Tag Archives: Sod Poodles

Soddies can proclaim: We’re No. 6!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Monthly has weighed in with its strangest and coolest minor-league baseball team names for 2021.

Drum roll for Amarillo Sod Poodles fans: Your team made the cut as the sixth-strangest/coolest name in Texas minor league baseball.

As TM writes: As a new team, the Sod Poodles had the advantage of history in knowing how fans had taken to other quirky team names in choosing their identity, but we can’t argue with the results: prairie dogs are certainly plentiful out near Amarillo, and the old settler term “sod poodles” is definitely a fun way to refer to them. Locals didn’t exactly cotton to the name at first—in fact, all five finalists for the team’s name drew eye rolls in the town—but can you really look at the family of grass-chewing, Stetson-wearing prairie dogs in the team’s logo and not find yourself rooting for the lil’ guys? 

Texas’s Best (and Weirdest) Minor League Baseball Team Names, Ranked – Texas Monthly

I’ll be candid. The name had to grow on me. I wasn’t crazy about the name when I first heard it had made the list of finalists under consideration. I didn’t know what a Sod Poodle is, but I found out it’s an old cowboy name for prairie dogs.

Whatever its historical significance, the Sod Poodles have played some good hardball in their single year in existence.

They are set to open their new season in early May.

Yes, the Sod Poodles won the Texas League pennant in their first year in Amarillo. They are starting a new season this week. Maybe they’ll win another pennant, this time in the Central League.

Now they have made TM’s roster of cool/strange team nicknames.

Play ball!

Baseball is back!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Baseball is back. The fans are back … in the stands where they belong.

At least for now. I am going to hold out a sliver of hope that we don’t see such a recurrence of the coronavirus pandemic that Major League Baseball and its minor league affiliate leagues and teams will be forced to shut down for the second summer in a row.

I say all this with a particular eye cast up yonder to where we once lived, Amarillo, Texas. The fans there are waiting with bated breath

for the start of their Amarillo Sod Poodles’ season opener, which occurs in a few weeks.

The fans there have been patient, as near as I can tell. Their team won the Texas League pennant in 2019 in its first season in existence as the Sod Poodles. Then the pandemic struck. The Texas League morphed into the Central League, which means that once this season gets started the Soddies won’t be defending their pennant, at least not in precise terms.

Hey, that’s OK. If you’re a fan of the Sod Poodles — and I acknowledge that since I no longer live in Amarillo that I only can cheer for ’em from a distance — then all you care about is opening day and the festivity that goes with enjoying a day and/or night at the ballpark.

I wish everyone well, from the Big Leagues on down.

Oh, and be sure to wear your masks while cheering for your favorite teams. Deal? Good!

Let’s play ball!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This news knocks me out, man!

The college students who played this past summer while the pandemic had put minor-league baseball on the shelf in Amarillo … are coming back for a second season!

The Texas Collegiate League is going to begin playing hardball at the Amarillo Sod Poodles’ home field when the Soddies are on the road. The college students’ season begins May 28 and will last through July 17. The teams will play a 22-game schedule.

The teams from across the state will comprise college students from around the nation. They are varsity athletes and, to be totally honest, they play some pretty good hardball.

The Sod Poodles will embark soon on their second season after winning the Texas League title in 2019. They now play in the Central League. I personally hope to see them this season when they venture to Frisco, near my new home in Princeton, to play the Roughriders. Yes, I’ll cheer for the Soddies when they do well on the field.

As ABC 7 reported: “We are very excited to again partner with the Texas Collegiate League,” said Sod Poodles President and General Manager Tony Ensor. “Baseball has become a huge part of our culture in Amarillo and the best and most exciting baseball environment in the country has been built at HODGETOWN because of our great fans and community. We look forward to hosting and creating more local and nationwide opportunities for these college athletes and showcase some of the best talent college baseball has to offer!”

Texas Collegiate League baseball returning to Hodgetown | KVII (abc7amarillo.com)

The return of the Texas Collegiate League bodes well for the future of baseball in Amarillo. I recall hearing former Amarillo College President Paul Matney once say that “Amarillo is a baseball town” as he sought to sell the notion of building the ballpark in downtown Amarillo. The Sod Poodles’ initial season bore that out as fans flocked the ballpark.

This year will be different only in that the team so far is planning to sell enough tickets to put about 75 percent of the park’s capacity in the stands.

Whatever. The college athletes are coming back, giving baseball fans another reason to cheer while they chew on Cracker Jack.

