Category Archives: Sports news

What else is there, but … ‘Go Ducks!’?

At this moment, your friendly blogger is not at all concerned about the state of politics and the still-brewing cauldron in Washington, D.C.

I am instead going to jump for joy over the score of a college football game. Oregon 37, Utah 15.

What does it mean? It means the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl, which I consider to be a wonderful consolation prize for a team that two weeks ago was considered a potential contender for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff.

Then the Ducks went to sleep against Arizona State. The Sun Devils beat Oregon and dashed their playoff hopes.

OK. So the Rose Bowl won’t be for the national championship. Utah was favored to win the Pac-12 title game tonight. The Ducks played with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. The Utes hoped a win tonight would vault them into the playoff quartet. Umm, am I sorry about that? Nope.

The Ducks delivered the goods.

Go Ducks!

Sod Poodles rack up another high honor

Let’s try this one on for size.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles, Texas League champs in their first year of existence, have been named the Minor League Team of the Year throughout the entire United States of America.

Let’s see. I believe that is a high honor that needs to be saluted.

An article on www.baseballamerica.com speaks to many aspects of the Sod Poodles’ spectacular initial season that warrant a Team of the Year designation.

The Sod Poodles have provided their parent club, the National League’s San Diego Padres, with plenty of talent. The AA Sod Poodles sold out a brand new downtown Amarillo ballpark, Hodgetown, for virtually every home game they played; manager Philip Wellman is no stranger to winning league championships, so he brought a winning attitude to Amarillo while leading the Sod Poodles to the Texas League title, defeating the defending champs in the process.

I have been cheering the Sod Poodles on since before they took the field in April of this year. I have endorsed the principle of bringing a minor league team to Amarillo that has a direct affiliation with a Major League team. The Padres have pledged to take good care of the Sod Poodles and, to my way of thinking, the first year of Sod Poodles hardball in Amarillo has provided plenty of proof that the Padres are true to their word.

Read the www.baseballamerica.com story here.

This is quite cool.

They call it ‘The Civil War’

You are likely familiar with the fact that I am a huge follower of University of Oregon football.

The Ducks are going to play a game this afternoon in Eugene, in their home stadium, Autzen. They should win the game. It’s against archrival Oregon State University.

However, this contest gives me the nervous jerks.

One, it’s called “The Civil War” because of the intensity of the rivalry. I don’t like the “war” reference because, well, it’s just a game. But whatever …

For another reason, the OSU Beavers are motivated by the prospect of becoming “bowl eligible.” If they win this game, they will notch their sixth victory of the season, sending them to some lower-tier bowl game. It doesn’t mean much, other than the substantial revenue the OSU athletic department will collect from the Beavers playing in the game.

Accordingly, the Ducks had been in the hunt for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff — until this past weekend when they lost to Arizona State. They already have clinched the Pac-12 North Division title and likely will play Utah for the league championship. My fear is that the Beavers might have more of a reason to win this game than the Ducks, who still have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl if they get past the Beavers and then the Utes. I just wonder — and it’s only speculation from afar — whether the Ducks have recovered emotionally from that stunner of a loss in Tempe, Ariz.

Still … go Ducks!

Has the outcry subsided at Amarillo ISD?

It occurs to me that it was nearly a year ago when a heralded coach of a heralded high school athletic program tendered her resignation.

Kori Clements was the first-year coach of the Amarillo High girls volleyball team, a perennial Texas high school athletic powerhouse. Clements quit the job she wanted since she was a player for the Sandies after a single season. She blamed the school board, the administration and implicated a now former school trustee for bullying her over playing time given to the trustee’s daughters.

Then came a coalition of parents forming a group to demand transparency. The school trustee quit the board, which had accepted the coach’s resignation without comment. The community reportedly was fired up over the tumult. The Parents for Transparency Coalition was asking the right questions about the school district administration.

Oh, and then two more trustees resigned. They had an election. Yet another trustee just recently quit. The board has essentially turned completely over.

