Friday, July 31, 2009

MLB Trade Deadline: Marlins Get a Free Nick Johnson

The MLB trade deadline came and went, this afternoon. Players got traded, some big names, and some no-names. I'm not going to go into detail about the myriad of transactions that went down today, but I will talk to you about the trade that the Florida Marlins made this afternoon just before the 4 PM deadline.

The Marlins traded for now-former Nationals first-baseman Nick Johnson, and all it cost the franchise was a minor league pitching prospect who has a 5-9 record, an ERA over 4 and is currently injured. Oh, I forgot to mention, the Nationals are also picking up the $1.8 million remaining on Johnson's contract this season.

That's right, the Marlins got a solid veteran first-baseman, who can hit for power and has a .400 OBP, for an average (if that) pitching prospect named Aaron Thompson.

Not only did the Marlins add Johnson, but the transaction, in all likelihood, means that we as Marlins fans won't have to watch Emilio Bonifacio at third base and in the starting lineup on a regular basis. With Johnson coming in to play first, Jorge Cantu can move back to third, where he played before this season. That would put Bonifacio on the bench, where the Marlins could use him as a situational player, and he could pinch-run late in games (because he's good at being fast!).

Now adding Johnson is a solid move for the Marlins, who are in the hunt for the NL Wild Card. They managed to add a solid bat and defensive first-baseman while not selling off any of the organization's top prospects. While it was possible that they could have added Adrian Gonzalez and/or Heath Bell (which would have solidified the team even more), or even Josh Willingham, the Marlins stuck to their guns and didn't give up Mike Stanton, Sean West, Andrew Miller or Cameron Maybin.

Today, the Marlins let the fans know that they're trying to compete for a playoff berth this season, and we have to appreciate that. They also let us know that they are invested in the future of this franchise by refusing to deal the top prospects, and are not willing to mortgage the future off for a couple of years from rental players, at least not with a new stadium coming their way. But most importantly (ha!), the team also let us know that they, too, don't believe Bonifacio should be an everyday third-baseman for this franchise.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saluting Mark Buerhle

The man certainly deserves a third post in less than a week. After throwing a perfect game in his last start against the Rays, Mark Buerhle was perfect through five innings Tuesday night against the Twins.

Then of course, Twitter blew up with Mark Buerhle becoming a trending topic. He recorded the first two outs in the sixth, but then let one get away and walked the 18th batter he faced (Alexi Casilla). There went perfection, and his shot at an unprecedented back-to-back perfect games.

The next batter stepped to the plate and Denard Span singled, and just like that, there went Buerhle's shot at back-to-back no-hitters. After that, of course, Joe Mauer went to bat and drove in a run with a double.

Buerhle's White Sox eventually lost the game 5-3, and Buerhle notched the loss.

In his attempt at back-to-back perfect games, Buerhle set a new major league record by retiring 45 consecutive batters. Buerhle should be honored, and proud of himself for such a feat, but it's undoubtedly difficult to celebrate in defeat.

After the game he was rightfully frustrated at losing, but still recognized what he accomplished. If Buerhle finds it hard to smile to himself and just take in the magnitude of the feat he just pulled off, the least we could do as fans, is celebrate for him, or at least celebrate him. So a giant tip of the cap, and a standing ovation even greater than the one he received in Minnesota Tuesday night, goes to Buerhle, for a magical weak on the pitching mound, and something that us baseball fans may not see again for a long time.

Marlins Update: Gload's Walk-Off

If you follow me on Twitter (which I highly recommend doing), then you already saw my status from Tuesday night. If you don't follow me, then here's what it said:

"Ross Gload walkoff home run!! Yesss! Marlins! EXCLAMATION POINTS!"

As you can see, I was rather excited, and rightfully so. Gload's pinch-hit two-run walkoff home run gave the Marlins a big win over the division rival Braves. It also kept alive the Marlins' recent hot-streak. Following the All-Star break, the Marlins dropped three straight to the Phillies. Since then, they seemed to remember that you still play baseball after the midsummer classic, as they have won six of seven games, with the lone loss coming in the form of a walkoff bloop-single in Los Angeles on Saturday.

The recent tear has left the Marlins seven games back of the Phillies in the NL East (because the Phillies are playing even better baseball since the break), but more importantly, it puts the fish just two games back of the Rockies in the chase for the NL Wild Card. They are also 1.5 games back of the Giants and one game back of the Cubs.

Things are looking up for a young team that looked to be out of it just over a week ago.

With that being said, of course, you may cue the losing streak.

Brett Favre is Staying Retired... Maybe.




The will-he, won't-he Brett Favre saga is finally over... for now. Favre finally made a decision and phoned Vikings coach Brad Childress on Tuesday and told him that he will be staying retired.

I'm sure this won't be the last we hear or see of Favre, especially since he has a Sears commercial coming out in September where he says he hates people that can't make up their mind.

Hopefully though, it's the last we hear from/of Favre this season. At least ESPN's Rachel Nichols no longer has to camp out in front of Favre's house in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, anymore this summer.

One can't help but wonder, now that Favre has made his decision (until tomorrow at least!), if the Vikings are going to give a call to a certain former-Pro Bowl quarterback who recently was released from federal custody and was recently reinstated into the NFL.

My feeling is that Mike Vick will be contacted by the Vikings in the coming days, or week, because let's face it, the Vikings' other options at QB aren't that promising, with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson.

One of those QBs is this guy. The other had the starting job at the beginning of last season, and then was benched by Week 3 because of his inconsistency and inability to lead the team into the endzone.

So why not take a risk with Vick? If he could be half the player he was before the whole dogfighting fiasco, then I say go for it. Besides, could you imagine how explosive that offense could be with Vick, Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and rookie Percy Harvin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Morning Roundup

I told you all on Friday that I'm going to try to make this a semi-regular thing around here. I'm going to be away from the computer for most of the morning and afternoon, but how could I deprive you people of your sports coverage? Here are some links that I enjoyed. Hope you all feel the same.


- Biggest news from Monday: Mike Vick reinstated, conditionally.

- Speaking of reinstatement, Bud Selig might be considering lifting Pete Rose's lifetime ban, according to the NY Daily News.

- Brett Favre still hasn't made a comeback decision. He did make a Sears commercial though where he mocks himself and says he hates people that can't make up their mind. Pot, meet Kettle.

- A review of Shaq hosting WWE's Monday Night Raw. (The Big Lead)

- Princeton Review's party school list out again. UF: dethroned. Penn State's the new number one. Going to school in the South is still better, though. (Souvenir City)

- Football season is getting closer, so here's a look at the best 4-3 pass rushers in the NFL. (Major League Jerk)

- Rockabye at the Rookies takes a look at the underappreciation of Usain Bolt. The kid is a wordsmith. (The Rookies)

- Phillies fan killed near Citizens Bank Park. You stay classy, Philadelphia. (With Leather)

- In case you missed it Sunday night, Dwyane Wade is in LA trying to sway Lamar Odom's decision. (Wade's Twitter)

And of course, the obligatory self-promotion:

- Josh Willingham became the 13th player to hit two grand slams in a game. UF's Preston Parker is not impressed. (4th and Fail)

- My review of Rickey Henderson not talking about Rickey Henderson. (4th and Fail)

Josh Willingham's 2 Grand Slam, 8 RBI Game

It was impressive, yeah. I especially respect it because "The Hammer" played for the Marlins last year before being traded in the offseason to the Natinals (still think they should've kept Willingham and traded Jeremy Hermida, but I digress).