Let’s play ball … carefully!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the mask mandate he instituted when the coronavirus pandemic broke out is going to have a significant impact on one vocal segment of the Texas population.

That would be sports fans who flock to stadiums to cheer the home team on to victory.

Listen up, Amarillo Sod Poodles fans. This blog post is important.

I called the Sod Poodles’ office today and learned that the organization is selling tickets that fill Hodgetown — the team’s downtown ballpark — to 75 percent of capacity. “We’re hoping to get to 100 percent,” a young man told me, “given what the Texas Rangers are planning” for the American League baseball season. The Texas Rangers are going to fill Globe-Life Park in Arlington to the max; although I am quite certain the fans there will be masked up as they cheer for the Rangers.

So it ought to be even with limited seating sold at Hodgetown.

The Sod Poodles’ park seats about 7,000 fans. At 75 percent sales, the Sod Poodles will be playing before about 5,200 fans — give or take — when the Central League home season opens in late May. I am pretty sure that the fans attending the game will be cheering loudly. Which brings me to another point: COVID virus spores travel through the air when human beings shout or scream … or cheer!

That compels me to admonish the Soddies’ fans who are inclined to holler when the home team performs well to mask up.

Hey, I’m pulling for you and for your team. I just don’t want to read about “super spreader events” occurring in Amarillo, Texas.

Fans at games, too?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Greg Abbott’s big announcement today wasn’t as specific as perhaps it could have been.

The Texas governor declared that Texas businesses were “100 percent open,” meaning they could serve at full capacity. He implored us all to continue to observe social distancing, wash our hands and all that kind of thing.

The governor did not make specific mention of sporting events. Will sports fans be able to sit next to each other at venues to cheer on their favorite teams? That question has surfaced, for instance, among fans of the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Double A baseball team that is set to open its second-ever season in early May.

Therein lies a dilemma, ladies and gentlemen. What about the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, the Major Leagues’ two franchises? Or the other minor-league franchises scattered throughout Texas?

If I were King of the World, I wouldn’t have made the declaration that Gov. Abbott made today. I would have kept the mask mandate in effect and I would have required that sports venues limit seating to a certain percentage significantly less than full. That ain’t my call. It falls to the governor, I guess, to determine whether it is safe to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in sports venues.

I suppose the final answer to whether Sod Poodles fans will be able to fill all of Hodgetown’s seats when the season opens there in mid-May falls on the team ownership, or perhaps Amarillo City Hall.

I don’t have a suggestion on how the team should go with this one. You know already what I think of Gov. Abbott’s decision to open business back up to full capacity; I think it’s a potentially disastrous mistake. The pandemic is still raging, albeit at a bit calmer pace than it was a few weeks ago.

Perhaps the governor ought to provide some further guidance on what sports fans all over the state should do, keeping in mind that Priority No. 1 must be everyone’s health and well-being.

More good news, Soddies’ fans!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Silly me. I have  been briefed on changes that got past me. So here is an amended — and corrected — version of an earlier blog item.


Hey, y’all … I understand the Amarillo Sod Poodles’ 2021 baseball schedule is set.

Are you happy? You should be! The Sod Poodles will get to play ball this season, even though the Texas League where they competed in 2019 no longer exists. The Sod Poodles are playing in the Central League, so a “defense” of their Texas League pennant is now off the table.

The season begins May 4. The Sod Poodles will open their home schedule two weeks later, May 18, at Hodgetown.

Amarillo Sod Poodles announce 2021 regular season schedule (msn.com)

The picture you see with this blog was taken in 2019. There likely won’t be a packed ballpark when the Sod Poodles take the field in Amarillo against the Midland RockHounds. Social distancing requirements in the ongoing fight against the pandemic will limit crowd sizes at all sports venues in Texas. Will that quell the enthusiasm of the fans who will attend? Hardly.

I just want to sing the praises of the Amarillo minor-league franchise. It has signed a 10-year agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League. The franchise, in only its second season of hardball, is getting national recognition.

I will hold my breath, too, as the Soddies get ready to play ball.

Will the fans hold onto their enthusiasm? Uhh, yep!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My old trick knee — which has let me down from time to time while I ponder political prognostication — is acting up again.

The throbbing is letting me know that my former neighbors and current friends up yonder in Amarillo are waiting with bated breath for the start of their favorite baseball team’s 2021 season.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles won the Texas League title in 2019 in their first year of existence. Then they were sent to the showers for the entire 2020 season; the COVID-19 pandemic took out its wrath on the fans’ enthusiasm.

