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22 posts from January 2008

January 31, 2008

Super Blog: Thursday

     Hello again from Phoenix, where there are more Jack in the Box and DelTaco joints per square mile than anywhere on Earth. Today's offering...

Aaa1eli      Click on Eli's Coming, Hold Your Breath Fans for a column by me on Giants QB Eli Manning, operating here from the accustomed place. The shadows.

Aaa1camel          Click on Super Bowl With a Smirk II for today's offering of SB nonsense, including a forecast by Princess the Elderly Camel.

      Question du jour -- Which has been Super Bowl Week's most annoyingly overblown nonstory: Tom Brady's right ankle? Or Plaxico Burress predicting (not guaranteeing) a 23-17 win? Other nominees welcome.

January 30, 2008

Super Blog: Wednesday

     Aaa1bradyGreetings from Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale or wherever the hell I am.

     Click on BradyMania for today's column by me on celebrity-quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots star who is as big as the Super Bowl stage. Then answer this question: Should Brady, right now, be considered one of the all-time greatest QBs? Why or why not?

Aaa1plax Aaa1chili      Click on Super Bowl With a Smirk I for today's daily notes column on SB nonsense.

January 28, 2008

Can the Pats be stopped? (with The Daily Poll)

     I'm headed west today for the Super Bowl and will begin writing daily columns from out there (plus a daily 'Super Bowl With a Smirk' notes column and blog updates) beginning Tuesday.

     Patriots-Giants presumably is of keen interest in South Florida even beyond the normal Super Bowl due to the Pats' attempt to match the Dolphins' 1972 Perfect Season.

     There's a poll below on who think will win the Super Bowl and another on who you want to win. Let us know why you voted as you did, and how Miami's '72 distinction factors in your thinking.

January 25, 2008

The OB farewell ripoff (with The Daily Poll)

     [Bumping this back up because the event is tomorrow, Saturday. Do you plan to go? And what's your prediction on the crowd? I'll be surprised if it tops 5,000]. 

     You are invited to say goodbye to Miami's doomed stadium in what is being billed as a "Farewell to the Orange Aaa1coaches Bowl Celebration" on Jan. 26. Find the story here. An afternoon of activities will be highlighted by a Dolphins vs. Hurricanes flag-football game featuring dozens of former players and coached by Don Shula and Howard Schnellenberger.

     Sort of a neat idea. Until this: It'll cost you $20 to get in. It should be free, absolutely free, as a goodwill gesture on the part of the city of Miami. Instead a sports-memorabilia store is promoting the thing, and it's become a for-profit enterprise. Not good.

     It's ghoulish enough that the city is trying make a last few dollars from the stadium it abandoned by auctioning off everything in it. Now this latest event, billed as a "celebration," is really just one last attempt to squeeze money from the corpse.

     I'd be very surprised if more than a few thousand people showed up for this thing. Then again, every once in a while I'm wrong. What do you think?

January 23, 2008

Can Riley fix the Heat? Is Shaq done? (with The Daily Poll)

Aaa1pat      Now that "Can they still make the playoffs?" has been, at 8-32, answered firmly in the negative, the pertinent question surrounding the Heat is, "Can Pat Riley fix this mess?" And by fix I mean that Miami, one year from now, is a team fighting not for a lottery pick but for the home court in the playoffs. A team that feels like it is on the upswing again.

     I spoke with the Heat president/head coach yesterday and you'd click on Life of Riley to find that column.

     Three questions: How confident are you that Riley will make the right moves from here to restore the Heat? How much does Shaquille O'Neal have left? (See poll below) And what's the one piece of thoroughly unsolicited advice you'd most want to give to Pat if you had his ear for 20 seconds?

January 20, 2008

Super Bowl XLII set: Patriots vs. Giants. You like?

Aaa1sb_2          It's Patriots-Giants in the Super Bowl in two Sundays, New England rolling in routinely and as expected over San Diego for the AFC title, and New York stunning host Green Bay in overtime.

          The Pats will be a huge favorite, probably by around two touchdowns or slightly more, as they try to complet their Perfect Season.

          Comments welcome here and today's two championship games and on the Super Bowl matchup that results. What kind of a chance do you give the Giants?