Willingham became only the 13th player in MLB history (yes, oddly enough, that makes it more rare than a perfect game) to hit two grand slams in a game, and the first to do so in six years (Bill Mueller of the Red Sox did it in '03). What most of you don't know is that it was (at least) the second occurrence at either the major league or college level in 2009.

That's right, for those readers that have been following here long enough, you may recall that UF's freshman first baseman, Preston Tucker, had a two grand slam game back in April. He also had a three-run home run, and a totaly of 11 RBI. Did I mention he accomplished it in three consecutive innings?

I happened to be in attendance when Tucker had that record night, and I knew it was something special, so I can appreciate what Willingham pulled off on Monday night. So a tip of the cap goes to Willingham (the Nationals have to do something right every now and then, right?).

But for the record, Preston Tucker scoffs at Josh Willingham's statline.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So This is What it Takes to Humble Rickey Henderson


In Cooperstown this afternoon, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2009, headlined by one of the more charismatic figures in Major League history, Rickey Henderson.

Many anticipated Henderson's induction speech today, in hopes that it might live up to the legend that is Rickey Henderson. The man who broke Lou Brock's stolen base record of 938, and then proclaimed himself to be the greatest of all time, took the stage Sunday, and a funny thing happened.

He didn't excessively baost of how great of a player he was, aside from a joke early on, and a remark of how he always looked up to Muhammad Ali and can relate to his "I am the greatest," quote. No, instead, Henderson spent the majority of his speech reminiscing on his journey to the Major Leagues.

He thanked God, first and foremost.

He thanked his mother, who was too worried about him getting hurt playing football, so he decided on baseball.

He thanked the man responsible for him first playing baseball, by tricking him with a glazed doughtnut and a cup of hot cocoa.

He joked about how when he was young he would try to ask Reggie Jackson for an autograph, but only wound up with a pen with Jackson's name on it.

He didn't wing it at all, but continually glanced down to his prepared notes, stumbling a few times. You could tell that he was a little bit nervous giving this speech, in front of this crowd, on his day. It was something we weren't used to from a man who showed no nerves when he stole 1,406 bases throughout his career.

The man who was known for referring to himself in the third person in front of the media, made zero third person references in his induction speech. It's something that we, as fans, were not expecting from him. Towards the end of his speech, he admitted how humbled he was, being inducted into the Hall of Fame along with the greatest baseball players of all-time, 50 of whom were in attendance Sunday.

So that's what it took to humble one of the most cavalier (and rightfully so, I might add) players in MLB history: acceptance into baseball immortality, surrounded by 50 other immortals, and in front of thousands of awestruck fans.

Rickey's speech wasn't vintage Rickey. It was a seemingly more mature Rickey. It wasn't the Rickey we grew to know and love over the years, but it was certainly the Rickey we all love.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Rare Friday Roundup

It's Friday, and I'm feeling rather lazy, so instead of giving you my own post this afternoon, I'll give you some links of other people's stuff that I've enjoyed reading today. I'm going to start trying to make this a semi-regular thing, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully it will statiate your sports blogging appetites and carry you off into the weekend. Enjoy.

A well-written piece by Andy Hutchins on Tim Tebow's turn at the SEC Media Days. (The Arena)

Speaking of SEC Media Days, the most entertaining tweets coming out of Alabama this week can be found here. (EDSBS Twitter)

The guys at Souvenir City take a look at some of the finest traditions in college football, which is now just six weeks away! (Souvenir City)

The Rookies wonder what it was like for the Rays' announcers during Mark Buerhle's perfect game Thursday. ( The Rookies)

Because Jordan Crawford wasn't the only one to dunk on LeBron (Hugging Harold Reynolds)

Marlins Die-Hards gave us ten people Marlins fans should love, and ten to hate. (Marlins Die-Hards)

And here's my blatant self-promotion. Those Marlins lists inspired my ten people SoFla sports fan should love, and hate. (Fourth and Fail)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Attempting to Rank the 18 Perfect Games

Mark Buerhle pitched the 18th perfect game in Major League history today. Quite a feat, indeed, as it is (in my opinion) the most difficult accomplishment in sports. So I've decided to try and take it upon myself to rank the 18 perfect games, in order from least to most impressive. As hard as I'll try, the list is subjective, and keep in mind, I have not personally witnessed the majority of these perfect games, and have only been alive for six of them. Therefore, most of these games are ranked based on what I have read about them. Try to enjoy the list.

18. Tom Browning. Nothing against Browning here, but the list has to start somewhere. Browning fanned seven Dodgers while throwing 102 pitches (72 of which were strikes) en route to the twelfth perfect game in MLB history, and the only Reds player to do so.

17. Kenny Rogers. There wasn't anything unimpressive about Rogers' perfect game, as he struck out eight batters. However, his performance was two weeks before the Players Union went on strike in the shortened 1994 season, and someone has to fall into the 17th spot on this list.

16. John Montgomery Ward. The most impressive thing about Ward's perfect game was that it was a mere five days after the first perfect game ever thrown in the majors. Also of note was that despite the game being in Providence, Ward was the visiting pitcher because of a pre-game coin toss that decided home and away.

15. Dennis Martinez. Martinez only allowed one batter to see a three-ball count in his quest to become the first player born outside of the United States to hurl a perfect game. Equally impressive was the fact that opposing pitcher, Mike Horgan of the LA Dodgers, was perfect through five innings, the deepest into a perfect game that an opposing pitcher has been perfect.

14. Mike Witt. The first name on this list to record double-digit strikeouts in his perfect game. Witt K'd ten Rangers on his was to throwing a perfect game on the last day of the 1984 season for the California Angels.

13. Jim Bunning. Bunning also struck out 10 batters in his perfect game. But making the perfect game impressive, or at least fun to hear about, was that Bunning shunned the superstition of not talking about his perfect game. In fact, he spent the whole game talking to his teammates about it in order to loosen them up.

12. Charlie Robertson. What makes Robertson's perfect game so impressive was that he did so in only his fourth major league start, and his fifth overall appearance. Neat factoid I read about this game: it was, statistically, the most unlikely perfect game thrown, as the opposing Tigers had an on-base percentage of .369.

11. Mark Buerhle. While Buerhle's performance was impressive, this one ranks at the 11 spot because of two reasons. 1. It is freshest in our minds, so we might get caught up in the spectactle of it all. But also, Dewayne Wise's home run-robbing, perfect game-saving catch in the top of the ninth inning was unreal.



10. Catfish Hunter. Aside from striking out 11 batters, Hunter also went 3 for 4 at the plate with 3 RBI, including the technical game-winner in the seventh inning.

9. David Wells. Wells K'd 11 batters in his perfect game, which is pretty impressive. However, that's not what makes his perfect game that impressive. The key feat of the perfect game was that Wells, who was a big partier, reportedly threw the perfect game while he was half-drunk with a killer hangover. Now that is impressive.

8. Len Barker. Barker's perfect game is impressive because it was the first perfect game in which designated hitters were used. In other words, Barker had to essentially face three more legitimate batters in his performance than his predecessors did. Barker also didn't allow any batters to see a three-ball count the entire game.

7. David Cone. Cone's perfect game was impressive for a few reasons. For one, he threw only 88 pitches in the game, 68 of which were strikes. No batter saw a three-ball count at any point in the game. He also K'd ten batters. But the reason this one ranks number seven is because of the 33-minute rain delay in the middle of the game. All baseball fans are aware of how difficult it could be for a pitcher to come back out after a delay because their arm could stiffen up considerably. Also, Don Larsen, another Yankee who threw a perfect game, threw out the ceremonial first pitch in this game.

