Ballpark a go from the start; the team name had to grow on me

It has been suggested on social media that the Amarillo Sod Poodles’ winning the Texas League championship has silenced critics of the downtown ballpark where they play hardball and the name of the team itself.

I plead guilty to half of that assertion.

Yes, I was a critic of the Sod Poodles name when I first heard it. The name had to grow on me. It did. The growth wasn’t a long-term affair. I grew quickly to like the name. The more I heard it the more catchy it sounded to me.

I heard about the team ownership’s rationale in selecting the name: The Elmore Group wanted a name that would be, um, conversational around the Texas League, if not around the nation’s minor-league baseball community.

I guess the Elmore Group succeeded. The name stuck. Folks are talking about it, although I am pretty sure no one has yet ever used the term to describe prairie dogs, which I understand is the old-time name for the little prairie rodents.

As for the ballpark, I’ve been on board since the beginning. My doubts arose only after some (now former) City Council members expressed concerns and doubt over whether the ballpark was feasible. The issue went to a municipal vote in November 2015; voters approved the ostensibly non-binding referendum and the ballpark was headed toward construction.

They built the ballpark. They named it Hodgetown in honor of former Mayor Jerry Hodge and his wife, Margaret. Then the fans filled the place damn near every game the Sod Poodles played at their home field.

The season is over. The Sod Poodles are Texas League champs.

I no longer live in Amarillo. However, I am delighted that the ballpark was built, that downtown continues to flourish and, by golly, that the Texas League champs carry the name of Sod Poodles.

How about that? Sod Poodles are the champs!

Strike up the band. Clear the streets. Get ready for a parade … maybe?

The Amarillo Sod Poodles completed their initial season in existence by winning the Texas League baseball championship.

Oh, I guess I should note they defeated the defending league champs, the Tulsa Drillers with an 8-3 victory on the Drillers’ home field.

This isn’t a bad way to bring AA affiliated baseball back to Amarillo. It’s not that losing to the Drillers would have been a total loser for the Sod Poodles and their diehard fan base.

However, a win is a win. A championship is a championship. The fans who flocked to their Hodgetown ballpark by the thousands every home game now have reason to cheer mightily for their hometown baseball club.

Will there be a victory parade in Amarillo? Beats the resin out of me.

There should be … but that’s just me.

Nice going, Sod Poodles.

Do not split this bond package into bite-sized bits

Whatever decision comes from the Amarillo City Council regarding a theoretical bond issue to fix the Civic Center and relocate City Hall, my hope stands eternal.

Do not break this bond issue into small pieces, giving voters a chance to shop for which of the projects they prefer.

Put it all out there under a single measure. Make the voters swallow all of it or spit it out.

The city is pondering a bond issue that would total more than $300 million. Under discussion is a plan to renovate the Civic Center, built in 1968 and in dire need of an upgrade; renovation of the Santa Fe Railroad Depot building next to the Civic Center, turning into a showplace; relocation of City Hall into an existing downtown structure.

I don’t know what the cost will be. It’s likely to be well north of $300 million. I do believe the city needs the projects it is considering.

I suppose the city could decide to forgo some of the ideas under consideration. At the very least the city should proceed with the Civic Center project. The Cal Farley Coliseum is too small, too cramped and too old to be good for much more than what it hosts already: arena football and minor-league hockey. As for City Hall’s relocation, perhaps that project can be sold, too, as an essential need that would enable the city to provide better service for its 200,000 constituents. The Santa Fe Depot job? That might be a debatable point.

Still, whatever the decision, the city shouldn’t bust up the projects into bite-sized morsels for voters to ponder.

The city is considering putting this bond issue on the ballot in May 2020. That’s as good a date as any.

Just keep the bond issue proposal all together, city leaders.

It’s strictly personal, Mr. President

There is no nice way to say this, Mr. President, so I’ll just blurt it out.

My loathing of your presidency is a product of my feelings toward you. It’s personal, Mr. President.

You’ve enacted several policy positions with which I disagree. Your rolling back of clean air and water requirements, for example. Your decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military — which you avoided doing during the Vietnam War — is another. Your insistence on repealing the Affordable Care Act when some tinkering would suffice is yet another. I could go on. I won’t.

No, Mr. President, it’s almost exclusively personal with me. It’s visceral. I feel it in my gut.

I felt that way when you and Melania rode down that escalator at Trump Tower, when you announced your presidential candidacy, and then trashed Mexicans as rapists, murderers and assorted other felons was too much for me right out of the chute.

