Sweet Home baseball: John Best

Sweet Home coach John Best talks to his players this past season. Best, a former all-state baseball player for the Warriors and a 2001 PHS graduate, will be competing in the Oregon West Conference beginning with the 2019 season.


I had to do some "old-school" journalism this afternoon following Philomath's boys soccer game against Yamhill-Carlton.

I was nearly to the parking lot with the game getting ready to start any minute when I realized I had left my smartphone on the kitchen counter. There would be no timing of the halves with my clock app or doing interviews afterward using my digital recording app.

Fortunately, I didn't forget paper and pen and so I had to write out answers to questions during the interviews. It takes a little longer doing it this way and can interrupt the flow of the conversation. Instead of thinking of my next question, I'm just trying to keep up and write down what had just been said.

Of course, this is the way we used to do it when I started out professionally in 1988. We had mini-cassette recorders and even though many of us used them, we also would take notes in long-hand.

A lot of reporters still take notes with pen or pencil today just in case the electronic marvel fails them. Another reason to take notes in long hand is it's much faster to write the story upon your return to the office. In other words, you don''t have to listen to the interview all over again and it saves time on deadline. It's also a good way to just take note of the highlights from an interview so you can quickly find it later on the recording.

For me, I prefer the recording device for accuracy purposes. I usually don't have daily deadlines to deal with and can take a little time making sure I've got everything right. Besides, I've compared recorded interviews with my long-hand notes and they don't always match up.

Of course, I have to sit right down and right the story right away when doing it with long-hand notes. Why? Because I can't read my writing after an hour or two. It's just clear enough with key words in my sloppy shorthand that I can figure out the quote in full. If I wait a day, recalling details of the interview are not as easy.

THURSDAY, OCT. 26: During an interview with fire chief Tom Miller and Lt. Victor Haney this morning about their experiences on the Santa Rosa fires, it naturally crossed my mind if they had any thoughts about that type of devastation coming to our region.

Miller said "the potential is there" for that type of scenario, especially if the winds are high and dry and a fire source materializes, whether it's a downed power line or someone being careless with a slash pile burn.

"It goes back to the Ready, Set, Go! program that we've been implementing with Rich (Saalsaa) and the community," Miller said. "Are you ready for the fire to come, is your building set up and do you have everything packed and ready to go when it's time to leave."

The program's tenets: Be "ready" with preparedness understanding ... be "set" with situational awareness ... and to "go" and act early when a fire starts.

It's something that did happen with Santa Rosa area residents.

"You hear stories about neighbors going ahead of the fire telling people," Miller said. "It's 10:30 at night, you might be in bed, but (they're telling people) 'the fire's coming.' There were people in cars driving off just ahead of the fire.

"There were eyewitness accounts of people's vehicles actually on fire as they're driving away," he added.

FRIDAY, OCT. 27: Looking ahead to the spring of 2019, it should be a fairly interesting baseball season considering the makeup of the new Oregon West Conference.

Philomath, Newport and Stayton will be joined by Sisters, Sweet Home and Woodburn. Last year's 4A baseball rankings included Sisters at No. 3, Sweet Home at No. 5, Philomath at No. 6 and Newport at No. 11. The Warriors reached the semifinals in the playoffs, knocking off Sisters, 6-5, in eight innings along the way. Sweet Home beat Newport in the first round and played eventual champion La Grande pretty close in the quarterfinals.

"It'll be tough baseball-wise. We definitely picked up some good competition over there," PHS coach Levi Webber said.

If you're wondering about Woodburn in 5A, well, the school was the only school in that classification that failed to win a game at 0-24.

The coaches in the league also bring an interesting perspective to the action. First, Sisters coach Steve Hodges is apparently retiring, so that could impact that school's program. And in Sweet Home, local baseball enthusiasts probably know the coach, John David Best.

Best graduated in 2001 and was one of the top players back when the Warriors were competing in the Val-Co League. In fact, he made the Class 3A all-state first team during his senior season as Philomath took the league title.

I reached out to Best at Sweet Home to get his take on going into a league that includes his former high school. Coaching against the Warriors won't be completely new with his past including an assistant position at Crescent Valley (most of those matchups were during summer ball).

"The first few times were very weird. Since then, that feeling has gone away a little but it is always nice coming home or hosting them at your park and seeing familiar faces," Best said.

Philomath and Sweet Home played last spring at the Newport tournament and the Warriors got spanked, 16-2, the team's most lopsided loss of the season. That was the only time Best has coached against Philomath as a head coach.

"It is always fun to coach against quality opponents," he said. "I think that is what will make this league so fun."


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