6. Cy Young. The man who the award is named for lands at six on this list. While Young struck out only three batters in the game, the larger picture is what made it that much more impressive. The perfecto was a part of a 24 1/3 inning streak of no-hit baseball, and a 45 inning streak of allowing no runs. It was also the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

5. Addie Joss. You want to talk about pressure? Joss threw his perfect game for the Cleveland Naps while they were in a tight three-way race for first with the Tigers and White Sox, with four games left on the schedule. The Naps finished the day tied with the Tigers for first.

4. Lee Richardson. Richardson ranks fourth on this list because he became the first pitcher to ever throw a perfect game. Not only that, but he did it in his first full season in the majors. Play of the game? A 9-3 put-out at first on a throw from Worcester right fielder Lon Knight.

3. Randy Johnson. The Big Unit comes in at number three on this list for two reasons. First, the man struck out 13 batters in the game, which is second most in a perfect game. Second, Johnson was the oldest pitcher to ever throw a perfect game, doing so at the age of 40.

2. Sandy Koufax. What makes Koufax's perfect game worthy of the two-spot on the list is this number: 14. Koufax struck out 14 batters that game. For you math geniuses out there, that's more than half of the batters he faced throughout the game. Also of note, the game was nearly a double no-hitter, as the Dodgers only had one hit in the win.

1. Don Larsen. A perfect game is a huge feat on its own, but try doing it in a World Series game. Larsen did just that in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, with the series tied at two games each headed into the game. In pitching a perfect game on the biggest stage in baseball, Larsen also managed to strikeout seven batters.

PERFECTION!


Just want to congratulate Mark Buerhle of the White Sox for pitching just the 18th perfect game in MLB history, today. That's 27 batters faced, 27 batters retired, no walks, no errors. For that, I tip my hat to him. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without a little help from Dewayne Wise in center field robbing the Rays of a home run, and a chance at ruining history.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 People South Florida Sports Fans Should Love

Yesterday I brought to you my list of ten people South Florida sports fans should hate. Today I will take a look at the other end of the South Florida sports spectrum and give you ten people that own a special place in the hearts of South Florida sports fans. Keep in mind that there are a lot of beloved figures in South Florida sports, so this list will undoubtedly miss some. Don't feel appalled, but feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

10. Dan LeBatard. For the most part, this list will consist of athletes, but the first spot goes to the biggest name that covers South Florida sports. If you're not familiar with his work, then you're either missing out, or aren't a real SoFla sports fan. LeBatard's weekday radio show is probably the most entertaining thing on the airwaves, and his writing is on another level. He simply has a way with words that most writers can only dream of having, and we've been fortunate enough to have those words talk about SoFla sports for the most part.

9. Jimmy Johnson. The dude coached the Hurricanes and the Dolphins. He won UM its second national title, and led them in their "Decade of Dominance," where he compiled a 52-9 record as coach. With the Dolphins, his record wasn't as great, but he is responsible for bringing us Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.

8. Mike Lowell. Lowell was born and raised in Miami, attended Coral Gables Senior High and went to school at FIU. He was a fixture in the Marlins franchise for six seasons, from 1999-2005, in which he won a Gold Glove, a World Series and established himself as one of the best third basemen in the league. He was eventually traded to the Red Sox with Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota for Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez and a couple other prospects.

7. Pat Riley. The coach that made the Heat relevant. He made the Heat title contenders, and they might have had one in the 90's if it weren't for the Bulls dynasty. He drafted Wade, brought us Shaq and subsequently the Heat's first title (though Stan Van Gundy should have been coaching that team). The man knows how to coach, and he certainly knows how to make moves to better the franchise. He also happens to be one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time.

6. Steve Bartman. Yes, Bartman makes this list just because of the lore that goes along with his unfortunate claim to infamy. Who knows if Moises Alou would have actually recorded the out. Regardless, a series of events unfolded after the incident that many believe led to the Marlins winning the 2003 NLCS and eventually, the World Series. I don't put all the blame on Bartman, because most fans would do the same. Plus, later that inning, Alex Gonzalez misplayed a grounder by Miguel Cabrera that loaded the bases, instead of turning a double play and ending the inning.

5. Jeff Conine. You knew Mr. Marlin was going to be on this list. C'mon, the guy was in the inaugural Marlins game in 1993, and played a role in not one, but both of the teams World Series titles. He's a perennial fan favorite in South Florida for his play on the field, but also for his contributions off the field. Besides, how many other players have been signed to one-day contracts by a South Florida team, just so that athlete could retire with the team that he played such a major role in its history? I know Niner can.

4. Alonzo Mourning. Obviously, the first Heat player to have his jersey retired was going to make this list. Zo is of the most popular figures in South Florida sports history. Mourning was always a fan favorite with the Miami Heat with his intensity on the court (and his bicep flex) as well as his tremendous charity work off the court. He did more for this city in terms of charity than any athlete before him, or since him, and for that, we all love him even more. If you really need more on why Mourning has this spot on the list, check out my tribute to him that I posted back when he announced his retirement. (Really. Click that link. You WILL enjoy the piece. I guarantee it.)

3. Dwyane Wade. If Mourning was the face of the Miami Heat's past, Wade is the face of this era of Heat basketball. That's why it is fitting that Zo's Summer Groove recently became a joint event hosted by both Wade and Mourning. While fans might currently be put off by him not wanting to sign a contract extension yet, it will likely eventually happen. Still, Wade holds the franchise scoring record, and will probably own most other records when all is said and done. Add in the fact that Wade being drafted resurrected the franchise, and that he led the Heat to their first NBA title, and this pick is a no-brainer.

2. Dan Marino. As much as people love Zo, Wade and the Heat, at the end of the day this is a pro football town. Like I mentioned in the "10 People South Florida Sports Fans Should Hate" post, Marino was Superman to DolPhans during his time in Miami. He broke most major passing records throughout his career, and even has a statue of his likeness outside of Land Shark Stadium. Hell, the stadium is even located at Dan Marino Blvd. Even more impressive, his jersey is retired by both the Dolphins and the Heat. So what if he didn't win a Super Bowl? He's hardly to blame for that.

1. Don Shula. It takes a mighty individual to top Dan Marino on this list, and of course, it's another football name. Shula coached the Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories (VII and VIII) and one NFL Championship. He is the mastermind behind the '72 team that is still the only untied and undefeated team in NFL history and is the NFL coaching leader in career victories (347). Did I mention there's an expressway named after him?

Honorable Mention: Howard Schnellenberger, Dennish Erickson, Ken Dorsey and Mercury Morris.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 People South Florida Sports Fans Should Hate

All sports fans have certain people that they hate, whether because of a rivalry, or a specific game, or various other reasons. Today, I have for you all a list of ten people that South Florida sports fans should hate, for one reason or another. Tomorrow, I'll bring to you the ten people South Florida sports fans love.

10. Clarence Weatherspoon. "Whoa, whoa whoa whoa whoa, whoa. Lois, this is not my Batman glass," is what you might be saying to this first pick. A former Heat player leading off the list of people South Florida sports fans should hate? Allow me to explain. This pick comes more from my personal hatred for 'Spoon. In the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the last of the great Heat-Knicks Rivalry playoff series, Weatherspoon had a chance to win the series in Game 7 in the final seconds, but missed a jump shot, and the Heat lost the series. This is one of my most vivid memories as a Heat fan, and it still baffles me why Weatherspoon (on a team that included Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn) ended up taking the final shot in the series for them.

9. Wayne Huizenga. Yes, he did bring baseball and hockey to South Florida, which is the only reason he's not ranked worse on this list. But then there was the huge fire sale after the 1997 World Series before selling the Marlins to John Henry.

8. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. Wow, the first three on this list are all one of our own. Let me explain this one. In 2003 the Marlins signed Pudge to a huge one-year deal.

"If everything down the road goes well, I would like to stay with the Marlins."
- Rodriguez, Jan. 23, 2003.
He had a great season that culminated in a World Series. He also is a part of one of the most memorable highlights from that title run, holding on to Jeff Conine's throw to the plate to end the NLDS series against the San Francisco Giants. Anyways, after that season, the Marlins offered him a deal of three years at $7.5 million per year. He declined, and bolted for the Detroit Tigers for four years at $10 million per. He went from a World Series Champion team, to a team that went 43-119 in 2003. To add insult to injury was that Pudge was a homegrown talent, hailing from Miami. Oh, and he has a bronze statue of himself that is over six feet tall, while he stands at only 5'9". In other words, the man thinks he's larger than life, and is what's wrong with sports. He personifies the me-first attitude that fans hate from athletes, and that's why he makes this list.

7. Vinnie Testaverde. He was the QB for the New York Jets. As a Miami fan, do I need more of a reason than that? He did win a Heisman at "the U," but this is a pro football town, and he was also responsible for the Dolphins being on the losing end of "the greatest Monday Night Football game. EVER," in 2000 when he led the Jets back from a 30-7 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The Jets won 40-37 after Testaverde threw five touchdowns. Did I mention he was the Jets QB? I hate the Jets.

6. Terry Porter. I am by no means a Miami Hurricanes fan, but I can't deny the love that most South Floridians have for them. That's why Porter appears on this list. Who is he, though? He was the official in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl that threw a delayed flag on UM's Glenn Sharpe that gave the Buckeyes another chance to score and subsequently win the 2003 BCS National Championship. UM fans are still bitter about that call today.

5. Jim Kelly. It's hard to put another UM quarterback on this list, but in a town where Dan Marino was Superman throughout his career, Jim Kelly of the Bills was his kryptonite. The Kelly-led Bills knocked Marino and the Dolphins out of the playoffs three times during his career, with the Bills advancing to the Super Bowl (and losing) two of those times. Not to mention the division rivalry between the two teams made those losses even tougher to swallow, especially with Marino finishing his career without a Super Bowl ring.

4. Allan Houston. Houston played for the Knicks at the height of the Heat-Knicks rivalry of the late-90's. That alone is reason enough to throw him on this list. But to top it off, in the 1999 lockout-shortened season, Houston's eighth-seeded Knicks faced the numer one seed Heat in the opening round of the playoffs. The series was pushed to a fifth and decisive game, with the Heat leading with a few seconds left. That's when Houston happened, and hit a running one-hander with .8 seconds left in the game, burying the Heat that season. It was bad enough that the Knicks won the series. What made it a double-whammy was that it was one of the rare occurences where an eight-seed toppled a one-seed.

3. Doug Flutie. Again, not a Hurricane fan, but Flutie's Hail Mary is one of the most memorable plays in history. The fact that it happened against the Hurricanes, in their own house, on national television, makes it even worse. Flutie went on to win the Heisman that year, to boot.



2. Jamie Moyer. He ranks so high on this list because he's an active player, or as active as an old pitcher can be. In 15 career starts against the Marlins, Moyer is 13-2 with a 2.83 ERA. The fact that he pitches for the division-rival Phillies is just icing on the cake. The Marlins can never seem to hit Moyer.

1. Nick Satan Saban. No matter how hard the other sports will try, Miami is and will always be a pro football town, which is why He-who-shall-not-be-named tops this list. What he did to the Dolphins was about as low as it gets. Last I heard, orders are to shoot on sight if he ever tries to return to South Florida.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mike Vick is Free: What Now?

As I'm sure most of you are well aware, Mike Vick completed the house arrest portion of his sentencing, making him a free man again after serving a total of 23 months for his role in an illegal dogfighting ring.

While Vick has yet to be reinstated to the NFL by Roger Goodell after being suspended indefinitely two years ago (a meeting still needs to be scheduled between the two), he clearly wants to be back in the league (he's at his athletic prime, and just needs to get back in shape). But what team will want to bring in Vick? That's the biggest question.

He'll probably get interest from a few teams who are willing to take on the baggage that comes with Vick, but we know for certain the Giants and Jets aren't interested in taking that risk. Apparently, neither is New England (scroll down to "things I heard around the NFL last week). That basically eliminates the northeastern United States.

You would also have to eliminate any team's that already tote a franchise QB on the roster. So there goes the Colts, Chargers, Falcons (duh!), Cowboys, both of the Philadelphia teams, the Saints and a few others.

Instead of listing who wouldn't want Vick under center for them, let's consider who would take the troubled QB.

There were rumors in recent months that maybe Bill Parcells and the Dolphins might be interested in him and using him in the Wildcat formation. That's not likely to happen though, since the Dolphins have the two Chad's (Pennington and Henne) on the depth chart at QB.

Maybe the Vikings would be interested in him if Brett Favre decided to stay retired this time around. That offense could certainly be among the most potent in the league with Vick, Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin.
Plus, there's a handful of other teams, including some smaller markets, who don't have a franchise quarterback and might be willing to take that risk.

I know one big-time wide receiver that would love to have Vick throwing to him. Who's that, you might ask?

Chad Ochocinco.

At least that's the message he seems to be conveying from his Twitter updates Monday night. Let's take a look at a sampling of Ochocinco's updates concerning Vick, shall we?

Okay, so Ochocinco thinks Vick is the best (either quarterback or player in the league).


He is one of a kind on the field when he's taking snaps. Fair enough.



Wow, really heaping on the praise here. I'm guessing you like the guy's game.



I get it already, Ochocinco, you think the guy is awesome. Enough already.

Those weren't even all of Ochocinco's tweets regarding Vick. The rest can be found throughout his Twitter-feed, for those who don't already get the message. But despite Ochocinco's Thom Brennaman-esque praise of a QB, he's already got Carson Palmer throwing to him. Though, after the season the Bengals had last year, anything is possible, especially with Palmer twice having his season end in serious injuries.

Even if Goodell decides against reinstating Vick, there are other options. Remember, the Orlando franchise of the UFL drafted the rights to Vick, should he opt to give the new league a chance.

Regardless of what Goodell decides, I'm sure Vick will play football again, one way or another. It's just a matter of who will give him the second chance he deserves after serving his time (yes, what he did was deplorable, but he did serve his time), and which league it will be for.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Interview with Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald

Gather 'round, kiddies! I've got another treat for you all today. A few weeks ago, I had SI's Stewart Mandel in the building (go ahead and click that link after you read this one, I know you want to). This time around, I've got another special guest that was kind enough to grant me an interview.

Who, you might ask, is that man staring you in the face at the top of this post? Well, some of you may be familiar with his work. He is Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald (here's his archive). He's a columnist/enterprise writer who previously covered the Miami Heat for seven years and the Florida Marlins for two. Before that, he graduated from the University of Florida, where he wrote for the paper there. You may also recognize him from his various appearances on ESPN's "Around the Horn," "First and 10" and "The Sports Reporters." Anyways, he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and answer some questions I had for him. Enjoy.

Q: What first made you want to become a sports journalist?

Gutierrez: I can't really pinpoint what it was that made me want to be a sports writer, other than the fact that I loved sports and knew I wasn't good enough to play them for a living. I actually left high school thinking I'd go into law, but after a short time I realized that law would bore me and I went with the more exciting, if much less lucrative, career path.

Q: Can you briefly detail your journey from The Independent Florida Alligator to the Palm Beach Post and then to The Miami Herald, and how you wound up with each job?

