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27 posts from October 2008

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween; Week 9 picks

     Speaking of Halloween and things that are really scary, click on Week 9 Gems for all of this week's NFL picks by me. I predict Miami to lose at Denver. Based on my record so far this season, that may be good news to Dolphins fans.

     Drop a comment here with your own Dolphins-Broncos pick, and tell us what you dressed up as for Halloween as a kid. I was usually a hobo. Shabby clothes, floppy hat, charcoal on my face. (Hey, we didn't have much money. So sue me).

October 30, 2008

Heat poll; UM ranked 16th; Marlins trade Jacobs; Porter wins POM

    [Three Thursday updates: 1) Heat might be an iffy playoff contender, but big things expected from The U on the hardcourt. Canes are No. 16 in the first ESPN/USA Today coaches' preseason poll. Click on Sweet 16 for the complete poll. 2) Marlins today traded 1B Mike Jacobs to the Royals for reliever Leo Nunez, 25, who was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 45 games this past season. Solid setup guy; fair trade. 3) NFL today names Dolphin madman Joey Porter its Defensive Player of the Month for October, a major precursor to potential Player of the Year contention down the road].

     ThAaa1erik_2e baton-pass from Pat Riley to Erik Spoelstra (pictured) was certified last night as the Heat opened its 21st NBA season vs. the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, losing, prior to Friday night's home opener. Most of the experts forecast a much-improved team (how could it not be after 15-67?) that will challenge for the playoffs as a low seed. How about you?

       You'd click on Something 2 Prove to read today's column by me on the Heat.

     Partake of our Heat preseason poll and drop a comment of elaboration. What do you expect of this team and why?

    [Poll observation: I probably should have included "lack of height" as a separate category, but I surmise a lot of that sentiment is included in 'center' leading the concerns].

October 28, 2008

Answer to Rays-Phils weather; Obama-McCain Danceoff video; Canton nominees; Week 8 results & more

     A new little slew o' miscellania, just for you...

     Solving the World Series weather mess: The Series is being held hostage by rainy weather in Philly. Aaa1philly Maybe the Devil that was booted from the Rays' nickname has returned to haunt the Series. Last night's suspended Game 5 is now scheduled to be finished Wednesday night but the forecast of continued rain (see left) could push it to Thursday night. Dumb. Here is what baseball should do: Switch immediately back to St. Pete for games Wednesday and Thursday nights. Then, if and only if the Rays win both to tie the Series, go back to Philly to conclude last night's game on Friday night. It would be a three-inning, winner-take-Aaa1hitch all shootout that would be a TV ratings bonanza. (P.S., as if a 3-1 Series deficit isn't bad enough, the Rays' hotel booking in Philly expired so they're staying now in Delaware. What's next? The team bus breaks down and they have to thumb-it to tomorrow's game?)

Aaa1mcc      If it weren't real, could I post it in the blog!?: Click on Obama vs. McCain Dance-Off and let us know who won. (I'm thinking McCain and Cloris Leachman would make a lovely couple).

      Pennington wins honor: Dolphins QB Chad Pennington is the AFC Offensive Player of the Week off Sunday's performance. Well-deserved. He has been the team's  MVP so far this season, and by a wide margin. Disagree?

     When dinosaurs rocked the Earth: British rockers David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Elton John have agreed to perform as a group at the opening of the 2012 London Olympics. What, no Macca? Of that presumes hopefully that none has died of natural causes by then.

     What about the Manson family?: Hulk Hogan and family are featured in an upcoming "E! True Hollywood Story" episode, and a press release trumpeting the show refers to them as "America's Favorite TV Family." No, seriously. It's almost enough to make you move to Canada, isnt it?

     Canton calling? Kooch finally?: Preliminary 133-man list of eligibles for 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction announced today. First-time eligibles who are shoo-ins are Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson and probably Shannon Sharpe. Local first-timer with no shot: Ex-UM linebacker Jessie Armstead. Of returning eligibles with local ties, Cris Carter, Bob Kuechenberg and Derrick Thomas have a solid chance. Ottis Anderson deserves a serious look but won't get it. Irving Fryar, Cortez Kennedy and Jimmy Johnson are big no's. So, too, of course, Reggie Roby.

