Protection of runners becoming cost-prohibitive

Chasing rumors like a retriever on a tennis ball
June 4, 2019

The Great Schnozzola - Jimmy Durante, a vaudevillian comedian and radio and TV personality from the 1950s known for his raspy voice and big nose, coined a famous expression of exasperation when a guest would try to upstage him: “Everybody wants to get into the act!” I have often written that coastal Sussex County has become a running mecca with beautiful towns connected by a network of state park trails. It’s real chamber of commerce stuff that enhances the tourist industry. You don’t need an economic impact study to understand it’s all good. But the cost charged by towns to provide race support has gotten so steep that after they are paid off, there is nothing left as a “part of the proceeds” for a worthy charity or scholarship.

Running Down Rumors - Good life advice is, “Don’t pay attention to rumors,” but a sportswriter runs them down like a crazed retriever on a tennis ball because there is always some validity to them. I am inside more loops than the night watchman at the hula-hoop factory, and now with cyber chatter and the share button on Vaguebook, rumors are more abundant and tricky, but I still chase them, often multiple balls at the same time. Who is going to be the new head coach of boys’ basketball at Cape? I have no idea other than it’s most likely not the person who we thought had interviewed and was recommended and approved by the school board. Reminds me of the Alison Krauss song, “Now you say it best when you say nothing at all.”

The Quiet Man - Billy Cunningham is a lot like his father Jack, a smooth athlete who uses economy of language. They are both humble and confident guys. Neither man spools out words that don’t need to be spoken. Billy was head coach of Appoquinimink in 2015 when the Jaguars beat Cape in the state final 10-2. Billy C, now 29 years old, played at Cape for Ben Evick and later at Wesley. He was always the quintessential second baseman. Appo won the state championship again June 2 at Frawley Stadium, beating Caravel in the final 3-0. The Jaguars closed out a perfect season 22-0 for first-year head coach Mike Torres. Billy took a job at The Charter School of Wilmington in early February and is an assistant to Dan Saggione. Charter lost in the first round of the state tournament to Saint Mark’s 7-2.  “We live in North Wilmington and Charter is 10 minutes from my house,” Billy said. “My wife Megan teaches at Castle Hills Elementary School. We have a 3-year-old and are expecting another baby in October. I just wasn't able to be the dad and husband I wanted to be while working at Appo and commuting 40 miles to work.”

“He missed the tag!” - Bob Uecker in a 1985 Miller Lite commercial shouting from the top of the stadium right after he said, “I must be in the front row.” I was not at Frawley Stadium May 31 to see four umps miss the tag at third base in the bottom of the fifth that kept an inning alive, resulting in Appo going from down 3-2 to being ahead 4-3, which was the final score. The Cape caravan of traveling fans and coaches did not go quietly into the dark night. “Blown call” is a stinging way to lose a tournament game. Cape also committed two errors that led to runs being scored, and they left runners on base. An error is providing your opponent with an extra out. Sometimes an umpire does the same thing.   

Mission Implausible - State tournament games have been delayed and postponed this spring, often butting up against baccalaureate ceremonies and graduations – it has just been nuts. And finally, the last title to be contested is for the state championship of boys’ lacrosse. Cape will play Sallies at 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 5, at Caesar Rodney in an eyeball-to-eyeball game featuring well-coached teams with talent and grit. It is going to be electric with a 90 percent chance of PM thunderstorms. Highway to the Danger Zone, a no-risk, no-reward game, going to battle one last time with your hometown boys. It’s all about savoring the experience. Sallies has won the title 10 times. Cape has six championships. Sallies has beaten Cape in the finals three times, while the Vikings beat the Sals in the championship game twice. Game on. Shall we bounce?

Snippets - I’m thinking absolute numbers for high school football have declined statewide because even though sports teams freely and consciously roll into tornado watch and potential severe weather zones, there is something about all those athletes in concussion protocol that has families thinking, “You know, I’m not so sure. I think maybe Caleb will run cross country.” Happy graduation! Go on now, git!

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