Gutierrez: Briefly, which is not easy, I got to The Alligator midway through my junior year at UF. I was in a sports reporting class and asked Jamey Eisenberg, now a fantasy football writer for CBS Sports, how to get involved. He brought me to the building and I figured I was screwed because everyone else there had started so much earlier than I did. But it turned out I worked my way up pretty quick, from covering track, which I loved, to women's volleyball, which I loved, to men's basketball, which I loved, to football, which was OK, all within a year and a half.

I was offered a job at the Palm Beach Post before I graduated (I'd interned there), and started in Jan. 2000. Three weeks in, they offered me the Marlins beat, which I obviously took. And about three-quarters into the baseball season, our Heat beat writer, Ethan Skolnick, had left for a job at the Herald. I asked to switch to that beat, which was my dream job at the time, and was allowed to do it. I did that beat for two years there, and I can't say enough about my editors there at the time, Tim Burke and Nick Moscella. They got my career started and they were incredible to work for.

In 2002, the Herald needed a Heat writer, so I applied and got that job. I covered the Heat for five years for them before switching over to concentrate more on columns about two years ago.
Wow, that wasn't exactly brief.

Q: You're a South Florida native, how does it feel to be able to cover sports in the city you grew up in?

Gutierrez: It's an incredible feeling. I have so many friends in this field that had to work in new, unfamiliar cities upon graduation, and I feel so lucky that I stepped right into a scene that I knew well already, and in a place where my family still resides. I remember reading Steve Wyche in the Herald every day during Heat seasons while I was in high school, and when I started covering the Heat for the Herald, it felt so surreal that I was in Steve's old shoes. It's really crazy, to be honest. It's still hard to fathom.

Q: I know being a journalist can be a tough job, but do you ever say to yourself, "wow, I'm getting paid to write about sports?"

Gutierrez: Yeah, I say it all the time. Like when I was in Beijing for the Olympics. Or when I was covering the Finals and the NBA champion Heat. Or when I was at the U.S. Open (tennis). Or when I'm on the set of Sports Reporters, a show I've watched since high school. There are so many experiences I never thought I'd be a part of, and they're all because of this job.

Q: In college, what was your favorite memory as a student-reporter?

Gutierrez: That's a tough one. There are a few that rank up there, like when Steve Spurrier called one of my columns stupid to my face, or any of our road trips to football games, or even playing makeshift soccer in the hallway of the Alligator building. But I gotta say my favorite is being in Phoenix for the 1999 Sweet 16. It was the game where Florida lost to Gonzaga on a last-second tip-in by Casey Calvary. It was my first in-person taste of real March Madness, and being in that locker room with Mike Miller covering his face with a towel so no one could see him crying, and Teddy Dupay bawling, it was just real emotion. It was especially memorable.

Q: How about your favorite story that you've covered in your career, and why?

Gutierrez: Wow, that's a tough question. I've only been doing this for nine years, but I feel like I have so much to choose from. I'd have to go with two, if you're forcing me. One is the story of Alonzo Mourning and his kidney transplant. So many things had to fall into place for him to find his cousin that matched his kidney type, and add on to that Zo's heart and desire to fight through anything, it was just inspiring.

The second is the U.S. men's volleyball team from the 2008 Olympics. I've been a big volleyball fan my whole life, so to watch that team surprise everyone, and overcome the tragedy of the head coach's father-in-law getting murdered, that was just amazing to be around. Plus, Lloy Ball is one of the best sports personalities I've ever been around. If he were in a mainstream sport, he'd be one of the most famous athletes on the planet.

Q: You've been a recurring participant on ESPN's "Around the Horn." Can you talk a little bit about what it's like being on the show, including your first appearance, when Tony Reali caught you glancing at your notes?

Gutierrez: Actually, that wasn't my first appearance. It was either my second or third. Funny thing about that, though, is it's impossible to actually see the note I was looking for in such a brief amount of time, so looking down was kind of pointless. But I played along. Reali is a great guy and he does a great job hosting that show.

It's a fun show to be a part of. The format is a little frustrating because you have to rush through things, and it's tough not actually having the guys in front of you and only seeing them through a monitor and hearing them in an earpiece. But I can't thank the producer of that show enough for giving me a chance to be on there. I'm not doing that show anymore. Mostly sticking to "Sports Reporters" and the occasional "First & 10" appearance, but ATH is such a popular show that it did wonders in terms of my exposure.

Q: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring sports journalists, such as myself?

Gutierrez: Well, my first piece of advice is know what you're getting into. The journalism field isn't what it was even nine years ago when I got into the business, so be sure the opportunities you're looking for are available. Other than that, I would just say find as many chances to write as you can. Don't ever say no when you're asked to cover or write about something because the more experience you get, the better. I've always been lucky to be at the right place at the right time, but I've also been humble and figured if I'm going to move forward, I've got to work harder for it, so I would suggest anyone else coming in should think the same. There are only a handful of gifted writers like, say, a Dan LeBatard. The rest of us just have to try harder to make up the enormous gap. And don't forget to enjoy what you're doing. No matter how tight the deadlines were, I'd always make sure to watch and enjoy every second I could of NBA games I covered because I love the sport so much. That makes up for any frustrations I had with deadlines or bad interviews or just plain bad writing.

Quick Hits:

- Coolest athlete or celebrity you've gotten to meet?
- Gutierrez:
The "coolest" would probably be Jason Williams. I was a huge fan of his for years, then he came to Miami and he was everything I thought he'd be. He's as real as they come.

- Your dream golf foursome: You and any three people, living or dead. Who would it be and why?
-
Gutierrez: I would have to go with Shoeless Joe Jackson, because I have so many questions, and to see if he was really that dumb; Pete Maravich, because I have a lot of questions, and to pick up some hoops pointers; and Alec Baldwin, because I think he's hilarious, and he looks like with a few beers in him he'd be even funnier.
(Ed. Note: Major props for choosing Pistol Pete, since he is one of this site's all-time favorite players)

- Sports blogs, if any, that you read on the regular?
-
Gutierrez: I really only read Deadspin regularly. Anything else I would need to be directed to.

- Name one fellow sports writer that is a must-read on a regular basis.
- Gutierrez: Probably Jason Whitlock because you never know what kind of crazy stuff he'll come up with. He's certainly not afraid to tell you how it is, and then tell you how it's supposed to be. I don't have the guts to do that.

- Favorite sport to watch, and why?
- Gutierrez:
I'd have to go with NBA basketball. The athleticism and skill is beyond amazing. A close second is indoor volleyball.

- I offer you a ticket to any one sporting event in the world, past, present or future. Which event would you choose and why?
- Gutierrez: I've had this conversation before, and there were about 500 old sporting events I would've loved to be, so I'll stick to a future event. Probably a tie between a U.S. Late-round match in a World Cup or a Wimbledon final between two players I actually know and like. I haven't been to either of those events.

- Best meal in Miami?
- Gutierrez:
I haven't experienced as many restaurants as I should have down here, because I usually save the extravagant meals for when I'm out of town. But I'm an Italian fan, so I'd have to say half the menu at a place called Cafe Prima Pasta.

- Yes or no: This year, will the Marlins continue their trend of winning a World Series every six years?
- Gutierrez: God, no.

That's all for this interview, folks. Hope you all enjoyed. I want to thank Israel Gutierrez again for taking the time to answer my questions, even though he isn't as optimistic naive as I am about this year's Marlins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dwyane Wade's Good News Revealed

Alright, so Dwyane Wade's "GOOD NEWS" from late last night wasn't about any Heat signings, but it was about a signing.

