Category Archives: Sports news

Sod Poodles? Is this the name?

Maybe it’s just me, but my sense from afar — from my new perch in Collin County — I am beginning to sense that Sod Poodles is slated to be the name of Amarillo’s new AA minor-league baseball team.

Sod Poodles emerged as one of five finalist names under consideration by the Elmore Group, the outfit that owns the baseball team that will begin playing ball in Amarillo in April 2019. The team owners have opened the names up to baseball fans, asking fans to pick the name they want for the new team.

Maybe it’s just my unusually unreliable trick knee that’s telling me this. But I sense that Sod Poodles is getting a bit of traction among baseball fans.

Or, maybe it’s just that the Sod Poodles name is growing on me. I confess to hating it when I first saw the name among the five finalists being considered for the team that will move to Amarillo from San Antonio.

My new “least favorite” name happens to be Jerky. By no stretch of the imagination do I want Amarillo’s new ballclub to take the field as the Amarillo Jerky.

Amarillo Sod Poodles, the so-called one-time term used to describe prairie dogs? It has a certain ring to it now that I’ve rolled it around a time or three or four. For that matter I could live with any of the other finalist names — sans Jerky — under consideration.

I have to confess that Sod Poodles is beginning to make a lick of sense — even from my distant perch.

Don’t go, LeBron

I cannot possibly know what is going through LeBron James’s mind now as he ponders his future as a professional basketball player.

The man known as King James is considering whether to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for, oh, somewhere else. I keep hearing he’s being courted heavily by the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that once achieved greatness but which stinks to high heaven these days.

I’ll get right to the point. I don’t want James to leave Cleveland. I want him to stay put. He makes enough money as it is. The Cavs ain’t paying him chump wages.

Do you recall how his first stint with the Cavaliers ended? His contract expired. He entered the free agency market. Then he put together that goofy TV special, at the end of which he announced he would “take my talents to South Beach,” meaning to Miami, where he would play for the Heat.

The Cavs fans went nuts. They burned LeBron jerseys in public bonfires. They protested. They howled. They wept. They accused LeBron of the equivalent of sports franchise “treason.”

Then he did something quite remarkable. He decided at the end of his Miami contract to return to Cleveland. All was forgiven. The Cavs fans welcomed back their favorite son, who I should add was born and reared in nearby Akron.

What is the 33-year-old superstar going to do now? It’s anyone’s guess.

I’ve never been in the position of a supremely gifted athlete who can earn many millions of dollars annually for playing a game. LeBron James is a tremendous physical specimen. He plays basketball at a level rarely seen by anyone at any time — ever! — in this history of the sport. Some experts call him the “Greatest of All Time.”

He’s already fabulously wealthy.

However, it might be that at this moment, he’s still hurting from the four-game sweep from the NBA Finals he and the Cavs suffered at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

But the sun came up the next day. He still has a supremely healthy bank account.

He also is at home. I wonder, therefore, what the home folks will think if he decides to abandon them a second time.

Sod Poodles? Let’s play ball … but hurry up!

AMARILLO, Texas — We’re all entitled to change our minds, right? Politicians do it all the time, saying their views have “evolved.” Or, in the case of Donald John Trump, his views change according to whatever his closest friends or his children tell him.

But … I digress.

I have done a nearly 180-degree about-face on the finalist names for the AA baseball team that’s going to play in a structure that at the moment is nothing more than a very large hole in the ground across the street from Amarillo City Hall.

None of the names excited me at first. Upon reflection, though, I am leaning toward Sod Poodles, the so-called old-fashioned name that supposedly refers to prairie dogs.

Don’t wish bad things to happen to me, please. My wife and I have a lot of fun-loving retirement years ahead of us.

Yeah, I said the name stunk when the franchise owners announced the finalist names. The one name that still sticks in my craw — if you’ll excuse the pun — is Jerky. Amarillo Jerky? Are you kidding me?

The team went for cutie names. They want the new baseball franchise to be a family-friendly endeavor. I think Sod Poodles fills the bill.

OK. That all being said, I want to offer a slight word of caution.

I ventured downtown over the weekend and noticed the big ol’ hole. I saw what looks like some reinforcement along the north edge of the hole.

I walked into the Embassy Suites hotel to see a friend who’s visiting from Lubbock. He reminded me that in his mind the construction pace needs to pick up. “I am not sure they’ll be ready for ball,” he said. I answered, “But they’re opening their season in April 2019.” Then my pal said, “Hey, that’s less than a year away!”

Duh???

