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23 posts from August 2008

August 31, 2008

Is John McCain [bleep]ing NUTS!? (It's a rhetorical question)

     I would briefly interupt this mostly-sports blog ("Hey what're you doing? STICK TO SPORTS!!") to offer a quick take on this week's campaign suicide by Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It was a joke, right? He's going to go on Leno, slap his knee, say he was just kidding. Right? He's going to open his convention Monday night by announcing his real running mate. Right?

Aaa1sarah1      Actually, of course, the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was very popular. Unfortunately it was mostly very popular among Democrats.

      As a benefit to the McCain ticket, the logic in the choice defies identification.

      You say it is an obvious attempt to woo Hillary Clinton supporters? Not a chance in hell. Palin is an ultra-conservative who is anti-abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and who supported Pat Buchanan. Hillary's crowd wouldn't touch her with a 10-foot pantsuit.

     You say Palin's youth balances the ticket? McCain has selected a political neophyte whose bank of experience less than two years ago was running the tiny town of Wasilla, Alaska. This is the person McCain in his infinite judgement would nominate as a heartbeat away from the presidency -- McCain, who at 72 would be the oldest man ever elected to the White House.

     Did I mention that McCain had met this woman only once before entrusting her to be his VP? How does that happen? Sounds like a possible warning sign of dementia.

     Is Palin by most accounts a good governor of Alaska? Sure. Is she someone with the experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? You can't even ask the question with a straight face.

     [Reminder: We invite you to join our live online chat every Monday from 1-2 p.m. We'll be back at it tomorrow, holiday or not. Click here to join the chat live OR to post a question at any time].

August 30, 2008

G1: Hurricanes 52, Charleston Southern 7; FIU, FAU, Gators and more

Aaaamiahelmet Aaaacsuhelmet     Canes win season opener in a predictable rout of an overmatched opponent, dispatching Charleston Southern, 52-7, at the Ora--oops, sorry. At Dolphin Stadium.

     The big question: What does it mean? Probably not a lot. Click on Waiting For An Opponent to read my column off the game. Click here for my narrated audio slideshow. I know many of you are upset I didn't wave the pom-poms hard enough. But it's tough to fathom that this rout will mean a lot on Sept. 6 in Gainesville. What say ye?

     Comments invited on UM's happy christening of Dolphin Stadium and what it means. Also curious what you thought of Jacory Harris. He looked pretty good for a raw freshman, but he'll never in his college career see a weaker opponent.

     Original post:

     Miami's Hurricanes open the 2008 season -- and a new era at Dolphin Stadium -- tonight vs. visiting Charleston Southern. UM is coming off a 5-7 season and is depleted by seven suspensions, including that of starting quarterback Robert Marve, but nevertheless figures to have an easy time with a smaller, overmatched opponent.

     I'll be covering the debut of the Canes and freshman QB Jacory Harris and live-blogging from the stadium. Meantime click on Tonight's a Party, But Better Days Not Here Yet for today's column by me advancing UM's opener and season.

     [Saturday update: We erased the live-blog portion from the game to condense this blog post. Each week our post on the UM game will include at the bottom a shout-out to the weekend's other notable state-college games. Here is today's list, with comments on results invited here].

     #5 Florida 56, Hawaii 10: Slow start at The Swamp (scoreless first quarter), and then it was the rout you expected vs. an undermanned foe. I presume Randy Shannon was as impressed as I was.

     Central Florida 17, South Carolina State 0: Canes host UCF on Oct. 11.

     #11 Texas 52, FAU 10: Will Howard Schnellenberger feather legend with huge upset? Not tonight.

     #14 Kansas 40, FIU 10: A lot about FIU is different. So far, the results are not.

     #19 South Florida 56, Tennessee-Martin 7: Can Bulls reprise Cinderella? We'll see.

August 29, 2008

Dolphins trade McCown to Carolina

     So much for keeping four quarterbacks, which never seemed likely. Josh McCown is going, going, gone -- according to various media reports early this evening -- and leaving Chad Now, Chad Tomorrow and John Beck as the Dolphins' three QBs.

