Tag Archives: minor league baseball

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!

Sod Poodles on quite a streak

I just read something in the Amarillo Globe-News online edition that blows my mind.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles are on a 20-game sellout streak at Hodgetown, the baseball team’s shiny new ballpark in the middle of downtown Amarillo.

Twenty straight sellouts!

Wow, man!

I won’t repeat in detail what I’ve noted already, which is that some knowledgeable local baseball fans have proclaimed Amarillo to be a “baseball town” that would embrace the team once it set up shop in the Texas Panhandle.

Hodgetown’s initial “concept” was to seat about 4,500 fans, as I recall the discussion at the time. They ended up building a ballpark that seats nearly 7,000 … and the Sod Poodles are filling up those seats each game night.

I also understand that the term “sellout crowd” doesn’t necessarily mean that every seat in the venue has a posterior parked in it. Still, the idea that this first-year AA minor league baseball team is selling all the seats over an extended period of time is, well, quite the accomplishment.

Nice going.

What happens when Sod Poodles’ season ends?

Baseball isn’t a yearlong sport. The Amarillo Sod Poodles are still playing hardball in front of healthy crowds at Hodgetown.

Eventually, though, the umps will call the final out for this season at the downtown Amarillo ballpark. There will be a playoff and I’m pretty sure the Sod Poodles will be playing in the Texas League postseason. Hey, they’ve got a great chance of winning the league pennant in their initial season on the field. Go, Soddies!

Oh, but wait. The season will end. Hodgetown will go dark for a good bit of time.

Yet I remember one of the selling points of the ballpark back when it was called the “multi-purpose event venue,” or MPEV, was that it would be a year-round place for entertainment.

I attended a few meetings where the MPEV was being pitched by fans of the project in advance of the November 2015 citywide referendum. To a person, all the proponents said the MPEV would play host to community events. There would be a flea markets, concerts, family-oriented events held on the state-of-the-art field.

I admit I haven’t kept myself up to speed on all the activities planned for Hodgetown’s post-season time. My hope is that the city, perhaps led by the Convention and Visitors Council and Center City (which is led by a force of nature, Amarillo native and a former colleague of mine Beth Duke) will be able to find plenty of activities to keep the lights turned on at Hodgetown during the time between baseball seasons.

Yes, I am aware that it gets, um, chilly in Amarillo during the depths of winter. However, autumn’s pleasure lingers right up until winter arrives — occasionally with a vengeance. Then comes the spring, albeit with its admittedly unpredictable weather.

So, let’s hope Hodgetown stays active, stays lit up and becomes the “multipurpose venue” its supporters pledged it would become.

Naming a baseball team requires top-notch marketing skill

Just as I have given up making political predictions, I am done questioning the wisdom of marketing gurus who study the ins and outs of delivering brand names that catch the public’s attention.

I once questioned the wisdom of all that hotel construction in Amarillo. A friend of mine at the Convention and Visitors Council told me not to worry; the hotels will be do just fine. Turns out my friend was correct.

So, with that I will declare my belief in the marketers who settled on the name of the city’s minor-league baseball franchise. The Sod Poodles are playing baseball before good crowds at Hodgetown.

What’s more the team’s name has become the talk of the town, the Texas League communities where they play when they’re not at home and in baseball publications all over the nation.

Hey, weren’t the Sod Poodles named the top minor-league nickname in the country? Well, they were, although we can debate until we run out of breath about the validity of the survey.

Whatever, the Sod Poodles turned out to be a name that had to grow on some of us … such as me. I hate the name when I first saw it on the list of finalist names that the Elmore Group, the franchise owner, revealed to the public.

They mentioned something about Sod Poodles being some sort of old-time name for prairie dogs. Sure thing, dudes. Whatever you say.

The name, though, has stuck. It has become part of the franchise’s identity, which likely is what the Elmore Group and its marketing geniuses had in mind from the get-go.

That’s why they get paid the big bucks and shmucks like me are sitting in the peanut gallery. I live now in a community next to one of the teams that comprise the Texas League along with the Sod Poodles. They play hardball in Frisco. They’re called the Frisco Roughriders, which to my ear sounds almost milquetoast compared to the name given their rivals in Amarillo.

Whatever, my view from afar tells me that the Elmore Group marketers knew what they were doing.

I’ll just keep my marketing thoughts to myself and enjoy watching the community reap the benefits of knowledge from the experts.

Good luck on opening night, Sod Poodles

I messed up.

I had thought I might be in Amarillo on April 8, when the city’s baseball team, the Sod Poodles, open their home season at Hodgetown, the shiny new ballpark in the city’s downtown district.

Oops. Not so. We’re going to be on the road that day en route to points south and east hauling our recreational vehicle.

So the Sod Poodles are going to have to win their home opener without me in the stands.

Damn!

But the season will start, I presume weather permitting. The AA baseball team has sold all 7,000 seated tickets for its initial home game. The pre-game publicity seems to have worked. The city is fired up; indeed, the entire Panhandle must be ready to cheer after they toss out the first pitch.

I wish I could be there. It won’t happen. Maybe later this year we can find our way back to Amarillo while the Sod Poodles are in the middle of an extended home stand.

