton opts to play so many different players week after week.

At some point, though, it's too much to overcome. Maybe it's more impressive that Princeton was 4-0, rather than disappointing that the team lost to Brown.

In the meantime, there is the remarkable John Lovett, who is quickly becoming as remarkable as Quinn Epperly was. Lovett is sixth in the FCS in points per game, with eight touchdowns in five games.

Of course, seven of those have come in the last two weeks. That, too, is remarkable. Included in that total was a great touchdown reception on a perfectly thrown pass by Kedric Bostic, who has merely completed all four of his passes this year. He, too, is remarkable.

How about these numbers for the year for Lovett, who is technically a quarterback:
* 32 carries, 184 yards, 5.8 yards per carry, team-best seven rushing touchdowns
* team-best 17 receptions for a team-best 232 yards
* 10 for 14 passing for 92 yards and two touchdowns

Is there another player in Division I who matches up? Is there another team that's ever played football whose leading receiver is the No. 2 quarterback and fourth-leading receiver is the No. 3 quarterback (Bostic)?

Anyway, Princeton has Harvard next. Should the Tigers win out, they'll be assured of at least a tie for the Ivy championship. Of course, Harvard and Dartmouth are unbeaten and looking good, but hey, there's a long way to go, half a season to be exact.

For now, Princeton can't worry about the injuries or the game that just got away or the last four weeks of the season beyond the next game.

All it can focus on is the upcoming task, at Harvard Saturday.

Friday, October 16, 2015

At Brown Stadium

The grass at the house next door was being cut just as TigerBlog and Miss TigerBlog pulled up yesterday afternoon.

It was a Thursday, which means it was TB's turn to pick up the four girls in the field hockey carpool - MTB, Amy, Michelle and Alexa. It dawned on TB yesterday that if he was a senior psych major at Princeton, he'd write his thesis on the difference between driving four 15-year-old girls and four 15-year-old boys home from sports practices.

Ah, but that's for another time.

Today TB starts out with the freshly cut grass. He's always loved that smell, probably because he's fortunate not to suffer from hay fever.

For some reason, getting out of the car at that exact early evening moment took him back to the smell of all of those high school football games he covered all those years ago, beginning nearly 35 years ago actually. It smelled just like so many games under so many lights on so many freshly cut grass fields.

TigerBlog was recently asked about his earliest days in the newspaper business, and he replied that he has never forgotten the first four games he covered, including the final scores and the beginning of the stories he wrote about them. That's sort of weird, no?

His memory drifted immediately from high school to college football games that he's covered, and specifically to Brown Stadium.

If you've never been there, the stadium sits in a residential area about a mile from the campus and the other athletic facilities. It has no stands in either end zone, just a large grandstand on one side and small bleachers on the other. Seating capacity is 20,000.

The Ivy League has some pretty old stadiums. They all have their charms.

For some reason, TigerBlog has always loved Brown Stadium. Maybe it's because Princeton plays there this time of year, when the weather for football is perfect. Maybe it's the gigantic chocolate chip cookies in the press box.

Speaking of the press box, it's nowhere near the field. There's no elevator, and walking up to the top of the stadium - especially carrying a bunch of stuff like radio equipment or media guides, which TB used to drag up there - is not a lot of fun.

The three worst walks to the press box in the Ivy League are Harvard, Brown and Penn. The walk at TigerBlog's alma mater isn't as bad as it was when the big press box at the very top was used, as opposed to the press section in the stands now.

On the other hand, getting to the broadcast area at Franklin Field isn't easy, what with having to walk to the top of the lower section, then find the entrance to the overhang and then walk back down - all without banging your head on the really low-hanging metal.

Brown Stadium offers very little in the way of frills. And it's very cramped in the press box. But it's a fun place to see a game.

Princeton will be playing at the old stadium tomorrow at noon in a huge game as the season reaches the midway point.

This is the first time since 1968 that three Ivy teams have made it to 4-0. It's mathematically impossible for all of them to get to 6-0, since two of them, Princeton and Harvard, play next week in Cambridge.

Should Princeton be looking ahead to that game, then it will find itself in trouble.

Brown is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league, with its lone league game having been a 53-27 loss to Harvard. The Bears have won two straight, defeating Rhode Island and Holy Cross.

Princeton, along with Harvard and Dartmouth, is 4-0. The only Ivy game for the Tigers to date is a 10-5 win over Columbia.

Princeton is the No. 1 rushing team in the Ivy League and the No. 18 rushing team in the FCS. Brown? It's the No. 1 passing team in the Ivy League and the No. 2 passing team in the FCS.