     The Panthers have confimed the trade, which is for the proverbial "late-round draft pick" in 2009. The Dolphins confirmed the trade in a one-sentence press release issued at 7 p.m.

     That McCown was odd-man out seemed pretty obvious when Beck was the third QB in both of the last two exhibitions. It indicates to me a fairly admirable willingness of the new regime to not be prejudiced against players who bear the stamp of the previous administration.

     I think the Dolphins are pretty solid with Pennington/Henne 1-2. The big question is what the plan for Henne is in terms of playing this season. Also wondering about Beck's long-term future here if Henne proves as good as he's seemed at times in the preseason.

PS4: Dolphins 14, New Orleans 10 (Final); Henne sharp, Ronnie's back

Aaad Aaa1nosaints    [Bulletin: Hey Dolfans. You stink! That's not me saying that. It's ESPN.com. They rank NFL fans 1 to 32, and Miami's are rated a lowly 28th. Click here for the list. Ouch!]

    Dolphins win at Saints, 14-10, to finish a 3-1 preseason. Chad Henne was sharp (16-20, 137 yards, one TD) other than one interception, and Ronnie Brown (12 carries, 47 yards) mostly seemed like himself. Like I've said before: If Brown is healthy -- if -- he should start ahead of Ricky Williams. As for the QB matter, still doubt Miami should or will keep all four, and if you have stock in Josh McCown, please divest immediately.

     Comments welcome here in the wake of the game. Who most impressed you or didn't? And the big question rising out of this one, of course: How improved and how ready are the Dolphins for the Jets opener and for 2008?

    Original post:

     Dolphins (2-1 in pretend games) wrap up the preseason tonight at the home of the presumed playoff-contending New Orleans Saints. Officially named starting quarterback Chad Pennington is sure to get a good amount of first-half work, but Miami also will want to see a bunch of borderline players, with final cuts in mind.

     I'll be unable to live-blog during the game save for perhaps an occasional update, because I'll be covering the Hurricanes' season opener going on concurrently at Dolphin Stadium. Nevertheless, I invite you to talk amongst yourselves.

August 27, 2008

Beck to Ravens?, Gregg era closing, pantsuits, NFL by race, D-Wade, upright corpses and more

     A brand new load o' miscellania, just for you, and all free...

Aaa1cam      Dolphins' John Beck to Baltimore?: Well it sure makes sense. Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller is facing possible season-ending shoulder surgery (click here for story), leaving the Birds with only Troy Smith and Joe Flacco. And who is Baltimore's offensive coordinator? You know it: Cam Cameron (pictured), the man who was high enough on Beck to have drafted him. The Ravens' urgency might be enough to make Beck worth more in trade than he otherwise might be. Thoughts?

     Over/under on Pennington, other Dolphin stats: Statistical betting over/unders from our friends at Bodog: Chad Pennington passing yards, 2,800; Ronnie Brown rushing yards, 900; Ted Ginn receiving yards, 840; Ricky Williams rushing yards, 750.

     Enough of Kevin Gregg already!: I'm sure you've seen that public-service announcement. We need Aaa1gregg to re-record it as such: "Hi I'm Kevin Gregg of the Marlins, and I care. I don't smoke, I don't dip, I don't chew, and I don't close games very well." There are bunches of reasons why the Marlins' playoff hopes are skidding down a sharp, greased slope, but a chief culprit is pictured here. If I'm Fredi Gonzalez at this point, I'm closing by committee with my hot hand, whether it's Matt Lindstrom, Arthur Rhodes, Joe Nelson -- anybody but the Dudley Doright lookalike with the propensity for killing walks.

Aaa1hill      Sartorially speaking: Anybody catch Hillary Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic national Convention? I was so inspired I went out and bought, and am now wearing, a burnt-orange pantsuit.

     NFL in black and white: Richard Lapchick's latest Racial and Gender Study for the NFL gives the league an overall B+ grade for its hiring practices related to diversity. The league's player makeup is 66 percent African-American and 31% white. Broken down, the "whitest positions" are center (77-18%), quarterback (76-19) and offensive guard (59-35). The "blackest positions" are cornerback (97-2), running back (89-9) and wide receiver (89-10). That's in case anyone should ask!

