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26 posts from October 2009

October 31, 2009

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll: 59.8%

[Game post is located directly below this in blog. Comments specific to today's UM game are encouraged there. Comments on the result in the context of the whole season are encouraged here].

Hurricanes fans are moderately satisfied, to the tune of 59.8 percent overall in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, in the wake of UM's 28-27 escape at Wake Forest Saturday on a last-minute touchdown. It's 13.4% very satisfied and 46.4% somewhat satisfied as the Canes improved to 6-2.

The CSM, new to the blog this season, is a continuing gauge of how UM fans are feeling about the team and season. Polls are posted following the conclusion of every Canes game. Season results appear beneath the latest poll.

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

Poll and comments section stay open, but results become official on midnight the day after each game; in this case midnight Sunday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter season results:

Game 1: 98.9 percent satisfaction (72.3 very, 26.6 somewhat) following 38-34 victory at FSU.

Game 2: 99.5 percent satisfaction (89.0 very, 10.5 somewhat) following 33-17 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

Game 3: 65.3 percent satisfaction (24.9 very, 40.4 somewhat) following 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech.

Game 4: 99.0 percent satisfaction (87.5 very, 11.5 somewhat) following 21-20 victory vs. Oklahoma.

Game 5: 99.0 percent satisfaction (76.4 very, 22.6 somewhat) following 48-16 victory over Florida A&M.

Game 6: 97.1 percent satisfaction (71.5 very, 25.6 somewhat) following 27-7 victory at Central Florida.

Game 7: 44.1 percent satisfaction (15.5 very, 28.6 somewhat) following 40-37 OT loss vs. Clemson.

Game 8: 59.8 percent satisfaction (13.4 very, 46.4 somewhat) followiung 28-27 win at Wake Forest.

Next poll: Nov. 7 following home game vs. Virginia.

Do you believe in miracles? Hurricanes 28, Wake Forest 27; plus Gators rout Georgia, plus FIU wins & more

1ahalloween Collball Week 9 roundup and a Happy Halloween!:

[Note: The latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll is up and running in a separate post just above this one. Look for it and vote!]

1acaneslogo 1acaneswake No. 19 Miami 28, Wake Forest 27: Miracle finish as UM overcomes a game-long deficit to take the lead with a minute left on a Jacory Harris TD pass. Wow. UM dug itself an early 17-0 hole and seemed headed for a second straight loss before rallying. Miami now 6-2, ACC hopes still alive. [Original post: Let's see how the Hurricanes (5-2), missing a few key injured players, respond to last week's crushing 40-37 overtime home loss to Clemson. Wake (4-4) is not bad, but should not present a loss-risk for UM. Should not. For example, Wake recently lost to Clemson, 38-3. But The U is a very modest 6 1/2-point favorite, which should make a Canes fan a bit nervous. (By the way, who at Wake Forest decided a crotchety old man would make a great mascot?) Your thoughts welcome here before, during and of course after today's game. 

Week's other FBS/Division 1 state games:

South Florida 30, No. 21 West Virginia 19: Friday night upset could lift 6-2 Bulls back into polls.

Florida State 45, North Carolina State 42: Seminoles got back up to .500 at 4-4 with another sterling display of defense to continue to stave off the wolves at Bobby Bowden's door.

FIU 20, Louisiana-Lafayette 17 (OT):) Golden Panthers (now 2-6) put a little smile on a disappointing season with a rare stout showing defensively.

No. 1 Florida 41, Georgia 17 in Jacksonville: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was just that for Gators, a party, as Florida improved to 8-0, led by four TDs by Tim Tebow and four interceotions by the defense. A complete swamping. I'm up in J'ville columnizing on the game and it should be posted by later this evening.

Middle Tennessee State 27, FAU 20: Owls now 2-5 after disappointing home loss.

Marshall @ Central Florida, 8:15 Sunday: Knights are 4-3 and a one-touchdown fave over the Herd.

National game of the day: Looking like a tie between No. 3 Texas at No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Southern Cal at No. 10 Oregon. Could be Shakeup Staturday in the BCS rankings.


