Category Archives: Sports news

UT, OU move to SEC? Well, it has its rewards

By John Kanelis /

I am not well-versed on the business of intercollegiate athletics to offer much reasoned commentary on the pending move of the universities of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference.

I’ll leave the economics of it for others to parse and to examine. However, I want to proclaim that I see one big tangible benefit to seeing this move occur: One major football rivalry is going to revive itself and another one will remain intact.

Texas vs. Texas A&M? Remember those days? The Longhorns and the Aggies would play on Thanksgiving Day. The whole state stopped to watch that game. The Longhorn-Aggie rivalry was among the biggest and most cherished in all of college football.

Then it ended when A&M moved to the SEC a few years back. I lamented then the end of the rivalry, wishing it could return. Guess what. It’s gonna come back. Will they play the game as they did in the old days, on Turkey Day? I hope so.

Oh, and then we have the UT-OU rivalry, the Red River Showdown, the game that occurs every year during Texas State Fair time at the Cotton Bowl. That rivalry ain’t going anywhere, it appears to me, as both the “Horns and the Sooners are making the move to the SEC.

I just don’t want ’em messing with the location. It needs to stay in Dallas, which is just about smack in the middle between Norman and Austin.

I know not everyone is happy about this big change in the intercollegiate athletic landscape. It’s especially critical as it involves the football programs at schools such as Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor. I’ll leave it to them to figure out their next steps.

As for rivalries returning and retained … bring it!

What if she had competed … and failed?

By John Kanelis /

Simone Biles’s critics are terribly quick to condemn the iconic gymnast’s decision to bow out of the Olympics team competition, contending that she “quit on her team.”

Hmm. Well, let’s ponder something for a moment. Shall we?

Suppose Biles had decided that her mental and emotional issues were no big deal and she competed in the team competition. Then she tanked terribly. Suppose a horrible performance would have cost her team a chance at any medal, let alone the gold medal.

By stepping aside, Simone Biles not only didn’t quit on her team, she well might have enhanced its medal prospects simply by being there to cheer her friends on.

Did she “quit” on her teammates? No … way!

Here’s a thought. Let’s just give this courageous young woman the space she needs to deal head-on with whatever is troubling her.

Can we really understand this pressure?

By John Kanelis /

Simone Biles has walked away from Olympic glory.

Or has she? The premier U.S. gymnast took herself out of the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics the other day, citing emotional stress and unreadiness to compete.

I am not going to weigh in with a heavy-duty critique of what she did. Nor am I going to try to assess why she has bowed out and might be done altogether as the current Olympic Games plays out.

You see, few of us outsiders can understand fully the pressure, the intense scrutiny, the proverbial weight of the world pressing down on the shoulders of a young athlete who competes at the highest level imaginable.

For that reason alone — my ignorance of what she is enduring and has endured during her years on the world athletic stage — I am going to give this young woman a pass.

I want her to find peace. I want her to expunge whatever demons are lurking inside her soul. I wish her the very best … which I suppose when you add all this up is my  endorsement of Simone Biles’s decision to bow out.

Soddies have firm grip on fans

By John Kanelis /

Amarillo’s Central League baseball team, the Sod Poodles, are struggling a bit on the field this year. They are in last place in their division.

But … there’s some good news to report on the team that won the Texas League pennant in their first year of existence in 2019.

The fans are still flocking to Hodgetown, the shiny new ballpark that sits along Buchanan Street in downtown Amarillo. How do I know that, given I now live in Princeton, a suburb of Dallas?

I get the Sunday Dallas Morning News each week. I went out this morning to pick it up off my driveway. I opened the sports page and turned to the Central League box scores. I saw that the Sod Poodles had lost a game Saturday night at home to the Frisco Roughriders. However, they played before a packed house at Hodgetown.

This is good news on at least one important level. It tells me that the Sod Squad — a social media group — isn’t just a gaggle of fair-weather fans who cheer the Sod Poodles on only when they win. They’re with ’em through thick and thin. Let’s face it, they’ve hit a “thin” patch this season after sitting out all of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

I remain proud of the baseball community in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before relocating to the Dallas ‘burbs.

Retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney, a vocal proponent of bringing minor-league ball back to Amarillo, once referred to his hometown as a “baseball city.”

That means they’re in it for the long haul with the team that many folks fought hard to bring to the High Plains.

Cleveland … Guardians?

By John Kanelis /

OK. I am fine with the Washington Football Team of the National Football League jettisoning the name it used to call itself: the Redskins.

But, something inside my old man’s body tells me the Cleveland Indians’ decision to change its name to Guardians is a step too far into the realm of political correctness.

The Washington Football Team’s former name clearly had been interpreted as a slur against Native Americans. Old-time western cowboys would use the term as an epithet against Indians.

However, to change the name of one of Major League Baseball’s more storied franchises to the Guardians? I don’t get where this is going or where it might go.

