Category: Amarillo Baseball (Page 1 of 3)

Watch This Guy!

Next to insuring all three of our vehicles were outfitted with GCR’s Love Like Jesus stickers, my priority this week has been to finally replace the Amarillo Sod Poodles sticker on the back of my truck with a sticker proclaiming my allegiance to our new city and our new team, the Midland RockHounds. I certainly needed to take care of this chore before last night’s series opener between the RockHounds and Sod Poodles here in Midland. And I did.






Then we drove to Momentum Bank Ballpark and watched young Drey Jameson dominate our local nine. Sod Poodles fans in Amarillo, y’all need to watch this guy! Wow!

Drey is the number one draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Ball State and was only called up to AA Amarillo less than three weeks ago. And he celebrated his 24th birthday last night here in Midland by paralyzing the RockHounds. He pitched 7-1/3 innings of five-hit shutout baseball with no walks and twelve strikeouts in a crisply played 1-0 game. I’m a RockHounds fan now, but I caught myself rooting for this Amarillo pitcher. His fast ball was consistently 96-97mph – his 12th strikeout in the 7th inning was clocked at 96 – and his curve came in at 76-77mph, with almost nothing anywhere in between. He occasionally brought an 85mph slider, but it was the other two pitches, dramatically different in speed, that kept the RockHounds off balance all night. And Jameson’s pin point accuracy. The kid was just ON last night. And nobody in a Midland uniform had a chance.

If you’re in Amarillo, I’m urging you to watch this kid pitch before the season’s over. Don’t let him get away because he won’t be a Sod Poodle for long. I’m guessing he’ll be pitching for the Diamondbacks in less than two years. He’s got 31-strikeouts now in his three AA starts. And he’s electric.



RockHounds Fans

We officially turned the corner as a family last night in becoming Midland RockHounds baseball fans, openly cheering for our new team in the friendly confines of the Sod Poodles ballpark in downtown Amarillo. Whitney and I wore our new RockHounds t-shirts and we loudly rooted for the Midland Nine as they routed Amarillo 13-3.

Stan Cox, our favorite usher who runs a very tight Section 109, told me he didn’t know what was more disappointing: that we were leaving Central or how quickly my baseball allegiance had changed. He agreed that my quick switch shows a real lack of personal integrity and character. When Stan came around with the garbage bag in between innings, he asked me to take off my RockHounds shirt and kindly place it in the trash.

Stan and Susan are two more of the really great people I’ve had the privilege to live, worship, and serve with here in Amarillo. I was honored to perform the wedding for their daughter Sara to Nick Lewis and I was blessed to spend ten thrilling days with them in Israel. Susan kindly volunteers at the church office when Gail is out. Nick and Sara’s beautiful daughters were both born here and are being raised in and by Central – one of the many wonderful families we’re really going to miss.

Needless to say, we were the only ones cheering for the RockHounds last night – we stuck out a little bit in the partisan Poodles crowd. Whitney came away with a foul ball generously tossed up by a Sod Poodles player and Midland pitcher Jared Koenig autographed it for her after the game – nice on both counts. As a family, we agree that the Sod Poodles name continues to be a disgrace to the very idea of professional baseball, but we do love their logos and fonts so much more than the late-80s vibe of the cartoonish RockHounds logos and fonts. And this downtown ballpark in Amarillo is the crown jewel of all AA stadiums – it’s the standard.

We’ll miss the insane Sod Poodles song during the seventh inning stretch (Sod Poodles! Sod Poodles! That’s right, they’re called the Sod Poodles!). The free parking on Fillmore. Dale Cooper’s awesome seats behind home plate. Ruckus entering the stadium to ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.” The line for three-dollar refills at H-Tea-O. Frozen t-shirts and blindfolded Chick-fil-a cows. But we’re looking forward to everything minor league baseball in Midland has in store for us later this summer. When is Jared Koenig’s next start?



Wiener Wednesday

For the past six months, anytime we’ve wanted a blizzard or a polar vortex or an incredible system of thunderstorms and rain to move into the area, we’ve only had to plan an outdoor church event. Now, it seems, planning an outdoor church event results in the hottest most humid day of the season. It was 101-degrees in the shade yesterday. And our Central section at the downtown ballpark was not in the shade!









