Zimmerman trainer calls him a .5 on 10-point scale of fitness

July 12, 2013
Joe Palooka was a popular comic book hero. BY DAVE FREDERICK

Joe Palooka - Joe Palooka was a syndicated comic strip prizefighter from 1921 until 1984, appearing in newspapers all over the world. He was a good-natured, big-and-bronze white fighter who didn’t like to fight, but would step in to defend the little guys. In the last 30 years, the term Big Palooka usually had a negative meaning like an out-of-shape oaf who couldn’t take a punch. During the George Zimmerman trial – he is accused of second-degree murder for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin – the defendant has been described as soft, non-athletic, fat and a Palooka. The gym owner where Zimmerman trained in mixed martial arts described “Georgie” as a .5 on a scale of 1 to 10 for athleticism. Let's say he brought the fight to Martin, who by all accounts and not admitted into evidence was a strong-and-fit teenager not opposed to caving in the carcass of a neighborhood watch marshmallow. What this all has to do with the rest of us? I have no idea.

Same as it never was - The Little League fathers whose kids are playing all-stars in 2013 were without question and in all probability not as good as their sons at the same age and certainly not at this age. And neither are the district tournaments. Travel ball has diluted the gene pool, except for towns and teams who have figured out how to coexist with travel ballers. The Milton 9-10 baseball squad that just won the District 3 championship has good players top to bottom and I was told, “All them boys play travel 50 to 60 games a summer. They’re going to win a lot of games if they stay together."  Hang a state championship banner in the Cape gym so I can write, “I saw it coming when those boys were 10.”

Running down a dream - I’ll go out on a limb here and say in the sports of field hockey, soccer and lacrosse that elite, exclusive, invitation-only summer camps, three-day tournaments, festivals, futures, state cups, nationals, select teams, age-group national teams are mostly about padding the bank accounts of coaches and camp directors. The irony of all this is the people with the means and wherewithal to chase the dream can afford to pay for it.

Bynum and Bailey - The circus pitched a tent in Cleveland last week. Andrew Bynum, who couldn’t hold up on the hardwood of a bowling alley, left Philly, where he was never able to play a game, and signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is just ludicrous, ridiculous, outrageous and larcenous. I don’t understand how that works, but I don’t understand European league soccer contracts either.

Darren Daulton - The former Phillies catcher, now 51, just had two brain tumors removed. Daulton was subsequently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and his time on Earth is short. Daulton has admitted to being a heavy user of steroids – his 1990-93 teammate and buddy Lenny Dykstra has not admitted it – and his cancer may or may not be linked, but the more powerful the drugs, the more catastrophic the side effects. Daulton is an affable, handsome guy and a complete maniac with multiple DUIs and a few domestic violence charges. He and Lenny crushed Philly fans when Dykstra, the driver, and Daulton left John Kruk's bachelor party and crashed a Mercedes sports car into a tree. Boys will be boys. Anyway, more fun to bash on Barry Bonds, who’s kept his enormous head down since retirement.

Snippets - Former Cape point guard Kyle White works out at Club Fitness and is still chasing the dream of making it in the NBA. Kyle, who has some serious game, showed me video of various acrobatic dunks he does with ease. The NBA now has a B league, where guys like Kyle hope to catch on and get an extended look. I believe he can make it. Always loved his game, he plays with such intelligence. His father Kyle was on an indoor state title track team I coached in 1984; he could roll out of bed and run a 50-flat quarter, 2-minute flat half and push 4:30 in the mile, but didn’t like running all that much. A good, solid person. Put father and son together and I still can barely tell them apart. Keep me out of your jokes; ain’t nobody trying to look like me, Freddie D, a name bestowed upon me by Colby Dominick of the 9-10 Milton All-Stars. Go on now, git!

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