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Sports in Kentucky

Tubby's leaving UK was best for all



Thought provoking, a headline in the Lexington Herald- Leader, Sunday May 4.

UK doesn’t deserve him, but Tubby is a class act.

Orlando Smith was here Derby week to receive an honorary doctorate of humanities from University of Kentucky. Earlier he was inducted into the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame.

Doctor Tubby.

Lexington columnist Merlene Davis would have had Tubby be “more vengeful” and “thumb his nose” at UK’s honorary doctorate.

No, she wouldn’t. Davis, the cancer survivor, was indulging a bit of (well intended) hyper-bluster come from a long-standing loyalty to Tubby and Donna Smith.

But, Ms. Davis did her work, provoked readers to ask: Just how did the University of Kentucky treat Doctor Orlando Smith?

From white to blue collar to no collar the answer is, pretty damned well.

If Jackie Robinson were here, I believe he would be astonishingly proud to see Orlando Smith became Dr. Tubby. As the Brooklyn Dodgers did for Robinson once upon a summer, the University of Kentucky gave Dr. Tubby a pent house platform to do his excellent work. Pay? Near $20 million.

In turn, Tubby compensated his employer and Wildcat Nation very well also. We know the numbers: 26 wins a season and titles and compliance.

Tubby earned his doctorate much as Robinson did, despite critics and in spite of naysayers.

As Robinson championed a part of America too long left out, Tubby embraced his community. The Smiths funded more than 50 projects to help children.

Then came the classic divorce. Mutual agreement.

For this good man’s health, happiness and family, it was simply time to move on and he did that with dignity also.

And so, when he retires from coaching, Dr. Tubby Smith will come home to Kentucky.

Our good fortune.

Brandon Webb

Remarkable the career ascent of Diamondbacks pitching ace Brandon Webb.

His league best start this season has big bonanza written all over it. The Ashland native is 8- 0 start and in line to start the All- Star game; on track for a second Cy Young Award in three seasons; and Diamondback management wants to lock Webb in, extend his contract past 2009.

Life is good.

Tradewater Pirates

If you’re a baseball purist and prices at the gas pump are putting a crimp in summer vacation driving plans, look closer at a state map. Consider a visit to Dawson Springs in Hopkins County and visit Tradewater Park.

The Tradewater Pirates are college and former college players in the Kitty League. The Pirates celebrate their tenth season with a May 30 season opener.

A one-time Pittsburgh Pirates spring training site, scenic Tradewater Park stands next to the river of same name (in Caldwell County). Accommodation? Pennyrile State Resort Park is near by.

Jon Hood to UK

Billy Clyde Gillispie got away from eighth and ninth graders long enough last week to accept a commitment from Madisonville-North senior-to-be Jon Hood.

By all accounts, UK has itself a prize. Wildcat fans can hope Hood becomes to the Wildcats what his look-alike achieved as a freshman at Purdue last season.

Robbie Hummel was rated 59th to 71st as a college prospect, but the 6-7 guard-forward

Robbie Hummel averaged 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, made the All-Big Ten freshman team and helped the Boilermakers to a sterling season.

Hood’s reputation for style also parallels Hummel’s – hardworking, hard-nosed and unselfish. And, UK fans will be ecstatic if Hood does as well as Madisonville predecessors. Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey (’54) and All-SEC Travis Ford (’94).

Mr. Basketball ’09

A media report last week made Madisonville’s Jon Hood ‘heavy favorite’ for Mr. Basketball honors next spring. Committing to Kentucky helps. Barring injury, and considering Hood’s top rivals Dakotah Euton, Aaron Cosby and Chad Jackson are juniors to-be, looks like clear sailing.

Dis ‘N Data

• Western Oregon State softball player Sarah Tucholsky hit a home run the other day against Central Washington U. Rounding first base she suffered a knee injury and could not continue. While officials discussed what to do next two players from the opposing team carried Tucholsky around the bases. Sportsmanship lives. Leave it to women to show us what macho behavior has cost us.

• The NBA Draft is June 26 and there are 89 good reasons why Earl Clark’s decision to return to Louisville is probably the best decision he will ever make. Eighty-nine underclassmen are officially declared for the Draft, according to an NBA release last week.

An NBA release says 17 have hired agents leaving open the route Clark has taken. Go back to school.

Parting Shot

Pittsburgh Pirates Inc., one of Major League Baseball’s socalled small market franchises, continued a strategy straight out of The Natural. Last week the Pirates obtained Jason Michaels from Cleveland hoping he is Roy Hobbs.

And so it goes.

Have a point-of-view you would like to share? Write Bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com

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