     WeeAaa1cotepixk 8 results: Each Tuesday during NFL season I keep you posted on how I'm faring with my Miami Herald prognosticating, in the paper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and with my two fantasy teams. Even though some weeks it amounts to public humiliation. Most weeks, it seems lately. The Friday Page--Managed a tepid 8-6 record straight-up last week, and an awful 4-8-2 against the spread. Brutal. But a long way to go. Pigskin Challenge--That 8-6 (for a 66-50 season total) knocked me down to 201st place among some 950 readers playing. Am now sixth in the seven-man panel of six writers and last year's reader champ. OY! Dolphin Picks--Misfired on yet another Miami game, so, among six Herald writers predicting the Dolphin game in each Sunday's paper, am now tied for fifth at 1-6. Fantasy teams--More misery. The Bad News Fennelz fell to 1-7, losing a 47-44 heartbreaker. Led 44-25 heading into Monday night, with my opponent having only Indy TE Dallas Clark. I'm golden, right? Clark scores 22. That kind of season. My other team, the Isle of Cotea Lobos, also fell to 1-7, bowing 136-109, despite 39 from Drew Brees. Adrian Peterson's bye hurt. Summary: Beginning to buy into that whole karma thing. Geez I must have been a real [bleep] in a previous life.

     Check back. Will be adding more stuff here later, once I stop weeping.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.8%

     The good mood of Dolphins' fans has returned to the level seen after the huge upsets of the Patriots and Chargers. The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter puts overall satisfaction at 98.8 percent following Sunday's 25-16 home win over Buffalo, in an AFC East battle that saw Miami improve its season record to 3-4.

      New Aaa1dsmto the blog this season, the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is a continuous gauge of how fans are buying into the "New Beginning" and the club's direction. Right after each game, I invite fans to share their overall degree of satisfaction with the team. The latest results show 67.1% "very satisfied" AND 31.7% "somewhat satisfied." Complete week and season results are below.

     The criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's result and performance, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

     The Comments section never closes. However, the poll itself is open only through midnight of the Monday following the game (meaning it is now closed). Every Tuesday morning we announce the final results.

     The latest DSM poll:

     Season results:

     Week 1: 59.0% satisfaction (6.6 very, 52.4 somewhat), after loss vs. Jets.

     Week2: 5.4% satisfaction (2.1 very, 3.3 somewhat), after loss at Cardinals.

     Week 3: 98.4% satisfaction (74.8 very, 23.6 somewhat), after win at Patriots.

     Week 4: Bye week; no poll.

     Week 5: 99.3% satisfaction (86.8 very, 12.5 somewhat), after win vs. Chargers.

     Week 6: 80.3% satisfaction (30.2 very, 50.1 somewhat), after loss at Texans.

     Week 7: 49.0% satisfaction (8.9 very, 40.1 somewhat), after loss vs. Ravens.

     Week 8: 98.8% (67.1 very, 31.7 somewhat), after win vs. Bills.

October 26, 2008

G7: Dolphins 25, Buffalo 16 (Final); Ginn! Porter! Playoff hope?

Aaa1dols Aaa1bills    [Note: Our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll will be out in a separate blog post beginning at 5 p.m. sharp. Watch for it and weigh in].

     Dolphins beat visiting Buffalo, 25-16, and what a nice division win for Miami. Like it because it was solid all-round. On offense, Chad Pennington was terrific, and Ted Ginn, with almost 200 yards receiving, finally lived up to his draft status. Defensively, Joey Porter was a monstah! Special teams? Dan Carpenter was huge, and two punts were downd inside the five. Top to bottom: solid showing.

     Miami now is 3-4 and, say what you will, not out of the playoff chase yet in a wide-open AFC. A game at Denver next is followed by consecutive home dates that will find Miami favored over Seattle and Oakland.

     Your comments on today's game welcomed below. And on whether playoff contention is a realistic aim at this point.

     In-game chatter:

     Randy Crowder with the latest Dolphins turnover, with 1:44 to play. Dolphins win!

