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47 posts from October 2007

October 30, 2007

Picks 'n Fantasy: Week 8 results

     Our every-Tuesday update on how we're doing with our NFL Friday page predictions, in our fantasy league, in the newspaper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and on The Herald's experts panel...

     The Friday Page:  An embarrassing 7-6 record straight-up tugged out overall season percentage to .638. That same 7-6 vs. the spread doesn't seem so bad and whittled only a few points off our still-robust .560 season number against the line. Failed badly on our Upset of the Week (Panthers over Colts; "Aaawful"), but had Dolphins, Raiders and Jaguars all covering the spread.

     Bad Newz Fennelz: The BNF won a fourth straight game, 111-98, running our season mark to 6-2, tied for first place in our 12-team fantasy league. Struck gold with Tom  Brady again (38 points) and welcomed Hines Ward back to my lineup with a big 24 points.

     Pigskin Challenge: Took my lumps with that 7-6. The resulting season record of 74-42 dropped me into a tie for second place on the seven-man panel against five other Herald writers and last year's reader champ. Worse, I tumbled to a tie for 40th overall among some 500 players overall.

     Herald Experts: Improved to 7-1 picking Dolphin games in the paper each Sunday against five colleagues. That's still tied for first place with Sir Edwin Pope.

October 28, 2007

G8: Giants 13, Dolphins 10 (London postscript)

Aaad Aaabb Aaag     The Times of London, the city's respected paper that does not put nudies on page 3, bugled "THE GAME" on the front page of Monday's editions. Didn't mean Dolphins-Giants at Wembley, though. Meant the Arsenal-Liverpool match running concurrently. Headline on NFL game: 'American pioneers are just an  exotic curio at the real football headquarters.'

     My game column from London would be fund by clicking on Misery Knows No Borders.    

     Ingame chatter:

     Onside kick failed. Giants kneeling. Game over: 0-8. Dolphins beat point spread, but, alas, not opponent.

     Ted Ginn Jr. 21-yard TD pass from Cleo Lemon with 1:54 left, Ginn's first career score, makes it 13-10. If Miami gets the onside kick, perhaps a small miracle is in store after all.

      Ancient Jeff Feagles just punted for NY. I believe he was a boy when Queen Elizabeth was a girl. Four minutes left. Miami needs a quick score for any chance. If you are optimistic, I credit your spirit.

     Giants miss short field goal; still 13-3, early 4Q.

     Dolphins' Jason Taylor -- the real one, not the 26-foot animatronic -- recovers a fumble after a sack. Miami first down at its own 49. Can they finally score? Yes! Well, sort of! Got it to 1st and goal from the 6, settled for a short Jay Feely FG to make it 13-3. They're playing that annoying "Miami Dolphins No. 1" song, which is now officially annoying world-wide.

     Here's a completely bizarre, radical thought: Miami is 0-7, with zero points deep into its eighth game. John Beck, anyone? Like, with him, you can do worse than 0-7 with zero points!?

     By the way, the Dolphin cheerleaders came out for the chilly, damp second half wearing more clothing. These British Dolphin fans just can't catch a break tonight.

     Jason Allen just intercepted a deflected pass -- bulletin: Allen does something right! -- only to see the play nullified by Miami holding. Nothing going right tonight for the "home" team, fitting of this entire season.

     Classic snapshot of Dolphins offense tonight on this one third-down play: Cleo Lemon scrambles and completes deep to a wide-open Derek Hagan! Two  minor problems. Lemon was past the srimmage line when he threw. And threw too wide for Hagan to catch it in-bounds. Punt. 

     Here's another in a long series of winnable games for Miami, right? Team is defending Eli Manning pretty well. But the way the offense is (not) playing, 13 points seems like a mountain to climb.

     Doubt TV showed this, but a streaker bounded onto the field just before the second-half kickoff. The guy ripped off a fake referee's uniform to reveal himself nearly naked, wearing a g-string with appeared a small football covering his privateers. He cavorted at  midfield and actually had time to start doing pushups on the NFL shield -- the sacrilege! -- before security at last hustled him off the field.

     Giants 41-yard FG in last seconds of first half, set up when Cleo Lemon is stripped of ball on sack. NYG now up 13-0. Miami offense playing about like you'd expect an offense to play if missing its start QB, its best running back, its main tight end, and with its best receiver traded.

