Monday, April 10, 2017

Belt Tightening

TigerBlog had a choice to make as he come across the Verrazano Bridge Saturday.

Should he take the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the Belt Parkway. His destination was Stony Brook University, out in Suffolk County on Long Island, and it was late afternoon, so probably either way was going to be awful.

If he went on the BQE, he'd have to deal with people heading into Manhattan at the Battery Tunnel, so he figured he'd go the other way. He listened to multiple traffic reports, and he heard nothing wrong on the Belt, a notorious road that, from the bridge he was on, runs through Brooklyn and Queens, past Kennedy Airport, and eventually to the Queens-Nassau County line.

Could it be because the people who do traffic reports just assume people should realize there's always traffic on the Belt Parkway?

Anyway, in the 30 minutes after he left the bridge, TB hadn't really gone too far. His mind wandered, and he thought about being other places, rather than going nowhere on the Belt Parkway. Eventually, he started to get anxious that he wasn't going to get to Stony Brook in time to do the radio for the men's lacrosse game, even though he'd given himself more than five hours to get there.

The "Waze" app was suggesting he leave the parkway and go through the local streets, and he figured he might as well follow that advice.

And so off he went, on the Knapp Street exit. Waze then told him to turn onto Quentin Road, and that's when TB got nostalgic.

Quentin Road was the road that his paternal grandmother had lived on, from the time TB was born until her death in 1995, well into her 90s.

Eventually, he was told to turn onto Flatlands Avenue. That's where his Uncle Herbie and Aunt Edie used to have a drug store, at the corner of Flatlands and Flatbush. They're both gone - Herbie in the 1970s, Edie three years ago, shortly after their daughter Toby, TB's first cousin.

As he drove around, he couldn't help but think back to all of the times he'd been in this area as a kid, going to one family event of another. His maternal grandparents, lived a little closer to Kennedy Airport, in Kew Gardens, and so TB had spent a lot of time on these roads, and especially on the Belt Parkway.

He called BrotherBlog, out in Seattle, but he was too busy to be nostalgic. Something about wine tasting or something like that. Sometimes you're taken back to the past; in the next moment, you're vaulted back to the present.

As for TB, the present meant getting to Stony Brook. When he first exited at Knapp Street, the Waze app said he'd arrive at Stony Brook at 5:19. Eventually that started to drift upward, all the way to 5:50.

Eventually he got back to the Belt. Traffic wasn't moving, but he was about seven miles or so ahead of where he would have been. Things opened up closer to the airport, and there was no traffic the rest of the way.

He arrived at Stony Brook right around 5:50, or just short of four hours to get there. Face-off was to be at 7, and TB didn't have a chance to stop and eat. When he got the LaValle Stadium parking lot, he saw the Princeton parents at their tailgate and figured he could grab something.

His choices? Steak. Salmon. Grilled tuna. Grilled crab cakes. Sausages. They were all on the grill.

Of course, as this is 2017, TigerBlog did what any athletic communications person would do - he took a picture of the grill and put it on Instagram and Twitter.

As for the game itself, Princeton was able to grind out a 13-11 win over Stony Brook, improving to 7-3 on the year before tomorrow's game at Lehigh and then three more Ivy League games to end the regular season. Princeton is 2-1 in the league and looking to get into the Ivy and then NCAA tournaments.

It was another big night for Gavin McBride, who had his fourth-straight five-goal game. No other Princeton player has ever done that.

Michael Sowers had three goals and an assist, tying him with Kevin Lowe for the record for points in a season by a Princeton freshman with 55. Lowe, one of the greatest college players ever and Princeton's all-time leading scorer still, had 55 points in 15 games; Sowers has 55 in 10.

The nicest goal of the night was the one that put the Tigers up 12-11 with 6:55 go go. See for yourself:

One other note from the game - Sam Gravitte did something that TigerBlog can never remember having seen before: He had a caused turnover with a short stick and he caused another turnover with a longstick.

After the game, there was the postgame reception. It included cheesesteaks and chicken cheesesteaks, with fries. Lacrosse. Somebody wins. Somebody loses. Everybody eats well.

TB took his to go. It was a long ride back, one that with only minimal traffic still took just under three hours.

For TigerBlog, it was another addition to the list of what has to be hundreds of thousands of miles that he's driven to watch Princeton Athletics. He wishes he had the exact number actually.

Now that he thinks about it, perhaps he's spent more time driving to watch Princeton play than he has actually watching the games themselves. For awhile, it certainly seemed like he spent more time on the Belt Parkway yesterday than he has watching Princeton games in his life.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. He got to the game in plenty of time. He had plenty to eat. Princeton got a win.

So what that there was a little traffic along the way. Maybe he would have rather have been someplace other than the Belt Parkway, but there was still a certain charm to it.

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