Dirk Nowitzki's illustrious career includes accomplishments such as 12 All-Star selections, the 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the 2005 FIBA EuroBasket Most Valuable Player Award and, of course, the 2011 NBA Championship.
On Saturday night in Frisco, Nowitzki added another highlight, winning his first Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game after losing in 2012 and 2013. He was one of the three runs scoring off of Brian Cardinal's basing-clearing double in the bottom of the sixth inning, pushing the White Sox ahead 17-15.
Although the Blue Sox pushed one run across in the top of the seventh, they were unable to complete the comeback with an unusual game-ending double play. Vernon Wells hit a towering fly ball with one out that died at the warning track, and the relay throw cut down a running advancing to third to preserve the 17-16 White Sox victory.
As Dirk lifted his co-MVP trophy with Brian Cardinal after the game, he smiled. He had proven wrong all of the critics and naysayers who talked about how he would never win a Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game, and shown the celebrity baseball world that teams built around a 7-foot European could indeed win at the highest possible level. He was the champion who had just reached the pinnacle of his athletic career.
But the pinnacle of beautiful baseball this game was not. Despite the high stakes, many players from both teams looked like they had never swung a bat before. Perhaps it was nervousness, or maybe it was just players wilting under the intense spotlight.
On one play, White Sox second baseman Jason Garrett came up with a grounder only to find there was nobody covering first or second base. On another, center fielder Dez Bryant watched a routine fly ball go over his head because he chose to play way too shallow. Even the man of the hour had a near-blunder: after roping a single up the middle, Dirk backpedaled to first base and was nearly out on the center fielder's relay throw. The Big German gave the umpire a hug for a very generous safe call.
Like Dirk, second baseman Devin Harris used the game to prove his own critics wrong. He let a ground ball roll through his legs on one play and snared a ball over his shoulder ranging out to shallow right field on the next, proving that he's not an inconsistent basketball player, but just an inconsistent athlete.
With the play on the field equally poor, coaching proved to be a determining factor. White Sox head coach Rick Carlisle clearly showed an upper hand when he joined the Dallas Mavericks drumline, grabbing sticks and hammering away on each one. Unfortunately, even though his team was a winner, Carlisle was a loser -- the likable drumline bit was way too friendly and immediately disqualified him from the Be-like-Pop Contest.
White Sox bench coach Tony Romo could not be reached for comment after the game for word on whether this game proved that he is clutch.
But one thing about celebrity baseball is clear: no other sport will provide such highs and lows. These professional celebrities at the best in the world, and all their training and hard work showed on Saturday in a game that will be told in stories to children and grandchildren for years to come.
Fortunately, none of the Blue Sox players seemed too broken up over their failed chance at a three-peat. They seemed to understand that sometimes, it's just not possible to overcome to curse of Terrell Owens as a teammate.