     Dan Carpenter 35-yard FG -- that's kid been money -- gives Miami a safe nine-point lead with 3:53 to play. Stout all-round performance, with Ginn and Porter the stars.

     Joey Porter sacks Trent Edwards in end zone for a safety. What a monster game for Porter. He will be the AFC defensive player of the week.

     Porter stole the ball! Porter stole the ball! Joey snatches it from Trent Edwards to halt the driving Bills and return possessio to Miami. Huge play. Dolphin defense coming up large.

     Dan Carpenter FG is resilt of Will Allen interception of Trent Edwards on first play of fourth quarter. TD there would have been huge. Nervous lead, but things looking up.

     Dolphins regain lead late in 3Q on short Ricky Williams run. Now 17-16. Good game. Hey, it's Ted Ginn Day in South Florida. How 'bout that!

     Dan Carpenter 43-yard FG draws Fish within six, after a Ted Ginn 64-yard catch and run put Dolphins in scoring territory. (Good to see the YAC; Ted tends to fall down after a catch). Miami "settled," though. Afte the big play, a delay of game, sack and batted pass followed.

     Bills take opening 2H drive to impressive TD capped by Marshawn Lynch run. Bad tackling on the scoring run. Check that, missed tackling. NO TACKLING!

     Second half about to begin. Miami needs some ground presence.

     Dolphins trail for first time in game as first half expires, with 47-yard Bills FG making it 9-7, visitors.

     Bills block Dolphins' FG try late in first half. Hope you betteors out there have the under.

     Bison within a point, 7-6, mid-2Q, on 43-yard FG, capitalizing on the Ricky fumble. Sloppy tackling and especially penalties are hurting Miami a bit.

     Dolphins give it right back on a Ricky Williams fumble.

     Miami back with the ball after Joey Porter's ninth sack; he'll make the Pro Bowl. But: Looks like CB Will Allen has a pretty significant injury.

     Dolphs punt, but pin Bills back near own goalline. Somebody point Ricky in the right direction, please. Positive sign: Wildcat formation already paying greater dividends than a week ago vs. Baltimore.

     Buffs settle for chip-shot FG after being denied at goalline on third down. Big benefit for Miami having DTs Jason Ferguson and Paul Solaia back. One early concern: Jason Allen's play at the corner.

     THE STREAK IS OVER! Dolphins score TD on opening possession after not doing so in 26 straight games dating to December '06. A 2-yard flip from Chad Pennington to Anthony Fasano ends the skid, gives Miami early lead at home. The big play: a 46-yard strike to Ted Ginn on game's opening snap. I asked if Dolphs could conjure a deep threat? Thanks for the fast answer, fellas! 

     Dolfans panicking all over South Florida as CBS switches to London for pregame ceremonies there. Oy! But back in time for kickoff. Game on!

     Minutes from kickoff. Can the Dolphins conjure up any sort of deep pass threat?

     Original post:

     Do the Dolphins have a true "rival"? Is it Buffalo? I digress. Bills coming in here fairly high and mighty for this afternoon's visit to Miami, primed for an upset. Could be why the Bison are only favored by a negligible 1 1/2 points. I predicted (and predict) a Bills win, but that only means, based on my record this season, that Dolfans may start celebrating now.

     At 2-4, Miami faces one of those crossroads games. With a win, the Dolphins are allowed to believe the playoffs might still be in play in a wide-open AFC. With a third straight loss? Few will believe that, or should, and the predictbale drumbeat for Chad Henne might begin to begin.

October 25, 2008

G8: Hurricanes 16, Wake Forest 10; time to desist, UM haters (plus Gators, FAU & more)

Aaa1umfb Aaa1wake     Final: UM defeats Wake Forest, 16-10, to improve to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. A solid, needed victory against a credible opponent. Three straight wins now for the Canes entering next week's game at Virginia. Time for the UM haters and anti-Randy Shannon crowd to back off and give a little credit. Clcik on Youth Is Served for my column off the column. And on Dulcet Tones for my slideshow audio.

     Your comments on today's game and where it leaves the season are welcomed below.

