Best Moment
of Honesty

Tanking in pro sports is often like Fight Club. The first rule of doing it is not talking about it. That's what made Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's May comments so refreshing. Cuban admitted that, once the Mavs were out of playoff contention, the team held veteran players out of games in hopes that the team would lose the rest of its games, increasing its odds in the NBA draft lottery. For their troubles — the team went 2-8 in its last 10 games of the 2016-17 season — the Mavericks landed the ninth pick in the draft, securing the rights to dynamic North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr. Coming off a spectacular performance in the NBA Summer League, Smith appears to have been worth Dirk Nowitzki taking a few minutes off down the stretch.

Academy Sports and Outdoors

This is one of our more awkward picks. The fact is, the best sporting goods store is dependent on your sport and how committed you are to it. If you're a serious camper or backpacker, you're going to REI. A cyclist? See you at Richardson Bike Mart or one of the other fine cycling stores in DFW. Training for another marathon? Take those tootsies to Run On! And so it goes. Academy is a big-box generalist in a market filled with niches — not to mention Amazon. Still, for the casual sportsperson who's looking for discounts and a wide selection of goods, those getting ready to try out a new sport or sign their kids up for little league, tailgaters and weekend barbecuers, or those just needing some casual workout togs, the big box has its charms. It has a little bit of everything, tons of locations throughout DFW and the sort of prices one gets by buying in volume, volume, volume.

Readers' Pick Academy Sports + Outdoors

Best Batting Cages

The old-school batting cages at Ellen's in Cedar Hill feature pitch speeds from 45 mph to 85 mph, in addition to both fast- and slow-pitched soft balls. They're cheap as far as batting cages go at $1.50 for 20 pitches and have a comforting, no-frills, low-pressure vibe. You don't feel like you're wasting anybody's time by hacking at slow-pitched meatballs for an hour or two. After taking out your frustrations, be sure to enjoy the complex's miniature golf course, one of the best in DFW.

Readers' Pick Topgolf

Plucker's

Pluckers Old Town is everything a great sports bar should be and nothing it shouldn't. On college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays, the Upper Greenville wing joint has plenty of screens, enough to broadcast any game anyone might have shown up to see. The wings are very good, as are the bevy of fried appetizers and desserts — seriously, the fried mac and cheese and fried Oreos are delicious, despite the self-loathing they might induce later. The beer, available in pints and 34-ounce "Mother Plucker" mugs, is cold and cheap. There isn't anything healthy on the menu, but that would just be a distraction anyway.

Readers' Pick: The Rustic

Best .190 Hitter

There are Rangers fans out there who still, somehow, think Joey Gallo is not good at baseball. They're wrong. Gallo may be hitting below .200. He may strike out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances. But thanks to his tremendous power, above-average base-running and decent defense, he is still an above-average Major League regular. Gallo is going to hit more than 30 home runs this year while getting on base more than 30 percent of the time and being a great teammate. As he is, he's good enough to be a starter on a winning team. If his game matures and he begins to make more contact, he's capable of being a perennial MLB All-Star.

Best Sports Ambassador

Quarterback Dak Prescott is the face of the Cowboys, and the Cowboys couldn't be in better hands. After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft, Prescott led the Cowboys to 13 wins and a division title. He did so while earning the respect of his teammates and his adopted city, charming fans with his easy smile and earnestness that borders on dorkiness — seriously, the guy listens to Train's "Drops of Jupiter" to get fired up before games. Prescott has the game to lead the Cowboys back to the promised land and the personality to etch himself on Dallas' sports Mount Rushmore.

Best Sports Owner

It's time to give the devil his due. In August, Jones went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's turned the Cowboys into the world's most valuable sports club at an estimated value of $4.2 billion and finally, thank God, turned over most of the team's day-to-day operations to his son Stephen. The Cowboys play in a beautiful stadium for which the city of Arlington helped to pay and are a money-making machine. If this core of Cowboys players (led by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant) wins a championship, Jones may finally earn forgiveness for chasing Jimmy Johnson out of town after Super Bowl XXVIII.

Best Sports Documentary

The story of the 1988 Carter Cowboys is really three stories. It's a riveting sports story about a Dallas ISD high school that put together the most talented team in the history of Texas high school football despite an academic scandal likely created by jealous parents at a rival school. It's a crime saga, too, about a group of middle-class kids who started pulling armed robberies because they were bored after the season ended and then spent hard time in the Texas prison system. Finally, the story of the 1988 Carter Cowboys, as told in ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary What Carter Lost is one of redemption for the team. For the five Cowboys who ended up in jail, it's enough that they are all out and leading productive lives. For the rest of the team and the Carter community, it's about being recognized as more than just the team that ended Odessa Permian's Friday Night Lights season and later had to give up its state championship.

Best Misnomer

July did not go well for former Cowboys wide receiver and return specialist Lucky Whitehead. Whitehead's dog, Blitz, went missing, and the receiver received calls from someone asking for a ransom. A week later, a Fort Worth rapper named Boogotti Kasino returned the dog, claiming he'd bought it from someone else. Less than a week after that, Whitehead was off the Cowboys. The team cut him after finding out that he had a failure-to-appear warrant related to a shoplifting charge in Virginia. Which would've been fine, if a little tacky, except for the fact that the person who did the alleged shoplifting wasn't Whitehead. Instead, after getting arrested, a still unidentified man gave police Whitehead's identifying information, including his Social Security number. The Cowboys refused to give Whitehead another chance, but the unlucky speedster caught on with the New York Jets, one of the NFL's worst teams.

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