     Eli Manning 10-yard TD run with a minute left in first half makes it 10-0, NYG. Rain steady. Very cold, too. Cheerleaders must be miserable, and freezing, but still dancing and smiling. Dolphin cheerleaders having a better game than Dolphins.

     "The Wave" has just erupted in the Wembley stands. American football overseas may prove to be the ruination of international sport.

     First quarter just ended at 3-nil, Biggies. What percentage of curious Brits do you imagine are thinking this American football isn't as exciting as they thought it would be?

     Giants 0-for-2 now going deep to Plaxico Burress. Can you blame them for thinking that's a Miami vulnerability? These Brits love the deep pass.

     Raining pretty good here now, but not rain like we know rain. More of that heavy mist for which London is famous.

     By the way, in person here, the crowd seems fairly evenly split in its devotion, although I'd say the slight advantage goes to Dolphin supporters. What's it sound like on TV?

     Giants drive downfield on their first possession but squander a 1st and goal, settling for a chipshot field goal and a 3-0 lead. NY kicker Lawrence Tynes was born in Scotland, suggesting to me the game is fixed. Kidding!

     Jay Feely just picked a heck of a time for his first missed field goal of the season. From 48 yards. A bit surprised daring Cam didn't go for it on 4th and 1.

    Good sign. The Star-Spangled Banner just defeated God Save the Queen by about 45 seconds.

     Pregame ramble:

     Months in the planning, a week of buildup from London, and now it's finally here: Dolphins "hosting" New York Giants from famed Wembley Stadium in the first-ever NFL regular-season game played outside North America.

     The historical significance of the game is what matters to the league as its sets out to play two international regulars-eason games a year beginning next season. The Dolphins and Dolfans, of course, the historical significance is less important than a bleepin', bloody win.

     Gray, cool,  drizzly day here in London, stadium filling, teams on the field in warmups. I'll be blogging live throughout the game, with instant updates/commentary on all major plays and scoring changes. Join us, lads and laddies.

     Comments welcome before, during and of course after the game -- on the significance of the event and on the result itself and what it means to the Dolphins.

October 27, 2007

FAU earns what FIU is given

     The Miami Hurricanes have the weekend off, so we devote this week's college football blogpost to my newspaper's uneven coverage of the FAU Owls and FIU Golden Panthers. You may have noticed The Herald this season has significantly increased coverage of FIU (0-7, nation's-worst 19-game losing streak entering this weekend) while decreasing attention and space paid FAU (4-3, unbeaten in the Sun Belt Conference).

     This doesn't strike me as particularly fair or logical, although I partly buy the obvious rationale that Miami's FIU is closer to the paper's core market than is Boca Raton's FAU. Still, they're both local college teams with similar histories and comparable schedules, both head-coached by men with strong UM ties.

     Inviting thoughts on the FIU-FAU disparity here and on the weekend's notable college football action, especially:

     No. 18 Georgia 42, 11 Florida Gators 30: Annual game in Jacksonville is "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Saturday, it signaled a Gator season turning a bit sour. 

     No. 23 Connecticut 22, No. 10 South Florida Bulls 15: USF's second straight loss. Cinderella's slipper has slipped, and broken.

     Florida State Seminoles 25, Duke 6: 'Noles, now 5-3 (like UM), struggling to matter again.

     Arkansas 58, FIU Golden Panthers 10: Ouch. Where is the progress for winless GP's?

     Louisiana-Monroe 33, FAU Owls: Defense let Team Schnellenberger down in OT heartbreaker.

     No. 1 Ohio State 37, No. 25 Penn State 17: No, Joe Pa didn;t have a shocker left in him.

Blogcard from London: Saturday

     My wife flew in and joined me in London this morning, meaning she'll be dragging accompanying me to a few classic attractions. This may be a nice break, actually, from my routine of the past few days, Aaacruise which has found me mostly at my hotel, at game-related events, or conducting important research in various pubs. We just finished fish & chips at the Sea Shell. Also took in Madame Tussaud's, which was mammothly crowded due to people queueing in line to pose for pictures with Johnny Depp and the Queen. I almost plowed into Angelie Jolie! Pictured at left is Tom Cruise, just prior to my setting him on fire and melting him. Next we're taking one of those double-decker sightseeing buses. I'll be the guy carrying the neon sign that reads, TOURIST!

