Category: Dallas Stars (page 1 of 2)

Back from Chicago

I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Chicago on another of these nine quarterly retreats with Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Community. And while Mary and Hannah and I did some really great things up there, I’m struggling to get caught up with all the really cool things we missed here at home.

We always try to work in a fun event or two in Chicago as a needed balance to the oftentimes difficult self-reflection and introspection that happens on these retreats. We’ve been to a White Sox game, we’ve taken in the architectural boat tour (a lot more fun than it sounds), we’ve been to Harry Carey’s restaurant, and we’ve done the Bean downtown, Grant Park, and a comedy club. This time around we scheduled two things: the Chicago art museum and Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know we had to get a picture with the Ferris Bueller painting and Hannah had to get reprimanded more than once for getting too close to the art. And then Tuesday we hooked up with Grace, who lives in California, and Phil, who lives in another part of Texas — they’ve both become great friends — and saw “Hamilton” together at the historic downtown Chicago CIBC Theatre. The words came way too fast for me, but what a show! I wish I could see it again because I know I missed a bunch of funny, clever lines. The moving stage, the creative writing, the over-the-top performances, the comedy, the history — very impressive!

So, while we were away, Virginia topped Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. That’s fine. Nobody wanted Texas Tech to win. Except Tiffani and George. And they finished first and second in our annual Central staff bracket contest. Bragging rights and a free lunch. And, yes, Tiffani’s guns are up all year around. Heading into the Elite Eight, I was in first place and still had all four of my Final Four teams alive. I just needed Duke or Purdue or Kentucky or Gonzaga to win. Just one of those four teams. Just one more win, it didn’t matter who it was. But they all four lost and I’m watching it from a tiny TV at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago.  Good thing I had that deep dish supreme to console me. Final numbers: Tiffani-75, George-72, Kevin-71, Allan-70.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles opened up their inaugural home season in our brand new downtown ballpark on Monday. And I missed it! So we got there as fast as we could — last night — and watched our AA San Diego Padres affiliate beat the Corpus Christi Hooks in an entertaining slug fest. It was cold, too cold for baseball. But that’s always going to be Amarillo in April. It was 88-degrees on Wednesday and then 53-degrees yesterday. I’m going again Sunday when it’s supposed to be in the lower 70s. This is Whitney, Carrie-Anne, Karen, Mean Jean, Greg, and me trying to stay warm in Dale and Karen’s great seats behind home plate. What a beautiful ball park! I’m hoping to make about 30 of these games this summer.

I also missed Dirk Nowitski’s last game as a Dallas Maverick and I’ve had to go on-line to watch the stirring tribute the Spurs gave him in their arena in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. I’ve always admired the Spurs as a classy organization with a lot of pride and professionalism. We’ve all come to expect that from the Spurs. But they cranked it up a few notches for Dirk’s last game. During the introductions, they showed a video of Dirk highlights, mostly of Dirk dunking on Tim Duncan and shooting over Tony Parker and faking out Manu Ginobelli — it was a highlight reel of Dirk beating the Spurs! How really cool and unexpected! The Mavericks and Spurs are bitter Midwest Division rivals and they have played some significant games against each other over the years. There was about a ten year period there where the stakes were incredibly high every time these two teams faced off. And the highlight reel brought Nowitski to tears. And if you have a heart at all, it’ll probably choke you up, too.

Lastly — man, this is sports-heavy today — the NHL playoff season has begun and the Dallas Stars are in. Wednesday night they came from behind to beat Nashville 3-2 in the best-of-seven opener and I watched every exciting minute of it. It’s been a while for the Stars and I forgot just how intense and crazy the NHL’s second season really is. Breath-taking. Edge of your seat. So much fun. It’s border-line blasphemous to say, but NHL playoff hockey is better than football. Game two is tomorrow. Go Stars.

Peace,

Allan

Hat Trick!

