It’s Time! (Again!)

Texas Rangers: 2011 American League Champions

Guys. I’m not just saying this. I feel really good about this team this year. Like, better than last year. Last year was just so emotional, because it was our first ALCS & it was the Yankees & maybe they were just happy to be in the World Series. This year, everyone’s more experienced & we made some really good additions & the bullpen is just lights out & Nelson Cruz cannot be stopped. Yeah. I feel really good. Let’s do this.

We’re going (back) to the World Series, y’all!

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Everything is amazing.

Dallas Mavericks: 2010-2011 NBA Champions

Ad Post: NFL on FOX – It’s Good to Have a Ring

by Amy Yen

NFL on FOX :30 spot
Agency: Fox Sports Marketing

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback & current NFL on FOX analyst Troy Aikman is a promotion veteran, selling everything from Samsung phones to Acme Bricks, but for all the times I’ve seen him sell stuff, particularly living in Dallas, this is the first time I laughed out loud.

Part of FOX’s series of ads, which also feature Aikman’s broadcast partner Joe Buck, being a good sport about being insulted by Dr. Phil & watching Troy party with Usher & Hugh Laurie, this spot also uses Buck’s exasperation as the punch line (“Can I just get a water? Somewhere?”). Another spot features Buck slumming in line at TSA while Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long & Jimmy Johnson cruise through the special red carpet “Super Bowl Ring Holders” line (with Jimmy almost-but-not-quite getting stopped for carrying a samurai sword…or is that a machete?). Very funny stuff.

It’s Time!

Texas Rangers: 2010 American League Champions

by Amy Yen

I don’t think fanbases like the Yankees know what it’s like to be a fan of a franchise like the Rangers. The never-ending, soul-crushing disappointment, year after year. It grinds on you. It wears you down. It gets to the point where you never expect anything of your team.

And then they go & demolish the New York Yankees, of all teams. The Yankees, the curse of our pathetic blip of a franchise postseason history. The Yankees & their $206.7 million payroll (A-Rod & Jeter make more than the entire Rangers roster combined).

The Yankees, who the Rangers & their $55.1 million payroll, ownership drama, drug-scandal manager, starting pitcher who played in Japan last year & giddy, silly, wonderful claw & antlers team-wide inside joke flat out beat to clinch the American League pennant & advance to the World Series.

That is absurd. It’s AMAZING. “This group is here,” said Josh Hamilton, after accepting the ALCS MVP award, “because they don’t know how to fail.” Apparently.

EDIT: This is a fun comparison. Here’s a post I wrote about the Rangers way back in 2007, in maybe the most frustrating, hopeless time I could remember suffering through with this team. The great thing about reading that post now is how dramatically their philosophy has changed, finally. They aren’t throwing the dice on gritty veterans anymore, they’re going for it with young, energetic, naive kids with don’t know how to quit. They’re winning through pitching & manufacturing runs on the base paths & a wonderful, bubbly sense of team, that thing that makes them invent things like the claw & make the group decision to celebrate with ginger ale & not champagne on the field, out of respect to Josh Hamilton. If you want to know why, even with how good the Rangers have been all year long, folks like me were still skeptical they could do what they’re doing, I think that post I wrote just a few seasons ago sums it up.

But damn. I’m happy to be wrong.

We’re going to the World Series, y’all!! Believe!!

The Art of Being an Out-of-Town Fan

by Amy Yen

I don’t remember if I ever actually wrote this post before, but I’ve been asked a lot in my life why sports matter so much to me, and especially why, since I haven’t lived full-time in Dallas since I went off to college, I cling so fervently to my devotion to my hometown teams.

It’s a couple of reasons. One, it’s built into me. Among my fondest and most vivid memories of growing up was watching Cowboys games every Sunday with my dad. I grew up on the glory days of the 90s, when the Triplets ruled & we beat the Bills like a gazillion times. To this day, we spend every Thanksgiving at my friend’s house in Arlington, potlucking & watching the traditional Thanksgiving home game together. Even as the Cowboys have gone south in recent years, I feel like all those Superbowls from my youth have bought them my undying devotion for life.

When I went away to school, especially grad school in Boston, sports became my tie to home. The Cowboys were still on national TV almost every week & I would still follow the Mavericks, Stars & Rangers the best I could, even if it was just scoreboard watching, occasionally listening to an online radio broadcast & following game threads on team forums. When I went home for the holidays, I’d take my brother to a game. The first time we did this was the Stars’ opening night the year after the NHL lockout. They promptly went down 4-0, but came all the way back to win it 5-4 in overtime. It was the best game ever.

