Tag Archives: young

Going For Joe

I find myself in a strange position this first week of October: There’s baseball on TV, and I am only counting the days until hockey coverage begins. In every fall since I’ve been able to carve out sports-watching time (read: after the great sleeplessness of having two toddlers), I’ve been able to cheer for some combination of New York hardball teams. This season was one to forget across the entire Tri-State area: this may be the first year I didn’t blog once about Major League Baseball until after the regular season reached its regular and final conclusion.

There were highlights: I completed my annual Willie Stargell pilgrimmage, enjoying Chicken on the Hill, sporting my Cooperstown Classic t-shirt with a large snowman on the back, watching the Pirates get demolished by Joe Torre’s Dodgers. I watched with interest as Will Venable started in a game for the Padres, joining fellow Princetonian Chris Young in the lower left hand corner of the nation. After those small flashes, though, there weren’t many other bright spots. Kind of a sad season for baseball around here.

But here’s a parting thought: anyone who blamed Joe Torre for the sad state of the New York Yankees should carefully check this week’s NLDS box scores. The Dodgers are doing more damage to the Cubs than a decade’s worth of Bartman incidents. Torre has a hodgepodge of slightly muted stars, cast off from other teams – Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Nomar Garciaparra – and he’s made them into his team. So perhaps I am watching baseball, slyly, out of the corner of my eye, hoping that Joe Torre is vindicated for the wonderful years he poured his heart and soul into the Bronx.

Pair of Tiger Tales

It’s been a great month if you follow the exploits of former Princeton Tigers in professional sports. George Parros, former captain of Princeton’s ice hockey team (and NJ high school standout) became the first Princetonian to win the Stanley Cup. He joins a reasonable list of Ivy Leaguers on Lord Stanley’s Cup, including Canadian politician Ken Dryden (Cornell).

Earlier this week, another Tiger tale emanated from another post-graduate first: Padres pitcher Chris Young was voted to the MLB All-Star Game, riding a wave of fan interest, local support, and mlb.com’s inclusion of on-line and SMS tallies. Young is the first Princetonian to make an All-Star team, and only the sixth Ivy League graduate to be given the recognition. He joins some heady company, as the first Ivy All-Star did his undergrad work at Columbia, then went across the East River to play for the Yankees: Lou Gehrig.

The Young and the Restless

During our engineering conference this past week, I described advertising as repeated messages that make you buy things you didn’t know you needed. I don’t know what you call buying things you don’t need, and if I were to make a joke about it involving Yankees baseball management George Steinbrenner would fire me from my blog.

It all comes down to something Mark Cuban wrote in his blog immediately after his Mavericks lost in the NBA Finals: you have to want to do the work. The Yankees didn’t do the work. The Tigers and three other teams did and their post season continues. It’s frequently not glamorous — it’s about practice, and mental positioning, and being prepared, and learning as much as you can. Many lessons in there for technical sales as well, because that’s another team effort that requires everyone to do the work (a CEC attendee suggested to me that we print up t-shirts with Cuban’s “Do The Work” ethic on them, so I’m not alone in this thought).

My baseball highlight of the weekend was watching Chris Young throw a fantastic game for the Padres, giving him the same number of wins in the post season as the entire Yankees starting rotation for about a tenth of the cost. ESPN magazine called Young “The Bigger Unit” in a cover-titled story almost two years ago, when he had just been called up to the Rangers (and beat the Yankees in his first start). He’s big, he’s strong, he’s Young, and he’s even hockey-related (his wife is a member of the Patrick family, as in hockey’s former Patrick Division).

Oh yeah, he’s also a Princeton graduate, which is where our family first intersected with his career, watching him play the pivot on the Tiger hoops team, until the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him and said “Hardball, not hardwood.” How about that for a story line for the New York papers — locally educated, multi-sport, bigger than (most of us) life player, and you can make Rangers jokes with his wife? He did the work for four years at Princeton — finishing in Tiger town before going to a series of very small baseball towns, doing the work for his job before doing a job that worked on the Cardinals in Game 3.

It’s not the highest-paid athlete, or the household name, or the flashiest person picked up by the press. It’s the players, inordinately big or small, who come prepared to work hard that make a difference.