Tag Archives: Baseball

They’re getting anxious in Sod Poodles Land

I am hearing some faint — but growing — rumblings of excitement from up yonder on the Texas Panhandle, on the Caprock.

The fans of Amarillo’s Texas League champion Sod Poodles baseball team are counting down the days to the start of spring training in Arizona. The Sod Poodles will be preparing for their second-ever season alongside their parent club, the National League San Diego Padres.

It’s really quite cool for this former Amarillo resident to watch friends and former neighbors getting juiced up — no pun intended — in advance of the next season of hardball.

The Sod Poodles had the good fortune to win the Texas League pennant in their first season. Now comes Season No. 2. The team’s fans are getting hyped up. Heck, so am I … and I no longer live there!

Still, the Sod Poodles will play some games near where we live these days in Princeton. The Frisco Roughriders play in the same league as the Sod Poodles.

I’ll get a chance to watch the Sod Poodles this season just down the road a bit in Frisco. I’ll be there yelling loudly for the Sod Poodles.

I cannot join the fans in Arizona as the team prepares for their new season. It still excites me to see the anticipation building in the Panhandle.

Worst or best names?

A letter to the editor in today’s Amarillo Globe-News comes from a man who, I think, understands why the weird names on the finalist list being considered for Amarillo’s new baseball team may produce one of the potentially “best” team nicknames of all time.

Here’s the letter; it’s brief:

Regarding the recent letter to the editor in Amarillo Globe-News (Letter: ‘Sod Poodles’ has competition for worst name in minor league baseball, Aug. 3, amarillo.com) about “Rocky Mountain Oysters” being the worst name in professional baseball, it is just a matter of opinion, but I think “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is one of the best minor league baseball team names.


And “Toledo Mud Hens” runs a close second.

The letter is signed by Dick Novotny of Amarillo.

I think the man gets it.

I admit to being initially turned off by the list of finalists when the Elmore Group — owners of the AA team that will play ball in Amarillo beginning next spring. Then I started thinking about it. I also heard the team’s justification for going with the goofy names.

It made sense. The team owners want the team name to become some sort of brand for the outfit that will play ball. They point out that many other minor-league franchises have fielded teams with strange-sounding names. The two of them noted in the AGN Media letter are good examples.

I have heard already of the Mud Hens. I understand that the Mud Hens are popular in Toledo, Ohio, irrespective of the name of the team.

I’m still going to go with Sod Poodles as the new team’s name. Who knows? Perhaps the Sod Poodles will emerge eventually as the “best minor league baseball team name … Ever.”

Still enjoy waiting for baseball to begin

I don’t follow big-league baseball with nearly the fervor I did when I was a kid.

Free agency managed to wreck it for me in the late 1960s, allowing big leaguers to sell their talents to the highest bidder. Players have switched teams, causing some upset to those of us who long associated players with teams.

Mickey Mantle: New York Yankees; Ted Williams: Boston Red Sox; Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals.

Sure, some post-free agency players stayed with the same teams throughout their careers: Tony Gwynn: San Diego Padres; Cal Ripken: Baltimore Orioles; George Brett: Kansas City Royals.

All six of those guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers.

OK, now that I’ve stipulated that I don’t follow Major League Baseball the way I used to follow it, I remain anxious as we get ready for the first pitch to be tossed out. I still like old-fashioned hardball. It remains in my mind and heart the National Pastime.

I don’t await the start of pro basketball or pro football with this kind of anticipation. Pro hockey? Umm. Not even close.

Baseball is still a bit different for me.

I follow a couple of players more than the rest of ’em. By fave at the moment plays for the Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, who’ll enter the Hall of Fame on the first ballot when his time comes up. Pujols is set to get his 3,000th hit this season. He’ll get his share of home runs to add to his ninth-best career total of 614. My hope is that he can put together at least one more career year to match the seasons he piled up in St. Louis before he decided to shop his skills around before he ended up in LA.

So, with that I’ll await the 2018 MLB season with some enthusiasm. I’m no longer a kid. Baseball no longer is quite the same as it was in those days.

They still play good hardball and, brother, they get paid lots of money to play a kid’s game.

George Will to GOP: think strategically


George Will can turn a phrase with the best of them.

The noted columnist and television commentator is well-known for a lot of things, which include: his ardent political conservatism and his equally ardent love for baseball.

I’ll set aside the baseball expertise for a moment and focus on what he has said about the presumptive Republican Party candidate for president of the United States.

