Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tashard Choice Defends His Poorly-Timed Choice

Cowboys running back Tashard Choice has been a better defender than any member of the Dallas secondary the last few days.  After infamously asking Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick to autograph a glove minutes after Vick's Eagles had just beaten Dallas Sunday night, Choice's autograph hound impersonation has lit up the Twitterverse, blogosphere and sports talk world.

On Monday, Choice tweeted this apology:

If its anybody that cares about winning and the d cowboys its me. I apologize to the people it was just an innocent jesture for my nephew.

Wednesday, he revisited his actions and explained that he wasn't apologizing for asking for the autograph.  Rather, the apology was for "the simple fact that it brought negative attention to the Cowboys, period," he said. "That's something I don't like to do."

Any regrets?

"The only thing it did was mess up my doggone surprise for my nephew on Christmas," he lamented.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Cliff Lee is Forcing My 88-Year Old Neighbor to Drink More Scotch

The question “What will Cliff Lee do?” is on your mind, my mind and especially my fabulous 88-year old neighbor Frances' mind. (you MUST read the story the Dallas Morning News did on her during the MLB playoffs, click the link).  Every time she takes her four-pound yorkie Molly out for a walk, Frances stops by my place to ask if I have any updates on Cliff Lee.  I don't know what Lee's doing but I do have a little something from the Rangers.

I talked to CEO Chuck Greenberg on Friday.  He, of course, was part of a contingency that included assistant general manager Thad Levine and co-chairman of the board Ray Davis who visited with Lee, his wife Kristen and agent on Thursday at Lee’s home in Arkansas.

Greenberg wouldn’t divulge much other than to say they presented Lee with a complex menu of options.  I got the impression the Rangers weren't interested in a long term deal a la the Yankees seven year offer. Greenberg indicated that the Rangers would prefer to do a shortER term deal.  But when it's all over, what he indicates doesn't mean a dang thing.  It's all about what Lee agrees to do.

I could continue but you can watch the interview for yourself here.

Enjoy.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Morning Hot Cup: Cliff Lee's Breakfast & Whatever Happened to Rony Seikaly

Wedded Bliss
There's nothing like getting married to derail the best blogging intentions.  Luckily for me, my husband put on his best groomzilla hat and we had the most perfect week in Punta de Mita one could ever imagine.

On to the important stuff. 


Cliff Lee's Breakfast Menu
The Rangers brass were in Arkansas Thursday and presented free agent pitcher Cliff Lee a "menu" of options.  No french toast, migas or mimosas more like cash, incentives and potential travel assistance.

Are the Rangers mortgaging the future?  Does the name Alex Rodriguez cause you to shudder?

In this case, does giving a 32-year old pitcher a long-term deal make you cringe even more, even if it is Cliff Lee?   The New York Times outlines the lack of success teams have had with giving pitchers seven-year deals.  From Kevin Brown to Barry Zito, who wasn't even on the Giants playoff roster this year, teams have had some buyer's remorse in those final years of long-term deals.

A Cliff Lee Sighting
Wednesday, the new husband (hereafter referred to as TNH) ran into Cliff Lee at DFW airport.  TNH is actually a Rangers season ticket holder and a pretty good fan.  He's says hello to Cliff who tells him he's "going home".  They chat for a bit.  TNH tells him we just got married, Cliff was very nice and congratulated us.  They engage in a little more generic airport talk and say goodbye.  Not a question about free agency.  Ouch.

I thought I trained TNH better!  I always joke with him about not jocksniffing but when you've the man in the center of the biggest sports story in our fair metroplex right in front of you, at least ask which way the wind is blowing.  Towards New York?  Back to Arlington?   Even our executive sports producer, the great Dandy Killeen, asked me "did Cliff say anything???"

We'll do better next time.  

Rony Rocks' South Beach
I can't tell you how many times I wake up and wonder "what the heck is Rony Siekaly doing now?"

Not really but why is it not surprising to learn that he's a DJ in Miami Beach?   Doesn't that just seem to fit him?  The New York Times takes a spin in south Florida and discovers that apparently he's pretty good. 
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Mavs Don't Want to Get in a Small Ball Race with the Nuggets

Notice the new neck tatts
The Mavericks towered over the Nuggets shortened lineup on Wednesday night in a 102-101 win.  Dallas hopes to use size to its advantage again on Saturday when the two teams meet at the AAC.

With multi-tattooed tall guys Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin recovering from offseason knee surgery and Nene a late scratch because of a groin strain, the Nuggets didn't have a player on the floor taller than 6'9 during the game's 48 minutes. 

Between us girls, if a roster says a player is 6'9, it's more like 6'7.   They all lie.  I got in trouble once when I interned for the Rockets for revealing a Hall of Fame player's real height.

I digress.

What's the Mavericks philosophy when playing a team that goes small?  Try and stay big.

"We've got to try to keep our length in game as much as we can," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after practice Friday morning.  "That’s one of our real defining attributes."

That doesn't mean the Mavericks are going to go big at all costs.  They'll size up the matchups and hope to take advantage.

"There are times when sizing down makes sense," Carlisle added.  "We looked at it a bit in the first game anything’s in play."
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

This Weekend's DFW Sports Tornado is a Dream Come True

The Sports Tornado that is hitting DFW this weekend is what I dreamed about as a kid.  Seriously.

As a 14-year old sports-obsessed Dallas native, watching George Riba do his thing from Valley Ranch, there was no doubt I wanted to go into this crazy/painful/exhilarating business and do it in my own backyard.  Somehow I finagled my way here and and many years later, it's a reality.  The even better reality is the chaoticly awesome, nonstop sports weekend that many more of us dream about is actually happening.  Here.  Now.

Consider the early Christmas/Hanukkah present that is this weekend in DFW:

Saturday
Rangers/Rays Game 3 (which is a present enough for long-suffering fans)
Baylor/Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl
Arkansas/Texas A&M at JerryWorld
SMU/Tulsa on the Hilltop
TCU/Wyoming in Fort Worth

I can't remember a weekend this like this.  Ever.  From my days in Houston to Guam to Knoxville when SEC Football and basketball overlapped, I've never experienced one this jampacked in one metropolitan area.

But wait there's more!  Play the Ginsu Knife ad.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Pitcher Colby Lewis is the Rangers Cool Hand Luke

Pitcher Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.71 ERA) has the chance to help the Rangers get another huge monkey off their collective backs.  He will make his first career postseason for Texas in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays on Saturday. The Rangers are looking for their first ever win in a postseason series but Lewis claims he's not phased.

"Taking my family to Japan, that's nervous," Lewis said referring to the last two seasons he spent pitching for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.

Lewis is not a roller coaster guy. He seems to enjoy life a little more on the merry-go-round, meaning he is not a person who gets too high or too low during the course of what can be an emotionally challenging season.

"Colby is a rock," said pitching coach Mike Maddux. "He's been the same guy win, lose or draw. He has a lot of confidence in himself, in his abilities. He's Cool Hand Luke for me."