Princeton throws for 216.8 yards per game - which is skewed, because Princeton only threw for 56 against Columbia - while Brown goes for just under 400. Brown, on the other hand, runs for fewer than 90 yards per game, compared to the 231 per game that Princeton gets (again, skewed, as Princeton had 127 against Columbia).

On the other hand, Brown's D is third against the rush and Princeton's D is fourth against the pass. And second in interceptions and sacks. That's in the league.

It's not too hard to figure out what each team will do. Princeton wants balance. Brown wants to throw it all over the place.

It's a matter of stopping the other. In a game both teams desperately need, Brown to give itself a chance to stay in the race, Princeton to keep pace with Harvard and Dartmouth, who are both 2-0 in the league already.

Oh, and TigerBlog completely forgot to mention this earlier in the week. Again, Princeton played a game with a final score that had never before happened in program history. This is astonishing for TigerBlog.

Maybe it shouldn't be. But it is.

Princeton defeated Colgate 44-20. Never before had there been a 44-20 game in program history. Just like there'd never been a 10-5 game, or a 52-26 game (the final against Lehigh). Or a 40-7 win (like the Week 1 win over Lafayette), though there'd been a 40-7 loss.

Does this fascinate you as much as it does TigerBlog?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Updated Standings

Miss TigerBlog's day yesterday started with the PSATs.

TigerBlog did well on the test all those years ago. If you're a Princeton alum, you probably did a little bit better, since TB is merely a Penn alum.

To be honest, TigerBlog doesn't remember exactly what he got on the PSAT. He does remember his SAT scores, which Pete Carril made fun of the first time he met TigerBlog.

He doesn't even remember taking the PSAT. He does remember taking the SAT. He never took the ACT. 

MTB's high school has block scheduling on a semester schedule. Her fall schedule includes AP physics, honors biology and honors French 3.

TigerBlog is pretty sure he wouldn't be getting into Penn, let alone Princeton, if he had to take that schedule right now. And if he took the PSATs? He'd have to be getting a lot of points from his daughter if they bet on who did better.

MTB does not travel light as she goes to and from school. TB has no idea how much her backpack weighs, but if he had to guess, he'd say it weighs "a lot." And that doesn't count her field hockey bag and stick and all.

It's a miracle she can carry it all.

TigerBlog always traveled light to school. Actually, he can't remember what he carried back and forth to high school. He assumes it was a book bag of some sort and he's positive it weighed less than half of what MTB carries.

TigerBlog did a search for "PSAT sample questions." The first one he saw was a math question, a graph of some sort. He had no idea what the answer might be, so he guessed "B," which is what Mr. Eovino, one of high school teachers, always recommended.

As it turned out, the answer was in fact "B." Not that TB would have guessed that without following the "Eovino Postulate."

TB shudders to think what he'd actually get if he took the SATs these days. He assumes he'd do well on the English and writing and get less than half what he actually got on the math part.

He also assumes MTB did a little better than he could.

It's amazing how much TigerBlog doesn't remember from what he learned in school. Especially in math. And physics. And chemistry.

He can still read, and presumably write. And he's still good at math. There's just so much of it that he can't remember in the least.

He remembers enough math to know that none of the seven Ivy League championships of the fall have been awarded yet. He also knows that they'll be awarded in the next few weeks.

Of the five teams that play for fall Ivy championships in a round-robin, Princeton has three that are unbeaten in the league. So does Harvard, though not the same three.

Princeton is currently unbeaten in the league in women's soccer, field hockey and football. Harvard is unbeaten in women's soccer, football and men's soccer.

Princeton will play at Harvard in all three of those, plus men's soccer, next weekend. It would appear to be a very big weekend, obviously.

There are games to get through for both schools this weekend, of course. Princeton hosts Columbia in both men's and women's soccer Saturday (men at 4, women at 7). The field hockey and football teams are at Brown.

Harvard, on the other hand, hosts Brown in men's and women's soccer, is at Cornell in field hockey and is at Lafayette in football.

Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth are all unbeaten in football. The Crimson play Dartmouth the week after Princeton is at Cambridge, and Princeton is at Dartmouth in the season finale.

Looking at the other sports, Harvard and Dartmouth are tied for first in women's volleyball, both at 4-1, after Dartmouth defeated Harvard the first time around. Princeton is 2-3 as it heads to Brown and Yale this weekend.