     4Q: Huge 25-yard 3rd-and-10 completion to Thearon Collier by Robert Marve all but seals it for Miami ..... Wake punts with 3:13 left. Probably should have gone for it ..... Today's attendance announced as 41,208 ..... Nervous time: After a punt, Wake, down by 6, has it at the UM 46 with 4:24 to play ..... Wake misses a 40-yard FG that would have drawn Demon Deacons within three. Matt Bosher looking better all the time ..... Bosher 43-yard FG makes it 16-10 early in fourth. Six points usually a nervous lead. But not the way The U's D has picked it up since that opening drive. 

     3Q: Late third quarter and rain out of nowhere. Well, out of the sky. But suddenly ..... Ballsy onside kick call by Miami. Didn't succeed. Won't play the result, though. I give UM credit for the daring ..... Robert Marve 1-yard QB sneak gives Canes first lead of game at 13-10. Fitting he scored, since his 43-yard run was the drive's big play ..... Matt Bosher career-long 52-yard FG (that kid is good) opens second half, pulls Canes within 10-6.

     Halftime: The 1983 national champs were honored in a halftime ceremony. I spoke with a few including Kenny Calhoun and Albert Bentley. That'll be a small part of my game column, which will be online later this afternoon and in Sunday's paper.

     2Q: UM down 10-3 at the half ..... Canes get ball back on big defensive shit by Adewale Ojomo ..... Jacory Harris' first series at QB ends in punt. Wanted: an offensive spark ..... Wake chips in a 24-yard FG for 10-3 lead early in quarter.

     1Q: Canes trail 7-3 after first. Defense needs to step up. Wake 19 offensive plays to Miami's 7 in 1Q ..... UM settles for 36-yard FG on drive that included a 48-yard Robert Marve completion to Travis Benjamin. Conservative to go for 3 on 4th and 1, but probably smart ..... UM defense not real stout on Wake's touchdown-producing, 10-play, 66-yard opening drive.

     Saying howdy all from Dolphicane Stadium. Will be semi-live-blogging during the game. Won't have a running commentary throughout, but will be instant-updating all scoring and have a synopsis after each quarter. Prediction: UM 27, Wake Forest 23.

     Original post:

     Wake Forest, 4-2 and poll-ranked until recently, brings to Miami a huge test for the 4-3 Hurricanes in today's noon kickoff. UM was a negligible 2-1/2 point betting pick when last I checked the lines.

     Consecutuive wins over Central Florida and Duke have not prepared The U for today's upgrade in opposition, so it'll be interesting to see if the Canes have a higher gear. Also will be watching (I'll be at the game columnizing) for how the Robert Marve/Jacory Harris thing continues to evolve.

     Count this as all but a must-win if Miami is to fancy itself a bowl team, especially with three of four remaining games after this one coming on the road.

     Welcoming comments before, during and of course after today's UM game...

     ...and also on the weekend's other notable state-college and key national games: 

     No. 10 Florida 63, Kentucky 5: Gators, now 6-1, had their way. Based on the margin, we may presume Urban Meyer is fully aware the BCS standings have commenced and the jockeying for postseason position has begun in earnest.

     No. 25 Florida State 30, Virginia Tech 20: I sniffed a Tech upset and got it wrong. Good for Team Bobby. Nice win.

     Louisville 24, No. 16 South Florida 20: Said this would be a huge test for the Bulls as they continue to try to prove they're major-bowl worthy. Too huge a test, evidently.

     No. 1 Texas 28, No. 6 Oklahoma State 24: Horns protect their turf, solidify their top spot.

     FAU 29, Louisiana-Monroe 28: Team Howard with a big road win to improve to 3-5. Owls. Owls. OWLS! OWLS!!

     No. 3 Penn State 13, No. 9 Ohio State 6: Huge road win for the NittCats. Somebody wake Joe Pa and let him know!

     No. 19 Tulsa 49, Central Florida 19: Pollsters don't think unbeaten Tulsa is that good. Doubt that routing sad UCF will turn around many doubters.

October 24, 2008

NFL picks, racism, World Series, and Dolphin cheerleaders vs. Heat dancers (with poll)

     The latest ration of miscellania just for you...