Our own rankings of the top 30 teams entering Week 9, plus any other state schools wit points:

Rank Team Points (LW)

1 FLORIDA  807 (1)

2 Texas 773 (2)

3 Alabama 757 (3)

4 Southern Cal 692 (4)

5 Boise State 617 (6)

6 Louisiana State 616 (5)

7 Penn State 567 (8)

8 Virginia Tech 566 (7)

9 Ohio State 545 (9)

10 TCU 510 (10)

11 Oklahoma State 475 (11)

12 Cincinnati 466 (13)

13 Oklahoma 447 (12)

14 MIAMI 410 (15)

15 Mississippi 397 (14)

16 Georgia Tech 354 (18)

17 Brigham Young 353 (16)

18 Iowa 345 (19)

19 Oregon 307 (t20)

20 California 306 (17)

21 Kansas 246 (t20)

22 Houston 237 (24)

23 Nebraska 221 (22)

24 Georgia 197 (23)

25 Utah 193 (25)

26 Notre Dame 129 (27)

27 Pittsburgh 123 (31)

28    North Carolina 117 (26)

29 South Carolina 99 (34)

30 Missouri 97 (28)

33 SOUTH FLORIDA 78 (32)

34 FLORIDA STATE 77 (33)

Note: We are test-driving this cumulative formula in this first season for our rankings. Teams tend to move more gradually, up or down, in our rankings than in others. Let's see how ours look come bowl-time.

October 28, 2009

NFL Week 8 picks: Jets beat Dolphins; plus Ted Ginn a bust? (with poll); Heat outlook (with poll); Yanks even series, Griese, dog-Pope & more

DOLPHINS, FAVRE LOSE: Building a moat against sharply incredulous e-mails or comments, I would remind that predicting a Dolphins loss is not the same as wishing for one; well, except to the extent that once the choice is made I do root for my picks. Nobody dislikes the J-E-T-S! or their annoying, bellicose fans more than I. But intangibles here side with NYJ and I make it 27-20. [Your dissent is welcome. How do you see the game going and why?] Click on Week 8 Gems for all my latest picks, which include Brett Favre losing the Favre Bowl at Lambeau Field, and Bills beating Texans in our Upset of the Week. "Aawwk!" Click on Favre-Cam for my Friday Page NFL notes column.


I say that because expectations are modest (Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Mag both pick Miami for No. 8 playoff seeds) and all eyes are on the 2010-11 season and whether Dwyane Wade will re-sign and what blockbuster Pat Riley will conjure in free agency. This season is like a way-station. Although the development of Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers certainly will weigh in Wade's stay-or-go decision. (I like getting Beasley in the starting lineup and accelerating that progress; sorry Udonis). Weigh in on what you realistically expect of this season and why. [Thursday update: Heat opened with a big home win over Knicks last night, on a combined 69 points from Wade, Jermaine O'Neal and Beasley. Here's the wet blanket. Knicks are sub-awful. Click here for my column off the game].   

1aginn THE REFERENDUM ON TED GINN JR.: It's time to call Ginn a draft bust. Sorry. Watching his Sunday performance help bury the Dolphins finally convinced me. Click here for my column on the matter. But that's just me. You count, too. What's your take on Ginn and why? Take a dip in our poll and expound.

[Blognote: The above is our latest poll to blast past 1,000 votes in the first 24 hours. Keep 'em comin!]

WORLD SERIES: YANKS TIE PHILS, 1-1: I'll stick with my pick -- New York in six games -- less nervously now that Yanks won last night 3-1 on A.J. Burnett's gem to even the series 1-1. Swings to Philly for Game 3 Saturday night. This series is the choice from hell for someone like me, a born-and-raised Red Sox fan who counts the Marlins his second-most-passionately held team. Yanks-Phils are enemies I and II. Any way they can both lose? No? Consolation prize: No matter the outcome, I get to see either Yankees fans or Phillies fans dissolved to that exquisite combination of silent and sad.

WHIPPLE-SHANNON: My feeling is that Canes offensive chief Mark Whipple overreacted with his TV-captured sideline incredulity over Randy Shannon calling a timeout Saturday before Whipple would have liked. Also, I think too much has been made of it. 