Princeton is unbeaten in field hockey, as is Penn. The Quakers have done something remarkable in field hockey, and that's go 3-0 in the league with overtime wins in each league game.

Harvard and Dartmouth are both 2-0-0 in men's soccer. Princeton is 0-1-1, but the Tigers came from way behind last year too to get a share of the Ivy title.

The women's soccer team is ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Region. More importantly, Princeton is 3-0-0 in the Ivy League, as is Harvard. The two have a big edge on the field right now, with third-place Cornell and Columbia at 1-1-1, for four points, to the nine for Princeton and Harvard.

The other fall sports with Ivy championships are men's and women's cross country. The league championships in those sports will definitely be awarded on Oct. 30, as the Ivy League Heps return to Van Cortlandt Park.

The other championships? They will be awarded at some point in the next few weeks.

The games between Princeton and Harvard won't be make-or-break, but they will be important. TigerBlog doesn't need advanced math to know that.

Or even remedial.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guest TigerBlog - On Mike Condon's NHL Debut

TigerBlog had a small black-and-white TV in his room as a kid.

He used to watch a lot of pro sports then, a lot more pro sports than he does now, for that matter. He didn't have cable - there was no cable yet - and most of what he saw was on channel 9 out of New York. Or channel 11.

Those were great times to be a sports fan. He got to see Red Holtzman's Knicks, not knowing that some day he would come to associate Bill Bradley much more with Princeton than in the NBA. He watched ABA games too, with Dr. J on the Nets.

And he saw hockey. Lots of hockey. First the Rangers, and then, after 1972, the Islanders as well.

TigerBlog has always liked hockey. He's never been a "hockey guy" per se, but he watched a lot of NHL games when he was younger. If you're in TigerBlog's age range, you remember Peter Puck from the NHL Game of the Week.

He's always loved going to Baker Rink for Princeton hockey. There isn't a vantage point in the rink that is bad, and the game moves at a lightning pace. It's especially great for kids, who can't tell the difference between that and the NHL when they sit with their faces pressed to the glass.

Princeton hockey starts soon. Before that, though, Princeton alums are already playing, including one - goaltender Mike Condon - who is one of the better stories of the young NHL season, after he earned a spot as the Montreal Canadiens backup.

TigerBlog couldn't do justice to Condon's NHL debut, which was Sunday night, in a 3-1 win over Ottawa. Princeton hockey contact Kristy McNeil volunteered to blog about the game, and here are her thoughts:

I have to admit, Sunday night I was nervous. There are still times I get nervous when one of my Princeton teams play, usually big games. NCAA games, games with Ivy League titles on the line.

This time it was because Mike Condon ’13 was making his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens.

It was announced just last week that Condon had made the Canadiens roster, during a press conference with general manager Marc Bergevin.

I couldn’t have been happier for Condo. His dream was coming true.

I remember back to my first road trip as the Princeton hockey SID. It was 2011, the first road trip of the year and we were in Providence. The team was at pre-game meal and telling jokes. Captain Marc Hagel – who signed with the Minnesota Wild this summer – told the team to keep them clean because there was a woman in the room.

That’s one of my worst fears, making a team feel uncomfortable because I’m a woman. I want them to be at ease and as though I’m not even there. And with that I decided I need to set the tone.  “Hey I have a joke,” I said. It was R-rated, and I think I shocked most of the players. But then Condon broke the silence with his huge laugh and said “she’s way funnier than Yariv!” – the former SID.

My most memorable Condon performance in the Orange & Black came in 2012 at Union. Union was ranked No. 8 in the country at the time. The game recap that night says it all:
The talk at the end of the game wasn't about No. 8 Union defeating Princeton men's hockey 3-0. It was the unbelievable game by the Tigers' netminder junior Mike Condon. Condon who made a career high 57 saves, crushing his previous best mark of 43 set earlier this season at Yale.
Condon's night ranks fourth all-time in Princeton history. The last time a Princeton goalie made 50+ saves in a game was Eric Leroux when he stopped 52 at Harvard in a 5-4 overtime loss on Feb. 10, 2006. Walter McDonough holds the record of 61 that was stopped in a game versus Rensselaer in 1984.

Reading on about what I had written four seasons ago…

With six minutes left in the second, Condon put on a show but making a great toe save on the far post and than immediately flew to the other save to stop a shot by Shawn Stuart. He made some great moves again on Princeton's second penalty kill as he was on his back followed by a quick stick save to deflect the puck wide. Seconds later he nearly did a split to get a leg save on the right post. At the end of the second, he had made 41 saves.