     Good news! I pick Dolphins to lose: Think Buffalo gets by Sunday, 27-23. But, based on my record picking Dolphin games this year (and in general NFL games), it means you may rejoice in anticipation of a Miami win. I'd bet my life's savings on a Dolphin win if I were you. Mainly because in this economy your life's savings are probably down to about $43 so what's the big risk? Click on Week 8 Gems for all the new picks, and on Mini-NFL for a column on the absence of superpower teams.

Aaa1ass_2       Shameful: Have you read about the McCain supporter who falsely reported to police that a black man had accosted her and carved a 'B' (for Barack) into her face to "teach her" for supporting the other guy? Sad, sad. Click here for the story. You want to have sympathy, maybe. Or to simply dismiss this young woman as a fool and move on. But it's bigger than that. She was trying to capitalize on the (sometimes obvious, sometimes latent) racism that is the undercurrent of this presidential race. I hope she is prosecuted. I do not believe one needs to be an Obama supporter to hope so.

     Rays-Phillies: Tampa Bay at 1-1 in the World Series facing three in a row in Philly? No worry, Rayheads. TB takes it in seven.

Aaa1dol_2       Dolphin Cheerleaders vs. Heat Dancers: I feel the need to inform you that the Dolphin cheerleaders appear in the current Winter issue of VMAN magazine. Apologies for no photos here from the mag spread. The photo presented will have to do. Please take our poll and elaborate with a G-rated comment. I figure with Dolphins season well underway and Heat season getting started, it'd be a good time to ask...

October 21, 2008

Fredi manager of year; Vote Cote '08; Keyshawn; and Rayfest with Favorite Ray poll (Charles? Kroc?)

     A new lil' pile o' miscellania, all free and just for you...

     [Thursday update: The Sporting News today announced Fredi Gonzalez of the Marlins as its NL Manager of the Year, with Tampa's Joe Maddon more predictbaly winning AL honors. The official manager award, chosen by the BBWAA, is yet to be revealed. I had an NL ballot and will tell you I voted for Gonzalez].   

     [Wednesday update while sitting up here at Tropicana Field waiting for a Wortld Series game to break out: If the Dolphins sign Keyshawn Johnson, I'll eat my hat. Does anybody say, "I'll eat my hat" anymore? In any case, if that happens I will buy a hat, and eat it].      

Aaa1me     (*) Me for president: Am I getting a late start? Sure. Are McCain and Obama outspending me around 10-million-to-1? OK. Nevertheless! This is to officially confirm my candicacy that was revealed for the first time on a TV news report last night. If you missed the report or would like to see it again, click on Vote Cote '08. My tentative campaign slogan is, "Cote: Rhymes with Votey." Also, to lend an Everyman appeal, amAaa1prez_2 thinking of presenting myself either as "Greg the Sportswriter" or "Ping-Pong Dad."

       (*) Bad presidential masks for Halloween: I'll give the Obama mask a C-plus for likeness and the McCain mask a D-minus. You?

     (*) Don't rush Henne: Read in my newspaper that the Dolphins should think of handing the keys to rookie Chad Henne if Miami drops two more to fall to 2-6. Makes some sense. Goes without saying, almost. The litmus test should be this: If you still feel you have any shot at the playoffs, play the quarterback most likely to get you there. (That's still Chad Pennington). The moment you have given up on the playoffs, begin to integrate Henne. (UM's QB situation is more the issue right now. Jacory Harris and Robert Marve are essentially even because they're both green. With the Dolphins, only Henne is). 

Aaa1cinderella      (*) Catch some Rays (fever): Hey don't me wrong with my Sunday notes-column swipes at the Rays-Phillies World Series commencing Wednesday upstate. I think Rays are a great, Cinderella story. But it's also a deathly matchup in terms of TV ratings. In fact BetOnline.com sets over/under at a 10.2 share. All-time low is 10.1 for cards-Tigers in '06. I'd bet under and single digits. Rays favored. Tampa Bay taking it 4 games to 2 is the low-odds wagering pick at 4-1, according to BetUS.com. Faves for MVP are B.J. Upton at 7-1, Ryan Howard 15-2 and Evan Longoria 8-1.

