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16 posts from April 2008

April 28, 2008

Heat's Riley resigns, Spoelstra takes over (with The Daily Poll)

Aaa1erik_2     Heat coach Pat Riley stepped down Monday and named longtime assistant Erik Spoelstra (pictured) as his replacement in a news conference at the arena. Riley will remain as club president.

     I think this development is good news for all concerned, and for the right reasons, as you'd read fully in today's column by me by clicking here. Spoelstra has earned a shot. And Riley deserved to give up coaching on his own terms and timetable.

     Your thoughts on this major development are welcome here. Is this good for the Heat? Worrisome? Let us know. Vote in the poll and elaborate. What will be Riley's Miami legacy? And what do you expect from the change?

Grade the Dolphins draft (with The Daily Poll)

     First, a necessary caveat: None of us knows anything right now. We Aaa1bill_2 will all find out together -- Bill Parcells, Mel Kiper Jr., me and you -- whether this proves to have been a terrific Dolphin draft, a bad one or shades in between. But no law says we have to wait two or three years to have an opinion, right?

     So what do you think? What does your gut tell you? Based on where Miami picked, the players they drafted and how needs were met relative to what other teams did, how would you grade the 2008 Dolphins draft just ended?

     The nine drafted Dolphins: Michigan OT Jake Long (1st round); Clemson DE/OLB Phillip Merling (2); Michigan QB Chad Henne (2); Hampton DE Kendall Langford (3); Utah State OG Shawn Murphy (4); Toledo RB Jalen Parmele (6); Connecticut OG Donald Thomas (6); Montana RB Lex Hilliard (6) and Arizona DT Lionel Dotson (7).

     I'd planned to write on the draft today but am getting re-routed by the Pat Riley news. Suffice to say I like what the Dolphins did and would weigh in at around a B-plus. What about you?

     So how satisfied are you, Dolfan? Vote in our poll and elaborate with a comment. What do you like most about the Miami draft? Any disappointments?

     [Update: Thanks again, voters. You made this our 16th blogpoll to surpass 1,000 votes within the first 24 hours, this one taking just a few hours. Keep on voting!]

April 27, 2008

Dolphins' Day 2 Draft: DE, OG, RB, OG, RB, DT

Aaa1kendall      Dolphins pick DE Kendall Langford from tiny Hampton to open Day 2, smartly trading down a couple of spots in order to gain an additional sixth-round pick.

     Picking Langford suggests that Miami be thinking of top-of-the-second-round pick Phillip Merling as more of an outside linebacker than an end. It also is further indication of planning for life after Jason Taylor. The Dancing Man might still be traded today for future picks, although, as I've blogged earlier, there is minimal market value for a guy his age likely to retire after next season.

Aaa1shawn      Offensive guard Shawn Murphy of Utah State -- son of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy -- is the fourth-round pick. Moved up a few spots to get him. Position of need.

Aaa1jalen      Running back Jalen Parmele from Toledo is the first of three sixth-round picks. (Not to be confused with Bernie Parmalee). Parmele averaged 125 rush-yards per game but against smallish competition. He's a body to replace departed Lorenzo Booker.

     The other two sixth-round picks: Donald Thomas, offensive guard from Connecticut, and Lex Hilliard, running back from Montana.

     Definite small-school trend here. The Day 2 picks are from Hampton, Utah State, Toledo, UConn and Montana.

     Final pick: Arizona defensive tackle Lionel Dotson, busting the small-school trend. Need pick. Looks like Miami covered just about all its bases in the draft except wide receiver. But now comes the glut of non-drafted free agents.

     Comments welcome here on all of the Dolphins' Day 2 Sunday action, and how whatever happenned today weighs on your opinion of Miami's overall draft.

Dolphins' Day 1 Draft: Merling, Henne follow Long

Aaa1draft Aaa1dolphs     I'd grade the Dolphins a solid B-plus on their NFL Draft Day 1 bounty of Michigan tackle Jake long (1st overall), Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling (32nd) and Michigan quarterback Chad Henne (57th).

     Those three themselves may rate an A, but I'd downgrade slightly because Miami obviously tried to deal Jason Taylor for a second-round pick but could not. And I don't like dealing RB Lorenzo Booker for a fourth-rounder.

     Long we knew about four days earlier.