BOB GRIESE'S 'OOPS' COMMENT: So on a college football telecast Bob Griese, a humor-challenged man attempting a quip, says that NASCAR's Juan Pablo Montoya isn't on some list because he's "out having a taco." OHMIGODPOLITICALLYINCORRECT! Bob cries our pardon on the air but it isn't enough so he's suspended by his backlash-fearing network for a week. Who's offended? More important, are we offended because Bob apparently mistook Montoya (who is Colombian) for Mexican? What if he'd at least been more accurate with his stereotype and said Pablo was "out having an arepa"? Better? Same? What if Bob had said a driver with an Irish name was "out having a potato"? Are we too sensitive? I think so. I may be wrong.

1atwitter TWITTER CLAIMS LATEST VICTIM: Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, disciplined by team for berating coach Todd Haley on his Twitter page and later for using a homophobic slur. Offending-by-Twitter is to me a bit worse than a Griese-esque off-the-cuff remark because taking the time to make something fit within 140 characters requires thought and cannot be claimed to be spontaneous. Dear Athletes: The stereotype that sports stars in general are not all that bright is gaining some of its best evidence in the way so many of you Tweet yourselves in the foot. Funny!

1abaking DEAR GREG...: ...Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a housewife baking a pie. Thank you.

MAN'S MOUTH FULL OF COCKROACHES: I have given instances before of Guinness having way too many categories for world records. Need one more example? A man from Lansing, Mich., named Sean Murphy has set a Guinness world record by stuffing 16 live Madagascar hissing cockroaches into his mouth. The story and unfortunate video may be found here. On a scale of sad spectacles to get attention, this isn't quite as sad as lying about your young son being carried away by a hot-air balloon. But almost.


McGWIRE CRAWLS OUT OF EXILE: And in other baseball news, Mark McGwire has been hired as the Cardinals new hitting coach by manager Tony LaRussa, apparently the only man left on Earth who doesn't believe that Mr. I'm Not Here To Talk About The Past is a PED-tainted cancer whose very association might embarrass a club.

1adogpope MY DOG IS DRESSING AS THE POPE FOR HALLOWEEN: What. You didn't believe me?


[Blognote: Our Collball Week 9 post leading with UM at Wake Forest will be up Saturday morning].

October 25, 2009

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll: 25.2%

[Click on Self-Inflicted Wounds for my column off the game].

The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results show overall fan satisfaction has fallen to 25.2 percent, the lowest total in three weeks, following Sunday's blown lead and 46-34 loss to the visiting New Orleans Saints that left Miami's season record at 2-4.

1dsm Back in the blog for a second season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how fans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game, I invite fans to share their overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's 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.

Poll and comments section stay open; however, poll results are certified official on midnight the day after the game, meaning midnight Monday in this case.

Season results may be found beneath the current poll.


Game 1: 9.9% satisfaction (3.0 very, 6.9 somewhat) after 19-7 loss at Atlanta.

Game 2: 22.3% satisfaction (3.9 very, 18.4 somewhat) after 27-23 loss vs. Indianapolis.

Game 3: 6.4% satisfaction (3.7 very, 2.7 somewhat) after 23-13 loss at San Diego.

Game 4: 79.4% satisfaction (34.2 very, 45.2 somewhat) after 38-10 victory vs. Buffalo.

Game 5: 97.1% satisfaction (65.0 very, 32.1 somewhat) after 31-27 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

Game 6: 25.2% satisfaction (5.5 very, 19.7 somewhat) after 46-34 loss vs. New Orleans.

Next poll: Sunday, Nov. 1 following game at N.Y. Jets.

New Orleans 46, Dolphins 34 (Final); Miami blows 21-point lead in crushing home loss

[Note: The latest DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER poll is up and accepting your votes in a separate blogpost just above this one. Look for it and vote!].

1adolphslogo 1abreeslogo

FINAL: Good Lord but what a monumental collapse, from a 24-3 lead late in the first half to a 46-34 defeat. Wow. Crushing. Click on Self-Inflicted Wounds for my column off the game,.

FOURTH QUARTER: Tracy Porter interception-return TD for Saints and that's the ballgame at 46-34; two-point pass failed. ..... Saints add 20-yard FG and grow lead to 40-34 with 3 minutes and change left. ..... Awfully dumb penalty by Joey Porter. ..... Anthony Fasano must make that catch. ..... Drew Brees sneaks in from 2 to give Saints their first lead at 37-34. It's been all New Orleans ever since Miami led by 24-3 late in first half. Potentially huge missed extra point, though. ..... Jeremy Shockey 56-yard catch and run to Miami 13. Sets up a 10-yard TD run by Reggie Bush on a double-reverse. This game has gone crazy, by the way. Hope you had the "over."

