Best Beat Writer 2000 | Gerry Fraley | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
One of the great things the Internet brings to sports geeks is the chance to evaluate the beat writers for your favorite teams. You can read the work of sports reporters in other cities and see if they broke news first, if your hometown paper is just re-reporting something another paper already ran. And all our Net surfing has just confirmed our respect for Gerry Fraley. Even though Fraley is no longer the full-time Rangers beat guy--the very good Evan Grant holds that spot--Fraley still manages to bring the most insight, knowledge, and insider info to his stories. His clipped style is a joy to read, and his takes are always based in fact and not hype (for a long time, he has been the only writer, national or local, to consistently point out Ivan Rodriguez's defensive and game-management deficiencies). Simply put, when we see his byline, we read, even it's a minor-league report or a note from Dallas Cowboys training camp.

There is no one in sports more annoying than Patrick Roy, goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche--primarily because he has been anointed by the national media as the best money goalie in the NHL. This year, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, Stars goalie Eddie Belfour proved that it was he, not Roy, who was the best when a series was on the line, beating Roy 3-2 (just as Belfour's team beat Roy's in Game 7 during last year's playoffs 4-1). Before this year's series began, Belfour made what to the East Coast media idiots was a startling proclamation: He said that he was as good a goalie as Roy. (A true statement if ever an athlete uttered one: Belfour not only was the defending Stanley Cup champion goaltender, but also had arguably his best regular season ever. His .919 save percentage was a career best, even though he faced about 200 more shots than the year before.) Ten minutes before Game 7 was over, the Reunion Arena fans began a chant that signaled they too agreed with Belfour's assessment of himself: "Ed-die's bet-ter...Ed-die's bet-ter." It was a wonderful f-you directed toward the overrated, head-bobbing Roy (who has now lost four straight Game 7s and allowed 16 goals in those games), and a nice public appreciation of the Stars' best clutch player.

Really, what other choice is there? We love Don Nelson, but more for his don't-give-a damn attitude and freaky X-and-O decisions (Shawn Bradley covering Muggsy Bogues) than his "coaching." He's a fun coach, but he isn't much of a professional. Ken Hitchcock, however, exemplifies both words. He's a pro: He handles the media, impressionable rookies, and irritable star players in perfect fashion. He'll laugh and joke and aw-shucks reporters, and he'll be a hard-ass jerk in the locker room when need be. Even if you don't agree with his style, you can't argue with his results. Yeah, he never played in the Bigs, blah blah blah, but he has taken two very different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals the past two years. His teams never give up, play best in close games, and almost never get out-coached. His constant line-juggling can make players tense, but he also sends a clear, important message: On a Ken Hitchcock-coached team, it's your play, not your name, that determines how much ice time you see.

You got a better choice? Tim Cowlishaw? As a columnist, he's a good beat writer. Frank Luksa? Last year's winner is better writing once a week than most folks are writing every day, but we feel guilty giving the award to a part-timer. Kevin Sherrington? Good writer, but he hasn't completed a full season yet. Kevin B. Blackistone? Sorry, the pretentious "B." disqualifies him. Jim Reeves or Gil LeBreton? Good, solid columnists, but they suffer from the same thing all the above names do--too often, their column is only as interesting as its subject matter. When we see Galloway's picture, we always read on, whether he's ripping the Cowboys or praising...well, he doesn't praise, but you get the point. The test of a columnist is whether he engenders passion in the reader, and Galloway always makes that mark.

In a meaningless September game, after the Texas Rangers got behind early, manager Johnny Oates decided to manufacture some history. He had utility infielder Scott Sheldon play all nine positions, including pitcher, in one game, becoming only the third player in major-league history to do so. Then Oates chastised those who criticized his move as tricked-up. (Pinch-hitter Jeff Liefer, who struck out against Sheldon, rightly said, "I don't understand the logic behind it.") "For a guy that doesn't have a lot of major league service, he can say how many thousands of men have played professional baseball and only three have done it," Oates said, confusingly. "It's something to be proud of." No, Johnny O., a winning season is something to be proud of.

Surrounded by 400 rolling acres of the Las Colinas hillsides, this is hands down the best golf course in Dallas. This Tournament Players Course hosts the PGA Tour's GTE Byron Nelson Classic, the only tour event to honor a golfer. It opened in 1986 and is a cart-only golf course. But it doesn't matter to you anyway, because you can't golf here. It's only for hotel guests of the Four Seasons and members. Hotel guests pay $142 plus tax per person per round.

Fans will forever be upset that to acquire Finley, the Dallas Mavericks traded future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. At the time, the trade made no sense--you don't give up a superstar for a blossoming player. But that shouldn't keep fans from appreciating what Finley is doing. (Because folks are quick to mock Don Nelson's moves as general manager, signing Finley to a long-term deal three years ago also deserves props.) For starters, look at Finley's numbers last year: more than 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists a game. Of course, that doesn't speak to his total value to the team. He plays tenacious defense and he is intense and focused but isn't so self-absorbed that he's insufferable. Look for a breakout year from the All-Star, if for no other reason because look-a-like Chris Rock has been seen wearing a Finley jersey.

We've tried the downtown Y, the Larry North hot-bod shops, the gym-rat dives. None has satisfied us as completely as Premier. It's got a bit of everything you'd need: great training staff, the latest in workout equipment, a pool that's never too full to find a lane, and the latest-craze fitness classes (spinning, chisel, that yoga-stretch thing that starts with a "p"). There's a nice mix of average-looking folks so you won't feel embarrassed, as well as eye candy, both male and female. There's even a celeb sighting or two possible (it's where Dennis Rodman worked out during his brief Mavericks stint; you'll sometimes catch Mark Cuban playing in a pick-up game; several radio dorks from The Merge Radio Project work out there; and so on). Go see and pump for yourself.

No question, the man is a freak, a cross between Frankenstein, a frat boy, and Frankie Avalon. He says things that would make a goober shudder--like offering All-Pro asshole Bob Knight a job with the Dallas Mavericks as soon as Knight was fired from Cuban's beloved Indiana University. Nevertheless, in the words of an ancient sea chantey, "Only a loon could save the Mavs. Arrgghh." The Mavericks were the worst professional team in the '90s and a recurring joke on late-night talk shows and in Reunion Arena. Cuban's fantasy-league style may not have won the admiration of fellow owners--he throws money around like Highland Park teens at NorthPark--but he has done the seemingly impossible in making Dallas excited about basketball again. Well, as excited as a town can get with a team that includes Shawn Bradley on its roster. But what do you expect? Cuban's just a miracle worker, not a god or something.
It's not uncommon for well-known people, when they get in trouble with the law, to start playing the "Do you know who I am" game. The hope is that the police officer will then recognize the movie star or athlete or politician and say, "Oh, my, I'm so sorry, sir or madam. Please continue your illegal activity unabated. And, hell, take my gun. You may find use for it." Needless to say, that rarely works. So when Eddie Belfour was busted for assault, resisting arrest, and general crazy-ass behavior at The Mansion hotel late in the hockey season, he rightfully tried a new tactic: the straight-ahead bribe. Not just any bribe. Not some WNBA, watered-down sport-type girlie bribe, either. To forget the whole thing and undo the 'cuffs, he offered the cops one billion dollars. Now, since the officers said he was, you know, schnockered, they took the bribe as less-than-serious. Either way, whether he had his wits about him or not, something tells us Eddie's contract has some kinda hidden jail bonus in it if he can offer that kind of scratch.

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