     Merling looks like a possible steal for Miami at 32, based on the common notion he was first-round quality. (I had him going 21st in my mock draft). By the way, I'd like to coin the instant nickname "Merling the Magician" (patentAaa1merling2 pending).

Aaa1merling_2      Not sure how well he'll translate to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, so for now let's assume Merling (pictured left) is heir apparent to Taylor at end..

     Getting Henne at 57th overall seems a bargain. I would not have liked this pick at 32 but like it here. Why not? It verifies what any Dolfan suspected: That John Beck may not be da man long-term. Or even short-term.

     Your thoughts on the Dolphins' Day 1 business and on the first two rounds in general are invited.

     Click on Mock '08 for my annual first-round picks. I ended up hitting 25 of 31 players correctly, with five to the exact team. That's about average overall, slightly below average on exactos.

     Click here for my column on the Dolphins' Day 1 bounty.

CONTEST: And the winner is ... Nobody!

     [Update: Nobody won our Dolphin Draft Contest. All those entries and not a single person guessed Phillip Merling for the 32nd pick. Oh well. Thanks for playing anyway. We'll find a way to give out the prize in a future contest].

     Original post:

     Hey, we're not gonna let the lack of suspense over the No. 1 pick spoil our fun. No. We are undeterred by Miami having already signed first-rounder Jake Long.

     We plow on and invite you now to guess who will be the Dolphins' two second-round picks, the 32nd and 57th overall.

     ENTER BY LISTING YOUR TWO PREDICTED PLAYERS, IN ORDER, IN 'COMMENTS' BELOW. TWO NAMES ONLY!! AND ONE ENTRY PER PERSON/COMPUTER, PLEASE, STRICTLY ENFORCED.

     Winning prize will be a 632-page 2008 Dolphins Media Guide &  Record Book, mailed to you the moment it is published.

     Rules:

     1. Entries close Saturday/today at 3 p.m. sharp, not at the conclusion of the the first round. That's a change.

     2. Only those entries submitted here and listing two players will be eligible.

     3. From eligible entries only those who guess the 32nd overall pick correctly will be eligible for the prize. From there we'll crosscheck IP addresses and eliminate all multiple entries from the same computer.

     4. The tiebreaker will be the 57th pick, with preference given to earliest entry received. For example, if three entries had both names right, the first one of those three posted would win. That encourages not procrastinating while discouraging copycatting.

     5. If nobody guesses 57th pick correctly, winning entry will be drawn by me at random from among all those who had 32nd pick right.

     If any of this seems too complicated, you fail the Wonderlic test but may still enter our contest.

     Note: If because of draft-day trades the Dolphins don't end up picking 32nd and 57th -- what the hell! -- we'll figure out a way to give away the prize anyway.

April 24, 2008

Jason Taylor's minimal value (with The Daily Poll) and more

    A brand new mess o' miscellania...

     Taylor's low market value: I wrote in this blog back on March 3 Aaa1jt_2 about Jason Taylor's future and little has changed that I see despite a recent media regurgitation. Said then I think Bill Parcells -- denials or not -- would trade JT in a heartbeat for the right offer. Still true, and I think a draft-day deal is possible. The thing is, there is zero chance Miami can get a first-round pick for a guy that age whom everyone knows will very likely play only one more season then cha-cha to Hollywood. You or the Dolphins are dreaming to think that. Even a second-round pick will be a tough get. That reality, more than Tuna's supposed commitment, is why No. 99 may end his career here. Vote in the poll below and add a comment if you dare.

 

     Hey Marlins fans!: Late April now, still first place, and I'm getting curious. Is your mindset closer to "too good to be true" or to "starting to think it's legit"?

     Morris the chat: Bumped into UM baseball coach Jim Morris at the Aaa1jim Flanagan-South Plantation district game the other night; him scouting, me spectating. Jim said he's a big fan of my Sunday Random Evidence notes column but chided me for not columnizing on his top-ranked Canes. OK, a promise, Jim: You go to Omaha, so will I (Herald budget willing!).

     Cowboys play Mr. Pacman: Dallas trades for cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, who is suspended and, by recent counts, has more career arrests than interceptions. Cannot confrim Cowboys front-office officials have been asked to submit to a Breathalyzer.

     KB = MVP: Anybody else stay up to watch Kobe Bryant's 49-point playoff show last night including a 20-spot in the first quarter? I believe if Bryant is not the NBA's MVP, somebody has some explaining to do.

     Gotta run for now. Researching my NFL Mock Draft today for Saturday's paper. Am hearing the Dolphins like Jake Long at No. 1.

April 22, 2008

Jake Long safe, sound pick for Dolphins' new mindset

Aaa1jake_2       The Dolphins today announced they have agreed to terms with overall No. 1 draft choice Jake Long, the Michigan offensive tackle.

     Many of you know I hoped Miami would roll dice on a potentially bigger dividend by targeting Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, but, having said that, J-Long is a safe, sound pick that signals the new regime's clear direction toward fundamental, smash-mouth football -- Parcells football.

     Your thoughts welcome on the Dolphins taking Jake Long. Read my new column by clicking here. But what do you think?

April 21, 2008

The case for Matt Ryan, Hanley vs. Dwyane (with The Daily Poll), bad teeth, "4-20" and more

     A new mess o' miscellania...

Aaa1matt     Drafting Matt Ryan: In a column online now and in Tuesday's paper, I make the case for why the Dolphins should draft Matt Ryan. Click here for the column. Your thoughts welcome.

     Dwyane vs. Hanley on the greatness meter: The question occured as I watched Hanley Ramirez swat two more homers Sunday to lift the Marlins. Who do you think will retire having had the greater career: Ramirez or the Heat's Dwyane Wade? Vote and say why in a comment.

     Bonus question: Does either player have a chance to retire considered as great in his sport as the Dolphins' Dan Marino is in his? Hey, relax. I'm just asking!

     NBA playoffs: Left the weekend's first wave of games with the distinct impression a Celtics-Lakers final has the feel of inevitability. Do you see a team that can beat either of them?

    DanAaa1danicaica finally wins: Happy for sexpot/driver Danica Patrick getting off the schneid, but don't see the huge deal in terms of historic significance. There are certain sports -- auto racing, bobsledding, horse racing, bowling -- with no real reason why women can't compete directly with men.

Aaa1adams      John Adams: Anybody else watch the 7-part miniseries John Adams that ended last night? Heart-wrenching final episode, but love that early American history stuff. Epic performance, too, by the great character actor Paul Giamatti. On a lighter note, dudes back then had some bad teeth or what?

Aaa1chad      Blogkeeping Note I: That poll on Chad Johnson in the post below this one has topped 5,000 votes, the second most since we began running blogpolls regularly back in October. Ocho Cinco! Record to beat remains 5,959 for "What should be the fate of Dolphins coach Cam Cameron?"

     Blogkeeping Note II: Our monthly "Ask the Blogmaster General" feature is being phased out and here's why. Beginning Monday, April 28, I will join our website's Q&A Forum, replacing Le Batard in the Columnist category. Meaning you can fire questions at me about anything including this blog in a live chat every Monday from 1-2 p.m.

Aaapot_2      Light 'em up: Am I the only un-hip fossil who was unaware of the significance of Sunday as "4-20" day? I was informed it is the annual unofficial holiday when pot smokers commune to celebrate their hobby. (Bulletin: The weedies I know tend to do that somewhat more than once a year). Click here. Me? I celebrated in standard un-hip fossil fashion by finishing off the second half of a Padron cigar in my garage.

     DOGGONE IT!: This was supposed to be probably our last blog post of the week that had nothing to do with the Dolphins or NFL Draft. Then I had to go spoil it with that Matt Ryan item. Damn!

April 17, 2008

On Chad Johnson to Miami (with The Daily Poll), plus Old Greg, Le Batard and more...

     Another mess o' miscellania...

     Chad Johnson to Dolphins?: Miamian Chad Johnson (Mr. Ocho Aaachad Cinco), the disgruntled Bengals receiver, is half-begging, half-demanding that Cincinnati trade him. This is one immensely prolific receiver who would make John Beck immediately better. Click here for his career stats. If I'm Tuna, I'm dialing area code 513 today and offering a second-round pick. How about you? Why or why not?

     [Update: Congrats again, voters. The above is our 15th blogpoll to surpass 1,000 votes within the first 24 hours, this one blasting past that in just the first four hours. Thanks again. Keep 'em coming].    

     I'm Old Greg!: Anybody else aware of a semi-cultish Youtube video Aaa1oldgreg_2 phenom called "Old Greg"? My two teenage boys delighted to make me aware of it as a prerequisite to poking fun by calling me Old Greg. Click here to sample the exceptionally creepy actual "Old Greg" (pictured). Personally I think this could be a great walk-on intro when Marlins closer Kevin Gregg takes the mound. What better to unsettle a batter? "I'M OLD GRRRREGGGGGGG!" Or, maybe not.

     Dan Le Baleave: My newspaper has made official internally what we've known for awhile. Dan Le Batard will be on a one-year leave of absence from the paper beginning May 15, while still doing his radio show. He'll be missed. (Did you catch the Kyle Turley/Robert Smith give and take about NFL retired-player disability payments on his show yesterday? Click here to listen; it's quite lengthy. I have seldom heard a more fascinating debate about something most fans care less about).

     American, idling: Last night I was switching back and forth between the Obama-Clinton debate and American Idol. It pains me to admit I'm not sure which was less compelling. That reminds me. Barack Obama has garnered the endorsement of Bruce Springsteen. No matter, though. Hillary Clinton picked up the backing of the NAAP, the National AsAaapopesociation for the Advancement of Pantsuits.

    The Pope in America: Welcome, Pope!

     School's out: Remember how you felt in school when you learned there'd be a substitute teacher? Guessing that's sort like the freedom PGA Tour guys are feeling with Tiger Woods out rehabbing four to six weeks after minor knee surgery. (Speaking of golf, some guy named Immelman beat some guy named Snedeker to win The Masters. Immelman sounds like a guy running a Jewish deli).

     Fort Lauderdale Beerbust: Who else attended the Beerfest in downtown Fort Lauderdale this past Saturday? What a ripoff! Admission 25 bucks, for which you got "free beer." The problems? 1) Mostly pedestrian brews. 2) Long lines indicative of too few vendors. 3) Beer served in 3-ounce cups! (Seriously). 4) Started running out of beer by 8:30. I mean, this was sponsored by New Times and pimped endlesslAaapauly by radio's Paul and Young Ron (pictured). Should have been top-end; instead, an embarrassment. Rule of thumb: Never, ever hand me a 3-ounce plastic cup unless I am under court order to provide a urine sample.

     McSmart decision: Congrats to whomever convinced UM's Jack McClinton to return for his senior season rather than enter the NBA Draft. Good for the Canes. Good for Jack's future pro hopes.

Yaz_logo      Yaz for the ladies: There is a new female contraceptive with the brand name Yaz. Speaking for Carl Yastrzemski fans everywhere, we are officially mortified.

     My online Q&A: Finally, a reminder. We'll have a live online Q&A this Friday from 1-2 p.m. That'll be in place of our regular mid-monthly "AAaaqask the Blogmaster General" feature, which will return in May. Questions of every stripe welcome, but with the understanding an uninterupted torrent of questions concerning the Dolphin draft may lead me to reach for a gun or a bottle of Jim Beam, whichever is nearer. [Don't leave your questions here. Do it tomorrow in the appropriate forum, not in this blog. Q's left before 1 p.m. will be answered as time permits, but with priority given to those who are online live at 1].

April 15, 2008

Exclusive: Soft schedule means Dolphins can finish 9-7, challenge for playoffs

     Ok, yes. It's another one of those cheap, attention-grabbing headlines indicative of the left-wing liberal media. So what! It bears a basis in legitimacy, or at least possibility. I just took a good look at the Dolphins' 2008 regular season schedule, out today, and am struck by how easy it looks. Who's in charge of NFL schedules, anyway? Bill Parcells?

     Look at the eight home games. Concede the Chargers, Patriots and Seahawks as losses. But the other five -- Jets, Ravens, Bills, Raiders and 49ers-- all seem winnable.

     Now look at the eight road games. Pencil in Pats and Broncos as losses. But none of the other six trips -- Cardinals, Texans, Rams, Bills (in Toronto), Chiefs and Jets -- are exactly scary.

     That's 11 potentially winnable games by my count. Win half of those and Tony Sparano (inheriting 1-15) is picking up a few coach of the year votes. With some bounces and luck, I look at that schedule and I see this team having a chance to make a run at .500 and be in the wild-card mix. You read it here first.

     Then again, I may be crazy. What record do you see when you look at that schedule?

     *****************************************************

     [Blogkeeping note: I will be doing a live online Q&A this Friday, April 18, from 1-2 p.m. So that will take the place of our regular mid-monthly "Ask the Blogmaster General" feature].