THIRD QUARTER: Henne to Brian Hartline for 67 yards to the Saints 4, then Ricky Williams punches it in for a 34-24 lead. ..... Brees to Colston 10-yard TD quiets crowd, draws Saints within 27-24 late in third. ..... Miami forces Drew Brees fumble; Randy Starks recovers at Saints 15. Turnover results in Carpenter 33-yard FG and 27-17 lead with 5:59 left in quarter. ..... Dolphins offense must get going. When I said 24 points probably wouldn't win this game, I wasn't kidding. ..... Nathan Jones just won a goalline fight with Marques Colston for the ball. Coulda been a tying TD; instead, Miami ball. ..... Miami must find a way to reclaim momentum and the crowd. ..... Darren Sharper interception and 42-yard return off deflection for TD trims Miami's lead to a now-nervous 24-17. This guy Sharper has made a career of this. Play upheld by review. ..... Miami can't play safe and nurse this lead. Not sure 24 points wins this game.

HALF: Dolphins with a nice lead after a great first half, but Saints' last-second TD made a game of it. Do not discount Drew Brees' ability to score quickly. Don't think Miami should have called that late timeout. Think N.O. might have settled for a FG without it. Not much offense from either side apart from Ricky Williams' 68-yard scoring run, with two Miami TDs set up by interceptions. Loving my upset pick right now, of course, but sure not ready to claim victory

SECOND QUARTER: Saints finally cross goalline (barely) when ruling is that Marques Colston reaches across line on 21-yard catch, with 5 seconds left in half. BUT NO! Review puts ball at half-yard line. Then Saints in for real when Brees jumps and reaches across line. ..... Davone Bess loses fumble after catch; one of few mistakes by Miami so far. Play upheld by review. ..... Jason Allen with a big special-teams play. No, seriously. Then a big Yeremiah Bell sack forces a N'Awlins punt. ..... Saints miss 49-yard FG wide left. ..... Dolphins pick off Brees again, this time Reggie Torbor off a deflection at line. Ball at Saints 19 results, and soon after that Ronnie Brown bulls across the 8 for a 24-3 Dolphins lead. Oh my! ..... Greg Camarillo 24-yard catch helps set up 32-yard Dan Carpenter FG and 17-3 Dolphin lead.

FIRST QUARTER: Saints punt after Brees 3rd-down pass deflected at line. ..... Ageless Ricky Williams 68-yard TD run gives Miami 14-3 lead, a career-long run for Ricky. ..... Saints' Courtney Roby 87-yard kick return follows Miami score and sets up Saints at 21. Sack of Brees forces FG try. The 46-yard FG is good and N.O. within 7-3. ..... Tyrone Culver INT of Drew Brees pass and 23-yard return sets up Ricky Williams 4-yard TD run from Wildcat and 7-0 lead. ..... Instant-replay machine malfunction erases Saints challenge of Davone Bess first-down catch. Oy! But series ends in Miami punt. ..... Saints punt ends game's first possession. ..... Game on!

PREGAME: In a brief pregame ceremony, the Dolphins' weekly inactive list was named in honor of Matt Roth. ..... They're introducing the Dolphins' defense to the crowd. Let's hope the Dolphins' defense introduces itself to Drew Brees. .....  Quick scan suggests better than typical number of opposing fans today. I'm not talking Jets, but seeing lots of fleur de lis. Who dat! ..... Greg Cote's 400th Tweet (Twitter.com/gregcote) passes with little fanfare. I'll celebrate at 1,000. Celebrating at 400 would be like honoring a Super Bowl loser. Ziinng! ..... Have an eye out to see if Bob Griese shows up and insults any minorities. Nothing yet. ..... Club honoring its 1982 and '84 AFC championship teams today, and so the honorary pregame captains are Bob Baumhower, Doug Betters, Mark Clayton, A.J. Duhe, Mark Duper, Don Strock, Dwight Stephenson and Fulton Walker. I STILL say it's weird to have a big ceremony honoring Super Bowl losers. Sorry. ..... Hello all. Very sunny and humid. And Saints, a dome team, are in black jerseys. Feeling better and better about my upset pick. 