     Missoula to Miami: My latest column, online now and in today's paper, is on The Unlikeliest Dolphin, new kicker Dan Carpenter. Click on Foot of the Mountains to read. Hard not to root for this kid.

     Rate my fantasy team: Here are my drafted starters in my first of two leagues: QB Tom Brady (3rd overall pick); RB Ryan Grant (22nd); WR Marques Colston (27th); RB Willie Parker (46th); WR Hines Ward (51st); TE Todd Heap (70th); DEF Seattle (75th); and PK nick Folk (93rd). Decent team or no?

Aaa1batman1_4     Even Batman not immune to high gas prices: Sad, isn't it?

     MGM Mirage latest odds: Chances of Dolphins winning the Super Bowl have increased from 150-1 (tied for last) on Jan. 13 to 75-1 (third from last ahead of Chiefs and Falcons) this week. Chances of UM winning the BCS national title have increased from 60-1 on April 18 to 50-1 this week.

     "I was wrong": Make a note of this because I don't say it too often. I think I was wrong in suggesting Dwyane Wade would be better off rehabbing quietly back home for the coming NBA season than participating in the Olympics. It isn't the gold that swayed me. In Beijing, D-Wade was able prove to doubters -- and to himself -- that he is fully back in a way he couldn't have in a gym.

     Dancing With the Athletes: Warren Sapp, Maurice Greene and Misty May-Treanor will be among competitors on the new season of Bill Parcell's favorite show, Dancing With the Stars. And Marlin Matt Treanor thought he got asked about the Olympics a lot!?

     Speak English, dammit!: At the risk of sounding like I'm flying the America-love-it-or-leave-it flag, I agree with the LPGA's new rule requiring players to have basic English skills. The onslaught of South Korean players threatens to smother women's golf in this country.

Aaa1corpse     Corpse kept upright for three-day wake: See left. Click here for the creepy details if you think you can stand it.

     Check back. Might add more crap later. By the way, a reminder: Our live online chat is each Monday 1-2 p.m., but you can post a question any time during week by clicking here.

August 25, 2008

Tale of 2 QBs: UM mishandles Marve; Pennington wins Dolphin job

    [Tuesday afternoon bulletin: Just got a sneak-peak e-mail on Sports Illustrated's upcoming NFL preview issue. Peter King's top 50 players includes zero Dolphins. "Dr. Z's" predictions, like everybody else's on Earth, has Miami last in AFC East at 6-10].   

Marve      Give Miami Hurricanes football coach Randy Shannon credit for a hard line in suspending seven players from Thursday night's season opener for various rules infractions. But something wasn't right about the way he handled the suspension of one player in particular: starting quarterback Robert Marve. Click on Mishandling Marve to read my take on all of this.

Pennington_2       Over in Dolphinville, team made official today that Chad Pennington is the starting QB. Nothing in South Florida sports was more no-duh obvious than that Chad-P should start and that Chad Henne should wait his turn. As I wrote in my column off the game in Sunday's paper: Pennington is "the readiest and right choice to start this season."

     Your thoughts on the Marve matter and/or on Pennington are welcome.

     [Note: Thanks to all who joined in on my live online chat this week. We do it every Monday from 1-2 p.m. Click here to join in live OR to post a question at any time].

August 23, 2008

PS3: Dolphins 24, Kansas City 0 (Final); Pennington, Ginn, defense shine

Aaa1kc Aaa1md     What we found out: Chad Pennington, not Chad Henne, should start this season as the quarterback. Run Ricky Run is alive and well in 2008. Ted Ginn might not be the boo-deserving draft pick we once thought. The Chiefs are really bad. And the Dolphins might not be.

     Click on Thinking the Unthinkable for my column off the game.

     Your thoughts on the game are welcome here, along with your perspective on how this game and the preseason so far have shaped your expectations for '08.

     In-game chatter:

     Chiefs miss 48-yard FG with 2:05 left to preserve shutout.

     John Beck QB'ing in garbage time. Tough to read what that means, him playing instead of Josh McCown. Bad night for Henne: 2-7, 14 yards, and the one pick.

