Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heisman vote redux

Mack Brown, if other voters like me would not have let two late-season games sway us, your point on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday would have never come up.

Brown, head football coach at the University of Texas, told the nationally syndicated sports radio talk show host that his quarterback, Vince Young, deserves the 2005 Heisman Trophy won by the now-disgraced Reggie Bush.

Bush was the center point on NCAA sanctions against USC in June. It was announced he received many "improper benefits" including hotel stays and rent-free home for his family, and a free use of a limo and a new suit at, of all things, the 2005 Heisman Trophy presentation weekend in New York.

It was also revealed the NCAA found Bush ineligible by December 2004, seven months prior to the start of his Heisman-winning season.

"I think you have to go back and really give that choice to the Heisman Trust," Brown told Patrick. "If they take it away, I think Vince should be awarded the trophy . . . Vince was second in the voting, so even if they re-voted I would like to see Vince get it. At this point it's irrelevant because the Heisman Trust has not decided to take it away."

Young should have won it anyway. I blew it that year and others did too. At the end of the season, Bush had one of those remarkable games that sway voters with a five-touchdown game against mediocre Fresno State. It didn't help that Young had a so-so game against Texas A&M in the last game before the voting deadline.

Bush, the object of a love-fest from ESPN, was already in a slight lead. Those two games only cemented it. I wrote that I voted for Bush over Young, but didn't feel good about it.

I really didn't in the Rose Bowl when Young staged one of the most phenomenal games ever by a college player in the national spotlight, running and passing for more than 200 yards each in leading the Longhorns to the national crown over USC. Bush was a non-factor.

What is the right thing to do? Take the Heisman back from a known cheater. And give it to Young, or just vacate it entirely.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moises, one year later

It's been just more than one year since Moises Salazar, the young boy from Belize, was released to go home after a life-saving surgery in Amarillo. He had been run over by a truck in an accident in his home country and the medical facilities and know-how was not advanced enough in Belize to save his life.

I had written this column and this column on him last year and the unselfish work of those in Amarillo, from surgeons to teachers, from nurses to strangers. Few did as much as Tim Tam, a local minister who heads up the Word at Work, a mission outreach in Belize and the one responsible for getting Moises to Amarillo.

Tam reports in an e-mail the continued remarkable progress of Moises:

"August 20, 2010 was the one year anniversary of Moises' return to Belize. During the first week of August I paid him a visit at his home. When we got to their house no one was home but soon we saw them coming down the road. All the children were running at top speed, and Moises was way out in front, a picture of health."

Moises also wrote a letter that he updated all on his current physical status:

Dear Friends,

I am Lazarus converted to Moises. That Moises which God took out from the tomb and which he gave life again. Because of God, I saw the light of the day. I came back to breathe the air. I saw the trees. Thanks to my god I saw the day and thanks to Him I knew all those great persons and all those friends.

Thanks to God I got to know all those nurses that treated me in the best way. I give thanks to God for putting Mr. Tim Tam and Lisa that came from far away to help me when I was dying in the hospital. When all those persons close the doors, God sent them. God sent them so I could receive a new hope of life so they could carry me to the United States so I could live and so I could make new friends.

I ask God that one day I could return to the United States so I could hug Lisa who was like my mother, Mary Barlow who was like my aunty, and Mr. Tim Tam who was like my father. I remember when Mr. Tim and I used to play games in the hospital now that God gave me the gift to live again. I wish that Mr. Tim and Mary Barlow were here so I could hug them. Now that I am courageous I ask God for an opportunity to return to Amarillo, Texas, so I could eat all those delicious foods that they gave me and I could hug all my friends that were there in my help and so I could go fishing. I miss you all.


Moises Salazar

Friday, August 27, 2010

This will fire you up

Today is Christmas in August, the official first day of high school football. I could write about the importance of this tradition to players and communities, coaches and parents.

I could write about how this is a rite of passage, how fast it's here and then it's gone. How the memories stay with those on the field for years and years.

Or I could just have you click on this Kenny Chesney video. After watching this, I'm ready to put on the pads.

Big bond happening to the south

There's always been a bit of competition between sister cities Amarillo and Lubbock when it comes to the public sector. Sorta of what one does, the other will attempt to follow.

Red light cameras, of course, being an exception.

But the Lubobck ISD could be getting a big face-lift if voters in November approve a $198 million bond issue. The Lubbock school board accepted the recommendation of a citizens committee this week to call for an election that trustees say will improve every school in that district without raising taxes, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has reported.

One of the biggest items among the recommendations — and certain to be the most emotional for voters — is $34 million to build two new elementary schools that each would consolidate two existing schools.

The new schools are part of the school and academic improvements part of the bond package, which totals $106 million and makes up about 53 percent of the bond package. The rest of the improvements include general capital improvements and school expansions and renovations.

Another part of the bond package that is likely to be controversial is expansion of high school cafeterias to accommodate the students who now go off-campus to have lunch. High school lunch periods would be closed, and students would stay on campus to eat.