Original post:

Here comes one of those pivotal, season-shaping games. Two wins in a row have hauled the Dolphins up from an early abyss into sort of a feel-good place that allows playoff dreams. An upset home victory today over the unbeaten, high-flying New Orleans Saints would announce to the league that the Dolphins are, indeed, a team to be reckoned with.

I'm on record predicting a 27-24 upset by Miami. My thinking is that the Dolphins will be able to control the ball and limit Drew Brees' time on the field. Also thinking this is a sandwich game for the Saints emotionally. Beating the Giants last week and next week's game vs. division-rival Atlanta both are more important to N.O. than this game is.

Your thoughts on today's matchup are invited before, during and after today's late-afternoon-into-evening game. Join us here for an Unofficial, Semi-Live Boutique Blog from the stadium starting just before the game. Then look out for the latest edition of our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in a separate post soon after the final whistle.

October 24, 2009

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 44.1%

[Comments specific to today's UM loss to Clemson are directed to the game post just below this. Comments on the season as a whole and how satisfied Canes fans should be are directed here].

The latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll results are in, and overall satisfaction has fallen to a season-low 44.1 percent in the wake Saturday's 40-37 home loss in overtime to Clemson that dropped UM's season record to 5-2. That breaks down to 15.5% who are "very" satisfied and 28.6% who are "somewhat" satisfied.

he CSM, new to the blog this season, is a continuing gauge of how UM fans are feeling about the team and season. Polls are posted following the conclusion of every Canes game. Season results appear beneath the latest poll.

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

Poll and comments section stay open, but results become official on midnight the day after each game; in this case midnight Monday.

Complete season results may be found beneath the current poll. 

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter season results:

Game 1: 98.9 percent satisfaction (72.3 very, 26.6 somewhat) following 38-34 victory at FSU.

Game 2: 99.5 percent satisfaction (89.0 very, 10.5 somewhat) following 33-17 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

Game 3: 65.3 percent satisfaction (24.9 very, 40.4 somewhat) following 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech.

Game 4: 99.0 percent satisfaction (87.5 very, 11.5 somewhat) following 21-20 victory vs. Oklahoma.

Game 5: 99.0 percent satisfaction (76.4 very, 22.6 somewhat) following 48-16 victory over Florida A&M.

Game 6: 97.1 percent satisfaction (71.5 very, 25.6 somewhat) following 27-7 victory at Central Florida.

Game 7: 44.1 percent satisfaction (15.5 very, 28.6 somewhat) following 40-37 OT loss vs. Clemson.

Next poll: Oct. 31 following game at Wake Forest.

Clemson 40, Hurricanes 37 (Final, OT); plus Gators, FIU, FAU & more

COLLBALL. THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 8 POST: Ranking numbers listed are Bowl Championship Series rankings, because, starting now, well, that's pretty much all that matters. Makes no never mind whether you personally like the BCS or not, Lord Fauntleroy. The BCS is "The Man."

1acanes 1aclemson CLEMSON 40, No. 10 MIAMI 37 (OT): 

Oh my. Oh no. What a wild game, but such a terrible ending at home for UM in overtime, Clemson winning on a touchdown pass that affirmed what a disappointing day Miami's defense had. Turnovers, mistakes, poor D -- tough to say the Canes didn't bring on this loss themselves.

Big picture? A crusher. Hopes of an ACC championship are greatly damaged. Hopes of winning up into the national-championship picture, however slim, are now erased. The overall season mark of 5-2 is still solid, but this was a gut-punch.

Your thoughts on today's loss are invited. The latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll is now up and running in a separate post just above this one. Look for it and vote. Meantime, vent

Original post: 

Midday Saturday and the heat'll be on in all regards. UM needs to win out to have a chance for the national championship -- yes, I am beating that drum -- and this figures to be one of the biggest remaining tests, with Clemson bringing a hefty pass rush to challenge Jacory Harris. Also concerned about Tigers return game vs. UM's special teams. Betting line favoring Canes dropped during week from 6 to 4 1/2 points, meaning a lot of money was flowing to Clemson. Nevertheless, I like Canes (5-1) taking care of business at home.

Weigh in here before, during and after on the Canes game and on anything else on the Collball platter. Look for the latest edition of our Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in a separate post just after the UM game ends.