Adam Cracknell scored his first career hat trick last night to help the Stars cruise past San Jose 6-1 at American Airlines Center and Whitney and I were there to see it! Thanks to Brenda we had just a really great night together. Until we settled into our seats at center ice during the warm up, I had forgotten how much I really, really love NHL hockey. For grace and speed and skill and tension and pace and athleticism and teamwork and pure non-stop action, nothing beats the NHL. I forgot. I forgot how much I love hockey. Thank you, Brenda! We had a blast.

We wrapped up our quick weekend trip to DFW this morning by meeting some of our oldest and best friends from Mesquite for breakfast at the Pioneer Restaurant in old Arlington. It turned into a two-hour deal and it easily could have gone until past lunch. Carrie-Anne and I and our family feel so blessed to love and be loved by the Reeves, Millers, and Moores for so long now. Our Lord has faithfully brought us all through so much over the past seventeen years. Together.

Peace,

Allan

Game Seven

StarsBluesGame7

I know it sounds blasphemous here in the great state of Texas. I know it cuts across all Texas sensibilities and goes against the grains of my culture and my upbringing. But here we go. I’m saying this and I’m standing by it:

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff hockey beats football any day of the week. And for energy, nerves, tension, excitement and drama, any Game Seven in the NHL playoffs beats any football game at any level. Ever.

The most obvious attraction to me is that overtime in a hockey playoff game is the only true “sudden death” of any sport. In basketball a tie game is settled with a ticking clock. In baseball the home team always gets a last at bat. In football you can generally see the end of overtime coming a mile away as the running back takes two harmless dives up the middle to set up the 40-yard field goal. But in hockey, overtime always ends suddenly. Without warning. A turnover in neutral ice, an odd-man rush off a nasty collision, a clang off a cross bar and behind the goalie — it’s fast and it’s completely unpredictable. The puck changes directions in a flash, faster than you can imagine, and your team goes from having all the numbers and all the momentum at one end of the ice to shaking hands and cleaning out their lockers in about two seconds. There’s nothing close to that kind of tension and drama in any other sport.

The thing, though, that I’ve come to appreciate more about hockey Game Sevens is the grind of the nearly two weeks it takes the two teams to get there. Even if the two teams are in different divisions and don’t have much of a rivalry, by the time they get to Game Seven, they know each other very well. The game is too physical, too demanding, to in-your-face intense. The two teams and all their players have worked up a true distaste for each other by this point. But take a true division rivalry, like with the Stars and Blues who face off in a Game Seven tonight in Dallas for a berth in the Western Conference Championship, and it’s hatred with felonious intent. For the fans, after six games, we’ve come to know the opposition players almost as well as we know our home team. But for the players themselves, there’s an animosity between them that adds another layer to the competition that’s not duplicated by any other sport.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. But as Brent Gilchrist said after a crushing Game Seven defeat to the Edmonton Oilers at Reunion Arena in ’97, you’re never more alive than during a Game Seven.

There’s nothing like it in all of sports.

Go Stars!

Allan

No Mo

No Mo in DallasWe’ve been sort of preparing for this for over a year now. But it’s still really strange when it happens. The Dallas Stars today have announced that they are parting ways with All-Everything Center Mike Modano.

Modano is arguably the greatest American-born hockey player in history. An eight-time NHL All-Star. An eight-time team MVP. He holds 15 franchise records and eleven postseason records. It was Modano who assisted on all four of the Stars’ last goals in their ’99 Stanley Cup series win over the Sabres.

I have a theory about good guys in sports. There are many, many different kinds of characters and personalities in professional sports. There are guys who could pull up a chair with you and your buddies at Whataburger or Chili’s and join in the conversation and you’d never know they were famous. There are some who feel they are far superior to everybody else in the room and openly treat others as if they are less than human. Most are somewhere in between. It’s been my experience in 19-years of sports radio — 14 of that covering professional sports — that hockey players are, by far, the best of the bunch. Down-to-earth. Humble. Regular guys. And Modano was among the best of the best.

He is to the Stars what Staubach was / is to the Cowboys.

