Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Perfect Form

Okay, Bob Surace's first pitch at Yankee Stadium last night might have been a little high.

On the other hand, at least Surace stayed in the park, unlike Yankee starter James Paxton, who gave up a leadoff home run to Tampa's Travis d'Arnaud, the rare catcher who was batting leadoff.

You can see Surace has tremendous form, right?:

That's a perfect release point. His weight is coming forward. All good, even with the glove. 

That had to be incredibly stressful, as TigerBlog said yesterday. He's not sure he'd want to do it (or, for that matter, why he'd be asked in the first place).

It would be fairly embarrassing, for instance, to show up like this on youtube:

If you didn't notice, there were just short of three million page views for that. 

Paxton, by the way, pitched in college at Kentucky and is making $8.8 million with the Yankees for this season. TigerBlog found this out by looking on his scores app.

While there, he also saw that Paxton was born on Nov. 6, 1988. What else happened in history on Nov. 6?

If you go back 150 years, to Nov. 6, 1869, you'll find the first football game ever played. That was between Princeton and Rutgers. The teams actually played two games in eight days back in 1869, and each team won one. From what TB has read, they played by slightly different rules in the first game at Rutgers and then the second game a week later at Princeton.

Here's what the Princeton Companion has to say about it:
Football was first played at Princeton on crisp fall afternoons in the 1840s when students gathered behind Nassau Hall for impromptu games. Opposing teams were made up of residents of East and West Colleges or members of the Whig and Clio Halls; sometimes, all the A to L's were pitted against the M to Z's. After the Civil War, increasing interest led to interclass matches and eventually to an epochal event -- the first American intercollegiate football game, between Princeton and Rutgers, in New Brunswick on November 6, 1869.
The twenty-five players from each college played in their street clothes, and the several hundred spectators stood around on the side or sat on a wooden fence. There were no coaches, no officials, no programs -- the Rutgers Targum, on which we chiefly depend for the record of the game, tells us that Princeton's first goal was made ``by a well directed kick, from a gentleman whose name we don't know, but who did the best kicking on the Princeton side.'' The Targum is equally silent about the identity of the first wrongway player in American football history, a Rutgers man ``who, in his ardor, forgot which way he was kicking,'' and scored for Princeton instead of Rutgers. By agreement, the home team's style of play was used, and Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4; a week later, Princeton won the return match on its grounds, 8 goals to 0.

Can you imagine what intramural football looked like in the 1840s?

In the present, Surace was at the Stadium last night as part of the celebration for the 150th anniversary of college football. So was Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, who also threw out a first pitch along with Surace.

The coaches were there to promote the Nov. 9 meeting between Princeton and Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium, which will be played three days after that 150th anniversary. The Tigers and the Big Green were by far the two best teams in the Ivy League a year ago, when Princeton went 10-0 and Dartmouth went 9-1, with the only difference between them a 14-9 Princeton win in an all-time Ivy classic.

It's almost time for football to start. NFL and college teams will be opening training camps. The first NFL exhibition game is between Denver and Atlanta, and that's just 15 days away.

Princeton is about a month away from practice. For the first time in 54 years, the Tigers will come into a season off a perfect year, and they'll also be chasing a fourth Ivy title in seven years.

All of that makes this football season fascinating from the start.

The history piece is just a huge extra, one of which happened last night at Yankee Stadium.

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