          GIANTS 23, PACKERS 20 (Final OT; NFC Championship Game)

          Erstwhile goat Lawrence Tynes redeemed himself with a 47-yard field goial in overtime to lift the Giants past Green Bay 23-20 and into the Super bowl vs. New England. What a game!

          Green Bay wins coin toss to begin NFL's first championship-game overtime since the 1998 season. First team to score wins.

          Pack catch ANOTHER huge, season-saving break when Lawrence Tynes skulls a potential winning 36-yard FG wide left on the final play of regulation. Wow again. What a weird, wild game.

          Pack catch an enormous break when a 48-yard Giants TD run by Ahmad Bradshaw just before the 2-minute warning is negated by a  holding penalty. Wow.

          Giants hook a field goal try wide left and the knot at 20 remains, with 6:49 to play in regulation.

          Green Bay field goal ties it, 20-20, early fourth. Pack caught a huge break when R.W. McQuarters intercepted Brett Favre but was stripped, allowing GB to maintain possession deep in NYG territory. (By the way, how much are these frozen players and fans looking forward to overtime, huh!?)

          NYG short TD run puts the visitors back up, 20-17, late third quarter. There is a tension in this game, of not knowing who'll win, that did not exist as much in the AFC game.

          Green Bay back ahead, 17-13 -- thanks to two ex-Dolphins. Former Miami tight end Donald Lee had the 12-0yard TD catch, one play after ex-Dolph Sam Madison gave GB a first down with a roughness penalty on what had been a fourth-down incompletion. Man, if the Giants lose, New York will never let Madison live that down.

          NYG punches it in from the 1and retakes the lead, 13-10, mid-third quarter. Two penalties badly hurt the Pack. Illegal contact negated an interception and meant a Giants first down. Later, roughing the passer against GB safety Nick Collins -- on a third down incompletion -- gave the Giants new life, and they capitalized. 

          Cheeseheads defense better enlist a man to stop Plaxico Burress. He has eight catches for 114 yards and 2H just began. (The good news for GB? Take away Burress and New York in the first half had 81 yards on 29 plays). 

          Pack adds 36-yard FG to grow lead to 10-6 just before halftime.

          The Pack is back! Brett Favre to Donald Driver, 90-yard catch and run, longest pass play in Green Bay playoff history. GB, 7-6. Just like that. This crowd -- this city -- went from quiet and anxious to celebratory in about 10 seconds.

          Biggies settle for 37-yard FG and lead, 6-0. Big stop for Pack D.

          Three straight Packer punts now. Free Brett Favre!

          Packers punt for second straight time. Early mo' with the Giants. Lambeau about as quiet as Lambeau gets.

          Impressive, near-8-minute drive fizzles into a short field goal, and NYG is up 3-0. Looks like Giants think Eli can pass on the Gee Bees' secondary. We'll see.

          They're now saying it's 23 degrees below zero with the wind c hill. Game on!     

          On Fox-TV's outdoor pregame set here, Jimmy Johnson's hair is showing signs of frostbite. 

          Fans were given hand-warmers as they entered the stadium here. When it is really, really cold even by the standards of the place that inspired the phrase "frozen tundra," cold has been redefined. Officially it is now 1 below zero and minus-17 with the wind chill, making this the third-coldest game in NFL history. Have you I told you lately, South Florida, that I love you?

     PATRIOTS 21, CHARGERS 12 (Final; AFC Championship Game)

     The Patriots are so good that when they win by "only" nine points, it seems like they almost lost. Inviting thoughts here on New England's win.

     Wes Welker TD pass from Tom Brady puts Pats up 21-12, suddenly a comfortable-feeling margin for first time in the game. New England now poised to move within one victory of matching Miami's 1972 perfection ... thanks in large part to a former Dolphin. 

     Patriots hanging onto 14-12 lead as fourth quarter begins. In Green Bay, they just announced it is 17-below-zero with the wind chill. I love you, South Florida.

     NE about to go up 21-12 but NO! Brady suffers second interception. Big.

     What I meant to say is, you don't beat the Pats with field goals unless you kick, like, 12 of them.

     Patriots lead, 14-9, at halftime. Aside to San Diego: You don't beat the Pats with field goals. Meantime, an important update from Green Bay: Still freezing.