Mike Modano-22 years with the StarsI remember a short conversation with Tom Hicks on a January night in 2003, inside the Stars’ dressing room underneath American Airlines Center. The team had just honored Modano with a custom Harley and several other trophies in recognition of his 1,000th point and becoming the Stars’ all-time leader in games played. Hicks told me that Modano was always going to be a Dallas Star. I reminded the team owner that he had once said the same thing about Pudge Rodriguez always going to be a member of the Rangers. Pudge had just signed with the Florida Marlins a few weeks earlier after ten years in Arlington. Hicks looked at me and said, “Modano doesn’t have an idiot for an agent.”

Modano may test the free agency waters later this week. Or he may be finished as an NHL hockey player. We don’t know yet. He’s supposed to address all this with the media tomorrow morning.

Either way, much like Emmitt Smith will always be a Cowboy, Mike Modano will always be a Dallas Star. But I’m betting on Modano retiring. He won’t chase money or immortality with a desperate team in a lousy city. He won’t go play for the Cardinals. Or the Predators. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t have anything to prove.

Plus, he’s such a really good guy.

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Texas RangersThe Rangers and Angels open up a three-game series tonight at the Big A. And, even though it’s still June, I’m really, really looking forward to this.

The Rangers have the best 75-game record in team history. They’ve won 13 of their past 14. They have the second-best record in the American League. And they own a 4-1/2 game lead on the Halos in the West. But the Angels have won seven of ten. And they’ve captured the AL West five of the past six seasons.

I know. We haven’t even reached the All Star Game break yet. I know. We’re not supposed to care very much about these games. It’s not time yet.

But this is pretty big, isn’t it?

So far, the Rangers have put up huge numbers and tons of wins against losing teams. But they’ve not beat the good teams. Their record this year against the Yankees and Red Sox and other teams of like calibar does not inspire confidence. Not in me. So I think this series means a lot. Late Thursday night when this little three game set is over, the Rangers can be up 7-1/2 games in the division riding a wave of confidence or the Angels can have grabbed the momentum, having closed the gap to 1-1/2 games. Either the Angels realize that this Rangers team is different or they realize nothing’s changed at all. The results of this series can force the Halos to tighten up. Or to relax. The outcome can push Texas to greater heights or bring them back down to earth. The next three nights can launch the Rangers on a dramatic push to the pennant. Or it can be the beginning of their burial.

Or it might not mean anything much at all.

Peace,

Allan

Why Johnny Can't Preach

Why Johnny Can’t PreachI’ve just finished reading a short book by T. David Gordon, a professor of religion and Greek at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, on the current state of preaching in America. The book is titled Why Johnny Can’t Preach. And it claims Johnny can’t preach because 1) Johnny can’t read and 2) Johnny can’t write. Gordon points to the rapid changes in the mass media culture of this country that have taken us from a literate society to a society based on images. And he says it’s killing preaching.

This book doesn’t come close to the ultimate work on the community and societal dangers of technology. Neil Postman’s masterpiece, Amusing Ourselves to Death, asks the questions we all should be asking about not what technology can do for us, but what technology is doing to us. His book, in my judgment, begins and ends all of those kinds of discussions. Every other conversation on this topic is a commentary on what Postman observed 30 years ago.

Gordon’s book isn’t bad. He points out that the “average weekday network news sound bite from a presidential candidate shrank from 42.3 seconds in 1968 to 9.8 seconds in 1988 (with only one percent of the bites lasting as long as 40 seconds that year). By 2000, the average was 7.8 seconds.” And he cleanly shows that these kinds of facts cause, and are a reflection of, an increasing inability to think seriously about serious things. He notes correctly that TVs and computers and cell phones are ruining us for personal communication, the skills to read and listen for more than just information and the talents to correctly organize and compose one’s thoughts. So, preachers are increasingly unable to preach. And, even if they were, the congregation is increasingly unable to discern good preaching if they hear it.

He’s right. He’s just a little over the top. His passion certainly shines through. But it’s unyielding and rigid.

