Freshman talent crucial to success of high school programs

July 31, 2012
Joe Hindelang is a retired Penn State baseball coach. COURTESY PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF PHARMACY

Deep but limited talent pool - Last school year the Cape girls won state titles in field hockey, track and lacrosse. Some incredible talent swam out the door, but not to worry, the pond will be restocked like the porpoise tank at Sea World. The incoming freshman class is loaded with athletes who have been playing multiple sports competitively since they were 5 years old. Many of these girls are frontline performers at whatever sport they happen to be playing. And so let the recruiting process begin, because for certain sports if you lose a few key ninth-graders who haven't even stepped on the field, your program is in the toaster like a Pop-Tart at Wawa. I can imagine the scene in my extended family if 14-year-old granddaughter Lizze walked into the house with a softball glove on her left hand. “That's funny, get it off. We play lacrosse here. You want to play softball, move to Laurel.” “Mom! Fredman's trying to be funny again.”

Bogus beach volleyball - I don't consider beach volleyball Olympians world-class athletes, and I wouldn't watch the gold medal match if it were played in my front yard. Contrast that with the men's and women's indoor teams, which are stacked with incredible athletes. A player can retire from indoor and dial down to the beach version of the game, but not the other way around. But the venue for the sport produces a party atmosphere in the stands. There is no doubt the sport is popular with fans who can't get a ticket to track and field, but how it qualifies as an Olympic sport when baseball, softball, lacrosse and rugby do not is beyond me. Oh, and don't argue, “I'd like to see you try it,” because trust me, you wouldn't.

In the tank - Send all fan mail for the Philadelphia Phillies to the Camden Aquarium because the boys have gone into the tank and aren't coming out any time soon. After being swept in Atlanta last weekend, General Manager Ruben Amaro has got to be in sell mode as the trade deadline is here and the team is 16 games behind the Nationals. No one is immune, from trading to termination, and that includes front-office people and the broadcasters; either Chris Wheeler of Gary Mathews has got to go now.

Post-game depression - All head coaches down to high school are ambassadors to the media representing their teams, so how about showing a little life out there - what in baseball is called a little of the bingo-bango? Andy Reid could suck the enthusiasm out of a Powerball party (“That's a good job, winning a billion dollars”) and Davey Johnson of the Nationals isn't exactly Napoleon Dynamite - actually he is a senior citizen version. After the Nats blew a 9-0 lead to lose to Atlanta 11-10 in extra innings July 20, Johnson said, "They come back score 11 to win, it's my fault; we score 10 and lose, it's my fault.” “How is it your fault, Davey?” "Whaddya think, gosh!”

Sports forum - I am hobbled and housebound so I annoy my Facebook friends with some challenging sports observations just to set up a clearinghouse to get things going. And I'm happy to say some responders - whom I friended with eyes wide shut - think I'm a liar and an idiot, and if that's not bad enough, a liberal. The first rule in argumentation is to attack the argument, not the person; a bunch of hoagie noses want to call me names...what's up?

Snippets - Sammy Mohr and TK Saez will be in camp when Wesley College opens drills Aug. 10. The Wolverines are one of the top Division 3 programs in the nation, and if you can make it onto the field in that program, you are a serious player. Joe Hindelang is a former head baseball coach at Penn State, Lafayette and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.  Last Friday, he bought a water ice on the beach at Bethany and asked Matt Kane where he went to high school. Matt's answer, Cape, led Joe to ask if he knew Dave Frederick and Matt sized up the situation and said, ”You mean Fredman?” and it was all good from there as Matt gave me rave reviews. Joe and I were at Temple together. Joe was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame April 12.  All my contemporaries are in a Hall of Fame somewhere. I was just never all that into sports - too busy writing jokes. Go on now, git!

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