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50 posts from February 2006

February 28, 2006

As I was saying...

Aheat_1     On the Miami Heat: "There is no dramatic tension to this NBA regular season. None. It is obvious the Southeast Division is Miami's to win with yawning ease. It is obvious Miami will get to, and get through, at least the first round of the playoffs before anything resembling actual competition kicks in."

     That was written on Dec. 5. A wise man didn't say that. I did. Right here in the blog. You could look it up.

     Here's what has changed in the nearly three months since: Nothing.

     I'm setting my watch for April. Until then, I'm ignoring it all. The inability to beat the best teams. The six-game winning streak against lambs. Pat Riley's incessant hand-wringing over his team's mental focus. All of it.

     Doesn't matter. Not now. In five, six  weeks, then we begin to know.

Cooperstown is missing somebody

Abuck      It's nice that the Baseball Hall of Fame opened its door to 17 more Negro League players and officials including the first woman ever admitted (Effa Manley), but Cooperstown continues to shun a most deserving man from that league and era.

     John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil (pictured in a recent photo) has his fingerprints all over baseball history as both a player, manager and scout. He was a champion hitter who won two Negro League batting titles. As manager he sent players like Ernie Banks, Satchel Paige and Elston Howard to the majors. As a scout his discoveries included Lou Brock and Joe Carter. He was the first African-American coach in the bigs, with the Cubs in 1962. His all-round career makes him a Negro League titan whose impact on MLB echoed for decades.

     He should be in Cooperstown.

The Gators are still hiding

Agators     Can't get real excited about the so-called resumption of the Hurricanes-Gators football rivalry -- not when the next two games are spaced apart in 2008 and 2013. Gee, they're back at the Orange Bowl in only seven years! Is it too early to start tailgating?

     The 'fraidy Gators dropped UM from their regular schedule in the late '80s to end a 44-year rivalry because the 'Canes had gotten too good. They ought to be playing every year, not occasionally -- especially now that the NCAA has approved elongating schedules by one game.

February 27, 2006

Baseball America list lauds Marlins

Ajeremy     [Updated Wednesday morning, 3-1: Barry Jackson in today's Herald adds analysis and details to some of what is below. Check it out here].

     A rarity is found a few items below here -- something positive about the Marlins -- and Baseball America provides a reason why in its 17th annual Top 100 Prospects list. Seven Marlins are there:

     4--OF Jeremy Hermida (pictured); 30--SS Hanley Ramirez; 34--LHP Scott Olsen; 40--RHP Anibal Sanchez; 69--RHP Yusmeiro Petit; 80--RHP Josh Johnson; and 97--RHP Chris Volstad. All but the latter should be with the big club this season.

     Not saying this team will contend or anything close. Am saying this team will exceed low expectations and be fun to watch.

The Winter Olympics' merciful end

Aaa      Not to naysay, but the Winter Olympics couldn't end quickly enough for me. I'm sure being in Italy was mesmerizing for all of the writers there -- I gained eight pounds just from reading all the references to chocolate -- but from a TV vantage the Games lacked any sort of transcendant drama, particularly from a U.S. perspective.

     Our young slackers, the snowboarders, were the exception, although that always seems like a made-up sport, like an invention of Tony Hawk sponsored by High Times magazine. Otherwise, I found nothing more memorable from the American effort in these Games than the silly bickering of speedskating teammates Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis.

     But I could be wrong. Was there any uplifting highlight you'll store as a lasting memory?

The mind of Vince Young

Avince     [Updated Monday evening, 2-27].

     Vince Young's score on the Wonderlic intelligence test circulated at the Indianapolis scouting combine like some sort of unbelievable joke. A six? Are you serious?

     Praise be for Young's athletic skills, because his mental acumen makes him one of the dumbest men in the upcoming draft. Or so it seemed.

     Then -- depending on the story you heard -- either that score was a mistake, or he took the test again. Either way, 16 is the score now being attributed to him. That's better than the first score (a piece of furniture in the room scores 6), although 16 still is subpar, and moreso for a QB.