Even though I failed to mention it in last night's post on the same subject, if you are following me on Twitter (which I highly recommend), you saw that I re-tweeted some news from CNBC's Darren Rovell. That news being that Wade was about to leave Converse for Jordan. Well, the move became official this morning, and Wade is now a part of the Jordan family.

Even though Nike owns both brands, it seems as though the loss of Converse's biggest star could be the death of the brand, basketball-wise.

In other Heat-related good news, the team is reportedly in talks with Lamar Odom, with a deal similar to what the Lakers were offering, worth $9 million per year. As usual, more updates will be up as they come in.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dwyane Wade has "Good News" Coming, Andy Roddick Wants to Know Details

Dwyane Wade apparently has some good news for all of his "tweeps." Unfortunately for us, he isn't giving up the details just yet.


But, that hasn't stopped people from inquiring about what the news is, including one Andy Roddick (he of the devastating Wimbledon loss almost two weeks ago).


Hopefully Roddick's excited tweet is in the right vicinity of what Wade's good news is, because Roddick is slightly misinformed. See, Wade can't sign a contract to make him a Heat player for another eight years. He can, however, sign a three-year extension that would make him a Heat player through the 2012-13 season.

But we will all just have to wait until Wade, or perhaps Pat Riley or some other outlet, leak some more information to us. I'll be waiting in anticipation to hear what the news is, and if it's not something Heat-related, I will be more upset than Zach Braff when he got Punk'd.

Basketball Players Get Off Easy On DUI Charges

Two weeks ago, Diana Taurasi, a star player for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, was cited on three (count 'em, THREE) charges related to drunk-driving. Of those charges, one is a charge of "extreme DUI," which I assumed meant drunk-driving a Formula 1 race car or something along those lines, but I digress.

Well, today the Mercury suspended her for two games without pay. Two games? More on that in a minute, but first, the details of Arizona DUI charges:

"If convicted of a first offense DUI, there is a minimum mandatory jail requirement of one to ten days with a maximum jail term of six months. You can also be fined from $250.00 to $2,500.00 plus surcharges and placed on probation for up to five years.

In addition to the jail term, your driver's license or driving privileges may be suspended or restricted. If your driver's license is suspended as the result of a breath test that is over the legal limit, the suspension is ninety days. During the ninety days, you cannot drive at all during the first thirty days and you may be eligible for a restricted license for the next sixty days if you did not cause injury with your DUI and you have no prior DUI-related license suspensions within the last five years. Our DUI lawyers often are successful in having the breath test thrown out of court, which can help save your license.

If you refused to take the breath test, you will have a one-year driver's license suspension instead of the ninety days. A conviction on a §28-1381(A)(3) (involving an illegal drug as opposed to alcohol) is the same as A1 and A2 except your driver's license will be revoked for one year. A conviction on §28-1381(A)(4) (involving a commercial driver’s license) is the same as A1 and A2 except it you may lose your commercial driver's license.
"

Now let's consider similar situations that other athletes have recently been through, as well as the suspensions levied on them.


- Back in December, Charles Barkley was cited for a DUI and subsequently suspended indefinitely by TNT, and by "indefinitely," I mean for about two and a half months until after the All-Star break.

- NFL receiver Donte Stallworth recently was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for is DUI charge, though he was also convicted of manslaughter and served 24 days in prison (another joke sentencing).

- Hell, even Michael Phelps was suspended from swimming for three months after a photo surfaced of him smoking from a bong. And he wasn't even charged with any crimes!

But the same standard for suspensions doesn't apply to NBA and WNBA players:

- In April, Zach Randolph of the LA Clippers was suspended two games as well after being charged with a DUI. The charges were subsequently dropped.

-Last April, Carmelo Anthony was charged with a DUI and suspended for the first two games of this past season.

The point I'm trying to get to here is that these standard two-game suspensions for basketball players after a serious charge such as this is absurd. Especially when a charge is "extreme" and the player is cited for going 20 miles over the speed limit and was seen swerving in and out of the lane. For once, I'd like to see someone take a page out of the discipline master himself, Roger Goodell's book, and levy heavier punishments for charges like this that not only put the players, and other drivers on the road in danger, but also damage a player's (and the league's) image.

Bottom line: a two-game suspension for a DUI charge is wrong, particularly when other athletes (and Charles Barkley) are getting hit much harder for similar (and sometimes no) charges.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Observations

Last night, millions of baseball fans tuned into Fox for the 80th Midsummer Classic, or more commonly known: the MLB All-Star Game. The American League won 4-3 on an RBI sac-fly by Adam Jones (no, not that Adam Jones) of the Orioles. The win stretched the NL's winless streak to 13 years, with a 2002 tie being the lone non-loss for the NL. The win gives the AL homefield advantage in the World Series again this season. But that doesn't seem to matter much, since the NL has won three of the last six World Series titles despite not having homefield.

Here are a few of my observations from the night's festivities:

- Fox initially screwed the pooch when they failed to get a decent camera angle on President Obama's ceremonial first pitch. Viewers couldn't even see if it crossed the plate.

- They did finally show the center field replay of the pitch later in the evening, and Albert Pujols acted like a good host should and did Obama a favor by reaching for the ball before it could bounce off the plate.

- There were some solid defensive plays throughout the game, none more impressive (or important) than Carl Crawford's home run-robbing catch in the bottom of the seventh. He was subsequently named MVP for that play.

- As a Marlins fan, I'm glad Josh Johnson didn't get to pitch, since he threw over 110 pitches in his Sunday start prior to the break. But as Marlins Die-Hards pointed out, let it be known that JJ wouldn't have allowed any runs if he did make an appearance.

- As a baseball fan, AL (and Rays') manager Joe Maddon made the biggest error of the game: not calling on knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to make an appearance on the mound. Wakefield, 43, garnered his first appearance on an All-Star roster this season. The least Maddon could've done was give the veteran a shot to pitch an inning, especially since throwing the knuckleball leaves less wear and tear on the pitcher's arm.

One final note: There's been talk in recent years of the Home Run Derby champion being "cursed" in the second half of the season by a dropoff in production. Well The Rookies have a great post with ACTUAL ANALYSIS about the supposed curse. The conclusion: the players affected most by the Derby are those who lose in the first round. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Revisiting Potential Heat Roster Moves: Odom Returning to Miami?

Last week, I threw around a few ideas I had for what options the Heat have in terms of roster moves in order to keep Dwyane Wade happy and in Miami.

One of those options did not include signing Allen Iverson, and by the looks of it, what some thought to be a sure thing, now seems unlikely. Why is that? Well, it's because Iverson is now in "serious talks" with the LA Clippers, who seem to be willing to offer him the $5.8 million mid-level exception, something the Heat aren't offering.

But back to the options I tossed around last week. Since that post went up, Wade has apparently made a push for the team to trade for fellow Olympian Carlos Boozer (option three!)

Trading for Boozer though, probably isn't the best move for the Heat, since it would include trading Michael Beasley (who should be given another year to prove himself despite Wade calling him "slow-footed"). Also, it brings in an injury-prone under-sized PF/C in Boozer, who has been known to bail on a team looking to re-sign him.

So let's forget about making a push for Boozer right now, because Option Two from my little post seems to have some potential. No, not David Lee (not yet, at least). Lamar Odom.

Word out of the LA Times is that the Heat have made offers to Odom, who is a free agent. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he isn't as hopeful about re-signing Odom, citing a feeling he has. Regardless, this opens the door for the Heat to bring Odom back to Miami, which traded him to the Lakers in 2004 in the Shaq deal.

"The Heat has only the midlevel exception of $5.8 million but might be willing to give Odom a five-year, $34-million deal."

