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.

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