June 8, 2005: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By Jay Greenberg
Around again came the dilemma of Chris Young ’02’s life, circling back as if to reaffirm he had made the correct decision initially.
Last summer, during the fourth minor-league season of the baseball career he had chosen over his junior and senior seasons of Princeton basketball, Young got calls from two old Tigers, assistant coach Pete Carril and general manager Geoff Petrie ’70 of the Sacramento Kings, offering him a shot at an NBA career.
Young pondered the chance to become Sacramento’s backup center, but in August, when he was called up to pitch for the Texas Rangers in the middle of a playoff race, he tucked basketball in the back of his mind until the end of the baseball season.
Two months after the season, as he wondered about his future in baseball, he told the Rangers about his opportunity in pro hoops. “I found out what [the Rangers] thought of me,” Young says. “They made a [three-year, $1.5-million] commitment, making it easy to decide [between basketball and baseball].”
Of course, Young had already eased the Rangers’ decision by winning three of his first five major-league decisions in 2004 with a 4.71 earned-run average. And his 3-2 record and 3.18 ERA in his first eight starts in 2005 have left the organization with no regrets.
“He can throw his fastball high, low, hit both sides of the plate, and when you can do that you have a chance to be successful,” says Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser. “At 91—92 [miles per hour], he’s on the sneaky fast side because his methodical delivery and size give him deception. But I’ve warned him [that] being 6'10" is an anomaly the league will catch up to.”
Hershiser says Young was particularly sharp in his Yankee Stadium debut April 22, throwing his curveball for strikes while holding the home team to one earned run in 5 2/3 innings for the victory. “He’s ahead of the timeline,” Hershiser says. “Not to offend anyone who’s been to Princeton, but there is book smart and street smart, and I think Chris is both.”
The street smarts became apparent when Young, not taken until the third round of the 2000 baseball draft (by Pittsburgh) because teams feared he would stick with basketball, demanded a first-round-level signing bonus of $1.5 million. Book smarts remained a priority, though. He asked for a guarantee that baseball would not delay his coursework.
Young had to give up basketball, not because of NCAA regulations or a request from the Pirates, but because of an Ivy League rule that he hadn’t known about when he enrolled. “I don’t know whose responsibility it would have been to tell me,” Young says, “but it really comes down to an archaic rule serving no purpose, forcing a decision other athletes turning pro don’t have to make.”
Young graduated with a degree in politics in 2002, along with his now-wife, the former Lisa Patrick ’02. Soon after, he received an education in the baseball business. The Pirates traded Young to Montreal for a major-league pitcher, Matt Herges, who didn’t make their team. In the spring of 2004 the Expos, desperate to add major-league catcher Einer Diaz to their roster, traded Young in a deal that sent him home to the Dallas area.
Young says he was “thrilled” to pitch for the Rangers organization, the team he grew up watching, and after a strong opening in AA Frisco (Texas) and five impressive starts at AAA Oklahoma, he found a spot on the Rangers’ big-league roster. During his rapid rise, Young has devoted time to learning from other major leaguers. In April, a day after his win over the Yankees, he spent 40 minutes talking with five-time Cy Young Award-winner Randy Johnson, who told no tall tales about how to succeed at 6'10", having learned the hard way himself.
“I gave him things I’ve worked on to keep a tall body under control,” Johnson says. “At age 25, I didn’t know why the ball wasn’t going where I meant it to, but Chris is a lot farther along — a bright kid with a big future.”
A future in baseball, unequivocally.
“I’d never put basketball completely out of my mind,” Young says. “More than anything, I wish I’d gotten to play out those two years at Princeton. But I think I’ve missed my last opportunity now. Fine with me – this is where I want to be.”
Jay Greenberg, a sports columnist at the New York Post, has two daughters who are Princeton graduates.
A year ago, Princeton women’s lacrosse held the No. 1 seed and an undefeated record entering the NCAA tournament. This season, top-ranked Northwestern was the nation’s only unbeaten team, and Princeton, the No. 8 seed, tried to unseat the Wildcats in the quarterfinal round May 15 in Evanston, Ill.