I am now wondering: What happened to all that rough stuff? Has the school district established a more “transparent” policy regarding its treatment of educators? Has there been any accounting for the circumstances surrounding Clements’ resignation, which I learned over time was actually forced upon her by administrators who weren’t going to renew her contract as the Sandies volleyball coach?

So, a resignation turned out to be something else. The board, to my knowledge, hasn’t yet offered any public explanation for any of the circumstances that preceded the departure of this young coach.

Transparency? Is it there? Hello?

Hodgetown earns honor, sending Center City director ‘over the moon’

Beth Duke is beaming with pride … and why not?

The Amarillo Center City director nominated Hodgetown, the city’s new downtown ballpark, for recognition as the best downtown construction project in Texas. Hodgetown then got the honor.

Duke, a lifelong Amarillo resident and a big-time promoter of its downtown revival, should be proud. So should the city for this latest honor granted to the shiny new ballpark that is home to the city’s championship-winning Texas League baseball team, the Sod Poodles.

The award comes from the Texas Downtown Association. It honors the ballpark’s look, its ambience, the attraction it proved to be for baseball fans and other Texas Panhandle residents.

As Duke told the Globe-News, where she worked for more than 30 years before taking over the Center City directorship: “I think you all know how proud I am of every building and the progress we’ve made in our beautiful downtown. I nominated Hodgetown for Best New Construction in a Texas (city) of more than 50,000 people. I was so gratified to be a finalist and the night we won, I was just over the moon.”

She should be over the moon.

I have taken great joy in applauding the city’s effort to build this structure, formerly known as the “multipurpose event venue.” It is a gorgeous home field for the Sod Poodles. More than that, it is a fabulous addition to downtown’s urban landscape.

Hodgetown came to fruition after a sometimes-rocky ride. I am more than willing to acknowledge harboring a doubt or two that the city could complete the project. There was turmoil on the City Council relating to the future of what was called the MPEV. Top-level city management went through a wholesale change with resignations of key personnel, including the city manager.

Despite the occasional ruckus at City Hall, the ballpark was completed. Hodgetown opened this past spring. The Sod Poodles played some great Class AA baseball in a ballpark full of cheering of fans.

Now comes a high honor from a downtown group that bestows honors that cities can use to their marketing advantage.

Beth Duke is the perfect advocate for Amarillo’s downtown district. She is a happy woman today. I am proud of her and of the city for the steps it has taken toward rebuilding its downtown business and entertainment district.

Well done.

Soddies’ fans have a long winter wait ahead of ’em

Fans of Amarillo’s new AA minor league baseball squad are facing a long, dark winter on the High Plains of Texas.

The Sod Poodles won the Texas League title earlier this summer. Some of the fans wanted a community celebration. It didn’t happen.

The team members and coaching staff dispersed to their respective homes.

Hodgetown, the downtown Amarillo ballpark where the Sod Poodles play their home games, has gone (mostly) dark.

Ahh, the wait has commenced.

I sense the real proof of the fans’ commitment to the Sod Poodles will need some time to develop. The Sod Poodles made a huge splash in their maiden season. Next year will start with a bang, too, when the Soddies accept their league championship trophy in a ceremony at Hodgetown.

They’ll play some hardball again starting next spring. The fans will keep coming next season. My hope — and from all appearances, my expectation — is that the enthusiasm will hold up over time.

I remain immensely proud not just of the success the team had on the field, but of the stunning reception the Sod Poodles received from their dedicated fans.

I live afar these days, but I am cheering as loudly as I can.

Coach’s firing is an attention-getter

Photo by Chris Seward/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually get worked up when a college football head coach gets fired. I am not “worked up” over this one, but it did get my attention when I read about it.

Florida State University kicked head coach Willie Taggart out of his job today. The Seminoles lost to Miami this weekend. Taggart was 9-12 during his season and a half at FSU.

Why the interest in this one? Well, Taggart was head coach for all of a single season at the University of Oregon. He went to Eugene after coaching at the University of South Florida. The Ducks had collapsed after reaching the near-zenith of college football greatness. So they hired Taggart looking for a return of gridiron magic.