Your entire adult life has been geared toward self-enrichment. You didn’t have a single moment of public service on your resume. Your behavior is well-chronicled: the cheating — alleged and acknowledged — on all three of your wives; the hideous videos of you at professional wrestling matches; the “Access Hollywood” interview.

Hey, I’m only touching on the matters that come to my mind in the moment.

Your conduct as president has been nearly as hideous. Your trashing of our allies. Your denigration of our intelligence analysts who say the Russians interfered in our election. Your standing behind dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and an assortment of other tin horn tyrants around the world.

Of course, there’s also the serial lying. You cannot tell the truth. You are pathological. Your lying knows no bounds. You lie when you need not lie.

And I cannot let pass your repeated denigration of a legitimate war hero, the late John McCain, who fought, suffered and nearly died during the Vietnam War. He resisted his captors valiantly and you had the unmitigated gall to say he was a “hero only because he was captured.” You sickened me with that statement, Mr. President.

For that matter, you continue to sicken me every moment you serve as our head of state/commander in chief.

I just had to get this off my chest. I know it won’t do a damn bit of good. You likely won’t see these words. Some of your supporters will and they might give me grief for expressing myself in this manner.

Too bad. I want you out of office at the earliest possible moment.

There. Now I feel better.

Happy Trails, Part 168: Oh, such splendor

GOLDEN, British Columbia — This photograph proves something I’ve known more or less by instinct over many years.

You do not need sunshine to reveal Mother Nature’s splendor when it is laid out before you.

We arrived in Golden, British Columbia. We parked our fifth wheel at an RV park. We unhooked the RV from the pickup. We grabbed a bit of dinner. We returned and my wife took Toby the Puppy for a short walk.

She returned to the RV and said, “You have to see this.” So, we did.

We walked about 200 yards to a bench and we cast our eyes on the Rocky Mountain range just east of us. Alberta sits on the other side of that splendorous view. We’ll be there soon.

This is part of the grandeur my wife and I expected to find once we hit the road in our RV. We’ve seen plenty of it already in the United States of America. From coast to coast we’ve soaked in all that Mother Nature has to offer. I won’t belabor the point by listing all those magnificent sights we’ve seen; I surely will miss a few. You get the point.

Our trip across much of Canada has been equally jaw-dropping, as the sight of those majestic mountains will attest.

We’re not entirely certain what the road ahead will reveal to us. Hey, there is no need on Earth to predict such a thing.

Whatever it is, I am positive it will give us unimagined thrills.

The open road awaits.

Puppy Tales, Part 77: Vocabulary is expanding

GOLDEN, British Columbia — It’s braggin’ time again for this parent of Toby the Puppy.

When we travel in our pickup with our RV in tow, Toby usually curls up on the console between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat. He awakes long enough to catch a glance outside and then repositions himself for another lengthy nap. He is the best traveler among the three of us … for certain!

Toby has shown a propensity for perking up, though, when he hears two words as we approach our destination for the day. They involve the GPS system we have in the truck.

The female-sounding voice in the GPS will advice us that we have reached our “destination.” Or, one of us — either my wife or I — will declare out loud when we have seen the “target” appear on the GPS screen that guides to wherever we are headed.

So, when Toby the Puppy hears either of those words, he perks up immediately. He is wide awake. He stands and cranes his neck to ensure that we are where we are supposed to be.

What do I glean from this behavior? It’s obvious to me. It means that Toby the Puppy’s vocabulary is expanding beyond “walk,” “bed,” “treat” and a few other phrases we utter around the house.

We pulled into our RV campsite at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The GPS did its job in informing us that we had reached our destination. With that bit of news, Toby the Puppy was all over it.

Our journey continues.

Has justice really been delivered to Felicity Huffman?

I’ve been pretty quiet about the school admitting scandal that has swallowed the careers of two prominent Hollywood entertainers: Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman. Of course, there have been many others caught up in this scandal.

I have been trying to come to grips with the sentence handed down to Huffman. To be totally candid, I am having trouble believing justice was really delivered to this individual.

She arranged for her daughter to get admitted to a university; she arranged to manipulate her SAT score. She paid some huckster a five-figure sum to assist in this travesty.

What did she get? Fourteen days in prison; a $30,000 fine; a year of supervised release; a term of community service.

Why just 14 days? That’s weird, in my humble view. It seems the sentence might as well have been for 20 minutes in the slammer.

Her lawyers argued she didn’t deserve any time, as it was her “first offense.” Huffman has been contrite. She apologized to the court, to her husband — actor William H. Macy — her daughter, to the world.

Loughlin, meanwhile, has stood by her innocence, challenging the system to put her on trial.

