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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Notes on the AAC, the Mavs, the Bulls, and Other Stuff

(This is how the Mavs dancers looked last night, from our perspective. It's a big arena.)

My wife and I got free tickets to the Mavs-Bulls game last night, along with a free platinum parking pass, so we just had to go. It was our 3rd game in two weeks, and my 4th visit to the American Airlines Center since Christmas. Therefore, I am now an expert on the Mavs, Stars, their arena, and the Dallas sports scene in general. Get a load of these hot sports opinions (HSO's):

HSO A) The AAC, while not a horrible place to watch a basketball game, is a much much better arena for the icy cold sport of hockey. Part of it is the larger playing surface, which gobbles up some of the crap seating along the ends. At the Mavs-Bucks game we sat 20 or so rows up behind the basket, and the arena committed the cardinal sin of sporting venues -- the seating did not ascend quickly enough. I'm a pretty tall guy, and I couldn't see over the tall man with the poofy hair that sat in front of me. This is unacceptable.

The AAC is gigantic, which means it gobbles up sound like you would not believe. While I'm watching the game, I'm amazed at how quiet it is in there. The upper deck seats are so very far from the court it literally* takes 5 seconds for the sound from my cheering to reach Dirk Nowitski's ears. This is confusing to the players.

For hockey, nobody really cares about the action, so the cheering and quietness thing doesn't matter as much. The only times people cheer during hockey games are after a goal or during a fight, and after a goal they blow a big horn so you can't hear the crowd anyway. This is appropriate. Sorry for bringing up hockey.

HSO 2) The Mavs are right now the best team in the West. Maybe I'll get into this a little more on my sports blog, but they are relentless and efficient on both sides of the ball. When they get into lulls (like they did big time last night in the second half), they can always pull themselves out of it because they're just better than any other team beside Detroit. Sho nuff. If I have to live here, at least the basketball team is good.

The Bulls, however, are way too short and swarthy as a team to make it very far in the playoffs. B-ball is a tall man's game, and the Bulls were running out 3 guards who were all about 6'0". At the same time. 6-4 Stackhouse was posting up that midget Hinrich -- is that what you intended, Bulls coach Scott Skiles? Still, they are quite fun to watch, especially since from the upper deck of the AAC Ben Gordon looked a lot like former Bull and Buck great Craig Hodges, whose wife was once arrested for pouring gasoline on him and throwing matches in his direction, and who always started an interview with a steady stream of, "First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Also, he was the second-best of the initial wave of really good three-point shooters. I could go on and on about Craig Hodges, but instead I will point you to these brief haikus.

HSO 3) I have a fear of parking in multi-story parking garages. I specifically fear that it's going to take me forever to get out. One of our friends from church had an extra platinum parking pass for the game last night, which she allowed us to use. That was very nice and very appreciated, but I still had my (pointless and irrational) fear of getting stuck on the third floor for an hour after the game, not moving, getting high from exhaust fumes, and finally getting into a fight with my wife because I'm grumpy. However, we got out of there just fine last night, thank the Lord. I have to keep reminding myself when I go to the AAC that I'm not at a Rangers game, and that the Mavs actually care about their fans' parking feelings.

Plus, the parking was across the street from the arena, and covered, and nothing can replace the special feeling of irrelevant importance you feel when you can get into the "platinum" garage and other people have to get out of your lane because they're just not good enough. Or, they just don't have the requisite passes. Passes=importance. Don't ever forget that.

HSO 4) Dallas fans, while not as bad as fans in Atlanta, Phoenix, LA, or many other southern cities, suck eggs. They arrive to sporting events late (if at all -- you should see the empty seats in the lower bowl during a sold-out game), they care more about their appearance than the action on the court, and they're just a quiet bunch in general. It's creepy. Like I said in HSO 1), the building is way too quiet and detached for its own good, and for that I mostly blame the fans. Part of the problem is the large percentage of people at the game who are transplants from other, much colder cities. They don't really care about the Mavs, they just want to see a basketball game (or have someplace to take a very special lady.) You could probably put me in this category. Sure, I like the Mavs and appreciate the way they play basketball (see HSO 2)), but I'm a Bucks fan, and I always will be. If they lose, I'm not heartbroken, unless they lose to the Kobe-led Lakers or another team I hate.