I’m not an engineer. I have no experience with heavy-duty construction projects. My friend, though, has raised a legitimate concern. The multipurpose event venue where this team will play hardball is, um, seemingly a long way from becoming reality.

My farming and ranching friends will hate me for saying this, but if the MPEV is going to be finished on time, then I think Mother Nature perhaps needs to provide us with a second bone-dry winter in a row in 2018-19.

I’m trying to imagine how the crews are going to work when there’s a foot of snow on the ground in, say, December or January.

Let’s get busy, gang.

Ali might get pardon? Eh? For what?

Donald J. “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump Sr. reportedly is considering a pardon for, get a load of this, the late Muhammad Ali.

Please, Mr. President, do some homework — for once, will ya?

The Greatest does not need a pardon. Do you understand?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1971 that the boxing authorities that stripped Ali of his heavyweight champion title violated his constitutional rights that (a) guaranteed his freedom of religion, (b) allowed him to protest peaceably the federal government and (c) allowed him freedom of speech.

You see, Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing in 1967 to accept induction into the U.S. Army; he cited his Muslim faith as the basis for his refusal to be drafted. The boxing authorities then decided to deny him the right to earn a living by stripping him of his ability to box, to defend his heavyweight title. He was cast out of boxing for more than three years.

The nation’s highest court rectified that injustice by overturning his conviction on draft evasion. What’s more, President Jimmy Carter issued a pardon for all Vietnam War draft dodgers — and that included Muhammad Ali.

Earth to Trump: The Greatest of All Time does not need a presidential pardon!

Now, get ready for that summit with Kim Jong Un.

Why do simple ceremonies become such hassles?

Presidents of the United States have been doing these kinds of things for, oh, about as long as anyone can remember.

Professional sports teams win championships. They get invitations to come to the White House to receive a nation’s congratulations delivered by the head of state. They have a few laughs. They take plenty of pictures. They hand the president a ceremonial jersey, usually with the name of the president and the No. 1 on the back.

That’s not how it goes with Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Oh, no. He decides to weigh in on a controversy created by young men who decide to “take a knee” to protest police brutality. The president goes on the stump and says something about team owners firing any “son of a bi***” who declines to stand for the National Anthem.

The players object. Some of them don’t want to go to the White House. The president disinvites them.

Then all hell breaks loose. Other athletes condemn the president. The White House responds. Back and forth it goes.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man!

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. Most of the team accepted a White House invitation. Then most of them backed out. The White House issued a critical statement that accompanied a picture of Eagles players kneeling in prayer prior to the start of a game, but then said falsely that they were “taking a knee” out of protest.

The president has managed to turn feel-good ceremonies into a sort of political demonstration that does nothing but engender harsh feelings.

This is how you “unify” a nation? This is how you define “winning”?

It’s how I would define “presidential petulance.”

Trump tells Eagles to stay away? Good grief!

Donald J. Trump’s petulance has reached an astonishing level, although it’s hard any longer to keep up with his guy’s sense of outrage.

He has told the Philadelphia Eagles to stay away Tuesday from the White House. The Super Bowl champions were supposed to show up for a little ceremony, some happy talk from the president about their athletic prowess. They were going to have a few laughs, exchange some good tidings with the sports fan in chief.

Oh, but that “take a knee” matter got in the way. Some of the Eagles were going to boycott the meeting because of Trump’s public shaming of pro football players who kneel during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” before a game. They protest police conduct and their enforcing the law when it involves African-Americans.

According to NBC News: In an unusual statement early Monday evening, Trump said the Eagles “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

The National Football League has just instituted a policy requiring players to stand during the Anthem’s playing. Trump applauded the NFL decision.

Good grief. Now the president has taken it all to a new level by telling the Philadelphia Eagles to, um, just stay away.

I just want to remind the president that the players’ protest has nothing at all to do with honoring the “great men and women of our military.” It has to do with a perception of police brutality. The athletes, as near as I can tell, are protesting peaceably.

And I am quite certain that every single one of them loves our country as much as the president does. They just want to see some changes made.

What is so terrible about that?

Sod Poodles? Let’s think about this

I am about to deliver a assessment or two I hope I won’t regret.

I’ve been giving more thought to the silly list of “finalist” names delivered by the owners of Amarillo’s future AA minor-league baseball team. I also have been trying to digest the reasoning behind the five names chosen to be considered for team’s nickname.

My thought at this moment is this: I am starting to understand better what the team ownership is trying to convey to the community that will sit in the ballpark that is currently under construction in downtown Amarillo.