Maddux cites the roller coaster Lewis' career has ridden that has given the 31-year old his strength of character.  Lewis won 10 games for Texas in 2003 before missing the majority of the next two seasons with shoulder problems. Add to that, the complete lifestyle change with the move to Japan with his wife and newborn son and it's clear this is a man who has been tested both on and off the field.

"Colby's been to the bottom," Maddux said. "He knows what the bottom smells like and it's not real good. Sometimes guys really excel when they've been to the bottom and that's Colby.  Multiple surgeries later he's fought his way back and, too his credit, he's earned the right to pitch tomorrow."
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

College Football......Boone Pickens Style...Trust Me, It's Good

There are times you shoot a story and it’s just fine. It’s lovely. You learn a thing or two and move on from there. Then there are times you spend an evening learning more than you ever thought you would and come away amazed. The latter was the experience I had shooting a piece with Dallas billionaire Boone Pickens.  Here's the link to the story that aired on CBS11.

I’ve wanted to attend an Oklahoma State football game with the 1951 graduate for years figuring a story would offer a unique perspective and interest viewers. Our schedules finally aligned and I got the chance to travel with him, some of his employees, friends and colleagues to Stillwater for the Cowboys game against Texas A&M.  I knew it would be fun but I didn’t know I would learn so much about this 82-year old man who has the stamina and character of someone 50 years his junior.

His schedule is exhausting. Take this particular Thursday, for instance: He worked a full day and then hopped on his plane to Oklahoma while still monitoring various business activities back in Dallas.  At the same time, he’s enduring my dumb questions, along with a more thought-provoking discussion with a newspaper reporter from the The Daily Oklahoman. He also had some employees on the plane so they could discuss a few issues. 


View from Suite
Once he’s off the plane, Pickens does a fair amount of entertaining and greeting the hoards of people who want to meet him.  From the OSU athletic director to the basketball coach to various school personnel, they all wanted to say hello. This was before Pickens had even walked into his eponymous facility. Once he was inside Boone Pickens Stadium and gotten his usual pre-game ice cream and tried to make his way to his suite, he was stopped time and again by friends, well-wishers and, frankly, fans. 

I walked around the stadium before the game to talk to people on campus. He has rock star status. One tipsy frat told me “T. Boone is my homie!!!!” Okay, a little beer might have gotten said frat a little more fired up than usual but I got the impression most of the students feel the same way. He has a real connection with the student body. They think he’s cool.

His suite, located on the 50-yard line and next to the university president’s box, is honestly one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. Rich wood cabinets, gorgeous wallpaper and beautiful furniture decorate the luxury box. That’s just the beginning. The food was amazing: freshly picked tomatoes and squash from a local farmer’s market were served for the halftime dinner along with some beautiful steak. Dried fruit, various dips and these amazing, impossible to stop eating jalapeno-cheddar pretzel bites served as appetizers.

I bring all this to your attention because Pickens doesn’t do anything halfheartedly. From his business interests to his passion for Oklahoma State, he’s all in at all times. We had a microphone on Pickens while he watched the game. We typically get the best stuff for our stories during these moments because many people forget they are on-camera. Pickens watched the Texas A&M/Oklahoma State game with binoculars. When I was logging the tapes we shot, I could hear him telling his wife, Madeleine, information on the players any college football scout would appreciate.  He understood the plays and knew in-depth details about almost every OSU player.

He’s a man concerned with details. He’s given around half a billion (with a B) dollars to Oklahoma State University. That money has gone towards both the athletic and academic programs. I asked him what was important to him in regards to the athletic department and the answer surprised me. Yes, the facilities are vital and, to me, Boone Pickens Stadium seems like the college football equivalent of JerryWorld.  Beyond that, Pickens is focused on two other elements: the food and beds.

“I am confident that a kid playing up here when he goes back to wherever it is Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, when he goes back in the summer what does he talk about?” Pickens asked me. “He doesn't talk about the stadium. He'll talk more about what he has to eat. We really have good food.”

He wants the athletes to eat well and knows how important it is to their success. He also knows how much it costs: about a million bucks a year.

Why beds?

"A bed is very important to an athlete,” he explains. “He wants one long enough.”

Pickens has had former Cowboys players who are now in the NFL tell him they miss the beds at Oklahoma State more than anything else.

We got back from Stillwater around 11:30 pm. On the way to the airport, I asked him what his upcoming schedule was like. He had a full work day on Friday before flying to his ranch later that evening for a function on Saturday. Then it was on to California for an event at the Ronald Reagan Library, followed by meetings in Washington D.C. before heading back to Dallas for a Thursday morning breakfast meeting.

I was tired from the trip and exhausted just hearing his schedule. How does he do it? 5-Hour Energy? Starbucks triple espressos?  My personal fave, Tall Skinny Caramel Lattes?  No. Pickens has never had a cup of coffee in his life. He’ll drink herbal tea. He eats pretty well, save for an admitted sweet tooth.

I think it all goes back to a certain passion for winning.

“I've always said show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser,” he said. “I am competitive and I want to win.”

Simply put, that’s his philosophy and he seemingly applies it to every, single thing he does.

It’s obviously working.

Leading the Band
My Favorite Story:

There were some good ones that night.  It was hard to pick one. 

Pickens is one of the most even keel men I've met, excuding a calm confidence.  He would cheer and "wave the wheat" when Oklahoma State scored.  He was cordial and friendly, yet pretty business-like during the game except when the band played outside his suite. Members of the OSU band stopped by his suite to perform. Pickens had grabbed a snack and was heading back to his Cowboy-orange leather seats when heard the band just outside his suite entrance.

“That’s my band!” he exclaimed with a huge smile.

Then he proceeds to go into the hallway of suite level at Boone Pickens Stadium and not just listen to the band. No no no, to borrow a phrase from Roy Williams. Pickens went out there to lead the band. He knew the words, he knew what to do and he proved to me, once again, that billionaires, at least this one, simply do it better.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mavericks Media Day Musings

37-year old Jason Kidd equated Mavericks media day to the first day of school.  Perfect analogy.  It's the first time many of these players have seen each other since the season ended.  Everyone has a bit of that youthful exuberance that comes with a new year.  They players are all in great moods and optimistic about their chances this season.  Hugs, air-kisses and buzz cuts galore.  More on that final one in a moment.

Every player got the memo to stress how deep the team is.  Four different players told me that three to four of their bench players could start elsewhere.

Shawn Marion is expected to be one of those bench players.  He's been a starter his whole career and admits that a shift to the bench will be hard.  But he adds, in only the way Marion can, that if it works he's down with it. 

A few more observations:

*Dirk Nowitzki is always in a great mood to start media day.  This year, perhaps, even better.  No offseason drama or huge news regarding any players this season, except for his free agent deal.  Nowitzki traveled this summer and didn't pick up a basketball for three and a half months, the longest he's ever gone without touching a ball.  He played a lot of tennis and ran but no basketball.  He started shooting a few weeks ago and said he had a hard time finding his shot.  I still can't believe he would struggle handling a basketball.