Perhaps the arena is so quiet because the fans expect the Mavs organization to create noise for them. With the constant barrage of the crazy announcer, the blinding lights, the near-nude cheerleaders, the thumpy and blasting music, and the on-floor "entertainment" every single time there's a stop in the action, there's little room for sitting back and taking a good long look at the game situation. Last night they had a baby race during a time-out. A baby race. My question: What if the babies had just sat there, inert as a lamp or Erick Dampier? What if the time out ends and they haven't moved an inch? I bet Mark Cuban is glad that one baby last night finally got his butt in gear and crossed the baby finish line, or the rest of the first quarter would never have started. We could still be there! Don't laugh, it's a very real danger. They're babies, and they don't react well to pressure.

But seriously, all this stuff going on conditions the fans to need to be told what to do and when to cheer. Instead of being engaged in the action and reacting to it, they're engaged in the presentation and reacting to it. Look, Mr. Cuban, I know you have money to make and a "product" to present. I know you want whole families to show up, and that these days the average 7-year-old has no attention span whatsoever and his/her eyes are just darting all around their field of view constantly looking for something shiny to fixate on for a split-second, but please. Concentrate on the basketball, instead of making the basketball a sideshow that occurs in-between crazy bits. If you do this, people will still show up, and they might actually cheer without prompting from the announcer.

(ok, so I'm exaggerating and making no real point to speak of in HSO 4. Sorry.)

HSO 5) At halftime, instead of the usual plate-spinners and jump-ropers, they had what they called the "Ladies Hoop Shoot" or something. Here's what I saw from my perch in the cheap seats**: 7 super-tall modelesque young women stood in the center of the arena in a circle, passing one giant novelty check between them. I'm not sure how they got to be the ones in the center, except they were all very tall and blonde and beautiful, so you do the math. That's something even I could figure out, and I was in the upper upper deck. The beautiful get all the perks in this world. Anyway, two lines of other (less modelesque) women shot free throws. When a free throw would go in, the check would move clockwise one hot babe, so it was like a cake walk or something. At the end of the less attractive girls' shooting exhibition (which included a granny who was introduced as the "most experienced Mavericks fan," then massively airballed, and finally whipped out a towel from under her sweatshirt and started waving it in a circle. We knew then to laugh and cheer, because the announcer said something loud and unintelligible.) the hottie who ended up holding the check would then get not one but two chances to make her own free throw. If she made just one of them, said hottie would get $1000 and a gift certificate to Minyard grocery stores. Like she needs $1000 -- she's hot, for pete's sake.

The attractive and borderline amazonian (in terms of height, not girth) blonde girl who was holding the check used all her amazonian strength on the first free throw, which clanged off the rim. Her second one made it about halfway to the basket and fell the ground like a duck, and the Mavericks and Minyard got to keep their money. What a great contest. Now, when one of the unwashed "ugs" made a free throw, they got handed a coupon for something (probably a free taco at Taco Bueno. They got millions of those lying around.) It just goes to show you: No matter how many free tickets, parking passes, or insightful blogs you may have, it's no substitute for being young, tan, blonde, tall, and wearing a tight shirt that only comes down to the middle of your ribcage. Unless you can't shoot, in which case it's all equal.

I hope that exposed ribcage keeps her warm at night in her vain and hopeless life, because the $1000 she just lost sure isn't. Ha, ha.

In real life, I'm not nearly this bitter.

*Hi, Jill.

** In retrospect, I wish I had taken a picture of this, so you could see what it looked like. I had my camera with me, and took no pictures last night. I stole the picture at the top of this post from somebody else. This travesty will never happen again, I promise.


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