Our annual Central night with the Sod Poodles was a sultry affair, but we had more than 230 of us sweating it out together. As always, the baseball game was merely the backdrop to an evening of hanging out with people we love. The dollar hot dogs and the souvenir cup refills are not what bring Central folks to Hodgetown. It’s the joy of just being together.

The joke was that it was Allan Stanglin Appreciation Night because the Corpus Christi Hooks were wearing their Wednesday Whataburger uniforms. I’m telling you, it was hard rooting against a team wearing those orange Whataburger stripes and numbers. As the game wore on – it was still the 7th inning at 10:00pm – Ira told those around him he was staying until it was over or until Allan jumped into the dugout and stole a jersey.

Myrl wins Sticky Buddy of the Year for the fifth straight year after treating the Love clan to the air-conditioned suites above home plate. Greg gets points for cramming two wieners into a single hot dog bun. Twice. Gail’s innovative neck-fans kept her cooler, but not enough to allow her to smile. All the high school students are to be commended for arriving home from the float trip and getting to the ballpark in about an hour. And after watching the Hooks in those sweet unis, I’m feeling an urge to move to Corpus Christi.



Seeing What Others Can’t

We took in our first Sod Poodles game of the new season yesterday, enjoying a 6-3 Amarillo win over Midland to secure a series split with the RockHounds. We sat in Dale Cooper’s seats, it was Buddy Reed bobblehead day, and I came up one ice cream helmet short of eating for the cycle. A wonderful day at the downtown ballpark.


We’ve started a new sermon series here at Central on the life of David. And it’s complicated. David is chosen by God to be Israel’s king, but he’s a mess. He commits public adultery and proxy murder. He joins the enemy army and he’s obsessed with revenge. He doesn’t get along with his wives, his children, or his troops. He is responsible for some of the most atrocious acts of cruelty and selfishness in the Bible. Yet, somehow, he is a described as “a man after God’s own heart.”

It’s complicated.

One of the questions we’re asking each week during this series is How does David reflect God’s heart? Yesterday we looked at the familiar story of David’s battle with Goliath. And we determined that one thing David and our God have in common is that they see what others can’t.

Romans 4 tells us that God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. That’s how David is, too.

David sees the giant enemy of God as small and weak and insignificant. The very sight of Goliath paralyzed the Israelites. His size, his strength, his words – the Bible says Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. But David looks at Goliath and he sees him as nothing. He sees him as already dead. He thinks about the lions and bears he’s killed in the past and he tells Saul, “This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them.” He says, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Yeah, Goliath is powerful; but God is much more powerful. Yes, Goliath is strong and mighty;  but compared to Almighty God, David sees Goliath as puny. He sees Goliath as already defeated. And that’s the way God looks at things.

2 Corinthians 10 says “You’re only looking at the surface of things.” Look deeper. Look bigger. When you see things the way God sees things, it empowers you to act with zeal, the kind of zeal and boldness and assurance that changes everything.

David makes things bigger. He sees more clearly. When everybody knows you can’t beat Goliath with a sword, David comes up with another way. When David can’t live in Israel because Saul is trying to kill him, he becomes a Philistine. When Jerusalem is just a hick-town with one red light, David sees a glorious and holy capital city. When the wandering Israelites are worshiping God in a tent, David draws up plans for a beautiful temple. David stays outside the box, seeing and creating new possibilities from the darkness and the void. Just like our God.

Samuel did not see David as a king, but God did. God sees possibilities we don’t always see. And he makes them happen.



Who Dak?

I typically operate under the rule that if one can’t say anything bad about the Dallas Cowboys one shouldn’t say anything at all. I’ll try, but it’ll be tough. They really looked (gulp) pretty good.

I really believed (hoped) going into yesterday’s season opener against the Giants that the Cowboys weren’t going to be ready. Their starting center and their starting tight end had both been out of football for over a year. Their starting tailback missed all of training camp. Their top receiver missed most of the preseason. Their slot receiver was brand new to the team. Their offensive coordinator was new.

But they were playing the Giants.

You and I and six of your friends could give the Giants a good game.