     (*) Marlins host WS watch parties: Marlins will host World Series watch parties at different bars for Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Thursday nights, featuring Billy the Marlins, Mermaids and so forth. (Check floridamarlins.com for details). I find that very odd marketing: reminding your fans you weren't good enough, and that your state rival has pulled way ahead. Hmm. Speaking of the Rays...

    (*) Favorite Ray poll: In honor of the Rays being in the Series, please take our "Favorite Ray" poll. We do not include sports Rays here (Tampa Bay, Sugar Ray or Ray Lewis/Allen/Guy/Hudson etc.), or notorious-assassin Rays (James Earl). Our poll technology limited us to 10 Rays, so, is there a non-sporting Ray who should have made our list? Tell us in a comment. 

Aaa1devil     Speaking of the Tampa Bay Rays, "Whatever happened to me?" says the Devil.

     "Very fair question," adds Pittsburgh Penguin Miroslav Satan.

Week 7 results: Looking for a word worse than abysmal

             Each Tuesday during the NFL season I keep you posted on how I'm faring with my Miami Herald prognosticating, in the paper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and with my two fantasy teams. Even though some weeks it amounts to an exercise in public humiliation. Most weeks, it seems lately.
     Aaa1cotepix

   The Friday Page: The NFL continues to kick me around to an epic degree. Managed a miserable 7-7 record straight-up again this week. Which looks good only when compared to the 5-9 mark vs. the spread. Been on the page picking 18 years and can't remember one this brutal. So far.

Aaa1pigskin      Pigskin Challenge: That embarrassing 7-7 straight-up (for a 58-44 season total) knocked me down to 183rd place (from 151st) among some 950 readers playing, now 12 games off the lead. Am now tied for fourth place in the seven-man panel of six writers and last year's reader champ, five games back.

Aaaherald      Dolphin Picks: All of your Herald Homers picked Miami to beat Baltimore. Pffft. So, among six Herald writers predicting the Dolphin game in each Sunday's paper, I am now tied for fourth place at a throughly abysmal 1-5, though, incredibly, still only one game off the lead.

Aaa1fantasy_2      Fantasy teams: A split. The Bad News Fennelz finally got off the schneid, winning 65-45 to go to 1-6. Needed and got a solid (22-point) Monday effort from Matt Cassel. Unfortunately my other team, the Isle of Cotea Lobos, lost 107-99 (it's a 10-starter league) to drop to 1-6. And that was despite 45 points from Adrian Peterson. Needed the usual big game from Drew Brees, who let me down.

     Summary: Can it get any worse? My season is making the U.S. economy look good.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 49.0%

     Dolphins fans' overall satisfaction with the team has fallen sharply to 49% in the wake of Sunday's second straight defeat, the 27-13 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. That is the lowest number since after the rout-loss at Arizona five weeks ago.

     A plurality of 40.1% described themselves as "Somewhat satisfied," while only 8.9% voted for "Very satisfied." Complete poll results and week-by-week results are found below.

     New Aaa1dsmto the blog this season, the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is a continuous gauge of how fans are buying into the "New Beginning" and the club's direction. Immediately after each game, I invite fans to share their overall degree of satisfaction with the team.

     The criteria should be your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's result and performance, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

     The Comments section never closes. However, the poll itself is open only through midnight of the Monday following the game (meaning it is now closed). Every Tuesday morning we announce the final results.

     The latest DSM poll:

Season results:

     Week 1: 59.0% satisfaction (6.6 very, 52.4 somewhat), after loss vs. Jets.

     Week2: 5.4% satisfaction (2.1 very, 3.3 somewhat), after loss at Cardinals.

     Week 3: 98.4% satisfaction (74.8 very, 23.6 somewhat), after win at Patriots.

     Week 4: Bye week; no poll.

     Week 5: 99.3% satisfaction (86.8 very, 12.5 somewhat), after win vs. Chargers.

     Week 6: 80.3% satisfaction (30.2 very, 50.1 somewhat), after loss at Texans.

     Week 7: 49.0% satisfaction (8.9 very, 40.1 somewhat), after loss vs. Ravens.