Condon is the first goaltender in Princeton history to play in the NHL and the 12th player in program history to play in the Big Show.

After his senior season ended, like most players he signed an amateur tryout agreement. Some players will play a short while as teams in the East Coast Hockey League scoop up collegiate players during spring breaks and then release them when classes resume. Condon, however, made his mark with the Ontario Reign, and had a little luck too.

The Houston Aeros, the then-AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild, had some injuries and needed a competent goaltender right away. Ontario had just the guy, and sent Condon on loan. They never got him back.

Condon went 3-0 with a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage and played three more games in the Calder Cup playoffs. A couple of weeks later, he signed to a two-year contract with Montreal.

He spent most of 2013-14 with Wheeling (ECHL) while making a few starts with Hamilton (AHL) and being named the third goalie for Monteal in the NHL playoffs. Last year he became Hamilton’s starter and posted a .921 earning him a two-year contract extension with Montreal.

It was preseason this year that Condon impressed the front office. He did not allow a goal during his two preseason appearances, which included a 17-save shutout against Toronto. In practices, he continued to be the make his mark and got the nod as backup to Hart Trophy winner Carey Price in place of Dustin Tokarski.

One of the best parts about Condon’s first press conference following the announcement that he had made the roster was his reference to former Prineton teammate Sean Bonar. The two redheads battled it out for a starting position while at Princeton, and Condon said it was that experience that has him primed for his time now as the backup to Carey Price.

I never had to worry about Condon in any interview during his time as a Tiger. He’s well spoken, intelligent and a people person. His personality made him one of my early favorites when I started with the team. He always made me feel welcome, looked out for me and made me feel like a part of the team.

The guy who made the warm-up mix, the one who told me I wasn’t allowed to choose bus movies anymore after an admittedly bad blind Netflix choice – back when you got them via red envelope. He would get me coffee on his own pre-game trips to Starbucks on the road – and never let me pay him back (almost like a reverse NCAA violation).

I remembered all of those moments on Sunday night, when I pulled out the file to create the image that will adorn one of the glass window panes of historic Hobey Baker Rink.

Condon was spectacular in his debut. He finished with 20 saves – one without his goalie stick - and gave the Montreal faithful something to talk about. The NHL Network named him the second star of the game.

It couldn’t have been a better debut for Condon.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Madness

It appears the big story in the Major League Baseball playoffs is no longer about how well the Princeton alums have been doing.

Well, maybe that never was the big story to the rest of the world. To TigerBlog it was.

Princeton has three alums in the Major League Baseball postseason, and all three have done very well to date.

And then Chase Utley had to go and ruin it for everyone. And especially Ruben Tejada, whose leg he broke with a hard "slide" into second base to break up a double play.

It was 2-1 Mets in the bottom of the seventh Saturday night when the play happened. There was one out, with first and third, Utley on first, when a soft line drive was hit behind second. Daniel Murphy fielded it and flipped it to the shortstop Tejada, who caught it awkwardly, appeared to tag second while turned around, tried to get the throw off to first and then got wiped out by Utley well behind the bag.

As you might know by now, Utley was originally ruled out at second, which would have made it 2-2, with two outs and a runner on first.

While Tejada reeled on the ground, the Dodgers challenged the play, saying Tejada had not touched second. The umps agreed, putting Utley back on second with one out. A blink of an eye later and it was 5-2 Dodgers, series tied 1-1.

Then Major League Baseball got involved, and everything really got messed up. First Joe Torre, who oversees all this stuff, said that Utley had done nothing wrong and that the replay showed Tejada hadn't touched the bag, which meant it was irrelevant that Utley hadn't. BUT - had the Mets tagged Utley, he would have been out.

On its face, this is nuts. The Mets had no reason to tag Utley, because he was called out, and oh by the way, the guy with the ball also happened to break his leg.

Perhaps, TigerBlog thought, Torre's position would have been different had it been a decade ago and it was Derek Jeter with the broken leg after someone on the Red Sox had taken him out nowhere near the bag.

Anyway, that notwithstanding, Torre then turned around and suspended Utley for two games. Then the suspension was appealed.

So yeah, Major League Baseball really messed it up.

What really annoys TigerBlog is the use of replay. Had the original call stood, and it was 2-2, two out, runner on first, that would have been that. Instead, there was the use of the replay, which to TigerBlog still doesn't conclusively show that Tejada missed the bag.

But even if he did, so what? Do you know how many big postseason baseball games would have been different had every middle infielder who didn't touch quite touch second base had the play overturned?

