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22 posts from July 2007

July 17, 2007

On Chambers, Willis and Wade

     Three of our brightest young sports stars -- Dolphin Chris Chambers, Marlin Dontrelle Willis and the Heat's Dwyane Wade -- making headlines for the wrong reasons this week.

     Our quick take on each, and inviting your thoughts.

     (*) Chambers arrested for drunk driving in North Carolina, although Aaachris his .06 on the Breathalyzer was within the legal limit. Find today's related column by me here. This is Chambers' first off-field blemish in six years with the Dolphins. He has earned our benefit of doubt. He has accrued the goodwill to have this matter considered an aberration, not a definition of character.

     (*) Willis, slumping, heard boos in his last home start as his record Aaadontrelle fell to 7-8. He's pitching at The Joe again Wednesday; I plan to cover. The booing doesn't feel right. Neither does what seems a growing belief that the team should trade him. Willis, still only 25, is a lefty starter valued enough to be wanted by other teams. His own team should be one of them.

     (*) Wade admits his recovery from shoulder and knee surgeries may Aaadwyane not be complete until November -- a month into the regular season. That's a mild concern. The larger issue is whether Wade will again be 100 percent and the Flash who electrified in the 2006 playoffs. Until we see it late this year, there will be small doubts. Maybe in Wade's own mind as well.

     Inviting your thoughts on any or all: Chambers' reputation, Willis' future and Wade's recovery.


     On a lighter note, apropos of nothing, a golf joke a buddy e-mailed to me:

     It was a sunny morning, a little before 8, on the first hole of a busy course, and I was beginning my pre-shot routine, visualizing my
upcoming shot, when a piercing voice came over the clubhouse loudspeaker: "Would the gentleman on the woman's tee kindly back up to the men's tee please!"

     I could feel every eye on the course looking at me, but tried to remain deep in my routine, impervious to the interruption. Again, though, the loud announcement: "Would the man on the woman's tee plesae back up to the men's tee!"

     I simply ignored the guy and kept concentrating, when once more, the booming voice yelled even louder: "Would the man on the woman's tee back up to the men's tee please!!"

     Finally I stopped, turned, cupped my hands and shouted back: "Would the jackass with the microphone please keep quiet and let me play my second shot !"

July 15, 2007

Sad Sunday: Heat lose Williams, Chambers arrested

     Ouch. Coveted free-agent point guard Mo Williams has spurned the Heat's advances to re-sign with Milwaukee. Money talks. In this case it says Miami is not having a very good offseason so far. Losing Williams is, to me (and I think to Pat Riley), a major blow.

     Ouch II. Dolphin receiver Chris Chambers got arrested for driving while impaired in North Carolina. Be interesting to see how get-tough Cam Cameron handles this one. This is not Fred Evans. It's a star, cornerstone player.

     Inviting comments on how significant you think the loss of Williams is, and on how serious you think the Chambers news is.

July 13, 2007

Saban lies I mean speaks!

     Sun Sports' In My Own Words series next features Nick Saban. It premieres statewide this coming Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. but we've got excerpts here:

     Saban on criticism for leaving the Dolphins to coach the University of Alabama: "I was caught in the middle of something that I probably Aaaala didn’t handle very well publicly and I have been criticized for that and maybe rightfully so, but it’s not really who I am and I do care about what people think. I am responsible for how I handled that and I tried to handle it in a way that was going to be the best for our team. Personally, I wanted to make a decision at the end of the season as to what is going to make the Sabans most happy but at the same time I was not going to do anything while I was coaching that team to affect the players."

     Saban on the press: "I think early on (in my career) I was anxious, nervous, not particularly engaging with the press and not because I didn’t like them or didn’t want to be.  I just didn’t know how to be (engaging.)  And I think through the years that changed."

     On the first point, I guess the understated "probably didn't handle it very well" is about as close to the truth as Saban is ever going to get. On the second point, his relationship with the media, Nick remains about as engaging as a dentist drill.

     Curious whether local attitudes toward Saban have softened. Or do you see him as a booable villain in South Florida for all time?

Becks 'n Posh arrive!