Princeton matched Northwestern goal for goal in the opening minutes, but with two unanswered points before halftime and another a minute after the break, the Wildcats took a 5—2 lead. The advantage grew to 8—4 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Behind goals from Ingrid Goldberg ’05 and Ashley Amo ’08, Princeton made its final charge, narrowing the score to 8—6. But the Wildcats intercepted a pass with less than two minutes remaining and guarded the ball until time expired.
With the loss, the Tigers failed to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 1999. “I think we fell a little bit short in terms of the consistency in our effort and the consistency in our execution,” said Coach Chris Sailer.
Princeton’s 13—5 record may seem unremarkable by the program’s high standards. But three of the team’s losses came against opponents that reached the Final Four (Northwestern, Dartmouth, and Virginia), and Princeton defeated the fourth national semifinalist, Duke, early in the season.
The Tigers overcame injuries to key players in April and played one of their best games in the opening round of the NCAA tournament May 12, beating Maryland 16—8. Kathleen Miller ’07, who had been slowed by nagging back problems, scored five goals against the Terrapins, including three in a row to open the second half.
The 2005 season also showcased the quickness and sharp shooting of Lindsey Biles ’05, who scored 55 goals (one shy of the Princeton record) for the second consecutive year. Biles finished her career with 221 points, second on the Tigers’ all-time list, and is a candidate for the Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to the top player in college lacrosse.
By David Marcus ’92
Since 1990, the Princeton men’s lacrosse team has featured the finest succession of on-field leaders in the sport. Kevin Lowe ’94, Jon Hess ’98, Matt Striebel ’01, and Ryan Boyle ’04 controlled the tempo of games, threaded difficult passes to teammates, and scored goals themselves. This year, Princeton lacked such a presence and finished 5—7, missing the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 1989 and ending its streak of 12 straight Ivy League titles. It was, as co-captain Jason Doneger ’05 said, “a difficult and disappointing season.”
But the squad’s 4—1 record in the last month of the year bodes well for 2006. The only loss in the season-ending stretch was a 17—4 pasting at Cornell on April 23 that propelled the Big Red to the Ivy championship. Princeton rebounded with wins over Dartmouth (10—8, April 30) and Brown (13—4, May 7) to finish tied with the Big Green for second in the Ivy League at 4—2.
Princeton scored fewer than seven goals per game in its first seven games and nearly 10 per game in the last five, excluding a 19—1 rout of Butler April 17. Doneger is the only starting attackman or midfielder who will graduate this year, so the Tigers will enter 2006 feeling more comfortable with their revised style of offense.
Also encouraging was the play of freshmen Alex Hewit and Dan Cocoziello. After juggling David Law ’06 and Matt Larkin ’05 in goal for the first month of the season, Coach Bill Tierney started Hewit in a 6-5 win at Penn April 5. He saved nine shots that afternoon, including three in overtime, and saw the lion’s share of playing time thereafter, saving 63.8 percent of the shots he faced. Cocoziello started every game on defense and was voted Ivy League Rookie of the Year, the first defenseman to win that honor. The freshmen’s performances, Princeton’s strong finish, and a recruiting class heavy on midfielders suggest that the Tigers will have a more successful March and a more pressure-packed May in 2006.
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent contributor to PAW.
SOFTBALL swept doubleheaders against Yale and Brown April 24 and 25 to clinch the Ivy League championship.
With a 2—2 split in its final Ivy League series against Cornell April 29—May 1, BASEBALL fell short of the Ivy’s Lou Gehrig Division title for the first time in 10 years. The Tigers finished the year 17—24 overall and 10—10 in Ivy games.
WOMEN’S GOLF placed 12th in a field of 21 teams at the NCAA East Regional May 6—7.
All-Ivy linebacker ZAK KEASEY ’04 signed with the Washington Redskins May 2.