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34 posts from December 2006

December 31, 2006

G16: Colts 27, Dolphins 22

     [Updated Sunday early evening, 12-31, in wake of Miami's season-ending 27-22 loss to the Colts in Indy. Dolphins gave a better team a tough fight; unfortunately, you don't get points (or wins) for "proud of the effort" or "good try." Final record: 6-10. And I'm not artist enough to paint much of a happy face on that one]. 

     [Updated Sunday early afternoon, 12-31: Arrived in Indy a bit ago. Chilly, misting rain, perfect dome weather. My flight out of Fort Lauderdale this morning included the Nebraska basketball team, which was heading home after beating UM. Who knew the state of Nebraska had an airport?]

     Aajt_5I gave the Dolphs a good shot to keep it close but couldn't see a beat-up secondary containing Peyton Manning. Was interested to see if Cleo Lemon, in his first start, would serve any indication that he should be in the QB mix for '07 -- and results were mixed, but mildly positive overall. Also thought Jason Taylor needed a big game for a real shot at defensive player of the year, and that late fumble recovery helped.

     (I agree with Taylor that giving it to Shawne Merriman despite his four-game steroids suspension would send a "wrong message." But voters figure to be more pragmatic and look at Merriman's sacks and the Chargers' record).

     Welcoming thoughts here on the game, the season at large, and on all the peripheral stuff like Lemon's showing, Taylor-Merriman, Wayne Huizenga's declaration that he won' sell the club and, of course, whether you still think Alabama has a legit chance to lure Nick Saban, and how much that would hurt Miami.

Bowl: Hurricanes 21, Nevada 20

     Aampc  [Updated late Sunday night, 12-31, following UM's 21-20 bowl win over Nevada].

     It was a 6-Aaum_16 UM squAanevad facing a Nevada team that figured to be overmatched athletically. It was the MPC Computers Bowl, and that had to stand for Mashed Potatoes Casserole, considering they played it in spud-capital Boise, Idaho, where the football field is blue because the weather is so damned cold.

     Was interested to see whether the combination of win-one-for-the-Coker and impress-the-new-boss would give the 'Canes an emotional fire that hadn't always seemed there in 2006. Did it?

     I saw Miami's defense as the difference and called it 24-16, The U. Not a bad pick. For me.

     Curious how you all saw the game, whether you cared, and how you see this result leaving the state of UM football as the baton passes from Larry Coker to Randy Shannon. Also wondering if you think Kirby Freeman's solid performance at QB makes him the frontrunner for the start in '07 or still the likely backup to Kyle Wright?

     (As an aside, I may be in the minority on this, but think it's pretty lame that UM assistant-turned-FIU coach Mario Cristobal chose not to coach in this bowl game. That wasn't much of a thank-you to the program that got him where he is).

     One thing I suspect we can all agree on: For UM football, even with this win, 2006 was a very good year to leave behind, and get beyond. Fast.

December 28, 2006

Ask the Blogmaster General (December)

     Aaq_2 [Updated midday Saturday, 12-30: The Blogmaster General window for December has nicked shut. A good though not record-setting response. We'll do it again in a couple or three weeks...]

We're back with the latest episode of our incredibly semipopular mid-month-or-usually-later feature, in which I directly answer any questions you may have.

     The daily give-and-take in this blog is your forum. I read all comments and appreciate the participation, but want the last word to be yours. However, once a month, I invite and reply to your Q's on a variety of topics including but not limited to: Me, this blog, my columns, sports writing, The Miami Herald, the competition, local teams, national stories, singing on the radio and 19th Century English poets.

     Any questions you've posted to me in the daily blogs that have gone unanswered -- now is the time and this is the place. I'll check back periodically throughout the next couple of days and reply with the exactitude and alacrity you have come to expect.

     In addition to questions, and mindful that this blog continues as a work in progress, I invite input on what you'd prefer to see more or less of here. Less emphasis on Dolphins? More 'Unsportsmanlike'? More polls? Let me know.

The Lemon Era?

     Aacleo_2 Sounds like a phrase encapsulating the Dolphins' post-Marino quarterbacking in general -- The Lemon Era -- but let's not fault Cleo Lemon for his unfortunate surname. Now that he has been named starter (one game tardily) for the finale at Indianapolis, it is time to open up the debate on where Miami stands at the premier position.

     Questions to answer or at least mull...

     1. How confident are you that Daunte Culpepper will be fully healthy, back to his 2004-season Pro Bowl form and a top-tier QB here in 2007?

     2. Did you see enough positives in Joey Harrington to think he is better than Culpepper and qualified to remain the main man?

     3. Might a strong showing by Lemon on Sunday make you think he's been a hidden gem and is capable of starting for this team?

     4. Is what's above so depressing that you'd advocate Miami spending a first-round pick on a QB or casting the possibly available discards market for somebody like Kurt Warner, Jake Plummer, Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell or Brad Johnson?

     Me? I'd erase Harrington from the blueprint and realistically forget option No. 4. Miami's best hope right now is that Culpepper is back all the way and that Lemon emerges as a quality backup. I still think Daunte will return as a big-time, franchise-type QB ... although I get little indication I'm in the majority on that with either the national media or Dolfans. Weigh in.