     This helps assure Jay Cutler will be drafted ahead of Young, who could tumble to the lower top 10 but still likely not down into Dolphin territory.

February 25, 2006

Van Gundy dips toe back in basketball

Asvg      Interesting little story in today's Herald (find it here) about resigned Heat coach Stan Van Gundy reemerging as a major player in St. Thomas University's efforts to restart its dormant basketball program.

     Some will see this as curious, wondering if SVG has had enough of the family he quit the Heat to spend more time with. Or if his return to the game after only a few months suggests leaving it to begin with was not entirely his choice.

     I'm not skeptical in either direction. I say good for Stan. If NBA head-coaching is a marathon, uphill, helping find coaches for a small-college program is a saunter in the park.

     Here's a thought, though, if not quite a prediction:

     The St. Thomas search committee will decide the best coach available is the man leading the search: Good ol' Stan. Same thing happened at FAU, where Howard Schnellenberger initially led the search for a coach before being nudged (it didn't take much nudging) to do the job himself.

February 24, 2006

"I think the Marlins..."

Adtrain Ajoe_1 Amiguel    Without apology, I wrote an upbeat column about the Marlins in today's paper. I challenge South Florida to at least give this team full of promising young prospects a chance, and to hold separate the gloomy politics of the stadium issue and the threatened relocation.

     I know that is impossible for many to do.

     I'd be interested in your feelings about the Marlins as spring training begins in earnest. Can you envision this being a competitive team or at least one that's fun to watch? Or do you see an on-field disaster? Are you convinced the team will eventually move? Or are you hopeful?

     Complete the sentence any way you'd like:

     "I think (or I wish) the Marlins..."

February 22, 2006

Talk of Culpepper, Brees gaining steam

Adrew     [Updated Wednesday afternoon, 2-22].

     Forget once and for all the draft as a Dolphins QB option. Two main reasons. One, Ricky Williams' dubious limbo erases him as a pawn for a trade-up; two, Vandy's Jay Cutler -- whom the Dolphins love and who once seemed gettable -- is movin' on up like George and Weezy, with some mockers now pegging him a top-five pick. That's way out of reach.

     And that is why Miami is talking to the Vikings in an exploratory stage about trading for quarterback Daunte Culpepper, a previous blog topic here. That is also why the Dolphins are keeping a keen eye on the availability of San Diego's Drew Brees, pictured here.

     Titan Steve McNair and Redskin Patrick Ramsey are other maybes. And you can bet Nick Saban is watching Jet contract talks with Chad Pennington, who, like Culpepper and Brees, is rehabbing from an injury.

     Consider the options and choose. I say Brees, Culpepper and Pennington, in that order, would be major upgrades presuming full recoveries. Forget McNair, whose career is running on fumes. And eliminate Ramsey, who is just OK, a younger Gus Frerotte.

     Speaking of the lame-duck incumbent, Frerotte may be gone if he doesn't agree to a restructured contract. Miami's quarterback future will play out hugely over the next several weeks.

February 21, 2006

Every girl dreams of a BOO-YA wedding

Awedding     Our friends at ESPN Radio have asked the blog to alert South Florida happy couples planning to get married to register at ESPNRadio.com by March 3 for The Mike & Mike Show's "ultimate sports wedding."

     Sixteen finalist couples will go into a March Madness-style bracket and be eliminated or advance based largely on America's votes. The winning bride and groom will be subjected to I mean treated to a sports-theme wedding at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., carried lived on ESPN2 and featuring play-by-play from Mike & Mike and guest athletes.

     (You know, the trouble with ESPN is, they don't do enough self-promotion).

     Happy couples who apply are advised to carefully read the fine print of the waiver, against unconfirmed rumors that the winning bride-to-be will be contractually obliged to spend the night before the wedding alone with a leering, sweating Chris Berman.