It just looked awful, the way Utley was awarded second while Tejada had a broken leg, caused by Utley, who had no interest in finding the base. And why did he get the base? Because it looked like maybe, possibly Tejada didn't touch it.

Again, replay on its face is a good idea. In reality, it never, ever works out that way. It's not to fix glaringly wrong errors. It's to be used as a crutch by coaches or managers to try to get microscopic rulings overchanged as a last resort, and the flow of the game be damned.

The outcome of a replay ruling should be clarity. That's the last thing that existed in this case. There was zero consensus on anything. Did Tejada get the bag? Was Utley out of the baseline? Could he have touched second? Was it interference? Depending on who your team is, that's what your opinion was.

Replay was supposed to solve all that.

The other problem is that the series turned on that call. The Mets were in control to that point, having won the first game and being reasonably in control of the second. Suddenly it was all even.

So what happened next? Every Mets fan wanted to see Utley in the town square in stocks. Or drilled with some sort of retaliation. It looked like the suspension was possibly to keep Utley from playing in Citi Field, where some sort of brawl was likely.

And how did it play out? The appeal didn't happen before the game. Utley was eligible to play. The Dodgers didn't play him anyway. They played 18 players in the 13-7 Mets win last night. Not Utley.

As a result, there was no brawl. Wining, as one Met said, was the best revenge.

Maybe tonight though, in Game 4, right?.

Meanwhile, Princeton's alums are all still alive.

Chris Young and his Kansas City Royals came close to elimination yesterday before evening the series at 2-2 with a big rally against the Astros. Young has pitched in one game in the series, striking out seven in four innings while allowing one run.

For Young, it was his second postseason appearance in his career. His numbers in those two games: 10 2/3 innings, seven hits, one run, four walks, 16 strikeouts. That's not too bad.

As for the other two, they're both on the Texas Rangers, who are also in a 2-2 series, with a deciding game to come against the Blue Jays.

Ross Ohlendorf pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 14th to save Game 2 in the series. That was 1-2-3, as in three strikeouts, by the way.

Then he pitched another scoreless inning in long relief yesterday. This time, he only struck out two.

If you add it up, between Young and Ohlendorf, they've struck out 12 in six innings.

Will Venable has seen limited action in the series, though he did get a hit in his first postseason at-bat.

Princeton is tied with three other schools - TigerBlog thinks they're Stanford, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech - for the most alums in the MLB playoffs.

That's a pretty good stat. And it was getting Princeton a lot of attention - until Chase Utley came along.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spreading The Wealth

From his view in the PA booth, TigerBlog could see the receiver get free and make the catch in the end zone.

Then she went into a little dance. Yeah. She.

This was during the Fifth Quarter, which followed the first four on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium Saturday. This was shortly after Princeton's 44-20 win over Colgate, one that improved the Tigers to 4-0 on the year.

It's the first time Princeton is perfect through four weeks since the 2006 season, which ended in a co-championship. Before that, it was 1995, the previous 4-0 start.

There was the 1995 team on Powers Field Saturday, out there with their children, stretching from 15-yard line to 15-yard line. That's a lot of people.

That was at halftime, though, when the 1995 team was honored on the 20th anniversary of their outright Ivy League championship.

TigerBlog wants to start with the Fifth Quarter. He's not sure who the girl was, but from far away she looked to be about 7 or 8. She was running a pass route against what looked like her brother, and she lost him just long enough to have her dad get her the ball.

It was a beautiful All-American scene, the kind that the Fifth Quarter is supposed to produce. And it came on a picture perfect, couldn't-beat-it early fall day for football.

The part that made TigerBlog chuckle was when he thought he should look on the roster to see if she was on it. Certainly enough other players whose names he hadn't called before had gotten on Powers Field. Why not her?

Princeton was without several of its top players due to injuries. And the best way to overcome injuries is the way that Princeton football does it. Play a lot of people all the time. Then you have players ready to step up when the need arises.

TigerBlog has no idea how many players Princeton used in the win over Colgate. And he's not talking about players who went into the game in the last few minutes.

He's talking about the first quarter. The first half. How many rotated through all over the field?

Princeton had three players throw a pass, five players carry from scrimmage and 10 players catch a pass.

If TigerBlog counted correctly, then 24 players made at least one tackle. Twenty-four? That's a ton.

Play after play, there were new numbers on the field. TigerBlog isn't sure how many times he had to go check to see who someone was.

It's not always an easy way to play. For starters, people have to buy into it.

Roles are important in sports. If you have a team where everyone thinks they should be playing more, that's a problem.

