John Helsley

Got a sneak peek at O’Brate Stadium Thursday.

Oh, O’Brate.

All the anticipation, all the hopes and dreams of what the stadium should and will be, are about to be realized. This grand development at the corner of Hall of Fame and McElroy stands near ready. And it’s going to be glorious.

There’s still work to be done, mostly finishing touches, but O’Brate Stadium will rank among the best in the land for college ballyards. It’s going to be better than many minor league parks.

Yeah, it’s taken a long time for Cowboy baseball to get a much-needed upgrade.

But come March 20, I’m guessing that everyone, longtime and new Cowboys fans alike, will agree that OSU’s newest facility was worth the wait.

Clearly, as a big baseball guy, that’s something I dig.

Here’s some more things I dig. And despise…

THINGS TO DIG

OSU Baseball

Brett Standlee produced a big-time pitching performance Tuesday night at Arizona State, shutting down the No. 8 Sun Devils over seven innings, allowing just one run and fanning eight in the Cowboys’ 2-1 win.

Standlee’s best role was seen as a sort of man for all occasions – that valued hybrid reliever seen so prominently in the big leagues these days – able to pitch multiple innings or high-leverage innings late or even close.

Now, he may even factor as a key starter, at least while OSU’s young pitchers work through the growing stages of their careers. Standlee’s go-to pitch is a cutter with late-breaking movement that produces swings and misses or light contact. Those are great tools in late innings, when you need a strikeout or a double play. But quality starters are valuable, too, of course.

So it’ll be interesting to see how Rob Walton values Standlee best.

Also, just in case you got a little discouraged by the opening games of the season, which saw OSU drop two of three at Grand Canyon U., relax. This is early season baseball, especially when you’re running freshmen to the mound and trotting out new starters at many positions.

Know this, too, Grand Canyon is a sneaky good baseball program.

The Pokes will be just fine, as they always are under Josh Holliday, building and improving and finally peaking in May and June, when it matters most.

Closing Time?

The OSU men’s team hosts Round 2 of Bedlam basketball Saturday. The first meeting didn’t go so well, but this meeting in GIA offers hope, as does the remainder of the season.

January was a forgettable month in the Big 12 for the Cowboys – if fans could only forget that 0-7 run – but February has been better, at 3-3 so far. If the Pokes had played to a .500 mark in January, not all that unreasonable with a healthy Isaac Likekele, they’d surely be an NCAA bubble team right now.

But then, neither happened.

Still, all is not lost.

The Cowboys could make the Postseason NIT.

And there’s value in that, for a team that needs every young player, from Likekele to Yor Anei to Avery Anderson and the Boone twins, to continue to grow together in advance of next season.

OSU currently sits at 13-13 overall, and while a .500 record is no longer a requirement for an NIT bid, a solid finish would boost appeal.

The Cowboys could legit win four of their final five. The coming days are the most challenging, with Oklahoma visiting, followed by a quick-turn trip to Kansas on Monday.

But after that, the Cowboys host Iowa State and Kansas State, and finish the regular season at Texas. All are winnable.

THINGS I DESPISE

Injuries

Athletes get hurt. Happens. It’s to be expected.

That doesn’t mean they’re just to be shrugged off.

It’s been a notable year for injuries at OSU, with Tylan Wallace the most prominent producer lost. Spencer Sanders missed key weeks of the football season, too.

Isaac Likekele didn’t get hurt, but suffered a debilitating illness that zapped him of 17 pounds – 17 pounds! – and the Cowboys season swooned while he was in recovery. Now Chris Harris, one of the youngsters who could benefit from an extended season, has been shut down for the rest of the season due to a knee injury requiring surgery.

Jim Littell’s Cowgirls have played most of the season without Mariam Gnanou, and at key junctures without Natasha Mack and Kassidy De Lapp.

Injuries suck. Just sayin’.

Transfers

OK, I’m a boomer.

Not by much, coming in at the tail end of the boomer generation.

But I’ve got boomer values, things like discipline and toughness and a will to improve one’s status through competition, not through greener pastures.

So I’m not down with all the transferring going on in college sports. In special circumstances, sure, athletes have real reasons to change schools.

But at the current rate? No.

It’s harmful to the schools. It’s harmful, often, to the players, who find that the grass is not always greener. And it’s harmful to fan bases, and lest we forget, fans are the only reason games are played. And yes, we have forgotten that. Without fans, the only football games being played would take place in vacant fields or on blacktops.

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