Week 8's other FBS state action:

FSU 30, North Carolina 27: Huge Thursday night road win for the struggling Bowdens at Butch Davis. UNC was a narrow favorite. Noles now 3-4, 1-3 in ACC

No. 20 Pittsburgh 41, South Florida 14: Dave Wannstedt & mustache are partyin'!

Central Florida 49, Rice 7: Rice is so bad, Uncle Ben was picketing the game.

FAU 51, Louisiana-Lafayette 29: Huge road win for the slight-underdog Owls. "Go Howard, go Howard, g-g-go Howaard!" FAU now 2-4 but, more important, 2-1 in the Sun Belt.

Arkansas State 27, FIU 10: Golden Panthers fall to 1-6. What else need be said?

No. 1 Florida 29, Mississippi State 19: Looked a name-your-score special, but The Gator (like Alabama) struggled a bit to survive.


Well, this was something new that we planned to do every week as long as Miami kept winning and stayed in the hunt -- tracking the results of every team ranked above the No. 10 Canes in the BCS rankings. Umm, et's just consider the idea stillborn and move on.


Rank Team Points (LW)

1 FLORIDA 718 (1)

2 Texas 689 (2)

3 Alabama 669 (3)

4 Southern Cal 611 (4)

5 Louisiana State 550 (5)

6 Boise State 543 (6)

7 Virginia Tech 514 (7t)

8 Penn State 508 (9)

9 Ohio State 502 (7t)

10 TCU 437 (11t)

11 Oklahoma State 422 (11t)

12 Oklahoma 420 (10)

13 Cincinnati 390 (14)

14 Mississippi 374 (13)

15 MIAMI 370 (15)

16 Brigham Young 340 (17)

17 California 298 (16)

18 Georgia Tech 294 (18)

19 Iowa 274 (21)

20t Oregon 246 (23t)

20t Kansas 246 (19t)

22 Nebraska 221 (20)

23 Georgia 197 (22)

24 Houston 191 (24)

25 Utah 157 (25)

26 North Carolina 117 (26)

27 Notre Dame 111 (27)

28 Missouri 97 (28)

29 Michigan 81 (29)

30 Auburn 79 (30)

31t SOUTH FLORIDA 78 (32t)

33 FLORIDA STATE 77 (31)

Cote Top-30-Plus rankings explainer: Our rankings are cumulative, do not weigh head-to-head results, and utilize a formula that tends to make upward and downward movement less extreme than in other polls. This is an experimental formula that may not be perfect -- believe me, I hear from Canes fans! -- but will be more fairly judged in its entirety, late in the season as bowl games approach.

Postseason Baseblog 10-25: It's a Yankees-Phillies World Series!

Welcome to our MLB Postseason Baseblog! We update this post daily throughout the playoffs and invite you along for the ride. Included below: a poll on which playoff team you're rooting for to win the World Series. Share your predictions and why.


Phillies-Yankees commencing Wednesday night.


Philadelphia Phillies win series over Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1: [My preseries pick: Close call. Even. I think the world of Joe Torre, but Phils led NL in runs and have the offensive pop to overcome L.A.'s home-field edge. Philadelphia, 4-3].

New York Yankees win series over Los Angeles Angels, 4-2: In G6 tonight in da Bronx the yanks clinched 5-2. [My preseries pick: Not for nothing did the Yanks have the best record in baseball. And now A-Rod's October bat is awake? Look out. New York, 4-2]. 


Three sweeps and a 3-1 series. So much for parity. I wen`t 2-for-4. That's good for a batting average, not so good for predicting division series. How my picks squared with actual results:

1aphillies Philadelphia Phillies win series over Colorado Rockies, 3-1: Phillies won G4 last night 5-4 on a two-out, 9th-inning rally led by Ryan Howard's two-run double. [My preseries take: Marlins fans will be wishing the other way on this series, but Philadelphia has more pitching depth and better offense. Wild-card Colorado doesn't have much in the starting rotation beyond Ubaldo Jimenez. Pick: Phils in phive I mean 5].

1acardinals Los Angeles Dodgers sweep St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0: Wow. Maybe not a stunning upset, but St. Lou was the NL betting favorite in Vegas to reach the World Series. [My preseries take: Way off. I'd said, "Cards have two legit aces, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, either one of whom could and should win the Cy Young, Oh yeah, and some guy named Albert Pujols. Dodgers good. Birds better. Pick: St. Louis in 4"].