More than any other team TigerBlog has seen, Princeton football under Bob Surace has done a great job of getting buy-in into the share-the-wealth philosophy. It helped Princeton roll up the Ivy League's top offense of all time in 2013, when the Tigers won their most recent league championship.

Now, through four games, Princeton is averaging 36.5 points per game and 447.8 yards per game, numbers that are skewed down by last week's 10-5 win over Columbia in the driving rainstorm.

Minus that game, and Princeton is averaging 516 yards per game. And 45.3 points. Both of those numbers exceed the 2013 record totals.

Those numbers have come on a team where nobody has more than 55 carries or caught more than 11 passes. Yet seven players have at least 10 carries, and 16 players have caught a pass.

Princeton's offense is fun to watch.

TigerBlog's favorite play is the one where one quarterback hands it to another, who then throws to a third. In general, there's the idea of having two or three quarterbacks on the field together.

It's remarkably simple, yet nobody in football really does it. The premise is that there are multiple players who are able to run and throw and catch, and it makes it harder to defend.

Of course, you need players who can do all three. And yes, you're opening up your quarterbacks to more hits than most teams like.

But how did it work against Colgate? Princeton had nearly 600 yards of offense, and John Lovett scored four touchdowns. On most teams, he'd be the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback and as such maybe never get on the field.

Up next for Princeton is a game at Brown, the start of six Ivy games in six weeks.

Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth are all unbeaten, and all three have looked like the best team in the league at various times. Princeton plays at Harvard in two weeks and at Dartmouth on the final Saturday of the season.

The 2015 season won't end like the 1995 season did, with a tie in the last game.

Princeton is hoping that the other part - the championship part - repeats itself. There's still a long way to go.

Through four weeks, though, Princeton is unbeaten - and a lot of fun to watch. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Film Session, Starring Bob Surace

Miss TigerBlog's high school field hockey season is past the two-thirds point.

Her team is doing well, with a 9-4 record. It's been a bit frustrating to watch some of the losses, since her team scored first in three of them.

At one point, TigerBlog asked the father of another player on the team - a man whose older son TB had coached in youth lacrosse - why it doesn't seem to bother the players on the team that they let those games get away.

His response: "It's not as important to the girls as it is to the boys."

TigerBlog hates to think that's the case. He coached many of these same girls in basketball when they were younger, and, despite being told that he couldn't coach girls the same way as boys, he tried to do so anyway.

If you're going to play, you have to play the right way. It doesn't matter if it's men's or women's, boys' or girls' sports. 

Despite the unbelievable gains women have made in the sports world, there is still a large segment of the population that views women's (and girls' ) athletics as less valuable, less interesting, less worthy than those of their male counterparts.

The shocking part is how many women feel this way. TigerBlog has seen this up close with MTB's sports, with many of the mothers and girls who compete who view it as something of an extension of a social activity, rather than a competition.

TigerBlog wasn't stunned to hear on the radio - sports talk, and politics station - that so many men didn't like having Jessica Mendoza as an ESPN analyst for the Yankees-Astros playoff game the other night. He was stunned that women who called didn't like her either.

TigerBlog watched almost none of the game, but he did hear enough to think that Mendoza - a four-time All-America softball player at Stanford - knew her stuff and conveyed it well.

One thing TB likes about Mendoza is that he has no idea what she looks like. If nothing else, it means she's not on TV simply because of her looks.

TigerBlog thinks that very few people have set back the cause of women being taken seriously in sports as sideline reporters. You know, the ones who say "so and so told me that ..." Why do viewers need to know that the coach told her that?

TB heard one exchange last week that went like this:
Sideline report: You told me that you're not interested in sack stats, but how do you get more pressure on the quarterback?
Coach: We have to have 11 guys playing together.

Then he ran off. Wow. TigerBlog felt so informed after that one.

There will be no TV for the Princeton-Colgate football game tomorrow. Princeton looks to run its record to 4-0 in its final non-league game, while Colgate looks to get back to .500.

The Raiders bring a 2-3 record to Princeton, though it was 0-3 two weeks ago. In defense of the Raiders, they have played a tough schedule, with losses to Navy, New Hampshire and Yale before wins over Holy Cross and Cornell.

There will be a bigger crowd at the game than there was at the last one. Of that, TigerBlog is certain.

The last one, if you forgot, was a 10-5 Princeton win over Columbia in the first 10-5 game in program history. The week before that Princeton beat Lehigh in the first 52-26 game in program history.

