Sesame Street by the Sea featuring buckets of muppets

Sports fate cast to the virtual wind
August 7, 2020

Cape is a concept and a place - I met Cape baseball coach Ben Evick outside the fence at Champions Stadium Wednesday and he said, “what’s up, Fred Double G Dogg?” as we lifted off in conversation. Ben’s daughter was doing the same field hockey camp as my granddaughters, but I was there to get photos of everyone with no names or numbers so the family can be tagged on Facebook while others may end up in the Cape Gazette. I’ve known Ben since he was a seventh-grade fullback on the Rehoboth Junior High soccer team. “I’ve been to the baseball field. David Erickson was throwing to catcher Brian Sponaugle, while Zack Gelof showed up to take some swings,” Evick said. “Young Brian is going to be a good one, and he gets to work out with two D1 baseball players.” I told Ben, “Cape is an actual place with cross-hatched paths – we all see each other all the time. Sesame Street by the Sea. We are lucky to share the salty air.” Ben then went all Riders on the Storm and talked of surfing with my son Jack and his son Will. I mentioned I was a great body surfer until my body went south like a pelican that flew too far north. 

“Last Chance U” - Netflix is new to me. I only go there now because my daughter Carrie gifted it to her parents who came to planet earth 70 years ago from the universe of three channels and UHF. Plus, I can talk to my remote. I say, “Netflix,” and my high-definition screen  responds with a Fredman icon, and I am a player. “Last Chance U” is not a new series, but it’s new to me in a familiar way. I know the JUCO system of sports and education, a springboard to a four-year school. The road can be rough and the talent pool is deep. Social media and digital platforms have made the entire system absolutely insane. Coaches who continuously drop F bombs while their team is the subject of a six-part documentary and the players do the same doesn’t create a great image, and the worse part is the F word substitutes for a better word that is socially acceptable in the world of work. The whole point of education is to get a freaking job. 

The Wind Cries Scary - Wind lyrics are blowing through my brain in one ear and out the other with intersecting songs from Donavan’s “I may as well try and catch the wind” to Herb Alpert’s “Cast your fate to the wind.” What will the DIAA Board of Directors recommend to the Delaware State Board of Education for the resumption of high school sports? Their meeting Aug. 6 was virtual, which doesn’t scream, “hey, let’s get together.” My position, which is unpopular in all corners of circular logic is, “let the ponies run. Once the clock strikes 3 p.m., turn the turf fields, trails, gyms and wrestling rooms back to the athletes. Let the adults have a Zoom in-service.” Hey, man, I’m radical gramps. I don’t get a redshirt year. There may be a B game somewhere I’m missing. 

Slogans and symbolism - A sportswriter who mixes contemporary sociology into his sports column can just open his office window to hear the words “shut up and stick to sports” come straining through the screen like a cloud of fat gnats. The NBA is almost all-in with group kneel downs during the National Anthem to “Black Lives Matter” written on the front of T-shirts and a slogan written on the back. I heard a 21-year-old instant millionaire say, “I have to use my platform,” and I thought, “platform? This ain’t no Lionel train set.” Some fans are getting mad like a frozen emoji that takes the place of actual words. Sometimes words don’t provide enough disqualifiers to keep the writer out of trouble. A player of color (I know we all have color) may self-identify whatever way they wish, it’s not up to me to designate, and yet to say “we’re all the same” is a namby-pamby weak position that doesn’t celebrate differences. Eagles coach Buddy Ryan may have had it right he just called everyone by their number. This is round-table discussion stuff we all need to get back to talking to each other from six feet away. Eight socially distanced sports pundits are sitting at a round table. What is the diameter? If one goes off on a tangent, is he allowed back without contact tracking and hand sanitizing?      

Snippets - Alison Gaffney, a stellar Cape grad, and her husband Mike Short climbed Mt. Rainier last summer. What is it with Cape kids who grew up in the flatlands going out and climbing mountains? I remember a few years ago when Will Albanese and Billy Peden climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and had the nerve to not even look tired. I find the rock wall at Rise insurmountable. The last summit I crossed was a bridge in Delaware. Mia Paltrineri has stepped off as a teacher and field hockey coach at Sussex Tech and took a job at Smyrna. Mia did a great job for the Ravens leading them to the Division I state final in 2017, when they lost to Cape 1-0 on a second-half goal from Cami Smith. The hockey job was open and now closed at ST with interviews slated to begin Zoom or soon. Go on now, git! 


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