On Your Mark … Get Set … Goal?

Every year when the State Fair of Texas rolls around my optimism somehow reboots. This is the year, I surmise in my most naïve tone. The year I finally conquer my nemisis, the frustrating, impossible game where the goal is to tilt an empty beer bottle upright using a fishing pole with a plastic hoop as the hook.

You’ve seen the game on The Midway. Probably played it. Looks simple enough. The loud, stinky guy with the wireless mic and the patchy beard and the sweat-stained shirt does it every frickin’ time. But so far I’m, lessee, 0 for 32. Every year since I was 10 I’ve tried the darned thang with every possible result except success. The game to me is as difficult as Britney Spears getting approved to open a day care.

Which leads us -- well, doesn’t it? -- to the Dallas Stars.

I know the Stars actually tipped the bottle upright back in 1999, but since then it’s been a series of pratfalls. Dallas opens its 2007-08 season tonight in Colorado, and, here we go again, tantalized by the trick bottle carnival game.

Despite three consecutive first-round playoff exits we’re sucked in by Mike Modano’s pursuit of becoming the NHL’s all-time highest-scoring American, by Brenden Morrow’s hard-nosed captaincy and by coach Dave Tippett’s contract year. Tippett, in his fifth year, is 11-18 in the playoffs, including last spring’s seven-game loss to Vancouver.

I honestly don’t know if the Stars made many off-season changes. I only remember them beating Colorado in last year’s opener and jumping to an 11-2 start before ultimately pulling the chair out from under us again in April.

In sorta related news, FC Dallas goes for the second trophy in its 12-year history tonight in something called the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Over-under for total Stars-FC Dallas goals tonight: 2½. Over-underr for my successful attempts beating up the bottle: zero. --Richie Whitt

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