Yeah, it's a big impersonal chain. Yeah, the jingles on TV are annoying (please get them out of our head...please). But there are some times in life when we want a megastore selection. We love Home Depot, OK? And we dig AS&O, because when we decide 21 times during the year that this is the weekend we're going to start losing weight, we want a large selection of sports equipment to choose from. Perhaps we'll take up soccer, or tennis, or dodge ball. Doesn't matter. We can go there, spend all day piling crap in our cart that we'll never use, and feel good about it.

Look, we're Troy Aikman homers. Big-time homers. We're such homers our son is named Bart, our nickname is Long Gone, and we've been known to sign copies of the Iliad on request (rim shot). We think it's silly to think that Randall Cunningham is a better quarterback for this team. But we were still a little embarrassed for dallascowboys.com writer and Ticket "Ranch Report" filer Mickey Spagnola when he recently got into a pissing match with morning-show co-host Craig Miller. Probably because Spagnola is Italian (as are we; we know, a temper is a terrible thing), he turned an "Is Aikman slipping?" debate into a personal attack on Miller and folks who have opinions but who don't go to every game, as Spagnola does. Miller, who argues like the single person he is--married men know it's not how many debating points you win, but that everyone feels good about themselves when the argument is over--delivered shots too, basically calling Spagnola a Cowboys shill. That's when it got ugly. And entertaining, in a train-wreck sort of way. Next up on the Spagnola-Miller agenda: Whose is bigger?

Yeah, yeah, we know, we're bandwagoners. So sue us. (We're kidding, Mr. District Attorney of Denton County, we're kidding!) But although we're still fans of last year's winner, Lone Star Park, we can't hide our excitement over SMU's new house. Used to be, the only excitement to be found Saturdays on Mockingbird Lane was at the discount aisle at New Fine Arts, a bit west of campus. Now, the glory of college football spreads along Bishop Avenue from Mockingbird up through campus: adult beverages, fall weather, hot dogs and hamburgers, tailgating, tail...all the things that make game day on most college campuses special. Then, once inside the stadium, the atmosphere gets even better: Every seat has a good sightline, it's not too crowded, but it is rowdy and fun. It completely refutes the asinine notion that SMU games were best when they were played off-campus by paid professionals.

It's not that we're anti-Quincy Carter here at the Dallas Observer. In fact, we thought he should have started at quarterback over Vinny Testaverde. Hell, we think he should probably still be in a Cowboys uniform. They cut him for drug use? Drug use? Really? If we cut Observer staffers for drug use, there wouldn't be a paper. But that's neither here nor there. What made the circumstances around Carter's release so damn interesting was the fact that Carter got cut for using drugs even though he constantly talked about God this and God that. He was big into God, you see. Which made us wonder if God had something to do with his dismissal from the Pokes. Was the Almighty exacting revenge against a drug user who hides behind his good name? We think yes.

Readers' Pick

Mavericks in playoffs

Recently, in a Playboy interview, Bob Costas railed on sports-talk radio: "With some notable exceptions," Costas was quoted as saying, "sports talk radio is heat over light. It's all about attitude taking the place of informed opinion. It's so moronic. Hey, sports isn't brain surgery, but neither should it be brain-dead." Now, there is no doubt that Costas is one of the most articulate, passionate, respected men in sports. But allow us to ask this question in response to his statements: Why not? No offense to the many men and women who earn a living pontificating on the relative merits of the 1-2-2 trap, but sports is the perfect subject on which to favor attitude over anything else. If you want information, turn to newsprint, where it is housed. If you want pretty talking people with mellifluous voices, turn on your television. If you want folks throwing out what The Ticket calls hot sports opinions, go to radio, where you can join the braying if you like. There's nothing wrong with radio being an outlet for folks who prefer to keep sports arguments on a barroom level: A player doesn't struggle, he blows. A coach isn't poor at adapting, he's a friggin' idiot. And the reason The Ticket has become such a success is that its hosts, by and large, understand that their job is to fire off opinions--silly, right on, everything in between. It may seem a cop-out not to choose one show here--OK, it is a cop-out--but each show does its job perfectly. In the mornings, George Dunham and Craig Miller team with Gordon Keith to give a well-rounded, familiar, mostly light-hearted presentation. The Hardline--Mike Rhyner and Greg Williams--is the steak dinner to D&M's grand-slam breakfast: a forum for folks driving home to vent and hear the venting of an irascible crank (Rhyner) and a straight-shooting small-towner made big-time. (A duo that would, rightly, point out the number of clichés in that last sentence.) They're the best at what they do, because they understand that what they do ain't brain surgery. And they're damn proud of that fact.