*Rodrigue Beaubois' English is improving.  This is a good thing considering he needs to be vocal when he's on the floor.  He was out of his walking boot, wearing tennis shoes and seemed to be walking well.  He's been doing a ton of rehab work, stationary bike and watching film after breaking his foot this summer.  He just started shooting but has a hard time because he can't jump.  The entire team is optimistic he can be back by early November.

*Caron Butler definitely looks leaner.  His infamous offseason workout regime in Chicago has been well-chronicled.  The workouts weren't necessarily the hard part.  For him, the diet was a bitch (to which I say, welcome the world of women everywhere).  Butler is a Mountain Dew addict.  Giving up sodas was one of the hardest things he had to do.  He told me his trainer had people at his hotel spying on him.  If he wanted to cheat and order pancakes from room service - not happening.

*Tyson Chandler is perhaps one of the nicest NBA players I've ever met.  He says he's as healthy as he felt in years and expects to be a vocal, enforcing presence in the middle for Dallas.

*The Mavericks want to reduce minutes for Nowitzki and Kidd.  But like Kidd told me, "every year that's the goal." Good intentions.  Let's see if it happens this season.  Kidd is sort of the teacher this year.  Call Kidd Mr. Morita, if you will, with Roddy B, Dominique Jones, even JJ Barea still serving as young grasshoppers.

*Head Coach Rick says the Mavericks need to be better at home.   Dallas was 28-13 last season.  He wants to see that win total north of 30, shooting for a mark of at least "31 or 32".

*And speaking of the head coach, Carlisle is sporting a new look: a buzz cut.  Your thoughts?


Many of the said they preferred longer-locked Carlisle.  Roddy B was smart and issued a "no comment" when I asked him about it.

Apparently Carlisle is into it, giving Mavs photo guru Danny Bollinger a close-crop cut as well.  Still hunting for pics on those.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Are There Football Spies Among Us? TCU Thinks So

TCU's Gary Patterson thinks there's a spy in the college football ranks.  Not quite 007-style but he does think the Baylor Bears got an edge on Saturday in something that someone saw at a Frog practice or scrimmage.

Patterson says the Bears ran a particular play against his team that has only been run by one group.

"Our own offense," he said.  "When would you have seen that?  Sometime in the spring in a scrimmage? Some other time?"

"I've been playing Art Briles going back to Houston and he's never lined up and ran a read option out of a double-wing, tight end formation, ever. But there's only team that ever has: our offense. So where would you see that?"

"People come to our scrimmages in the spring and the fall," he explaines. "There (are) a lot of guys that are ex-coaches now that can write down on a piece of paper how you defend each other."

It's one reason why he limits media access to practice.  Like most programs do, TCU only allows media members to attend and shoot practice during particular drills.  Practices are also, typically, closed to the public.  He admits he'd rather be overcautious in this area.

Even Patterson admitted he got some video from a newscast "five or six years ago" out of Lubbock that fired his kids up. "It's my job to help you do your jobs," he said referring to the media. "It's also my job to help my kids not get beat."

Patterson isn't the first coach to believe that there are football spies out there or that opposing teams can learn something from watching local newscasts.  When I covered the University of Tennessee, there was a rumor going around that a Vol scout was in Atlanta one weekend and saw something that the Bulldogs were working on in video used on an Atlanta affiliates 6pm newscast.

Who knows. 

The Cowboys took advantage of the Redskins a number of years ago when they charged admission to training camp.  Then-coach Dave Campo sent one of the Cowboys scouts to watch Redskins practice.  That Redskins game on September 18, 2000 resulted in Campo's first win, a game ball for the scout AND yours truly!
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TCU vs SMU: The Lesson Gary Patterson Learned from the 2005 Loss

It's the battle for the Iron Skillet.  4th-ranked TCU puts its 3-0 record on the line when they play 2-1 SMU on Friday in University Park.  The Frogs will be the highest ranked opponent ever to visit Ford Stadium.

The Famous Skillet Getting Air-Time
Honestly, many of the current TCU players have no clue what the Iron Skillet is. 

"Isn't it something you cook in?" half-joked safety Tejay Johnson.

The trophy for the winner of this game was born after the post-WWII college football boom, according to both schools.  TCU and SMU students created the ceremonial trophy that was given to the game's winner.  The tradition died but was resurrected in 1993.

TCU's Gary Patterson has only lost once to SMU in his ten years as the Frogs head coach.  That one loss came on September 10, 2005 when the then-Phil Bennett coached Ponies beat TCU 21-10, ending the school's six-game win streak over the Mustangs.  It was the Frogs only loss of the season. 

The loss came a week after TCU had upset 5th ranked Oklahoma in Norman.  Let down game?  Trap game?  What happened the week between the OU win and the SMU loss?  Patterson explained during his weekly media briefing on Tuesday.

"The mistake I made is that I shouldn't have let anybody come to my practice," Patterson said.  "I was asked by my marketing group if I would allow media to come see our team because nobody had really showed up and we'd been 5-6 before in 2004."

"I let people come down and talk to my players on the field after practice on Sunday and treat them like celebrities.  That's the way they played all week.  They didn't concentrate they didn't do anything they needed to do to get ready for the ballgame."

So is Patterson doing anything differently this week, after the win over Baylor?  Well considering it's a short week and the game is this Friday, they'll be in shorts all week.  Patterson has found it keeps them fresher when they don't have a full week between games.  Another lesson learned.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Cowboys Locker Room Report: Don't Believe the Hype

That's what a number of Cowboys players were trying to tell the media today, doing their best to channel Public Enemy.  Unfortunately, I don't think we're the ones that need convincing of that.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh brought up the fact that the Cowboys are constantly mentioned in the same breath as this year's Super Bowl.  Receiver Roy Williams alluded to it, as well. 

To that you have to ask - isn't it the Cowboys themselves that are doing it?  Remember quarterback Tony Romo on stage at the Cowboys training camp kickoff party in San Antonio telling fans that he would "See them at the Super Bowl!!!!!".
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pet Friendly Paradise: Hotels That Get it Right

MSNBC has a nice little piece on pet-friendly hotels in the U.S.  While I haven't stayed at any of the properties profiled, I have braved the plane hell and hotel hassle of bringing my dog with me on the road and found some great options.

Birdie in San Antonio
All Kimpton properties are pet friendly.  I brought my dog, Birdie, to Seattle where we stayed in the Alexis Hotel   which is within walking distance to Pike Place market.  It was fabulous.  They had a gourmet dog-bone welcome gift for Birdie, as well as their own beautiful lab on staff.

From Seattle we stayed at the Pacific Palisades hotel in Vancouver, another Kimpton property which welcomed us with open arms.  Birdie's gift was a simple little travel dog bowl from Ikea.  They were nice enough to decorate it and it's become our travel bowl for her any time we're on the road.  It was a cheap little item that the staff put some effort into making special.  Smart gesture on their part as it has become a lasting, warm memory for our family.