Being a fan of these teams, even an out-of-town one who hardly ever gets to watch a game, means I’m a part of a community. I know who the beat writers are from the Morning News & Star Telegram & who’s covering what for ESPN Dallas now. I’m a proud Ticket P1. I know what sites & blogs have the best commentary for each team & I know where to find the fandom online. It’s not quite being in the ballpark or the arena with them, but watching a game while following a game thread or Twitter conversation with other fans is still a blast & it’s still a unique fan experience.

This is especially true during the playoffs, since everything feels so absurdly emotional. Playoff losses feel like a black cloud over everything ever. I remember sitting in my dorm room in Austin at 2 am after the Stars lost in 5 overtimes to the Ducks in round 2 of the playoffs back in 2003, feeling like the world was literally ending, being so furious with Ducks fans for storming our forums (I have never really forgiven them for that, after all these years). Then again, the wins feel like the most wonderful, magical events in history. I was in Boston when the Stars beat the Sharks on a Brenden Morrow goal in the 4th OT to advance to the Western Conference Finals two years ago, by myself in the living room of my apartment, jumping up & down silently, since it was the middle of the night & my roommates were asleep. I seriously didn’t think I could be so happy. (Watching the video clip of that goal still gives me chills.) I had to work the next day, but I stayed up for another two hours, virtually celebrating with other fans, feeling as a part of something special as I have ever felt about anything.

This is why, when a playoff run like the Rangers are having happens, it hardly even matters that I’m in LA, a city that really could care less about baseball these days since the Dodgers didn’t make the postseason this year. Following Game 4 on Twitter & texting with friends back home, it still felt like I was a part of that win, that (and I’m aware of how silly this sounds to non-sports-fans) we were all in this together.

I’m having a great time, I don’t ever want this feeling to end. I know there’s a long way to go, but right now, everything is awesome. PS: Claw, y’all.

Go Rangers!

Goodbye Mo: Mike Modano Plays a Brilliant Last Game in Dallas

In a horrible, frustrating season for the Dallas Stars & the hockey faithful in Dallas, it’s wonderful to go out like this, to have this one perfect night. I haven’t been so happy about & wanted so much for my team to win a game that has absolutely no playoff bearing, ever. But I was literally jumping up & down in my apartment when Mike Modano potted that goal in the shootout & Jere Lehtinen capped it off. The perfect goodbye.

If Mike Modano does retire after this season—and how can he not now after the best send-off imaginable?—it will be with every offensive record for the franchise securely locked in & of course, it will be as the highest scoring American hockey player & as one of the true ambassadors for the game in unconventional, Southern markets. It can’t have been easy, all those years as the face (literally) of a franchise trying to thrive, of a sport on ice in 110 degree Dallas, Texas. It’s partially because of the tremendous success of hockey in Dallas that there has been hockey in Southern California, Nashville, Phoenix, Carolina, Florida.

The best part of Mike’s perfect night, besides the assist & goal (questionable as it was, there’s just no way the refs or Toronto would dare overturn it on a night like this, in a building like that) & shootout goal, the best part was watching Mike’s face light up when Jere Lehtinen, his linemate of all these years, potted the winner. In that moment, you might actually see him coming back after all, because he’s just having too much fun to stop now.

But when the summer comes & he looks back on the last few years, with the team trying to rebuild & not close at the moment to another Cup, I imagine he’ll make the right choice & call it a career. I was proud to be a Dallas hockey fan tonight, to see that amazing standing ovation at the AAC in the middle of the game that just went on & on, until they had to stop the clock & wait. Mike Modano in tears on the bench, his teammates & the Anaheim players, tapping their sticks in recognition & respect, & that ovation, that love that just kept going & going until he was finally able to raise his hand, thank the fans, return their love.

Sorry, I only meant to write a short little paragraph about this, I swear. Sports brings out the sap in me.

Thank you, Mo. See you when your number goes up.

-Amy Yen

Ad Post: Nike – Human Chain

Nike 1:00 spot
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland

I imagine that advertising geeks like me will never get tired of watching & going crazy over Nike advertising. Sometimes, I feel like it is as much art as any well crafted feature film. If I didn’t think it would be going slightly overboard, I would crank out a post like this every couple of weeks.

The newest ad from Nike & its longtime agency W+K is about adversity & resilience, two of the most popular themes for the brand in its self-imposed mission to celebrate athletes. The spot has so with an interesting stop photography trick & music—in grand Nike advertising tradition, they have found the perfect song. It’s called “Ali in the Jungle,” by the Hours, & it’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of it.

“It’s not how you start/it’s how you finish,” it goes. “Everybody gets knocked down/how quick are you going to get up?”

As with one of my other favorite Nike spots, it features a variety of sports & in this case, both famous & unknown athletes. Notably, it also does not feature the Winter Olympics, despite Nike being an official sponsor of the Games. Despite its star sponsorees, Nike has never been about any one sport, it’s always been about the spirit of the athlete.

-Amy Yen