Some of my best friends are dogs

Fans in stands add electricity to games on the field
April 16, 2021

Billy the Beagle - I have friends from the running scene I wouldn’t otherwise know, from some as young as 4 years old all the way to unlimited. And a few of my friends are dogs, like the legendary Billy the Beagle. Billy rolled with Bobby and Debbie Rementer, and he was always so super car wash clean. Two years ago I took a photo of Chris Beagle and Billy the Beagle on the Boardwalk before the Sundance Festival of land and sea races. Billy passed away a few days ago, about two years after he was given three months to live because of a cancerous tumor. Debbie said, “We had the Rev. Dale Dunning lay hands on Billy and the tumor just disappeared.” I’m a skeptical lapsed Catholic boy and also the honorary Deacon of Doughnuts at Jusst Sooup Church, and when it comes to Dale and Billy, I’m a believer.   

Upside of downside - The downside of the mask-wearing pandemic restrictions on socialization over the last year is that many people are quick to come hot like a leaking radiator; just stand back and don’t twist the cap off. A whole lot of road raging going on and critiquing of strangers for not doing their job. But at athletic events with restrictions being lifted to a percentage of capacity rather than “no visiting spectators” or “two per athlete,” games I attend are like high school reunions. People who knew each other seem generally glad to see each other again. But the balance of power is off, just like the distribution of wealth in our country. Just too many games with crooked number results. Running clocks and mercy rules, and there are the unwritten rules of sportsmanship like slowing it down and shutting it down when the game is already in the bag. 

PTSD - I honestly suffer from Phillies Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was there in North Philly for the 10-game losing streak and collapse of 1964, when they blew a six-and-a-half-game lead with 12 games to play. I know the name Chico Ruiz, the Cincinnati Red who stole home against the Phillies for a 1-0 Reds win, sending the Phillies on a late-season collapse. There have been a couple ups – World Series wins in 1980 and 2008 – but more perplexing downs. My generation says “the Phillies” won or lost,  never “we” won or lost because personally, I can’t take that many losses. The 2021 version of the Phillies were off to a 5-1 start, but followed it with a 1-5 road trip. It’s an equation I can figure out: “Zero gain equals zero loss.” It’s like getting a C in a graduate school class. 

Depth and breadth - Teams that win championships shouldn’t be compared to other championship teams. I just find that argumentative and unresolvable, just let it be. But when looking at the Cape boys’ lacrosse program in 2021, a year after a season shutdown, I can say I’ve never seen so many solid players. When combining varsity and junior varsity players, we are easily talking about 50 guys who can really play. That doesn’t make them better than any previous teams or even a state championship team in Delaware, but it does speak to the vibrancy of the program. 

White noise - “Random talk without meaningful content.” Not to blind anyone with science in a sports column, just a comment that high school athletes inside the lines don’t lack toughness. But that doesn’t mean they are insensitive to jabbering along the sidelines or up in the stands. I have listened to it from behind my head my entire career, although I try to tune it out. As the expression goes, “I ain’t trying to hear that, yo!” Some officials call it “rabbit ears” – if you hear all the white noise, it’s best to find a different second job. 

Snippets - A big track meet, Cape at Smyrna, is set for Friday, April 16. The Eagles, under head coach Maura Schafer and six assistants, are no joke, especially on the girls’ side, and will be favored to beat the Cape boys as well. “Smyrna girls have quality,” said Cape coach Tim Bamforth. “They are tough in big meets. We hope in the dual meet we can spread out and at least get their attention.” Want to relive your youth and stay young? Stand on the sidelines with a camera and don’t move as players chase a ball out of bounds heading right for your spot. You will see your life flash before your eyes. If they flow my way, I bail like a Boston Whaler. Go on now, git! 


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