I think a potential lineup of Jermaine O'Neal, Odom, Beasley, Wade and Mario Chalmers could be pretty good.

Keep in mind though that nothing is official until contracts are signed, and that likely won't happen until Paul Millsap either ends up signing with Portland or if the Jazz can match the Blazers' offer. So until then, we wait and see what else is going to happen in the crazy world of NBA free agency.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Run Derby

Public Service Announcement for you all:

I'm going to try something new tonight. Since I've recently joined Twitter, I've decided I'm going to try and live-Tweet the Home Run Derby tonight.

You can follow along here.

Figured I would try this early on, as it will likely be a reoccurring feature once football season starts up in September.

Shaq's Interesting(?) Tribute to Michael Jackson

Shaq posted on his Twitter on Sunday a tribute video that he and former sideshowkick Damon Jones made to Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

The video emulates the famous fight scene in the video, complete with plastic knives! Anyways, here's the video, it's entertaining, to say the least:




The only other thing that I've got to say about the video is that I'm curious about the date of the footage. After all, Shaq is wearing Miami Heat shorts, and it is on a Heat-themed court, complete with a poster of Dwyane Wade. Not to mention the fact that Shaq and Jones were teammates in Miami for the 2004-2005 season.

So was this a recent video, or just something that Shaq had lying around on his computer for four or five years? Anyone want to ask him on Twitter?

Take THAT, Notre Dame!

College football season is less than eight weeks away. Eight! That's still too long, if you ask me, but thankfully, something slightly newsworthy coming from the college football realm:

Remember back in early December, shortly after the college football regular season ended, Notre Dame announced they would not be firing head coach Charlie Weis? Then I wrote this piece, thanking Notre Dame for keeping Weis (however utterly ridiculous retaining his medicotriy was) because Florida coach Urban Meyer would have been at the top of their wish list. I also mentioned how Meyer has stated in the past that Notre Dame is his dream job.

Well, in recent weeks, talks of Meyer's interest in Notre Dame had resurfaced, and rival coaches have been using the rumor that Meyer could bolt for the Irish in trying to deter recruits from committing to Florida.

This past weekend, Meyer was at a charity golf tournament, the Bob Dooley Invitational. Apparently he was tired of all the rumors of him and Notre Dame, so he decided to take a moment from his tournament-opening speech and put the issue to bed once and for all (hopefully).

"I'm not going to Notre Dame. Ever," Meyer said. "I'm going to be the coach at Florida for a long time, as long as they want me."

So, take that, Notre Dame!

I can sleep a little bit easier at night now not having to worry about Meyer bolting for greener pastures after Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes graduate. Thanks, Coach!

Friday, July 10, 2009

2003 Marlins v 2009 Marlins

I've gone on record several times stating my belief that the Marlins are destined to win another World Series this year. Whether or not my beliefs are justified, or correct for that matter, remains to be seen. But I'll be damned if I don't come across evidence that strengthens my prediction and don't share it with you, my loyal readers.

So with that being said, I share with you all this interesting caveat from Ted over at Marlins Die-Hards: a table charting the parallels between the 2003 World Series Champion Marlins (never get tired of saying that) and these 2009 Marlins. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Five Thoughts on Sports Illustrated's Most Thrilling Players Lists

On Thursday, if you visited SI.com, I'm sure you noticed the large feature on the front page. The Thrill Lists is what they decided to call them. It features a large collage that was a who's who of the greatest names in sports history.

Side note: one can only assume the idea of most thrilling athletes is SI's idea of a slight tribute to the late Michael Jackson and his megahit "Thriller."

Anyways, SI gathered 13 of its writers to come up with lists of the ten most thrilling athletes of all-time that the writers would pay to watch in 15 sports: MLB, NBA, NFL, college football, college basketball, boxing, NHL, golf, soccer, tennis, horse racing, car racing, winter sports, figure skating and track & field. While I won't bore you with my take on all 15 lists (you can find them here), I will give you my opinion on a few aspects of some of them.

1. Three basketball players show up on both the NBA and college basketball list: Michael Jordan (4th on the college list and 3rd on the NBA), Bob Cousy (9th on college and 10th on NBA) and "Pistol" Pete Maravich (3rd on the NBA and 2nd on the college). That right there has got to speak to the talent of those three men. Yeah, Jordan is widely recognized as the greatest of all time by many, and Cousy was magic for the Celtics dynasty back in the 60s, but sometimes Maravich gets forgotten about, seeing as how his career was cut short when he injured his knee. After all, the guy did average 44 points per game in college (and that was in a time before the 3-point line). It's good to see that SI's writers are giving the man his credit. In the interest of full disclosure, Maravich has been one of my favorite players since I learned about him, and still have his No. 44 "Pistol" jersey from when he played for the Hawks. I do think Maravich should be first on the college list, though, since, according to former LSU coach Dale Brown charted all of Maravich's career shots and calculated that he would have averaged 13 threes per game, raising his career average to 57 points per game. That's just down right unfathomable.

2. Another interesting thing to point out comes from the college football list. Three of the ten players listed by Austin Murphy played this century: Reggie Bush (8), Tim Tebow (5) and Vince Young (1). Also of note: two players each from Illinois (Red Grange and Dick Butkus) and Texas (Young and number 2 on the list, Earl Campbell). While this might sound like blatant homerism, I think Tebow still has a shot to rise on this list, seeing as how he's still got one year left to thrill the fans (and haters).

3. I love the idea of having a list dedicated to the most thrilling horses in horse racing. To me, the sport of horse racing is thrilling on its own (the nation is captivated by the three races of the Triple Crown every year from May to June), making it a bit difficult to narrow it down to ten horses. I agree with the little tidbit that Tim Layden has at the top of his list, "horses with relatable back stories have been the most thrilling." I have to agree with him on that, and that line probably expands to all sports: people are compelled by the storylines of sports, often making them that much more interested in the outcome of sporting events, whether or not they have a team involved.

4. Still curious how Wayne Gretzky got left off of the NHL list. Oh well, it is just one person's opinion. Also, enjoy the inclusion of a goalie on the list with Dominik Hasek.

5. Final thought comes again from the NBA list. If I were to include a current player on the list, it would probably be LeBron James instead of Allen Iverson. I udnerstand the thrill of watching a tiny-framed guard that's well under 6-feet tall crossing over anyone and everyone, then slashing to the lane and collided with men twice his size. However, you're lying to yourself if you say you don't tune in to ESPN or wherever just to see what kind of sick highlights LeBron had. When he's dribbling the ball and preparing to take it to the hole, most fans collectively hold their breath until he finishes strong with a ridiculous slam. Another aspect that makes hime qualified for the list: we haven't seen any player that large 6'8"-ish and 270-ish, with that sort of speed, strength and agility.

Anyways, to quote Forrest Gump, which I watched again the other day, "that's all I have to say about that." But I do suggest you check out the lists, they do make for an interesting read, and are sure to spark discussion.

Salary Cap Issues

The NBA sent out a memo Wednesday that the salary cap for 2010 will likely drop to between $50.4 M and $53.6 M. That's down from the $57.7 M announced for the 2009-10 season (which is also down about $1 M from this past season).

What does it all mean? Well clearly, it means that the economy is finally catching up to the league. A poor economy means less people going to games (or being able to afford such expensive tickets) and less merchandise being sold (duh). The NBA predicts to make 10 percent less in revenue this upcoming season.

But that's not all the lowered salary cap in 2010 means. It means some teams are going to have to change their game plans for the Summer of 2010. A lowered salary cap will mean, potentially, that teams looking to sign two free agents to maximum contracts, might have difficulty in accomplishing that. I'm looking at you, New York Knicks. Good luck in trying to lure Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Madison Square Garden.