Please know that this former Amarillo resident remains committed to the success of the team and to the future of the city’s central business — and entertainment! — district.

Play ball!

Amarillo Sod Poodles: We’re No. 1?

This bit of news simply knocks me out.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles, which is about to begin playing AA hardball, has been named the top team nickname in all of minor-league baseball.

The Sod Poodles beat out the El Paso Chihuahuas by a couple of percentage points in a vote taken by Fox Sports: MLB.

Is this the real deal? Is this poll legit, or does it assume credence merely because it gives the home team some positive karma?

I don’t know. I do think believe it’s kind of cool that a name that was greeted initially in the city by across-the-board scorn has won this particular honor.

I saw the names of the other teams being considered. I liked the Lansing Lug Nuts and the Hartford Yard Goats, too.

But I am one who has gone through a change of heart regarding the Sod Poodles name. I hated it at first, then grew to embrace it.

Now it appears that others like it, too.

Unless Amarillo’s baseball fans have stuffed the ballot box. Whatever . . . the Sod Poodles are No. 1!

Lights on at Hodgetown

Hey, I heard they turned on the lights at Hodgetown!

You know what that means? It means that when the Amarillo Sod Poodles open their AA minor league baseball season at home on April 8 they won’t be playing hardball in the dark.

Amarillo, Texas, is less than a month away from entering a new era of sports entertainment. The Sod Poodles are going to play ball at the downtown ballpark that is nearing completion along Buchanan Street, next to City Hall/the Civic Center and in the midst of a building boom that is still under way in the city’s downtown district.

I will be in Amarillo on opening night. My wife and I will be there to get our fifth wheel RV out of storage and take it on a jaunt downstate and on toward New Orleans.

But I just might sock a couple extra bucks in my pocket and get us a ticket or two for the Sod Poodles’ opening night game downtown.

I’ve been cheering this endeavor on for longer than I can remember. It’s only right to be there to watch ’em toss out the first pitch.

My strong sense is that the city is about to turn an important corner on its way toward economic revival.

Sod Poodles: The name grows on me

I have to make an admission: The name of Amarillo’s new AA baseball team has grown on me.

Yes, even more than it did before the city’s minor-league baseball team had actually chosen the name “Sod Poodles.”

I find myself saying it out loud with hardly a hint of self-consciousness. I saw a story today in the online version of the Amarillo Globe-News that the Sod Poodles had unveiled the team bus, which they’ll take as they travel from city to city to play baseball in the Texas League.

Certainly, the name had a steep hill to climb when it emerged on a list of five finalist name under consideration. My initial reaction to Sod Poodles was “Huh? What the hell is that? What are Sod Poodles, for crying out loud?”

We learned that Sod Poodles supposedly is an Old West term to describe prairie dogs. I have yet to hear anyone say they knew that.

But . . . the name is growing on me. It becomes the team’s identity around the Texas League.

I’m pretty sure baseball fans in all the cities in the league are going to be, um, talking about the Sod Poodles. I just hope they do so with no more than a smile on their faces.

Now, let’s play ball, Sod Poodles . . . shall we?

That’s a relief.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles have settled a goofy trademark dispute and are now setting their sights on opening night when they play a minor-league game of baseball at Hodgetown, the ballpark that’s under construction in downtown Amarillo.

An outfit named Stone Ranch Media had lodged a complaint against the Sod Poodles, suggesting that the team had pilfered the team’s nickname. The two entities have announced a settlement that will result in $5,000 being divvied up among the Amarillo Youth Activity Center, the Donley County Community Fund and the Downtown Amarillo Women’s Center.

So, the fight is over.

Next up is for work at Hodgetown — the ballpark named after retired pharmaceutical executive and former Amarillo Mayor Jerry Hodge — to be completed. The venue has sprung up along Buchanan Street and, to be honest, it’s looking like a first-class place to play some hardball.

This venue — if you’ll pardon the intended pun — is a serious game changer for Amarillo. Its future is looking brighter all the time as its downtown district reaps the reward from the attention it has received.

Play ball, ‘Sod Poodles’? Sure, why not?

There’s some chatter up yonder in Amarillo about the name of the brand new minor-league baseball team.

It well might be that the Amarillo Sod Poodles are going to play hardball in the new ballpark under construction in the city’s downtown district.

The new team’s owners are going to announce the name on Nov. 13. They’re considering five names that made a finalist list. None of them would have been my choice had anyone thought to ask me.

Of the finalist names, though, Sod Poodles has grown on me. The term supposedly is a old-time word once used to describe prairie dogs. I’ve talked to a lot of long time Panhandle residents and none of them has ever heard of the term “Sod Poodles” until the team owners announced the finalist names.

The rest of the names are: Bronc Busters, Long Haulers, Boot Scooters and Jerky. Nice, huh? Not really.

I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the team and the city will market this new name, if it indeed is Sod Poodles.

My wife and I recently returned to Amarillo for a couple of days. We drove downtown and were stunned by the changing look of the city’s central district. The multipurpose event venue is rising from the ground across the street from City Hall. I am thrilled at the prospect of the city taking on a new identity.

The Sod Poodles are likely to be the talk of the baseball world, if only temporarily.

Of course, that presumes the chatter is correct, that the team has settled on the name of the new baseball team.