Unless we're totally cross-eyed on this one, SMU football coach June Jones will be accepting this hardware multiple times in the future. But for now, no personnel transaction has positively affected a franchise like the return of Big Tex to Arlington. While it's difficult to accurately quantify Ryan's influence, there's no denying the Rangers are pitching quicker, playing harder and winning more with him as team president. Attendance isn't exactly overflowing at Rangers Ballpark, and the stagnation of Glory Park doesn't sit well, but don't we all feel a little better with Ryan calling the shots rather than John Hart? Ryan doesn't get all the credit for Josh Hamilton's homers or C.J. Wilson's dramatic saves, but he is the main reason the Rangers are again becoming a relevant franchise with undeniable credibility and, dare we say it, even a bright future.

Questions about doping aside, there's no taking away from what Steve Asmussen's done in the last year. He's gone from the guy who takes the leading trainer crown every year at Lone Star Park to the guy who's training the best horse in the world. That horse would be Curlin, and earlier this year, after the 4-year-old had won just about every race Asmussen put him in, he decided to run him on grass, just for the hell of it, against some of the best turf runners this side of the pond. The big chestnut came up just short. It won't be the last we hear from him or Asmussen. Expect to see the Arlington resident in the winner's circle for years to come.

Best Imitation of What We Wished Dallas Was Like

Arlington

This just in: Dallas has moved to Arlington. Inexplicably, it left us with only John Wiley Price's "black hole" and half-assed plans for the Trinity River. Thanks a lot. If you're keeping score, the new $1 billion stadium once targeted for Fair Park will now host Cowboys games starting in 2009, the Cotton Bowl starting in '10, the Big 12 football championship game in '09 and '10, an annual Arkansas-Texas A&M football game starting in '09, a Notre Dame-Arizona State game in '13, a potential NBA All-Star Game in 2010 and, of course, Super Bowl XLV in '11. Don't look now, but our sports epicenter has moved 20 miles west. Dallas, last we checked, was rolling out the red carpet for Division II football between East Central State (Oklahoma) and Texas A&M-Commerce. No shit. Couldn't make up something that lame.

Best Intimidating Answer to a Legitimate Question

Marion Barber

The highest-paid running back in Dallas Cowboys' franchise history received a seven-year, $45 million contract in the spring despite starting just one game and never producing a 1,000-yard season. How's that, you ask? Because Marion Barber is a badass, forged out of muscle, menace and downright mean. He's the NFL's toughest, scariest runner, fueled by the disposition of a traveler about to check six pieces of luggage on an American Airlines flight. Proof? Barber made a habit last year of violently stiff-arming potential tacklers in the kisser. So effective, and so unfair, was the move that the NFL Competition Committee deemed it illegal for the upcoming season. Told of the league's new "Barber Rule," prohibiting him from going for opponents' facemasks, the Barbarian never looked up and immediately growled "What about the throat?" Shiver.

You can only chuckle at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Randy Galloway referring to Deion Sanders as "nine toe"—yeah, still—so many times, right? Cowlishaw has developed a definitive, authoritative voice as the lead columnist at The Dallas Morning News. Already with strong backgrounds in hockey and football, he even tuned up on NASCAR to the point where ESPN values his opinions on left turns. And, of course, his daily jousts on Around the Horn make him a bit of a cult hero in some frat circles. But most important, he's added some color—some pizzazz—to his daily writing. In describing the tribulations of Pacman Jones, Cowlishaw suggested the Cowboy carry no more than $10 in his wallet. "Pretty hard to make it rain in a club," he wrote, "with a pair of fives." Bravo.

We wanted to crown Duncanville boxer Luis Yanez. No, really. If you only knew. But it's hard to argue with the five medals— one gold, three silvers and a bronze—that the 18-year-old gymnast won in Beijing in August. Plus, the bouncy blonde from Parker, who trains at the same World Olympics Gymnastics Academy in Plano that gave us Carly Patterson in '04, will grace a Wheaties box coming soon to your kitchen table. Which is more than we can say for Yanez, who got temporarily kicked off the U.S. boxing team before being reinstated, only to lose. Gymnastics 1, Boxing 0.

Honorable mention to a strong debut by ESPN Radio's Michael Irvin, who lands news-making interviews with controversial subjects such as Pacman Jones and Josh Howard. Still, we can't reward a show whose co-host is homosexual. (Wink.) Given Greg Williams' departure from The Hardline, the most consistently entertaining/informative show belongs to George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith, 5:30-10 a.m. on The Ticket. Over the years they've developed the perfect recipe for morning radio with tasty pinches of interviews with substantial sports guests like Jerry Jones, topical headlines via "Muse in the News" and heady, though sometimes Homerish takes across our sports smorgasbord. Editor's note: Your love life will greatly improve if you make time for the "Ladies Day" segment Thursdays at 9:10 a.m. Editor's note 2: You ladies are more perverted than we ever knew.

WFAA-Channel 8's Dale Hansen may have pushed our policy on term limits had his banter with weatherman Pete Delkus not deteriorated from witty to warped. Doocy has the advantage of batting first in the sports wrap-up show game each Sunday night, and more often than not he takes advantage with a solid, often spectacular Sports Sunday on KDFW-Channel 4. His highlights are comprehensive. His graphics are by far the best on local TV. He provides one-on-one interviews. And his popular "Open Mike" segment gives a voice to everyone from Steve Busby to Greg Williams. Furthermore, we know Hansen is secretly jealous of Doocy's perfectly coiffed hair. Actually, that's not a secret.

Last year he didn't push his team to the NBA Finals as in 2006 or win Most Valuable Player as in 2007, but the giant German is now and will be into the foreseeable future the heart and soul of the Mavs. Plus, anyone who bit his lip under Avery Johnson's reign deserves some sort of plaque, right? Nowitzki again was an All-Star and an All-NBA selection with his nightly 20 points and 10 rebounds, but his guts were better than ever. He suffered a horrific fall against the Spurs in March, seemingly breaking a leg or at least shredding a knee. But there he was less than a week later, willing the Mavs to a playoff spot. Never call him soft again.

There are teams with wackier names (the Grand Prairie AirHogs) and teams that play in more obscure leagues (the Dallas Diamonds of the Independent Women's Football League), but nobody does small ball like the Frisco RoughRiders. There's a pool in the outfield, a cowboy mascot that rides a black horse, and the baseball ain't bad either. If you're looking for a night at the ballpark but don't want to watch the Texas Rangers, the Roughriders are a nice alternative. Plus, unlike some of those other franchises, you may see a future star in Frisco.

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