Many more pet-friendly hotels come to mind.  Birdie has visited the Hotel San Jose in Austin, a few Ritz-Carlton properties, the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi and Hotel ZaZa in Houston where she got on tv when a local station did a story profiling hotels that have "gone to the dogs".


We've also stayed in New York's Waldorf-Astoria, where the doormen absolutely fell in love with Birdie.  I was surprised at how accommodating they were.  They were just fabulous. 

The security guards at a particular office building on Park Avenue didn't appreciate it, however, when she decided to use the bathroom on their greenspace outside the skyscraper (of course, we picked it up!) When a dog's gotta go, she just has to go.


Some Advice: 
Check the hotel's website regarding its pet policy but go the extra step to call the property directly.  With Kimpton properties, you know they are pet friendly but you still have to let them know you are coming with your pet.  Also some hotels use their own discretion.  The Waldorf-Astoria's website said one thing, while the representative from the hotel said another.

Some hotels charge crazy-high fees while others allow pets for free.  It's on a hotel by hotel basis and it's always better to call the property and get a contact name of a hotel representative in case there's any discrepancy or confusion.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rangers Beat the Yankees: By the Numbers

There are a million numbers you can look at from any baseball game.  Here are a few quickies I thought were mildly interesting from last night's 13-inning marathon Rangers 6-5 win over the Yankees.

19: Pitchers used by both teams - tied for most ever, setting a new AL record
15: Rangers Magic Number
11: the number of pitches David Murphy had in his first at-bat in the first inning resulting in an single, also the number of pitchers used by the Rangers (a new team record)
9: Number of walkoff wins the Rangers have had this season
7.5: Rangers AL West lead over the A's
5 and 12: hours and minutes of last night's game, longest this season
4: Career-high number of RBI Julio Borbon had last night
3: Innings pitched by CJ Wilson - tied for his shortest outing this season, also the number of consecutive wins by Texas and the number of freaky members of the Blue Man Group that will haunt me forever
2: The number of total AND walkoff wins the Ranger have over the Yankees this season
1.5: Yankees AL East lead over the Rays
1: The number of runs the Rangers bullpen allowed in 10 innings
0: Doses of caffeine, cups of coffee or green tea I had last night.  That might change today.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Travel Tips For Women Who Love To Travel Alone

parc de la cuitadella, barcelona, spain
Taking a selfie, before it was called a selfie, at Parc de la Cuitadella during a solo trip to Barcelona in 2008

The New York Times focused on the rise of solo travel recently and how the industry is reacting to it. People who are afraid of traveling alone befuddle me.  By virtue of having to live and work all over the world for the sake of my real job, I've never had a fear of going anywhere or doing anything by myself.

A girlfriend of mine thinks I'm crazy but it's a matter of not wanting to wait.  I don't have the luxury of a flexible schedule so when I have the free time, I jump on a plane.  I don't want to wait for a friend or a boyfriend to go with me.  By most accounts, my single girls who won't go anywhere alone want a boyfriend or husband to take them.  If I'd waited for that, I would have never left Dallas!

Antoni Gaudi, Solo Travel
La Perdera, Barcelona

The great thing about going it alone is that you can do absolutely whatever you want.  Want to sleep till noon and have a theme-park dinner at 10pm in the Tivoli Gardens?  No problem.  Plan to spend all day on the Mediterranean Sea?  You can.  Want to sit at that cafe right off the Seine River and people watch in Paris for two hours, you can and no one will complain.  There is no one to tell you can't.  It's the ultimate freedom.

You meet the most fascinating people.  I had dinner with the actual Pep, of Barcelona's famed Cal Pep restaurant one night.  He was busy but spent time with during dinner at his magnificent restaurant explaining the dishes in broken English.    

 From Balcony at Les Ombres
I've lived in Guam, vacationed in Tel Aviv, run a half marathon in Jerusalem and jetted to Barcelona and Paris all solo, not to mention countless solo sojourns for work.  I would do it time and again but there are some definite things a single chick on the go should do to make sure she's around to do it again.

Keep It Close and Closed
When strolling solo through Barcelona's Gothic Quarter or gawking at the Eiffel Tower, you'll be alone in a sea of people.  First and foremost, keep your purse closed and tucked securely under your arm.  I don't bring a big backpack, for many reasons, but for the purposes of being safe it's impractical.  A pickpocket or thief can grab something out of one of those zipper pockets even if it's securely closed with safety pin or other attachment.  I carry a nice mid-size bag, nothing too big or too small, and keep it closed at all times. Barrington Gifts Stadium Crossbody bag or GiGi New York's Madison Crossbody are great for touring a city.

Don't Carry Your Entire Wallet 
Tallin, Estonia
I have a little cigarette holder and while I have never smoked, it's the perfect credit card and cash holder.  I always bring that along with me when out and about.  I fill it with one credit card (not that ATM card, keep that separate), a copy of my passport and some local currency.  I usually don't exchange currency.  I have an international ATM card that charges significantly less fees and commissions when changing money so I generally just get local currency through an ATM.  That is a separate trip I will make in the morning while I am out getting coffee or breakfast.  With your mini-wallet,  if you do have the unfortunate luck of it getting lifted, at least not everything is gone.  Carry just one card and some cash for the day. 

Don't Bling It

This is a tough one for me.  One of the few things in the world I love as much as traveling is jewelry.  Sue me.....I have jewelers in my family.  But when overseas or traveling solo, I wear the less expensive goods.  I have a great big shell ring, some silver pieces and beaded necklaces that I bring.  None of the good stones or really nice watches.  With a lot of sparkles on your hands or ears, you will stick out like a sore thumb and in a bad way.  You will attract attention of potential pickpockets, gypsies or others who might think you a good candidate to rob, attack or do something even worse.  Don't do it.  It's just not worth it.

Click HERE for more suggestions on travel jewelry.

Old City, Jerusalem, Israel
Old City, Jerusalem

Dress Appropriately
I learned this the hard way.  I was walked through Jerusalem's Old City and got terribly lost.  I was wearing an outfit that, honestly, was pretty conservative for me: a long-sleeved knit top, denim skirt and closed-toe shoes.  Having my legs exposed as I was unknowingly walking towards the Muslim Quarter was the mistake of a lifetime.  I had men sneering at me and hurling words I didn't understand towards me.  Finally, it took a sweet, little 12-year old to clue me in. 

"You must stop," he said.

"I'm just trying to get out of here," I replied.

"No," he responds.  "You are not Muslim.  That is the Muslim Quarter.  You are not allowed."

Light bulb moment.  Message understood.

Walking back to my hotel, I got more awful comments thrown my way by a variety of men.  It was really one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had.  The rest of the trip, it was jeans and long-sleeved shirts.

Don't Let Them Know You're Solo
Part of the fun of traveling solo is that you meet a variety of people and end up chatting with some lovely folks.  Some, though, not so lovely.  Don't let them know you're alone.  If some inquiring mind asks you why you're eating alone, or hiking by yourself, just say you're visiting your dad or that your brother is back at the hotel.  My father actually lives in Israel and spent a few days of my time there with me.  He didn't have the stamina to run around with me all day, so I would be alone most of the time.  The "dad at the hotel line" worked quite a bit for me when dealing with those guys. 