Will has given up on his Republican Party because of Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer in this fall’s campaign for the White House.


He has registered in Maryland, where he lives, as an “unaffiliated” voter. He no longer is a registered Republican.

Actually, this isn’t huge news. It’s important only because of Will’s standing among the conservative intelligentsia.

Even tough Will’s abandonment of his party isn’t a huge surprise, it stands to reason, given that the presumptive nominee has zero public record on which to run. Moreover, many of the positions he has taken in the past — such as being against free trade, being pro-choice on abortion — run directly counter to traditional Republican political orthodoxy.

Frankly, I prefer the Texas method of registering voters. We don’t declare party affiliation when we get our voter registration card. We vote in whichever primary we want and our card might — or might not — get stamped by the polling place judge at the time we vote.

Will’s best advice this year to Republicans?

Suck it up. Prepare yourselves to lose the White House and then work like hell to win it back in 2020.

Baseball team needs new place ID


The decision has been made to combine the Amarillo Thunderheads baseball franchise with the Grand Prairie AirHogs.

They’ll split their 2016 season between the locales: one here on the Texas Tundra, and one in Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex.

I’ve decided the new team nickname should be the Air Heads, given that it looks like a dorky decision to combine the teams in that fashion.

The more problematic issue, though, might be how to identify the location name.

Every sports franchise has a place named in front of the nickname. Houston Astros, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans …

I’d have mentioned the Dallas Cowboys, but that pro football team hasn’t played home games in Big D since the early 1970s, when it moved from the Cotton Bowl to Irving; the Cowboys now play way over yonder in Arlington, which is closer to Fort Worth than it is to Dallas, which gives Cowtown residents fits. But that’s another story.

Will the Amarillo-Grand Prairie team be able to identify its location in a manner suitable to each city’s rabid fan base?

Let’s all stay tuned to this one.


No instant replay in baseball … please

The National Pastime is about to undergo a change that few baseball purists will like.


I’m one of them. What will we dislike? It will be the introduction of instant replay cameras.

OK, I know what you’re saying. Football has it. So what? I hate it in football too. It slows down the game. It tries to replace the human element with machines that help humans decide whether they’ve made the right call.

Now it well might be baseball’s turn.


I’ll now stipulate some important points about the game I used to love. I detest the designated hitter rule; I hate watching baseball played indoors … on carpets; I cannot stand watching batters suit up with body armor as if they’re taking part in a medieval joust; I’m not even that crazy about pine tar or batting gloves.

I’m old-fashioned when it comes to baseball.

Now we have the prospect of one of the game’s great traditions — the rhubarb — giving way to technology. The rhubarb occurs when the manager storms out of the dugout to get in the ump’s face; he’ll turn his ball cap backward so he can get right up to the ump’s face to be sure he get sprayed with spittle while yelling things like, “Bleep you, you bleeping blanket-blank!” When he says the “magic word,” which of course is “you,” that gets the manager tossed from the game.

Now we well might see close calls decided by someone sitting way up yonder in a control room. They’ll play back the event and someone in that control room will determine if the ump made the call.

I’ve long wanted technology to give way to the human element. Of all the calls umps — and refs in football — make during the course of a game, they get 99-plus percent of them right.

Let ’em make the call. And if they get it wrong, let the manager storm out of the dugout and kick a little dirt on the umpire’s shoes.

Obamacare vs. Affordable Care Act

An interesting new poll has revealed a curious element of the public opinion about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”.

When you ask Americans if they favor “Obamacare,” 47 percent of them say they oppose it. When you ask them if their views of the Affordable Care Act, the number drops 36 percent.


“Obamacare” was the name hung on the ACA by its opponents who sought to put a derisive label on the health care reform overhaul approved by Congress in 2010. “Obamacare” has become the pejorative term of choice for those in politics and the media (such as Fox News) to use when discussing the ACA, which hasn’t even been implemented fully.

The Affordable Care Act is the legislation’s official name. It is used by those who support it. Although it’s interesting to me that President Obama occasionally uses the “Obamacare” term to describe it, all the while taking note that “Obamacare” is the critics’ term of choice.

I’m beginning to think, though, that these public opinion surveys are becoming almost as detailed as baseball statistics. You can find a stat for almost any category of hitting, pitching, fielding or base-running performance in the Grand Old Game. The same appears to be happening with public opinion polling.