Sure, it's no longer brand-spanking-new, and the team that calls it home stinks, but the 49,166-seat stadium is, far and away, the most enjoyable spot for the sports fan to visit. It's comfy and clean, fan friendly and you can't beat the fresh summer air. And, when the Texas Rangers start muffing easy ground balls and the bullpen is doing its el foldo, there's still plenty to see and do. Visit the Legends of the Game Baseball Museum, Children's Learning Center or Friday's Front Row Grill. And the cold beer at the concession stands can quickly take your mind off the team's being in last place--again.
Since we work at the Observer--the unholiest of unholies--talking about God can get a little tricky. No need to pop up on his screen, you understand, lest he take note of all the bad things we've done and issue a collective smiting. Still, we're pretty sure the Big Guy has some other sinners ahead of us on his "to do" list. Chief among them: Deion Sanders. Prime Time recently was taken to court by a Dallas mechanic named Phil Compton, who claimed that Sanders paid only $1,500 of a more-than-$4,200 bill for repairs done on a 1961 convertible. Sanders, who never misses an opportunity to show that he's "down with the Lord," handed Compton a check and said, "Praise Jesus...I follow what in my heart I'm told to pay." The implication, obviously, was that the son of God gives great discounts, but only if you're in his good graces. More remarkably, a judge ruled in favor of Sanders in the case. The end result? A proposed 11th commandment: Thou shalt not pay a lot for that muffler.

It looked fairly bleak for the Dallas Mavericks after the Sacramento Kings pantsed them in Game 1. Here we go again, most thought, remembering the similar drubbings that occurred at the hands of those same Kings in last year's playoffs. Even we gave in and predicted the Mavs would be sent home after five games. And then Dirk Nowitzki and Co. put up 44 in the first quarter of Game 2, on their way to 83 for the half. To put this in perspective, most Eastern Conference games topped out at a few points shy of that mark after four quarters. Only our wedding day tops this on our list of all-time greatest moments. We're not even remotely kidding.

For less than seven bucks, it's possible to revisit that hardwood heaven that was vital to middle school social life. Roller-skating lives on, complete with spinning colored lights and a smooth-voiced DJ, at the White Rock Skate Center. Skates are included in the admission price, although patrons are welcome to bring their own (we've been showing off our pair of pink Puma "Roller Kitties"), provided they've had no concrete exposure, which will mar the rink floor. We're still shocked, though, at what little effort we used to put forth as youngsters, considering how sore and bruised we are after one night of rollin'. Parents can even skate free Sunday afternoons when they bring the little ones. A little advice, though: Don't skate too close to your kids; this could be the day of their first "couple skate," and you could end up on their list if you jeopardize their shot at a rolling slow-jam with the crush-of-the-week. The center also offers a damn fine snack bar with requisite pump-cheese nachos, and the refs put on quite a show mid-rink with their rubber-legged roller dance moves. Exercise, entertainment and memories await those who pass through the White Rock's doors, so strap on those familiar brown and orange wheels and hit the rink. Don't worry if it's been awhile; we're still known to cling to the walls when we get a bit shaky...and our apologies to the small child we careened into during a crazed attempt to get off the floor before the speed-skate.
There are players, and then there are playas. Word. Reggie Swinton is one of the latter. No, he's not that great a football player--seven catches for 63 yards last year is hardly impressive. But the man can straight rhyme. He's like one of the Fat Boys, only with slightly less talent. Shortly after the season ended, Swinton's first rap album dropped: Whatcha Gone Do? On wax, Swinton addressed socially pressing issues such as cars, hos, pimps and freaking. Thank you, Reggie, for going where no other rappers dared go. You kept it real, dawg. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Swinton's CD was a highlight (maybe even the highlight) of the season. Well, nowhere to go from there but up. But we were wondering: Do you think new head coach Bill Parcells bumps Whatcha Gone Do? in his ride? Yeah, probably.
If you're the type who always wants to be first in the know about everything, then you'd better study up on Carly Patterson and Hollie Vise--because you'll probably be hearing a lot about them at next year's Olympic Games in Athens. Patterson and Vise, both 15, each train at the Plano-based World Olympics Gymnastics Academy, one of the country's premier gymnastics training grounds. In the recent World Gymnastics Championships, the pair helped the U.S. women win the team gold medal for the first time, as well as each pulling in an individual medal (Patterson a silver on the all-around, Vise a gold in the uneven bars). They're already heroes to the academy's current students--and an inspiration for more girls to follow in their footsteps.

Best Unintentionally Funny Sports Moment

Alex Rodriguez

Watching bad baseball is not our favorite pastime. Still, every now and again, usually after many beers or lotsa drugs, we find ourselves watching the Rangers. And, every now and again, we're thankful that we did. June 19, Texas at Oakland, was such a day. That afternoon, while covering second base on a steal attempt, All-Star Alex Rodriguez took his eye off the ball for a split second. Hilarity ensued. Rather than catching the throw from Einar Diaz with his glove, A-Rod stopped it with his face. Don't try that at home... Now we would never wish serious injury on anyone, which is why we were happy to see that no permanent damage was done to Rodriguez. The only thing bruised was his ego. Which, in turn, made it OK for us to laugh. Again and again. Even months later. And probably in the future, too. Thanks, pal.

Let's be honest: There's no way we can be trusted in this category anymore. We're too conflicted. Key members of the Best of Dallas crew are friends with Ticket personalities. Pop-culture columnist Robert Wilonsky spends as much time preparing for his intermittent Hard Line appearances as he does answering Marvel Comics fanboy e-mails. We'll just say that our favorite hour of the day on sports radio is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on The Ticket, when we get 10 snippets of the day's best discussions, bits and interviews from all Ticket personalities, so that's the show we're awarding this honor. Besides, Mike Rhyner will just make more jokes about this paper's strip-club and phone-sex ads no matter who wins, so why bother? Oh, speaking of Rhyner: Dude, SugarDaddy69 left a message in your QuestPersonals voice-mail box that you might want to check out--he sounds delicious.
For years we've been beaten down with how "in tune" the Mavericks brass is with foreign basketball. They have contacts in former Iron Curtain states and Mediterranean hovels. Yes, they are omnipotent and omnipresent when it comes to overseas hoops. That's what we were told. Enter Antoine Rigaudeau, a midseason pickup whom almost no one, save Don and Donnie Nelson, had heard of. Rigaudeau, who's French, came to Dallas after playing the past six seasons in Italy. He reminded us a lot of the Spurs' Manu Ginobili, only with a lot less talent. Rigaudeau appeared in 11 games and averaged 1.5 points. Better yet, in one game, he drove the baseline only to air-ball a layup, prompting color commentator Bob Ortegel to quip: "That's the best play he's made as a Maverick." Sad but true. Which is why we're giving him this award; he garnered one more accolade than expected.
There's a lot to like about Christie's: The food's pretty good, the multiroom layout gives you a sense the place is larger than it really is, and the TVs carry most any game you wanna see. But we like Christie's for the pool tables. Not only can you play for half-price during happy hour on most days, they're not the typical bar short tables (the ones that you pop 75 cents into; the ones about as big as your dorm fridge). Come for the beer, eat the food and be sure to play with your stick. It's encouraged.

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