What About You? 
Are you a solo traveler? Is there a place you're dying to visit by yourself? I would love to explore Romo solo. Let me know in the comments section. Have a question about visiting a city solo? Email me. 

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday's Cowboys/Rangers #'s are in & the Winner is....

It's so funny.  People say one thing and then do another.   Shocking.

I get email after email from fans telling me to shutup about the Cowboys preseason.   The games don't matter.  Give the division-leading Rangers the respect and coverage they deserve.   Those are the tame suggestions. 

So out of curiosity, I asked the good peeps in the Twitterverse what they would be watching  Saturday night.  The Cowboys/Texans and Rangers/A's would be competing for viewers' attention with both games being broadcast at the same time.

Here is a sampling of the responses:
-Rangers in a division game withe second place team most definitely better than cowboys pre season
-100% Rangers no brainer
-which game counts and which is an "exhibition"?
-Both...Cowboys 1st, then Rangers.

I got about 30 responses and it was about 3-1 Rangers over Cowboys, although the Ticket's Sean Bass had the most pragmatic approach tweeting "Tomorrow night is why god created the dvr."

The numbers are in, courtesy of UncleBarky.com, and while the Cowboys were a doormat for the Texans on the field Saturday night, they killed the Rangers in the ratings battle.  The Cowboys averaged 644,698 viewers while the Rangers had 128,940 on Fox Sports Southwest.  Uncle Barky notes it's one of their lowest-watched broadcasts since the the All-Star break.

Interesting.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Barcelona Food Porn

Entrance to La Boqueria

Paris gets all the love.  No doubt it should, it's home to some of the world's best and most innovative  restaurants.  But Barcelona's cuisine is fresh, flavorful and stunningly executed.  From sampling cheese, fruit and cortaditos in La Boqueria (where I would begin every day) to some of the more elegant and refined tapas bars, there is an explosion of flavors to be found in Barcelona.  There were three spots, though, on my latest trip to the Catalan capital really blew me away and I had to share.

Bar Mut



The first was Bar Mut, a popular wine and tapas bar in L'Eixample.  This is a local spot.  In fact when I got there and tried to order in my bad Spanish, my server told me to wait while he got the one English speaking server in the joint to assist me.  I needed it because some of the menu items needed explaining.

I started with the jamon iberico, widely considered the world's finest.  Before I go any further, I hate ham. Can't stand it.  Yet, I could wear a dress made of the cured, nutty meat and eat my way through it even if Karl Lagerfeld himself hand-sewed it.  It's amazing.  The pigs are fed things like barley, maize, chestnuts and acorns resulting in a slightly sweet yet salty, nutty flavor that is stunning.

Following the ham, we had the razor clams that were simply sauteed in parsley and olive oil.  I ordered the small clams and wish I had gotten the larger ones because they were delicious yet hard to get out of their little shells.  From there it was on to cheese and mussels.     

The particular night we were there was a holiday, the Festival de Sant Joan, that celebrates the summer solstice.  It's sort of  like a non-independence day July 4th holiday: fireworks light up the sky, families celebrate on the beaches or head out to eat.  The tiny Bar Mut was packed with families enjoying the night.  It was quite the authentic, upscale Catalan experience.


La Torreta de L'Escorial
While making the three-mile uphill walk from our hotel to the beautiful Park G├╝ell, my boyfriend and I started to get faint around 1pm.  He noticed this cute little pink building on the right side of the street that I was convinced was a doctor's office.  Wrong again.  It turned out a quaint, charming neighborhood restaurant.

We were the only Americans in the joint.  There wasn't an English speaking server or English menu so my bad Spanish skills were put to the test but I did ok except for dessert.

Both of  us ordered the menu of the day, which came with either soup or salad, a choice of three entrees and a dessert.  Water, beer or a cold carafe of red wine was also included.

Both of us started with the gazpacho which was amazing.  It was a fresh puree of tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and herbs.  It wasn't the chunky salad-soup I was used to eating.  This was creamy and  unquestionably delicious.

The boyfriend ordered a sauteed chicken dish served with cooked pimientos de padron.  This was the first time I sampled the salty, sweet and almost smoky pepper.  I could have eaten a whole plate of those alone.

I ordered a salad.  It was fresh, simple lettuce salad served with fried fish filets.  I love fish, just not fried.  The flavor was actually quite good but a fried fish is just not my preferred choice.   Bad Spanish, again, biting me in butt.

We had our choice of desserts ranging from a flan to a beautiful cuatro leches cake.  Unfortunately, I ordered the ice cream.  My bad Spanish got me in trouble, again.  I thought I was ordering gelato (hello, helado!) which is served all over the city but, no.  This, however, was a brick of Neapolitan ice cream sliced out of a box. Blech.

What made this restaurant so special was the local flavor of it.  It's the kind of place where 70-year old men solve the world's problems over a full fish and three bottles of wine.  Or maybe it's more of a place where men take their secretaries, who may be a little more than there their secretaries, if you know what I mean.  At least that's what looked like was going on at the table next to ours.

I would go back again and again order the same ice cream out of a box just for the experience of it.

Santa Maria
Real food heaven came when we visited a place in El Born called Santa Maria.  It's sort of a luxury tapas concept run by a chef who is definitely fun.  He shoots YouTube videos of his creations which are definitely television worthy.

We did the tasting menu, which cost €27 per person and featured nine courses.  It was the absolute steal of a lifetime.  The wonderful tempranillo we had that night muddled my what-would-have-definitely-been perfect recall so here are the highlights:

We started with a tiny peach-mango smoothie that was light, refreshing and a great amuse bouche.  Next was one of the most amazing salads I've ever consumed.  It featured shrimp, mint and avocado in a mojito-like vinaigrette.  Simply sublime.  The flavors were fresh, delicate and complemented each other perfectly.  A white fish ceviche followed and then it was hakefish topped with and avocado puree.

Frog legs were next on the menu.  I am embarrassed to say that I had never tried them until that night.  I can't say the cliche´ held true for me: they tasted supremely better than chicken.  They were lightly friend and seasoned in a way that I can only call "Barcelona style".  If you've been there you know what I mean.

A filet with apricots dressed in a whiskey sauce was served after the frog legs.  I can't say that was my favorite.  I am not a steak fan nor do I enjoy whiskey.  It was an interesting marriage of flavors but it was a course that I could have skipped.  Pickled cabbage was served with the filet.  An interesting choice in my opinion.  I would have rather had more frog legs or hakefish.

Dessert was perhaps the best.  The chef proved the urban legend wrong by combining fruit-flavored Pop Rocks with a Coca-Cola foam (a nod to Spain's most famous chef, Ferran Adrian) for a wonderful little concoction they call Dracula.  It was a simple, sweet mixture but fun to eat.  We spent a good five minutes trying to figure out what exactly it was we were eating.  Pop Rocks!  We finally determined.  Needless to say, we lived.