December 25, 2006

G15: Jets 13, Dolphins 10

     Aaelvis Jets playing for a playoff spot. Dolphins trying to play spoiler. Heated rivalry. Funky weather. Monday Night Football. All the elements were there for an interesting night. Unfortunately for Miami, the soundtrack for the evening was Blue Christmas.

     I wondered going in if you thought Jets fans to be the most obnoxious in sports. And if you were OK with sporting events on Christmas. (Also beseeched a quick moment of silence for James Brown, R.I.P.)

     Aacleo The game reinforced what I'd written a week earlier: Let's give Cleo Lemon (pictured) a full shot at QB and see if he's the answer that we know Joey Harrington isn't. One more game to find out.

     Also wondering what y'all make of the Daunte Culpepper-Steve Young tiff over DC supposedly missing meetings. I think Young erred; Culpepper's work ethic seems to have been satisfactory.

     Finally, Alabama's persisting interest in Nick Saban. Do you think the Tide may yet turn and Saban will leave? I'd doubt it, but call it very plausible.

     Comments welcome here on all of this stuff.

Merry Christmas to some!

Aamc      What I mean is Merry Christmas to Christmasites and a hearty and politically correct Happy Holidays to others.

     Sorry I haven't blogged with the usual flurry lately; I've been mall-ed like the rest of you. Plan to get back on the daily blog horse post haste.

     Meantime may your holidays be filled with family, friends, love and also at least one gift that truly excites you, because it's OK to be a little bit mercinary. For me that gift was a piece of electronic gadgetry that will allow me to transfer old-school vinyl LPs and songs onto CDs. I might also mention the box of Romeo y Julieta Cuban cigars, but since those may or may not be illegal to possess, I either didn't just mention them or was only kidding.

December 22, 2006

Unsportsmanlike: Fri 12-22

     Occasional quick hits on topical oddities in pop culture, news and sometimes even sports...Aadontrelle

      This was Marlin Dontrelle Willis' police booking photo from early this morning following his arrest on DUI charges outside a South Beach nightclub. Find the sad story here. Some will excoriate Willis, but he's done too much good on and off the field here to let one regrettable episode  redefine how we see him. In this case Willis' embarrassment is its own punishment, and a reminder that sometimes sports heroes aren't any more perfect than the rest of us. Trust D-Train to get back on track. Now let's move on.

     Nick Saban denying interest in the Alabama opening has become a ridiculous dance around semantics. Your Aanick_3Friend the Media saw suspicious vagueness in him saying he was happy in Miami and had no plans to leave, et cetera, so we demanded more. Finally Nick relented and stated flatly, "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." But I guess that was insufficient, too, as a Herald headline today proclaims, 'Denials aren't enough to be convincing'. Cannot confirm the media is now demanding that Saban reiterate his intentions by ceremonially tearing to shreads a photo of Bear Bryant and having SWEET HOME, MIAMI tattooed on his forehead.

   Aadonald  Just in time for Christmas: Beauty Pageant Winners Gone Wild.

      Donald Trump, in his ongoing feud with Rosie O'Donnell, has resorted to calling her "an extremely unattractive woman." The funny part is somebody with Trump's hair calling anybody else unattractive.

     Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, another in a series.

Aatoast      Dear Greg: Your blog's OK, but I can promise you I'll never visit it again unless you show a picture of two men capering down a street dressed as giant pieces of toast.

December 21, 2006

What is it about Rocky Balboa?

Aarocky_1 Aarocky2_1      Saw the new Rocky movie last night as part of [Shameless Plug Alert] a 790 The Ticket promotion with buddy Dan Le Batard's show. (Thanks, Dan. Although would it have hurt you to throw me one of those boxes of free cigars!?)

     Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. Thought it was pretty good, actually. It had a little of the predictability and schmaltz you'd expect, maybe a tad too much of Adrian pushing Rocky from the grave. Still, a good story.

     Le Batard explores the enduring -- and endearing -- Rocky phenomenon today in a column you'd find here. What is it about Rocky Balboa that makes this the most durable, successful sports franchise in movie history?

December 19, 2006

Iverson to Denver hurts Heat

     The Nuggets are getting Allen Iverson, the 76ers star sought after by just about every team including Miami. Find the story here. Adding "The Answer" to a pretty good team already featuring Carmelo Anthony means the NBA's already-stronger Western Conference is getting that much better at the expense of the East.

     With Miami struggling to get up over .500, Shaq still sidelined and now Iverson not unexpectedly gone elsewhere, wondering how Heat fans are feeling right now about the "Heat-Peat" chances?

     Is it still too early to worry? Is Shaq still dominant enough to make everything better?

Taylor, Thomas make Pro Bowl

     Dolphin defensive stars Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas were announced moments ago as Pro Bowl selections -- the only Miami players chosen.Aajason Aazach

     Taylor was a lock, perhaps as deserving as any player at any position, right up there were LaDainian Tomlinson. Thomas was less certain, but was expected to make it and is deserving.

     Question: What third Dolphin most deserved to make the Pro Bowl but didn't? Anybody? Put another way: What Dolphin most deserves to now make it as a replacement once the chosen players start begging out of the game on account of hang-nails and sniffles?