He's Baaack

That lovable jackass from Philly returns. Oh, joy.

Old habits die hard. Sometimes not at all. It was night, the U-Haul trailer was bouncing behind my car and I could barely make out the neon skyline when the bile began to bubble. A bad sort of déjà vu. I pushed it down, forced the ill will back to the recesses of my gut.

This time around is going to be different, I told myself. That is my resolution, for us to have more fun, for us to maybe even get along.

I should probably backtrack, because the majority of you likely have no idea what's going on--not unlike myself, on most days.

OK. The point. I used to work here. About a year ago I left under the cover of darkness and returned to my native Philadelphia with what was left of my sanity. The reasons were personal. You may have heard otherwise--scuttlebutt about how Dallas and I disagreed with each other. Who am I to argue? It would be disingenuous of me to say the first go-around was pleasant. No, it may not have been the root cause of my departure, but when I fled this godless town, no tears were shed, I can tell you that.

See, but here's the thing. It wasn't you; it was me. I made little effort to assimilate to your ways. I didn't drink Shiner or get plastic surgery or even put contractions in words that really didn't need them. And what kind of tact is that?

So, like I said, I'm fixin' to polish our relationship, to really smooth over the rough spots--a fresh start for us all.

But, friend, I don't mind telling you I'm a bit worried. I've been surveying the local sports landscape, and it looks a bit barren. I figure this has to be similar to what MacArthur dealt with as he waded through the warm Philippine waters in 1945, a brilliant man returning to a tattered land.

A systematic review of the way I see things follows. And if I slip and things get out of hand, remember, I take pride in the words, "Ich bin ein Dallaser."


Dallas Stars

Adopting what can only be called the Gonzalez Principle, former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock tore out of Big D with smoke spewing from those ham-hock feet of his and headed for Philly. His loss, right? More chicken-fried steak for us. Hoooeee.

The new guy, Dave Tippett, inspires less confidence. He'd enthuse me more if I knew who the hell he was. Lots of other new faces in the room, too. Sounds like a combustible mix, but what do I know? Maybe Mike Modano will lift them as only he can, push them right through the season and on into the playoffs and then toward some of that crazy-looking hardware. If not, they'll probably start disassembling the whole thing before too long. Incidentally, does anyone else wonder how Hicks can cry about money when he has not one but two pro sports franchises?

But what do we care? We're Texans, and hockey is little more than sustenance to fuel us while we're waiting for the Pokes to end their embargo on good football. Which reminds me...


Dallas Cowboys

Now, these guys didn't like me much during my first tour of duty. They stuck me up in the "auxiliary press box" during home games, which is really Cowboys code for "the holding pen," where they lump the enfeebled and the geeky. It's like the scene in Animal House when Neidermeyer maneuvers Pinto toward the nerd couch.

"I'd like you to meet Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton. Now, just grab a seat, and don't be shy about helping yourselves to punch and cookies."

They made me write with a circle of paper and a safety pencil. They denied many of my interview requests. In general, they treated me like a bad case of crabs. I think a lot of it had to do with my obnoxious East Coast attie-tood. That, or their priggish elitism. I dunno.

Whatever, it was ugly, like this city's soulless heart. Oops. Sorry.

Anyway, all that's behind us, right? And the team is getting better, yeah? I love the additions the 'Boys made on defense, and I was furious when my beloved but star-crossed Eagles took yet another &%$# cornerback instead of Antonio Bryant, the Cowboys' smooth rookie wide receiver. The kid is sure to be a star.

General Jerry's biggest problem? Still the quarterback. Someone told me there's a battle between Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson, but that had to be a joke. It had to be.


Texas Rangers

This needs to be a column of its own. I don't have enough space left to get into the sordid details of what has transpired at the Ballpark--or baseball as a whole--since I left. Look for a piece before season's end, if somehow I can stomach the stench of the carcass they've left rotting in the Arlington sun.

There is one question that can't wait, though. Is Rafael Palmeiro really in a Viagra commercial, or did that come to me in a hilarious but twisted dream?


Dallas Mavericks

Ah, we've risen to the top. Not only is hoops my favorite sport, but more specifically the Mavs give all us God-fearing Texans the best shot we have at a championship. Hoooeee.

Let's see, when I left, the Mavs had won 50 games and a first-round playoff series. Last year, while I was gone, they won 50 games and a first-round playoff series. Doesn't appear to be much progress there, but you can't blame the effort. Don Nelson and Mark Cuban made a good trade when they swapped underachieving Juwan Howard for Raef LaFrentz and parts.

But there is work still to be done. The bane of my existence, Shawn Bradley, still sees too much time, in that he sees time at all. Maybe the Zo Mourning trade will prove to be more than rumor.

In any case, the Mavs have a bigger obstacle on their way to a title. Bigger, even, than Michael Finley's maddening reluctance to play sound defense on the regular. Ironically, their biggest obstacle is also their chief benefactor: one Mark Cuban.

He has become the madman that his ubiquitous, mischievous grin always betrayed him to be. Running on the court, screaming at officials, working at Dairy Queen--those were merely innocent precursors to the unfortunate Dmagazine incident, wherein he threatened to slice the fucking nuts (his words, not mine) from the person of senior editor Tim Rogers. Why? Because Rogers, a bastard after my own heart, suggested he could print the name of Cuban's fiancee.

Somewhere, for emergency reasons, the Mavs' public relations department surely keeps one of those nifty white jackets with the arms that latch in back. Just in case.

No doubt the voices talk to him now, scream at him, demand that he defend his woman. Tiffany Stewart, that's her name.

Would you look at that? I've gone and done it now. A mortal sin: throwing her name in print. My manhood is in danger.

That's surely 'nough fer now, podner. More next week. Hoooeee!

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