Ten low-bridging bulldogs fronting Cape athletes

Turn left at the liquor store, not on Google Maps
October 22, 2021

Ten low-bridging bulldogs - A young boy was low-bridged by a playful bulldog named Brutus – a steamroller with ears – at Tuesday night’s Cape at Dover field hockey game. The dog snuck into the game, which is easy when you're 17 inches tall at the shoulder. I’m not certain, but I think the athletic families Mendezes, Ciabattonis, Sabbaghs, Kammerers and Hedricks account for 10 bulldogs, which makes me wonder, “Do I need one, or should I go for a designer dog and name it Delta after actress Delta Burke of Designing Women?” Bulldog names are Brutus and Rocky (Mendez), Tank (Hedrick), Winston and Franklin (Kammerer), Gunter and Kirby (Sabbagh) and Ruby, Otis and Murphy (Ciabattoni). People and their pets, life outside the fence, that’s where the most interesting sports stories are.

Henlopen Conference - There are 15 schools in southern Delaware’s Henlopen Conference that is divided into Northern and Southern Divisions. Cape offers 20 interscholastic sports as well as Unified teams, and lists cheerleading and band on the school athletic website. The waters are murky like a tidal marsh when you throw in Division I and Division II in some but not all sports, then add football’s new three-tier system. And not all conference schools field teams in all sports, which determines whether you have to play teams from the other division or you do not. I got to thinking about this as opposed to reading up on all my insurance policies, realizing the Cape and Delmar field hockey teams will likely meet in the Henlopen Conference Championship game Saturday, Nov. 6, at some neutral site before heading off to separate divisions in the DIAA state tournaments. Back in the ’70s, I thought the Henlopen Conference was just the coolest collection of diverse and talented public schools. I joked that directions to all the stadiums, gyms and fields always incorporated the same two words, “liquor store.” Turn left at the liquor store often ends with “turn right into the liquor store on the way home and you’ll see lots of cars from the Cape caravan in the parking lot.” Those days are gone, and most likely needed to go, and just perhaps the clunky Henlopen Conference needs to go away as well.  

Stealing signs - The Astros had illegally used a video camera system to steal signs in the 2017 regular and postseason, and got caught. The irony is that baseball people have used signs for a hundred years and talk into their gloves during mound visits. And that’s because stealing signs is part of the culture of the game, and really, how hard it can be, which brings in the whole bilingual sign language aspect of the game. Back when I was in high school at Bishop Egan in the Philly Catholic League, the baseball coach was a Russian immigrant who taught science. Students went to games just to steal his signs, then shout them out. “My back to you, steal,” then he’d turn around from the third-base box facing Gimbels in the mall and the student section would scream,“runner’s going!” It didn’t matter because no one trusted Catholics anyway. 

Rose is a dirtbag - “A rose is a rose is a rose.” - Gertrude Stein. That was interpreted as, “Things are what they are” in 1913. Now, we’re back to, “It is what it is” a century later. An image of Pete Rose sliding headfirst into a base through a cloud of dirt shows the grit of the player known as Charlie Hustle or Charlie Cheapshot if you recall Pete barreling over catcher Ray Fosse in the 12th inning of the 1970 MLB All-Star game, fracturing and separating Fosse’s left shoulder. Ray Fosse died Oct. 13 at the age of 74. Ray was a stud catcher, a baseball example of true grit. Read about him in a Washington Post obituary. Pete Rose is banned from baseball and kept out of the Hall of Fame because he bet on games while he was a manager, then lied about it to the commissioner. But today in 2021, online betting sites have partnered with Major League Baseball to advertise gambling, because stealing your money is more interesting than stealing signs. Based on that full-circle craziness, Pete should be on the next ballot. But there are other issues surrounding Rose that involve alleged inappropriate contact with underage girls. Sports comedian Joe Conklin said to Rose from the podium at a Philadelphia Sports Writers banquet, “They should keep you out of the Hall of Fame just because of that haircut!” Charlie Hustle laughed, but Charlie Cheapshot was lining Conklin up for a hallway collision.

Snippets - Nov. 8 is the first date for practicing high school winter sports. Fall outdoor sports have been fun with no masks and no crowd limitations. The restrictions for indoor sports are certain to be more strict. Cape is the defending Division I state wrestling champion. This season, the dual-meet wrestling championships return followed by the individual state wrestling tournament, and both will be scored is my understanding. Beacon hockey is now 7-0, with all wins by shutout, having outscored opponents 82-0. Go on now, git!


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