The week before that, Princeton beat Lafayette in the second 40-7 game in program history, though the first win. TigerBlog is going to guess that whatever the final score of the game tomorrow, it won't be the first time in program history that that score comes up.

Anyway, TigerBlog doesn't want to talk about Princeton's football game. He wants to talk about Princeton's football coach, Bob Surace.

In case you didn't realize it yet, Surace isn't your average football coach.

What your average football coach doesn't do is take time out of his gameweek preparations to appear in a video with the University mascot, a spoof of a video at that.

And what your average football coach especially doesn't do is refilm the video two days later to make it a little better. And what your average football coach really especially doesn't do is push back a staff meeting 15 minutes to do the refilming.

That, of course, is exactly what Bob did earlier this week.

Bob appears in the fourth episode of "Who's The Tiger," in a video entitled "The Film Session."

The video is currently on

You can see all four of the videos through the links in that story. There will be two more next week, and several others will follow those.

As for Surace's performance, TigerBlog gives him high marks. He could have played it low-key, but he went all in with his delivery.

If you don't know Surace, that's him in a nutshell. Do the video? Sure. Do it again? Sure. Do it now? Okay, let me just move my meeting.

If you don't know him, he's a fun guy, a nice guy, a team guy, a solid guy.

Oh, and a really good coach.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Winter's Coming, But Not Here Yet

Basketball practice started already? Wow, that was quick.

You know, from summer to the start of basketball practice. That used to seem like such a long time. Not anymore.

Now the unmistakable sound of basketball practice emanates from Jadwin's courts every day. It's a familiar scene, the women on the main court, the men on the side court, then swapped the next day. And then swapped again the day after that.

The men's and women's basketball teams start their seasons on the same day, Nov. 13. That's a Friday night. That's five Fridays from tomorrow, to be exact.

Perhaps you remember a year ago, when the women's team went 31-1 and finished ranked 13th nationally? Courtney Banghart's team opens at home against American. The men are at Rider that night.

Of course, that same night, the women's hockey team will be playing its seventh game and the men's team will be playing its fifth game. Yeah, winter is on the way.

The men's hockey team will be led by an American citizen this year after being led by a Canadian last year. There has been no coaching change, though.

Ron Fogarty, entering his second year as head coach, became an American citizen this past off-season. It's a huge moment for anyone, and with immigration being the issue it is these days, there should be nothing about having someone become an American citizen that should be taken lightly.

So congratulations to Ron. He's facing a big turnaround, but there's something about him and his staff that gives off the vibe that they're going to get it done.

Speaking of Princeton hockey, Mike Condon, a 2013 grad, made the Montreal Canadiens as their backup goalie. That's quite an accomplishment. HERE is more on that story.

When TigerBlog first started working here, the start of basketball practice always seemed like it coincided with the coming of colder weather, shorter days and the inevitability of winter. The days are in fact getting shorter, and winter is coming. The weather? It's still perfect.

There are other signs that winter is coming, like the fact that TigerBlog got his flu shot yesterday. TB gets one every year, always at the University's "Flu Fest." Shouldn't it be "Anti-Flu Fest?"

Still, it's not exactly wintery yet. The lowest the temperature has gotten around here has been the high 40s, which just so happened to be in a driving rainstorm while the last home football game was going on. But hey, what can you do? Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it. Who said that? Ben Franklin? Mark Twain? One of them.

So winter is out there on the horizon, but not quite here yet. Hey, TigerBlog hasn't even seen his first Christmas commercial. And he still fast-forwards past Christmas songs on his iTunes.

And can it be winter yet if the baseball playoffs have just started? TigerBlog watched fewer than nine innings combined of the regular season on TV, and he hardly watched any of the Yankees-Astros game the other night. He's glad the Yankees lost, but hating the Yankees has lost some of its luster.

He's rooting for the Royals, with Chris Young, and the Rangers, with Will Venable. Any other team without a Princeton connection can go away.

If it can't be one of those two, then okay, let the Mets win.

The Princeton connection in the Major Leagues has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Now Princeton fans can include the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, both of who named Princeton alums as their General Managers recently.

In Cleveland, that's Mike Chernoff, a 2003 graduate. In Boston, it's Mike Hazen, a 1998 grad.

That's probably more impressive than having players reach the Majors. Two GM's in two weeks?

Actually, maybe it's not the baseball program here that gets the credit. Maybe it's Ben Badua, the baseball contact here in the Office of Athletic Communications.

Ben came to Princeton from Amherst. While he was there, there were three Amherst alums who became Major League GM's.