1ayankees 1akatehudson New York Yankees sweep Minnesota Twins, 3-0: The big story probably was Alex Rodriguez shaking off his reputation for October shrinkage with a couple of home runs. Click here to read about the Yanks' secret weapon, pictured left. [My preseries take: A bull's-eye. I'd written, "Minnesota is a feelgood story after getting in through that playoff and being a low-budget team a la the Marlins, but Twins' chances are Minny. Zero, actually. New York bats will overwhelm 'Sota pitching. Pick: Yanks in 3. Sweep"]. 

1ared sox Los Angeles Angels sweep Boston Red Sox, 3-0: Angels clinched yesterday when Jonathan Papelbon played Papel-bum. Excuse me while I softly weep. [My preseries take: Misfire. I'd written, "Toughest call of the four by far. Even teams, but I give wild-card Bosox slight edge in both offense and pitching. Then again, as an infantryman in Red Sox Nation since before the term was invented -- named my first cat Yaz -- I can't even pretend impartiality here. Pick: Boston in 5"]. Click on Alex's Ordeal for an interesting story on what Red Sox SS Alex Gonzalez, the former Marlin, has been going through personally. 

EXCLUSIVE! MARLINS IN PLAYOFFS!: Well, ex-Marlins, anyway. Still alive: Yankees Joe Girardi and A.J. Burnett and Dodger Juan Pierre. Now out: Red Soxers Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez; and Twins Carl Pavano and Mike Redmond.


Just below in the blog: NFL Week 5 picks post and more...


October 23, 2009

Should Dolphins honor Super Bowl losers? (with poll); plus NFL Week 7 picks, Isiah-Magic, lukewarm Heat, designer homeless blankets & more

DOLPHINS UPSET SAINTS. BANK IT!: Yeah you heard right. Dolphins stop Drew Brees, whup best team in football. Agreed? Click on Week 7 Gems for all of this week's prognosticatory marvels. Also check out my "National Foreign League" Friday-page column (click here) on the London-loving, globe-conquering NFL.

1a2nd IN PRAISE OF SECOND PLACE?: The Dolphins, during Sunday's game here against the Saints, are honoring the club's 1982 and 1984 AFC Championship teams. Another way to put that might be, they are honoring the teams that lost the Super Bowl those seasons. Hmm. Really? Seriously? Have we become that desperate as a franchise to cheer something? I mean, I can see a franchise bereft of a Super Bowl title doing cartwheels over a runnerup finish. But a club with back-to-back championships including a Perfect Season (however distant) might want to keep the bar raised sufficiently high as to not start celebrating the "almosts." I may be wrong. How do you feel? I know this: Super Bowl losers get rings, too, and Dan Marino never wears his. What does that tell you?

THIS WHOLE ISIAH-MAGIC TIFF: I would begin by saying that, generally speaking, when something in a forthcoming bad sports book causes two former athletes to get into a media shout over something that happened ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO, I don't pay much attention. Not a big fan of corned beef rehash. I'll make a begrudging exception here only because Isiah Thomas is the FIU basketball coach now and so therefore marginally relevant locally. So if he's pissed "hurt" about something Magic Johnson says in a new book written by Magic and Larry Bird (via an actal writer who actually wrote it), then, OK, whatever. Click here for the new old-news story about this. Now let's get back to things happening this century, yes?

1achrisquinn LUKEWARM HEAT: The Oct. 26 Sports llustrated NBA preview issue, whose theme is how so many teams have gotten better, forecasts the Heat to finish 8th in the East -- the bare edge of the playoffs -- with concerns about the supporting cast around Dwyane Wade. I'm not saying expectations are modest, but I do think the club could have aimed higher for a marketing slogan than, "We'll Be Better Than the Panthers!" Pictured at right: Heat guard Chris Quinn channels a 1940s mob apprentice-hitman. UPDATE: Just got some odds from Bodog. Heat 45-1 to win it all, tied for 11th best odds but well down from the favored lakers (2-1), Cavaliers (10-3) and Celtics (4-1). Miami 20-1 to win the East, where Cavs, Celts and Magic are prohibitive frontrunners. Scoring-average over/unders are 28.0 for Wade (No. 1 in the league), 15.6 for Michael Beasley, 13.4 for Jermaine O'Neal and 10.2 for Mario Chalmers. Wade is third pick for MVP after LeBron and Kobe. Heat over/under on wins is a mediocre 40.5.