Huffman told the judge she would “try to live a more honest life.” When someone says they’ll “try” to do something, I often take that as a sort of code that they cannot promise to actually carry through with a rock-solid pledge.

There’s just something so very token about a two-week prison sentence. I am unclear what the judge is seeking to do with a wrist-slap on the arm of a wealthy actress.

Let’s just say that other “first offenders” have gotten far worse punishments for far less crimes.

Sod Poodles’ season already a smashing success!

I don’t know where I’ll be when the Amarillo Sod Poodles’ initial baseball season comes to an end. They’ll either be Texas League champs or the runnerup to the Tulsa Drillers.

My wife and I are trekking across Canada, where we might be out of touch for a time … or, then again, we might be fully connected to the rest of Planet Earth.

So … I’ll just get this off my chest right now. The Sod Poodles have scored a huge success in their maiden AA minor league baseball season.

Win or lose! It doesn’t matter to me.

Sure, I’d like to see the Soddies defeat the Drillers and win the Texas League title. If they come up short, well, suffice to say the team has done quite well.

They have packed Hodgetown, the venue formerly known simply as the “multipurpose event venue,” or MPEV. The park is a gleaming addition to Amarillo’s downtown district. The rest of the downtown area is bustling with activity not seen since, oh, the days when Polk Street was the place to go on a Friday and/or Saturday night.

However, the Sod Poodles are the talk of the town. They’re the talk of the Texas League, or so I have understood. The team’s nickname is a hit with the fans in the Panhandle and with other fans throughout the Texas League.

On top of all that, the Sod Poodles played some good old-fashioned hardball.

The Soddies have set the table for a lengthy and potentially prosperous run in Amarillo.

Good job!

Just who can slug it out with Donald Trump?

It is now a given. Donald J. Trump will conduct a mean, unorthodox and vile campaign for re-election as president of the United States.

The question facing Democrats as they look over their still quite large field of presidential candidates is: Who among them is willing and able to stand up to the onslaught that Trump will hurl at them?

I have my doubts about all of ’em.

I believe it is becoming clearer by the week, if not daily, that this campaign is going to rest between Trump and one of four, maybe five, Democratic contenders.

Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie (gulp!) Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and (maybe) Beto O’Rourke stand at the top of candidates who I think will stay the course beyond the first caucuses and primaries. If only Kamala Harris could shake the race up just a bit more.

It might be that someone will emerge as the gut fighter the Democrats will need if they have a chance of defeating the carnival barker in chief. Remember when former first lady Michelle Obama implored Democrats to “go high” when Republicans “go low”? We can kiss that mantra good bye, or so it appears to me at this moment.

Trump is a street fighter. The hideousness he displayed while beating Hillary Clinton in 2016 might resemble a hen party by the time he gets ramped up against whomever the Democratic Party nominates next summer to run against him.

I will lay this out right now, as if it’s a big surprise … which it isn’t. Any of the Democrats now in the field — with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders — would have my vote against Trump in November 2020. Why not possibly Bernie? Because his mantra about wealth inequality is becoming like a one-note samba.

Donald Trump never should have gotten elected in 2016. The Democrats’ major error was in nominating someone who had at least as many negatives going for her as Trump. I know what you might be thinking: Sure, you can say that now, even though you were predicting a big win for Hillary the last time. Well, I wasn’t alone.

I guess the task now for the field of Democratic challengers is for someone among them to emerge as the toughest of the bunch to handle the nastiness that is sure to come from the president.

I just wish someone could stake that claim.

Looking for what I believe is a rarity: Canadian supporter of Trump

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — I am on a mission.

Somewhere out there in the vast nation that borders the United States of America are likely to be folks who believe Donald J. Trump is the greatest thing to American politics since pockets on shirts.

I want to find at least one of them.

My intention is to look for Canadians who will answer this simple question: Do you think the president of the United States is doing a good job for his country and for yours?

That’s a reasonably neutral query. When I announced my plans to seek out Canadians’ opinion on a man I detest, I sought to make it clear that I didn’t intend to skewer the questions in search of particular answers. I do intend to remain faithful to that pledge.

And if I find a Trumpster among our Canadian hosts I intend to ask them for specifics about why they think he’s such a darn noble statesman.

They might be hard to find. I keep hearing anecdotal stuff about the president’s low opinion ratings in Canada, where — to be candid — Canadians aren’t too keen on their prime minister, Justin Trudeau, either.

Maybe they’re all a bunch of soreheads. Eh?

I’ll do my best. Wish me luck.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

%d bloggers like this: