Category Archives: Sports news

Astros vs. Brewers in World Series? Another MLB first?

For those of you who might be interested in truly useless information, I have a bit of it for you.

Major League Baseball’s league championship series are underway. The American League series features the defending Series champs Houston Astros vs. the Boston Red Sox; the National League pits the Milwaukee Brewers against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Follow me on this.

If the Brewers win the NLCS and the Astros win the ALCS, the 2018 World Series will be played by teams that both have appeared in the Fall Classic representing both leagues. The Chicago White Sox swept the Astros in 2005; the 1982 Brewers lost the Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

A member of my family is a diehard Dodgers fan. So, with all due respect to him, I’ll pull for the Brewers and the Astros to make MLB history.

There you have it. Is that totally useless info … or what?

You’re most welcome.

MPEV sprouts like a weed in downtown Amarillo

Holy cow! We haven’t been gone all that long  from Amarillo. We’re coming back for a quick visit and we’re going to see the change taking place at a rapid pace in the city’s downtown district.

A friend sent me this picture. It is of the multipurpose event venue — the “ballpark,” if you will — that’s under construction across the street from City Hall.

I am beginning to believe that, by golly, they’re going to be ready for the first pitch to be tossed in April 2019.

The ballpark will be home to an as-yet unnamed AA minor-league baseball team that’s affiliated officially with the San Diego Padres of the National League. I’m still pulling for Sod Poodles to be the new team’s name. So help me I don’t know why, but I have changed my initial opinion of that name that showed up on a list of finalists under consideration.

The ballpark continues to be very big deal for the city. It will cost an estimated $44 million. It will seat about 5,000 baseball fans. My hope — perhaps it’s even my hunch — is that the ballpark will be full of fans when someone throws the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day of the Texas League season in Amarillo.

I look forward to casting a gaze up close when we venture to Amarillo in a few days. We’ll be back just a few weeks later to attend a concert at the Civic Center.

I won’t be surprised to see that the ballpark/MPEV has sprouted even more dramatically as the city marches its downtown district to a bright future.

I hate wishing for a drought to continue in the Panhandle of Texas, but another dry winter — such as what the Panhandle experienced this past winter — will enable the contractor to finish the job on time.

Getting set for the Red River Rivalry

Hey, they’re going to play a football game just down the highway from my wife and me this weekend.

It’s a pretty big game. They call it the Red River Rivalry, the annual game of blocking and tackling between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma.

This is the first UT-OU game my wife and will get to witness from something approaching an up-close location. No, we don’t have tickets to the Cotton Bowl. Indeed, we’re likely to steer clear of the venue over the weekend.

The State Fair is under way, too. The Big Game is part of the festivities. We attended our first State Fair just a few years ago, even though we’ve lived in Texas since 1984; we never found the time or had the interest in going until our granddaughter came along. So we took the DART train from Collin County and got off the train at the fairgrounds.

This year? No thanks.

I do, though, want to say a brief word about some of the talk I’ve heard in recent years about moving the game out of Dallas. I understand there’s been some chatter about moving the game west along Interstate 30 to the stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play football … in Arlington. There’s also been some talk about making it a home-and-home series: rotating between Austin and Norman.

Keep the game at the Cotton Bowl! During the State Fair!

Fill the stadium with half the fans wearing Burnt Orange and the other half wearing Crimson and White.

The venue is roughly equidistant between the UT and OU campuses, which makes it a “neutral field,” even though it’s in Texas.

I get that the Cotton Bowl — which opened in 1930 — lacks many of the amenities found in many of the newer stadiums. Still, the game played there is a slice of Americana that needs to stay put.

The Metroplex is going to be thrown into a frenzy no matter who wins this Red River Rivalry contest. It will be maddening to be sure. It needs to stay right where it is.

MPEV occupant lines up a big-league affiliate

The San Diego Padres are coming back to Amarillo, Texas.

Amarillo’s upcoming minor-league baseball season has cleared yet another hurdle. The Padres used to be affiliated with an earlier Amarillo baseball franchise. They’re back in the fold with the new team that doesn’t yet have a name.

It is getting a ballpark, though. Bit by bit, the multipurpose event venue is going up along Buchanan Street. They hope to have the venue complete by April 2019, when the AA season commences in Amarillo.

Given the progress I’ve seen — albeit from some distance these days — I am no longer going to doubt the project will be done in time for the team to toss out the first pitch next spring.

The San Antonio Missions are moving to the Panhandle from South Texas; San Antonio will be home to a new AAA franchise that is relocating from Colorado Springs, Colo.