     The Dolphins held a brief "walk-through" practice at Wembley Stadium this morning, a billion-dollar palace rising incongruously in the midst of a working-class neighborhood and industrial area. Wembley's seats are a reddish-orange color, somewhat similar to the orange seats at Dolphin Stadium. Of course Wembley was empty Saturday -- also similar to Dolphin Stadium late in the game during home losses.

     You'd find by clicking on London Yawns today's column by me on the disinterest in Sunday's game across much of the city.

     Frankentaylor update: The 26-foot animatronic Jason Taylor moves today to the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, Essex on the outskirts of London. Local constables credit the giant Taylor with chasing down and sacking a shoplifter.

     The Dolphin cheerleaders, busy all week, perform thrice today: At the aforementioned Lakeside Shopping Centre, at a soccer store on Carnaby Street, and at a Virgin Megastore on Tottenham Court Road. Miami may be 0-7, but the Dolphins have taken over the NFL lead in cheerleading.

October 26, 2007

Blogcard from London: Friday

     The Dolphins conducted their one tourist-type group activity of the trip Friday evening here: a social for the team party and selected guests (including, inexplicably, yours truly) at the famed Tower of LondAaaannon off the River Thames. The Tower is more formally known as Her Magesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, home of the Crown Jewels, and more notoriously for its torture chambers, where executions once took place. It reputedly is haunted as well, not unlike Miami's 2007 season. "I'm not sure," said Dolphins club president Bryan Weidmeier, keeping his humor, "should a team that's 0-7 go to a place famous for its torture and beheadings?" The good news, given this season? Every Dolphin came out alive. Also, nothing scary or weird happened. Unless you count when the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn (left) -- beheaded in 1536 for treason -- was seen wafting through the Tower carrying under her arm the head of Nick Saban.

Aaawasp      The Dolphins conducted their first London practice earlier Friday at the facility of the London Wasps rugby club. Would have been in keeping with Miami's season if the entire squad had been chased around the field by a giant swarm of wasps, but that didn't happen. See. Things are looking up!

     Frankentaylor update: The 26-foot animatronic Jason Taylor moved Friday to Victoria Station, where it terrified screaming commuters into a wild stampede. The real, 6 1/2-foot Taylor was asked about his robotic version and noted, "The eyebrows are a bit big for my liking. Got kind of a unibrow thing going."

     The exhausted, courageous Dolphin cheerleaders conducted yet another cheerleader clinic Friday, this one in Leyton, East London. Shouldn't being able to find cheer in an 0-7 record qualify these brave young women for some sort of prize? President Bush found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq more easily than Dolfans are finding cheer in this season.

     I'm not starting a rumor, but last night, in a fancy restaurant around the corner here, I saw two Dolphin cheerleaders cozying up in a corner booth with a very attentive 26-foot animatronic Jason Taylor.

     I learned earlier today, by the way, that a rare-roast beef with horseradish sandwich alongside a bottle of Stella Artois may be the best combination since Brady-to-Moss. Pass it along.

Aaatott      BULLETIN: Tottenham Hotspur have fired embattled manager Martin Jol, a huge story over here. Evidently the dismissal was not a surprise. But here's the shocker: He's been replaced by Joe Torre!

NFL Week 8 picks

     Picking the Dolphins to lose to the Giants in London, 31-27, although, when you're 0-7, shouldn't almost winning count for, like, one-fifth of a victory? Actually give Miami a legit upset shot, based on the desperate pride to avoid further embarrassment vs. what I think will be an overconfident NYG.

     Click on Week 8 Gems for all of this week's winners. They include Carolina over Indy in our Upset of the Week, which pretty much finds me alone on a national island. Click on Uncle Wayne for my Friday Page column, from London, on Wayne Huizenga's loyal buy-in on the NFL globalization plan.

October 25, 2007

The Daily Poll: Dolphins in London

     You've had months to think about it. Now it's finally here. How do you feel?

     Click on 'Comments' below to share your thoughts with fellow Herald readers and bloggers. Responses left by clicking on 'Comment' within poll do not appear here.

Blogcard from London: Thursday

Aaagatwick2       Actual football players are now airborne and practically almost finally here in London. The Dolphins are to arrive Friday at 7:30 a.m., local time, at Gatwick Airport. [Pictured is a Gatwick "Male Toilet" that Cam Cameron may or may not utilize upon arrival]. The Giants are scheduled to land at 6 a.m., 90 minutes earlier Friday, at Heathrow Airport. Let's hope that's not a foreboding sign for Sunday's game: the Giants, ahead by 90.

