Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Along about the time America's hockey moms were learning about Joe the Plumber, Dallas' hockey fans were introduced to Fabian the Fantastic. At least, he was for a minute. In his first NHL game back in November, the forward produced a hat trick—that's right, three goals—to lead the Stars to their first victory of the season. But before you could say "How Swede It Is!," the magic vanished. Only the third player in hockey history to debut with a hat-trick lid-lifter, Brunnstrom scored only 14 more goals the rest of the season to help the Stars not make the playoffs. Call it a case of premature adulation.
If his teammates would've played anywhere near his performance in 2008, the Cowboys might have lived up to their Super Bowl hype instead of pratfalling their way to 9-7. An 11th-round afterthought in the 2005 NFL Draft, Ware has blossomed and matured into one of the league's best defensive players. A stand-up linebacker who beats bigger, stronger linemen with a dazzling combo of speed and agility, Ware last season recorded 20 sacks, forced six fumbles and generally caused havoc on a defense that otherwise wholly underachieved. How good is Ware? He had a sack in 14 of last season's 16 games, was an NFL MVP candidate and was named the league's sixth-best player in a recent ESPN poll. A Cowboys star with nary an arrest, divisive romance or accidental overdose. What a concept.
It was a long road for the Texas Rangers' general manager to make it from 20-something punch line to savvy veteran brainiac. But what do ya know? Here he is. The same guy who traded Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez to the San Diego Padres for Adam Eaton and who dealt John Danks to the Chicago White Sox for Brandon McCarthy is suddenly giving his team a competitive advantage with his crafty maneuvering. Because of Daniels, the Rangers have the best farm system in baseball. His decision to allow shortstop Elvis Andrus to skip AAA right to the Rangers was genius. And his junk-pile pick-ups of Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel and Darren O'Day were so shrewd they have the Rangers flirting with the playoffs for the first time in his regime. Daniels has taken a beating. Time for him to take a bow.
For the first time since moving from the Cotton Bowl and erasing its Dallas Burn tattoo, FC Dallas has a recognizable, identifiable face of the franchise. Cooper, whose dad was a goalie for the Dallas Tornado back in the day, is the future of Dallas soccer. He's one of ours, growing up playing in Dallas' famed youth programs, starring for Solar Club. Don't look now, but he's all grown up into a Major League Soccer All-Star. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he's built more like a running back, and brute strength is a part of his game, part of the reason he started this season with twice as many goals and shots as any teammate. Dallas' local Player of the Year while at Jesuit in '03, he's played with Manchester United in England and has a chance—a chance—to finally make professional soccer popular out in the 'burbs .
Given Greg Williams' departure from The Hardline, the most consistently entertaining/informative show on the radio belongs to George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith, weekdays 5:30-10 a.m. on The Ticket. It's about sports. It's about life. It's about nothing. It's about everything in between. It's—most important—about domination. Dunham and Miller are at this point basically lapping the field in Arbitron ratings. Every hour their show attracts twice as many listeners as the offerings of 103.3 FM ESPN and 105.3 The Fan. Combined. Over the years they've developed the perfect recipe for morning radio with tasty pinches of interviews, topical headlines via "Muse in the News" and heady, though sometimes homerish takes across our sports smorgasbord. Some of us set our watches by "Ladies Day," Thursday mornings in Gordo's Corner.
Channel 8's Dale Hansen may have pushed our policy on term limits had his creepy love affair with weatherman Pete Delkus not deteriorated from witty to warped. But then again, Babe is quickly becoming the Cowboys voice in this town. Not only is he an insightful analyst on Dallas' radio broadcasts and the host of the weekly TV show with head coach Wade Phillips, he also conducted the most provocative interview of the year—his May hotel sit-down with Tony Romo in which the quarterback generated a stir with his thoughts on leadership, a possible Super Bowl and now-ex Jessica Simpson. Like he was as a career backup quarterback in the NFL, Babe isn't flashy, just fundamental. Plus, he has more hair on his chin than Hansen has on his head.