The next big question now appears to be: What are they going to call this new Amarillo baseball team?

I’ve done a 180 on this one. I once hated the Sod Poodles name that showed up on the list of finalist names being considered by the Elmore Group, owners of the new Amarillo team.

I am not entirely crazy about the name today, but the thought of the name has grown on me. I now officially hope that Sod Poodles, or some derivation of the name, becomes the name of the new team that will take the field.

But … the city that is remaking its downtown district — with new hotels, entertainment venues and a serious dressing up of street corners — has a new major league baseball affiliation about which it can boast.

Not bad.

Let’s admit it: Tiger is bigger than the game

He likely never would admit it publicly, so I’ll say it for him.

Tiger Woods is bigger than the game of golf. Just look at the worldwide reaction to Woods winning his 80th career golf tournament over the weekend. He won the Tour Championship for his first PGA tour victory in five years.

You’d have thought Woods had just won the Grand Slam of Golf, winning all four major tournaments in a single calendar year.

He didn’t. He merely won the season’s final big event, a championship event that drew the biggest names in the game today.

After all he’d been through — the multiple back surgeries, the terrible personal scandal and the nagging self-doubt that he’d ever get his game back — Woods found a way to win. He did so virtually wire to wire at the Tour Championship.

I’ve said it before, but it might bear repeating, so that’s what I’ll do: Tiger Woods might be a dirt bag of a husband, but he’s one hell of a golfer. I enjoy watching this guy play golf almost as I enjoyed watching another of the all-time greats, the late Arnold “The King” Palmer. Indeed, there are similarities here. Both men drew casual viewers to the game. Both men played with panache and flair. Both did so with tremendous success.

I always have pulled for Tiger Woods to make it all the way back from the physical and emotional ailments that bedeviled him.

Tiger Woods is back. And the game is better for his return.

Happy Trails, Part 124: Where football is king

You know already that we have moved from the Texas Panhandle to Fairview, Texas. Plus, you also know that we relocated to live closer to our 5-year-old granddaughter.

Here’s something you might not know: Our new digs are two stop lights away from Allen High School, where Emma’s brother attends. Allen isn’t just any ol’ high school. It’s the largest in the state. It’s also a school where they play some pretty good tackle football.

The Allen Eagles have won a bunch of state Class 6A football titles. They are the defending champs entering the current school year.

They also built a $60 million football stadium here a few years ago. It’s a beaut, man.

Where am I going with this? I want to attend a football game or two at this place.

Now that we’re retired, most of my Friday nights are free. The Allen Eagles are fortunate to play their home games in a venue that many Division II or III colleges would envy.

Many of you likely remember that the Allen Independent School District opened the stadium and then had to vacate it for a couple of seasons when they discovered some stress fractures in the cement work. The contractor made good on fixing it. They reopened the place and the Eagles have continued their winning ways.

I guess I want to attend a Friday night event in Allen to experience the kind of “Friday Night Lights” spectacle made famous in the book of that name.

I’ve been to nice high school venues, watched football games. Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo is a first-class venue. It’s the home field for all four of Amarillo ISD’s high schools. Back when Emma’s dad was in high school, he played in the marching band and we attended football games throughout East Texas watching him march around the field at halftime.

However, the Allen HS venue is different. It’s fantastic!

Our granddaughter eventually will attend high school there. One of her brothers already has graduated from Allen High; the other one is in his sophomore year.

I just have to attend a football game here to help round out my retirement journey.

Weird? Maybe, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sexism in pro tennis? No-o-o-o!

I believe Serena Williams has made a valid point about the game she has dominated for more than two decades.

The greatest tennis player in history — and it’s been argued she is the best ever, male or female — alleges she is the victim of sexism. She lost the U.S. Open final Saturday to Japan’s Naomi Osaka, a young woman who has idolized Williams since she was a little girl.

But Williams’s loss came amid some considerable fireworks. She got into a serious beef with the umpire, a male, who issued a game penalty after Williams was penalized because of improper contact during the match with her coach. Tennis rules prohibit coaches from issuing instructions to their “students” while they are competing. She didn’t like the first penalty and when she got the game penalty while protesting the first call, Williams went ballistic.

She argued that male players say much worse than she said, but they aren’t sanctioned nearly so severely. Indeed, history is full of on-court episodes involving notable male tennis stars who made their reputations because of bad-boy behavior: Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Andre Agassi all come to mind.

