Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 Moments of the Decade in SoFla Sports

With the end of the year quickly approaching, and with it the end of the decade, we here at Fourth and Fail are taking a look back at the decade that was. Today, we take a look at the Top 10 moments in South Florida sports from the aughts.

10. 2003 NBA Draft. The season following a 25-57 record for the Heat, they were blessed with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Fortunately for the Heat, they drafted Dwyane Wade, who has, needless to say, panned out to be one of the best players in the league.

9. Wildcat Unleashed. September 21, 2008. Miami Dolphins 38, New England Patriots 13. The Dolphins came into Gillette Stadium and introduced the Patriots (and the league) to their new Wildcat offense. Ronnie Brown rushed for 117 yards and 4 touchdowns out of the formation, while throwing for another. The game marked the beginning of the Wildcat craze that has swept the league, though no team has perfected it like the Dolphins have. Oh yeah, it also ended New England's 21-game regular season winning streak, as well as the team's 12-game home winning streak.

8. Marlins Play Spoiler. This one was bittersweet for Marlins fans. The Marlins missed the playoffs in both 2007 and 2008. However, both years they closed out the season with a series against the Mets, and both times the Marlins managed to play spoiler and knock the hated-rivals out of playoff contention during the last series of the regular season.

7. Orange Jersey Monday Night Magic. In 2004, the Dolphins got off to a 1-8 start before the Wannstache resigned. Going into Week 15, with a 2-11 record, the Dolphins hosted the 12-1, defending champion Patriots on Monday Night Football. The Fins broke out the orange jerseys, and upset the Patriots, 29-28. It was arguable one of the biggest upsets in the NFL this decade.

6. Anibal's No-no. On September 6, 2006, in just the 13th start of his career, rookie Anibal Sanchez threw the fourth no-hitter in Marlins history. Against the Diamondbacks, Sanchez tossed the no-no -- the first since Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004 -- by striking out six and walking four on 103 pitches. The moment perfectly encapsulated the Marlins unlikely 2006 season: the rookie-stacked team exceeding most expectations and remained in Wild Card contention into September. Highlights can be viewed here.

5. Camarillo to the Rescue. Week 15. December 16, 2007. The Dolphins were 0-13, and in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. That's when Greg Camarillo came to the rescue. The undrafted WR out of Stanford made the play of his young career by being on the receiving end of a 64-yard touchdown thrown by Cleo Lemon. The touchdown was the longest offensive play for the Dolphins in 2007, and it was also the team's only win. Camarillo kept the Dolphins out of the (futility) record book, as they finished the season 1-15.

4. One GIANT Loss. If Camarillo's heroics kept the Dolphins out of the record books, then the New York Giants' upset over the then-18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl kept the Dolphins in the record books. Because New York was able to unseat the Patriots, the '72 Dolphins were able to remain as the only undefeated and untied team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. While some may not care about a 30-plus-year-old record, it still remains a symbol of pride to many South Florida sports fans.

3. 2002 Rose Bowl. This game, in which the Canes dismantled Nebraska and Heisman winner* Eric Crouch, was the culmination of a magical undefeated season -- capped off by a BCS title -- for UM. The team consisted of many future NFL stars, including Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Frank Gore (and that's just at running back), and is always in the class photo when the debates come around for the greatest college football team of all time.

*Heisman should have gone to Rex Grossman, but I digress.

2. 2003 Marlins run through the playoffs. Where do I start with this one? 2003 was a magical trip through the playoffs for the Marlins en route to the team's second World Series title. In the divisional round, the Fish knocked off the defending-NL Champion San Francisco Giants in four games. The decisive game ended with a signature play, as Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine threw out JT Snow -- who tried to truck Pudge Rodriguez -- at home. Pudge held on to the ball through the contact, and the stadium erupted. It marked the first time a series ended with the potential tying run being thrown out at home.

In the NLCS, the Marlins took on the Cubs. Up 3 games to 1, with the series heading back to Wrigley, the Cubs looked to be primed for a trip to the Fall Classic. That is, until Bartman happened. One of the most infamous moments of the decade. It's tough to actually blame Bartman for what happened, especially when the team on the field unraveled (including botched ground balls). The Marlins went on to win the pennant.

In the World Series, the Marlins squared off against the Yankees, and Josh Beckett put on a performance for the ages in Game 6, with the Marlins up 3 games to 2. Beckett pitched a complete game, shutting out the Yankees and recording the final out by tagging out Jorge Posada on a soft grounder. It was quite a title run by the Marlins, and only topped by one moment in South Florida this decade.

1. 2006 NBA Finals. Facing a potential 3-0 deficit and down 13 points with six and a half minutes remaining in Game 3, the outcome didn't look bright for the Heat. A year after falling short in the Eastern Conference Finals, it appeared the team would come away empty handed in the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals. The Mavs had a victory parade already planned... but that's when Dwyane Wade decided to throw a wrench in those plans. Wade went off, leading the Heat to a comeback victory in Game 3, 98-96. The Heat didn't lose another game in the series, and Wade went on to finish with one of the most memorable performances in Finals history while leading the franchise to its first ever NBA title.

We're sure there are plenty of other moments that deserve consideration as one of the best of the decade -- especially seeing as how we know of other moments that we discussed with each other that just missed the cut. If you have any qualms with our list, or just want to contribute your two cents to the conversation, feel free to do so in the comments.

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