We weren't done.  At this point, my skinny jeans were about to bust.  We closed the meal with two small cookies, chocolate truffles and a little white chocolate, nut concoction that was sort of a better tasting version of the infamous white trash party treat

This was a NIGHT.  An absolute treasure of an evening that lasted a good three hours. We walked the mile and a half back to our hotel at one in the morning satiated but hungry for another dining experience like that.

Anyone who has visited Barcelona knows the food is one of the highlights of a trip there.  From the traditional Catalan pa amb tomaquet to freshly caught mussels or the Dracula dessert, the food there is a study in Catalan and Spanish culture.  It might force you out of your culinary comfort zone because you can definitely run into a rogue calf brain here and there.  But if you just trust the menu and kind of go with it, you will create a food memory that will last a lifetime and will definitely have you longing for more.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What to Look for at Next Month's Landry Exhibit at the State Fair of Texas

Forget walls.  You will want a door to talk when you're done reading this.

What door am I talking about?  The one that will be on display during next month's State Fair of Texas at
an exhibit called "Remembering Tom Landry: The Personal Collection."

The Dallas Historical Society is compiling the artifacts and many never before seen items in the exhibit which Landry's widow, Alicia, collected over the years.

Their son, Tom Landry Jr., gave me a preview of some of the things you will see.  As expected, there will be a number of fedoras which Landry so famously wore on the sideline while coaching the Cowboys.  One of the more interesting objects is that aforementioned door.  It came from Landry's actual office at the Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch.  A Cowboys fan carved the door for the former coach.  Landry Jr. said that was one of his personal favorites. 

No doubt you will find your own if you get a chance to visit the exhibit.  But just imagine some of the conversations that took place behind that door?  Again.....if it could only talk.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium Facelift

Amon Carter stadium is getting a facelift.  


Not this kind. 


The school is working with HKS Sports and Entertainment group, the same folks that did JerryWorld, to renovate the aging complex.  It's a $105 million renovation on the west side and north endzone.


TCU says in a release that "the renovation greatly enhances the fan experience by improving stadium accessibility, seating and views of the playing field".

The renovation consists of:

• Significantly upgraded and new concession stands for better access and reduced wait times
• Elevators and escalators to better facilitate stadium accessibility and crowd flow
• A new, raised seating bowl on the west and north end for enhanced field views
• Upgraded and additional men’s and women’s restrooms
• Suites, club seating and lounges on the west side of the stadium
• A new press box 



I say THANK GOD to the bathroom and press box elevator improvements.  Trust me, any stadium built before 1990 needs help in the ladies room department.  And that TCU press box elevator was like a ride on an aging roller coaster: it would lurch up and down barely reach the press box. We should get hazard pay for riding in it. 


Good for TCU.  They have a great little scene going on over there during football games.  These are some great and much-needed improvements.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

A French Lesson

Jordan and a new playmate at the park!

You know the stereotype. The one that persists that the French are rude, snooty and cannot stand "zeeee Ugly Americans in zeir fanny bags and tennees shoezz". That label is almost as pervasive as the misperception that all Texans drive convertible Cadillacs with longhorns attached the hood, sporting cowboys hats and boots with oil wells and mustangs in the back yards.

Harry's American Bar, Paris | TheGinaMiller.com
Harry's American Bar, Paris
Granted, you could find someone to fit each of the aforementioned stereotypes but both are wildly off the mark. When I was recently in Paris, I didn't encounter one rude Parisian, snooty waiter or anyone who was beaten down with my attempts to recall and actually speak my high school French that would have Madame McBride exclaim "Quelle horreur!"

My crash course in French culture came to life in, of all places, Harry's American Bar. It was dead empty save for the bartender, a Frenchmen named Gerard, and a British man who now lives in Paris. We gave our customary "Bonjour" to both men and went to the bar. We waited for Gerard, who was sharing a glass of champagne with the expat Brit, to come to us at the bar to ask for our order. We ordered our champagne and thanked him.

Gerard and Jim
A couple of glasses later, the expat Brit left for his family's Sunday dinner and Gerard was deep in conversation with us. About this time, an American couple walks in wearing jeans, tennis shoes and, yes, dual fanny bags worn tightly around their waists. Already fitting the stereotype the gentleman barks "two Bloody Mary's!".

"You can always tell the Americans," Gerard whispers to me. "They never say hello, please or thank you."

That was incredibly telling! The French aren't rude or snooty. What they want is politeness. They are overly polite. Think about it: any time you read a French guidebook or watch a travel show on Paris, authors and hosts always advise you to say "bonjour", "s'il vous plait" and "merci" when going into a store or restaurant because the shopkeepers and owners feel as if you are entering their homes.

The French just want us to make the effort: dress properly and offer a simple hello while enjoying and respecting the beauty, history and culture their country offers. It's sort of a throwback to earlier era in the U.S. which is something I kind of like.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Your Thoughts on Rangers Auction

Some of you want Mavericks owner Mark Cuban involved in the ownership of the Texas Rangers.  Many more of you don't.

Here's a sampling of your feedback via twitter:

bohemianrose: I would much rather see Nolan Ryan as the new Rangers owner... Cuban kind of scares me...

davesteinbach: Hard to deny the turnaround of the team under Ryan. He's building vs. spending. Gimme Nolan.

KyleGathright: best case scenario is right there. Cuban will spend the $ to win and if he listens to Nolan we will win.

57Healey: But, I would rather it be Crane/Cuban as they have the money to invest in the club after the purchase, maybe keep Lee

Gravypan: Not Cuban. Tired of the way he's undermined Greenburg/Ryan in the last few weeks

iamfelipa: for sure Cuban. He makes things fun. I would see alot of fan contests and promotions like he does for the @dallasmavs

MCinDallas: I pick Cuban if Ryan stays. He'll spend but Ryan has shown aggressive moves lately. Just wonder how it'd be if he were owner

fpgiv: Please let the Greenberg/Ryan group win. Can't handle seeing Cubes dancing and wearing RFFL t-shirts behind dugout.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rangers Want Someone But Can They Get Him?

On our TXA21 pregame show, Rangers president Nolan Ryan didn't hesitate a bit when asked what this team could be in the market for as the trade deadline approaches.

"A veteran right-handed hitter," Ryan said.  "We face so many left handers and it would help to have that guy in the lineup or have him on the bench.  If we had a key situation where we needed a right hander to face a left hander and not have to send a let hander up there, that would be something that we would certainly have an interest in."

You had to see it to believe it: A Lady-Gaga-loving fan I found post-concert. .
Infer from it what you may but all signs say Ryan is alluding to the hole that is Lady-Gaga-loving Chris Davis.  He's your biggest concern thanks to the fact he's batting .184.  That being said, his defense is passable. You could have made the case that Justin Smoak was a drop-off from a defensive standpoint.

Finding a veteran right-handed hitter that can be effective is undoubtedly easier said than done.  To paraphrase Bill Parcells: this isn't a 1-800-dial-a-power-hitter league.