I’m sorry and saddened that this episode has tainted Osaka’s first Grand Slam victory. And I don’t condone Williams’s outburst.

However, she makes a seriously valid point about the way the tennis gods treat male stars as opposed to the way the women get treated. If you’re going to assess sanctions against players for acting out on the court, then they need to be applied evenly and without regard to the gender of the athlete.

That’s what I heard Serena Williams argue for at the U.S. Open.

Amarillo’s MPEV superstructure taking shape

I am going to send good vibes from the Metroplex back to Amarillo.

An Instagram picture posted by a friend of mine shows that the multipurpose event venue under construction in downtown Amarillo is taking shape, literally.

The digging and excavation must be essentially complete. They’re beginning now to erect the superstructure of this community-changing venue.

To which I say: woo hoo!!

When it’s done the city is going to have a 4,500-seat ballpark downtown. They’re going to play AA hardball beginning in April 2019. The San Antonio Missions are relocating to Amarillo. The name of the new team has yet to be announced. I’m still pulling for Sod Poodles, but that’s another story for another time.

Today, I want to express yet again my pride in Amarillo for the bold measures it has taken to reshape the personality and the character of its downtown district.

The MPEV is going to be the major player, the star of this extreme makeover.

I recently drove into downtown Amarillo to purchase some tickets at the Civic Center box office. I zipped past the parking garage and noticed that the retail venues are still vacant. I keep reading that tenants will start pouring into the storefronts when the MPEV gets much closer to completion. Let’s hope it happens.

Meantime, MPEV construction continues.

Gotta hurry, gang. April is just around the corner.

Portland State vs. Oregon: Oh, the quandary

You might be aware from this blog that occasionally I have written about University of Oregon football. The Ducks ascended to NCAA gridiron elite status, only to fall dramatically two seasons ago.

They went from heroes to zeroes virtually overnight.

I didn’t attend Oregon. I attended Portland State University, in the downtown district of my hometown of Portland, Ore. However, since the Ducks were winning a lot of football games and twice played for the national collegiate championship — losing to Auburn in 2011 and Ohio State in 2015 — I have become a Ducks fan. Hey, I’ll cop to being somewhat of a fair-weather fan.

Now, though, comes the quandary. Portland State’s Vikings — who compete on the Division I-AA level — are traveling 100 miles down Interstate 5 to Eugene next Saturday to play the Ducks.

What do I do? I know. I’ll root for the Vikings, understanding that they likely are going to get clobbered by the Ducks, who are showing some signs of life after a miserable season and then a rebuilding year in 2017. The Ducks have a new coach, Mario Cristobal, who went to Eugene as an assistant to one-and-done head coach Willie Taggart, who left Oregon after a single season to return to his home state of Florida to coach Florida State University.

But dang! I would love to see Portland State score an upset. Is it impossible? I direct you to what Appalachian State did to the University of Michigan, in the Big House in Ann Arbor, just a few years back. ASU on Sept. 1, 2007 handed the Wolverines the upset of the ages before a crowd of 109,000 stunned and shocked Michigan fans.

As the saying goes: That’s why they play the game.

‘Gotta love minor league ball’

I suppose it could be a lot worse, or a lot more worthy of argument, as Amarillo, Texas, awaits the naming of its new AA minor-league baseball team.

The team owners are pondering a list of five names that emerged as “finalists” to be considered for the new team name.

My favorite, if you want to call it that, is Sod Poodles, which the Elmore Group said is an old-time term used to describe prairie dogs, a critter common throughout the High Plains.

But I got an interesting message from a friend of mine who wanted to provide a bit of perspective to this whole matter of team-naming.

My dear friend writes: I know you’ve been agonizing over the Amarillo team’s name, but here are some examples from Thursday’s Word Sleuth: Bees, Curve, Fire Frogs, Hooks, IronPigs, Lugnuts, Muckdogs, Owlz, Rawhide, Snappers, Stone Crabs, TinCaps, Yard Goats, and my personal favorite, Biscuits and Gravy. Love that minor league ball!

My friend, who lives in Beaumont, Texas, also wants me to mention “Golden Gators,” which was the name of a team that once played hardball in the Golden Triangle.

Yep, I love minor league ball, too.

The Amarillo team’s ownership said it wanted to build a community talking point with the list of finalists. It seems to have succeeded in that mission. Whatever name they reveal for the team is sure to get ’em talking.

But … I’m still all in for the Sod Poodles. Yeah, it’s a weird name, but the fans will get used to it. Of that I am certain.