Playing dumb is way smarter than actually being dumb

June 26, 2020

Gimme Shelter - The last thing the young lacrosse players wanted to hear after three months of shutdown was a long horn blast indicating take shelter. But that’s what happened at 5 p.m., June 22, at DE Turf. There was one dark cloud off to the west, but no thunder or lightning. Coaches checked weather apps and shrugged, “Well, maybe it’s over the Chesapeake.” I quickly composed a photo of whoever was there so I had something. Finally, three short blasts signaled the all-clear on a cloudy evening. Practice was humming along, then another long blast, but no thunder and no official people to verify. “I’m just playing dumb,” said coach Jack Frederick, also my son, to which I added, “Playing dumb is way better than being dumb. At least you know why you’re not doing what others may reasonably expect you to do.” Later, off to the east over the Delaware Bay, thunder could be heard but no horn sounded. I guess the horn guy had either gone home or was launching his Sunfish (no Captain Safety letters, please. I’m just a crazy grandfather telling funny stories).     

Humanities forum - Sports and society sounds like one of those graduate classes where everyone gets a B just for showing up. I always knew that all of human behavior is a blended mixture of all disciplines, including sports. But the current pool chemistry is out of balance. It’s best to shock the system and close it down for a couple of weeks. I have survived as a columnist for 38 years mostly by being on the edge of the nerves of some readers, but not most. Readers won’t put up with a writer who takes himself too seriously or who pitches a tent on the moral high ground overlooking the ocean. Allow me to “kick the real.” If I see a group of reporters chasing the same story, I go someplace else. If I see the fishing fleet all heading to Brandywine Light, I’m going to drift along the outer wall or toggle into the rock pile just so I can use the word toggle. Let me say, I wouldn’t talk to Donald Trump if he walked sideways through my kitchen door. And I wouldn’t join the Bidens around the North Shore breakfast nook if invited. It’s just crazy out there, from Bubba to baseball to mascots and images. People are attacking statues. I was raised Catholic – we own the sports god – and the inside of the church was rimmed with statues. They were draped with violet covers from the first Sunday of Lent until Easter Sunday. But it wasn’t necessary, because we grammar schoolers had no clue how to ID a statue. 

Reductio Ad Absurdum - Finding a faded garage door pull on a dirt floor and deducing it’s a symbolic noose sending a message of intimidation to a race car driver is absurd because anyone that sneaky and sick would have been way out and gone a long time before that gesture. I am friends with two very different people, attorney Bill Schab and electrician Doc Pepper. Each has the knack of breaking down the elements of a story, often concluding, “It may be true, but doesn't seem likely.” This NASCAR story is partly a mainstream media thing, but more of a social media thing. Bubba Wallace is a 26-year-old, good-looking, affable kid – my granddaughter’s about to be 25. He's a mixed-race person. How he self-identifies is part of his journey. I followed the story, but don’t blame it on the media. It’s better to blame it on Google searches that will tell you what stories the masses are chasing. 

Snippets - Billy Lorah and Ralph Karl, members of Cape’s 1979 state championship football team, drove to Florida two weekends ago to see coach Jim Alderman. They were not permitted access to the hospital because of COVID-19, so they turned around and drove back. Alderman is now out of hospital, but he’s still struggling with his medical issues, so Billy and Ralph are flying down to Tampa on Friday to spend time with him over the weekend. “We have to go,” the boys said. “Coach Alderman is one of the most important people in our lives. It’s not about the championship. He really was like a father to us.” Dick Buerkle, a Villanova cross country and track walk-on, passed away June 22 at the age of 72. Buerkle was a 1976 and 1980 Olympian in the 5,000 meters, and he broke the world indoor mile record in 1978 with a time of 3:54. He was ranked among the top 10 Americans in the 5,000 seven times, and in 1974, he was the top-ranked American and fourth in the world. He won the 5,000 at the AAU Championships in 1974 and 1976 as well as at the Olympic Trials in 1976. Villanova boasts 42 runners in its storied track history who have broken the four-minute mile. Villanova track coach Marcus O'Sullivan has broken the four-minute mile 101 times. Coach Steve Spence, who coaches track and cross country at Shippensburg University, has broken five minutes in the mile each year for the last 45 years. That is just all the way crazy. Pete Dimitri, known as the Omelette Man at Arena’s on the Highway down by Big Fish, was on the Lincoln High baseball team that won the Philadelphia Public League title before losing to St. James 2-1 in the championship game. Former Penn State baseball coach Joe Hindelang was lead pitcher on that team. Joe is a Temple buddy of mine – just a small-world story. Go on now, git!

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter