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16 posts from June 2008

June 09, 2008

Ari Fleischer advises Dolphins, Omaha Express, Heat holding the Mayo (with poll) and more

     A fresh mess o' miscellania...

     ARI FLEISCHER ADVISES DOLPHINS: I'm not suggesting this is less-than-a-lateral career move, but Ari Aaa1ari Fleischer used to be the official White House spokesman early in George W.'s administration. He put the spin on the 2000 vote recount, on 9/11, on the anthrax scare, on Iraq and on other rather weighty matters. Now he tells athletes how to deal with the media. He was doing so Sunday with the Dolphins. Click here to reach Fleischersports.com. (Turns out Ari is a Dolphin fan and friends with the club's VP of media, Harvey Greene. Even though Harvey is a Democrat who worked with Hillary Clinton's campaign). Not sure if Fleischer was really needed here. Based on the Bill Parcells/Jason Taylor drama so far, the Dolphins lead the league in saying as little meaningful as possible and probably don't need Ari's guidance.

     HAaa1bbumURRICANES' OMAHA EXPRESS: Congrats to coach Jim Morris and UM for making it to Omaha as one of eight teams in the College World Series that begins this coming Saturday. Normally being in Nebraska is not a good thing, except in college baseball. The Canes earned this trip, losing Game 1 to Arizona in the super regional and trailing 4-0 in Game 2 before rallying to keep alive hopes for a fifth national title. Is this the best team UM has ever put on a diamond? I say yes -- subject to proof the rest of this month.

      MAYO-TO-HEAT GAINING STEAM: We first blogged back on May 26 about ESPN reports that Miami might look to O.J. Mayo with the No. 2 draft pick instead of Michael Beasley if the Bulls take Derrick Rose as expected. The possibility seems to be gaining steam. Click here to read the latest. I'd be cautious about a trade-down, though. Not sure Mayo will last long. Partake of The Daily Poll and amplify with a comment if you'd like. 

      CELTICS' NERVOUS 2-0 LEAD: Guessing Bostonians are a bit anxious today even with a 2-0 NBA Finals lead entering three straight out in L.A. now. Last night nearly saw one of the biggest collapses in sports history before the Celtics hung on. The good news? Boston is getting needed help from its bench. Leon Powe? Good Lord, LEON POWE!?! Shaping up as a terrific series. Sticking with my pick (Celtics in 7), but with not nearly as much confidence as I thought I'd have at 2-0. By the way: Phil Jackson, quit whining about the foul calls. Blame your team's (non)defense first, OK?

     OMBUDSMAN COLUMN: I thought The Miami Herald's independent ombudsman wrote a fair column Sunday (click here) critiqueing our Jason Taylor/Bill Parcells coverage. At issue is whether the coverage has been fair. We can probably all agree the coverage has been excessive, with me doing my part.

     BIG BROWN'S BIG FIZZLE: I tried to tell you people Big Brown wasn't so much a great horse as one that lucked into a bad year for 3-year-olds. But would you listen!?

     STRAHAN RETIRES: Giants' DE Michael Strahan announced his retirement. He is a Hall of Famer, likely first ballot. (Speaking of first-ballot Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr., with his 600th homer tonight, vs. Marlins). I still don't believe Jason Taylor is there yet. Close, though.

     Thanks to all who weighed in our our live online chat today, not in the blog, but in the Q&A Forum. We do it each Monday, 1-2 p.m. Check back later. Will be adding more stuff to this blog post. 

June 06, 2008

Who is Parcells kidding? (with The Daily Poll)

Aaa1bill      Dolphins potentate Bill Parcells emerged from his hermetically sealed cocoon and addressed the media this week. He had little choice. He was paid to be at a public Gatorade event. There, he proceeded to call published and broadcast reports of his rift with Jason Taylor a "fabrication." Said there is no rift. Said he ignored Taylor when the player stepped into the same room with him because, "I didn't see him."

     Who does Tuna think he is fooling here? Seriously. Parcells did not like Taylor missing team activities including a conditioning program and practices to be on Dancing With the Stars, and everybody knows it. Taylor has expressed he clearly surmises that is the case, and for Parcells to now be the one dancing around the obvious truth is disengenuous in the extreme.

     The Miami Herald's independent ombudsman will have a column in Sunday's paper examining our coverage of the Parcells/Taylor story. Armando Salguero and myself were invited to explain how we arrived at certain conclusions. I did; I cannot speak for Armando. For sure, Tuna's denial of any rift is a perfect example of why this has been a weird, murky story to follow.

     Do we trust what Parcells is saying publicly? Or do we trust what sources have said privately? The answer is the latter, especially when Tuna's public uttering this week stretches credulity beyond the snapping point.

     It's great for Tuna to claim there is no rift, but we needn't buy that any more than we'd have taken it as gospel if Cam Cameron had declared late last season, "There is no problem with the team."

     The scenario: Parcells, some coaches and scouts are in a room beaking down film one day when Taylor, on a break from his TV show, enters the room seeking a word with Parcells. "I wasn't paying attention and I didn't see him and I didn't hear him," said Tuna. "That's what happened from my perspective."

     Really!? Dear Bill: A guy 6-6 with a bald head enters a room and you don't notice? A guy who might be familiar looking because he is the best player on your team and the most famous Dolphin since Dan Marino. Others are speaking to Taylor but you don't notice? (Bill wears a hearing aid, coach Tony Sparano pointed out in his defense). Please!

     Parcells had not attempted to speak with Taylor before that episode and has not attempted since. Efforts to trade him continue. To the media this week, Parcells did not refer to "Jason" or to "Taylor." He called him "the player." No rift, though. All is well, right?

     Parcells could sell sand on the beach easier than he can sell his version of the truth here.

June 05, 2008

Tuna talks, 3 Canes drafted in 1R, McCain-Obama poll and more

   A sizzlin' new load o' miscellania...

Aaa1bill      Parcells breaks silence on Taylor: The Big Tuna, cornered at a Gatorade-sponsorship event today, spoke nice-nice about Jason Taylor, called reports of his rift with Taylor a "fabrication," and said he'd be fine with JT playing again for the Dolphins. As for why Parcells ignored Taylor in the same room with the player recently, Tuna told The Associated Press (story here), "I didn't even see him." Hmm. (Dear Tuna: He was the 6-6 guy with the bald head. The team's most famous player since Marino). Parcells is smart to be publicly conciliatory. But we'd be naive to think there wasn't a rift. Thoughts?

     Baseball draft today. Shhh!: The NFL Draft is all but a national holiday, the sport's biggest day other than Super Bowl Sunday. The NBA Draft enjoys weeks of speculation and ballyhoo. Baseball draft? Not so much. You can go for miles around here and not hear a soul talking about the baseball draft. Why? Bud Selig hires you to make his draft a media/fan darling like in football and basketball. Where do you start? [Today's picks with local ties in now-completed first round: Marlins get California high-school C Kyle Skipworth 6th overall; Eric Hosmer, American Heritage High 1B, 3rd overall to Royals; UM 1B Yonder Alonso, 7th to Reds; UM 2B Jemile Weeks, 12th to A's; UM RHP Carlos Gutierrez, 27th to Twins].

Aaa1ricky      There's something about Ricky: Dolfans generally seem to love Ricky Williams. Or least aithfully support him virtually no matter what. He's like the member of the family who is the constant f---up but also the favorite because he's so honest and nice and lets his heart show. My paper's Jeff Darlington catches us up with Ricky in a story today (click here) that portrays Williams as well-conditioned, rededicated and poised for a substantive season. I pose two questions: 1. What do you expect from Ricky on the field in '08? 2. Am I right most fans are in his corner? What is it about Ricky that endears people?

     Presidential poll: What's a political poll doing in a sports blog!? Oh quit complaining. I know that residents of my bloggerhood are the brightest and most well-rounded on the 'net and every once in a while I am curious to tap their opinions beyond games. So vote in the latest edition of The Daily Poll, or don't. I ask that any related comments be respectful of the office and both men.

     Then vs. now in the NBA: Which is the NBA you preferred? The Magic Johnson/Larry Bird NBA of yesteryear when the Lakers and Celtics last faced each other in the Finals? Or the Kobe Bryant/Kevin Garnett NBA of today's Finals?Aaa1dottie_2

    Pick a pickled pique of Pepper: LPGA commentator Dottie Pepper is vocally critical of Michelle Wie's parents for mishanlding her career. Pepper is pictured at left appearing to be disguised as a man.

     Radio update: FIU football games are switching from WMCU to WINZ, meaning the 99.9 percent of South Floridians who have never tuned in to hear an FIU footbal broadcast and don't plan to will now have a different station to ignore.

Aaa1calamari      All hail Hockeytown: Gotta run. Am toasting the Red Wings' latest Stanley Cup triumph by ordering calamari for lunch. Check back. Adding more stuff here later.

June 04, 2008

Celtics-Lakers poll, booing Big Brown, Kimbo fixed-fight theory and more

     A brand new mess o' miscellania...

     NBA Finals: Who wins?  L.A. has the best player playing his best in Kobe Bryant, but I think Boston has the better team, plus the home-court edge, so I'll take Shamrocks in seven in the Finals starting Thursday night. You? Partake of The Daily Poll and favor us with an explanatory comment, won't you?

     The Triple Crown run: What can Big Brown do for me? He can lose Saturday in the Belmont and not get the Triple Crown. Click on Big Frown on Big Brown for my Wednesday column on why BB's TC run is not the feel-good story it should be]. 

     Shrinkage: Who has shrunk more in the past week? Michael Beasley? Or the Marlins buillpen?

     Major golf news: Cote escapes low-90s purgatory! Shot an 88 Wednesday with seven pars at Arrowhead. I'm not bragging. Well, I guess I am. Have you ever been thrilled to break 90 in golf? Then you're one of me.


      Miami hates bicyclists: Well, maybe not actively. But in action. Or inaction. Dallas, Memphis and Miami are ranked the three worst cities for bicyclists by Bicycling magazine. Click here to read about our city's woeful (not to mention dangerous and lawsuit-inviting) lack of bike lanes.

     Was the Kimbo Slice fight fixed?: Click on Hmmm to access a YouTube video that makes a case that Saturday night's prime-time fight on CBS was fixed so Kimbo would win. The conjecture is unprovable, although, clearly, growing the Kimbo Legend benefits EliteXC. I doubt the conspiracy theory. If you saw the fight,Aaa1randy_3 what do you think?       

     Shannon's journey: Had a column in Tuesday's Miami Herald about UM football coach Randy Shannon's trip visiting troops at U.S. military bases in the Middle East. Click here to read. We mediaites often get ripped, and often rightly, for writing too much negative stuff. I hope this is a little antidote.

     Supremes back fantasy leagues: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by MLB and its players union over fantasy leagues' right to use baseball players' names and statistics without paying a licensing fee. I might call this a victory for the "little guy," if the "little guy" in this case, sports fantasy leagues, was not a $500 million a year industry.

     Terrell Owens: mentor: Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens, named an Alzheimer's Association Champion for his work with the group, told ABC News Radio in speaking about troubled new teammate Pacman Jones: "I hope we can get him affected by it [meaning Alzheimer's] just a little bit so he can forget about those strip clubs." Ouch.   

     Saving hockey?: Fairly glamorous, exciting Stanley Cup Finals won by Detroit last night. And fairly competitive, too, after Pittsburgh's instant-classic-caliber triple-OT win Monday night shaved Detroit's lead to 3-2 and forced a Game 6 at Pens Wednesday night. The question: Did it draw in casual or non-fans in a way that will resonate for the NHL?

Aaa1bo     Farewell: Rest in peace, Ellas Otha Bates (1928-2008), pictured at left. You mattered, Bo Diddley.

     Thanks: Appreciate all who visited our Q&A Forum online chat Monday. We do it every Monday from 1-2 p.m., live. Thanks, too, to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his radio show Monday morning. Love being on with Tony, and Dan Patrick as well, because they don't rant. They converse. They'd better be careful or they might give sports-talk radio a good name. (Those who preferred ranting might have caught me on 790 with Le Batard Tuesday).

     Blog registration update: Evidently my newspaper had ended its experiment requiring you all to register before posting comments in sports blogs including this one. The shackles are off! It's the greatest symbol of freedom since the fall of the Berlin Wall! Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music!

     Not safe to kiss at Safeco Field in Seattle: At least not if the couple happens to be two women. Click here. Oy!

Aaa1pringles Finally...: Click on Low-Cost Funeral, or you might think I make this crap up.   

June 02, 2008

Jason Taylor's moment of semi-truth

Aaa1jt_2     [Monday night update: I'll be on Tony Kornheiser's national ESPN radio show tomorrow/Tuesday at around 9:15 a.m. to discuss the Jason Taylor situation and possibly Kimbo and other So-Fla topics. Tune in if you can].

     I covered Jason Taylor's late-morning press conference at the Hard Rock Live arena on Sunday, the only Herald blog that did :) by the way, and was amused to hear Taylor sort of dance around the truth of his wanting a trade. It was widely speculated and even reported in my paper that Taylor would choose the occasion to stop being coy and finally state publicly his desire to be traded. He did not.

     Click here for teammate Jeff Darlington's news story off the press conference. Click on column for my opining posted online Sunday and in today's paper.

     Thoughts welcome here on the continuing JT saga. Sick of it or find it interesting? Does Taylor owe fans a public declaration of his trade request or are you OK with his coyness? Also, how has the ongoing Taylor drama changed the way you feel about him if at all?

     [Note: Thanks to all who participated, askers and readers alike, in our regular Monday 1-2 p.m. Q&A Forum live online chat today. See you again next Monday]

June 01, 2008

Bulletin: Kimbo has to work for a win (with The Daily Poll)

Aaa1kslice    [Sunday morning update: Well, I watched the big show last night. For a change, Kimbo Slice had to work for a victory, showing more "ground skills" than anyone knew he had. I guess I can see why so many people like mixed martial arts, although, for me, it's still ridiculously violent and just a weird, cartoon offshoot of boxing. I'll be OK if I never see another bleeding cauliflower ear, by the way. To each his own, right? Or maybe not!]

     [Friday Update: My Thursday column has thus far generated well over 100 e-mails, the vast majority predictably critical of what I wrote -- predictable because the column has been posted on several MMA sites. My finger hurts from using the Delete button so much. Just kidding! Wouldn't want to imply I don't read my e-mails! I am constantly amused when sports fans become enraged when others do not share their view. I might like football, snowboarding or bocci. Doesn't mean you have to].

     Original post:

    You'd know by my new column online now and shipping to Thursday's newspaper -- click here -- that I don't much like the mixed martial arts/ultimate fighting thing, nor do I follow lemming-like to join the mania over the "sport's" hottest current practitioner, Miami's own Kimbo Slice.

     As the sport and Kimbo (pictured) prepare to get their biggest shot of publicity yet with a first prime-time airing by CBS on Saturday night, it's time to weigh in.

     I think the sport is barbaric beyond reasonable discourse, and that those who practice it or cheer it shame themselves. I also think that Kevin Ferguson (Kimbo's real name) should be nobody's hero just because, instead of crime, his answer to poverty was the legalized criminality of beating other people with his fists.

     The question is: What do you think? About this extreme type of "freestyle fighting," but particularly about the would-be urban legend Mr. Slice. Vote in our poll and elaborate with a comment.

     Tell why you voted the way you did. Because keeping your feelings bottled up inside could lead to "issues" resulting in years of expensive therapy, whereas venting here could lead to you winning next week's Florida Lottery.