Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

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 andhellip; 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.