I make snap judgments a thousand times every game

Phillies need to go home like Chico Ruiz
September 13, 2019

Startle and shutter reflexes - Tuesday afternoon, I was at periscope depth of field with a 450-millimeter lens zoomed in over Sussex Tech goalie Kayla Brady’s shoulders watching the Orange Crush of Delmar pummel the goalcage with 35 shots. I was in the game, because when a Wildcat shot on goal, I snapped the shutter. I was in burst mode, like a September dove hunter. Brady is an awesome, athletic goalie, not shy about verbally directing her defense because that is her job. It took Delmar 9 minutes to score its first goal. By halftime the score was “only” 4-0; Brady had stopped 13 of 17 shots.

By the end of the game, Delmar had scored 11 goals including three in the last 5 minutes of the game. Brady had 24 saves and played an awesome game; the senior is a next-level goalie. I wondered how many saves I would have had, since I was a Philly All-City athlete in two sports, and I can answer that without hesitation: None, that’s how many. And I’m for real when I say, “Great game, Kayla Brady, much respect to you.”    

Sportsmanship’s unwritten rules - Each separate sport has its own culture of sportsmanship, there are rules that are unwritten but no one can agree what those rules should be, which is why they are unwritten in the first place. Running clocks and mercy rules are lame, and often the team not in contention doesn’t like being shown mercy. Cape girls’ lacrosse has gone spread yellow and spread red to take time off the clock so they don’t win 35-0 and cause a bunch of sportsmanship commotion. I’ve gotten hammered by angry letters when I’ve commented that teams without varsity talent shouldn’t play a varsity schedule, subjecting their athletes to humiliating losses. A cultural anthropologist would tell you that laws get broken, and there’s a consequence, but when societal norms are broken, everyone screams, “Freak show in the house.”

I saw a football team up five touchdowns fake taking a knee, then throwing a touchdown pass. I saw a defender not go along with the feel-good “let the special needs manager score a touchdown” and tackle the kid. I could go on the entire column, but let’s invoke the unwritten mercy rule. I’ll just close by saying if the game is 60 minutes long, expect the other team to play its hardest and score every time they touch the ball, and you try to do the same. 

The Manager - Samara Weathersby stopped in front of my camera on Wednesday, smiled and said, “Take my picture.” I responded, “I’d be glad to, and why am I doing it?” “Because I’m a soccer manager,” she said. I have always loved the manager system in school sports, and many college programs also have managers. I’ve found the manager is as good as the coach allows them to be. Practice planning and game-management duties including statistics and reporting results should always include the managers. If you read down the roster of a team on the school website and it doesn’t include the names of the managers at the bottom, you can be sure a manager didn’t enter the data. 

Ronnie Mac in the House - The Ronald McDonald Hustle for the House 5K at Irish Eyes in Lewes on Saturday, Sept. 14, will begin with a Kiddie K at 8:15 followed by the 5K race at 8:30. A great coalescing of community characters, a virtual milieu of muppets; who doesn’t have a Ronald McDonald “in the house” story? Still, I’ll never forget back in the day when some Cape seniors kidnapped Ronald and everyone went Efrem Zimbalist Jr. tracking them down (FBI TV series 1965-74).

Snippets - There is a middle school field hockey tournament at Cape from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14. There is action on four fields with a common horn, and each A team is guaranteed four games. I have to hold back my “I came for the B game” T-shirt, as seventh-grade granddaughter Lina Fred is now an A team player for Milford Middle coached by Rebecca Pepper. Mariner and Beacon will both be in action. The Cape varsity hockey team will host Tower Hill Friday at 6 p.m., an historic game marking the first time these two power players have met in the regular season. Cape football, which lost to St. Georges 42-14, will play at William Penn Saturday at 1 p.m. The Colonials lost to Salesianum in last week’s opener 42-0. Cape has a real shot in this game if they stay away from giving up big plays. North Dakota State is at Delaware on Saturday at 1 p.m., while Temple will host Maryland at the Linc at noon. Maryland has beaten Howard 79-0 and Syracuse 63-20.

The Terps better get Temple, because the following week they host Penn State. The Major League wild card peloton pursuit on a one-game playoff is the participation trophy of professional sports. The Phillies are 15 games out in their division; they need to go home like Chico Ruiz in 1964. Ruiz of the Reds stole home against the Phillies, who led the National League by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play, then went on to lose 10 straight and place second. There was no wild card. Dick Allen is quoted as saying, “That play broke our humps.” What hump?

Go on now, git! 

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