Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Don't get us wrong. We love quite a number of Dallas' outdoor boutiques, the ones selling full lines of Patagonia fashions and some of the coolest shoes known to man. But when it comes time to spring for a serviceable sleeping bag or a backpack, REI's prices and selection are the ones to beat. A few years back we bought some first-rate North Face bags, and nobody could top this warehouse-sized, outdoor category killer. And that didn't include the 10 percent year-end refund, which goes along with the co-op-style way REI does business. Some of the fine, high-end outfitting stores in the area are more likely to meet the demands of back-country winter hikers or rated mountaineers. But for all-around outfitting and camping stuff for the whole family, REI gets the nod.
How unimaginative, right? How formulaic, even? See, you've been reading the Morning Yawn too much. Finley, the franchise's most identifiable player for years, wins the award, but not for the obvious reasons. Not because he averaged 20.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a Maverick last season. Not because he makes slick commercials. Not because he's constantly on the trading block. No, he wins because he was the lone Mavericks representative on the underachieving, embarrassing U.S. squad that inexplicably failed to medal at the World Championships in Indianapolis--a team that lost to Argentina, Yugoslavia and Spain. Hey, when you get punked by Pepe Sanchez and still show your face in public, you ought to win some sort of award. Perhaps he just needed the steadying hand of his coach. Which brings us to...
Lone Star Park's live Thoroughbred racing season is painfully short, but you can always get a horse-racing fix or just blow many hours and many dollars at the track's simulcast racing restaurant and bar. With two giant video screens and 175 small tabletop televisions, the place looks a bit like a Las Vegas-style sports book. It's open just about all year, and you can bet on tracks across the United States, depending on which ones are open. Racing form sheets from the various tracks are for sale, so besides the smell of horse shit, it's almost as good as being at a real live track during racing season. The restaurant offers passable food, so entertainment during a late lunch is a good and legitimate excuse to go. Plus, gambling is fun. And always profitable. Trust us.
Most of the stars from the Super Bowl glory days have retired or faded, leaving but one player at Valley Ranch who plays the game at a level few attain. Offensive lineman Larry Allen, all 6-foot-3, 335 pounds of him, continues to dominate the opposition like no one else in the league. And he's living, breathing proof that it isn't just the big-name colleges that provide NFL talent. All-Pro Allen came to the Cowboys via Oroville, California's, Butte Junior College and Division II Sonoma State. Besides all that, he's got some sort of Fu Manchu facial-hair thing working this year. Which is sweet.
Once again, Mike Modano was the biggest star on the Stars, a team that woefully underachieved. He played great two-way hockey (offense and defense, for those who don't follow this great game, and woe is you) and could still dominate a game with his speed and strength. But to our minds, the man who played the best hockey--when he was on the ice--was backup goalie Marty Turco. Sure, being the backup goalie is like being the backup quarterback; everyone loves you until you become No. 1. But Turco didn't just put up great numbers (15-6-2, with a save percentage at .920 and a goals-against-average of 2.09) against bad teams, like so many backups do. He had wins against Colorado, San Jose, Chicago, Phoenix and other playoff teams. He gave the franchise hope for the future. And when Tom Hicks "suggested" that Eddie Belfour be played down the stretch so that the team could make the playoffs and make more money (oh, it must be true, you know in your heart it must be true), Turco didn't bitch. He just bided his time until the team told Belfour to puck off. The mark of a classy guy, one who should help this team for years to come.
OK, their team logos do resemble each other, but is this the sort of nonsense our court systems are supposed to waste time with? The soccer team, the Dallas Sidekicks, has long had this cute little soccer ball wearing a cowboy hat and a bandanna that looks like something the old B-Western bad guys wore to hide their faces. The arena football team, the Dallas Desperados, has a guy on the logo who also has his face covered by a bandanna. So, natch, the Sidekicks called the lawyers. Not the sort of stuff that's likely to be aired on Court TV, but a good example of the competitive nature of Dallas' pro franchises.