I’m tapping this out on a sun-splashed, whale-spouted Thanksgiving morning, thankful that life is good enough that occasionally I can indulge myself with thoughts of sports.
If you’re a fan of the Del Norte Warriors and our youth football teams, you’ve probably noticed that life has gotten a little better on The Triplicate’s sports pages. Thanks to a couple of new press units, we now have the capacity to print color sports photos in every issue. We’ve already put this to good use as Del Norte’s fall sports seasons were winding down, and soon the winter seasons will provide new opportunities. In issues such as today when there’s no local sports stories, the color will still be there.
It’s one more way to showcase the work of our photographers, Bryant Anderson and Rick Postal. When they can’t be on the scene, the newspaper has gotten some huge assists from parents of athletes and other supporters of local teams. Most recently, John Pritchett’s photos of Del Norte’s playoff football game in the Bay Area appeared in the Tuesday paper.
You could call Pritchett a longtime contributor, considering that he used to be the editor of The Triplicate.
As for the current editor, I’ll be watching ESPN at 4 p.m. today when the University of Oregon tries to take another step into the unchartered territory of a national championship run. Defeat Arizona tonight and the arch-rival Oregon State Beavers next week in Corvallis, and the Ducks will be playing for all the marbles come January.
No matter what happens from here, it’s been fun to see my alma mater atop the national polls for the last few weeks — the Ducks have never before been ranked No. 1 in football.
I even raised an index finger to a few Cal Bear fans when I joined some family members in Berkeley for the Oregon game a couple of weeks ago. Despite being in hostile territory, the gesture seemed safe. It wasn’t the middle finger, after all, and about a third of those in attendance were Duck fans.
It was a surprising nail-biter of a game, as Cal held an Oregon team averaging almost 55 points a game to 15. But the Bears managed just 13 points so the Ducks got out alive.
I harbor only one other sports rooting interest as intensely as that for the Duck football team. But the Portland Trail Blazers have little to be thankful for on this holiday.
The Blazers are Oregon’s only big-time professional sports franchise. Growing up in Salem, I’ve been a fan since the team joined the National Basketball Association in 1970.
They even won a championship in 1977, the first year they made the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Blazers are probably best known for making disastrous decisions when it comes to drafting new talent.
In 1984, they drafted brittle-boned Sam Bowie when they could have taken a fellow named Michael Jordan. Bowie had a short, injury-riddled career (he once broke a leg during warmups), while Jordan … did better.
Four years ago, the Blazers owned the No. pick in the draft and had to choose between two extraordinarily talented college players. The guy they didn’t select, Kevin Durant, has already turned into one of the best players in the NBA.
The guy they did select just underwent his second micro-fracture surgery, a procedure so serious that many players never return to the court, and those who do tend to have diminished talent. Greg Oden may never play another game for the Blazers — he missed all of his first season and most of his second.
I feel sorry for him, even though the Blazers have already made him a multi-millionaire. I feel sorry for myself as a frustrated Portland fan. But the downers are part of what makes sports intriguing — there are no guarantees of success, no sure scripts to be followed.
Which is why a championship for the Ducks is a sweet prospect to ponder on Thanksgiving morning.