Taggart bailed on the Ducks. He went back “home” to Florida to coach at FSU. It didn’t work out.

I am not going to gloat over this. I am sad that Taggart couldn’t turn the corner in Tallahassee. He seems like a good man.

However, he angered his players at Oregon when he bailed on them. The fans got angry, too. I happen to one of the fans.

Oh, the good news for the Ducks? They are playing great football again under head coach Mario Cristobal, who joined the Ducks coaching staff when UO hired Taggart in 2017.

There’s a chance the Ducks could play once again for the national championship. They have to win the rest of their games and something has to happen to one or more of the top four teams in the national college football poll.

So … karma ain’t so bad after all.

Get ready for the ridicule, Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle isn’t the first athlete to decline a White House invitation. Donald Trump isn’t even the first president to receive a refusal from a championship-winning athlete.

Neither of them will be the last individuals take part in such a strange tango.

However, Sean Doolittle — a relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals World Series champion baseball team — is likely in for a rough ride from the president of the United States.

Why? Because Doolittle said he cannot attend a White House ceremony presided over by Trump, a man he detests. Doolittle said he doesn’t like the way the president talks about immigrants, the poor and those who come from so-called “sh**hole countries.”

Doolittle said he and his wife adhere to the principle of kindness and have worked to help those in stricken “sh**hole” nations.

Trump, of course, has invited a lot of this kind of reaction from athletes and the teams on which they play. The Golden State Warriors stayed away from the White House after winning the NBA title a couple of years ago. Trump made quite a bit of hay over it via social media.

Will he do the same to Doolittle? What if other Nationals players decide to stay away? Will they get the social media bullying that has made the president infamous?

The Trump era as president is going to take another bizarre turn as he seeks in his usually clumsy fashion to honor some pro athletes, many of whom quite likely would rather be somewhere else than in his presence.

Who didn’t see this coming?

I guess this had to be one of the biggest non-surprises of the 2019 World Series.

Donald Trump showed up tonight at the Washington Nationals ballpark in D.C., while the Nats were playing the Houston Astros in the fifth game of the World Series. The public address announcer told the crowd of more than 40,000 fans in the third inning that the president was among them.

The crowd reaction? They booed loudly and then began chanting “Lock him up!” in a move reminiscent of the “Lock her up!” chant heard during the 2016 presidential campaign; the former chant, of course, was aimed at Hillary Rodham Clinton and her now largely debunked e-mail controversy.

But now the president is facing, shall we say, much more serious charges of corruption and violation of his oath of office. He is likely to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

So he goes the ballpark for a little “down time” from the rigors of the impeachment inquiry and killing of the Islamic State guru in Syria.

He got the greeting he deserved and quite likely expected to receive from the Nationals crowd.

Is he disheartened by it? Hardly. That would require a conscience on the part of the president.

Trump might get to add some drama to World Series … do ya think?

Well now. There will be a Game 5 in the 2019 World Series, thanks to the Houston Astros winning the third game Friday night in Washington, D.C., against the Nationals

Do you know what that means? It means that Donald J. Trump will get to attend Game 5 as he had already announced he would do.

He won’t take the mound to toss out the first pitch, a la President George W. Bush, who in 2001 famously fired a strike at Yankee Stadium. Nor will he toss the pitch from the stands, as many presidents have done dating back nearly to the founding of the Grand Old Game.

It is reported he will arrive after the game starts and will leave before the final out; the president’s intent is to avoid too much disruption for the security.

I am left to wonder, which I’ll do right here: Will the public address announcer reveal the president’s attendance at the game? If that occurs, what then do you suppose will be the fans’ reaction to hearing that Donald Trump is among them?

It is well-known how divided this country has been for years preceding the presidency of Donald Trump, whose rhetoric only has widened that divide.

We might have gotten a hint of that divide when Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner has said that the president “has every right” to attend a World Series game.

Doesn’t that go, um, without saying?