"Those opportunities don't come along very often," Ryan conceded.

You can't walk into Costco and pick up the guy like you can a five-pound container of spinach artichoke dip.  So, I ask you, with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching on July 31st,  are you content with what Texas currently offers or are you hoping for another move?

Do you have a number of someone who can help?
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dez's Deal is Done

Hold out, schmold out.  Okay that was weak. 

What isn't is how quickly and efficiently the Cowboys worked out a deal with receiver Dez Bryant.  Many speculated this would be a hold out situation but the Cowboys and Bryant's agent, Eugene Parker, started talking Monday and were able to come to agreement today.  Bryant is the first of this year's first-round picks to agree to a deal.

The DMN's Todd Archer says it's a five-year deal worth $11.8 million.

"This was very important to me to be able to get this done in time for the first practice," Bryant said in a team-issued statement. "I want to help this team. I want to compete. I can't wait to start playing football again."

My money says that's the best quote we'll get from him all year. 
Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones is meeting with the media Thursday night.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trust LeBron: If You Want to Meet the Hotties, You Gotta Take Pilates

LeBron James has sent half a dozen emails and twitter questions to me.  Okay, not him, but his tweet has you got you, dear peeps, asking me a few things.

On July 15th @KingJames (self-esteem is NOT an issue w/ him) tweeted: "just got done putting in work at my high school. Great workout! Headed to pilates class now". 

A few folks recalled that I have blogged about and done a story on CBS11 about pilates.  Many more just asked how to pronounce it.  Pih-lah-tees.  You're welcome. 

Tons of professional athletes practice pilates: LeBron James and DeMarcus Ware just to name a few.  It gives them an incredibly strong core, which is essential for everything they do.  But it doesn't matter if you play football, crunch numbers at a desk or cart kids around all day, pilates can help you move better in every aspect of your life.  I always get the "How tall are you?" question.  I respond by saying  my height depends on how much pilates I do in a given week.  Men take note: pilates improves your posture in ways you can't believe, giving you an extra inch or even two.

I could rave on and on about it.  Instead, I am reposting a blog entry I did on the practice in April:

April 6, 2010 
If You Want to Meet the Hotties, You Gotta Take Pilates
An NBA player, I am 90% certain you know, told me that.  I had heard he was taking classes at a popular gym.  I asked him about it and he simply responded with "If you want to meet the hotties, you gotta take pilates!"  Then he proceeded to form a wide sh!t-eating grin which led me to believe that he did, in fact, meet some hotties.  
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fenway Park Fun in Photos

View looking up to the press box from the camera well next to the Rangers dugout.
From fighting through hour-long rain delays that forced fans to jam-pack into the concourse to learning the significance of the red seat in right field, we did Fenway Park.  I didn't know quite what to expect.  It blew me away.

The structure is old and dated, yet its history is unmistakable and it possesses a charm that no amount of money can buy.  Here are a few of our photographic highlights, taken with the crappiest cell phone camera HTC makes.   Have to dedicate these pics to my friend, Andrea Bohnen.  She's a ginormous Red Sox fan and would have rocked the experience much more than me.

All the pics after the jump.  Enjoy!!!!!


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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fenway Fun

Rangers Thursday Workout
Rumor has it that the first time Roger Clemens arrived at Fenway Park in a cab in 1984, he thought the cab driver made a mistake.  I can see why.  On a non-gameday, Fenway could look like something you'd see in an urban warehouse district. 

"The cab ride in is always fun," said Michael Young.  "You have a ball park pop up in the middle of the neighborhood."

This is my first trip here and I am digging it.  I've been to some minor league ballparks that are nicer than these hallowed grounds.  That being the case, it's an almost refreshing change from the MEGA-BILLION-MONOLITHIC-STADIUMS/BALLPARKS-ON-STEROIDS.  Fenway doesn't scream at you from a highway.  It just sort of invites you to come hang out and enjoy a game. 

Rangers Dugout Looking out to Green Monster
David Murphy played his first major league game here with the Red Sox and still thinks coming to Boston is cool.  "Everybody's going to the new expensive ballparks which are nice but to step in the batter's box on the field where so many incredible players have played and a lot of big games have been played it's just, as a baseball player, you find that special."

The Red Sox have spent more than $100 million dollars adding seats and upgrading the park but according to many Rangers perhaps the best improvement has nothing to do with aesthetics.  Well, at least visual ones.  I'd heard that Fenway sometimes stuck with you after you left.  Kind of like the stench of a smoky bar that lingers on your clothes for a few days. 

One Ranger, who shall remain nameless, mentioned to me that the vile, etched-in-the-concrete smell of  urine/beer is gone. 

 "It feels different because they changed the tunnel from the dugout to the clubhouse," Josh Hamilton told me.  When I asked him if it smelled better he smiled and said "Much!"
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rangers Are Back in Boston and So Am I

It's my first YouTube chat in FOREVER! We're in Boston for two games of the Red Sox series. We got a a big bag o' fun. At least we hope.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where to Get Your Final World Cup Fix

This is it.  Your last chance to come down with World Cup Fever until 2014.  Just watching these matches is a better scene than being at some live sporting events.  While in Paris recently, I took in a two matches at the FIFA Fan Fest in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  AMAZING.  In Barcelona, I watched a few at a beach side bistro, one in a tapas bar and one from the rooftop of a Gothic Quarter hotel.  All experiences of a lifetime.

There are a few places in Dallas that can give you that real European soccer experience.  I traipsed all over North Texas and found two fabulous options.  Whether you're rooting for Spain to win its first World Cup or hoping that for the Netherlands the third time is the the charm, these places will almost transport you across the pond.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

How The Cliff Lee Trade Unfolded in the Rangers Clubhouse

The timeline of the Rangers/Mariners trade was fascinating.  Watching this franchise-defining moment develop in the clubhouse was even better.

The Rangers clubhouse opens to the media at 3:35 before a 7:05 game.  Our first order of business is to check the lineup posted on the wall.  I noticed Joaquin Arias was playing first base instead of Justin Smoak.  Not unusual but interesting.

Manager Ron Washington typically does his media interviews shortly after we get in but not on Friday.  While we were waiting for Washington, we got some interviews with pitcher Matt Harrison, who was scheduled to start on Saturday, and Michael Young.

About 10 minutes later, still no call from Rangers PR man John Blake to talk to Washington.  Very curious.  Around that time, our ears are straining to try to hear anything being whispered.  Blackberries are working overtime with some of us, me mostly, overtweeting.  I sent the following around 3:50-ish or so, knowing something was going down: interesting day in rangers clubhouse. #anythingcanhappen. #fb
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Your Thoughts on the 3-Headed Heat Monster

You hate it.  I get it.

With the signings of Chris Bosh and LeBron James, the Miami Heat have formed a three-headed Bosh-James-WadeMonster. 

Not to be confused with Lost's Smoke Monster.  

But you despise it with every fiber of your being.  Not the Smoke Monster but this new look Heat team.  You hate the fact the Heat have got, on paper, the best team in basketball.  I don't need to remind you every girl's "good on paper" mantra.