BEDDING INSPIRED BY THE HOMELESS: Evidently it is becoming1ahomeless trendy to support the plight of the homeless (click here for story) by sleeping under expensive covers designed (see photo) to sort of look like cardboard boxes or something. For me, the only disconnect is, you are sleeping under these covers in a $400,000 home, with a flat-screen TV murmuring in the background as a BMW awaits in the circular drive. It would make as much sense (meaning none) to design cardboard boxes to look like designer comforters on behalf of the homeless. Also, I understand Bentley is coming out with a new model whose front grill is designed to look like a purloined shopping cart.

KATE HUDSON HAS YANKS 1 WIN FROM SERIES: Or so it says here. Kate Hudson always struck me as the kind of woman who would sleep in an expensive blanket designed to look like cardboard. I may be wrong.

AWW. POOR BERNIE MADOFF: Sorry, Bern (click here), but I just Googled the phrase "may you rot in hell" and saw your picture. 

RICHARD LEWIS VS. ROBIN WILLIAMS: Saw Lewis, one of my neurotic-comic heroes, a couple of weeks ago at Hard Rock Improv. Front-row seats (he looks his age; 62), and he was terrific. Saw Williams, not a hero, but a manic-comic I've admired, at the larger Hard Rock Live. Went in thinking Lewis was a tough act to follow. Went in expecting Williams, I dunno why, to sort of coast or be an SNL caricature of himself. Well -- blown away. Robin Williams was constant, laugh-out-loud funny. What a great performer, and great show. Of course I may or may not have been unduly influenced by having a VIP pass and, during the post-show meet-and-greet, being surprised to hear a long and surprisingly thoughtful response when I asked him, "Did you enjoy making Birdcage as much as I enjoyed watching it?"



Click back. Might be adding more stuff to this post later. Then again, I always say that.


October 21, 2009

Displays of religion in sports: OK or no? (with poll); plus, double-dreaming on Canes, Dolphins; Marlins awards

[Angels stay alive; Postseason Baseblog newly updated in post just below this one].


Please do not misinterpret my asking this question as blasphemy, or as an indication that I am an anti-religion heathen doing the devil's work. I know religion is an important, vital, comforting part 1aprayerof  many lives. I'm all for it. But I also think it is a personal expression that perhaps should be confined to the home or place of worship. I think kneeling and praying in an end zone is roughly as out of place as kneeling and praying in a supermarket aisle. I may be wrong. Is it an exercise of freedom of expression? Yes. But it's a matter of context. I wouldn't want my athletes espousing their political beliefs at the start of interviews, either. This story and video (click here) about a Minnesota Gophers mascot appearing to mock a Penn State player as he prays is an impetus for this post that I've been meaning to write for awhile. There are other examples all around of the mixing of religion and sports. The Dolphins, for instance, are the only NFL team to still have a pregame prayer. Is that appropriate? How many times have we heard an athlete asked a specific question about a game or play start by praising God or Jesus? Should there be a separation of church and sport? Take a dip in our poll and expound with a comment. Are you all for athletes using their professional stage as a platform for sharing their religious beliefs or do you consider that out of place?

1acanes 1adolpins DOUBLE-DREAMING ON CANES, DOLPHINS: I have a column online and in the paper today (click here) that will be misinterpreted by some as predicting UM and the Dolphins will emerge as champions this season. Wrong. Wrong. What the column does is lay out scenarios by which those things are possible. With the Canes I think there is a decent chance if they win out. With the Dolphins the next three weeks will tell, but Miami occupies the driver's seat in the AFC East at the moment and that's a good start. The column puts an unabashedly optimistic spin on both seasons, for which no apology shall be forthcoming.

HANLEY UP FOR AWARDS: Marlin Hanley Ramirez up for two major MLBPA Players Choice awards: overall Player of the Year (vs. Cards' Albert Pujols and Twins' Joe Mauer), and NL Outstanding Player (vs. Pujols and Brewers' Prince Fielder). Also, Chris Coghlan a finalist for NL rookie, and Nick Johnson for NL comeback player.

Click back. Probably adding more stuff to this post throughout the day...