     Jalen Parmele 80-yard run puts Miami inside KC 10, mid-4Q, and Parmele finishes it with a 2-yard TD run.

     Michael Lehan interception and 28-yard return puts Fish at KC 11, late third quarter. Then Henne to Davone Bess for 8 to the Chiefs 2. But Henne picked off in end zone. Ouch.

     Chad Henne replaces Pennington with 4:58 left in third. Solid numbers for C-Penn: 11 for 15, 94 yards, 1 TD, no picks.

     Goalline stand for Dolphins highlights third quarter, keeps shutout intact. Rookie Phillip Merling stuffed Larry Johnson for 1-yard loss on 4th and goal from the 1.

     Halftime: Dolphins up 17-0, with a Renaldo Hill interception ending it. Complete half. Offense, defense, special teams. Be interesting to see if Pennington or Henne starts third Q.

     Now told Jason Taylor being evaluated for a right knee injury. Was writhing in pain on field.

     Bulletin: A Redskins friend of mine just texted that Jason Taylor has suffered a serious knee injury. Hope not, and don't take as gospel. Just what I've heard.

     Chad Pennington 17-yard TD strike to TE Anthony Fasano! Dolphins dominating with 9:36 left in 1H. Bad opponent, but impressive nevertheless.

     Apparent Chad Pennington TD pass to Justin Peele ruled out of back of end zone. Very close, but on replay apparently a fair call. Miami's challenge is denied.

     Dolphin D forces turnover, Channing Crowder causing the fumble and Matt Roth recovering at KC 22.

     Ted Ginn 59-yard punt return TD! It's Miami 10-nil, early 2Q. Drafting Ginn, at a moment likes this, seems less and less dumb, although I still think Ginn needs to become a top receiver not just a good return man to justify an overall No. 9 selection.

     Dolphin D forces a second straight punt.

     Dolphs punting on 4th and 1 from own 46. A bit conservative for August, but an indication Miami is treating this like a real game that it wants to win.

     First Miami defensive series. KC doesn't get past own 28, then a Joey Porter sack and a punt as a very solid first quarter ends.

     Dan Carpenter 19-yard chippie FG; rook's now 7-for-7 this preseason. Dolphins impressive opening drive stalls late. Still, gotta love a 15-play, 10-minute drive, even if it does end up with a Cam Cameronish concession on 4th and goal from the 1.

     Game on!

     Pregame chatter:

     An appropriate moment of silence for Gene Upshaw.

     Dolphins offense just introduced. Biggest hands, in order: Ricky Williams, Chad Pennington, Jake Long, Vernon Carey.

     Is it poor form to stay seated during a religious invocation? I honestly don't know. Does that make me a heathen? 

     Tonight's crowd will include 6,000 local youth football players. There were times during last year' 1-15 season when the kids might have seemed like an upgrade, no?

     By the way Bill Parcells' birthday was yesterday. Wherever you are, sing "Happy Birthday to Tuna..." It'll make you feel good. Mostly it'll make you feel silly.

     Tonight's honorary captains are Trent Gamble, Sean Hill, Jim Jensen and Twan Russell. Gotta say, no offense, but except for Crash, that's close to scraping the bottom of the barrel isn't it?

     Y'all know by now to look for my chatter up here in the main body of the blog, with the most recent update always up top, like this one. I hope that's more reader-friendly. My steadfast policy is to not artificially pad the Comments section with my own. Just finished a small tub of pressbox popcorn. It wasn't bad. Meaning I must have been hungry.

     Hello all, I have arrived at The Joe, where the early crowd is sparse and somebody put a baseball diamond on the field. Quick news: No Ronnie Brown tonight, which is no surprise. As I suggested in a column earlier this week, I suspect Ronnie is a lot further from being fully ready than has been implied.

     Original post:

     [Bulletin: Unlike UM's Robert Marve, no Dolphin quarterback has been suspended for busting a mirror off a car because he was angry after a fight with his girlfriend and then briefly trying to flee from police. That we know of]. 

     NFL coaches in general including Tony Sparano tend to call the third exhibition game the truest "dress rehearsal" for the regular-season opener. Depth charts are fairly set and starters ("Your varsity," says Sparano) likely will play into the third quarter. It is a game being played to win, whereas the first two are mostly for talent evaluation and the last tends to be for fine-tuning and for playing to not get hurt.