So, Dak Prescott absolutely went off. He threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, he spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and I’m not sure he ever got touched. His quarterback rating was perfect! Jason Witten got an easy touchdown, Randall Cobb was all alone on his, and Cooper looked as good as he looked at his best last season. And Moore’s offense? I know Moore looks like his mom dropped him off at the stadium with a $20 bill and instructions to call her when the game is over, but that was some kind of game plan and some kind of play calling he showed yesterday. Lots of substitution, multiple formations, and lots of pre-snap motion. It worked to the tune of 35-points, but it felt like Dallas could have scored twice that if they wanted.

But they were playing the Giants.

Some people are observing that Dak didn’t make any throws yesterday that any of 60 NFL quarterbacks don’t make every day. He wasn’t pressured, his receivers were all wide open, and some of his throws looked (ahem) a little less than crisp and tight. Others are saying Dak looks like the best quarterback in the league not named Brady. Some are saying he should sign Jerry Wayne’s contract offer right now and others are saying he should wait until the year’s over when he can demand even more.

My advice would be to take the money right now. Prescott can’t possibly ride any higher or be regarded any more or gain any additional leverage than he has right this minute.

Wait. Next week they’re playing the Redskins.


The Amarillo Sod Poodles scored seven runs in the second inning yesterday and held off the Rockhounds in Midland to capture the Texas League South Division title and advance to the Texas League Championship Series. Amarillo went to Midland trailing two games to none and needing to win three in a row, all on the road, to avoid elimination. When I left the downtown Amarillo ballpark on Thursday, I was resigned to the series loss and to that being the Poodles’ last home game of the season. But they’ve pulled off the impossible and will host the Tulsa Drillers at home tomorrow and Wednesday in the best-of-five Texas League Championship Series.

My T-shirt size is still XL.


Somebody set fire to one of the iconic Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch overnight Saturday. It was the oldest Cadillac in the line, a 1949 Fastback Coupe, and authorities have no idea who did it. Or why anyone would.

You can see some of the local stories by clicking here, here, and here.  Here’s an old video of CBS’s Charles Kuralt interviewing Stanley Marsh about Cadillac Ranch shortly after it was installed in the early 1970s. And the Dallas Morning News has published this editorial lamenting that we live in a world now where somebody would do something like this.

Carrie-Anne and I first encountered Cadillac Ranch right after we were married and lived in Pampa. We came to Amarillo on most weekends and saw this strange sight back when the cars still had their tires, their interiors, and all the dashboard instruments. That was back before people were spray-painting. For years now the Cadillacs have just been metal shells of their former glory. But it’s still such a weirdly wonderful thing.

When we moved here in 2011, one of the very first things we did as a family was take a picture at Cadillac Ranch. Untold thousands of people do it every year. Nobody’s ever lit it on fire before.



Zeke Gets Fed

I would never fault a guy for getting as much money as he can. We live in America — the free enterprise, capitalism, free market economy of this country is based on and depends on guys getting as much money as they can. Supply and demand — come on, we all learned this stuff in high school. I don’t question Ezekiel Elliott. He made it work today.

The Cowboys caved this morning and signed their star running back to a six-year contract extension worth $90-million,  with $50-million of it guaranteed. That makes Elliott the highest paid running back in NFL history, both in terms of the guaranteed money and the average annual salary of $15-million-per-year.

As of this moment, the Cowboys have the highest paid running back in history, the highest paid offensive line in history, and top-five-at-their-position contract offers on the table to quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper.

This is the offense that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season.


Now, I do have a few  questions about that.


The inaugural season for the Amarillo Sod Poodles extends into the playoffs tonight with game one of the Texas League South Division series against Midland at our downtown ballpark. It’s a best-of-five series with the first two games here in Amarillo and the final three, if needed, in Midland. The winner then plays the North Division winner for the Texas League Championship.

It’s Wednesday, so I’m not able to take in the opener this evening — it’s a work night. But I’ll be there in Dale Cooper’s awesome seats for the first pitch tomorrow.

I still can’t believe our AA team is called the Sod Poodles. I refuse to refer to them as the Soddies or to call the stadium by its paid-for name. Principles, man. But I do love going to that beautiful ballpark on a clear dry night in Amarillo, eating nachos and drinking Texas Tea, and watching our team hit homeruns, steal bases, and dive at the sharp liners on their way to a win.

If the baseball game has been the place to be in Amarillo this summer, tonight and tomorrow night are going to be beyond fantastic.



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