As a friend of mine noted earlier today on social media, a Native American suited up for the Cleveland team many decades, becoming the first indigenous American to play big-league baseball. Thus, it is believed the Indians named the team in his honor.

Maybe I shouldn’t tread onto this ground, given that I am the grandson of immigrants from southern Europe. I don’t understand how a Native American might feel about an MLB team named the Indians. It’s just that to my eyes and ears the team nickname has a decidedly neutral sound to it, unlike the former name of the NFL team that plays tackle football in Washington, D.C.

How many more teams are going to succumb to the pressure that continues to mount?

Sigh …

What tastes best at the ballpark?

By John Kanelis /

Someone who belongs to a social media group to which I also belong has asked what well might be the most, um, silliest question ever posed.

She wants to know “What’s the best thing to eat at the stadium?”

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this question posed on Facebook. The query comes from a member of the Amarillo Sod Poodles fan club.

I am going to presume something implied in the question. I will presume that “stadium” refers to the ballpark where the Sod Poodles play baseball in Amarillo.

My answer was unequivocal. I said, “hot dog.” I should have put a few exclamation points behind it.

I mean, I can think of nothing that tastes better at a ballpark during a baseball game than a hot dog smothered in mustard. I believe the late talk show host Mike Douglas once said that a hot dog at a baseball game was equal to “a filet mignon.”

Man, he was so right.

I am not going to make fun of the question or the questioner. It just boggles my noggin that “hot dogs at the ballpark” isn’t known universally as among the best eatin’ ever.

Pujols finds a new team … yes!

By John Kanelis /

Albert Pujols will take his place in due course in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

But first the former three-time National League Most Valuable Player, two-time World Series champ (with the St. Louis Cardinals) and arguably the best right-handed hitter in the past 60 years will get to play one season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The LA Angels gave Pujols the boot in the final year of the huge contract he signed prior to the 2012 season. The all-timer didn’t perform up to the standards he set while playing for the Cardinals.

Free agent Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodgers agree to major-league contract (

He is now 41 years of age. He doesn’t have much time.

The only downer I see in this signing is that Pujols won’t get to play the Cardinals in St. Louis this year, as he did in 2019 when the Angels visited Busch Stadium for a three-game set against the Cards. The reception the St. Louis fans gave Pujols was remarkable in the extreme.

I’ve shared this video already, but it’s worth seeing again.

Enjoy …

Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols a standing ovation in his return to Busch Stadium – YouTube

Soddie fans get good news

By John Kanelis /

So help me I thought I could hear some wild cheers coming from Amarillo when news came from federal medical experts about the mask and social-distancing mandate.

The cheers would have come from fans of the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the city’s minor league baseball team that opens its home season next week at Hodgetown.

Why the cheers? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed the mask and social distance mandate for those who are fully vaccinated against the COVID pandemic.

That means, if I get this right, that Hodgetown can be filled to the max with fans who don’t need to sit six feet apart from each other.

I am happy for the fans who get to go to the ballpark to cheer the Soddies on. I hope they exercise at least a modicum of caution. How? They ought to wear their masks, even if they are fully vaccinated against the killer virus.

I wish everyone in Amarillo the best as we all take these baby steps toward what we used to think was a “normal life.” As for the Sod Poodles’ fans, they now get a chance to show the Central League — where the Soddies play their hardball — how rock-solid baseball fans act when they get the chance to cheer for the home team.

Soddies’ home opener approaches

By John Kanelis /

AMARILLO, Texas — If only we could stay for another, oh, two weeks.

We cannot. Why the wishful thought? I would love to sit in the stands when the Amarillo Sod Poodles begin their home season in the newly aligned Central League, a Double A baseball organization.

Our agenda takes us away. My sense, though, as we sit so close to Hodgetown is that the Soddies’ baseball faithful are chomping at their proverbial bit to sit in the ballpark and cheer their hometown team on to victory.

I’ll be with y’all in spirit.

Cancel culture bites horse? What?

By John Kanelis /

Did I hear this correctly?

Bob Baffert, the legendary race horse trainer, told Fox News over the weekend that his steed, Medina Spirit, is a victim of what they call the “cancel culture.”

Eh? What the … ?

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby. He is trained by Baffert. The race gurus then ran a test on the horse and found some sort of illegal drug in his system. He faces disqualification if a second test confirms the first one.

Now we have Baffert telling a right-wing media outlet — those goofs at Fox — that he and Medina Spirit have been victimized by the lefties’ “cancel culture.” That the horse is the victim of some nefarious plot to disqualify him from winning racing’s crown jewel.

Man, oh man. I do not get this guy.

He denies the horse had the drugs in his system. The tests say something different. If a second test confirms the first, the horse will face disqualification. It’s a simple issue, yes?

Medina Spirit may have been racing with a substance flowing through his veins that he wasn’t supposed to have. Someone gave him the drug — allegedly.

Ain’t no cancel culture at work here … Bob!