Since Scott Murray and his hairpiece moved on to bigger and better things, Dallas has enjoyed a rare period of top-to-bottom quality as far as sports anchors are concerned. It's a likable group of guys who don't try to turn every highlight into their audition reel for SportsCenter. (Though Channel 33's Bob Irzyk comes hauntingly close at times.) In any other city, Channel 5's Newy Scruggs and Channel 4's Mike Doocy would be co-captains of the team, dual yardsticks by which the others are measured. But this isn't any other city. It's Dallas, and Dallas belongs to Dale Hansen. Why? Because of moments like this: While wrapping up his coverage of Quincy Carter's release from the Cowboys, Hansen--clad in his usual training-camp uniform: the ugliest floral-print Hawaiian shirt available--said, "I should've known something was up with Quincy Carter when he saw me in this shirt the other day and asked me if he could smoke it." Then he threw it back to the studio, where an amused (and most likely horrified) John McCaa said, "Only Dale Hansen." Exactly. That's why he's the best.

Readers' Pick

Dale Hansen

White Rock Lake, as we all know, is one of Dallas' few naturally beautiful spots, along with certain rooftops downtown and Angie Harmon's belly. But the best way to see the lake is from on the water. The best way to do that is either in a sailboat or a one-seater. But who can afford a sailboat? So get yourself to the lake and get yourself in a kayak. KayakPower.com gives lessons for beginners through experts and even offers kids lessons. Not only is it a great way to get in touch with nature, it will give your arms quite a workout.

If you've ever driven down Southwestern past the Village IM fields on a Monday night, then you've seen gaggles of Ultimate Frisbee players of all shapes, sizes, and genders hustling about in the Texas heat. This sport, which is like a cross between flag football, soccer, and, at times, roller derby, is every bit as strenuous and fatiguing as its predecessors. But much more fun. Every Monday night at 7 p.m., the place goes off. Experts and beginners welcome.

A-Rod was right: These guys are a bunch of no-talent punks who aren't fit to carry his Prada bag. So what if they turned themselves around. So what if they won many more games without A-Rod than they won with the former A.L. MVP. Right? Uh, right. Sticking with A-Rod's theory--the theory that suggests that all players suck, except him--means that someone outside the lineup must be responsible for the turnaround. And someone is. His name is Buck Showalter. The manager, in only his second year, has "managed"--see what we did there?--to turn a last-place squad into a contender. Considering the pitching staff and the fact that the lineup is pretty much the same as it was a year ago (with one notable exception), we thought we'd give credit where it's due and laud Buck. He's done a fine job.

Readers' Pick

Mark Teixiera

When it comes to sporting goods, you need a place that carries a full spectrum of gear for everyone, from wet-behind-the-ears beginner to grizzled veteran. You want the simple two-person tent you can afford right now while you're still figuring out if you're an outdoors person and the tricked-out eight-person portable hunting lodge that gives you a goal to work up to should you decide that, yes, urinating in the woods is your bag. You want the 10-pound dumbbells for when you're just kind of kicking the tires of the whole "getting into shape" thing and the 20-exercises-in-one albatross that will one day be used as a coat rack when this process comes full circle. You need crappy running shoes and state-of-the-art ones, Styrofoam coolers and iceboxes that rival the Sub-Zero fridge at home, plain-jane cotton workout togs and stuff made out of Gore-Tex and CoolMax and Double Dry. You need a place that has something for every activity that could even tangentially be considered a sport and at every skill level. And that place, my friends, is, as the jingle says, Academy Sports and Outdoors. Academy!

Readers' Pick

Academy Sports & Outdoors

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