They want a silly name that elicits a community conversation. They want the name to be the subject of good-natured giggles. They are striving for something different, perhaps a bit unique that becomes a talking point in minor-league — maybe even major league — baseball circles.

That all said — and I am hoping to avoid being struck by lightning by adding this point — I am actually sort of thinking Sod Poodles isn’t such a bad idea … after all!

I want to be candid on one point. I have never heard the term used to describe prairie dogs. I had no idea on Earth that it is some sort of “historical” term used in the old days to refer to the critters that are the bane of ranchers and farmers. Don’t hold against me that I am not a Texas Panhandle native. I mean, I have known about prairie dogs since I was a little boy growing up in Oregon; sod poodles never crossed my radar — ever!

None of this discussion is about me or whether any of us have heard of this term. It’s about prompting a community discussion.

The owners of the team that begins playing hardball in Amarillo in the spring of 2019 have done that very thing.

Look, I mentioned once already that I hated the name of my hometown professional basketball team when it was announced in 1970. Portland’s new NBA team would be called the “Trail Blazers,” prompting a good bit of community angst. We grew to accept and actually like the name. Hey, it was meant to pay tribute to Lewis and Clark, who “blazed a trail” from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century.

Whichever name Amarillo’s minor-league baseball team owners select will attract its share of collective teeth-gnashing. Eventually, Amarillo’s baseball fans likely will accept it.

Maybe they will even learn to like it. I wonder, for example, if baseball fans in Toledo hate the “Mud Hens.”

Expensive stadium needs an expensive repair

I found myself smiling while watching a news report regarding a brand new high school sports venue.

Maybe I should have been more, um, understanding.

McKinney High School is supposed to begin playing football in a $70 million stadium. The season starts this fall. The stadium — which is still under construction — is a beaut. It looks real pretty. It’s billed as a state-of-the-art venue for a growing high school in North Texas.

But … they have a problem. They found cracks in the concrete. McKinney school district officials have to repair the damage before they allow thousands of high school football fans sit and cheer their team on to victory.

If that sounds familiar, well, it should. Down the road a bit, in Allen, they encountered a similar difficulty with that school district’s shiny new football venue. The Allen Eagles had to vacate their new $60 million stadium for a couple of seasons while the contractor repaired the stress fractures officials discovered. The contractor fixed the problem at no additional cost to taxpayers. The stadium opened. The fans have cheered.

The Allen Eagles, by the way, won a state championship this past season.

Another thing: Now that my wife and I live nearby, we have a keener interest in these matters.

Will the contractor who built the McKinney stadium fix it on its own dime? They had better. I cannot imagine asking taxpayers — who already have agreed to shell out a lot of money — to dig even deeper to repair a flaw that is not their fault.

It’s all about baseball ‘marketing’

I am beginning to soften my view of those goofy finalist names for Amarillo’s new minor-league baseball team.

But only just a little.

I still dislike the five names they came up with. However, I am beginning to grasp the marketing techniques that the AA minor-league team ownership is using to sell the team to the public when it begins play in the downtown Amarillo baseball park in the spring of 2019.

The team’s general manager spoke this week of creating a “wholesome family entertainment” product that will play baseball at the multipurpose event venue.

They aren’t going to go with the usual Major League Baseball team nicknames, such as Cardinals, Giants, Tigers, Marlins … etc.

So what did the Amarillo management do? They pored through more than 3,000 submissions and came up with Jerky, Bronc Busters, Sod Poodles, Long Haulers and Boot Scooters.

If I had to choose a favorite among those finalists, I would settle on Bronc Busters. The worst happen to be Jerky and Sod Poodles.

An ABC 7 morning news anchor, Lisa Schmidt, noted this morning that she has lived in the Panhandle her entire life and has never heard the term Sod Poodles to describe prairie dogs. I’m hearing a lot of that around Amarillo over the past few days.

However, I am beginning to get why the team management has embarked on this goofy course. They want to establish a unique brand for the minor-league team that will play hardball in downtown Amarillo.

Let’s hope the brand sticks.

More names come forward

The word got out about those goofy finalist names for the Amarillo minor-league baseball team that begins play in the spring of 2019.

And with that word came a whole host of names that I find a lot better than the names put forward.

Plainsmen. Wildcatters. 66ers. Skyliners.

Those are just a few.

I’m wondering if the backlash against the weird names put forth are is going to make the Amarillo baseball brain trust rethink what they’ve come up with.

One can hope.

They’ve invited the public to vote for the favorite among five finalists. They’ll announce the winner later in the year. I’m wondering how “None of the Above” is going to fare.