     You ever stayed at one of those fancy hotels where for hours on end and well into the night, a piano is playing down in the lobby? And what starts off as a pleasant and soothing sound wafting gently up to your room in time worms insidiously into your brain until finally you break and heave the foyer table out your window down onto the guy at the piano? Yeah, me too!

     Click on NFL Devours Earth! for today's column by me on the league's globalization plans.

     The Dolphin cheerleaders continue to be the hardest-working team representatives in London. Today they made appearances at the Selhurst Boys School (make up your own joke; mine would get me fired) and at a soccer store on Carnaby Street. Blogcard from London has learned two of the Dolphin cheerleaders, Heather and Bambi, have been activated and will start Sunday in the secondary.

     Frankentaylor Update: "The Big JT," that 26-foot animatronic Jason Taylor, moves across London on Friday to Victoria Station where it will continue to be the stuff of nightmares for British children for years to come. Sad news: The NFL has denied a Dolphin request to activate Big JT for Sunday's game.

     Wednesday night I stayed up past 4 a.m., London time, watching the World Series, and plan to do so again for Game 2 tonight (tomorrow morning?). It may help in securing my long-coveted promotion from private to corporal in Red Sox Nation.

     Been here since Tuesday and am still looking for my first really great meal in London. From what I hear, people who've lived here all their lives are doing the same thing.

October 24, 2007

Bye bye, Antoine (with The Daily Poll)

Aaaawalker      The Heat today traded away forward Antoine Walker and, even all the way over here in London, I think I can hear the swell of cheering eminating from Miami. The photo at left panders unabashedly to the majority who seem to be against him.

     Deal would have Miami sending Walker, Michael Doleac and Wayne Simien to Minnesota for Ricky Davis, center Mark Blount and a conditional first-round pick. Giving up the latter is a concern but (given Shaq's age) I like the win-now mentality after an awful preseason. Davis is a proven scorer at small forward. Good trade. You think so?

     But oh why do we loathe Antoine so? Seriously, I count him among the more disliked figures in our recent sports history. Why? Tell us. I'd also welcome comments from those who always thought Walker got a bad rap. If there are any of those.

     Click on 'Comments' below to share your thoughts with fellow Herald readers and bloggers. Responses left by clicking on 'Comment' within poll will not appear here.

Blogcard from London: Wednesday

     The Dolphin cheerleaders, outfitted in brief white tops, low-riding short-shorts and calf-high boots, Dolphins_cheer entertained during Stoke City's 3-1 victory over host Crystal Palace in a local football (soccer) match Tuesday evening. Many in the crowd of about 15,000 at cozy Selhurst Park booed Crystal manager Neil Warnock as he left the pitch ... after his first game as coach. See, Cam, it could be worse; Dolfans are patient compared to some of these fans. No London paper even mentioned the cheerleaders in their game stories Wednesday -- a surprise considering several rags, including The Sun with its daily topless page 3 model, lean toward titillation. The Times at least ran a photo. Miami's voluptuous emissaries were greeted warmly. And in some cases, hotly. "I don't give a bloody [bleep] about the Dolphins," grinning Stoke fan Gordon Rifkind told us during the first half. "But the Dolphin girls are worth a right long leer, right!"

     Click Dolfans U.K. for my first column from London, on members of the local Dolphins fan club.

     Bulletin: The giant, 26-foot-tall Jason Taylor has moved from Canary Wharf to Victoria Station. It is the largest example of human-form animatronics ever devised, and also the largest example of human-form animatronics ever to deny it wants to be traded.

     Those ubiquitous Dolphin cheerleaders and former Dolphins Bob Brudzinski, Nat Moore, Twan Russell and Shawn Wooden put on clinics at a couple of London schools on Wednesday. Later those same hard-working, London-trotting cheerleaders posed for photos with members of Parliament at the House of Commons, confirming suspicions that British politicians don't work any hard than our's do.

Aaaalsops      I had every intention of attending at least one of these cheesy p.r. events, but plans changed related to sudden thirst and the undeniable convenience of the Allsops Arms (left), an inviting pub near my hotel.

Aaamayfair      Picking up some bad habits here. Doing as the the Europeans do. Have begun incessantly saying "cheerio," even though the only Brits who actually say that are actors playing bad stereotypes in old movies. Also have begun smoking two or three packs of Mayfairs per day.