Aaabecks      My God I have turned into the blogarazzi! I am posting an item on soccer savior David Beckham and hot appendage Victoria (Posh Spice) arriving in the U.S!!! (But that's only because Paris Hilton is between arrests and I'm waiting on a return call from Rachel Ray's publicist on the state of her marriage).

Aaabecks2      Britain's perfect-for-L.A. power couple are all about image, glamour, stardom and sex appeal. Not that W magazine's current cover photo gives us a clue or anything. The question is whether Becks joining the L.A. Galaxy can lift Major League Soccer and the sport in general to new heights in this country. What say you? I call it a tough sell, because soccer (unlike football, baseball and basketball) is not a sport that lends itself to one man standing out. I say Becks (and Posh) in America definitely will deliver the initial sizzle but likely not the lasting steak.

Aaadavid        MeantimeAaadavid2_3, they'll be pretty to look at. Is there a sexier sporting couple in America, by the way? Also, is there a more salacious post in the history of this blog? Huh? Huh!?



AaabAaaposh3 Aaaposhspice      Incidentally, those rumors about Posh's physique perhaps being artificially enhanced? VICIOUS LIES!

Heat, Marlins at crossroads

     Heat in the midst of what has not been a fruitful free-agency period Aaaheat so far. Not landing point guard Mo Williams, the team's main target, would be a significant blow. You'd click here for today's column by me suggesting Miami needs a notable signing such as Williams to reverse a sense that the Heat is stalled while its East rivals move forward.

     Marlins at midseason entering tonight's resumption. It's remarkable, Aaamaerlins as I noted in a recent column, that a team with such bad injury luck and such a lousy home record is still on the edge of playoff contention. What the M's need now is a strong start to the second half and the management faith to add pieces, not panic and trade (for example) Dontrelle Willis.

     What do you see as the state of the Heat and Marlins at these critical junctures? How confident are you that the Heat will land Williams and get back into title contention? Or that the Marlins will keep Willis and be in the playoff hunt?

July 11, 2007

On the Northwestern verdict

Aaabulls_2     [Updated Wednesday night, 7-11: Northwestern football earned a reprieve and will play this fall, but without coach Roland Smith and staff. I think that's a fair decision. The kids did not deserve to have their season erased. But I'm comfortable with the idea Smith deserved to answer for his actions (or inactions) of seven months earlier].

     You know from today's column (found here) what a shame I think it would have been if the Miami-Dade School Board had suspended Northwestern High football for a year.

     What happened late last season in the Antwain Easterling scandal was an embarrassment that involved dereliction of duty from a bunch of people (including Smith), but the returning Northwestern Bulls players -- the kids who faced the guillotine -- did nothing wrong and should not have been punished for what others did, or didn't do.

     I condone nothing that went on in December. Easterling should not have played. His coach, AD and principal all could have stopped him but didn't. Schools superintendent Rudy Crew or the FHSAA could have stepped in but didn't. I wrote a Dec. 11 blog entry (click here) headlined "Northwestern won the wrong way."

     The point now, seven months later, is that the time for punishment has passed. And the persons who deserved punishment least of all were the current players guilty of nothing. 

     Your thoughts welcome.

Time to kill All-Star Games?

     Seriously. It's fine to name an all-star team, but must we endure the pain of seeing it played out in a pointless game?

     Baseball tried to put a tophat on a pig by having its all-star game determine home-field advantage in the World Series. Dumb. The team with the better record over 162 games has earned home field.

     In the NBA we get glorified pickup games with scores like 143-136, games that could only be more a farce if Red Klotz were haplessly chasing Meadowlark Lemon.

     The NFL Pro Bowl is worst of all, an after-the-fact exercise in anticlimax usually missing a slew of star players who dream up sore backs and hangnails to avoid playing.

     Kill these beasts.

July 10, 2007

Burying the Derby, Antoine's scare, QB rankings, Taliban beards and more

     A raffle of ruminations for a Tuesday in paradise...

     It may be time to bury the Home Run Derby like the NAACP did with Aaahrd the N-word. It has joined the Slam Dunk Contest among once-bright ideas that have run their course, with last night's borefest won by Vlad Guerrero at a new nadir. As for all of those kayaks, rafts and pontoons bobbing in vain beyond the outfield wall, they could have livened up the telecast considerably by dropping a hundred crocodiles into McCovey Cove.

