Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chewing The Cud

As TigerBlog sat roasting in the sun while watching lacrosse this past weekend - an annual rite of summer that he'll get back to in a second - it dawned on him that his two kids rarely play on what would be considered a "nice" day.

It's either freezing or boiling. This weekend? Boiling.

This is Summer No. 10 for TigerBlog of club lacrosse. It's really hard to explain to someone whose kids do not play summer lacrosse, or some other sport, what exactly it's like to devote weekend after weekend, tournament after tournament, summer after summer to a club team like this.

The schedule this past weekend for Miss TigerBlog, for instance, was three games Saturday - at 3, 5 and 7 - and then one more at 1:30 Sunday. That means play a game, sit an hour, play again, sit again, play again.

And this schedule was kind. This coming weekend's tournament has a game at 6 p.m. Friday, at 3 and 7 Saturday and at 8 a.m. Sunday. That's a lot of waiting around.

This, of course, is going on while much of the world is doing non-athletic-related things, like, oh, going to the beach.

And is it free?

TigerBlog's friend Todd has two sons, Matthew and William. Matthew played with TigerBlog Jr. starting in fourth grade and ultimately every summer from the end of sixth grade through the end of 11th. William is two years younger than MTB, so he has a few years left.

TB and Todd were talking the other day about how much money they've invested into this through the years. The exact amount? A lot.

On the other hand, the positives of all of this have so far outweighed the negatives that TB's only complaint is that he's going to miss it when it's over. TBJ's summer team, made up of kids spread out across the Philadelphia area, became very close, as did the parents. MTB's team has pushed her to become a much better player and a much more assertive person (and who doesn't want their nearly 17-year-old daughter to be even more assertive?).

Among TigerBlog's best memories ever are the times that he has spent with his kids at their summer lacrosse tournaments. And not just at the games. Driving. In hotels. Talking lacrosse, yes, but also about anything and everything. Like life. Music. TV. The difference between now and when TB was a kid. TigerBlog's rules for staying out of trouble if you're a teenager.

Even cows.

MTB's tournament this weekend was out in Pennsylvania farm country. As the two got closer to the field, they had this conversation:

TB: That's a lot of cows.
MTB: What are they doing?
TB: Chewing their cud, it apepars.
MTB: What's cud?
TB: No idea.

As it turns out, cud is food that hasn't been fully digested and therefore is dispelled by the digestive system of the cow in order to be chewed again. In other words, it's vomit.

So, yeah. Yuck. But hey, even that turned out to be funny.

That was Saturday. The cows were still there Sunday, seemingly unbothered by the heat and their diet.

Speaking of Sunday, there was a story on nj.com that was right in TigerBlog's wheelhouse. Actually, it was in Harvey Yavener's wheelhouse, though Yav hasn't written anything in awhile.

As an aside, TigerBlog's reaction is still to call stories that appear on nj.com as having been in the "Ledger," as in the Star-Ledger, which used to be on the biggest newspapers in the country.

Anyway the project began last week, when Ryan Dunleavy from nj.com emailed TigerBlog asking him to recommend teams that could be considered in his list of the top Division I teams in New Jersey from the 2016-17 academic year.

The first thing TB thought of was "Yav would have done something like this in a heartbeat." If you don't know who Yav is, he was a sportswriter who probably wrote more about Princeton than anyone other sportswriter ever did. It was from Yav that TigerBlog learned an important lesson - judge all sports, and the athletes who compete in them, equally based on the parameters of each sport, rather than the sport's overall popularity.

It's what led Yav to cover anything and everything, and especially women's sports. Really, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was wildly unconventional thinking, especially for a veteran male sportswriter.

The piece in nj.com didn't rank the teams in order. It just listed them by school. You can see it HERE.

There are 31 teams who were included in the story, representing New Jersey's eight Division I colleges. Here's the ranking by number of teams included:

Princeton - 13 (really, 14, since men's indoor and outdoor track and field were counted as one)
Monmouth - 5
Rider - 4
Rutgers - 3
Seton Hall/St. Peter's - 2

If you don't feel like doing the math, that's 42 percent for Princeton.

It got TB to thinking about which Princeton team he would have ranked as the No. 1 for the year. Honestly, it's hard to pick.

Women's lacrosse? Ivy tri-champ but then powered to the Ivy tournament title and then to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Men's basketball? The first 16-0 team in league history.

Field hockey? Made it to the Final Four, though didn't win the league.

Women's fencing? No. 2 nationally, plus an individual champ.

Football? Led the Ivy League in offense and defense while winning the championship.

Others? A case can be made.

In other words, it was another really good year for Princeton Athletics.

So chew on that for awhile. It's better than cud, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TB, as you say, it was an unambiguously good year for Princeton athletics. Speaking as a fan, it was absolutely jam-packed with smiles and happiness, tinged with just enough disappointment to make us truly appreciate all the success.

However, I observe that you have not shared with us your usual end-of-year update that Princeton won the unofficial Ivy all-sports championship again. Is this because you have been instructed to discontinue your calculation or because, heaven forbid, Harvard won for the second time in three decades?