     Brady to Gaffney, short TDP. Pats, 14-6, late in first half. The San Diego-winning-in-a-stunner bandwagon is getting less populated by the minute.

     Another chip-shot Bolts FG. SD hanging in, for what it's worth. Still liking my pick: Pats win but don't cover 14.

     Short TD run, early second Q, and the favored Pats lead for first time, 7-3, over Chargers. Don Shula just kicked his ottoman. I don't know that, of course. Do people even still have ottomans.

     Game one-quarter done and still no points from the mighty Patriots. Somewhere, Don Shula is cautiously optimistic, but likely not ready to say it aloud yet. 

     Chargers strike first in AFC game, cashing a field goal off a Tom Brady interception. Still way too early for a Southern Cali or a '72 Dolphin to derive hope.

     Pregame ramble

     Here's a post on today's two conference championship games: Chargers at Patriots (now underway and scoreless) for the AFC title, then Giants at Packers tonight for the NFC crown. Welcoming comments here on each game, and on the Super Bowl matchup that results.

     Will be freshening this post with score updates and other miscellaneous chatter as I stare at empty Lambeau Field waiting for a game to break out. It is below zero here in Green Bay, the kind of cold that makes your nose and ears burn and feel numb within seconds. I am moved nearly to tears with admiration and love for whomever invented the heated press box.   

January 18, 2008

NFL playoff picks: It's a Pats-Pack Super Bowl

Aaa1brady_2 Aaa1brett      The Patriots will roll on and beat the visiting Chargers in Sunday's AFC Championship Game (sorry Don, Merc, Nick et al), while the Packers will whip the visiting Giants for the NFC title. For the wagering crowd, I see San Diego and Green Bay covering. Click on Title-Game Gems for our picks, and on Impervious Pats for our accompanying column on how no distraction -- not Randy Moss' legal matter, not Igor Olshansky's big mouth -- will shake New England's supremely tuned focus.

     How do you see the two conference-championship games going?

Live Dolphins Q&A from 1-2 p.m. today!

     The newspaper asked me to do a live online Dolphins Q&A today (Friday) from 1-2 p.m. I invite my blog crowd to participate, bearing in mind that I prefer softball questions requiring no research and minimal thought. Example: What Dolphins head coach, past or present, do you think has had a name most similar to that of a prominent TV mobster? Remember, do leave your questions here. Instead, click here starting at 1 p.m.

January 17, 2008

It's Tony Sparano Time! (with The Daily Poll)

Aaa1tony     [Note: The Herald has me doing a live online Dolphins Q&A from 1-2 p.m. on Friday. If you'd like to tap in, please do].

     It's official. The Dolphins hired Cowboys assistant Tony Sparano as their new head coach and unveiled him at a noon press conference today, a long-expected coronation of the consistent frontrunner and clear personnel choice of new bosses Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland.

     Inviting you to weigh in here on the Sparano hiring. Vote in our poll, but please also elaborate with a comment expressing why you feel as you do. Do you trust Big Tuna all the way? Were there better choices out there? Have you been burned too often to be anything but wait-&-see?

     I offer my opinion -- that any new Dolphin head coach-hire must be viewed skeptically until he earns our faith -- in a column online now and in Thursday's paper. Click here to find it. Meantime, what do you think?

January 15, 2008

Ask the Blogmaster General: January

Aaa1q     [The question window has nicked shut. Thanks for the interest. TBG will return around mid-February. Going to sleep now. Need to rest up for Wednesday, a.k.a. Tony Sparano Day].

     The Blogmaster General returns, after skipping December, with the latest installment of our somewhat semipopular mid-monthly Q&A in which I directly answer any questions you may have. (The first question was submitted by the reader pictured, who asked, "Where are my hands!?")

      You know the daily give-and-take here is your forum (usually smooth-running, occasionally run amok). But once a month I invite and reply to your queries on a variety of topics including but not limited to: Me, this blog, my columns, sports writing, The Miami Herald, other media, local teams, national stories, current events, pop culture, singing on the radio, gourmet cooking, presidential politics and Russian nesting dolls.

     Any questions you've asked of me in the daily blogs that have gone rudely 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.