     The Heat's Antoine Walker was robbed at gunpoint in his Chicago home last night. Since he's fine, we're allowed to make a joke, such as: It was the first time in his career Walker wasn't the most likely person in the building to take a shot.

     Ouch. ESPN's latest NFL "Team Quarterback Rankings" via Scouts, Inc. slots the Trent Green-led Dolphins 28th of 32 teams. Top five: Colts, Pats, Saints, Bengals, Eagles.

     The NAACP burying the N-word in a ceremonial funeral was a good move, by the way. The only problem is, what are all the rappers going to do for lyrics now?

     You'd find here today's column by me on the Marlins at midseason. It's incredible a team with this many injuries and such a lousy home record is only seven games out. I give them a decent shot at an eventual playoff run. Do you? 

Aaajameshetfield_2      Metallica's James Hetfield was detained at an airport for having a "Taliban-like" beard. I don't see his beard as making him look like a Taliban. I see his beard as making him look like the loneliest Amish man in Pennsylvania.

     A Catholic school in Australia has balked at enrolling a student named Alex Hell. (Story here). The boy's father has claimed hypocrisy and threatened a lawsuit following a contentious and ultimately unproductive meeting with the school's head priest, Father Satan.

     The story behind the headline: Analysts blame years of pent-up anger stemming from Thanksgiving.

Aaaphallic     Pictured at left is an architecht's rendering of a proposed 40-story building in San Diego that is embroiled in controversy (story here) because critics liken it to a phallic symbol. City officials are debating whether to redesign or simply require the bulding to wear a giant pair of pants.

     Headlines You Thought You'd Never See, one in a series.

     Finally, Dan Patrick is leaving ESPN after 18 years. The only good to come of that? Might start a trend that includes Stuart Scott.

July 08, 2007

Herald's "Fantastic Four" poll

  Aaaff    My newspaper invites you to pick the "Fantastic Four" -- the all-time most influential quartet in South Florida sports history. You may have seen the splash in today's newspaper, and you'd find the link to it here.

     Neat idea for summer's dog days. One flaw: No mystery, because you know going in that Don Shula and Dan Marino will dominate. I predicted to an editor of mine that those two would receive more votes than everyone else combined.

     Heck, I could see an all-Dolphin top four, the way that team runs this town. Can also see it turning into a popularity contest, with Shaq and D-Wade or Jason Taylor getting in the four.

     Weed out the silly names and distill it to the real candidates: After Shula and Marino, my frontrunners might be Chris Evert and A-Rod. Might also consider Larry Csonka, Wayne Huizenga, Edwin Pope, Pat Riley, Joe Robbie and Shaq (despite his brevity here).

     As for omissions from the list, wouldn't Palm Beach's Jack Nicklaus be considered from South Florida? If so, he's on the mountain for sure. Also, where's my man Ferdie Pacheco!?

     Who gets your vote for the all-time four? If you agree Shula and Marino are guarantees, what other two deserve it?

July 07, 2007

South Florida's Top 5 athletes

     [Refreshing this post from last week because it has generated some interesting responses and merits more].

     I borrowed this idea -- blatant ripoff: the sincerest form of flattery! -- from AOL's website, which named the top five athletes from 25 cities including Miami (find the link here). We'll focus on So Fla.

     These are active athletes, so no Marino votes, por favor. The criteria is two-fold: 1) Who would a Miami sports fan say is his/her favorite athlete? 2) Would the player's name or face be familiar to locals who don't follow sports.

     AOL's top five for us: 1. Dwyane Wade, 2. Shaquille O'Neal, 3. Miguel Cabrera, 4. Dontrelle Willis, 5. Zach Thomas.

     My own top five: 1. Shaq, 2. Jason Taylor, 3. Wade, 4. Zach, 5. Willis. (Sorry, Miggy). My thinking: Shaq is tops based largely on the second criteria above, and Taylor edges D-Wade based on his local longevity and the Dolphins owning this town.

     Doesn't have to just be team-sport stars, either, of course. Could be Venus or Serena Williams, Cristie Kerr, Juan Pablo Montoya, or, or...

     What's your top five?