Best Play-By-Play Voice 2005 | Brad Sham | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
The Mavericks' Mark Followill is a rising star and the Rangers' Eric Nadel is classically listenable. But in the Cowboys' Brad Sham, metroplex sports fans have an icon at the threshold. In an era when broadcasters exploit their booths as Gong Show stages used to trot out contrived, cutesy catch-phrases, Sham's style is both understated and underrated. He can be as smooth as a Roger Staubach spiral or as hyper as Keyshawn Johnson after a third-down catch. He has a knack for criticizing without ruffling feathers and for encouraging you to root without being a cheerleader. Like Chick Hearn with the Lakers, Vin Scully with the Dodgers and Harry Caray with the Cubs, Sham (in his 27th season with the team) is a legend. He started by hosting Dallas' first sports radio talk show. Here's hoping he ends up in the Ring of Honor.
He's young, recently having turned 21. He's talented, considered one of the best players in the U.S. He's rich, earning $875,000 this season. But, unless you know what Dallas' "FC" stands for, he's also anonymous. For now. Overcoming the handicap of growing up fatherless in a Florida housing project, Johnson is suddenly the brightest young star in American soccer. Yes, even hotter than Freddy Adu. The FC Dallas striker has eight goals in eight games for the U.S. National Team and will next summer become a household star. He'll play for the Americans in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and, more important, be prominently featured in Nike TV ads leading up to the world's biggest sporting event.
Granted, it's uncomfortable bestowing a sports award on the noggin of a guy who takes pride in not knowing first down from third base. But, then again, it's exactly that awkwardness that makes Gordon Keith's role on The Ticket's Dunham & Miller morning show so damn entertaining. Hosts George and Craig provide adequate knowledge and guests to keep you interested, but it's the sadistic sidekick that violently yanks their show above the generic goo that is morning radio. Listening to Gordo is like watching slow-motion video of a human birth. Backward. Whether he's interrupting an Avery Johnson interview with "What's up with basketball?" or orchestrating a fictional "Jeremiah Ontario" bit in which the monotone Cowboy reads "Last night Jerry Jones snuck in my room and sawed off my leg," Gordo will gleefully push you down the dark staircase. And continue tickling as your skull smacks the concrete floor.

Readers' Pick
The Hardline The Ticket, 1310-AM
He doesn't have Mike Doocy's hair, Babe Laufenberg's history or Newy Scruggs' hip factor, but what Dale Hansen still has is the metroplex eating out of the palm of his hand. Two reasons: Hansen is both plugged in and unplugged. He provides viewers with a confidence (re: cockiness) that he knows the Cowboys privately and isn't afraid to rail on them publicly. While the other anchors provide similar news and slick features, Hansen continues to attract audiences with bullish opinions and brutal honesty. Whether it's on the Rangers: "They have sucked since the day I got here, and they suck again. Why are you people acting surprised by this development?" Or even on himself: "I'm a soft, fat old guy. Who am I to criticize? But you know I'm going to anyway, so here goes..." Rip on, old, soft fat guy. Rip on.

Readers' Pick
Dale Hansen
Five years ago this category's only candidates would have been State Highway 121 and dirt. Now the boomin' burg boasts IKEA, FC Dallas, the Dallas Stars and, lest we forget, the state's largest MILF population. But rising above even the soccer moms with their pretentious SUVs and plastic DDs is the small, humble baseball team playing home to the best bang-for-your-buck ratio in our sports equation. At the 7UP/Dr Pepper Ballpark you can entertain your family of four for about $50, let the kids run around on the grassy hill beyond the outfield fence and watch Rangers pitching stars of the near future in John Danks, Thomas Diamond and Edison Volquez. Plus, you don't have to drive to Arlington. Even better, Kenny Rogers won't be there.
We didn't want to give this to Academy. For one, it's a chain; worse, it won Best of Dallas last year. We wanted to give this award to some boutique. Some start-up. Something, anything else. We tried Uptown. We tried Duncanville. But in the end, that big box of a sporting goods store called us home. Do you need to outfit a youth football team with shoulder pads? Do you need a jock strap? A pair of $8 running shorts? Fishing apparel at 25 percent off? An adjustable basketball hoop? Tennis balls? Baseball bats? Camping gear? Well then, there's only one place to shop. Better still, all of this stuff's easy to find at Academy. Big signs point the way. And the store's layout makes sense: camping gear bleeds into fishing tackle, tennis rackets are near golf clubs. Sometimes, chains are good. Sometimes, excellence is worthy of repeated praise.

Readers' Pick
Academy Sports & Outdoors
It's history, man. Wallow in it; don't run from it. Sure, your knees cramp pressing against metal chair backs. If you're lucky you'll get one of those "obstructed view" seats where the upper-level overhang hides half the scoreboard. And there's nothing like the lingering stench of Ted Nugent's puke/piss cocktail, circa 1978. Ah, Texas Jam, inhale the bouquet. As has been the case since it opened in 1921, the Cotton Bowl is all substance, no style. In a perfectly polished era of luxury suites, retractable roofs and corporate names, this old joint refreshingly reeks of old school. Tom Landry coached the first Cowboys game here in '60. Sinatra, Elvis and Jim Brown all played here. President Franklin D. Roosevelt packed the place back in '36. In what-have-you-built-for-me-lately Dallas, our sterile stadiums are all waiter service and thunder sticks and hi-def replays on plasmas as big as Sri Lanka. Give us the charm. Give us the character. And, before Texas-OU bolts, give us one more trip through a living, breathing, stinking museum.

Readers' Pick
American Airlines Center 2500 Victory Ave.
OK, it may not top Nolan Ryan's noogie on Robin Ventura or Lenny Randle's sucker-punch of manager Frank Lucchesi in '77, but it was certainly the most bizarre in-game fight in Rangers history. On a muggy May night at Ameriquest Field, Rangers pitching ace and opening-day starter Ryan Drese mowed down the pathetic Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning of a 2-2 tie. What happened next was a scene you'd expect to see in Major League, but not the Major Leagues. A dugout discussion between Drese and catcher Rod Barajas about pitch selection escalated into a disagreement and then a barroom brawl. The two rolled around the dugout before teammates separated them. And the weirdest part: Minutes later the two returned to the field, held a brief visit on the mound, and Drese pitched a scoreless seventh en route to a 4-2 Rangers win. Drese was released two weeks later and, of course, the Rangers stunk happily ever after.
Men's Fitness may say Dallas is the sixth-fattest city in the country, but you'd never know it by jogging on the Katy Trail. Many of the city's beautiful people get that way by hitting this 3.5-mile trail that runs from Airline Road near SMU in the north to American Airlines Center in the south. The completion of the soft-surface running trail that runs alongside the concrete will be a huge bonus, and night illumination will be even better, assuming the Friends of the Katy Trail can raise that last bit of funds (the government money ran out a long time ago), but even in its current state the wide and even concrete ribbon is still a pleasure to sweat on. At peak times the urge to clothesline the omnipresent skaters may be difficult to suppress, but if you have a flexible work schedule (read: trust fund), the Katy is a scenic, convenient way to shed some of Dallas' trademark flab.

Readers' Pick
White Rock Lake

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