The players who show up for Glencoe's all-day Saturday runs are serious, arriving at 9 a.m. with coolers and lawn chairs, digging in for the long haul. The games are just as serious, which makes sense, since if you lose, you lose the court. So don't bring that weak stuff up in here. We say this, because we tried to and left a couple of hours later with wounded pride and a Spalding tattoo on our forehead.

With Frisco now home to so many new and used Dallasites, it is becoming more likely that those of us who fear to tread north of LBJ Freeway will be forced to make the trek someday. To comfort us when we get there, at least during spring and summer, are the freshly transplanted Frisco RoughRiders, the AA farm team for the ever-struggling Texas Rangers. Don't let streets like Tom Hicks Drive and Gaylord Parkway put you off. A handsome stadium that looks as much like a stage set as it does a ballpark puts its capacity 10,800 fans close to the field. Players sign autographs before the game, tickets are reasonable, and a huge mascot that bears a passing resemblance to a prairie dog is even fun to watch. What's more, the team consistently plays good ball, which is more than can be said for its brother in the bigs.

We know, we know: Alex Rodriguez has a $252 million contract, and for that kind of money, he should be able to play all four positions. Whatever. The oldest, most-played, least-interesting gripe about the Texas Rangers is the national media's bitching about A-Rod's contract. Bottom line is that he's also a perennial All-Star, consistently one of the game's top five all-around players. What's even better is that now he has a stellar young group of infielders around him--led by Michael Young, smooth as a pressed shirt, at second base. The corner infielders, Hank Blalock (third base) and Mark Teixeira (first base), should provide the club with hope and home runs for years to come. Now all that's left is a center fielder, a catcher, 11 pitchers...

We here at Best of Dallas Central tried to organize a road trip to Dodge City, Kansas, to catch the final game of this Fort Worth-based minor-league (United States Basketball League) expansion team. Too bad we missed it. The Rim Rockers lost 146-107. It would have been the perfect game to watch, because we wanted to see a team that was so bad it would be entertaining. The Rim Rockers were certainly that. They finished their first season with two wins, 28 losses. Next year, when you see the season-ticket holders in the front row cackling and whooping and cheering every bricked three-point shot, that'd be us. Hey, we were Mavericks fans in the '90s--we love awful ball.

Once again, this doughnut of a team (big hole in the middle) proved that what it lacks in muscle it makes up for in heart. Led by the clutch play of Nick Van Exel (see below), the Mavs proved once again they're the best ticket in town.

The Dallas Mavs owner often has doled out his cash in stupid ways (see Shawn Bradley, Raef LaFrentz, et al.), but the Fallen Patriot Fund, established in April by The Mark Cuban Foundation, is money well spent. (He kicked off the fund with a $1 million donation, and he matches all donations dollar for dollar up to 1 million bucks.) Designed to help families of military personnel killed or seriously injured in Iraq, the fund is a great example of putting your money where your mouth is.

Best Bowling Alley (in Memoriam)

Bronco Bowl

The Bronco Bowl Entertainment Center, a family-fun staple for decades, passed away in August after battling a lengthy illness. Best known for its concerts, the complex was once one of the primary Texas outposts for televised bowling matches back in the day, and continued on as the premier place to rack up a few frozen turkeys until its death. It also had an extensive assortment of video arcade games, air hockey tables and Pop-A-Shot stations, as well as a wide variety of beverages that would get a man as big as 325 pounds "drunker than Cooter Brown," according to a longtime fan of the establishment. The Bronco Bowl Entertainment Center is survived by memories of $10 parking fees and a Home Depot.
One of the best things about Brookhaven's jogging track is the lack of crowds that afflict that other top jogging spot, White Rock Lake, so keep this one just between us. Brookhaven's two-mile course skirts the perimeter of the campus, and nearly half of it has a rubberized surface, so it's tender on the joints. The track winds through small patches of woods and past the school's athletic fields, offering a few gentle inclines to get that heart rate up. Better still, there are emergency call boxes along the route in the event you are: A) over 40, B) out of shape and C) too stupid to consult your doctor before beginning a running regimen.
After Nick Van Exel's gutsy performances in the playoffs, ESPN's Marc Stein asked Mark Cuban about NVE's big-game aptitude. "You can't say enough about Nick," Cuban replied. "I don't know how he walks around. I'm sure he has to get specially tailored pants, because he's scraping the ground every game." In other words, if you take the shots with the game on the line, it proves you have big balls. We couldn't agree (or be disturbed) more.

The area's best non-high school football team does not play at Texas Stadium. (Gee, ya think?) It is not the SMU Mustangs. (Gosh, ya sure?) No, the area's best footballers lay claim to Birdville Stadium in North Richland Hills. The Dallas Diamonds, the all-woman semipro football team--led by rookie linebacker/fullback Jessica Springer (the 5-foot-9, 210-pound can of whupass)--has pasted some of its early-season opponents, especially the Missouri Prowlers, whom the homegirls have beaten twice by a combined score of 138-0. Hey, Bill Parcells, you got a scout at their games yet? Couldn't hurt.

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