Of course, this new salary cap could throw some kinks in the options I laid out yesterday for what the Heat could potentially do, seeing as how it might be more difficult to sign two players to maximum contracts. But anything is still possible, especially when you have Pat Riley calling the shots in the front office. However, I find it a lot less likely that the Heat would make a play for Lamar Odom or David Lee (both of whom were just longshot suggestions), because it's probably in the team's best interest to not commit long-term to free agents this summer. Unfortunatelty, that mean's they would have to sign someone to the mid-level exception, or the veteran exception, and only one-year.

That's where Allen Iverson probably comes in. I still don't think this is the best baller to bring to the team, especially since it might hinder the growth of Mario Chalmers at point guard, and Iverson would want to play 30-35 minutes a night. But hey, if Wade wants Iverson, and bringing him in would make Wade happy and want to stay in Miami, then by all means, do it. But keep in mind, people don't change overnight, and Iverson has always been a me-first player.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DunkGate

We've all heard about it by now: LeBron James got dunked on, by a college kid, at his own summer basketball camp.

Too bad none of us will likely never get to see it, since Nike confiscated the only two (as far as we know) tapes of the dunk. The official company line from Nike is as follows, according to the Associated Press:

"Nike has been operating basketball camps for the benefit of young athletes for decades and has long-standing policies as to what events are open and closed to media coverage. Unfortunately, for the first time in four years, two journalists did not respect our no videotaping policy at an after-hours pickup game following the LeBron James Skills Academy," said Nike spokesman Derek Kent on Wednesday.

But it seems pretty clear from CBSsports's Gary Parrish and his quotes from freelance photographer Ryan Miller, that there's more to the videos being confiscated than the above given reason.

LeBron is apparently responsible for having the video confiscated, but seriously, what gives? Is it really that embarassing that you were worried that it would be YouTube sensation? Really now, getting dunked on is not that bad. Every great player has been dunked on, I'm sure of it, even though I don't feel like going through years and years of NBA archived footage to prove it. C'mon LeBron, ask your new teammate, Shaq, even the "Big Witness" has been on the receiving end of a dunk. Hell, even the not so great players get dunked on (see: Shawn Bradley), but that's not the point. Everyone gets dunked on, it's part of playing basketball.

Sure, the video would have gotten its fair share of publicity, after all, it is "The Chosen One" getting dunked on (two-handed, reportedly), by a college player out of the A-10.

Here's my question though: how long will people remember it for? It's not like it was on a grand stage. It was in a pick-up game after a day of basketball camp, and I doubt that means LeBron was going as hard as he would in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. I'm sure people will remember longer that LeBron walked off the court at the end of the series against the Magic and didn't shake any hands, and skipped out on his post-game press conference. I mean, how many people remember when Devin Harris got crossed over by some British amateur by the name of Stuart Tanner. I bet more people remember when he hit that crazy half-court game winner last season against the 76ers.

I say, let the footage of LeBron getting dunked on by Jordan Crawford get released to the public, and give the kid the respect, and 15 minutes, he deserves, much like Stuart Tanner got his moment in the limelight after the Devin Harris incident. Because, let's face it, hardly any one will remember it a year from now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wade - Riley: Who Will Blink First?

So, the future of the Miami Heat franchise has come to this: a staring contest between Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade.

Wade, as we all know, can opt out of his contract at the end of next season and become a free agent. It's already called the "Summer of 2010," and should be one of the biggest free agent summers in NBA history, with names like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and several other big name players all available to switch teams.

Wade doesn't want to re-sign with the Heat until Riley makes a move to improve the team and make them title contenders.

Riley doesn't want to make any major roster moves until he has a commitment from Wade beyond next season.

So you see, we have a dilemma here, and the question is: who will blink first? Riley or Wade?

I can understand Wade's frustration, or rather, his urge for the Heat to get better now. After all, several Eastern Conference teams have already improved themselves, on paper at least, through offseason moves. Eastern Conference champion Orlando added perennial all-star wingman Vince Carter. Cleveland, who had the best record in the regular season, added Wade's former partner in crime, Shaq. 2008 NBA champion Boston added Rasheed Wallace. Detroit added both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

But at the same time, you can also understand Riley not wanting to make a major move until he knows Wade is committed to Miami.

So where do the Heat go from here?

Here are a few options the Heat have:

1. Don't make any major moves this offseason. If Riley decides to stand pat (pardon the pun), then the team will have plenty of cap space next season to re-sign Wade to the maximum, as well as another big-name player (LeBron, Carlos Boozer, Bosh, etc.) AND a substantial role player (Steve Nash?) so that the Heat will definitely contend in 2010-11 and beyond.

2. Try and sign one of the remaining solid free agents. David Lee of the Knicks is a restricted free agent, meaning the Knicks can match any offer another team makes for him. But if the Heat could sign him, they would add a guaranteed double-double every night, as Lee averaged 16 points and nearly 12 rebounds this past season. Another free agent option this season would be former Heat player Lamar Odom. Odom was traded by Miami to LA in the Shaq deal a few years back. He's free this summer, and reportedly, he and the Lakers are "far apart" in negotiations. Either player would give the Heat some support in the post, and allow Michael Beasley to return to his natural small forward position. Imagine a lineup of Jermaine O'Neal, Odom or Lee, Beasley, Wade and Mario Chalmers. I think that might have the Heat contending, especially if Beasley makes the leap many expect of him in his second year.

The downside of either of these moves is that it limits what the team can do next offseason.

3. The third option would be for the team to trade away a few parts (likely including Beasley) for a big-name with one year left on his contract (Boozer or Bosh, in all likelihood). That would allow the Heat to re-sign Wade and the player they traded for to maximum contracts in 2010, and still allow them to pick up another role player that offseason.

The downside to this is that the Heat would be giving up on Beasley, and I'm not sure how I feel about dumping him already, as he showed signs of brilliance at times during the season, especially towards the end of the year.

Now that the options are laid out, what do the two parties do? We know this, Wade would like to stay in Miami, after all, it is Miami, an ideal city for athletes. However, keep in mind the Chicago Bulls just cleared some cap space by letting Gordon bolt for Detroit. I'm sure the Bulls would love to try to bring in the hometown kid in 2010, and I'm sure Wade wouldn't mind playing for the team he grew up watching.

The Heat need to do whatever they can to keep Wade in town, because he is the face of the franchise (and the team's all-time leading scorer). Riley needs to sit down with Wade and ask him what pieces Wade wants around him that would make the ideal combination for a title run.

Personally, I think the best course of action is to make minor roster changes, and hope the young team matures enough to advance further into the playoffs this season. By doing so, the team knows what it has in Beasley and Chalmers, and then will also be able to sign Wade, (fingers crossed for Lebron but realistically) Boozer or Bosh and another player. That way they keep the young nucleus and fortify it with big names in 2010. That would make sure the Heat contends for titles for years to come, and I think Wade would prefer that to a quick-fix this season.

But remember, the key to all of this is that the Heat's young players improve this season so that the Heat don't fall off the map in the Eastern Conference, because if that happens, then Wade might be on his way out, and the franchise is back to where they were when they won 15 games in 2007, and we can't have that happen.

With that being said, Riley needs to blink, and get the ball rolling with improving this team, by at least sitting down with Wade and discussing the team's future possibilities and plans. At the same time, Wade needs to blink, and come to an agreement, a verbal one at the very least, so the two can work together, as they should, to make the Heat champions of the basketball world again.