You Mavs fans, of course, have hated the Heat for a few years.  Here are some of comments you sent me via twitter:

Claybo4131 I expect the NBA wants Lakers-Heat for the next 5 or 6 years

jdhainley  they are not a lock. they still have to contend with boston in the east and all of the western conference, including mavs  

HLmotorcars  Mavs Fans should be very Thankful we have Dirk, and that Loyalty still means something to some players in the NBA.

mkuhn325 If egos don't tear them apart they'll be a tough team to beat. Remember the 08-09 Cowboys?
 
FromDa401 not a lock to win it all. Celtics big 3 = success. the Miami superteam could be a disaster. it's a wait and see approach.  

RRavidgolfer No, they still need key contributors off the bench. Although some might want to play for the Heat now for less $$$.  
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Go Back Time by Getting Out of Town: Newport, RI


I was just telling someone this weekend how much I love Newport, Rhode Island.  It's like traveling back in time to another era.  Mark Twain  coined the term the "Gilded Age" to describe the era of excess that defined Newport.  That excess still exists but so does a restrained elegance that makes Newport so magical.

What a treat to get to my New York Times (finally) and see the travel section did a story titled "12 Unexpected History Trips".  Newport is on that list along with some of my other favorite cities including Washington D.C., Palm Springs.  The article suggests hitting all the mansions, I would add hitting Flo's clamshack and taking a tour of old Doris Duke Foundation homes in town.  I stayed in one built in the 1700's and it had a remarkably solid wooden structure build like nothing else.

I've spent a few summers in Newport touring Vanderbilt mansions, watching croquet matches with the intensity I would a Mavericks playoff game and having lunch with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' stepbrother (he had a thing for my hostess).  It's a special, special place.  You never know who you might meet.  When Jackie's stepbrother was talking to me having about lunch with the "President", I thought he was referring to the president of a beach club.  Turns out he was referring to JFK.

Only in Newport.  Trust me.
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World Cup Fever: Can Soccer Become a Permanent US Obsession?

I was getting coffee Tuesday morning and overheard two men talking about the World Cup.  Soccer was "about to explode" in the US according to these grande drip drinkers.  Many of my friends who had know clue who Messi or Miroslav Klose were a month ago can now tell you why Argentina failed and why Germany is such a dominant team.   The World Cup definitely has the US thinking, talking and tweeting soccer like mad.

Didn't we hear this during last World Cup?  I know I did when the World Cup was actually in the United States in 1994.  Six matches were played in the Cotton Bowl.  The great David Beckham walked through our fair town.  None of that, though, translated into a soccer boom.  Sure there might have been some growth but not the exponential kind officials and diehards had hoped.

How long has soccer been the favorite sport of young kids?  At least for a good twenty years.  It hasn't translated into a booming soccer fanbase in the US.  There are packed youth soccer fields across North Texas every Saturday morning with soccer moms and dads as boisterous and passionate as any drunken Philadelphia Eagles fan I've ever seen.  Yet, I've covered plenty MLS soccer games and there are empty seats galore.

The US is trying hard to host the 2018 World Cup.  I've heard from numerous sources that Cowboys Stadium is lobbying hard to host some of the matches.  No doubt that if there is a World Cup back in the States in eight years, it will be a World Cup on steroids.  A very American-sized, McMansion version of the world's favorite sporting event.  HD television and national tv contracts will help but if the World Cup does return, like those McMansions, I think it will be just a temporary boom.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

How Much Do You REALLY Like Mike? Rangers Want You to Prove It

This MLB All-Star game vote-in is getting intense.  You know the drill: cast your vote for one of the final five spots on the AL All-Star team and the player with the most votes gets to go.

Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher appealed to his 1,218,231 Twitter followers (at last count) with the following cry:

I need yalls help! Go to www.yankees.com and vote as many times as you want and #SENDSWISH .

It's working, as Swisher currently has the early lead in voting.  Boston's Kevin Youkilis is second, followed by Rangers third baseman Michael Young, who's made six straight All-Star game appearances.

In effort to get more fans to vote for Young, the Rangers will enter voters into a sweepstakes drawing for a suite to a 2010 Rangers home game for each of the first 25 times they vote for Young.  Today they added another incentive.

Jump for the cut and paste release.
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Parisian Fashion Observations...Men, Pay Attention!

What a treat to be in Paris earlier this June.  Forget the gardens, monuments and Fete de la Musique!  Yes, they were all fabulous.   But perhaps even better than the wine, strolling along the Seine and the soccer was the people watching.  It was just as much of a sport as was exploring the city.

Let me tell you: I've been all over the world and haven't had as much fun checking out the visual eye candy as I did in Paris.  It was fascinating discovering what the Parisians wore.

Surprisingly, the women weren't as uber-chic as I thought they would be.  Many of them wore suits to work or a simple dress.  I did see one young lady dressed entirely in vintage 80's fashions who put together a look that, in concept, might not be so hot but, on her, was amazing.  She had on sort of MC Hammer gypsy pants, a polka dot short-sleeved shirt with an olive-colored vest.  She carried a vintage alligator clutch and looked spectacular.  I know it sounds kind of goofy but it was very now.

What I did notice is that big statements rings were adorning the hands of many women.  Everywhere I looked they were sporting a big, honking cocktail or stone ring.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a statement ring.  My always impeccably dressed colleague, Mr. Laufenberg, constantly gives me crap for wearing big rings.  Big ring wearers are on trend right now but it's one I've always subscribed to and one I don't think I'll ever give up.

What knocked my socks off was how impeccably dressed the men were!  They wore everything from slim, European-cut suits my stylish colleague Steve Pickett wears to colorful and perfectly blended resort shorts and casual looks.  It was the visual equivalent of a good, natural gelato: cool, elegant and something that I could take in all day long.  The men knew how to dress for their bodies and worked it like nothing I've seen in the States.

What really blew me away were the scarves.  French ladies are known for having a flair to wear a scarf that complements and completes a look.  But who knew the French men had such a knack for perfecting them?

I saw a number of men wearing scarves in place of a tie with their jacket-and-pant work ensemble but one man really epitomized Parisian chic.  He was having lunch two tables away from me at Cafe Balzac  in the 8th Arrondissement.  He was probably in his 60's with a full head of white hair and was having lunch with a gorgeous woman on an even more beautiful summer day.  He wore a camel-colored jacket with a slate-blue shirt and an elegant burgundy scarf knotted under his shirt collar.  I should have snapped a picture but I didn't want to look anymore like an American tourist than I already did but WOW.  He wasn't particularly handsome just incredibly put together and that made him stunningly attractive.  And let me say this: every woman who walked by the cafe noticed him.

It was proof that style has no gender rules or age limit.  Anyone can work it and it's amazing how far a little effort and fashion sense can go.

Here's a great link to some shots that GQ photographer Tommy Ton took of real European men on the street.  They may be a little "out there" for many Texans' tastes but they could be a springboard for experimenting with different looks.

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