Today is the annual College Athletic Administrators of New Jersey awards luncheon. Princeton will again be honored with the CAANJ Cup, given to the top athletic programs in New Jersey in the Division I/II ranks, Division III ranks and JUCO ranks.

The cups are awarded to the teams that finish highest in the Directors' Cup the previous year. Princeton was the highest in New Jersey at 41st. Rutgers was second, at 104th.

Princeton also swept the scholar-athlete awards for Division I/II, as Cameron Porter and Julia Ratcliffe were the winners. The requirements are a 3.5 GPA and a very accomplished athletic resume. 

The annual CAANJ event is a TB favorite, as he used to be the president of the organization. It's always held this time of year.

Pretty soon it'll be Halloween. And then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas.

Winter isn't here yet. But the signs that it's on the way are.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Overshadowing Caraun

TigerBlog didn't see Caraun Reid's touchdown on Monday Night Football as it happened.

Actually, he didn't watch any of the game played Monday between Reid's Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks. It wasn't until he woke up yesterday that he was greeted with a text message from his colleague Craig Sachson that said that Reid had scored.

Craig's text came at 11:10. At 11:28, he had posted a story on, complete with a like to the video. That's a pretty good effort.

TigerBlog met Reid a few times but doesn't know him well. What he does know that is that he's easy to root for and that he's an incredibly impressive young man.

Reid came into the Office of Athletic Communications one day, and TigerBlog's first reaction was "that's the same kid who is such a force when he plays football?" Hey, look at the picture Craig used with the story about the touchdown. Reid looks a bit vicious,  no?

Reid is soft-spoken, and his glasses and demeanor make him look more like a teacher - or a minister, which is the family business.

When TigerBlog read Sachson's text about Reid, it made him wonder who the last Princeton player to score a touchdown in the NFL was. He would have guessed Keith Elias and wouldn't have been surprised if it had been Zak Keasey.

As it turned out, it was neither of them. It was Bob Holly, who scored for the Washington Redskins 30 years ago yesterday.

It's a shame that Reid's TD didn't get him more attention, the way it would have had Detroit actually won the game, the way it probably should have.

So yes, there appeared to be a different story from the game other than Reid's touchdown, though, at least for non-Princeton fans.

You might have heard that Detroit sort of got robbed by the back judge. Calvin Johnson had the ball stripped by Seattle's Kam Chancellor just before the goal line as he headed in for what probably would have been the winning points. K.J. Wright then slapped the ball out of the back of the end zone.

Only you're not allowed to intentionally bat the ball out of the end zone. It should have been half the distance to the goal, which would have made it 1st-and-goal inside the one with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter. Instead it was called a touchback.

Seattle was given the ball on the 20 and was able to run out the clock on a 13-10 win. On the other hand, the only two players in the game to score touchdowns were Reid and Seattle's Doug Baldwin, who caught his 17th career TD pass.

As the world of fantasy sports continues to spiral out of control, there were probably long odds against Reid and Baldwin as your touchdown scorers from that game.

And don't get TigerBlog started on the world of fantasy sports, something TB has never once played, nor ever will. Just go with "it's gambling" and leave it at that.

There are two things that are infuriating to TigerBlog about the Lions-Seahawks game. The first is that Reid's touchdown got overshadowed.

He'll just have to score another one this week, against the Cardinals.

The other torturous thing is the whole replay situation.

TigerBlog hates the use of replay in games, but if it's going to be used, can it be used to correct something like what happened at the end of the game? Isn't that the whole point, to correct egregious errors? 

Yes, it's a judgement call. So what? Isn't the placement of the football a judgement call? Isn't a judgement of whether or not a player got two feet inbounds or had possession of the ball? Those get reviewed all the time.

NFL replay is a disaster. It takes forever as refs analyze microscopic differences from camera angles that can actually distort what was reality. And destroy the flow of the game as they do it, though not nearly as bad as in basketball, which is 100 times worse.

And yet something as clear as day here at the end of the Monday night game can't be reviewed?

NFL teams play 16 games. Each one is hugely important.

Detroit almost surely would have won the game had the right call been made. It had no chance when the wrong call was made.

Why can't a judgement call be reviewed? Afraid to hurt the back judge's feelings that his judgement was proven to be awful on that play? TigerBlog can't imagine there's anyone who would rather have gotten that correct than the ref who blew it.

Anyway, it's not to be. And Detroit lost.

At least Caraun Reid scored.

That was a good Princeton moment. By one of Princeton's best young alums.