The arts and athletics part of the package includes new elementary school playgrounds, renovations to middle school and high school athletic facilities, renovations to Lowrey Field (let's hope that includes a new press box in place of the decaying one) and making the stadium compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and renovations to all four high school auditoriums.

The final part of the bond package is instructional technology.

The aggressive manner the school district has paid down bond indebtedness in recent years is the reason the new bonds can be issued without raising taxes, school board president James Arnold said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Andthe former nerd is...

Ryan Seacrest. That was the dorky kid whose picture was posted Wednesday. Several of you got it. A few cheated and got it. But like they say, if you're not cheating, you're not trying.

OK, so I wasn't short-changed

Has this ever happened to you?

I went through the drive-thru Tuesday morning at the Hardback Coffee at Hasting's on Georgia. I ordered a coffee with cream -- $1.84 with tax. Being the obscenely rich person that I am, I paid with a $20. As I was checking my change while leaving, I noticed only $13 or so. I had been shorted a $5.

An honest mistake, and so I pulled back into the parking lot and went inside with my change and receipt. No problem, they said. They apologized and gave me a $5. Well, that was easy.

Then when I got in my car, I saw an extra $5 that had fallen between the passenger seat and the console. They didn't short-change me after all. Hey, a walk on the wild side.

Now this is the point in the movie when the little deveil sits on one shoulder, and the little angel sits on the other. Who to listen to? What to do? Actually, I was governed by only one credo: Do the right thing.

So Wednesday morning, I walked in and ordered a coffee before work. I give the manager the extra $5 and explain what happened Tuesday when I thought I was short-changed. And you know what he did.


Can you believe it? In the back of my naive mind, I'm thinking he would have said, "Oh, Mr. Beilue, it's so gratifying to still find a honest person in this world. You keep the $5. As a matter of fact, the coffee is on us, and here's another $5 for being so honest."

But he just flat took the money, and thanked me and said that happens sometimes.

Actually, I had a mini-speech prepared if he refused the money or didn't remember the incident. But it wasn't necessary.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who is this celebrity nerd?

I will give you the rest of the day. No, I will give you the rest of the year. No, wait, I will give you until 2015 to guess what current celebrity this is. You'll never get it without a hint. So I will throw one your way. A big hint.

American Idol.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not a no-hitter feel

I came back from a "Meet the Rebels" function at Tascosa Monday night around 8 p.m. and turned on the Rangers-Twins game. It was the fourth inning and the Rangers led, 2-0. That's good.

With disappointing Rich Harden making another start off the DL, you take what you can get. An inning later, the end-of-the-inning graphic showed something that caught my eye. He hadn't given up a hit.

But he had been sloppy good. It had taken him 35 pitches to get through the first four hitters, though none had gotten a hit. He had already walked three and his pitch count was getting up, way up, which is not unusual for Harden. There was no way he was going the distance, no-hitter or not.

In other words, an effective, but not dominant performance against one of the hottest teams in the American League. If Harden had given up a hit in the first inning, I would have been thinking this is a pretty good performance from a guy the Rangers could really use.

But as far as no-hit drama, it just wasn't there.

After he issued his fifth walk with two outs in the seventh and his pitch count was at 111, Ron Washington did about the only thing he could do -- take him out. Some clueless fans booed taking Harden out, but they weren't going to risk Harden's arm.

So Matt Harrison and Darren O'Day got four outs in order and the Rangers to the ninth with a 4-0 lead. The ball went to closer Neftali Feliz. It was weird. The last multi-pitcher no-hitter in the Major Leagues was in 2003.

If Feliz doesn't give up a hit, do the Rangers go into a no-hitter celebration? Who do they jump up and down on? Feliz? He's the pitcher on the mound. Harden? He did the bulk of the no-hit work, but he's in the dugout.

All-star catcher Joe Mauer made it a moot point, though. He lined an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a hit with one out in the ninth.

Owner Nolan Ryan was in the park. The man has thrown seven of them, most in history, and been close on about eight others. He could relate to the near-miss, but when Nolan came close, he was on the mound.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First day of last day of school

Twelve years ago, his mother and I did what millions of parents were doing that morning. It was a big day, a huge day. It was the first day of kindergarten.

Chad was scrubbed down and ready to go. Our neighbors' little girl was also starting kindergarten. We went outside and took pictures of the two of them on a warm August morning. Hannah and Chad stood at attention with goofy grins.

We drove him to school, met the teacher again, and waved bye. There were no tears, unless they were from his momma. First day of school. A rite of passage.

Let's go from 1998 to 2010. Chad got up at 7:10 a.m., on his own, no less. He asked his mother if she had an extra paper folder. She did. He asked his dad if he had $2 to round out enough money for lunch. He did.

His mom had already headed to school. He showered and poured himself some Cheerios. He watched "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" on TBS and then went to warm up his pick-up.

"See ya," he said as I came in from feeding the dog.

"See ya. Have a good --"

But he had already closed the door.

No pictures. No Spider Man backpack. No dropping him off to his class.

No doubt about it, the first day of being a senior is not quite the same.