Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Sports columnist Gerry Fraley is everything the city columnists for The Dallas Morning News are not: fiercely opinionated, wry, relevant and readable. He is unafraid of taking on local icons--for years, he wrote that local legend Pudge Rodriguez was overrated--and he always provides facts to back up his takes. His "Just Venting" column, which runs on Page 2 of the DMN's sports section, is something we look forward to reading every Tuesday. Our favorite gibe yet: "Guard Larry Allen threw the first no-hitter of the season in the Cowboys' exhibition opener Saturday." Maybe you had to see the game to appreciate it, but we blew coffee out of our nose on that one. Which is a compliment.
We could suggest lots of places where they like skaters, where they even charge them admission. But what the hell is that? It's not skating unless somebody in a blue uniform chases you. Grab your board and get downtown! Start at the Masonic Temple at Harwood and Young streets for a backside nosegrind on the long sloping ledges in front; head two blocks downhill to City Hall plaza for a nollie heelflip in front of the mayor; kick-flip across the police memorial and past the fake cows; wind up at the best of the best, the front steps of The Dallas Morning News at 508 Young St. The railings there are perfect for a nice long feeblegrind or two: That's the most you'll get in before about 50 rent-a-cops come charging out the door with big-ass shields, helmets and baseball bats. Your board is your weapon, dude!
Tightfisted locals who carp about the upgrading of Dallas' scruffy municipal courses would probably have heart failure if they saw what Euless calls public golf. City-owned-and-run Texas Star is without a doubt one of the best munies in the nation, with fees almost to match. In Euless, every man (and woman) is king, which in this old game means mirror-smooth Bent grass greens, doting attendants at the clubhouse and a layout with some serious pizzazz. Cut from the Trinity River lowlands, the 7,000-yard Texas Star course wanders through untouched native grasses and dense oak forests. These "native areas" are in play on nearly every hole, and off limits for ball hawking should you decide to visit them. Add an abundance of picturesque water hazards and you have what professional course critics call "resistance to scoring." In other words, bubba, bring a buttload of balls.
Chest-deep in a swimming pool, no one can see you sweat. No one can see the flab flopping around either, which is another benefit of water aerobics, the fastest-growing form of exercise for the gym-weary boomer crowd. Tricia Moon's classes--ongoing at the DISD pool on Hermosa at Peavy and at the White Rock Athletic Club--combine high-energy aerobics, underwater weight and resistance training, some tai chi, a little kickboxing (so much easier underwater) and even a bit of go-go dancing. Moon keeps classes lively with a steady patter of jokes and encouraging words. Watching her go through the moves (at 43, she's all leg and lean muscle) is motivation to keep pushing when the urge is to dog-paddle. For three summers, Moon has led a popular (and addictive) Saturday-morning class at Rowlett's Wet Zone water park, where water exercisers jog, skip and leap against the strong current of the "river" pool. It's like fighting a riptide, and it's a killer workout. That class starts again next May.
So, it's pricey, but where else can you jog or walk on a shock-absorbing one-mile outdoor track set against 30 acres of lush pecan, red oak and cedar trees? Where else are the ducks, geese and squirrels so relaxed in their natural habitat they actually risk asking you for spare change? Face it, there is no place like the Cooper Fitness Center, which is why there is still a waiting list to get in. But with its two heated 25-yard, six-lane pools, its 4,200-square-foot weight training area, its sizable cardiovascular equipment area, its indoor basketball and outdoor tennis courts, its multiple saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools, its close association with the Cooper guest lodge, spa and clinic--hell, it just might be worth the wait.
Spring training is a relaxed atmosphere where the players talk candidly and the reporters wear sunscreen and bad Hawaiian shirts. Some of the conversations are considered off the record. Some, not all. During prescribed media hours, Rangers second baseman Mike Young and third baseman Hank Blalock engaged in a conversation with some members of the media, among them a bad, bad person from the Observer. The topic: Howard Stern's interview with Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst. Durst said that he had gone out with pop icon Britney Spears for a spell. He also claimed, over the course of their courtship, that he "ate her ass." "He ate her ass?" Blalock asked incredulously. "That's what he said," Young responded. "Fred Durst is a cool dude." Truer words were never spoken.
When the war in Iraq began, both Mavs point guards made comments that suggested they were very much against the war. Canadian Nash received no grief from fans. It was suggested on radio call-in shows, however, African-American Van Exel be booed at games. Now, if you don't think that doesn't have at least something to do with their skin color, then you don't know which country was fighting Iraq. We love it when sports fans talk politics. It's almost as painful as listening to Mayor Laura Miller talk sports.
So many qualified candidates for this award, but we're partial to our own here at the Observer, so the fix was/is in. During spring training in Surprise, Arizona, our sports columnist, John Gonzalez, attempted to interview Ranger Carl Everett in the clubhouse for a feature he was writing. Everett, who had never heard of the Observer, gave Gonzalez a hard time about his credentials. Carl was being Carl. Gonzalez, who we're pretty sure is mentally retarded and ought to wear one of those safety helmets, took that as a personal affront to his professionalism and fired back. Gonz was being Gonz. Long story short, Mount Everett erupted and asked our intrepid reporter if he wanted to box. It got uglier from there--the two loudly screamed expletives at each other while a pack of reporters and ballplayers watched, mouths agape. It was a lot like that incident a few years ago in which Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf cursed a reporter--only this time, the reporter cursed back. And, unfortunately, this time there wasn't any video footage to commemorate the occasion. Bummer.
Football commentators like to remind people that there are only two current Dallas Cowboys who were a part of the team's early- and mid-'90s Super Bowl wins: Darren Woodson and Larry Allen. Actually, we think there's only one and a half of them, because Allen is half the player he used to be. Now that's not all his fault. Apparently, Allen is the victim of a physiological defect that causes his ankle to "puff" like a well-made tempura batter. His puffy ankle is why he struggled through the early part of the season, we're told. We think it's great that afflictions normally associated with pregnancy or water retention are now being claimed by 300-pound professional athletes. Next, Allen misses the fourth quarter of the Thanksgiving game because his nipples are sore.
Remember the photo that appeared in your inbox this summer? No, not the one with the horse and car battery. The ones of two Dallas Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, out on the town, tippling themselves silly. Who among us hasn't regretted being in front of a camera lens after seven too many cocktails, right? But for the N&N boys to be so fully looped that they didn't immediately destroy the camera--that's just awesome.
Have you seen those photos of Bill Parcells stalking the Dallas Cowboys sidelines during practice? The ones where he's wearing a big old-woman hat, oversized shorts tucked under his man breasts and a big floppy T-shirt tucked into said shorts? All he needs is a wig and he's Jonathan Winters.
There are exactly seven certainties in the local sports world: On the whole, Rangers pitching will suck; Dale Hansen will be friendlier on the air than off; Mike Modano will have hot women near him when in public; Steve Nash will hit that clutch free throw; Darren Woodson will do the right thing; Mark Cuban will say the wrong thing; and the incredible porntasticity of Dave Tippett's Corey Pavin/Elliot Gould (circa M*A*S*H) mustache will make our heart go pitter-patter. No trendy goatee or mutton chops for this man. Just a straight-up shot of lip hair. Bless his heart.