     What it means is this: Miami needs to beat Kansas City tonight. The rebuilding Chiefs are supposed to be awful. Worse than the rebuilding Dolphins. A first-half struggle could be a true ominous sign for Miami.

     Quarterback play will be interesting to watch tonight in light of Sparano saying it's a Battle of the Chads for No. 1. Have to think Pennington is the striong favorite, but what if Henne is clearly better again?

     Your thoughts before, during and of course after the game are invited here.

August 22, 2008

Fantasy football draft: Help! (with poll)

Aaa1ff_2     Characteristically at least a decade behind all trends, I finally got into fantasy football last year, albeit reluctantly, agreeing to fill a late opening in my son's league. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Lucked into a strong team. Broke with custom and drafted a quarterback first, and damn if Tom Brady didn't have a pretty good year.

     Partake of The Not Quite Daily Poll below, and drop us a comment sharing your fantasy-drafting philosophy. I remain a fantasy neophyte and seek wisdom, such as, "Whatever you do, draft Jim Sorgi!" 

     Who is 2008's most overrated fantasy player? And who is your steal pick this year, the guy you'll get funny looks for taking so soon but who'll have a big season? Also, how many leagues are you in? I'll be in two this year but I think that's pushing it.

     (By the way, one indication of the Dolphins' lack of playmakers: Miami's only guys in ESPN's fantasy Top 200 are Ronnie Brown 31st, Ricky Williams 146th and Ted Ginn 153rd. And I'm thinking Brown's rehab status makes him even a second-round risk, no?)   


     [Postscript: Lot of Internet buzz today over Tiki Barber supposedly uttering the c-word (hint: rhymes with punt) on national TV. Click on Oops to listen. Happens about 30 seconds in. I think he says it, obviously inadvertantly. That this would be a big deal verifies how easily amused or outraged we are].

August 20, 2008

Who should be Dolphins and Canes' starting QBs? (with polls)

     The Dolphins say rookie Chad Henne remains in the running to win the quarterback job most have assumed will be veteran Chad Pennington's. Down at the University of Miami, it's also a two-man battle between redshirt-freshman Robert Marve and true freshman Jacory Harris.

     Weigh in, fans. Who do you hope emerges and wins each battle?

     Partake of The Not Quite Daily Polls -- one each for Dolphins and UM -- and drop a comment explaining your logic.

     [Poll note: The above are our 31st and 32nd blog polls to blast past 1,000 votes within the first 24 hours, these doing so in just a few hours. Thanks, and keep those votes coming. (Didn't think the votes in either case would be quite so lopsided. Good stuff!)].

On Dolphins' Ronnie Brown and ... Anquan Boldin?

     Dolphins coach Tony Sparano stated unequivocally, "No chance that we're trading Ronnie (Brown)," thus putting to rest a rumor. But trading Brown is not the big question. The real issue is whether Brown, trying to come back from major knee surgery, will ever again be the player he was. I explore the topic in a column today that you'd find by clicking on Waiting for Ronnie.

Aaa1anquan       Meantime, let me throw this one out there for conversational purposes only: Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin (pictured) wants out of the desert. The Dolphins could use a big upgrade at the position. Miami's Drew Rosenhaus represents Q. Sounds like it might be ripe for a Dolphin inquiry, no?

     Cardinals say they won't trade Boldin but you know how that goes. The situation there is deteriorating; click here to read why. The question is whether Miami would spend enough to get him (maybe a first-round pick) and offer a big enough contract. Very doubtful. But still fun to consider. This ain't no Joe Horn or Terry Glenn. Boldin is 27, in his prime, and a two-time Pro Bowl-er with 413 catches for 5,458 yards in five seasons. Click here for all his stats.

     What is your take on the team's RB situation and whether you expect Brown to ever be the back he was before his knee injury last year? And should the Fish inquire about Boldin?

     (Also, vote in our Pro vs. College Football poll in a post a bit further down from this one. Sunday had cut deeply into Saturday's lead when last I checked).