Notice these lines about the way watching TV dulls our abilities to tell the difference between the significant and the insignificant: “Television-watching prohibits such discernment. One simply cannot regard the significant as more important than the insignificant, and then plop himself in front of a television for two to three hours an evening. The only way the conscience can survive such a colossal waste of a human life is for the individual to refuse to entertain the question of the difference between the significant and the insignificant.”

It’s good. It’s right. He’s dead-on right. But it’s a little much, don’t you think?

Gordon does spend half a chapter or so on the subject of moralisms in our Christian preaching, the practice of telling the congregation they need to shape up and start acting better, without a word of grace regarding how the Lord empowers us to act better. It’s preaching imperative without indicative. And I really struggle with that. I’m overly careful about it in my own preaching. I try to always include God’s grace through Christ and the power of his Spirit that enables us to live for him. Yet, I’ll ocassionally go back and still find moralisms all through my sermons.

Here’s Gordon on moralisms, which are, in his words, “never appropriate” unless they’re presented in the context of redemption: “Even when the faithful exposition of particular texts requires some explanation of aspects of our behavior, it is always to be done in a manner that the hearer perceives such commended behavior to be itself a matter of being rescued from the power of sin through the grace of Christ. When properly done, the hearer longs to be rescued from that depravity from which no sinner can rescue himself; and the hearer rejoices to know that a kind and gracious God is both willing and able to begin that rescue, which will be completed in its glorification.”

That helps me. That helps me a lot. Focus, Allan, focus. That’s good stuff. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DaveTippettI regret the firing of Stars coach Dave Tippett, the nicest of the head coaches I ever had the pleasure of covering during my time in sports radio. His personality might have actually been a factor in his firing: too nice a guy. New Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who played the game hard and fair, who was everything you’d ever want in a team captain, is probably looking for a coach with a different kind of edge to try to make one or two quick postseason runs here with what is now an older team. Tippett was probably the right guy to take over for Ken Hitchcock who, despite taking the team to two Stanley Cup Finals and one title, had worn out his welcome with his star players. And it may be time for Tippett to go now, too. Who knows? But he was the last remaining of the four head coaches of Dallas’ major sports teams that I personally covered in my previous life. And one of my favorite. Although, I never got used to him without the mustache. Tippett was good for the Stars and he was good for his sport. He’ll catch on somewhere else. He’s too good not to. And I wish him all the best.

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SharonToday is my little sister Sharon’s birthday. To honor her, go to Bonanza and flirt with the cook, build a “howsh,” sleep through a tornado, and take four weeks to return all phone calls. I love you, Sharon.

Peace,

Allan

God-Hungry

What’s the over-under on the date Plaxico Burress becomes a Dallas Cowboy? Put me down for April 23, 2009. That’s a Thursday right before the spring mini-camps, giving the team enough time to get their new receiver on all the Sunday night sports shows.

Have you seen Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett’s comments regarding his out-of-control winger, Sean Avery? Can you imagine Jerry Wayne ever reacting that way when a Cowboys player gets out of line? Are the Cowboys looking for a weakside linebacker? What’s the over-under on Avery showing up at Valley Ranch?

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My time with Lynn Anderson and the “Waco Alliance” this week was truly a blessing. I’m going to write much more tomorrow about some of our conversations in San Antonio. Today I’ll share with you something he said that captures completely the role and the heart of a preacher or an elder—any shepherd of God’s people. What’s our vision? What is our God calling us to be? How is he calling us to act?

At some point Tuesday afternoon, this is what Lynn said. Mostly. This is a paraphrase.

Those driven by success are drawn to people who orchestrate great programs. Those seeking applause are drawn to people who get good press. Those looking for pleasure are drawn to people who show them a good time. Vengeance-oriented people are drawn to angry gangs. God-hungry people are drawn to those who possess and exhibit a spiritual vision of what God is doing in this world.

It’s all summed up in the mission statement for Lynn’s Mentor Network: “A spiritual leader is the kind of person God-hungry people want to be like.”

Do disciples of Jesus want to be like me? Do dedicated Christians look at my life and see something worth imitating? How about you? Are you turning people on or off? Do people look at you and see Jesus?

Peace,

Allan

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