My hope for the fans is that they will be able to cheer once again for their beloved Sod Poodles. They likely will be unable to pack Hodgetown for every game. My sense is that Gov. Greg Abbott or city leaders will impose outdoor gathering restrictions at least for the start of the season.

We’re hearing some encouraging news about the fight against the pandemic. The infection, hospitalization and death rates are receding. Good news, yes? Of course it is!

That will allow sports fans all across the state and the nation to begin gathering — eventually — to cheer for their favorite athletes.

The Sod Poodles hope to pick up where they left off at the end of their inaugural season in 2019. That trick knee of mine is telling me the fans will respond.

Sod Poodles to play ball?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This message ought to be directed to the couple of Amarillo soreheads who have chastised me for commenting on the city’s minor league baseball team because I no longer live in the Texas Panhandle.

My strong hope is that the Amarillo Sod Poodles will play ball this spring and summer. My stronger hope is to be able to watch the Sod Poodles play hardball, although it is not likely I’ll be able to do so at Hodgetown.

I won’t give up on the notion of attending a Sod Poodles game at the downtown Amarillo ballpark. The greater likelihood will be that I will watch ’em and yell for ’em while sitting in the Frisco Roughriders park, which is a whole lot closer to our home in Princeton.

I had intended to attend a Roughriders game vs. the Soddies in 2020. Then the pandemic wiped out the Texas League season. The Sod Poodles couldn’t defend the league title they won in their initial season in 2019.

A new season well might commence in a few months. I am awaiting the shout to “play ball!”

We have friends who attend ballgames regularly … when they’re playing ball. If we get an invitation to join them when the Sod Poodles come to the Metroplex, we’ll accept.

We might not wait for the invitation. I truly am looking forward to watching the team that has created all the buzz in the Texas Panhandle.

MLB reworks minor-league alignments

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A number of friends of mine who live in a city I used to call home are breathing a bit more easily now that Major League Baseball has announced plans to restructure its alignment with minor-league franchises.

MLB will allow each of the 30 teams in the Big Leagues to have four minor league affiliates. One of them will be a Double A team. Well, the relief comes because the Arizona Diamondbacks have a relationship already with the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

This means, as near as I can tell, that the D-backs and the Soddies will commence their relationship this season, which I certainly hope will be going forward in this era of the pandemic.

The Sod Poodles saw their Texas League season shelved in 2020 because of the pandemic. They couldn’t defend a league title they won in their first year of existence. Maybe they’ll get the chance this  year, or one should hope.

MLB is looking to reduce travel costs and employing other budget-cutting measures. The Sod Poodles could have been left standing alone, like some communities discovered. It’s not to be.

MLB Invites 120 Clubs To Be Minor League Affiliates; Here’s Who Made It And Who Didn’t (forbes.com)

Indeed, the Sod Poodles proved themselves to comprise one of the nation’s most successful minor-league franchises while playing ball in 2019. If only they could have continued that success in 2020.

What the heck. There’s always this year, this season. The Diamondbacks and the Sod Poodles can make a great tandem.

Here is looking forward to another banner year for the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

What does a ‘Biden fan’ look like?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Forgive me for revisiting briefly a blog item I posted about a message I received from someone who doesn’t like the fact that I, as a former Amarillo resident, continues to write about matters related to the Texas Panhandle.

This individual, who shall remain unidentified, wrote this:  Your writings about the Sod Poodles is (sic) trash. You don’t live here so you can stop writing about stuff here. I figured by the way you look you would be a Biden fan.

‘Trash,’ you say? Why, I never … | High Plains Blogger

I already have commented on the Sod Poodles reference in this guy’s note. However, he says that he “figured” I am a Joe Biden fan because of the way I “look.”

I’m trying to wrap my noggin around that one. One of my sons figures the guy was objecting mainly to my political leanings and used the Sod Poodles angle as a way to lend it some form of relevance. Hmm. Not a bad analysis. Hey, if my son is right, that means the guy reads the blog regularly. To which I should say “thanks for reading.” There. I just did.

I feel compelled to ask: What does a “Biden fan” look like? Do we all look the same? Are the 81 million-plus Bidenistas out there who voted for the president-elect wearing the same brand of clothes? Do we all drive the same kind of vehicle? FYI, I happen to drive a monster Dodge Ram pickup, three-quarter ton brute.

My correspondent stepped in it, if you want to know my opinion about that. It’s OK. I don’t know him and he damn sure doesn’t know me. I promise I’ll refrain from generalizing about someone who would write something so utterly pointless.

I just wanted to toss this little item out there. Maybe he’ll see it. Oh, dude … keep reading the blog.